And then the Almighty said, "Let there be light!" So came the football's champions to light up the world with tricks, flicks, skills, technique, drama and the inevitable joy and heartache only sport can conjure. Better than any script. Better than any performance. And certainly the most enthralling piece of viewing experience. At its best, watching a game of football can be immensely satisfying. And at its worst, it can be the most exhausting experience. And yet, it is nigh addictive. Love it, hate it, can never ignore it.
Neither can one run away from it. There is a reason that football players are among the most highly paid employees across any organization in any domain. Major players from across industries are running to get a piece of the pie. Footballers are among the rare breed of professionals who are doing their job in front of the watching world on a daily basis. It is like a soap opera without script or knowledge of which way the tide could swing. The craze for football players is beyond explanation; and sometimes beyond reason.
That is perhaps why the return of domestic league football in Europe is a celebration. It is no less than a festival. And perhaps the only festival which sustains its fervour for 10 months. Season after season! Hope, expectations and with a glint in the eye for a better tomorrow, fans flock to the grounds. Loud, proud and with new tunes of merriment and mock, the season openers are carnivals of two hours.
And for the champions, gauntlets are set. The eyebrows furrow more and the scrutiny is extremely microscopic. So, how have the champions begun?
Manchester City - Premier League Champions
Manchester City's quest for immortality began away at West Ham. They are now chasing what has only been achieved four times previously in all of English football's history. And only twice in Premier League history - three consecutive Premier League titles. The only ones who have done so in the Premier League is their neighbourly rivals, Manchester United.
New marquee signing Erling Haaland started on curtain raiser and made an immediate impact. The idiosyncratic movements, the predatory instincts and, of course, the goals. Followed by that typical meditation celebration. Welcome to the Premier League, Norwegian king.
Beside Pep Guardiola's latest shiny addition to the squad, his usual suspects lined up hungry and eager to set the ground running. However, it was the Londoners who started on the front foot. A corner swung in by Pablo Fornals fell kindly to Jarrod Bowen whose left footed effort was blocked by a sea of blue Manchester City bodies. The resultant ball fell back to the corner taker from whose dangerous cross, Mikhail Antonio headed over.
Following the early pressure, the champions turned on the style. Skipper Kevin De Bruyne was first to find the back of the net. However, Ilkay Gundogan - offside in the build up - denied the champions their season opener. The German, though, quickly atoned for his error by setting Haaland through. The number 9 smartly rounded the keeper and having been brought down, found his opening Premier League goal from the penalty spot.
To begin the second half, Gundogan and Declan Rice traded missed opportunities before De Bruyne split the West Ham defence with a through ball. And as inevitable as inevitability itself, Erling Haaland pounced. In fact, Haaland made that sequence of football look very ridiculously effortless. And City had their win.
PSG - Ligue 1 Champions
Christophe Galtier began his football life in the French capital in triumphant fashion. Paris Saint Germain, having rid themselves of Mauricio Pochettino, began the campaign with an emphatic 5-0 win away at Stade Gabriel Montpied against Clermont Foot. The new manager clearly has new plans and his style of football saw Lionel Messi line up in a throwback false 9 role.
However, in reality, the 3-4-3 formation was more fluid with Messi roaming around, leaving Pablo Sarabia to fill void spaces. And it was this movement which led to the game's opener after just 9 minutes. Sarabia cut back from the left. Messi, arriving in the box, managed only a touch with fell kindly for Neymar. The Brazilian drove in subsequently across the keeper into the bottom corner.
Neymar was once again involved, helping his international teammate and club captain Marquinhos to a season opening goal. His freekick from the left was inviting a finish which the central defender applied. Marquinhos had left his marker and from in front of goal, it was as easy a finish any football player can ask for.
Fellow defender Achraf Hakimi also opened his account. Here too, it was Neymar who played the pass. After having received a ball from Messi who was haring down the centre, Neymar played a lovely left-footed ball across the defence. And the rapid right wing back made no mistake after controlling beautifully to beat the keeper on the near post.
Neymar notched up his third assist of the game when he and Messi combined to leave the Clermont defenders flummoxed. Both faked shots to find another before Messi finally caressing the ball home. And Messi wrapped it all up with that bicycle kick goal. It was a thing of beauty - a deserving finish to cap off a football match PSG dominated from whistle to whistle.
Bayern Munich - Bundesliga Champions
The German champions began their campaign in exhilarating style, hitting six past Eintracht Frankfurt on opening day. Manager Julian Nagelsmann fielded a throwback 4-4-2 formation in the absence of a recognised centre forward. Sadio Mane and Serge Gnabry started up front with Thomas Muller and Jamal Musiala in the wide areas. From central midfield, Joshua Kimmich found the game's opener after he caught the opposition keeper from a distance. There would be some controversy, though, given the smoke that perhaps blurred the goalkeeper's vision.
The second goal, though, had no controversy as Benjamin Pavard smashed home from close range. New signing Mane made it three for the champions after a Kimmich ball found Gnabry who chipped it onto the Senegalese's head. The two wide men then combined for the fourth as Musiala found himself in front of an opening goal from a Muller cut back. Mane played an integral role in this goal to set Muller up.
Muller got another assist when he played Serge Gnabry through on goal. Bayern, with five before half time, brandished a display fitting of the champions and favourites tag.
In the second half, the home side had a goal disallowed before a Manuel Neuer error handed Randal Kolo Muani some consolation. The young prodigy Musiala put the cherry on top of the cake in the 83rd minute. It was not the most pleasant goal. Mane and Sane combined to delightfully set Musiala up. The attacker, collecting the moving ball in his forward foray, bundled home.