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UEFA Champions League matchday one review – The UEFA Champions League 2023/24 season has arrived at last. The defending champions, Manchester City, entered the tournament as the favourites. Meanwhile, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are widely regarded as the likeliest candidates to challenge the Citizens for European glory this season.
In an unexpected turn of events, Arsenal, despite their underwhelming European track record, find themselves ahead of formidable teams such as Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League winning odds. Here are the key highlights of the UEFA Champions League matchday one.
Performance of the week- Lazio 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Lazio clinched a draw against Atletico Madrid, thanks to an incredible late strike from their goalkeeper, Ivan Provedel. Despite Atletico Madrid’s status as favourites, they were taken aback by Lazio’s unwavering performance at the Stadio Olimpico, resulting in a hard-earned point for the Italian side.
Lazio took command of the early proceedings in the match, as Mattia Zaccagni unleashed a potent free-kick that tested Atletico’s goalkeeper, Jan Oblak, as it sailed over the wall. The Slovenian shot-stopper, however, managed to tip it away for a corner.
Yet, it was the away team that made the breakthrough. Atletico’s midfielder Pablo Barrios managed to break the deadlock in the 29th minute with a first-time strike from long range, which took an unexpected deflection off defender Daichi Kamada, leaving Provedel completely off balance.
Rodrigo de Paul’s absence was keenly felt by Diego Simeone’s squad, especially in the early midfield exchanges. The Rojiblancos, however, grew into the game and came close to doubling their lead a few times, but Provedel stood firm at the Lazio post to keep the scoreline unchanged.
In the early moments of the second half, Ciro Immobile made an effort to level the score for the Roman team, but squandered a prime opportunity. He found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, Oblak, yet poked the ball directly at him.
In the closing moments of the game, Oblak proved pivotal for Atletico by parrying Danilo Cataldi’s long-range thunderbolt away from the post. The Atleti custodian, however, could not keep his Lazio counterpart’s header out of the goal minutes later.
Star Man-Ivan Provedel (Lazio)
Ivan Provedel’s notion of an ideal Champions League debut probably didn’t include heroics at the opposite end of the pitch. The Italian goalkeeper kept his team in the game by producing a string of good saves before heading in the equaliser in the 94th minute.
What adds to the intrigue is that it marked the 94th Champions League goal in Lazio’s entire history. It is impossible, therefore, to think of anyone other than the 29-year-old as the standout performer of Champions League matchday one
What initially appeared to be a straightforward victory for Bayern Munich transformed into a late-game thriller at the Allianz Arena, where the home team narrowly bested Manchester United 4-3. On the other hand, UCL newcomers Union Berlin posed a formidable challenge to the competition’s most accomplished team, only to be disappointed by a sensational late strike from Jude Bellingham.
Real Madrid 1-0 Union Berlin
In their Group C curtain-raiser on Wednesday, Jude Bellingham’s last-gasp goal secured a 1-0 victory for Real Madrid over a determined Union Berlin at the Santiago Bernabeu. The Bundesliga side, on the brink of earning a valuable away point, left empty-handed despite their spirited effort.
The €103 million investment Real Madrid made in Jude Bellingham this summer now appears to be a remarkable bargain. The English youngster, originally recruited to strengthen the team’s creative capabilities, has also emerged as a decisive goal-scorer. He hit the target against Celta Vigo, did it again against Getafe, and now came to the team’s rescue just when they needed him the most.
Bayern Munich 4-3 Manchester United
Bayern Munich scored twice in a span of just four minutes during the first half, propelling them to a 4-3 victory over a beleaguered Manchester United on Wednesday. The win signified a promising start for Thomas Tuchel’s team in their Champions League campaign, yet they appear to be performing below their peak.
The hosts maintained control throughout the match, despite occasional lapses in their defence, and emerged victorious in a high-scoring encounter that saw seven goals, three of which were scored in the closing minutes.
The UEFA Champions League matchday one was brimming with unforgettable moments, yet none could compare to the remarkable drama that unfolded at the Stadio Olimpico. While Bayern Munich clinched victory against Manchester United, their defensive frailties raised concerns. Meanwhile, Real Madrid heaved a sigh of relief as they narrowly overcame a determined Union Berlin.
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