A record victory for Benfica and the performance of an Italian midfielder by the name of Di Livio were among the things that piqued our reporters' interest on matchday one.
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How good are Benfica?
Is the pertinent question after their competition-record 8-0 victory over Astana. Benfica, runners-up in 2014 and quarter-finalists last term, led 6-0 at the break and had 20 attempts on target to their inexperienced visitors' none. The Kazakh side, with four 17-year-olds in their starting XI, struggled to get out of their half – were it not for goalkeeper Dastan Dulatov, the Group C scoreline could have been even greater. Sterner tests lie ahead for the Eagles, though coach João Tralhão still praised the way his players went about their business. "We began on the right foot, were focused and did what we had to do," he said.
Like father, like son
Capped 40 times by Italy, Angelo Di Livio was a feared midfield battler for Juventus, Fiorentina and the Azzurri. His combative traits, it seems, have been inherited by son Lorenzo, who dictated Roma's tempo in their 0-0 Group E home draw with Barcelona. The 18-year-old midfielder was the conduit for much of the Giallorossi's play – the "driving force" for last season's semi-finalists in the eyes of coach Alberto De Rossi.
He shares his father's aggression while possessing a refined touch and excellent vision, attributes that helped fashion numerous opportunities for the Italian team. A winning start it was not, yet a draw with the Blaugrana was nevertheless a strong opening to the campaign for a side playing to Di Livio's tune, in front of a proud father in Rome.
Lyon's conveyor belt of talent
The Olympique Lyonnais production line is functioning well judging by their 3-0 Group H dismissal of Gent. Romain Del Castillo stood out in front of watching club president Jean-Michel Aulas, scoring twice and also hitting the upright.
For coach Joël Fréchet, seeing six academy graduates start for Lyon in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday provides additional motivation for his charges. "This competition helps our players grow," he said. "It gives them international experience that will help them as they try to become professionals and emulate the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Clément Grenier."
Roberts shines for City
On the evidence of their 4-1 Group D win against Juventus, Manchester City could have at their disposal one of the most exciting players in the 2015/16 tournament. Patrick Roberts, signed from Fulham in the summer, was a constant menace to the Bianconeri with this trickery down the right, setting up two goals with cutbacks and netting another after an eye-catching slalom run.
The 18-year-old has 22 senior appearances to his name – all with Fulham, two of them in the Premier League – yet according to City coach Patrick Vieira showed the perfect attitude after joining the juniors for their first European assignment. "He is still young, but he has more experience and it is not just the way that he played but the way he conducted himself yesterday in training and at half-time in the dressing room," Vieira told UEFA.com.
Sevilla's learning curve
Keeping a cool head under the baking Andalusian sun proved a tough task for Sevilla in their topsy-turvy 4-2 Group D success against Mönchengladbach. Sevilla squandered a 2-0 advantage before clinching the points courtesy of two late goals from substitute Adriano Romero Martínez – both coming after Joshua Holtby's dismissal for Mönchengladbach. It was an experience that will serve his players well, says Sevilla coach Agustín López Páez.
"When you go into the first game in a competition of this stature you don't know how the lads are going to react," he explained. "It was a bit of a crazy match, but it made the players grow because it could easily have gone either way."