Portugal's Primeira Liga was the laughingstock of Europe on Saturday due to the farcical scenes that took place in Benfica's trip to coronavirus-ravaged Belenenses SAD, a game that was ultimately forfeited by the hosts.

B-SAD, a controversial offshoot of historic club Belenenses, were plunged into crisis this week when 13 of their players tested positive for coronavirus – among them was Cafu Phete, who had recently been in South Africa, where the new Omicron variant of the virus was first detected.

Despite the depleted nature of their squad, club president Rui Pedro Soares confirmed earlier in the day they had not asked Benfica to postpone the fixture, seemingly to the dismay of players who published coordinated messages to social media as the match kicked off in Oeiras, Lisbon.

The statement read: "Football only has heart if it is competitive. Football only has heart if it is really sporting. Football only has heart when it is an example of public health. Today, football lost its heart."

B-SAD started the match with just nine players on the pitch, many of whom were members of their Under-23s side, and that included goalkeeper Joao Monteiro playing in defence.

Benfica were ahead inside 24 seconds thanks to an own goal by Eduardo Kau; while the visitors did not score again until the 14th minute, the writing was on the wall.

They were 7-0 up at half-time thanks to a Darwin Nunez hat-trick, Haris Seferovic brace and a solitary Julian Weigl goal.

"What is this? Am I the only one who doesn't understand why the game hasn't been postponed?" asked former Benfica player Bernardo Silva on Twitter.

B-SAD did return to the pitch for the second half but with only seven players, and as soon as the game resumed, the hosts put the ball into touch and another player dropped to the turf citing an injury.

The referee called a halt to the game due to B-SAD running out of players, with teams required to have a minimum of seven on the pitch.

It has not been confirmed whether Benfica will be awarded just a 3-0 win, as is standard for a forfeiture, or take the full 7-0 scoreline.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta is "convinced" the LaLiga giants will reach the Champions League last 16 by beating Bayern Munich next month.

Barca's Champions League hopes hang in the balance following Tuesday's goalless draw at home to Benfica.

Xavi's Barca remain second in Group E and two points ahead of their Portuguese counterparts but face runaway leaders Bayern in two weeks' time with their fate yet to be decided.

Barca last failed to advance beyond the group stage in 2000-01, when they finished behind Milan and Leeds United.

However, Laporta is confident Barca can seal progress to the knockout phase heading into the December 8 showdown in Munich.

"Beating Bayern is something that can be achieved," Laporta said to Diario AS, with Barca looking to bounce back from the 3-0 defeat in the reverse fixture.

"There is going to be a miracle, I am convinced that we are going to win.

"Xavi is very motivated and very strong. I hope everything goes well for us.

"I think that at the moment Xavi's arrival has generated a little respect from our opponents. They know we can do it again."

The stalemate against Benfica was Barca's 133rd home game in the Champions League, and just the eighth to end as a goalless draw.

Xavi became the 13th consecutive head coach to avoid defeat in his first Champions League game in charge of Barcelona (W11 D2), with Louis van Gaal in 1997-98 being the last to lose his first game (3-2 against Newcastle United).

Barca have only scored two goals in five Champions League games this season; only Malmo (0.2), Dynamo Kyiv (0.2) and Shakhtar Donetsk (0.25) have a lower goals-per-game ratio than the Catalan side (0.4) in the competition this term.

Benfica's Jorge Jesus says in his 30 years as a coach he has never seen anything like Haris Seferovic's glaring late miss in Tuesday's 0-0 Champions League draw at Barcelona.

The Portuguese outfit could have moved above Barcelona in Group E ahead of the final matchday with victory but Seferovic put wide a golden opportunity on the break having got past goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Darwin Nunez broke clear in a two-on-one situation in a last-gasp counter, squaring to Seferovic who dinked past Ter Stegen before poking wide from less than 12 yards with Eric Garcia scrambling to cover an empty net.

"At the end, there wasn't even a goalkeeper in goal for our final chance," Jorge Jesus told Eleven Sports.

"I've been a coach for 30 years and I've never seen anything like that in my life, but unfortunately it happened to me and Benfica."

He added: "It was a strong defensive display. It's true that during the 94 minutes Barcelona had one or two chances to score."

Barcelona had 66 percent possession with nearly double the number of passes (643-347) while they generated 14 shots compared to Benfica's seven, with both sides having three on target.

