Lionel Messi starred on his 700th appearance for the club as Barcelona comfortably beat Borussia Dortmund 3-1 at home to progress to the knockout rounds of the Champions League.

Barcelona already topped Group F but have confirmed their place in the next phase, with Dortmund 's fate no longer in their own hands on the closing matchday.

Luis Suarez scored from Messi's pass to open the scoring at Camp Nou on Wednesday and then turned provider for the skipper as Barca scored twice in the space of five first-half minutes.

Messi, reportedly set to win a sixth Ballon d'Or next week, added a second assist to a typically glittering individual display by setting up Antoine Griezmann to seal matters after the break with substitute Jadon Sancho firing home late on for Dortmund.

Nico Schulz almost scored a second-minute opener for Dortmund but found Marc-Andre ter Stegen equal to his effort with Messi then unusually wasteful from a free-kick at the other end.

Suarez was flagged offside after converting Messi's throughball but the same combination led to the opener in the 29th minute, the Uruguay striker coolly converting.

Messi added a second, an arrowed finish from Suarez's pass, with Barca bursting into life after ex-Dortmund forward Ousmane Dembele had to be replaced by Griezmann due to a thigh injury.

Under-fire Dortmund boss Lucien Favre sent on Sancho at the break and Messi was then booked for diving by referee Clement Turpin after going down easily in the box.

Ter Stegen saved from Julian Brandt on the hour and that miss proved key as Barca broke clinically, Messi sending Griezmann clear to slot home his first Champions League goal for the club. 

Sancho smashed home a super strike to give Dortmund a consolation, but they must better Inter's result at home to Barcelona when the Bundesliga side face Slavia Prague at home next month.


What does it mean? Dortmund's problems mount

It is now 10 goals conceded in three games in all competitions for Dortmund, who would likely have lost by a greater scoreline had Barcelona kept their foot on the throttle.

Ernesto Valverde called for perspective over Barca's own issues before the game and with his team top of LaLiga and into the next round, he might have a point. He can point to the biggest competitive crowd of the season to answer his critics, too.


Mesmerising Messi leads Barca again

Barcelona did not get going until after Dembele's latest injury, with Messi taking the game by the scruff of the neck. Within just a few minutes he had created two goals for Suarez, though one was chalked off, and scored one of his own to put the game beyond Dortmund before later setting up Griezmann and hitting the crossbar with a free-kick. 

He only hit top form for that brief period in the first half, but it was enough to win the points for Barca, though a rare booking for simulation was a bum note on a performance that saw him set yet another record. Messi has now scored against 34 opponents in the Champions League, one more than Raul and old rival Cristiano Ronaldo.


Favre on the brink

Dortmund coach Favre named a strange lineup with four full-backs included and star man Sancho on the bench, with his side quickly overrun in midfield after a bright start.

A 4-0 Klassiker thrashing away to Bayern Munich recently piled pressure on Favre and his position is even more insecure after another one-sided defeat.


What's next?

Dortmund are away to Jurgen Klinsmann's Hertha Berlin on Saturday, the day before Barcelona are away to Atletico Madrid in a huge LaLiga clash. On the last day of the Champions League group stage on December 10, Barca go to Inter and Dortmund host Slavia.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi broke a Champions League record by scoring against a 34th different team with his goal at home to Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

Messi doubled Barca's lead after setting up Luis Suarez's opener in the Group F clash at Camp Nou.

Dortmund became the 34th side against which Messi has scored in the Champions League as the Argentina forward surpassed a mark he had shared with Cristiano Ronaldo and Raul.

Messi received a neat pass from Suarez before calmly converting past Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki in the 33rd minute.

The 32-year-old only equalled Ronaldo and Raul last month, when he netted in a 2-1 win over Slavia Prague.

Messi also set up Antoine Griezmann for Barcelona's third as they sealed qualification. 

Antoine Griezmann dropped to the bench as Lionel Messi was selected for a 700th Barcelona appearance in Wednesday's Champions League Group F encounter with Borussia Dortmund.

Griezmann's fellow France international and ex-Dortmund star Ousmane Dembele will start on the left of Ernesto Valverde's front three alongside Messi and Luis Suarez.

Ivan Rakitic comes into the midfield for only his second start of the campaign, with Arthur joining Griezmann among the replacements.

Barca are top of the group on eight points – one ahead of Dortmund, who are in turn three points better off than Inter in third with two matches remaining.

Lucien Favre's men have struggled domestically of late, forced to come from 3-0 down to claim a 3-3 Bundesliga draw against struggling Paderborn last Friday.

England winger Jadon Sancho scored to launch the fightback but begins on the bench at Camp Nou.

