Champions League Matchday 1 Recap

Champions League Matchday 1 Recap

Dinamo Zagreb vs. Chelsea
Chelsea were by far the favorites going into their match against Dinamo Zagreb and, from a statistical point of view, they performed as such, dominating possession making over double the amount of shots that Zagreb did. The final scoreline, however, fell in favor of the Croatians. A Chelsea effort scarcely 10 minutes after the starting whistle fell to the feet of Robert Ljubičić who played it long to Bruno Petković. Petković headed it on to Mislav Oršić who sprinted past Wesley Fofana to challenge the visitors’ goal. Kepa Arrizabalaga came off his line to meet Oršić, but Oršić lobbed the ball over him and into the back of the net. With Zagreb leading 1-0 with 12 minutes on the clock, Chelsea increased the pressure but the hosts matched their intensity. The Blues were ultimately unable to capitalize on any chances and the match ended in favor of the home side. With A.C. Milan and Salzburg (the other members of Group E) tying in their head-to-head, Dinamo Zagreb currently sits at the top of the Group E table, sending the English side to the very bottom.

Borussia Dortmund vs. Copenhagen
The match between Borussia Dortmund and Copenhagen played out the way one would expect. Although the Danish side put up a good effort, they were far outmatched by their German hosts. A beautiful bit of teamwork following a counterattack saw Dortmund captain Marco Reus open the scoring in the 35th minute. Seven minutes later, the hosts doubled their advantage after some back-and-forth between Giovanni Reyna and Raphaël Guerreiro lured Mathew Ryan off his line, leaving an empty net for Guerreiro to slot the ball home into. Dortmund kept up the pressure and extended their lead to 3-0 in the 83rd minute when Guerreiro crossed the ball into the box to an unmarked Jude Bellingham who calmly put the ball into the back of the net. Dortmund currently sit in second place in the Group G table under Manchester City while Copenhagen sit in third, just above Sevilla.

Benfica vs. Maccabi Haifa
Returning to the group stage of the Champions League after over a decade, Israeli team Maccabi Haifa held their own against Portuguese powerhouse Benfica in the first half. Although the visitors were unable to make much headway against Benfica, they did well to prevent the hosts from scoring any goals of their own. Benfica finally broke through in the 49th minute when Álex Grimaldo’s cross into the box found Rafa Silva, whose well-timed first touch put the ball past Josh Cohen into the back of the net. The Portuguese side then doubled their lead in the 54th minute when a powerful strike by Grimaldo from 35 yards out sailed into the Israeli goal, making the final scoreline 2-0. Benfica currently sit at the top of Group H, ahead of PSG on goal difference, while Maccabi Haifa sit at the bottom of the table, just below Juventus on goal difference.

Sevilla vs. Manchester City
A glance at the statistics of this match tells the whole story. Not only did Manchester City dominate possession, but they recorded 24 shots in comparison to Sevilla’s 6, with 10 of City’s shots being on target versus Sevilla’s one. Still, the Spanish side held its own relatively well in the first half, conceding only once when Erling Haaland got on the end of Kevin De Bruyne’s cross to put City up 1-0 in the 20th minute. The second half, however, belonged solely to the English side. Phil Foden doubled his side’s lead in the 58th minute with a beautiful bit of footwork and a clinical finish. Then, in the 67th minute, an effort by Foden was pushed away by Yassine Bounou but found Haaland, who slotted the ball home to complete his brace. A low cross by João Cancelo in the second minute of stoppage time was converted by Rúben Dias, making it 4-0 to City. With this goal difference, City now sits at the top of Group G, ahead of Dortmund, while Sevilla sits under Copenhagen at the bottom of the table.

Salzburg vs. A.C. Milan
Despite A.C. Milan dominating possession against Salzburg, the two sides recorded similar statistics in terms of shots taken (14 and 16, respectively) and shots on target (3 and 4, respectively). Salzburg opened the scoring in the 28th minute when Noah Okafor dribbled past his defender and slotted the ball past Mike Maignan. Milan was not about to go down without a fight, however, and equalized in the 40th minute when Rafael Leão made an impressive run into the box and passed to Alexis Saelemaekers, who coolly converted. Both teams launched offensive plays in the second half of the match, but neither were able to make any headway. With the final scoreline reading 1-1, Milan and Salzburg sit second and third in the Group E table, respectively.

