Antoine Griezmann has been urged to cut his losses and leave Barcelona by former France left-back Bixente Lizarazu. 

After joining Barca from Atletico Madrid for €120million in July 2019, Griezmann scored 15 goals in 48 appearances in all competitions last season – his worse return since 2012-13 with Real Sociedad. 

The 29-year-old attacker averaged one LaLiga goal every 285 minutes for the Blaugrana, way below his best return of one every 112 minutes for Atletico in 2014-15. 

He has been vocal about his frustration at playing on the right wing since Ronald Koeman took over as Barca coach in August and only played eight minutes off the bench in the 3-1 Clasico defeat to Real Madrid on Saturday, having been an unused substitute in the midweek thrashing of Ferencvaros. 

World Cup-winning left-back Lizarazu believes Griezmann, who is reportedly set for a new contract at Camp Nou, should look to move on before his situation deteriorates any further. 

"Griezmann is great. He's a very, very good player and he's fantastic for France. But he isn't at all for Barcelona. This is a real problem," Lizarazu said on Telefoot on Sunday. 

"He went to Barcelona with a dream of playing with Lionel Messi, but unfortunately there is no technical relationship between the two. 

"He cannot find his position, he can no longer player football with Barca. It's a crisis of confidence. 

"At some point it is better to cut off your hand than your arm. Do not hesitate to leave when you cannot find your place. 

"It's been 18 months, not just two... the situation is really critical." 

Griezmann and Messi are yet to create a single chance for one another in LaLiga this season, though the Barca captain has provided one key pass each to Francisco Trincao and Gerard Pique, two to Ansu Fati and three to Philippe Coutinho.

They have also combined on just 23 passes, with Messi having shared more with Fati (35), Frenkie de Jong (39), Jordi Alba (47), Sergi Roberto (54), Coutinho (55) and Sergio Busquets (109).

Lionel Messi plays football as though he is not from this planet while Cristiano Ronaldo is an "incredible worker" who was born to win trophies, according to Miralem Pjanic. 

Midfielder Pjanic swapped Juventus for Barcelona ahead of the 2020-21 campaign and is among a small group to have played alongside both superstars. 

Messi and Ronaldo have won six and five Ballons d'Or respectively and may face each other next Wednesday when Juve host Barcelona in the Champions League, though the Portuguese must first be cleared for action after being diagnosed with coronavirus. 

The pair have previously met in five Champions League encounters, with Messi 3-0 up on Ronaldo in terms of goals scored. 

Asked to outline the differences between the two players ahead of that high-profile match in Turin, Pjanic said: "They are both incredible, in the truest sense of the word. 

"Only in a few years, once they've retired, will we realise the level they reached in their football and the type of unbelievable, unreachable talents they are." 

Ronaldo has scored and assisted a combined 69 goals since joining Juventus in July 2018.

"He is an absolute champion. An incredible worker who takes care of every detail," Pjanic told Tuttosport. "He is obsessed with goals, statistics, victories - a true winner. 

"He is someone who has won wherever he has gone, a leader, but also a person who places himself nicely within the group." 

Pjanic spent two seasons playing in the same side as Ronaldo prior to joining Barcelona, where he is now linking up with Messi. 

"Lionel is awesome. It is difficult to describe - what you see in the game makes him an alien himself," the former Roma player said.  

"But when you see him up close, in training, you realise that he is always like this - it is his natural condition.  

"He amazes you with his technical gestures - it is not something normal. Every time he has the ball something happens." 

Should Ronaldo be deemed fit, next week's game will be the first time he and Messi have faced off in the Champions League since a semi-final tie between Madrid and Barca in May 2011.

Lionel Messi could extend his stay at Barcelona after all. 

Messi, 33, sensationally requested to leave the LaLiga giants in the close season, but he ended up staying put. 

However, it has been expected the six-time Ballon d'Or winner will depart Camp Nou when his contract expires at season's end. 

 

TOP STORY – MESSI MAY EXTEND BARCELONA STAY

Messi will stay at Barcelona if the club gets a new board and clear project, journalist Guillem Balague told FourFourTwo.

Barcelona are due to hold a presidential election in March next year amid pressure on Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Ahead of Saturday's Clasico against Real Madrid, Messi has scored two goals and provided one assist in five games in all competitions.

 

ROUND-UP

- Neymar's deal at Paris Saint-Germain runs until 2022, but there is constant talk over the star's future. Le 10 Sport reports PSG got closer to the Brazil international and his representatives after the transfer window and are prepared to offer him a new contract, although a concrete offer is yet to be presented.

- Zinedine Zidane is under pressure at the helm of Real Madrid. However, AS reports even if the coach left, it would not impact the LaLiga giants' pursuit of PSG star Kylian Mbappe.

