Atletico Madrid deserve to win this season's Champions League after twice suffering heartbreak in the final, according to on-loan winger Yannick Carrasco.

Diego Simeone's side lost in extra-time in the 2013-14 showpiece and on penalties two years later, both times against city rivals Real Madrid.

Atleti knocked out holders Liverpool 4-2 on aggregate in March and now take on RB Leipzig in a one-legged quarter-final in Lisbon on Thursday.

And Carrasco, who scored against Madrid in the most recent of Atletico's final appearances, is hoping it can be third time lucky for his side in the condensed competition. Atleti also came second in the 1973-74 European Cup.

"It's true that Atletico deserve a Champions League after losing two finals in such difficult circumstances," he told Marca.

"After being ahead and conceding in the last minute in the first and then losing on penalties in the second, I think Atletico deserve to win this trophy.

"We respect RB Leipzig - they're a good, competitive team. They finished third in Germany, which means they're a good side. 

"It'll be a difficult match and we'll need to know how to hurt them to win the match."

Carrasco rejoined Atletico on loan in January, two years after leaving the club for Chinese side Dalian Pro, and has made 15 appearances in the second half of the season.

The Belgium international is due to return to Dalian later this month but has not ruled out staying at the Wanda Metropolitano beyond then.

"I'm here until the Champions League final," he said. "I don't know [if I'll stay longer] - it's not me you have to talk to about that.

"They're not questions for me, they're for Miguel Angel [Gil Marin, Atleti's CEO] or the Dalian owner. 

"I'm really happy here and it would be great to be able to stay for longer at Atletico, but you know that in negotiations I don't have the final say."

Julian Nagelsmann is confident RB Leipzig will not be impacted by news of positive coronavirus tests in the Atletico Madrid camp.

Atleti revealed on Sunday two individuals had returned positive tests, with the cases then confirmed to be first-team stars Angel Correa and Sime Vrsaljko.

Neither player will feature against Leipzig in their Champions League quarter-final in Lisbon on Thursday.

But Leipzig coach Nagelsmann is not concerned his team will be affected in any way by the issue ahead of a vital match.

"No, it doesn't affect our preparation for the game in any way," the former Hoffenheim boss said.

"We won't let this news get to us. We go into the week as normal and, as usual, focus our work on Thursday.

"In such cases, UEFA has clear protocols on what to do. The associations have been informed and the minutes are now ticking by.

"There are clear regulations and, if the two cases remain, I assume that there will be no consequences for the game on Thursday."

Midfielder Dani Olmo was also asked about the problem as he spoke to the media on Monday and said: "We are continuing as normal. We are now in Lisbon and we are preparing as before."

Olmo added of facing Atleti: "We know Atletico are a very strong team. They show that every year in the league and in the Champions League.

"But we will focus on our game. We know we have a good chance of going through. Of course, we expect a strong opponent. It's going to be tough, but we'll do our best."

Andrea Pirlo is lucky to be starting his coaching career at Juventus, according to Roberto Mancini, but the Italy boss believes the club have made a good call.

Pirlo was appointed as Juve's new head coach on Saturday, a matter of hours after Maurizio Sarri was relieved of his duties.

Sarri led Juve to a ninth straight Serie A crown this season, but failed to improve their standing in the Champions League as they headed out on the away goals rule against Lyon in the last 16 on Friday.

The role is Pirlo's first as a coach and while Mancini feels the Italy great is fortunate to have landed such a high-profile job, he thinks it will prove to be an astute appointment.

"I did not expect Juventus to go out [of the Champions League]," Mancini told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I was sure they would have advanced.

"But it was a terrible, unpredictable and difficult year. Especially for those who have made changes, like Juve. Sarri wasn't able to bring through his football.

"[Pirlo] is lucky. He starts from the top and with the best team. Maybe I didn't start from the bottom, but I started at Fiorentina, not with Juve.

