Mikel Arteta saw Arsenal scrape through to the Europa League quarter-finals and warned the demise of Tottenham shows there are no formalities in knockout football.

Arsenal took charge of their last-16 tie with Olympiacos in Greece last week by opening up a 3-1 advantage, but a 1-0 defeat at Emirates Stadium on Thursday made for a rockier than expected route through to the final eight.

Gunners manager Arteta said Arsenal were "nowhere near" the required level and did not hide behind the fact his team avoided the same fate as their north London rivals, with Tottenham given a shock 3-0 hiding by Dinamo Zagreb to perish 3-2 on aggregate.

Speaking about Tottenham's miserable fate in the competition, Arteta – whose side lost three consecutive home matches in European competition for the first time in their history – said: "It shows as well the level of opposition, that people take for granted that you play against an opponent and you will go through, because of the name of the club that they represent.

"It is not like that, every team in Europe is difficult to beat."

Arteta only found solace in the fact Arsenal – who reached the quarter-finals of the competition for the fourth time in their last five campaigns – avoided Europa League elimination.

"If I have to evaluate the performance with what we've done today, with the ball in particular, then it's nowhere near the standards we have set for ourselves," Arteta said.

"We made it really difficult because we didn't have any stability when you give the amount of balls away that we have in the game.

"When that happens, you don't have the control to manage the tie in the way that we should have done and that's related to the amount of chances we missed again."

Tricky opposition will await Arsenal in the quarter-finals, with this competition particularly important given that winning it represents their only realistic path into next season's Champions League.

Premier League rivals Manchester United, Roma, Villarreal and Ajax are among the sides to have made the last eight.

Arsenal's dressing room was a quiet place after the game, goalkeeper Bernd Leno said.

Leno told Arsenal Media: "Everybody knows that it was not a good performance from us. We cannot change it anymore but the positive thing is that it was a warning. We need to be 100 per cent every game. If we play like today then we won't reach anything this season.

"This is probably the closest way to go to the Champions League and also to win a big European trophy so we need to step up."

Arteta, meanwhile, said Arsenal would not rush to pull Bukayo Saka out of the England squad for the World Cup qualifying games at the end of the month.

The young winger missed Thursday's fixture with a muscle injury but may have a chance of facing West Ham on Sunday, and if he misses out then Arsenal will consult with the England camp.

Arsenal survived a second-half scare to book their place in the Europa League quarter-finals despite a 1-0 defeat to Olympiacos. 

With a 3-1 cushion from the first leg, Arsenal managed to exorcise the demons from their round-of-32 defeat to the same opponents a little over a year ago, but it was tighter than they would have wanted.

Youssef El-Arabi scored the crucial goal for Olympiacos last season, and he was on target again to put the visitors ahead on the night on Thursday.

However, the introduction of Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard helped steady the hosts, before Ousseynou Ba's red card ended Olympiacos' hopes.

Back on his former stomping ground, Sokratis was in the thick of the action inside five minutes, bravely blocking Emile Smith Rowe's effort, with both players requiring treatment.

Sokratis got a vital touch to take Nicolas Pepe's effort wide soon after, though some typically slack Arsenal defending saw the hosts caught cold from one long ball, with Bernd Leno denying El-Arabi.

Back in the fold after his north London derby omission, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang snatched at a similarly good chance at the other end, prodding over when one-on-one with Jose Sa.

Arsenal's defence was caught napping again immediately after the restart – Konstantinos Fortounis and Jose Holebas going close.

Yet Arsenal's luck ran out in the 51st minute, El-Arabi's strike deflecting in off David Luiz after Dani Ceballos had lost possession.

Pepe's blistering first-time shot looked set to restore Arsenal's cushion in the tie on the hour, omly for Smith Rowe to inadvertently get in the way.

Aubameyang's frustrating evening was summed up by a dreadful chip late on, though Arsenal were ultimately not made to pay for his profligacy.

Ba's dismissal helped, the defender receiving a ridiculous second yellow for punching the ball away in frustration after he had fouled Gabriel Martinelli.

What does it mean? Olympiacos’ happy hunting ground, but Arsenal get it done

Arsenal have now progressed from six of the seven Europa League knockout ties in which they won the first leg – their only failure coming last season against Olympiacos.

The Greek team were the better side on the night here, though they were also helped by wasteful finishing from Arsenal, who have now lost each of their three home games against Olympiacos. It is the first time the Gunners have lost three consecutive home matches against a single opponent in European competition.

El-Arabi in esteemed company

El-Arabi became just the fourth player to score in three consecutive matches against Arsenal in major European competition, after Lionel Messi (March 2016), Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski (both March 2017).

At the other end of the pitch, Aubameyang cut a frustrated figure. The Arsenal captain missed a gilt-edged chance in the clash at the Emirates last term, and his finishing was similarly wasteful this time out, with the Gabon forward squandering three brilliant opportunities in the closing stages.

Ceballos makes another error as Gunners concede again

After his error in the first leg, no player had made more mistakes leading to a goal in this season's Europa League than Ceballos, who was again sloppy on the ball in the build-up to Olympiacos' opener.

From then on, Arsenal's defending left a lot to be desired. The Gunners have now conceded in each of their last 11 matches across all competitions – their longest run without a clean sheet since a stretch of 14 matches without a shut-out between October and December 2019.

