Could Paulo Dybala swap Italy for Spain?

The Juventus attacker was close to leaving Juventus for either Manchester United or Tottenham prior to the 2019-20 season, while Paris Saint-Germain were also linked.

Now, Real Madrid are reportedly targeting the 26-year-old.

 

TOP STORY – KROOS OUT, DYBALA IN?

Real Madrid are set to offer Toni Kroos or Isco as part of a deal to bring Juventus star Paulo Dybala to the Santiago Bernabeu, according to SportMediaset.

LaLiga champions Madrid are eyeing a move for Dybala, who has been in negotiations with Serie A titleholders Juve over a new contract amid reported interest from Paris Saint-Germain.

However, Juve are unwilling to part with the Argentina international – who enjoyed a fine Serie A campaign prior to Maurizio Sarri's sacking as he looks ahead to life under Andrea Pirlo.

ROUND-UP

- Kicker claims Jadon Sancho has told Borussia Dortmund he is happy to stay at the club if a blockbuster transfer to Manchester United fails to materialise. The England international has been heavily tipped to join United, with personal terms reportedly agreed.

Barcelona want to sign Manchester City star Bernardo Silva, reports The Telegraph. The LaLiga giants are eyeing a cash-plus-player deal to try to prise the Portugal international to Camp Nou.

- Premier League champions Liverpool are poised to sign Olympiacos left-back Kostas Tsimikas, according to widespread reports. Having failed to strike a deal with Norwich City for Jamal Lewis, Liverpool are close to prising Tsimikas from the Greek powerhouse. Meanwhile, The Sun says Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool are targeting a shock £35million swoop for Bournemouth midfielder David Brooks.

- The front page of Monday's edition of Marca says Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane must sell before he is able to sign players ahead of the 2020-21 season. Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez are two players unwanted in the Spanish capital as Madrid continue to be linked with the likes of PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe, Dortmund's Erling Haaland and Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga.

- AS Diario reports Villarreal are on the verge of signing Valencia pair Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin. Valencia captain Parejo and team-mate Coquelin have been told they are free to leave Mestalla.

Napoli have joined the race to sign Madrid full-back Sergio Reguilon claims Sky Sport Italia. On loan at Sevilla, Reguilon has been linked to Chelsea and Everton.

- According to Calciomercato, Inter are interested in Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. However, salary demands may prove problematic amid talk of a swap deal involving Inter defender Milan Skriniar.

Lautaro Martinez is "very happy" at Inter amid links to LaLiga giants Barcelona, according to his agent Beto Yaque.

Martinez has been tipped to leave Inter for Barca at the end of the season, though the Italian side have regularly insisted they have no plans to sell the star forward.

The 22-year-old's €111million (£98.8m) release clause expired in July and Yaque played down the prospect of a transfer from San Siro to Camp Nou.

"Lautaro's transfer is more in the media than real life," Yaque told La Figura de la Cancha.

"Lautaro has three years on his contract with Inter and is very happy where he is.

"He's had a very good season, still has the Europa League to play for and I hope Inter can go all the way in that competition."

Yaque added: "I've never needed to give him advice and I don't need to now either. He's always been a complete player and has matured over the years."

Martinez scored 14 Serie A goals as Antonio Conte's Inter finished second and a point behind champions Juventus in 2019-20.

The Argentina international has managed 19 goals across all competitions ahead of Inter's Europa League quarter-final against Bayer Leverkusen on Monday.

Robert Lewandowski shut out thoughts surrounding individual records and fixed his focus on firing Bayern Munich past Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals after notching another brace in Saturday's triumph over Chelsea.

The Poland international improved his season goal tally to 53 in all competitions as he scored twice and assisted another two in a 4-1 victory at the Allianz Arena that saw Bayern advance from the last 16 as 7-1 aggregate winners.

Lewandowski now has 13 goals in seven Champions League appearances this term, four behind the record Cristiano Ronaldo set for a single season in 2013-14.

But the prolific 31-year-old striker insisted he is more interested in helping his side progress from next Friday's single-leg quarter-final in Lisbon, where Barca await following their 4-2 aggregate win over Napoli.

"It's not a target for me," Lewandowski told Sky Germany when asked about Ronaldo's record. "We have another knockout game to come and have to play really well as a team.

"The most important thing is to play well and reach the next round. We have to show as a team we are better [than Barcelona] in order to reach the semi-finals.

"Barcelona are always dangerous and play great football. We have to be at it from the first minute and show our quality. The better team will play in the next round."

