Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is at the wheel but for how long?

After a blistering start to life at Manchester United, initially as interim manager, the Red Devils have struggled to convince.

United have won two of their opening five games ahead of Sunday's trip to West Ham and Paris could be the location of a possible replacement…

 

TOP STORY – UNITED AND BARCA BATTLE FOR TUCHEL

Manchester United have sounded out Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel, according to Le10 Sport.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer signed a permanent three-year deal after initially replacing Jose Mourinho in December, but the Red Devils have been far from convincing following a brief upturn in results.

United have reportedly informed Tuchel of their interest, though LaLiga champions Barcelona are also tracking the German as pressure mounts on Ernesto Valverde after Saturday's shock loss at Granada.

 

ROUND-UP

- According to the Sunday Express, Tottenham have identified Leicester City star James Maddison as a potential replacement for soon-to-be free agent Christian Eriksen. Maddison has also been heavily linked to Manchester United.

United, meanwhile, have been told it will take £90million (€101m) to lure Germany star Kai Havertz from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, claims the Express. The 20-year-old is also attracting interest from Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Liverpool. As for United and their hopes of signing RB Salzburg star Erling Haaland, they could be scuppered by agent Mino Raiola. The 19-year-old made headlines with a hat-trick on his Champions League debut. However, United's relationship with Raiola could thwart their plans, writes The Sun.

- The Mirror says Arsenal are keen to re-sign PSV's Donyell Malen, who left the Gunners two years ago. It could cost Arsenal up to £50m (€56m) to bring the 20-year-old back to London. Liverpool are also believed to be interested.

- Marca reports that Real Madrid are keen to sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga. The 16-year-old has dazzled in Ligue 1 this season.

David Alaba should be available for Bayern Munich's next Champions League game against Tottenham, according to Niko Kovac.

The left-back tore a muscle in his left thigh before Bayern's 1-1 draw at RB Leipzig earlier in the month.

He subsequently missed the 3-0 win over Red Star Belgrade that got Bayern's Group B campaign up and running.

But after Bayern beat Cologne 4-0 in the Bundesliga on Saturday, Kovac assured that Alaba's absence will not be a long lay-off.

"David Alaba is making progress," the coach said. "We need to increase the intensity of his running each day before he can re-join team training. We hope to have him ready for Tottenham.

"I think Paderborn will be too early. That will probably also interest the Austrian national coach. He will be fully operational again by the next international break."

Bayern go to London on October 1 for what is expected to be a game that helps decide who tops their Champions League group.

But prior to that clash, Bayern eased to a 4-0 win at home to Cologne partly thanks to Robert Lewandowski's double, while Philippe Coutinho's penalty opened his account for the club.

"We performed well today, especially since we only had 72 hours of rest since Wednesday," Kovac added.

"Cologne did well, it was not always easy to find the right solution. In the second half we did a better job, we created good chances.

"4-0 sounds pretty high, but we could have scored one or two more. Seven goals this week, you can build on that."

Cologne coach Achim Beierlorzer felt the scoreline flattered the champions.

"4-0 feels extremely bitter for us," he said. "At the end of the first half we were already really good in the game and had good chances to score. Bayern struck three minutes after the kick-off, because we were not awake. The corner for 2-0 has hit us very hard.

"If you want to get something here, the gameplay has to fit. But the way we were on the road today encourages me for the next games. It's bitter that we did not score a goal today."

Manchester City claimed their biggest-ever top-flight victory with an 8-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday to move within two points of Premier League leaders Liverpool thanks to Bernardo Silva’s hat-trick.

A 3-2 defeat away to Norwich City last time out had raised questions about the hunger in Pep Guardiola's squad, but they responded with a brutal dismantling of the Hornets on home turf.

Liverpool will restore their five-point cushion at the top if they beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, with Leicester City two points behind Guardiola's side after a 2-1 win over Tottenham.

In the day's other matches, Burnley moved up to seventh with a routine 2-0 home win over Norwich, while Everton lost 2-0 at home to Sheffield United.

DEVASTATING CITY BACK TO THEIR BEST

City's defeat against Norwich at Carrow Road had been their first since January, but any concerns it was anything more than a minor blip were pointedly answered by Guardiola's men against Watford.

The swagger with which City brushed aside Watford to take a 5-0 lead inside 18 minutes was a reminder of the defending Premier League champions' quality and ruthlessness.

