For a long time, Neymar had been tipped to re-join Barcelona after leaving Camp Nou in a world-record transfer in 2017.

But Neymar's future is close to being finalised.

Paris Saint-Germain are set to retain the Brazil international.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR AND PSG POISED FOR RENEWAL

Neymar is close to signing a new contract with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, according to Canal+.

PSG star Neymar has been in contract negotiations and publicly pledged his long-term future to the club following their progress to the Champions League semi-finals.

Previously linked with a return to Barcelona, Neymar could sign his renewal before the Champions League tie against Manchester City.

 

ROUND-UP

- Erling Haaland's future remains up in the air, reports Diario AS. The in-demand Borussia Dortmund sensation has been linked with Barca, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, PSG, Juventus, Chelsea and Bayern Munich. Speculation over his next move intensified as he followed Barca captain Lionel Messi on Instagram amid the Camp Nou club's interest.

- Diario Sport claims Ousmane Dembele's contract talks with Barcelona have stalled. Dembele, who is contracted until 2021-22, has been linked with United and Liverpool.

United and Liverpool are both eyeing Sevilla star Youssef En-Nesyri, says Estadio Deportivo. Sevilla are reportedly demanding in the region of £40million (€46m) for the forward.

- Russian powerhouse Zenit are interested in signing Barca defender Samuel Umtiti, reports Fabrizio Romano. Liverpool, United and Chelsea have been linked previously.

Gianluigi Donnarumma and Milan remain at an impasse regarding contract talks, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. The star Milan and Italy goalkeeper is out of contract at the end of the season and the likes of PSG, Chelsea, Juve and United have emerged as possible destinations.

There is still lots to play for on matchday six as the Champions League group stage draws to its conclusion.

Barcelona and Juventus are already through but Tuesday should see Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo face off once again, the latter looking to end a dry spell in front of goal against the Catalans.

Kylian Mbappe is another star enduring a comparatively rotten run when it comes to goalscoring, but Istanbul Basaksehir could represent ideal opponents for the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

Elsewhere in a finely poised Group H, RB Leipzig host Manchester United in a critical game for both – and one where Marcus Rashford could earn a slice of history.

Barcelona v Juventus: Can Ronaldo end barren run against Catalans?

This match will be the sixth time Messi and Ronaldo have met in the Champions League and the first since May 2011, the former leading 3-0 in terms of goals scored in those contests.

Indeed, while he has hit 15 goals in his past 20 appearances against Barca in all competitions, Ronaldo has played more Champions League matches (five) against the Catalans without scoring than he has against any other opponent.

Barca, who need only avoid defeat to make sure they win the group, are unbeaten in four Champions League meetings with Juve and have not lost at home to the Bianconeri since April 2003.

In fact, Juve have gone four games without scoring against Ronald Koeman's side. Since Giorgio Chiellini's goal in a 3-0 victory back in April 2017, they have gone 395 minutes without finding the net against Barca.

 

Chelsea v Krasnodar: Why Lampard's side are so hard to beat

With first place in Group E already secure, Frank Lampard will have the luxury of rotating his line-up for the visit of Krasnodar to Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea have won all five previous games against Russian teams in the Champions League by an aggregate score of 13-1, and if they can continue that 100 per cent record, they will record their highest points tally (16) for a single group stage.

The Blues have proven seriously tricky opponents to breach this term. They are the only side yet to face an Opta-defined 'Direct Attack' in the 2020-21 Champions League – a sequence that starts in a team's own half and finishes with either a shot or a touch inside the box, with at least 50 per cent of the movement going towards the opposition goal. They also boast a goalkeeper in Edouard Mendy who has the best save percentage (93.8) of any keeper to play in at least three games in this season's competition.

Having scored four goals against Sevilla last time out, Olivier Giroud could well be given another chance to impress. The striker has five goals from six shots on target this term and has scored at least 10 more goals than any team-mate since the start of 2018-19 (16 goals in total). Only Didier Drogba (36) and Frank Lampard (25) have got more for the club in European competition outside of qualifying rounds.

Paris Saint-Germain v Istanbul Basaksehir: Mbappe desperate to end goal drought

Their 3-1 win at Manchester United last time out means Paris Saint-Germain know a win over Istanbul Basaksehir will see them finish top of a seriously competitive Group H.

They have won five of their previous six home games in the competition and kept a clean sheet in all those victories, so Thomas Tuchel will surely fancy his side's chances, especially since Basaksehir could become just the ninth side in history to concede at least four goals in three games running.

