The Champions League returned this week and it did not disappoint. Defeats for Real Madrid and Liverpool, plus a hat-trick by a 19-year-old, meant the first game of the group stage was full of twists, turns and entertainment. Here are the Winners and Losers from the Champions League: Matchweek 1. Bet on the Champions League here.
Erling Braut Haaland
Erling Haaland became the third-youngest player to score a Champions League hat-trick as Red Bull Salzburg thrashed Genk 6-2 on Tuesday. Haaland, son of former Leeds and Manchester City midfielder Alf-Inge, scored three goals before half-time to seal the deal for the Austrian side. Things can only get better for the 19-year-old Norwegian sensation.
PSG squad depth
PSG were without their attacking trio Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani for the visit of Real Madrid, but their dominant 3-0 win showed how deep their squad is. Summer acquisitions Mauro Icardi, Idrissa Gueye and Pablo Sarabia had to step in and they didn’t disappoint. Gueye, for instance, was immense. The highlight of the day was a man of the match performance from Angel Di Maria. The Argentine scored twice against his former club to put the result beyond doubt.
The Italian giants were not sensational against Liverpool but they got the job done. Both teams were equally matched for most periods but the Partenopei looked hungrier. Carlo Ancelotti’s side avenged their painful defeat at Anfield last season that knocked them out of the competition. Given they are in a much easier group than last season, this was an important win in the early stages.
Real Madrid were handed an embarrassing beatdown by PSG in their first Champions League outing this season. That loss has piled more pressure on Zidane who is on his second spell as Real Madrid manager. A huge summer has failed to change the fortunes of the massive club. Since he returned to the hot seat towards the end of last season, his win percentage is below 50% and there has been no hint that they’re improving. Can he turn things around?
Premier League teams
Of the four Premier League teams in the Champions League this season, only Manchester City won their first game. Liverpool and Chelsea lost to Napoli and Valencia respectively, while Tottenham Hotspur blew a 2-0 lead to draw at Olympiakos. Chelsea missed a late penalty to rescue a draw while champions Liverpool lost 2-0 to Napoli. Can they bounce back?
Away form for big guns
Liverpool, Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur failed to win their away matches again. Spurs have won just five of their 17 away games in all competitions this calendar year. Liverpool lost all their three away group matches last season and have started on the wrong foot again this time. The Reds have lost six of their last eight away games in the Champions League. Barca have won just five of their last 15 away matches in the competition. Moreover, these semi-finalists from last season have only won a combined 8 of their last 29 away games in the tournament.
Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus and Chelsea’s Ross Barkley missed crucial penalties in their respective matches in the Champions League. Barca’s keeper Marc Andre Ter Stegen saved Reus’ penalty to cap off a brilliant night for him. When Chelsea were awarded an 87th-minute penalty, Barkley, Willian and Tammy Abraham had a quarrel on who should take the penalty. Barkley stepped forward and missed. The miss sealed the win for Spanish side, Valencia.
Despite dominating the game from start to finish against Lokomotiv Moscow in their Champions League Group D opener, they suffered a painful 2-1 defeat at home. To put that in perspective, this was a must-win for Peter Bosz’s side, as the other teams in their group are Atletico Madrid and Juventus. Although early days, any vague hopes of qualifying to the knockout stages could already be dead.