With two draws on the first day, yesterday’s matches were surprisingly, even shockingly one-sided. Starting at the Camp Nou, Barcelona thrashed Bayern Munich 4-0. Amazingly, that was the half-time score. Lionel Messi scored twice and assisted on Samuel Eto’o and Thierry Henry’s goals. Messi almost had his hat trick but a fantastic save by Bayern keeper Hans-Jörg Butt kept the fifth goal off the scoreboard.
So what does this all mean? Well for starters it completely confirms my thoughts going into the match that recent domestic success (or failure) has a big impact on how a club plays in Europe. With a full month in between matches, this Bayern side was simply not the only that clubbed Sporting Lisbon over the head. Barcelona have the most explosive offensive output in this tournament. Bayern are not as good as some of the English clubs but I think we have to consider Barcelona the favorite going forward.
Meanwhile, at Anfield Chelsea came back from an early deficit to rout their English rivals in Liverpool, 3-1. Fernando Torres scored in the sixth minute for the Reds, but that was all they would muster against the more competent Blues. Branislav Ivanovic earned goals on headers six minutes before half and again twenty-five minutes later. In the 67th minute, Didier Drogba put Liverpool out of their misery with a third away goal and a comprehensive victory. Really, only Torres played well for the Reds. Everyone else on the pitch found himself outmatched by his Chelsea counterpart. Particularly strong for Chelsea was Michael Essien.
So I ask again, what does this mean? Liverpool have a huge uphill battle if they want to reach the semi-finals. Trailing by two goals on aggregate and having given up three away goals is no way to make a strong case. It is possible though, to win at Stamford Bridge, especially as the Blues will be without skipper John Terry whose accumulated yellow cards will keep him out of the return leg. But interestingly the idea I put out yesterday that the first home side have been at a disadvantage in recent Champions League meetings between Liverpool and Chelsea has held true, at least so far.