On the first day of the new Champions League campaing all eyes in Italy were fixed on the encounter in Turin between Juventus and French Champions Bordeaux. The Italian side has considerably changed from last year with a new Coach, new formation and several new players. Young Sebastian Giovinco started in the trequartista role instead of the injured Diego. Bordeaux’s midfield managed to restrict Juventus in their own half, and also launched swift attacks. Fernando Menegazzo defended with effect and attacked with ease, overpowering the Bianconeri midfield in the process. Vincenzo Iaquinta worked hard on the pitch as usual and scored a true striker’s goal with a nice assist by Fabio Cannavaro. However, fifteen minutes from time, Tiago lost Plasil on a free-kick and the latter managed to sneak in a goal. Former team director Luciano Moggi has written off Juventus’ chances of lifting the top European trophy just after this 1-1 draw and this may be exaggerated – but the Bianconeri will not have an easy ride considering they drew at home and have Bayern Munich in their group.
Milan were eager to announce their return to Europe in style on a rain-drenched Marseille pitch. The old guards of the Milanese empire came back to deliver the results. Both of Milan’s goals were created by the impressive Clarence Seedorf and scored by the evergreen Filippo Inzaghi in a typical poaching fashion. Gabriel Heinze’s header at the start of second half was not enough to prevent a 1-2 defeat for Marseille. This victory will give Milan a lot of confidence. However, it would be suicidal for the Milanese outfit to rely on players as old as Seedorf and Inzaghi to deliver results each time.
The pairing of Inter and Barcelona in Champions’ League group stages was the biggest talking point. The match at San Siro did not disappoint and the 0-0 score line does not do justice to the entertainment level of the match. Both sides created plenty of chances, but were wasteful on all occasions. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had three chances to silence the crowd jeering at him, but could not convert opportunities. Barcelona’s midfield trio weaved their magic and overpowered Inter in the middle of the park. However, outstanding defensive performances by Walter Samuel and Christian Chivu kept the Blaugrana at bay. Given the recent disastrous performances by the Nerazzurri on the European stage, they did pretty well to hold off the European Champions.
Fiorentina started their second successive Champions’ League campaign, hoping to improve on their last year’s group stage elimination. In Olympique Lyonnais, they faced a tough opposition who usually do well in Champions’ League. Alberto Gilardino received a straight red card towards the end of first half and this drastically reduced Fiorentina’s chances. La Viola could not provide any attacking threat and were thrown on back foot for rest of the game. Lyon’s efforts and numerical advantage counted in the end as Miralem Pjanic tapped in a rebound from Kim Kallstrom’s shot into the net. Fiorentina face an uphill task as they will next host Liverpool without their main target man Gilardino.