UEFA Champions League

Real Madrid’s offensive woes will not be aided when they travel to the Stade de l’Abbé Deschamps on Tuesday and face an Auxerre squad who gave up the fewest goals in Ligue 1 last season with a meager 29.  While Auxerre’s form has not carried over to this current season, where they have not won in Ligue 1 while conceding ten in seven matches, expect the Burgundy outfit to pack it in the midfield and play with ten behind the ball throughout the vast majority of the match.  Karim Benzema will start for José Mourinho as he will hope to provide an extra spark that Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuaín, and co. have not lit consistently this campaign.

FK Rubin Kazan made their club known throughout Europe not only by winning back-to-back Russian Premier League titles in 2008 and 2009 but also by stealing three points away from then-defending champions FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the group stage of last season’s edition of the UEFA Champions League.  Both teams have been drawn again into the same group, and Rubin Kazan will host Barcelona at the Tsentralnyi Stadion in the early Wednesday match.

Rubin Kazan has won all their league matches in September to somewhat keep pace with Zenit St. Petersburg at the top of the Russian Premier League, but this focus to catch Zenit caught them in their first group stage match, when in a match bereft of any real quality, FC København talisman Dame N’Doye headed the winner in the 87th minute to give his team all three points.  Manager Gurban Berdiýew will have to rub his rosary beads harder than usual to come up with another shock against Barcelona, but besides the divine inspiration he will seek, Berdiýew will have the advantage of a Barcelona team that will have to travel thousands of miles to Tatarstan and possibly without Lionel Messi, although reports suggest Messi may be listed on the substitutes’s bench.

In one of the best matches of Matchday 2, Manchester United will travel to the Mestalla to play a Valencia team who currently tops the table in La Liga, unbeaten in five matches and winning four.  While Rangers held Manchester United to a dour 0-0 draw, Valencia went to Turkey and taught Champions League newcomers Bursaspor a European lesson with a 0-4 thrashing at the Bursa Atatürk Stadium.

The Red Devils will start the match without Wayne Rooney as Sir Alex Ferguson has decided to rest him against Valencia following their 2-2 draw at Bolton Wanderers on Sunday.  Rooney suffered a knock to his ankle during the match, and combined with his poor performances throughout the summer and the current Barclays Premier League season alongside the revelations of his sordid private life, Sir Alex felt that staying behind in Manchester would be the best move for both Rooney and Manchester United.

Valencia wants to extend their outstanding form against United, and for the last few matches, Los Che have been without their influential midfielder Éver Banega, who sprained his ankle against Racing de Santander early in Valencia’s second match of the season.  In Banega’s absence, new signings Mehmet Topal and Tino Costa filled in perfectly and kept the Valencia Experience a constantly smooth ride.  No one will convincingly make an argument that Valencia is a better team without David Villa and David Silva, and while Valencia lost a shade of flair and fantasy with their departures, they have sured up the midfield and defense and have become a more efficient team.  Not necessarily sexy but effective as their record indicates.

The times listed are Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and include the pregame pleasantries, although sometimes the matches on the DirecTV La Liga specific channels may not go to match coverage until right before kickoff.

Sept. 28

Auxerre vs. Real Madrid – 2:30 PM on Fox Sports en Español and DirecTV channel 482 (482-1 for HD) (delayed at 5:00 PM on Fox Soccer Channel HD)

Sept. 29

FK Rubin Kazan vs. FC Barcelona – 12:25 PM on Fox Soccer Channel HD and Fox Sports en Español

Valencia vs. Manchester United – 2:30 PM on Fox Soccer Channel HD and Fox Sports en Español

UEFA Europa League

Two of the four matches in Matchday 2 of the UEFA Europa League involve a Spain vs. Germany showdown.  A struggling Sevilla who underwent a managerial change after their 2-0 to Hércules will go to the Signal Iduna Park, better known as the Westfalenstadion to face a Borussia Dortmund club who have won five of their six Bundesliga matches and trail the surprising leaders Mainz by three points.

The other España – Alemania clash involves Bayer Leverkusen playing trophy holders Atlético Madrid at the Vicente Calderón, where both teams’ ambitions in their respective leagues include upgrading to the Champions League for next season while maintaining interest in the Europa League.  Patrick Helmes will be the key figure as he tries to convince manager Jupp Heynkces that he deserves more than spot starts up front with Stefan Kießling.  Helmes will likely start for Leverkusen after his hat trick guided the boys from the Rhine to an easy 4-0 win over Rosenborg on Matchday 1.

Atlético Madrid will need to sharpen their European game after they played distracted in their 0-1 loss at Aris in their opening match of the group stage.  Los colchoneros might have had an eye on the following match against Barcelona when they lost to Aris, and with a key match against Sevilla this upcoming weekend, Atlético will fight those same demons to stay on the path and focus on a strong German team that looks like a serious contender for the Europa League trophy come May.

Sept. 30

Borussia Dortmund vs. Sevilla – 12:55 PM on DirecTV channel 481 (481-1 for HD)

Villarreal vs. Club Brugge – 3:00 PM on DirecTV channel 482 (482-1 for HD)

Atlético Madrid vs. Bayer Leverkusen – 3:00 PM on Gol TV HD

Unfortunately, the BSC Young Boys – Getafe match at the Stade de Suisse will not be shown on US TV.