The draw means the Blaugrana remain second with seven points ahead of Benfica on five. Barca go to Bayern Munich, who are already confirmed as group winners, in the final matchday while Benfica host eliminated Dynamo Kiev.

"I want to congratulate the team for their defensive organisation," Jorge Jesus said. "We left here with a result that still leaves us dreaming but we are not dependent on our results.

"I keep saying the same thing: Barcelona are one of the best teams in the world and we are competing for qualification with them.

"This should make the fans, players and coach proud – today we were at the level of a great team."

Benfica defender Nicolas Otamendi, who made a key late block to deny Ousmane Dembele, refused to blame Seferovic.

"In the end we could have won, but it didn't happen," Otamendi said. "Seferovic tried, it didn't go in – it's football. We now have a final at home – we'll try to play to win and try to qualify.

"We have to keep the mentality of today and be organised. We tried not to let Barcelona build and we tried to get out fast, so now we want to repeat that in the next game."

Xavi has issued a rallying cry to Barcelona as their Champions League hopes hang in the balance following Tuesday's 0-0 draw with Benfica.

The Blaugrana missed the opportunity to seal their progress to the knockout stages of the competition, despite a dominant performance at Camp Nou.

Although Xavi became the 13th consecutive manager to avoid defeat in his first Champions League game in charge of Barca, his side were unable to break down a stubborn Benfica.

The goalless stalemate was only the eighth that Barcelona have recorded in 133 home matches in this competition, while they have mustered just two goals from their opening five games.

They remain second in Group E and two points ahead of their Portuguese counterparts, but face runaway leaders Bayern Munich in two weeks' time with their fate yet to be decided.

Xavi insists his side will travel to Germany with a positive mentality.

"We were far superior to Benfica. If we had scored, we would be talking about a good match," the Barca head coach said.

"We take a point that means very little. We have one day left, and we have to go to Germany to win.

"We have one goal in two games [since I took over] and we have scored it from a penalty. It is clear that we have to be more effective.

"You have to go to Munich to win; we are Barca."

Barca did have the ball in the net through Ronald Araujo in the 83rd minute, but the defender's volley was ruled out for offside.

The Uruguay international was pleased with the mentality demonstrated by the hosts, but admitted the result left a bitter taste in his mouth.

"We missed the goal, which was the golden key to qualify," Araujo said. "The attitude was very good, but they were very tight in defence.

"There is a bitter taste because we wanted to win the three points here, in front of our people, but we have to win now in Munich."

Barcelona missed the opportunity to secure their place in the Champions League last 16 after they were held to a goalless draw by Benfica, meaning they may now have to win at Bayern Munich.

Despite dominating possession for large periods of the Group E clash at Camp Nou, Xavi’s side were unable to find a way past their stubborn opponents, who might have stolen victory at the last.

Yusuf Demir struck the woodwork, while Benfica goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos produced smart saves to keep out Jordi Alba and Frenkie de Jong before an offside flag denied Ronald Araujo.

Haris Seferovic then somehow missed with the goal gaping in stoppage time, but Barca remain second in the pool – two points ahead of their opponents – albeit with Bayern to play in two weeks' time, when Benfica are at home to already-eliminated Dynamo Kiev.

Requiring a win to qualify from their group in a 20th consecutive Champions League appearance, Barcelona established early control of proceedings and Alba stung the palms of Vlachodimos.

However, Marc-Andre ter Stegen did brilliantly to keep out Roman Yaremchuk's thumping header at the other end, before Benfica thought they had the lead when Nicolas Otamendi powered in off the underside of the crossbar, but his strike was ruled out after the initial corner curled out of play.

Demir then went close for the hosts before the break, his curling shot clipping the bar with Vlachodimos beaten.

Xavi introduced Ousmane Dembele as Barca continued to threaten following the restart, but De Jong's powerful header from his cross was brilliantly saved.

Araujo thought he had netted a dramatic winner seven minutes from time, only to have a late flag confirmed by the VAR, before Seferovic almost snatched victory on the counter, beating Ter Stegen but improbably poking wide.

Ousmane Dembele looks set to be in Barcelona's match squad for just the second time this season when Benfica visit Camp Nou on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old French winger's injury struggles throughout his Barca career have been well publicised, with the former Borussia Dortmund talent yet to make more than 20 LaLiga starts in a single season.