What's next?

After their win over Tottenham last weekend, Arsenal have another London derby in store on Sunday, as they travel to West Ham. Olympiacos take on Aris in Greece's top-flight play-offs.

Martin Odegaard has everything to become the "complete player" according to Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, who thinks the Norway international can add more goals to his game. 

Odegaard has impressed since joining the Gunners on loan from Real Madrid in January and followed his first goal for the club against Olympiacos last week with the equaliser in Sunday's 2-1 north London derby win over Tottenham. 

Ahead of the return clash with Olympiacos, where Arsenal hold a 3-1 advantage, Arteta warmly praised the 22-year-old playmaker. 

"He's getting better and better. I think his understanding of what we want is excellent," he told the media. 

"His work rate has been phenomenal. And then he's doing something which, in my opinion, he could improve a lot, which is getting in the opponents' box and being more decisive in the score line. 

"He's doing that. He's scored two goals, he's got some really important entrances in the zone and he looks really dangerous all the time. 

"It's something that if he adds that to his game, he becomes a real complete player." 

Odegaard's two goals in all competitions are more than any other Arsenal midfielder has managed since his debut, with only Bukayo Saka (19) having more than his 11 shots. 

He is also the best among his midfield colleagues over the same period in terms of chances created (13), while behind only Mohamed Elneny in terms of passing accuracy (92.9 versus 90.8 per cent), having played 468 more minutes than the Egypt international. 

"I think everybody has been really impressed with how quickly he adapted. How professional he is," Arteta said. 

"How quickly he adapted to try to engage with everybody at Colney [Arsenal's training ground] and then the performances he is putting in as well." 

Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is back in contention to start after a disciplinary breach led to him being benched for the win against Spurs. 

Asked whether Aubameyang had been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy, Arteta replied: "That was dealt with on the day. It's been resolved in a really positive way and we move on." 

Fellow forward Gabriel Martinelli could get a chance for valuable first-time minutes against Olympiacos, having struggled for fitness and form this season. 

"If anything, it's my fault," Arteta said over the Brazilian youngster's lack of game time. "He's done everything perfect. He trains incredibly well every day. His attitude cannot be any better. 

"He's really disappointed that he's not playing more, obviously I have spoken to him. But he needs to be a little bit patient. 

"He had some minutes, he had some games as well and it’s true that the competition now for the front positions is very tough. He needs to be patient and he will get his chance." 

Saka, meanwhile, faces a late fitness test having made way at half-time in the game with Spurs due to a hamstring complaint.

Mikel Arteta demanded Arsenal cut out their defensive mistakes, despite being thrilled with the overall performance of his team against Olympiacos in the Europa League.

Arsenal took a big stride towards the Europa League quarter-finals as they ran out 3-1 winners in the first leg of their last-16 tie in Athens, thanks to late goals from Gabriel and Mohamed Elneny on Thursday.

Martin Odegaard's stunner – his first goal for Arsenal after joining from Real Madrid on loan – put the Gunners ahead, but a mix up between Bernd Leno and Dani Ceballos, who has now made two errors leading to goals in the Europa League this season (no player has made more), allowed Olympiacos to equalise.

Ceballos' mistake follows on from Granit Xhaka's error against Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday, though manager Arteta insisted there is no issue with Arsenal's system, but rather the timing of their passes out from the back.

"We started the game really well, very dominant, created a lot of chances, we could have scored two or three at least in the first half, but we gave them two chances," he told BT Sport.

"We gave them the goal, trying to play out from the back, but we reacted really well.

"Overall, positive things, really positive performances but we have to stop making the errors that are costing goals, because we cannot sustain that at this level.

"It's not concentration, it's about when you play the ball. It's not about structure, decision making, it's about when you play the ball, it makes a whole difference."

Arteta, though, claimed his team cannot play with any fear.

"It's not about stopping the way we play, because this is us and we get our rewards by identifying when we do it and how we have to do it," he added.

"The worst that we can do is get the structure to play, but then have too much fear to play. That's a bad mistake to do that."

Arsenal were worthy winners – the Gunners had 18 shots, compared to six from Greek hosts Olympiacos, and eight of them were on target, while Arteta's side also enjoyed 61.5 per cent possession.

The Gunners have won eight of their nine Europa League games this season – drawing the other – and are the highest scorers in the competition so far this term (27 goals), but Arteta explained the next step is to put in a complete performance.

"We were really dominant. We showed our personality to come here and dominate the game," he said.

"The next step is to do that for 90 minutes and give absolutely nothing to the opponent – we are not there yet. 

"We have some of the best moments that we've played this season, understanding the spaces, the quality, the rhythm, the way we attacked the spaces. How we linked with each other, it was great. We need to keep doing it and do it for longer periods."

Odegaard was particularly impressive in the number 10 role, crafting a game-high four chances and had four attempts – more than any other player.

"It's a great result, three goals away from home and a win in this competition is always big," the Madrid loanee told BT Sport.

"The way we struck back after the goal we conceded, and the mentality of this team – I'm really pleased with everything.

"It showed the spirit in the team, the way we back each other. We knew we had to get a goal. That's what it's about – being a team. When one player makes a mistake, you have to strike back as a team and that's what we did today."

