After an entertaining round of midweek fixtures in the Champions League, league football is set to glue us to our TV screens with some more fascinating match-ups.
Most key battles will see teams that were engaged in European fixtures face each other as they attempt to fight the fatigue.
Which are the big games you need to clear your schedule for? We help you choose the best fixture from each of the top five leagues.
Fixture: Sevilla v Real Madrid
Venue: Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan
Date: Sunday, September 23
Time: 11:00pm GST
Two unbeaten teams will face each other at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan as table-toppers Sevilla host Real Madrid. This tie will see Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui take on his former club for the first time.
The Seville side went through a major makeover in the summer as they roped in over 13 players and saw as many departures. The transformation has seemed to work, given they have won three of their four games so far.
Madrid have dropped off after their impressive opening day win over Celta Vigo. Two drawn games followed and they were lucky to edge Levante in the third, meaning Los Blancos are in a dire need of a big win.
Sevilla won 3-0 in the same fixture last season but heroes on the night, Andre Silva and Wissam Ben Yedder, have left the club.
Key players: Joan Jordan (Sevilla), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
Fixture: Chelsea v Liverpool
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: Sunday, September 22
Time: 7:30pm GST
A replay of last month’s UEFA Super Cup final will see Chelsea and Liverpool lock horns in our top Premier League tie of the weekend. Both teams came into Europe in a high but came crashing down to earth, following defeats to Valencia and Napoli.
The Londoners shone in their away test against Wolves in the previous game, emerging 5-2 winners thanks to a Tammy Abraham hat-trick.
Liverpool stuttered against Newcastle but came back from a goal down to maintain their 100 per cent record in the domesticseason.
The last five encounters between the two teams at the Bridge have seen Chelsea win once and lose twice.
Key players: Tammy Abraham (Chelsea), Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Fixture: AC Milan v Inter Milan (Milan derby)
Venue: San Siro
Date: Saturday, September 21
Time: 10:45pm GST
One of the most historic derbies in football will take the centre stage on Saturday as AC Milan and Inter Milan face off at the San Siro.
The hosts will look to build on their last two wins, well aware that they have not scored more than one goal in any of their games so far and will need as many as possible against the table toppers.
Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan have made a statement by winning three of three so far, although needed a last-ditch equaliser to rescue a point against Slavia Prague in the Champions League.
AC Milan have not won a league game against the rivals since January 2016 and are unlikely to break the jinx on Saturday.
Key player: Suso (AC Milan), Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan)
Fixture: Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Dortmund
Date: Sunday, September 22
Time: 8:00pm GST
Two teams carrying tired legs from European engagements will fight for three points at the Commerzbank-Arena as Eintracht Frankfurt host Borussia Dortmund.
The hosts will look to turn things around after a 2-1 defeat against Augsburg. But accumulating three points in a fixture they haven’t won in over three years will require a special performance.
Dortmund were unlucky to have shared the spoils with Barcelona in the Champions League, having dominated the Spanish side over 90 minutes. However, they arrive into the fixture on a positive note, having thumped Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 in their previous Bundesliga game.
The last two meetings between the two sides at this venue ended in a draw. More of the same or will Frankfurt manage an upset against the Black and Yellows?
Key players: Goncalo Palencia (Eintracht Frankfurt), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund)
Fixture: Lyon v Paris Saint-Germain
Venue: Parc Olympique Lyonnais
Date: Sunday, September 22
Time: 11:00om GST
PSG’s biggest test in their Ligue 1 title defence will see them travel to Lyon on Sunday in search of three points.
Lyon won their first two games, scoring nine goals and conceding zero to top the table. But they could not build on it and have managed just two points in three games since. They enter this fixture hoping to get their season back on course after a 2-2 draw against Amiens.
PSG responded to their 2-1 defeat against Rennes by keeping clean sheets in all three games that followed. However, they needed an acrobatic effort from Neymar in injury-time – upon the Brazilian’s return to the line-up – to claim all three points against Strasbourg.
The last five meetings between the two sides have seen no draws, with Lyon winning twice. An entertaining clash is in the offing.
Key players: Memphis Depay (Lyon), Neymar (PSG)
Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri knows his side must show “absolute determination” if they are to start their Champions League campaign with a positive result at Atletico Madrid.
The two side go head-to-head at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday, with Atletico out to make amends for last season’s elimination at the last-16 stage by the Serie A giants.
Sarri opened his first season in charge with two wins before the international break, but saw Juventus held to a goalless draw at Fiorentina on Saturday.
