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Europe’s big three ready for opening night

sports Updated: Sep 17, 2013 03:13 IST
Pep Guardiola

Experienced as they are, there will still be a few first-night nerves this week as Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho set off on new Champions League journeys with plenty to prove and reputations to polish.

Each with two triumphs on their managerial CVs, two of them are attempting to work their European magic in new surroundings while the third has returned to the club at which the continent’s biggest club prize proved elusive.

After a year-long sabbatical, having twice taken Barcelona to European glory in a glittering reign, Guardiola has arrived at Bayern Munich tasked with retaining the trophy won in such style by Jupp Heynckes in May.

Ancelotti, after his brief stay at Paris St Germain, will be expected to deliver Real Madrid’s 10th European Cup without delay, having twice led Milan to the summit.

Mourinho, who Ancelotti has replaced in the Spanish capital, will seek to steer Chelsea all the way to the final in Lisbon having returned to London determined to win club football’s biggest prize with a third club.

Rafa Benitez, another manager with a proven Champions League pedigree, will have to hit the ground running as his Napoli side host last season’s runners-up Borussia Dortmund.

Amid so many masterminds, Man Utd’s David Moyes and Barcelona’s new coach Gerardo Martino look like rookies in comparison as they prepare for their first ventures in the groups.

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