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Europe’s giants kick off UCL with Man City at home to Red Star, PSG facing Dortmund

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Champions League

Manchester City begin their title defence of the Champions League at home to Red Star Belgrade to kick off the European club season in earnest tonight.

Following a busy summer of football with the Women’s World Cup taking centre stage and domestic seasons returning back to action, memories of City’s first-ever Champions League win – a 1-0 victory over Inter Milan in a tedious final in Istanbul – may seem distant, but Pep Guardiola’s mind on Tuesday will no doubt flashback to that June night when his club at long last lifted the European Cup.

With an insatiable desire for victory, the Spaniard is confident that City have what it takes to retain their title, a feat last achieved by Real Madrid in 2018.

“It’ll be easier,” said Guardiola, who will be without the injured John Stones, Jack Grealish, Mateo Kovacic and Kevin de Bruyne for their home opener against Red Star. “The most difficult to win is the first one. It is incredible for us but it is just one. It’s important the players don’t feel relaxed.”

“For our club to win the Champions League is incredible but in perspective how many (clubs have) won one Champions League? A lot. We haven’t done anything special with just one, but we are incredibly proud.”

Top of the Premier League table, City will be favourites to reach the final at Wembley with other traditional powerhouses like Real Madrid and Bayern Munich currently lagging well behind, both in terms of match performance and resources. It will be the first Champions League season without Lionel Messi, who is stateside, and Cristiano Ronaldo, who is in Saudi Arabia, though making waves in the Asian Champions League tonight in Iran.

Owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, Newcastle United return to Europe’s premier competition for the first time since the 2002/03 season. They kick off their campaign against AC Milan at the San Siro.

Paris Saint-Germain vs Dortmund is another standout fixture on Tuesday. Since Qatar Sports Investment took over the Parisian club in 2011, PSG have won nine Ligue 1 titles, but the Champions League trophy remains elusive. They reached the 2021 final but succumbed to Bayern Munich 1-0. Instead, City, last season, became the first state-backed club to win the competition.

“When a club is obsessed with something, it’s never a good sign,” said PSG manager Luis Enrique.

“You have to have ambition but obsession doesn’t work in any area of life. You have to wait and see how the competition goes, football is a wonderful sport, any result is possible. You can play an incredible game and lose, play badly and win. As a club, we play all competitions to win them, that’s the objective. It’s very ambitious but it’s necessary.”

This will be the last season of the existing 32-team format in the group phase before the competition moves to a Swiss model featuring 36 clubs in the group stages in a league model.

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Nigerian League

Sporting Lagos to appoint Biffo as new head coach

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Sporting Lagos are set to appoint Abdullahi Biffo as their new head coach. Biffo will take charge from Paul Offor who was sacked on Wednesday night.

Sporting Lagos are set to appoint Abdullahi Biffo as their new head coach.

Biffo will take charge from Paul Offor who was sacked on Wednesday night.

The experienced tactician has managed a number of top sides in the Nigeria Premier Football League.

He once managed Kwara United, Katsina United and Niger Tornadoes in the top-flight.

The gaffer is expected to help improve the fortune of the modest side.

Sporting Lagos have moved to 11th position on the table following an improved performance in the second half of the season.

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Nigerian League

Sporting Lagos sack head coach Paul Offor

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Nigeria Premier Football League side, Sporting Lagos have parted ways with head coach Paul Offor. Offor was sacked

Nigeria Premier Football League side, Sporting Lagos have parted ways with head coach Paul Offor.

Offor was sacked following his side’s struggles in the NPFL.

The tactician’s departure was confirmed on the club’s X handle.

The statement reads “Sporting Lagos announces the departure of head Coach Paul Offor,”

“Coach Paul brought top-flight football back to our city and gave us the first piece of silverware in our history.

“Thank you for everything, coach Paul. We wish you the very best in your future endeavours.”

Sporting Lagos have penciled down former Kwara United coach Abdullahi Biffo as his possible replacement.

They occupy 11th position on the NPFL table with 38 points.

Sporting Lagos have recorded 10 wins, eight draws and 12 defeats in the current campaign.

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Nigerian League

Saviour relishes Rangers’ derby victory over Abia Warriors

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Rangers midfielder Isaac Saviour has expressed his excitement after scoring in the club’s oriental derby win against Abia Warriors.

Rangers midfielder Isaac Saviour has expressed his excitement after scoring in the club’s oriental derby win against Abia Warriors.

Saviour opened scoring for the Flying Antelopes in their 3-2 win at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium on Tuesday.

Kazeem Ogunleye and Chidozie Okorie were also on target for Rangers.

He revealed his plans to maintain his impressive performance for Rangers in subsequent games.

Saviour has netted three times in this campaign.

“I feel very excited,” he stated to the club’s media.

“I think that for some time I was out injured and coming back and got a chance to start a game and score against Katsina, I had it in mind that I had to continue scoring if at all, I wanted to make an instant impact in my team.

“I am very happy scoring against Abia Warriors after scoring in Katsina and I hope it goes on like that.

“It is always a joy to be selected as the man of the match and I feel excited and hopefully, more will come.”

Saviour will hope to add to his goal tally when Rangers battle Rivers United in their next league match this weekend.

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