The Champions League delivered drama in droves last season.

With the 2019-20 competition on hold for now, it is the perfect opportunity to remember just how crazy Europe's premier competition became 12 months ago.

In a run of games from early March to early May, the Champions League churned out a succession of classic contests that will live long in the memory.

Here we look back at three months where Europe's grown-up football tournament started behaving like a devil-may-care teenager and was all the better for it.

March 5, 2019: Real Madrid 1 Ajax 4 (3-5 agg)

Ajax's team of fearless young stars produced one of the great Champions League campaigns.

Despite their impressive display in a 2-1 first-leg defeat, nobody really seemed to think Erik ten Hag's side could turn things around in the last 16 at the Santiago Bernabeu. Sergio Ramos certainly did not – he earned a 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 completely capitulated to their fearless and thrilling opponents.

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 they had ever been knocked out after winning the first leg of a Champions League tie.

March 6, 2019: Paris Saint-Germain 1 Manchester United 3 (3-3 agg, United won on away goals)

A day on from Ajax's thrashing of Madrid, Manchester United made history at the Parc des Princes.

No side had ever won a knockout tie after trailing 2-0 from a first leg at home and with 10 senior players missing, including the banned Paul Pogba, United's chances looked slim.

Romelu Lukaku scored just two minutes in, though, and despite Juan Bernat's equaliser on the night, Lukaku struck again after a Gianluigi Buffon error to make it 2-1.

As the game crept towards second-half injury time, Diogo Dalot's shot struck Presnel Kimpembe's arm and the referee awarded a penalty after a lengthy VAR review. Marcus Rashford scored it, United progressed, and the clamour for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be given the permanent manager's job grew louder.

April 17, 2019: Manchester City 4 Tottenham 3 (4-4 agg, Spurs win on away goals)

Tottenham scored through Son Heung-min in a tense, frenetic first leg. Crucially, as it turned out, City did not. They were not about to make the same mistake as Raheem Sterling thrashed an early opener past Hugo Lloris at the Eithad Stadium.

Son responded with two superb finishes of his own, leaving Pep Guardiola's side with a mountain to climb. They duly began to scale it. Bernardo Silva scored, Sterling scored again. There had only been 21 minutes played.

Something faintly resembling a normal football match broke out and Sergio Aguero finished emphatically to give City the lead in the tie for the first time in the 59th minute.

In a sight Ajax are now familiar with, Spurs looked spent until Fernando Llorente bundled them back into the lead on away goals. That advantage ultimately remained, but only after Sterling thought he had completed his hat-trick. Bedlam ensued until VAR showed Aguero was fractionally offside during the build-up.

May 7, 2019: Liverpool 4 Barcelona 0 (4-3 agg)

Fresh from netting a late winner at Newcastle United the weekend before, Divock Origi allowed the Liverpool faithful to dream by poaching his maiden Champions League goal in the seventh minute. Still, overturning the 3-0 advantage Barca had brought to Merseyside looked a tall order.

Jurgen Klopp needed Alisson to be on form as he saved from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, before another unlikely hero emerged.

Andy Robertson's injury forced James Milner to left-back and Georginio Wijnaldum into the fray at half-time. By the hour, the Dutch midfielder had Liverpool level thanks to two goals in 122 delirious seconds.

Origi had the final word thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick thinking from a 79th-minute corner, leaving Barcelona and Messi crestfallen.

May 8, Ajax 2 Tottenham 3 (3-3 agg, Spurs win on away goals)

As they did at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Ajax made a smooth start and led through their inspirational captain Matthijs de Ligt in the fifth minute.

Ziyech emphatically made it 2-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate, but Lucas changed the complexion of the contest as he was supported by Dele Alli's intelligent running from midfield and Llorente's robust accompaniment in attack.

Ziyech hit the post and Spurs centre-back Jan Vertonghen hit the bar. Amsterdam held its breath and Lucas proved to be the coolest man in the stadium in the 96th minute, sending his side through to face Liverpool in Madrid, where the Reds ultimately prevailed.

Unai Emery hit out at referee Deniz Aytekin, Barcelona forward Luis Suarez and an un-named Paris Saint-Germain player as he reflected on the 6-1 Champions League collapse suffered at Camp Nou in 2017.

PSG, then coached by Emery, romped to a 4-0 win in the first leg of their last-16 tie, but on March 8, a day Emery remembers as the worst of his career, Barca recorded an unbelievable second-leg comeback.

Leading 3-1 on the night but still trailing 5-3 on aggregate after 88 minutes, Barca were on the brink of elimination.

However, they managed to score three times in a dramatic finale to seal the largest comeback in Champions League history, with future PSG star Neymar scoring twice for Luis Enrique's hosts.

Reflecting on the devastating loss more than three years later, Emery hit out at the performance of Turkish official Aytekin.

He also discussed his belief Suarez kept going down easily in the box and suggested there was a PSG player who was "hiding" as he explained the other circumstances that worked against his team.

