7 Champions League takeaways: Ronaldo rescues Real; England shines (except Spurs)
The Champions League group stage is back in force, with a whopping nine games (thanks to a rainout of City/Gladbach on Tuesday) being played across Europe. Here are the best storylines you might have missed from Wednesday's slate.
Tottenham put themselves in an early hole
When Tottenham were last in the Champions League, they started their campaign by going 3-0 down before coming back to lose 3-2. This time around, they went 2-0 down to Monaco, only to lose 2-1. The difference is last time that loss was away and in a two-legged tie, where two away goals aren’t a bad result. Losing their first match of the group stage, at home too, and against a team they are pegged to battle for one of the advancement spots is a real killer. Spurs still have a good chance to move on, but they lost a lot of their room for error on Wednesday.
Dortmund hang a touchdown on Legia Warsaw
Borussia Dortmund are back in the Champions League and they looked every bit the part of real contender as they thrashed Legia Warsaw, 6-0, in their opener. That’s not really a surprise. We knew they were going to be a threat in the Champions League (and played Legia sure helps). The only question is whether they can also keep pace in the Bundesliga as they balance the two competitions.
Riyad Mahrez leads Leicester to historic victory
The Belgian first division champions gave Leicester a warm welcome, but the Foxes weren't the most courteous of houseguests, particularly Mahrez. The dynamic winger steered the attack in Leicester's Champions League debut, scoring this scintillating free kick and adding a penalty in the second half. Yes, it was against a less-than-giant opponent, but Leicester were professional and organized in their 3-0 victory. It looks like Cinderella is staying out past her curfew.
Are Leverkusen doomed to repeat history?
Leverkusen love to make it hard on themselves in the Champions League, so fumbling away an early two-goal lead at home to CSKA Moscow was not a huge surprise. But in a tricky, even group with Tottenham and Monaco, dropping points at home is a recipe for disaster, and Roger Schmidt knows it. Bayer’s games last season in Europe followed a similar script. Dropped points in the group stage cost Bayer a Round of 16 spot last season. Will a similar fate beget them this year?
Aguero and City take Gladbach behind the woodshed
It was a thorough end-to-end display from City in their upending of Gladbach. Sergio Aguero popped up all over the pitch for the Citizens, and collecting a hat trick and probably feeling a bit unlucky to have not gotten more. Two of the Argentine's second-half efforts went straight at a grateful Yann Sommer before he finally secured his triple. Gladbach were more organized after an hour, forcing City to settle for shots from distance for the most part, but the floodgates opened late for a Kelechi Iheanacho goal to cap the night. City looked predictably dangerous, and Gladbach? Well, they'll have their work cut out for them going forward.
Ronaldo comes to Real's rescue again
Ronaldo may have sat out the beginning of the season with injury, but he’s hit the field ready to rock already. He scored in his first match back against Osasuna, and he was back at it against taking on Sporting. He doesn’t score many free kicks, but when he does, they’re special. And Wednesday's was special.
Sluggish Juventus stall out against Sevilla
Max Allegri likes to work his new signings in slowly, and he left Miralem Pjanic on the bench for the first 60 minutes against Sevilla. This looks like a mistake in hindsight, and Juve looked disjointed and rusty in midfield without him in a goalless draw. Pjanic changed the game when he came on, and if Juve want to finish top of this group he’s got to play from the start in the important matches.