TOP 4 Champions League matches worth watching
The Champions League is back. As European football’s biggest footballing competition returns to entertain the soccer fraternity, there are some really mouth-watering clashes to look out for, in the opening stages too. In the Group-Stage draw which was held a few weeks ago, Europe’s top 32 teams were randomly separated in eight groups — which also saw many of the continental heavyweights get elected in the same group.
Nonetheless, as each seeded team was allotted the respective pots in the draw with respect to the position they finished in their domestic league last season and the level of the league they operate in, one thing was sure — Every group will boast two giants who shall play out to win the group with a maximum of 18 points up for grabs.
Well, the competition is not only important for the elite level sides to imprint their legacies. The tournament also offers the smaller clubs with an opportunity to play the best teams in Europe. Many a times, exceptionally talented youngsters from the smaller clubs have made their mark and secured an eventual transfer to the big guns of Europe in the next transfer window.
With such a fairy tale competition beginning tomorrow, it is a mix of emotions of nervousness, pride and adrenaline. The first two match-days, collectively known as game-week one, itself boast four extremely lucrative fixtures as some title favourites contend to start their campaign on a positive note. Without much ado, let’s look at the top four matches to watch in game-week one of the UEFA Champions League 2020–21.
#4 Chelsea FC (England) vs Sevilla (Spain)
Though Chelsea made a sudden exit from last season’s Champions League, they have heavily reinforced their squad for this season. Arrival of Germans Timo Werner and Kai Havertz, the wizard from Ajax — Hakim Ziyech, the English left-back from Leicester Ben Chilwell and the two imports from French Ligue 1, Thiago Silva and Edouard Mendy — Chelsea have spent a total of 230 million pounds in the transfer market.
With an attack which could scare any team in Europe right now, the English Premier League giants have a tricky start to their European campaign as they face Europa League Champions Sevilla. After ousting Inter Milan in the final of the second tier European competition, Sevilla have been lauded as one of the dark horses in every competition they compete in, this season.
But, departures of some key players has led to Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla being depleted a bit. This was evident in their 1–0 away loss at Granada on the weekend as they eventually showed lack of talent in their camp to overcome the one-man and one-goal deficit to beat a lower-half side of the Spanish La Liga.
On the other hand, Sevilla’s hosts Chelsea have other problems on their mind. The Blues squandered a 3–1 lead on Saturday just to end up with a 3–3 draw against Southampton at home. Terrible mistakes by goal-keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and defender Kurt Zouma meant that Chelsea’s defensive issues are their paramount objective to solve for, this season.
Will Chelsea’s attack make sure that their defensive problems don’t cost them points? Or Sevilla’s triumphs on away turf again help them clinch a miraculous away win at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday? Nevertheless, in either of a situation, it’s the fans who shall win.
Chelsea play Sevilla on the 20th of October 2020 (Tuesday) at 20:00 BST.
#3 Ajax (Netherlands) vs Liverpool (England)
In the 2018–19 season, Ajax did the unbelievable. While the Champions of Holland have always been dominant back home, their ‘Class of 2018’ achieved something extraordinary as they went on to eliminate two title favourites Real Madrid and Juventus from the Champions League. Stunning the entirety of Europe in just a couple of months, there journey had an abrupt ending as they were eliminated in the dying moments of the semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur.
Since then though, the Ajax squad has been torn apart as many of its stars find themselves playing for the bigger giants elsewhere. Captain Matthijs de Ligt joined Juventus, star midfielder Frenkie de Jong joined Barcelona, while Hakim Ziyech moved on to Chelsea. This also partially led to Ajax getting eliminated from the group stages of the Champions League last season.
This new-look Ajax side of 2020 though, is something exciting. Spearheaded by some of the most exciting Dutch talents and also some young blood from other European nations, Ajax look ready for another European dream. But they probably face their biggest test of the season right at their first step.
It’s the Champions of England and 6-time European Champions Liverpool who visit the Johan Cruyff Arena on Wednesday night.
Liverpool have been a force of nature since 2017 itself. After two consecutive finals, they were finally crowned as European Champions. In the following year, their 30-year wait for the Premier League title also ended. Now, they are all ready to reclaim their European glory.