"There are lots of details in that game that can be scrutinised," Emery said, per EFE, in a discussion with his former Sevilla assistant Diego Martinez, who now coaches Granada.

"But if I start from the end, I'd change the referee and that's it. I watched a repeat of the game the other day because I found it while I was zapping through channels. I watched it from the 50th minute to the 82nd minute.

"We were 3-0 down, we scored to make it 3-1 and we had a one-on-one that Edinson Cavani hit at the goalkeeper to make it 3-2; a clear penalty on Angel Di Maria that wasn't given; and in the 82nd minute, Di Maria fouled Neymar for the goal. That's when I stopped watching.

"In that section of the game, I saw that one of our important players, who had had injury problems during the season, was hiding in the result. Maybe I would substitute him now. 

"They are details, circumstances that escape you in a game.

"Then there are other key circumstances: the Barcelona players, especially Suarez, going down in the box continuously, pressuring the referee until he fell into their trap."

Barca were knocked out in the by eventual finalists Juventus in the last eight.

It took a pandemic to stop the goals flowing from Lionel Messi, the brilliant Argentinian who first found the back of the net for Barcelona on May 1, 2005.

Fifteen years since that first strike, Messi has ploughed through the 600-goal mark for the Catalan giants, coincidentally reaching that landmark on May 1, 2019.

He was spending May 1 at home this year, along with every other footballer in LaLiga, which has been paused since March due to the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.

To watch Messi in his pomp and assess the pick of his goals for Barcelona is a pick-me-up for any dark day, and here is a look at a chronological top 10 from the Argentinian's collection.

Albacete (H): May 1, 2005

Even at 17, Messi had the confidence of a veteran. Having already seen one goal wrongly ruled out for offside - an audacious chip from the edge of the box - Messi's confidence was far from knocked and just a minute later he latched onto Ronaldinho's scooped pass before lobbing the ball over Albacete goalkeeper Raul Valbuena from 16 yards. Some way to open your account for one of Europe's great clubs.

Malaga (H): March 22, 2009

Thierry Henry's favourite goal by Messi during their time playing together for Barca. Why not let the France great take up the story? "It defied logic what he did," Henry said in the 'Take the Ball, Pass the Ball' documentary. "There's a diagonal ball and he controls it on his chest. He runs full speed, then the first player goes and the second player is just behind. If he takes another step, that player will clear the ball." A shimmy of the body and deft touch later – in the blink of an eye – Messi stabbed into the top corner to conclude a moment of 100-miles-per-hour brilliance.

Real Zaragoza (A): March 21, 2010

Described by some as 'a defining goal' in his career, this strike against Real Zaragoza seemed to take him from very good into another class entirely. Messi displayed all he had to offer in a goal that began when he won the ball from a tackle on halfway. From there, he shrugged off one challenge, raced towards the box and turned a defender inside out before drilling into the far corner, leaving coach Pep Guardiola speechless.

Real Madrid (A): April 27, 2011

At the height of the Clasico rivalry between Guardiola's Barca and Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid, the two teams met four times in three different competitions in less than a month. The league meeting ended in a draw and Madrid won the Copa del Rey final, but Barca triumphed in the Champions League semi-final with a 3-1 aggregate win. The first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, an ill-tempered affair to say the least, saw Messi make it 2-0 by bursting beyond four attempted challenges and slotting past Iker Casillas, all in the space of around five seconds.

Athletic Bilbao (A): April 27, 2013

Barca would regain their LaLiga title from Real Madrid but were in the midst of a Champions League semi-final shellacking from Bayern Munich when they arrived at San Mames. A goal down in a match that would eventually finish 2-2, Messi received possession from Thiago Alcantara, twisted past Mikel San Jose, Carlos Gurpegui and Ander Herrera with minimal space in which to operate before nonchalantly sidefooting home from just inside the penalty area.

Bayern Munich (H): May 6, 2015

Guardiola returned to Camp Nou with a Bayern Munich side struggling with injury problems. They kept Barca at bay until the 77th minute of this Champions League semi-final first leg, when Messi finally struck. It was his second goal that earns a place in this list, though: collecting Ivan Rakitic's pass, a simple-looking shimmy left Jerome Boateng on his backside before he chipped Manuel Neuer with his weaker foot.

Real Madrid (A): April 23, 2017

El Clasico rarely disappoints for football fans around the globe, and this edition was no different. Anything but a win would essentially hand Real Madrid the title, and it looked to be headed for a 2-2 draw until Sergi Roberto's swashbuckling run in stoppage time gave Jordi Alba the chance to square to Messi, who finished with aplomb from the edge of the area for his 500th Barcelona goal.

Real Betis (A): March 17, 2019

Rarely has a hat-trick been completed in finer fashion. Messi's two goals had helped Barca to a 3-1 lead at the Benito Villamarin, before he passed to Rakitic, ran onto the return ball and sent a first-time chip over goalkeeper Pau Lopez and in off the crossbar from just inside the box. It was a sublime effort that even had the home fans on the feet, applauding - something Messi himself admitted he has not experienced before.

