Tag Archives: montpellier

David Beckham tempted to extend PSG stay

Beckham tempted to extend PSG stay as he prepares for glamour tie with Barcelona

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

19:50 GMT, 30 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:53 GMT, 30 March 2013

David Beckham has admitted he is tempted to extend his stay with Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain into a second season.

The 37-year-old joined Carlo
Ancelotti's PSG on a five-month deal in January and his brief
contribution has helped the capital club book a Champions League
quarter-final with Barcelona while sustaining their domestic lead over
Lyon.

Scroll down to watch video highlights

Inspiration: David Beckham's (centre) cameo appearance was a key part of PSG extending their lead at the top of Ligue 1

Inspiration: David Beckham's (centre) cameo appearance was a key part of PSG extending their lead at the top of Ligue 1

While Beckham would not publicly commit his future to the Parc des Princes outfit, he revealed he is relishing the opportunity to face Barca in Paris on Tuesday night.

He told Le Parisien: 'We'll see. Who wouldn't want to stay at a place like this

'It's very special but I'm not getting any younger so we'll see how I feel at the end of the season. It's always nice to be wanted.'

Beckham was speaking after a 1-0 victory over reigning French champions Montpellier in which he played 18 minutes as a second-half substitute.

Celebrations: Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kevin Gameiro (background) celebrates his goal

Celebrations: Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kevin Gameiro (background) celebrates his goal

Winner: Beckham challenges Montpellier's John Utaka

Winner: Beckham challenges Montpellier's John Utaka

Sliding in: Beckham wins the ball from Bryan Dabo

Sliding in: Beckham wins the ball from Bryan Dabo

The playmaker could play a bigger
role against the Primera Division leaders given the inside knowledge he
gained from a four-season spell with Real Madrid.

'Now our focus will turn to Barcelona and I think everybody's excited about the game,' he added.

'Whenever I've come up against Barcelona you always get excited about coming up against the best players and teams.

'It's important that we concentrate on our own game and not worry about their game too much.'

VIDEO: David Beckham helps PSG to victory

Olivier Giroud urges Arsene Wenger to sign Thierry Henry

Get Henry! Arsenal frontman Giroud urges Wenger to sign legend for a third time

|

UPDATED:

11:38 GMT, 26 November 2012

Olivier Giroud has urged Thierry Henry to re-sign for Arsenal in January.

Henry has been training with the north London club during the MLS off-season, and manager Arsene Wenger has refused to rule out another move for the Gunners legend.

The New York Red Bulls striker, 35, scored twice during his seven-game loan spell last season, including a storybook winner against Leeds in the FA Cup on his return to the club he served from 1999 to 2007.

Fancy seeing you here, Thierry: Henry may be in line for a third stint at Arsenal

Fancy seeing you here, Thierry: Henry may be in line for a third stint at Arsenal

Wenger said he would make a decision on Henry's potential return in January but admitted it was a tempting prospect given the former France star's qualities and the fact Arsenal will be 'short' of strikers in the new year owing to the Africa Cup of Nations.

And Giroud admitted he'd love to link up with his fellow Frenchman at the Emirates.

'Henry misses the enthusiasm around the Premier League,' Giroud said. 'But he didn't tell me if he will be back. It would be great joy to play with him.'

Leading the line: Giroud has urged Wenger to re-sign Henry

Leading the line: Giroud has urged Wenger to re-sign Henry

Giroud has scored four goals in his last five appearances for the Gunners and says he's slowly beginning to adapt to life in the Barclays Premier League after his arrival from Montpellier in a 12million deal during the summer.

'I have to improve my statistics again and again. I have been patient and worked, said Giroud who was speaking to French newspaper L'Equipe.

'When you come into a new club, there is a time to adapt. Even Thierry Henry experienced it. If I could achieved just half of what he achieved.'

He added: 'I love that city [London], it is eccentric, and so cosmopolitan. There are so many things to do. You can never be bored.'

