United and Depay begin Champions League against Eindhoven
Santino Honasan on Sep 15, 2015 06:13 PM
Manchester United's Memphis Depay, right, is challenged by Liverpool's Nathaniel Clyne during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
LONDON (AP) — After a season-long absence from Europe's top club competition, Manchester United returns to the Champions League on Tuesday with a trip to the Netherlands to face PSV Eindhoven.
United captain Wayne Rooney will miss the match with a hamstring injury but both sets of fans will have a close eye on Memphis Depay, who was brought to Old Trafford in the offseason from PSV with United fans comparing the 21-year-old's flair, electrifying pace and eye for goal to that of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Netherlands international wears Ronaldo's No. 7 shirt, but has yet to light up the iconic stadium with displays reminiscent of the man now at Real Madrid.
Depay faltered so much in Saturday's 3-1 home victory over fierce rival Liverpool that he was substituted at halftime. But with Rooney out, there will be a big chance for Depay to avenge that display at the hands of his former team.
Group B also contains Wolfsburg and CSKA Moscow, who meet in Germany in the other opening encounter.
Here are some things to know ahead of the first round of Champions League Group B games:
FIRST START FOR MARTIAL?
In comparison to Depay, it's a different tale for Anthony Martial, the 19-year-old attacker signed from Monaco for a deadline day fee reported by English media to be 36 million pounds ($55.5 million). He has played only 25 minutes for his new side.
Martial arrived at United with comparisons to former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry, his French compatriot, and swiftly proved why against Liverpool when he was brought on after 65 minutes.
Martial collected the ball wide on the left, slalomed beyond Nathaniel Clyne, weaved past Martin Skrtel and put the ball past Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for a stunning debut goal, United's third of the game, six minutes from the end.
Martial could now make his first start for his new club, with Rooney missing the opening group encounter with the hamstring issue that kept him out of the Liverpool game.
PSV AMONG THE GOALS
The Dutch champions prepared for their meeting with United by routing 10-man Cambur 6-0 on Saturday, with striker Luuk de Jong scoring a hat trick in the first half.
Phillip Cocu's side has taken 11 points from its opening five games in the Dutch league but trails early leaders Ajax by two.
As well as the in-form De Jong, attacking partner and Netherlands international Luciano Narsingh will be one to watch for the United defense on Tuesday.
The duo will be coming up against David De Gea, as the goalkeeper was back in United's starting lineup against Liverpool after his long-running transfer saga with Real Madrid.
CSKA'S COACH INTRIGUE
At first glance, CSKA's start to the season seems ideal — qualification for the Champions League group stage and a six-point lead in the Russian league, where the Moscow club remains unbeaten.
Coach Leonid Slutsky has been dividing his time between CSKA and the Russian national team, where he was called in last month to replace Fabio Capello and save a floundering Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.
He's doing well so far, two wins from two games lifting Russia above Sweden and into the qualifying spots. However, Russia's powerful Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has warned that Russia will need a full-time coach after qualifying finishes, which would bring an end to Slutsky's six-year reign at CSKA.
Waiting in the wings is former BATE Borisov coach Viktor Goncharenko, who was named Sunday as Slutsky's new assistant at CSKA. Russian media report he's being groomed for the top job, but it remains to be seen whether he can match the enormously popular, two-time Russian title winner Slutsky.
Wolfsburg is still coming to terms with Kevin de Bruyne's departure for Manchester City. The club signed promising midfielder Julian Draxler from Schalke and Brazilian defender Dante from Bayern Munich but neither could impress in their debuts at promoted Ingolstadt on Saturday. Ingolstadt celebrated the goalless draw as if it were a win.
After just four games played, Wolfsburg is already four points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.
Wolfsburg's second Champions League campaign begins like the first, with a home game against CSKA Moscow. The then German champions won 3-1 on Sept. 15, 2009.