Liverpool (H): May 1, 2019

Over the past few years, Messi has mastered the art of free-kick taking, with the skill being one of few to elude him in his younger days. Liverpool held their own for long periods at Camp Nou but goals from Luis Suarez and Messi gave the hosts breathing space. Jurgen Klopp's side then had to bow to greatness when, after being brought down by Fabinho, Barca's talisman swept an unstoppable 30-yard effort into the top corner. Barcelona would incredibly blow their 3-0 first-leg advantage, however, losing 4-0 at Anfield as Liverpool reached the Champions League final.

Atletico Madrid (A): December 1, 2019

It was goalless in the 86th minute at the Wanda Metropolitano when Messi collected the ball on the right flank, 10 yards inside the Atletico half. Those famous feet began to shuffle with purpose, and although Atletico knew what Messi had in mind, they were powerless to resist the execution of his plan. Messi surged on, playing the ball to Luis Suarez on the edge of the penalty area before taking the return pass and cracking a brilliant 20-yard shot into the bottom left corner of Jan Oblak's goal. A winner, and one of the highest class.

Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (Ronaldinho Gaúcho) became only the second Barcelona player after Diego Maradona to receive a standing ovation from Real Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabéu. In that season he was to win his second FIFA World Player of the Year award as well as the Ballon d’Or. Ronaldinho had scored two spectacular goals in the game between Barcelona and Real, a derby known for pitting two of the world’s greatest footballing rivals against each other. His heroics in the El Clásico would come a year after Ronaldinho had won the World Cup with Brazil. He was at the top of his game and that put him on top of the world.

There are many, whom, having seen Ronaldinho, declare him the most skillful player to ever play the game, but the midfielder was also effective. That skill, the ability to dribble past players, score goals almost at will, and produce trickery that would make the world sit up and watch, brought with it trophies. Ronaldinho would become versed at taking free kicks and was always dangerous because of his ability to play anywhere in the attacking third of the football field. Ronaldinho was sometimes deployed as a winger, on either side of the midfield, as well as in the more central number-10 role. On occasion, he would also become the striker, which made him fearsome to defend. What was most scary about playing against Ronaldinho was the almost natural way he had of creating danger for opposition defenders. According Netherlands midfield general, Edgar Davids, who played with him at Milan, "For the skills and tricks, Ronaldinho was the best player that I ever played with."

Playing Career

Full name: Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (Ronaldinho Gaúcho)

Date of birth: 21 March 1980 (age 40)

Place of birth: Porto Alegre, Brazil

Height: 1.81m (5ft 11 in)

Playing positions: Attacking midfielder, forward

Club Career

        Years                    Team                             Apps   (Gls)

  • 1998–2001          Grêmio                              52      (21)
  • 2001–2003          Paris Saint-Germain            55     (17)
  • 2003–2008          Barcelona                         145      (70)
  • 2008–2011          Milan                                 76      (20)
  • 2011–2012          Flamengo                          33       (15)
  • 2012–2014          Atlético Mineiro                  48       (16)
  • 2014–2015          Querétaro                          25         (8)
  • 2015                   Fluminense                         7         (0)
  • Total                                                        441    (167)

Club Honours

  • Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Intertoto Cup: 2001
  • Barcelona - La Liga: 2004–05, 2005–06; Supercopa de España: 2005, 2006; UEFA Champions League: 2005–06
  • Milan - Serie A: 2010–11
  • Flamengo - Campeonato Carioca: 2011; Taça Guanabara: 2011; Taça Rio: 2011
  • Atlético Mineiro - Campeonato Mineiro: 2013; Copa Libertadores: 2013; Recopa Sudamericana: 2014

International Career

  • 1999-2013 Brazil 97 (33)

International Honours

  • FIFA U-17 World Championship: 1997
  • Copa América: 1999
  • CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament: 2000
  • FIFA World Cup: 2002
  • FIFA Confederations Cup: 2005
  • Olympic Bronze Medal: 2008

Individual Honours

  • FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Ball: 1999
  • FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Shoe: 1999
  • South American Team of the Year: 1999
  • Bola de Prata: 2000, 2011, 2012
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 2002
  • Ligue 1 Goal of The Year: 2003
  • La Liga Best Foreign Player: 2003–04, 2005–06
  • Trofeo EFE: 2003–04
  • FIFA World Player of the Year: 2004, 2005
  • UEFA Team of the Year: 2004, 2005, 2006
  • World Soccer Magazine World Player of The Year: 2004, 2005
  • UEFA Club Forward of the Year: 2004–05
  • FIFA Confederations Cup Bronze Ball: 2005
  • Ballon d'Or: 2005
  • Onze d'Or: 2005
  • FIFPro World Player of the Year: 2005, 2006
  • FIFPro World XI: 2005, 2006, 2007
  • UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 2005–06
  • La Liga top assist provider: 2005–06
  • UEFA Champions League top assist provider: 2005–06
  • FIFA Club World Cup Bronze Ball: 2006
  • FIFA World Player of the Year Bronze award: 2006
  • Golden Foot: 2009
  • Sports Illustrated Team of the Decade: 2009
  • Serie A top assist provider: 2009–10
  • Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Team of the Year: 2011, 2012
  • Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Best Fan's Player: 2012
  • Campeonato Brasileiro Série A top assist provider: 2012
  • Bola de Ouro: 2012
  • Copa Libertadores top assist provider: 2012, 2013
  • South American Footballer of the Year: 2013
  • UEFA Ultimate Team of the Year (substitute; published in 2015)
  • FIFA 100
  • Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame
  • C. Milan Hall of Fame