Lewandowski played a direct part in every goal for Bayern in their 7-1 aggregate victory over Chelsea, having also scored one and set up a couple for Serge Gnabry in February's first leg at Stamford Bridge.

Head coach Hansi Flick was keen to praise his whole side and not just in-form Lewandowski, who has netted more times in 2019-20 than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.

"He scored twice, so it goes without saying what he can do," the Bayern boss said. "This is what makes us stand out as a team.

"I was very satisfied with the 90 minutes from everyone. We wanted to win the game and pick up from where we left off. 

"Chelsea have an exciting team and an incredible amount of speed. It would have been our fault if we let them into the game, but the first 30 minutes from us were great."

The only sour note for Bayern was the sight of Jerome Boateng hobbling off with an apparent knee injury in the second half, but Flick was hopeful the centre-back would be fit for next week's huge showdown with Barca.

"I don't think it is so bad for Jerome," he said. "That's the information I got from the medical staff. [Benjamin] Pavard is also trying everything to be ready.

"We will prepare for that game like any other. We want to show our strengths again and must be 100 per cent focused, not just on Lionel Messi but every player."

Gennaro Gattuso has called for a mentality change at Napoli after his side exited the Champions League with a 4-2 aggregate defeat to Barcelona.

First-half goals from Clement Lenglet, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez ultimately proved enough for Barca to win 3-1 in the second leg of the last-16 tie on Saturday, with Lorenzo Insigne's penalty proving a mere consolation for the visitors at Camp Nou.

Napoli had a total of 18 shots to Barca's seven, but lacked the cutting edge to forge a comeback.

But with a Europa League place next season secured thanks to their Coppa Italia triumph, Gattuso feels Napoli must now focus on improving their mentality if they are to become a title-challenging side.

"There are many regrets, because we had a blackout for half an hour, conceded three ridiculous goals and made some very serious errors during that period," Gattuso told Sky Italia.

"I saw a team that also put Barcelona under huge pressure. We should've scored two goals early, yet we conceded instead. It angers me to concede a goal from a set play. It drives me crazy.

"I always say, we have some strong and talented players, but need to really move forward in terms of mentality, because it's not good enough.

"If you look at the statistics, it was dominated by Napoli. We had double their shots on goal, had more possession, we broke through their defence very easily.

"I am not trying to cause controversy, I am disappointed because I saw we could really hurt them. I get the feeling we were up against a Barcelona side that was not in good shape and we handed it to them.

"With a little more determination and a stronger mentality, we could've really done damage here."

Gattuso did, however, concede Barca's longer break since the end of their LaLiga campaign may have played a part.

"You could see Barcelona were really struggling in the second half. I think the fact they had 19 days without playing made a big difference," he said.

"It annoys me that even with all that, we still couldn't make the most of it. When you give them an inch, obviously they're going to take those chances and we didn't. It hurts."

Bayern Munich are serious contenders for Champions League glory, but Luis Suarez says Barcelona's quarter-final with them will be 50-50.

Barca overcame Napoli 3-1 at Camp Nou on Saturday to seal a 4-2 aggregate victory and set up a meeting at the Estadio da Luz on Friday with Bayern, who beat Chelsea 4-1 to make it 7-1 over the two legs.

It could have been a very different story in Catalonia had Dries Mertens' second-minute effort found the back of the net rather than the post.

However, Clement Lenglet headed Barca in front seven minutes later and Lionel Messi's excellent solo goal was followed by a penalty from Suarez.

Napoli pulled one back from the spot through Lorenzo Insigne in first-half stoppage time, but Barca held firm to book their place in the last eight in Lisbon.

With the remaining games to be contested as one-offs rather than two-legged affairs, Suarez sees nothing to separate Quique Setien's men and the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal champions.

"Everyone has a chance in a single game, it's 50-50," Suarez told Movistar.

"Bayern are a great opponent, they are a contender for the title, like all of the eight in Lisbon, but it is 11 against 11 for 90 minutes.

"You have to play the games to see which team does thing better to advance to the semi-finals."

On the game against Napoli, he added: "It's what we wanted. For two weeks since LaLiga ended we've been preparing for the match knowing the difficulty of an opponent who made things tough for us in the first leg," said Suarez in a TV interview.

"The important thing is that we qualified and now think about the next opponent.

"Napoli are a team that generate a lot of chances in the league. We knew they would get them. We had a scare early on but we scored first. A goal from them would have created uncertainty, but I think we managed the game well.

"The Napoli goal generated a bit of caution in us. We knew what we were going to come out to in the second half.

