The 2020-21 season has only just started but Lionel Messi's future is dominating headlines once again.

Messi wanted to leave Barcelona, but he decided to remain at the embattled LaLiga giants.

Manchester City, who were reportedly tipped to lure Messi to England, are still dreaming of his arrival.

 

TOP STORY – CITY NOT GIVING UP ON MESSI

Manchester City are lining up a move for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi at the end of the season, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Messi handed in a transfer request prior to the 2020-21 season getting underway and Premier League giants City were favourites to sign the six-time Ballon d'Or winner before he opted to stay.

Pep Guardiola and City, however, remain interested in Messi and will be in a position to land the Barca captain should the opportunity arise next year.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United have identified a list of potential defensive reinforcements that includes RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano and Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, according to The Athletic.

- Fabrizio Romano says goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen's new Barcelona contract until 2025 will be confirmed soon. The 28-year-old's current deal is due to expire in 2022.

- Le10sport claims Paris Saint-Germain are considering a loan move for Inter midfielder Christian Eriksen, who has struggled to establish himself since joining from Tottenham in January.

West Ham are prepared to double Declan Rice's wages to fend off interest from London rivals Chelsea, reports The Sun.

- Tuttosport says Serie A champions Juventus are hoping to rival Madrid for Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga next year. Madrid have identified teenage midfielder Camavinga as a prime target, but Juve feel that by loaning Daniele Rugani to Rennes, it will help build a relationship with the Ligue 1 side.

- Calciomercato reports Lazio and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic are facing a decisive season. The Serbia international has been previously linked to the likes of PSG, United, Inter, Juve and Madrid.

Esteban Cambiasso expressed doubts over the possibility of Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona for Serie A side Inter.

Messi handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 season, which saw Barca humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals and dethroned by Real Madrid in LaLiga, before the six-time Ballon d'Or winner opted to remain at Camp Nou this term.

The superstar captain – who has a €700million release clause – was heavily linked to Premier League giants Manchester City, while Inter have emerged as a possible destination throughout the year.

Cambiasso spent 10 years at Inter, where he won the treble in 2009-10, and the former Argentina international was asked about countryman Messi's future.

"Messi-Inter? I don't live the market," Cambiasso said. "I always wait for the end and then I make my assessments.

"The reality says that Leo is still in Barcelona and that he is still motivated to play for the Blaugrana.

"We want to see his football again, his best. Is he happy? I think he is, as always."

Messi scored the winning goal as Argentina opened their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-0 victory over Ecuador on Thursday.

The 33-year-old has scored one goal in three LaLiga appearances under new Barca head coach Ronald Koeman this season.

Messi's Barca – fifth in the table and three points behind defending champions Madrid – are next in action against Getafe on October 17.

Lionel Scaloni sensed anxiety in the Argentina ranks as his team began their Qatar 2022 World Cup mission with a 1-0 win over Ecuador.

Victory came courtesy of Lionel Messi's early penalty after Lucas Ocampos was impeded, with Argentina far from their best at La Bombonera.

A home game in Buenos Aires behind closed doors was an uncomfortable way to start the road to the finals, and Argentina's next game will be no easier as they travel to La Paz to face Bolivia on Tuesday.

Yet Scaloni, who pointed to seven players making their first appearances in World Cup qualifying games, was just happy to get the victory.

"We won, which is the most important thing to start a competition of this calibre," he said. "The conditions weren't easy, with a fast pitch and no fans, added to the difficulties of not having been together for so long.

"There are things to highlight and others to improve. I'm left with the desire, with the sacrifice. We will have time to work. The important thing was to get the result forward.

"There were many players who debuted in qualifiers today. It's not easy to play with this shirt and anxiety is typical of that situation.

"We were clear that this could happen because it was the first game. They took a great step when they made their debut and won."

Bolivia scored a 2-0 home win over Argentina in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, and going to high altitude next week will be a serious test for Scaloni's team.

"We're going to see how the players recover and then we will think about Bolivia. We know that it is a game with conditions different from all the others," Scaloni said.

Argentina are now unbeaten in their last eight matches, while Messi took his tally to 71 goals for La Albiceleste.

