UEFA Champions League Matchday 1: Five defining factors
Written by: Neelav Chakravarti
Thomas Tuchel faces his first test as PSG boss, when they take on high-flying Liverpool in Anfield.
The UEFA Champions League is beckoning, but this time around everything seems a little different. Defending champions Real Madrid don't have their main man – Cristiano Ronaldo – anymore, meanwhile Juventus could be looking to finally snatch the crown. Elsewhere Last season's runners-up Liverpool will be looking inspired from their previous brilliant run to the final.
Also, there are a few tricky groups, like Group C. PSG face a daunting task ahead. The Ligue 1 champions have been placed alongside Jurgen Klopp's men, Napoli, and Red Star Belgrade. The Frenchclub will be visiting the Anfield side for their first match.
In this article, we at Khel Now will analyze the five factors that will play an important role during Matchday 1:
5. Cristiano Ronaldo to begin his new European campaign with a bang
He put an end to Juve's campaign last time, but he could lead them to the crown this season
After finally opening his competitive scoring for Juventus with a brace against Sassuolo, the Portuguese is looking sharp ahead of his side's visit to the Mestalla. He knows that his job with the Old Lady is to win the coveted Champions League title, after having played starring roles in ending their dreams while representing Real Madrid at least twice.
4. After a disastrous exit during their 2017/18 campaign, an Andres Iniesta-less Barcelona will aim to top their group
The Catalan blitzkrieg faced a sudden end after a disastrous second leg quarterfinal loss to Roma
Andres Iniesta looked all set to win the treble in his final season with Barcelona, until a stubborn Roma side beat them 3-0 at home in the second leg of their quarterfinal fixture after losing to the Spanish side 4-1 at Camp Nou.
Although, at the beginning of this campaign, during the Joan Gamper trophy, new skipper Lionel Messi stated that the European title would be coming home, everything doesn't seem hunky-dory for the La Liga team. Their former captain's absence seems to have taken a glint away from their mettle, with hard-fought victories in their previous two domestic matches. The Catalans have a tough group, with PSV Eindhoven, Inter Milan, and Tottenham Hotspur. Kicking-off their campaign at home to PSV, Barca will be aiming to begin their dream with a bang and if things work out, they could challenging in the latter stages.
3. The result at the San Siro could determine which of these two teams, Tottenham and Inter Milan, can progress further
The likes of Harry Kane and Lucas Moura will be expected to lead the attack at the San Siro
The last time these two sides met in the Champions League was during the 2010/11 group stages. Tottenham lost 4-3 in Italy, although, Gareth Bale almost led his side to a comeback, then at home, the Welshman inspired his team to a 3-1 win.
Both the teams are in a tough group alongside Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven. Although a Mauro Icardi is currently going through a patch of bad form, he could still play an important role in his side's display against Spurs.
A lot will be expected from Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen, as both of them could prove fundamental for the Premier League side in Italy.
2. Although placed in a tricky group, Manchester United could have an important say right from the start
Jose Mourinho and his men had a poor time in the Champions League last season
Jose Mourinho knows that he could face Juventus in their third fixture with six points in his kitty. Kicking-off in Switzerland against Young Boys, United have a relatively easy fixture to begin with and it could be a goal-fest for the English side.
Then come Valencia, who will be travelling to Old Trafford on Matchday 2. At home, United could easily beat the Spanish side, although, things will be hard at the Mestalla. So, before meeting Juventus, the Red Devils could easily register six points from their first two matches.
Placed in a tricky group, United's aim of progression to the knockout stages could depend on them picking up maximum points from their first two fixtures.
1. Thomas Tuchel faces his first real test
The former Dortmund gaffer will be aiming to trump Liverpool in a spicy encounter
It couldn't have been tougher for Thomas Tuchel. Kicking-off his Champions League campaign for the Ligue 1 champions is not an easy test. Last year's runners-up, Liverpool have their own lofty objectives.
Published: Tue Sep 18, 2018 03:57 PM IST