David Silva opened the scoring in the first minute of the game and that was followed by a Sergio Aguero penalty six minutes later – his 100th league goal at the Etihad Stadium.

Watford's defenders were left in a daze by City's slick interchanges as three goals – scored by Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo and Nicolas Otamendi – blew the visitors away.

The second half could have been something of an anti-climax, but Bernardo notched his hat-trick before the sensational Kevin De Bruyne rounded off the scoring.

LEICESTER FIGHT BACK DESPITE VAR

Mauricio Pochettino's 250th Premier League game in charge of Tottenham ended in defeat as his side's away day blues continued at the King Power Stadium in a match dominated by VAR.

Spurs have been memorable beneficiaries of the VAR review system in draws against Manchester City – most famously in a dramatic climax to their Champions League quarter-final second leg last season.

However, when Serge Aurier's goal was disallowed at the King Power Stadium because of the tightest of offside decisions against Son Heung-min when they were 1-0 up thanks to Harry Kane, it took the wind out of their sails.

Leicester were re-energised and after they equalised through Ricardo Pereira they took all three points thanks to a sublime low strike from James Maddison.

The Foxes themselves had earlier been denied a goal when the score was 0-0, after Wilfred Ndidi bundled in from close range only for it to be chalked off by VAR for offside against Ayoze Perez.

BLADES SLICE THROUGH TOFFEES

It was a tetchy day at Goodison Park as Everton suffered back-to-back defeats in the Premier League against newly promoted Sheffield United.

An own goal from Colombian defender Yerry Mina, who headed in an Oliver Norwood corner, came against the run of play, but the Toffees were unable to find a way back despite long spells of pressure.

When Lys Mousset slotted in his first goal for the Blades with 11 minutes to go it was start of grumbles from the Everton fans about whether Marco Silva is the man to take them forward as they started to stream towards the exits. They became boos when the full-time whistle was blown.

Chris Wilder's side, meanwhile, leapfrogged the Blues into the comfort of mid-table.

CLARETS ENJOY HOME COMFORTS

Burnley's ability to punch above their weight in the Premier League in recent seasons has been largely down to their impressive results at Turf Moor. 

A typically dogged and disciplined display from Sean Dyche's men secured another three points and lifted them up to seventh in the table.

Victory was secured thanks to two goals in four minutes from powerful striker Chris Wood, as Norwich failed to hit the heights of their previous win over Man City.

Tottenham head coach Mauricio Pochettino claimed the goal his side had disallowed by VAR inspired Leicester City to their victorious fightback at the King Power Stadium.

Spurs had a 1-0 lead through Harry Kane in the Premier League fixture on Saturday when Serge Aurier’s low angled drive nestled in the bottom corner of the net.

However, referee Paul Tierney reviewed the goal by VAR and it showed Son Heung-min was offside by the thinnest of margins in Spurs’ build-up so it was chalked off.

Leicester equalised shortly afterwards through Ricardo Pereira before James Maddison secured a 2-1 victory for the Foxes with a sublime long-range strike.

Pochettino believed the VAR decision was a decisive one which gave Leicester hope, when a second goal for his side would have killed the game as a contest.

"It gives belief to a team that could have been dead," Pochettino said, as his 250th match in charge of Spurs ended in defeat.

"Both sides are affected by this situation. If we score the second, the game is over.

"That is football. It is true to concede two goals every game makes it difficult to win. Before we concede we were the best side.

"After we concede at 1-1 we had chances to score the second. But in Premier League it is the most beautiful league because it is never over."

Leicester head coach Brendan Rodgers revealed the psychology of VAR decisions in matches was something he discussed with his team during team meetings before the new campaign.

The Foxes were denied a goal themselves when Wilfried Ndidi scrambled the ball home from close range when the scoreline was goalless.

"We spoke with the players in pre-season about VAR," Rodgers said 

"You have to deal with it, sometimes for you and against you. Have to accept it and move on. It was a very important three points.

"It's what happens with VAR, you have to get your head round it. It works for you and against you. It worked both ways for us today."

It meant Pochettino was left to rue another miserable Premier League away day without victory, a run that stretches back nine games to January.

"We need to improve our performance away from home," said the Tottenham boss. "We are going to work hard and improve. In the big picture, I am disappointed but very positive and optimistic."

Rodgers, meanwhile, reserved praise for Maddison’s spectacular winner.

