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Messi breaks Gigi drought, English giants celebrate return in Champions League GW 1

Written by: Tushaar Sachdeva

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Real Madrid and Barcelona cruise and English clubs make little weight of their opposition in UEFA Champions League Game week 1.

When the groups were drawn, among several, there were two things that caught our interest the most. First, the formation of two 'Groups of Death' C and H and the other interesting event was the smirk of Francesco Totti towards Gigi Buffon when the former revealed Barcelona as Juventus' group inmates.

Many of us remember how Buffon stood ground against the former trident of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar last season, and that too, for 180 minutes. We expected a similar display as the 39-year-old walked out leading the Bianconeri on Tuesday night. We saw a good 44-minute Juventus juggernaut to hold off the Argentinian, but Messi's master stroke changed the game around. The day ensued with 28 goals and a red card to an Anderlecht player.

 

Talking about the second day, Cristiano Ronaldo came into action after a domestic ban of five games. Everybody's eyes were on him and all for the right reasons. It is rare for him to be sidelined for such a long time. Elsewhere, English clubs Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur enjoyed their outings whereas Liverpool remained the only team from the country not to coast to victory. Minor teams from Turkey and Denmark, Besiktas and Shakhtar Donetsk, proved their mettle once again, scoring major upsets. The round concluded with 54 goals and 3 red cards.

Chelsea and Manchester United desperately missed the tournament

Regardless of the stature of their rival teams, clubs from England ran amok and drew first blood after returning to European folklore. Initiating with the champions, Chelsea scored half a dozen goals against Azerbaijani club, Qarabag FK. After scoring within 5 minutes, more than half of the team was on the score sheet. Had it not been for the missed shots, the score would have easily been more than 8 goals to nil.

Manchester United, on the other hand, hosted FC Basel. The Red Devils may have scored half the amount of goals to Chelsea, but they surely dominated the play even after they lost their stand-in captain Paul Pogba to injury. They went a goal up in the classic Mourinho style to later win it with 3 goals to nil. Marcus Rashford scored in yet another debut, having achieved the same feat in five different competitions.

Both the clubs utilized the opportunity to rest some of the players and gave quality time to new comers or the ones who were to be reinstated.


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Barcelona is over Neymar

Barcelona continue to prove to the world that they're good enough without the World's costliest player and Brazil's pride, Neymar. The summer transfer window saw Neymar leave the club and many of us believed that the club would decline, albeit in a footballing sense. Neymar had become an essential part of the club and the famous MSN trio, yet there are no signs of the void created by him. Lionel Messi, like forever, took the responsibility and Barcelona showed their free-flowing football yet again. The Argentine opened his account with a brilliant goal against Gigi Buffon, a one-two and a low-left finish, a feat he had never managed to achieve.

After the inception of the second half, Barcelona ran riot. Messi scored another identical goal, piling the agony on the Italian veteran. Juventus played with numerous amount of absentees. Leonardo Bonucci and Dani Alves were off loaded, whereas Mario Mandzukic, Juan Cuadrado and Giorgio Chiellini were on the doctor's table. Ironically, the Old Lady of Turin lost by the same margin by which they defeated Luis Enrique's men in the semi-finals last season at their home territory. 

Isco and Ronaldo produced contrasting displays

Cristiano Ronaldo graced the field exactly after a month, having been domestically suspended during the Spanish Super Cup after an altercation with the referee. Ronaldo started the game ahead of Karim Benzema, who is out due to his injury. He scored a couple of goals which were considered underwhelming of his set standards. His presence in the attack was rather nullified by the opposition's goal keeper.

Isco had an off-day against a side weaker than the La Liga teams, oppositions he plays week in, week out. Real Madrid missed his dominating play as he failed to register any assist or create effective chances. His performance was dim owing to a tactical switch which saw him playing deeper than his regular place. 

Sevilla proves to be a tough task for Merseyside, YET AGAIN!

During his first season at Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp had taken his team to the Europa League final, where they bottled a one-goal lead against Spanish club Sevilla. Liverpool fans did not forget the hammering of the final and had revenge on the mind as they hosted Sevilla. The visitors drew first blood within 5 minutes but Liverpool lead the half time score 2-1.

Klopp's Red Army bottled yet again, failing to score from the spot kick. Sevilla tied the score sheet 18 minutes from the final whistle and proved to be a tough nut for the Merseyside team to crack.

Neymar swiftly shifting from MSN to MCN!

Neymar is certainly not missing his South American friends from Barcelona. Domestically, he has scored 4 and assisted 4 in 4 games. His link-ups with Mbappe and Cavani is already growing and has suited the tactical prowess of Unai Emery as well. He maintained his streak of a goal and an assist per game in the Uefa Champions league opener as well.

Unai Emery has enabled the Brazilian to roam freely within the attacking front, allowing him to swiftly interchange with the likes of Mbappe and Cavani, who are certainly enjoying their time with the Ex-Barcelona player. The PSG attack, if not the most, is certainly one of the most fearful attacking trios in European football at the moment, and are already showing the signs for what could be in store for the future. 

Published: Thu Sep 14, 2017 06:19 PM IST

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