Former Fulham and Bournemouth boss Scott Parker has replaced Carl Hoefkens as Club Brugge's new head coach.

Hoefkens, who was only appointed in May, defied the odds by helping Brugge finish above Bayer Leverkusen and Atletico Madrid to reach the knockout stage of the Champions League for the first time, where Benfica await over two legs.

However, they have struggled domestically as they sit fourth in the league and were knocked out of the cup by Sint-Truidense last week, leading to Hoefkens' dismissal on Tuesday.

Parker managed Fulham between February 2019 and June 2021, before taking over the reins at Bournemouth ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

He guided them to promotion to the Premier League, but was sacked after a run of three league defeats in a row, culminating in an embarrassing 9-0 thumping by Liverpool in August.

Brugge are back in action on January 8 with a trip to Belgian First Division leaders Genk.

Club Brugge have sacked head coach Carl Hoefkens, despite the Belgian guiding them into the last 16 of the Champions League in his seven months in charge.

Brugge defied the odds by finishing above Bayer Leverkusen and Atletico Madrid to reach the knockout stage of the competition for the first time, where Benfica await over two legs.

However, the reigning Belgian champions have struggled domestically as they sit fourth in the league and were knocked out of the cup by Sint-Truidense last week.

Hoefkens has previously been assistant coach at Under-18, Under-21 and first-team level prior to taking over as head coach in May.

Brugge confirmed Hoefkens' exit in a statement on their official website on Tuesday.

Club CEO Vincent Mannaert said: "Carl's contribution and commitment to the club and as an assistant were greatly appreciated. 

"His part in this season's successful Champions League campaign cannot be underestimated either. 

"Our choices last summer did not deliver the desired level of play and result in the Belgian league and the Belgian cup. We are now working on the best possible succession."

Brugge are back in action on January 8 with a trip to Belgian First Division leaders Genk.

They welcome Benfica to Jan Breydel Stadium on February 15 for the first leg of their last-16 tie, before travelling to Portugal three weeks later.

Bayern Munich are looking at Aston Villa's Emiliano Martinez as the potential solution to their goalkeeper issue, as Manuel Neuer is expected to miss the second-half of the season through his skiing injury.

Martinez, 30, had an interesting journeyman career before arriving with Villa in 2020, having been contracted to Arsenal, but loaned out to Oxford United, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham United, Wolves, Getafe and Reading.

In his first two seasons with Villa, Martinez kept 26 Premier League clean sheets, earning his Argentina debut in June 2021.

His ascension to La Albiceleste's number one saw him earn the 2021 Copa America Golden Glove as the tournament's best goalkeeper, and he followed it up with another Golden Glove after securing the World Cup title in a penalty shoot-out.

Neuer's leg fracture leaves Bayern without their first-choice goalkeeper, and with only a four-point gap atop the Bundesliga, they are reportedly desperate to secure a replacement in January.

 

TOP STORY – ARGENTINA WORLD CUP HERO TARGETED AS BAYERN'S NEUER REPLACEMENT

According to Media Foot, it is "out of the question" for Bayern to leave the January transfer window without a new goalkeeper, and Martinez's World Cup exploits have him at the top of the list.

He remains under contract with Villa until 2027, giving the Premier League side plenty of leverage in negotiations, and after signing him for £17million, will likely have their sights set on a significant profit to part ways with their world-class shot-stopper.

However, he is not the only keeper the German giants are keeping a close eye on from the World Cup, with Sky Sports Germany reporting they also are investigating Croatia's Dominic Livakovic and Morocco's Yassine Bounou.

That report states Bayern will try to tempt 34-year-old Borussia Monchengladbach's Yann Sommer to the club on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season, but that will not address their immediate pressing need.

ROUND-UP

– Sport is reporting Barcelona are in advanced negotiations with Chelsea midfielder N'Golo Kante on personal terms, as he is able to leave Stamford Bridge on a free transfer after the season.

– Journalist Ekrem Konur claims Sevilla are the latest club to enquire about 22-year-old Angers midfielder Azzedine Ounahi, who impressed for Morocco in Qatar.

– According to GiveMeSport, Chelsea are in the race to land 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund phenom Youssoufa Moukoko when his contract expires at the end of the season, while Si Phillips adds they will also try to sign out-of-contract Manchester United prospect Alejandro Garnacho.

– Sky Sports is reporting Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and multiple Premier League clubs have taken a liking to 27-year-old Celtic right-back Josip Juranovic after his performances at the World Cup for Croatia.

– According to Fabrizio Romano, 20-year-old Italian midfielder Ibrahima Bamba will likely leave Vitoria Guimaraes in January amid interest from Atalanta, Club Brugge and unnamed Premier League sides.

The only Champions League group with qualifying places still to play for on Tuesday is Group D, with all four teams in with a reasonable chance of progression.