Luis Suarez was relieved to end his suffering at Barcelona and make a new start at Atletico Madrid - but sorry to leave Lionel Messi behind at Camp Nou. 

The Uruguayan striker had been suddenly cast out of favour by new coach Ronald Koeman, having scored 198 goals in the six previous seasons. 

He felt crushed by the situation, with Barcelona having been plunged into turmoil by their 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League and subsequent sacking of Quique Setien. 

While Suarez was told his Barcelona career had ground to a sudden halt, team-mate and captain Messi was plotting his own departure, with the Argentinian disenchanted and seeking a fresh start, which looked set to come at Manchester City. 

Speaking after Uruguay's 2-1 win against Chile in World Cup qualifying, in which he scored his 60th goal for his country, Suarez explained how both he and Messi were in the doldrums. 

"I was not surprised about Messi because I know him very well, I knew the pain he felt," Suarez said. 

"He felt they kicked me out of the club. There were other ways to do things correctly with me. They were six long years and that bothered him too. I see him as a friend and he knows how badly we suffered. 

"I cried for what I was having to go through."

A move to Atletico has given the former Ajax and Liverpool forward a fresh start. 

Messi, meanwhile, backed down from his threat to leave, once doubts emerged over his prospects of activating a clause in his contract that he felt entitled him to depart on a free transfer. 

This season appears to be one where Messi will put on a professional face and see what comes next, with the prospect of fresh winds of change in Barcelona following presidential elections. 

Life has changed in the Suarez household, but moving from one major football city to another has cushioned the blow of being pushed to the exit door. 

"My family wanted to see me happy," said the 33-year-old in an interview broadcast by the Uruguayan Football Federation. 

"There are some strange things at Barcelona, like sending you to train separately because you were not considered for the game. 

"Those kinds of things upset me and my family saw me affected, so they encouraged me to take the opportunity [to join Atletico]. 

"When Atletico came looking for me, I didn't hesitate for a single moment. I feel very happy at Atletico."

Lionel Messi expressed the importance of victory and not the performance after Argentina kicked off their World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win over Ecuador.

Messi was the hero again for Argentina in Buenos Aires on Thursday, converting a 13th-minute penalty in the country's first match since November last year.

Argentina were scheduled to begin their CONMEBOL qualifying campaign for Qatar 2022 in March, but the coronavirus pandemic scuppered those plans.

The South American giants finally returned to action in a lacklustre display and extended their unbeaten streak to eight games, dating back to the 2019 Copa America in July, thanks to superstar captain and six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi.

"We knew it was going to be complicated. but the most important thing is that we won and now we have to work to keep growing," Messi said post-match.

"It was important to start off with a win because we know how difficult the world cup qualifiers are.

"The matches are always tough. We hoped the level of play would be different but it's been almost a year since we played together, this was our first game back and the nervousness makes it complicated."

Messi and Argentina played at an empty La Bombonera – the iconic home of Argentine powerhouse Boca Juniors – amid the COVID-19 crisis.

There have been more than 856,000 confirmed cases and over 22,700 deaths from coronavirus in Argentina.

"It was a complicated year for what we are living through," added Barcelona's Messi, whose Argentina meet Bolivia on Tuesday.

"Being able to go back and play with the Argentina national team and give happiness to people with the win, beyond the game, serves to decompress. Much strength to all Argentines."

Lionel Messi was the hero as Argentina opened their CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win over Ecuador.

Argentina were scheduled to start their road to Qatar 2022 in March, but the qualifiers were postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Messi and Argentina finally took to the pitch at the iconic La Bombonera on Thursday, and the superstar captain's 13th-minute penalty settled the contest in Buenos Aires.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner took his international tally to 71 goals as Argentina extended their unbeaten streak to eight matches, dating back to the country's third-place play-off victory over Chile at the 2019 Copa America.

Argentina were playing for the first time since their 2-2 friendly draw with South American rivals Uruguay in November last year, and it was the same situation for Ecuador.

Messi, Lautaro Martinez and Rodrigo De Paul were in the starting XI for Argentina, while star Paulo Dybala was a late withdrawal due to a stomach problem.

