The 2020/21 Champions League campaign is just one game old – which seems like the perfect time to jump to conclusions and make rash predictions on the basis of 90 minutes of football.
Because that will never come back to haunt us.
Here’s one hot take for each team after matchday one.
Own goals come in all shapes and sizes, but they’re always wonderful when they look like intentional, great finishes.
Nicolas Tagliafico provided such a moment against Liverpool, tucking home from close range with a pinpoint first time finish. With Ajax failing to find the net from 12 attempts, Tagliafico’s prolific finishing would be most welcome at the other end.
RB Leipzig aside, Atalanta were the romantic underdog story of the 2019/20 Champions League campaign, and they showed signs that they may not have been a one season wonder in their first group game.
It may have only been Midtjylland – appearing in the Champions League group stages for the very first time – but a 4-0 win away from home was still a statement of intent from the exciting Serie A side.
Atletico Madrid got slated by Jurgen Klopp in last season’s competition when they knocked Liverpool out in the last 16 by being Atletico Madrid.
No such luck against Bayern Munich. Atletico conceded four and mustered one shot on target.
There has not been a lot of transfer activity at Camp Nou, and Ronald Koeman has instead started to make use of those who seemingly did not have a future at Barcelona.
Philippe Coutinho has worked his way back into the first team and made his fourth start of the season against Ferencvaros. He grabbed his second goal of the campaign, while Ousmane Dembele – who appeared destined for an exit – pitched in with a goal and superb assist during his 27-minute cameo.
Bayern racked up a record extending 12th consecutive Champions League win with a thumping 4-0 victory over a famously stubborn Atletico Madrid side.
Diego Simeone’s side had not conceded in over 270 minutes of football, but they were put to the sword by Bayern as Kingsley Coman & co ran riot. It will take a very good side to prevent Bayern securing a second successive Champions League crown.
Dortmund had more possession than Lazio, more shots than Lazio, and more shots on target than Lazio. And still lost 3-1.
They gifted their opponents the first two goals and were wasteful with opportunities of their own.
Gladbach’s highly rated young midfielder provided one of the most outrageous, satisfying and mesmerising assists with a glorious through ball from inside his own half to set up Jonas Hofmann for his side’s second. Lovely stuff.
After a couple of games out of the side and an international break, those with a short memory could easily forget how hectic Kepa Arrizabalaga is. Fortunately, he quickly reminded us with a bizarre bit of goalkeeping against Southampton, which made Edouard Mendy’s performance against Sevilla all the more reassuring.
Chelsea’s new number one produced a couple of smart saves, and you just weren’t filled with an overarching sense of panic whenever the ball trickled towards him.
Club Brugge’s Ethan Horvath had not featured for his side in 13 months, but was thrown into the thick of the action after Simon Mignolet tested positive for Covid-19.
Horvath made two vital late stops to preserve three crucial points for Brugge and was understandably an emotional wreck at the end.
Imagine being drawn in a Champions League group with Barcelona and Juventus. At least there’s the trip to Hungary to look forward to.
Hungarian outfit Ferencvaros were making their first group stage appearance in 25 years, and despite losing 5-1 to ten-man Barcelona, they weren’t afraid to have a go at their illustrious opponents, having a goal ruled out for offside and clattering the crossbar.
For their tie against Borussia Mönchengladbach, Inter played a back three consisting of two full backs in Aleksandar Kolarov and Danilo D’Ambrosio, plus two wing backs in the shape of Matteo Darmian and Ivan Perišić, just for good measure.
Four wingbacks, Antonio? Four? That’s insane.
Istanbul Basaksehir make RB Leipzig look like an ancient club with an illustrious history. They were re-founded just six years ago – so you can forgive them for being overawed by their 11-year-old opponents.
In the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, Alvaro Morata scored twice to earn Andrea Pirlo’s Juventus a 2-0 win over Dynamo Kiev.
The forward demonstrated his anticipation and natural goalscoring ability with two instinctive finishes. That’s three goals in the space of four days for Morata – not bad for a loanee.
The Russian side had just 37% of the ball and half as many shots as Rennes – but still managed to sneak a point very much against the run of play.
