Jurgen Klopp was one of many viewers who considered stopping watching Liverpool's 2005 Champions League final win over Milan at half-time but knows his side won't be able to switch off in a difficult group this season.

Liverpool have been pitted against Milan, Atletico Madrid, who knocked the Reds out two seasons ago, and Porto in Group B.

They welcome the Rossoneri to Anfield on Wednesday in a rematch of the final in Istanbul where Liverpool fought back from 3-0 at half-time to defeat Milan on penalties.

And Klopp is sure to have substantially more interest in this encounter than he did during the interval of Liverpool's most famous European triumph, with his side set to play a Champions League clash in front of fans for the first time since their loss to Atletico back in 2020.

Asked about his experience watching the 2005 showpiece, Klopp told a media conference: "I was thinking about not watching the second half because everybody in the world that thought this game might be decided.

"What I remember is some incredible saves of [Jerzy] Dudek, he had to keep them in the game, Milan could have scored more.

"It became one of the biggest football sensations ever. I was really glad I didn't switch the telly off."

After years of prolonged struggle, Milan are back competing for top honours in Italian football under Stefano Pioli.

They finished second to Inter in Serie A last season having led for much of the campaign and boast three wins from three to start the new season.

Porto are Champions League regulars who knocked out Juventus in the last 16 in 2020-21 while Atletico will be hoping to finally add the continent's top prize to the LaLiga title they won last term, having taken 10 points from four games to start their defence.

On the task facing his side in the group, Klopp said: "It is a difficult group. I don't think when we saw it one of us said it was a great group. It's tough, come on. Atletico, Porto, usually champions in Portugal. Milan, big history in the best moment for years, that's proper Champions League.

"We worked really hard for being part of that and that's what we get. It's a long time ago that we had a Champions League game at home, we now have an opportunity to experience the atmosphere Anfield is able to produce. We spoke a lot in the past about European nights at Anfield and I can't wait to experience that.

"This group will be exciting from the first second to the last second. In between these games we have a very important competition but it's exactly what we wanted. Unbelievable stadiums, great crowd, all that kind of stuff. It's exactly how we want football."

Liverpool will be without Harvey Elliott for the long term after he suffered a serious ankle injury in Sunday's win at Leeds United, with Klopp confirming he will have surgery on Tuesday.

"I spoke to him after the game, he was in the best possible place. He knew would out for a while," said Klopp. "Today he is in London and will have the surgery today. That is the next step and we wait for news on that."

Lionel Messi is set to make his first appearance in the Champions League with Paris Saint-Germain after being included in the squad to face Club Brugge on Wednesday.

The Argentina superstar made a shock move to the Parc des Princes on a free transfer last month after Barcelona were unable to meet LaLiga's financial requirements to offer him a new contract.

So far, Messi has played only 24 minutes of football for PSG, that coming as a substitute in the 4-0 rout of Reims before the international break. 

It remains to be seen if Messi will start against Brugge but he is in the travelling party for the trip to Belgium.

Messi is one of the most decorated players in Champions League history, having won the competition four times with Barca.

It he does play, it would represent a landmark 150th appearance for Messi in Europe's premier competition, and first not playing for Los Cules.

He has scored an incredible 120 Champions League goals, a tally surpassed only by the 135 of Manchester United star and long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

During their time together at Barcelona, Messi and Neymar combined for nine Champions League goals in 33 appearances alongside one another (five Messi goals, four Neymar goals). Since 2003-04, only six duos have combined for 10 or more goals in the competition, with three of those pairs involving Messi – 15 with Andres Iniesta, 12 with Luis Suarez and 10 with Dani Alves.

However, centre-back Sergio Ramos must continue his wait to make his debut for PSG. Signed on a free transfer from Real Madrid, the Spain legend remains absent with a left thigh injury.

Ramos is also a four-time winner of the Champions League, lifting the trophy three years in succession between 2016 and 2018.

Cristiano Ronaldo can help Manchester United "do great things" after returning to Old Trafford, according to Diogo Dalot.

Portugal superstar Ronaldo netted twice in the 4-1 win over Newcastle United at the weekend to mark his second debut in style.

More than 12 years on from his previous Premier League outing – a record gap – the 36-year-old is still delivering the goods.

And compatriot Dalot is revelling in having the five-time Ballon d'Or winner back in red.

"It's fantastic not just for me, but for everyone to have Cristiano here," the full-back told the club's official website.

"He gives so much energy to everyone and he's been fantastic.

"On the day [he signed] there was a lot of speculation and it was very good news for everyone involved. Everyone was buzzing with his return to United.

"I texted him and congratulated about him coming back. He said how happy he was to be part of this club again and he wants to help the team and that's what we want.

"I think fans can expect the same Cristiano as always. To be here winning what he has won and playing like he is playing you can expect the best.

"We are here to help him and he is here to help us as well and I think with everything combined we can do great things."