Gabriel and Mohamed Elneny scored late on as Arsenal atoned for defensive sloppiness to take a 3-1 lead in their Europa League last-16 tie with Olympiacos.

Having taken the lead through Martin Odegaard's stunning first goal for the club, Arsenal looked set to be the masters of their own downfall in Piraeus.

After surviving a David Luiz mistake late prior to half-time, the Gunners gifted Olympiacos an equalsier when Youssef El-Arabi robbed Dani Ceballos of possession.

Yet with El-Arabi, who scored the winner when Olympiacos knocked Arsenal out last season, squandering another gilt-edged chance, Gabriel headed in a second away goal to give the Gunners the edge before Elneny's wicked strike put them in control ahead of the return leg.

Kieran Tierney's strike inspired Arsenal's comeback against Benfica at the same stadium on February 25, and the full-back should have had an assist to his name in the third minute of this game, but Odegaard dragged wide from his neat cut-back.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's deflected header looked set to put Arsenal ahead three minutes later, only for Jose Sa to make a superb save onto the crossbar.

Odegaard more than made amends for his earlier miss when he struck in the 34th minute, slamming a powerful, left-footed shot beyond Sa from 30 yards.

Arsenal's work was almost undone by David Luiz's error moments later – Giorgos Masouras blazing over.

Thomas Partey forced Sa into action shortly after the restart, before he was taken off for Ceballos, and that change quickly backfired.

Bernd Leno's sloppy pass put Ceballos in trouble, and El-Arabi nipped in to fire home.

El-Arabi could have taken his tally of goals against Arsenal to three when Lazar Randjelovic drilled in a cross, but he failed to divert it on target.

Olympiacos were made to pay – Gabriel rising high above Yann M'Vila to meet Willian's cross and send a looping header into the right-hand corner before Elneny's swerving strike clipped in off the woodwork to give Arsenal breathing space in the tie.

Mikel Arteta insists Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still has much more to give to Arsenal despite a recent improvement in his performances.

The Gunners captain has only scored nine times in the Premier League this season, a marked reduction from the 44 he managed across the previous two campaigns.

Aubameyang scored just twice in 14 appearances in all competitions from mid-September to the middle of December, but his form in front of goal has improved of late, the Gabon international having netted eight times in his most recent nine outings.

Manager Arteta is happy with Aubameyang's improvement but believes there is more to come from the player.

"Obviously, the stats are much better and related to who he is and what he needs to bring to the team," Arteta told reporters ahead of Thursday's Europa League last-16 first leg against Olympiacos.

"But still, I think he could score many more and he could do better in other aspects. He needs to keep having that mentality and he has that mentality.

"We need players performing at their maximum. When Auba is in a much better place, obviously the team will be in a much better place because at the end, things are decided in both boxes, and what he can produce in the opponents' box has an incredible impact for our team.

"In big moments, you need to have big players performing and making the difference. It looks like, at this moment, he's firing, he's happy, physically he's in a good moment and he's full of confidence."

With Arsenal 10th in the Premier League table and with their FA Cup defence having been ended by Southampton, the Europa League represents their best chance of a trophy and a way back into the Champions League for next season.

Having announced a £47million loss last week amid the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, European football could be critical to Arteta's chances of putting together a squad capable of challenging England's best again.

Despite the potentially tricky year to come, Arteta is confident a major turning point is coming in Arsenal's modern history.

"I want a sustainable club. We all want a club that can be run with their own resources. It is great we have the support from our owners," he said.

"We have had that in the summer when it was much needed because of everything that has happened with COVID and what happened at the club in the last three years without the Champions League and the hit that that took.

"But our responsibility and everything we are planning for the future is for this club to go back to being sustainable on its own and being all the time as strong as possible in every department and the financial department is crucial as well.

"I think this project is going to go 'bang'. This is where we are, but sometimes it is difficult to see the moment now but I'm sure where we are going.

"We have created a really strong group, a really strong bond with our players, with our fans, with our staff and that is going to pay big in the future.

"You need to win to convince anybody that you are doing a good job in the club and taking them in the right direction.

"If you are not inside the club every day and know exactly what is going on within the club, the only way to convince anybody is to win."

Mikel Arteta has heaped praise on Martin Odegaard for how he has started at Arsenal, calling the midfielder's effort "phenomenal".

Odegaard joined Arsenal on loan from Real Madrid towards the end of the January transfer window.

He is yet to register a goal or an assist in eight outings for the Gunners, prompting former players like Martin Keown and Nigel Winterburn to criticise his start.

But Arteta has been highly impressed by the 22-year-old and is thrilled with how well he has settled, amid speculation over whether Arsenal will opt to pursue a permanent move.

"I'm really happy with him," said Arteta. "I think he has settled really, really quickly into the team and with what we demand from the players. 

"His behaviour, his attitude and his work rate has been phenomenal. 

"He has had better moments than others during games to give us the special qualities he has, but overall, I'm really happy with him."

One of the players Odegaard is battling with for selection is emerging attacking midfielder Emile Smith Rowe.

Smith Rowe has been out of action with a hip injury for the last 10 days but might be back in time to face Olympiacos in the Europa League last-16 first leg on Thursday.

"He is going to have a full session [on Wednesday] to see if he can be involved for [Thursday's] game," said Arteta.

"After training, we will know exactly where we are with him."

