By Israel Igiri
The UEFA Champions League returned with a bang on Tuesday as 32 teams involved in battles across various centres in Europe. It was a thrilling match-day which saw different epic clashes between Europe’s best teams. The first match day stuck to the competition’s nature, delivering emphatic performances by different clubs and players in Europe. With the first round of fixtures come and gone, here are four things we learned from the first match day of this season’s Europe’s premier club competition.
Fear factor gradually returning for the Reds
The display of Jurgen Klopp’s men against the star-studded Paris Saint Germain side was brilliant and showed that Liverpool are in for a serious business this season. Right from the start to the finish, everyone in the Reds’ side was a constant threat as they pressed Thomas Tuchel’s men high with their fast-paced football. Their impressive performance on Tuesday at Anfield is beginning to show that what they did last season was no fluke, thereby, sounding a warning to the rest of Europe that they are again set to be that team the whole of Europe dreaded in the early and mid-2000s.
PSG must improve
If PSG must win the most coveted prize in Europe this season, then they have to raise their game. While the Les Parisiens have dominated the Ligue 1 in the last six years, their number one priority remains their quest to achieve success on the European stage. Although huge sums of money have been spent in the last five years on player transfers in order to realize that dream. However, they have continued to fail to come to the party when tested against Europe’s bests. On Tuesday night, they looked lost and were totally outclassed by Liverpool at Anfield. Even though the season is just starting, performances against the continent’s bests go a long way in gauging how prepared a team is to reign supreme at the end of the day. Therefore, going by what we saw on Tuesday, if Thomas Tuchel must win the elusive UCL this season with his star-studded side, he must build a team that can withstand the big guns in Europe.
Messi out to prove a point
The Argentine superstar on Tuesday showed that he is not yet done despite the fact he has been knocked off his perch in recent years and overtaken by Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player in the world. He has also failed to make it into the top three of a FIFA and UEFA award for the first time since 2006. This could be traced to the Argentine’s inability to inspire his Barcelona side to European glory in the last three seasons. While the Catalans have failed to make it past the last eight for three consecutive seasons, Real Madrid inspired by Ronaldo have won an unprecedented thee Champions League titles on the trot. However, while Leo has stated that Barcelona’s number one priority this season is to usurp the European crown from Real, he knows that he needs to be at his brilliant best in the UCL to regain his pride and status as the best in the world. And with his hat-trick performance against PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday night, he is sending a message to the world that he is ready to dominate the world of football again.
New era, same Madrid
Real Madrid started the defence of their title on Wednesday night against AS Roma at the Santiago Bernabeu without Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo but with a new gaffer in Julen Lopetegui. While there were fears that the Los Blancos would not have the same attacking threat without the Portuguese attacker, however, Lopetegui’s men have so far defied those expectations as there are still a number of individuals capable of winning the big games for Real as we all saw in each of the goals they scored against the Gialorossi. Although their greatest player and manager in over a decade have left, they are still a force to be reckoned with.