"We had to think about attacking. We knew were not going to have much space."

They might have lost LaLiga's title race, but Barcelona at least got one over on Real Madrid by reaching the Champions League last eight.

A day after Madrid fell in Manchester, Quique Setien's Blaugrana, maligned this season for lacking a clear plan and a firm backbone, showed both in overcoming Napoli at Camp Nou.

Juventus were also knocked out on Friday, Cristiano Ronaldo's two goals not enough to spare them from elimination by Lyon or to keep Maurizio Sarri in a job. Not so for Lionel Messi: he scored, had another disallowed and won a penalty converted by Luis Suarez as Barca won 3-1 in the last-16 second leg and 4-2 on aggregate to reach a 13th straight quarter-final.

The suggestion is Sarri was facing the sack regardless of the Lyon result, but it seems unlikely Juve would have pulled the trigger had he got them into a quarter-final tie with Manchester City. The same can likely be said for Setien, who would almost certainly not have been Barca coach much longer had Napoli triumphed, and who may well find his days numbered if they cannot find a way to best red-hot Bayern Munich, who destroyed Chelsea 7-1 on aggregate, in the last eight.

Messi - and Setien - deserve real credit for Saturday's victory, though. Those nightmarish visits to Roma and Liverpool in the past two seasons will not be forgotten, but this time, as tension tightened in a crowdless Camp Nou, Barca showed they can hold their nerve.

It was mostly an un-Barca, un-Setien-like performance: perfunctory, moderately adventurous, the best work done largely without the ball. Napoli had close to 80 per cent of the possession in the first 10 minutes and then found themselves a goal behind when Clement Lenglet headed in an Ivan Rakitic corner. It was hard to know which of Setien or Gennaro Gattuso seemed more surprised.

It was a simplistic goal befitting a rare uncomplicated approach from Setien. Messi, Suarez and Antoine Griezmann were joined in a three-pronged attack, with licence to roam and a requirement to hustle for the ball high up the pitch. Behind them, with Sergio Busquets suspended, were Rakitic, Sergi Roberto and the excellent Frenkie De Jong, whose primary task was to disrupt as much as dictate.

It was a Barca reminiscent of Luis Enrique's first season in charge, when Messi, Suarez and Neymar wreaked havoc at the head of a solid base. Of course, the blueprint of 2014-15 is not a bad one to follow - it won them their last Champions League trophy.

Messi, it is said, is borderline obsessed with winning the competition again this year. He certainly played like it in the first 45 minutes. His goal was one of those maddening combinations of skill and tenacity that must exasperate defenders, as he bustled into the area, fell to his knees, scrambled back up and found the bottom-left corner while falling again, all before Mario Rui had realised where he was.

Messi scored again, chesting the ball down and smashing it in, only for VAR to penalise the faintest grazing of the ball on his arm. He had the technology to thank before the break, though, when he hustled and harried Kalidou Koulibaly, who swung his foot to clear the ball and seemed surprised when Messi's calf appeared in the way.

The Argentine was hurt badly, and you suspect he might have come off at half-time had Lorenzo Insigne not scored a penalty for Napoli moments before the break to give Barca that all-to-familiar sinking feeling.

So, he stayed out, and he led. He wasn't the inspiration Barca were used to, but he was the one they needed: a hurrying, scurrying, scrapping captain who dragged his team over the line.

Napoli had 18 shots to Barca's seven, 11 crosses to their two, and only 2.2 per cent less of the ball, but Messi and Barca won't care if this result means they have finally learned again how to see out a cup tie. They'll need every ounce of that new-found nous if they are to halt the Bayern juggernaut in Lisbon and keep Setien in the job a little while longer.

With the Champions League back on, I went in search of predictions about who fans in Jamaica thought would win.

What I found was there aren’t really fans. Well, I didn’t find what I expect from a fan.

The term fan is an offshoot of the word fanatic. A fanatic is someone who shows so much loyalty to something that they, not only, have strong emotion about it, but are knowledgeable by virtue of spending so much time dedicated to understanding it.

In seeking answers to my questions predicting the winner of the Champions League, I found humiliating explanations, shallow reasoning and anything but persuasive arguments for one team or another.

Come to think of it, maybe they used a little strategy. There were two matches being played at the same time in the UEFA Champions League— Manchester City vs. Real Madrid and Juventus vs. Lyon. Fans were aware and had to develop a strategy to watch them both. But that's just about it.

When I asked my ‘fair-weather friends’ who they think would win the Champions League and why, their responses were uninspiring.

