This year’s Champions League began on Tuesday afternoon. The first week of games created several storylines across the competition.
Chelsea’s 1-0 loss to Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday was followed by the club deciding to change managers, with Graham Potter being hired by the club on Thursday. Liverpool’s unexpectedly bad start to the season continued with a 4-1 loss to Napoli, while PSG beat Juventus and Bayern Munich defeated Inter Milan last week.
Chelsea Begin Champions League With a Loss
Unexpectedly, Chelsea lost their opening game of the Champions League against Dinamo Zagreb 1-0. The team, which has struggled to score all season, was unable to create enough scoring opportunities to win the game.
As a result of both Tuesday’s loss and Chelsea’s disappointing start to the season overall, manager Thomas Tuchel was replaced by Graham Potter this week. Potter had incredible success at Brighton & Hove Albion, who are currently fourth in the Premier League.
Potter, who frequently utilized a 3-5-2 or 3-5-1-1 formation during his tenure with Brighton, will prioritize improving Chelsea’s offense. Tuchel also utilized similar formations, which should help the team as it transitions to Potter’s playstyle, and Marc Cucurella, one of Brighton’s best players last season, joined Chelsea this summer.
Chelsea is still heavily favored to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League, but changing managers in the middle of the season will make that process more difficult. Potter and Chelsea are scheduled to play one more Champions League match next Wednesday before the first international break of this season.
Liverpool’s Champions League Season Begins in Unexpected Defeat
Possibly even more surprising than Chelsea’s loss was Liverpool’s 4-1 loss against Napoli on Wednesday. Liverpool allowed two penalties in the first 18 minutes of the game, although Napoli only converted one of those opportunities. By the end of the first half, Napoli led 3-0.
Liverpool’s defense did not play well again on Wednesday, with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, and Fabinho all responsible for allowing goals. At the end of the match, Napoli had 4.10 expected goals according to FotMob, while Liverpool had just one.
At the start of this season, Liverpool has not had consistent performances in the Premier League. They defeated Bournemouth 9-0, but lost to Manchester United 2-1, and drew against Fulham, Crystal Palace, and Everton.
Throughout this season Jurgen Klopp hasn’t been able to find a consistent, balanced starting midfield. The departure of Sadio Mane, who joined Bayern Munich this summer, has also affected the team.
As a result, Liverpool has been extremely inconsistent at the start of this season, which has continued into the Champions League. In the other game in Liverpool’s group, Ajax defeated Rangers 4-0, and both Ajax and Napoli will be more confident they can reach the Round of 16 after the first week of Champions League games.
PSG and Bayern Munich Impress in Their First Games
PSG and Bayern Munich are two of the favorites to win this year’s Champions League and both teams earned impressive wins last week. PSG defeated Juventus 2-1, while Bayern Munich defeated Inter Milan 2-0.
Bayern Munich’s win was especially impressive, as it was on the road. They played extremely well, with 11 shots on goal as compared to two for Inter Milan. Bayern Munich finished with more than 20 total shots in the game.
Kylian Mbappe gave PSG the lead on Tuesday, scoring twice within the first 25 minutes to give the team a 2-0 lead. Weston McKennie scored in the 53rd minute to give Juventus a chance to earn a point, but PSG was able to prevent another goal during the rest of the game.
Both teams will play multiple difficult games during the group stage, but their impressive starts will increase their confidence. Next week’s match between Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona could be one of the best games of the Champions League group stage this season, as Robert Lewandowski returns to the Allianz Arena.