The group stages of the Champions League kick off on Tuesday evening with 2013 runners-up Borussia Dortmund making the trip Italy to face Lazio.
The Serie A side are making their long-awaited return to Europe’s premier competition having not featured since the 2007/08 season. The closest they’ve come since then was a play-off defeat to Bayer Leverkusen which saw them eliminated prior to the group stages.
As for the visitors they’ve become accustomed to dining at Europe’s top table, only failing to qualify for the competition in one of the last nine seasons, however, they’ve not advanced past the last eight since suffering final heartbreak in 2013.
Here’s 90min‘s preview of the first matchweek clash.
When Is Kick Off? Tuesday 20 October
What Time Is Kick Off? 20:00 (BST)
Where Is it Played? Stadio Olimpico
TV Channel/Live Stream? BT Sport Extra
Referee? Clément Turpin
Simone Inzaghi will be without Senad Lulić as he continues rehabilitation on a knee injury. The midfielder is yet to feature this season, while trio Andreas Pereira (ankle), Silvio Proto (arm) and Stefan Radu are all expected to miss the clash.
Bastos, Manuel Lazzari and Luiz Felipe are also doubts, however, Ciro Immobile is available again having sat out the weekend defeat to Sampdoria through suspension.
The visitors have plenty of injury concerns of their own with Thorgan Hazard and Lukasz Piszczek both facing late fitness tests, while Marcel Schmelzer (ankle), Nico Schulz (calf) and Dan-Axel Zagadou (knee) will all be sidelined for the trip.
Talisman Erling Braut Haaland is widely expected to make his return to the starting lineup having been rested at the weekend.
Lazio: Strakosha; Patric, Acerbi, Hoedt; Parolo, Leiva, Milinkovic-Savic, Alberto, Marusic; Immobile, Correa
Dortmund: Burki; Can, Hummels, Akanji; Meunier, Bellingham, Witsel, Guerreiro; Sancho, Reus; Haaland
After a solid title tilt last season, Lazio have made a stuttering start to their league campaign. Despite an opening day win over Cagliari, Inzaghi’s side have taken just one point from their following three fixtures, with Saturday’s comprehensive defeat away at Sampdoria seeing them slip to a lowly 14th in Serie A.
Dortmund’s 2-0 loss at Augsburg last month remains their only Bundesliga defeat so far. However, they were on the losing end of a 3-2 scoreline against rivals Bayern Munich in the German Supercup.
Here’s how both sides have got on in their last five competitive fixtures.
Sampdoria 3-0 Lazio (17/10)
Lazio 1-1 Inter (04/10)
Lazio 1-4 Atalanta (30/09)
Cagliari 0-2 Lazio (26/09)
Lazio 0-0 Benevento (19/09)
Hoffenheim 0-1 Dortmund (17/10)
Dortmund 4-0 SC Freiburg (03/10)
Bayern Munich 3-2 Dortmund (30/09)
Augsburg 2-0 Dortmund (26/09)
Dortmund 3-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach (19/09)
Both these sides are experiencing something of a mini injury crisis with a number of players sidelined for the upcoming clash.
The return to the start XI of Immobile will be a huge boost for Lazio, however, I Biancocelesti have endured a torrid start to the campaign as they look to once again challenge at the top end of Serie A.
In contrast, Dortmund have started strongly, and with star striker Haaland freshly rested after being afforded just a 25 minute cameo at the weekend, Die Borussen should have enough to overcome the Italians.
Prediction: Lazio 1-2 Dortmund