The tie will see Arsenal come up against former player Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who joined Olympiacos on a two-year deal in January.

Arteta added ahead of the away first leg: "I am looking forward to seeing Papa, he is such a good character and a very popular player here. 

"He was liked and loved by everybody. It was a pleasure to work with him, such a pro. 

"It is true he knows what we try to do, but there isn’t a magic formula. I’m sure he will try to do his best and we will do the same."

Arsenal and Olympiacos have previously met on 10 occasions across all European competitions, with no encounter ending level and both teams winning five times each.

Greek champions Olympiacos dumped Arsenal out of the Europa League last season at the last-32 stage.

The Gunners are hoping to avoid back-to-back eliminations suffered at the hands of the same side, which last happened to them in 2012-13 and 2013-14 against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Granit Xhaka has received the backing of team-mates past and present after his calamitous error against Burnley.

The Swiss midfielder was at fault for the Clarets' leveller in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Turf Moor, directing an attempted pass into the midriff of Chris Wood, with the ball diverting into the net.

Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Xhaka has made eight errors leading to goals in the top flight, which is more than any other outfield Premier League player.

He looked set to head into Thursday's Europa League clash at Olympiacos with criticism ringing in his ears, having felt compelled to issue an apology on Instagram.

But the 28-year-old has since been showered with praise by Thomas Partey and ex-Gunner Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who is now with Olympiacos.

"I think he's a great player," said Partey. "We all know he works hard for the club, he works hard for his team-mates when he's on the pitch.

"As we all know in football, you never know when you're going to have a bad day and that's part of it.

"We have to keep raising each other, keep fighting for each other and that's how we're going to have a good game and win matches.

"All the players know what we have to do when we play together. It doesn't matter who we play with, we have to do our best and win games."

Striking a similar tone to Partey, Sokratis – who joined Arsenal in 2018 and left in January this year – offered a glowing tribute to his former team-mate.

"Granit is one of the best team-mates I've had the pleasure of working with," Sokratis told Football London.

"He's a very important player for Arsenal and I believe that he's a good player who can be a leader in the team.

"When you make one mistake everybody will go against you, but I know Granit's character. Before the Burnley game he played five or six games where he was probably the best player in the team.

"I think he's one of Arsenal's best players and certainly one of the best midfielders that I've played with."

In between Arsenal's two-legged round-of-16 clash with Olympiacos, Mikel Arteta's side have the small matter of Sunday's north London derby with Tottenham.

Mikel Arteta concedes the next week will be "massive" in determining the success of Arsenal's season and wants his players to ignore any criticism coming their way.

Arsenal visit Olympiacos in the last 16 of the Europa League on Thursday, with Arteta hoping the Gunners can gain revenge.

They were beaten on away goals by the Greek side in the last 32 of last season's competition.

The tournament represents the Gunners' best chance of reaching next year's Champions League, with them having slumped to 10th in the Premier League.

A key week will also see Arsenal face rivals Tottenham in the north London derby on Sunday, before the return leg against Olympiacos.

Arsenal also face West Ham in another London derby before the international break and Arteta knows the pressure is on.

"The players have to focus on performing as good as possible and try to do their best on the pitch," Arteta said. 

"That criticism with where it is coming from with which intentions is something that they must not pay attention to because they cannot control.

"The better we do individually and the better we do collectively, things are going to work better and that's the responsibility they have all the time when they jump on that pitch.

"Obviously, it's a massive week for us, we have four very important games coming up and we need to win all of them. That is our reality and this is how we are going to approach it.

"But we are talking about [it being a decisive week] every week."

Arteta reflected on the Olympiacos loss last year, which saw Arsenal beaten 2-1 at home in the final moments of extra time in the second leg, having earned a 1-0 away win in the opening clash.

"Well obviously, it was a really tough one to swallow," he said.

"The way it happened at the end was really cruel after everything we did in the two games to lose it the way we did it and with the last chance that Auba [Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang] had. 

"But we moved on. Obviously, we have some feeling towards that team and we want to put it right.

"Emotionally it really drained us because it was a rollercoaster during the game and with what happened, it could have ended in a beautiful way, but it ended in a really harsh way for us. 

"I think emotionally it took some time to get the team and some individuals lifted because it really hurt.

"We have the two games to look at and everything that happened in those two games. The disappointment that we had to digest, and it took some time to do that because it was a hard one. We had a lot of faith and enthusiasm in the competition, and we were knocked out.

"And now we have another opportunity. It's the beauty of this game. It's a completely different context but the reality is the same that we have to beat them twice to go through in the competition and we have to be better than them.

"They are coming from playing in the Champions League. They played against City two really good games as well so it will be a really tough opponent.

"It's a team that is used to playing in all those competitions and they beat us last year. It doesn't matter the manner but they did it last year so we have to be better than last year to beat them now."

While Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Porto have already secured their place in the Champions League knockout stages, some big names are in danger of a shock elimination.

After making history by leading Real Madrid to three straight Champions League titles during his first stint as head coach, Zinedine Zidane is on the verge of another first that could well place his future at the club in serious jeopardy.

Inter are also fighting for their future in the competition, as are Atletico Madrid and semi-finalists from the past two campaigns Ajax and Atalanta.

Ahead of what is sure to be a thrilling finale to the group stage, we take a look at the best stats courtesy of Opta.

