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A LOOK AT LA LIGA

New Champions League season

Rodrygo celebrates the winning goal against Inter.
Rodrygo celebrates the winning goal against Inter. / REUTERS
  • The opening round of matches provided everything - goals, red cards galore, penalties and a multitude of subplots

Surely any remnants of the wreckage of the proposed European Super League were swept out to sea as the new Champions League season made a rip-roaring start.

The presidents of Real Madrid and Barcelona, who were still clinging to the wreckage, must surely let go now and accept that the ship has sunk. On the top deck at the UEFA headquarters, they would have been having a ball, the orchestra in full swing. The opening round of matches provided everything - goals, red cards galore, plentiful penalties and a multitude of subplots.

The La Liga teams all played their part. In fact, they all lived up to their current identity.

Villarreal still haven't won a game this season. They still haven't lost a game this season, they've drawn every match in regulation time. Remember, they made life difficult in the UEFA Super Cup for Chelsea - finally losing in a penalty shoot-out. They gave Atalanta a rough ride at El Madrigal. It's never fun playing against Villarreal but it's always a joy to watch them.

Atlético Madrid's reputation is the opposite. They battled a forgettable scoreless draw with Porto. It was ugly as nine players were booked and Chancel Mbemba was dismissed for the Portuguese. It was all very Diego Simeone.

Sevilla's clash with Red Bull Salzburg was one of the most dramatic games in Europe. The referee set a record by awarding four penalties in the first half. The Austrians missed two and scored one. Ivan Rakitic's conversion from the spot secured the valuable point in a crazy game. It was all a very 'hot night in Andalucía'.

The approach of Carlo Ancelotti was perfectly captured by a one-nil win at the San Siro. The Italian coach 'out Italianed' the Italians. He sends out a very solid, disciplined Real Madrid side and then injects it with youthful exuberance. New signing, 18-year-old Eduardo Camavinga set up a dramatic last-minute winner for the exciting young Brazilian Rodrygo against Inter Milan.

There was nothing at all exciting about Barcelona, only further frustration for their fans. They must have feared the worst as Luuk de Jong headed the Catalan attack and Robert Lewandowski led the Bavarians. The Bayern Munich striker scored two and fellow old-timer Thomas Müller struck the other in a 3-0 success. It confirmed what we knew all along; it's going to be a tough task for Barca to make any impact in Europe or La Liga this season.

The conclusion of the opening week of the Champions League tells us there is no longer a fear factor when it comes to Barcelona. Real Madrid will be there or thereabouts under the astute Ancelotti. Atlético will be no fun to play against, Sevilla games will always be fun and Villarreal are the team most likely to draw a game.

The skips at the Camp Nou and Bernabéu will be filled with never-to-be-seen-again European Super League promotional material.