Kylian Mbappe is a smart enough player to create space and play with freedom alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar, according to Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier.

France international Mbappe appeared to question the tactics used at PSG when admitting last week he has "a lot more freedom" when playing for his country.

The 23-year-old was speaking on the back a 2-0 win over Austria in which he and strike partner Olivier Giroud linked up throughout, with both players on the scoresheet.

But while Galtier agrees that PSG could do with a Giroud-type player in their squad, he does not believe his side have a problem getting the most out of Mbappe in attack.

"I don't think he has less freedom," Galtier said ahead of Saturday's Ligue 1 clash with his former club Nice. "With Giroud, he has someone who opens up spaces for him.

"We don't have that player profile but he's just as smart to find other moves with Leo and Neymar giving him the ball in his preferred space.

"Kylian's analysis is correct. He's not in the same system for his club and national team. This is a discussion I've had with the president and Luis Campos about our attack.

"We were all convinced we needed a fourth player in that position with a different profile, but that player did not come [in the transfer window]. It's a shame but that's how it is.

"The technical relationship between Neymar, Leo and Kylian is different to what he has with the national team."

The relationship between PSG's star-studded front three was again in the spotlight this week when Neymar declined to comment on his relationship with Mbappe.

Speaking earlier this month, Mbappe admitted he has "hotter and colder moments" with the Brazil international, though added they have a strong mutual respect.

But when probed on the pair's relationship on Thursday, Galtier insisted he is more than happy with the chemistry in the dressing room.

"I am surprised I have to always repeat the same thing," he said. "Since I arrived here, to the current day, all I've experienced is normal things in the life of a locker room.

"There is nothing that's surprised me, nothing that has challenged me. The players here want to win together and they are also in competition [for a place in the side].

"They are all great champions with competitiveness, with egos. We have a pleasant dressing room. There is a discrepancy between what you hear and the reality."

 

The Parisians enter the contest with Nice top of Ligue 1 with seven wins and a draw from the opening eight matches of their latest title defence.

However, PSG have scored only one goal in both of their past two league outings – not since September 2020 have they failed to score more than once in three straight games.

Galtier said during the international break that his side need to show more of a "killer" instinct in front of goal, having managed 12 shots on target across the two matches.

"I want to remind the players that it would be beneficial to us to hurt teams quickly," Galtier added at Thursday's press conference.

"It will help with the management of the squad and playing time. But it must be said that opposing goalkeepers have also performed well against us."

PSG are unbeaten in their past 17 Ligue 1 games ahead of their return to action this weekend, which is the longest current run in the division.

Neymar has hit out at Mallorca captain Antonio Raillo over controversial remarks directed towards Brazil team-mate Vinicius Jr.

The Real Madrid forward has been embroiled in a racism scandal after a Spanish agent told him to "stop playing the monkey" in reference to his dancing celebration.

Vinicius was then subject to a torrent of abuse from Atletico Madrid fans in Madrid's recent derby victory, celebrating Rodrygo's goal in his customary fashion after being urged to "keep on dancing" in a flood of support.

On Monday, Raillo cause further controversy when he accused Vinicius of using the "race card" when he is criticised.

"Vinicius should dance, but he shouldn't be foul, he shouldn't insult or belittle his fellow professionals; then when he is branded as provocative, he uses the race card," he told Diario de Mallorca.

Neymar has subsequently responded on social media, replying to a post from TNT Sport Brasil and asking: "Who is Raillo?" – accompanying his comment with a laughing face emoji.

Brazilian footballers have unfortunately been on the receiving end of recent abuse, with the incident on Vinicius followed by a banana being thrown at Richarlison after he scored for the national side in a 5-1 friendly victory against Tunisia on Tuesday.

Brazil defender Thiago Silva was "very sad" after team-mate Richarlison appeared to be subjected to racist abuse in a friendly win over Tunisia.

Video footage showed a banana being thrown at Richarlison as he celebrated scoring Brazil's second goal in Paris.

Silva previously played at the Parc des Princes – which hosted a large Tunisian contingent – with Paris Saint-Germain.

"It hurts me," the Chelsea defender said of the incident. "Frankly, I'm very sad. That's not football. Football is about supporting your team.

