GENEVA — A long-standing criticism of the Champions League group stage? Too many unbalanced mismatches as the wealth gap between clubs fuels the competitive imbalance on the pitch.

Say that to favorites Liverpool and Eintracht Frankfurt after their heavy losses on Wednesday.

Or to coaches Thomas Tuchel and Domenico Tedesco who lost their jobs in the morning after shocking losses for their teams, Chelsea and Leipzig, respectively.

Liverpool fell to a stunning 4-1 defeat at Napoli where the hosts scored four goals in just 47 minutes at the stadium named after club icon Diego Maradona.

Although Jurgen Klopp’s side were beaten in just four games in 2022, three were in the Champions League, including Real Madrid’s 1-0 victory in the final in May.

Eintracht won the Europa League title in May, but the German club and the side they beat in the final, Rangers, both struggled to return to top-flight competition on Wednesday after long absences.

Eintracht were surprisingly beaten 3-0 at home by Sporting Lisbon just four days after their four-goal rout of Leipzig in the Bundesliga accelerated Tedesco’s exit.

Rangers were swept away in the first half at Ajax before losing 4-0.

Robert Lewandowski is already top of the scoring charts after his Champions League debut for Barcelona, ​​who beat Viktoria Plzeň 5-1.

A night after Kylian Mbappé and Erling Haaland each scored twice in wins for their clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, Lewandowski went one better with a hat trick.

Tottenham beat Marseille 2-0 with Brazilian striker Richarlison scoring twice with late headers on his Champions League debut.

A remarkable 11-minute stoppage time at Atlético Madrid saw the home side open the scoring and were overtaken by a penalty for Porto at 10 before Antoine Griezmann sealed a 2-1 victory with a header at a tight angle.

Bayern Munich won 2-0 at Inter Milan, where Leroy Sané opened the scoring in the first half, and Club Brugge beat Bayer Leverkusen 1-0.

On Wednesday, two coaching dismissals began the Champions League drama.

Tuchel was ousted at Chelsea just 15 months after guiding the club to their second Champions League title. The German manager’s dissatisfaction with the club was clear in interviews on Tuesday night after a 1-0 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb.

Tedesco lasted just nine months at Champions League semi-finalists Leipzig two years ago and did not survive a humble 4-1 loss at home to Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.

Klopp and Tuchel’s careers have been linked ever since Tuchel took over from Klopp after seven years at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund.

Both have been on the winning and losing sides of Champions League finals for the past four years alone, and both had one of their worst days in the competition on Wednesday.

Liverpool’s rocky start to Napoli saw the 2019 champions trail after a penalty within five minutes and go on at half-time 3-0 despite goalkeeper Allison Becker saving a second spot-kick.

Luis Diaz reduced the lead to 4-1 after 49 minutes but Liverpool were far from their usual intensity.

“It feels a bit like we have to reinvent ourselves,” admitted Klopp, who is spending a full seven years at Liverpool and hosts Ajax next Tuesday.

It was a stellar night for the Simeones in two different countries.

Son Giovanni scored Napoli’s third goal on his competitive debut and his father Diego in Madrid watched his Atlético side show the resilience that is his trademark to survive Porto in stoppage time.

The win ended an eight-game winless streak for Simeone’s home side in the Champions League. Atlético are in Leverkusen next week.

Marseille, winners of the inaugural Champions League title in 1993, have now lost their last eight away games in the competition dating back a decade and 14 of 15 games in total to that time.

The match turned to a red card shown in the 47th minute to Marseille defender Chancel Mbemba for bringing down Son Heung-min.

Tottenham are still unbeaten this season and travel to Lisbon to face Sporting next Tuesday when Marseille host Eintracht.

Eintracht and Rangers were tied in the Europa League final less than four months ago. Eintracht won the title on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

They had similar fortunes on Wednesday, but not in a way that was also appreciated in the return from long absences in Europe’s biggest competition.

Eintracht ended a 62-year wait – since the iconic 1960 European Cup final 7-3 defeat to Real Madrid – by collapsing in the second half at home to rising Sporting arrow. Three goals in 17 minutes started with a goal from England striker Marcus Edwards.

It was 12 years and a financial collapse that Rangers last played in the Champions League. After their beating at Ajax, Rangers welcome Napoli to Glasgow next Tuesday.

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