Marseille host leaders Tottenham while Sporting CP take on Eintracht Frankfurt, with each team knowing a win will see them through and defeat will mean third our fourth spot.

It has been a sensational start to the season for Napoli, and they can complete a perfect Champions League group stage on Tuesday.

Luciano Spalletti's men travel to Liverpool looking for a sixth win in six Group A games, and will top the group as long as they avoid defeat by four or more at Anfield.

As the Champions League group stage prepares to draw to a close, Stats Perform takes a look at the Opta numbers behind these and the rest of Tuesday's clashes.

Marseille v Tottenham

Having lost six home matches in a row in the Champions League between March 2012 and November 2020, Marseille have since won two of their last three such matches (L1), including last time out against Sporting. They have not won consecutive home games in the competition since the 2010-11 campaign when they beat MSK Zilina and Chelsea.

Despite currently sitting bottom of Group D, Marseille can still top the standings if results go their way. Only once in 10 previous campaigns have the Ligue 1 side finished top of their Champions League group, which was in 1992-93 when they went on to lift the trophy.

Spurs have failed to win any of their last four away matches in the Champions League. Should they fail to win here, it will be their longest run of games without a win away from home in the competition.

Antonio Conte will be concerned that Tottenham have failed to score in any of their last three away matches in the Champions League; the last English side to go on a longer run without a goal away from home in the competition was Manchester United between October 2004 and November 2005 (five games – a record for an English club).

Sporting CP v Eintracht Frankfurt

In what is their first ever Champions League campaign, Eintracht Frankfurt can still win their group if results go their way. The only German club to win their first group participation in the competition was Kaiserslautern in 1998-99, while the last Bundesliga side to progress to the knockout rounds at the first attempt was Stuttgart in 2003-04.

Sporting are looking to progress to the knockout stages in consecutive Champions League campaigns, having been eliminated during the group stage in seven of their previous eight participations (progressing in 2008-09).

Eintracht's Mario Gotze has recorded an assist in each of his past two appearances in the Champions League; only once before has he set up a goal in three consecutive games in the competition – between November 2012 and March 2013 for Borussia Dortmund.

Sporting have been shown three red cards so far this season in the Champions League – the last team to have more players sent off in a single group stage was Anderlecht in 2013-14 (four).

Liverpool v Napoli

This will be the eighth meeting between Liverpool and Napoli in European competition, with the Italian side (three) edging the Reds (two) in terms of victories so far (two draws). After their 4-1 win in this season's reverse fixture, Napoli could beat Liverpool in consecutive games for the first time.

The Italian side have travelled to face the Reds on three previous occasions in European competition, but are yet to win at Anfield (D1 L2) – losing 3-1 in the Europa League in November 2010 and 1-0 in the Champions League in December 2018, before a 1-1 draw in November 2019, also in the Champions League.

This will be Jurgen Klopp's 100th match as a manager in the Champions League, across spells with Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool. He will become the first German coach to take charge of a century of games in the competition.

Napoli have scored more goals than any other team through the first five matchdays in this season's group stage (20). The only team to score more during a single group stage in the previous four campaigns has been Bayern Munich (twice, 24 in 2019-20 and 22 in 2021-22).

Bayern Munich v Inter

Speaking of which, Bayern and Inter have met on eight previous occasions in European competition, with the German side winning half of those meetings (W4 D1 L3). Indeed, they are unbeaten in the three matches in the Champions League that have taken place in the group stage (W2 D1).

Inter are themselves unbeaten in their previous three away games at Bayern (W2 D1). This makes them the team to have faced the Bavarians away from home on the most occasions without ever losing in European competition.

Bayern have won each of their last 12 group-stage matches in the Champions League, and are looking to become the first side in history to win all six group games in consecutive campaigns. They would also become the first side to do so on three separate occasions, having also achieved perfection in 2019-20.

Inter are unbeaten in three away games in the Champions League, and could go four games without defeat away from home in the competition for the first time since December 2003 to February 2005 (five games).

Bayern have scored in 42 of their last 43 home matches in the Champions League, netting 136 goals across this spell at an average of 3.2 per game. They have scored in each of their last 21 in a row since being held by Sevilla in April 2018.

Other fixtures:

Viktoria Plzen v Barcelona

3 - Viktoria Plzen have lost all three of their previous games against Barcelona in the Champions League, scoring just one goal and conceding 11 times in return.

3 - Barcelona have lost each of their last three away matches in the Champions League, and could lose four in a row for the first time since a run between November 1994 and October 1997. 

Rangers v Ajax

5 - Rangers have lost all five of their games in the Champions League this season. No Scottish side have ever been beaten six times within a single campaign in the European Cup/Champions League.

4 - Ajax have lost each of their previous four games in the Champions League; they have not lost five in a row in the competition since September 2004 under Ronald Koeman.

