Real Madrid have reportedly pivoted away from Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham and are now treating Benfica's Enzo Fernandez as their top transfer target.

Bellingham, 19, was considered the top priority for the Spanish giants, but a report from Marca claims they now believe he is destined for the Premier League and will instead focus their resources on 21-year-old Fernandez.

Fernandez arrived at Benfica in June after they were able to pry him away from River Plate for a deal worth up to €18million including add-ons, but his exploits on the Champions League stage – including assists against Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus – have that price looking like a steal.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID SET THEIR SIGHTS ON ARGENTINA'S NEW STAR

Fernandez was handed his international debut as a 20-year-old back in November 2021, and his continued growth on the European stage earned his spot in Argentina's World Cup squad.

Not content to purely come along for the ride, Fernandez was brought on as a substitute in each of his side's first two group games, and against Mexico he became Argentina's youngest goalscorer at a World Cup since Lionel Messi in 2006.

His ability to both break into and perform for such a quality international side – entering the tournament on a 35-match unbeaten streak before falling to Saudi Arabia – has reportedly sent Fernandez's transfer value through the roof.

Marca's report claims he is now viewed as a €100m talent by Benfica, and they expect to field offers in that neighbourhood soon.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to Relevo, Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag views the Netherlands' World Cup hero Cody Gakpo as his ideal replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo.

– Fichajes is reporting Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are all showing interest in 22-year-old Ajax midfielder Mohammed Kudus amid his excellent performances for Ghana.

Bayern Munich remain interested in Tottenham's Harry Kane and are working on an offer between €80-100m, per Sky Sports Germany.

– The Sun is reporting Chelsea are not happy with both Edouard Mendy and Kepa Arrizabalaga and will look to bring in a new first-choice goalkeeper.

– With Rafael Leao likely leaving Milan at the end of the season, Gazzetta dello Sport claims they will try to fill the void with RB Salzburg's 22-year-old Swiss international Noah Okafor.

Cristiano Ronaldo became a free agent earlier this week after mutually agreeing with Manchester United to terminate his contract.

Ronaldo's availability has prompted numerous clubs to weigh up moves for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Brazilian giants Flamengo and Saudi Arabian powerhouse Al Hilal have been linked with Ronaldo in recent days.

AL NASSR OFFER LUCRATIVE DEAL TO FREE AGENT RONALDO

CBS claims Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr have offered Cristiano Ronaldo a three-year deal worth £186m.

The deal would see Ronaldo play into his 40s, with Al Nassr having resumed talks with his representatives having initiated them in the close season.

An unnamed Saudi Arabian club reportedly made an offer for the 37-year-old Portuguese prior to the start of this campaign.

Al Nassr are nine-time Saudi Arabian champions and ex-Lyon and Roma boss Rudi Garcia is their head coach.

ROUND-UP

Cody Gakpo and Milan's Rafael Leao are top of Erik ten Hag's wish list to replace Ronaldo at Manchester United in January, claims ESPN.

- Arsenal are set to beat Newcastle United to sign Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Mykhailo Mudryk for approximately £40 million, reports The Mirror.

- Bayern Munich are the latest club to enter the race to sign West Ham's England international Declan Rice, according to El Nacional.

- Juventus are planning a move for Athletic Bilbao winger Nico Williams, reports AS. Williams is contracted with Athletic until 2024.

- Milan are keen on Salzburg forward Noah Okafor, with the Austrian club asking €35m for him, according to Calciomercato.

Some of the Premier League's top clubs are reportedly keeping a close eye on Borussia Monchengladbach striker Marcus Thuram – including Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham.

Thuram, 25, is a towering presence up front, standing at six-foot-four and, after arriving at Gladbach from Ligue 1's Guingamp in 2019 for a fee of €12million, he has continued to grow as a goalscorer.

