Good morning. Jamie Jackson will be online from 12.00pm BST to take part in a live webchat. If you have any questions about this week's fixtures in the Champions League, drop them into the comments section below.
In Kevin McCarra's preview of this season's Champions League, he expressed excitement that Celtic are joining the four English clubs for a competition which has rediscovered some if its old unpredictability:
The Champions League was a tournament of surprises last season. It is futile to pretend that it revived all the romance of the competition when it was known only as the European Cup, but there was unpredictably. The outcome was strange enough for moneyed Chelsea almost to pass themselves off as insurgents when they landed the prize.
With that win on penalties against Bayern Munich in the opposition's own stadium, Roberto Di Matteo overcame steep odds. In the aftermath, nothing seemed quite so clear any more and that can only be of benefit to the Champions League. Illusions were dispelled and people understood that the imposing La Liga sides were not really beyond all others on football's evolutionary scale.
Barcelona and Real Madrid each fell in the semi-finals. Their status has not vanished and Barcelona are favourites to claim the trophy this time, with Real a little behind them in the betting. Nonetheless, the Champions League can be enigmatic. Wealth, for instance, is far from being the sole consideration. Read more
Jamie is in Madrid and has been reporting that, despite Real Madrid's poor start to the domestic season, José Mourinho has warned Manchester City to prefer for a backlash tonight in the Bernabéu.
Mourinho also likened City to Chelsea, claiming they will become Champions League winners sooner or later: "It started off with Mark Hughes, they started spending money and buying good players. Then Roberto came and he has done a very good job. He has created a great squad. The first cup, then the first title arrived. I don't know if it is this season or next season with Roberto, or with another person in the future, but normally in the direction the club is going, sooner or later they will win the big cup."
Here is the fixture list for this week's Champions League games:
AC Milan v Anderlecht
Borussia Dortmund v Ajax
Din Zagreb v FC Porto
Malaga v Zenit St Petersburg
Montpellier v Arsenal
Olympiakos v Schalke 04
Paris SG v Dynamo Kiev
Real Madrid v Man City
Barcelona v Spartak Moscow
Bayern Munich v Valencia
Braga v CFR Cluj-Napoca
Celtic v Benfica
Chelsea v Juventus
Lille v BATE Borisov
Man Utd v Galatasaray
Shakhtar Donetsk v FC Nordsjaelland
If you have any questions for Jamie, drop them into the comments section below. Thanks.
Cristiano Ronaldo's bout of tristeza is the least of José Mourinho's problems. The world's second best footballer may be flaunting his supposed sorrows, but at least he is still doing his best for Real Madrid on the pitch. According to Mourinho, the same cannot be said for a number of his team mates.
Halfway through a 1-0 defeat at Sevilla's Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán stadium on Saturday, Mourinho found it necessary to withdraw Angel di María and Mesut Ozil, two of the brightest sparks of the attack which carried the club to the Spanish championship last May. Neither was injured. Afterwards the manager said he regretted only that he was limited in the number of replacements he could use. Otherwise it might have been seven. Read more.
Jamie Jackson is in the comments section answering your Champions League questions.
Bloodclot starts us off: "Do you think City will beat Real Madrid tonight and do they stand a realistic chance of topping their group?"
I can see how they might win – a Carlos Tevez goal in the first half, then kill the game.
Very difficult though... I think José Mourinho will get a performance from Real Madrid after the loss at the weekend and in front of their own crowd, in Cristiano Ronaldo's first home game since he claimed being 'unhappy', City could have an interesting opening 20 minutes. A draw would be a good result.
To the second one, yes they have a chance...
GhostWiper is concerned by City's performance and Mourinho's moobs: "How many points do you think City need to qualify? Do you think Jose Mourinho is putting on weight? There was a picture of him on this site yesterday and he looked a bit mooby"
1: In this group 10 would give them a good chance this time.
2: I'll ask him tonight.
SalfordianBlue would be happy with a point: "Do you think fans like myself should be thinking bigger by this point given our progress and financial backing? Or do you think we still need more time to make an impact on such a stage?"
No, a point's a good result. City should be thinking of getting through the group, though, with all the money spent and players in the squad. Having said that, Manchester United and Arsenal didn't manage this in their second year...
AndrewTurner asks about Financial Fair Play: "Do you think City, PSG and Anzhi are making a mockery of FFP and will UEFA do anything about it?"