Bayer Leverkusen v Club Brugge

18 - Leverkusen forward Patrik Schick has played 18 times in the Champions League without scoring a goal. His three goals in major European competition have all been scored in the Europa League, where he averages a goal every 138 minutes.

1 - Club Brugge have already qualified for the knockout stage, and could finish top of their group for the very first time in a single edition of the tournament.

Porto v Atletico Madrid

3 - Porto goalkeeper Diogo Costa has saved three of the four penalties he has faced in the Champions League this season. This is already the most ever by a goalkeeper in a single season on record in the competition (since 2003-04). 

4 - Atletico are winless in their last four Champions League games (D2 L2). They last had a longer run without a victory in the competition between December 2008 and December 2009, when they went nine games without one prior to head coach Diego Simeone's arrival.

Liverpool can seal progression to the Champions League last 16 when they play on Wednesday, but Barcelona could see their exit confirmed from Europe's top competition.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds make the trip to face Ajax in Group A knowing they are guaranteed a spot in the Europa League at the very least – and simply avoiding defeat would guarantee their place in the Champions League knockout stages.

It is a more dicey affair for Xavi's Barca, however, as they welcome Bayern Munich to Camp Nou in Group C knowing a loss would spell the end of their journey. Even a win will not be enough if Inter defeat Viktoria Plzen.

Tottenham will hope to keep their noses in front in Group D, with Marseille and Sporting CP just a point behind, while Atletico Madrid have work to do in Group B.

Stats Perform previews Wednesday's eight matches by picking through the Opta data.

Ajax v Liverpool

Ajax have made for generous opponents for Liverpool of late, losing their last three against the Reds in the Champions League. Only Juventus (four, 1997-2004) and Real Madrid (seven, 2010-2019) have previously won four in a row against Ajax in the European Cup or Champions League.

Yet Ajax remain the last Dutch side to achieve a home win against Liverpool, albeit that was back in 1966, with the Premier League side unbeaten in seven subsequent trips to the Netherlands.

Liverpool's countrymen have also made hay, as Ajax have won just one of their last eight home European matches against English teams, beating Manchester City in October 2012.

With or without another strong result, this will be an historic occasion for Liverpool and Klopp, who will match Rafael Benitez's 62 Champions League matches in charge of the Reds, who bring up 150 games in the competition.

Barcelona v Bayern Munich

Needing a win, Barca might have hoped to face any team but Bayern, who have a record three Champions League away wins at the Blaugrana. Along with Juventus and Real Madrid, they are one of three teams to have won more matches at Barca than they have lost.

Home and away, Barca have lost nine of their 12 Champions League matches against Bayern, including the past five in a row.

In fact, if Bayern win again, they will match Madrid's record of 10 wins against a single opponent in the competition – Madrid's dominance coming against Bayern.

Although Bayern are already through, they are seeking a fourth home-and-away double against Barca in a Champions League season (also 1998-99, 2012-13 and 2021-22). Dynamo Kyiv (in 1997-98) are the only other team to beat Barca twice in the same campaign even once.

Tottenham Hotspur v Sporting CP

Sporting won 2-0 against Tottenham in Portugal in what was the sides' first meeting, but they have a dismal record in England, with two victories in 15 attempts away to English sides.

Spurs have won six of their seven home European matches against Portuguese opposition, only losing to Benfica in the 2013-14 Europa League.

Both of Tottenham's wins in this campaign have come at home, where Antonio Conte is bidding to become just the second Spurs coach to win each of his first three at home in the Champions League – after Harry Redknapp.

He and Tottenham will know they must keep their focus early and late; Sporting's last three Champions League goals have come in either the first or last minutes of the match, netting twice in second-half stoppage time in the reverse fixture.

Atletico Madrid v Bayer Leverkusen

Atletico have not lost at home to Leverkusen in their prior four such matches, winning two and drawing two, but the Bundesliga team have started to turn the tide, winning two in a row against them in the Champions League.

That strong home record applies whenever Atletico face German opposition, though, as Borussia Dortmund were the last Bundesliga visitors to win there in 1996. Atleti are unbeaten in 11 since.

Diego Simeone needs his team to rediscover their scoring touch, having gone three without a goal in the Champions League.

That is their worst run under Simeone. Only once in the competition have Atletico gone four without netting, back in 2009 under Abel Resino.

Other fixtures:

Club Brugge v Porto

21 – Club Brugge goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has saved all 21 of the shots on target he has faced in the Champions League this season. He has prevented a competition-leading 4.9 goals, according to expected goals on target data.

4 – Four of Porto's last seven Champions League goals have come from the penalty spot.

Inter v Viktoria Plzen

12 – Inter have scored 12 of their last 14 Champions League goals in the second halves of matches. All three against Barca last time out came after the interval – only the third time an away team has netted three second-half goals at Camp Nou in this competition.

28 – Plzen have averaged just 28 per cent of the possession in the Champions League this season, the lowest average by a team in a single season since Opta data collection began in 2003-04.