Ronaldo's brace against Newcastle came 12 years and 124 days after his last in the English top flight – only Matt Jackson (13 years, 187 days) has gone longer in Premier League history.

At 36 years and 218 days, he became the oldest player to score a double in a Premier League match since Graham Alexander for Burnley against Hull in April 2010. Alexander was 38 years and 182 days old.

The arrival of Ronaldo before the transfer deadline capped an impressive window for United, who also signed star defender Raphael Varane from Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side face Young Boys in their Champions League opener on Tuesday.

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann admits Tuesday's Champions League opponent Barcelona will miss Lionel Messi's "extravagance" but believes they are not much weaker without him.

Messi left Barcelona in the off-season to join Paris Saint-Germain after a glittering career at Camp Nou.

The Catalans have started life domestically without Messi with seven points from three games in LaLiga, while they will commence their Champions League campaign on Tuesday against Nagelsmann's Bayern in Barcelona.

"Barcelona definitely don't have the extravagance of a Messi any more. But they also have other players who can play a very important role if you take Frenkie de Jong and Pedri for example," Nagelsmann said at the pre-game news conference.

"We are ready for anything. I don't believe they are much weaker. The future will show if they are any better. But we definitely want to take three points."

Barcelona have a variety of selection issues with injuries to Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati, Martin Braithwaite and Sergio Aguero, while Nagelsmann was coy on Serge Gnabry's availability.

Gnabry was substituted with a back problem in Saturday's 4-1 Bundesliga win over RB Leipzig, along with Robert Lewandowski for "precautionary" reasons with a groin complaint.

"We'll have to make a late decision on that one," Nagelsmann said about Gnabry.

"Gnabry will travel. [Corentin] Tolisso will not. [Kingsley] Coman is in the squad but not an option to start. It's looking good for Lewandowski again though."

Bayern thrashed Barcelona 8-2 in the 2020 Champions League quarter-final played as a one-off in Lisbon, adding further spice to their opening Group E fixture.

"Being the favourites or not the favourites is always more of a subject for the media," he said. "Two world-class clubs face each other."

Edinson Cavani will miss Manchester United's Champions League clash with Young Boys, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirming the striker suffered a slight strain in a friendly.

Cavani was not included as United went top of the Premier League in a 4-1 win over Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The Uruguay star has played only once this season and will not feature when United look to make a winning start to their European campaign in Switzerland.

Speaking at a media conference, Solskjaer told reporters: "Edi is hopefully back with us soon, he had a slight strain during the international break in a behind-closed-doors game. He's working hard to come back."

United, though, will have Cristiano Ronaldo at their disposal to potentially equal Iker Casillas' record of 177 Champions League appearances after he made it a second debut to remember against Newcastle following his move back to Old Trafford from Juventus.

The former Real Madrid star marked his return with a brace, his typically ruthless finishing looking like it will make United a force to be reckoned with after a transfer window in which they also added Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho.

Asked about the quality he now has in his ranks, Solskjaer said: "This team has grown and matured over the last few seasons, that was always the plan.

"When I came in, we wanted a team with experience and quality who could challenge. David [de Gea] sat next to me, Harry [Maguire] has been here for a few years now, Raphael and Cristiano. We've learned."

Ronaldo's return and subsequent immediate impact has clearly increased the feel-good factor around United, with De Gea speaking to the influence he has had in a short space of time.

He said: "It's great to have Cristiano back home — the experience of Cristiano is amazing, he's a legend at the club already and it's great to have him back. It's massive for us."

United won each of their previous two Champions League clashes against Young Boys in the Champions League in 2018-19. Tuesday's opponents have won only one of their eight games against English opposition, but Solskjaer is not taking them lightly after Switzerland's shock win over France at Euro 2020.

"I was very impressed by the reaction in the game against France, when they were 3-1 down and you could see their quality when they turned that game around," said Solskjaer.

"I managed Molde against Basel and the game against Italy was impressive as well. Some of those players will be against us tomorrow."

Ben Chilwell was left "mentally tired" by the personal disappointment of playing no part for England at Euro 2020 and must be patient in his pursuit of minutes with Chelsea, says boss Thomas Tuchel.

Chilwell played a starring role in the Blues' Champions League final win over Manchester City just four months ago and was a mainstay in Chelsea's XI when Tuchel was appointed Frank Lampard's successor in January.

However, that triumph in Lisbon was surprisingly the full-back's last competitive match, with Gareth Southgate not using Chilwell at all during England's run to the final of Euro 2020, and Marcos Alonso playing in Chelsea's four Premier League games and European Super Cup win.

Blues boss Tuchel says the early season form of Alonso has made Chilwell's situation even more difficult but is confident he will come back fighting.

"It has been difficult for him. It's pretty normal, he came from the Champions League win and 90 minutes and a strong performance and had a strong end to the season with many important games on a high level," Tuchel said ahead of the start of Chelsea's Champions League defence against Zenit.