Lionel Messi is bidding to score at home in the Champions League for the first time this season as Barcelona take on Borussia Dortmund.

The Argentina international fired his latest blank in the 0-0 draw with Slavia Prague three weeks ago, leaving his side with work to do if they are to progress to the last 16.

Barca will be through if they beat Dortmund or if they draw and Inter fall to defeat at Slavia in the other Group F contest taking place on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, holders Liverpool host Napoli at Anfield aiming to avenge a 2-0 defeat from the reverse fixture, while Chelsea will reach the knockout stages with victory against Valencia.

Below, we have highlighted the key data ahead of Wednesday's eight matches.

Barcelona v Borussia Dortmund

12 - Barcelona forward Messi scored with his last shot at Camp Nou in the 2018-19 Champions League season. He has attempted 12 without success this term, failing to score in both home matches. Should he not to score in this game, it would be first time since October 2011 he has failed to find the back of the net in three consecutive home games in the competition (a run of four).

4 - Borussia Dortmund's Achraf Hakimi has scored four Champions League goals this season – only one Moroccan player has ever netted more in a single campaign, with Marouane Chamakh scoring five for Bordeaux in the 2009-10 campaign.

Slavia Prague v Inter

3,119 - Slavia Prague have given 3,119 minutes to Czech players in the Champions League this season – the most by players of the nation of the club they are representing in the competition this campaign.

3 - Lautaro Martinez has scored in his last three Champions League appearances for Inter. He could become the fifth Argentinian to score in four consecutively, after Hernan Crespo (2002), Lionel Messi (six occasions), Sergio Aguero (2019) and Ezequiel Lavezzi (2013).

Liverpool v Napoli

2 - Liverpool's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has scored in his last two Champions League appearances – the only Englishman to score in three consecutive matches for the Reds is Steven Gerrard (five in a row in 2007-08).

3 - Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti was the last manager to win an away Champions League match at Anfield, leading Real Madrid to a 3-0 victory in October 2014. No coach has won more away Champions League games in England than Ancelotti (three – level with Jose Mourinho and Massimiliano Allegri).

Genk v Salzburg

0 - Genk remain winless in all 16 of their Champions League matches (W0 D8 L8). It is the fifth longest winless run in the competition's history and the longest since December 2017 (Maribor – 17 matches).

5 - Salzburg striker Erling Haaland will become just the third player to score in his first five Champions League appearances if he scores in this match. The two to do so are Alessandro Del Piero (1995, Juventus) and Diego Costa (2013-14, Atletico Madrid).

Valencia v Chelsea

3 - Valencia have won three of their last four home Champions League games (W3 D0 L1), having lost four of their previous five (W1 D0 L4).

14 - Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has had more shots than any other Chelsea player in the Champions League this season (14). However, he has found the net with just one of those shots and has scored as many own goals as he has goals (one).

Lille v Ajax

10 - Lille are winless in 10 home Champions League matches (W0 D4 L6). Only two teams have ever had longer home winless runs – Spartak Moscow (11 between 2001 and 2006) and Steaua Bucharest (13 between 1996 and 2013).

10 - Ajax's Hakim Ziyech has been involved in 10 goals in his last 12 Champions League appearances (four goals, six assists). The Moroccan has either scored or assisted in each of his last six away games in the competition (two goals, five assists).

RB Leipzig v Benfica

30 - RB Leipzig are one of only two teams yet to give a single minute to a player aged 30+ in the Champions League this season, along with Genk. In his 10 games as coach in the competition, Julian Nagelsmann has only used one player aged 30 or older – Hungarian striker Adam Szalai for Hoffenheim last season.

10 - Benfica have lost all 10 of their away matches in Germany in the European Cup/Champions League, facing six different teams without success.

Zenit v Lyon 

2 - Zenit have lost two of their last three home European matches (excluding qualifiers) – one more than they had lost in their previous 21 home games (W18 D2 L1).

4 - Lyon's Memphis Depay has scored in all four Champions League matches this season. No Lyon player has ever scored in five consecutive appearances, while only three Dutchmen have scored in five or more – Roy Makaay (2002), Ruud van Nistelrooy (2002, 2003 and 2007) and Arjen Robben (2013).

Lionel Messi would clearly be the most deserving winner of the Ballon d'Or despite Virgil van Dijk's outstanding year, according to Barcelona team-mate Frenkie de Jong.

Liverpool centre-back Van Dijk was long considered the favourite for the prestigious individual honour having helped the Reds to Champions League glory last season.

Van Dijk has also impressed this term as Liverpool – agonisingly pipped to the 2018-19 Premier League title by Manchester City – have surged eight points clear at the summit.