Mbappe will certainly hope to be on the scoresheet. The striker, who reached 100 goals in all competitions for PSG at the weekend, has failed to score in his past nine Champions League games, attempting 27 shots in that run with an Expected Goals total of just 3.9.

PSG will need to be wary of Edin Visca, though. The winger has carried the ball 1,264 metres in the group stage, second only to Bayern Munich's David Alaba (1,465).

RB Leipzig v Manchester United: Rashford could unlock pressing machine

Manchester United thrashed RB Leipzig 5-0 at Old Trafford but they have lost their previous two Champions League away games against German sides, going down 3-1 to Bayern Munich in April 2014 and 3-2 to Wolfsburg five years ago.

With Leipzig having won three home games in a row in Europe with just one goal conceded, they will feel confident of avenging that previous loss and inflicting upon Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a sixth defeat in 11 Champions League games, which would represent the worst return for a manager of an English club.

Leipzig's pressing intensity is renowned: they have allowed opponents an average of 8.4 passes before a defensive intervention, the lowest number of any team in 2020-21.

Still, they must beware the United counter-attack and, in particular, Marcus Rashford. The England star has scored three goals following a ball carry this season, the most of any player, and is attempting to become the first Englishman to hit six goals in a single Champions League group stage.

 

Other fixtures:

Lazio v Club Brugge

1  – If Lazio avoid defeat, they will remain unbeaten in a Champions League group stage for the first time since 1999-00, while this will also be the first time they have reached the knockout stages of the competition since that campaign.

3  – Club Brugge are looking to win consecutive Champions League games for the first time since November 2005. However, they have never won three games in a single Champions League group stage before.

 

Dynamo Kiev v Ferencvaros

16  – Dynamo Kiev (13) and Ferencvaros (12.4) have the largest Expected Goals Against figures amongst the sides in the Champions League this season, with Ferencvaros conceding more goals than any other team (16).

13.9  –  Ferencvaros' opponents have kept the ball for 13.9 seconds per sequence on average in the Champions League this season, the longest of any side's opponents this season.

 

Rennes v Sevilla

0  – Sevilla have never lost their final Champions League group-stage game (W3 D2). In the history of the competition, they have played more matchday-six group-stage games without defeat than any other side (including the second group phase).

90  –  Only Barcelona (92) have had more shots than Sevilla in the Champions League this season (90), though Sevilla have converted just 6.7 per cent of their shots in the competition this term (six goals).

 

Zenit v Borussia Dortmund

10  – No side has had fewer shots on target in the Champions League this season than Zenit (10), with the Russian side failing to register a single effort on target in two of their five games this season (including the reverse fixture versus Borussia Dortmund).

0 – Dortmund are seeking consecutive away wins for the first time since October 2016. They have won their previous two games on matchday six of the group stage and could make it three such victories in a row for the first time.

It is crunch time in the Champions League as the group stage enters the penultimate round of fixtures.

Sevilla and Chelsea are already assured of football in Europe's top club competition in the new year, as are Juventus and Barcelona, but there is still plenty to be decided as teams jostle for position and players – including Cristiano Ronaldo – chase down individual records.

Paris Saint-Germain are among those whose fate hangs in the balance, while matchday five opponents Manchester United are still in need of a point.

We break down Wednesday's key matchday fixtures with the use of Opta data.

 

Manchester United v Paris Saint-Germain: Tuchel's men seeking win at fortress Old Trafford

PSG are in desperate need of a positive result at Old Trafford and the omens are good for Thomas Tuchel's charges, with the away team winning all three previous European games between the sides.

However, Group H leaders United have won their last seven home matches in continental competiiton, scoring 24 goals and conceding only two – their best return since a run of 12 wins in a row ending in April 2008.

Ligue 1 champions PSG scored in 38 of their 39 matches since the start of 2016-17, netting an average of 2.4 goals per game, with Bayern Munich the only team to stop them scoring during that run in last season's final.

Sevilla v Chelsea: Blues out to end Spain pain

Sevilla and Chelsea have already qualified for the last 16 but a win for one of these sides will see them secure top spot in Group E. The hosts have not advanced as group winners since 2009-10 while Chelsea last did so in 2015-16.

Frank Lampard's side have won only one of their last 10 games against Spanish opponents in the Champions League and are winless in six such matches. Sevilla, meanwhile, are unbeaten in seven against English sides in European competition – they beat United in the Europa League semi-finals last term.

Sevilla are also without defeat after four group matches for the third time in the Champions League, having previously done so in 2009-10 and 2016-17, but never before have they begun a campaign with five unbeaten games.

