With the top 32 teams in Europe playing their first matches in the group stage, this opening week of the Champions League provided plenty of talking points. Here are five things to mull over going forward in club football's richest competition:
LOPSIDED LEAGUE: Real Madrid thrashing Galatasaray 6-1; Paris Saint-Germain steam-rolling past Olympiakos 4-1; Barcelona brushing aside Ajax 4-0. Such lopsided victories and the deluge of goals in this first round of Champions League football strengthened the impression that Europe's heavyweight teams are becoming unstoppable.
The total of 30 goals scored Tuesday was a record for an opening night of the Champions League since the competition expanded to 32 teams in 1999. Another 23 were scored Wednesday in the second lot of opening games.
With the obvious exception of Chelsea's surprise 2-1 loss to Basel, the comfortable, high-scoring wins seemed to amount to yet more proof of a widening gulf in spending power and, therefore, on-field performance between Europe's elite of super-clubs and an underclass of teams with fewer resources, smaller revenues and stadiums, and — unlike PSG, Manchester City and others — no mega-rich backers to finance a rise to the very top.
Critics argue that UEFA's squeeze on excessive spending in football, its so-called "financial fair play" rules, will set this status quo in stone, because the restrictions will make it harder for the have-nots of European football to catch up with the haves.
However, lopsided victories in Champions League group play aren't new. In the first round of matches in 2000, for example, Manchester United whipped Anderlecht 5-1 and Barcelona thumped Leeds 4-0. Bayern Munich sank Spartak Moscow 4-0 in 2006. Arsenal brutalized Braga 6-0 in 2010. The list goes on.
Nor should too much be read into the large number of goals. The last 14 seasons, on average, saw 40 goals from the opening round of 16 matches. In 2000, the opening round produced 63 goals; in 2002, it was 50.
So this week's total of 53 goals, while significantly higher than average, wasn't unprecedented.
In short, this week certainly didn't prove, at least not alone, that the gap between Europe's top clubs and the rest is suddenly much larger than it already was.
STILL SPECIAL? Losing 2-1 to Basel at Stamford Bridge surely cannot have been what self-described "Special One" Jose Mourinho had in mind when he decided to return as manager to Chelsea from Real Madrid this summer.
It is far too early in his second stint at the London club to argue that the two-time Champions League winner with two different teams — Porto and Inter Milan — is losing his Midas touch.
Still, Mourinho has some explaining to do, not least about how he'll get enough goals from his team that has more creative midfielders than it needs and not enough forwards firing on all cylinders.
Summer recruit Samuel Eto'o didn't impress up front against Basel, Demba Ba didn't make the difference coming off the bench, and Mourinho didn't even include Fernando Torres in his squad.
16 Week Curriculum With Instructions, Lesson Plans & CNG Conversion Kit