Bayern's Lewandowski targets Ronaldo's record - Champions League in Opta numbers

By Sports Desk December 11, 2019

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has his sights set on a slice of Champions League history when Tottenham visit the Allianz Arena on Wednesday.

The Poland international needs two goals against Jose Mourinho's side to claim the record for goals in the group stage of a single campaign – an honour held by Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 11 in 2015-16 for Real Madrid.

Atletico Madrid will book their place in the last 16 if they beat Lokomotiv Moscow, while Shakhtar Donetsk will join Manchester City in progressing from Group C if they overcome Atalanta.

In Group A, already-qualified Paris Saint-Germain host Galatasaray and Real Madrid – who have also booked their place in the knockout stages – travel to Club Brugge.

Here is the pick of the key Opta facts for Wednesday's eight matches.

Club Brugge v Real Madrid

7 - This is the seventh Champions League group stage campaign which Club Brugge have failed to progress from. No side has ever competed in more group stages without progressing from any in the history of the competition.

2 - Karim Benzema has scored two goals in each of his last two Champions League games. Only four players have scored two or more in three consecutive games - Giovane Elber (2001), Filippo Inzaghi (2002), Cristiano Ronaldo (2013, twice in 2017) and Lewandowski (2018).

Paris Saint-Germain v Galatasaray

18 - PSG striker Kylian Mbappe has scored 18 goals in 29 appearances in the Champions League. If he scores twice in this game, Mbappe would become the youngest player in the competition's history to reach 20 goals, aged 20 years and 356 days.

1 - Galatasaray scored their first goal of the 2019-20 Champions League campaign in their last game against Club Brugge, ending a run of 38 shots without scoring from the start of the campaign. In total, they have only scored once from 43 shots in the competition this term.

Bayern Munich v Tottenham

16 - Bayern Munich had 16 shots on target in their 6-0 win over Red Star Belgrade on matchday five; the most by a team in this season's Champions League. Bayern last had more in a Champions League game in October 2013 against Viktoria Plzen (18).

2 - New Spurs manager Mourinho has lost both of his previous away games against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, losing in the quarter-finals with Chelsea in 2004-05 and the semi-finals with Real Madrid in 2011-12.

Olympiacos v Red Star Belgrade

1 - Olympiacos have picked up just one point from their five Champions League games this season. Only in 2017-18 (one) have they picked up one point or fewer from a completed group stage.

19 - Red Star have conceded 19 goals in their five Champions League games this season, more than any other side. There have been just five occasions of a team conceding 20+ goals in a single group stage in the competition, most recently by Legia Warsaw in 2016-17 (24).

Dinamo Zagreb v Manchester City

5 - Dinamo Zagreb have picked up five points in this season's Champions League. Only in 1998-99 (eight points) have they won more in a single group stage in the competition. 

19 - City’s Raheem Sterling has scored 19 goals in 46 appearances in the Champions League. He could become the sixth Englishman to reach 20 goals in the competition after Wayne Rooney (30), Paul Scholes (24), Frank Lampard (23), Steven Gerrard (21) and Harry Kane (20). Should Sterling score in his 47th appearance, he would be the second quickest Englishman to 20 Champions League goals after Kane (24 appearances).

Shakhtar Donetsk v Atalanta

5 - Shakhtar Donetsk are without a win in each of their last five Champions League home games (drawn three, lost two). It is their longest ever winless run at home in the competition.

2 - Atalanta have lost their last two away games in the Champions League, conceding nine goals in the process. They last lost three consecutive away matches in all European competition back in October 1987.

Atletico Madrid v Lokomotiv Moscow

2 - Atletico Madrid have lost consecutive matches in the Champions League; they've never lost three in a row in the competition. The Spanish side last lost three consecutive games in all European competitions back in October 1984 in the UEFA Cup.

0 - Lokomotiv Moscow have never won an away game against Spanish opposition in all European competition, losing six of their seven such games and failing to score in each defeat.

Bayer Leverkusen v Juventus

3 - Bayer Leverkusen have benefited from three own goals in this season's Champions League, with only two teams benefiting from more in a single campaign: Inter in 2002-03 (four) and Barcelona in 2017-18 (five).

27 - Juventus forward Ronaldo has scored 27 goals in 24 Champions League appearances against German clubs; the most a single player has accumulated against sides from a particular nation in the competition's history.