Through just 15 Bundesliga games this season, Thuram has matched his career-high tally of 10 league goals, including strikes against both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

His recent run of form has seen him earn a late inclusion into France's World Cup squad as they look to defend their title, and although he may not receive a start, he was worked his way onto the radar of some of the world's elite clubs.

 

TOP STORY – 25-YEAR-OLD FRANCE INTERNATIONAL LIKELY AVAILABLE ON FREE TRANSFER

Thuram has spent four seasons with Gladbach, and this is looking like his last as he is yet to renew his contract ahead of its expiry date at the end of this campaign.

With a transfer value likely north of €40m, the ability to land a powerful striker entering his prime as a free agent is a deal too good to pass up for forward-hungry Premier League sides.

90min is reporting Tottenham sent scouts over to Germany recently to watch him play, while Liverpool and Arsenal are also mentioned as interested parties.

 

ROUND-UP

– According to Express, Cristiano Ronaldo could move to Chelsea after the departure of Thomas Tuchel, who was said to be the one blocking the idea.

– Express is also reporting Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester City have identified 19-year-old Las Palmas midfielder Alberto Moleiro as a target. 

– Sky Sports Germany is reporting 22-year-old Salzburg striker Noah Okafor is available for a January transfer, with City, Liverpool and Milan named as suitors for the €40m-rated Switzerland international.

Chelsea are confident they have done enough to secure 25-year-old RB Leipzig striker Christopher Nkunku in the January window, per 90min.

– According to Relevo, Barcelona are willing to let Memphis Depay leave on a free transfer in January.

Barcelona will face Manchester United in their return to the Europa League after the Blaugrana were drawn against the Premier League club in the knockout round play-offs.

Xavi's side dropped into Europe's second-tier competition for the second season running after failing to progress from the Champions League group stages, finishing behind Bayern Munich and Inter.

It sets up the outstanding tie with Erik ten Hag's United, who are looking to end a trophy drought stretching back to when they last won the Europa League under Jose Mourinho in 2017.

United came second to Real Sociedad in the Europa League group stage, ultimately missing out to La Real by one goal.

They have paid the price for their failure in that regard, with Barca arguably the toughest draw they could possibly get and La Real already through to the competition's last 16.

Joining Barca in dropping down from the Champions League are Juventus, though they will likely be much more content with their draw after being paired with Ligue 1 side Nantes.

Europa League knockout round play-offs:

Barcelona v Manchester United
Juventus v Nantes
Sporting CP v Midtjylland
Shakhtar Donetsk v Rennes
Ajax v Union Berlin
Bayer Leverkusen v Monaco
Sevilla v PSV
Salzburg v Roma

Stefano Pioli wants to see Milan enjoy a deep run in the Champions League after the Rossoneri sealed their progress from Group E in emphatic fashion.

A defeat to Salzburg on Wednesday would have seen Milan crash out, but there was never any danger of that at San Siro as Olivier Giroud scored a double and added assists for Rade Krunic and Junior Messias in a 4-0 triumph that sealed second place in the group, behind Chelsea.

Pioli, who signed a contract extension earlier this week, was delighted with his team's performance as they qualified for the knockout stages for the first time since 2013-14, though he wants his players to kick on and reach the later rounds of the competition.

"This is only the first step," Pioli told reporters. "We must not stop mentally.

"We must not be happy to have reached the second round, but aim to go further. This group is hungry and wants to do everything possible and even more.

"We are the Italian champions, we are not here by chance. I have strong players, whoever draws us will face a strong team."

At 36, Giroud became the oldest player to score a Champions League double for Milan since Filippo Inzaghi did so against Real Madrid in 2010, with the former Arsenal and Chelsea striker also setting up Milan's other two goals.

Since Opta have collected such data for the Champions League (from 2003-04), Giroud is the third-oldest player to both score and assist a goal in a match, after Didier Drogba for Chelsea v Schalke in 2014 and Edin Dzeko for Inter v Viktoria Plzen this season, and Pioli was enthused by the France international's performance. 