"James didn't have his best game for him, but he is a top-level player," added the Northern Irishman. "He is a top young player, with so much improvement to make. He always has an eye for goal."

James Maddison's superb long-range strike helped Leicester City come from behind to beat Tottenham 2-1 following VAR controversy at the King Power Stadium.

Harry Kane's brilliant improvised finish saw Spurs head into half-time with the advantage on Saturday but a spirited Leicester, who had seen an Ayoze Perez goal chalked off early on, fought back following the interval.

After a Serge Aurier strike had been ruled out by VAR due to the tightest of offside decisions, Ricardo Pereira got the Foxes back on level terms when he arrived to convert Jamie Vardy's low cross.

Leicester's comeback was then crowned when the impressive Maddison struck from distance five minutes from time.

The result means Tottenham have still not won an away game in the Premier League since January, while Leicester climb above them into the top four.

Tottenham are without Hugo Lloris and Dele Alli for the Premier League trip to Leicester City.

Lloris misses out due to the birth of his child, while no reason has been given for Alli's absence from the squad.

There are four other changes to the side that drew with Olympiacos in midweek, with Davinson Sanchez, Ben Davies, Lucas Moura and Christian Eriksen all dropping out of the starting XI.

They have been replaced by Paulo Gazzaniga, Serge Aurier, Danny Rose, Son Heung-min, Erik Lamela and Moussa Sissoko.

Leicester, meanwhile, have made two changes from the side that lost to Manchester United last weekend, with Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes replacing Demarai Gray and Hamza Choudhury.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy will not change his transfer strategy despite completing a £637million refinancing of loans taken out to support the construction of the club's new stadium.

Spurs supporters were left waiting for over a year for new arrivals after Lucas Moura signed for a reported £25m from Paris Saint-Germain in January 2018, with transfers taking a back seat while Tottenham Hotspur Stadium was completed.

That barren interval ended in July when Jack Clarke was purchased from Leeds United for what was understood to be £8.5m, and a club-record deal worth £62.8m for Lyon's Tanguy Ndombele followed soon after.

Ryan Sessegnon also arrived from Fulham for a reported £25m ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, and Levy has no plans to change his approach in the market.

"[The refinancing] will have no bearing on how we run the club… and no bearing on those types of short-term movements [like transfers]," Levy told the Financial Times.

"We could have easily spent more money on players. Who knows if that would have bought us more success or not.

"The right approach is to build from the bottom up. There is no quick fix to becoming a much more significant global club.

"I understand, as I am a fan, clearly you want to win on the pitch. But we have been trying to look at this slightly differently, in that we want to make sure we ensure an infrastructure here to stand the test of time."

Levy described the club's financial manoeuvre as "prudent" and indicated that efforts would be made to utilise the 62,000-capacity ground for more than just football to help recoup their investment.

"We have continued to develop Tottenham Hotspur in line with prudent financial management and investment into the club's key infrastructure and our fast-growing global brand, successfully matching long-term assets with long-term financing," Levy told the club's official website.

"It is a tribute to the team on and off the pitch that we have achieved what is considered to be one of the most attractive financing deals in the world of sport.

"Our club is extremely well-positioned as we move forward delivering the excitement and entertainment of Premier League and Champions League football, NFL, rugby, concerts and much more."

Mauricio Pochettino has no concerns over Christian Eriksen's form and commitment ahead of Tottenham's Premier League trip to Leicester City.

Eriksen was linked with a move away from Spurs during the close season and his contract is set to expire at the end of the current campaign.

The Denmark playmaker was benched for Tottenham's first two home games of the Premier League season amid such uncertainty over his future, although he returned to the starting line-up to open the scoring in the 2-2 north London derby draw against Arsenal.

Eriksen still appeared to be operating some way short of his brilliant best as Pochettino's side continued a mixed start to the campaign – giving away a two-goal lead, as they did versus Arsenal, to draw their Champions League opener 2-2 at Olympiacos.

"No, I am happy with the performance," Pochettino told a pre-match news conference on Thursday, in response to a question over Eriksen's recent output.

"Maybe Olympiacos wasn't his best game, like the team. The collective performance wasn't the best from us.

"I am happy with the commitment of Christian. He ran a lot and was very committed with the team. I am not concerned about him."

Harry Kane expressed frustration at Spurs' latest failure to hold on to a lead after the Olympiacos match.