Napoli v Rangers

4 – Napoli have won all four of their matches in the Champions League this season and could become the first Italian side to win their opening five games in a single campaign since Juventus in 2004-05. 

12 – No goalkeeper has faced more shots on target (29) or conceded more goals (12) than Rangers' Allan McGregor in the Champions League this season. Indeed, he has only kept four clean sheets in 21 appearances in the competition overall.

Eintracht Frankfurt v Marseille

50 – Eintracht Frankfurt's Mario Gotze could make his 50th start in the Champions League in this match. He has been involved in 25 goals in his previous 65 appearances, including 21 in his 49 starts.

3 – Marseille have won their last two games in the Champions League – both against Sporting CP – and will be looking to win three in a row for the first time since October-December 2010, when they won four on the spin under Didier Deschamps.

Diego Simeone insisted Atletico Madrid had produced one of their best displays this season in Wednesday's goalless Champions League draw with Club Brugge.

Atleti recorded 21 shots to Brugge's five as they dominated at the Civitas Metropolitano, but their poor European form continued as they failed to make the breakthrough.

The result ensured Brugge will progress to the Champions League's knockout stages for the first time in their history, but Atletico's chances of joining them are in doubt after taking just four points from four games in Group B.

Atleti have now failed to score in five of their last six Champions League matches, including each of their last three, but Simeone refused to criticise their performance.

"We had important situations, well generated, we played one of the best games of this season, due to our rhythm, intensity, the rival," Simeone said. "Many good things were seen, but the goal did not come. 

"Morata's chance is the one that remains in all of our minds, but the goalkeepers are here to stop and the players are here to be forceful or not.

"This round we did things very well, better than in the first leg against them. I keep a lot of good things, honestly."

However, with Atletico rounding off their Group B campaign with tough tests against Porto and Bayer Leverkusen, Simeone is under no illusions as to what is now required.

"The classification was complicated, and we are in a place where the only good thing is that we have to win both games," he added.

Brugge goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was the star of the show on Wednesday, denying Atleti on nine occasions.

The former Liverpool shot-stopper has now made 14 saves across two appearances against Atleti in the Champions League this season – the most any goalkeeper has made against a single opponent without conceding in a single campaign since records began (in 2003-04).

Speaking to Club RTL after the match, Mignolet said helping Brugge to the knockout stages ranked among the highlights of his career, saying: "I have already done a lot of things, but it was an incredible feeling with the team. A first in the history of the club. It's a great moment.

"We needed everything to keep the clean sheet today. I had a good match, I made my saves but it was just necessary to keep the clean sheet."

Club Brugge have reached the Champions League knockout stages for the first time after a hard-fought 0-0 draw away to Atletico Madrid.

The Belgian champions had failed to get out of the group in each of their previous nine participations, but Wednesday's stalemate ensured they created club history.

Atletico gave them a helping hand as Diego Simeone's men failed to make the most of their chances in the first half, though Brugge were somewhat unfortunate to see a penalty overturned on the stroke of half-time.

While the second period was even more one-sided in Atletico's favour, Los Colchoneros could not break the deadlock even after Kamal Sowah's dismissal, meaning Porto or Bayer Leverkusen could usurp them in second later on Wednesday.

Both sides threatened amid an entertaining opening, though Atletico created the best opportunity as Angel Correa flashed across goal following a smart one-two with Koke.

Simon Mignolet then denied Antoine Griezmann in the 25th minute, acrobatically tipping a header over with Atletico piling pressure on.

But Brugge burst into life just before the break.

Andreas Skov Olsen fed Tajon Buchanan into the box on the counter and a clumsy Nahuel Molina challenge led to a penalty award.

However, referee Danny Makkelie changed his mind after viewing a replay, deeming the Brugge man to have caused the collision by standing on his opponent's foot.

Correa had a goal disallowed for a blatant offside just after the restart, and Mignolet read a Griezmann lob a few minutes later to bail out a Dennis Odoi error.

Sowah's late red for petulantly kicking the ball away left Brugge on the ropes, but two incredible Mignolet saves – one with his face – allowed Brugge to celebrate a historic achievement.

Inter have a chance to become the first Italian side to ever beat Barcelona twice in a Champions League campaign when they meet at Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Club Brugge are on the brink of their first trip to the knockout stages as they play Atletico Madrid.

Mohamed Salah can make history with one more Champions League goal for Liverpool on their trip to Scotland to take on Rangers, and Bayern Munich are one win away from their own record as they try to win an 11th consecutive group stage match.

Tottenham will look to break out of a scoring slump when they host Eintracht Frankfurt, while Porto and Bayer Leverkusen are battling it out in Group B.

With plenty of important matchups, Stats Perform has parsed through the data to preview the eight fixtures on Wednesday and shine a light on some of the more interesting angles.

