Setting out your stall
The first day of Champions League action ratified the force that LaLiga has in Europe. Barca were almost indecent in scoring the number of goals they did against Celtic, amid the estelada revelry which we'll have to see if anything is done. UEFA doesn’t tolerate being challenged. And in Eindhoven, Atlético won a more sobering 0-1, Saúl with an excellent goal, but the victory is of what was of utmost importance. In a group that has Bayern Munich, it seems that the priority is to secure, at least, second place, just in case. Winning in this away tie puts Atlético in a formidable position to make that happen. It was a merited victory.
Barcelona stroll, Atléti persevere
Barca were in complete control of their game, this time with their first choice starters, including an impressive Messi leading the performance, but Atlético had to suffer to the end. PSV are a strong team, they have an enthusiastic crowd and the lightning speed up front of Narsingh, who caused (or invented) the penalty which was well saved by Oblak. Against that, Atlético put forth all their best attributes of talent (until Gaitán went off), organisation and sacrifice. Saúl, who shines in the Champions League, signaled an intention that he is going to be special, scoring a fabulous goal, finishing in the air a la McManaman in the Paris final against Valencia.
As if an incentive was needed
The Bernabéu will welcome its champions, in a match where they are unlikely to choke. Sporting is the great Portuguese academy (the producer of Futre, Figo and Cristiano), where ten Euro champions came from, but they have lost important pieces this summer. We are not expecting the Sporting of Figo, who amazed everyone here a few years ago. Cristiano will, for sure, be spurred on by Messi’s three goals. And in Turin, Sampaoli’s Sevilla, one of the competition’s points of interest, will face a tough test. A good result there would dispel some apprehension for the fans, who are still not convinced.