"Jokes aside, if I was searching, I would have been looking at Andrea. He has great knowledge of football. Like [Daniele] De Rossi. I would have liked to work with him.

"There's always a first time. Andrea opens up a new path. Let's follow him. Good luck to him."

With Juve and Napoli exiting the Champions League in the last 16, only one Italian side – Atalanta – remain in the competition.

They go up against Paris Saint-Germain in the last eight and Mancini believes Atalanta can play with full confidence against the Ligue 1 champions.

"Let's calm down and think of PSG, who are a great team and have more experience," Mancini said.

"They are certainly not at the top. They have lost [Edinson] Cavani, will not have [Angel] Di Maria, [Marco] Verratti, [Kylian] Mbappe and some others who are in doubt.

"Their championship was stopped in March, but regardless of this, Atalanta have every right to play the quarter-final with confidence."

Atletico Madrid have revealed Angel Correa and Sime Vrsaljko returned positive coronavirus tests and will play no part in the Champions League quarter-final with RB Leipzig. 

The Spanish side announced two COVID-19 cases on Sunday but did not disclose the identity of the individuals, or even specify if they were members of Diego Simeone's playing squad. 

However, Atleti have now confirmed forward Correa and right-back Vrsaljko have tested positive. The pair are self-isolating at home. 

As per UEFA demands, all other first-team members and coaching staff underwent tests on Monday and there are no new cases. 

Atletico will resume training ahead of flying out to Lisbon for Thursday's one-legged tie against Leipzig.

Correa has made 44 appearances in all competitions this season, including playing eight times in the Champions League, while Vrsaljko has been used sparingly and has been nursing a knee injury. 

Paris Saint-Germain's players are motivated to create history by winning this season's Champions League, according to midfielder Pablo Sarabia.

The French giants have previously won the Cup Winners' Cup and Intertoto Cup but have never made it beyond the semi-final stage of UEFA's showpiece competition.

Having already wrapped up a domestic treble this term, PSG now turn focus to Wednesday's one-legged Champions League quarter-final with Atalanta in Lisbon.

But while Sarabia is out to write his name in club folklore, he acknowledges that overcoming free-scoring Atalanta - who finished third in Serie A - will be a big task.

"It's a great opportunity. We will try to make it a reality and to make the history of Paris Saint-Germain," he told the club's official website.

"I think now is a great time to do it. We've been focused on this for quite some time now. We will have to be ready. 

"We will thoroughly study our opponent and perform well to be able to make history. I think we are ready for this game which is very important. We are really motivated.

"Atalanta are a good team. They showed they could play, do a lot of pressing. Up front they have great players who can score a lot of goals. 

"What we will try to do with our weapons and our football is to neutralise our opponents' strengths and demonstrate our own."

In wake of the coronavirus pandemic, this year's knockout stages are unique given the condensed tournament will be staged on neutral territory from the quarter-finals onwards with each match played over one leg.

Either RB Leipzig or Atletico Madrid await in the semis should PSG see off Atalanta and Sarabia believes the new format may suit his side thanks to their success in one-off ties.

"We have adapted to the situation. It's unique because we're going to play all the games in one place, in one game, which has never happened before," he said.

"One of the challenges for all teams will be to adapt well. The more this will be the case, the more they will perform in the competition. 

"We have just played two finals which were hotly contested. We tried to play our best football and stay together as a team. We also had to use our experience. 

"Now we are naturally very motivated and full of hope for what will follow, namely the Champions League. It's the biggest competition, the one everyone wants to win."

PSG had a near five-month gap between competitive matches before beating Saint-Etienne 1-0 in the Coupe de France final on July 24.

Thomas Tuchel's men, who are sweating on the fitness of star striker Kylian Mbappe, followed up that victory with a penalty shoot-out triumph over Lyon in the Coupe de la Ligue final a week later.

Sarabia is happy with PSG's preparation heading into the showdown with Atalanta, adding: "Little by little, we have improved physically. 