However, Mundo Deportivo claimed on Tuesday that Messi has been told he has won the Ballon d'Or for the sixth time, meaning he will have edged out Van Dijk again having scooped FIFA's The Best Men's Player prize.

De Jong says there is no doubt Messi deserves the recognition.

"For me, I said it a lot but Messi is the best player in the world so he has to win it," he said. 

"Van Dijk had an amazing season, he is a great defender and one of the best players in the world.

"But Messi is above and he is by far the best."

De Jong completed his move to Camp Nou from Ajax in July and has been a standout performer in a Barca side who have failed to convince despite sitting top of LaLiga and Champions League Group F.

The Netherlands midfielder knows the team are capable of showing more consistency but is enjoying life in Catalonia ahead of Wednesday's visit of Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. 

"I'm really happy to be here. It's everything I dreamed of. Of course we can play better, we're working as hard as we can and hopefully everyone can see [on Wednesday] that we're improving," said De Jong.

"We can play better, I think we have an amazing team, most of the best players in the world, so we know we can perform better but we're winning, first in the most difficult group in the tournament. We're not doing really, really bad but of course we can do better.

"We know we can improve, we talk about it a lot, we're training a lot. There's not a single game where a team made no mistakes so it's normal to make mistakes. I think we can improve a lot but we're not playing as badly as people think."

Ernesto Valverde's men have yet to make sure of a place in the knockout stages, although victory at home to Dortmund will get the job done. 

"We know it's really important, if we win we qualify, we're already first in the group," De Jong added.

"It's really important for us, qualifying for the next stage is the most important thing."

Antoine Griezmann revealed he is lacking confidence with decision making, while the Barcelona star said the relationship between himself and Lionel Messi is improving.

Griezmann has struggled to convince since arriving from LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid in a €120million transfer at the start of the season.

The France international has scored four LaLiga goals and supplied three assists for Barca, however, his performances have been underwhelming.

Ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash against Borussia Dortmund, Griezmann told UEFA.com: "I'm in the process of learning and understanding how my team-mates play as everything is new to me.

"I'm still trying to read the runs and off the ball movement from the likes of Luis Suarez, Leo Messi and Ousmane Dembele along with the midfielders. It's my intention to get to grips with this as soon as possible so I can offer my all to the team but at times it's tricky.

"At present when I get the ball I have a certain lack of confidence in when to pass or when to shoot on goal, this I'm sure is something that will change with the passing of time."

Much has been made about the relationship between Griezmann and superstar Barca captain Messi.

Last month, Griezmann admitted to finding it "difficult" to connect with Messi as neither of them are naturally big talkers.

"I'm pretty shy and sometimes have problems talking to others," Griezmann said. "It's rare that I strike up a conversation. Luis [Suarez], Leo and myself have had meals together and the relationship can only improve over time."

On Messi, Griezmann added: "He's the type of player that we're not going to see again for at least 40 years and it's a joy to watch him in action. It really is a privilege to play alongside him."

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are "monsters" who are convinced they are the best player on the pitch in every game, according to Argentina and Juventus forward Paulo Dybala.

The duo are among the greatest players of all time and have won a combined 10 Ballon d'Or trophies since 2008.

Dybala has played alongside Ronaldo at Serie A champions Juve since the Portugal international's move from Real Madrid ahead of the 2018-19 campaign and has teamed up with Barcelona superstar Messi for Argentina over the last four years.

Having seen both players at close quarters, the 26-year-old believes they share a lot of similarities.

"Outside the pitch they are two very quiet people, but inside they are two monsters," he told Spanish newspaper El Pais. 

"I heard Luis Scola [Argentinian basketball player] said both Leo and Cristiano enter the field convinced that they are the best and that is why they are the best. And I am sure that is so.

"My friends used to tell me: 'You have the best in the national team and now they bring you the best one at your club'. I replied: 'It is an advantage for me.'

"I can study them every day. Who doesn't want to play with the best? We are talking about two phenomenal players; two players who are one or two steps above the rest. 

"They are at the top on a football level and also at a mental level. It is not easy to keep going and score 40 goals every year. It is crazy. 

"In the history of football, great players have played at great teams and have not achieved what they did. They have been good for each other."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says Virgil van Dijk should beat Lionel Messi to Ballon d'Or glory next month.

Dutch defender Van Dijk has had a stunning year with Liverpool, helping the Reds win the Champions League in June.

They narrowly missed out on last season's Premier League title but are heading the chase for domestic glory in England this term after an unbeaten start.

Klopp can see why Barcelona superstar Messi would be a popular choice for the individual honour, because of his career accomplishments.

