Champions League Match Day 1 Review
Football is indeed one of the most unpredictable sports in the world and the first set of matchday 1 fixtures of the 20/21 edition of the Champions League drives home this point. The matches played on Tuesday and Wednesday were filled with unexpected twists and turns. What really went down? Read on to get the juicy details.
Group A: PSG front three blanks against Club Brugge
The mere thought of Messi, Mbappe, and Neymar on the pitch together was no doubt one of the
most anticipated moments in the UCL this week. Let’s save you some time: Together, they did next to nothing in what was an embarrassing performance where they were outplayed as PSG produced seven fewer shots than Brugge and had an xG of only 1.41.
Mbappe lasted just 51 minutes due to injury, and he still out-shot Neymar who went the 90 minutes but failed to even try to score. Their passing was a bit off, the chances were not there against a compact, motivated Brugge defense. And now, the questions will start as to whether there is too much talent, or if the trio together just doesn’t work.
Those are all premature, obviously, but they didn’t look remotely comfortable together. In the end, it was Ander Herrera who opened the scoring for PSG before Hanz Vanaken pulled the score back with a close-range finish.
Group B: Liverpool and Milan roll back the years
This was a match that summarized the Champions league in its entirety. Two European giants facing off once again on the biggest stage. This match gave us glimpses of The Battle of Istanbul, though not nearly as big of a comeback. Liverpool managed to come from 2-1 down at Anfield to top the Italian giants in a bonkers game.
First, Liverpool went ahead from a Fikayo Tomori own goal and just dominate all of the chances, the run of play and pin Milan back. The Reds finished with more than three times as many shots as Milan, but the visitors scored two goals in three minutes late in the first half through Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz to turn the match on its head.
Despite having a penalty saved, Anfield’s very own Egyptian King Leveled the score in the 48th minute with an impressive strike before Jordan Henderson’s lovely half volley gave Liverpool the victory.
Group E: Barcelona humbled at Camp Nou
The match started with Joshua Kimmich receiving a yellow card in the fifth minute when he pulled down Frenkie de Jong as Barcelona countered. A deflected Thomas Muller shot got the ball rolling in the 34th minute and two goals in the second half from Robert Lewandowski confirmed the victory. Bayern Munich sent a message to the rest of the competition with a dominant 3-0 win away to Barcelona. Barcelona had more possession – 63% to 37% but they did not make it count ( a clear consequence of Messi’s absence). In the other match in the group, Dynamo Kyiv and Benfica played a goalless draw in Stadion NSK Olimpiyskiy in Kyiv.
Group F: 10-man United stunned in Switzerland
Cristiano Ronaldo equaled Iker Casillas for most appearances in the UCL(177), and he scored
for the second consecutive match in the 13th minute, off a beautiful assist from Bruno Fernandes. United then exerted a stronghold on the game until Aaron Wan-Bissaka got a straight red card. He lost concentration and ended up committing a bad foul on Christopher Martins in the 35th minute.
Spurred on by their newfound one-man advantage and their home support, the pendulum shifted in the direction of ‘Young Boys’ when Nicolas Ngamaleu equalized with a neat finish past David de Gea in the 66th minute. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer called for some bizarre changes, as he subbed off Portuguese Talisman Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes. ‘Young Boys’ continued to apply pressure, and in the fifth minute of added-on time, Lingard’s misplaced pass to De Gea was pounced upon by Theoson Jordan Siebatcheu to notch an unlikely winner.
Villareal and Atalanta Share points
In Spain, Atalanta scored first and scored an equalizer with five minutes left on the clock. Remo
Freuler scored the opener as early as the sixth minute but Villarreal equalized through Manuel Trigueros in the 39th minute and took the lead through Arnaut Danjuma in the 73rd minute but Robin Gosens rescued a point for the Italian side. Francis Coquelin got a second yellow card a minute later as Villarreal finished with 10 men.
Group G: Salzburg squander chances in Spain
Salzburg passed on a golden opportunity to take all three points from Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan when they could only convert one of three penalties that were awarded to them. Their star man was German international, Karim Adeyemi, who won the first penalty and fluffed the ensuing kick. Adeyemi won the second which Luka Sucic converted. Sevilla equalized from the spot when Youssef En-Nesyri was fouled. Ivan Rakitic converted to make it 1-1 in the unforgiving downpour. En-Nesyri then dived and was shown a second yellow card five minutes into the second half. Lille were also held to an uneventful 0-0 draw by a 10-man Wolfsburg.
Group H: Juventus are the early leaders
Juventus won 3-0 away at Malmo – three first-half goals from Alex Sandro, a penalty from Paulo
Dybala and Alvaro Morata completed the first half rout with a lob in the first half added time. This was a much-needed win for Juve, as they continue to ease themselves into life without Ronaldo. In London, Chelsea needed a goal from Romelu Lukaku to prevail over a spirited and stubborn Zenit St. Petersburg.
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