 

Borussia Dortmund v Lazio: Sancho seeking another European goal

Anything other than defeat will send Dortmund through to the knockouts and history suggests there is a good chance of that happening.

In the three previous encounters between these sides in major European competition, the home side has always come out on top.

Lazio have won only one of their previous seven encounters away to German opposition – a 2-0 win against Stuttgart in the 2012-13 Europa League – while Dortmund are unbeaten in their last eight home Champions League group games.

Jadon Sancho has scored in his last two Champions League games and, at the age of 20 years and 252 days, he could become the second-youngest Englishman to score in three successive games in the competition after Alan Smith with Leeds United in 2000-01 (20y, 158d).

Ferencvaros v Barcelona: Koeman's men hungry for a clean sweep

A place in the last 16 already assured, Barcelona are now seeking a fifth straight win to begin a group-stage campaign for the first time since 2002-03, when they won six from six.

Barca have won all five of their previous encounters with Hungarian opposition, including a 5-1 victory in the reverse fixture, which was notable for being the only Champions League match ever to see two players aged under 18 to score (Ansu Fati and Pedri).

Fati has since been ruled out with a long-term injury, though Martin Braithwaite profited with two goals on his first start in the competition against Dynamo Kiev – not since David Villa in 2010 has a Barca player scored in their first two Champions League starts.

 

Juventus v Dynamo Kiev: Down-and-out Dynamo out to avoid Ronaldo repeat

Third place is the best Dynamo can hope for and they enter this match with just one win to their name in 12 Champions League games, losing the last two of those. Not since 2007-08 have they lost three or more on the spin.

Juve are battling with Barca for top spot and have lost only two of their 26 home group-stage matches, albeit with that defeat coming against the Catalan giants in October.

Ronaldo has scored three goals in two previous meetings with Dynamo in UEFA's flagship competition.

Should he score on Wednesday it will be 13 years and 25 days after his last goal against them, in 2007 – the longest gap between goals for one player against a single side.

Other fixtures:

Krasnodar v Rennes

1 – This will be Rennes' first away game against Russian opponents in European competition. Krasnodar have hosted French side twice previously, drawing 1-1 with Lille and beating Nice 5-2, both in the Europa League.

24 – The visitors have used 24 different players in the Champions League this season – only Barca (25) have used more – yet only one of them has registered a goal in their first four matches.


Club Brugge v Zenit

2 – Brugge won the reverse fixture against Zenit 2-1 but have only won home and away against the same opponent twice before in the group stage – against CSKA Moscow in 1992-93 and Rapid Vienna in 2005-06.

12 – The Belgian side are winless in their last 12 Champions League home games. Only Basel, who have failed to win any of their last 13, have a worse such record.


Istanbul Basaksehir v RB Leipzig 

1 – German teams have lost only one of their last 14 games against Turkish opposition in major European competition. However, that solitary loss was inflicted on Leipzig by Besiktas in their only previous such match in the Champions League.

5 – Leipzig have been awarded five penalties in the competition since the start of last season, behind only Chelsea (7). All five have been converted.

All eyes are on a finely poised Group H as the Champions League returns this week following the international break.

Paris Saint-Germain, finalists last season, are in trouble after defeats to Manchester United and RB Leipzig, who they face again on Tuesday.

United's fine early European form took a hit when they lost to Istanbul Basaksehir, however, meaning all four teams are separated by just three points.

Elsewhere, Barcelona will hope their impressive Champions League results continue to provide an effective distraction after their latest LaLiga setback.

Juventus, Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund are all also in action as we break down Tuesday's key matchday four fixtures with Opta data.
 

Paris Saint-Germain v RB Leipzig: Milestone in sight for misfiring Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe netted a brace in PSG's 3-2 defeat at Monaco last week and his next goal will be his 100th for the capital club. However, the World Cup winner has not scored in the Champions League in 2020, enduring a seven-game, 529-minute drought in the competition since scoring against Galatasaray last December.

Neymar is set to be fit to start alongside Mbappe, and PSG will need their star pair on form to avoid suffering a second consecutive home defeat in the Champions League for the first time.

Leipzig, who were unbeaten in five away Champions League games before losing 5-0 at United, got the better of PSG last time out, meaning the Ligue 1 side have lost four of their previous six matches against German opposition in the competition - including the 2019-20 final to Bayern Munich.

Manchester United v Istanbul Basaksehir: Martial a man in form

Fresh from enjoying their first home Premier League win of the season, United will look to maintain their strong European run at Old Trafford, where they have six straight victories by a combined scoreline of 20-1.