But rather than give a sixth Ballon d'Or to Messi, Klopp believes there is a strong case for Liverpool's defensive talisman to walk away with the trophy at the Paris ceremony on December 2.

Real Madrid's Croatian playmaker Luka Modric was last year's winner of the prize, which is awarded annually by France Football magazine.

Klopp said: "If you give the Ballon d'Or to the best player of this generation, then you can give it always to Lionel Messi, that's how it is.

"But if you give it to the best player of last season, then it was Virgil van Dijk.

"So I don't know exactly how it will work, but that's how I see it.

"If it's for the best player of all, then it's Lionel. The best player of last season, it's Virgil. We will see."

Van Dijk also helped Netherlands to qualify for Euro 2020 this year, while Messi featured as Argentina finished third at the Copa America.

Kylian Mbappe tipped Barcelona's Lionel Messi to win the Ballon d'Or and admitted that he has suffered from bouts of self-doubt during an injury-plagued year at Paris Saint-Germain.

France international Mbappe was fourth in the shortlist for the 2018 Ballon d'Or and won the Kopa Trophy, presented to the best-performing player under the age of 21.

After scoring 33 goals in 29 Ligue 1 appearances for the French champions in 2018-19, Mbappe has been restricted to just five starts this term.

He has nevertheless scored five league goals but backed the legendary Messi to collect the gong for world's best player for a sixth time, telling Spiegel: "In individual terms he [Messi] was the best this year."

"Sometimes I'm worried," Mbappe continued. "I'm scared, if you fail as a player, you have doubts, and when you lose in a big match, the question is, is this the end of it? It was nice, but now it's over!

"But it does not last long, because the good thing about football is that you do not have much time to think."

Mbappe has scored nine goals in 12 games across all competitions in 2019-20 despite spending much of the campaign sidelined by hamstring, thigh and adductor problems.

He said another issue affecting him at PSG is the language barrier between him and German coach Thomas Tuchel, but said the 46-year-old makes certain words loud and clear.

"Unfortunately, I do not know nice words in German," said Mbappe.

"Just swear words like s***, my trainer is German and he always says that when something bugs him: s***, s***!"

Barcelona star Lionel Messi talked up the significance of the Ballon d'Or, but said even the individual award came down to team success.

Messi, 32, is a five-time winner of the prize, claiming it in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo has won the award as many times and Messi said it was a huge honour, although he acknowledged his team-mates were key to his success.

"It is a beautiful recognition and perhaps the most special was the first," he told Otro.

"It is something that comes from the collective. Without having achieved all the collective successes that we had to achieve, I wouldn't have been able to get these individual awards."

Messi will again be among the favourites to win the Ballon d'Or this year, having enjoyed a fine 2019 for Barcelona.

The 2010 Ballon d'Or is among Messi's favourites after he claimed the honour ahead of team-mates Andres Iniesta and Xavi in a Barcelona clean sweep.

"The image of the three nominees for the Ballon d'Or, it was special for us because of the friendship we have," he said.

"Being so long in the same club, all three living practically the same during our whole careers and special for the club.

"For what it means, the truth, it was impressive."

Barcelona, who are top of LaLiga, return to action with a trip to Leganes on Saturday.

Ernesto Valverde has no qualms with Gerard Pique's Davis Cup commitments but warned his star centre-back he will not play against Leganes if his focus is not on Barcelona.

Pique has spent a large portion of the week travelling to Madrid due to the involvement of his company Kosmos in the revamped competition of tennis' premier international team event.

LaLiga leaders Barca make the trip to rock-bottom Leganes on Saturday and Valverde has been speaking with Pique about his extra-curricular activities.

"I have talked with him about this issue and I see him as being focused," head coach Valverde said.

"If I don't think he's focused enough someone else will play. If he arrives in condition, he will be on the list. He has issues outside of football. Players are always blamed if they don't do anything else and only know football."

Asked if Pique has permission to travel to Madrid again on Friday, Valverde replied: "If he travels, you will see if we gave him permission. We have to leave him alone, Saturday we have an important game."

Valverde also insisted he is happy with the work of close-season signing Antoine Griezmann after it was suggested he performs better for France than for Barca.

Griezmann has four goals and three assists for Barca in 11 LaLiga appearances this term and Valverde says the forward is offering plenty to the team.

"I look at my team, what matters to me is how I see the team," he added. "I know there are many eyes on Griezmann but he is giving us many things in terms of work, goals and clarity of play. We think he can give us more."

Ousmane Dembele has had a stop-start season for Barca but was involved against Slavia Prague and Celta Vigo before the international break.

