Paulo Dybala to Paris Saint-Germain?

Dybala, previously linked to Manchester United, Tottenham and PSG, is reportedly facing an uncertain future in Turin.

Juventus could be prepared to exchange players with PSG.

 

TOP STORY – DYBALA OUT, ICARDI IN?

Juventus are considering a swap deal that would send Paulo Dybala to Paris Saint-Germain in exchange for Mauro Icardi, according to Calciomercato.

Dybala has struggled for form in 2020-21, while contract negotiations with Serie A champions Juve have so far proved fruitless.

Icardi was linked to Juve prior to joining Ligue 1 holders PSG permanently from Inter and the Argentina forward could swap clubs with Dybala.

 

ROUND-UP

- TodoFichajes says Arsenal are set to make an offer for RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. Leipzig centre-back and team-mate Dayot Upamecano has dominated headlines amid links to the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but Konate is also attracting interest.

Juve are eyeing a move for Atletico Madrid centre-back Stefan Savic, reports Calciomercato. Savic has also been linked to Inter.

- A Bola claims Premier League champions Liverpool are interested in signing Sporting CP left-back Nuno Mendes.

Raul Jimenez to Inter? Calciomercato says Inter could replace Lautaro Martinez with the Wolves star. Martinez has been linked to Barca and Manchester City.

Bayern Munich star Thomas Muller surprisingly referenced Stoke City after the Bundesliga champions defeated Stuttgart 3-1.

Kingsley Coman, Robert Lewandowski and Douglas Costa scored following Tanguy Coulibaly's opener as Bayern overcame hosts Stuttgart on Saturday.

Bayern claimed their 65th Bundesliga win against Stuttgart, while the titleholders have now conceded at least one goal in seven consecutive games in all competitions for the first time under head coach Hansi Flick.

After Bayern stayed two points clear atop the table, Muller referenced the term "can they do it on a cold rainy night in Stoke" – an expression made famous by commentator Andy Gray in 2010-11.

Muller – via BT Sport – said: "How do the British people say it? You have to show it on a windy night in Stoke?

"Today it was not windy and Stuttgart is not Stoke but Stuttgart is a team that plays very well in the last few weeks.

"We knew that today it could be tough. We didn't have a good start in the first half, we hit the post and then we [conceded] the goal.

"But we turned it around, put everything in that we had and we won.

"It's ok that we won but you are right when you say it was tough. It was not our best performance and not our easiest style of football.

"But in the end it was three points in the pocket and the show must go on."

Bayern have scored 31 goals in the first nine games of the season, matching the Bundesliga record set by Eintracht Frankfurt in 1974-75.

Costa scored his first Bundesliga goal since March 2017, having re-joined Bayern from Juventus at the start of the season. It was already the fifth Bayern goal scored by a substitute – a league high.

Bayern Munich are top of the Bundesliga but coach Hansi Flick does not feel his side are worthy of any style points, joking their current form will not see them receive a "beauty award". 

The champions returned to winning ways in the Bundesliga on Saturday following last weekend's draw with Werder Bremen, coming from behind to beat Stuttgart 3-1 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. 

Tanguy Coulibaly handed the hosts a 20th-minute lead with his first professional goal but Bayern stormed back to claim all three points through fine strikes from Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski before the break and a late third from Douglas Costa.

Stuttgart had 15 shots on goal to Bayern's 13 and caused problems throughout for a side they have now lost to in all but one of their 20 competitive matches. 

The result moves Bayern two points clear at the summit following Borussia Dortmund's home defeat to Cologne, yet Flick still wants to see more from his side. 

"We all know that we are currently not getting a beauty award," he told a media conference. 

"So, it was very important today that we found our way back into the game after falling behind and took the points back to Munich. But we also know that we can play a lot better.

"I know that the team is at the limit right now."

At the heart of Bayern's win was a dominant display in midfield by Leon Gortezka. 