"Then it was personally a tough Euros, there were chances when he thought he could have played. Personally, I know it was a tough one, you feel he did everything to push the team, you don't feel it if you don't sweat it out and put on the shirt. 

"Then to keep also training for four-five weeks continuously, then he had a break, it's hard to totally relax and get this personal disappointment off the shoulders. 

"When he arrived back here, I felt him a bit mentally tired, a bit still worrying about the situation. At the same time he had to accept he was very unlucky I think during the start of the season because Marcos was here all pre-season, did every session, and took the opportunity so, so great with a great attitude, he was crucial to us and delivered in Chilly's situation. 

"I had some talks with Chilly and in the same situation he knows I would have done the same thing if the situation was the other way around. They push each other, I have no further worries with Chilly.

"He has to be patient, keep training, I had to give him a little time to be patient with himself to find joy again and find things a little easier on the pitch, not force it too hard. This is where we are now. 

"Unfortunately, we only had three subs in the last three games otherwise he would have had some minutes."

With Chelsea able to name 12 substitutes against Zenit, the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley and Malang Sarr may have the opportunity to press home a case for minutes.

Tuchel says anyone in the squad must be ready to play at any moment.

"It's very easy. If you get registered, it's your duty to be ready. When you get dressed at Chelsea every day, it's your duty to be ready," he added.

"When you step in the building and training pitch, you have to be ready. It's the baseline for everything. No one gets a gift here. 

"Malang is here, Ruben is here, Ross was in the squad against Aston Villa. We have a tight group, a high-quality group, they did now a first step and for whatever reason they did not find other clubs, or accept other clubs, now they deserve the next steps and to be part of this group. Once you're in this group, you have to match high expectations we have on ourselves. 

"You have to be ready, when in the group you have to be match ready, I have the feeling they are. 

"They are showing good mentality and put personal situations aside. From here no promises are made but anything could happen."

Thomas Tuchel rates winning the Champions League with Chelsea as his greatest achievement as a coach but challenged his Blues side to prove they have the hunger to keep on claiming the game's biggest prizes.

Kai Havertz scored the only goal of the game as Chelsea became European champions for the second time by beating Manchester City 1-0 in May's final in Lisbon.

It marked an impressive triumph for Tuchel, who had only replaced Frank Lampard at the Stamford Bridge helm in January.

But the German is keen for his squad to now refocus and create a culture of winning.

"I would say yes [it's my biggest achievement] but in general I find it pretty hard to rate achievements because who wants to be the judge and who wants to know?" Tuchel said ahead of Chelsea's Champions League opener against Zenit on Tuesday.

"I tried together with my staff to be the very best I can and get the best out of my teams. I did it as an Under-14 coach in the youth academy and I do it now. 

"To the outside, speaking of trophies it's obviously the biggest title I won so far. It was a huge night and big experience. It feels a long time ago, it feels necessary it feels like that."

Tuchel accepts becoming a Champions League-winning coach has altered his own mentality but says nothing changes in terms of having a desire for success.

"Some days I felt different, yes, I felt really good. It's a tough one, I think that in the end nothing is like winning. I was lucky to reach the final the season before [with PSG] and I had the feeling it's a big achievement.

"But not to do the last step is a huge difference when you realise what it means when you do it, the perception from outside, the joy, the confidence the team gets from winning it.

"We had the feeling to qualify for the semi-final and final. It's a big step but, when you win it, nothing compares. It changes for everybody. 

"The most important thing is not to look back, to keep the hunger, winning keeps the hunger, it's addictive, this game is about winning. Winning changes feelings, the atmosphere in the building, the work atmosphere and gives you natural confidence. 

"At the same time it is absolutely necessary to forget it, to start from scratch and to have hunger and that mentality again. It's what I feel, I demand it from myself and everyone else around that we don't change in terms of hunger, we will have this experience together forever, we can create a bond together but it's about looking forward in sports."

Tuchel also insists last season's surprise win was in no way tainted by the fact he took over from Frank Lampard midway through the season.

"It was never a problem for me to accept and totally accept the work from Frank he did throughout the group stage, this is what I accepted when I came in," he added.

"It still feels like my title, not half a title. I still accept Frank has his part. During the final I was still responsible and during the knockout stage.

"It felt like my team, we were all together. It does not mean we deny the work and effort Frank did. Do I feel like I have something to prove? No, this has nothing to do with it."

Barcelona host Bayern Munich as two Champions League heavyweights headline the first round of matchday one fixtures on Tuesday.

Barca will be without Lionel Messi for a European campaign for the first time since 2003-04 as they seek revenge against the Bundesliga outfit.

Manchester United – armed with the competition's all-time leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo – travel to Young Boys while reigning champions Chelsea begin at home to Zenit.

Italian giants Juventus make the trip to Sweden's most successful team Malmo, who are making their first appearance in the group stage since 2015-16 following their title win in 2020.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the key Opta data ahead of Tuesday's fixtures.