Argentina were gifted the chance to open the scoring just 13 minutes in when a wild challenge from Ecuador defender Pervis Estupinan chopped down Lucas Ocampos inside the penalty area, and Messi made no mistake from the spot.

Lionel Scaloni's Argentina dictated proceedings but both teams struggled for fluidity in their first international matches in almost a year.

Ecuador had a chance to equalise in the second minute of first-half stoppage time as Erick Ferigra found himself unmarked at the back post following a teasing set-piece, but it would not have counted anyway after the flag was raised for offside.

Ocampos thought he had made it 2-0 for Argentina just three minutes into the second half – a lovely cushioned header from Martinez teeing up the Sevilla star – however Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez produced a stunning one-handed star to tip the ball around the post.

The second half was a largely dull affair as Argentina held on for maximum points in their first appearance of 2020.

 

What does it mean? Argentina building under Scaloni

After a turbulent 2018 World Cup campaign, Argentina's progress with Scaloni at the helm is evident. La Albiceleste have not lost since going down to Brazil at the Copa America in July last year. During that period, Argentina have beaten Chile, Mexico and Brazil, while also drawing with Germany.

Messi does his thing

Scaloni was asked about Messi's mindset following a difficult off-season, which saw the Barcelona superstar request a transfer from Camp Nou. A move away did not materialise and while he was far from his majestic best, the 33-year-old produced when it mattered most.

Toothless Ecuador

Gustavo Alfaro's men, led by Enner Valencia, did not offer much in the attacking third. While they were not outplayed, Argentina were rarely tested as Ecuador – routed 6-1 in the previous meeting – crashed to back-to-back losses after falling to Colombia in November.

What's next?

Argentina travel to face Bolivia on Tuesday, while Ecuador host Uruguay on the same day.

Barcelona have confirmed that sufficient signatures have been verified to proceed with a vote of no confidence in president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

A total of 20,687 members backed the motion and on Thursday the club revealed that the minimum threshold of 16,250 required to move the process on had been deemed authentic.

Once the final results are submitted and a period of review passes, the board of directors will have between 10 and 20 working days to set a date for the vote.

A Barca statement read: "Pending the final closure of the validations process, this Wednesday, October 7, the cutoff of the 16,250 valid signatures necessary for the vote to succeed was exceeded.

"Once the panel makes the final result official and the vote of no confidence is admitted, a few days will be taken to attend to the resolution and the claims of the census, and then the board of directors will have a period of no less than 10 working days and no more than 20 to call the vote."

Support for the motion intensified in August, when Lionel Messi confirmed his desire to leave Barca in the wake of their 8-2 Champions League quarter-final humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich.

The club brought forward planned presidential elections to March, but Bartomeu could now be ousted in advance.

Barca vice-president Jordi Cardoner said in a news conference: "Despite the many things that have been said and written, this board is a team. We are all together.

"We are with president Josep Maria Bartomeu in the tough times, as we are going through now. There is uncertainty around at personal level but also in regards to health. We don't know how we will be tomorrow.

"However, more than ever, we have the unity, the effort and the credit, the credit that many memberships gave us. We will individually give our best and we will be responsible until the last day that the president and his board are in charge. That's it."

Messi did not end up leaving Barca, claiming Bartomeu made it "impossible" for him to do so by going back on his word to let him go for free.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner only remains under contract until the end of June.

More questions were raised when the club allowed Luis Suarez to leave for Atletico Madrid and failed to sign a replacement striker before the close of the transfer window.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni insisted superstar captain Lionel Messi is happy ahead of the country's World Cup qualifier against Ecuador.

Messi's Argentina will begin their World Cup qualifying campaign on Thursday, after the coronavirus pandemic forced the road to Qatar 2022 to be postponed in March.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi is in the squad following a turbulent off-season, having handed in a transfer request at embattled LaLiga giants Barcelona.

Asked about Messi on the eve of the qualifier in Buenos Aires, Scaloni told reporters: "I spoke with Leo when his conflict with Barcelona was resolved and I noticed him calm and serene.

"Now we have had a fairly long talk and he told me that he is happy to be here and that he is better at his club.