Anthony Martial scored in the win against Leipzig and the defeat to Basaksehir and could become the first United player to score in three consecutive Champions League appearances since Wayne Rooney in 2010.

But Demba Ba also netted in the sides' previous meeting and has made four previous appearances at Old Trafford, scoring for Newcastle United in a 1-1 draw in 2011. United have lost three of their past four games against Turkish opposition.

Dynamo Kiev v Barcelona: No Leo against luckless Lucescu

Barca are looking to win their first four Champions League group-stage matches for just the second time (also 2002-03), despite this being the fourth occasion in five years they have started the campaign with three victories in a row.

The Blaugrana will welcome the sight of Mircea Lucescu in the home dugout. He has lost six Champions League matches against Barca, a miserable tally against a single opponent only topped by Arsene Wenger (eight defeats v Barca, seven v Bayern).

The Catalan club, who will have to cope without Lionel Messi, have three straight Champions League wins in Ukraine and Lucescu has been the opposition coach for two of them, both with Shakhtar Donetsk.

Juventus v Ferencvaros: Loan man Morata making strides

Cristiano Ronaldo is the man in form in Serie A, but Alvaro Morata has made an outstanding start to the Champions League campaign for Juve. He has four goals in three games, as many as he had netted in his previous 17 appearances across spells with Chelsea and Atletico Madrid.

Expect Ronaldo to be in the thick of the action, too, though, as he aims to nudge ahead of Messi as the competition's leading home goalscorer. He has 69 goals in home games, one behind the Barca man's 70.

Ferencvaros are visiting Italy for a European match for the first time since their 1968 Fairs Cup draw with Bologna. They are winless in three European Cup or Champions League games against Serie A opposition, shipping four goals in both of their defeats (4-0 v Inter in 1966, 4-1 v Juve this season).

 

Other fixtures:

Krasnodar v Sevilla

3 - In the sides' previous meeting on matchday three, Sevilla became only the third team in Champions League history to win a match after having a man sent off when they were losing (also Hamburg against CSKA Moscow in December 2006, Manchester City against Schalke in February 2019).

4 - Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui has only lost four of his 22 Champions League matches (W13 D5), although his last defeat in the competition was away in Russia, losing with Real Madrid at CSKA in October 2018.

Rennes v Chelsea

5 - It is five years since Chelsea won three consecutive Champions League matches, while they are looking to win three in a row without conceding for the first time since November 2013.

1 - Rennes have given at least one teenager a Champions League debut in each of their three games in the campaign so far. They have used five teenagers in all (Eduardo Camavinga, Jeremy Doku, Adrien Truffert, Brandon Soppy, Yann Gboho), two more than any other club.

Borussia Dortmund v Club Brugge

12 - Erling Haaland was the joint-fastest player to score five Champions goals (three games, level with Didier Drogba), the fastest to score 10 goals (seven games) and will be the fastest to 15 goals if he scores in this game - his 12th appearance. The record is held by Ruud van Nistelrooy and Roberto Soldado (19 games).

20 - Lucien Favre will become the second coach to take charge of 20 Champions League matches with Borussia Dortmund after Jurgen Klopp (37). Favre's win rate of 53 per cent (P19 W10 D2 L7) is the third-best for Dortmund in the competition, behind Nevio Scala (60 per cent) and Ottmar Hitzfeld (58 per cent).

Lazio v Zenit

3 - Lazio have avoided defeat in their opening three Champions League group-stage matches (W1 D2) for the first time since 1999-00, when they went on to top the table unbeaten.

13 - Including qualifiers, Zenit are winless in 13 away European matches (D3 L10) since a 3-1 victory at Real Sociedad in December 2017 in the Europa League.

Matchday three of the Champions League is upon us as teams reach the halfway point of the 2020-21 group stage, and Wednesday's action sees plenty of the heavyweights hoping to take advantage of theoretically weaker opposition.

Juventus were beaten by Barcelona last time out in the competition, but this time Andrea Pirlo will be able to rely on the services of Cristiano Ronaldo, who will no doubt be licking his lips at the prospect of facing leaky Ferencvaros.

Similarly, Barca will be strong favourites as they face Dynamo Kiev, while Manchester United go to Istanbul Basaksehir and Chelsea host Rennes.

However, Paris Saint-Germain could find themselves in a particularly tricky situation if they lose at an RB Leipzig smarting from their crushing by United.

Here is some of the key data from Wednesday's matchday three match-ups.

Barcelona v Dynamo Kiev: Messi and Griezmann poles apart

Although Barcelona are perhaps no longer the force we expect them to be, there is no doubt they will be firm favourites here, with the Catalans unbeaten in their previous 22 group games, while they could win five first-phase matches in a row for the first time since October 2017.