- Yet to renew at Juventus, Paulo Dybala's future seems uncertain. Todofichajes reports Chelsea are working to convince the playmaker to join the Premier League club and are prepared to offer up to £90.9million (€100m) for the Argentina international.

- Manchester City are set to make at least one signing in January. The Manchester Evening News says City are ready to pay around £6m (€6.6m) for Partizan winger Filip Stevanovic, 18.

Real Madrid's chances of El Clasico success will be heavily influenced by whether captain Sergio Ramos plays, according to Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman.

The first Clasico of the season takes place at Camp Nou on Saturday with the two teams not in vintage form.

Madrid have suffered back-to-back losses against Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk, piling the pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane.

Barca, meanwhile, lost at Getafe in their previous LaLiga outing and continue to deal with off-field turbulence after the Lionel Messi saga in the transfer window and a debate over wages with the club's players.

Ramos suffered a knee injury in the Cadiz defeat and Madrid struggled without him in Wednesday's 3-2 home Champions League loss to Shakhtar.

Koeman is expecting a more compact Madrid regardless of whether Ramos - who is set to return to the squad - is fit to play from the start, but acknowledges the Spain international will have a big impact if available.

"I am sure they are not going to leave the spaces they have left in recent games," Koeman said at his pre-match news conference.

"We are going to expect a more compact Madrid, with fewer spaces and, for them, it is important that Ramos is there.

"He is one of the best centre-backs and has a great personality on the pitch. Ramos can influence Madrid on Saturday."

Facing an out-of-sorts Madrid will boost Koeman, given Barca have failed to score in their last two league Clasicos. A failure to net again would equal their worst-ever run, previously recorded in 1958.

Asked about Madrid's struggles, Koeman added: "First, we have to prepare ourselves. They have quality on the ball.

"Like any team and coach, when you make mistakes you want to improve.

"But neither they nor we will be lacking in motivation. Their players have experience at a high level. I don't expect a vulnerable Madrid, on the contrary."

Jordi Alba is back in Barca's matchday squad after suffering a thigh injury against Sevilla on October 4.

Asked if the defender can start, Koeman said: "The player always has the last word. He knows if he is fit to play or not.

"I also have to speak to the medical team so we are going to wait.

"I see everything very positively but you have to wait if there is a reaction [in training]. Yes or no. If not, he has a good chance of playing."

The Clasico will also see Lionel Messi look to end his second-longest goalscoring drought in the fixture. He has not netted in 425 minutes of Clasico action, with his last 16 shots against Madrid not being converted.

Messi is, however, the top scorer in Clasico history with 26 goals and also has the most goals in Clasico league meetings at Camp Nou (seven).

Ronald Koeman will get his first taste of El Clasico from a dugout when Barcelona host Real Madrid on Saturday.

The LaLiga champions head to Camp Nou after a pretty rotten week in which back-to-back home defeats to Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk have left fans and pundits alike thoroughly disillusioned with Zinedine Zidane's current approach.

Barca also lost 1-0 in their previous league game, away to Getafe, but a 5-1 thumping of Ferencvaros in the Champions League was a tonic and, in truth, that defeat at Coliseum Alfonso Perez felt more like an aberration during what has mostly been an encouraging start under Koeman.

The Clasico is always the acid test, though – and Barca, barring a dramatic change in system, will line up for this one in a 4-2-3-1 formation, something they have not done for at least the previous 46 meetings.

BREAKING THE WHEEL

Nobody need tell Koeman about Barca's traditional adherence to 4-3-3. He had enough experience as a player for the Netherlands and the Blaugrana to know such a system like the back of his hand, even if Johan Cruyff's peak 'Dream Team' – such as the one that won the 1992 European Cup final through a Koeman extra-time goal – thrived instead in a 3-4-3.

The fact is, though, that Barca have doubled down on 4-3-3 since Frank Rijkaard took charge in 2003. He, Pep Guardiola, Tito Vilanova, Gerardo Martino, Luis Enrique, Ernesto Valverde and, eventually, Quique Setien – all have either stuck religiously to the system or at least made good use of it.

That rings true in the Clasico, too. Since the 2005-06 season, there have been 46 matches between Barca and Madrid in all competitions, and Barca have started in a 4-3-3 in 39 of them. Four games have seen them set up in a 4-4-2, and one each in 3-4-3, 3-5-2 and 4-3-1-2.

It's yielded mixed success, as you might expect. Barca won 17 of those 39 games in 4-3-3 – a 43.6 per cent winning rate – and lost 12. They scored 71 goals and conceded 53.

In 4-4-2, they won twice, drew once and lost once, scoring eight goals and conceding four. The 3-4-3 was, fittingly, a 3-3 LaLiga draw in October 2007; the 4-3-1-2 was that famous 3-2 win for Barca at the Santiago Bernabeu under Luis Enrique in 2017, when Lionel Messi scored his 500th club goal; and the 3-5-2 was used by Valverde when they lost 2-0 in the Supercopa de Espana second leg in the capital three years ago.