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  • Gareth Bale 'happier than ever' at Tottenham, says Mourinho Gareth Bale 'happier than ever' at Tottenham, says Mourinho

    Gareth Bale looks happier and more confident than ever at Tottenham, according to manager Jose Mourinho.

    Wales international Bale has impressed in his last three Spurs appearances, registering two goals and two assists in one start and two substitute appearances.

    Those displays, in two legs of the 8-1 aggregate Europa League win over Wolfsberger and in the Premier League loss at West Ham, came after a disappointing start to his loan spell from Real Madrid.

    Bale has largely struggled with his form and fitness, falling out of favour with a seemingly frustrated Mourinho.

    There was intense speculation over whether Bale had any chance of extending his stay from Madrid for a second season.

    But he now seems revitalised, with Mourinho offering a positive update ahead of Sunday's home Premier League game against Burnley.

    "The mental side is always a consequence of the physical side," explained Mourinho.

    "If a player feels great, if he is training 100 per cent, if the feelings are very good then there are no psychological problems, fears or barriers. 

    "When you have these little things and you have a recent history of injuries, these things are normal, they have a consequence. 

    "But lately, he is fine, it is just a question of how many minutes he can play, how many days he needs to recover between matches – it is just about that. 

    "He looks happier than ever, looks confident. In training you can see that confidence back, the way he hits a shot like for example in the last game, it is a confident shot. 

    "A player with fears or feelings in the muscle does not hit that shot, strike the ball that way. That strike means a lot, it means freedom in relation to the brain and the muscle.

    "He's in his best condition since he arrived."

    Mourinho insisted Bale has the complete trust of everyone at Tottenham when it comes to managing his condition after being asked if the 31-year-old could only play when he was 100 per cent fit.

    The under-pressure Spurs boss added: "He's a player with a lot of experience and players with experience, they know their body better than anyone. 

    "There is no coach, fitness coach, sports science, medical staff who knows the body better than a very experienced player. 

    "Especially a player that had years of small problems, bigger problems and situations that had an impact on the last couple of years of his career. 

    "We trust him. We trust his experience, his analysis and everything with him is done with the great participation of everyone, because in the end the best for him is the best for Tottenham. 

    "To have him giving us important contributions bit by bit, of course we want that in a more continuous way. 

    "We have important Premier League matches, a crucial cup final, crucial matches in the Europa League.

    "The more we have Gareth, a player with his confidence, experience, know-how of big moments, the better. 

    "So we have to be careful and we have to trust the player who I repeat has a lot of experience."

    Tottenham are ninth in the Premier League ahead of a crucial week for Mourinho that sees them face three teams in the bottom half: Burnley, Fulham and Crystal Palace.

  • 'Unique' De Bruyne makes Man City tick, but Bernardo brings calmness - Guardiola 'Unique' De Bruyne makes Man City tick, but Bernardo brings calmness - Guardiola

    Pep Guardiola is relishing the competition for places at Manchester City that means "unique" Kevin De Bruyne may no longer be an automatic selection. 

    De Bruyne made his return from a month-long hamstring injury lay-off as a late substitute against Everton last week and started the 1-0 win against Arsenal four days later.

    However, the reigning PFA Players' Player of the Year was an unused substitute for City's trip Borussia Monchengladbach in midweek, despite Guardiola confirming the playmaker was fully fit.

    City won that Champions League last-16 first leg 2-0 through a Bernardo Silva header and Gabriel Jesus' strike, having also won all five-top-flight games De Bruyne missed during his time on the sidelines, scoring 15 times and conceding just once.

    And with Bernardo continuing to excel in City's midfield three alongside Ilkay Gundogan and Rodri, Guardiola has reiterated De Bruyne is no longer indispensable.

    "They are quite similar but Kevin gives us something Bernardo doesn't give and vice versa," Guardiola said. "Every player has his own skills but they do it for the benefit of the team. That's why they are so stable.

    "It's good for us, this competition between themselves. It was the same for [Kyle] Walker in the last game - because he knows Joao [Cancelo] is playing so good. It's the only way to maintain consistency. 

    "Every three days there's a game and there's a competition among them. Our transitions with Kevin are much better - he is unique in the world. Without Kevin maybe we are more calm and have more time to pause, but it's not that we want one way or the other, it's the quality of the players we have."