"Afterwards, on the field, we give our best for our team. But gestures like that [shown] on video, it's not good for football."

Discussing his return to Paris, Silva added: "It was good to come back to the Parc. Unfortunately, the atmosphere was against us. Normally, here, it is a good atmosphere for me, but today the public was against us.

"But it was good to come back here. I spent eight years, eight and a half years here – it was a good time to come back."

On the pitch, the Selecao enjoyed a dominant performance, with a brace from Raphinha, Richarlison's goal and a Neymar penalty securing a 4-1 half-time lead.

A first international goal for Flamengo striker Pedro concluded the 5-1 rout in the second half.

Neymar's goal, his 75th for Brazil, moved the forward within two of the Brazil record, held by legendary striker Pele.

"Neymar is incredible. He is a magician," Silva said. "Unfortunately, in the past years, he had very important injuries, but this year is different.

"He prepared a lot during the vacations. I was with him in Brazil, I saw him. I hope he can continue with this mentality [and] a good health to arrive well at the World Cup."

Tite has slammed Dylan Bronn's challenge on Neymar during Brazil's win over Tunisia, claiming it was "a move to take a player out of the World Cup".

The Selecao completed their preparations for Qatar with a commanding 5-1 victory in Paris, with Neymar among the goals as his penalty took him to 75 at international level.

But the Paris Saint-Germain forward was subjected to a heavy challenge in the 42nd minute by Tunisia defender Bronn, who was sent off.

And while Tite welcomed the competitive nature of the friendly with Jalel Kadri's side, who were unbeaten in seven games, the Brazil coach was far from pleased with the treatment of his talisman.

"We were in an atmosphere where most of the fans were from Tunisia," he said. "At some points, I tried to locate our fans, they diluted. This has created an atmosphere of competitive play.

"The game on the pitch – we knew it would be competitive, loyal, but I didn't imagine the move that happened to Neymar. It's a move to take a player out of the World Cup.

"We try to make two friendlies with teams that are in the World Cup, because the degree of demand is very high, physical, technical and mental. Tunisia had seven games unbeaten.

"The competitive spirit doesn't allow you to play a friendly that doesn't have an emotional clash, so we wanted to prepare, and we were going to take that risk, yes. But it's what we decided."

The five-time world champions head to Qatar later this year on a 15-match unbeaten streak – winning their last seven – ahead of facing Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon in Group G.

Neymar closed in on Pele's all-time Brazil goalscoring record as the Selecao eased to a commanding 5-1 win over 10-man Tunisia at the Parc des Princes.

Playing on his home ground at club level, the Paris Saint-Germain forward netted his 75th senior international goal from the penalty spot – moving two shy of equalling the tally of legendary striker Pele.

Raphinha struck twice, while Richarlison and Pedro were also on target as Tite's side completed their World Cup preparations in emphatic fashion.

Montassar Talbi scored what proved a consolation for Tunisia, who had Dylan Bronn sent off as they suffered their first defeat in eight games.

Brazil led in the 11th minute when Casemiro's floated ball into the box was met by Raphinha, who sent a looping header beyond the dive of Aymen Dahmen.

Tunisia responded as Talbi nodded in from Anis Ben Slimane's free-kick, but the Selecao regained the lead less than two minutes later with Richarlison latching onto Raphinha's neat throughball and drilling through Dahmen's legs.

Neymar made it 3-1 when he calmly converted from 12 yards after Aissa Laidouni dragged down Casemiro, before Raphinha fired home his second goal of the game from Richarlison's lay-off.

Tunisia were reduced to 10 men before the break with Bronn shown a straight red card for a rash challenge on Neymar.

Antony and Vinicius Junior went close to increasing the advantage in the second half, before Pedro scored Brazil's fifth 16 minutes from time – the Flamengo forward brilliantly volleying in his first international goal.

Casemiro and Thiago Silva each almost made it six, but the Selecao had already done more than enough to stretch their unbeaten streak to 15 matches.

Lionel Messi wishes he could have played alongside Neymar for longer at Barcelona but is loving being reunited with the Brazilian again at Paris Saint-Germain.

Neymar and Messi struck up a friendship and immense on-field relationship during their four years together at Camp Nou.