Koeman's set-up, then, is a big departure from the norm. But will it work against Madrid?

FATI AND FRENKIE ON FIRE

Koeman explained this month that 4-2-3-1 was preferable because of Barca's lack of wingers. "Looking at the quality that we have, this formation is perfect for the team," he told Barca TV.

Fans may not have warmed to the idea at first, but Koeman's approach makes sense – and there are certain players thriving in this formation.

For one thing, it gets Ansu Fati involved closer to goal. In four league games, the young Spain star has attempted 15 dribbles, created three chances and scored three goals. The freedom to cut inside from the left has also liberated Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest at left-back, each of whom have also created three goalscoring chances. Given Madrid presently have no fully fit right-backs, that should worry Zidane.

Another to benefit is Frenkie de Jong, a player who admitted to underwhelming in his first season after joining from Ajax for an initial €75million. He has performed positively in a central axis, usually alongside Sergio Busquets, asserting himself in games far more even though Barca's average possession figure has dropped to 59.2 per cent, lower than in any of the past 11 seasons.

He, too, has created three goalscoring chances and has a remarkable 100 per cent success rate from 11 attempted dribbles. He has also completed 216 passes, behind only the more possession-focused Gerard Pique (255) and Busquets (261). He is a player with renewed confidence in breaking lines in transition and getting the ball into threatening areas, and Madrid's midfield three will have a real test on their hands to cover the space of Barca's four forwards while keeping De Jong quiet.

And Messi? Koeman said before the Ferencvaros game that his captain's form "could be better", and he had a point – one goal (a penalty) and zero assists from four league games is an unusually modest return. He is also averaging 3.9 shots per game, his lowest rate since 2007-08.

Still, Messi has created more chances (six), attempted more dribbles (19) and more shots (15) than any other Barca player in the league this season, and he may be about to face a Madrid defence without Sergio Ramos.

Lionel Messi earned the right to leave Barcelona at the end of last season, according to Gerard Pique, who has hit out at president Josep Maria Bartomeu and defended signing a new contract in an explosive interview.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi stunned the world in August when he told Barca of his intention to leave the club he has spent two decades with.

He intended to trigger a clause in his contract to walk away on a free transfer, but the validity of such a stipulation was murky due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The saga was brought to a temporary end on September 4 when the forward announced he will stay at Camp Nou for another year, rather than challenge Barca in a legal battle.

But Pique feels the club handled the situation the wrong way, with Bartomeu allegedly backtracking on a promise to let Messi leave whenever he felt the time was right.

"I didn't have much contact with him around that time because it was a very personal decision," he told La Vanguardia ahead of Barca's Clasico clash with Real Madrid on Saturday.

"But I remember saying: 'Leo, it's one year, and then new people will come in'.

"He had more than earned the right to make a decision and if he considered that he should go... I as president would have acted differently.

"A player who for 16 years has given you so much. You are obliged to come to an agreement with him. It cannot be so obvious that the two parties are so far apart.

"How can it be that the best player in history, who we have the luck to enjoy, gets up one day and send a burofax because he feel they are not listening to him?

"Everything is too shocking. What is going on? Leo deserves everything. The new stadium should have his name and then that of the sponsor. 

"We should preserve our figures, not discredit them. It makes me nervous."

Pique also criticised Barca's "outrageous" decision to allegedly hire a social media company to damage the reputations of certain key figures, including himself and Messi.

"As a Barca player, I see that my club as spent money to criticise us – not only people outside the club, but also those who are still playing. That is outrageous," he said, with the club having denied the claims.

"I asked for an explanation and [Bartomeu] told me: 'Gerard, I didn't know'. I believed it, but then you see the person in charge of hiring those services is still at the club.

"It hurts a lot. I say that because I personally told the president before. What else can I say? Is it painful? Yes. Can I do something else? Well, no.

"My relationship with the president is cordial but there are certain things that remain."

Pique this week penned a new four-year contract, which has reportedly caused a dressing-room split as a number of players – including the defender – are said to have signed a letter saying they will not negotiate with the current board.

Asked about his decision to renew, and whether he considered departing Catalonia, Pique said: "If the coach didn't depend on me, I'd have had no problem [leaving].

"The club told me and other players that due to the pandemic they will suffer a lot financially. In that situation, Barca is not above anyone. 

"Barca have given me everything, so I put myself at their disposal. They tell me all the money I can give up this year will be collected in the future.

"I think we are helping the club. The pay may be bigger in the future but for there to be a future we must act like this.

"In a personal capacity, each player is free to accept the club's proposal voluntarily. 

"Another thing is that they force you unilaterally and that they do it with the ways that they have done it. There, the truth is, I totally disagree."

A Clasico showdown against Real Madrid, or West Ham away?