Starting his sixth Bundesliga game of the season, the former Schalke man completed 90.9 per cent of his passes - making him the most accurate outfield starter on the pitch - and made four interceptions and 11 possession gains, with both of those tallies the highest of any Bayern player. 

Flick has been impressed with the 25-year-old's leadership qualities and believes he has been a superb deputy for Joshua Kimmich, who suffered a knee injury against Dortmund earlier this month that will keep him out of action until 2021.

"He is currently a player in midfield who is helping to compensate for Joshua Kimmich's absence," the Bayern boss added. 

"He is loud and takes the team with him. These are the things I like. He is currently in the process of showing his leadership qualities again and again in the game."

Bayern Munich returned to winning ways in the Bundesliga as goals from Kingsley Coman, Robert Lewandowski and Douglas Costa sealed a 3-1 victory over Stuttgart on Saturday.

The champions were held to a 1-1 draw by Werder Bremen last weekend and although normal service was resumed at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, they did not have it all their own way against Pellegrino Matarazzo's side. 

Stuttgart could easily have added to Tanguy Coulibaly's opener midway through the first half but Hansi Flick's men powered back to claim maximum points through fine strikes from Coman and Lewandowski before the break and a late third from Douglas.

The result means Bayern have won 26 of their last 29 top-flight games and helped them open a two-point lead at the Bundesliga summit after Borussia Dortmund dropped points at home to Cologne.

Bayern, who hit the post through Lewandowksi after three minutes, fell behind in the 20th minute when Manuel Neuer failed to cut out Silas Wamangituka's low cross, allowing Coulibaly to slot home his first ever professional goal.

Philipp Forster twice came close to extending the hosts' lead soon after, clipping narrowly past the post from close range and then firing straight at Neuer after being played clean through.

Those misses came back to haunt Stuttgart, with Bayern drawing level seven minutes before the interval when Coman tucked into the bottom-left corner after a flowing counter-attacking move.

Forster then had an effort ruled out after Coulibaly had fouled Neuer before Lewandowski put Bayern ahead in first-half stoppage time, the Poland international drilling past Gregor Kobel from just outside the penalty area.

The game slowed down dramatically after the restart, with the next sight of goal not coming until the 72nd minute when Orel Mangala's attempt was deflected narrowly wide.

Waldemar Anton and Mateo Klimowicz then went close for Stuttgart but Douglas ensured a 19th win in 20 games for Bayern over their hosts three minutes from time, clipping into the bottom corner from 15 yards for his first goal since returning to the club on loan from Juventus.

Hansi Flick feels Bayern Munich's play has become increasingly sloppy despite the treble winners this week advancing through their Champions League group.

Bayern beat Salzburg 3-1 on Wednesday, riding out Marc Roca's red card, to reach the last 16 with two matches to spare.

The Bundesliga giants are the top scorers in Europe's elite club competition with 15 goals this season, but the opposite end of the pitch is occupying coach Flick's focus.

While Bayern are yet to commit an error leading to a goal in either the Bundesliga or the Champions League this season, two mistakes in their past three matches across the two competitions have prompted opposition chances.

Flick's side are still performing better in this regard than last season, with six errors leading to shots and one to a goal in the Bundesliga following his appointment and five attempts and one goal following mistakes over the same stretch in Europe.

But a careless trend is still concerning the Bayern boss, who has seen the team's passing accuracy in their own half drop from 94.7 per cent in the Champions League last term to 90.9 per cent this season, leaving an unprepared defence vulnerable.

"When we have the ball, we make too many mistakes," Flick told reporters ahead of Saturday's Bundesliga clash with Stuttgart. "Nobody expects a bad pass, which means that you position yourself differently.

"We have to play more patiently from time to time and get more pressure on the ball. The defence, like the attack, is a team effort; everyone has to participate.

"It is clear that the concentration is not always at 100 per cent with so many.