Barcelona v Bayern Munich: Blaugrana out to make amends

Barcelona and Bayern Munich have not met in the group stages since 1998-99, but the Bundesliga side did inflict Barca's heaviest defeat since April 1951 with an 8-2 crushing in 2019-20's quarter-finals.

There are remarkable records at stake for both sides as well, Bayern boasting the longest unbeaten away run in the history of the competition (18), while Barca are unbeaten in their last 22 group-stage openers – stretching back to 1997-98.

However, Julian Nagelsmann's side have won 17 opening games in a row and they also have Robert Lewandowski to call upon, the forward scoring 28 times since the start of 2018-19 – eight more than any other Champions League player.

 

Young Boys v Manchester United: Ronaldo returns for another record

Young Boys have won only one of 13 games against English opponents in European competition as they prepare for Manchester United, who have lost just one of their last 21 openers.

However, United have been beaten in six of their 10 Champions League matches under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – as many as they did in their last 20 under Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.

Having not appeared for the Red Devils in 12 years and 110 days – the fourth longest gap between appearances for the same club – Cristiano Ronaldo could equal the all-time appearance record in the Champions League, moving level with Iker Casillas on 177.

Chelsea v Zenit: History favours the champions

The reigning Champions League champions have only lost two of 27 games when starting their title defence, with no side ever losing a home game immediately following continental success.

Zenit face an uphill battle, given they are winless in their last seven fixtures, while Chelsea are unbeaten in 11 games in the group stage.

Indeed, the Blues are unbeaten in six matches against Russian teams and, since the start of last season, no team have lost fewer matches (1) or kept more clean sheets (9).

 

Malmo v Juventus: Allegri's away-day specialists

Tuesday will be Malmo head coach Jon Dahl Tomasson's managerial debut in the competition after last appearing as a player for Milan in the 2005 final.

The hosts, though, have scored just three goals across 10 previous appearances, while Juventus have won their last five group stage away games.

The visitors will also have Alvaro Morata available, the forward one of only three Spaniards to score more than 20 Champions League goals after netting six times in eight matches last term.

 

Other fixtures:

Dynamo Kyiv v Benfica

143 – Dynamo Kyiv manager Mircea Lucescu (76) and Benfica's Jorge Jesus' (67) combined age of 143 is the oldest of two managers to face off in the Champions League.

25 – The hosts are one of 25 teams to play 100 or more fixtures in the competition, but they have the third worst loss percentage (49) behind Olympiacos (52) and Galatasaray (51).

Lille v Wolfsburg

1 – Lille have only managed one win against German opposition in nine attempts in European competition, last prevailing in 2002.

5 – Wolfsburg have won five of their last six Champions League games and have scored twice in four of those victories.

Sevilla v Red Bull Salzburg

64 – Sevilla's Youssef En-Nesyri is averaging a Champions League goal every 64 minutes, recording three braces for his six goals in eight games last campaign.

2 – Red Bull Salzburg have only won two of their last 15 matches in the competition, but both of them have come away from home against Genk and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Villarreal v Atalanta

15 – Villarreal forward Gerard Moreno has 15 Europa League goals but has never played in Europe's premier competition – since 1992-93 only three players have scored more and not played in the Champions League.

5 – Atalanta have won five of their last six away games, only losing against Real Madrid, while they have also progressed from their two previous group stage campaigns.

Ronald Koeman believes Barcelona have a "unique opportunity" for revenge as they prepare to host Bayern Munich in Tuesday's first round of Champions League matches.

The last time the two teams met, the visitors inflicted Barca's heaviest defeat since April 1951 in an 8-2 thrashing in the 2019-20 Champions League quarter-final.

Bayern have won also each of their last 17 openers in the competition since 2003-04, but Barca are unbeaten in their last 22 such fixtures – a run stretching back to 1997-98.

And Koeman is looking forward to the test against Julian Nagelsmann's side as the Catalan club prepare for their first Champions League campaign since 2003-04 without Lionel Messi, who departed for Paris Saint-Germain in August.

"Tomorrow we have the first Champions League game and we are changing things," Koeman told Monday's pre-match news conference.

"Chelsea won last year and was not among the two or three favourites. We know that Bayern is a great team, with individual quality and experienced people.

"We want to compete in the Champions League and we play at home. We will try to get a good result to start the Champions League.

"It's been more than a year and several players suffered a lot in that game [the 8-2 loss]. We have a unique opportunity. We can hurt Bayern and we have a good team. We have to look for our style to hurt the opposition."

Sergio Busquets started in midfield in the crushing defeat, but he is expecting a different challenge with Nagelsmann at the helm.

"They have a new coach and he will try to play his way," Busquets told reporters. "He has kept the entire squad, except for some who have stayed on the road like Thiago.