Arsene Wenger responds to Arsenal fans" criticism

Wenger opts for sarcasm as Arsenal fans voice frustrations against Villa

|

UPDATED:

22:20 GMT, 25 November 2012

It was short, sweet and to the point.

After Arsenal’s travelling support chanted ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’ at Arsene Wenger following his late substitution of Olivier Giroud, the club’s manager chose sarcasm as a convenient escape.

Well, it was either that or criticising his own fans which is the game’s No 1 no-go area as far as football managers are concerned.

I can't look! Arsenal fans watch on dejected as their side struggles

I can't look! Arsenal fans watch on dejected as their side struggles

I can't look! Arsenal fans watch on dejected as their side struggles

‘I’ve been lucky,’ he said, ‘I’ve only managed 1,600 games and in 200 matches in the Champions League.’

As a neutral, it was difficult not to feel a tad of sympathy. Given Wenger’s monumental achievements over the past 15 years, perhaps he deserves more understanding.

Saturday’s outing at a drenched Villa Park was the Gunners’ 10th game in 34 days. Some of his players had used their spare week in that time to represent their respective countries.

This Wednesday’s trip to Everton kicks off a spell of five matches inside a fortnight. It is a hefty workload.

And Wenger travelled to the Midlands on the back of a vital home Champions League qualification game with Montpellier.

Benched: Jack Wilshere was rested by Wenger against Aston Villa

Benched: Jack Wilshere was rested by Wenger against Aston Villa

Arsenal fans howled for the introduction of Jack Wilshere after barely an hour, vocalising their criticism of the manager still further. They were right, too. This stalemate needed a touch of genius.

But equally Wenger’s explanation was sensible. After being without the England international for such a lengthy period of time, he’s using his experience to guide the playmaker through.

‘Jack’s ankle is inflamed,’ he said, ‘it’s around the scar tissue. It’s not much but the rest today will help him get rid of it.

‘Apart from that, he’s done well. But he’s not played competitively for 17 months. People forget what that means — in terms of his career, 17 months is a massive length of time.

Under the cosh: Arsene Wenger

Under the cosh: Arsene Wenger

‘But I’m happy with his progress.’

It was fair to say that Arsenal’s usual crispness of passing was lacking but Villa, with Paul Lambert watching from the stands following his one-match ban for criticising match officials, were far more solid after conceding eight goals in their last two outings.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain appeared particularly afflicted by the hosts’ industry. But again Wenger’s comments were on the level.

‘He’s learning his trade and he’s a very talented young boy,’ he said, ‘I believe he will be a great player but at the moment he is learning his job. Basically, he’s 19 years old.’

As for Lambert, he trotted out his usual ‘We’ll be fine’ line.

He’s right, fine lines are what the game’s all about. But he’s not out of the woods yet.

If Villa’s next three matches against Reading, QPR and Stoke City don’t go according to plan, he might need his own method of self-defence.

Oh well, he could always phone Wenger for advice.

Arsenal v Montpellier: Rene Girard – we know how to stop Olivier Giroud

We know how to stop Giroud from scoring, claims the Arsenal striker's former boss

|

UPDATED:

19:12 GMT, 20 November 2012

Montpellier manager Rene Girard remains full of admiration for former striker Olivier Giroud, but will be all out to stop the Arsenal forward netting against his old club.

Giroud scored 21 goals to help fire Montpellier to the Ligue One title for the first time in their history last season, before joining Arsenal in a 12million summer transfer.

After a slow start, the France international has slowly grown into his new side, scoring five goals as many appearances.

French fancy: Giroud will face his former employers on Wednesday night

French fancy: Giroud will face his former employers on Wednesday night

Girard said: 'Olivier worked very hard for us and we almost sculpted him into the player he is today. We made history at the club and had great times.

'Unfortunately for us, he is rediscovering his best form and starting to score goals, but we have tactics to try to stop him.

'We know how good he is, but there are also lots of attacking threats here at Arsenal.'

Captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is looking forward to taking on his old team-mate.

The centre-half said: 'I know him and he knows me very well. 'We will see how we get on tomorrow, and I will work hard.'

