Afternoon Report: September 18

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Football News

Olivier Giroud feels Arsenal's "audacious" away form bodes well for the UEFA Champions League - but he accepts the squad is thin.

Giroud - who has scored five goals already this season - has shaken off a knee injury in time to travel to the south of France for tonight's Group F opener at Marseille.

Chelsea are clear favourites to win tonight's Champions League Group E opener at Stamford Bridge - that's according to Basel boss Murat Yakin.

Yakin, who believes his side are capable of qualifying from the group stages, has accepted that their trip to west London is likely to be their toughest test.

Manchester United boss David Moyes has backed Wayne Rooney to lead the Red Devils to Champions League glory.

Speaking after the 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen at Old Trafford last night, Moyes was full of praise for the in-form Rooney, who scored two goals, taking his United goal tally to 200.

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini was delighted to open their UEFA Champions League campaign with a victory.

The Chilean saw his new charges ease to a 3-0 win at Viktoria Plzen thanks to three goals in 10 minutes from Edin Dzeko, Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero.

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has explained his reasons for leaving record-breaking Gareth Bale on the bench for last night's away trip to Galatasaray.

The former Tottenham winger did make a late cameo appearance, and linked up well with hat-trick hero Cristiano Ronaldo.

And finally, Lionel Messi has requested contract talks with Barcelona, following the news of Ronaldo's multi-million pound long-term contract at Real Madrid.

Messi is keen to renegotiate his package, which is currently €8.5m less than his La Liga rival.

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