The Week 1 Champions League games are complete after Leicester City begin life in the big league with a victory over Club Brugge; Sergio Aguero scores a hat-trick for Man City, and Cristiano Ronaldo inspires a late show for Madrid.
Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri believes that the ‘fairytale is over.’
But is it?
What are the odds that Leicester City could be writing a Season 2?
Could they win the Champions League?
“Impossible,” said Riyad Mahrez after his two-goal demolition of the Belgian champions Club Brugge, “Let’s be realistic.”
But we don’t want to be realistic. We like fairytales. We want to see Leicester City go all the way and achieve the unachievable for the second consecutive season.
The Foxes travelled to Brugge for their first-ever encounter in the Champions League, and they returned to the Midlands with a 100% record. The Algerian striker Islam Slimani made his debut after his record £28m transfer from Sporting CP, but it was another Algerian who stole the show.
Leicester may have lost N’Golo Kante to Chelsea, but they did well to keep hold of their Player of the Year, Mahrez. The magician scored two goals, including a magnificent free kick, and a penalty, after Jamie Vardy had been sent crashing to the turf by the Belgian keeper.
It was a fantastic start for Leicester after Marc Albrighton opened the scoring after just five minutes, scoring Leicester’s first-ever Champions League goal after a cock up by the Brugge goalkeeper. Danny Drinkwater also came close with a magnificent volley. Brugge hit the post with a late rally.
‘Impossible’ it may be, but when you look at the group Leicester have found themselves in, they are favourites to reach the knockout stages. Porto drew 1-1 with Kobenhavn in the other group game, and Leicester is 4/7 to qualify, with Porto 14/5.
Sergio Aguero Scores Second Hat-Trick of The Season
Sergio Aguero may have to sit out a three-game Premier League ban but it doesn’t stop him playing Champions League football, and City will be glad of that.
The Argentinean striker, who surely ranks as one of the best in world football, scored his second hat-trick of the season against a weak looking Monchengladbach side at the Etihad.
The game had been pushed back 24-hours due to a waterlogged pitch giving Pep Guardiola and his team enough time to watch their core group C rivals Barcelona spank Celtic by 7-0.
Man City has now won seven games on the spin this season, including all four Premier League games, but the acid test will come in those home and away matches against the Spanish champions. Guardiola never won the Champions League with Bayern. Could he do it with Man City? I think they are a great price at 11/1. Super sub-Kelechi Iheanachao scored the fourth and final goal in injury time.
Spurs Falter at Wembley
In 1998 and 2000 Arsenal switched their home Champions League games to Wembley Stadium with disastrous effect, failing to reach the knockout stages in both seasons. In 2000, after being relegated to the UEFA Cup, they returned to Highbury and made the final.
So when Spurs announced plans to do the same, I was sceptical, to say the least. Mauricio Pochettino was prepared. He trained at the stadium ahead of the game and ensured his training pitches at Enfield were widened and lengthened to the exact size of the Wembley pitch. 85,011 fans ensured it was the largest English home gate in Champions League history.
And none of it mattered.
Pochettino didn’t want to blame Wembley, but it’s not White Hart Lane. He can prepare as much as he wants, each game will still feel like an away game, and that gives an edge to the visiting sides, on this occasion Monaco.
Monaco is no slouch and currently top the French domestic league table, but Spurs had started their Premier League campaign so well, you thought they would trample all over the French.
But it wasn’t to be.
Bernardo Silva weaved his way through the Spurs defence, after a mistake in midfield from Eric Lamela, to give Monaco a shock lead in the 15th minute. They were two to the good just after the half-hour mark after some terrible defending allowed Thomas Lemar to ram the ball home from six yards.
Spurs did manage to pull a goal back thanks to a powerful Toby Alderweireld header on the stroke of half-time, but despite several near misses from Dele Alli, Harry Kane, and Son, they started their campaign with a defeat. In the other Group E game, Bayer drew 2-2 with CSKA Moscow.
Monaco is the 2/5 favourite to qualify from the group stages, and Tottenham are even money, with Bayer 15/13, and CSKA 3/1 in a very tight group.
The Champions Start With a Late, Late Show in Portugal
The reigning champions Real Madrid scored two late goals to spare their blushes in Lisbon.
Trailing by a goal to nil with 88 minutes on the clock, Madrid was staring at their first Champions League away defeat in five years. Up stepped Cristiano Ronaldo to take a free kick. So what? They always end up in the stand, right? Not this one. This one ended up in the top corner. And then Alvaro Morata got on the end of James Rodriguez’s cross with time running out to snatch all three points from the tightly wound grip of their enemy.
It was Sporting’s first defeat in 13 games.
In the other Group F game, Dortmund hammered Legia Warsaw by 6-0. Madrid is the 1/33 favourite to qualify from the group with Dortmund at 1/9.
Group stage odds courtesy of oddshark.com.
Here is the full roundup of results.
Champions League Results (Week 1)
Tottenham 1 v 2 Monaco
Real Madrid 2 v1 Sporting
Club Brugge 0 v 3 Leicester City
Juventus 0 v 0 Sevilla
Legia Warsaw 0 v 6 Dortmund
Man City 4 v 0 Monchengladbach
Lyon 3 v – Dinamo Zagreb
Porto 1 v 1 Kobenhaven
Bayer 2 v 2 CSKA Moscow
Betting Odds Courtesy of Bodog
Bayern Munich +350
Real Madrid +550
Man City +1000