Montpellier lost at home to Arsenal on matchday one and their hopes of making it out of Group B are now all but over, sitting bottom with just one point.

Girard said: 'I have told the team qualification for the knockout stages is over, but we still have a slight hope of qualification for the Europa League. “We need to look forward now and build for our Ligue 1 campaign.

'We need to be very solid, to try to get back to our usual form, and up the Ligue 1 table.'

The Montpellier manager added: 'It is a privilege to play in the Champions League, all of the team dreamt of this and fought for it all of last season.

'It has been quite liberating at times, but we just lacked a touch of experience at certain times in the games.

'We are just trying to find a bit more consistency in our results and a balance in our play.'

Giroud: Gunners must ignore critics and get in shape for Schalke

Giroud: Gunners must ignore critics and get in shape for Schalke

|

UPDATED:

23:37 GMT, 3 November 2012

Olivier Giroud feels Arsenal must not
listen to the doubters when the Gunners look to get their Champions
League campaign back on track with victory over Schalke in Gelsenkirchen
next week.

The Germans recorded an impressive
2-0 win at Emirates Stadium a fortnight ago, which put them top of Group
B and dented Arsenal's hopes of securing early qualification for the
knockout stages.

It was a flat display by Arsene
Wenger's team, who had won their opening European game in Montpellier
and also beaten Olympiakos, which followed on from a first Barclays
Premier League away defeat at Norwich.

Losing their heads: Olivier Giroud (right) jumps with Per Mertesacker to head the ball

Losing their heads: Olivier Giroud (right) jumps with Per Mertesacker to head the ball

Giroud, however, insists Arsenal must not let their confidence be dented by critics, who will use those below-par performances and today's 2-1 defeat at Manchester United as evidence the team cannot last the distance.

'We have to continue to play through the lines, to find the solutions and to keep confident about our qualities. That is what the boss has his finger on and wants us to do, to keep playing our football,' Giroud told Arsenal Player.

'Schalke may defend strongly and it might be difficult for us to break them down, but we must keep going and going, keep playing football and keep confident – we have to go forward.

Better times: Olivier Giroud celebrates after victory at Reading

Better times: Olivier Giroud celebrates after victory at Reading

'We are a team that always likes to play football, with quality passing and movement, so to just defend and not play is not Arsenal.'

French striker Giroud, 26, insists Arsenal must head to Germany looking for victory rather than just aiming not to get beaten.

'We want to go to Germany with the idea of winning. We want to show our mental and technical qualities,' he said. 'We go to Germany confident. I know that Schalke will consider Arsenal as a good team, so although they won the first leg, we know that they expect to play a hard game because we want to do better.'

Arsenal were second best for long spells against the well-organised Germans a fortnight ago, with second-half goals from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ibrahim Afellay condemning the Gunners to a first home defeat in Europe for 45 matches.

Giroud, however, rejected suggestions Arsenal had not been prepared for the challenge they faced from the Bundesliga outfit.

'I don't think we underestimated Schalke in the last match, I just don't think our overall performance was good enough on the night,' he said. 'Schalke are experienced in the Champions League and we had seen videos of them, and we had analysed their game and their qualities. We were not surprised by their qualities and their players.

Tough task: Schalke were too strong for Arsenal at the Emirates

Tough task: Schalke were too strong for Arsenal at the Emirates

'We must give credit to Schalke for their performance on the night, but now we know what we will be up against in Germany next week.

'We know that we have to play very well in Germany to make sure we come back home to London with some points.'

Giroud now feels settled into the Arsenal side following his summer move from Montpellier, and scored his first Premier League goal at West Ham before the international break.

Opening his account: Olivier Giroud scores against West Ham

Opening his account: Olivier Giroud scores against West Ham

'I must say, I prefer English football because I have more invested in each match. You just have to be more physical and athletic in every single match,' he said.

'There are no easy matches in England. You have to be ready to make contact with very hard defenders each time you go on to the pitch. 'I was ready for this challenge and I must say that I am not surprised at what I am now experiencing.'