Valverde wants to see the exciting France forward get a long run of games under his belt.

"I think it's important he has continuity in his daily work and gets playing time," he said. "Since his first injury last season against Getafe, trying to get him back quickly has been counterproductive. 

"He's had several relapses or different episodes with different muscular injuries and hasn't been able to perform the way he would have wanted. 

"We hope we can start getting some regular rhythm."

It was the year of Easy Rider, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Midnight Cowboy, Kes and The Italian Job; Abbey Road, Let It Bleed, Dusty In Memphis and Kick Out The Jams.

OK boomer.

Woodstock was a totemic cultural moment in 1969 - but so too the first flight of the Boeing 747, the wedding and bed-in of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the Stonewall riots and the first manned Moon landing, Neil Armstrong and all that jazz. And jazz. Miles Davis’ classic In A Silent Way split critics down the middle.

There was Monty Python's television debut but also the Manson Family murders and the ongoing Vietnam War. The US magazine Life revealed at least 12 million Americans had experimented with marijuana.

All very adult, magic meets toxic; spaceman versus off your face, man.

Little wonder then, that when Pele scored his 1,000th career goal on November 19 of that year he begged the world to please think of the children. The babes of US boomers may have been treated to the very first broadcast of Scooby Doo on CBS in September, but Pele knew the kids in Brazil were still being sold short as the end of the decade drew near.

"For the love of God, people," the 29-year-old Pele said in Rio de Janeiro, on that historic night. "Now that everyone is listening, help the children, help the helpless. That's my only wish at this very special time for me."

Tite has dismissed Lionel Messi's credentials as the greatest footballer of all time after insisting comparisons between him and "phenomenal" Brazil legend Pele have "no credibility." 

The Brazil coach and Messi exchanged words in Friday's game against Argentina, with Tite claiming the Barcelona forward told him to shut up during the friendly defeat in Riyadh.  

Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of Brazil legend Pele scoring his 1,000th goal and, speaking ahead of his side's clash against South Korea in Abu Dhabi the same day, Tite says three-time World Cup winner Pele remains out in front when it comes to the question of whether he or Messi is best.

He said: "Pelé is incomparable. Anybody who wants to compare Pelé to any other athlete...do you know what I do? I hear but I don`t listen.

"It's as if this person doesn't know the history of this man's quality... this guy was phenomenal. Once I said that Messi is extraordinary.

"I meant he's extraordinary to the present time and among humans, with his creativity. Pele is out of normal patterns and I'm not saying this because I'm a Brazilian. You can't find a defect.

"If somebody comes to me and starts to make comparisons, for me it has no credibility."

The loss to Argentina meant Brazil are now five matches without victory, yet Tite remains philosophical over the Copa America winners' form.

He added: "I'm not desperate to win. I'm happy to be where I am. I'm aware of the pressure but I have no desperation. I don't have any of this. What I do want is to make a great game."

Tite has warned South Korea's threat extends far beyond just that of Tottenham forward Son Heung-min.

He added: "We know about Korea's strengths, on their important victory against Germany [in the World Cup] and we respect them. We know about their individual forces, not only Son, but others and the team as a whole."

Lionel Messi scored a stoppage-time penalty to secure Argentina an entertaining 2-2 draw with Uruguay in Tel Aviv on Monday.

Argentina fell behind when Edinson Cavani, who scored in Uruguay's 2-1 win over Hungary on Friday, notched his 50th international goal in the 34th minute.

That lead was cancelled out when Sergio Aguero headed home a set-piece delivery from Messi, before Luis Suarez restored La Celeste's advantage five minutes later with a superb free-kick.

Messi missed a penalty and scored on the rebound in a 1-0 win over Brazil three days ago, but he made no mistake from the spot on this occasion and clinched the draw in the 92nd minute.

Lionel Messi is in talks with Barcelona over a new contract, the Spanish club's sporting director Eric Abidal has confirmed.

The Argentina international has spent 18 years with Barca but his future has been called into question after it emerged earlier this year he can leave Camp Nou for free at the end of any season.

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi is officially contracted to the LaLiga champions until 2021, but Abidal is hopeful fresh terms can soon be agreed.

"They are already talking," he told Mundo Deportivo. "I do not know if we will have news soon because the decision will depend on the player, but for us as a club I hope it is sorted as soon as possible."

Asked when he expects an agreement to be announced, Abidal said: "It will be known when it is known, but I am positive."

Abidal also confirmed academy product Ansu Fati is in line for a contract extension, having impressed in his breakthrough campaign.

"We are also talking to him," Abidal said. "He is a young player that we have to protect. We have to talk to his family and representatives."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.