Barcelona v Inter

Inter's 1-0 victory against Barcelona at San Siro last week was their first triumph over the Spanish giants since April 2010, with Barca collecting four wins and one draw since.

With another win, Inter can become the first Italian side to ever beat Barcelona twice in the same Champions League campaign, although they have lost all five of their away fixtures at Camp Nou – their most losses at any away venue in the competition.

In fact, Camp Nou has not been a happy hunting ground for Italian sides in general, with a 3-0 victory for Juventus in 2020 marking the country's only win at the venue in the last 17 tries (L13 D3).

It is not just Barcelona who have given Inter trouble on away days, with their last away win in the Champions League against a Spanish opponent coming back in 2004 against Valencia.

Working in Inter's favour is road warrior Lautaro Martinez, who has scored six of his seven Champions League goals away from home.

Tottenham v Eintracht Frankfurt

After banking four consecutive wins against Borussia Dortmund between 2017 and 2019, Tottenham are now winless in their past five Champions League fixtures against German sides (D1 L4).

On the other side, Eintracht have enjoyed success when travelling to England in European competition, winning both of their previous two attempts – against Arsenal in 2019, and West Ham in April this year – in the Europa League.

However, this is a clear step up from the Europa League, and after winning their first ever Champions League away game last month (1-0 at Marseille), Frankfurt will be looking to become the only German team to ever win their first two away fixtures in the competition.

The 0-0 draw between these two sides in Frankfurt a week ago was the second consecutive Champions League game where Tottenham have failed to score a goal – also losing 2-0 to Sporting. The last time they went three games in the competition without scoring was back in 2011.

Striker Harry Kane will be key, as he boasts the best minutes-per-goal figure – 20 goals in 27 appearances for a goal every 118 minutes – of any English player with at least 10 goals in the Champions League.

Atletico Madrid v Club Brugge

Not many, if any, would have tipped Club Brugge to top Group B ahead of Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Porto, but they have defeated all three to lead with a perfect nine points and zero goals conceded.

One more win for Brugge would see them progress past the group stage for the first time, in their 10th Champions League campaign. By defeating Atletico, they would become the first Belgian side since Anderlecht in 2000 to win four games in a row in the competition.

Brugge are also one goal away from matching their highest goal tally from a single Champions League campaign, with eight goals in 2020-21.

Surprisingly, Atletico have struggled at home in the Champions League, snapping a streak of eight games without a win (D5 L3) by defeating Porto this season.

Brugge's Ferran Jutgla has registered a goal and an assist in each of his past two Champions League games, and if he can manage to do it again, he will join Robert Lewandowski and Leroy Sane as the only players since 2003-04 to have a goal and an assist in three straight games in the competition.

Bayer Leverkusen v Porto

With Brugge seemingly cruising, Porto, Leverkusen and Atletico are likely fighting it out for one automatic qualification spot, and Leverkusen will feel good about their chances as Porto are winless in their last seven away games against German teams (D2 L5).

After defeating Atletico at home on the second matchday, Leverkusen will be looking to win consecutive Champions League home fixtures in the same campaign for the first time since 2014.

Patrick Schick is Leverkusen's focal point going forward, attempting more than twice as many shots (12) as any of his team-mates this Champions League season, but he is yet to score, having missed a penalty against Porto in last week's 2-0 loss.

Porto's Mehdi Taremi assisted both goals in the reverse fixture, marking the first time he has been involved in multiple goals in a Champions League game, while the sending-off of Jeremie Frimpong gave Leverkusen their 11th red card in their history in the competition, trailing only Bayern Munich (21) amongst German sides.

Other fixtures:

Napoli v Ajax

5 – Napoli beat Ajax 6-1 in the reverse fixture at Johan Cruyff Arena, with the five-goal margin marking the heaviest defeat Ajax have ever suffered in European competition.

10 – With one more win, Napoli would become the fourth Italian club to ever mount a 10-game unbeaten streak in the Champions League, with six wins and three draws from their past nine fixtures.

Rangers v Liverpool

5 – Rangers have failed to score in their past five European games against English competition, including a 2-0 loss against Liverpool last week.

35 – Mohamed Salah has scored 35 Champions League goals for Liverpool – only Didier Droga (36 for Chelsea) and Sergio Aguero (36 for Manchester City) have scored more for a single Premier League club in the competition.

Sporting v Marseille

9 – Marseille have lost their past nine away fixtures in the Champions League, and with one more loss they would become the sixth team to ever post 10 consecutive away defeats in the competition, and the first from France.

18 – It has been 18 years since Sporting lost a home fixture against a French side in European competition, with that loss coming against Sochaux in the 2004 UEFA Cup.

Viktoria Plzen v Bayern Munich

31 – Bayern Munich are undefeated in their past 31 Champions League group stage matches (28W 3D) – which is an all-time high – and with one more win they will set the new record for consecutive group stage wins with 11.