The Reds’ campaign was cut short last season at their special Anfield Stadium as Spanish powerhouse Atletico Madrid secured a miraculous victory in extra time to end Liverpool’s Champions League season. But with the signings of legendary midfielder Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich and pacey forward Diojo Jota from Wolverhampton Wanderers, Liverpool are all set to take a hit at the biggest competition of the continent this season.
Ajax and Liverpool might just be part of the best footballing history in Europe. The coming together of these two clubs on their opening day in the competition surely guarantees fireworks.
Liverpool visit the Johan Cruyff arena on the 21st of October 2020 to play Ajax Amsterdam at 20:00 BST.
#2 Bayern Munich (Germany) vs Atletico Madrid (Spain)
Regarded as the most rampant side of the decade, Bayern Munich took no chances as they approached every game like it was a matter of life and death last season. This led the German side to a Champions League title-winning campaign just a few months ago in Portugal. Bayern were so adamant on winning the European Champion crown, they did not even celebrate their semi-final victory over Olympique Lyon — just considering it another day at the office.
This is the way the Bavarians look at the game of football. Pure business for winning, ruthless measures to hurt the opposition and a ‘doing-anything-for-a-win’ approach. But on the first day of their Champions League campaign, they clash with another side which is really similar to them with these very characteristics mentioned — Atletico Madrid.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico might just be the most physically dynamic squad, not only in Spain, but also in the entire Europe. A team which consists of young talents and also some veterans of the game — Simeone just wants his men to achieve the objectives set by him for the game. If they stick to his principles, they can cause the biggest upsets in the history of the game.
After eliminating Liverpool at Anfield — the same ground where the Reds demolished FC Barcelona 4–0 — Atletico are known as a side which is just unbeatable on their specific days. But there’s a catch.
After losing Alvaro Morata on loan to Juventus and Thomas Partey to Arsenal on a permanent deal, Atletico Madrid are heavily depleted in terms of high quality talent in their camp. Taking on the likes of Bayern Munich, a team needs to have the best of their weaponry to even sustain and this is what Atletico is probably lacking. But as they say — never say never. This is how Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid win games against bigger oppositions.
Two sides who are the greatest in terms of physical abilities clashing on Wednesday means that a very live-wire setting is highly likely to played out at the Allianz Arena in Bavaria.
Bayern Munich take on Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, 21st October 2020 at 20:00 BST.
#1 Paris Saint-Germain (France) vs Manchester United (England)
Probably the most anticipated clash on the opening game-week of the UEFA Champions League, the game between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United boasts some really exciting history.
It was the month of March in 2019. 2–0 down in aggregate to Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United personnel boarded the flight to France to take on the Ligue 1 Champions in the second leg of the Champions League. Caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was being backed by his predecessors for a miraculous success, but the Norwegian manager had just named a quartet of academy youngsters to face the best side in France.
The game started with the French hosts getting to business as usual, taking an early lead. But United were quick to equalize and the second half was more of a motivational battle than a technical one as the United goals kept flying in. In the extra time, the red half of Manchester earned a penalty which could eliminate PSG from the competition. As Marcus Rashford stepped on to take it, he knew he would make history. And he did.
Just about a year and a half later, the two teams meet again. It’s the same venue. The same competition. With a bit of a different personnel, the same stakes.
Paris Saint-Germain will have revenge all written over their minds. The French Champions led by Neymar and Kylian Mbappe will be aching to get their hands on the struggling Manchester United defence on Tuesday night. It’s also the return of Edinson Cavani, who has joined Manchester United as a free agent after less than a decade in Paris.
But finally, this time Manchester United do have an attacking setup to compete. Winter transfer window signing Bruno Fernandes has literally carried the team on his shoulders, and with Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford, Donny van de Beek and Anthony Martial in the lineup — the boys from Manchester are ready to take on the men from Paris.
Though this game is about two struggling defences, it’s also the battle of two attacking giants — who can promise us a multi-goal thriller on Tuesday night. Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United go head-to-head at the Parc des Princess in France on Tuesday, October 20th 2020 at 20:00 BST.
We, at Mighty Tips, offer match predictions and betting tips for not only Champions League football, but all the major and sub-major leagues operating in every corner of world football. For statistical and tactical previews of the games, do take a look at our detailed predictions.