Barcelona: 7-0 winners. Manchester City: 4-0 winners. Anyone else excited for Pep’s return? It’s five truths from Wednesday’s Champions League action.
1. Pep's Barca reunion already has added spice
It may be knee-jerk but on first evidence in Group C, it's going to come down to the two tussles between City and Barcelona to decide who tops the pool. Barcelona demolished a Celtic side that looked out of their depth at the Nou Camp while Moenchengladbach never came close to showing they have what it takes to spring a major surprise. The dates will already be firmly imprinted on the minds of the respective coaching staff. On October 19, the Catalans welcome their old boss back to town while City host the Spanish champions on November 1. Don't miss what is looking like being the first true barometer of how good new-look City are.
2. Leicester's perfect recipe to get Premier League back on track
Leicester have struggled in the league this season. They're not the only side to do so, and there are mitigating factors. They have Euro 2016 fatigue. They don't have N'Golo Kante anymore. They have to wonder if there's any chance of them matching their extraordinary achievement of last season, and they have to integrate a handful of new players. Last weekend, they failed, and Liverpool were happy to take advantage, crushing them 4-1. This game against Club Brugge was just what they needed. Brugge were as violent as they were useless, and their defending was so poor that the goals came regularly. But what was useful was that Leicester played like they did last season, on the counter-attack, with their new signings. This could be the chance to set their league campaign back on track.
They've not won there in eight years, and although they did their best to dress it up like a home game, it was clear Tottenham were on alien turf. It was Monaco who looked most at home there, and it was no wonder that the Spurs fans began to filter out with ten minutes to go - even without the excuse of needing to get a jump on the traffic on the Seven Sisters Road.
Tottenham fans outside the stadium before the game
Image credit: Reuters
4. Mahrez would fit snugly into Barcelona’s side
It feels like Riyad Mahrez has got all bases covered in football. Having won the PFA Player of the Year gong for helping Leicester lift the Premier League title in May, the lithe Algerian winger has suddenly decided to show off his wares on the continent. A lovely free-kick and a penalty added to Marc Albrighton’s opening goal in a 3-0 drubbing of Brugge that handed Claudio Ranieri's side a dreamy sort of start in their first Champions League match. Their output left plenty of Foxes dreaming before Porto visit the King Power in a fortnight.
Leicester play a counter attacking style that fits snugly into the Champions League, and with Mahrez at the forefront of their moves, they are hardly a blunt instrument in the final third. He has already been linked with Barcelona, and you do wonder who will try to land him if he continues to excel across Europe with Leicester giving off the impression that are already solid candidates to qualify for the last 16. With Mahrez on form, they will be a handful for the majority of sides in this competition.
5. Tottenham learn harsh lesson
Tottenham received an unwelcome but important lesson: do not lose concentration. Twice they were punished for lapses in the opening period against Monaco despite dominating. The Champions League is a different beast to the Premier League. Teams are used to sitting deep, soaking up pressure, and clinically taking their few openings. Spurs created far more but couldn’t take them. At this level, that’s the difference.
Tottenham's Harry Kane reacts after a missed chance