What did we learn from Champions League Matchweek 1?
The 2021/22 Champions League group draw produced some fascinating pairings. Our lips are all drooling at the thought of matches such as PSG v Manchester City, Liverpool v Atletico Madrid, Manchester United v Villarreal and Barcelona v Bayern Munich. Let's look at what the first set of games delivered.
Bayern Caused Massive Problems for Barcelona
It's not been the best of starts to the season for Barcelona. The loss of Lionel Messi was bad enough but their finances are in a mess and they've made a slow start on the pitch. It wasn't the best of news when they were drawn in the same Champions League group as Bayern Munich,
Even worse, it was their first fixture when their new look side wasn't getting results. They took on Bayern at home on September 14 and were beaten 3-0 with Robert Lewandowski scoring twice in the second half. Barcelona already look to be playing for second place in the group. The other game saw Dynamo Kiev held to a goalless draw at home by Benfica. Barcelona travel to Portugal on September 29 and already it's a game they dare not lose.
Shock Loss for Manchester United
Another club who have work to do are Manchester United. They may well have re-signed Cristiano Ronaldo but that didn't stop them losing 2-1 away at Young Boys in Group F. Ronaldo was on target for United with his third goal in two games since his transfer from Juventus. However, United couldn't keep that lead and a 95th minute goal cost them the match.
The other match in the group saw Atalanta going to Villarreal and coming home with a 2-2 draw. Next up, it's United at home to Villarreal on September 29 in a repeat of the 2020/21 Europa League final. Then the Premier League side faces home and away fixtures against Atalanta. United are going to need some Ronaldo and Old Trafford magic if they are to avoid another season when they end up in the Europa League.
Manchester City Off to a Strong Start
Manchester City either play in a low-scoring match or one packed with goals. It was the latter when they took on RB Leipzig in their opening Champions League Group A fixture. City had already put five past both Norwich and Arsenal at home before welcoming the 2020/21 Bundesliga runners-up to the Etihad.
City were able to leave Sterling, Jesus, Foden and Gundogan on the bench and still run out 6-3 winners. That's just the 11 goals that the German side has conceded in Champions League games played in Manchester this and last season. It's not often that Christopher Nkunku scores a hat-trick and sees his side lose by three goals.
It's clear that City have a strong set of players and will again be a major challenger in the Champions League. The other game in this group saw a surprise as Club Brugge were able to get a 1-1 home draw against PSG. September 28 sees City travel to Paris hoping to get another win. They beat PSG twice last season and the French side have now gone four Champions League games (and three at home) without a win.