Last year's finalists Atletico Madrid will take on Greek giants Olympiakos at the Karaiskakis Stadium on the opening day of the 2014-15 Champions League campaign on Tuesday night.
Olympiakos reached the Round of 16 of the competition last season, and were looking like the favourites to progress to the quarterfinal after beating Manchester United 2-0 in the first leg at home. However, a Robin van Persie hat-trick at Old Trafford turned the tables and ended the hopes of the Greeks.
The Superleague champions will now be hoping for yet another impressive European campaign, and progress from Group A, which also has Juventus and Swedish champions Malmo. Manager Michel, a Real Madrid legend, knows all about playing against Atletico, and will be confident of his side managing a positive result at home against the Rojiblancos tonight.
"We are fully prepared. We have the experience and we will fight for the result," Michel said. "Atletico are the same powerful side they have been. Atletico's result at the weekend against Real Madrid shows just what we are up against. They have teamwork so changes to individual players won't alter much for them. All the games for us at this stage are difficult. Each team has its style and we will show ours – I believe we will do well."
Olympiakos have lost some of last season's star performers in Joel Campbell (loan return to Arsenal), Kostas Manolas (Roma) and Andreas Samaris (Benfica). But they have brought in shrewd replacements in the likes of Pajtim Kasami (Fulham), Eric Abidal (Monaco), Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona) and Alberto Botia (Sevilla), while Kostas Mitroglou has returned on a season-long loan from Fulham.
Atletico, on the other hand, were just a minute away from winning their first Champions League title in last year's final against archrivals Real Madrid in Lisbon but Sergio Ramos equalised in stoppage time and the rest - which has something to do with a phenomenon called La Decima - is history.
Diego Simeone will be hoping to go one better this season and, looking the unit that Atletico is, a repeat run cannot be completely ruled out. The Spanish champions warmed up well for the European night, beating Real 2-1 in the La Liga fixture at the Bernabeu during the weekend. However, the manager insists that his players will not be complacent.
"We have had a short time to prepare after the match against Real at the weekend," Simeone pointed out. "This will probably be the most difficult game in the group. Olympiacos have a very strong home record and passionate fans. I've played against Michel as a player and coach. Michel had a great run with Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League. He's succeeded in giving Olympiacos a distinct style and character. He has put his stamp on the team."
Atletico also suffered an end of the season exodus, which saw the likes of Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Thibaut Courtois (loan return) join Chelsea, while David Villa (New York City), Adrian (Benfica) and Sergio Asenjo (Villareal) also left the club. However, Simeone responded by doing some smart business of his own, signing the likes of Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Miguel Moya (Getafe), Guilherme Siqueira (Granda), Raul Jimenez (Club America) and Jan Oblak (Benfica).
Olympiakos: Roberto; Salino, Botia, Abidal, Masuaku; Maniatis, Ndinga; Kasami, Dominguez, Afellay; Diamantakos
Atletico: Moya; Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Siqueira; Koke, Tiago, Gabi, Griezmann; Jimenez, Mandzukic
Where to Watch Live
The match is set for an 12.15 am IST (8.45 pm local time) start, and can also be watched via live streaming online in India HERE. Catch the action in the UK on Sky Sports Red Button, with the option to live stream the match online HERE.
Viewers in the US can watch the game on Fox Deportes, ESPN3 Online-App and Watch ESPN, with an option to live stream HERE. Audience in the Middle East and North Africa can catch the action via live streaming HERE, while South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa viewers can catch it HERE.