PSG stronger this season
PSG got their Champions League campaign off to a flying start thanks to a comprehensive 3-0 victory over record champions Real Madrid on Wednesday night.
They managed to outclass Zinedin Zidane’s side without the attacking trident of Neymar Jr, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani.
In the last three champions league seasons, the Parisians have bowed out miserably, after winning two of their three first leg encounters in the knockout stages. In 2016/17, they surrendered a 4-0 lead to Barca, losing 6-5 on aggregate. The following season, they lost home and away to Real Madrid before bowing out to Man United last season despite winning the first leg 2-0 away from home.
This summer has seen the purchase of Keylor Navas, Idrisa Gana Gueye, Pablo Sarabia and Mauro Icardi as the big-name acquisitions.
All four started on Wednesday and the team now looks much more stronger with wider depth than they have been in the last three seasons.
Picturing them a healthy side in the knock-out stages, they would have a rooster to install fear in the hearts of anyone across the continent.
Barca are no longer the favourites
Barcelona have surrendered two massive leads in the last two seasons to suffer elimination from the champions league.
After failing to praise Neymar Jr away from PSG, Bulgrana’s do not look like a side capable of winning a first Champions League crown in five years.
Yes they still have Lionel Messi and Suarez, two of the best players in the world but Neymar would have clearly made them out-right favourites to win this year’s crown.
On Tuesday night, they were lucky to draw 0-0 at Dortmund with BVB captain Marco Reus missing from 12 yards. Messi came off the bench but could not supply the telling punch and even with the arrival of Antoine Grizemann, Barca do not look any stronger than in the past two seasons.
Long Champions League season for English clubs
Two of the four English representatives are among the three favourites for this year’s Champions League title but after match-day one, a long season in Europe’s premier club competition looks very much on the card.
Man City were the only winners as they powered past Shakhter Donetsk 3-0, Liverpool lost 2-0 at Napoli, Chelsea were beaten 1-0 at home to Valencia and Spurs surrendered a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 against Olympiakos.
With the gap between the elite and second-fiddle sides narrowing by the day, only Man City can rightly claim they will go past the groups stages, at this moment.
For the defending champions, they may be set for another interesting group stage campaign as their group (A) also has a certain fearless RB Salzburg side in it. Last season, they had to wait until the last minute of their clash with Napoli to confirm participation in the knock out stages.
Spurs and Chelsea also have fairly complicated groups so this may turn out to be a long and testing campaign for English sides.
Atletico not as weak as transfers suggest
Atletico are not the side that reached two Champions League finals in three years, losing both to Real Madrid.
An exodus of sorts has taken place at the Madrid based club with almost all of the core of that team departing and replaced by promising talents.
The likes of Diego Godin, Felipe Luiz, Gabi, Juan Fran and Javi Garcia have all gone and the names that replaced them suggested that Diego Simone’s era may finally be coming to and end.
However, they scrapped back from 2-0 in their champions league season’s opening game to draw 2-2 with Juventus at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday and shown all signs of the resilience still seating in them despite a change in the faces.
Atletico may have lost many players over the past two seasons but are not as weak as the transfers market suggests.
Zidane’s clock ticking
Zinedin Zidane will forever have his name embedded among Real Madrid’s best coaches ever.
The Frenchman guided Real to two consecutive Champions League crowns and remains the only manager to have ever successfully defended the champions league since 1993.
However, after returning to the side last season for a second spell, his win ratio is below 50% and Real are struggling both domestically and in Europe.
The 3-0 loss to PSG on Wednesday highlighted how fragile his role at Real now is and it would come as no surprise if he is fired in the next few months.
All Champions League match-day one results
-Lyon 1-1 Zenit
-Inter Milan 1-1 Slavia Praha
-Chelsea 0-1 Valencia
-Ajax 3-0 Lille
-Benfica 1-2 RB Leipzig
-Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona
-Napoli 2-0 Liverpool
-RB Salzburg 6-2 Genk
-Club Brugge 0-0 Galatasaray
-Olympiakos 2-2 Spurs
-PSG 3-0 Real Madrid
-Bayern 3-0 Crvena Zvezda
-Shakhter Donetsk 0-3 Man City
-Dinamo Zagreb 4-0 Atalanta
-Atletico Madrid 2-2 Juventus
-Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Locomotive Moscow