After just over three months in the wilderness, the Champions League on Tuesday with AC Milan seeing off Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at the San Siro and Bayern Munich toppling PSG by the same scoreline away from home.
Plenty has happened in football over the past three months and you may have forgotten some of the key points from what has been an exciting Champions League campaign so far.
Thinking of Barcelona with Europe League patches on their sleeves and playing Thursday football became something inconceivable, but this has now occurred for the second straight year.
They crashed out of the group stages, winning only two of their six matches and suffering a 3-0 battering at home to Bayern. Even though the Germans are the preferred Champions League bet of many to win the tournament, Barcelona had invested heavily in their squad in the summer and would not have expected such a humbling.
Whilst they are cruising in La Liga, they will be extremely dissatisfied that they couldn’t progress further.
“Of course, this is a failure. Barça must make it past the group, and we didn’t do it because we don’t deserve to continue in the Champions League,” midfielder Pedri said after their exit.
Also suffering the same fate, was two-time European Champions Juventus, who managed to just about scrape a place in the Europa League. Juve suffered five defeats with their only victory coming against Israeli outfit Maccabi Haifa, who stunned Juve on matchday four with a 2-0 victory, thanks to a brace from Omer Atzili.
Picking up only three points and only finishing third thanks to goal difference, it was certainly a campaign to forget for the Italians.
On Matchday One of the Champions League, Napoli played host to six-time winners and last year’s beaten finalist Liverpool. The match was expected to be a tight affair, but Gli Azzurri had no business in sticking to people’s expectations as they dismantled Liverpool with a 4-1 battering.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia made his Champions League Debut and didn’t show any sign of nerves as he announced himself to the rest of Europe with a delightful display.
If it wasn’t for some heroics from Alisson Becker, it could have been a far superior scoreline. Before the game, Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti preached for the “Power of Maradona” and he certainly received that.
Rangers had a record-breaking return to the Champions League, however, it is not a record they will be proud of. Rangers endured six defeats out of six, including a 7-1 battering at Ibrox by Liverpool.
It wasn’t just Liverpool who inflicted misery on the Scottish side as Ajax and Napoli helped contribute to the Gers having the worst group stage record in Champions League history with zero points and a goal difference of -20, surpassing Dinamo Zagreb who finished on 0 points and -19 goals back in the 2011/2012 edition of the competition.
The horror shows turned out to be the downfall of Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who lost his job as Rangers manager a few later.
The race for the top scorer in the competition is currently led by PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and Liverpool’s Mohammed Salah. The pair have seven goals between them.
Salah managed to net a hat-trick against Rangers inside six minutes and 12 seconds – the fastest in Champions League history. Prior to that, it was Bafetimbi Gomis who held the record with three goals in eight minutes, during a 7-1 victory over Dinamo Zagreb back in 2011/2012.
Lionel Messi leads the way in terms of assists with four and averages a creation of two chances per 90.
With plenty of magical moments and historical records broken already in this season’s Champions League campaign, be sure that there’s more to come over the next four months, as we get down to the nitty-gritty knockout stages, where anything can happen and where heroes are made.