Commentary

Champions League rewind

Updated: September 15, 2011, 5:16 PM ET
By Ravi Ubha | ESPN.com

The first match day of the Champions League provided some interesting results. Both of last season's finalists, Barcelona and Manchester United, failed to win, and 2010 titlist Inter Milan suffered an embarrassing loss at home. Of 10 teams from the Big Three leagues, only Chelsea and Real Madrid claimed victories. Is the balance of power shifting? We'll find out in April and May. For now, here's a look back on this week's action.

Least deserved draw: AC Milan

OK, so no team in its right mind would go to Barcelona and try to play an open, attacking game. Ask Jose Mourinho. He learned his lesson. But it would have been nice for AC Milan to offer a little more than it did Tuesday. Milan hardly deserved a point in the 2-2 draw. Scoring within 30 seconds only served to make Milan more defensive, justifiably so, yet when the Catalans took the lead early in the second half, Milan was largely content to sit back and soak up pressure. Possession stats when Barca takes the field are usually lopsided, but this one was ridiculous: 75 percent to 25. Against the Italian champion. With no red cards.

Most entertaining game: Manchester City 1, Napoli 1

Here was an Italian manager (Roberto Mancini) squaring off against an Italian side. Manchester City hadn't featured in Europe's top club competition in more than 40 years, while Napoli re-emerged following a roughly 20-year absence. Far from being a tense affair in which both set out for a draw, it was end-to-end stuff. David Silva continued to sizzle for City, and Yaya Toure made yet another breathtaking run from midfield. Napoli always looked dangerous on the counter, spearheaded by its usual suspects, attacking trio Edinson Cavani, Marek Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi. The teams combined for 40 shots; City struck the woodwork twice and Napoli once, and City defender Vincent Kompany made a tremendous clearance off the line.

[+] EnlargeWesley Sneijder
Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty ImagesIt's been a tough start to the season for Wesley Sneijder and Inter, with losses to Trabzonspor in the CL and Palermo in Serie A.

Biggest upset: Inter Milan 0, Trabzonspor 1

How low can Inter go? Despite dominating, it couldn't score, while Trabzonspor netted on its lone shot on target. Making its Champions League debut, the Turkish side only got into the competition because Fenerbahce was removed amid claims of match fixing. Meanwhile, Inter's miserable start to the season lingers. The Nerazzurri lost the Italian Super Cup to AC Milan and fell 4-3 to Palermo in their Serie A opener, blowing a 2-1 lead. "We're unlucky at the moment," Inter manager -- for now -- Gian Piero Gasperini told Sky Italia. "When it rains it pours."

Best goal: Ivan Perisic, Borussia Dortmund

Big things are expected from Croatian midfielder Ivan Perisic, and you can understand why. He earned Dortmund a point (and this one was deserved) against Arsenal with a stunning left-footed volley from just outside the box in the 88th minute. "The guy put into the top corner; he'll probably never do that again in this way," Arsenal's young, confident keeper, Wojciech Szczesny, told reporters. At first viewing, Hulk's free-kick bullet from around 40 yards against Shakhtar Donetsk has Perisic beat. Closer inspection, though, revealed that Shakhtar keeper Olexsandr Rybka -- in his first season as Shakhtar No. 1 -- should have done better.

Honorable mention: Manchester United's Ryan Giggs, Benfica's Oscar Cardozo

Giggs earned United a point with a vicious left-footed drive into the top corner to cancel out Cardozo's opener. Cardozo's first two touches after a long aerial ball were brilliant. He then finished to the far corner.

Best quote: Pep Guardiola, Barcelona

Here was Barca boss Guardiola's take on Alexandre Pato's opener after 24 seconds, the fifth fastest goal in Champions League history. With Barca's defense caught upfield, the Brazilian turned on the afterburners. "Not even Usain Bolt would have been able to stop him," Guardiola said in his postmatch press conference.

[+] EnlargeCristiano Ronaldo
Getty ImagesCristiano Ronaldo says he thinks people pick on him because he's rich, handsome and talented.

Best quote, II:Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid

Ronaldo is usually given special treatment by opposition, and Dinamo Zagreb was no exception. He ripped Norwegian ref Svein Moen -- and demonstrated his vast ego -- in the process. "I hope we will not have a repeat of this refereeing performance," Ronaldo told reporters. "It was shameful. Some referees allow them to give me stick like [the Dinamo players] did today. I think it's because I'm rich, handsome and a great player. They envy me, there's no other explanation."

Best coaching rant: Mircea Lucescu, Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakhtar manager Lucescu wasn't afraid to criticize German referee Felix Brych following the 2-1 loss at Porto. The Ukrainian champion had two men sent off, and Lucescu felt a Shakhtar goal disallowed for hand ball should have stood. "I was surprised by tonight's refereeing," he told the club website. "And I do not welcome such officiating at the Champions League level. The referee got frequently influenced by the audience, who perfectly know when to whistle and cheer and when to huff and puff."

Lucescu on Hulk, the striker linked to Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham: "He is a great player, picking up blistering pace, playing one-two and then just bumping into an opponent to fall down spectacularly."

UEFA will surely take note of his comments.

Biggest comeback: CSKA Moscow

Despite losing three key members in the offseason, Lille, the French champ, was coasting against CSKA Moscow, up 2-0 at home. CSKA offered nothing in the first half. But two goals from Ivory Coast international Seydou Doumbia, the second coming in the last minute, earned the Russians a point.

Most eye-catching lineup changes: Chelsea

Here was new Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas stamping down his authority, some suggested, by not including influential defender John Terry in the squad and dropping longtime midfield goal machine Frank Lampard to the bench against Bayer Leverkusen. Interesting, yes, but it made perfect sense. Both are over 30 and figure to need mini-breaks during the long season, no matter if it's only September. And more crucially, Chelsea visits Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday in a more important fixture. You can bet both will be starting that game.

Most deserving red: Marcelo, Real Madrid.

Was Real Madrid left-back Marcelo a little bit unlucky to receive a second yellow card from Moen for diving against Dinamo? Perhaps. We've seen worse before. But he has a reputation, shall we say, and maybe the red will force him to alter his ways.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter here.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com.

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