PSG start poorly and Bayern brilliant: A review of last week’s Champions League fixtures

After last year’s rather truncated season, if it feels to you like we didn’t get much break then you’d probably be right. Some of Europe’s best seem to be feeling this as well.

Tuesday 21 October

Last year’s finalists Paris Saint Germain were looking to start this campaign strongly in an effort to exorcise some Manchester shaped demons from 2019 and to fix their propensity for crumbling in big games. Unfortunately for them this opening night did neither of these as Marcus Rashford was yet again the bane of the Parisiennes’ night, scoring in the last minute. United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær will be hoping that his side’s spirited performance will prove a turning point for his fortunes as manager in the same way as it solidified his credentials as permanent manager last year.

Perennial favourites of years past, Barcelona are currently in what can be politely called a transitional period, this season will likely decide whether such a period is transitional or simply a rut. Tuesday’s 5-1 win at Hundarian side Ferencváros will have helped ease any nerves they may have been feeling going into this season. With an unselfish display from Lionel Messi and two 17-year-olds getting on the scoresheet they will surely take encouragement from this display.

Elsewhere, Rennes made their Champions League debut against FK Krasnodar and a second half Serhou Guirassy penalty was enough to secure a draw. Whilst no one expects either team to set the world alight this is a result to build upon for both teams.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was delighted with his team’s clean sheet against Sevilla, especially given their clear defensive deficiencies. Keeper Edouard Mendy established himself further with another assured display, ensuring that Kepa Arrizabalaga will have to work hard to regain his place.

Borussia Dortmund are a hard team to value in European competitions, as is the way with most young sides. They can boast some of the most sought after talent in the world with Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland at the forefront. Unfortunately, as young teams can do, they came unstuck against the more experienced Lazio, it was always going to be a long night after Ciro Immobile opened the scoring within 7 minutes. 

Across the other games there were wins for Juventus who will be hoping a complete change of managerial scenery will provide them with European silverware for the first time since ‘96. Also emerging victorious were Club Bruges and Red Bull Leipzig who beat Zenit St Petersburg and Istanbul Besaksehir in markedly different fashion. Leipzig eased past Istanbul whilst Bruges fans were made to wait until the 93rd minute for the winning goal. 

Wednesday 22 October

Wednesday night provided slightly more drama than the previous night’s action with last year’s champions Bayern Munich in action against Atletico Madrid. Any notion that a swift turn around between campaigns or coming up against the rigid Atleti back line in the first game back were swiftly dispelled as a Kingsley Coman brace and contributions from Corentin Tolisso and Leon Goretzka led to a rare hammering for Diego Simeone’s men.

On the other side of the continent, another European giant was in action, although faring less favourably. Real Madrid have needless to say, been less potent in Europe since the departure of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo and Wednesday proved another night to forget. Madrid struggled to gain any sort of foothold in their game against Shakhtar Donetsk’s second team. A second half comeback was not enough to cancel out Shakhtar Donetsk’s 3-0 half time lead. 

Over in Milan, Internazionale “enjoyed” a back and forth 2-2 draw with Borussia Mönchengladbach. Whilst it took an injury time equaliser, Romelu Lukaku continues to prove his credentials as one of the world’s best with a typically powerful display. Red Bull Salzburg and Lokomotiv Moscow played out an identical result, the feeling is this was a game that both managers would have hoped to get more out of given they must next face Bayern and Atletico. 

FC Midtjylland were appearing in this stage of the competition for the first time and received a wake up call in the shape of one of last season’s most free-scoring teams in Atalanta. Atalanta’s four goalscorers shared their goals equally without reply.

The other two English teams in the competition enjoyed winning starts with Liverpool riding their luck with a Nicolas Tagliafico own goal proving the difference, the defender turned into his own net after 35 minutes to hand Liverpool a 1-0 victory. 

Manchester City had a rousing start to their European campaign having gone behind early Pep Guardiola’s side rallied in the second half after Sergio Aguero’s penalty sent them in level after 45 minutes. With momentum behind them City were too much for Porto in the second 45 and ended up deserved 3-1 victors. 

This week’s fixtures

Next week make sure to watch out for Juventus against Barcelona, it is becoming tiresome as a discussion, but it will be intriguing to once again see Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi match up.

Manchester City face a tricky trip to the south of France to play Marseille. City haven’t really got going yet this season, but the European road trip gives them a chance to put their indifferent league form behind them.

On Wednesday, Manchester United host RB Leipzig. United were brilliant last week against last year’s finalists PSG but failed to create anything of note against Chelsea on Sunday. Which United will turn up? That’s the joy of watching Man U at the moment they can go from the sublime to the ridiculous in a matter of days.  

Next week’s fixtures: 

Tuesday 27 October

Lokomotiv Moscow vs Bayern Munich

Shaktar Donetsk vs Inter Milan

Atletico Madrid vs Salzburg 

Borussia Monchengladbach vs Real Madrid

Porto vs Olympiacos 

Marseille vs Manchester City

Atalanta vs Ajax

Liverpool vs Midtjylland

Wednesday 28 October 

Krasnodar vs Chelsea

Istanbul Besaksehir vs PSG

Sevillia vs Rennes

Club Bruges vs Lazio

Dortmund vs Zenit

Ferencvaros vs Dynamo Kyiv

Juventus vs Barcelona 

Manchester United vs Leipzig

By Michael Vince

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