"He will surely try to win. What happened was difficult to accept, but the world of football is like that. Time has passed and we are psyched that it will be different."

Asked to discuss his team's Champions League hopes following Messi's departure, the midfielder said: "Anything can happen in football. Chelsea won the Champions League and were not favourites.

"The important thing is the collective level and we know that we do not have Leo [Messi] or his individualities.

"We are here, excited and we are aware of the difficulty, but we have a lot of ambition and we want to win."

Milan president Paolo Scaroni insisted the Rossoneri are committed to a long-term project as they attempt to follow a blueprint similar to that of Liverpool.

The Serie A outfit are readying themselves for their first Champions League appearance since March 2014 on Wednesday against Jurgen Klopp's men, who have lost just one of their last 12 group-stage clashes at Anfield.

Head coach Stefano Pioli's preparations have been perfect so far, winning all three Serie A games to sit joint-top with Roma and Napoli, but Scaroni says Milan's focus is just on achieving Champions League qualification once more.

"The priority is to be back in the Champions League, Milan must always be there," Scaroni told Radio Anch'Io.

"If we can do better, we will be happy. The goal is at least fourth place, then if we end first, I will be delighted."

"Stefano Pioli has created a perfect mix with young and experienced players, building a real team, aggressive and fun. The coach has never been on the brink, ours is a long-term project since the first day."

The visitors' record on English soil is poor, too, given they have won just one of their last 13 in European competition against English opposition.

However, Scaroni referenced the gulf in income between his side and other European outfits as an important differentiator ahead of the repeat of the famous 2004-05 Champions League final between the two sides.

"I cannot forget that on Wednesday we will go to Liverpool, a club that earns €100 million from the box office, while we get €35m," Scaroni continued.

"Serie A clubs need new stadiums that can allow us to reach the European clubs otherwise fans will have to accept performances that are not at a European level."

Asked when Milan would start building a new stadium to bridge the gap, the president responded: "We are at a good point, I am optimistic even if there will be a mayoral election soon. October will be a crucial month.

"After the approval of the city council, which I hope will happen by the end of the year, it will take six months for the design.

"At that point, the construction could start in the second half of 2022 and, between 2024 and 2025, it could be ready."

Jon Dahl Tomasson almost won it all as a player.

A Champions League under iconic Italian boss Carlo Ancelotti at Milan, to go with Serie A, Coppa Italia and Coppa Italia honours. Add the UEFA Cup, Eredivisie and Johan Cruijff Shield during his time with Feyenoord.

Now, Tomasson finds himself at the helm of Swedish giants Malmo, who are embarking on their first Champions League group-stage campaign since 2015-16, after snapping the club's title drought in 2020.

Malmo – the most successful team in Sweden – had not won the Allsvenskan since 2017, however Tomasson delivered the trophy in his first season at Eleda Stadion, an achievement culminating in him being named Manager of the Year.

After ending Malmo's domestic wait last term, Malmo will face holders Chelsea, Italian powerhouses Juventus and Russian giants Zenit in Group H after Tomasson guided the 1978-79 European Cup runners-up through the qualifying rounds as the 45-year-old's coaching career continues to gather momentum.

Tomasson is set to take charge of his first Champions League match as a coach, having appeared as a player 42 times in the competition between 1997 and 2005 for Newcastle, Feyenoord and Milan. His last game came in the 2005 final against Liverpool, scoring one of Milan's two successful penalties in the shoot-out defeat.

"Before we qualified for the Champions League, we're allowed to dream big. Now we're there," Tomasson told Stats Perform, ahead of Malmo's matchday-one showdown at home to Juve on Tuesday.

"In a way, it's a dream which we should live. At the end of the day, we have ambitions as well. We know we play against very good clubs. We're the biggest club in Scandinavia, but it is a lot to do with money. We can't compare to each other. But we beat Rangers and Ludogorets. The other clubs are also very big.

"Hopefully we can upset a few people. We are ambitious and will do our best, being well prepared. We have a great team spirit. In that way, we can achieve some upsets. We have to be realistic also. We will live that fairytale."

"I won the Champions League and UEFA Cup, also lost a Champions League final," said Tomasson, whose Malmo saw off Riga FC and HJK before upstaging Scottish champions Rangers and Bulgarian titleholders Ludogorets en route to the group phase. "But seeing the boys working together, coping with difficult moments in the game. It makes you proud as a coach. I'm really satisfied so far. It gives me satisfaction for sure.

Tomasson's career as a striker was a successful one – the 45-year-old remains Denmark's all-time leading goalscorer (52) alongside Poul Nielsen. Twice named Danish Player of the Year, the former Heerenveen, Newcastle, Feyenoord, Milan, Stuttgart and Villarreal frontman called time on his career 2011.

Tomasson's coaching career officially started at Excelsior as an assistant before a brief stint in charge of the Dutch side, followed by a short spell at Roda JC in the Netherlands.