 

Midtjylland v Liverpool: A first in reach for Reds

Jurgen Klopp's men are already guaranteed to finish top of Group D but victory over bottom side Midtjylland will see them register five wins in a single Champions League group stage for the first time.

Their form on matchday six in the competition is strong too. They have triumphed in each of their past three final group stage matches by an aggregate score of 10-0.

Taking three points would see the Reds become just the third Premier League side, after Chelsea in 2003-04 and Manchester United in 2010-11, to win all three of their away games in the group stage.

Should Caoimhin Kelleher be given another opportunity between the posts, he could become the first Liverpool goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in their first two Champions League starts.

Salzburg v Atletico Madrid: Shoot-out for progression

Atletico will be looking to avoid just a second exit at this stage in their eighth campaign in the competition under Diego Simeone.

They will need to be wary of Salzburg forward Mergim Berisha, who has scored four goals in as many Champions League starts for the club this season – only Erling Haaland (eight in 2019-20) has scored more for the Austrian side in a single campaign in Europe's premier club competition.

Enock Mwepu will be another threat for the visitors, having attempted six shots and created four chances in Salzburg's 3-1 win over Lokomotiv Moscow last time out.

Ahead of matchday six, only two players had been directly involved in more shots in a Champions League game this season – Lionel Messi and Munir El Haddad played a part in 11 against Ferencvaros and Krasnodar respectively.

Real Madrid v Borussia Monchengladbach: Blancos on the brink

A win will see Zidane's struggling Madrid into the knockout rounds and avoid the ignominy of suffering their first Champions League group stage exit after 28 consecutive progressions.

The drop-off this season can be seen in the fact their defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk last time out was Madrid's fourth in their past seven matches in the competition – they only lost five of their first 39 Champions League games under Zidane (W25 D9).

Goals should be expected at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, with the previous five meetings between the teams seeing 20 goals scored with 10 apiece.

Gladbach just need to avoid defeat to advance and some game time for Alassane Plea would likely help them achieve that; he has been directly involved in eight goals (five scored, three assisted) in his five Champions League appearances at an average of one every 45 minutes.

Inter v Shakhtar Donetsk: Conte's San Siro woe

Failure to win against high-flying Shakhtar at San Siro will see Inter bow out at the group stage for a third consecutive season. Before this run, they had advanced from 11 of their 12 pool appearances (including the second group stage) in the competition.

Shakhtar may have beaten Madrid twice but they have a goal difference of minus seven; the only teams to have advanced with such a record after five games are Galatasaray in 2013-14 and Atalanta in 2019-20.

Inter will therefore be hoping Romelu Lukaku can help get them over the line. The Belgium striker has played a role in 17 goals in his 15 European matches for the Nerazzurri, including scoring a double in a 5-0 success over the Ukrainian side in last season's Europa League semi-final.

A strong performance from Lukaku would go a significant way to ensuring Antonio Conte does not become the first Inter coach to oversee a Champions League group stage campaign without a home win.

Other fixtures:

Ajax v Atalanta

2 - Ajax are unbeaten in their last seven games against Italian opponents in the Champions League, but five of these have ended in draws. They must win to reach the last 16.

4 - Atalanta went winless at home in the Champions League group stage this season (D2 L1), yet will qualify for the knockout rounds if they avoid defeat here. It will be just the fourth time a team has picked up as little as two points at home in a group stage and still qualified for the next round, after Roma in 2002-03 and Milan in both 2009-10 and 2012-13.

Bayern Munich v Lokomotiv Moscow

13 - Bayern drew 1-1 against Atletico in their most recent Champions League outing – the first time they failed to win in the competition under Hansi Flick after he oversaw 12 straight victories.

1 - Lokomotiv have drawn both of their away games in the Champions League this season and have never previously gone unbeaten away from home in a single season in the competition.

Manchester City v Marseille

16 – If City beat Marseille they will have accrued 16 points in the Champions League group stage this season, the joint-most of any English side in a single campaign along with Arsenal in 2005-06 (finalists), Manchester United in 2007-08 (winners), and Tottenham in 2017-18 (last 16).

8 - Marseille have lost each of their past seven away games in the Champions League and another defeat here would see them record their worst ever losing run on the road in the competition.

Olympiacos v Porto

100 - Olympiacos have won all three of their home Champions League matches against Porto, in three successive seasons between 1997 and 1999 – it is their best 100 per cent record on their own patch against any side in the competition.

4 - Porto have kept a clean sheet in four consecutive Champions League matches since conceding three goals away to Manchester City in October – the last side to record five or more consecutive shutouts in the competition was Juventus in 2016-17. Manchester City are also on a run of four.

Matchday five of the Champions League could mean qualification for the last 16 for some - and spell trouble for others.

Bayern Munich and Manchester City are already through, but their respective opponents, Atletico Madrid and Porto, could do with positive results.

Real Madrid recorded a valuable win at Inter last time out but must do better against Shakhtar Donetsk than they did on matchday one, while the Nerazzurri themselves know nothing but a victory at Borussia Monchengladbach will do.

