Champions' League: Arsenal v Braga (Wednesday)
There will be scope for confusion here as Arsène Wenger's team take on the Portuguese club known in their home country as "The Arsenalistas" after changing their colours to an identical red with white sleeves following a visit to London by their coach in the 1920s. More recently, they have offered a serious challenge to the accepted big three of Portugal, Benfica, Sporting Lisbon and Porto, and will join the last of these in the group stage after brushing aside Celtic and then Seville. The Scots found themselves 3-0 down after the first leg and a 2-1 win at Parkhead was insufficient. Seville, happy enough to take a 1-0 deficit back to Spain, were sensationally beaten 4-3 on their own ground, when substitute Lima scored a hat-trick. In recent seasons, Braga have beaten Portsmouth, drawn with Bolton and lost to Tottenham. Their compatriots Porto have regularly been on the end of heavy defeats at the Emirates, where only Manchester United have ever won a Champions' League tie and Arsenal, even without Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott, would be expected to begin with a win in a favourable group.
Champions' League: Zilina v Chelsea (Wednesday)
The arrival of Zilina from northern Slovakia in the group stage of the Champions' League is exactly the sort of outcome Uefa's president Michel Platini had in mind when pushing through reforms to the qualifying rounds. Not that they have silenced any big guns in battling their way through three stages so far, although home-and-away victories over Sparta Prague, last season's unbeaten Czech champions, constituted an impressive performance. Before that they had seen off the lesser-known Birkirkara and Litex Lovech. As the dominant force in Slovak football for some years now, Zilina have a Uefa Cup victory at Villa Park two years ago to their name. On their previous meeting with Chelsea, however, in 2002, they were outclassed in both legs of a Champions' League qualifier, going down 2-0 and 3-0. John Terry, who played in both games, will need to watch Momodou Ceesay from Gambia, a lively striker who two years ago was close to becoming a team-mate; after a stint at Chelsea's academy, he moved to Belgium's Westerlo. Zilina have started well again in the Slovak League but Chelsea's record in this competition is formidable – never failing to come through the group and reaching four semi-finals in six years.
Europa League: Salzburg v Manchester City (Thursday)
City will feel a comfortable start to their Europa League group is all that awaits them at Salzburg but they could also receive some poignant lessons in new ownership. Red Bull took over Austria Salzburg in 2005 and changed their name, colours and badge, as well as beginning an aggressive transfer policy that saw them move away from local players to a high turnover of foreign stars. The switch alienated a section of the club's support and led to the establishment of SV Austria Salzburg, who wear the traditional violet and started life in the seventh division and, following four straight titles, sit top of the third tier. Although Red Bull have won two successive titles, the SV chairman Walter Windischbauer claims City should not follow the same path. "You can pay for success for one year or 10 years but it's not success in the heart of the people and they can take as much money as they ever want," Windischbauer said. "Austria Salzburg is in the heart of the people and Red Bull was founded in 2005 and only gets its tradition from money, money, money. People don't just want loud music as atmosphere, they want a beer and to stand with their friends. That's football but it's not the strategy of Red Bull."
Europa League: Liverpool v Steaua Bucharest (Thursday)
Roy Hodgson maintains he is unaffected by Liverpool's ongoing search for new ownership but acknowledges he will not be able to challenge for the title until the issue is resolved. The club were put up for sale by the owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, in April but the chairman Martin Broughton appears no closer to finding new investors and Hodgson has had to balance his spending since arriving in July. "People are realistic," Hodgson said. "The problems with the ownership are well-documented and I can't wave a magic wand and make them go away. Everyone would like to see a solution to the problem." Hodgson has also revealed that he had to persuade Pepe Reina, who was tracked by Arsenal, to stay at the club. He added: "There were big clubs after him so he was another we had to work hard to make certain that he nailed his colours to the mast."Reuse content