Look away Serie A fans as the midweek Champions League matches did not show the Italian game at its finest in a wrap-up of winners and losers
Two defeats and a draw that should have been a loss. A terrible few days for Serie A clubs in the Champions League. Last season, Juventus conceded just three goals in the whole campaign bar the final: now they’ve already done it after just one game.
Napoli have been hailed as one as the best ball-playing teams in Europe and fell to Shakhtar Donetsk. Roma was saved by goalkeeper Alisson, but could have easily lost by at least two goals against Atletico Madrid. The Italian clubs return to Serie A action knowing they must do better if they are to continue their European campaigns past the group stages.
If you are Argentinian, left-footed, not very tall and able to play football magically, it is understandable to be compared to Lionel Messi nowadays, in the same way Messi was compared to Diego Maradona in the early stages of his career.
Paulo Dybala has been hailed by Italian media as the new Messi, especially after his brace against Barcelona in last year’s Champions League quarter-final. But this time, at the Nou Camp, it was all about the real Messi: someone who you can’t really compare anyone to. At Dybala’s current age, Messi had already won two Ballon d’Ors. The Juventus player disappeared on Tuesday night: he has a long way to go to get even close to La Pulga.
An unlucky evening for the German club, playing away at Wembley. But at least a draw against Tottenham Hotspur would have been a solid start for the rest of the group stages. With Real Madrid almost guaranteed in coming first, the second spot in the group is a direct clash between Spurs and Dortmund. But the Black and Yellows will need to win at home in the final game of the group, hoping Spurs drop points in the meantime. It’s early days, but everything is already looking tough for Dortmund.
Two goals in the whole of last year’s Champions League campaign, two in the first game this season. It seems like Harry Kane has reached the final step of his maturity as a striker. After dominating in the Premier League for three seasons, the English forward is ready to step up and be consistent in the Champions League, leading Tottenham to new highs. Without Dele Alli by his side, Kane smashed two goals against Dortmund to wrap up three fundamental points.
“Who is Zappacosta?” was the main sentence coming from Chelsea fans on deadline day, when the Italian was signed from Torino by Antonio Conte to be given the right flank in the manager’s system.
Conte wanted reinforcements for his team to be competitive in Europe as well as in England, and needed players especially on the flanks, where his wing-backs work very hard. Zappacosta is there to replace Victor Moses, but could quickly become the first choice. His goal against Qarabag wasn’t intended as he admitted, but his run in the build-up showed his pace and power, something he has demonstrated for Italy and Torino in the past. Everyone will soon learn who he is.
Lionel Messi is back, Andres Iniesta by his side, Luis Suarez is Suarez, and the defence annihilated the likes of Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Douglas Costa. Barcelona demolished Juventus 3-0 in the Camp Nou encounter and can have a smile after the start of this season, that sees them topping La Liga and easily beating the ones that eliminated them from last year’s Champions League. It’s a long way to go to see if the Blaugrana can have a better season, but after a tough summer this is already very good news.