Lionel Messi's form early on this season has led to some criticism, but few have the pedigree he has and he boasts 20 goals in his previous 24 Champions League appearances.

Contrast that with the much-maligned Antoine Griezmann, however. The Frenchman has just two goals in 10 Champions League games for Barca, one every 373 minutes – he netted once every 190 minutes on average for Atletico Madrid.

Ferencvaros v Juventus: Ronaldo licking his lips

Juve were without talismanic forward Ronaldo in their previous two group games against Dynamo and Barca, the latter of whom beat the Old Lady – therefore he will be hoping to make up for lost time against Ferencvaros, whose seven goals conceded is the worst in the competition.

In that game against Barca, Juve failed to muster a single shot on target – aside from the three goals Alvaro Morata had chalked off for offside.

A defeat for Juve in Hungary would be a huge shock, but if it does happen, it will be the first time the Bianconeri have lost successive group games since October 2014. Coach Pirlo played in the second loss back then.

Istanbul Basaksehir v Manchester United: Red Devils on course as Greenwood eyes history

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was asked in his pre-match news conference if United felt more confident travelling to Istanbul knowing they would not be facing a vociferous crowd – after all, the Red Devils have lost on each of their previous two trips to Turkey.

United have struggled domestically of late, losing most recently to Arsenal on Sunday, but Champions League wins over RB Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain have them in fine shape in Europe – no team has ever failed to qualify after winning their first two group games, an omen they should not ignore here.

Marcus Rashford was the hero against Leipzig, but Mason Greenwood also netted to level his team-mate as the most prolific English teenager in UEFA competition with six goals. The 19-year-old will set a new record with another in Istanbul.

RB Leipzig v Paris Saint-Germain: Germans desperate to bounce back

Leipzig's 5-0 annihilation by United last time was their worst ever European defeat and the heaviest suffered by a German team since 2014 – Wednesday's match gives them the chance to bounce back against the team that beat them in the semi-finals last season.

PSG, of course, have plenty of attacking talents for Leipzig to contend with, though arguably chief among them will be Kylian Mbappe, who has been directly involved in 22 away goals in the competition (14 goals, eight assists), which is more than anyone else since his first trip back in February 2017.

But the omens are not all great for PSG. There has only been one previous instance in the Champions League where a German coach has won away to a side managed by another German tactician.

 

Other fixtures:

Chelsea v Rennes

15 - Chelsea have only suffered one defeat in their previous 15 home games in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League (0-1 v Valencia last season), winning nine and drawing the other five games in this run.

3 - Hakim Ziyech scored his first goal for Chelsea in the Champions League on MD2, while he could become just the third player to score on his first two starts for the club in the competition after Didier Drogba in 2004 and Daniel Sturridge in 2010.

Sevilla v Krasnodar

13 - Including qualifiers, Sevilla are unbeaten in their previous 13 home games across all European competitions (W11 D2), with their last such defeat coming in April 2018 against Bayern Munich (1-2 in a Champions League quarter-final).

1 - Only one Russian side has ever won away at Sevilla in European competition, with CSKA Moscow prevailing 2-1 in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League in 2009-10.

Zenit v Lazio

4 - Zenit are hoping to avoid losing four consecutive games in the European Cup/Champions League for the first time in their history.

1 - Lazio will be aiming for their first away win in the Champions League since September 2003 (2-0 v Besiktas), having failed to win on any of their previous six trips in the competition (D2 L4).

Club Brugge v Borussia Dortmund

12 - Only Robert Lewandowski (15) has scored more Champions League goals than Dortmund's Erling Haaland (12) since the start of last season, with the Norwegian striker converting 12 of his 17 shots on target in the competition so far.

1 - Brugge goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has only ended on the winning side in one of his 13 appearances in the Champions League, drawing six and losing six of his 12 games since winning on his debut in the competition for Liverpool in September 2014 (2-1 v Ludogorets).

Barcelona travel to fellow heavyweights Juventus in the pick of the second round of Champions League group-stage fixtures on Wednesday.

Cristiano Ronaldo will not get the chance to resume his rivalry with Lionel Messi after contracting coronavirus, but a number of other superstars will be on the field at Allianz Stadium.

Juve and Barca picked up victories in their opening games and that was also the case for Manchester United, who triumphed away at Paris Saint-Germain and now welcome RB Leipzig to Old Trafford.

PSG head to Turkey for their first competitive meeting with Istanbul Basaksehir while Chelsea, held by Europa League champions Sevilla in their first game, face a potentially tricky trip of their own at competition debutants Krasnodar.

