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Mourinho set for Spanish inquisition: 5 Champions League talking points

Valencia travel to Old Trafford this week.

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Sergio Aguero is battling to be fit for another Champions League week (Martin Rickett/PA)

Sergio Aguero is battling to be fit for another Champions League week (Martin Rickett/PA)

Sergio Aguero is battling to be fit for another Champions League week (Martin Rickett/PA)

Seldom can the Premier League’s four Champions League representatives have approached another week of continental fixtures gripped by such contrasting fortunes.

While Manchester City and Liverpool sail into a new week in confident mood, Tottenham are still yet to entirely convince while Manchester United’s crisis shows no signs of abating.

Here, Press Association Sport runs the rule over what we might expect from a fascinating midweek of fixtures:

City need a response

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Pep Guardiola will hope to make a statement in Hoffenheim (Martin Rickett/PA)

Pep Guardiola will hope to make a statement in Hoffenheim (Martin Rickett/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Pep Guardiola will hope to make a statement in Hoffenheim (Martin Rickett/PA)

Sergio Aguero is a doubt for City’s trip to Hoffenheim after limping out of the weekend win over Brighton with a foot injury. But the broader question concerns how Pep Guardiola’s men will bounce back from their shock 2-1 home defeat to Lyon in their Group F opener. A clinical performance against relatively low-key German opposition – especially without one of their biggest names – would underline their intent.

More misery for Mourinho?

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Paul Pogba, right, has a big point to prove against Valencia (Ian Walton/PA)

Paul Pogba, right, has a big point to prove against Valencia (Ian Walton/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Paul Pogba, right, has a big point to prove against Valencia (Ian Walton/PA)

A cacophony of talking points rage around United ahead of their Group H clash with Valencia. A repeat of the calamitous performance at West Ham on Saturday will heap more pressure on Jose Mourinho and, after his bizarre three-man defensive line-up against the Hammers, all eyes will be on his team selection – not to mention the body language of Paul Pogba.

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Messi fresh for Tottenham trip

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Lionel Messi is bidding to get Barcelona back on track (Nick Potts/PA)

Lionel Messi is bidding to get Barcelona back on track (Nick Potts/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Lionel Messi is bidding to get Barcelona back on track (Nick Potts/PA)

Spurs’ recent revival will be put to the test against a Barcelona side under intense pressure of their own. Ernesto Valverde’s men have gone an unthinkable three LaLiga games without a win but will bring back Lionel Messi, who was rested for the weekend draw at Athletic Bilbao. Without the injured Dele Alli, Spurs’ hopes of an upset look minimal, but a conclusive result either way could shape both of these sides’ seasons.

Sturridge to continue hot streak?

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Daniel Sturridge is in the midst of a spectacular re-emergence (Nick Potts/PA)

Daniel Sturridge is in the midst of a spectacular re-emergence (Nick Potts/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Daniel Sturridge is in the midst of a spectacular re-emergence (Nick Potts/PA)

The re-emergence of Daniel Sturridge continues apace after he built on his goal against Paris St Germain with a spectacular late equaliser at Chelsea on Saturday. Jurgen Klopp may have been slow to warm to the injury-prone striker and it will be interesting to see the extent of his role against a Napoli side who were heavily criticised by boss Carlo Ancelotti following their weekend loss to Juventus.

PSG need to make presence felt

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The pressure is on Neymar to deliver in the Champions League (Owen Humphreys/PA)

The pressure is on Neymar to deliver in the Champions League (Owen Humphreys/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

The pressure is on Neymar to deliver in the Champions League (Owen Humphreys/PA)

They may be able to ease through Ligue 1 without breaking sweat, but moneybags PSG – with Neymar, Mbappe et al – can ill afford another Champions League slip-up after their opening group-stage loss to the Reds. Anything less than failure to win a relatively routine assignment with Red Star Belgrade could leave new coach Thomas Tuchel facing some tough questions.


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