"Each experience gives you something, whether it is successful or unsuccessful," he said. "As a person and a coach you'll learn from that. It's a part of getting an education down the road and it's an education that will never stop."

However, Tomasson's journey started long before he stopped playing.

"It came quite natural [coaching]," he said. "I had been captain of the Denmark national team for many years. Then you get a bit of responsibility, you start thinking in a different way. You think about the team, it's not just 'me, me, me'. In a way it started quite early, thinking about tactical things.

"I was also a very young boy when I went to Holland and Holland is of course a country which likes to develop young people and football players. I can remember my manager Foppe de Haan, he brought me to games, to analyse games, to develop as a person and football head should develop. I was going with him to games. I was analysing them.

"In a way, I also tried to do a bit of that at Malmo, I was a bit inspired.  All of our youngsters, they are analysing and making presentations for the technical staff so they start to think about football in a different way. Also, to come out of their comfort zone. Make it a bit tough of them to deal with new things."

"I love football, I eat football if it's possible. I had a lot of great coaches during my football career. I had some big coaching names, like Ancelotti, [Manuel] Pellegrini, Bert van Marwijk, Leo Beenhakker. All of those coaches, they give you inspiration," Tomasson continued.

Tomasson, who left boyhood club Koge for Heerenveen in 1994, has been inspired by his journey across Europe.

"I started as a young boy in Holland, so I have a lot of inspiration for the Dutch school," he said. "But I've been in Italy, Spain, Germany and England, so I'm more inspired through an international way of thinking. Football is of course a game, you win it with the head. It's chess on grass.

"Malmo, we want to be dominant with and without the ball. Very flexible with our tactical approach, with different formations and be able to change during games."

Tomasson's Malmo have been dominant under the Dane, who made the short trip across the Oresund Strait after leaving his position as assistant coach of Denmark.

Malmo clinched the league crown by nine points last term and scored a league-high 64 goals in 30 matches – their best return since netting the same amount in 1965.

"When I was working with Denmark for three-and-a-half years, in a way, it was tough to just leave," Tomasson added. "Working with the best players. We were unbeaten for three years also and had great team spirit. It was tough. But the project at Malmo was so ambitious. It was a tough but very easy decision to make because it's a very interesting project. It suits me well.

"It's been very successful but also say surprising but not at all, we tried to plan it. I was appointed to change things, to change the age of the group, to play a more attractive way, dominant with the ball. Get more youngsters into the team and develop those boys and still win something because at Malmo, it's a club with big ambition – one of the biggest in Scandinavia. The biggest at the moment because we're playing in the Champions League. Historically, it's a very big club but didn't win anything for three years, so it was very important to win the league last season. You need to win, qualify for Europe, develop players. Quite ambitious but I like those ambitious.

"We managed to change a lot in a positive way. Develop those youngers, who we need to sell as well. Play a more modern way of football. It's been a perfect journey so far, winning the silverware last season and now qualifying for the Champions League.

"It's a terrific achievement for the club – being among those 32 teams. It's like football heaven, a dream come true. Try to deal with those things coming up. Winning four qualifying rounds before actually going into the Champions League isn't easy. Winning away to Rangers with 10 men and playing against Ludogorets, a team with a totally different budget to us. At the end of the day, money decides a lot of things in football."

As Tomasson's coaching reputation grows in Europe, what does the future hold for the 112-time former international?

"It's okay to dream big, but it's also difficult to plan anything as a manager. I work hard every day to become better. At the moment, I'm looking forward to play this Champions League with Malmo. We also want to win the title like we did last season."

"Every manager has their own path to walk. It's difficult to plan. You can't plan it, so you jump on the train when you need to," he continued.

As a club, previous form is against Malmo – they have lost 83 per cent of their Champions League matches (P12 W2 D0 L10). It is the joint-highest losing percentage of sides to have played at least 10 matches in the competition, alongside Maccabi Tel Aviv and Rapid Vienna.

Malmo have only scored three goals in their last 10 Champions League games, failing to score in eight of the fixtures in this run. Meanwhile, the Swedish side have conceded a total of 34 goals across those 10 matches at an average of 3.4 per game.

But Tomasson's new-look Malmo – who boast 15 players aged 25 or younger in the squad – continue to impress in 2021. Di Blae have only lost one of their past 28 home fixtures in the league, dating back to August 2019, while the Champions League – albeit in the qualifying rounds – they are eight matches unbeaten on home soil.

Antonio Colak has flourished since arriving on loan from PAOK – the Croatian forward scored five of Malmo's 13 goals in qualifying, making him the highest scoring player for any team during the qualification rounds.

The likes of younger pair Veljko Birmancevic (23) and Anel Ahmedhodzic (22) have also starred, developing further under Tomasson's watchful eye.