Here is some of the key Opta data from day two of matchday two.

Juventus v Barcelona: Milestone victory in sight for Juve

Juventus' tally of six home games without losing to Barcelona is their joint-best total against any team in European competition, alongside another LaLiga side in Atletico Madrid.

Barca are unbeaten in six games against Italian opposition in the Champions League, however, and have only suffered defeat once in their last 17 away games in the competition.

Should Juve come out on top in Turin, it will be their landmark 100th victory in UEFA's showpiece competition in what will be their 200th game.


Krasnodar v Chelsea: Blues target first win

After drawing 0-0 with Sevilla in their opener, Chelsea are looking to avoid going back-to-back games without a win to begin a Champions League campaign since the 1999-2000 season.

The London club have lost only one of their last 11 away games in European competition, though that came in their last outing - a 4-1 loss to Bayern Munich.

None of the previous six Russian sides to have competed in the Champions League have won their first home game, which Krasnodar will be looking to put right on Wednesday.


Manchester United v RB Leipzig: More German joy for Red Devils?

United have gone 10 home games without being beaten by German opposition in European competition since a 1-0 loss against Bayern Munich in 2001, winning seven of those.

However, the Red Devils have lost four of their last six Champions League matches at Old Trafford - as many as in their previous 71 games combined.

Leipzig beat Tottenham home and away last season - their only previous encounters with an English team - and are unbeaten in five away games in the competition.

 

Nothing better than a sunny day!pic.twitter.com/leyNYvGTWm

— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) October 26, 2020 Istanbul Basaksehir v Paris Saint-Germain: Away-day specialist Mbappe

Basaksehir have won three of their last four home matches in European competition but this will be the first occasion they have hosted Champions League football.

On the back of their loss to United last week, PSG are out to avoid successive defeats to begin a group campaign for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign.

Kylian Mbappe played a key part in his side's run to the final last term and has been directly involved in 20 goals in his 16 away Champions League appearances. He has registered at least one goal or assist in 13 of those 16 away appearances.

 

Other fixtures:

Sevilla v Rennes:

12 - Sevilla are unbeaten in 12 home games in European competition since a 2-1 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich in April 2018.

2 - Only two of the 10 previous French sides to have played in the Champions League have won their first ever away match - PSG and Auxerre in 1994 and 1996 respectively.

Borussia Dortmund v Zenit:

6 - Zenit are winless in their last six European matches against teams from Germany, stretching back to a 2-1 victory against this week's opponents Dortmund in March 2014.

3 - Dortmund have won three Champions League home games in a row and are looking to make it four on the spin for the first time since a run of seven between September 2012 and October 2013.

Club Brugge v Lazio:

4 - Brugge have scored only four goals in their last 12 matches with Italian opposition and are winless in their last nine meetings with clubs from the Peninsula.

5 - Lazio have lost their last five away games on the continent, all of which came in the Europa League in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.

Ferencvaros v Dynamo Kiev:

3 - Dynamo have won just three of their last 24 away games in the Champions League, drawing three of their last four.

24 - Ferencvaros kept a clean sheet in their first home game in the competition but have since shipped 24 goals across their last six matches, giving them the highest goals-conceded-per-game ratio of any team to have played in more than one campaign.

Jadon Sancho's recent dip in form could have been caused by the incessant transfer speculation surrounding him during pre-season, according to Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre. 

Sancho was the subject of intense transfer rumours in the close-season as Manchester United reportedly attempted to prise the England international away. 

Dortmund maintained early on that Sancho was not for sale once an August deadline passed, and they successfully resisted United's apparent attempts to make a deal happen. 

But, while no move transpired, Favre suggests it was not a case of no harm being done. 

Sancho has only had a hand in two goals (two assists) in four Bundesliga matches at the start of 2020-21, a somewhat disappointing figure by his usual standards.

Favre believes the pre-season saga could have affected him. 

"Every player has slow periods," he said ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Zenit. 

"There was a lot of talk about Jadon in the summer, something like that can also have an impact. 

"But no player is consistently in top form for an entire year, that's impossible. You have to accept that." 

Last season, Sancho created a total of 69 goal-scoring chances in the Bundesliga, ultimately leading to 16 assists. He also scored 17 times, meaning he was involved in 33 goals in 32 games. 

While his key pass frequency was 2.71 per 90 minutes in 2019-20, that has only decreased slightly to 2.04 this term, therefore he is still creating opportunities. 

Nevertheless, Sancho is already behind in regards to his overall productivity in comparison to the previous season.

