8 Things We Learned From Champions League Matchday 2 as Groups Start to Take Shape

After matchday two, the 2017/18 Champions League group stage is already a third of the way to completion. Group standings are starting to take shape as some clubs open up early leads and others struggle to find their rhythm, but there is still plenty left to play for.

Here’s a summary of eight things we learned in the Champions League this week…

8. Besiktas, Dark Horse?

No one is suggesting that Besiktas can go and win the Champions League, but it is worth keeping an eye on the Turkish champions after they have made an excellent start to Group G.

An impressive 3-1 away win in Porto on matchday one was followed up by a 2-0 victory RB Leipzig at home on Tuesday night and it will now be interesting to see how they might fare in back-to-back games against Monaco on matchdays three and four.

7. Man City Getting the Job Done

The big reason for Manchester City to hire Pep Guardiola was to make that breakthrough in Europe and seriously challenge for the Champions League title. So far it has been a good start from the sky blues, whose previous best performance was a semi-final appearance in 2016.

This week’s 2-0 win over a dangerous Shakhtar Donetsk side that did threaten to do damage was an important performance and result.

6. Juventus Fighting for Second Place

Finalists in 2015 and 2017, Juventus haven’t made the most convincing start to this season’s group stage. They were hammered by Barcelona on matchday one, but the 2-0 victory over Olympiacos this week saw fans wait until the second half for the critical goals.

It looks as though Barcelona could run away with Group D, leaving Juve battling for second.

5. Maribor Games Crucial for Liverpool

After drawing their opening two games, perhaps more a reflection on poor defending than lacklustre attacking, the importance of the next two fixtures has suddenly increased for Liverpool.

Sevilla’s win over Maribor is the only game in Group E that hasn’t ended in a draw yet, suggesting the Reds will need to make sure they beat the Slovenian champions to have a chance of progressing.

4. Man Utd Might Actually Be Back

Critics might suggest Manchester United were given a favourable draw when Basel, Benfica and CSKA Moscow came out of the pot into Group A, but the Red Devils have struggled against all four in the past and haven’t done well in the Champions League in recent years.

They can only beat the teams put out in front of them and that is exactly what they have done so far, with CSKA going the same way on Wednesday as Basel did a fortnight ago.  

3. Spurs Have More to Offer This Time

From struggling to make an impact in 2016/17 in what was their first Champions League foray in six years, Tottenham look to have a better handle on things this time around.

Harry Kane’s hat-trick ensured they cruised to victory over APOEL away from home this week, a game they perhaps might have struggled with 12 months ago. Add that to an excellent 3-1 win against Dortmund earlier this month and Spurs are keeping pace with Real Madrid.

2. Another Side of Chelsea

Chelsea couldn’t have asked for two more different games between matchday one and two – from hammering newcomers Qarabag at home, to coming from behind against a notoriously resilient Atletico Madrid away in Spain.

Back in his home city, Alvaro Morata was once more on the score-sheet, while Michy Batshuayi also showed that he can still make invaluable contributions.

1. Are PSG the Real Deal?

The whole point of spending €222m on Neymar and pledging another €180m to buy Kylian Mbappe was to make Paris Saint-Germain into genuine Champions League contenders.

Last season aside, the Parisians have dominated France for years yet have never been able to translate that domestic success into anything meaningful at a continental level. This week’s 3-0 hammering of Bayern Munich might just be the start of something special…