After months of waiting, with fans constantly refreshing their phones, the Champions League is back with us. The draw for the group stages threw up some fascinating ties, with many of the top sides thrown in together, meaning we won’t have to wait until the knockout stages for the action to really kick off. At the same time, there were some smaller, less well-known teams who made it through the qualifying rounds and will be hoping to cause a famous upset against some of the most prestigious teams in the competition.
In round one, one of the shock results was the Swiss side Young Boys defeating the three-times champions Manchester United 2-1. United took the lead early on through Cristiano Ronaldo, but having had a man sent off before halftime, they could not contain the Swiss team and conceded a last-minute goal to leave manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær absolutely furious.
Elsewhere, Bayern Munich humbled Barcelona in front of their home fans, easing to a 3-0 victory. The side from Spain, who for many years dominated this tournament, have had so many problems off the field that they are now affecting the results on it. The score ended with the German team scoring three, but it could have been many more had they really gone for the kill.
The most entertaining game was at Anfield, where Liverpool overcame AC Milan 3-2. It looked like men against boys in the opening minutes, with Jürgen Klopp’s men scoring early, missing a penalty, before creating plenty of chances without converting. The game quickly swung as Milan regrouped and scored two quick goals before halftime, silencing the Anfield crowd. However, Mo Salah and captain Jordan Henderson scored in the second half, to give the home fans something to cheer about in their first European game back after the pandemic.
We don’t have long to wait until the second round of fixtures, as they kick off on Tuesday, September 28th. Fans who also like to indulge with a bit of sports betting will be checking the latest Vegas odds for the next set of games, to see if they can make a bit of money alongside enjoying the action. Let’s have a look at which games are the ones viewers can’t afford to miss in matchday two.
Group A offering up a clash of the titans
Manchester City have been the dominant team in English football over the past decades, where they have won the Premier League on five separate occasions. Similarly, Paris Saint Germain (more commonly known as PSG) are all-conquering in France, having won seven of the last Ligue 1 titles.
Both sides have backing from the Middle East, with City being owned by the Abu Dhabi United Group, while PSG are owned by the Emir of Qatar. This means both clubs have huge budgets so that they can purchase some of the world’s best players.
They have both been losing finalists in the last two Champions League campaigns, with PSG coming unstuck against Bayern in 2020, while City were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea in 2021. Neither team has ever won the big trophy, with players, owners and managers praying this will finally be their year.
City won 6-3 against RB Leipzig, while PSG were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw against Club Brugge. Messi, Neymar, Mbappe and co. will be keen to get back to winning ways and will fancy themselves against a City side who conceded three against a side not as good as then. With the Parisian crowd in full force, we expect PSG to come out on top in this one.
Italy and England collide
Meanwhile, in Group H, a fixture that neutrals will be keeping an eye on will be Juventus against Chelsea. Both sides got off to winning ways in the first round, with Juve comfortably beating Malmo 3-0, while Chelsea eventually squeezed past Zenit St Petersburg 1-0. Chelsea’s striker Romelu Lukaku is in fine form, with four goals already this season. In Turin, they are getting used to life without Ronaldo, with Pablo Dybala and former Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata now having the responsibility of scoring the goals for the Italian team.
The last time the two teams met was back in 2012, where the Juve ran out as 3-0 winners. A lot has changed since then, and we expect Chelsea (the current holders of the trophy) to be on top in this game.
Best of the rest
Other ties to look out for are in Group B, where Milan and Atlético de Madrid come together at the San Siro, and in Group C, where neutral’s favourite Ajax come up against the Turkish side Beşiktaş. We can’t wait for the action to get back underway, as every game at this level has the potential to be an absolute cracker.