"From a distance, we only wanted him to resolve the situation so that he could start playing and get in shape. For me it is positive that he has stayed because he has started to play and knows the environment.

"As for personal decisions, we do not get in or invade the players' spaces."

Scaloni, whose Argentina have not played since November, added: "Leo will always be a forward no matter how much he sometimes stands at nine and sometimes as second forward. What we try is to always have three options up and tomorrow's game will be the same.

"I don't think Leo has changed so much his way of playing or his position on the court, in the end he is a forward and is always in those positions."

Portugal and Barcelona forward Trincao said it is "impossible" to pick between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as the world's best player. 

Trincao plays alongside Portugal captain and all-time leading goalscorer Ronaldo at international level, while he joined Barcelona great Messi at Camp Nou this season. 

Ronaldo and Messi have claimed the Ballons d'Or 11 times between them, with the latter the recipient of a record six gongs. 

Trincao was asked about the superstar duo following Portugal's goalless draw with Spain in Wednesday's friendly. 

"I am extremely proud to be able to play with both [Ronaldo and Messi]," the 20-year-old told RTP3 post-match in Lisbon. 

"It is impossible to say who is the best."

Ronaldo and Renato Sanches both rattled the crossbar in the second half against Spain, as the two countries faced each other ahead of upcoming Nations League fixtures. 

Portugal travel to face world champions France on Sunday, the day after Spain host Switzerland. 

"A difficult match against a very organised team. It is very good to start from this match against such a strong team," Trincao said as he reflected on the match, which saw him start in a front three alongside Ronaldo and Andre Silva. 

"I will just do my job, I am prepared to play, just like my team-mates, then the decision is up to the master."

Spain head coach Luis Enrique continues to be amazed by the exploits of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as he prepares his side to face the Portugal star.

La Roja travel to Lisbon this week to face Portugal on Wednesday in the first meeting between the sides since the 2018 World Cup group stages.

Ronaldo scored a hat-trick, which included a stunning late free-kick, on that occasion to earn a 3-3 draw with Spain in Sochi.

Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has previously sided with Messi in the debate over who is the greatest modern player, describing the Blaugrana number 10 as the best in the world "in every position" and "the best in the history of football".

However, he has huge admiration for the way Juventus forward Ronaldo continues to strive for success at the age of 35 and after spending 18 years in senior football.

"Our goal doesn't change aside from the fact confronting a player of his profile can be motivational," he told reporters on Tuesday as he looked ahead to the friendly at Estadio Jose Alvalade.

"As a team, we will try to do things better than Portugal and try to cause them problems – that's the goal. Whether Ronaldo plays or not, the situation, the general approach to the game doesn't change.

"With regards to your other question, if you check through your newspaper archives, you already knew what my opinion is and I don't think it will be ideal for me again to comment on who is the best player in the world for me.

"What is worthy of praise is the fact that players like Cristiano and Leo Messi keep getting older but maintaining such a high level thanks to their professionalism, their ambition and their capacity to be motivated and keep achieving goals. Both Cristiano and Messi are examples of that."

Ronaldo has scored three goals and set up another in his first two Serie A appearances of 2020-21, with Juve beating Sampdoria 3-0 and then drawing 2-2 with Roma.

Messi has one goal in three LaLiga matches, with Barca beating Villarreal 4-0, Celta Vigo 3-0 and drawing 1-1 with Sevilla in Ronald Koeman's first three league games in charge.

Life under Ronald Koeman got off to a solid start with successive wins over Villarreal and at Celta Vigo, where they historically struggle, but Sunday's visit of Sevilla posed their first real test of the season.

Ultimately Barca had to make do with a 1-1 draw, though it is fair to say it could have been worse on a different day as Sevilla looked every inch a side potentially capable of giving the Blaugrana and LaLiga champions Real Madrid a run for their money this term.

Julen Lopetegui's Sevilla were physical, tidy in possession and mostly water-tight defensively – arguably the only part of their game that could have improved was their accuracy in front of goal, as just one of their 13 shots hit the target.

