Opening days in the Champions League are always exciting. The opening day of the UEFA Cup used to be exciting and its successor, the Europa League has already provided a surprise on Matchday One.
These are the reflections:
1) All Brazilians love to shine on the big stage. You don't need to be a Kaka or a Ronaldinho to shine on the big stage when you are a Brazilian. I am referring to Grafite's hat-trick against CSKA Moscow for Wolfsburg.
In Wolfsburg and his debut for the Champions League, he made sure that his name made it to the top of the scoring charts ahead of his more decorated counterparts.
2) Higuain is fantastic. Walter Samuel is very good and Lucio is a class act as well. I wonder why Maradonna doesn't offer Higuain and Samuel places in the Argentine starting eleven. I also wonder why Bayern sold Lucio.
3) Arsenal's mental strength is hardly appreciated. They were 1-0 down against Man City at the weekend, and despite losing 4-2, they tried to fight back. Against Liege they were 2-0 down, but Nicklas Bendtner, Thomas Vermaelen and Eduardo rescued Arsenal from the jaws of defeat.
You could argue that Arsenal shouldn't have gone 2-0 down and the fact that prior to the second goal, Alex Song might have handled the ball in the box. But hey, a comeback is a comeback and Arsenal showed that a bunch of kids are not necessarily mentally weak.
4) Big names don't always produce big games. Inter Milan vs. Barcelona was a game we expected a lot more from. While Barca created chances and Inter used great tactics to deny them, nobody can deny the fact that the game was a bit of a let down.
5) Thomas Muller could have a big say in the outcome of Group A in the Champions League. Bayern coach Louis Van Gaal allows him playing time every game and he does something incredible almost every game. His goals may have come against Haifa, but I wouldn't be surprised if this guy scores against Bordeaux or Juve.
6) Debrecen, Maccabi Haifa, Unirea and Standard Liege aren't in the Champions League for nothing. Debrecen lost by a narrow margin of a single goal to Liverpool. Haifa unluckily coneded two goals towards the end of the match while Unirea put up a good showing.
7) Rapid Wien are much better than anyone expected them to be. Hamburg went to Austria to get three points and returned with no points alongside a goal difference of -3. This was without doubt, one of the big upsets of the opening day of the Europa League.
8) Everton manager David Moyes definitely wants his team to have a say in Europe this season. They were the biggest winners of the opening day. They beat AEK Athens 5-0.
9) Thomas Schaaf's thinking might have slightly changed to match Rafa Benitez's thinking. In the Bundesliga, Werder is continuing its erratic form whereas, in the Europa League, Schaaf's men started with an away win.
Last season, Werder finished tenth in the Bundesliga, claimed the DFB Pokal and were runners-up in the UEFA Cup. Maybe, Rafa Benitez has effected Schaaf's thinking...
10) Jose Mourinho's press conferences will always be the best ones to listen to. He named his entire starting eleven. He was unsure about only one spot. Yet, his side thwarted Barca and came away without a point despite not scoring against the holders.
That's about it. I am looking forward to a great Matchday Two where Man United play Wolfsburg and Bayern play Juventus.
Your views are definitely welcome.
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