Despite the exceptionally difficult circumstances around it, the UEFA Champions League is still a guarantee of football entertainment at the highest level. After a 58-day break, the best teams on the continent returned to the competition, and they did not disappoint, with Juventus, Barcelona and Leipzig claiming their planned triumphs, while the French capital’s blockbuster clash was again decided in the dying moments by Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s unpredictable team. Polish players Wojciech Szczesny (clean sheet), Tomasz Kędziora and Lukasz Piszczek also made their first appearances in the new edition.
This year’s Champions League campaign will, for obvious reasons, be different than all the previous ones – not every stadium will see fans (the decision to allow fans into the stands will depend on the epidemiological situation in the region – editor’s note), the meetings will be held every week, the coaches can still make five changes, and the clubs that do not guarantee the conditions for safe play of the match are threatened with even walkovers. In these unusual conditions, Bayern Munich will go into the title defence with their biggest star, Robert Lewandowski. In addition to last season’s top scorer, six other Poles have been entered for the prestigious UEFA competition, with only Wojciech Szczesny likely to make the cut for the final triumph.
On Tuesday Juventus, with our representative between the posts, was one of the first teams to inaugurate the struggle in the group stage of UCL 2020/21 and although the champion of Italy did not impress, he left Kiev with a set of points. Tomasz Kędziora played on the right side of defence for the hosts and it was his side that the Bianconeri posed the biggest threat with the dynamic and dribbling Federico Chiesa, who incidentally recently caused Bartosz Bereszyński just as much trouble in the Nations League match. The Fiorentina winger had already taken a dangerous shot on Dynamo’s goal in the first half, and immediately after the break initiated the action that ended with Morata’s goal. Later, Andrea Pirlo’s charges skillfully controlled the game, and in the 84th minute increased the score after the second goal of the Madrid sniper. In the parallel game, Zenit lost at home to Club Brugge 1:2, losing the decisive goal in added time.
The clashes that started at 9 p.m. were much more exciting, with August’s Final Eight finalist taking on Manchester United at the Parc des Princes, who in unlikely circumstances eliminated PSG in the 1/8 finals last year. The revenge for that March evening did not go at all well for the Parisians. Neymar and Co. started the match better, but it was the guests who unexpectedly gained the lead. The penalty after Diallo’s foul on Martial was taken by Bruno Fernandes, who also missed last weekend’s penalty (referee Mateu Lahoz ordered the replay after Keylor Navas went in front of the goal line during the intervention – ed.) From that moment on, the Red Devils got more animated and tested the Costa Rican goalkeeper Les Parisien even before going down to the locker room.
Rules are rules.
— GOAL (@goal) October 20, 2020
It was an excellent game by both goalkeepers, who saved the skin of their defenders several times. David de Gea was beaten only by… teammate, Anthony Martial. However, Kylian Mbappé and Ángel Di María both lost their duels with the Spaniard. It became increasingly difficult for the hosts to get into the United penalty area, thanks in no small part to convalescent Axel Tuanzebe, playing his first game since December 2019. The growing advantage of the guests was documented in the end with a precise shot by Marcus Rashford. His beautiful hit from the post in the 87th minute buckled the Paris-Manchester rivalry, after all, it was the young Englishman who plunged Thomas Tuchel’s team the previous time.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 20, 2020
At Stamford Bridge, reinforced by seven players for nearly a quarter of a billion euros, Chelsea drew a goalless draw with Sevilla. Frank Lampard’s players were not able to spread their wings – literally and figuratively, as Timo Werner, active as usual, did not receive proper support from the side of the pitch from Christian Pulisic or Mason Mount. On the other hand, FC Barcelona (5:1 against Ferencváros), RB Leipzig (2:0 against Başakşehir) and, quite unexpectedly, Lazio of Rome, who deservedly beat Borussia Dortmund 3:1, all scored in the evening, with Leo Messi, Erling Braut Håland and Ciro Immobile – the main candidates in the fight for the next Golden Boot – winning the trophy.