The new Champions League campaign kicked off this week and it didn’t take long to catch the imagination. The ball got rolling on Tuesday, when Real Madrid came from behind to secure a thrilling 3-2 win over Manchester City, while emerging heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain and Malaga proved they could more than hold their own with emphatic victories. Wednesday also threw up some exciting ties, most notably Juventus’ resilience coming to the fore in the 2-2 draw with competition holders Chelsea, and Barcelona’s unconvincing 3-2 success against Spartak Moscow. Goal.com is on hand to distinguish the most impressive players of the round.
CFR Cluj marked the end of a four-year hiatus from the Champions League in style, beating Braga 2-0. However, they had to thank goalkeeper Mario Felgueiras, who produced a string of fine saves against his former club. At right-back, Guillaume Gillet‘s all-action display ensured Anderlecht nullified AC Milan in a 0-0 draw, while Thiago Silva was his domineering self on his PSG debut against Dynamo Kiev and managed to get on the scoresheet. Partnering the Brazilian is Schalke’s Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who excelled in shutting Olympiakos down, and on the left, Marcelo warrants his place following a swashbuckling shift for Los Blancos, compounded by a fabulous curling finish.
Toni Kroos is fast making a name for himself at Bayern Munich, as he followed up his screamer against Stuttgart at the weekend with a similarly spectacular strike in a 2-1 win over Valencia. Juventus needed inspiration after falling 2-0 down to Chelsea, and it came in the form of Arturo Vidal, who acted as the catalyst in the Italian champions’ comeback at Stamford Bridge. Marco Verratti has been a revelation for PSG since his transfer from Pescara in the summer, and he set up a goal and displayed great maturity against Yuri Syomin’s charges, despite his tender age.
Attacking places were hot property in the first week of the Champions League, with the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo missing out. However, there was no getting away from Oscar‘s splendid double to give Chelsea a commanding early lead, as he flourished as his side’s No.10. Stationed in front of him are Armenian prodigy Henrik Mkhitaryan, who came up trumps in Shakhtar Donetsk’s 2-0 win over Nordsjaelland, scoring both goals for Mircea Lucescu’s men, and Isco, whose pair of strikes lead Malaga to a memorable 3-0 opening-day success over free-spending Zenit St Petersburg.