He appeared to be getting back on track last season, with 19 league starts and 44 overall appearances across all competitions, but Dembele had to undergo knee surgery at the end of June that kept him out of action for four months.

Then, after returning to the pitch with a 25-minute cameo in the 1-0 win at Dynamo Kiev on November 2, Dembele was ruled out again with a hamstring injury.

While it remains to be seen if he can feature against Benfica, new head coach Xavi has deemed him fit enough to be a part of a 22-player squad from which he will make his final selections. Teams are allowed up to 12 substitutes on the bench.

Barcelona announced that group on Tuesday, nine hours before kick-off.

Dembele is entering a pivotal period in his Barca career, with his contract due to expire at the end of the season.

But, if he can stay fit, Dembele appears to have a real lifeline in Xavi, who backed the France international to be the "best in the world" in his position if he lives up to his potential.

Xavi made it clear during his first news conference as Barca coach that he sees tying Dembele down to a new contract as a "priority".

Barca go into Tuesday's game second in Group E with six points, but defeat would see Benfica move above them – Bayern Munich are first and already all but confirmed to finish top of the group due to a goal difference that is at least 19 goals better than the other three teams.

Manchester United start life without Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a huge Champions League showdown at Villarreal, while Chelsea and Juventus face a blockbuster battle.

A 4-1 Premier League hammering at Watford was the final straw for the United board as Solskjaer was sacked on Sunday.

Michael Carrick has stepped in to take charge on an interim basis and must rally the troops for the clash between the top two in Group F at Estadio de la Ceramica.

Juventus are already assured of a place in the round of 16 and Chelsea will join them in qualifying from Group H if they avoid defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Barcelona take on Benfica in their first Champions League match with Xavi as boss knowing a win will see them through. 

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the key Opta data for the fixtures on Tuesday.

 

Villarreal v Manchester United: Red Devils in troubled waters ahead of Yellow Submarine showdown

Villarreal have failed to beat United in five Champions League matches, drawing four and losing one.

The LaLiga side did get the better of the Red Devils in the Europa League final last season on penalties, though, and may never have a better opportunity to consign them to a defeat in Europe's premier club competition.

Carrick takes charge for the first time following Solskjaer's departure and will need United to tighten up at the back as they look to end a four-match winless away run in the Champions League. The wounded Premier League side have not kept a clean sheet in the competition this season.

Chelsea v Juventus: Bianconeri plotting another Italian job on holders

Juventus could win the group if they halt Chelsea's nine-match unbeaten run, as they lead the holders by three points.

The Premier League leaders have not lost since they went down 1-0 to Juve in September and they are overdue a victory against Italian opponents.

Chelsea have not come out on top in their past four meetings against Italian teams and Juve could become the first side to record three consecutive wins over the London club in the Champions League.

 

Barcelona v Benfica: Pressure on for Xavi's Champions League bow 

Xavi celebrated a derby victory over Espanyol in his first game as Barcelona boss on Saturday and another win over Benfica will secure qualification from Group E.

Third-placed Benfica beat Barca 3-0 in September and will attempt to become only the third side to do the double over the Catalan club in the group stage, Dynamo Kiev in 1997-98 and Bayern Munich in 1998-99 being the others to achieve that feat.

Barca are two points ahead of Benfica following back-to-back 1-0 wins over Dynamo and are looking to keep clean sheets for three consecutive Champions League games for the first time since May 2019.

 

Sevilla v Wolfsburg: Los Nervionenses nearing last chance saloon

Sevilla dropped points when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Deportivo Alaves in LaLiga on Saturday, and they can ill afford to slip up when they face Wolfsburg.

Bottom of Group G and without a win from four matches, they have not been victorious in their past seven meetings with German sides, losing four and drawing three.

Third-placed Wolfsburg have not been a Spanish team away from home in Europe, losing to Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid either side of a draw with Villarreal.

 

Other fixtures:

Dynamo Kiev v Bayern Munich

17 – Bayern have scored 17 goals in their four Champions League matches this season, the joint most by any team after four matches in a season alongside Paris Saint Germain's tally in 2017-18. Already through to the round of 16, the Group E leaders have also had the most shots (84) and shots on target (34) of any side this campaign. 

9 – Dynamo have failed to score in any Champions League matches this season, attempting just nine shots on target – three fewer than Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski has managed in 2021-22 (12).

