The Champions League is finally underway once more, and here we round up all the action from matchday one.
The UEFA Champions League is seen by many fans across the world as the most prestigious club competition in world football, and it got back underway this week with all clubs looking for European glory. Some of the world’s best players are going head to head once more, and reigning Champions Manchester City will be looking to become the first club to retain the Champions League trophy since Real Madrid won 3 titles in a row between 2015 and 2018.
City won it last season after beating Italian Giants Inter Milan 1 – 0 in the Final thanks to a Rodri goal (68’).
Pep Guardiola’s Cityzens are not the only English representative in this season’s competition. Firstly, Arsenal are playing in the Champions League for the first time in six years, with their last participation in this competition being in the 2016/17 season. The furthest that the Gunners have got in the Champions League was in 2006 when they reached the Final, losing 2 – 1.
Manchester United is the third and final English club to be participating in the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League. It has been a shorter wait for a return to this competition for the Red Devils, who last took part in the 2021/22 season. United are, of course, serial winners of the Champions League. They have won it on 3 occasions, in 1967/68 (4 – 1 vs. Benfica), 1998/99 (2 – 1 vs. Bayern Munich) and in 2007/08 (1 – 1, United won 6 – 5 on penalties vs. Chelsea).
Let’s begin our round-up of Matchday One with reigning Champions Manchester City, who face Serbian side Red Star Belgrade at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night.
Group G: Manchester City (England) 3 – 1 Red Star Belgrade (Serbia)
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City came face to face with Serbian Champions Red Star Belgrade in their opening match of this season’s UEFA Champions League Group Stage. Despite chances and putting considerable pressure on their opponents, City went 1-0 down late on in the first half when Ghanaian forward Osman Bukari scored to give his side a surprise lead going into half time.
The Cityzens showed their class in the second half. World Cup winner Julian Alvarez scored his first goal of the game just after half time to restore parity for the Cityzens (47’). Alvarez got his brace to give his team the lead with half an hour of the game remaining. Rodri, who scored the winning goal in the 2023 Champions League Final, got the goal to seal the victory with less than twenty minutes remaining.
City had 70% possession compared to Red Star’s 30%. Guardiola’s side also had 37 attempts on goal compared to 3 for their Serbian counterparts.
Manchester City’s remaining Champions League Group Stage fixtures are as follows:
– RB Leipzig (Away): Wednesday 4th October at Red Bull Arena
– Young Boys (Away): Wednesday 25th October at Stadion Wankdorf
– Red Star Belgrade (Away): Wednesday 13th December at Stadion Rajko Mitić
Group B: Arsenal (England) 4 – 0 PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands)
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal marked their UEFA Champions League return in style at the Emirates Stadium (re-named Arsenal Stadium for Europe). The Gunners never took their foot off the gas, racing into a 3 – 0 lead by half time after Bukayo Saka (8’), Leandro Trossard (20’) and Gabriel Jesus (38’) all found the back of the net. Captain Martin Odegaard sealed what turned out to be an emphatic 4 – 0 victory for Arsenal with half an hour of the game remaining (70’).
Arsenal dominated possession with 60% of the ball compared to 40% for their Dutch counterparts. The Gunners also had 18 attempts on goal compared to PSV’s 11.
Arsenal’s remaining Champions League Group Stage fixtures are as follows:
– Lens (Away): Tuesday 3rd October at Stade Bollaert-Delelis
– Sevilla (Away): Tuesday 24th October at Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan
– PSV Eindhoven (Away): Tuesday 12th December at PSV Stadion
Group A: Bayern Munich (Germany) 4 – 3 Manchester United (England)
Unfortunately for Manchester United, their return to the Champions League did not go so well, with Erik Ten Hag’s side travelling to Germany to face Bundesliga Champions Bayern Munich on Wednesday night. Leroy Sané gave Bayern the lead with almost half an hour of the game having elapsed. Serge Gnabry doubled their advantage a few minutes later, which saw them leading 2 – 0 at half time.
The second half began with summer signing Rasmus Højlund pulling a goal back for United. However, the Bavarians restored their two goal advantage through a Harry Kane penalty. Casemiro scored late on to make it 3-2 before Mathys Tel scored Bayern’s fourth in stoppage time. The goals did not end there, as Casemiro scored his second a few minutes later. This was not enough to prevent a 4 – 3 defeat.
Bayern had 59% possession compared to 41% for Erik Ten Hag’s side. The home side also had 18 attempts on goal compared to United’s 8.
Manchester United’s remaining Champions League Group Stage fixtures are as follows:
– Copenhagen (Away): Wednesday 8th November at Parken
– Galatasaray (Away): Wednesday 29th November at Ali Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi
Group G: Young Boys (Switzerland) 1 – 3 RB Leipzig (Germany)
German giants RB Leipzig got their Champions League campaign off to the best start by beating Swiss side Young Boys away from home. Mohamed Simakan (3’), Xaver Schlager (73’) and Benjamin Šeško (90+2’). Meschak Elia scored the only goal of the game for the home side (33’).
Possession was relatively even, with Young Boys having 53% possession compared to RB Leipzig’s 47%. Leipzig had 21 attempts on goal compared to Young Boys’ 7.
Group E: Feyenoord (Netherlands) 2 – 0 Celtic (Scotland)
Scottish Champions Celtic travelled to the Netherlands to face Dutch Champions Feyenoord in their opening Group Stage fixture. However, the Dutch side came out on top, winning 2 – 0 thanks to goals from Calvin Stengs (45+2’) and Alireza Jahanbakhsh (76’).