They were part of a Barca team that won two LaLiga titles, three Copa del Rey crowns and the Champions League, among other trophies, before PSG broke the world transfer record to bring Neymar to Paris for €222million.

Despite such a cash injection, Barca's financial issues eventually caught up with them and prevented the club from signing Messi to a new contract last year as their LaLiga salary limit was reduced significantly.

Messi followed Neymar to Paris, and while few would consider either to have enjoyed their best seasons last term, both have begun the 2022-23 campaign in electric fashion under Christophe Galtier.

Neymar's 19 goal involvements across all competitions is more than anyone in the top five leagues, while Messi's 14 has him ranked third, and the latter is relishing every minute.

"With Neymar, we have known each other for a long time, by heart, since Barcelona," he told TUDN.

"I would've like to have been able to enjoy him much more in Barcelona.

"But now I meet him again in Paris and we are happy to be together. I love playing with him."

Of course, Neymar is not the only superstar Messi is playing alongside at PSG.

Kylian Mbappe renewed his stay at PSG at the end of last season after flirting with Real Madrid, and Messi has no doubt the France star will be a leader of the next generation in the sport.

"Kylian, he's a different player," Messi added.

"He is a beast who is very strong, goes from space to space. He's fast, scores a lot of goals, is very complete and has been proving himself for years.

"In the coming years, he will be among the best, for sure."

Richarlison scored twice as Brazil beat Ghana 3-0 in Le Havre, an early tease of the Selecao's strength before they go after a sixth World Cup title.

Neymar pulled the strings in the first half, setting up both of Tottenham frontman Richarlison's goals after Marquinhos put them into an early lead.

There was a late booking for Neymar after he took too firm a nibble at Mohammed Kudus, the player who scored for Ajax against Liverpool in the Champions League.

But nothing could spoil Brazil's night in Normandy as Tite's team wrapped up a convincing win.

The opening goal came in the ninth minute when Raphinha's devilishly powerful corner from the right swung in and was met with a thumping header from Marquinhos.

Raphinha, Neymar and Vinicius Junior failed to take chances before Richarlison showed how it is done in the 28th minute, sweeping a crisp and low first-time shot into the bottom-right corner from Neymar's pass.

Brazil's third arrived in the 40th minute when Neymar took on set-piece duties on the left and whipped a dangerous free-kick into the near post where Richarlison's header gave Jojo Wollacott little chance.

Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams made his Ghana debut, coming on for the start of the second half after switching allegiance from Spain. Brazil also threw on Bremer for a debut, the Juventus central defender taking the place of Thiago Silva.

Ghana went close to pulling one goal back when Andre Ayew headed against the crossbar in the 57th minute, while Williams proved to be a dangerous new presence in the Black Stars' attack.

Brazil had riches in reserve though, and Tite withdrew Richarlison, Vinicius and Casemiro just after the hour mark, with Fabinho, Antony and Matheus Cunha coming on.

Raphinha could not quite reach a dangerous ball across goal from Lucas Paqueta, and Cunha saw a close-range effort deflect over the bar, as Brazil chased in vain for a fourth late in the game.

Christophe Galtier has heaped praise on "irreproachable" Neymar following Paris Saint-Germain's 1-0 win over Lyon, suggesting the Brazil international gives the Ligue 1 leaders "the best balance".

Neymar marked his 100th appearance in the French top flight with an assist for Lionel Messi's fifth-minute strike at Groupama Stadium; meaning he has now been directly involved in 15 of his side's 26 goals this term (scoring eight and assisting four).

The former Barcelona forward took his tally of goal involvements to 121 in Ligue 1 (77 goals, 44 assists) - more than any other player in their first century of appearances since Opta began analysing the competition in 2006-07.

"It is he who gives [us] the best balance," Galtier said of Neymar during his post-match press conference. "He has this ability to repeat efforts, he has volume, intensity. He is generous to the team.

"It gives a good balance. He is both able to replace himself, and to have dazzling and technical quality. He is a great animator. Obviously, the great players have to come out in this type of match.

"Neymar worked a lot for the team, and he came off a little rinsed and angry. This is normal. He has an irreproachable behaviour. He is sharp and has a lot of ambition on the season - both with the club and in terms of personal statistics."

Despite dominating possession for long stretches, PSG had to fend off a determined Lyon in the second half to take maximum points, and extend their winning streak to six matches across all competitions.