Before Lionel Messi steps out onto the Camp Nou pitch on Saturday, remember this: he had made up his mind, and he had chosen West Ham away.

Playing for Manchester City was Messi's plan for 2020-21, it is believed, and if that meant sacrificing leading Barcelona against their greatest rivals, shucks to it.

Messi must have thought he had nothing left to prove in this fixture, being already the top scorer in Clasico history with 26 goals across all competitions, way ahead of names such as Alfredo di Stefano, Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul and Cesar Rodriguez.

Eighteen of those goals have come in LaLiga, from 27 appearances, and he has averaged one goal involvement per game in the league thanks to nine assists.

However, he has failed to score in his last five Clasico games - three in the league and two in the Copa del Rey.

This weekend, with the world watching, Barcelona need the real Messi to stand up.


Still the same player?

Before the king of the Clasico faces Los Blancos one more time, team-mate Ansu Fati was moved to comment this week that "Messi is still Messi".

The 17-year-old spoke after Messi's early penalty helped Barcelona to a 5-1 Champions League win over Ferencvaros.

Yet heading into that game, Barcelona's new head coach Ronald Koeman said Messi's form "could be better", cosseting that in sufficient pleasantries to avoid any blowback.

As for who is right - Fati or Koeman - it is hard to dispute the experienced Dutchman's verdict.

Doubtless Fati loves playing with 33-year-old Messi, because what teenager wouldn't relish every minute playing with an all-time great?

But Messi's numbers are down in the early weeks of this LaLiga season, with his average attempted dribbles per game down from 8.58 in 2019-20 to just 4.75, and his shots on target per game at a relatively meagre 1.75 when he has averaged 2.15 or higher in each campaign over the past decade.

One goal in four LaLiga matches in 2020-21 equates to his slowest start to a season since 2005-06, when the teenage Messi failed to score in his first four games.

The Clasico drought

Those five goalless games in Spain's biggest match have consisted of four starts and one appearance off the bench, amounting to 425 minutes of football without a goal, his second longest run without netting in the Clasico - behind a six-game sequence from April 2014 to December 2016.

He has failed to score with his last 16 shots in the fixture and has not been on the winning side in a LaLiga Clasico at Camp Nou since Barcelona's 2-1 victory in March 2015, having missed the 5-1 success in October 2018 because of a fractured arm.

He has not had a goal involvement - scoring or assisting - in the last three Clasico league games, putting him one away from what from that statistical perspective would be the worst run of his career.

And the goal return from Messi in Barcelona's biggest home league match of the season has been modest - albeit only by his extraordinary standards - for some time.

He scored twice in a 2-2 draw in October 2012 and netted once when the team played out the same result in May 2018, but those are the only goals he has scored in this LaLiga game since a late strike sealed a 2-0 win in 2008.

Nobody has scored more Clasico league goals at Camp Nou than Messi's haul of seven, which he launched with a hat-trick in a 3-3 draw back in March 2007.

But the big-game returns are diminishing with time, or at least that is how it seems.

Has Messi become a flat-track bully?

The instinctive response is to challenge the use of such a reductive term to describe a footballer so eminent.

The transition happens time and again though, from sport to sport. The ageing superstars who once routinely tormented elite rivals serve up reminders of their most glorious days in flashes, often against more limited opposition than before. Case in point: Messi looked sublime at times against Ferencvaros.

In tennis, Roger Federer can still toy with low-ranked tennis players to the point of doling out early-round humiliations, but will he win another grand slam title, having recently turned 39? No, probably not. Will Messi win another Champions League? No, probably not. It is hard to see it happening at a crisis-hit Barcelona, anyway.

Messi's haul of 25 LaLiga goals last season was his lowest since he scored 23 in the 2008-09 treble-winning campaign, when Samuel Eto'o and Thierry Henry were also scavenging for chances.

But if he is not scoring consistently against Real Madrid, and if he was powerless to prevent Bayern Munich's rout of Barcelona in the Champions League back in August, then where is Messi making his big difference heading into his mid-thirties?

Since the start of August 2018, in LaLiga he has scored eight goals against Eibar, five each against Real Betis, Levante, Alaves and Sevilla, and four apiece against Real Mallorca, Celta Vigo and Espanyol.

Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao are the two teams who have defied him throughout that time.

A leaving present

If this is to be Messi's sign-off stretch with Barcelona - and given his recent state of vexation that seems highly possible - then it is to be assumed he wants to depart with a swagger rather than a shrug of a season.

Had Barcelona's board acquiesced to Messi's departure at the end of last term, this weekend's kick-off in El Clasico would have coincided with the Argentinian winding down at the London Stadium after a lunchtime outing for Pep Guardiola's City against David Moyes' Hammers.

Perhaps Messi would have tuned in for El Clasico on the team coach; perhaps not.

Messi was prepared to sacrifice the Clasico - the hysteria and the history that surrounds it - and that summed up the schism that had developed between him and the club's leadership.

