Bayern Munich will be hoping to make a winning start in this season’s Champions League but the German giants won’t have it easy away from home on matchday one, with Villarreal their opponents tonight.
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The famous old club are usually there or thereabouts when it comes to the business end of the competition but they will have to make do without star man Arjen Robben at the Camp El Madrigal, with the Dutchman missing out with a groin injury.
The former Chelsea winger has been carrying the knock since the end of August and has missed the last two league games, including Saturday’s 7-0 demolition of Freiburg. Robben joins the injured Ivica Olic, Daniel Pranjic and Breno on the sidelines.
For Villarreal, left-back Joan Oriol and winger Gerard Bordas have not been included in the squad while midfielder Borja Valero is missing due to a three-match ban carried over from last season’s Europa League campaign. Angel Lopez is out for the foreseeable future with a knee injury.
Goalkeeper Diego Lopez will return in goal after being sent off in the 2-2 La Liga draw with Sevilla over the weekend. Nilmar is expected to return to the starting line-up also, replacing experienced midfielder Javier Camunas.
Bayern are making their 15th appearance in the Champions League group stages and there aren’t many clubs more experienced at this level. But Villarreal will be a tough nut to crack on home soil and this is one of the more difficult opening day encounters to predict, despite the German outfit winning their last five matches.
With Robben missing – he can be so destructive on his day, as we saw during his spell at Chelsea – you’d think that may tip the scales in Villarreal’s favour for tonight’s 19:45 kick-off. But both clubs will be desperate to start with a three-point haul, especially as they are in the so-called ‘group of death’ with Manchester City and Napoli.