They usually started confidently enough, but that was where the solidity ended.

“BARCELONA!”, “MAN-CITY!”, “CHELSEA!”, “REAL MADRID!” etc, came the answers even before the questions were completely out of my mouth.

The problem they all encountered though, was the question of … why?

Suddenly the confidence of the answers were replaced with almost incoherent, largely uninformed drivle.

“Definitely you know it’s Barcelona. And I know other persons are going to say otherwise but this is the reason why: Barcelona is a champion...beyond champion, beyond champion, beyond champion, beyond champion…”

Another picked Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) as his winner.

“Neymar is a star baller,” was his ‘very solid’ reason.

I wanted a response from a seasoned fan. I figured it would have some substance but a seasoned fan is not common place.

“Man City definitely! I think they have the best ballers,” is the closest I could come to something resembling a thought-out explanation.

That being the best of the answers left me, an admitted novice, dejected.

Look, I’m not expecting fans to necessarily be able to provide reasons with the analysis of seasoned commentators like Lance Whittaker, but I would expect that a ‘fan’, has more to offer in the way of some understanding about the game.

The Champions League is now down to eight teams, who will play straight knock-out games in Lisbon, Portugal beginning October 12.

The teams in the quarterfinal are; Atalanta, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, and Lyon.

Who do you think will come out tops?

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

Lionel Messi was in fine form as Barcelona progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals, with a 3-1 second-leg defeat of Napoli sealing a 4-2 aggregate victory.

An action-packed first half at Camp Nou saw Barca take a three-goal lead, before Lorenzo Insigne pulled one back from the spot in stoppage time.

Clement Lenglet's ninth-minute header broke the deadlock, with Messi netting an exquisite second prior to winning a penalty which Luis Suarez converted.

Insigne's spot-kick gave Napoli hope, but Barca had enough to book their place in the last eight, where Bayern Munich await.

Dries Mertens clipped the woodwork inside two minutes but Barca swiftly took control – Lenglet heading home unmarked from Ivan Rakitic's inswinging corner, with the goal standing after a VAR check for a possible foul on Diego Demme.

Further punishment followed when Messi bundled his way through a crowd of defenders and, despite an untimely slip, he curled a wonderful finish beyond David Ospina.

It appeared Barca had gone 3-0 up by the half-hour mark, only for Messi to have a second goal ruled out for handball, yet Barca had their third when Suarez scored from the spot after Kalidou Koulibaly clumsily kicked Messi.

Napoli were handed a lifeline two minutes later, however, with the referee harshly deeming Rakitic to have fouled Mertens – Insigne converting the resulting penalty.

Insigne could have doubled his tally early in the second half, but failed to test Marc-Andre ter Stegen with a close-range header.

Arkadiusz Milik looked to have made an instant impact after his introduction from the bench late on, only for his header to be disallowed for offside as Barca secured their place in Portugal with minimum fuss.

 

What does it mean? Barca still have hope

It has been a dismal season on the domestic front for Barca, but their hopes of a sixth Champions League title remain intact.

However, an imperious Bayern side will present an altogether different challenge than Gennaro Gattuso's side after their 7-1 aggregate victory over Chelsea, and the Blaugrana will have to display a quality which has often been lacking this term in order to progress further.

Messi turns on the magic to lift Setien 

It has not been easy for Quique Setien since he was appointed in January, and the Barca boss could well have been under severe pressure had his side gone out on Saturday.

However, Messi turned on the style to quieten the doubters – at least for now.

Koulibaly found wanting

Raphael Varane made two calamitous mistakes for Real Madrid against Manchester City on Friday, and another of Europe's finest defenders struggled this time out.

Koulibaly seemed to go down easily in the build up to Barca's opener when Demme was pushed into him, while Messi got the better of him to win the penalty from which Suarez made it 3-0.

What's next?

Bayern are Barca's opponents in the last eight, with the game to take place in Lisbon on Friday. Napoli, meanwhile, will turn their attention to next season.

Juventus' elimination from the Champions League spelled the end for Maurizio Sarri and the start of a new era under Andrea Pirlo.

Despite leading the Bianconeri to a ninth straight Scudetto in 2019-20, Sarri was fired after Juve crashed out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage to Lyon on Friday.

Pirlo was at the heart of Juve's brilliant midfield during the start of their Serie A dominance, winning four Scudetti, the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana twice during a four-year stint that ended when he moved to New York City in 2015.

A week after returning to Juve as their Under-23 boss, Pirlo was handed the reins of the first team ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

He is not the first club legend to go back and manage a team they played for, though, and we have taken a look at the biggest successes and failures.