"That's the hard part to get your head around because we’re not young any more, we’re not inexperienced," Kane told reporters.

"We've played in big games for club and country. I can see why the manager is frustrated because he’s been here for six years now and we're still making similar mistakes to the ones we were in his first year.

"We've got to find a way to get around it, improve and get better."

However, Kane insisted Spurs' problem is not one of mentality, and Pochettino agreed – choosing to focus upon the recent achievements of his team as he called for them to make further improvements.

"We need to improve in this type of situation - leading against Arsenal, leading 2-0 against Olympiakos," Pochettino said. "We are not talking about quality, we are talking to be in this type of situation to manage it better.

"Look, a few months ago we played the final of the Champions League, we were not talking about mentality because we played the final. We got a lot of praise because we played the final."

Where Pochettino appeared more frustrated in the immediate aftermath of the Olympiacos game was with an accusation that his players failed to "respect the plan", something he expanded upon before chasing back-to-back league wins for the first time this season.

 "We were talking at half-time that our positional game, the plan was different and that is why we changed after 20 minutes, we decided to play with Lucas [Moura] close to Harry Kane as a striker, with Christian on the right and Dele [Alli] on the left," he said.

"We all agree, for different reasons, we didn’t play in the way we planned to play, but this happens. It happens at Tottenham, it happens at different teams and the most important is to realise and to fix the problem."

Giovani Lo Celso (hip) and Ryan Sessegnon (hamstring) remain sidelined for the trip to the King Power Stadium.

Mauricio Pochettino accused his Tottenham players of failing to "respect the plan" in their Champions League draw with Olympiacos.

Having led 2-0 after half an hour in Athens, Spurs were pegged back to draw 2-2, allowing Bayern Munich to move top of Group B with a 3-0 win over Red Star Belgrade.

Harry Kane opened the scoring with a penalty 26 minutes in, which was the visitors' first shot of a match in which they were second best.

Lucas Moura struck a fine second but Daniel Podence halved the deficit just before the interval and Mathieu Valbuena's second-half penalty sealed a point for the Greek side.

Pochettino was unhappy with Spurs' display throughout the contest and felt they did not show anywhere near the level of effort they produced in last Saturday's 4-0 Premier League win over Crystal Palace.

"I feel very disappointed. To be honest, first half, I wasn't happy with our performance," he said.

"From the beginning, we had a plan. We didn't respect the plan. I told the players at half-time.

"We scored two goals but if you only analyse the performance, it wasn't great. We conceded a lot of chances to them and the first goal was so painful. We didn't translate that type of aggression these types of games demand.

"How many times didn't we anticipate? And how were we not proactive like we were against Crystal Palace? At this level, you need to match your opponent. That is the first demand."

Spurs, who travel to Leicester City in the league this weekend, host Bayern on matchday two on October 1 and Pochettino wants his players to be optimistic about improving on Wednesday's result.

"It's disappointing because we are not talking about quality, we are talking about intensity, will and aggression," he told Spurs TV.

"We need to be optimistic and positive. It's only the beginning, a point here and now we need to be ready for Saturday when we play Leicester and that's going to be another tough game."

Harry Kane says Tottenham have "got to get better" after letting slip a two-goal lead to draw against Olympiacos on Wednesday, but he remains confident they will qualify for the Champions League knockout stages again.

Losing finalists last season, Spurs opened their Group B campaign in 2019-20 by picking up a point from a tricky trip to Greece.

However, it could have been much better for Mauricio Pochettino's side after Kane's 26th-minute penalty was followed by Lucas Moura's strike from the edge of the box, putting the visitors 2-0 up.

Kane acknowledged conceding just before the interval was crucial, with Daniel Podence halving the deficit in the 44th minute. 

Mathieu Valbuena then drew Olympiacos level from the penalty spot in the second half, forcing Spurs to settle for a draw ahead of a home game against Bayern Munich in their next Champions League outing.

"We put ourselves in a great position but the goal before half-time changed the momentum. We've got to get better," England international Kane told BT Sport.

"We didn't play well in the first half but we scored two goals, which away from home isn't bad.

"Overall, we're disappointed because it's a game we want to be winning but we have to look back and try to improve.

"In the second half, it was 50-50. We could have done better on the ball, but it's a point away from home."

Tottenham have no reason to worry just yet, though, as they also made a slow start to the competition a year ago. 