But while admitting his side could have been more clinical, having converted only one of their 15 shots on goal, Galtier insists his side were worthy of their victory.

"We knew we were going to face a tough game, but we had a very good game," he added. "We can still regret the number of missed or stopped chances by Anthony [Lopes], who had a very good game. The score could have been wider.

"As long as you are at 1-0, you are not immune to a reaction, Lyon pushed for that. But on the whole game, both on the possession of the ball and the clear situations, we deserved our victory in my opinion."

Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior insisted he "will not stop dancing" after comments with apparent racist connotations from Spanish football agent Pedro Bravo.

Bravo commented on Vinicius' dancing goal celebrations this week, telling El Chiringuito: "You have to respect your opponents. When you score a goal, if you want to dance Samba, you should go to [the] Sambadrome in Brazil. You have to respect your mates and stop playing the monkey."

The remark drew much criticism, with fellow Brazil internationals Neymar and Bruno Guimaraes leaping to Vinicius' defence, the latter saying Bravo should be "jailed".

Legendary forward Pele also denounced Bravo's comments, writing on Instagram: "Football is joy. It's a dance. It's more than that. It's a real party.

"Although, unfortunately, racism still exists, we will not allow that to stop us from continuing to smile. And we will continue to fight racism every day in this way: fighting for our right to be happy and respected."

Bravo later apologised on Twitter, saying he had "misused" the word.

Vinicius has now spoken out himself on the statement, saying in a video posted to his Instagram: "As long as the colour of the skin is more important than the brightness of the eyes, there will be war.

"They say that happiness bothers. The happiness of a victorious black Brazilian in Europe bothers much more. But my desire to win, my smile and the sparkle in my eyes are much bigger than that.

"I was a victim of xenophobia and racism in a single statement. They are dances to celebrate the cultural diversity of the world. Accept it, respect it. I'm not going to stop.

"I always try to be a professional and an exemplary citizen. But that doesn't click, it's not trending on the internet, nor does it motivate cowards to talk aggressively about people they don't even know.

"The script always ends with an apology and 'I've been misunderstood.' But I repeat it for you, racist: I will not stop dancing. Whether at the Sambadrome, at the Bernabeu or wherever."

A potential Paris Saint-Germain exit for Neymar was never on the table for the Ligue 1 giants, amid rumours Kylian Mbappe wanted him out, says sporting advisor Luis Campos.

The Brazil international endured a difficult 2021-22 campaign in the French capital, where he became something of a scapegoat for perceived shortcomings amid the fanbase.

That led to speculation that Mbappe, fresh from an extension that shut down a move to Real Madrid, wanted to move him on, with the younger star reportedly given a say in transfer dealings as part of his new contract.

But a superb start to the current term by the Selecao forward effectively quieted any discussions of a departure, and now Campos says there was never any talk over a move away for him.

"No," he told RMC Sport. "Neymar is a very good player. He arrives on time, all the time, and he hasn't missed training. He is involved in the team and the club project."

The Brazilian's resurgence has come under the guidance of a new face in the dugout, in the shape of Christophe Galtier, who appears to have trimmed the edges of the Mauricio Pochettino era from the club.

Campos joined the club as an advisor a month before the former Lille boss arrived from Monaco, and has waxed lyrical about what he brings to the team, revealing he told the latter of his own appointment before his family.

"When I was invited to take over this position, the first thing I did was call Christophe Galtier," he added. "[I did it] even before calling my wife and my mother!

"I know his values, his abilities, and what he can bring. We can work together, we have a great mission. We save a lot of time. You have to win quickly, and to win quickly, you have to have the right people with you."

Pele has joined Neymar in offering his support to Vinicius Junior, who was the subject of a comment with apparent racist undertones from a Spanish football agent.

Pedro Bravo, a chief agent in Spain, appeared on El Chiringuito this week, and said Real Madrid forward Vinicius had to stop dancing when he celebrated a goal.

Bravo said: "You have to respect your opponents. When you score a goal, if you want to dance Samba, you should go to [the] Sambadrome in Brazil. You have to respect your mates and stop playing the monkey."

This comment has led to outrage from Vinicius' international team-mate Bruno Guimaraes, with the Newcastle United midfielder calling for Bravo to be "jailed".