"It is true that the preparation is a long time, but we are gradually improving. We have gained confidence and accumulated playing time, which has helped us to improve. 

"I think it's a good time for us. We have to go step by step. We all think of Wednesday's game. It's the game that counts now, the most important of the season."

Atletico Madrid have announced two cases of COVID-19 have been detected at the club ahead of their Champions League trip to Lisbon.

The Spanish outfit did not disclose the identity of the individuals or specify whether they were members of Diego Simeone's playing squad.

In a club statement, Atletico said all first-team players, and everyone connected with the club who intended to travel to Lisbon, underwent coronavirus tests on Saturday.

That was in line with UEFA demands ahead of Atletico's quarter-final match against RB Leipzig, which is scheduled to be played on Thursday.

Lisbon will also stage the semi-finals and final of the competition.

"Among the results known today, two positives have appeared," Atletico said.

The club said both individuals concerned were now isolating at home, adding that health authorities in Spain and Portugal had been informed, along with UEFA, the Spanish and Portuguese football federations and Spain's National Sports Council.

Further coronavirus tests will have to take place and the results be known before the team can depart, with Atletico saying the two positives will mean their plans for training, along with travel and accommodation in the Portuguese capital, would need to be adjusted.

"The club will coordinate the new schedules with UEFA and as soon as there is a new plan it will be made public," Atletico announced. "We also request the utmost respect for the identity of the two positive cases."

Atletico said they had been carrying out weekly tests on players and those closely connected with the first team since the end of the LaLiga season, with negatives for two successive weeks before the untimely positive results emerged.

Atletico Madrid may be one of the best teams in Europe but RB Leipzig have the talent to match them in their Champions League quarter-final, according to Kevin Kampl.

Having twice lost finals in the competition during Diego Simeone's reign, Atleti will hope to finally get their hands on the famous trophy as the knockout stages are completed in Portugal.

The LaLiga club ended Liverpool's title defence in the previous round but must now get past a Leipzig side who also knocked out English opponents to reach the last eight, impressively putting out Tottenham 4-0 on aggregate.

Leipzig midfielder Kampl knows Atleti will be tough to beat, considering their reputation for being strong defensively, but believes there is no real favourite ahead of Thursday's meeting.

"Atletico Madrid have been one of the best teams in Europe for years. They have a lot of experience on the field and have already made it to the final in recent seasons," he told the media.

"Even if they haven't won the title yet, we know that this team is of high quality. We also know that they defend very well and have an extremely good counter-attack and know how to use their phases of possession. Often a 1-0 win is enough for them.

"We have a great squad and are in no way inferior to Atletico's quality. We are always dangerous for goals, no matter what formation we play with or who will be on the pitch.

"In addition, we are all aware of this great opportunity that is presented to us here. Everyone will tear themselves apart to win and advance to the semi-finals. There is no real favourite on Thursday."

Leipzig will need to find a way to beat Jan Oblak, a goalkeeper Kampl knows all about from their time playing together for Slovenia.

The 29-year-old is full of praise for his compatriot, rating him "one of the best in the world" ahead of the clash to decide who will progress through to a semi-final against Paris Saint-Germain or Atalanta.

"Of course, I know Jan from my time with the Slovenia national team. He is a really outstanding keeper and for me is one of the best in the world," Kampl said.

"He has already achieved a lot in his career and he still has enormous potential. We actually have still been in contact now and then.

"We exchanged a few messages before we arrived and I'm looking forward to seeing him on the pitch on Thursday."

Harry Winks wants Tottenham to shed the inconsistency that has left them casting an envious eye at Europe's elite.

After four consecutive years of Champions League football, Spurs will drop into the Europa League next season, a blow to a club with grand ambitions.

That is the consequence of finishing sixth in the Premier League, with Tottenham's modest total of 59 points their lowest since the 2008-09 campaign.