He has since lost good friends Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal, offloaded to Atletico Madrid and Inter, and lost some of his sparkle at the same time.

Suarez and Vidal won't be coming back, but the sparkle still might. There were flashes against Ferencvaros - again, take the opposition into account - but a Clasico against a wobbling Madrid side seems as good an occasion as any for Messi to serve up a reminder of his greatness.

If he can lift himself for any game, it must be this one.

The pressure is firmly on Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid heading into Saturday's Clasico at Barcelona.

Madrid were crowned LaLiga champions just three months ago, but recent results have altered the narrative considerably prior to the clash at Camp Nou.

Los Blancos lost to Cadiz in the league last week and then on Wednesday suffered a remarkable Champions League reverse at the hands of Shakhtar Donetsk, who were missing 10 first-team players due to coronavirus.

These defeats followed the closing of a transfer window in which Madrid did not make a single signing, leaving Zidane short on options.

The prospect of this campaign quickly crumbling is especially painful for those in the Spanish capital after they appeared set to finally dominate rivals Barca once more...
 

MADRID'S BIG OPPORTUNITY

Madrid won the most recent Clasico in March, but they have not beaten Barca in consecutive LaLiga matches since May 2008.

On that occasion, the Blaugrana promptly appointed Pep Guardiola and became Spain's premier domestic side. Madrid's 2019-20 title was just their third since then, despite their Champions League supremacy.

But this season seemed to represent a chance for Madrid to secure a hold over Barca and stage a successful defence of their championship for the first time since that 2007-08 campaign.

Barca were embarrassed in the Champions League by Bayern Munich late last season, leading to the sacking of Quique Setien, the appointment of Ronald Koeman and subsequent departures of Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal, and of course Lionel Messi's transfer request.

While Messi stayed in the end, the current campaign is widely expected to be his last, meaning Madrid would need only to master the magnificent number 10 and his crisis club one final time.

There was modest investment at Barca, at least topping Madrid's outlay of zero, but the arrivals of Miralem Pjanic and Sergino Dest looked unlikely to turn the tide after the champions ended last season in stunning style.
 

WHERE HAS IT GONE WRONG?

Madrid won 10 straight matches after the 2019-20 season – paused amid COVID-19 – resumed in June, dropping points only in a draw against Leganes on the final day when the title was wrapped up.

A goalless stalemate at Real Sociedad then represented an opening-day setback this term, yet Madrid's form was still relatively steady until the Cadiz match, a 1-0 loss.

Reassessing their start after that defeat, however, shows a clear regression from the end of the previous campaign in one key area: their finishing.

In the final 11 matches of last season, Madrid's shooting accuracy (excluding blocks) only once dipped below 50 per cent – in a 1-0 win against Athletic Bilbao – but is yet to reach that mark at all in five games this term.

Against Cadiz, Zidane's side had 74.8 per cent of the ball – more than in any other fixture since June – yet hit the target just twice from 14 attempts.

Crucially, Karim Benzema has gone off the boil. Only he and Federico Valverde have played in all 16 league games since June, the Frenchman scoring seven times from 28 shots at the end of last season, as well as creating six big chances.

In 2020-21, Benzema has netted only once in the league at a conversion rate of 5.3 per cent, while his shot accuracy is down from 72 per cent to 50 per cent and he has already missed as many big chances (three) in five games as he did in 11.
 

IS THERE A SIMPLE FIX?

Given their lack of transfer activity, leaving the squad a little stale, Madrid have no choice but to wait for Benzema to rediscover the form that saw him net 21 times in consecutive seasons following Cristiano Ronaldo's exit.

There remains no obvious alternative, with Luka Jovic handed another opportunity but so far failing to score and missing his only big chance across three matches. Vinicius Junior has also passed up a trio of clear openings.

The defensive concerns evident against Shakhtar should at least be eased by the return of Sergio Ramos, the captain substituted at half-time at home to Cadiz and then rested in Europe.

Raphael Varane endured another Champions League night to forget in his absence, adding an own goal to his two errors leading to goals in August's 2-1 defeat at Manchester City.

In fact, Madrid have now lost seven of their past eight Champions League games without their skipper – also including the trip to City.

This dependence on a 32-year-old Benzema and 34-year-old Ramos must be a cause for concern given Barca were supposed to be the ageing side.

It certainly suggests Madrid might not find life as straightforward as expected as they attempt to step into the void to be left by Messi.

Lionel Messi is preventing Antoine Griezmann from expressing himself at Barcelona as the Frenchman continues to be overshadowed by the superstar captain, according to Arsene Wenger.

Griezmann arrived from LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid in a blockbuster €120million transfer last year but he has struggled to establish himself alongside Messi at Camp Nou.

An unused substitute in Barca's 5-1 Champions League rout of Ferencvaros on Tuesday, Griezmann has failed to score in four LaLiga appearances this season – only managing one shot on target without creating a single chance.