"He's done well," Tomasson said of new signing Birmancevic, who arrived from Serbian side Cukaricki in the offseason and has scored 11 goals this term, including four in the Champions League qualifying rounds. "The whole team have done an excellent job. He's a young boy. He is coping with a new country and way of playing, with different mentality and manager. But slowly, you can see the progress he has made. A very talented player with special skills and skills we love - goals, one against one, speed. Each team are searching for that quality."

On Bosnia-Herzegovina international centre-back Ahmedhodzic, Tomasson added: "When I arrived here, the first thing I did was put him into the team. He had been on loan in Denmark. Now he is playing for his national team. A great player, a good central defender with a great foot. A player I like. You need to defend as well but also quality on the ball if you want to dominate like I want to."

Barcelona and Bayern Munich will lock horns on Tuesday in a tantalising Champions League group game at Camp Nou.

It will be the first meeting between these sides since last August in Lisbon, when they served up a 10-goal contest that will live long in the memory – although that's something Barca fans must wish were not so. 

Bayern were 8-2 winners in that quarter-final, utterly dismantling a Barca side who looked increasingly lost at sea with every goal that went in. It was a match with seismic repercussions, too: while the Bundesliga giants went on to win the treble, Barca sacked head coach Quique Setien, Lionel Messi asked to leave and the end of Josep Maria Bartomeu's presidency was hurried along.

It was also a statistical outlier in terms of more than a mere (massively) one-sided scoreline...

31 minutes of infamy

It was 1-1 after just seven minutes, a David Alaba own goal cancelling out Thomas Muller's opener, but that was about as close as the contest ever got.

Ivan Perisic, Serge Gnabry and Muller again scored before the break. It was the first time a team had conceded four goals in the first half of a Champions League knockout match for five years, and the fact all four of Bayern's first goals came inside 31 minutes was a record in the competition.

Luis Suarez got a goal back, but the game quickly descended into farce for Barca, with Joshua Kimmich, Robert Lewandowski and Philippe Coutinho – on loan from the Catalans – adding to the scoresheet. It meant Bayern became the first team to score eight times in a knockout game in the modern competition, as Barca conceded eight goals for the first time since an 8-0 Copa del Rey loss to Sevilla in 1946.

Expect the unexpected

Barca faced 26 shots in total, the most they have ever faced in a Champions League match along with a game against Bayer Leverkusen in December 2015, when they had already won their group. Their expected goals against figure of 5.72 was by far the highest they have posted in a game in this competition, the nearest being 3.44 against Borussia Dortmund in the group stages. Perhaps that was a warning...

It was certainly a game to forget for Marc-Andre ter Stegen in Barca's goal. He had never before conceded more than four in a Champions League match for the Catalans, saving just 38 per cent of Bayern's attempts. By contrast, he saved all but one of the 26 shots Leverkusen had in that game six years ago.

Big hero six

Of course, it was an occasion to savour for Bayern and their forwards. Muller's double took him to six goals in five games against Barca, more than any other player has managed in the Champions League (Andriy Shevchenko scored five against them). It also took the Germany international to 23 career goals in the knockout phase, a tally at the time bettered only by Messi (47) and Cristiano Ronaldo (67).

Lewandowski's goal took him to 50 in the competition for Bayern in just 60 matches. Ronaldo is the only player to have achieved the milestone in fewer games for a single side, having done so in 50 appearances for Madrid. Lewandowski also became the first Bayern player to score in eight consecutive games in the tournament, and the fifth overall.

Nelson's solemn

Even Coutinho enjoyed himself against the club where he has barely made an impact since his mega-money move from Liverpool. He has only ever scored more in a single Champions League game once – a hat-trick for Liverpool against Spartak Moscow in 2017 – and he had only managed four goals in his previous 20 appearances in the competition.

For Barca, the game descended into disjointed chaos after that end-to-end opening. Suarez ended up touching the ball in his own box as often as he did in Bayern's (three times), while Nelson Semedo endured a torrid outing a right-back, giving up possession 10 times and being dribbled past on three occasions. On average, he completed fewer than three passes for every one instance he lost the ball.

As for Messi, who probably thought this would be his last Champions League game for his boyhood club, he managed just 59 touches of the ball, his lowest figure in a game he started since the 4-0 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in February 2017. In the end, Bayern scored more goals than Barca managed shots (seven) in the contest.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted it is "not impossible" to leave out Cristiano Ronaldo as he said the superstar will not play every game this season following his stunning start to life back at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo enjoyed a remarkable second debut for United on Saturday, scoring two goals in their 4-1 Premier League rout of Newcastle United.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who was serenaded by fans before, during and after the match, completed a sensational return to United from Juventus last month after leaving the Red Devils for Real Madrid in 2009.

As United prepare to challenge on all fronts this season ahead of their Champions League opener at Young Boys on Tuesday, Solskjaer said the 36-year-old's minutes will be managed in 2021-22.

"It's not impossible to leave him out," Solskjaer said. "He is 36. Mason [Greenwood] is 19 so it's the same, I have to manage his minutes and I have to manage a 36-year-old's minutes as well.