HITS

Pep Guardiola

After leaving Barcelona as a player in 2001, Guardiola returned as the Barca B boss in 2007 before being promoted to head coach of the first team a year later. Over four years in charge at Camp Nou he led the Blaugrana to 14 trophies, including three LaLiga titles and two Champions League crowns. Success has continued to come Guardiola's way with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Zinedine Zidane

World Cup winner Zidane was part of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' in the early 2000s and he finished his playing career at the Santiago Bernabeu. Like Guardiola, he returned to oversee the second team before stepping up to the top job after the departure of Rafael Benitez in January 2016. Zidane went on to win an unprecedented three successive Champions League titles with Madrid before stepping away in May 2018, only to return 10 months later. He has already won LaLiga and the Supercopa de Espana in his second stint.

Antonio Conte

In 13 seasons as a player for Juventus, Conte won almost everything there is to win – five league titles, the Coppa Italia, the Champions League and the UEFA Cup. He moved into management two years after retiring and worked his way back to Juve after spells with Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta and Siena. Juve won three straight Scudetti under Conte – the start of their ongoing dominance – before he accepted the Italy job in 2014. Pirlo will have to get the better of his former coach Conte, now at Inter, if he is to maintain the Bianconeri's run of titles.

Roberto Di Matteo

Di Matteo accepted the top job at Chelsea in 2012, having previously been assistant to Andre Villas-Boas. Di Matteo – who won the FA Cup twice with the Blues as a player – went on to lift two trophies as Chelsea boss, including their first Champions League title with a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich, but he was discarded early in the following season.

MISSES

Alan Shearer

Record Premier League goalscorer, Newcastle United legend and lethal England striker – Shearer's playing career was full of success. When he retired in 2006, Shearer moved into television as a pundit, but when the Magpies came calling in 2009 he stepped in to try and save them from relegation. Sadly for Shearer he was unsuccessful, his eight-game reign ending in Newcastle slipping out of the top flight after a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa on the final day.

Filippo Inzaghi

Employing former players as head coaches had previously worked well for Milan – Fabio Capello and Carlo Ancelotti proving particularly successful. When the Rossoneri turned to Inzaghi in 2014 after Clarence Seedorf's brief tenure, the move was therefore no surprise. However, the former striker – who won eight major trophies at the club in his playing days – flopped, winning just 14 of his 40 matches in charge as Milan finished 10th, their worst league position in 17 years.

Thierry Henry

Henry made his name at Monaco after breaking into the first team in 1994, the forward going on to become a world champion and a Premier League icon with Arsenal. After a period as youth coach with the Gunners, Henry was named as Belgium boss Roberto Martinez's assistant. Permanent roles with Bordeaux and Aston Villa were mooted, but in October 2018 Henry chose Monaco. He lasted just three months, losing 11 of his 20 matches in charge across all competitions before being replaced by Leonardo Jardim, the man he had succeeded.

Juan Jose Lopez

One of the most decorated players in River Plate history, having won seven league titles in an 11-year spell, Lopez was a popular appointment after making a strong impact in his second period as caretaker manager in 2010. However, he subsequently presided over a poor 2011 Clausura campaign, forcing River into a play-off against Belgrano, who won 3-1 on aggregate. It was the first time River dropped out of the top tier, sparking riots which left many people injured.

Paris Saint-Germain are focused on Kylian Mbappe and Neymar over Cristiano Ronaldo.

Mbappe and Neymar have both been linked with moves away from the Ligue 1 champions, while Ronaldo has reportedly been a target for PSG previously.

PSG seemingly know where their priorities are.

 

TOP STORY – PSG FOCUS ON MBAPPE, NEYMAR OVER RONALDO

PSG would prefer to extend the contracts of Mbappe and Neymar than chase Juventus star Ronaldo, according to ESPN.

Mbappe and Neymar are both coming to the end of their contracts in 2022 and have been linked to Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.

 

ROUND-UP

- Arsenal are reportedly ready to splash the cash. The Sun says the Premier League side are set to spend £100million on Real Madrid's Dani Ceballos, Atletico Madrid's Thomas Partey and Lille's Gabriel Magalhaes, but must sell at least three players.

- With Eric Garcia set to leave Manchester City, Barcelona are preparing a move. The Sun reports Barca will make a €15.5m (£14m) bid for the defender.

- Will Chelsea find a way to land West Ham star Declan Rice? The Daily Star says Chelsea are looking to raise £65m to land the midfielder.