"But we win the games. We have to make sure that we can get a grip on the few things that we don't do well, study the analysis and give the players solutions for the Stuttgart game."

Niklas Sule has been a reliable performer for Bayern when on the pitch, making just one error leading to a shot in the Bundesliga since his 2017 signing.

But the Germany international has too often been absent in recent seasons, playing just eight league matches in 2019-20 after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. He has made four appearances in the competition this term but missed another stretch after contracting coronavirus.

Sule sat out the Salzburg game but was expected back against Stuttgart as he builds fitness. His status is still uncertain, however.

"After the final training session, we will decide who goes to Stuttgart with us," Flick said. "I've said everything to [Sule]. We have to work through the reasons with him as a coaching team.

"He has enormous quality and gets all the help he needs. He has to fulfil his potential and, for that, he needs the necessary fitness.

"[Benjamin] Pavard will be in the squad. [Corentin] Tolisso will be there, too; he has trained well. Everything else will be seen after the final training session."

Bayern are a point clear of Borussia Dortmund through eight games in the Bundesliga but will see their squad tested between now and Christmas, playing every midweek until the mid-season break.

"There is no alternative [but to accept it]," said Flick. "Of course, there are a few players missing, but we still have good depth in the squad.

"Things were clearly recognised and improved [in the transfer window]; Hasan [Salihamidzic, sporting director] did very well.

"We want to win the games. For this, it is important that we accept it. Only the team that accepts the circumstances and adapts best will be successful."

Hansi Flick has described Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer as an "insane professional" after his superb display in Wednesday's 3-1 Champions League win over Salzburg. 

Robert Lewandowski, Kingsley Coman and Leroy Sane netted for Bayern, who had Marc Roca sent off midway through the second half, while Mergim Berisha pulled one back for the visitors with 17 minutes of normal time remaining.

The result helped Bayern to a fourth win out of four in Group A and sealed their progression to the last 16 as group winners with two games remaining. 

It could have been a different outcome had it not been for the heroics of Neuer, though – the Germany international making 10 saves to deny the Austrians, with his finest moment coming in the form of a superb double stop to deny Berisha and Enock Mwepu.

It was the latest in a string of impressive displays from Neuer, with head coach Flick quick to hail the 34-year-old's dedication to his craft. 

"Manu has been playing sensationally for over a year," he told Sky Sport. "With him, the goal for the striker is getting smaller and smaller. 

"He is in the form of his life. He is an insane professional and very focused on his job."

Bayern never hit the heights of their 6-2 drubbing of Salzburg in the reverse fixture three weeks ago, allowing their opponents 19 attempts on goal in a display characterised by sloppy defending. 

Flick was not impressed by his side's inability to keep hold of the ball but he refused to be too hard on his players, who he says improved after the interval. 

"We made our way a little difficult because we lost a lot of balls," he added. "The ball losses must not happen like this. That is insecurity and recklessness. Of course, we have personnel problems at the moment.

"It got better in the second half. I'm satisfied with the efficiency and, of course, we have a world-class goalkeeper at the back."

Neuer agreed with Flick's assessment that Bayern lost possession too easily, but he believes it is important to remember they achieved their objective of qualifying for the last 16.

"We have conceded too many goals recently," he said. "It was, of course, also down to the opponents. We played against a strong team. We lost the ball too easily and that hurt us. 

"For me, it is important that we won today and are group winners. You do what you can."

Robert Lewandowski moved level with Raul as the Champions League's third-highest scorer as Bayern Munich booked their spot in the last 16 with a 3-1 win over Salzburg on Wednesday. 

Poland international Lewandowski plundered his 71st goal in the competition shortly before half-time to set Hansi Flick's men on their way to a fourth win out of four and qualification as Group A winners.

A Maximilian Wober own goal doubled their advantage shortly after the restart before Marc Roca was dismissed for a second yellow card in the 66th minute. 

