Student writer Andrew Noland discusses the highlights of the first round of Champions League play.
The highest level of competition in the world welcomed us back with a slew of fantastic games and startling upsets. Let’s dive into the notable ones head first.
Juventus 2 Valencia 0
Yikes Ronaldo; what was that red card? While Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri complained that VAR would have overturned the ref’s call, there was no excuse for CR7 shoving a man’s head. With a likely one match ban, Ronaldo can easily sit out as Juventus have more than enough talent to crush Young Boys. In terms of the frankly boring game, the Zebras put away Valencia with two easy penalties from Pjanic right before and after the half.
Man City 1 Olympique Lyonnais 2
I still can’t believe this scoreline. For the entire first half, Lyon dominated the Citizens, beginning with a brilliant mop-up goal from Maxwell Cornet. But Nabil Fekir’s scintillating strike from about 30 yards out, between three defenders and just past Ederson’s outstretched arms sealed the game. Despite Silva’s goal in the 66th minute to at least make it the match look competitive, Man City left their own stadium wondering what their identity is without Kevin De Bruyne. Just a nudge in the right direction: start Leroy Sane.
Inter Milan 2 Tottenham 1
Things looked better for Tottenham after a complete domination from Liverpool, as three days later, they found themselves up on the Nerazzurri until the 85th minute. However, with a remarkable volley from Inter striker Icardi, Tottenham found themselves on the backfoot before losing all hope in the dying minutes with a goal from Milanese midfielder Vecino. Tottenham return to London asking themselves whether they can play with the big boys of Europe, and Inter will continue to baffle us by losing to terrible Italian teams.
Liverpool vs Paris San Germain
In 2018, Anfield prides itself as the battlefield where the soccer gods go to die, and Klopp’s team proved that true once again on Tuesday. With a header from Daniel Sturridge (yeah, I typed that correctly) and a penalty from James Milner six minutes later, things looked all Liverpool. However, Meunier delivered a brilliant strike right before the half, and after a long stretch of Red dominance, Kylian Mbappe drew even. It looked to be that both teams would walk away from their clash with a point, but the blinded Bobby Firmino scored a magnificent goal in the last seconds of the match. Regardless of the scoreline, and PSG manager Thomas Tuchel’s attempts to brush-off the loss, Liverpool looked like the better team. PSG, against worthy competition, has again been exposed, and superstar winger Neymar, when Paris needed him most, was nowhere to be found. Paris needs to rally for their rematch at Parc des Princes, that will still likely determine the fate of the group.
Real Madrid 3 Roma 0
At the Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid crushed the Italian side starting with Isco delivering a deft strike off a free kick in the 45th minute. Bale, after several close shots, finally finished 20 minutes after the half and Mariano cleaned up the match with a shot in the 91st minute. Real Madrid, compared to this time last year, somehow look even better with the Welsh right winger playing like the superstar he was bought to be. Roma, on the other hand, didn’t even look like they were there to play soccer but flop around and whine. Los Blancos confirmed that can still rest easy in this group, but Roma need to shape up, because they don’t look better than anyone in any league.
Barcelona 4 PSV Eindhoven 0
Crvena Zvezda 0 Napoli 0
Monaco 1 Atletico Madrid 2
Club Brugge 0 Dortmund 1
FC Schalke 1 FC Porto 1
Galatasaray 3 Lokomotiv Moscow 0
Shakhtar Donetsk 2 Hoffenheim 2
Ajax 3 AEK Athens 0
Benfica 0 Bayern Munich 3
Young Boys 0 Manchester United 3
Viktoria Plzen 2 CSKA Moscow 2