But while the point is a good one for Sevilla, it accentuates how underwhelming Barca were. After all, before Sunday, Los Nervionenses had conceded at least twice on each of their past eight LaLiga trips to Camp Nou and the last time they avoided defeat there was October 2011.

Regardless of who they play against Lionel Messi is usually the man to unlock the door, but against Sevilla he boasts a particularly impressive record, having put 29 past them in LaLiga to make them his favoured opposition.

He could not find a way this time, however.

Messi kept quiet

Let's not get carried away – Messi was by no means bad here, but this was Barca's first major test in their brave new world, a chance to really put a marker down against a team that impressed en route to Europa League success, produced a spirited performance against Bayern Munich in last month's UEFA Super Cup and have been tipped to potentially mount a title challenge.

But while Messi regularly has a telling impact against Sevilla, it's fair to suggest the visitors did well against him on Sunday.

His haul of three shots included only one on target, which was a fairly routine save for Yassine Bounou, while Messi's final effort was a rather hopeless long-range effort late on that sailed well over.

Similarly, of his two key passes only one of them was notable, as he slipped in Francisco Trincao for a chance in stoppage time – Bounou again making the save.

Messi's sympathisers would correctly point out that he did play the ball that led to Philippe Coutinho's equaliser, though his pass was actually meant for Ansu Fati and was cut out by Jesus Navas. It only brought the leveller because of an unfortunate touch by Sevilla's captain.

Barca's talisman saw plenty of the ball, as he had 85 touches, but the killer ball was generally lacking – can the blame be laid at Messi's feet, though?

Supporting cast fail to convince

There is certainly a lot of attacking ability at Koeman's disposal, but whether they can all work in tandem is another matter.

The front four who started here (that's Messi, Fati, Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann) only played three key passes between them (Messi with two, Fati with one), while the six-time Ballon d'Or winner was the only one to attempt more than two shots.

Griezmann and Fati had two apiece and Coutinho had one.

The Griezmann conundrum in particular continues to puzzle. He had only 21 touches of the ball in his 61 minutes on the pitch – Trincao had five more after he was brought on at that point. While they may have been occupying slightly different positions, it doesn't speak much to the Frenchman's desire to get involved.

Similarly with Coutinho, it's difficult to see what he added beyond the goal, which was gifted to him.

The Brazilian delivered one good cross, but that was about the only other thing he mustered before his 75th-minute withdrawal, while Fati was hooked at the same time as Griezmann.

Much was made of the teenager's duel with Navas, a childhood idol of his from when he was in the Sevilla academy, but the experienced converted right-back undoubtedly came out on top.

Sevilla prove their credentials

There was plenty to like about Sevilla's display here. Prior to Sunday, Lopetegui had lost by four goals in each of his two previous visits to Camp Nou as a coach, but this time around he might consider himself unlucky not to win.

Luuk de Jong's early opener was a just reward for a bright start, but it was wiped out by a rare miscalculation by the usually dependable Navas.

Nevertheless, it was Sevilla who went closest to the winner when Ronald Araujo deflected a cross on to his own crossbar in the second half.

Navas, perhaps spurred on by the desire to atone for his earlier error, was a nuisance on the right and created a match-high four chances, while his partner on that flank – Suso – was a threat too, making three key passes.

But the strongest area of their team is undoubtedly at the back, where they are blessed with some real competitors.

Diego Carlos was especially impressive, popping up with three clearances and as many tackles – one of each came in a crucial late incident as he made a brilliant last-ditch tackle on Messi, before hacking clear while off balance.

The experienced Fernando proved an effective defensive screen as well – three interceptions, three clearances and a couple of tackles highlighted his value as an extra body when under the cosh. He was also assuring in possession, finding a team-mate with 94 per cent of his 50 passes.

With Sevilla seemingly managing to keep hold of Diego Carlos and Jules Kounde, and Atletico Madrid reverting to their dull natural state since beating Granada 6-1, Lopetegui's side appear best-placed to cause an upset in LaLiga this term – Sunday's solid display will only increase that belief.

Ronald Koeman felt Clement Lenglet was unfortunate to be sent off in Barcelona's 3-0 win at Celta Vigo but was full of praise for the way his side coped with being a man down.