Liverpool need just a point at home to Ajax to progress, but with injury problems mounting and a 2-0 home loss to Atalanta last week, their progress no longer looks to be such plain sailing.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Madrid: Zidane's men aim to qualify against goal-shy opponents

Shakhtar's 3-2 win at Madrid was a serious shock, one that became more apparent as they lost their latest two games by four or more goals without scoring. Only Malmo and Red Star Belgrade have ever done so in three consecutive matches.

Indeed, Shakhtar have failed to score with each of their 23 shots since netting their third in the Spanish capital.

Madrid know a victory will guarantee their place in the knockouts for the 24th season in a row, a competition record. Their form might be inconsistent, but they have lost only one of their previous seven away games against Ukrainian opponents – a 2-0 defeat to Dynamo Kiev – since March 1999.

 

Atletico Madrid v Bayern Munich: Holders could match club record – but without Lewandowski

Bayern Munich will match a club-record seven away wins in a row in the Champions League with victory at Atletico Madrid. They have won their previous six by an aggregate score of 27-7.

Diego Simeone has lost three of his five meetings with Bayern in this competition, but Atleti have only been beaten once at home in Europe in their previous 24 games.

Robert Lewandowski needs just one goal to surpass Raul in the all-time goalscoring list in the tournament, having reached 71 against Salzburg. However, with the striker missing this contest, Atleti may fancy their chances of beating Bayern at home for the third time in a row.

Borussia Monchengladbach v Inter: Can Conte fix his Champions League woes?

Since losing the first meeting in 1971, Borussia Monchengladbach have gone four games unbeaten against Inter.

This season marks the first occasion Inter have ever failed to win any of their opening four Champions League matches, and they are at risk of losing three in a row in the group stage for the first time.

Indeed, Antonio Conte has won only 20 per cent of his Champions League games in charge of the Nerazzurri, the lowest ratio of any of his predecessors over at least five games in the competition. Fail to win in Germany, and Inter are out.

 

Porto v Manchester City: Imperious defence meets clinical attack

Porto have lost three games in a row against Manchester City 9-2 on aggregate and are winless in five previous meetings with English opponents.

Pep Guardiola's side have already kept three clean sheets this term, one more than they managed in nine Champions League matches in 2019-20.

Porto, however, have scored with 25.8 per cent of their shots this season, a tally only bettered by Gladbach (28.6 per cent).

Liverpool v Ajax: Mane must find magic touch

Ajax and Liverpool have not met at Anfield since 1966-67, when the Eredivisie side won the tie 7-3 on aggregate. That was the last occasion the Reds lost to a Dutch side (they have played 14 such games since).

Ajax are unbeaten in 11 away games in the Champions League, their best run since March 1997, and they have not lost in their latest five visits to England in this competition.

Liverpool, who need a point to progress, could do with Sadio Mane finding form. The forward has scored only once at home in his previous 10 appearances in this tournament, going 426 minutes without finding the net in that run.

 

Other fixtures:

Lokomotiv Moscow v Salzburg

20 – Of the 20 shots attempted between these sides in their matchday-one meeting – which ended in a 2-2 draw - 15 of them were by Salzburg. Indeed, Lokomotiv Moscow scored twice from just three shots on target in the game.

50 – Since the start of last season, Salzburg's 10 games in the Champions League group stages have seen 50 goals scored (23 for, 27 against), the most of any club. Salzburg have won just two of those 10 games (D2 L6).

 

Atalanta v Midtjylland

3 – Midtjylland have lost all three of their previous games against Italian opponents in European competition, conceding 13 goals and scoring just one in reply.

1 – Atalanta have only failed to score in one of their last 12 games in the Champions League (25 goals in total), although this did come in their most recent home game in the competition, losing by five goals to Liverpool.

 

Marseille v Olympiacos

13 – Marseille have lost their last 13 Champions League matches – a competition record – scoring just six goals and conceding 29.

10 – The Ligue 1 side (six) and Olympiacos (eight) are the only two teams in the Champions League in 2020-21 yet to attempt at least 10 shots on target, with the Greek team managing just one across their previous two matches against Man City.

Manchester City secured a last-16 spot in the Champions League but failed to turn their complete dominance into more than a 1-0 win over Olympiacos.

Eager to put Saturday's 2-0 Premier League loss to Tottenham behind them, Pep Guardiola's side controlled proceedings in Wednesday's Group C clash in Athens.

But they had only one goal to show for it as Phil Foden, who wowed for England during the international break, swept the visitors into a first-half lead that never came under threat from the toothless hosts.

Guardiola, who signed a new contract last week, saw his side frustrated by a combination of profligate finishing and fine goalkeeping from Jose Sa.

City, who scored nine goals across their opening three group games, were quickly on the front foot and Foden stung the palms of Sa with a low drive, with the goalkeeper also gathering a Gabriel Jesus header.

Jesus came far closer to breaking the deadlock on the half-hour mark, racing in behind before seeing his shot blocked away by the defiant Sa.

The opener finally arrived in the 36th minute, Foden converting from Raheem Sterling's back-heeled assist after City's slick play had Olympiacos chasing shadows.

Sterling had the busy Sa scrambling across his line to repel a dipping free-kick in first-half stoppage time, with City denied again after the interval as Ilkay Gundogan's effort flashed wide and Joao Cancelo's flick was saved.

Olympiacos were simply not able to apply any pressure – their first shot did not arrive until the 88th minute – leaving City to coast to a win that was brightened further by the late introduction of Sergio Aguero from the bench after an injury lay-off.