"He is a strong person, a great leader and a great worker," Pioli told Sky Sports.

"He does what a player of his level has to do. He is a point of reference. He is always smiling and motivated. He is helping us a lot to grow up."

Olivier Giroud scored twice and assisted two others as Milan sealed their place in the Champions League knockout stages with a comfortable 4-0 victory over Salzburg at San Siro on Wednesday.

Milan knew a point would be enough to secure their progression and Giroud's early headed finish set them on their way.

Giroud's brilliant assist allowed Rade Krunic to get on the scoresheet shortly after half-time before the former Chelsea striker fired home a loose ball in the box.

Junior Messias added further gloss late on as Milan registered consecutive Champions League wins for the first time since 2011 and eased into the knockout stages at Salzburg's expense.

Theo Hernandez almost put Milan in front inside three minutes but his low effort across goal hit the post and deflected wide.

The hosts took the lead after 14 minutes, Giroud powerfully nodding Sandro Tonali's corner into the back of the net with the help of sloppy Salzburg marking.

Giroud thought he had his second when he tapped home after Salzburg goalkeeper Philipp Kohn fumbled Hernandez's shot into his path, only for the offside flag to curtail his celebrations.

Krunic made it 2-0 just after half-time with an excellent header after Giroud deftly nodded Ante Rebic's delivery back across goal to set him up.

Giroud added another in the 57th minute, smashing home after the ball rebounded kindly to him in the box.

Rafael Leao should have scored a fourth for Milan when he was picked out with a superb Hernandez cross, but his first-time effort came back off the crossbar.

Substitute Messias' curled finish in injury-time was the final dagger to Salzburg's Champions League campaign, though, as Milan cruised through.

Salzburg will have to do what no other Austrian side has done before at Milan to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages, while Jude Bellingham has his eyes on an achievement managed by only two players previously.

The Rossoneri need only a point from the game at San Siro and the historical facts suggest they will achieve their aim to make it out of Group E.

For Bellingham, he can put his name in the record books alongside former team-mate Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe by scoring for Borussia Dortmund at Copenhagen.

There is plenty to play for as the Champions League group stage wraps up on Wednesday, and Stats Perform has trawled through the data to shine a light on the most interesting angles.

Milan v Salzburg

With a win, Salzburg will advance to the knockout stages for the second consecutive season after never making it out of the group stage previously.

They will need to defy the odds on their trip to Milan, where the Italian side are undefeated in home fixtures against Austrian opponents in the competition (W4 D1), while averaging 3.8 goals per game.

Salzburg have never beaten Milan in their three previous Champions League meetings, but after losing the first two, they collected their first point with a 1-1 draw in this campaign's reverse fixture.

While Olivier Giroud became the oldest player in Champions League history to reach 20 goals (36 years old) during Milan's win at Dinamo Zagreb last time out, Salzburg boast the youngest starting XI in the competition with an average age of 22 years and 279 days.

Shakhtar Donetsk v RB Leipzig

Shakhtar have only won one game in the group stage, but sit three points behind second-placed. A win would see them through to the knockout stages for the third time in the past four seasons.

The reverse-fixture was a memorable one for Shakhtar and exciting young winger Mykhailo Mudryk, who showed why he is so in-demand with a goal and two assists in a 4-1 away win.

Unfortunately for the Ukrainian side, that was their only victory from their past 12 Champions League matches (D6 L5).

Meanwhile, Leipzig have found some form in the competition, with back-to-back victories against Celtic before making it three wins in a row when they beat Real Madrid 3-2.

Manchester City v Sevilla

City are eyeing an undefeated group stage when they host Sevilla, having only conceded one goal in total from their five games until this point.

English sides have given Sevilla trouble for years now, with their last Champions League win over a Premier League team coming back in 2007 against Arsenal. 

If Jorge Sampaoli's side are to stand any chance of a shock win, they will need to pay special attention to Jack Grealish, who has impressed in the group stage with 10 chances created from open play, the most in Pep Guardiola's squad.

