Manchester City’s Champions League adventure ended in last season’s quarter-finals.
Liverpool’s bid to retain the trophy was cut short a round earlier by Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid.
Can they both fare better this time? Their group campaigns begin tonight and we analyse and preview both ties.
Ajax vs Liverpool, 8pm, BT Sport 2
The last time Liverpool played Ajax in Amsterdam, England were world champions, a precociously talented teenager called Cruyff ran the show – and the English champions were walloped 5-1.
That was the scoreline in Ajax’s last match before this showdown, too, but Heerenveen is hardly the kind of challenge Jurgen Klopp’s side will pose.
This should be an entertaining affair.
Ajax were eliminated from last season’s group stage despite collecting ten points with an average of three goals per game.
Liverpool, of course, have conceded nine goals across their last two matches – and two or more in four of their last seven competitive fixtures.
And here’s the rub – not only is Virgil van Dijk sidelined, goalkeeper Alisson is still absent. And in 36 Champions League matches under Klopp, Liverpool have conceded an average of 1.50 goals without the Brazilian between the posts, against 0.89 when he’s been there.
Liverpool’s away record isn’t wildly convincing, the Reds have won just four of their last ten in all competitions, but they should have too much firepower to score more than they will inevitably concede.
Man City vs Porto, 8pm, BT Sport 3
Kevin de Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy are all missing from Pep Guardiola’s first Champions League selection of the season against Porto.
But will it matter?
City may not be able to make it past the meaningful knockout stages, but in group matches they are unbeaten in their last 11 (W8, D3), have won their previous three home matches against Portuguese opposition and face a side without a win in four straight Champions League group stage opening games.
As a result City are 2/7 with thepools.com to get off to a winning start.
It is also interesting to note that Porto have conceded before the 30th minute in three of their four competitive matches this season and are without a win in 20 away matches against English opposition (D3, L17), having failed to score in seven straight trips to England.
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Sergio Aguero, as ever, is favourite to open the scoring, but Raheem Sterling has scored 20 Champions League goals since his 2015 debut, and has four goals across City’s last three competitive matches. He is 7/2 to score first and 10/11 any time .