Michel Platini’s claim to fame comes from being one of the finest passers the game has ever seen. His efforts from the penalty spot and from free kicks are legendary but he was also quick and elegant on the ball, combined with being a very intelligent reader of the game. His technical ability was also renowned during a period where South Americans were believed to be the masters in this arena. Platini also had an eye for goal from his more withdrawn role behind the strikers and was prolific as a midfielder, winning a number of top goalscorer accolades throughout his career.

Playing Career

Full name: Michel Platini

Date of birth: 21 June 1955 (age 64)

Place of birth: Jœuf, France

Height: 1.79m (5ft 10 in)

Playing position: Attacking midfielder

Club Career

           Years                Team                    Apps      (Gls)

  • 1972–1979          Nancy                    181        (72)
  • 1979–1982          Saint-Étienne         104        (58)
  • 1982–1987          Juventus                147        (68)
  • Total                                              432    (224)

 

Club Honours

  • Nancy - Coupe de France: 1977–78; Division 2: 1974–75
  • Saint-Étienne - Division 1: 1980–81; Coupe de France runner-up: 1980–81, 1981–82
  • Juventus - Serie A: 1983–84, 1985–86; Coppa Italia: 1982–83; European Cup: 1984–85; runner-up: 1982–83; European Cup Winners' Cup: 1983–84; European Super Cup: 1984; Intercontinental Cup: 1985

International Career

  • 1976–1987 France 72 (41)
  • 1988 Kuwait  1   (0)

International Honours

  • UEFA European Championship: 1984
  • Artemio Franchi Trophy: 1985
  • FIFA World Cup third place: 1986
  • 1976 Pre-Olympic Zone European

 

Individual Honours

  • Ballon d'Or: 1983, 1984, 1985
  • Onze d'Or: 1983, 1984, 1985
  • Onze d'Argent: 1977
  • IOC European Footballer of the Season: 1983–84, 1984–85
  • World Soccer Player of the Year: 1984, 1985
  • UEFA European Championship Player of the Tournament: 1984
  • UEFA European Championship Top Scorer: 1984
  • UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament: 1984
  • French Player of the Year: 1976, 1977
  • French Player of the Century: 1999
  • L'Équipe French Champion of Champions: 1977, 1984
  • FIFA XI: 1979
  • Guerin d'Oro: 1984
  • Capocannoniere (Serie A Top Scorer): 1982–83, 1983–84, 1984–85
  • European Cup Top Scorer: 1984–85
  • Intercontinental Cup Most Valuable Player of the Match Award: 1985
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1982, 1986
  • FIFA World Cup All-Time Team: 1994
  • World Team of the 20th Century: 1998
  • FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2002
  • Italian Football Hall of Fame member
  • English Football Hall of Fame member (voted All-Time Greatest European Footballer. He is only the second person outside the English game to be honoured by the Museum.)
  • Artemio Franchi Prize
  • Golden Foot: 2004, as football legend
  • FIFA 100
  • UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll: #9
  • Premio internazionale Giacinto Facchetti: 2011
  • Globe Soccer Awards Player Career Award: 2012
  • IFFHS Legends
  • Juventus Greatest XI of All Time: 2017

George Manneh Oppong Weah played as a striker in his prolific 18-year professional playing career that ended in 2003.

After beginning his career in his home country of Liberia, Weah spent 14 years playing for clubs in France, Italy, and England.

Arsène Wenger first brought him to Europe, signing him for Monaco in 1988. Weah moved to Paris Saint-Germain in 1992 where he won Ligue 1 in 1994 and became the top scorer of the 1994–95 UEFA Champions League.

He signed for A.C. Milan in 1995 where he spent four successful seasons, winning Serie A twice.

His most notable goal in Italy saw him run the length of the field against Verona. He moved to the Premier League towards the end of his career and had spells at Chelsea and Manchester City, winning the FA Cup at the former, before returning to France to play for Marseille in 2001, and subsequently ending his career with Al-Jazira in 2003.

FourFourTwo named Weah one of the best players never to win the UEFA Champions League.

At the international level, Weah represented Liberia at the African Cup of Nations on two occasions, winning 53 caps and scoring 13 goals for his country.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest African players of all time, in 1995, he was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d'Or, becoming the first and to date only African player to win these awards.

