Where has the time slipped away to? I’ve not even finished my previews and Matchday 1 has already come and gone! As I was watching some of the matches and highlights, I made some notes and thought I would share them with you here.
Real Madrid 2 – Werder Bremen 1
This was a very entertaining match though the first half was the better of the two. Real looked very dynamic and “on song” in the first half and really should have been up by a few goals going into the break. The second half was a little sloppier but still had entertaining moments. Ruud finally got his timing and touch correct to score the winner. Having RVN on the squad looks to have revitalized Raul, who is playing more like the Raul we’ve been used to seeing in past seasons. His run for the first goal was very clever and was one of the nicest goal scored this Matchday.
Chelsea 1 – Rosenborg 1
The final straw for Jose? After yet another disappointing result Jose Mourinho and Chelsea parted company this week. I won’t dwell on it too much as the story has been splashed all over the media. I will say that I think the “firing” is rash and that Mourinho will land on his feet. He’s a good manager and will prove it again in his next job. As for Chelsea, they need to start playing the attractive football that owner Roman Abramovich desires. Avram Grant takes over as the fulltime boss but I wonder if he is the right choice. He has not held a club job for five years and has never managed a team outside Israel. In terms of the match, Roseborg will be delighted to have claimed a point at Stamford Bridge.
Manchester United 1 – Sporting Lisbon 0
This was another mediocre performance from United in many regards but it has to be considered a success when you take into account their recent away for in the Champions League. This was only their third win in their last 15 Champions League away fixtures. The style was not there but they did limit Sporting to only long range chances and they did claim all three points which is a nice platform to build upon. Another factor in this match was the pitch. It started to chop up quite severly as the game went on and was not the best of playing surfaces. I’ve been droning on and on about the fact that Manchester United are lacking a strong centre forward presence but again it was evident in this match. From open play, there was no real danger inside the Sporting area except for the Ronaldo goal. Their formation often seemed to break down into a 4-6-0 or even 3-7-0 with everyone wanting to work from outside the box or from the wide areas.
Fenerbache 1 – Inter Milan 0
Not a suprising result, Fenerbache played the game tight and turned it on a beautiful goal from Dievid. Alex did well in setting it up but there was still a lot to do for Dievid and it was probably the best strike of Matchday 1. It’s another disappointing result for Inter but they had to have known that this was going to be a tough match.
Barcelona 3 – Lyon 0
Lyon never really threatened in this match and Barcelona were able to essentially walk the ball around the park for most of the 90 minutes. Messi could have easily had a hat-trick but it was not to be on the day. Good to see Thierry Henry get off the mark for Barca, they’ll need him to be in good form until Eto’o recovers from his injury. Lyon tried to pack the midfield with a 4-5-1 formation and were keeping things tight until Lyon boss Alain Perrin decided to go for an equalizer and switched to 4-4-2 by bringing on Milan Baroš for Nadir Belhadj. Barca went on to score two late goals to secure the three points.
AC Milan 2 – Benfica 1
The defending champs opened with a convincing win over Benfica. Andrea Pirlo scored a goal and setup Inzhagi for another before Nuno Gomes ruined Dida’s shutout bid with a second-half injury time goal. It was a Milan lineup with no surprises as they went with their typical 4-3-2-1 formation that relies on Inzaghi’s patience and persistance working alone upfront. Pirlo’s free-kick goal was gorgeous and you almost expect him to do that everytime he steps up to take one. He often gets overshadowed by Kaka and other players on the club but make no mistake that he is a vital component to that team. His vision, passing and ability to create from dead-ball situations are second to no one.
Liverpool 1 – FC Porto 1
I have to say I was surprised by this result. Liverpool had started the Premier League season quite well and I had thought they would win this match. If the draw was not bad news enough, Liverpool will be without the services of both defender Daniel Agger and midfielder Xabi Alonso for up to six weeks. Both have been sidelined with a fractured metatarsal, which seems to becoming the most common injury in football these days. All credit to Porto who attacked from the start and put the pressure on Liverpool with an early goal. Dirk Kuyt levelled minutes later but after Jermaine Pennant was sent off in the 58th minute, Liverpool had to defend strongly to keep the game to a draw.