They picked up just a solitary point from their first three games in the group stage in 2018-19, yet still managed to squeeze through as they pipped Inter to join Barcelona in qualifying for the last 16.

"Last season we didn't start too well and had to play catch-up. This is only the first game and we are definitely backing ourselves to go through," Kane added.

Tottenham threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2 at Olympiacos in their opening match of this season's Champions League.

Last term's beaten finalists were two goals to the good after half an hour in Athens thanks to Harry Kane's penalty and Lucas Moura's excellent finish.

Mathieu Valbuena was the catalyst for a deserved Olympiacos comeback, though, setting up Daniel Podence for a goal on his debut in the competition before burying a penalty 54 minutes in.

Olympiacos seemed to target Davinson Sanchez at right-back in the early stages and one such attack led to Guerrero rattling the base of the left-hand post with a shot from just inside the area.

The home side were certainly the stronger until Kane fired a spot-kick high into Jose Sa's net, having been tripped by Yassine Meriah as he worked his way into the box.

There was another blow to Olympiacos four minutes later, as Ben Davies stole back the ball in their half and fed Lucas, who lashed a shot beyond Sa from the edge of the area.

Pedro Martins' side grabbed a lifeline before the break, though, Podence exchanging passes with Valbuena and firing past Hugo Lloris' right hand.

Spurs were then punished again when some slack play from Christian Eriksen led to Jan Vertonghen standing on Valbuena's foot, allowing the French midfielder to send Lloris the wrong way from the spot.

Dele Alli was denied by the legs of Sa, who also kept out an effort from Erik Lamela, as Spurs failed in a late push for a winner, meaning they still have not won back-to-back away matches in Europe's elite competition.

 

What does it mean? Spurs frailties a growing concern

The problems in Mauricio Pochettino's defence were apparent last term even as Spurs reached the final – indeed, they have now conceded 20 goals since the start of last season's competition, more than any other team.

While most would still expect them to progress from Group B, this was a stark reminder of Spurs' fallibility at the back. They might not have merited a 2-0 lead after 30 minutes, but a team of their standing should certainly not have surrendered it so meekly.

Olympiacos dance to Valbuena's tune

Valbuena set up Olympiacos' first goal and won and converted their penalty, capping a fine display in which he largely dictated the pace of the game.

Eriksen a shadow of himself

When Spurs threw away a two-goal advantage at Arsenal this month, it was a result that did not do Eriksen's excellent display justice. On this occasion, he summed up Spurs' frailties completely, offering next to nothing in attack and conceding possession in the build-up to Valbuena's penalty.

What's next?

Spurs – who face Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday – play their second group game at home to Bayern Munich on October 1, when Olympiacos head to Red Star Belgrade.

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid begin their respective Champions League campaigns with huge tests against Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus in the pick of Wednesday's action.

Atletico will be smarting from last season's 3-2 aggregate defeat to Juve in the round of 16, when Cristiano Ronaldo – a consistent nemesis of theirs during his time in LaLiga – netted a hat-trick in a 3-0 second-leg win to see the Old Lady into the quarter-finals.

Madrid get started away to PSG, who will be aiming to continue their fine run at home in the group stage despite being without Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani.

Last term's beaten finalists Tottenham, Premier League champions Manchester City and German giants Bayern Munich are also in action.

Below, we have highlighted the key data ahead of Wednesday's contests.

Club Brugge v Galatasaray

4 - After losing their first two matches in the 2018-19 Champions League, Club Brugge remained undefeated in their final four (W1 D3) – should they avoid a loss in this match, it will be the best unbeaten run by a Belgian side in the competition took on its current format in 1992.

12 - Galatasaray's new striker Radamel Falcao has scored 12 goals in the Champions League, just one goal off the record by a Colombian player in the competition: Jackson Martinez with 13.

 

Paris Saint-Germain v Real Madrid

21- PSG are unbeaten in 21 Champions League home games in the group stage (W15 D6), not losing since December 2004 against CSKA Moscow (1-3). 

1.97 - Real Madrid have averaged the most goals per game (2.13) in Champions League history. PSG are third on 1.97, with Barcelona the only club separating them in the rankings (2.02).

Olympiacos v Tottenham

8 - Olympiacos are winless in eight Champions League matches (D1 L7) since a 2-1 win against Dinamo Zagreb in November 2015. It is their joint-longest winless run in the competition alongside a streak that ended in October 2003.

