The 2023/24 Champions League campaign got underway Tuesday evening with a full slate of games, Abbeylivenetwork.com reports.
Here is what we made of a night of action across Europe.
Drama of the highest order
There wasn’t widespread drama across the competition Tuesday evening, but the Stadio Olimpico produced enough to tide us all over for some time.
Lazio’s Group E showdown with Atlético de Madrid looked for all the world to be ending in a classic 1-0 victory for the Spanish side, but then the unthinkable happened.
With just about the last kick of the game, Lazio keeper Ivan Provedel made his way up the pitch in a last-ditch effort to salvage a point – and it was well worth it.
The Italian headed home a Luis Alberto cross with aplomb to set the home crowd alight and snatch a draw for the Biancocelesti in the most dramatic fashion.
It was just the second ever time a goalkeeper has scored from open play in the competition’s history.
Despite the exodus, PSG are the cream of Group F
Much has been made of the plethora of quality in Group F. PSG, Newcastle United, Milan and Borussia Dortmund is one of the toughest UCL groups we’ve seen in some time.
But despite it all, PSG still appear to be the cream of the crop in the group. Goals from Kylian Mbappé and Achraf Hakimi capped off a superb team performance from the Parisians as they downed Borussia Dortmund – and that’s without Lionel Messi and Neymar, who left in the summer.
With a draw between Newcastle and Milan, PSG haven taken control of the group after the opening round of fixtures.
With Luis Enrique at the helm and a team-oriented style of play, perhaps PSG’s much-documented failures in the competition could be put to an end this season. It’s certainly a good start.
The champions remain resilient
There was stunned silence around the Etihad Stadium at halftime when Red Star Belgrade headed down the tunnel with a shock 1-0 lead against the run of play.
The Blues dominated their Serbian counterparts in the opening 45 minutes but somehow find themselves behind in their first game back in the competition since lifting the trophy in Istanbul some three months ago.
But the champions did what champions do, they levelled the scoreline immediately after the break to pull themselves back into the match before claiming the lead on the hour mark.
A Rodri strike wrapped up the points and showed why City are favourites once again to take home the big-eared trophy this season.
Barcelona may have found their European footing
Barcelona have had a rough go of it in Europe in recent years. Repeated failures in both the Europa League and Champions League have left a bitter taste in the mouth of the Camp Nou faithful.
But this new-look Blaugrana may be starting to the turn the tide.
The additions of João Félix, João Cancelo, and İlkay Gündoğan in the summer, plus Lamine Yamal’s emergence appears to have made Barça a force once again.
An emphatic 5-0 against Royal Antwerp to start their campaign in Group H is exactly what Xavi will have been looking for.
With his new look attack combined with the veteran presence of Robert Lewandowski, who knows just how far Barça could go this season.
A tough point earned
As previously mentioned, Group F is perhaps the most brutal Champions League group in a long while.
For Newcastle United, their first taste of European action since 2003 was a swift reminder just how hard life will be in back in the big time, no matter the extent of their resources.
The Magpies were firmly under the cosh throughout the 90 minutes at the San Siro against Milan, but somehow walked away with a hard earned point.
Nick Pope was forced into a flurry of game-saving stops between the sticks or it could have been a drubbing very quickly for the home side.
Despite the reminder that they won’t have it easy, Eddie Howe’s men will be buzzing with a gutsy draw to kick off their campaign in the ‘group of death’.