Maccabi Haifa v Benfica

If Juventus can salvage even a draw in their clash with Paris Saint-Germain, then Benfica will be able to win Group H by defeating Maccabi Haifa.

It has been a special run of form for Benfica, who for the first time since 1990 have gone six Champions League games without a loss (W3 D3).

Maccabi will have their backs against the wall, as only Malmo have a worse winning percentage (17 per cent) than their 24 per cent among teams to have played at least 15 Champions League games.

Also working in Benfica's favour is manager Roger Schmidt's record in the competition. Between his time with Bayer Leverkusen (2014-2017) and Benfica in this campaign, his run of 13 games unbeaten is the most by any active manager qualified for this season's Champions League.

Other fixtures:

Juventus v Paris Saint-Germain

- Juventus are looking to avoid becoming the second Italian side to ever lose five matches in a Champions League group stage, after Roma in 2004-05.

- Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe has six goals in the group stage. With one more he can tie Christopher Nkunku (last season) for the most by a French player in a single group stage, while with two more he can tie Zlatan Ibrahimovic's club-record of eight in 2013-14.

Copenhagen v Borussia Dortmund

60  - Despite Copenhagen still being without a win in Group G, they have kept a clean sheet in 60 per cent (nine-of-15) of their Champions League home games – the best ratio of any team with at least 10 appearances.

- With a goal, Bellingham can become just the third teenager to ever score in all three away games in a Champions League group stage, following Mbappe (2017-18) and Haaland (2019-20).

Chelsea v Dinamo Zagreb

10  - Chelsea are undefeated in their past 10 group stage games in the Champions League dating back to September 2019 (W6 D4). Over that period, they are averaging 2.3 goals per game.

10  - Along with City's Grealish, Chelsea's Mason Mount is the only other Premier League player from this Champions League campaign to tally at least 10 shots and 10 chances created.

Real Madrid v Celtic

20  - Since the beginning of last season's Champions League, no player has been involved in more open-play sequences that have resulted in a goal than Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior (20).

14  - Celtic's Matt O'Riley has attempted the most shots in the Champions League this season without scoring, with no goals from his 14 shots.

Stefano Pioli wanted to share the credit around after signing a contract extension to keep him as Milan coach until the end of the 2024-25 season.

Former Inter coach Pioli took over at Milan in 2019, and has overseen a rejuvenation in the Rossoneri's fortunes.

Having finished second in the 2020-21 campaign, Milan clinched their first Serie A title in 11 years last term.

Milan, who sit third in Serie A 12 games into this season, are also on the verge of qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time since the 2013-14 campaign. They need only to avoid defeat against Salzburg on Wednesday to join Chelsea in progressing from Group E.

When asked about signing his new deal in Tuesday's pre-match press conference, Pioli said: "The credit belongs to everyone. The club is giving me great confidence.

"I am very happy with the renewal. I thanked the players because without them this renewal would not have been possible.

"We started our three-year journey, now we really care about passing [our objectives for] the season.

"I really appreciated this. The club could have extended my contract by a year, but they did it with a longer time frame. 

"It is a sign of our vision, of our collaboration, to try to make Milan bigger and bigger. I really appreciated the renewal and I can only thank the owners. I have always felt appreciated."

The omens are promising for Milan, seven-time European champions, ahead of their meeting with Salzburg at San Siro, given they are unbeaten in all three of their previous encounters with the Austrian side.

They do come into the match on the back of a 2-1 defeat to Torino in Serie A, however, though Pioli – whose side lost successive matches to Chelsea before bouncing back with a 4-0 thrashing of Dinamo Zagreb – is confident Milan can get the job done.

"We are a strong team, we have values and a lot of motivation," he said. "We know the difficulties of the match. Salzburg have not lost away from home [in this season's Champions League].

"We have strong players and we play this match in front of our fans, I can tell you that we have all the right cards to do well.