50 - Mauricio Pochettino's will oversee his 50th European game as manager of Spurs on Wednesday. Only Bill Nicholson (55) has presided over more for the club.

 

Bayern Munich v Red Star Belgrade

36 - Robert Lewandowski has scored 36 goals in just 52 Champions League appearances for Bayern – only Thomas Muller has scored more for the club in the competition (42 goals in 105 games).

17 -  Red Star conceded more goals in the group stage of the 2018-19 Champions League than any other team (17).

Dinamo Zagreb v Atalanta

11 - Dinamo Zagreb have lost their last 11 consecutive Champions League matches, their joint-worst run in the competition. Only Anderlecht have lost 12 successive matches in Europe's elite competition, that run coming between December 2003 and November 2005.

3 - Just three of the nine Italian clubs to have participated in the Champions League before Atalanta have won their opening match in the competition: AC Milan in 1992, Juventus in 1995 and Udinese in 2005.

 

Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City

79 - Excluding own goals, 79 of Shakhtar's 124 Champions League goals have been scored by Brazilians (64 per cent) – only Barcelona (85) have seen more goals scored by Brazilians than Shakhtar, while Braga (11-12 – 92%) are the only team to have had a higher proportion of goals scored by players from Brazil.

124 - Gabriel Jesus scored a hat-trick for City in their last meeting against Shakhtar in November last year, inspiring a 6-0 win. Of the 73 Brazilians to have scored four or more goals in the Champions League, Jesus has the best minutes-per-goal (124) ratio.

Atletico Madrid v Juventus

54 - Atletico will be competing in their first Champions League season without Antoine Griezmann since 2013-14. He scored or assisted 54 per cent of their goals in the competitions (19 goals, 7 assists) between September 2015 and March 2019 before leaving this year for Barcelona.

25 - Juventus star Ronaldo has scored 25 goals in his career against Atletico, having tormented them regularly in derbies with Madrid and netted a hat-trick last term for the Bianconeri. Only against Sevilla (27) has he scored more in all competitions.

 

Bayer Leverkusen v Lokomotiv Moscow

0 - Bayer Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz has yet to win a Champions League game as a manager (D2 L4, with Dortmund). Each of Leverkusen's past four managers have failed to win their first Champions League match in charge.

7 - Lokomotiv forward Jefferson Farfan will be looking to score in his seventh different Champions League campaign (2004-05, 2005-06, 2007-08, 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2018-19). The only Peruvian to have scored in more seasons is Claudio Pizarro (eight).

Mauricio Pochettino says he is refusing to think about reaching another Champions League final ahead of Tottenham's Group B clash against Olympiacos on Wednesday.

Spurs reached last season's final in Madrid after a dramatic semi-final triumph over Ajax but were beaten 2-0 by Premier League rivals Liverpool.

Their 2019-20 campaign kicks off in Athens against last season's Greek Super League runners up, with Pochettino adamant that it is too early to be talking about a second consecutive final appearance.

"It's so early to start talking about the final," he told a media conference. "The most important thing is to talk about our squad quality.

"I don't care if because we reached the final people think we are a contender again. We are focused on trying to win [against Olympiacos] and starting in a good way.

"Of course, it was a long period after the final in Madrid and being honest I was thinking a lot about it during the summer.

"You can't forget the feeling of losing in the final. You have to wait until you start again. It's another massive challenge for us."

Tottenham started last season's Champions League campaign in sluggish fashion, picking up just one point in their opening three group games.

They bounced back in style, however, winning seven points from their remaining three games to progress into the knockout stages.

While Pochettino wants nothing less than three points from his side, he admits he would take a similarly poor start if it meant a trip to Istanbul for this season's final.

"I'd sign up to start the same way as last season but finish in Istanbul," he added. "We know we have to start by winning, though. We need to show our quality. We need to show we have learned from the past."

Danny Rose and Serge Aurier have been rested for the clash in Greece, while Juan Foyth, Ryan Sessegnon and Giovani Lo Celso remain sidelined through injury.

Once dubbed the 'German Messi', Marko Marin has found his home at boyhood club Red Star Belgrade.

Marin's European odyssey has taken him to Borussia Monchengladbach, Werder Bremen, Premier League giants Chelsea, Sevilla, Fiorentina, Anderlecht, Trabzonspor and Olympiacos.