Lille v Salzburg

43 – Following their 2-1 victory away at Sevilla, Lille will be aiming to record back-to-back wins in the Champions League for the very first time. This will be their 43rd game in the competition.

2 –  Salzburg have only won two of their previous 12 away games in major European competition (excluding qualifiers), drawing twice and losing eight times. These 12 games have seen a total of 46 goals scored (19 for, 27 against), at an average of 3.8 per game.

Malmo v Zenit

– Zenit have only won one of their past 11 games in the Champions League (D1 L9). That solitary victory and clean sheet in this run of games came in their last meeting with Malmo (4-0 in September). 

8 – If Malmo fail to score in this game, they will equal the record for most consecutive games without finding the back of the net in the European Cup/Champions League (currently on 7). The previous instances of a team going eight games in a row without scoring are Dinamo Zagreb (2016), Deportivo La Coruna (2004) and Avenir Beggen (1986).

Young Boys v Atalanta

3 – Since winning three consecutive away Champions League games without conceding a goal between October and December 2020, Atalanta have failed to win each of their past three away games in the competition (D1 L2), conceding eight goals in the process.

4 – Young Boys won their opening group game against United but have since suffered three consecutive defeats in the competition. Bottom of Group F, If they lose this game, they will have suffered four defeats in a row in major European tournaments for the first time.

Lionel Messi predicts "Barcelona will grow with Xavi" because of his knowledge of football and the club. 

Former midfielder Xavi was this month appointed as Barca's head coach following the dismissal of Ronald Koeman. 

A penalty from Memphis Depay gave the Catalan giants a 1-0 victory over Espanyol in his first game at the helm last weekend. 

The Blaugrana had 11 shots in the first half at Camp Nou – the most they have had in the opening 45 minutes of any game this season – but had also faced 12 by the final whistle, the most in a Barca boss' opening LaLiga game in charge since Frank Rijkaard (17) in August 2002. 

A potentially pivotal Champions League clash with Benfica is next up on Tuesday, and Messi believes his former team-mate Xavi has what it takes to get the Catalan giants back on track. 

"Barcelona will grow with Xavi. He is a coach who knows a lot and knows the club perfectly," Messi told Marca. 

Messi will be hoping to get his hands on the Champions League trophy this season, having linked up with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain. 

While the Argentina captain acknowledged they are among the favourites for European success, he feels Mauricio Pochettino's team have plenty of work to do to reach the required level. 

"Everyone says that we are the favourites and I will not deny that we are one of the candidates because of our name, but we still need things to be a really strong team," he said. 

PSG will book their place in the Champions League round of 16 if they beat Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

Messi has scored seven goals in as many Champions League appearances against City, who lost the reverse fixture 2-0 back in September.

Xavi has challenged his Barcelona side to qualify for the Champions League round of 16 in style when they face Benfica on Tuesday.

Benfica will be unable to catch Barca if the Catalan giants secure all three points in their penultimate Group E game at Camp Nou.

The Blaugrana managed a 1-0 derby win over Espanyol in Xavi's first game in charge on Saturday after the club great replaced Ronald Koeman as head coach.

Former Spain star Xavi wants Barca to put on a show against a Benfica side that beat them 3-0 in September and could move into second place behind Bayern Munich with another victory.

Xavi said in a press conference on Monday: "I envision a victory tomorrow. Why should I think otherwise? I prepare for that, so that [the players] are doing well and see that it is an opportunity to get into the second round.

"I am positive, and it seems an opportunity to me. I envision winning, scoring goals. No one is going to take away that hope. I would like a great team game, of course, but we are not here to give anything away.

"The most important thing is how. The objective is to win. Winning in any way will be welcome, but it is [about] how things are done, too."

Xavi has taken on a rebuilding job at the cash-strapped club following Koeman's departure, but the 41-year-old has high expectations.

"I am very happy," he said: "I feel proud and privileged. I think they are the best in the world, but they must prove it. We have to aim for excellence.

"Regardless of the system, the approach is the same. I try to give the team a winning mentality, personality."

Xavi revealed Ousmane Dembele could return from a hamstring injury, but Barca will not take any risks with the France forward.

Sergio Busquets, Nico Gonzalez and Oscar Mingueza were substituted in the win over Espanyol, but Xavi says all three should be fit to face Benfica.