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

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

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

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

Dynamo Kiev v Juventus: Pirlo feeling the weight of history

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Barcelona v Ferencvaros: Koeman's worrying numbers

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

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

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

 

Chelsea v Sevilla: Can Werner lift English spirits?

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

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

Other fixtures:

Lazio v Borussia Dortmund:

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

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

 

RB Leipzig v Istanbul Basaksehir:

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

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

 

Rennes v Krasnodar:

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

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

 

Zenit v Club Brugge:

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

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

Mohamed Salah paid tribute to his close friend Dejan Lovren in a video message after the defender sealed a transfer from Liverpool to Zenit.

Lovren joined the Reds from Southampton in 2014 and helped star signing Salah settle on Merseyside three years later when he left Roma.

The duo subsequently won the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup and Premier League together at Anfield, the most recent triumph finally ending the club's 30-year wait to be crowned champions of England.

However, Lovren has played a diminished role in the past two campaigns, starting just 10 league matches, and completed a move to Zenit on Monday after Liverpool's title-winning campaign concluded.

Liverpool published a message from Salah to Lovren on their social media page.

The forward said: "I don't know how to say, my friend. You don't know my feeling right now. We're really going to miss you a lot - especially me.

"You've been an unbelievable player and a great friend for me. We're going to miss you a lot. I miss you a lot, I love you so much. You've been fantastic outside the field and inside the field.

"So, thank you for everything you did for the club, thank you for everything you did for me. I wish you all the best in the future and I wish you to have a great career as well, enjoying the new club with your family.

"Thank you very much and see you soon."

Lovren, described by Jurgen Klopp as a "Liverpool legend", has signed a three-year deal at Zenit, who reportedly paid around €12million for the 31-year-old.

Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren has joined Russian Premier League side Zenit on a three-year deal.

The 31-year-old joined the new English Premier League champions in 2014 from Southampton and went on to make 185 appearances for the Merseyside club, scoring eight goals.

The Croatia international enjoyed a trophy-laden final two seasons at the club, winning the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup and Premier League.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp told the Reds' official website: "Another Liverpool legend has left the club, because he was absolutely a very important part of this team.

"From the first day, I remember when we played with [Borussia] Dortmund against Liverpool in a pre-season friendly and Dejan scored with a header with incredible power. That was the image in my mind when I came here and thought about the defenders we had.

"A great player, great person. We will miss him; he's a model athlete. He has everything you need. But now he goes to Russia."

Zenit have reportedly paid around €12million for the centre-back.

Manchester United are reportedly keeping an eye on Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak, while Real Madrid want to raise €180million in transfer funds.

Amid pressure on David de Gea, United could look elsewhere for a goalkeeper.

It seems one of the world's best is on their radar.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD CONSIDER OBLAK

Manchester United are keeping tabs on Atletico Madrid star Oblak, according to The Sun.

Oblak, 27, is widely considered one of the world's best goalkeepers after starring across six seasons at Atletico.

The speculation comes with De Gea under pressure at Old Trafford following several mistakes this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid want to raise funds in the transfer market. Marca reports they are looking to make €180m, with James Rodriguez and Luka Jovic potentially making exits. It says a potential move for Gareth Bale, who is contracted until 2022, is more complicated.

- Kingsley Coman is reportedly a target for Manchester United. However, Sport Bild reports Bayern Munich rejected an approach from Manchester City for the attacker and they would do likewise to United.

- At rivals Barcelona, the focus seems to be on renewing some young stars. Sport reports the LaLiga giants are trying to re-sign Ansu Fati, Ronald Araujo, Riqui Puig and Alex Collado.

- Manchester United want to resolve the futures of Alexis Sanchez and Chris Smalling. Sky Sports reports the Premier League club will not extend the loans of Sanchez, at Inter, and Smalling, at Roma, but are looking to seal permanent deals. Meanwhile, the Daily Record says United want to remain informed about offers for Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes.

- Amid speculation over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, Arsenal may need a forward this close season. Le 10 Sport reports the Premier League club are considering a move for Wolves star Raul Jimenez.

- Victor Osimhen is set for Napoli. CalcioMercato reports a deal for the Lille forward is done and Napoli will pay €60m for the Nigeria international.

- After six seasons at Liverpool, Dejan Lovren is reportedly set for an exit. The Guardian reports the Croatian defender is close to joining Zenit for €12m (£10.9m).

What does the future hold for PSG stars Kylian Mbappe and Neymar?

Real Madrid have made no secret of their admiration for Mbappe, while Barcelona have tried to re-sign Neymar.

