It’s European football’s top club competition, and finally, the Champions League of 2021/22 is back underway. The round of sixteen fixtures are divided into two segments, with the first leg ties of four of the eight games now complete. And boy, were there some fascinating match-ups on show.
Most people will tell you that if there is one team, they fancy to lift the Champions League trophy this season, it’s Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s men are going great guns domestically and destroyed Sporting by scoring four goals with no reply by halftime. Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva x2 and Phil Foden were on target before the break, with Raheem Sterling adding a fifth on fifty-eight minutes. There’s no way back for Sporting now, and City will progress.
Arguably the pick of the fixtures and a game where all eyes were on Kylian Mbappe. PSG, on home soil, dominated in most areas but couldn’t find that killer blow to grab an advantage ahead of a second leg tie in Madrid. That was until the 94th minute when Mbappe converted to secure a slender 1-0 advantage. It was a game to forget for former Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi, who saw his penalty saved by Thibaut Courtois.
It’s fair to say that Bayern started as the heavy favourites heading into this fixture. They had a full-strength team out, and you would have thought they would have proven more than capable of beating Salzburg. However, football has a habit of surprising you. And, it was undoubtedly a shock to Julian Nagelsmann’s men when Junior Adamu put the home side ahead on twenty-one minutes. But, as Salzburg looked to be closing in on a famous victory, Kingsley Coman was on hand to grab a late leveller in the 90th minute.
Inter and Liverpool are two of European football’s most historic clubs. And, seeing them go head to head on the top stage is always a spectacle to behold. But, if there was to be a winner in the game that looked to be heading towards a stalemate, it was Liverpool, who just appeared to be forcing the issue slightly more. And, on seventy-five minutes, up stepped Roberto Firmino to break the deadlock. Less than ten minutes later, Mo Salah, arguably the best striker in the world right now, was there to double Liverpool’s lead.
It proved to be an exciting round of fixtures, especially for fans and neutrals, who saw both Mbappe and Salah come to the fore and stake their claims ahead of a faltering Lionel Messi. You’d expect Man City and Liverpool to have done enough to make it through, and Bayern should prove far too strong for Salzburg on home soil. But, as you will expect, all eyes will be on Madrid as PSG’s lead can be overturned, that is unless Mbappe sets the game alight once again.