Leroy Sane added a third soon after before Mergim Berisha pulled one back for the visitors late on as Bayern moved onto 12 points, seven ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid with two games remaining.

Serge Gnabry came close to a stunning opener after 10 minutes, but his volley from the edge of the penalty flashed narrowly wide of Cican Stankovic's left-hand post.

Dominik Szoboszlai spurned a glorious opportunity to put the visitors ahead 10 minutes before the interval, the Hungarian blazing wildly over with only Manuel Neuer to beat after being put through by Berisha.

Bayern duly punished him shortly before the interval, Lewandowski slotting home after Stankovic had parried Thomas Muller's effort into his path.

The holders went 2-0 up seven minutes after the restart when Kingsley Coman's low effort from the edge of the penalty area was diverted past Stankovic via the outstretched foot of Wober.

Roca, making just his second start of the season, saw red in the 66th minute after receiving a second caution but Sane added a third two minutes later when he headed home Coman's cross from six yards. 

Neuer made a wonderful double save from Berisha and Enock Mwepu before the former scored a 73rd-minute consolation, sliding home Rasmus Kristensen's low cross from close range.

Robert Lewandowski is among the leading contenders for The Best FIFA Men's Player in 2020 after he was named among 11 nominees on Wednesday.

The Bayern Munich superstar fired his side to the treble in 2019-20 and has continued his outstanding form at the start of the new season.

With no Ballon d'Or this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, FIFA's award represents Lewandowski's best chance of recognition for a standout year.

He has tough competition in the form of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and four Liverpool players, but the 32-year-old must surely be considered the frontrunner.

Lewandowski's potential success in this category would be built on Bayern's Champions League triumph and Opta data in that competition since the start of last season helps make his case.

LEADING THE WAY

Virgil van Dijk ran Messi close in 2019, but this year's top honour surely belongs to an attacker - particularly with the Liverpool centre-back and Sergio Ramos playing just eight and seven games respectively over this span due to injury and suspension.

Lewandowski is therefore the obvious choice. He has scored 17 goals in 13 games; for contrast, Messi has six goals and Ronaldo five.

The Poland international has benefited from playing at the forefront of a brilliant team, however, and has had by far the most shots of any player in this time.

His 63 attempts outperform Messi's second-placed 48 by 15. Ronaldo is third with 47, with the leading five shot-takers all nominated as Mohamed Salah (42) and Kylian Mbappe (41) are next on that list.

But Lewandowski has made the most of these opportunities, hitting the target 36 times - another high.

The striker's shot conversion rate of 27.0 per cent far outstrips Salah (14.3 per cent), Neymar (13.3 per cent), Sadio Mane (12.5 per cent), Messi (also 12.5 per cent), Mbappe (12.2 per cent) and Ronaldo (10.6 per cent).

For balance, Ramos is the leading scorer among defenders in this period, netting three goals.

MISSED THE CUT

Although Thiago Alcantara, who has since departed for Liverpool, was included, it was perhaps slightly surprising to see only two members of Bayern's treble-winning team make the list.

The players who created Lewandowski's opportunities went unrewarded.

Joshua Kimmich has a joint-high seven assists and has created the most chances of any player with 38. Thomas Muller played 31 key passes.

Similarly, at Paris Saint-Germain, where Neymar and Mbappe are considered, Angel Di Maria supplied six assists, 24 chances and 12 big chances.

One admission who will surely make the cut in the years to come is Erling Haaland, widely considered the heir to Lewandowski's crown as the Bundesliga's leading marksman.

The 20-year-old Borussia Dortmund man, who was named the 2020 Golden Boy, is the only player to come close to Lewandowski's level of productivity in the Champions League.

Despite playing the first half of last season at Salzburg, who did not qualify from their group, Haaland has 16 goals in just 12 games.

Serge Gnabry, another team-mate of Lewandowski's, is third for goals behind the pair but has a relatively modest nine.