- Liverpool continue to be linked with moves. The Liverpool Echo reports Watford attacker Ismaila Sarr is on the Premier League champions' shortlist.

- Staying at Anfield and Yahoo reports Liverpool are tracking Vasco da Gama's 18-year-old forward Talles Magno.

- Ryan Sessegnon continues to be linked with a move from Tottenham. The Guardian reports Ajax are interested in Sessegnon on loan.

Lionel Messi's sublime home record for Barcelona makes worrying reading for Napoli, whose task is not nearly as tricky as the one Chelsea face against a Bayern Munich side spearheaded by the sensational Robert Lewandowski. 

The final two rearranged Champions League last-16 games take place on Saturday before the competition, which was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, heads for Lisbon. 

Barca, who drew 1-1 at the San Paolo in the first leg, host Napoli for the first time in a competitive match, with Gennaro Gattuso's visitors aiming to become the first team to win their first away trip to Camp Nou since Rubin Kazan in October 2009. 

Bayern's squad and coaching team will surely be having their passports stamped for a trip to Portugal having hammered Chelsea 3-0 at Stamford Bridge. Frank Lampard's Blues will have to do something that has never been done if they are to progress.


Barcelona v Napoli

6 - Napoli's Dries Mertens has scored six Champions League goals this season, one shy of the record for goals in a single season in UEFA competition for the club; both Edinson Cavani (2012-13 Europa League) and Gonzalo Higuain (2014-15 Europa League) scored seven each. 

11 - Messi has been directly involved in 11 goals in his last five home Champions League knockout matches at Camp Nou (8 goals, 3 assists), scoring a brace in four of those five games. 

12 - Barcelona have qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals in each of the last 12 campaigns, last failing in 2006-07 under Frank Rijkaard; no other team has qualified for the last-eight of the competition in more than eight consecutive seasons. They have also progressed from each of their last 19 Champions League knockout ties after avoiding defeat in the first leg away from home, only failing to do so once (vs Juventus in the 2002-03 quarter-final). 

2 - Napoli's two previous away Champions League knockout matches have ended in defeat, losing 4-1 to Chelsea in March 2012 and 3-1 to Real Madrid in February 2017. They have failed to progress from nine of their last 10 UEFA European knockout ties when failing to win the first leg. 

1 - This is Quique Setien's first home Champions League match as Barcelona boss – 10 of their previous 11 managers have won their first in charge at Camp Nou, with only Louis van Gaal failing to do so in a 2-2 draw against PSV in October 1997. 


Bayern Munich v Chelsea

6 - All six of Serge Gnabry's Champions League goals for Bayern this season have come against English teams (four vs Spurs, two vs Chelsea). Only two players have scored more goals against teams from a single nation in one season – Cristiano Ronaldo in 2013-14 vs German teams (7) and Luiz Adriano in 2014-15 vs Belarusian teams (8). 

41 - Lewandowski has scored 11 goals and assisted two more in six Champions League appearances this season, averaging a goal or assist every 41 minutes. The German side have failed to win any of their last five knockout stage games in the Champions League in which Lewandowski has not been on the scoresheet (D3 L2). 

1- Chelsea have only scored three goals in an away Champions League knockout match once previously, winning 3-1 at Liverpool in April 2009; Bayern have only conceded three times in three of their 43 home Champions League knockout games, though did so most recently in a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool in March 2019. 

0 - In the entire history of the European Cup and Champions League, no team has ever won by three or more goals in the first leg of a knockout match away from home and failed to progress, going through on all 92 previous occasions. 

3- Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick is looking to become only the third manager in Champions League history to win his first five matches in charge, after Fabio Capello (first six with Milan in 1992-93) and Luis Fernandez (first six with PSG in 1994-95). 

Napoli will have to "climb Everest" if they are to overcome Barcelona in their Champions League last-16 tie this weekend, says Gennaro Gattuso.

Following a 1-1 draw in Italy back in February, Barca have a narrow advantage due to the away-goals rule ahead of the return game at Camp Nou on Saturday.

The Blaugrana have been disappointing since the restart – they surrendered a two-point lead in LaLiga to finish five adrift of eventual champions Real Madrid – leading to speculation over head coach Quique Setien's future.

However, Napoli boss Gattuso still considers overcoming Barca to reach the quarter-finals in Lisbon to be one of the toughest challenges his team could face.

"They are used to winning and I know that when you get used to winning you always want to do it. Tomorrow we have to climb Everest," Gattuso said on Friday.

