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UEFA Champions League Takeaways: Gameweek 1

UEFA Champions League Takeaways: Gameweek 1

19 September 2019, by: Leonard Solms

UEFA Champions League Takeaways: Gameweek 1

The UEFA Champions League is back, and if round 1 is anything to go by, this season will be as exciting as any.

After Tuesday and Wednesday night’s pulsating action, we look back on some of the standout talking points which are worth taking note of heading into the next round of group fixtures in the first week of October.

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Manchester City were the only English club to start their campaign with a win. Given that last year saw an all English final and four English quarter-finalists, this comes as a surprise.

Manchester City breezed past Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 away from home, but there were defeats for Chelsea and Liverpool against Valencia and Napoli respectively.

The Blues went down 1-0 in a match which saw Ross Barkley miss a penalty while Liverpool lost 2-0 to an immensely impressive Napoli.

Tottenham Hotspur, meanwhile, were held to a frustrating 2-2 away draw by Olympiacos.

Paris Saint-Germain demolished Real Madrid 3-0 despite the absence of their star duo, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, as well as Edinson Cavani.

The Brazilian superstar sat out the match through suspension while Mbappé and Cavani were injured. However, Ángel Di Maria stepped up in their absence with a brace against his former club. A late Thomas Meunier goal put the cherry on top of the cake.

Idrissa Gana Gueye was already a highly respected midfielder, but after a breathtaking performance against Los Blancos, the Senegal lynchpin has written his name into PSG folklore.

Real Madrid’s own superstar, Eden Hazard, had a quiet game, while Gareth Bale blew hot and cold. Manager Zinedine Zidane now finds himself under pressure.

A new potential star was born as Erling Haaland’s hat-trick inspired Red Bull Salzburg’s 6-2 win over Genk. The English-born Norwegian became the third-youngest player to score a hat-trick in the UEFA Champions League.

The 19-year-old son of Alf Inge Haaland will surely have perked interest from clubs elsewhere on the continent. Don’t be surprised if we see plenty more from him on the big stage.

Napoli were incredible in the win over European champions Liverpool, suggesting that Carlo Ancelotti’s men have the potential to go far in this year’s Champions League.

They weren’t the only team to put the cat amongst the pigeons. Borussia Dortmund were unlucky to have to settle for a 0-0 draw against giants Barcelona while Atlético Madrid came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Juventus.

While Napoli, Atlético and Dortmund are viewed as teams who can beat anybody on their day, they aren’t usually among the first names to be brought up in discussions about Champions League contenders. That might change this season — watch this space.

Club Brugge were impressive in a 0-0 draw with Galatasaray, but disappointingly for South African fans, Bafana Bafana’s Percy Tau was an unused substitute. This despite the versatile attacker having been nominated for Brugge’s Player of the Month award for August.

We need not despair, however, as Brugge’s next Champions League matches are against Real Madrid and PSG (a double-header). Should Tau run on against either of the two giants, his Champions League debut will surely be worth the wait.

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