While Messi has just one league goal, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has registered seven shots on target and created six chances for his team-mates.

Former Arsenal manager Wenger believes France international Griezmann is being hindered by Messi's presence in his preferred central attacking position.

"Not playing at his position is complicated in the long term," Wenger told beIN SPORTS.  

"At the start, the guy accepts it but, if he does not meet his needs in the long term and he feels that the position does not allow him to express his qualities, he will become discouraged.

"Today, he is a player who must play in the centre because he has a great work rate, a precision in his passes. 

"He can be dangerous with the last pass and by scoring goals, but there is congestion because he is in the range of play of Messi."

In his first season with Barca last time out, Griezmann scored nine goals, supplied four assists and created 33 chances in 35 LaLiga appearances.

Griezmann finished 2019-20 with 15 goals in all competitions – a tumultuous campaign which saw Barca dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid and humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The 29-year-old scored 133 goals in 257 games for Atletico between 2014 and 2019.

Ronald Koeman said Barcelona have a great future but called for patience after their 5-1 Champions League rout of Ferencvaros.

Lionel Messi, Ansu Fati, Philippe Coutinho, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele were all on target for Barca, who made a winning start in Group G on Tuesday, while Gerard Pique was sent off in the second half.

Barca are coming off a tumultuous 2019-20 season, which saw the club dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid in LaLiga and humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The embattled Spanish powerhouse turned to Netherlands boss Koeman and the Dutch head coach has overseen just one loss in five competitive matches this season.

"We play different," Koeman told reporters after Barca became the first team ever to have two goalscorers aged 17 or under in a single Champions League match thanks to Fati and Pedri.

"We have made changes on the team, we have made changes on the squad, we have chosen young people, so we can't expect more from this team right now.

"We're good, this team is gonna have a great future, but it must improve. Playing with young players, different tactics…. Be calm, I ask you to give a margin.

"We are going to improve. We can't demand it in two or three weeks, but you'll see that soon the team will play better, will be more comfortable, but we need time."

Antoine Griezmann was an unused substitute at Camp Nou, where Koeman opted to use Pedri and Dembele off the bench after Trincao started alongside Messi and Fati.

Messi became the first player to score in 16 successive Champions League campaigns after his 27th-minute penalty opened the scoring for Barcelona.

Fati doubled the lead with a volley as he became the first player to have scored two Champions League goals before celebrating his 18th birthday.

On Griezmann's absence, Koeman – whose Barca face Madrid in Saturday's Clasico – added: "We look for the best eleven for each game, today we have opted for Trincao playing wide, and then Ousmane [Dembele] in order to have depth on the wing.

"Let's see Saturday, it will be another game. It's my job to prepare the team and have the best squad for each moment."

Barcelona sensation Ansu Fati said he is continuing to learn from superstar captain Lionel Messi after setting a Champions League record on Tuesday.

It was a record-breaking night as LaLiga giants Barca opened their Group G campaign with a 5-1 rout of Hungarian visitors Ferencvaros at Camp Nou.

Messi became the first player to score in 16 successive Champions League campaigns after his 27th-minute penalty opened the scoring for Barcelona.

Fati doubled the lead with a volley as he became the first player to have scored two Champions League goals before celebrating his 18th birthday.

"Messi is still Messi," Fati told Movistar post-match. "He can score in any action. 

"We are very happy to have him here with us and I continue to learn from him."

"We start with a good victory, we have to continue like that," Fati added. "It's [his goal] thanks to all my team-mates, they make things easy for me. It's a fantastic pass from Frenkie [De Jong] and I just had to push the ball."

Philippe Coutinho, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele were also on target for Barca, while defender Gerard Pique was sent off in the 68th minute.

Barca are the first team ever to have two goalscorers aged 17 or under in a single Champions League match thanks to Fati and Pedri.

"It's good for the team, it means we're good," Fati replied when asked about Barca's attackers scoring goals.

"The more competitive there is between us, the better. We all come out better."

Barca will now turn their attention to Saturday's Clasico showdown against bitter rivals and defending LaLiga champions Real Madrid.

Madrid, who have a game in hand, are third and one point behind Real Sociedad, while Ronald Koeman's Barca are four points off the pace, having only played four matches.

"I approach it with maximum enthusiasm," said Fati. "It's a Clasico, I've always dreamed of competing in it."

Manchester United, Barcelona and Juventus all made winning starts to their Champions League campaigns as the group stage got up and running.

Tuesday's headline fixture saw two heavyweights in a head-to-head Group H clash, as United saw off Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 thanks to Marcus Rashford's late strike. The England forward's last three goals in the competition have all come on the road, with the last two netted at Parc des Princes.

The victory means United, who have also now scored a record nine Champions League own goals thanks to Anthony Martial's mistake, have won 10 consecutive away matches in all competitions for the first time.