Guimaraes tweeted on Friday: "This MORON needs to get out of there already arrested! There is no excuse! If the guy says that on live TV, imagine what he doesn't say when he's not. Incomprehensible if this guy is not jailed."

Neymar subsequently tagged Vinicius in his Instagram story, along with a photo of the Madrid star celebration and a caption that read: "Dribble, dance and be you! Happy just the way you are. Go for it my boy, next goal we dance!"

Vinicius replied with a photo of him dancing alongside Neymar and Guimaraes while playing for Brazil.

Pele then joined Neymar in offering support, with the legendary striker writing on Instagram: "Football is joy. It's a dance. It's more than that. It's a real party.

"Although, unfortunately, racism still exists, we will not allow that to stop us from continuing to smile. And we will continue to fight racism every day in this way: fighting for our right to be happy and respected."

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar took to social media swiftly after the 3-1 victory over Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League to complain about his booking.

The Brazilian scored PSG's third in Israel, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe both already on the scoresheet as Christophe Galtier's side responded after Tjaronn Chery had given the hosts a surprising lead.

Neymar was left frustrated with German referee Daniel Siebert though, who elected to issue a yellow card for his antics after finding the back of the net – despite it being his customary celebration.

The 30-year-old wasted no time in expressing his feelings on the matter, taking to his Instagram account to unleash his thoughts under a caption of "football keeps getting more annoying!"

"Another victory, congratulations, but we move on right? There it is; a celebration is a yellow card, another one for the list for NJ (Neymar)," he said.

"It's only with me that these things happen to. Next time I will warn the referee's that I am going to do it."

Neymar then took his views to Twitter in a series of posts, writing: "I'm asking now, okay?

"Total lack of respect for the athlete. This kind of thing can't happen. I take the yellow for simply not having done anything and I continue to be harmed.

"And the judge? He will not even say he was wrong. A lot of lack of respect."

He then posted a clip of his celebration alongside the name of Siebert, adding the use of emojis to reflective of his antics.

Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar were all on target as Paris Saint-Germain came from behind to beat Maccabi Haifa 3-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Tjaronn Chery gave the Israeli side hope of a famous victory when he powered home from close range in the 24th minute.

But PSG responded well to that early setback and pulled level before the break when Messi stroked home following fine work by Mbappe.

France international Mbappe put the visitors ahead and Neymar then sealed the three points late on as PSG made it two wins from two in Group H following last week's victory over Juventus.

Josh Cohen denied a clean-through Mbappe after just 70 seconds, while at the other end Gianluigi Donnarumma got down well to keep out Mohammad Abu Fani's strike in the ninth minute.

Maccabi stunned the Ligue 1 giants shortly after the midway point of the first half when Chery stole in at the back post to volley home Dolev Haziza's superb cross from six yards.

PSG restored parity eight minutes before the interval, though, when Messi clipped home from close range after Mbappe's low cross from the left had been deflected into his path.

Frantzdy Pierrot squandered a golden opportunity to put Maccabi ahead again early in the second half, the forward narrowly directing Pierre Cornud's cross past the post.

Messi was denied by a wonderful save from Cohen, but there was nothing the Maccabi goalkeeper could do to keep out Mbappe in the 69th minute as the 23-year-old curled past him after latching onto Messi's pass. 

Neymar then put the seal on the victory two minutes from full-time when he latched onto Marco Verratti's ball over the top and fired a crisp finish past Cohen.

There was no shortage of thrills and spills on matchday one of the Champions League, and Wednesday's action promises more of the same as one of the world's most in-form strikers faces his former club.

Erling Haaland has made a spectacular start to his Manchester City career, hitting 12 goals in all competitions since his move from Borussia Dortmund, but how will he fare when his old team visit the Etihad Stadium? 

Elsewhere, Graham Potter will hope to have an immediate impact in his first game as Chelsea's head coach as they bid to bounce back from last week's 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, meanwhile, are among the favourites to be crowned European champions, and will both be hopeful of making it two wins from two outings.

Ahead of another intriguing set of European ties, Stats Perform trawls through the Opta data to highlight the most noteworthy facts for each game.