Lenglet was shown a second yellow card late in the first half after referee Carlos del Cerro Grande felt the defender impeded Denis Suarez with his arm.

Barca were one goal up at the time courtesy of Ansu Fati's strike and went on to make it two LaLiga wins out of two, Lucas Olaza scoring an own goal after brilliant work from Lionel Messi and Sergi Roberto adding a third in stoppage time.

Koeman had sympathy for Lenglet, yet felt it was more important to discuss the character shown by the Blaugrana on a wet and windy Thursday at Balaidos.

"You can debate whether it was a yellow or not," the Barca boss is quoted as saying by Marca. "It was a tough punishment. It's difficult being a referee. It's a decision we don't have to discuss.

"It was more important to talk about how to play with a man down than to discuss that.

"I'm very proud of this team in today's match. We worked very well and played with a lot of discipline in the team, with one man down.

"We're doing a job good. These results invite us to think that we're on the right track."

Fati looked sharp after also scoring twice in the 4-0 rout of Villarreal on Sunday, while Messi was outstanding yet again on a day which saw Barca draw Juventus in the group stage of the Champions League.

Koeman said of the attacking duo: "They were very good, like the whole team. Leo worked a lot without the ball."

Lionel Messi tormented Celta Vigo and Ansu Fati scored his third goal in two LaLiga games as 10-man Barcelona secured a 3-0 victory in horrendous conditions at Balaidos.

Fati followed up his double in a 4-0 rout of Villarreal on Sunday by scoring the opening goal on Thursday before Barca defender Clement Lenglet was harshly sent off for a second bookable offence late in the first half.

Celta were unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage and Lucas Olaza's own goal, created by the mercurial Messi, gave Ronald Koeman's side breathing space.

Messi also had a goal disallowed for offside when he looked to be level, but the Blaugrana were not to be denied another three points in the wind and rain and Sergi Roberto added the final flourish in stoppage time.

Barca knocked the ball around with a swagger following their demolition of Villarreal and were in front after 11 minutes when Fati took a first-time pass from Philippe Coutinho and poked home with the outside of his right foot.

Lenglet was cautioned for upending Gabri Veiga, who had a shot palmed away by Neto, and Barca breathed a sigh of relief when Gerard Pique's red card for a professional foul on Denis Suarez was overturned with the midfielder offside.

Pique's fellow defender Lenglet was given his marching orders three minutes before the break, though, when Carlos del Cerro Grande harshly adjudged him to have impeded former Barca man Suarez for a second yellow.

Koeman reacted by replacing Antoine Griezmann with Ronald Araujo, but the Blaugrana doubled their lead five minutes after the break, thanks in no small part to Messi.

The captain darted away from two challenges and Olaza could only turn the Argentina forward's right-footed cross into his own net as the rain continued to hammer down.

Messi looked to have added a third but was given offside when he turned in the rebound after Coutinho struck the post and Pique was unable to convert a dangerous cross from his outstanding skipper.

Miguel Baeza saw his deflected effort strike the crossbar on a frustrating night for Celta as Barca showed great spirit and quality to make it two wins out of two in LaLiga, with Roberto putting the icing on the cake by drilling in a third right at the end.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will renew their rivalry this season after Barcelona and Juventus were drawn together in the Champions League. 

The two players that have dominated world football for over a decade are set to go head to head twice more, their teams having been placed in Group G alongside Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros. 

The rivalry between Messi and former Real Madrid star Ronaldo – who have won a combined 11 Ballons d'Or – is firmly rooted in LaLiga and they have met 35 times in all competitions. 

Messi holds the upper hand in their head-to-head record, winning 16 times and scoring 22 goals compared to Ronaldo's tallies of 10 victories and 19 strikes. 

However, Ronaldo has lifted the Champions League trophy five times, compared to Messi's four, and his haul of 130 goals in the competition is 15 more than his Argentine counterpart. 

Ahead of the pair battling it out on the grandest stage, take a look back at their five previous European meetings.