32 – Viktoria Plzen have faced 32 shots on target in their first three games of this Champions League campaign – more than any other side. In the reverse fixture, Bayern had 13 shots on target.

Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone was emphatic that he has no interest in leaving his post after a decade in charge during his media availability for Wednesday's Champions League fixture against the red-hot Club Brugge.

Simeone's side are currently fourth on the LaLiga table, and also fourth in the Champions League's Group B, trailing Brugge, Porto and Bayer Leverkusen after only scoring two goals total from three games.

A poor result against Brugge could spell the end of Atletico's Champions League campaign, but with two LaLiga titles and two Champions League final appearances under his belt, Simeone said he understands the ups and downs that come with the job.

"I'm not going anywhere, I'm here," he said. "I feel I have the same security as always. I was asked the other day if I saw myself somewhere else and my answer was no, absolutely.

"If I imagine that, it is because I am leaving, and I am not leaving, I am here. I hope to convey what I feel and that's why I've been at this club for so many years.

"We know the importance of this game. We need to do well, for that we need to give our best and we need our fans to show up.

"We expected more from the first part of the season, but you always expect that. I see the players with great enthusiasm to improve. This is the way."

Simeone also shouldered the blame for the form of Joao Felix, with the 22-year-old forward yet to score this season.

"Everything bad that Joao Felix does, I do it worse because it's me who is not giving him what he needs to reach his potential," he said.

"He hasn't changed at all, his teammates who compete with him are better and the coach understands that.

"Joao is important for the club and for the team. In this campaign he has not found the most important thing for him, the goal, and that causes him frustration."

Manchester City's incredible squad depth means some players may be tempted away despite their success.

Among those is centre-back Nathan Ake, who has only managed 30 Premier League appearances since his move to Etihad Stadium in 2020, although he has made five starts this term.

The 29-cap Netherlands international joined City for a reported £41million fee from Bournemouth.

TOP STORY – INTER PLOT MOVE FOR CITY'S AKE

Inter are trying to lure Manchester City defender Nathan Ake to Serie A, claims Ekrem Konur.

The 27-year-old Dutchman has been on City's books since 2020, joining on a five-year contract.

Inter may be looking for reinforcements for their defensive stocks, with uncertainty over Milan Skriniar's future.

ROUND-UP

– Paris Saint-Germain will move again for Inter defender Skriniar in January, reports ESPN. Skriniar is in the final year of his Inter contract and may be available for a cut-price fee.

– Liverpool have joined Juventus and Napoli in having an interest in 21-year-old Rennes winger Jeremy Doku, according to Calciomercato.

– Chelsea are monitoring teenage Villarreal midfielder Yeremy Pino, potentially in the event of Mason Mount leaving the club, claims The Telegraph.

– Football Insider reports Gabriel Martinelli and Arsenal are in talks over a new deal, with the Brazilian's existing contract set to expire in 2024.

– Arsenal are interested in 23-year-old Club Brugge forward Ferran Jutgla, claims Todofichajes.

Club Brugge's Ferran Jutgla has put himself on the radar of some Europe's richest clubs after a terrific start to the Champions League, with Arsenal and Atletico Madrid said to be keen.

Jutgla, 23, appeared to be on an upward trajectory after leaving Espanyol last year to join Barcelona, but despite working his way up from the B team and scoring on his first-team starting debut against Elche in December, he was shipped off to Brugge after one season for a modest €5million.

It is looking like a shrewd investment from the Belgian side, with the Spanish forward contributing six goals and three assists in his first 10 league games, but it is in the Champions League where Jutgla has really made his mark.

TOP STORY – BRUGGE BREAKOUT STAR JUTGLA BURSTS ONTO THE WORLD STAGE

Brugge have been arguably the most surprising team from the first three matchdays in the Champions League, collecting three wins and three clean sheets as they defeated Bayer Leverkusen 1-0, FC Porto 4-0 and Atletico 2-0 to sit atop Group B.

Jutgla collected a goal and an assist in both the Porto and Atletico games, and according to Media Foot, the latter liked what they saw.

The report also mentions Arsenal as a team with keen interest, and claims they will keep a close eye on his progress with the aim of making an offer at the end of the season.

ROUND-UP

– According to Turkish outlet Fotomac, Galatasaray are interested in signing Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo in January.

– A Bola is reporting Arsenal have strong interest in 30-year-old Porto forward Mehdi Taremi, who is expected to play a big role for Iran at the World Cup.

Real Madrid are monitoring 18-year-old Benfica defender Antonio Silva, according to Calciomercato.

– Calciomercato is also reporting Milan could look to sign 21-year-old Midtjylland winger Gustav Isaksen in January after sending scouts to see him score in a 2-2 Europa League draw against Feyenoord.

– Jeunes Footeux believes West Ham and Sevilla are both interested in Eintracht Frankfurt centre-back Evan Ndicka, with West Ham hoping to get him for free when his contract expires in June, while Sevilla could make a bid in January.