Bruno Fernandes opened the scoring with his 11th spot-kick for United. Since 2012-13, PSG have conceded more penalties (18) and more penalty goals (13) in the Champions League than any other side.

Meanwhile, Ronald Koeman became the fifth manager to take charge of at least six teams in the Champions League – after Carlo Ancelotti (eight), Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez (all six) – as his Barca side took on Ferencvaros.

It finished 5-1 to the five-time European champions, with Lionel Messi converting a 27th-minute penalty to become the first player to score in 16 successive Champions League campaigns in the process.

Ansu Fati doubled Barca's advantage before the break, making him the first player to have scored two Champions League goals before turning 18. Philippe Coutinho, Pedri and Ousmane Dembele completed the rout.

Elsewhere in Group G, Juve overcame Dynamo Kiev thanks to Alvaro Morata's maiden Champions League double, while Andrea Pirlo became the third Bianconeri coach to win his first away game in charge in the competition.

Frank Lampard experienced his first 0-0 draw as Chelsea manager in a stalemate with Sevilla.

From players in the top five European leagues, only Tottenham star Harry Kane (eight) has provided more assists this season than Borussia Dortmund's Giovanni Reyna (four), though Erling Haaland's latest effort that came with a little help from his team-mate arrived in a 3-1 defeat to Group F rivals Lazio.

Lionel Messi and Ansu Fati were on target as Barcelona opened their Champions League campaign with a thumping 5-1 win over Ferencvaros at Camp Nou on Tuesday, although Gerard Pique was dismissed for the hosts.

Ronald Koeman's side suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat to Getafe in LaLiga at the weekend and looked shaky in the early stages against their Hungarian opponents, who were making their first appearance in the Champions League group stages for 25 years.

Messi's penalty shortly before the half-hour mark settled any nerves, though, while Fati doubled their advantage in the 42nd minute.

Philippe Coutinho added a third early in the second half before Ihor Kharatin pulled one back for the visitors from the penalty spot after Pique had been dismissed for bringing down Tokmac Nguen inside the area. Barca had the final say, however, substitute Pedri scoring his first goal for the club eight minutes from time and Ousmane Dembele adding a late fifth.

Ferencvaros were far from overawed in the early stages against their illustrious opponents, twice going close to taking the lead inside the opening 20 minutes.

Nguen had a fine strike ruled out for offside before Isael crashed a powerful drive against Neto's crossbar from 10 yards.

They were left to rue those close calls in the 27th minute when Messi powered home from the spot after he had been tripped in the area by Adnan Kovacevic.

It made the Argentina international the first player in Champions League history to score in 16 consecutive seasons.

Fati was denied by the outstretched leg of Denes Dibusz but then got the better of the Ferencvaros goalkeeper three minutes before the interval, steering a volley inside his left-hand post after a sublime looped pass from Frenkie de Jong.

Fati turned provider for Barca's third seven minutes after the restart, Coutinho receiving his impudent back-heeled pass before sending a deflected effort past Dibusz.

Kharatin restored some pride for the visitors 20 minutes from time after Pique clumsily hauled down Nguen as he entered the penalty area following a ball over the top.

Any hopes of a dramatic comeback were extinguished, however, as Pedri turned home from 12 yards and Dembele thundered home from Messi's pass in the final 10 minutes to seal a comfortable three points.

Lionel Messi became the first player to score in 16 successive Champions League campaigns after his penalty opened the scoring for Barcelona against Ferencvaros.

Barca were 2-0 up by the interval at Camp Nou, with Messi scoring from the spot in the 27th minute and Ansu Fati volleying in a second.

Messi's strike means the Argentine superstar has now netted in Europe's elite club competition in 16 consecutive seasons.

No player in Champions League history has scored in more campaigns overall than Barca's number 10, who is level with Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs in that regard.

While Messi may be entering the twilight of his Barca career, one player who is at the other end of the spectrum is 17-year-old Fati.

With his 42nd-minute effort, the Spain international, who enjoyed a brilliant breakthrough season last term, became the first player to have scored two Champions League goals before turning 18.

Fati added an assist shortly after the restart, turning provider for Philippe Coutinho to make it 3-0 to Ronald Koeman's side.

The Champions League returns this week after a short hiatus, with beaten finalists Paris Saint-Germain looking to get back up and running – and exact a measure of revenge – against Manchester United.

Juventus begin European competition under new head coach Andrea Pirlo, who faces one of the most experienced coaches in the game in Mircea Lucescu.

Barcelona will endeavour to banish memories of August's 8-2 obliteration by Bayern Munich when they face Ferencvaros for the first time, while Chelsea will hope to improve the poor record Premier League teams have had of late against Sevilla.

Here's the key data from Tuesday's matches in Europe's elite competition...

