Champions League off to an explosive start

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The second round of UEFA Champions League group stage looms ahead and already there has been some interesting developments within the groups. While the behemoths like Barcelona and Juventus held their ground against the inferior opponents, others stumbled. Most notably, Real Madrid fell victim of lousy start at home against Shakhtar Donetsk and lost their opener 2-3 in the end. Another favorite this season, the last season’s UCL finalist PSG was also upended at home as Manchester United ran out as deserved victors after a late winner by Marcus Rashford.

There is plenty of top European football yet to be played and all hope is not lost for the teams losing in the first round – but the hole is now deeper to dig out from. Of the top clubs losing, PSG will travel to Istanbul to face another minnow in their group, Basaksehir, who were left scoreless in their first round defeat by RB Leipzig in Germany. Elsewhere, Real Madrid will travel to visit Borussia Mönchengladbach, who held Inter Milan at 1-1 draw in Italy to open their UCL campaign. It will be a tough challenge for both of the clubs, especially for Real in Turkey with the fanatic home crow allowed to attend the game in limited numbers.

Arguably the top matchup in the second round of UCL is played in Turin, Italy on Wednesday, when the Serie A giants and reigning champions for nine years Juventus are taking on the Spanish European football legends Barcelona. The much anticipated squaring off of the two best players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi is not going to happen though, as Ronaldo is still out after testing positive for COVID. Juventus has been suffering for some knocks during the early season, but are likely to provide ample challenge for Barcelona, who took a routine 5-1 victory in the first round against Hungarian minnows Ferencvaros at Camp Nou. Juventus on the other hand showed some persistence in conquering Dynamo Kiev on the road, after a hard-fought battle finished 0-2 for the Italians by Alvaro Morata’s double tap.

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