"In recent months I have heard many jokes, like 'Barcelona are not in shape', but if you go and watch them there are some players who put on a show.

"We know it will be a very difficult match for us. We know what kind of team awaits us and we know we will have to make a great performance, both technically and tactically, and maybe that won't even be enough.

"We know we're facing great champions. You need a great game to come out with a good result."

Gattuso provided a positive update on the fitness of Lorenzo Insigne, who limped off during last weekend's victory over Lazio with a groin injury.

"Yesterday he trained at 50 per cent. Today he was at 100 per cent with the team," said Gattuso.

"I want to know he feels 100 per cent tomorrow. If he is not, he will not be on the pitch from the first minute. If he is at 100 per cent he will play and help us make a great game."

Quique Setien says the thought that Saturday's Champions League last-16 clash with Napoli could be his last as Barcelona head coach has not crossed his mind.

Setien only replaced Ernesto Valverde in January but has had to contend with questions about his future early in his reign.

The 61-year-old, who signed a two-and-a-half-year deal, insisted before Real Madrid were crowned LaLiga champions last month he "does not spend a minute" thinking about whether he could lose his job.

Barca and Napoli will do battle for a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League at Camp Nou in a tie locked at 1-1 after the first leg in February.

Setien says he has not even pondered whether he could be sacked if the Catalan giants crash out.

"It has not crossed my mind at any time that tomorrow is my last game. We have prepared for the game thinking that we are going to continue," he told the media on Friday.

Ousmane Dembele (hamstring) is not ready to return to face the Serie A side, but Antoine Griezmann (thigh) was named in the squad.

Setien feels Barca have benefited from a break following the conclusion of the domestic season.

He added: "When we finished the league, it was with a positive mindset. Both the players and myself needed a break because after so many consecutive matches it really took its toll on us.

"But I think now we have had sufficient time to prepare for this match; to recuperate physically, take a few days off and come back with a renewed energy that has allowed us to have some very good training sessions and prepare in the best way possible."

Setien says the Blaugrana are prepared to adapt if their game plan is not working in the decisive encounter.

He said: "We have thought about everything and assessed for a long time which was the best option to play this game. We have taken a variant that does not mean that we cannot change it at some point in the game.

"They are a team that can hurt us with the ball, combines well, has greatly improved in possession, is very disciplined defending. It will be a game with alternatives."

Sergio Busquets hopes Barcelona and Arthur come to a speedy resolution on the Brazil international's situation at Camp Nou.

Arthur has agreed to join Juventus at the end of the season in a deal worth €82million, with Miralem Pjanic heading the other way for a fee that could reach €65m.

The former Gremio midfielder has not featured for Barca since his transfer was announced in June and did not return to training following the conclusion of LaLiga.

Arthur has been left out of the Barcelona squad to face Napoli in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Saturday and is reported to be hoping to negotiate the termination of his contract.

"It was a surprise to everyone that Arthur did not return," said Busquets, who will be unavailable to face Napoli due to a suspension triggered by a booking in the 1-1 draw in the first leg.

"Arthur's situation has been difficult, but the only ones who know the situation are the player and the club.

"We know some of the news from what comes out, that he left and will now return, but we are on the sidelines and we hope they reach an agreement that will be the best for all.

"We will only focus on the game against Napoli."

Head coach Quique Setien said of Arthur: "I spoke with him before he left, the reality is that from then on I have not spoken to him again, what I have learned has been through the club. I would have liked it to be different, but I can't say anything else."

Barca held a two-point advantage at the top of LaLiga when the season was paused amid the coronavirus pandemic but ended up finishing five adrift of champions Real Madrid.

Captain Lionel Messi made it clear they needed to improve to have a chance of getting past Gennaro Gattuso's Napoli and held talks with Setien to clear the air ahead of the resumption of their European campaign.

Busquets said: "Everything that is discussed in the dressing room to improve is welcome. These weeks have been very good for us to train, to better plan the game tactically.

"We really want to be able to continue in this competition and be in the final eight, but first we have Napoli, who have a great coach and he's not going to make it easy for us."

It remains unclear whether Setien will still be at the helm for the start of the 2020-21 season, but Busquets believes it will be a positive sign for everyone at the club if he is retained.

"It's a decision for the club whether Setien continues or not," he said.

"If Setien continues it will be a good sign for everyone, but that should not worry us now."

Chelsea must pull off one of the greatest second-leg comebacks if their Champions League hopes are not to be killed off by Bayern Munich on Saturday.