The Bianconeri have been hit by more injury setbacks concerning Douglas Costa and defender Danilo, although midfielder Miralem Pjanic is expected to be involved.
Whatever side former Chelsea boss Sarri is able to send out, he expects the players to produce the required performance.
“We are Juventus and our objective is always to win. We have to face this game with absolute determination, but also with calm as we have to be able to express ourselves,” Sarri said at a press conference.
“We have many weapons with different characteristics.”
Sarri added: “Atletico are one of the teams who can win the Champions League. With their characteristics, they can take on anyone.”
With captain Giorgio Chiellini out for around six months after knee surgery, defender Leonardo Bonucci maintains everyone is pulling together.
“It’s not in the DNA of Juventus to think about drawing a match even before playing it. We want to show that we are on the right path and bring home the result,” he said.
“Tomorrow will be a battle. We will look to play a great game from the first minute. We’re coming here very fired up and full of energy.”
Atletico are second in the LaLiga table, but lost 2-0 at Real Sociedad on Saturday.
Diego Simeone’s men will be looking to lay down a marker of their own in Group D – and keeping a certain Cristiano Ronaldo quiet.
“Juve are always a very competitive squad, with players of great potential,” Atletico manager Simeone said.
“Tomorrow, it will be difficult to take ideas from last year’s matches because Sarri’s game is different.”
Simeone added: “It is difficult to prepare for a game against Cristiano Ronaldo. He is an animal in front of goal.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
The outcome was far better than the performance as Barca claimed a point from arguably their toughest game of the group stage, but manager Ernesto Valverde will know his team needs to improve significantly all over the pitch.
Here are the key takeaways from this Champions League opener.
Ter Stegen to the rescue
This was a far from convincing performance from Barcelona, who created no major chances of note and were indebted to a combination of poor finishing, a touch of fortune when Julian Brandt’s thunderbolt shot crashed onto the crossbar and, above all, some excellent goalkeeping from Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Back in his native Germany, the keeper produced several super stops highlighted by a magnificent diving effort full stretch to his left to palm away Marco Reus’s penalty midway through the second half (although, it must be acknowledged, the penalty really should have been retaken because ter Stegen had advanced halfway to Moenchengladbach before it was taken).
The outstanding display felt like something of a statement from ter Stegen, who has attracted big headlines in Germany over several months for national team coach Joachim Low’s refusal to promote him ahead of Manuel Neuer as Germany’s first choice.
Overhauling a legend and team captain like Neuer is no easy task, especially when he carries so much support within Germany as a star player for the country’s most popular club Bayern Munich, but ter Stegen cannot have done any more to state his case. Now all he can do is wait until next month’s internationals, and keep his fingers crossed.
Away woes continue
Aside from ter Stegen, there were very few bright spots to Barcelona’s performance. They were continually vulnerable at the back, with Nelson Semedo suffering a torrid night against Jadon Sancho and the centre back duo of Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique regularly getting caught on their heels.
The midfield trio of Sergio Busquets, Arthur Melo and Frenkie de Jong kept the ball well at times without offering any penetration, and were regularly exposed by Dortmund’s swift breaks from defence – although that was less evident after de Jong moved to the pivot position in place of Busquets.
Up front, Antoine Griezmann worked hard up and down the left wing but rarely threatened goal, while Luis Suarez was starved of service and teenager Ansu Fati was handed a dose of reality after the magic of his previous performance against Valencia.
It all added up to a pretty mediocre showing which continues the team’s troubles away from home, leaving Ernesto Valverde’s men with just one win from their last eight road trips. If they don’t find a way of delivering more effective performances on their travels soon – starting at Granada on Saturday – they will struggle to claim any meaningful silverware this season.
Messi back in business
Aside from ter Stegen, the only real positive on the night for Barca was the return to action of Lionel Messi, who made his first appearance of the season after recovering from a calf strain by replacing Fati after an hour.
Although there were a few shimmies and feints to send a reminder of Messi’s brilliance, in truth he wasn’t able to exert a big influence on the action as Dortmund pushed harder for a winner, and his only sight of goal was swiftly snuffed out by a solid block as he latched onto a deep cross with the last touch of the game.
But expecting Messi – or any other player – to be performing at their peak after not playing any competitive football for more than two months and only completing two full training sessions would be wholly unrealistic, and Barca fans should just be grateful to see their icon back on the pitch rather than worrying too much about how he played.
The next decision to be made by Messi and Valverde – presumably after discussion together – is whether he will start at Granada on Saturday or wait until next Tuesday night’s home meeting with Villarreal.