Champions League Returns to the Relief of Football Fans

For those who love European football it seems like years since FC Barcelona claimed victory in the Champions League final over Juventus during May 3-1 in Berlin.

However, it has only been about 3 ½ months that football fans have had to sit through friendlies and domestic league fixtures waiting for the best league in football to start.

The time has finally come. Last week the Champions League held its first round of group stage matches with 32 clubs fighting for the elusive title of champion of Europe.

The final will be played at the San Siro in Milan but no home pitch advantage by Inter Milan or AC Milan since neither club qualified for the league this year.

How the league will turn out this season will depend a great deal on how player fitness holds up and how difficult their leagues are which tends to put more pressure on both players and managers.

Most things are normal at the start of the league. Bayern is atop Germany’s Bundesliga, followed closely by second place Dortmund. In France, Paris Saint-Germain leads Ligue 1 and Barcelona and rivals Real Madrid are one and two in La Liga in Spain.

In England, things might look normal but are not. Chelsea has had it worst start in 27 years and sit in tenth. Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United are close to the top

In Serie A in Italy, Juventus has had a slow start and sit at No. 16. With domestic league play and domestic cup action, the added pressure put on players makes the start very important, as clubs will not want to fight for positioning late in the group stage, when players are more fatigued and league and cup action at home builds.

Over the first 16 matches of group play, a few upsets took place. Manchester United lost to PSV 2-1, while Arsenal went down to defeat against Dinamo Zagreb. Barcelona was only able to draw 1-1 with Roma despite having 70% of the possession during the match.

Other than that, things ran quite normal with PSG, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid all won.

Stay tuned because this is just the start. Each group has four clubs and each club will play six matches, with the top two from each group moving through to the knockout stage.

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