 In 1989, 1994 and 1995, he was also named the African Footballer of the Year, and in 1996, he was named African Player of the Century.

Known for his acceleration, speed, and dribbling ability, in addition to his goalscoring and finishing, Weah was described by FIFA as "the precursor of the multi-functional strikers of today".

 

Playing Career

Full Name: George Manneh Oppong Weah

Date of birth: 1 October 1966 (age 53)

Height: 1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)

Position: Striker

 

Club Career

Years                   Team                            Apps     (Gls)

1985–1986           Bong Range United                2       (1)

1985–1986          Mighty Barrolle                     10       (7)

1986–1987          Invincible Eleven                   23      (24)

1987                    Africa Sports                       2       (1)

1987–1988          Tonnerre Yaoundé               18      (14)

1988–1992          Monaco                              103    (47)

1992–1995          Paris Saint-Germain              96     (32)

1995–2000          A.C. Milan                           114    (46)

2000 →                Chelsea (loan)                    11       (3)

2000                    Manchester City                   7        (1)

2000–2001          Marseille                              19      (5)

2001–2003          Al Jazira                                8       (13)

Total                                                         413    (194)

 

Club Honours

  • Mighty Barrolle - Liberian Premier League: 1985–86; Liberian Cup: 1985–86; Invincible Eleven; Liberian Premier League: 1986–87
  • Monaco - Coupe de France: 1991
  • Paris Saint-Germain - Ligue 1: 1993–94; Coupe de France: 1992–93, 1994–95; Coupe de la Ligue: 1995
  • C. Milan - Serie A: 1995–96, 1998–99
  • Chelsea - FA Cup: 1999–2000

 

International Career

  • 1987-2018 Liberia 53 (13)

 

International Honours

  • CSSA Nations Cup runner-up: 1987

 

Individual Honours

  • African Footballer of the Year: 1989, 1994, 1995
  • FIFA XI: 1991, 1996 (Reserve), 1997, 1998
  • French Division 1 Foreign Player of the Year: 1990–91
  • UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 1994–95
  • BBC African Footballer of the Year: 1995
  • Onze d'Or: 1995
  • Ballon d'Or: 1995
  • FIFA World Player of the Year: 1995
  • ESM Team of the Year: 1995–96
  • Onze d'Argent: 1996
  • FIFA Fair Play Award: 1996
  • FIFA World Player of the Year – Silver award: 1996
  • IFFHS African Player of the Century: 1996
  • World Soccer's 100 Greatest Footballers of All Time: 1999
  • FIFA 100: 2004
  • Arthur Ashe Courage Award 2004
  • Golden Foot Legends Award: 2005
  • C. Milan Hall of Fame
  • IFFHS Legends
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Cuttington University: 29 June 2018.

Andrés Iniesta came through La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, after an early emigration from his birthplace, and impressed from an early age. He made his first-team debut aged 18 in 2002. He began playing regularly during the 2004–05 season and has remained in the team ever since. Iniesta was an integral part of the Barcelona sides that won two historic trebles in 2009 and 2015, and his 33 trophies make him the most decorated Spanish footballer of all time.

 

Playing Career

Full name: Andrés Iniesta Luján

Date of birth: 11 May 1984 (age 35)

Place of birth: Fuentealbilla, Spain

Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

National Team:

  • 2006–2018 Spain  131 (13)

Honours

  • FIFA World Cup: 2010
  • UEFA European Championship: 2008, 2012
  • UEFA European Under-19 Championship: 2002
  • UEFA European Under-16 Championship: 2001
  • FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2010

 

FIFA World Cup appearances: 4

  • Round of 16 - 2006 Germany
  • Winner - 2010 South Africa
  • First Round 2014 - Brazil
  • Round of 16 - 2018 Russia

 

Club Career

  • 2001–2003 Barcelona B 54   (5)
  • 2002–2018 Barcelona    442 (35)
  • 2018–   Vissel Kobe  38   (9)

 

Honours

  • Barcelona - La Liga: 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2017–18; Copa del Rey: 2008–09, 2011–12, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18; Supercopa de España: 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016; UEFA Champions League: 2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15; UEFA Super Cup: 2009, 2011, 2015; FIFA Club World Cup: 2009, 2011, 2015

UEFA called on leagues across Europe to complete their seasons where possible, as it presented emergency alternative plans on Thursday.

European football's governing body says national associations and leagues should "explore all possible options" to finish the domestic competitions which remain unresolved.

However, it stressed there are back-up plans in case circumstances prevent leagues and cups being played to a finish.

UEFA proposed competitions starting "with a different format", or, where no resumption is possible, for national associations to decide places for next season's European competitions "on sporting merit".

Cristiano Ronaldo is undoubtedly a great goalscorer - no player has managed more in the history of the Champions League.

However, it is also impossible to deny that the Portugal forward is a scorer of great goals, with some of his best saved for Europe's leading club competition.

He is one of only two players to reach a century - the other being Lionel Messi, of course - and is a five-time winner, lifting the trophy with Manchester United and Real Madrid.

His 100th goal arrived in Madrid's quarter-final tie against Bayern Munich on April 18, 2017. To mark the achievement, here are six of the best from Ronaldo through the years.

 

Roma v Manchester United: April 2008

Ronaldo defied gravity to find the net with a header in a 2-0 first-leg win at the Stadio Olimpico. Sprinting from far back to join the attack, he began his jump from the edge of the area and somehow maintained his height all the way to the penalty spot, allowing him to meet Paul Scholes' flighted cross.

Long-time United team-mate Gary Neville once described it as “the most miraculous goal" he had seen and Ronaldo netted another fine header in the final against Chelsea in Moscow, where Alex Ferguson's side prevailed on penalties.

Porto v Manchester United: April 2009

He had absolutely no right to score this one. Back in his homeland for a Champions League quarter-final against Porto, Ronaldo picked up the ball in the middle of the opposition's half, got it out of his feet and sent a searing strike flying past goalkeeper Helton.

His stunner sealed a 1-0 win at the Estadio do Dragao and a 3-2 aggregate triumph for the Premier League club, who went on to lose to Barcelona in the final.

Marseille v Real Madrid: December 2009

Every free-kick is seemingly within range for Ronaldo, who boasts a fine collection of European set-piece goals

He was certainly not put off by the prospect of being a long way out against Marseille in 2009. Starting out from his trademark stance, Madrid's new number nine - this was his debut season at the club - unleashed an attempt that arched high over the wall but dipped in time, sending the ball beyond keeper Steve Mandanda's desperate dive.

Galatasaray v Real Madrid: September 2013

Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in a resounding 6-1 triumph in Istanbul, Madrid's first Champions League outing in a campaign that ended with them holding the trophy in Lisbon.

His treble was completed with an eye-catching run and finish in stoppage time, some nimble footwork – including a stepover – allowing him to wriggle clear from the attentions of two Gala players in close proximity before he thumped home with his left foot.  

Juventus v Real Madrid: April 2018

Arguably Ronaldo's finest goal. Moving away from goal as Dani Carvajal dug a cross towards the penalty spot from the right, he leapt into the air and connected with a marvellous overhead kick.

His leg was at a right angle to his body as he struck with the sweetest of volleys that flew past an idle Gianluigi Buffon. Of course, no-one knew at the time he would go on to join the Serie A club later that same year.

Juventus v Manchester United: November 2018

Another decorated Portuguese was celebrating at full-time when Jose Mourinho watched his Manchester United team complete an unlikely 2-1 comeback win in Turin.

But Ronaldo struck first with a sumptuous and technically brilliant strike, watching Leonardo Bonucci's raking pass over his shoulder to send a volley flashing beyond the rooted David de Gea. The best way to celebrate such a wonderful moment? Show off your six pack, of course! 

April 7, 2018, December 2, 2017.

Two dates. Two important occasions in the life of Paul Pogba as a Manchester United player.

Some players have the talent to decorate a game but lack the ability and force of personality to dominate it. Other players can dominate a game but because of their personality, eschew any attempt to decorate it.

Into the first category, we can easily slip a player like Mesut Ozil, the Arsenal version and the Real Madrid version. Into that band, you could also insert the former Arsenal (go easy Gunners’ fans, nobody’s picking on you) and Barcelona midfielder Alexander Hleb.

The Belarussian could be sleight of foot and crafty for a 20-minute spell of a game, but slight of frame and craven for the next 70 minutes.

Into the latter category, Roy Keane would insert himself, robust in approach and manic in conviction, bossing the midfield and running a game while being totally unperturbed by his inability to do a stepover. Why do a rabona when you can use the energy to scythe through the opposing creative midfielder is the question Keane would ask through gritted teeth, after leaving an Ozil-type rival in a crumpled heap at the top of the 18-yard box. 

So Pogba has played 150 games for the Red Devils in all competitions since returning to the Old Trafford club from Juventus in the summer of 2016, notching 31 goals. He has played 102 Premier League games, scoring 24 times, with the other seven goals coming in 48 games across the Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup, League Cup and the UEFA Super Cup. Forget his price tag of £89 million pounds and reported 290k per week salary. The fact is, that for a player of his lavish talents, Paul Pogba’s numbers in a Manchester United shirt are poor. 

The two dates above represent the only two times any reasonable observer could say that Paul Pogba dominated a big game for Manchester United.

Of course, there are numerous games in which Pogba has decorated a portion; see his world-class pass to free Marcus Rashford for the lone goal which beat Tottenham Hotspur on January 3, 2019, in the Premier League clash in North London; witness his performance against Newcastle on October 6, 2018; see his contribution in the 2-1 win away to Crystal Palace on December 14, 2016. But here’s the problem.