Of Haaland's 40 shots, 24 have hit the target - a tally beaten only by Lewandowski and matched by Messi (from eight more attempts). A shot conversion rate of 40 per cent is the best mark of any player with 40 or more shots.

This might well be Lewandowski's year, but the future is not far away.

Marcelo Bielsa has been nominated for The Best FIFA Men's Coach, but Pep Guardiola will not contest the award this year.

Bielsa guided Leeds United back to the Premier League last season after 16 years outside the top flight.

The former Argentina coach has since overseen a solid start to the new campaign in the Premier League, securing draws against Manchester City and Arsenal.

And Bielsa has been rewarded for his achievement with recognition from FIFA.

The 65-year-old made a five-man FIFA shortlist for the world's leading coach in 2020, joining Bayern Munich's Champions League winner Hansi Flick and Liverpool's Premier League champion Jurgen Klopp among the contenders.

Zinedine Zidane is also in the running after Real Madrid won LaLiga, while Sevilla's Europa League triumph sees Julen Lopetegui included.

But there is no room for City boss Guardiola, who came second to Klopp in 2019.

City failed to defend their Premier League title, finishing 18 points behind Liverpool, and they are already eight points off the pace - albeit with a game in hand - down in 13th place this season.

Guardiola's wait for a first Champions League triumph away from Barcelona also went on as they were stunned by Lyon in the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, Luis Suarez and Son Heung-min are among the frontrunners for the latest FIFA Puskas Award.

Atletico Madrid forward Suarez netted an exquisite backheel for former club Barcelona at the end of a team move against Real Mallorca, while Tottenham's Son tore through the Burnley defence for an individual effort.

The winners of all prizes - including The Best FIFA Men's Player, for which Robert Lewandowski is the favourite - will be revealed at The Best FIFA Football Awards ceremony on December 17.

Neither Inter nor Real Madrid have room for error as they face one another in the Champions League on Wednesday.

A mammoth meeting at San Siro could set one of the two European giants on course for an early exit, with both sides currently outside the qualification places.

Champions Bayern Munich are also in action, as are Liverpool, who host Atalanta after a thumping win in Italy last time out.

Atletico Madrid had a big win at the weekend as Manchester City suffered a disappointing defeat, but both now likewise turn their attention to continental competition.

We preview all of these games plus the rest of Wednesday's action with the help of Opta data.
 

Inter v Real Madrid: Los Blancos seeking breakthrough success

At risk of going winless through their opening four games of a Champions League campaign for the first time, Inter at least have a strong record at home to Real Madrid. Los Blancos have won three of their past four games against Inter but never away from home.

Madrid have enjoyed taking on Serie A sides in recent years, though. They have seven wins from eight such games under Zinedine Zidane, scoring at least twice in each victory, while their sole defeat in this period - 3-1 against Juventus in 2017-18 - was still enough to secure progress en route to the title.

Zidane's side - missing captain Sergio Ramos - must handle Romelu Lukaku, who has been involved in 15 goals (11 scored, four assisted) in the Europa League and Champions League across the past two seasons. Excluding qualifiers, only Robert Lewandowski (22 involvements) has outperformed the Inter forward.

Bayern Munich v Salzburg: Goals galore guaranteed?

Robert Lewandowski will climb to joint-third on the list of all-time Champions League goalscorers the next time he finds the net, increasing his tally of 70 to match Madrid great Raul's 71.

The Bayern number nine might well fancy his chances against Salzburg, who have conceded a joint-high 11 goals in the competition this season. Their games have produced 17 goals - more than any other team's.

Salzburg certainly face a tough ask, having lost all of their previous five Champions League meetings with reigning champions - including the 6-2 defeat at home to Bayern on matchday three when they conceded six goals for the first time in a European match while the German giants claimed a 14th straight win.

