A classic inter-city Madrid derby, home encounter against OFI and tricky trip to Gothenburg are the three tests awaiting the Bianconeri’s three Champions League Group A opponents – Atletico Madrid, Olympiacos and Malmo – ahead of next week’s return to European football.
The clash of last year’s Champions League finalists in the Spanish capital is undoubtedly this weekend’s headline fixture, with both braced to battle it out for local bragging rights in Saturday’s night’s showdown at the Santiago Bernabeu (kick-off 20.00 CET).
A shock 4-2 defeat to Real Sociedad in their last game ahead of the international break means Carlo Ancelotti’s Real will be determined to make amends for an indifferent introduction to this season’s La Liga campaign by overturning their inter-city rivals in front of a capacity home crowd.
But Atletico, who celebrated Diego Simeone’s 100th La Liga match as club manager with a 2-1 win over Eibar a fortnight ago, will be equally as fired up to claim what would be a second El Derbi Madrileño triumph in as many years on away soil.
Half an hour beforehand, Greek champions Olympiacos will aim to maintain their unbeaten start to the season when they welcome OFI to the Karaiskakis Stadium.
Their opponents, based on the island of Crete, travel to mainland Greece with three points from two games under their belts, coming courtesy of an opening day 1-0 home success over Panaitolikos.
Earlier on in the day, Swedish league leaders Malmo will be out to put further breathing space between themselves and nearest challengers AIK when they meet fifth-placed Hacken on Saturday lunchtime in Gothenburg.
After seeing their Allsvenskan supremacy cut to four points following a 2-0 away reverse against Djungarden, Age Hareide’s men will be hoping to get their title charge back on track before swiftly turning their attentions to Tuesday’s first Champions League Group A meeting with the Bianconeri at Juventus Stadium.