Lazio celebrated their return to the Champions League after a 13-year absence in style.
It’s been a slow start in Serie A for the Italian side, but they pushed this form aside with superb win over Borussia Dortmund, staving off a fightback from their German opponents to run out 3-1 winners.
News of Virgil van Dijk’s ACL injury sent waves of terror through the red half of Merseyside – how could they possibly be expected to compete without the ever dependable Dutchman?
Fortunately, Fabinho effortlessly filled the Van Dijk void during Liverpool’s 1-0 win at Ajax, turning in a dominant display in the heart of the back line and producing a spectacular goal line clearance to preserve all three points for the Reds.
Lokomotiv Moscow have finished bottom of their group in each of their three Champions League campaigns. But a draw in their first away match of this campaign has opened up all sorts of possibilities. Dream big guys.
What was often missing from Manchester City last season was their ability to grind out wins when not at their slick, free flowing best.
This was very much the case against Porto – partly due to defensive lapses of their own making and partly due to the disruption caused by their opponent’s s***housery – but City got themselves over the line. Much like against Arsenal on Saturday, it wasn’t always glamorous, but it’s results like this that win trophies.
Just when the pressure was beginning to mount, Solskjaer pulled it out of the bag again.
However impressive a win over Steve Bruce’s Newcastle is, this was very much outweighed by the performance against PSG. Solskjaer’s 3-4-1-2 with Fred and Scott McTominay shielding the back four worked to perfection and United ran out fully deserved winners over last season’s Champions League runners up.
In one of their most winnable group games, Marseille could only muster two shots on target against Olympiacos, and now face an uphill battle to get out of the group.
It’s the Danish outfit’s debut in the Champions League group stages, and it all came crashing down inside 42 first half minutes. Their upcoming group fixtures do not look appealing.
Seven minutes after entering the fray, Ahmed Mahgoub scored a dramatic 91st minute winner for Olympiacos – a huge win in what could be a tightly fought contest for second place in Group C.
Feast your eyes on Porto manager Sergio Conceição’s post match comments [via PortuGOAL]: “I’ve got a lot to learn from Pep Guardiola, in the way he pressures referees, talks to opposition players and opposition dugout.
“He’s a fantastic example. I have to learn this. We were angels compared to the other dugout.”
What a windup merchant.
Kylian Mbappe endured a quiet evening against Manchester United’s stubborn back three, with Axel Tuanzebe turning in a sensational performance to leave the world class forward thoroughly frustrated.
Tuanzebe’s last United outing? Colchester United, Carabao Cup, December 2019. Know your level, Mbappe.
Red Bull’s billionaire owned plucky underdogs reached the semi finals of last season’s competition, and demonstrated their ambitions to repeat the feat with an Angeliño inspired 2-0 win over Istanbul Basaksehir.
The winger grabbed a brace – the first of which was a stunning solo effort – as Leipzig recorded their third successive win and third straight clean sheet.
Midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai levelled the scores against Lokomotiv Moscow with a thunderous strike from the edge of the box. It didn’t dip, it didn’t swerve, it just rocketed into the roof of the net.
Real Madrid slumped to a 3-2 defeat against a woefully understrength Shakhtar Donetsk.
Sergio Ramos was sat in the stands with a knee injury and he watched on as the Real defence capitulated in the first half. The Spanish champions have lost seven of their last eight in the Champions League when Ramos has been absent.
It was a historic night for Rennes as they made their Champions League bow, but they could not make their dominance count in a 1-1 draw with Krasnodar.
The six-time Europa League winners may not have a shot at attempting to defend their crown this year. They’re in a moderate Champions League group, and on Tuesday’s showing, never mind qualify, they could easily top the group.
Shakhtar were missing 13 first team players for their trip to the Spanish capital thanks to a coronavirus outbreak at the club.
They were forced to call up a selection of youth team players…but ran out 3-2 winners over the Spanish champions and 13-time champions of Europe.
In a group with Lazio and Dortmund, who will be heavily fancied to qualify, it was vital Zenit got points on the board against Club Brugge to stand much of a chance of making it to the last 16. They lost 2-1.