Mourinho had a dig at Brendan Rodgers' team selection against Real Madrid last night. Adam Davy

5 things to look out for in tonight's Champions League

Will Jose Mourinho follow Brendan Rodgers’ lead, can Luis Suarez score and more questions.

1. Will City go with five in midfield?

MANUEL PELLEGRINI HAS consistently refused to alter his team’s style in Europe, and it is perhaps one of the reasons why they continue to underperform in the Champions League.

The English club have just two points from their opening three games and badly need a win against CSKA Moscow tonight, and their coach has admitted they haven’t been good enough in recent times in the competition.

“Maybe there are five or six squads better than our squad or at the same level as our squad that also want to do it, but with a winning mentality and an ambitious mind, you must always think you can do it. I think we have time to prove it,” Pellegrini told reporters.

While two strikers has worked well for them in the Premier League, Europe is a different ball game as far as City are concerned, with even Manchester United altering their style in the competition in recent years.

Frank Lampard is likely to be back from a thigh injury in time for the game, and Pellegrini may therefore be best advised to place faith in the veteran’s big-game experience and sacrifice one of his strikers in the process.

2. Will Chelsea follow Liverpool’s example?

Last night against Real Madrid, Liverpool rested several first-team regulars ostensibly with an eye on their weekend Premier League clash with Chelsea.

Jose Mourinho subsequently had a sly dig at Brendan Rodgers, explaining: ”Normally, against the most difficult opponents, normally I will try to go with my best team.”

Consequently, should Mourinho follow suit and rest a number of important players in tonight’s game, it won’t exactly reflect well on their Slovenian opponents.

Nevertheless, there is one crucial difference between between Liverpool and Chelsea — whereas the former have struggled in Europe this year, the Blues have thrived and are currently top of their group. Hence, even a loss tonight would hardly have a decisive impact on their Champions League hopes.

3. Can Luis Suarez score his first Barcelona goal?

Spain Soccer La Liga AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

After the controversy surrounding his arrival, Luis Suarez was surely desperate to get his Barcelona career off to a positive beginning.

Yet with two defeats and no goals, it has been anything but a dream start for the Uruguayan.

Tonight, he faces Ajax, his former club, for whom he scored 111 goals, and he is in no doubt as to the occasion’s importance.

“The match against Ajax is the most important at the moment,” said Suarez, who played the full 90 minutes against Celta for the first time since his four-month ban for biting at the World Cup.

“It is clear that it is a club that gave me everything.

“I learned a lot and I will always be thankful for that. To return and play in the Champions League with Barcelona will be great.”

4. Is Ribery set to inspire Bayern?

Bayern Munich have another chance to emphasise their credentials as contenders in this year’s Champions League this evening, and one man who could be key to their prospects is Franck Ribery.

The French star made an impact after coming on against Dortmund at the weekend, helping to turn the tide in Bayern’s favour and impressing Pep Guardiola in the process.

The manager acknowledged that Ribery “made the difference” against Dortmund, and thus indicated that he could start tonight’s game.

The coach also talked up their opponents in the pre-match press conference despite beating them 7-1 away in their last Champions League match.

“Roma have a very good and youthful side and can impose their game on you if you give them too much room,” he said.

“It’s a different game [to the 7-1 thrashing in Rome]. We’re focused on the massive chance we have to progress to the next round.”

5. Will PSG seal Champions League qualification?

A win tonight against APOEL will secure PSG’s Champions League qualification provided Ajax fail to beat Barcelona and they will be firm favourites to achieve this feat, having overcome the Cypriots 1-0 in the reverse fixture last month.

Their lavish spending means the French champions are often regarded as their country’s equivalent to Man City, but there is one noticeable contrast — they perform significantly better in Europe, and unlike City, their domestic form is actually inferior by comparison.

“I’m not saying we’re not motivated for the league games but we’re more motivated for the Champions League,” coach Laurent Blanc told reporters.

And their excellent form has been all the more impressive, given that the club have had to cope with the absence of arguably their best player.

“We miss only one thing,” Blanc explained in yesterday’s pre-match press conference. “Ibrahimovic.”

– First published 10.10; additional reporting by AFP

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