There has been a spate of stunning salvage jobs in recent seasons that may give hope to Frank Lampard's side, who trail 3-0 from the first leg in London.

Nevertheless, Bayern start as firm favourites to clinch a place in the quarter-finals heading into the clash at the Allianz Arena.

Here is a look at games that may give Blues fans some hope as their team head to Germany.

2019: Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (4-3 on aggregate)

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool had been well beaten at Camp Nou, with the 3-0 scoreline flattering Barcelona but making the Catalans clear favourites to complete their semi-final task at Anfield.

Liverpool were without injured forwards Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino for the second leg, yet two goals each from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum saw the hosts defy the odds in sensational style.

Origi had the final word thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick thinking from a 79th-minute corner.

It meant a Barcelona side boasting Lionel Messi and former Liverpool stars Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez were left devastated, while Klopp's men celebrated reaching the Madrid final.

2019: Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (5-3 on aggregate)

Despite an impressive display in their 2-1 first-leg defeat, few thought Ajax could turn things around at the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid's Sergio Ramos certainly did not - he earned a first-leg booking to avoid the risk of a quarter-final ban, earning an extra-game suspension from UEFA in the process.

In the absence of their captain, Madrid capitulated against a fearless and thrilling Ajax. Hakim Ziyech and David Neres put the visitors 2-0 up after only 18 minutes and it was 3-0 just after the hour mark thanks to the inspired Dusan Tadic.

Marco Asensio got a goal back, but Lasse Schone's free-kick beat Thibaut Courtois and sent Madrid crashing out. It was the first time Madrid had ever been knocked out after winning the first leg of a Champions League tie, while Ajax would themselves be stung by a comeback in the semi-finals.

2019: Ajax 2-3 Tottenham (3-3 agg)

Ajax looked certain finalists when they extended their 1-0 first-leg lead to 3-0 in Amsterdam with first-half goals from Matthijs de Ligt and Ziyech.

Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs took inspiration from Liverpool's stunning fightback against Barcelona 24 hours earlier, though, and Lucas Moura stepped up to emerge as their hero.

The Brazilian winger was thrust into a central attacking role and scored an improbable hat-trick in the second half, the vital third goal coming deep into stoppage time, as Spurs won on away goals.

2018: Roma 3-0 Barcelona (4-4 agg)

Barcelona were stunned in the Italian capital as Roma completed one of the most unlikely quarter-final turnarounds.

Eusebio Di Francesco's side came back from a 4-1 first-leg deficit to progress to the last four on away goals after a thrilling 3-0 win in front of their home fans.

Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas secured the 4-4 aggregate draw and sent the Stadio Olimpico into raptures, as Barca fell to pieces.

2017: Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain (6-5 agg)

Before their humblings by Roma and Liverpool, Barcelona pulled off an astonishing Champions League comeback of their own, and the greatest so far in terms of the deficit overhauled.

Trailing 4-0 from the first leg of their last-16 tie with PSG, Suarez and Messi scored either side of a Layvin Kurzawa own goal, only for Edinson Cavani to grab what was expected to be the decisive away goal for the visitors.

However, two quickfire Neymar goals against his future club – the second a highly controversial penalty after an apparent Suarez dive – levelled the tie at 5-5.

Then, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Sergi Roberto struck to create a slice of Champions League history – no side had ever turned around a four-goal first-leg deficit before.

2004: Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 Milan (5-4 agg)

Deportivo were among Spain's major forces just after the turn of the century and one of their finest moments in Europe came in April 2004 when, despite being 4-1 down from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final with Milan, they stunned the Rossoneri at the Riazor.

Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque had Depor ahead on away goals before half-time, with veteran Fran Gonzalez scoring the fourth to make sure of their passage.

Depor were eliminated by eventual winners Porto in the semi-finals, but this comeback stood as arguably the very best in Champions League history until Barca went one better.

2000: Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea (aet, 6-4 agg)

This is not one Chelsea will remember fondly.

A 3-1 first-leg loss at Stamford Bridge – having trailed 3-0 – had Barca in danger of being on the wrong end of a major Champions League upset prior to Chelsea's Roman Abramovich era, but in the return match the Catalan giants showed their true class.

Tore Andre Flo's 60th-minute goal was sending Chelsea through despite Rivaldo and Luis Figo scoring before the break, but Dani Garcia headed home seven minutes from the end of regulation to force extra time.

Rivaldo atoned for an earlier missed penalty by converting from the spot after Celestine Babayaro was sent off and Patrick Kluivert finished the game off, crushing Chelsea's dreams.

Page 1 of 83
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.