The Champions League kicks off tonight as 2013 champions FC Bayern are all set to host Russian outfit FC Rostov at the Allianz Arena.
After winning the competition in 2013 by beating Borussia Dortmund in the final, FC Bayern, under Pep Guardiola were denied in the semifinals stage of competition all by Spanish opponents in Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. This season, however, Bayern have appointed three-time UCL winner, Carlo Ancelotti, also known as the expert of this competition.
So far, Bayern have looked great! Winning the DFL Supercup against Borussia Dortmund and also beating Carl Zeiss 5:0 in the cup. Bayern have also started their Bundesliga campaign in incredible fashion, firstly ousting Bremen by 6:0 and then gaping past Schalke 2:0. Bayern are standing firm at the top of the Bundesliga table and they haven’t yet conceded a single goal so far in all competitions.
The youngsters, in particular, have been doing really well for Bayern so far. Joshua Kimmich, Kingsley Coman and Renato Sanches make a fantastic young trio which is sure to aid Bayern a lot in the future.
Rostov on the other hand, are the tournament newcomers. They got to the group stage of the competition by beating Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam by a 5:2 aggregate in the qualifying round. After playing out a 1:1 draw at Netherlands as Noboa and Klaasen scored for the two sides, Rostov won 4:0 at home, thus earning themselves the ticket for UCL group stages. Goals from Azmoun, Erokhin, Noboa and Poloz put them to a 4:0 lead before Davy Klaasen pulled one back for Ajax but that was nothing for that a consolation.
Rostov are currently fourth in the Russian Premier League with 10 points in six games. They would hope to carry on from their Friday win against Krylya Sovetov to get something from the game. This will be the first time that the two sides meet on a competitive stage.
For Carlo Ancelotti, both Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng returned to training this week. However, they are not expected to feature against Rostov. Same can be said for young French attacker Kingsley Coman.
FC Rostov: (3-5-2 formation) Dzhanaev, Kudryashov, Granat, Navas, Ezatolahi, Erokhin, Noboa, Gatcan, Kalachev, Poloz, Bukharov
FC Bayern Munich: (4-2-3-1 formation) Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Javi Martinez, Mats Hummels, David Alaba, Xabi Alonso, Thiago Alcantara, Renato Sanches, Thomas Müller, Franck Ribery, Robert Lewandowski
Key Stats (Credits to FourFourTwo.com)
- No Russian club has ever beaten Bayern Munich in the Champions League (D3 L9). At home, the Bavarians have won their last five games against Russian opposition (16 goals scored, 1 conceded).
- Bayern Munich have won 18 of their last 19 Champions League group games at home (L1), their only defeat coming against Manchester City in December 2013 (2-3). They have scored 59 goals in those 19 games.
- FC Rostov are the only team, alongside Leicester City, to make their Champions League group stage debut this season. They are also the sixth Russian side to appear in the group stages of the competition.
- FC Rostov went through two rounds of qualifying to reach this season’s group stages, eliminating Anderlecht and Ajax.
- Christian Noboa scored in three of Rostov’s four Champions League qualifiers this season (three goals).
- Bayern Munich are the seventh club managed by Carlo Ancelotti in the Champions League, a record in the history of the competition. The Italian also holds the record for most European Cup/Champions League wins as a manager, alongside Bob Paisley (3).