After today’s matches, UEFA Champions League has officially begun. Millions of football fans watched the debut of the most important football competition in Europe as Bayern, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid or PSG started the campaign. A contest for 32 teams, each of them aiming for the same target: The Final in Cardiff on June 3rd, 2017. After the first round of matches, we can draw some conclusions:
- Bayern – Rostov 5-0. 73% possession, 19 attempts, 8 shots on target (according to UEFA.com). Pretty much the same standards as the ones in the Heynckes and Guardiola’s eras. Rostov ended the last season on the 2nd place of the Russian Premier League. But Bayern is a hard rock, their game is organized in every detail and they really are a football machine. The only serious contender from this group seems to be Atletico, but the German team is my favorite to win the group.
- PSV – Atletico 0-1. The runner-up from the last season began with a win after a pretty bad start in La Liga. Saul scored the only goal of the game but the hero was Oblak, who saved a vital penalty in the economy of the group. Hard fought victory, blood and intense football as Atletico starts perfect this new UCL season. Still, the team is under the level that made possible the elimination of Barcelona and Bayern
- Barcelona – Celtic 7-0. The only moment when Camp Nou was in doubt was the penalty missed by Dembele. Or saved by Ter Stegen. Barcelona played the same all-attacking style, suffocating the opponent and building some amazing football actions. The midfield looked solid, the MSN was in shape but there are still some issues in defense, as we saw in the attack that led to the penalty. I do consider Barca as big contenders for the title because of a big factor: the bench is very strong in comparison to last seasons. Today, we had Cilessen, Turan, Digne, Alcacer, Iniesta, Javier Mascherano and Rafinha.
- PSG – Arsenal 1-1. Two teams that love to build, to combine, to pass and to score. They will both qualify from this group as the rematch from London might decide the winner but they lack the consistency needed to win the trophy. PSG seems to lack the in-form striker as Arsenal is in the need for a series of good and positive results. The season is very long, but it will be very difficult to progress further without efficiency.
- Dynamo Kiev – Napoli 1-2. Gonzalo out, Milik in. The Italians are in perfect shape because of the transfer of Arkadiusz Milik. The 22-years old Polish striker impressed in the 4-2 win over Milan in Serie A and helped his side to recover from the 1-0 deficit against Dynamo Kiev. Napoli doesn’t look as a team in shock after the departure of Higuain and the context is perfect as their group is not a five-star one with Benfica, Besiktas and Dynamo Kiev. Strong contenders to reach the last 16.
- Benfica – Besiktas 1-1. 14-12 attempts, 6-5 shots on target. The balance was reestablished in the 93 minute after a marvelous free-kick converted by Talisca. A quite nice football game to watch but Benfica needs to reach the conversion rate they used to have in the last seasons. The Turkish team is back in the UEFA Champions League and they will fight until the end for the second place.
- Basel – Ludogorets 1-1. The Razgrad team won a point but could have done it better. 3 points would have been historical for Ludogorets, as they are the first Bulgarian team to win a point away from home in the UCL. Basel equalized late and signalized that these two teams will fight for the third place, as PSG and Arsenal seem to be the dominant forces in Group A.
- Man City – B.Monchengladbach – to be played at a different time after rain delay