The Champions League has returned to much fanfare, fun and fascinating matchups. 32 teams from 14 countries, all with hopes of lifting the famous trophy. All roads lead to a final showdown, scheduled for May 29, 2021 at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Turkey.
Champions League – Five Talking Points
Blast From the Past
But who will reign supreme this season and what did we learn from this first selection of games? Here are five takeaways from the Champions League opening round:
Paris Saint-Germain Pay Price for Poor Performance
It was a sobering night for last seasons finalists, Paris Saint-Germain. Thomas Tuchel’s men put in a sloppy and disjointed performance and Manchester United took full advantage to gain the win. None of Paris’ all-star cast lived up to expectation in a distinctly off-key showing. Also, the Parisians were defensively porous and susceptible to every one of the visitors’ attacks. The Red Devils, it has to be said, deservingly won by showing more endeavour, verve and solidity. PSG showing a clear Champions League hangover which gives them food for thought.
Barcelona Put Down Early Marker in Champions League with Five Star Performance
Barcelona hit the ground running and banished their nightmare exit to Bayern Munich last season with a comfortable win at home to Ferencvaros 5-1. Ronald Koeman’s side scored with five different scorers including Ansu Fati, Philippe Coutinho and Lionel Messi, who became the first player to score in 16 consecutive Champions League seasons. Not even a straight red car for Gerard Pique deterred the Catalan side a convincing opening night victory. So talk of their demise may be premature.
Sevilla Show European Prowess on Champions League Stage
The Andalusians secured a creditable goalless draw at Chelsea in matchday one. Sevilla more than matched their more streetwise Champions League opponent. The Spanish side have won the Europa League a record six times throughout their history and the current holders showed once again they are a force to be reckoned with. Therefore, ‘The Kings of the Europa League’ could go deep in this year’s elite European competition.
Brilliant Bayern Munich Make Flying Start
Current Champions Bayern put down an early marker by destroying Atlético Madrid 4-0 at their Allianz Arena. Hans Flick’s talented outfit put a very good Diego Simeone side to the sword. It was a man of the match performance from final hero Kingsley Coman. The Frenchman scored twice and assisted another. The Germans put out a statement of intent that Bayern mean business. Their quest to retain the trophy has begun to perfection.
Liverpool Cope Well Without Virgil van Dijk
Premier League Champions Liverpool gained a first win in the tournament with a steady 1-0 win at Ajax. In addition, the Reds hardly missed their talismanic defensive stalwart as they kept a clean sheet in Amsterdam. It was a first meeting between the two sides since 1966. After an even first 30 minutes, an own goal by Nicolás Tagliafico gifted the visitors the lead from which they never looked back. Liverpool will have greater challenges without their Dutch defender but passed this opening test.