Now, in Belgrade – less than a three-hour drive from where Marin was born in the Bosnian city of Gradiska – the 30-year-old attacker is playing a key role in restoring the global reputation of 1991 European Cup champions Red Star, having disappeared off the radar.

"Even more for me, with my childhood club because I'm a fan from a kid," Marin, a league winner with Red Star and Olympiacos, told Omnisport as he reflected on Red Star's Champions League qualification. "To play Champions League with them is even more special. It's a very nice experience to bring the Champions League back to Serbia after so many years."

Born in Bosnia-Herzegovina to Bosnian Serb parents in 1989, Marin – a Europa League winner with Chelsea (2013) and Sevilla (2014) moved to Germany at the age of two and 16 international caps for his new country followed.

Marin waited for calls from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia but they were not forthcoming as he opted for Germany – he was rewarded with a spot in Joachim Low's 2010 World Cup squad after impressing for Bremen.

While he represented Die Mannschaft, Marin's love for Serbian powerhouse Red Star – who snapped a 26-year drought from Europe's premier club competition last term – runs deep and a second successive season of Champions League football means a lot to the club captain.

"It's different because you play with more passion for the club," Marin said when asked about the satisfaction of qualifying. "You always give everything for the club you represent because it's your job and love football. But it's different if you play for the club you really loved as a kid.

"We have many players in the team like this. The foreign players maybe give us more quality but the main group of the team and the strength – when you grow up as a Red Star fan, many of them trained in the youth team. It's a bit different to play Champions League for Chelsea or Werder Bremen for example."

"After every game, Belgrade and Serbia is so happy and even kids outside of the country," he said. "I grew up in Germany and I was a fan of Red Star and when I went with my friends to school, you would always talk and I said that I'm a Red Star fan but they didn't really know. But now, Red Star are playing in the biggest competition in Europe. You make Red Star big again. They're getting used to it. This is a motivation.

"For sure this season, we will make some good games. Even qualifying for the group stage is a big, big success. If you compare with Manchester City, Barcelona or Real Madrid, their aim is to win the Champions League... ours is to qualify first."

Marin arrived at Red Star from Greek giants Olympiacos prior to the side's 2018-19 Champions League group-stage campaign involving eventual champions Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli.

One of the game's most promising talents a decade ago, Marin's switch from Piraeus to Belgrade last year barely made the news outside of Serbia. What could have been is a question often asked about the Bosnian-born German. But what does he think about his career?

"It's a fantastic career," Marin replied. "I played in nearly every big league for the biggest teams. When I was at Bremen, we played for the title and in the Champions League. At Chelsea, I don't have to explain how big this team is and Sevilla.

"Maybe it could be better, for sure. There are some reasons. Maybe I wasn't patient enough in some situations. Injuries didn't help to make it even bigger. But I wouldn't have this experience with Red Star if this didn't happen. I'm very happy with my career. To feel this what I feel at the moment, it's the best part of my career."

Marin, who joined Chelsea on a five-year deal from Bremen in 2012, added: "Who knows what would've happened if I stayed longer in Germany? The experience to play for Chelsea was amazing. To play alongside the best players, the professionals. [Frank] Lampard, [John] Terry – these leaders. How they train every day and the passion and quality. I saw this for the first time in Chelsea. I played before with very good players but that was another level."

Fast forward to this season and Marin's Red Star are preparing to welcome Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, 2019 Champions League runners-up Tottenham and Olympiacos to Rajko Mitic Stadium – also known as the Marakana – in Group B.

Red Star will be relying on their fanatical and daunting home support in the Serbian capital, where Liverpool lost 2-0 in November – one of four defeats for last season's champions in the 2018-19 competition – as Vladan Milojevic's men eye a third-place finish.

"It's difficult for teams coming here because they don't know, they can't expect this," Marin said. "Before last season's game against Liverpool in the news conference I said you will see it's completely different. I know Anfield is amazing with a big crowd, but it's totally different to what they experienced in Belgrade. You cannot explain it.

"They go to warm-up and the stadium is already full. We were waiting to come out of this big, long tunnel that you don't have anywhere in the world. Then you go out and the stadium is exploding. It's not easy for visiting teams. We play 11 against 11 but when they feel this atmosphere, it's different.

"I hope we can challenge for third place. I'm not sure if would be a surprise if we take some points because people know us and how difficult it is to play at Marakana. Our strength is team work and it's even more so at home. Of course we have quality but the biggest strength is teamwork."