It was small consolation that they finished above rivals Arsenal, but the Gunners' FA Cup final victory over Chelsea meant it was they who finished the season with north London bragging rights.

Spurs and their head coach Jose Mourinho will expect to deliver more next season, and England international Winks says it will be important to start strongly.

The objective will be another top-four finish to secure a place in the 2021-22 Champions League.

"We need to have a better season, in our opinion, it's been a bit up and down, a bit inconsistent," Winks said on the club's official website.

"We started to find a bit of rhythm in the last few weeks and started to get a good run of results, so let's hope we can take that into next season and get a bit of consistency, build up a bit of confidence and finish where we deserve to finish and where we believe we should be finishing, and that's in the top four."

Paulo Dybala tweeted out his appreciation for Maurizio Sarri the day after the Italian coach was sacked by Juventus.

The Serie A champions decided to take swift action following Friday's Champions League exit to Lyon, announcing the end of Sarri's reign less than 24 hours after the second leg of the last-16 tie.

Juve did not wait long to name his replacement either, giving the job to Andrea Pirlo just over a week after appointing the former Italy international as their new under-23 team coach.

The internal promotion came as a surprise too, considering links to former Juve player and current Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, ex-Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino and Simone Inzaghi, who is in charge of domestic rivals Lazio.

Reacting to the departure of Sarri, Dybala published a picture on Twitter of the pair together with the comment: "Thank you so much for everything Mister!"

Argentina international Dybala enjoyed an excellent 2019-20 season under the former Napoli and Chelsea boss, scoring 11 goals and providing six assists in the league as the Bianconeri finished top of the table for a ninth successive year.

Dybala - who was linked with a move away from Turin last year, including to Manchester United - was named Serie A MVP for his performances in domestic games, including Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana games.

Julian Nagelsmann has revealed he turned down an offer from Real Madrid as it was not the right step for his career.

Then at Hoffenheim, Nagelsmann was on a shortlist of candidates to replace Zinedine Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2018, but Julen Lopetegui was eventually appointed to the post. 

Lopetegui's tenure ended in October that year, however, while Santiago Solari also having a brief spell in charge before Zidane returned in March 2019.

Nagelsmann, meanwhile, opted to join RB Leipzig, taking charge in 2019 and guiding the side to a third-placed finish in the Bundesliga. The 33-year-old has confirmed he decided against joining Madrid, as he thought he was not yet ready to take on a job of such magnitude. 

"We had phone calls, but in the end the one who decided was me," Nagelsmann told Marca ahead of Leipzig's Champions League quarter-final with Atletico Madrid.  

"I believed that it was still not the right step to go to Real Madrid. I was one of the candidates and the list was not very long.  

"For me, it was very important. I had a good chat with [Madrid general director] Jose Angel Sanchez and we decided that it was still not the right step.  

"We agreed that we could talk again in the future if Real Madrid needed a coach, and if I was available." 

Nagelsmann added that Leipzig provided the ideal platform for him to develop as a coach. 

"I wanted the next step to be logical. I try to plan a career in football, even if it is difficult," he said. 

"I'm a young boy, I don't have to go to the top shelf right away either. I give myself time to develop. Leipzig went to great lengths to sign me. That was the most important thing. 

"Relatively fast I had an offer on the table. We had good conversations and I saw that it was a good next step. A bigger club, with a bigger budget than Hoffenheim, which would allow me to continue developing.  

"They have also given me a free hand to introduce my ideas. I do not have to permanently justify what I do, but I have the possibility to evolve and transfer my ideas to the field of play.  

"It was a good next step in my career to prepare myself and in the future, maybe."

David Alaba is refusing to be distracted by questions over his future and said Bayern Munich are travelling to Lisbon for their Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona with nothing to fear.

Versatile Austria defender Alaba is yet to commit to a new contract at the Allianz Arena, with his deal set to expire next year.

Manchester City, coached by former Bayern boss Pep Guardiola, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid are among the illustrious clubs linked to Alaba's signature.