Arsenal have title race role, says Olivier Giroud

We've got our eyes on the title! Striker Giroud confident of Arsenal charge

|

UPDATED:

22:11 GMT, 8 October 2012

Olivier Giroud feels Arsenal can play a 'very interesting role' in the Barclays Premier League title race.

The France international bagged his first league goal since a 12million summer move from Montpellier in the 3-1 win at West Ham as the Gunners recovered from the disappointing home defeat by leaders Chelsea.

Although Arsenal, who had beaten Olympiacos in the Champions League earlier in the week, are currently just outside the top six and seven points off the pace, Giroud believes there is plenty more to come.

French fancy: Arsenal's Olivier Giroud is hopeful of securing silverware in his first season

French fancy: Arsenal's Olivier Giroud is hopeful of securing silverware in his first season

'We will keep going and stay confident for the future. I think we have a very interesting role in this championship,' Giroud told Arsenal Player.

Giroud produced a neat close-range finish when turning in Lukas Podolski's cross to equalise at Upton Park, and is relieved to have got off the mark in the league.

Speaking to French broadcaster Canal+, Giroud added: 'I expected it to be difficult at first because the Premier League is a level higher and I have had to adapt.

'It is nice to have scored my first goal, that will give me a lot of confidence for the future. I feel good about this team and I am confident that I will score more goals. Why not a dozen like in my first season at Montpellier'

Podolski opened his Arsenal account in the 2-0 win at Liverpool before the last international break.

The German, signed from Cologne in an 11million deal, feels Giroud can now play with more freedom when the domestic action begins again with a trip to Norwich on October 20.

'Everybody wants goals from strikers and it was not easy for Olivier,' Podolski told Arsenal Player. 'You must wait for your chance, keep fighting and the goals will come.'

Arsenal could have Poland international goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny back from an ankle injury for the trip to Carrow Road.

Arsenal 3 Olympiacos 1: Steve Bould hails "fantastic result"

Arsenal No 2 Bould lauds 'fantastic result' as Gunners edge out Olympiacos at Emirates

|

UPDATED:

21:22 GMT, 3 October 2012

Arsenal assistant coach Steve Bould felt the Gunners overcame a nervy first half to secure an important win after downing Olympiacos 3-1 in the Champions League.

Arsenal rode their luck on occasions before taking a 42nd-minute lead through Gervinho, only to be pegged back minutes later when Kostas Mitroglou glanced home a header.

On target: Gervinho opens the scoring shortly before the interval

On target: Gervinho opens the scoring shortly before the interval after a well-executed finish

The home side needed just 11 minutes of the second half to re-take the lead, though, when Lukas Podolski netted, and a fine late finish from Aaron Ramsey sealed a second successive victory in Group B.

Bould, who again sat on the bench in place of Arsene Wenger as the Frenchman continued to serve a European ban, said of the victory: 'It was tough, they made it tough for us. We started well enough but then looked a little bit nervous. 'Overall it was fantastic result.'

Job done: Ramsey completes the victory with a cool finish in injury time

Job done: Ramsey celebrates after completing the victory with a cool finish in injury time

With Schalke being held by Montpellier at home this evening Arsenal are now two points clear at the top of the group, although Bould is not getting carried away.

He told Sky Sports 4: 'It's early days, there's an awful lot of work still to do.'

Captain Thomas Vermaelen echoed those thoughts, admitting his side were not up to speed on occasion in the first half before improving after the break.

Up for the battle: Kostas Mitroglou beats Thomas Vermaelen to the ball en route to Olympiacos's leveller

Up for the battle: Kostas Mitroglou beats Thomas Vermaelen to the ball en route to Olympiacos's leveller

The centre-back said: 'The second half was better, in the first half we were sloppy sometimes with the passing, we lost a lot of balls.

'We stared well but the first half was not great.' 'We did much better in the second half.'

He added of the win: 'It gives us more confidence to have two wins from two. The most important thing is to win your home games. We want to keep it going.'