Manchester City v Borussia Dortmund

City striker Haaland netted 15 times in 13 Champions League appearances for Dortmund, and few would bet against the Norwegian haunting his former team on Wednesday.

Haaland helped himself to a brace at Sevilla last time out, bringing him to 25 Champions League goals in just 20 appearances – the highest tally managed by any player in their first 20 games in Europe's premier club competition. 

The visit of BVB will represent a landmark outing for City boss Pep Guardiola, taking him to 150 Champions League games. Only five other coaches have reached that tally, while only two have earned more victories than Guardiola's 94 – Alex Ferguson (102) and Carlo Ancelotti (99).

The omens are certainly good for the Premier League champions, who are unbeaten in their last 20 Champions League home games, winning 18 and drawing two. That represents the longest such sequence by an English side since Chelsea's run of 21 without defeat between September 2006 and December 2009.

Dortmund, meanwhile, have not won at an English side in the competition since beating Arsenal 2-1 in October 2013.

Chelsea v Salzburg

Defeat to Dinamo Zagreb spelled the end of Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea reign last week, and Potter is the man entrusted to ensure they avoid back-to-back continental defeats when Salzburg visit.

Chelsea have never previously lost their opening two games of a Champions League campaign, and last lost consecutive games in the competition in 2019-20, when they were beaten by Bayern Munich in both legs of a last-16 tie.

This will be the first meeting between Chelsea and Salzburg, with the Blues only losing one of their previous four European ties against Austrian teams (W1 D2). Salzburg, meanwhile, have never beaten an English side in European competition in six attempts (D1 L5).

But the Blues will have to be wary of Matthias Jaissle's young guns at Stamford Bridge, and may need to keep a particularly close eye on Noah Okafor. 

The 22-year-old has four goals in his last five Champions League outings for Salzburg – only Haaland (eight) has ever scored more for the club in the competition.

Real Madrid v RB Leipzig

Holders Madrid are looking to secure consecutive wins when they host RB Leipzig at the Santiago Bernabeu, and are unbeaten in their last 11 Champions League games against German opponents, scoring at least two goals in all of those matches (27 in total).

Leipzig, however, are unbeaten in their three European clashes with Spanish sides (W2 D1) and will be looking for a result comparable to their 2-1 quarter-final win over Atletico Madrid in 2019-20.

Los Blancos possess a remarkable amount of experience at the highest level; should Luka Modric feature, he will become the first 37-year-old outfield player to play a European Cup/Champions League game for Madrid since Ferenc Puskas in November 1965 against Kilmarnock.

Coach Ancelotti, meanwhile, is on the brink of his 100th win in the Champions League, and could become just the second boss to bring up such a century in the competition (after Alex Ferguson with 102).

Maccabi Haifa v Paris Saint-Germain

Kylian Mbappe scored a terrific brace to get PSG's European campaign off to a flying start against Juventus, and a trip to Maccabi Haifa gives him the opportunity to make club history.

The striker has scored 29 goals in 45 Champions League outings with PSG, scoring against 14 of the 17 opponents he's faced with the French champions. One more goal will see him level Edinson Cavani's record of 30 goals in the competition for the Ligue 1 side.

He could be aided by the in-form Neymar, who has provided eight assists for Mbappe in the Champions League, more than any player has assisted another in the competition since the start of 2017-18.

The final member of their revered forward trio, Lionel Messi, also has his eyes on making history.

Messi has scored against 38 different teams in the Champions League, the same amount as his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo, and will be keen to claim the record outright when he faces Maccabi for the first time on Wednesday.

Other fixtures:

Rangers v Napoli

1 – Wednesday's rearranged match will be the first competitive meeting between Rangers and Napoli. The Serie A side have only faced a Scottish team in European competition once before, exiting to Hibernian in the Fairs Cup in November 1967.

3 – Piotr Zielinski was directly involved in three of Napoli's four goals as they thrashed Liverpool last week (two goals, one assist). This is already his best campaign for goal contributions in the competition since joining Napoli.  

Milan vs Dinamo Zagreb

6 - Milan have failed to win any of their last six home games in the Champions League (D3 L3), their longest run without a home victory in the competition.