Bayern have been increasingly confident of retaining Alaba's services, though, and the player himself is focused only on Die Roten's bid for Champions League glory in Portugal this month.

"My focus is on the next few weeks and that's why I don't let anything else distract me," he said when asked about his future.

Alaba was part of the Bayern side that routed Chelsea 4-1 on Saturday to earn a 7-1 aggregate triumph in their last-16 tie, which was completed over five months after it started.

Next up is a quarter-final date with Barca, who were inspired by Lionel Messi in getting past Napoli and into the last eight.

Alaba acknowledges the competition is about to crank up a notch but says Bayern can approach the task with confidence.

"I think it will be even more intense in the next few weeks and that's why we want to prepare well in Portugal so that we're ready," he added.

"The anticipation is huge, of course. Barcelona have a good team, we are aware of that, with very good, individual players, but we want to counter that and go to Portugal with confidence. We need each other, [we cannot] hide."

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 warned Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo that his illustrious playing career will count for little in his new job.

Pirlo, who has not had a coaching job and only took over as Juve's Under-23s boss last week, was handed the reins in Turin on Saturday in the wake of Maurizio Sarri's dismissal.

The former midfielder – who won four Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia and two Supercoppa Italiana during a four-year spell with Juve – has signed a two-year deal.

However, Gattuso, who played alongside Pirlo at Milan and for Italy, provided an honest assessment of the job's difficulties for his former team-mate.

"Well he's screwed now… That's the job," Gattuso told Sky Italia following Napoli's defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League.

"He's lucky to be starting at Juventus, but this profession is one where a great playing career is not enough.

"You have to study, to work hard, and you don't get much sleep."

Gattuso's first job in coaching came at FC Sion, with the 42-year-old then having spells at Palermo, OFI Crete and Pisa before he took charge of Milan's youth team in 2017.

He was promoted to first-team head coach following Vincenzo Montella's sacking later that year, though he was dismissed at the end of the 2018-19 campaign after a fifth-placed finish, going on to replace Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli, who he guided to the Coppa Italia title this term.

"Being a player and being a coach is really not the same thing at all," Gattuso added.

"It's a totally different profession and we can't learn it just from books, we need to get in there and work hard. It's a different world."

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien thinks they had their Champions League last-16 second leg against Napoli under perfect control - even though he was feeling nervous on the touchline.

Goals from Clement Lenglet, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez secured a 3-1 win for Barca at Camp Nou on Saturday and a 4-2 aggregate victory.

Barca were 3-0 up and had another goal through Messi disallowed for handball in the first half, and although Lorenzo Insigne's penalty shortly before the interval gave Napoli some hope, they could not find a way back into the contest against a resilient Blaugrana.

Barca have endured nightmarish second-leg losses to Liverpool and Roma in the past two seasons, so Setien was particularly pleased with the manner of their performance when under pressure from Napoli, even if he could not always keep his anxiety in check.

"It was what we were looking for, to take the first step and to wait for the rest of the games with the same excitement with which we faced this one," he told Movistar.

"We were very good and we deserved the victory.

"It's true they had us compromised in the opening minutes. Napoli are a really good team - it's not easy to do what we've done. They're one of the best teams in Italy.

"We controlled it perfectly, we had a really good first half and in the second they were more in charge but they still didn't put us in much danger.

"A second goal would have given them a boost that could have threatened us. It's normal to be a little bit nervous, of course."

Messi took a heavy kick to his calf in winning a penalty against Kalidou Koulibaly, but Setien is confident he will be fit to face Bayern Munich, who destroyed Chelsea 7-1 on aggregate, in next week's quarter-final.

"He took a strong hit, but he looks okay. It'll need treatment but I don't think it'll be a problem," he said of Messi.

"It'll be a really tough game. They have gone through a tie with a six-goal margin. They are an amazing team and it'll be a great game."

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."

Page 1 of 72
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.