Real Madrid rallies; Manchester City, Dortmund cruise in Champions League

“Defending European champion Real Madrid scored twice in the final minutes to turn defeat into victory on a Champions League night that was far livelier and less predictable than the first half of Matchday 1. After a string of thumping wins for the elite clubs on Tuesday, Wednesday brought tension and drama. A Bruno Cesar goal had had Sporting Lisbon dreaming of an improbable victory, but Cristiano Ronaldo leveled with an 89th-minute free kick against his former club before Alvaro Morata’s injury-time header delivered the three points.” SI – JONATHAN WILSON


Gulf in class evident for Barcelona, Bayern Munich in Champions League openers

“The build-up to this season’s Champions League was dominated by talk of the disparity in resources between the haves and the have nots of European football and two of the superclubs playing on the first day of this season’s group stage did nothing to dispel that. Favorites Bayern Munich and Barcelona cruised to 5-0 and 7-0 victories over Rostov and Celtic, respectively, to kick off this season’s competition in style.” SI – JONATHAN WILSON

Arsenal Are Performing Like Football’s Version of the Jonah Complex

“A Paris Saint-Germain side struggling to come to terms with their new manager; Edinson Cavani struggling to recapture form and to come to terms with filling the enormous hole that Zlatan Ibrahimovic left. It was a perfect opportunity for Arsenal, in what was their hardest game of the group phase, on paper, to get their Champions League campaign off to a positive start. And within 44 seconds, Cavani had given PSG the lead.” Bleacher Report – Jonathan Wilson

Club Brugge 0 Leicester 3: Riyad Mahrez’s penalty and stunning freekick add to Foxes’ fairytale in Champions League premiere

“The Leicester City fairytale clearly has a few more chapters to come, after this stunning Champions League premiere in Bruges. Claudio Ranieri cannot have envisaged such a stress-free evening as last season’s miracle men produced an emphatic statement in their first ever game at this rarefied level. Leicester had the swagger of seasoned European veterans and from the moment Riyad Mahrez curled in an exquisite free kick, to extend their lead in the first half, the latest entry into Foxes history never looked in doubt.” Telegraph (Video)

Belgium – The Farce FIFA Needs To Fix

“Belgium must have some kind of special glamor power with football’s governing body, or the country collectively holds an awful lot of photos of top FIFA bods at Christmas Karaoke parties going through an enthusiastic Abba medley.  The most under-achieving country in terms of talent vs results are still being rewarded for their purely theoretical footballing prowess by holding fast in the FIFA rankings in second place. Second!” BeinSports – Tim Stannard

‘Some of those Dundalk players wouldn’t look out of depth within the Irish squad’

“FORMER REPUBLIC OF IRELAND captain Kenny Cunningham believes some of the Dundalk players wouldn’t look out of place if called up to Martin O’Neill’s international setup for next month’s World Cup qualifiers. Despite their domestic dominance over recent seasons, it’s the club’s displays against higher-calibre European opposition in the last few months that has significantly raised the profiles of the likes of David McMillan and Daryl Horgan.” The 42

Uno: La Historia De Un Gol (One: The Story Of A Goal)

“While a bloody civil war rages at home, El Salvador’s national team travels to Spain for the 1982 World Cup — one of only two World Cup tournaments the nation has ever qualified for. In their opening match, they lose to Hungary, 10-1 – still the most lopsided defeat in World Cup history. But that goal, that one goal, scored by Luis Ramirez Zapata, remains a symbol of pride and joy for the tiny nation. This is the story of that goal and its continuing legacy.” Kicking and Screening (Video)

A Soviet Story in an Alternative Football Manager Universe

“Eastern European football fans have long pondered what a Soviet national team (Sbornaya) would have looked like, had the Socialist camp not collapsed in the early 1990s. A 1990s team consisting of a young and bright Andrey Arshavin supporting Ukrainian figurehead Andriy Shevchenko would surely be a team that would live long in the hearts of football hipsters everywhere.” futbolgrad

David Luiz is the devil Chelsea know, equally capable of greatness and gaffes

“By the time the deal was done, after a summer of vaunted arrivals and improbable returns, Chelsea’s deadline-day signing of David Luiz didn’t feel like that big a deal. He was a deadline‑day headline, an intriguing subplot bringing light relief to the fraught soap opera of this season’s Premier League. Yet, really, even in the context of Chelsea’s habit of revisiting former beaux, the second coming of David Luiz is remarkable.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson