Juventus legend David Trezeguet says nobody has been able to manage Cristiano Ronaldo in the same way as former Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo has spent the past three seasons at the Allianz Stadium after joining from Real Madrid in a €112million (£99.2m) deal.

The 36-year-old, who has another 12 months to run on his contract, is coming off the back of a campaign that saw him finish top of the Serie A scoring charts with 29 goals.

He has scored 81 times in 97 Serie A games since arriving in July 2018, a tally bettered only by Robert Lewandowski (93 goals in 97 Bundesliga games) and Lionel Messi (91 goals in 102 LaLiga games) in Europe's top five leagues.

That compares to 311 goals in 292 LaLiga appearances during his nine seasons with Madrid, during which time he won 15 trophies, including four Champions League crowns.

Ronaldo spent two seasons playing under Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu, and Trezeguet does not believe Massimiliano Allegri, Maurizio Sarri and Andrea Pirlo have got the most out of the Portuguese in the same way as Zidane.

"I think nobody has been able to manage him as Zinedine Zidane. Perhaps there has been a lack of dialogue at Juventus at some point," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. 

"One coach can tell a player: 'Look at this game, you walked for 90 minutes and you must help me win the games'.

"There are players you don't want to play against because they make you win the matches. Ronaldo is one of them, [Paulo] Dybala as well. Some of the others, with all due respect, not as much."

 

Doubts remain over Ronaldo's future in Turin amid recent links with former clubs Madrid and Manchester United, as well as French giants Paris Saint-Germain.

Newly-appointed Juventus director Federico Cherubini this week insisted the superstar forward has not asked to leave the club, however, and he now looks set to remain for at least another season.

"Ronaldo was the best signing from Juventus, one that nobody expected," Trezeguet added. 

"There have been some problems with his team-mates, and you could see that, but he's scored 100 goals since joining."

Despite having Ronaldo on board, Juventus failed to win the Scudetto last season for the first time in a decade and only just finished in a Champions League qualification spot.

Allegri was reappointed last month following the departure of Pirlo, but Trezeguet would have preferred to see a different coach on the bench next season.

"The problem for me is the mentality," said Juve's fourth all-time record goalscorer. "The world of football no longer thinks Italian football is good. In Italy we defend low and ask more of the attacker.

"Abroad, everyone plays constantly at full speed. I am in favour of radical changes. If not Allegri, I would have gone for a foreign coach. But I understand greats like [Pep] Guardiola and [Jurgen] Klopp cost money."

Lionel Messi is out of contract but tipped to re-sign with Barcelona.

However, Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly not prepared to give up on prising Messi to Paris.

Messi's future could become clearer after the Copa America.

 

TOP STORY – PSG STILL DREAMING OF MESSI

Paris Saint-Germain are trying to trump Barcelona's offer to Lionel Messi, according to Diario AS.

Messi is officially a free agent following the expiration of his Barcelona contract and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked with PSG and Manchester City.

While Messi has been tipped to re-sign at Camp Nou, PSG are reportedly refusing to give up hope on signing the Argentina superstar.

Amid uncertainty over Real Madrid and Liverpool target Kylian Mbappe, PSG have also been eyeing Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Tottenham's Harry Kane.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS reports Manchester United are considering a swap deal involving Paul Pogba and Madrid defender Raphael Varane. The Red Devils are interested in signing Varane to bolster their defence, while Pogba has long been linked with Madrid and Juve.

Barca are stepping up their interest in Sampdoria and Denmark star Mikkel Damsgaard, claims Mundo Deportivo.

- Ajax star Dusan Tadic has emerged as a target for Milan following the departure of Hakan Calhanoglu, says Calciomercato.

Eduardo Camavinga's Rennes departure is inevitable, according to Le Parisien. The France sensation has been linked with Madrid, PSG, United, Arsenal and Bayern Munich among others.

- The Transfer Window Podcast says free agent Sergio Ramos has been offered to Chelsea. After leaving Madrid, Ramos is reportedly poised to join PSG. At Stamford Bridge, Champions League holders Chelsea are eyeing Borussia Dortmund's in-demand forward Erling Haaland.

Are Manchester United set for a busy transfer window?

After finishing runners-up to Manchester City in the Premier League and losing in the Europa League final, United are keen to strengthen.

A trio of stars are reportedly on the club's shortlist.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT THREE MORE PLAYERS

Manchester United are targeting three more signings this off-season, according to The Guardian.

United have agreed a deal to bring Jadon Sancho to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants more.

The Red Devils are reportedly closing in on Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, though Villarreal's Pau Torres has also been linked, with Tottenham star Harry Kane and West Ham midfielder Declan Rice also on the list.

 

ROUND-UP

- Italy and Roma full-back Leonardo Spinazzola is attracting interest from Madrid following his exploits at Euro 2020, reports Calciomercato. LaLiga rivals Barcelona have also been linked.

- After agreeing to sell Sancho, Dortmund are eyeing PSV's Donyell Malen and RB Leipzig defender Marcel Halstenberg, reports Sport Bild.

Paris Saint-Germain are planning to announce the arrivals of Sergio Ramos, Inter star Achraf Hakimi and former Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma within 15 days, according to Fabrizio Romano. Ramos has agreed to sign a two-year deal in Paris.

- Antena 2 claims James Rodriguez is in talks with Serie A runners-up Milan over a move from Everton.

United are prioritising a contract extension for star Bruno Fernandes, says Romano. Fernandes has flourished since arriving from Sporting CP.

Madrid have joined Milan in the race to sign United and Portugal full-back Diogo Dalot, claims Calciomercato.

PSG have emerged as the only likely suitor for Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo after United signed Sancho, reports Calciomercato. However, a move depends on whether Kylian Mbappe leaves PSG for Madrid or Liverpool.

Cristiano Ronaldo has not signalled that he wants to leave Juventus and will soon join up with his team-mates for pre-season training, according to football director Federico Cherubini.

Portugal international Ronaldo is into the final year of the four-year contract signed when joining from Real Madrid in a €112million (£99.2m) deal.

The 36-year-old has been tipped to leave Turin ahead of the new campaign, with former clubs Manchester United and Real Madrid among those to have been linked, along with Paris Saint-Germain.

Speculation over Ronaldo's future comes amid a period of change at Juve, with Massimiliano Allegri returning as head coach and Cherubini replacing Fabio Paratici, while Maurizio Arrivabene has been named CEO.

However, speaking at a news conference on Thursday to officially mark his appointment, Cherubini dismissed recent reports that Ronaldo is looking to move on during the current transfer window.

"There has been no signal from Ronaldo," he said. "Especially [on] the rumours that there should be a transfer. There's no sign from Juventus in this regard.

"Last season he scored 36 goals in 44 games. The numbers don't always say everything but hide many truths. 

"We are happy that Ronaldo will join the team as soon as he has finished his holidays."

 

Ronaldo is being given an extended break after featuring four times for Portugal at Euro 2020.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner could not fire the reigning European champions beyond the last 16, where they fell to Belgium, but he did score five times to equal Ali Daei as the leading all-time goalscorer in international men's football on 109.

Ronaldo scored 29 times in 2020-21 to win the Capocannoniere, meanwhile, having previously also been the top scorer in the Premier League and LaLiga.

Since joining Juve in July 2018, only Robert Lewandowski (103) has scored more goals in all competitions than Ronaldo's 73 among players in Europe's top five leagues.

Ronaldo's 83 goal involvements over that period rank fourth behind Lewandowski (121), Lionel Messi (106) and Kylian Mbappe (97).

Speaking about his club future ahead of Portugal's ultimately underwhelming Euros campaign, Ronaldo said reports of interest from rival clubs were causing him "no sleepless nights".

Asked to clarify if Ronaldo will still be a Juventus player in 2020-21, Cherubini said: "I don't have a crystal ball. Right now, there are no signals regarding a possible transfer. But let me reaffirm: I'll be happy if he stays."

 

Juve announced on Wednesday that a cash injection of €400m has been sanctioned to help redress the financial damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Italian club's analysis of the cost of the pandemic's impact suggests they are set to lose €320m in total between 2019 and 2022.

President Andrea Agnelli, who led attempts to form a breakaway Super League, used Thursday's news conference to discuss the magnitude of the financial problems now facing football clubs in general. 

"UEFA knows the whole situation in all leagues. UEFA estimates a liquidity need of around €8.5bn for the clubs," he said.

"There's a risk that around 120 clubs will be at risk of insolvency in the short term. Some operations have been announced on the debt side and I'm thinking of Barcelona, Inter, West Ham, Porto for significant amounts.

"Then there are capital increases such as Roma, Atletico Madrid and we are here too. We fit into this context. It's important that the shareholders support the growth of this club. 

"The ownership is one of the strengths of this club, I say this as president and a member of the family."

Agnelli also reiterated that he expects Juventus to compete in the Champions League next season, despite the ongoing fallout from the Super League plans.

"We have calmly received the letter from UEFA admitting us to the next Champions League," he said. 

"On our part there's a willingness to talk and we are not afraid of the threats that have been made in recent months and are convinced that legal actions will lead to successes."

What does the future hold for Kylian Mbappe?

The Paris Saint-Germain star is wanted in France and Spain.

France striker Mbappe is reportedly facing a decision over his future.

 

TOP STORY – MBAPPE HAS DECISION TO MAKE

Kylian Mbappe has a decision to make over his future as he enters the final year of his Paris Saint-Germain contract, according to the front pages of Wednesday's Marca and Diario AS.

Mbappe will become a free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season and the PSG star continues to be heavily linked with LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

L'Equipe, however, claims PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has taken over from sporting director Leonardo in contract negotiations and Mbappe is reportedly pleased with the club's early transfer business as Gianluigi Donnarumma prepares to join Georginio Wijnaldum in Paris.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano reports Cristiano Ronaldo's future at Juventus is uncertain. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked with PSG, Madrid and Manchester United. Contracted to Juve until 2022, Romano says Ronaldo is not negotiating a new deal as the Serie A giants wait for the superstar to decide whether he stays or leaves.

- Aston Villa are hopeful of keeping star captain Jack Grealish amid interest from Premier League champions Manchester City, per The Telegraph.

- Bild reports RB Leipzig are set to sign Eintracht Frankfurt forward Andre Silva. The Portugal international starred in 2020-21 and has been linked with Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Madrid, United and City.

- United are eyeing Bayern midfielder Leon Goretzka as a possible replacement for Paul Pogba, according to Sport Bild. Bayern and Goretzka have been discussing a new deal. It comes as Bayern also try to re-sign Kingsley Coman and Joshua Kimmich. Coman has been linked with United and Liverpool.

Atalanta are in advanced talks to sign Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso, claims Sky Sport Italia. Musso has previously been linked with Serie A champions Inter, who are reportedly eyeing Ajax's Andre Onana.

- Le10 Sport claims negotiations between PSG and former Madrid captain Sergio Ramos have hit a snag due to the club's unwillingness to offer a two-year deal. Ramos has also been linked with United, City, Chelsea and Juventus on a free transfer.

- A resolution for Lionel Messi's contract renewal at Barcelona does not seem to be close as he is set to officially become a free agent at midnight on Wednesday, claims Marca. Barca are pushing to complete the new deal.

Cristiano Ronaldo has insisted dethroned European champions Portugal will return stronger following their defeat to Belgium.

Portugal's title defence was ended by a Thorgan Hazard strike on Sunday as Fernando Santos' side fell to a 1-0 loss in the last-16 tie. 

The Selecao won just one of their four Euro 2020 matches, which is their fewest in a single European Championship tournament since their first appearance in 1984 (also one win).

The 23 shots recorded by Portugal against Belgium is the highest tally for a team at Euro 2020 without scoring, with Ronaldo responsible for four of those attempts.

Despite his side's disappointing exit in the first knockout round, Juventus star Ronaldo is proud of his team-mates and is predicting a bright future for the Euro 2016 and Nations League 2019 winners.

"We didn't get the result we wanted and we left the race sooner than we wanted," he posted on his official Instagram page. 

"But we are proud of our journey. We gave everything to renew the title of European Champions and this group proved that it can still give much joy to the Portuguese.

"Our fans were tireless in supporting the team from start to finish. We ran and fought for them, in order to live up to the trust they placed in us. 

"It was not possible to get where we all wanted, but here is our sincere and profound thanks.

"Congratulations to Belgium and good luck to all the teams that remain in the competition. As for us, we will come back stronger."

 

Portugal's exit means Ronaldo will have to wait at least another three months before he can surpass Ali Daei as the outright top international goalscorer of all time.

However, the Juve forward's five goals – coming from 15 shots – could yet see him end as the top scorer at Euro 2020.

Santos' side are back in action in September with a World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland, while Belgium will face Italy on Friday for a Euro 2020 semi-final spot.

For years, Belgium's 'golden generation' has promised much but never quite lived up to its potential – in arguably their last opportunity for success, they are primed to give it all they have.

The one area of Roberto Martinez's team that would cause most supporters concern would be their aging backline, but in the face of sheer desperation and an attack brimming with quality, they stood firm in Seville to see off Cristiano Ronaldo and defending European champions Portugal 1-0 on Sunday.

It was a performance that brought further credence to the growing idea that pragmatism rules on the international stage, with Belgium making the most of a wonderstrike and then offering little threat themselves at the other end.

A gauntlet was laid down to Portugal and, despite boasting a squad far superior to the one they possessed five years ago, Fernando Santos was seemingly unable to harness that greater collective talent.

That's not to say Portugal have been great entertainers since winning Euro 2016. No, in fact pragmatism and even dull football have almost been a staple under Santos, and this was very much the case during the opening 45 minutes in Seville, with Belgium's difficulty in breaking down a typically rigid defence notable.

Though Romelu Lukaku's efforts at least kept the Portugal backline busy.

The occasion was perhaps understandably billed as Lukaku v Cristiano Ronaldo, though it was hardly a shootout between the pair as some might've hoped.

Instead, they were forced to graft in what was something of a slog, and that suited Lukaku a little more than it did record-chasing Ronaldo.

 

The Inter star was first a nuisance in the 10th minute as he brilliantly used his frame to block Ruben Dias and tee up Eden Hazard on the edge of the box, though his subsequent shot was sliced horribly high.

Later, in a move that highlighted his flexibility as much as his raw power, Lukaku surged through the middle as he led a break, impressively holding off Joao Palhinha, who desperately tried to foul him. Fortunately for Portugal, Lukaku's eventual pass was cut out and referee Felix Brych bizarrely opted against bringing the play back when Belgium failed to take full advantage.

But soon after, Lukaku's somewhat under-appreciated role took centre-stage once more, as he again bullied Dias on the edge of Portugal's box to sustain an attack, and just a few seconds later it was 1-0.

Thorgan Hazard, for much of his career often seen simply as "Eden's brother", took the game by the scruff of the neck, as he blasted past Rui Patricio from 25 yards.

That put him ahead of Eden for total Euros goals, his two coming in just three appearances. The older brother has one in nine games.

It was a moment of beauty somewhat out of keeping from the rest of a first half in which the majority of the highlights revolved around displays of physicality.

The goal arriving so close to half-time at least allowed Portugal a chance to regroup and potentially alter their system to be more aggressive in attack, which, in fairness, they were as Santos' men managed 15 shots compared to eight in the first period.

Portugal were on the front foot for most of the second half, their first proper chance coming shortly after a couple of attack-minded substitutions – Ronaldo did well on the right, drifting in and finding Diogo Jota in the box, only for him to blaze over.

The Selecao really upped the ante in the final 15 minutes, purely out of desperation.

Dias saw a goal-bound headed pushed away by Thibaut Courtois, before Raphael Guerreiro linked up with Ronaldo and saw a right-footed effort come back off the post.

At the other end Lukaku continued to be a vital outlet for Belgium. While chances were difficult to come by, his lung-busting runs relieved the pressure on several occasions, buying the Red Devils a little extra time.

But for all of Portugal's incessant pressure, keeping alive their dream of retaining the crown wasn't to be.

It wasn't a wasted couple of weeks for Ronaldo at least, the all-time great taking several more records.

He leaves Euro 2020 as the top-scorer in European Championship history with 14 goals and the top-scoring European player at major international tournaments with 21.

But the last one, the biggest record of them all is out of reach for the time being, with Ronaldo left tied on 109 international goals with Ali Daei.

While Lukaku still has some way to go to matching the exploits of his Serie A rival, Rom v Ron went the Belgian's way, and if he continues to produce similarly selfless displays over the next couple of weeks, he could well inspire the 'golden generation' to their defining achievement.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be the man in the spotlight on Sunday, but Roberto Martinez says Belgium cannot afford to focus only on the Portugal star. 

Ronaldo tied Ali Daei's record of 109 international goals with a pair of penalties against France to send Portugal into the knockout stage of the European Championship. 

Still, Martinez insists Ronaldo will get no special attention in their last-16 clash. 

"When you put a plan against a specific player, you can be hurt by other players," the Belgium head coach told a news conference. "The way that Portugal plays, they’ve got a lot of threat, they’ve got a lot of pace in behind.

"Of course Cristiano Ronaldo seems to be the player that gets the right moment, the right pass and the right chance, and you have to be always aware, but you have to defend the 10 outfield players of Portugal in the same measure.

"We need to be compact, we need to be really solid, and we need to defend as a team.

"Obviously we always think about the opposition and that’s always the case, you need to have that information, but I think we’ve got real good momentum and that’s where we’re concentrating."

Belgium conceded only one goal across their three wins in the group stage, but their prime reason for optimism may rest in Kevin De Bruyne's successful return. 

After his swift recovery from facial fractures suffered in the Champions League final, the Manchester City star played nearly the entire game against Denmark after scoring in his return to action as a half-time substitute against Denmark. 

"Kevin, it’s been great to be able to see him 45 minutes and then almost the 90 minutes, so I feel that he is in the perfect physical condition to go into this game," Martinez said. 

"Kevin will have the normal role, an influential role. He’s not a player that needs to play in a certain position. We need to give him that opportunity to be the play-maker, to be able to link up to that possession that we have.

"We will have to be patient against a really good, resolute, and well-defensive-structured Portugal team, but I think we’re going to see ourselves doing what we always do."

All eyes will be on Cristiano Ronaldo again on Sunday as he looks to become the outright world-record holder for international goals, though being out of the focus will do Portugal's opponents Belgium no harm.

The Juventus star tied Ali Daei's long-standing record of 109 goals with a pair of penalties in Portugal's thrilling 2-2 draw with France, the result ensuring the Selecao reached the knockout phase.

One more will put Ronaldo out in front, while he may also have designs on chasing down Michel Platini's record for the most goals scored in a single European Championship (nine in Euro 84).

But despite Ronaldo's five goals thus far, it has been by no means plain sailing for Portugal, whose four points was the poorest group-stage haul for a defending European champion since Greece in 2008 (zero).

 

Fernando Santos' men arguably could not have picked a stronger opponent to face next as they prepare to tussle with Belgium in Seville on Sunday, and while Portugal put their faith in Ronaldo, former Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku is a similarly talismanic figure for Roberto Martinez.

"Going to Inter was the perfect move, at the perfect time, with a perfect coach, with a perfect dream of winning the Serie A title," Martinez told ESPN.

"I think that has developed Lukaku to a level that is, for me, the best in his career. For me – and you know I am biased – he is the best striker in the world."

Since the 2018 World Cup concluded, Lukaku has 23 goals in 21 games across all competitions for Belgium and is just one shy of equalling his best return at a major tournament (four, 2018 World Cup).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Belgium – Kevin De Bruyne

As well as enthusing about Lukaku, Belgium coach Martinez has also declared midfielder De Bruyne to be the best in the world in his position – and few would disagree with that assertion. Although he has only played 134 minutes at Euro 2020, De Bruyne has had a hand in three of Belgium's seven goals (one goal, two assists). Add to that the fact his 71 chances created in major tournaments since the start of the 2014 World Cup is bettered by no European player, then perhaps it is Belgium who hold the trump card with De Bruyne, rather than Portugal with Ronaldo.

 

Portugal – Renato Sanches

Lille midfielder Sanches was brought into the team for the dropped Bruno Fernandes against France, and given how effective he was then, he will surely keep his place. Portugal really benefited from his well-rounded excellence: he made more ball recoveries than any other player on the pitch (eight), his three tackles was bettered by only Nelson Semedo among Portugal players and he was also key to their build-up play – his 38 passes in the opposing half was 11 more than any of his team-mates.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Ronaldo is now the top-scoring European player at major tournaments (World Cup and Euros), with his double against France moving him beyond Miroslav Klose (19) to 21 goals. Indeed, that was Ronaldo's second brace of Euro 2020 already – no player has ever registered three in a single tournament at the European Championship.

- Belgium's victory over Finland last time out marked their ninth win at the World Cup and Euros combined under Martinez, with the Spaniard now holding the outright managerial record for major tournament wins with the Red Devils.

- Portugal have conceded six goals in three games at Euro 2020, already one more than they did at Euro 2016 when they went on to lift the trophy (five goals conceded in seven games). The last time Portugal conceded two or more goals in three consecutive games was in February 2013 under Paulo Bento. They shipped four to Germany followed by two to France in their last two games.

- Belgium have reached the knockout stages in each of their last five appearances at a major tournament (Euros and World Cup), progressing to the semi-final in their previous one at the 2018 World Cup. Their defeat to eventual winners France in 2018 is the only one of their last 10 games at major tournaments that they have failed to win (W9).

- Belgium have only failed to score in two of their previous 58 games under Martínez, averaging exactly three goals per game in this stretch of fixtures (174 in total). The two games where they have been shut out came in the 2018 World Cup semi-final against France (losing 1-0) and in their most recent meeting with Portugal, a 0-0 draw in June 2018.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a "great champion but at times he can be annoying", according to Hungary boss Marco Rossi.

Hungary came up against Ronaldo's Portugal at Euro 2020, beaten 3-0 by the defending champions on matchday one following the superstar's late brace.

Ronaldo has scored five goals in three games to lead Portugal to the last 16 and a blockbuster showdown with Belgium, but Hungary head coach Rossi hit out at the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"Ronaldo is a great champion but at times he can be annoying," Rossi told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"After the penalty with us he celebrated as if he had scored in the final. People notice these things."

Ronaldo equalled Ali Daei's long-standing men's record for international goals.

The 36-year-old Juventus forward scored twice from the penalty spot to move onto 109 goals for Portugal as they secured passage to the knockout stages of Euro 2020 with a 2-2 draw against France on Wednesday.

Ronaldo is now the top-scoring European player at major tournaments (World Cup and Euros), with his brace against France moving him beyond Miroslav Klose (19) to 21 goals.

Indeed, that was Ronaldo's second brace of Euro 2020 already – no player has ever registered three in a single tournament at the European Championships.

Austria star Marko Arnautovic said Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are not from this world and are on this planet to "take all the trophies with them".

Ronaldo and Messi are regarded as two of the greatest footballers of all-time following their exploits for club and country.

Portugal and Juventus superstar Ronaldo – a five-time Ballon d'Or winner with 32 major trophies – matched Ali Daei's international men's record for most goals (109) following his two-goal haul in the 2-2 draw with France at Euro 2020.

Record six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi has won a club-record 34 trophies at Barcelona, while he equalled Javier Mascherano for the most Argentina appearances in their 1-0 Copa America victory over Paraguay.

As Austria prepare for Saturday's Euro 2020 last-16 showdown against Italy, Arnautovic hailed Ronaldo and Messi.

"When you mention [Cristiano Ronaldo's] name, we aren't talking about a human being," Arnautovic said. "That’s it. What am I supposed to say about it?

"There are two players who are not from this world. They are from far away and just came here for a while to succeed in every league and take all the trophies with them. And then they are leaving again.

"Those are Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi."

This will be Austria's first ever appearance in the knockout stages of the European Championship, and their first in the knockout stage of any major tournament since the 1954 World Cup, when they reached the semi-final.

Austria have lost four of their six games in London in all competitions (W1 D1), with this their first visit to the English capital since a 7-0 friendly defeat in September 1973 (against England).

The nation's only previous game in London which was not against England came in the 1948 Olympic games, a 3-0 loss to Sweden.

David Alaba created nine chances in the group stages, at least four more than any other Austria player. Four of these came in Austria's 1-0 win against Ukraine last time out.

Romelu Lukaku needs no inspiration as Belgium prepare to face Portugal in Euro 2020, though a personal battle with Cristiano Ronaldo serves as extra motivation.

Ronaldo edged out Lukaku in the Serie A scoring charts in 2020-21, with the 36-year-old Juventus star netting 29 times in comparison to the Inter striker's tally of 24 league goals.

While Ronaldo won that tussle, Lukaku led Inter to their first Serie A crown in 11 years.

The duo will now meet up on the international stage, Belgium facing off against Portugal in Seville on Sunday with a quarter-final spot on the line.

"On the personal level, yes," Lukaku told a news conference when asked if going up against Ronaldo in Serie A had improved him as a player.

"As a team it was just important to win the championship. We've done it. It was exceptional, the way we were in all the big matches, we won a lot, it was a great season for us. We hope to do it next year."

Lukaku added: "I would like to have his dribble and the way he kicks the ball. He would like to have my power!"

The Belgium star is on three goals so far in Euro 2020, but Ronaldo leads the way with five, albeit three of those strikes have come from the spot.

Ronaldo scored twice from 12 yards against France last time out, matching Ali Daei's record of 109 international goals in the process.

He is now the top-scoring European player at major tournaments, with his brace against France moving him beyond Miroslav Klose (19) to 21 goals. Indeed, that was Ronaldo's second double at Euro 2020 – no player has ever registered three in a single tournament at the European Championships.

"Those are impressive numbers. If there is anybody who can achieve those numbers it’s him, hats off to him, to do that over and over," Lukaku continued.

"How old is he – 36? [Juve] went out in the Champions League against Porto. The way he got criticism, I was like 'wow; it's unbelievable'.

"Then the next game he scored a hat-trick. It's motivational when you have somebody in your own league who can do it in that age, then you think why couldn't I get to that level, or as close as possible? He's a player you can count on, he wins – that's impressive."

 

Though not as sensational as Ronaldo's, Lukaku also has an international record to boast about. The former Manchester United man has scored 23 goals in 21 appearances in all competitions for Belgium, while also providing four assists in this run, and he believes he has proven his worth as one of the best forwards in the game.

"I wanted to step to the next level, to get better," Lukaku explained.

"People always would talk about [Harry] Kane, [Robert] Lewandowski, [Karim] Benzema, and say it was world-class level, with me it was always 'good form'.

"In the last two years I've shown that it's not just good form, I belong with that group. The thing I really want to do is start winning. The fact we won with Inter has given me more motivation to further improve. The final goal would be to win with the national team. That would be the ultimate recognition for the players here and pride for Belgium.

"I need that, the line between provocation, some people go over it. I go to the line and then I know that's the limit and then I just want to win – that's my goal.

"I think I've gotten to the next level. I keep going up. Everything's possible. It's a matter of work, finding the little things that make you better. I know I've progressed a lot, that's for sure. But I'm always looking for that little extra."

Kylian Mbappe has long been linked with a blockbuster move to Real Madrid.

Mbappe is out of contract at the end of next season and is yet to re-sign in Paris.

Madrid are reportedly preparing their next steps in an attempt to recruit the France international.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID STEPPING UP MBAPPE INTEREST

Real Madrid are hoping to sign Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe after Euro 2020, according to the front page of Friday's Marca.

Marca detail Madrid's timetable to prise Mbappe from PSG in the report, with Los Blancos focusing on a post-European Championship transfer.

Mbappe – also linked with Liverpool – is out of contract at the end of the 2021-22 season.

 

ROUND-UP

Cristiano Ronaldo's future remains undecided and it is blocking Juventus' plans in the transfer market, according to Tuttosport and Corriere dello Sport. Ronaldo has been linked with PSG and Manchester United as Juve eye Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli.

- The Sun claims Jack Grealish's agent expects the Aston Villa captain to join Premier League champions Manchester City. The England international has previously been linked with United, who are believed to be closing in on a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho.

Arsenal are nearing a deal to sign Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White, reports Goal. Brighton are demanding around £50million for the England international, who has also reportedly attracted interest from United and Liverpool.

- Sampdoria midfielder Mikkel Damsgaard is wanted by Barcelona, Milan and Tottenham, says Marca and Sport.

Milan and Inter are both looking to sign Barca goalkeeper Neto, according to Sport. Neto has served as a backup to Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

- Tuttosport reports Inter have opened negotiations with Sassuolo for Giacomo Raspadori, while the Serie A champions are also interested in Lazio's Manuel Lazzari.

With the group stage of Euro 2020 now over, we can get down to the important business: arguing over who have been the best players until now.

The first three matchdays produced some enthralling spectacles, a handful of shocks and one or two rather forgettable encounters of which there is no need to speak any more.

We have seen some rather obvious star turns, such as a certain Portugal striker equalling the record for international goals in men's football, while other standout performers have flown a little more under the radar.

Here, using Opta data for added insight, Stats Perform presents the Euro 2020 team of the group stage. Please do read on for a few explanations before starting on those angry comments...

 

 

GK: DANNY WARD

Wales battled their way into the knockout rounds after finishing second in Group A, ahead of Switzerland on goal difference. Much of that is down to Danny Ward's form.

The Leicester City man saved 86.7 of the shots on target he faced, the best record among keepers to make at least five saves.

 

LCB: DALEY BLIND

The Netherlands surprised a few people with three convincing wins in Group C, with Daley Blind's calm yet authoritative presence at the heart of their performances.

Blind completed 221 passes in the group stage, more than any other Oranje player, with more than half of those (115) coming in opposition territory.

 

CB: ANDREAS CHRISTENSEN

Quite rightly celebrated for that thunderbolt of a goal in Denmark's key victory over Russia, Andreas Christensen's all-round displays make him worthy of inclusion here.

The Chelsea defender won 79.2 of his duels in the first three rounds, a tally bettered only by Oleksandr Karavaev (80 per cent) and Thomas Vermaelen (90 per cent) among those to contest at least 10.

 

RCB: LEONARDO BONUCCI

Italy's 1.3 expected goals against was the lowest figure of any side in the group phase, underlining the imperious nature of their form not just at these finals but in the whole of their 11-game winning run in which they have not let in a single goal.

Leonardo Bonucci has been the rock at the back, particularly with Giorgio Chiellini battling injury. He has won possession 11 times, the most of any Azzurri defender, and has yet to be beaten by a dribble.

 

LWB: JORDI ALBA

Jordi Alba was Spain's standout performer until the rest of the team somewhat caught up on matchday three as they turned on the style to thrash Slovakia 5-0.

The Barcelona left-back completed 247 passes, the most of any defender after Aymeric Laporte (259), while leading the way for possession won (30 times).

 

CM: GEORGINIO WIJNALDUM

With three goals in three games, Georginio Wijnaldum surpassed the great Marco van Basten on the all-time Netherlands scoring charts to reach 25 for his country.

Enjoying a more advanced role at these finals, Paris Saint-Germain fans are being given a glimpse of what the midfielder could provide for them next season.

 

CM: PIERRE-EMILE HOJBJERG

Alongside Kevin De Bruyne, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is one of only two midfielders to create nine goalscoring chances during the group stage.

The Tottenham man set up two Denmark's goals in the 4-1 hammering of Russia to move to three assists at these finals, a tally matched only by Switzerland's Steven Zuber.

 

CM: MANUEL LOCATELLI

His two goals against Switzerland were the highlight of his group-stage displays and made Manuel Locatelli just the third Italy player to score twice in a single European Championship match.

The Sassuolo star was rested against Wales, but the quality of his performances in the first two games prompted rumours that Juventus have redoubled their efforts to sign him.

 

RWB: DENZEL DUMFRIES

Full-back Denzel Dumfries became an unlikely goalscoring hero for Frank de Boer, becoming just the second Netherlands player to score in his first two European Championship games (the first was Ruud van Nistelrooy).

Denmark wing-back Joakim Maehle was the only nominal defender with more touches in the opposition box (20) during the group stage than Dumfries (17).

 

CF: ROMELU LUKAKU

Continuing his spectacular Inter form at these finals, Romelu Lukaku scored three times in Belgium's group games from a total of just four shots on target.

He would probably be the favourite for the Golden Boot were it not for the form of the only man to outscore him in Serie A last season...

 

CF: CRISTIANO RONALDO

With five goals in three games, Cristiano Ronaldo became the leading goalscorer at the World Cup and European Championship combined (21).

The Portugal captain needs just one more to surpass Ali Daei as the top-scoring international men's footballer of all time.

We had to wait an extra year, but the Euro 2020 group stage threw up drama and records – and in terms of goals it delivered magnificently.

With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku hitting their stride, it was a feast for the strikers, with 94 goals scored across the 36 games.

That represented a massive raising of the bar after only 69 goals were netted at the same stage in the 2016 tournament.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the most eye-catching numbers that defined the first 13 days of this delayed tournament – ahead of the do-or-die knockout stage getting under way.

 

Ronaldo making up for lost time

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score as many as five goals in the group stages of a single European Championship since Michel Platini bagged seven for France in 1984, on his way to a nine-goal tournament tally. Three of Ronaldo's goals for Portugal at this tournament have been penalties, while Platini netted just one spot-kick during France's run 37 years ago.

Impressively, Platini's goals in 1984 came from an expected goals (xG) rate of just 3.32, while Ronaldo has recorded his five from a total of 4.71 so far. Opta builds its expected goals data by measuring the quality of an attempt based on variables such as assist type, shot angle and distance from goal, whether it was a headed shot and whether it was defined as a big chance. It means Ronaldo has put away approximately the number of goals he should have expected to score.

Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot in Wednesday's 2-2 draw with France, the first game in the history of the Euros to see three spot-kicks scored, excluding shoot-outs.

Defending champions Portugal have been far from perfect, however, dropping a competition-high five points from winning positions.

While Ronaldo has the most goals of any player so far in these finals, he has not been able to keep up with the rising tide of own goals. There have been a staggering eight, as many as were scored between the 1980 and 2016 editions combined.

 

Firing range

Why wait until seeing the whites of the goalkeeper's eyes before offloading a shot?

Patrik Schick had one quick glance towards David Marshall's goal and let fly from 49.7 yards at Hampden Park to put the Czech Republic 2-0 in front against Scotland. That incredible moment gave Schick the longest-range strike on record at the European Championship, with such measured distances available from the 1980 tournament onwards.

There were 304 shots from outside the penalty area in the group stage, but only 12 goals scored from such long range. That ratio of one goal for every 25.3 shots from long distance was nevertheless an improvement on the Euro 2016 numbers, when just 16 goals from outside the area were scored from 638 attempts across the whole tournament – one every 39.9 shots.

 

Low Countries, tall targets

Belgium and the Netherlands are nations who have experienced mixed fortunes on the football field in the 21st century, but both will feel a big moment could be arriving.

The Belgian Red Devils were absent from all major tournaments between their appearances at the 2002 and 2014 World Cups, while the Dutch were conspicuous by their absence from Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

Lukaku, with three goals so far, has been a terrific spearhead of the Belgium side, netting 50 per cent of the goals their players have netted (excluding own goals) at Euro 2020 despite only taking 22 per cent of their shots – seven of 32 attempts.

If Lukaku keeps firing, with Kevin De Bruyne and co prompting from midfield, then Belgium, who have never won a World Cup or European Championship, have a strong chance to show why they are ranked by FIFA as the world's number one team.

Belgium exceeded their collective xG tally by 3.15 – scoring seven against xG of 3.85 – the highest number by which any side surpassed their expected goals in their opening three games.

Their neighbours, the Netherlands, have also caught the eye. Ronald Koeman lifted the Oranje from their doldrums and successor Ronald de Boer has guided the team through the group stage as top scorers and with a 100 per cent record.

That Group C success, with eight goals scored and two conceded, came on the back of Georginio Wijnaldum scoring three times. In doing so, he has overtaken Marco van Basten and Dirk Kuyt on the list of the Netherlands' leading international goalscorers, moving to 25, one ahead of the former Milan and Liverpool forwards.

Or, to put it another way, Wijnaldum is halfway to matching Robin van Persie's record haul of 50 international goals.

 

Boring, boring England?

England, by netting only twice, became the lowest-scoring side to ever finish top of a group at a European Championship. They did not so much storm through Group D as plod a methodical path through to the last-16 stage, although an xG of 4.45 suggests England have at least been creating chances, albeit not finishing as well as they might.

Yet England might yet go far. Germany visit Wembley next Tuesday and will encounter English players who have only been dribbled past 12 times in the group stage, the lowest number among all competing teams. England's expected goals against (xGA) tally is a miserly 1.33, the second lowest in the tournament behind an Italy side (1.3) who have got it right at both ends of the pitch to.

Turkey's players were dribbled past on 36 occasions, a group-stage high, and only North Macedonia (8.85) had a higher xGA than Senol Gunes' team (7.69), who failed to live up to 'dark horse' expectations.

 

Riding their luck? Or being all out of it?

Wales conceded just twice, defying an xGA total of 5.47, and reached the knockout stage on the back of that. The gap of 3.47 between expectation and reality with that metric was the highest among all competing teams.

Conversely, Scotland scored just once against an xG of 4.00 – with 3.00 the highest negative difference between xG and goals scored.

Russia bowed out, and could hardly blame anyone but themselves. Their players made three errors leading to goals – more than any other side and the joint-most by any nation at a finals going back to 1980, the point from which records are available.

Hungary also exited the tournament. They predictably finished last in the 'group of death' – adrift of France, Germany and Portugal – but Hungary were surprisingly ahead for more minutes and trailed for fewer than any other team in that Group F campaign.

Denmark squeezed through in second place behind Belgium in Group B, becoming the first team in European Championship history to reach the knockout stages of the competition having lost their first two group stage games. After the alarm of the Christian Eriksen situation, many would love them to go further.

Would you Luka that!

Luka Modric became the oldest player to score for Croatia at the Euros, netting a gorgeous strike in the 3-1 win against Scotland at the age of 35 years and 286 days. That made it an unusual double for the veteran playmaker, who also holds the record for being Croatia's youngest scorer at the tournament (22 years 73 days versus Austria in 2008).

Modric continues to marvel, and there was a slice of history for another midfielder in the group stage as Switzerland's Steven Zuber became only the third player since 1980 to register three assists in a single European Championship game – doing so against Turkey – after Portugal's Rui Costa in his rampaging 2000 display that tormented England and Denmark's Michael Laudrup in 1984 against Yugoslavia.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.