Liverpool v Atalanta: Goal-hungry visitors out for revenge

Another fixture that would appear primed for plenty of goalmouth action sees Atalanta visit Liverpool, having suffered two of their three heaviest defeats in European competition - 5-1 v City last season, 5-0 v Liverpool last time out - against Premier League sides.

Atalanta failed to score on matchday three but had netted in their previous 10 in the Champions League, while they have won their past three away games, scoring at least three times in each, since the City reverse.

Liverpool are looking for four consecutive victories in the Champions League for the first time since March 2009 and can call again on Diogo Jota, who netted a hat-trick in Bergamo and would become the fastest Reds player to five goals in the competition if he scored again in his fourth match.

Olympiacos v Manchester City: Torres, De Bruyne and defence on top form

City are struggling in the Premier League but have quickly found their feet in Europe this season. The same is true of Ferran Torres, who will aim to become the third City player to score in four consecutive Champions League matches after Raheem Sterling (November 2017) and Sergio Aguero (March 2019).

Torres' goal in the previous meeting with Olympiacos was assisted by Kevin De Bruyne, who already has four assists in the Champions League this term - his best ever tally.

Crucially, Pep Guardiola's defenders are also delivering on the European stage and they can win three in a row without conceding in major continental competition for the first time since the 1969-70 Cup Winners' Cup.

 

Other fixtures:

Borussia Monchengladbach v Shakhtar Donetsk

29 - Heading into matchday four, Gladbach had the highest shot conversion rate of any team in the Champions League this season (29 per cent - 10 goals from 35 shots).

6 - With three goals and three assists, Alassane Plea has been involved in six of his side's 10 goals - the joint-highest tally in a player's first three appearances in the competition since 2003-04 (also Adriano for Inter in 2004 and Erling Haaland for Salzburg in 2019).

Ajax v Midtjylland

1 - Ajax have only won one of their past eight home games in the Champions League (D2 L5), losing each of their most recent three without scoring a goal.

26 - Excluding qualifiers, Midtjylland last kept a clean sheet in European competition back in September 2015 (1-0 v Legia Warszawa), conceding 26 goals in 10 games since then.

Atletico Madrid v Lokomotiv Moscow

10 - Atleti are unbeaten in their past 10 games against Russian opponents in European competition (W8 D2), with their last such defeat coming back in February 2013 (2-0 v Rubin Kazan in the Europa League).

7 - Atleti have conceded seven goals in three Champions League matches so far this season - more than they have in any other group stage in a single season under Diego Simeone.

Marseille v Porto

8 - Marseille are looking to avoid becoming the eighth team to lose each of their first four group games while failing to score in a single Champions League campaign, with Anderlecht in 2017-18 the last to do so.

0 - OM have had fewer shots on target than any other side in the Champions League this season (four), as well as being the only side yet to score in the competition this term.

Leon Goretzka has yet to sit down with Bayern Munich for contract talks but would be ready to hold discussions with the club.

The Germany midfielder has been a regular since joining Bayern from Schalke in 2018 and still has around 18 months to run on his existing deal.

He featured 38 times in last season's treble-winning campaign and has been used on 10 occasions in all competitions already in 2020-21.

No Bayern player has recovered the ball more often than Goretzka in the Bundesliga this term (10.47 per game) and only Javi Martinez has more interceptions (3.03 per game compared to 2.76).

Bayern have struggled to tie down fellow key player David Alaba to a new deal, the messy saga being played out in public in recent weeks, while Thiago Alcantata recently left for Liverpool when he had just a year remaining on his contract.

But Goretzka, who previously spent five seasons with fellow Bundesliga side Schalke, is open to talking over fresh terms.

"So far there have been no discussions held with me," he said at a news conference ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Salzburg.

"I'm under contract for another year and a half so there is not a lot of pressure.

"But if Brazzo [sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic] or Hansi [Flick] approach me in the next few weeks then I will not refuse to talk to them."

