THE Champions League is back, and the first week of games kicked off with bang. 54 goals were scored over 16 games, with only Roma and Atletico Madrid letting the side down with a goalless draw.
For some teams, this was a chance to lay down markers, show their intentions to win the whole competition.
But for others, this was their chance to cause an upset, or just give themselves hope of reaching the last 16.
Football Whispers pick out the six teams who impressed most in the Champions League opening week.
It’s a marathon not a sprint. That’s the important thing to remember after the first set of group games.
Last year’s champions, Real Madrid, only won three of their group games last term.
It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
Although it doesn’t hurt to go out and lay down an early marker.
Davide Zappacosta is overjoyed after bagging his first Champions League goal[/caption]
Returning to the competition after a year’s absence, Antonio Conte’s side demolished Azerbaijan champions Qarabag – taking part for the first time.
Pedro started off quickly, finding the net from the edge of the box after just five minutes. Then Davide Zappacosta opened up his Chelsea account. Taking off from deep inside his own half, the Italian full-back galloped up the field, had a look inside the box before launching an unstoppable effort from out on the right.
“Honestly, before kicking the ball, I looked in the penalty area to see if one of my teammates were free. I then kicked it, and, at that point, I didn’t understand anything,” the new signing admitted to press after the game.
“It was a moment of true trance: the ball in the net, the celebration with the fans, the embrace of my teammates.
Total chaos, but a beautiful chaos”.
Cesar Azpilicueta, Tiemoué Bakayoko and Michy Batshuayi added goals after the break, the romp finished off as Maksim Medvedev couldn’t help but bundle the ball into his own net under pressure from the Belgian forward.
Disappointing in last year’s competition, and weakened in the transfer window, Barcelona were out to make a statement in their opening fixture. Facing last season’s finalists Juventus, it shouldn’t have been an easy task, but the 3-0 scoreline suggests differently.
Anything is possible when you have Lionel Messi. The little Argentine magician scored twice, usually nothing to write home about, but this is the first time he has found the net playing against Gianluigi Buffon.
The Italian shot-stopper is finally added to the long list of keepers found at the mercy of one of football’s greatest.
Both sublime left-foot finishes, it demonstrated a player in great early form and a Juve back-line that looked a little soft at its core.
All eyes were on Glasgow on Tuesday night as PSG paraded their £400million strike-force at the highest level. They didn’t disappoint.
Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and Edinson Cavani all found the back of the net.
The newly appointed “MCN” are the most expensive and dangerous front-line in European football and no one was left wondering if the combination of the three was going to work.
Cavani’s diving header was the pick of the bunch, and outside of the headline act, Adrien Rabiot’s midfield performance was both elegant and devastating. PSG will face tougher challenges, but early pass marks all round.
A double from Harry Kane finally ended Spurs’ Wembley curse on Wednesday night. Faced with a tough opening challenge against Borussia Dortmund, Mauricio Pochettino’s men stood up to the test.
A red card for Jan Vertonghen took away from what could have been a perfect night, but putting three past the Bundesliga league leaders and taking an early grip on the group is exactly what the Argentine coach would have hoped for.
Now the monkey of winning at Wembley is off their back and Kane has already matched his return in the competition from last year, Spurs are looking towards the knockout stages.
Predicting a 4-0 win for Manchester City before this tie was not over-estimating the gap between the Dutch champions and Pep Guardiola’s side, but the way in which City dismantled Feyenoord deserves respect.
Early goals from John Stones and Sergio Aguero silenced the home crowd and put the game to bed.
A second from the English centre-back was the icing on the cake and condemned Feyenoord to their heaviest ever home European defeat.
“Last season we weren’t able to win any games away in the Champions League and we spoke about that among the squad,” Pep admitted after the game.
“If we want to be able to move forward, you must be able to win games away in this competition – home matches as well, of course – but we made a very good performance.”
One unexpected result this week was to see Portuguese giants Porto fall at home to Besiktas.
The Turkish champions took the lead through Brazilian forward Anderson Talisca, the 23-year-old is on loan from Porto’s rivals Benfica, so his goal would have felt oh so much sweeter.
After being pegged back through on own goal, the Istanbul club took control. Cenk Tosun gave the away side the lead on the 28th minute and they had to wait late to confirm the victory.
Former Liverpool flop Ryan Babel was the unlikely hero, sweeping home a right-foot effort with five minutes to go.
It was a huge win for Besiktas, and it puts them in control of Group G, with RB Leipzig and Monaco drawing in Germany.
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