Celtic vs. Real Madrid
Although the final scoreline of this match ended up as one would expect, Celtic did relatively well in creating chances for themselves, recording 10 shots (four on target) versus Real Madrid’s 12 (six on target) despite Real having the lion’s share of possession. However, unlike the Spanish side, the Scots failed to capitalize on these opportunities. The first half ended scoreless, but a well-timed run by Vinícius Júnior in the 56th minute put him on the end of a long cross by Federico Valverde, which Vini Jr. slotted past Joe Hart into the back of the net. Celtic then found themselves outnumbered at the back in the 60th minute and Luka Modrić beat two defenders and Hart to double Real’s lead. A phenomenal cross by Toni Kroos found Dani Carvajal in the box. Carvajal then found Eden Hazard, who found the back of the net to make the final score 3-0 to the visitors. Real now sit second in the Group F table, just below Shakhtar Donetsk, while Celtic are at the bottom of the table under Leipzig.

Leipzig vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
The match between Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk began rather unfavorably for the hosts. A rather comedical mistake by Péter Gulácsi saw Marian Shved take the ball off him and score on an empty net, putting the Ukrainian side up 1-0 with 16 minutes on the clock. It seems like things were turning around for the hosts in the 57th minute when Dominik Szoboszlai found an unmarked Mohamed Simakan in the corner of the box, the latter proceeding to flick the ball into the top corner of the Shakhtar net to equalize. However, any optimism was quickly dashed when Shakhtar pulled ahead again just a minute later when Shved’s shot deflected into the Leipzig goal to make the score 2-1 to the visitors. A speedy counterattack in the 76th minute then saw Shakhtar double their advantage as Mykhaylo Mudryk put a third ball past Gulácsi. Mudryk then found Lassina Traoré ahead of his defender in the 85th minute and Traoré scored to make the final score line 4-1 in favor of the visitors. Shakhtar now sit at the top of Group F, sending Leipzig to the bottom of the table.

PSG vs. Juventus
The match started well for PSG, with Kylian Mbappé opening the scoring for the hosts with five minutes on the clock after some solid teamwork with Neymar. Mbappé quickly completed a brace in the 22nd minute after some well-practiced back-and-forth with Achraf Hakimi, making the scoreline 2-0 in favor of the French side. Juventus seemed like they were set to launch a comeback when Weston McKennie headed one past Gianluigi Donnarumma, but the Italian side failed to capitalize on any other opportunities, and the final score read 2-1 in favor of the hosts. PSG sit second in the Group H table, just under Benfica, while Juventus sit in third place ahead of Maccabi Haifa.

Ajax vs. Rangers
The match between Ajax and Rangers went about as the odds would have suggested. The Dutch side dominated statistically, both in terms of possession and in shots taken, and the final scoreline reflected it. Ajax opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Edson Álvarez got on the end of a corner and headed the ball past Jon McLaughlin. The hosts doubled their lead in the 32nd minute when a shot by Steven Berghuis deflected off James Sands and rolled into the net past an off-balance McLaughlin. The visitors then conceded a third goal just a minute later following a fantastic run by Mohammed Kudus, who finished it off clinically. Much to the chagrin of the Rangers, a poorly placed back pass by Ryan Jack in the 80th minute found Steven Bergwijn, who put it into the back of the net to make it 4-0 to Ajax. Ajax now sit at the top of the Group A table, ahead of Napoli, while Rangers sit at the bottom, under Liverpool.

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Sporting
Despite Eintracht Frankfurt having the edge in number of shots, 11 against Sporting’s eight, Sporting had the advantage in terms of shots on target, recording five against Frankfurt’s two, and this reflected in the final scoreline. The first half went goalless for both sides, but Sporting opened up the scoring in the 65th minute when Hidemasa Morita’s pass found an unmarked Marcus Edwards in the box, who slotted it home to make it 1-0 to the visitors. Edwards then made a fantastic run two minutes later before passing it to Francisco Trincão, who put the ball into the back of the net to double the Portuguese side’s lead. The visitors continued to push and, in the 82nd minute, Pedro Porro made a phenomenal run past two defenders before making a beautiful long pass to Nuno Santos, who slotted it past Kevin Trapp to make it 3-0 to Sporting. This puts Sporting at the top of Group D, ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, while Eintracht Frankfurt slips to the bottom of the table, below Marseille.

Inter Milan vs. Bayern Munich
This was another match which went about as one would expect. Despite having home field advantage, Inter Milan were thoroughly outclassed by Bayern Munich, holding their own in terms of possession, but falling far behind in number of shots (nine versus Bayern’s 21) and shots on target (two versus Bayern’s 11). The visitors opened the scoring in the 25th minute when Joshua Kimmich played a fantastic long pass to Leroy Sané, who routed André Onana to put the German side up 1-0. Inter made an effort to push back, but they were unable to make any headway. Sané sent another effort across the face of the Inter goal in the 66th minute, which fell to Danilo D'Ambrosio, who bungled it into the back of his own net, putting Bayern ahead 2-0. The visitors now sit second in the Group C table, just under Barcelona, while Inter Milan sits third, ahead of Viktoria Plzeň.

