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The first match day of the Champions League has been and gone, and it was a mixed couple of nights for the British clubs.
Chelsea 6 – 0 Qarabag
If Chelsea didn’t win handsomely here, it would be a worrying start to the competition.
Although many pundits say that no game in Europe is easy, this simply isn’t the case. Qarabag, the champions of Azerbaijan, are entering their first ever Champions League campaign, while Chelsea are former champions, and the gulf in class was incredibly visible in this game.
Conte made a few changes for this game, starting the likes of Christensen, Zappacosta and Batshuayi, who all put in good performances. We also saw Eden Hazard’s return from injury, which will no doubt delight the Stamford Bridge faithful.
This game also showed that squad depth might not be an issue. Many of Chelsea’s star players like Morata, David Luiz and Moses all sat out the game, and Chelsea still looked incredibly comfortable and capable with and without the ball.
Yet, we must take this result with a bit of caution. We know that this group will not be decided with games against Qarabag. Tougher tests are around the corner, with Atletico Madrid as Chelsea’s next opponents. But, no doubt, this is a good start to Chelsea’s campaign.
Manchester United 3 – 0 Basel
This was a potential banana skin game for United, but they didn’t slip up.
We all know Basel’s results against British clubs in the past, including a victory against Manchester United, but there was no upset to be found at Old Trafford.
It took a while to break down Basel’s 3-man defence, but when Fellaini’s header flew into the back of the net, there was no looking back for the Red Devils.
Like Chelsea, Manchester United made a few changes to their team, some enforced and some not. The centre-back pairing of Smalling and Lindelof looked like a good partnership, and could provide competition for Bailly and Jones. We also saw Ashley Young coming in for Antonio Valencia at right-back, and like Smalling and Lindelof, looked comfortable in his position.
The only downside of the evening was an injury to Paul Pogba early on. The Frenchman looks set to miss six weeks of action, which could potentially rule him out of United’s next three Champions League ties away at CSKA Moscow and both games against Benfica.
Speaking of Benfica, their defeat at the hands of CSKA will certainly make Mourinho a lot happier, knowing that coming into the first matchday, that Benfica would be United’s closest contenders for top spot in the group.
Surely now, if United get past CSKA Moscow away, that top spot may already be theirs.
Celtic 0 – 5 PSG
What a difficult night it was for Celtic.
European nights at Parkhead are a challenge for any visiting team, but PSG didn’t stumble on the big stage and looked mightily impressive.
Their front line of Mbappe, Cavani and Neymar carved apart Celtic’s defence, who didn’t really show any resistance.
You’d have to put PSG as clear favourites for this group now, especially after Bayern’s disappointing performance against 10-man Anderlecht.
But Celtic should not be disappointed. They know that the big games are against Anderlecht, which if they can win both games, would put them in the hunt to progress to either the next round or the Europa League.
And after Bayern’s display against Anderlecht, Bayern are not the team they once were, and this will give Celtic a lot of hope.
The game against Bayern at Parkhead will be a massive game, and if Celtic can win it, will give all Celtic fans a lot of hope to get to the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Tottenham 3 – 1 Borussia Dortmund
As a Dortmund fan, I was in awe of Tottenham’s performance.
Harry Kane was in imperious form scoring two goals. People will blame Burki for letting Kane’s first goal in at his near post, but if you look at it again, the amount of curl Kane puts on the ball is fantastic, and no keeper would have stopped that shot in my opinion.
Serge Aurier was my man of the match. He dominated the right wing, and against Christian Pulisic, who is one of the most promising players in Europe, he won the duel.
Davinson Sanchez also played incredibly well. Aubameyang caught him out a couple of times, but 90% of the time, Sanchez was able to cover him pretty well, and he will be one of Tottenham’s best players this season.
Dortmund were without some of their best players, the likes of Weigl, Bartra, Reus and Schmelzer will all be back for the return leg in Dortmund.
Not to mention the phantom second Dortmund goal which was ludicrously ruled out for offside and would have completely changed the complexion of the game.
But, overall, Tottenham showed more will power and professionalism against Dortmund, and this is the perfect start to their Champions League campaign.
Feyenoord 0 – 4 Manchester City
When John Stones scores twice in one game, you know the opposition is poor.
Yes, Manchester City were professional from the first minute and once they scored in the second minute, they gathered so much momentum and just simply overpowered Feyenoord.
Dutch football is in a worrying state of affairs, and if Feyenoord don’t change their act quickly, it will get even worse.
In terms of Manchester City, this the start that they would have wanted, but like Chelsea and Manchester United, they know tougher tests are to come.
Napoli were predicted to be City’s main competition in the group, but with their defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk, it’s blown the group wide open.
But if City play the way they did against Feyenoord against more attacking teams and get the same result, they will be difficult to stop in this season’s competition.
Liverpool 2 – 2 Sevilla
This just didn’t go to plan for Liverpool at all.
If they wanted to show their credentials to the rest of Europe, they certainly didn’t do it in this game.
Once again, the defence was called into question, especially for the first goal. If you cannot clear a cross that comes straight across the 6-yard box, then I’m sorry, but you shouldn’t really be playing in the Champions League.
Although Liverpool did show their attacking talent for both their goals, it’s the same old problem for Liverpool. Game management. If they cannot manage to hold a league against a team, whose manager has been sent to the stands, it’s a real problem.
The next game against Spartak Moscow is massive. Win, and Liverpool are back on track. Lose, and it’s a worrying campaign for Liverpool.
Written by Sion Misra
Follow Sion on Twitter @sionmisra
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