CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LIVE: Real Madrid v Manchester City and Montpellier v Arsenal – as it happens
18:58 GMT, 18 September 2012
Follow Sportsmail's coverage of the Champions League as Manchester City and Arsenal open up their group stage campaigns with trips to the continent. The Premier League champions visit record winners Real Madrid at the Bernabeu while the Gunners travel to the French champions, Montpellier. Send me your thoughts on the action at dan.rip[email protected] or via Twitter @Ripinho.
Champions League (7.45pm)
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Montpellier 1-0 Arsenal
Real Madrid 0-0 Manchester City
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19.55: GOAL! MONTPELLIER 1-0 Arsenal
Thomas Vermaelen is a little clumsy lunging in with a tackle just inside the box on Younes Belhanda, and the forward picks himself up to chip the resulting penalty kick home Panenka style. Not the start I was expecting there.
19.54: PENALTY (Montpellier)
19.53: Manchester City have made a decent enough start in Spain, they are certainly seeing a healthy amount of the ball.
19.50: Arsenal win a free-kick for handball on the very edge of the Montellier box but Santi Cazorla's strike can only cannon into the wall.
19.48: It doesn't look for City when Cristiano Ronaldo cuts inside from the left to the edge of the box, but it's not his season so far and he flashes his shot well wide across goal.
19.47: And in France too where Arsenal's Abou Diaby is booked after less than 20 seconds following a clumsy challenge on Marco Estrada.
19.46: We are underway in Spain…
19.45: Manchester City and Real Madrid both make surprising defensive changes for tonight's eagerly-anticipated Champions League Group D clash at the Bernabeu Stadium.
City boss Roberto Mancini makes the bold decision to hand a debut to new signing Matija Nastasic and leave Joleon Lescott on the bench, while fit-again striker Sergio Aguero is also among the substitutes.
David Silva and Gareth Barry return to the starting line-up, with Carlos Tevez playing alone up front.
Madrid manager Jose Mourinho responds to recent poor results by axing defensive linchpin Sergio Ramos and bringing in Raphael Varane, while in midfield Mesut Ozil is also dropped and Michael Essien comes in.
New surroundings: Arsenal travel to Montpellier to begin their Champions League campaign
19.42: The players are out in France and Spain, so FINALLY here is the full team sheet from the Bernebau:
Real Madrid v Man City
Real Madrid: Casillas, Arbeloa, Pepe, Varane, Marcelo, Khedira, Alonso, Di Maria, Essien, Ronaldo, Higuain. Subs: Adan,Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao, Kaka, Benzema, Ozil, Modric.
Man City: Hart, Maicon, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy, Javi Garcia, Silva, Toure, Barry, Nasri, Tevez. Subs: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Lescott, Dzeko, Kolarov, Aguero, Rodwell.
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
19.39: Fighting talk from Jose Mourinho. In an interview with ITV, the Real Madrid boss has slammed his player's commitments so far this season but backs them to turn up for the big test in the Champions League.
In translation, Manchester City – watch out!
19.34: From InfostradaLive:
Arsenal have lost only one of five CL matches in France in the Arsene Wenger era, the 2006 Final vs Barcelona (1-2) in Paris. He is unbeaten vs French clubs in France, drawing 1-1 against Lens and winning 0-1 against Lyon, Auxerre and Marseille.
19.31: It's not just Montpellier struggling on four points either. Real Madrid have also made a slow start in La Liga as they have the same tally after four games.
Is it a good time to play them, or is there a sting in the tail to come
As long as Roberto Mancini's side play to their strengths I can see them getting a positive result at the Spanish champions tonight.
19.27: Not long until kick-off so here is some Champions League insight from Sportsmail's Jamie Redknapp, who gives us his preview on the start of the competition.
Clash of the champions: Real Madrid and Manchester City collide at the Bernebau
19.22: From Sportsmail's Matt Lawton:
'One or two surprises in teams here in Madrid. Debut for Nastasic. No Sergio Ramos or Modric in Madrid side. Essien starts.'
19.21: As confusion continues to reign over who is actually starting at the Bernebau, here is the confirmed line-up for Real Madrid:
Casillas, Arbeloa, Pepe, Varane, Marcelo, Khedira, Essien, Xabi Alonso, Di Maria, Higuain, Ronaldo.
19.18: Big opportunity for Arsenal this evening. Montpellier were the surprise winners of the French division last season, and it's working against them this campaign.
After five matches in Ligue 1 they have just four points and look set for a relegation scrap more than a title challenge – hardly the form you want to be in when the Gunners come to town.
19.13: From OptaJoe:
20 – Arsenal have only kept one clean sheet in their last 20 Champions League away games, but that was in France last season. Respite.
Going back: Olivier Giroud (right) starts for Arsenal at his former club
19.08: There are a few reports circulating that Mario Balotelli starts instead of Javi Garcia, which is confusing me no end, but as we understand it the Italian is not even in the squad this evening.
19.05: Manchester City starting XI:
Hart, Clichy, Kompany, Nastasic, Maicon, Toure Y, Nasri, Barry, Silva, Garcia, Tevez
19.00: Olivier Giroud faces his former club as Arsenal open their Champions League Group B campaign in Montpellier.
The France international has yet to score since his 12million move from the Ligue 1 winners, but is restored to the starting line-up by manager Arsene Wenger, who begins a three-match touchline ban.
Vito Mannone deputises in goal for the injured Wojciech Szczesny, while Abou Diaby comes back into midfield after recovering from a hip problem in the other change from Saturday's 6-1 mauling of Southampton.
Montpellier have struggled at the start of the new domestic season, losing three times already. Defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa returns to captain the side.
18.55: Full line-ups from the Stade de la Mosson:
Montpellier v Arsenal
Montpellier: Jourdren, Bocaly, Yanga M'Biwa, Hilton, Bedimo, Estrada, Saihi, Mounier, Belhanda, Cabella, Camara. Subs: Pionnier, Marveaux, Herrera, Congre, Ait-Fana, Stambouli, Jeunechamp.
Arsenal: Mannone, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Diaby, Arteta, Gervinho, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud. Subs: Shea, Koscielny, Andre Santos, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Coquelin.
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain)
18.50: Arsenal starting XI:
Mannone, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Diaby, Arteta, Gervinho, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud.
18.45: Good evening folks. This may be the Champions League, but it has a big act to follow after yesterday's incredible drama between Everton and Newcastle in the Premier League.
Goals, controversy, and even a late twist (two of them!) had me captivated at Goodison Park, so let's hope it has set the tone for the European action this week. Team news will be on the way shortly.
All smiles: Yaya Toure (centre right) jokes with Manchester City team-mate, Carlos Tevez