Goretzka has also started all four of Germany's Nations League matches this year, playing an hour of last week's humbling 6-0 loss against Spain.

It was Germany's heaviest defeat since they lost to Austria in a friendly in 1931 by the same scoreline and has led to questions being asked of long-serving boss Joachim Low.

The German Football Association this week announced it would give Low time before assessing his future and Goretzka can understand the furore surrounding the defeat.

"If you lose a game that high then it is normal in our business to be criticised," he said. "I didn't exactly wake up the next morning with a good feeling, either.

"For me personally, it was about processing the loss, taking some time and then switching focus back to challenges at Bayern."

Hansi Flick is hopeful Lucas Hernandez can feature in Bayern Munich's Champions League clash against Salzburg but confirmed Niklas Sule remains absent.

France international Hernandez lasted just 18 minutes of the 1-1 Bundesliga draw against Werder Bremen at the weekend before being taken off with a pelvic injury.

With Alphonso Davies also out with a long-term ankle problem, Leon Goretzka ended up filling the defensive void against Bremen.

Head coach Flick will take a late decision on Hernandez but Corentin Tolisso and Bouna Sarr are both out of Wednesday's game.

"We hope Lucas Hernandez can feature tomorrow, but Corentin Tolisso and Bouna Sarr will not be ready for tomorrow," Flick told a news conference. 

Flick was reluctant to give away too much about who could fill in at full-back if Hernandez does not make it.

"We have a few options. You will understand that I am not going to reveal too much now," he said.

Centre-back Sule did not play against Bremen, with German publication Bild suggesting his omission was to do with Flick's concern about his fitness levels.

Sule missed most of last season with a serious knee injury and tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, but Flick said he may be involved against Stuttgart at the weekend.

"Niklas Sule will also not be available tomorrow. We're hoping he will be by the weekend," Flick added.

"He had two serious injuries. It is important that he is 100 per cent fit, we need his qualities.

"He was in quarantine for eight days. The national team doesn't train as intensively as we do. He still has to catch up. Tomorrow he won't be there. We look from day to day."

Holders Bayern are top of Group A and would guarantee their progression from the group stages with a win at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick has urged David Alaba to "take responsibility" in contract talks if he wants to stay with the Bundesliga champions. 

Alaba's situation is a topic that has plagued Bayern off the pitch for much of the year, with discussions over an extension now months old. 

The Austria international has been a key figure at the club for many years but arguably enjoyed his best season in 2019-20, excelling as a centre-back as he helped Bayern to a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble. 

But Alaba's contract runs out in 2021 and Bayern have so far been unsuccessful in their attempts to secure his long-term future, reportedly withdrawing their latest offer with the player's agent said to be frustrating the club. 

Liverpool, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are among the other clubs he has been linked to, but Alaba has been with Bayern for 11 years, and Flick is urging him to take ownership amid the uncertainty.

"David is a very fine person and a brilliant football player," Flick told Welt am Sonntag. "He is very popular with the team and holds them together.

"David should take responsibility and decide for himself what is important to him."

Another Bayern defender whose future is unclear is Jerome Boateng – the German's contract is also set to expire in June.

While media speculation has suggested Boateng will be allowed to leave, Flick seems reticent to such an idea.

"He's a very important player," Flick said. "He's been with the club for over nine years and has been a treble winner twice during that time.

"You can't write off such a player."

Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland enjoyed another unforgettable day in his young career on Saturday.

The 20-year-old Norway striker was this week named as the winner of the prestigious Golden Boy award, which recognises Europe's outstanding player under the age of 21.

Just in case there were any doubting Haaland's suitability for the gong, he set about dismantling Hertha Berlin, scoring four times as a rampant Dortmund won 5-2 and closed to within a point of European champions Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga.

Such exploits underline that Haaland is as much a player for the now as he is for the future and an Opta dive into the top marksman in Germany's top flight this season finds him rubbing shoulders with the best in the business.

