The favourites to win the Champions League have not changed but there were some performances in the opening round of fixtures which are more than worth taking a closer look at.
Paris Saint-Germain spent a lot of money over the summer and look as though they will be a strong outsider in the tournament following their 4-1 opening group game win against Dynamo Kiev. Of course it’s still early on, but other than Malaga’s home win against Zenit, there were few other results so heavily stacked in favour of one side. PSG will have a strong sense of unity because they have been heavily criticised in various sections of the media for following a similar spending trend to Manchester City. This result will give them the belief, they now just need to rely on the experience in their side to produce consistency.
The English teams in the Champions League have performed just about as expected. Manchester City showed an improvement on where they were this time last season but they once again failed to win away at a big European rival. Manchester United scraped to an opening win and look as though they may struggle for a second year in a row when it comes to Europe. Chelsea held on for a draw against Juventus but looked no better or worse than the side that won the tournament last season.
Arsenal slipped under the radar with a 2-1 win away in Montpellier as all of the focus and attention was on the other English sides. Arsene Wenger is often criticised for his transfer policy and the players he brings into the club but they looked good in a rare European away win and could be one of the best Champions League outsiders for the 2012/2013 tournament. Arsenal have a well balanced team that has dealt with an early season goal drought.
Barcelona started with a win although it looked at one point that they would be forced to settle for a draw against Spartak Moscow. Barca won the match 3-2 but had eleven shots on target compared to the Russian team’s two, which produced their goals. This sounds awfully similar to the defeat they suffered at the hands of Chelsea last season. Simple lesson to be learnt for the Spanish giants, be lethal in attack and few teams will get close to them.
Bayern Munich could be a serious challenger for the trophy this season after a heavily one sided 2-1 opening group win against Valencia. Bayern had 17 attempts on goal while restricting Valencia to just five. They had 63% of possession against one of the best teams in Spain. La Liga remember is arguably the best league in the world when it comes to sides that know how to keep possession. Bayern only misplaced one in ten passes during the entire match. If they keep these statistics up throughout the tournament, they will be very difficult to beat.