The Champions League group stage took flight on Tuesday night with good results for Barcelona and especially Valencia. Who would have thought that the team engulfed in the fall-out from the Marcelino sacking would secure a win in London with the goal coming from the player who Peter Lim wanted to cash in for 60 million euro. Dutch keeper Cillesen was solid in goal and the visitors rode their luck with Chelsea's Ross Barkley missing a late penalty kick. The win will come as a perfect tonic for new coach Albert Celades with his own players still smarting from the dismissal of the Asturian coach. The past is the past and it's good to see the players apply themselves as they did in South West London.
Barça endured a more complicated evening, offering an average first half showing but curiously were exposed in the second period when Messi replaced Ansu Fati, but their main area of vulnerability was in the centre of the pitch following Busquet's substitution. Borussia piled on the pressure but had to contend with an inspired Ter Stegen. The German stopper was in stunning form which included a penalty save from Marco Reus to boot and on the occasion when he couldn't get to a Dortmund effort, he could count on the woodwork to come to his rescue. Overall, it was a lukewarm performance from Barça, who yet again failed to score away from home. To be honest their play didn't deserve a goal and Valverde's men were fortunate to keep the home side at bay also.
Eyes on Madrid and Paris
Today sees both Madrid based sides in action. Real Madrid will face PSG's new keeper Keylor Navas with an expected attacking formation to include Bale-Benzema-Hazard. Zidane's men look threatening going forward with James sitting behind this trio. PSG will be without Neymar, Mbappé and Cavani which is a stroke of good fortune for the LaLiga side who will see Militao replace Sergio Ramos in what should be an entertaining affair. Atleti face Juventus at the Metropolitano with revenge in the air for the home side following last seasons elimination in Turin. Cristiano was roundly whistled by the home fans last year and the Portuguese striker can expect more of the same treatment tonight. It's good to have these high profile games back across Europe with the welcome return of the Champions League group stage.