Living up to Lewandowski

Before his phenomenal goalscoring exploits fuelled Bayern's recent dominance at home and abroad, Robert Lewandowski was the toast of Signal Iduna Park as he led the Dortmund line with aplomb under Jurgen Klopp.

Haaland has the BVB faithful dreaming of a return to those glory days of back-to-back title triumphs they enjoyed in 2010-11 and 2011-12. If a return to the winners' enclosure is to become a reality it means one thing: matching Bayern.

Haaland is fulfilling his side of the bargain. A second scoreless outing of the season in the Bundesliga this term for Lewandowski in Bayern's 1-1 draw at home to Werder Bremen means his lead over the youngster at the top of the scoring charts was scythed to one, with 11 to Haaland's 10.

The Dortmund man has shown greater efficiency in front of goal. A total of 23 shots means a conversion rate of 43.5 per cent (excluding blocked attempts), while eight goals from 11 big chances amounts to a success of 72.7 per cent.

Lewandowski's conversion rate of 40.7 per cent is slightly down on Haaland (11 goals from 27 attempts, again excluding blocks), although he has missed six and scored seven of his big chances (53.8 per cent). Among players to have scored four or more Bundesliga goals this term, only Wolfsburg's Wout Weghorst has missed more big chances (eight).

Crunch time in Der Klassiker

Each of Haaland's four attempts on target found the net against Hertha Berlin, with a further two blocked. In a frustrating outing against Bremen, Lewandowski failed to find the target with his two shots.

However, on the big occasion earlier this month, the 32-year-old gave the pretender to his throne a demonstration of his clinical efficiency.

Both men scored as Bayern held out for a gripping 3-2 win in Der Klassiker. Yet, Lewandowski required one fewer shot, had two goals disallowed for offside and also weighed in with an assist.

Fine margins could again be at play when the sides reconvene in Bavaria in a game slated for March 6.

In terms of goals per minute, Lewandowski remains the Bundesliga's best, striking once every 49.7 minutes this term. Haaland's one per 56.1 minutes comes in third behind Andrej Kramaric, whose seven for Hoffenheim have come along every 51.3 minutes.

No player has had more than the Poland superstar's 17 shots on target, while Andre Silva and Matheus Cunha (15) have each brought the goalkeeper into play once more than Haaland.

Still, there can be no doubt as to Haaland's skywards trajectory. As fans and elite clubs across Europe watch on with interest, the question over the rest of the season is simply quite how high he can soar.

Thomas Muller lamented a moment of "sloppy defending" after Bayern Munich were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Werder Bremen.

The Bundesliga champions were second best for much of a first half that ended with them conceding when Josh Sargent easily turned Javi Martinez before teeing up Maximilian Eggestein.

Speaking after the match, Muller was particularly unhappy about that incident, resulting as it did from a visiting throw-in.

However, he conceded that Bremen were good value for a point thanks to a disciplined approach that restricted the hosts' chances.

"Bremen were disciplined in defence the whole match," he said. "They let us get up to 45 yards in on goal, on purpose of course. 

"In and around the penalty area they shut down the middle very well and also shut down the wide areas in the final third. 

"Our sloppy defending in the throw-in situation gave them a cheap goal, so their plan worked."

Bayern coach Hansi Flick also paid tribute to the visitors' execution of their plan, though he was happy to see his players fight back after falling behind.

He added: "We didn't quite play as we'd planned. Bremen allowed us very little space. We weren't able to create chances as usual. 

"The team tried everything in the second half. They fought to avoid defeat, it was impressive. We didn't defend well when we conceded the goal. 

"Bremen did a good job and deservedly took a point."

Flick's men were hit by an early blow as Lucas Hernandez was forced off following an awkward fall.

And, according to his coach, the Frenchman is now a doubt for Wednesday's Champions League meeting with RB Salzburg.

"Lucas fell hard on his hip, each step was painful," Flick added.

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