In the stands: Wenger, serving a touchline ban, watched the match alongside England boss Roy Hodgson

In the stands: Wenger, serving a touchline ban, watched the match alongside England boss Roy Hodgson

Arsene Wenger confident Arsenal will beat Olympiakos

Wenger confident Arsenal will avoid a Greek tragedy as they aim to bounce back from Chelsea defeat

|

UPDATED:

17:35 GMT, 2 October 2012

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger wants his side to make amends for Saturday's defeat to Chelsea when the Gunners take on Olympiakos in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The north Londoners saw a successful start to the season abruptly halted at the weekend as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal sit seven points shy of the Barclays Premier League leaders as a result, but attention now turns to their Champions League campaign.

Scroll down for video

Make amends: A relaxed Arsene Wenger said he wanted to get a positive result against Olympiakos following Saturday's defeat to Chelsea

Make amends: A relaxed Arsene Wenger said he wanted to get a positive result against Olympiakos following Saturday's defeat to Chelsea

Wenger's side takes on the Greek champions on Wednesday and the Frenchman wants to see an improved performance in the Group B encounter.

'The players are focused and disappointed that we lost the game,' the Arsenal manager said on Tuesday.

'They are still down of course, but we have a Champions League game in front of us at home and we want to put things right.

'There were a lot of positives in that game as well, what was not good is easy to correct.

'I believe the championship is long, but we have to make sure the Champions League is long as well.

'It is about how we respond. I am impressed by the mentality of my team, but the mentality is as well about how you respond to disappointment.

'I am confident we will, but that is what we want to show tomorrow.'

Right mentality: Wenger believes his players have the psychological strength to bounce back against Olympiakos

Right mentality: Wenger believes his players have the psychological strength to bounce back against Olympiakos

Arsenal will be hoping to make it two wins from two Group B games tomorrow, having returned from Montpellier with three points on matchday one.

Olympiakos, who Arsenal also faced in the group stage last year, are without a point after losing their opener at home to Schalke and Wenger knows Wednesday's clash at the Emirates provides a chance to take a stranglehold on the group.

'Olympiakos are already in a position where their backs are to the wall because they have lost at home and in this Champions League when you lose at home it is very difficult,' the Frenchman said.

'They are highly motivated to know they have to give everything to make it through. They are experienced and basically it is the same team (as it was) at the back of last season.

Strong position: Arsenal won their opening Champions League match in Montpellier and can take control of the group with a win over Olympiakos

Strong position: Arsenal won their opening Champions League match in Montpellier and can take control of the group with a win over Olympiakos

'I think they had a difficult start against Marseille and after became stronger and stronger through the competition last year.

'It looks similar this year, they had a difficult start at home against Schalke and if you analyse their team it is 90 per cent the same as last season.'

Wenger, who is still serving a three-game touchline ban, will have to do without several key players on Wednesday night.

Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is still three weeks from a return from an ankle injury, while midfielder Tomas Rosicky and right-back Bacary Sagna remain sidelined.

Young guns: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (right) shares a joke with Aaron Ramsey during training

Young guns: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (right) shares a joke with Aaron Ramsey during training

Wenger revealed playmaker Mikel Arteta faces a fitness test on an ankle injury on Wednesday morning, while midfielder Abou Diaby faces a three-week lay-off with a thigh strain that forced him off against Chelsea.

'Arteta will have a test tomorrow morning,' Wenger said. 'We will make the decision then whether we include him in the squad or not. He has an ankle injury.

'We lost Diaby, who has a thigh strain. He is definitely out for three weeks as well. Apart from Diaby and Arteta, everyone came through well.'

Wenger was far more guarded when asked about another midfielder, Jack Wilshere, who came through his first match in 14 months on Monday.

Massive boost: Jack Wilshere is edging closer to a first-team return after playing for the Under-21s against West Brom on Monday

Massive boost: Jack Wilshere is edging closer to a first-team return after playing for the Under-21s against West Brom on Monday

The 20-year-old has struggled with an ankle injury suffered prior to last season but stepped up his comeback by playing 63 minutes of the Gunners' under-21 game at West Brom.