 

What does it mean? City's welcome top-flight distraction

The loss at Spurs left City with just 12 points from eight matches and in the unfamiliar territory of the Premier League's bottom half.

This result was a tonic to those domestic woes and it affords Guardiola the chance to make some changes for the remaining two group games, knowing safe passage to the knockout phase is assured.

For Olympiacos, while second spot is still up for grabs, a third-place finish and a berth in the Europa League might be a more likely prospect.

Foden shines bright

Foden scored twice for his country in an eye-catching display against Iceland in which he also showcased some dazzling skills.

He was lively in Greece too, keeping his cool to score what proved to be the winner with one of his six shots, while also creating four chances.

Sa under siege

City had 11 shots on target, seven coming during a first half in which the hosts failed to even register a touch in City's penalty area, so Sa was indeed a busy man.

He was an excellent last line of defence but his all-action outing stood in stark contrast to the anonymous performance of the Olympiacos attack.

Konstantinos Fortounis had just 53 touches and not one of them was a shot on target.

What's next?

City host Burnley this weekend before a trip to Porto next Tuesday, while for Olympiacos it is a top-of-the-table clash at Aris before heading to Marseille on the European stage.

Neither Inter nor Real Madrid have room for error as they face one another in the Champions League on Wednesday.

A mammoth meeting at San Siro could set one of the two European giants on course for an early exit, with both sides currently outside the qualification places.

Champions Bayern Munich are also in action, as are Liverpool, who host Atalanta after a thumping win in Italy last time out.

Atletico Madrid had a big win at the weekend as Manchester City suffered a disappointing defeat, but both now likewise turn their attention to continental competition.

We preview all of these games plus the rest of Wednesday's action with the help of Opta data.
 

Inter v Real Madrid: Los Blancos seeking breakthrough success

At risk of going winless through their opening four games of a Champions League campaign for the first time, Inter at least have a strong record at home to Real Madrid. Los Blancos have won three of their past four games against Inter but never away from home.

Madrid have enjoyed taking on Serie A sides in recent years, though. They have seven wins from eight such games under Zinedine Zidane, scoring at least twice in each victory, while their sole defeat in this period - 3-1 against Juventus in 2017-18 - was still enough to secure progress en route to the title.

Zidane's side - missing captain Sergio Ramos - must handle Romelu Lukaku, who has been involved in 15 goals (11 scored, four assisted) in the Europa League and Champions League across the past two seasons. Excluding qualifiers, only Robert Lewandowski (22 involvements) has outperformed the Inter forward.

Bayern Munich v Salzburg: Goals galore guaranteed?

Robert Lewandowski will climb to joint-third on the list of all-time Champions League goalscorers the next time he finds the net, increasing his tally of 70 to match Madrid great Raul's 71.

The Bayern number nine might well fancy his chances against Salzburg, who have conceded a joint-high 11 goals in the competition this season. Their games have produced 17 goals - more than any other team's.

Salzburg certainly face a tough ask, having lost all of their previous five Champions League meetings with reigning champions - including the 6-2 defeat at home to Bayern on matchday three when they conceded six goals for the first time in a European match while the German giants claimed a 14th straight win.

Liverpool v Atalanta: Goal-hungry visitors out for revenge

Another fixture that would appear primed for plenty of goalmouth action sees Atalanta visit Liverpool, having suffered two of their three heaviest defeats in European competition - 5-1 v City last season, 5-0 v Liverpool last time out - against Premier League sides.

Atalanta failed to score on matchday three but had netted in their previous 10 in the Champions League, while they have won their past three away games, scoring at least three times in each, since the City reverse.

Liverpool are looking for four consecutive victories in the Champions League for the first time since March 2009 and can call again on Diogo Jota, who netted a hat-trick in Bergamo and would become the fastest Reds player to five goals in the competition if he scored again in his fourth match.

Olympiacos v Manchester City: Torres, De Bruyne and defence on top form

City are struggling in the Premier League but have quickly found their feet in Europe this season. The same is true of Ferran Torres, who will aim to become the third City player to score in four consecutive Champions League matches after Raheem Sterling (November 2017) and Sergio Aguero (March 2019).

Torres' goal in the previous meeting with Olympiacos was assisted by Kevin De Bruyne, who already has four assists in the Champions League this term - his best ever tally.

Crucially, Pep Guardiola's defenders are also delivering on the European stage and they can win three in a row without conceding in major continental competition for the first time since the 1969-70 Cup Winners' Cup.

 

Other fixtures:

Borussia Monchengladbach v Shakhtar Donetsk

29 - Heading into matchday four, Gladbach had the highest shot conversion rate of any team in the Champions League this season (29 per cent - 10 goals from 35 shots).

6 - With three goals and three assists, Alassane Plea has been involved in six of his side's 10 goals - the joint-highest tally in a player's first three appearances in the competition since 2003-04 (also Adriano for Inter in 2004 and Erling Haaland for Salzburg in 2019).

Ajax v Midtjylland

1 - Ajax have only won one of their past eight home games in the Champions League (D2 L5), losing each of their most recent three without scoring a goal.

26 - Excluding qualifiers, Midtjylland last kept a clean sheet in European competition back in September 2015 (1-0 v Legia Warszawa), conceding 26 goals in 10 games since then.