Pogba wasn’t recruited to decorate games against the Premier League’s lesser lights. He was recruited to dominate games against the league’s traditional also-rans and inspire wins over the title contenders and champions league aspirants. That is why the man they nickname ‘Pick-axe’ in France has copped so much flak from fans and pundits alike.

 

The December 2, 2017 performance was Pogba at his brilliant best; quick of thought, precise of pass, strong as an ox and running like a recently serviced Jamaican taxi. He made the men in Arsenal’s midfield and defence look like children, straining to deal with the adult, who had imposed himself on their lunch-time kickabout.

The performance against Manchester City at the Etihad on April 7, 2018, was by far Pogba’s best in a Manchester United shirt. He dragged the team from a 2-nil deficit to a 3-2 victory in the manner of a trenchant baby mamma, shaking down her man outside the gambling house before he goes inside and loses all of the fortnight’s pay he just collected. That was his moment, the day he proved he could use his considerable gifts to put other wonderfully talented players in the shade.

Suffice to say, two statement performances in 150 games is not good enough for a club like Manchester United. It’s a poor return. And frankly, it is not good enough from a player of Paul Pogba’s ability. Their separation will be a popular divorce. Selah.

Liverpool's Champions League title defence is in the balance ahead of Wednesday's last-16 second leg with Atletico Madrid, but Jurgen Klopp's home record with the Reds highlights the task facing Los Colchoneros.

The Spanish side won 1-0 thanks to an early Saul Niguez effort at the Wanda Metropolitano, with Atletico producing a quintessential Diego Simeone display as they fought to cling on to a slender win.

Their approach is unlikely to change at Anfield, but Klopp boasts an impressive record on Merseyside.

In the other of Wednesday's games, Borussia Dortmund take a 2-1 lead over Paris Saint-Germain to Parc des Princes, setting the second leg up tantalisingly with Erling Haaland eying a slice of history - though there will not be any fans in attendance due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Below are the key match facts, courtesy of Opta, ahead of the two finely-poised contests.

Liverpool v Atletico Madrid

2 - On each of the previous two occasions Liverpool have lost away from home in the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie, they have progressed to the next round; the Reds eliminated Chelsea and Barcelona in the semi-finals in 2006-07 and 2018-19, respectively.

0 - Klopp is yet to lose a home Champions League game with Liverpool (W11 D4). His most recent two home defeats in the competition have been in last-16 matches with Borussia Dortmund in 2013-14 (1-2 v Zenit) and 2014-15 (0-3 v Juventus).

1 - Atletico have won just one of their previous nine away Champions League knockout games (W1 D2 L6), a 4-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen in February 2017.

7 - Roberto Firmino has been directly involved in seven goals in five Champions League knockout appearances at Anfield (3 goals, 4 assists), averaging a goal involvement every 54 minutes.

37 - Atleti's Jan Oblak has conceded just 37 goals in his first 49 Champions League appearances. The record for the fewest goals conceded by a goalkeeper in his first 50 appearances is held by Dida (35), followed by Victor Valdes (38).

Paris Saint-Germain v Borussia Dortmund

0 - PSG have never progressed to the next stage of the Champions League after losing the first leg of a knockout tie, going out against Milan in 1994-95, Barcelona in 2014-15 and Real Madrid in 2017-18.

4 - Borussia Dortmund have always progressed to the next stage of the Champions League after winning the first leg of a knockout tie, doing so on all four previous occasions. The only team with a better 100 per cent progression rate after winning the first leg is Juventus (11/11).

5 - PSG have lost five of their previous six Champions League knockout matches (W1), losing each of their past two at the Parc des Princes against Real Madrid in March 2018 and Manchester United in 12 months later.

10 - Haaland is one of only five players to score 10 or more goals in their debut European Cup/Champions League campaign. The only player to score more than 10 was Claudio Sulser, who netted 11 goals in six appearances in 1978-79 for Grasshopper Zurich. Haaland also has the best minutes-per-goal ratio (one every 46 minutes) of any player in the competition's history to feature for at least 250 minutes.

37 - Neymar has been directly involved in 37 goals in 27 home Champions League appearances (20 for Barcelona, seven for PSG), scoring 25 goals and assisting 12. The Brazilian has never ended on the losing side in a home game in the competition (W24 D3).

Diego Simeone has no plans to spring any surprises with his tactical approach in Atletico Madrid's crunch second-leg clash against Liverpool in the Champions League.

Atletico won the initial last-16 encounter 1-0, with Saul Niguez's early strike the difference at the Wanda Metropolitano as the holders suffered a rare loss.

The LaLiga side surrendered a 2-0 first-leg advantage against Juventus at the same stage of last season's competition, with head coach Simeone eager to avoid a repeat at Anfield on Wednesday. 

He conceded that surprise will not be a weapon at his disposal against the Premier League leaders, but the 49-year-old has confidence in his tried and tested methods that secured a path to the final in 2014 and 2016.

"Whether we can vary how we play, Liverpool will know pretty clearly how we are going to play," said Simeone.