'He came through it all right,' Wenger said. 'There was no reaction.

'We are pleased but it is now down to taking the right time to ease him slowly back.

'We are all very happy, and he especially must be exceptionally happy, but he has been out for 14 months.'

VIDEO: Wenger determined to get Gunners back to their winning ways

DM.has('rcpv1873312984001','BCVideo');

Olivier Giroud back in business after breaking Arsenal duck

Giroud ready for 'beautiful adventure' after finally breaking Arsenal duck

|

UPDATED:

10:09 GMT, 28 September 2012

Olivier Giroud claims he is back in business after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the week against Coventry.

The 11million France international struck in the Gunners' 6-1 Capital One Cup victory and is ready to kick-on from there.

It took 354 minutes for the man who arrived from Montpellier to find the net but finally doing so has set him free.

Magic moment: Olivier Giroud scores his first goal for Arsenal

Magic moment: Olivier Giroud scores his first goal for Arsenal

The striker said: 'The feeling is a lot of happiness and relief after this goal which I have been chasing for a long time. For a striker, it’s always good to rediscover the road to the net.

'I had already given a decisive pass for the team before but it’s not a goal. For a striker it’s important for the confidence. I hope there will be many more.

'The fact I hadn’t scored played in my head. You shouldn’t think about it but those close to me, friends, many people talk to you about it.

'The goal will come soon – they kept telling me. I took it positively with a smile, the need and the determination to get there.

'It lifts the weight off my shoulders, absolutely. That’s it now I got the first one.

'This must be the beginning of a beautiful adventure.

'I felt well physically. I wanted to play the whole match but the coach rotated the team. I need to put a string of games together, find my rhythm and continue to score. I am convinced that if I persevere it will come.'

He added: 'Now I need to continue. This is only the beginning.

'Yes, the timing was great as it came just before Chelsea which is a very important game and it gives me confidence. The team also gained a lot of confidence with this victory.

'There were many changes, so certain players could rest for the match against Chelsea.

Double up Giroud missed his chance to bag a brace

Double up Giroud missed his chance to bag a brace

'What’s good is when players who play less are called up they live up to expectations. Now we will think about the League. There is a great match ahead and I hope it will go our way.

'There is a lot of serenity in this team. We don’t get carried away. We know this is just the start and that everything goes quickly. We are still unbeaten and that’s very good.'

He also missed a penalty in the match but refused to blame two pitch invaders who ran on beforehand and says it will not impact on his confidence.

Giroud explained: 'I have a habit of putting penalties in that spot. What happened (the streakers) didn’t perturb me. I stayed calm but the keeper went that way early and I should have had a glance at him and changed sides. I will have to work on my pens.

Moving on: Giroud will not let his confidence be affected

Moving on: Giroud will not let his confidence be affected

'I have a tendency often to shoot in the same way. The keeper read my run up well. I will have to work on that.

'I didn’t drop my performance after that though and I made an assist just after – it’s important for me to help others score and be part of the collective.

'Yes, I saw the streakers. It was [going on] for a long time and we had to wait. But it didn’t disturb me.

'Really, it was the keeper who saved my penalty. In France, this kind of thing doesn’t exist because they have barriers [to stop pitch invasions]. But it’s funny.'

Real Madrid v Manchester City and Montpellier v Arsenal – Champions League live

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE LIVE: Real Madrid v Manchester City and Montpellier v Arsenal – as it happens

|

UPDATED:

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 [email protected]ailymail.co.uk or via Twitter @Ripinho.

Champions League (7.45pm)

Click here for the live goals as they go in

Montpellier 1-0 Arsenal

Real Madrid 0-0 Manchester City

Click here for all the latest scores and live tables from the Champions League

All the latest from the Championship

All the latest from League One

All the latest from League Two

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

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

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

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

All smiles: Yaya Toure (centre right) jokes with Manchester City team-mate, Carlos Tevez