There were contrasting fortunes for Premier League clubs across Matchday 1 of the Champions League as Manchester City (9/4 – Outright) and Tottenham (12/1) made winning starts, but Chelsea and Liverpool suffered damaging defeats.
On a busy couple of days, there were also an eye-catching victory for Bayern Munich against Inter Milan, while reigning champions Real Madrid swatted Celtic aside and Ajax had far too much for the other Glasgow giants, Rangers.
City made the smoothest of starts to their Champions League campaign, winning 4-0 in Spain against Sevilla.
Summer signing Erling Haaland continued his stunning start to the season with two more goals to take his tally up to 12 already in all competitions for Pep Guardiola’s side, while Phi Foden and Ruben Dias were also on target.
Despite their domestic dominance, City have never won Europe’s biggest club prize, but they have made an early statement of intent and, with the prolific Haaland on board, this could finally be their season.
Spurs also made a winning start and it was one of their big summer signings, Richarlison, who grabbed the headlines with both goals in the final 15 minutes in their 2-0 home success over Ligue 1 side Marseille.
Antonio Conte’s men remain unbeaten so far this season and they will fancy their chances of progressing comfortably out of Group D.
Bayern are in a tough-looking group alongside Inter Milan and Barcelona, but the German giants, who are 11/2 to win the Champions League, were in front inside half an hour at the San Siro through Leroy Sane, before an own goal by Danilo D’Ambrosio secured the points.
Next up for Julian Nagelsmann’s side is a mouth-watering home clash with Barca.
The defending champions held firm during a spirited first-half showing from Celtic in Glasgow, before showing their class after the break to win their Group F opener comfortably thanks to goals from Vinicius Junior, Luka Modric and Eden Hazard.
Real are 9/1 to be crowned Champions League winners again this season.
Ajax had lost manager Erik ten Hag and several key players this summer, but they still had far too much for Scottish champions Rangers, who they overcame 4-0 in Amsterdam with Edson Alvarez, Steven Berghuis, Mohammed Kudus and Steven Bergwijn all on target.
After making a stuttering start in the Premier League, Liverpool (10/11 – To win Group A) turned in an awful first-half display at Napoli and could easily have been more than 3-0 down at half-time.
Defensive mistakes and a worrying malaise throughout much of the team affected Jurgen Klopp’s side as the Italians dominated with two goals from Piotr Zielinski and one apiece from Andre-Frank Anguissa and Giovanni Simeone.
The Blues suffered a shock 1-0 reverse at Dinamo Zagreb in their Group E opener and the next day boss Thomas Tuchel was sacked.
Reports have since claimed that the German coach was going to be dismissed regardless of the outcome in Croatia, but the unexpected defeat obviously did him no favours and Chelsea, who are 11/10 to win the group, are now playing catch-up in a pool also containing AC Milan and RB Salzburg.
There was plenty of hype about how Celtic would try and take the game to Real at home, but after a promising first 45 minutes they were dismantled in the second half and now look to have an uphill battle trying to qualify out of Group F.
Like their Old Firm rivals, it was a fairly dismal return to Champions League group action for Rangers as they were well beaten by Ajax in Amsterdam.
It appears the Scottish champions will also be facing an early exit from the competition unless they improve quickly.