Barcelona vs. Viktoria Plzeň
Much like the other Group C head-to-head, the match between Barcelona and Viktoria Plzeň played out as the odds would have had one believe. The visitors were completely outmatched, as reflected by a 23% possession rate, eight shots on target (versus Barça’s 2), and just a single shot on target (versus Barça’s 11). A well-taken corner by Ousmane Dembélé found Jules Koundé, who headed it on to Franck Kessié, who headed the ball into the back of the net, making it 1-0 to Barcelona with 13 minutes on the clock. Barça then doubled their lead in the 34th minute when Robert Lewandowski found the back of the net with a powerful strike from the edge of the box. Viktoria Plzeň pulled one back in the 44th minute when Václav Jemelka crossed into the box to Jan Sýkora, who headed it past Marc-André ter Stegen to make the scoreline 2-1. Barça responded in force, however, with Lewandowski getting his brace in the third minute of stoppage time ahead of halftime, before completing a hat-trick in the 67th minute, putting the hosts up 4-1. Ferran Torres capped it off for the Catalan side, with the final scoreline reading 5-1. Barça sits at the top of Group C, ahead of Bayern Munich, while Viktoria Plzeň is firmly at the bottom of the table, under Inter Milan.

Napoli vs. Liverpool
In perhaps the biggest upset of Matchday 1, Napoli overcame English giants Liverpool. The match did not start well for the visitors, who conceded a coolly taken penalty by Piotr Zieliński in the fifth minute. The English side nearly conceded a second penalty if not for the efforts of Alisson Becker. Becker could do nothing in the 31st minute, however, when André-Frank Zambo Anguissa slipped past the Reds’ defense to put the home side 2-0 up. Then, in the 44th minute, Trent Alexander-Arnold failed to take the ball off Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who crossed to a barely marked Giovanni Simeone, who converted to make the score 3-0 to Napoli. Zieliński proceeded to make it 4-0 in the 47th minute, lobbing the ball home after his initial shot came off Alisson. Luis Díaz pulled one back for the visitors with a well-placed shot in the 49th minute, but it was too little, too late. With a final scoreline of 4-1, Napoli sits second in Group A under Ajax, while Liverpool sits in third place, above Rangers.

Atlético Madrid vs Porto
The match between Atlético Madrid and Porto was, relatively speaking, among the most evenly matched head-to-heads of Matchday 1, and perhaps the most unexpected, with all of its scoring having occurred during stoppage time. The first goal came in the first minute of stoppage time, when Mario Hermoso’s effort deflected over the head of Diogo Costa and into the back of the net to make it 1-0 to Atlético. Mateus Uribe then equalized for Porto in the sixth minute of stoppage time after the visitors were awarded a penalty for a handball. Atlético kept attacking, however, and an unmarked Antoine Griezmann got on the end of a corner to make the final scoreline 2-1 to Atleti. The Spanish side sits at the top of Group B, ahead of Club Brugge, while the visitors sit third in the table, ahead of Bayer Leverkusen.

Tottenham vs. Marseille
Despite plenty of fouls and a red card in the first three quarters of the match, neither side was able to score until the 76th minute, when Tottenham opened it up. A well-placed cross by Ivan Perišić found Richarlison, who headed the ball into the top of the visitors’ net to make it 1-0 to Tottenham. The English side extended their lead five minutes later when a long cross by Pierre-Emile Højbjerg found Richarlison again, whose header came off the post and into the back of the net, giving the Brazilian his brace and Tottenham a 2-0 win. Tottenham sit second in Group D under Sporting, while Marseille sit in third ahead of Frankfurt.

Club Brugge vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Although both sides in this head-to-head managed to record three shots on target respectively, the match was decided by a single goal. It came in the 42nd minute when Loubadhe Abakar Sylla got on the end of Andreas Skov Olsen’s corner and headed it towards Lukáš Hrádecký. Hrádecký claimed the ball, but fell backwards into his own net, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead. Despite Bayer Leverkusen’s subsequent efforts, the scoreline persisted to the final whistle. Club Brugge sit second in Group B between Atlético Madrid and Porto, while Leverkusen sits at the bottom of the table.