Fancied teams face tough tests

Barca host Panathinaikos in their Group D opener on Tuesday after being stunned in a 2-0 home defeat by promoted Hercules in their second La Liga outing of the campaign.
AC Milan, whose late signings of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho led excited fans to suddenly start snapping up Champions League season tickets, suffered similar woe at the weekend as they prepare to welcome Auxerre in Group G on Wednesday. City rivals Inter fared only a little better, struggling to beat Udinese 2-1 with Diego Milito again looking a shadow of the striker who was key to their treble success last term.

They start their defence with a Group A trip to Dutch champions Twente Enschede on Tuesday. Real too have looked lacklustre in their early season games although Cristiano Ronaldo returned from injury in Saturday's 1-0 win over Osasuna.

Wayne Rooney looks set to return for Tuesday's Group C opener at home to Rangers with police hoping confrontations stay on the Old Trafford pitch after laying down strict security controls on supporters of the Scottish champions.

On their last visit to Manchester for the 2008 UEFA Cup final against Zenit St Petersburg, rowdy Rangers fans rioted. "That still does evoke some very painful memories for people in Greater Manchester and for genuine Rangers fans," Greater Manchester assistant chief constable Ian Hopkins told Reuters.

Arsenal host Portuguese runners-up Sporting Braga on Wednesday in a Group H encounter. Chelsea play Slovakian champions Zilina in Group F on Wednesday while Bayern Munich host AS Roma in Group E.

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