The start of the 2013-14 edition of the Champions League could not have been any more exciting, as 53 goals were scored in the first 16 matches played. In addition to to that, we were able to draw a few conclusions from the matches that have been played so far, with a few teams establishing themselves as favorites while a few teams got off to bad starts that they could have ill afforded.
The first Champions League game in the David Moyes era got off to a winning start for Manchester United, who defeated Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 in their first Group A game. It was a game where Wayne Rooney showed that he was once again be fully committed to the cause as he scored two goals, while Antonio Valencia had his best game in several seasons playing as the right winger.
Along with Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk also established itself as the other team who is very likely going to advance out of the group as it easily defeated Real Sociedad 2-0.
Before the start of this season’s Champions League tournament, Real Madrid was easily one of three teams who was on a shortlist of title favourites. In their first Group B game, all they did was further strengthen these claims by destroying Galatasaray 6-1 with a hat trick from Cristiano Ronaldo, who celebrated his new contract with style.
Bayern Munich got off to a comfortable start as defending champs by defeating CSKA Moscow 3-0 in a Group D game where they were never troubled, and were able to brush off any talk of defensive issues from early in their domestic season. Also in Group D play, Manchester City defeated Viktoria Plzen 3-0 in a game which they effectively ended with all three goals coming in a 10 minute stretch early in the second half.
The win was a significant one for Manchester City because in their last two Champions League appearances, they had issues taking points away from home. With Manuel Pellegrini now in charge, it appears this will no longer be an issue.
Chelsea began their Champions League run with a home game against a tough FC Bsael team in Group E action. Having lost over the weekend to Everton in Premier League play, Chelsea looked like a team that was able to create scoring opportunities, but were unable to convert them into goals. This continued against FC Basel on Wednesday in a 2-1 loss despite having led in the game.
It appeared that Jose Mourinho still has not found his ideal starting 11, and that loaning out striker Romelu Lukaku was a mistake in the long run. Additionally, the continued non-insertion of Juan Mata as a starter continues to baffle.
One matchday in, Group F has already lived up to its reputation as the “group of death”. Arsenal helped themselves out in potentially advancing out of the group stage by beating Olympique Marseille 2-1 on the road, as Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey scored for an Arsenal team who played a mature, tactical Champions League game.
In the match which was the most anticipated of this first round, Napoli defeated 2012-13 runner-up Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in a game where Napoli proved to be the better composed team for the majority of the game.
While Borussia Dortmund came close to drawing in the final five minutes, it was a game where they were made to pay for continually letting Gonzalo Higuain get behind the defense for the first 45 minutes, and Jurgen Klopp was sent off for a tirade towards the fourth official. As for Napoli, it was a game where they solidified themselves as a darkhorse pick to make it to the final in May.