The UEFA Champions League returns on Tuesday with Groups A-D taking center stage on match-day 4.
While eight matches take place across the continent, there is no doubt that all eyes will be focused on Manchester where Pep Guardiola will be trying to stop a monster that he essentially created.
For Guardiola, the question is how to stop his former protege?
Messi has been involved in the last five goals Barcelona has scored against Manchester City, dating back to the Round of 16 match up of the 2014-2015 edition with three goals and two assists.
A victory for Barcelona will see the Blaugranas secure top spot in group C with two games to spare.
Manchester City is in danger of being leapfrogged by Borussia Monchengladbach. If City fail to pick up maximum points and the German side secures all three against Celtic, the blue half of Manchester will head into the final two match days outside of the qualification spots.
While many are calling this a defining game of City’s early season, another English team is looking to book its passage to the knockout rounds before the final two matches.
If Arsenal picks up all three points against Ludogorets and Paris Saint-Germain can complete its double over Basel, then both the London and Parisian clubs will be through before they meet on match-day 5.
Ludogorets have never beaten an English team in European competition, while no English club has fallen in Bulgaria since Liverpool lost to CSKA Sofia all the way back in 1982.
Add to that the 6-0 scoreline and the Mesut Ozil hat-trick from the meeting just two weeks ago and it looks to be a straightforward task for the Gunners.
PSG is expected to have a tougher time against Basel. Despite a run of seven games without a win in the Champions League, the Swiss side always finds the back of the net at St. Jakob-Park and hasn’t conceded more than one goal in its last 10 home matches in Europe’s biggest competition.
PSG, however, won the reverse fixture 3-0 and in Edinson Cavani, has a striker that has four goals and one assist over the first three matches.
In Group B, Besiktas and Napoli face off in a top of the table clash.
The Turkish giants stunned the Italians in the reverse fixture. Vincent Aboubaker completed his brace four minutes from time to hand Besiktas it’s first every victory against Italian opposition.
Napoli’s Belgian midfielder Dries Mertens is always up for nights in Europe. The winger has scored eight goals in the last eight European matches he’s featured in. This includes his strike on the half-hour against the Turkish club and a brace in the 4-2 victory over Benfica on match-day 2.
With Besiktas and Napoli taking the early kick-off, the Eagles of Benfica will know exactly where they will stand if they can soar to the double against Dynamo Kiev.
The Portuguese champions enter the day just one point outside the qualification spots. A win for the home side would also bounce Dynamo Kiev from the competition.
The Ukrainians only have one point from their first three matches. A surprise victory for the visitors, however, would mean they would be right back in the hunt heading into the final two matches of group play.
Atletico hosts Rostov following a 1-0 victory in the corresponding fixture in Romania. Last year’s finalists are one of just three teams looking to remain perfect in the competition alongside Barcelona and Leicester City.
Bayern Munich travels to Holland to take on PSV Eindhoven. The German champions are 0-2-2 in their four away matches in the Champions League during the calendar year, but Carlo Ancelotti’s men are on a good run of form.
Bayern has won its last four games, starting with the 4-1 thumping of PSV in the corresponding fixture.
Arjen Robben is expected to face his old club after scoring a goal and dishing out two helpers in this weekend’s 3-1 victory over FC Augsburg in domestic action.
When all is said and done on Tuesday, five teams may have already booked their passage to the round of 16. Yet nothing is certain, such is the propensity for drama in the UEFA Champions League.