"The other thing with Cristiano is that he looks after himself so much so I know he will recover quickly.

"Of course, it's important that we get everyone up and running and to get him up and running."

Ronaldo set a new record for the gap between two Premier League appearances (12 years, 118 days).

His brace against Newcastle came 12 years and 124 days after Ronaldo's last in the English top flight – only Matt Jackson (13 years, 187 days) has gone longer in Premier League history.

Ronaldo, at 36 years and 218 days, became the oldest player to score a double in a Premier League match since Graham Alexander for Burnley against Hull in April 2010. Alexander was 38 years and 182 days old.

The arrival of Ronaldo before the transfer deadline capped an impressive window for United, who also signed star defender Raphael Varane from Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho.

"The more quality you add to the group, the more healthy the competition [is] and [the more] leaders [there are] who they look up to," said Solskjaer.

"I think seeing Raphael and Cristiano coming has raised everyone's eyebrows because they are winners.

"They have won everything there is to win and they put demands on themselves which the young boys, the rest of the team, look at and think that is how you stay at the top. So it is only going to be good for everyone."

Serge Gnabry will "probably" miss Bayern Munich's Champions League opener against Barcelona on Tuesday, according to Hasan Salihamidzic. 

A back problem forced Gnabry off in first-half stoppage time during Bayern's 4-1 victory at RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga on Saturday. 

The 26-year-old started two of Germany's three World Cup qualifiers during the international break and was introduced as a second-half substitute in the other. 

Salihamidzic was frustrated that Gnabry sustained an injury after playing in all those matches, while Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus left early with a knee injury but recovered in time to face Bayer Leverkusen this weekend. 

Reus withdrew from selection for Euro 2020 but had said he wanted to play "an important role" for Germany ahead of the three qualifiers. 

"I find it surprising when you leave the national team and then play again a few days later. Our players stay and play anyway," Salihamidzic told Sky. 

"It's not the first time either. When you're injured, okay, you drop out, but otherwise... Serge Gnabry stayed there. He'll probably be out against Barcelona now, but that's just the way it is. 

"If you want to be a leader, you always have to be there. Otherwise, a team won't work. What [Joshua] Kimmich does, what [Manuel] Neuer does, what [Leon] Goretzka does – that's leadership for me. The coach can rely on that." 

On Gnabry's availability to face Barcelona, he added: "It's getting really tight. He's been treated and it's already better. I was there today and saw him. We'll have to see if it's enough." 

However, Bayern could be boosted by the return to fitness of Kingsley Coman. 

Coman withdrew from France duty due to a calf injury and reportedly returned to training in Bavaria on Sunday. 

Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann is also confident of having Robert Lewandowski available for selection following the striker's early withdrawal against Leipzig for "precautionary reasons".

Robert Lewandowski was withdrawn during Bayern Munich's 4-1 win at RB Leipzig as a "precaution", though Serge Gnabry does appear to be a doubt to face Barcelona on Tuesday.

Julian Nagelsmann enjoyed a personally satisfying return to former club Leipzig on Saturday, as Bayern ran out comprehensive winners at the Red Bull Arena.

The coach was given a frosty reception at the start, with fans annoyed that he took several members of the coaching staff and Marcel Sabitzer to Bayern despite promising not to raid his former club.

Leipzig's social media team stoked the tension by poking fun at Nagelsmann and the situation before the game, posting a mocked-up image of Nagelsmann driving a car with his coaching staff, Sabitzer and Dayot Upamecano – who agreed a deal with Bayern before his boss arrived – present as passengers. "Remember, it's the away dressing room for you this time, guys," read the caption.

Nagelsmann had the last laugh as Bayern comprehensively left with all three points – Lewandowski's early penalty was added to by a Jamal Musiala volley, Leroy Sane's tap-in and a late Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting strike.

Musiala was ultimately the key man with a goal and an assist, but he was only on the pitch due to an injury suffered by Gnabry late in the first half, and Nagelsmann could not be sure he will be fit to face Barcelona in Tuesday's Champions League opener.

"With Serge there is something in his back, maybe lumbago [lower-back pain]," he told Sky. "I can’t make a prognosis for Tuesday just yet.

"He's already being treated by the medical staff and we'll have to see how he's doing tomorrow and what extent things are to know if he'll be back to work by Tuesday."

Lewandowski was also withdrawn later in the game once Nagelsmann was confident the contest was over.

It seems he too was struggling with an injury, though Nagelsmann was less concerned about the prolific striker's condition, adamant they planned to give him a bit of a rest towards the end anyway.

"It's like that with Lewy, he's had a few problems in the adductor area," Nagelsmann added.

"I don't think that's anything structural, at least the doctor told me that. It was just a precautionary measure.

"When it was quickly 3-0, we decided to switch him earlier so that he would just stay fit and healthy."

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