Possibly the most leveled Champions League season of the last 15 years is finally starting. True, Chelsea have added Romelu Lukaku to a perfect mechanism. And most of all, Paris Saint-Germain got a dream team. But looking into it, there isn’t really a team standing out as it was in the past, each of the best 9 has their issues. Meanwhile, Round 1 is already throwing great classic clashes that have meant several finals in the past.
Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich
Tuesday, September 14, 2021 – 03:00 PM EDT at Camp Nou
Two years ago the 2-8 in Lisbon felt like the end of an era. Which now has literally happened with Messi's departure, which probably started to be true that night. Barça are on the road to find again a new identity, and in a certain way, there is a lot of positive on which they are walking on, with 7 points out of 9 in La Liga. Actually, it is the same amount Bayern have collected, but something feels like it is completely different.
Cause Bayern haven't lost their starts, it's almost the same team that conquered the Champions League 2 years ago, and has taken a new manager to start a new deal but without destroying the past one. Their main issue still lies in defense, after having lost Alaba and not being supported properly by the defense when playing such an unbalanced proactive football.
But Barcelona aren't exactly the side being so sharp to exploit Bayern's weaknesses, not playing at the same pace but also not being accustomed to just counterattack. Bayern must deal with a Camp Nou filled with people, but the Germans are more accustomed to having crowds back.
Inter vs. Real Madrid
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 03:00 PM EDT at San Siro
If we have 13 Champions League trophies won on the pitch in Barcelona vs. Bayern, then Inter vs. Real Madrid raise it to 16 trophies. Two Italian managers against each other, and Ancelotti won both games played in the past against Simone Inzaghi. But it's the present that matters, where they have to build the profile of their brand new teams: Inter lost Lukaku, Hakimi, and Eriksen, got mentality and game but lost all the point of reference upfront.
Real Madrid are in the making, must completely rethink their defense and their defensive phase, but when unfolding their game upfront, the vibes are still on. San Siro filled only for half crowd will anyway do their game, but if Inzaghi is aware of the current Inter limits, they won't be able to play open and to risk to expose their defense. Ancelotti too will have studied very carefully Inter knowing that they will have to count on transitions, not possessing the same ability as Real Madrid in play the ball.
Free Soccer Pick: Draw at +240 (3.4) at BetOnline
Liverpool vs. AC Milan
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 03:00 PM EDT at Anfield Road
And also 13 UCL trophies on the pitch at Anfield Road, and the antics of the 2 Champions League finals they played each other with the all the Istanbul drama. But this is special because Milan are back to Champions League after 7 very longly awaited years, and actually have started the season in style playing the best football in Italy so far.
But Liverpool did even better, just regaining the top of Premier League before this match, and after having already faced Chelsea. For how good Milan is playing, still, the combo of Liverpool pace and Anfield Road screaming seem just too much to bear for a young inexperienced group. There is Ibrahimovic, true, just back after 4 months and that rejoined Milan just before covid only to be back on this stage and to play again this kind of games. But Liverpool intensity is really high, and can especially win the game since the very beginning on the flanks.