Diego Simeone says Atletico Madrid must have "peace of mind" despite their poor Champions League campaign to date following a 2-0 defeat to Club Brugge.

Kamal Soweh and Ferran Jutgla were on target as the surprise Group B leaders made it three wins out of three and left Atleti bottom with three games to play.

Fellow rivals Bayer Leverkusen and Porto also sit on three points alongside the LaLiga club, with Brugge holding a six-point advantage at the summit.

Simeone took the positives out of the loss to the Belgian champions at Jan Breydel Stadium, where Antoine Griezmann missed a penalty.

"It was a game well played," the Atleti head coach told Movistar. "I think we controlled the game we wanted to play. I'm left with a lot of good things.

"There are a lot of Champions League games left to play. You have to have peace of mind, you don't have to get anxious. Everything is open."

The Argentine was left to rue his side's profligacy, but praised Brugge goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

"We had two or three important chances to score, and a lack of forcefulness means Brugge went into half-time with an advantage," he added.

"But from then on, their key figure was their goalkeeper, without a doubt. We'll have to see if there is a lack of forcefulness to our performance.

"We do not need to lower our arms, lower our guard. There are good things, and there are things that clearly need to be corrected."

Goals from Kamal Soweh and Ferran Jutgla enabled Club Brugge to maintain their perfect Champions League record with a 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

The Belgian champions made it three Group B victories out of three at Jan Breydel Stadium to move another step closer to securing a surprise spot in the last 16.

Soweh was on target in the first half and Jutgla doubled the lead for Carl Hoefkens' side, who are six points clear at the summit.

Antoine Griezmann missed a penalty as Atleti suffered a defeat that leaves them bottom of the group, but level on three points with Porto and Bayer Leverkusen with three matches to play.

The early signs were promising for the LaLiga side, with Griezmann forcing a save from Simon Mignolet with the best chance of the first quarter.

But Brugge shrewdly grew into the match, and when Sowah nudged home Jutgla's cross from close range, they had a deserved lead 36 minutes in.

Atletico made a bright start to the second half, but Jutgla stunned them by rifling home after the visitors failed to clear.

A spot-kick for a foul on Matheus Cunha presented a route back into the match, but Griezmann's effort struck the woodwork, summing up a poor night for Diego Simeone's men.

Liverpool face Rangers in a battle of Britain and Barcelona will attempt to apply more pressure on Inter boss Simone Inzaghi with a Champions League victory on Tuesday.

An army of Gers fans will travel south of the border to descend on Merseyside for a Group A clash that will give them another opportunity to secure a first point, with the Reds in second spot behind Napoli.

Barca moved top of La Liga last weekend and Xavi's side will start their third Group C game level on points with out-of-sorts Inter after losing 2-0 to leaders Bayern Munich last month.

Bayern will be expected to maintain their 100 per cent record at the expense of Viktoria Plzen, and Serie A table-toppers Napoli travel to Ajax looking to continue their brilliant start to the season.

Ahead of another mouthwatering set of matches, Stats Perform trawls through the Opta data to highlight the most noteworthy facts for each contest.

Liverpool v Rangers

This will be the first European meeting between Liverpool and the Glasgow giants in a European competition.

The Gers have only won one of their seven away games in England, that being a 2-1 Champions League victory at Leeds United in November 1992 courtesy of goals from Mark Hateley and Ally McCoist. They have suffered six defeats and drawn twice.

Liverpool's last meeting with Scottish opponents in the European Cup was back in the 1980-81 campaign, winning 5-0 on aggregate against Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen (1-0 away, 4-0 home). The Reds went on to win the competition that year.

Jurgen Klopp's side have won 13 of their past 15 home Champions League group stage matches (D1 L1), scoring 36 goals in process. Their solitary defeat was against Atalanta in November 2020

Rangers have failed to score in their two group games so far. Indeed, only Plzen (2) and Sevilla (3) have had fewer shots on target than the Scottish club (4) in this season's first two matchdays.

Inter v Barcelona

Inter have won just two of their 14 European matches against Barcelona (D4 L8), a 2-1 victory in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in January 1970 and 3-1 Champions League triumph in April 2010.

Barca's two away wins against the Nerazzurri came 60 years apart, winning 4-2 in the Fairs Cup in September 1959 and 2-1 in the Champions League in December 2019.

Inter have lost six UEFA Champions League matches against the Catalan giants, their most against a single opponent. Barca have only beaten Celtic (8) more times in the competition.

Barca have lost three of their past four away Champions League group stage matches (W1), as many as in their previous 25 matches on their travels in the competition (W15 D7). Xavi is only the second manager to lose his first two away Champions League matches in charge of Barcelona, along with Louis van Gaal in 1997.

Inter have lost their past two Champions League games at San Siro (0-2 v Liverpool and Bayern). Only once previously have they suffered three consecutive home defeats in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League (a run of three between February-September 2011).

