Three Key Takeaways from Matchweek Two in the Champions League

Between Tuesday, Oct. 27 and Wednesday, Oct. 28 the second round of Champions League matches for the 2020-2021 season took place. The two days played host to scintillating displays from Europe’s top clubs, surprise victories from underperforming teams and goals galore from some of the world’s best individual players. Below are three key takeaways from the competition that never ceases to amaze. 

Bayern Munich is still really, really good: 

After defeating Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow thanks to a 79th-minute volley from Joshua Kimmich, Bayern Munich has extended their winning run to 13 consecutive matches in all competitions. Their only loss was an embarrassing defeat to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga, but that merely seemed to be a blip for the Bavarian club. The reigning Champions League and Bundesliga champions have shown no signs of slowing down in the 2020-2021 season, as they are tied for first in the Bundesliga and are top of their Champions League group. Even though it’s early, Bayern Munich is surely the favorite to win both competitions again. 

Munich is a well-oiled machine; each player provides stability, quality and most importantly, balance in each position. With esteemed goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in goal, Bayern Munich’s defense poses the athleticism, positioning and strength to handle elite attacking opposition. Their midfield oozes class, as Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka and Corentin Tolisso pull the strings to release Bayern’s attacking weapons. The four-headed attack of Thomas Müller, Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane naturally imposes fear on their opponents’ backline. Spearheaded by one of Europe’s best strikers in Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich simply has provided no evidence that they are slowing down. 

Haaland is the forward of the future:

Norwegian born striker Erling Braut Haaland has been tearing apart the domestic and European stage so far this season for German club Borussia Dortmund. After scoring late against Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg, the 20-year-old has scored in all seven games this season for Dortmund; goals are beginning to become a guarantee for the kid. In fact, he has now scored 12 goals in the ten Champions League matches he has played in throughout his career, more than any other player at the same stage of his career (more than the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi). It’s nothing short of spectacular that at this young age, Haaland is performing like one of Europe’s best. At this rate, the future is now for Dortmund’s main man. 

His journey from a no-name Norwegian, to a promising young talent, to one of the world’s best young players has been fascinating to watch. From his early days at Norway’s top club Molde, where he played in the first division as a 17-year-old with players twice his age, Haaland’s play (and price tag) has continued to rise. His year-long stint in Austria for Red Bull Salzburg produced a jaw-dropping stat line of 29 goals in 27 matches. Not to mention, he scored an astounding nine goals in one match at the 2019 U-20 World Cup. Haaland is a young gem that is proving his worth at one of Europe’s most famed clubs. And he is not only proving his worth, but also showing that at 20 years old, he can already dominate the beautiful game. 

The year of English domination:

In the second round of Champions League matches, all four English clubs involved in the competition won their match. However, they didn’t just win, they dominated. Manchester City beat French club Marseille 3-0, Liverpool F.C. beat Danish side F.C. Midtjylland 2-0, Chelsea beat Krasnador 4-0 and Manchester United surprisingly smashed Germany’s RB Leipzig 5-0. In addition, all four teams are undefeated in their respective groups, with Chelsea’s 0-0 draw with Spain’s Sevilla F.C. in the first match week as the only match where an English team has dropped points. Britain’s top sides have historically had no problem advancing past the group stage, but most have fallen short in recent years in the Round of 16 as they face up against more difficult opposition. 

England’s representation in the Champions League has historically been fruitful, but in recent years, their prowess has declined compared to teams in Spain and Germany. Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur did meet in the Champions League Final held in Madrid in 2019, but it was the first time two English teams both made the final since the 2007-2008 season when Manchester United dispatched Chelsea on penalties. Over the last decade, on only two occasions did the competition witness a British victory in the final (Chelsea in 2012 and Liverpool in 2019). However, this year has revealed evidence that the pattern could be shifting. Each English team is justified to make a case for why they can win it all based on the personnel each team possesses. The Premier League has become increasingly competitive and you never know who is going to win on any given match week. The Champions League is different. It’s the elite of the elite, where true quality ultimately shines through. Again it’s only Matchweek two, but early results have shown that each English team boasts the true quality required for going far in the competition.