He said: "The players we had to substitute on Saturday – Mingueza, Busquets and Nico – are fine. We'll see this evening and tomorrow, but I don't see any reason why they can't play on Tuesday.

"Regarding those with injuries – Dembele, Sergi Roberto, and [Sergino] Dest – it depends on how they feel. We don't want players getting injured."

Dusan Vlahovic is believed to be Juventus' number one transfer target.

However, Juve are not the only club interested in the Serbia international, who is unwilling to re-sign at Fiorentina.

Juve are keeping their options open as they try to reinforced a stuttering squad.

 

TOP STORY – MARTIAL AND ICARDI EMERGE AS JUVE OPTIONS

Anthony Martial and Mauro Icardi are among the alternatives should Juventus miss out on Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, according to Calciomercato.

Juve are interested in Vlahovic, who has also been linked with Manchester City, Atletico Madrid, Inter, Tottenham and Arsenal.

With competition high, United forward Martial, Paris Saint-Germain's Icardi, Benfica star Darwin Nunez, Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal and Sassuolo's Gianluca Scamacca are also being considered by Juve.

 

ROUND-UP

- El Nacional reports Real Madrid are targeting Juve star Federico Chiesa. The Italy international signed from Fiorentina on an initial two-year loan deal and Juve are desperate to make it permanent amid interest from Liverpool.

Manchester United are in no rush to sack embattled manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, per Manchester Evening News. Solskjaer is under pressure following humbling defeats to rivals Liverpool and Manchester City. Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, Leicester City's Brendan Rodgers and Zinedine Zidane have been linked.

- Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks are among Roma's transfer targets, says Calciomercato. Roma are also determined to sign Denis Zakaria from Borussia Monchengladbach.

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann backed Robert Lewandowski to continue to be the world's best forward as he highlighted the milestone man's longevity following his Champions League hat-trick.

Lewandowski marked his 100th Champions League appearance with a hat-trick as Bayern eased past Benfica 5-2 to seal their last-16 progress in Group E action on Tuesday.

The Ballon d'Or contender became the sixth player to score on his 100th appearance in the Champions League, after Thierry Henry, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andrea Pirlo and Toni Kroos, while the Poland captain is the first player to score more than once in the milestone game.

Lewandowski also celebrated his fourth Champions League hat-trick – the third-most in Europe's premier club tournament after Ronaldo and Lionel Messi (eight each). At 33 years and 73 days, he is the fourth-oldest hat-trick scorer after Olivier Giroud (34 years 63 days), Ronaldo and Claudio Pizarro (34 years 35 days).

Nagelsmann showered Lewandowski in praise post-match, telling reporters: "Ninety-eight times involved, 81 goals in 100 Champions League games. Something new?

"Today most of the people talk about his three goals. Or many people write about his three goals. But you have to see his joy to play in the last 30 minutes. He played every offensive position, wanted to have every ball. He started good attacks."

When asked to compare Lewandowski to superstar pair Ronaldo and Messi, Nagelsmann added: "I think it's very difficult to compare because they are different types of players. I don't know the character of the other two, I also only know them out of the TV, as do you, I guess. I think all three were very impressive players in the last years.

"[Lewandowski] I also know as a person. He is a very nice guy which whom it's very nice to work with. I heard that also about the other two guys when I talked about them with their former coaches. I believe that Lewy can achieve a lot, also at a high age, because of his physique and his lifestyle and the way he lives as a footballer.

"He will continue to be the best forward in the world because he does everything to keep it that way."

Robert Lewandowski "can catch" Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi following his latest Champions League hat-trick, according to former Bayern Munich forward Mario Gomez.

Lewandowski dazzled in his 100th Champions League appearance, capping the European milestone with three goals in Tuesday's 5-2 rout of visitors Benfica as Bayern sealed their last-16 berth.

The Ballon d'Or contender became the sixth player to score on his 100th appearance in the Champions League, after Thierry Henry, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo, Andrea Pirlo and Toni Kroos, while the Poland captain is the first player to score more than once in the milestone game.

Bayern talisman Lewandowski also celebrated his fourth Champions League hat-trick – the third-most in the competition after Manchester United's Ronaldo and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Messi (eight each). At 33 years and 73 days, he is the fourth-oldest hat-trick scorer after Olivier Giroud (34 years 63 days), Ronaldo and Claudio Pizarro (34 years 35 days).

