06:27 PM BST
Manchester City heavy favourites as they begin Champions League defence
The Champions League group stage draw was kind to holders Manchester City, and they begin their campaign with what appears a home banker against 1991 European Cup winners Red Star Belgrade.
Some bookmakers price the Serbian team at 33-1 or even bigger, longer odds than pretty much every Premier League opponent would be at the Etihad (with the possible exception of Luton Town). That gives you some idea of the task facing Red Star tonight, with City to face RB Leipzig and Young Boys later in the group.
Pep Guardiola’s ability to rotate is hampered by some injury problems, with John Stones, Jack Grealish and Mateo Kovacic still unavailable. Grealish’s absence ought to mean another start for Jeremy Doku, who capped an impressive performance at West Ham with a goal. The Belgian winger could prove to be a sneaky-good purchase, for a City squad who have lacked flyers on the outside since the departures of Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and this year Riyad Mahrez. Guardiola, on the touchline again after undergoing a back operation in Barcelona, could choose to give back-up goalkeeper Stefan Ortega a start in place of Ederson. City face Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Saturday.
What do we know about Red Star, apart from the fact Billy Bragg’s uncle once played for them? Well, it’s their first appearance in the group stages since 2019-20, when they found themselves in a group with Bayern Munich and Tottenham. Spurs beat them 9-0 across the two games. The season before, Red Star found themselves in a group with PSG, Liverpool and Napoli and unsurprisingly finished bottom, but did beat Jurgen Klopp’s team 2-0 in Belgrade. Experienced defender Aleksandar Dragovic will be one of the familiar names for watchers of European competition, having played for Bayer Leverkusen, Dynamo Kyiv and Basel, and spent a season at Leicester City. Manager Barak Bakhar is in his first season having come from Maccabi Haifa.
Full team news on the way shortly.