September 25 – The UEFA Champions League returned to fashion after four months of furtiveness, and with a total of 44 goals in 16 matches guaranteed a spectacle to all football fans around the globe, the betting markets have awakened too.
Real Madrid opened their defending campaign with a stunning 3-0 triumph over AS Roma at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, although they could have scored a few more goals if there wasn’t for Robin Olsen, who had a magnificent night in the Spanish capital. Meanwhile, arch-rivals Barcelona swept PSV Eindhoven aside with a commanding 4-0 victory that saw Leo Messi scoring his eight Champions League hat-trick. The Argentinean wizard was also the one to score the first goal in this year’s Champions League edition, with his free-kick masterpiece highlighting the opening matchday.
On the other hand, Cristiano Ronaldo would like to forget his Champions League debut in Juventus’ shirt as quickly as possible after getting sent off in the first half against Valencia. The Bianconeri walked away from the Estadio Mestalla with all three points in spite of Ronaldo’s expulsion thanks to two goals from the penalty spot from Miralem Pjanic.
Despite a turbulent start in the Premier League, Manchester United made no mistake against the Swiss side Young Boys, with Paul Pogba emerging as the main protagonist with two first-half goals. Therefore, the Red Devils have joined the Old Lady on top of Group H, as Jose Mourinho hopes this performance can save his job amid a severe crisis in the domestic championship.
The first major clash of Europe’s giant clubs took place at Anfield, where Liverpool managed to outplay Ligue 1 heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain, eventually clinching a 3-2 win in a thrilling finish. Although the Parisians left Merseyside empty-handed, Kylian Mbappe didn’t miss the opportunity to demonstrate his potential by notching the 83rd-minute equalizer.
In the meantime, the Champions League debutants, Red Star Belgrade, endured against the Serie A giants Napoli to wrap up their first point in the European top flight. The encounter that took place at the Rajko Mitic Stadium was the only one to end in a scoreless draw, while Borussia Dortmund’s 1-0 win over Club Brugge was the other one to produce less than two goals.
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After winning the Premier League title last season, Pep Guardiola’s prime objective was to lift his first Champions League trophy with Manchester City, but things went terribly wrong for the Citizens in the opening match against Lyon. The former Barcelona manager wasn’t able to direct his players from the touchline due to a one-match ban, which forced Mikel Arteta to step out and take charge of the team. However, Les Gones stormed through the Etihad Stadium, leaving the former Arsenal player standing at the cliff edge of despair.
Pep will return to action against TSG Hoffenheim, who are going to host City at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena, and the visitors will enter the game at full strength searching for their first points in Europe this season. Still, considering the fact, Manchester City struggled to keep a clean sheet, William Hill’s 6/4 (2.50) on visitors winning the encounter with the hosts scoring at least once seems to be a tempting price.
The Italian outfit, Inter Milan, pulled off the most impressive comeback of the first round by defeating Tottenham Hotspur at the San Siro Stadium. In the final 6 minutes of the match, Mauro Icardi and Matias Vecino beat the Spurs goalkeeper Michel Vorm twice to annul Christian Eriksen’s goal and capture all three points for the Nerazzurri. Although they’ve been considered underdogs a few days before the game, the Milanese giants entered the encounter as slight 77/50 (2.54) favorites, that’s according to Bet365.
The German champions and one of the principal candidates to win the distinguished trophy also started off the new campaign on the right foot, as Bayern Munich outclassed Benfica at the Estadio da Luz. Robert Lewandowski got himself back on the scoresheet after failing to score against Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. Another duel between the Portuguese and the German side saw Porto and Schalke 04 playing out an uninspiring 1-1 draw at the Estadio do Dragao.
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