"They know pretty much what our tactics are going to be going into the game after being here for eight years. If we start well, we have to keep it up.

"You know pretty much what I'll be doing, I don't think our line-up will be too far off what you think it will be.

"The game will demand that we are on our top form. We will see what sort of game we play and tactics we adopt. We think we can hurt them.

"There is a Plan B, of course. But if I tell you my plans for a game, it wouldn't be logical, would it?"

Reflecting on his side's exit at the hands of Juve, Simeone is hopeful of a more positive outcome this time around. 

"We couldn't play in Turin, they never let us compete," he said. "Hopefully [on Wednesday] they will let us compete and that will help us be competitive.

"Experiences in life always help you. But you have to make sure you don't repeat errors you have done before."

Eden Hazard has undergone successful surgery on his ankle at a facility in Dallas.

The Real Madrid star sustained a fracture to his right fibula in the 1-0 LaLiga defeat to Levante.

The 29-year-old was sent for an operation in the United States as, according to reports in Spain, it was felt that doctors with experience of treating similar injuries sustained by NBA stars would be best placed to offer a long-term fix.

Madrid confirmed on Thursday that Hazard's surgery went as planned, under the supervision of club doctors, and he will continue to be monitored before beginning his rehabilitation process.

Hazard, who has only made 15 appearances for Madrid since a €100million move from Chelsea as a result of injuries, met Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic after arriving in the USA.

He is expected to return to the Spanish capital in the coming days to continue his recovery.

It has been speculated Hazard is not likely to be fully fit for three months, although Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has expressed confidence the forward will play again for Madrid this season.

Virgil van Dijk slammed Liverpool's doubters after the critics came out in force following a run of three defeats in four matches.

The losses have come in three different competitions, putting Jurgen Klopp's side on the back foot in the last 16 of the Champions League, halting their 44-match unbeaten streak in the Premier League, and ending their FA Cup participation. 

A 2-0 reverse at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday left the top-flight title as the only domestic honour available to the Reds, which Van Dijk pointedly suggested is no small thing.

"In life there are people who are never satisfied. They are always looking for negative things. That's the reality," he said, as quoted by the Daily Mirror. 

"Either you go on with that negative spirit or you just focus on the good things – and I'm definitely focusing on the good things.

"We are in a very good situation. Close to what we all hope to achieve. Let's just go for it, enjoy it. Let's focus on 'just' the Premier League, because it's very small, huh?"

Responding to the notion that Liverpool had not been that bothered about winning the FA Cup, particularly in light of playing a reserve team in the fourth-round replay against Shrewsbury Town, Van Dijk was emphatic.

"That's stupid to say, in my opinion," said the Dutchman. "Every competition we play in, we want to win.

"We showed that against Chelsea with the line-up and the way we kept going, the energy we put in. We tried to do as much as possible to win the game."

Jose Mourinho questioned people sitting in "privileged positions" at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and whether they are "real" Spurs fans after Eric Dier climbed into the stands to confront supporters.

Tottenham crashed out of the FA Cup in the fifth round following Wednesday's penalty shoot-out loss to Norwich City after a 1-1 draw at the end of extra time.

The match was overshadowed by an incident involving Tottenham's England international Dier, who jumped over advertising hoardings and rushed into the stands as the stadium emptied in London.

Tottenham head coach Mourinho said the incident involved Dier's brother before the Portuguese discussed fans sitting in the corporate areas of the stadium.

"The people that are in these privileged positions by the tunnel," Mourinho told reporters post-match, while adding he is unaware of racism allegations.

"Of course some are Tottenham fans but I think a lot of corporate, a lot of invitation, a lot of people with special status and probably it's the place of the stadium where I sometimes have doubts over if they are the real Tottenham fans because these [real fans] are the ones who support the boys until the last.

"This person insulted Eric, this family was there. The young brother was not happy with the situation and then Eric, I repeat did what we professionals cannot do, but did something that probably we would do."

The loss is another blow for injury-ravaged Tottenham, who have gone four matches without a win in all competitions.

Spurs must dust themselves off quickly as they travel to Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday before making the trip to RB Leipzig for the return leg of their Champions League last-16 tie only three days later.

With Tottenham – seventh in the Premier League and five points off fourth place – struggling for fitness and trying to compete in the Champions League, Mourinho said he can only prioritise one competition.

"In this moment I have to think about what's next and I have to speak to my club because I think some of these boys to have a chance to fight Tuesday for a Champions League position they just can't play on Saturday," Mourinho added. "Particularly in forward positions, behind we've got options but not going forward."

"I think we don't deserve the result but that's football. As you can expect it was a difficult game, as I could expect some of my players were really, really in trouble and they made an incredible effort to try," he said.

"Harry Winks was completely dead. I think he's started 11 to 12 games in a row, we had many, many players in trouble.

"I don't have one single negative feeling towards my players, the opposite, they tried fantastic things. I am really, really sad for the boys, I can cope with the bad result and with negative moments, I've had so many, but I am really sad for the players."

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