UEFA Champions League, as the most prestigious football tournament of the year never fails to amaze football enthusiasts all over the world who get to see world elite teams from Europe duke it out for a shot at eternal glory that comes with lifting the European Champion Club’s Cup. While there surely is no shortage of top tier football and exciting fixtures between September and May, there are also a handful of matches that surprise everyone and round two of UCL was no exception to that.
Salzburg push Liverpool to their limits
Visiting Anfield is never an easy task and there are plenty of clubs that can agree that playing in front of thundering roars of Liverpool fans coming from Spion Kop is as intimidating as it sounds. That being said, the brave Austrians that go by the name of Salzburg Red Bull came to Merseyside to leave a mark, and they did just that. The fixture was considered as very one-sided, and there are not many people that would dare to argue a match between reigning UCL champions and 2018/19 champions of Austrian first division football league is anything but that. Nonetheless, it’s safe to say the Red Bulls made sure their visit to north London will be remembered.
But it did not look like it from the start. Sadio Mane opened the scoring in the ninth minute, followed by Andy Robertson and Mohamed Salah, who gave Jurgen Klopp’s side an advantage before the Austrians responded with a goal of their own, which came in the final minutes of the first half with the help of Hwang Hee-Chan. Teams went into the locker rooms separated by two goals (3:1). As soon as the second half started it became clear Red Bulls managed to keep the momentum from their first goal going and scored two more goals with the help of Minamino (56′) and Haland (60′), which put the two sides levelled at 3:3. Seeing how they are on the verge of suffering an upset loss, Liverpool woke up and started up to par with the expectations, which resulted in Mohamad Salah scoring his second with 21 minutes left in the match. That was also the last goal we got to see on that Wednesday night, meaning Salzburg and Liverpool parted ways with a final score of 4:3.
This marked Liverpool’s first win in the Group E, following a painful 0:2 defeat against Napoli in round one at Stadio San Paolo. Salzburg on the other side suffered their first defeat of the group stage. In round one, the Austrians trashed Genk, who were no match for Red Bulls’ offence which scored six times at Red Bull Arena (6:2).
Club Brugge crossed swords with 13-time UCL champions
Real Madrid did enjoy the best run in 2018/19 season and it seems like their issues continue into this season as well. While Los Blancos started their LaLiga campaign with decent results (decent, not good), it’s Real Madrid’s Champions League performances that could, should, and surely do cause concerns among the supporters of Zinedine Zidane’s side. A lot of money has been spent during the summer by Zidane, whose goal was to assemble a team that will reclaim Real Madrid’s former glory on the European stage and seeing how the team looks on the paper, it would be safe to assume Los Blancos have the potential to do so. Yet, they failed in execution, seeing how Madrid outfit found themselves on the bottom of Group A two rounds in.
Their first fixture against PSG was one for ages, featuring two extremely strong star stacked teams, and while we expected a close fixture, it was anything but. The French champions proved to be the stronger side and won 3:0, leaving Real Madrid in dust which helped them realise there is a lot more work left to be done before they can reclaim the European throne. That became that much more obvious this Wednesday when Real Madrid tied with 2018/19 Belgian first division runner-up Club Brugge (2:2).
The match started off with Real Madrid stepping on the pitch with high hopes they could win their first fixture of Group A, but their enthusiasm soon crumbled to dust. In fact, only nine minutes were needed for that to happen, seeing how it was Dennis who scored for the visitors, earning Club Brugge a shock lead. But it did not stop there. Dennis decided one goal is not enough and added one more in 39th minute, turning the Belgian underdogs into alpha dogs at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Seemingly unhappy with Courtois and his performance in the goal, Zidane decided to withdraw him at the break and replaced him with Areola. Joining Courtois was Nacho, who got replaced by Marcelo at the start of the second half.
The changes seemingly helped Real Madrid, who needed barely 14 minutes to score a goal of their own. The hero who reduced the gap was Sergio Ramos, who almost got his goal taken away from him by VAR, but in the end, the goal stood firm and Real Madrid managed to reduce the gap. In minutes that followed, Los Blancos pushed for a goal, and while it seemed like the fourth goal of the match won’t come, it was Vormer’s second yellow of the match that saw him sent off, which gave Real Madrid the much-needed advantage for them to score the equalizer in 85th minute. On the wings of Casimero, Real Madrid saved themselves from a disaster, however, it’s safe to say their 2:2 draw at Santiago Bernabeu was nothing to boast about.
Bayern smashed Tottenham Hotspur in London
Joining the list of impressive, notable or just outright shocking results was a nine-goal thriller at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where the Bavarian powerhouse showed no mercy to Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
While an extremely close and exciting match, it was Bayern Munich who trashed Tottenham 7:2 to secure their second win of the UCL group stage. The English outfit on the other side found themselves on the bottom of group B with a draw and a defeat to their name. Before their painful defeat Tottenham also suffered a disappointing 2:2 draw against Olympiacos, which puts them in a similar position to what Real Madrid is going through now. How will the two heavyweights save themselves from the disappointment that would be failure to qualify for the second stage of UCL is yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure. Both Real Madrid and Tottenham have to wake up before it’s too late.