As PSG prepare for the 2020-21 campaign, the Ligue 1 holders have made some transfer decisions.

 

TOP STORY – PSG KEEPING MBAPPE, MAKE NEYMAR DECISION

Paris Saint-Germain will not sell Kylian Mbappe ahead of the 2020-21 season but Neymar's future remains uncertain, according to L'Equipe.

Mbappe has been tipped to make the move to Real Madrid in the future, however, Ligue 1 champions PSG have no intention of parting with the France international before next season.

But Neymar – continually linked with a return to Barcelona after leaving in a world-record transfer in 2017 – could leave as PSG look to avoid losing the Brazilian star on a free transfer in 2022.

 

ROUND-UP

Chelsea are preparing their first offer for Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz. Journalist Nicolo Schira reports Chelsea will make a £62million (€70m) bid plus add-ons for Havertz amid interest from Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Barca. To fund the transfer, Chelsea will look to sell Inter target Emerson Palmieri, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Jorginho, who would like to reunite with Maurizio Sarri at Juventus.

Luke Shaw could be sacrificed as United look to sign Leicester City's Ben Chilwell, claims the Mirror. United have reportedly leapfrogged Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester City in the race for full-back Chilwell.

- Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter are interested in Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante, who has also been linked to Madrid.

Willian has turned down a move to David Beckham's Inter Miami, reports the Telegraph. Willian's Chelsea contract expires at the end of the season and he has been linked to Liverpool, United, Arsenal and Tottenham.

- Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren is wanted by Russian champions Zenit, according to the Evening Standard.

- Calciomercato says Juventus are not the only club eyeing Roma star Nicolo Zaniolo. Jose Mourinho reportedly wants the Italy international at Tottenham, while Madrid and United are also believed to be interested.

- The Express claims Chelsea are stepping up their pursuit of United goalkeeper and Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson. Chelsea are ready to ask Manchester United for a price as Kepa Arrizabalaga struggles in London.

The Russian Premier League will become the latest football competition to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic on June 21.

Russia's top-flight campaign briefly continued as other elite leagues were paused due to the crisis, before the season was halted on March 17.

An initial April 10 suspension was then extended to May 31, with now more than 260,000 cases of COVID-19 in the country.

However, with Germany's Bundesliga returning this weekend and restarts in Portugal, Italy and potentially England and Spain to follow, the Russian Football Union has agreed a resumption date.

The remaining eight rounds of fixtures will be played behind closed doors until July 22, with four midweek dates scheduled.

Relegation and promotion remain, but there will be no play-offs at the foot of the table, with the bottom two teams replaced by the top two in the second tier if they meet the licensing criteria.

The Russian Cup will also continue, leading to a July 25 final.

Russian Premier League president Sergey Pryadkin said: "I am glad we are resuming the season at the optimal date for the current situation - in the penultimate week of June.

"This will allow all players to prepare for their return to the pitch and play the season in a short but reasonable time.

"We all have a lot of work to do, such as returning players and coaches from abroad, and preparing for matches under difficult conditions.

"We will do our best to ensure the safety of all competitors."

Defending champions Zenit boast a nine-point lead over Lokomotiv Moscow and Krasnodar at the top of the league ahead of the restart.

All professional football in Russia has been postponed until April 10 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Russian Football Union (RFU) announced the decision following an executive committee meeting on Tuesday.

It comes after the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country reached 93.

An RFU statement on Tuesday said all matches under their control between March 17 and April 10 would be suspended.

These include the Russian Premier League, the Russian Cup and regional divisions.

League leaders Zenit had been due to face CSKA Moscow away from home on Sunday.

They are nine points clear at the top of the table after 22 rounds of matches.

Sardar Azmoun scored a hat-trick as Zenit thrashed Ural 7-1 in the Russian Premier League to move nine points clear at the top.

While the coronavirus pandemic has caused a host of postponements across Europe's major leagues, top-flight action is continuing in Russia.

Iran international Azmoun made the most of the opportunity to play in a game that was likely to have attracted an enhanced audience by netting a sparkling treble.

Zenit led by four after 27 minutes, by which point Azmoun had scored twice along with strikes from Artem Dzyuba and Malcom, who netted his first goal since a big-money move from Barcelona in August.

Azmoun completed his hat-trick just after the hour mark, and a penalty from Ural's Andrey Panyukov was responded to by the hosts when Sebastian Driussi struck to cap a fine counter-attack and Dzyuba netted a spot-kick.

Spartak Moscow won 3-1 at Orenburg earlier on Saturday, with Arsenal Tula to play Rubin Kazan in the final match of the day.

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