Bayern Munich v Viktoria Plzen

Bayern have won all four of their European matches against Plzen, beating them twice in the 1971-72 Cup Winners' Cup and the Champions League in 2013-14.

Plzen's two away European matches against Bayern have seen them concede at least five goals on each occasion, losing 6-1 in September 1971 in the Cup Winners' Cup and 5-0 in the Champions League nine years ago.

Bayern are out to record three wins at the start of a Champions League campaign for a fourth consecutive season. In their opening three games in the previous three seasons and their two games this year, they have won all 11 matches by an aggregate score of 41-7.

Plzen have conceded seven goals in their two Champions League games this season and only kept one clean sheet in their 20 matches in the competition.

Leroy Sane has been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 11 Champions League starts for Bayern (8 goals, 6 assists). The winger could become only the second player to score in Bayern's first three Champions League games in a season, with Robert Lewandowski (in 2019-20 and 2021-22) being the other.

Ajax v Napoli

Napoli have never won away from home in the Netherlands (D2 L3) in any European competition.

Ajax have failed to win any of their past 11 home European matches against Italian opposition (D6 L5) since winning 2-1 against Roma in this competition in December 2002.

Napoli will be looking to win their first three Champions League group stage games for the first time. They are unbeaten in eight matches in the group stage of the competition (W5 D3).

Ajax have won their past four home games in the group stage of the Champions League, scoring four goals in each of the previous three (4-0 v Borussia Dortmund, 4-2 v Sporting CP and 4-0 v Rangers).

Napoli are the top scoring side in the Champions League this season with seven goals. Luciano Spalletti's side have had more shots (43) and shots on target (19) than any other team.

Other fixtures:

Marseille v Sporting CP

6 - Marseille have lost six of their eight European Cup/Champions League matches against Portuguese opponents (W1 D1).

16 - Marseille have lost 16 of their past 17 Champions League matches (W1), failing to score in 11 matches in this run, including both games this season.

Porto v Bayer Leverkusen

7 - Porto have won seven of their eight home Champions League games against German opposition (D1), winning five in a row.

2 - Leverkusen have only won two of their past 13 away matches in the Champions League (D5 L6), with three of the previous four ending in defeats without scoring.

Club Brugge v Atletico Madrid

3 - Brugge are unbeaten in all three home meetings with Atleti in European competition (W2 D1).

7 - Atleti have never won a European match against a Belgium club in seven attempts (five away, two neutral). They have played more major European games on Belgian soil without winning than in any other country.

Eintracht Frankfurt v Tottenham

4 - Tottenham have lost their past four Champions League matches against German opposition by an aggregate score of 14-3, losing twice to Bayern Munich (2-7 and 1-3) and twice to RB Leipzig (0-1 and 0-3).

3 - Eintracht have won three consecutive European games against English teams (one versus Arsenal, two v West Ham), as many as in their first 14.

Erling Haaland has enjoyed a remarkably prolific start to life in England with Manchester City.

Ahead of Sunday's derby with Manchester United, Haaland has netted 14 goals in 10 appearances in all competitions for City since his off-season move.

The Norwegian joined City from Borussia Dortmund in June on a five-year contract, following interest from several top clubs.

TOP STORY – MAN CITY CONSIDERING IMPROVED HAALAND DEAL

It is only a few months into Erling Haaland's first Manchester City contract, but the English champions are ready to offer him a new and improved deal, reports the Daily Star.

City have gone early on revised contracts in the past to shore up key players before they become transfer targets for rivals and they will do the same with their star striker if he can keep up his goalscoring prowess.

Haaland is already one of City's top earners alongside Kevin De Bruyne, pocketing around £375,000 per week.

City may opt to bump that up with an improved extension in May, with reports that Real Madrid are planning to chase him in 2024, when they can trigger his termination clause.

ROUND-UP

– PSV's hot property winger Cody Gakpo is attracting interest from Milan, claims Calciomercato. The 23-year-old Dutchman was pursued by Manchester United and Leeds United during the last transfer window, and has also been linked with Southampton and Everton.

– The Sun reports that French Ligue 1 outfit Nice are in the lead in the race to sign Shakhtar Donetsk winger Mykhaylo Mudryk. The Ukrainian club are demanding £50million (€56.86m) for him.

Arsenal are in the race for Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves, claims the Express, and are hoping to win him over amid rival interest from Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester United.

West Ham United are the latest club to be interested in Club Brugge winger Noa Lang, reports Calciomercato. Milan are also credited with an interest in the 23-year-old.

Arsenal are weighing up a move for Bayer Leverkusen's Ecuadorian defender Piero Hincapie, according to Teamtalk.

– Marca claims Sevilla could bring back former boss Jorge Sampaoli, who led the club from 2016 to 2017, if they dispense with current head coach Julen Lopetegui after their poor start to the campaign.

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