And what about the 'German Messi' tag? "I couldn't change this. It didn't come from me. We all know there's only one Messi and no one is even near him. It wasn't big pressure because I don't think they took it seriously when they compared me to Messi. He is the number one. [Cristiano] Ronaldo is another type of player. Maybe they see it as my ability maybe in one-on-one situations. I take it as a compliment but it's not a real comparison."

Manchester City lost in the Premier League for the first time since January as a 3-2 defeat at injury-hit Norwich City left them five points behind leaders Liverpool in the title race.

The Reds extended their perfect run to five wins from five with a 3-1 comeback victory at home to Newcastle United in Saturday's early kick-off.

And that victory was given even more importance when the Canaries rocked the champions at Carrow Road despite being without 11 players who are in the treatment room.

There were also big wins for Tottenham and Chelsea, Manchester United handed Leicester City their first defeat of the season, Southampton won at 10-man Sheffield United and Burnley struck late to claim a 1-1 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion.

LAPORTE LOSS HURTS CHAMPIONS

Aymeric Laporte has been ruled out for six months after surgery on his right knee and City's diabolical defensive performance indicated the centre-back will be horribly missed.

Kyle Walker, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi were all at fault at various times as goals from Kenny McLean, Todd Cantwell and August's Premier League player of the month Teemu Pukki earned Norwich a deserved victory against massive odds.

Pep Guardiola began with Kevin De Bruyne on the bench ahead of the Champions League starting next week and the decision backfired as City looked lost without their midfield talisman, although Sergio Aguero and Rodri struck to spark hopes of a comeback.

It is early days in the title race, but Liverpool are already looking very strong while City's weaknesses were ruthlessly exposed by Norwich in their second home win of the season.


FIVE IN A ROW FOR REDS

Newcastle United took a shock early lead at Anfield thanks to a thunderbolt from left-back Jetro Willems, but that proved as good as it got for Steve Bruce's men as they went down 3-1 to leaders Liverpool.

Sadio Mane was inspirational as the Senegal star scored twice to turn the game on its head, his second thanks to poor goalkeeping from Martin Dubravka, before Mohamed Salah wrapped things up.

With a perfect record from their five fixtures in 2019-20, Liverpool are up to 14 straight wins in the Premier League – and they are the first team in the competition's history to do so scoring more than once in each game.

This result moved them five points clear at the top and the European champions could hardly be in better shape ahead of beginning their Champions League defence away to Napoli on Tuesday.


SPURS AND CHELSEA RUN RIOT

At half-time, Spurs were 4-0 up at home to Crystal Palace while Chelsea were 3-0 up away to winless Wolves, Fiyako Tomori netting a stunner with Abraham scoring at least twice for the third Premier League game in a row.

He went one better after the break to set a record for the Blues, though a touch of the shine was taken off his performance when he put through an own goal to hand Wolves a consolation, which they added to through Patrick Cutrone.

Abraham, now the top scorer this season with seven strikes, is the first player in the history of the Premier League to score a hat-trick as well as an own goal in the same game, with fellow England talent Mason Mount also on target late on.

Son Heung-min proved unstoppable for the Eagles, with the South Korea star involved in Spurs' first three goals before Harry Kane set up Erik Lamela to make it four.

It was a much-needed three points for Spurs, who were on a three-game winless run, with a trip to Olympiacos in the Champions League to come next for Mauricio Pochettino's side.


RASHFORD PENALTY SEES UNITED BOUNCE BACK

Like Spurs, United had failed to win any of their three league games going into the international break, but they showed resilience to edge a slim victory at home to Leicester despite being without Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard.

Rashford won an early penalty when he was clumsily brought down by Caglar Soyuncu and, unlike in their 2-1 loss at home to Palace, this time he converted from 12 yards to condemn the Foxes to their first defeat of the season.

Moussa Djenepo's excellent goal earned Southampton a 1-0 win at Bramall Lane, where the Blades were cut down to 10 men when substitute striker Billy Sharp was dismissed for a challenge on Stuart Armstrong.

Brighton looked to be heading for their first home league win since March 2 thanks to Neal Maupay's controlled volley but Burnley substitute Jeff Hendrick marked his 100th Premier League appearance with a stunning late equaliser.

In the first minute of added time, the Republic of Ireland midfielder collected a lay-off from Matej Vydra to rifle a first-time drive into the bottom-right corner from 25 yards.

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