As Lewandowski continues to flourish in Munich, shattering records, Gomez hailed the red-hot striker as Ronaldo and Messi – who have 11 Ballon d'Or honours between them – continue to dominate.

"He is playing a different sport; he's in a different league," Gomez told Amazon Prime Video post-match. "He still has a few years left, he can catch them up [Messi and Ronaldo]."

Lewandowski opened the scoring in the 26th minute at Allianz Arena, where Serge Gnabry doubled Bayern's lead six minutes later.

After Morato reduced the deficit, Lewandowski then failed to convert a penalty in first-half stoppage time, though Leroy Sane did make it 3-1 early in the second half.

After his unsuccessful spot-kick, Lewandowski scored a delightful second goal just past the hour mark as he dinked the ball over Benfica goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos.

Lewandowski completed his hat-trick six minutes from the end after Benfica substitute Darwin Nunez had bagged the team's second 10 minutes earlier.

"In the first 20 minutes, I barely touched the ball," Lewandowski told Amazon Prime Video. "It's not easy as a striker to stay patient.

"After the first goal, things were a bit easier. My favourite goal today was the second. I'm annoyed by the two goals we conceded.

"That motivates us. It's especially important for [Manuel] Neuer."

Lewandowski added: "I didn't connect well with the penalty, that was a mistake from me. I saw exactly where the goalkeeper was jumping and still shot towards the wrong corner.

"Fortunately, we still scored a few more goals and picked up three more points. Another clear victory."

Robert Lewandowski marked his 100th appearance in the Champions League with his 79th, 80th and 81st goals in the competition as Bayern Munich sealed their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League by beating Benfica 5-2 at the Allianz Arena.

Further goals from Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane secured the win and confirmed Bayern as winners of Group E with two games still remaining.

The victory, in what was Bayern's 500th game across all European competitions, means Julian Nagelsmann's men have won all four of their group games, and it is now between Benfica, Barcelona and Dynamo Kiev to fight it out for the remaining qualifying spot.

Benfica started brightly, with Pizzi forcing a save from Manuel Neuer in the first minute, before the visitors had a goal disallowed for offside against the same man in the 15th minute.

Lewandowski headed in a floated cross from Kingsley Coman at the back post to give Bayern the lead on 25 minutes on his milestone evening, and Gnabry doubled the lead six minutes later with a neat flick after a delightful ball over the top from Joshua Kimmich was pulled back by Lewandowski for the former Arsenal man to finish.

Morato headed in an Alex Grimaldo cross on 38 minutes to halve the deficit, before Lewandowski saw a tame penalty saved by Odysseas Vlachodimos just before half-time.

The Bundesliga champions restored their two-goal cushion early in the second half as Sane lashed in after Alphonso Davies headed the ball down to him, before Lewandowski bagged his second and third goals of the night either side of Darwin Nunez's consolation for the visitors.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is seeking a second away victory in a week as the Champions League returns, with the 3-0 success at Tottenham on Sunday being his first in six domestic games.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri will also be hoping for a win to seal qualification from Group H with two games to spare, having lost back-to-back Serie A matches.

Bayern Munich and Chelsea will expect more of the same after they both won 4-0 against their opponents last time out in the Champions League.

Stats Perform pick out the key Opta facts ahead of Tuesday's Champions League action.

 

Atalanta v Manchester United: Ronaldo aiming to hurt Italians once more

United are looking to record their 150th victory in the European Cup/Champions League, which would make them the first English side to reach this milestone, and fourth overall after Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

Having failed to win in five domestic games prior to Sunday, pressure was starting to pile on Solskjaer. A third win in a row in the Champions League will boost confidence further.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be aiming to break Atalanta hearts as he did when he scored the winner in a 3-2 turnaround at Old Trafford on matchday three. Since returning to United, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in all three of his Champions League appearances – the last player to score in four consecutive appearances for the club in the competition was Ruud van Nistelrooy in April 2003.

3 - Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in three consecutive Champions League games for Manchester United for the second time, previously doing so in November 2007 en route to winning the trophy with the Red Devils. Inevitable. pic.twitter.com/eEYYnJpGV0

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 20, 2021

 

Juventus v Zenit Saint Petersburg: Allegri can cheer up Old Lady by sealing qualification

Things are not looking great for Juventus domestically, trailing Napoli and Milan at the top of Serie A by 16 points after Allegri's men were beaten by Sassuolo and Hellas Verona.