Atletico Madrid v Lokomotiv Moscow

10 - Atleti are unbeaten in their past 10 games against Russian opponents in European competition (W8 D2), with their last such defeat coming back in February 2013 (2-0 v Rubin Kazan in the Europa League).

7 - Atleti have conceded seven goals in three Champions League matches so far this season - more than they have in any other group stage in a single season under Diego Simeone.

Marseille v Porto

8 - Marseille are looking to avoid becoming the eighth team to lose each of their first four group games while failing to score in a single Champions League campaign, with Anderlecht in 2017-18 the last to do so.

0 - OM have had fewer shots on target than any other side in the Champions League this season (four), as well as being the only side yet to score in the competition this term.

Pep Guardiola was expecting Manchester City to start the new campaign on top form but insists "the season is still so young" as his team instead toil in the bottom half of the Premier League.

City are in Champions League action against Olympiacos on Wednesday, looking to advance to the last 16 with a fourth straight victory.

As well as delivering another result on the European stage, though, Guardiola recognises the match is important to "recover our feelings" after another painful outing in the Premier League.

City went down 2-0 at early leaders Tottenham on Saturday and now lie 13th in the table, already eight points off the pace with a game in hand to play.

A return of 12 points from eight games is City's worst start to a league season since 2008-09 (10 points), while their failings in attack are particularly concerning, netting just 10 times - a low since scoring six times in eight matches in 2006-07.

Guardiola is confident his side will turn their fortunes around, though, explaining: "I had a feeling we would do really well this season. I don't know why [we haven't].

"From the beginning, I expected a reaction after how we finished the last season against Lyon in Portugal. I have a good feeling.

"We know what we have to do. We are a team who last season scored a lot and now we are struggling.

"I have to find a solution, to find the right way to attack more fluently and have the feeling that we can score goals. But in the way we play, I'm quite good, quite happy.

"There are little details still we have to improve, conceding penalties that are unnecessary, sometimes we miss clear chances we have to score.

"But the moment will break. In one or two games, this kind of thing will get better. The season is still so young and I'm fully optimistic we're going to do a good season."

Guardiola is also willing to stay patient with record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, who watched on from the bench at Spurs as City had 22 shots without finding the net.

Aguero suffered a knee injury in June and has played just 110 minutes in the league so far this season, attempting a single shot that failed to hit the target.

"We want him to come back," Guardiola said. "Today he trained again. That he can recover a good feeling in his knee is the most important thing.

"I know it is not easy [being] injured but we wait for him and it's a step at a time.

"We still have many, many games this season to play and we will need him. We want him to recover and be back in the best condition."

In the meantime, new signing Ferran Torres has taken on a striking role, still waiting on his first Premier League goal but scoring three times in three matches in the Champions League.

Another goal against Olympiacos would make him just the third City player - after Aguero and Raheem Sterling - to net in four straight games in the competition.

Torres said of his responsibility to the team: "Obviously we have had a few injuries of our strikers in the squad.

"But I think we are scoring goals as a team - probably not as many as we would like but we are also facing difficult opponents as well, so it's difficult.

"We are working hard as a team to sort that out and I am confident that the goals will arrive.

"Playing as a striker is not my natural position but I feel very comfortable playing there. I am also scoring goals so it is good.

"When you work hard and make sacrifices for the team, you get your rewards, so I am trying to work hard to keep scoring goals."

Manchester City are reportedly making plans to sign Lionel Messi next year.

Messi, 33, sensationally requested to leave Barcelona during the close season, but ended up staying with the LaLiga giants.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is out of contract at the end of the season and City continue to eye the star forward.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONTINUE TO MAKE MESSI PLANS

Manchester City are making plans to sign Barcelona captain Messi, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The report says the Premier League giants are trying to attract Messi with the idea of playing in England before finishing his career with fellow City Football Group (CFG) club New York City in MLS.

Messi has been linked with the likes of City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter previously.

He has six goals in 10 games this season, including three in seven in LaLiga.

Messi's dribbles success rate (56.3) in LaLiga is his lowest since 2015-16, while he is creating just two chances per 90 minutes, his lowest number since 2012-13.

Meanwhile, The Telegraph reports City manager Pep Guardiola is closer to agreeing to a contract extension, with his deal up at the conclusion of the current campaign.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona's pursuit of City defender Eric Garcia is seemingly continuing. Sport reports Barca will attempt to sign Garcia again in January, but City still want €15million (£13.5m) for the defender despite his contract expiring at the end of the campaign.

- Also out of contract at the end of the season is Bayern Munich defender David Alaba. Tuttosport says Juventus are considering a move for the Austria international, who has been linked with several European heavyweights.

- Sidelined with a serious knee injury, Ansu Fati's future could be clearer soon. Marca says talks between Barcelona and Fati are on track, even with the 18-year-old forward contracted until 2022.

- Liverpool continue to be linked with defenders after serious injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez. The Daily Star says the Premier League champions may make a move for Olympiacos and Portugal defender Ruben Semedo in January, although it could cost them £18million (€20.1m).

- After just three Premier League appearances for Chelsea this season, Marcos Alonso again being linked with a move. The Daily Mail reports Crystal Palace are looking at the left-back.

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