Well, not quite. The journey begins once more in the competition that brought us some of the great moments last season, from Liverpool’s comeback against Barcelona, to Tottenham’s salvation via VAR – salVARtion? Does that work? – to the moment BT Sport accidentally cut to a shot of Peter Walton celebrating in his little referee booth when Spurs won it against Ajax.
Will this season have as much to remember it by as last? You would think that wasn’t possible, but then again this is football, and this is the Champions League, where the ludicrous happens and the unexpected is expected.
“We can’t be the best team in Europe because Man City are the best team in the world, that’s the same planet, I think,” joshed Jurgen Klopp ahead of Liverpool’s opener, which is against Napoli tonight.
“We don’t feel the burden of being champions, (we won it) long ago. I have no clue (if teams will play differently against us). I’ve never won the Champions League before, I hope we are prepared for that.”
What news elsewhere? Well, Leo Messi could make his first appearance of the season for Barcelona when they face Borussia Dortmund. PSG are up against Real Madrid but will have to do so without the injured Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe, plus the suspended Neymar.
And there’s plenty more where that came from.
David de Gea and Manchester United: a curious love story
The latest mid-range saga about David de Gea’s Manchester United contract came to an end on Monday when the Spanish goalkeeper signed a new deal, keeping him at Old Trafford until 2023 with an option for another year after that, with estimates as high as £350,000-a-week for his wages.
If he stays for the duration of that contract then he will have been at United for 13 years, which is a pretty extraordinary amount of time in modern football regardless of anything else, but particularly as at various points he’s seemed absolutely desperate to leave, for personal and professional reasons.
And yet here he stays, and United might have tied the keeper down at the exact moment that he starts to decline. Sure, people have been saying this for a while now, but there’s surely little argument that De Gea is not quite the keeper he once was, and you would think will only get worse from this point.
So potentially United committed significant long-term resources a keeper who has never really wanted to be there and who could be rubbish for a few more years. When you put it like that, it doesn’t really sound like a match made in heaven, does it=?
Arsenal finally break down United at the death
The big game in the WSL over the weekend came last night, when established power and defending champions Arsenal travelled to face up-and-coming (they hope) power Manchester United.
For 89 minutes the Gunners hammered on the door, piling on the pressure to Casey Stoney’s newly-promoted team. And they nearly held out, too. Until right at the end, with seconds to play, Danielle van de Donk, as she is wont to do, popped up with a late, late, late winner for the Gunners.
“I’m gutted to be honest, said Stoney afterwards. “Relief,” said Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro when asked for his overriding emotion. “A lot of teams are going to find it very difficult here because they are a very good side and we knew it was going to be difficult backing up the Champions League. There was probably a little bit of fatigue in the first half but second half I thought we were brilliant.”
HEROES AND ZEROS
Hero: Marten de Roon
If your phone is terrible, you may have to click into the above tweet to see the glorious image.
Self-deprecation is not a quality you would necessarily associate with footballers, so hats off to Marten de Roon here.
Zero: Luciano Passirani
On the one hand, it’s slightly encouraging that pundit Luciano Passirani was promptly sacked following this latest example of racism against Romelu Lukaku. On the other, he did feel emboldened to say it live on TV.
This summer, as Sheffield United prepared for their first Premier League campaign in 12 years, the future of the club was being decided in the high court regarding who controls them. At the centre of the argument were the co-owners Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah bin Mossad Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, a Saudi royal who bought half of the Blades in 2013 for £1, in exchange for £10m investment. On Monday the judge’s verdict arrived and he ruled in favour of Abdullah
Want to pretend you’ve been following this Sheffield United ownership saga and need some knowledge about it you can pass off as your own? The Guardian’s Will Unwin can help you out there.
Liverpool face Napoli tonight, as they did back in 2010 in slightly thinner times for both teams, when Steven Gerrard scored a hat-trick.
The Chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaampions. A quick run-down of those fixtures in full: Inter v Slavia Prague, Lyon v Zenit, Ajax v Lille, Benfica v RB Leipzig, Chelsea v Valencia, Borussia Dortmund v Barcelona, Napoli v Liverpool, RB Salzburg v Genk.
Assuming he doesn’t overdo it on the Gazprom in celebration of the Champions League returning, Ben Snowball will be your man tomorrow.