Dynamo Kiev v Juventus: Pirlo feeling the weight of history

Twice a Champions League winner with Milan in 2003 and 2007, Pirlo's first game in the competition comes away to Dynamo Kiev. None of the previous eight Juve head coaches have lost their first match in charge.

In fact, Juve have only been beaten on matchday one in the competition once in 20 previous seasons, winning 11 of those games and drawing eight. That one defeat was a 3-0 loss at Barcelona three years ago.

Dynamo boss Lucescu will be 75 years and 83 days old on Tuesday, making him the oldest coach in Champions League history, overtaking Jupp Heynckes (who was 72 and 357 days old in May 2018). If he wants to celebrate in style, he will need to inflect just a fifth group-stage defeat on Juve in 34 games.

 

Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester United: Mbappe chasing Messi record

PSG's last home defeat in the competition was that famous loss to United in the 2018-19 round of 16, when Marcus Rashford's late penalty secured a 3-1 win for an understrength Red Devils and sent them through on away goals.

If they are to start their quest for a return to the final with a win, Mbappe might be the man to do it. He has scored 19 goals in the tournament and, at 21 years and 305 days old, he needs just one against United to become the youngest player to reach 20. That would surpass Messi's record, set back in 2010 when he was 22 years and 267 days old.

Of course, if United's unsteady defence focuses on Mbappe, they risk leaving Neymar unchecked. Only Messi (45) had more carries with a take-on in last season's Champions League than Neymar (36), and nobody progressed further with the ball than the Brazil star (1,279 metres).

Barcelona v Ferencvaros: Koeman's worrying numbers

Barca have not lost any of their previous 31 home group games since Rubin Kazan stunned Pep Guardiola's men 2-1 back in October 2009. When you consider Ferencvaros have not been in the competition since 1995-96, when they conceded 19 goals in six matches, you would not expect that Barca run to be stopped.

However, coach Ronald Koeman heads into his first European game in charge with a pretty poor record. The fifth coach to take charge of at least six teams in the competition, after Carlo Ancelotti (eight), Claudio Ranieri (six), Jose Mourinho (six) and Rafael Benitez (six), he has the worst win ratio (26.3 per cent) of anybody to manage at least 50 games in the tournament.

Still, he has Messi. The Barca captain has been involved in at least one goal in 38 of his previous 43 group-stage starts, scoring 56 times and assisting 16.

 

Chelsea v Sevilla: Can Werner lift English spirits?

Sevilla, who knocked United out of last season's Europa League semi-finals, have won all three major European matches against teams from England. Chelsea, meanwhile, have taken one victory from their previous nine Champions League meetings with teams from Spain, drawing five and losing three.

Frank Lampard will hope Timo Werner can make the difference. The forward was involved in nine goals in his last 11 Champions League games for RB Leipzig (seven scored, two assisted) and could become the third German to score for Chelsea in the competition, after Michael Ballack (four goals) and Andre Schurrle (two). He has, however, never scored at home.

Other fixtures:

Lazio v Borussia Dortmund:

3 – Dortmund's last Champions League win in Italy was a 1-0 victory over Milan in March 2003, courtesy of a Jan Koller goal. They have lost all three such visits since.

8 – Only Robert Lewandowski (10) scored more group-stage goals last season than Erling Haaland (eight). Haaland averages a goal or assist every 50 minutes in the competition.

 

RB Leipzig v Istanbul Basaksehir:

6 – Istanbul Basaksehir are the sixth Turkish team to play in the Champions League. Only one of the previous five won their first match – that was Trabzonspor, who beat Inter 1-0 away in September 2011.

14 – RB Leipzig's Hwang Hee-chan created the most chances in open play in the Champions League group stage in 2019-20 (14) when he played for RB Salzburg. He was directly involved in six goals in his six group-stage appearances (three goals, three assists) and was one of two players to both score and assist three goals in the group stage, along with Kylian Mbappe.

 

Rennes v Krasnodar:

2 – Rennes have lost just twice at home in major European games, winning five and drawing seven of those 14 matches, all of which were in the UEFA Cup/Europa League between November 2007 and December last year.

36 – Krasnodar boss Murad Musayev is 36 years and 345 days old, the second-youngest coach in this season's competition (behind Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann, 33). He could become the fifth-youngest to win his first game and the youngest since Andre Villas-Boas in September 2011.

 

Zenit v Club Brugge:

11 – Artem Dzyuba has been directly involved in 11 goals in his 12 Champions League group-stage matches with Zenit (eight goals, three assists). That run includes goals in both games against Belgian side Gent in 2015-16.

19 – Of the 51 teams to have featured in at least 40 Champions League matches, only Steaua Bucharest (9.5 per cent), Dinamo Zagreb (11.9 per cent) and Anderlecht (16.7 per cent) have a lower win percentage than Club Brugge (19 per cent). They have won just eight of 42 matches.

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