Barcelona 0-0 Manchester United (2007-08 semi-final first leg)

Messi and Ronaldo were already established among the leading talents in world football when they first met in the Champions League in April 2008. Things did not get off to a great start for Ronaldo, who missed the chance to score a valuable away goal when he fired wide from the penalty spot in the third minute following a handball by Gabriel Milito. Barca dominated possession with Messi at the heart of their best moves before being replaced by Bojan in the 62nd minute, but the game ended goalless.

Manchester United 1-0 Barcelona (2007-08 semi-final second leg)

Messi continued to cause problems for United in the second leg and nearly won an early penalty when his marauding run was halted by Paul Scholes, though the referee correctly awarded a free-kick. Scholes put Alex Ferguson's side in front with a stunning 25-yard effort that beat Victor Valdes, and the brilliant Messi was unable to find an equaliser. United progressed to the Moscow showpiece and Ronaldo got his hands on the trophy for the first time after a penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea.

Barcelona 2-0 Manchester United (2008-09 final)

United were one game away from becoming the first team in the modern era to successfully defend the Champions League title, but Barca proved too good for them at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Samuel Eto'o found a way past Edwin van der Sar to put Pep Guardiola's men in front and Messi helped keep them on top with another mesmerising display. His fine showing was rewarded when he looped a rare header beyond Van der Sar, securing the first treble in Barca's history.

Real Madrid 0-2 Barcelona (2010-11 semi-final first leg)

In a heated match at the Santiago Bernabeu, Messi punished Madrid after they were reduced to 10 men when Pepe saw red in the 61st minute – Jose Mourinho was removed from the dugout for his remonstrations too. After turning home a cross from Ibrahim Afellay, Messi scored a stunning solo goal that will undoubtedly go down as one of the best of his career. He exchanged passes with Sergio Busquets before dribbling past Lassana Diarra, Raul Albiol and Marcelo to slot beyond Iker Casillas for his 11th goal in 11 matches in that season's Champions League.

Barcelona 1-1 Real Madrid (2010-11 semi-final second leg)

Madrid needed a memorable comeback at Camp Nou to reach the final and looked to be well in the tie when Gonzalo Higuain got the better of Valdes, only for the referee to chalk off the goal for a foul by Ronaldo on Javier Mascherano in the build-up. In a matter of minutes they were behind, as Pedro latched onto Andres Iniesta's wonderful pass in the 54th minute. Marcelo gave Madrid hope after the hour, but they were unable to stop Barca reaching a third Champions League final in six seasons.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will do battle in the 2020/21 Champions League after Barcelona and Juventus were drawn in the same group.

LaLiga giants Barca and Serie A champions Juve were paired together in Group G, along with Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros. 

Messi and Ronaldo have played against each other five times in the Champions League, the former on the winning side twice and as many matches ending in a draw.  While Ronaldo has managed a solitary win, he has failed to score in their previous meetings.

Bayern Munich, who defeated Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 to be crowned champions of Europe for a sixth time in Lisbon in August, will come up against Atletico Madrid in Group A.

PSG were drawn with Manchester United, RB Leipzig and Istanbul Basaksehir in what looks a tough Group H, while Liverpool - winners of the competition in 2019 - will lock horns with Ajax, Atalanta and Midtjylland in Group D. 

Real Madrid are in Group B with Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter and Borussia Monchengladbach, while Europa League holders Sevilla have Chelsea for company in Group E, along with Krasnodar and Rennes. 

Group C comprises of Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, Porto, Olympiacos and Marseille, while Zenit, Borussia Dortmund and Lazio are joined by Club Brugge in Group F. 

The final will be staged at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul on May 29, 2021.

Champions League group stage draw:

Group A: Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Salzburg, Lokomotiv Moscow 
Group B: Real Madrid,  Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter, Borussia Monchengladbach 
Group C: Porto, Manchester City, Olympiacos, Marseille 
Group D: Liverpool, Ajax, Atalanta, Midtjylland 
Group E: Sevilla, Chelsea, Krasnodar, Rennes 
Group F: Zenit, Borussia Dortmund, Lazio, Club Brugge 
Group G: Juventus, Barcelona, Dynamo Kiev, Ferencvaros 
Group H: Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, RB Leipzig, Istanbul Basaksehir

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