Champions’ League Reveals the Gap Between Elites and the Rest

Chelsea’s shock home defeat to Basel was the only real surprise of a first Champions’ League round in which the gap between the established elites of Europe and the rest of the contenders was apparent. Real Madrid’d rout of Galatasaray, in Istanbul no less, revealed not just a flattering scoreline but also the difference in class. Heavy spending PSG rolled over Olympiakos in Greece, while Bayern, Man City, Schalke, Shackhtar and Man United enjoyed easy early victories.

PSG's Edinson Cavani

One day after Cristiano’s hat-trick in Istanbul, Messi managed to once again upstage him with three of his own, even more beautiful ones. Like Real Madrid’s victory, Barca’s requires an asterix as both Galatasaray and Ajax were denied at least three or four excellent chances to score that would have changed the complexion of each respective match. In fact, once again Barca’s defensive improvisations were exposed with Mascherano’s limited effectiveness and an out-of-form Pique in particular. Barca hopes to find solutions tothese problems ahead of the first super clasico in October.

Napoli and Arsenal grinded out tough and valuable victories over Borussia Dortmund and, respectively, Marseille. But aspiring newcomers Victoria Plzen, Anderlecht, Steaua, CSKA Moscow, Austria Vienna, Real Sociedad, Olympiakos and Galatasaray came away with nothing. Only Chelsea tripped up at this early stage of the tournament, a head-scratching loss that comes in the aftermath of Chelsea week-end loss to Everton. Chelsea has managed only five goals in all competitions so far this season, none from a forward, while Mourinho loaned out Romelu Lukaku and Victor Moses. Fernando Torres was not even on the bench for the Basel match.