It has been a much smoother Champions League campaign so far, though, as the Turin side have won all three Group H games and will secure qualification to the knockout stage with a win against Zenit.

This will be Juve's 10th time facing Russian opponents in European competition, winning eight of the previous nine (D1) and they have kept six clean sheets. Zenit are also winless in their past nine away games in the Champions League (D1 L8). This is their longest run without an away win in the European Cup/Champions League.

 

Malmo v Chelsea: Blues can expect more goals in Sweden

Chelsea will be confident of another comfortable win against Malmo to go within a point of sealing qualification to the knockout stage. No team has conceded more goals than the Swedish side (11) in the Champions League this season, while only Besiktas (11.1) have a higher expected goals against total than their 8.7.

The holders are unbeaten in their seven meetings with Swedish teams to date, winning four and drawing three against them across all competitions. The past three have all been against Malmo, with each of them ending in Chelsea victories.

Malmo have lost seven of their eight previous games against English opponents in European competition, including each of the most recent four. The only time they have avoided defeat in such games came against Nottingham Forest in September 1995, winning 2-1 in the UEFA Cup.

 

Bayern Munich v Benfica: Bundesliga champions to mark milestone with another win?

This clash with Benfica will be Bayern’s 500th game across all European competitions, becoming only the third team to reach this milestone, after Barcelona (587) and Real Madrid (575). A win would not only be a fitting way to mark the occasion, but will also see them clinch qualification from Group E.

Bayern are unbeaten in all 11 of their meetings with Benfica in European competition, with eight of those ending in victories for the Bundesliga champions. They have faced Benfica more times without losing than against any of their other opponents in European competition.

It is also set to be a historic night for Robert Lewandowski, who could be in line to make his 100th Champions League appearance. The Poland striker has netted 78 goals in the competition to date, which is already the most by a player through their first 100 appearances in the Champions League.

Other fixtures:

Dynamo Kiev v Barcelona

11 – Dynamo Kiev's last victory against a Spanish team in the Champions League came back in March 1999, beating Real Madrid 2-0 in a quarter-final clash. Since then, they have faced Spanish opponents on 11 occasions in the competition and failed to win all of them (D3 L8).

9 – Since the start of the 2018-19 season, no full-back has provided more assists in the Champions League than the nine from Barcelona's Jordi Alba. This is three times as many as any other current Barcelona player in the same period (Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho, 3).

Villarreal v Young Boys

8 – Arnaut Danjuma has generated eight shots following carries (moving five or more metres with the ball) for Villareal in the Champions League this season (six shots and two chances created) – only Vinicius Junior (10) and Jack Grealish (9) have produced more.

10 – Young Boys have not kept a clean sheet in any of their past 10 games in the European Cup/Champions League (W2 D1 L7), with their last one coming back in September 1986 versus Real Madrid (1-0).

Wolfsburg v Salzburg

1 – Wolfsburg have lost just one of their nine home matches in the Champions League (W6 D2) and remain unbeaten in six on home soil in the competition since a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United in December 2009.

3 – Salzburg could become the first Austrian side to win three consecutive European Cup/Champions League matches since Rapid Vienna in 1982.

Sevilla v Lille

1 – Sevilla have only lost one of their past seven home games in the group stage of the Champions League (W4 D2), with that lone defeat coming against Chelsea in December 2020.

3 – Since scoring in six consecutive Champions League appearances between October 2012 and March 2013 for Galatasaray, Lille striker Burak Yilmaz has only scored in three of his past 20 appearances in the competition.

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann has tested positive for COVID-19.

Nagelsmann was absent due to 'flu-like symptoms' as Bayern beat Benfica 4-0 in Portugal on Wednesday, maintaining their flawless Champions League group-stage record so far this season, with assistant manager Dino Toppmoller standing in.

The Bavarian giants have won each of their first three games in the competition, scoring 12 times and not conceding a single goal to sit five points clear at the top of Group E.

The club confirmed on Thursday morning that the 34-year-old, despite being fully vaccinated, had tested positive for the virus and will return to Munich separately instead of with the rest of the squad before isolating at his home.

As a result, Nagelsmann will miss Bayern's next league game at home against Hoffenheim on October 23, with Toppmoller set to continue filling in.

Bayern are one point ahead of Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga, winning six and losing just one of their first eight games as they seek a 10th consecutive league title.

Page 1 of 4
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.