City refused Mancini £116m for four players in the summer, including RVP and Eden Hazard, so they would argue they are adhering to it...
nickbluemoon talks formations: "Do you think it's likely Mancho will use the 3-4-3/3-5-2 system against Real tonight? Try and hit them on the counter at pace like Napoli did to us last year?"
It would be a surprise if he didn't play his 4-2-3-1, though if he wants a draw then 3-5-2 is made for it. Here is what Roberto Mancini said last night when asked if a draw was the outcome to go for:
"If you get a chance, you have to score. A draw could be a good result, but our mentality is not to defend, we don't have that mentality."
If Mancini punts on Aguero being fit enough to start – he has a chance, Mancini said – then he'll play ahead of Carlos Tevez with David Silva and Samir Nasri. That's a pretty decent front five, with Yaya Touré lurking behind.
cityoj expects City to compete with Borussia Dortmund for a place in the next stage: "I don't want to sound arrogant as AJAX have a pedigree that makes City look the nobodies you all think we are, but I can see them picking up very little, leaving City and Dortmund chasing second place."
You could be right – we'll know a bit more after this first round of games.
Beyond the pro-Real Madrid media here, City are being given a chance of beating them. A draw is the result – a lot more for City than Roberto Mancini – but if they lose, despite the quality of the opponent, Mancini's team would have a big psychological challenge after just one game, especially if Dortmund have beaten Ajax.
sillycountry asks about how Real Madrid's poor start to the season could affect their tactics: "Do you think Mourinho would prefer to play the first match away from home? Real playing for a home draw is unthinkable, but wouldn't Mourinho's preference be to make the team difficult to beat first?"
Yes, think that's right.
If Madrid draw there will be questions here and if they were to lose, and with RM eight points behind Barcelona after just four games, then Jose Mourinho has a (big) problem.
There's also the Cristiano Ronaldo issue: this is the first home game since he claimed he's unhappy, that he's not the crowd's number one unconditional favourite (though this could actually be to do with money) so we'll all be listening to hear if he's given a rip-roaring roar tonight.
FinneyontheWing asks: "If you could change one thing about the Champions League what would it be? Mine is a toss up between the incessant continental whistling and Andy Townsend."
Not sure about this... the theme music?
MysteryK is finding tonight's game hard to call: "The match is a hard one to call. Both are as rich as Croesus, have power and skill in abundance, but look as flaky as a French pastry at times."
Yes, this would be a good semi-final or final. City have been ordinary so far this season, but are unbeaten, despite Sergio Aguero being injured for basically all of it so far, apart from opening minutes. Mancini may start him tonight, he said Aguero has a chance.
One thing City have that they missed in last season's Champions League is a fit, firing and smiling Carlos Tevez, who is the best player at the club. There's an argument that City's prospects of getting out of the group last year went when he did. José Mourinho will be very worried about Tevez's threat.
edodd has a thought: "I have a theory that City have the perfect draw. If you play big clubs early in the competition then you become battle hardened for the latter stages like United 1998/99. Do you agree?"
If they get through the theory is kind of proven. Most managers would probably say they'd prefer an easy group, get qualified early, rest players, then wait for the new year when their team and the season should be heading the right way.
JesseSam asks about Barcelona: "Do you rate their chances of winning the Champions League? Apparently they are odds on favourites with most bookies – do you think that is an outdated estimation of their dominance, or are they still the best in Europe?"
They are still the favourites by a good bit for me. And as Barcelona have a relatively untaxing group and they should be able to negotiate it while also trying to win back La Liga from Real Madrid.
EminEmma29 asks about City's local rivals: "How highly do you rate Manchester United in this season's Champions League? Will Alex Ferguson set his team out differently, even though he has a formidable attacking line?
Manchester United's attacking options are pretty formidable, so if SAF can keep Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand together in defence I think they will go far in Champions League this year. He's said its about not slipping up like last year and getting qualified for the knockout round asap.
He always likes to stifle midfield in Europe but looking at this group and with RVP and Shinji Kagawa added and looking the part, I can see United being pretty attacking.
TLJordan asks about Group E: "Juventus and Shakhtar both look very strong. Do you think Chelsea will struggle to get out of their group?"
With the players they've bought – especially Eden Hazard – I think Chelsea have every chance of getting out of this group, though it could get sticky.
Jamie has now signed off: "Ok, I'm off for the time being – thanks to everyone for the questions."
We'll leave the comments section open, but if you want more football reading here is Paul Doyle on the ten things to look out for in the Champions League this week. If that isn't enough, Michael Cox has posted an article about the tactical differences between José Mourinho and Roberto Mancini.