31.8 – Dinamo Zagreb had just 31.8 per cent possession against Chelsea on matchday one, the lowest of any team who managed to avoid defeat in their opening game.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Celtic

3 – Shakhtar's Mykhailo Mudryk was one of three players to be directly involved in three goals on matchday one (one goal, two assists), along with Robert Lewandowski and Zielinski.

1/13 - Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart has only kept one clean sheet in his last 13 away Champions League games, with his last coming at Roma in December 2014 (for Manchester City).

Copenhagen v Sevilla

8 - Spanish sides are unbeaten in all eight of their Champions League games against Danish clubs (W6 D2) – only against sides from the Czech Republic (13) have Spanish teams appeared more often without defeat.

3/4 - Sevilla have lost three of their last four Champions League group-stage games (W1), as many as they lost in their previous 22 such matches (W10 D9).

Juventus v Benfica

2 - Juventus have lost their last two Champions League games. Only once in the history of the European Cup/Champions League have they lost three in a row, doing so between May 1968 and September 1972.

4 – Benfica's Alejandro Grimaldo has been involved in four goals in his last four Champions League games (one goal, three assists), more than he was in his first 27 games in the competition (two goals, one assist).

Neymar has roared back to form for Paris Saint-Germain after accepting he fell short of his high standards last season, according to coach Christophe Galtier.

The Brazil star has been PSG's outstanding forward, managing 10 goals and seven assists in eight starts and one substitute appearance so far.

He is close to matching last season's returns already, having scored a modest 13 times and assisted eight goals in 28 games during the 2021-22 campaign.

It has been a return to the Neymar of his prime Barcelona days, and PSG are enjoying the benefits.

"I think it would be disrespectful to think it is just down to me and my technical staff," Galtier said. "Neymar has an awareness of the fact that his performances were not as good last season.

"He has high targets. He came back fit at the start of pre-season. He worked very hard before that. My staff and I decided to play him in the best position to be an artist.

"When Neymar is in a good state mentally and physically, that is what he does and that is how he performs well. The key thing to understand is that, as the coach, he is a player who works extremely hard for the team both going forward and in terms of winning the ball back."

Galtier's team will play Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday in their second Champions League group game, having made a winning start last week against Juventus.

The teams have only met twice before in European competition, with both of those games coming in the Cup Winners' Cup first round in 1998-99. The side from Israel won 4-3 on aggregate but go into this rematch with few expecting them to get the better of star-studded opposition.

Maccabi Haifa have lost each of their last seven Champions League games, going down by an aggregate score of 10-0. Only one team in the history of the Champions League have lost eight in a row while failing to score each time, with Dinamo Zagreb doing so between November 2015 and December 2016.

For PSG, Kylian Mbappe has either scored or assisted in each of his last nine Champions League games (8 goals, 4 assists). He has found the net in each of his last five games, his longest scoring streak in the competition.

As well as Mbappe and Neymar, PSG can also call on Lionel Messi, who is set to face Israeli competition for the first time in the Champions League. A goal in this game would make Messi the outright leader for the most different sides scored against by one player in the Champions League. He is currently on 38, level with Cristiano Ronaldo.

PSG are back in Israel barely six weeks after playing the Trophee des Champions match in Tel Aviv, where they beat Nantes 4-0, with Messi and Neymar both among the goals.

"While we had the support of the Israeli fans for the Trophee des Champions, this time we will be playing in a stadium that will be behind its team," Galtier said.

"It will be a heated atmosphere. In terms of the Israeli league, I am convinced every team in Europe is hard to play against. Everyone tries to raise the bar, and Israeli football has significantly improved with coaches who are well travelled and can take what they have seen elsewhere and bring in foreign players that boost their teams."

PSG are without injured defender Presnel Kimpembe, and Galtier is deliberating over whether to persist with his 3-5-2 formation after losing such a key figure.

Missing out on prime target Milan Skriniar in the transfer window, when Inter held firm, is looking increasingly like a major blow for the French side.

"We wanted an extra centre-back because it's a crazy schedule now," Galtier said. "We were right about that. I understand that the president couldn't change the stance of Inter, and we are going to work with the squad that we have here.

"I have some versatile players, and we will see how it goes. Will we have to change the system? Possibly. We also have some very good young players who can slot in to the upcoming games. That is why it was important for us and for [football advisor] Luis Campos to get that centre-back, but unfortunately we did not manage to."

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