Arne Slot’s Feyenoord had 58% of the ball compared to The Bhoys’ 42%. The home side also had 16 attempts on goal compared to Celtic’s 8.
Group F: Paris Saint-Germain (France) 2 – 0 Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
Two European heavyweights came head to head at the Parc des Princes when Paris Saint-Germain took on Borussia Dortmund. The Parisians won 2 – 0 in the end thanks to goals from Kylian Mbappe (49’ – Penalty) and Achraf Hakimi (58’).
PSG dominated possession with 65% of the ball in comparison to 35% for their German counterparts. The home side had 17 attempts on goal compared to 13 for BVB.
Group H: FC Barcelona (Spain) 5 – 0 Royal Antwerp (Belgium)
Five time European Champions FC Barcelona got their latest UEFA Champions League campaign in some style, beating Belgian Champions Royal Antwerp 5 – 0. Joao Felix (11’, 66’), Robert Lewandowski (19’), Gavi (54’) and an own goal from Jelle Bataille (22’) secured an emphatic victory for the Catalan giants.
Possession was in Barcelona’s favour, with 65% of the ball compared to Antwerp’s 35%. The home side had 22 attempts on goal compared to the visitors’ 3.
Group H: Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) 1 – 3 FC Porto (Portugal)
It was a 3-1 victory for Portuguese Giants FC Porto against Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk in the opening week of the 2023/24 Champions League. Galeno (8’, 15’) and Mehdi Taremi (29’) scored the goals for the away side. Kevin Kelsy got Shakhtar’s only goal of the game (29’).
Porto edged possession with 51% possession compared to 49% for Shakhtar Donetsk. Porto also had the most attempts on goal with 13 compared to the home side’s 9.
Group A: Galatasaray (Turkey) 2 – 2 Copenhagen (Denmark)
Galatasaray’s match against Copenhagen was a dramatic one on Wednesday evening. Mohamed Elyounoussi (35’) and Diogo Goncalves (58’) gave the Danish Champions a 2-0 lead before two goals in two minutes in the dying embers of the game from Sacha Boey (86’) and Tete (88’) making it 2-2 in dramatic fashion.
Galatasaray had 61% possession compared to Copenhagen’s 39%. As for attempts on goal, the Turkish Champions had 14 compared to 39% for Copenhagen.
Group C: Real Madrid (Spain) 1 – 0 Union Berlin (Germany)
Union Berlin is playing in the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history, and they made the trip to the Santiago Bernabéu to face Real Madrid. It took until second half stoppage time for the 14 time European Champions to seal the win thanks to Jude Bellingham (90+4’).
Carlo Ancelotti’s side dominated the ball with 72% in comparison to Union’s 28%. There were 31 attempts on goal for the home side compared to 3 for the visitors.
Group B: Sevilla (Spain) 1 – 1 Lens (France)
Sevilla welcomed Lens to the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan in Group B on matchday one of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League. Lucas Ocampos (9’) gave the home side the lead in the opening ten minutes before Angelo Fulgini restored parity for the visitors before half an hour had elapsed (24’). The game ended level at 1 – 1.
The possession was controlled by Sevilla, who had 54% compared to Lens’ 46%. In terms of attempts on goal, the two teams ended level with 11 each.
Group C: Braga (Portugal) 1 – 2 Napoli (Italy)
Portugal’s Braga welcomed Italian Champions Napoli to the Estadio Municipal de Braga on the opening matchday of the 2023/24 Champions League Group Stage. Giovanni Di Lorenzo scored (45+1’) before Bruma equalised for the home side late in the second half (84’). An own goal from Sikou Niakate sealed a 2 – 1 win for Napoli in the dying embers of the game (88’).
Braga had the most possession with 53% of the ball compared to Napoli’s 47%. Napoli edged attempts on goal with 18, with Braga having 16.
Group D: Real Sociedad (Spain) 1 – 1 Inter Milan (Italy)
2022 UEFA Champions League Finalists Inter Milan met Spanish side Real Sociedad in Spain for their opening group stage fixture. It ended in a 1 – 1 draw, with Brais Mendez giving Sociedad the lead (4’) before Lautaro Martinez scored a late equaliser for The Nerazzurri (87’).
Inter edged possession with 55% of the ball, with Sociedad having 45%. The Spanish side had the most attempts on goal with 13 compared to 5 for the visitors.
Group D: Benfica (Portugal) 0 – 2 RB Salzburg (Austria)
Benfica met Austrian Champions RB Salzburg at home in their opening fixture of the 2023/24 Champions League Group Stages. A Roko Simic penalty (15’) and a goal from Oscar Gloukh (51’) handed the visitors a 2 – 0 victory.
The Portuguese side dominated the ball with 56% possession compared to Salzburg’s 44%. Benfica had 17 attempts on goal compared to 13 for their Austrian counterparts.
Group F: AC Milan (Italy) 0 – 0 Newcastle United (England)
AC Milan and Newcastle United opened their 2023/24 UEFA Champions League campaigns with a 0 – 0 draw at the iconic San Siro in Milan. This match ended a 20 year wait for the Magpies to play in the Champions League.
The Rossoneri had the most possession with 54% compared to 46% for Eddie Howe’s side. The home side also had the most attempts on goal with 25, with Newcastle having 6.
The second week of matches in the 2023/24 Champions League begins on Tuesday 3rd October 2023.
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