Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Freak shaving injury causes Real Madrid's Asensio to miss Champions League game

Ronaldo still has one domestic game to serve of the ban but he is free to face the Cypriot side.

While Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich don't boast any African players - Merengues youngster Achraf Hakimi a sole exception - which of the other UCL favourites could contribute a continental victor this season?

Embecilio and Aloneftis were lively on the wings this past weekend in the league with their 4-1 win.

Marco Asensio will miss Real Madrid's Champions League opener at home to Apoel Nicosia on Wednesday night due to an infected "pimple", but centre-back Raphael Varane returns from injury and Cristiano Ronaldo is available for his first competitive club game in a month.

Back-to-back victor Zidane once again has history in his sights as he aims to become the first manager in the history of the European Cup to win the continent's showpiece spectacle three times on the spin. Before the Champions League you would rest but it is not easy in England to do this. Sevilla won 3-1. - Only Marco Verratti (479) completed more passes than Sevilla midfielder Steven N'Zonzi (459) in last season's Champions League group stages. - Despite having only managed 20 games in the Champions League, Zinedine Zidane has already won the title twice (2016, 2017). Real Madrid now sit seventh in La Liga with just five points from a possible nine.

Morata has been a revelation for Chelsea, scoring three goals and assisting two in five games. He is nevertheless Manchester City's top scorer in the competition (22 goals in 40 games). This is his second season at Manchester United and with the way they have started in the Premier League, it will be unwise to count Eric Bailly from getting a Champions League medal this season. We're going to deal with the players we have and we're going to do well, I'm convinced.

Hot on PSG's heels are the only other two clubs (both 7/1) that have hoisted the Champions League trophy in the last five years: Barcelona (2015) and Bayern Munich (2013).

Real became the first team to defend the Champions League with their win over Juventus in June. If not, they could be facing an uphill battle to get to the knockout rounds. It's the first time they're playing this competition.

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