    De Bruyne's 10 assists in the Premier League this term are bettered only by Harry Kane's 11, the Tottenham striker having played three games more, while only Mason Mount (62), Bruno Fernandes (71) and Jack Grealish (75) can better his 58 chances created.

    Bernardo may lag some way behind De Bruyne in both categories - assisting three goals and laying on 16 opportunities for team-mates - but Guardiola believes the Portuguese brings other qualities to the side.

    City dominated possession away to Gladbach with 61 per cent of the ball and the manager said: "Sometimes you need more passes and Bernardo has that quality when he receives the ball.

    "With opponents behind him, he can make two or four touches then give it. Kevin is a different player, more of a free mind, more explosion, and we need it.  He sees something that other ones cannot see and he provides passes others can't see. Sometimes I need him to be more behind, Bernardo up front. 

    "It depends on the opponent. Sometimes the striker jumps, it depends on our movement, it depends on every game."

    City are looking to make it 20 wins in a row in all competitions when they take on West Ham at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, a run that includes 13 successive victories in the top flight. Only on five previous occasions has a side won 14 or more on the spin.

    Guardiola jokingly said earlier this week that money was the most important factor behind his side's incredible winning streak, which has them on course for a clean sweep of silverware.

    But while the Catalan coach is thankful to have been financially backed by the club's wealthy owners, he insists there is more to his project at City than simply spending big sums of money, with others doing likewise during his time in England.

    "I'm proud for the fact that [after] one team wins the Premier League they struggle a lot but we won back-to-back," he said. "Last season we could not fight against Liverpool - it was incredible. We were second but today, this season, again we are there - this is what I'm proud of most. 

    "Four Carabao Cup finals, this is what I am proud of the most. And of course, we created this ourselves. But to do this you need top talents, top players and top players cost money. But honestly, I think United spent money too and Chelsea spent money, and Barcelona spent a lot and in Madrid they spend, as do all the clubs in that position."

    Guardiola has used Joao Cancelo in a hybrid full-back/midfield position during City's ongoing winning streak but the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss, who has won 29 trophies during his managerial career, does not believe he deserves more credit than his players for their success.

    "You are not convincing me," he said. "The difference is the players. "I didn't invent anything. It's just the way I do it. I can play like this but sometimes I'm going to play in a different way. It's not about that. I would tell if I believed the reason why was me. I would tell you. 

    "I would be grateful to say that the reason behind this success is because I'm so handsome and that's the reason why. It's not like that. It's the players. The big clubs have incredible success, in South America and Europe, and it's due to the quality of the players, the mentality."

    He added: "Still I have the feeling when we finished the game against Gladbach maybe it will not be enough to reach the last stages of the Champions League if we don't improve in some departments. It’s the only way to getting better. 

    "If I did not feel we could get better, I would not have extended my contract here. One hundred per cent. If I extend my contract, it's because they convinced me for different issues and still that we can do better. If not, [my time with] the team would be over."

  • Marseille turn to Sampaoli Marseille turn to Sampaoli

    Jorge Sampaoli has been appointed as head coach of Marseille on a deal until June 2023.

    The 60-year-old has enjoyed a nomadic coaching career, most notably leading Chile to Copa America glory in 2015 before departing to take charge at LaLiga side Sevilla in June 2016.

    Less than a year later, Sampaoli left to take over his native Argentina but an uninspiring qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup preceded a last-16 defeat to eventual winners France in the tournament proper.

    Spells at Santos and Atletico Mineiro followed, Sampaoli winning the Campeonato Mineiro with the latter, and he will now have another crack at European football in Ligue 1 with Marseille, who are eighth in the table.

    "I have been told all my life that Marseille is a special place for passion. That the Velodrome lights up when the team plays in the stadium," said Sampaoli. 

    "Marseille is a club for the people. We're not here to hide: we're going to play hard. When I received this proposal, I dreamed of being able to party in the city. 

    "In the world, there are places for calm and there are intense places. It is the latter that I want and I accepted without hesitation. This club has a soul and that is why we are here. We are ready."

    Andre Villas-Boas' reign at the Stade Velodrome ended in tempestuous circumstances with the former Chelsea boss suspended by the club earlier this month.

    The Portuguese had offered to resign amid frustrations over the running of the club, which came to a head with Marseille's signing of Olivier Ntcham from Celtic, a player he did not ask to be brought in.

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