It was business as usual for the majority of teams in the opening matches of the 2013-14 Champions League with just about all of them going according to the bookies, although there were still plenty of moments to rave about.
A good place to start is Istanbul where a star studded match-up between Galatasaray and Real Madrid was on the cards. What appeared a possible threat to Los Meringues on paper quickly turned into a rout for the Spanish side with Madrid putting up 6 goals in the match, with 5 of them coming after halftime including 3 by the magical Cristiano Ronaldo. Galatasaray simply had no answer for Madrid on the night and only managed a single consolation goal through Umut Bulut in their disappointing 6-1 defeat at the Turk Telekom Arena, a far cry from their win over Madrid at the same venue last year.
Next we head to Milan and the San Siro for AC Milan’s match against Celtic, who just skimmed through into the group stage past Shakhtar Karagandy in qualification. The Bhoys battled hard in this game and surprised many by taking a 0-0 draw into the 82nd minute before everything collapsed around them starting with Emilio Izaguirre’s own goal, which gave Milan the advantage only 8 minutes from time. The term own goal was a bit harsh on Izaguirre, but it was his foot who deflected an otherwise wide shot in before Sulley Muntari bundled home from a free kick to seal a 2-0 win for the Italian side.
Turning our attention back to Spanish sides now, Atletico Madrid showed no signs of missing Radamel Falcao as they easily turned away Zenit 3-1 at the Vicente Calderón Stadium, despite David Villa’s being held off the scoresheet, behind Arda Turan’s second half goal.
In one of the more less exciting games of the opening round, FC Porto recorded a crucial 1-0 road win at Austria Vienna with Lucho Gonzalez scoring the only goal by way of a placed effort in the 55th.
On the opposite end of the footballing spectrum, the masterful Lionel Messi struck again and netted 3 of Barcelona’s 4 goals in his side’s 4-0 rout of Ajax at the Camp Nou with Gerard Pique netting the other one.
Last year’s finalists Borussia Dortmund were pegged back in their first match of the new campaign as they fell 2-1 on the road at Napoli with both Gonzalo Higuain of Napoli and a red card to their own Roman Weidenfeller just before the half contributing to their downfall. Also of note is Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp, who was sent off from the touchline in the 29th after angrily going after the 4th official following Higuain’s opener for Napoli.
Heavy favorites FC Schalke gave Steaua Bucuresti a rude welcome back to Champions League football with the German side recording a dominating 3-0 home win over their Romanian opponents with new man Kevin Prince Boateng getting on the score sheet with a goal in the 78th.
Another German side recorded a similar win by the sam score line as well with defending champions Bayern Munich notching their own 3-0 home triumph over a bit more steep opposition in the form of Russian side CSKA Moscow. The match saw 3 different scoeers for Munich with David Alaba, Mario Mandzukic, and Arjen Robben all netting for Munich in the win.
Portuguesse side Benfica grabbed a wire-to-wire home win over Belgian champs Anderlecht at the Estadio da Luz with the home side netting on 4 and 30 minutes in a convincing win.
A rare upset on the opening match week came courtesy of Danish champions FC Copenhagen, who held serve at the Parken Stadium and held defending Italian champions Juventus to a very respectable 1-1 draw after initially leading the match for near on 40 minutes.
The award of most disappointing performance probably falls to Spanish side Real Sociedad, who impressed many in qualification (especially Lyon) but failed to fire in their first group stage match, suffering a 2-0 home loss to veteran CL side Shakhtar Donetsk of the Ukraine.
(Giant gasp of air) And finally, we’ll end in Greece where PSG recorded a solid 4-1 road triumph over Olympiakos, the lone Greek team in the tournament. PSG secured the win comfortably enough with Edinson Cavani scoring 1 and Tiago Motta getting a brace in the win. The game will go down in the annals and highlight reels of history though thanks to Olympiakos’ Vladimir Weiss, whose 25th minute equalizer was simply sensational as he nutmegged a couple defenders before twisting and turning and finally firing into goal (goal can be seen in the video section of the site).
Group Standings after 1 match apiece are below for all to peruse through…
|FC Shakhtar Donetsk||1||1||0||0||2||0||2||3|
|Manchester United FC||1||1||0||0||4||2||2||3|
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||1||0||0||1||2||4||-2||0|
|Real Sociedad de Fútbol||1||0||0||1||0||2||-2||0|
|Real Madrid CF||1||1||0||0||6||1||5||3|
|Paris Saint-Germain FC||1||1||0||0||4||1||3||3|
|FC Bayern München||1||1||0||0||3||0||3||3|
|Manchester City FC||1||1||0||0||3||0||3||3|
|FC Viktoria Plzeň||1||0||0||1||0||3||-3||0|
|PFC CSKA Moskva||1||0||0||1||0||3||-3||0|
|FC Basel 1893||1||1||0||0||2||1||1||3|
|FC Schalke 04||1||1||0||0||3||0||3||3|
|FC Steaua Bucureşti||1||0||0||1||0||3||-3||0|
|Olympique de Marseille||1||0||0||1||1||2||-1||0|
|Club Atlético de Madrid||1||1||0||0||3||1||2||3|
|FK Austria Wien||1||0||0||1||0||1||-1||0|