"Doing well would mean a lot, we had our first goal clearly in mind. We built this possibility, it was conceivable that if we hadn't won a match with Chelsea the last one would have been decisive. 

"The team now knows how to manage these heavy commitments. We are disappointed, but now it's another game."

Stefano Pioli insisted Milan were not distracted by Wednesday's decisive Champions League meeting with Salzburg during their demoralising Serie A loss to Torino.

Koffi Djidji and Aleksey Miranchuk scored in quick succession in the first half as Milan collapsed to a 2-1 defeat in Turin on Sunday.

Junior Messias got the Rossoneri back in the contest following a defensive mix-up after the break, but the Serie A champions never looked likely to complete a comeback on a chastening outing.

Milan will approach the European clash with Salzburg requiring just a point to join Chelsea in qualifying from Group E, but head coach Pioli is certain that was not on their minds.

"We could have done better in the flow of the ball, in defence and in attack. It was not the best evening," he said at his post-match press conference.

"To prepare well for the Champions League we had to do well tonight, we didn't think about it at all.

"We could have done better. It was a difficult and physical game, but we had to move better without the ball. You have to go looking for the chances, and you have to exploit them. They succeeded, with two goals in a few minutes.

"In the second half, we had a different attitude, but we didn't score immediately. The match went on the tracks preferred by Torino."

Djidji's opener halted a 499-minute streak in which Torino had not scored in their Serie A meetings with Milan, while the Rossoneri saw a 17-game unbeaten run on the road in Serie A come to an end.

Milan's frustrations were summed up by the efforts of Rafael Leao, who approached the trip to Turin in excellent form but was hauled off at the break after a poor opening period.

The Portugal forward failed to hit the target with four shots amounting to 0.51 expected goals (xG) during his 45-minute outing, leading Pioli to confirm he was substituted due to his poor display.

"It was not his best evening, this is evident," Pioli told DAZN after the defeat. "I tried to change the attack, but we needed to take a chance a little earlier, to play a little earlier, and we did not manage to get it back."

Chelsea manager Graham Potter praised his side for qualifying for the Champions League last-16 with a game to spare having lost their opener to Dinamo Zagreb.

The Blues booked their ticket for the knockout stages with a 2-1 away win over Salzburg, after impressive strikes from Mateo Kovacic and Kai Havertz in each half, either side of Junior Adamu's goal.

Chelsea had lost their opening game of the group stage, 1-0 at Dinamo Zagreb, leading to Thomas Tuchel's dismissal, but under Potter have bounced back with 10 points from four games, including strong away wins at Milan and Salzburg, securing top spot in Group E.

"Very [satisfied]. It’s not easy to win here as you can see from the record they have and the quality of the team," Potter told reporters.

"We had to play well and I thought we did. We created some good chances in the first half and were unlucky not to go more than 1-0 up.

"Then one action, with the quality at this level, and it’s 1-1. I thought our response was really good then, so I am delighted to go through, delighted with the performance of the players. I thought they were fantastic tonight.

"To go through with a game to spare is brilliant considering where we started the competition."

Havertz's 64th-minute winner was a spectacular left-foot strike that cannoned in off the crossbar.

The goal was the German's first this season in the Champions League, and third in all competitions. It was also Havertz's first goal away from Stamford Bridge for the Blues since April.

"His quality is there; he’s an incredibly talented player," Potter said. "He’s been nearly there and obviously, scoring a goal like that is bound to help.

"I wouldn’t be able to score a goal like that to be fair, I can only imagine. It’s a fantastic strike and an indication of the quality he has, so I’m really pleased for him."

Potter brushed off concerns about his side's wastefulness in front of goal, having had 15 shots, including 11 on target, while he hinted they may rotate their squad for their final group game against Dinamo having already qualified.

The Blues take on Potter's former club Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, followed by Dinamo (November 2), Arsenal in the Premier League (November 6) and Manchester City in the EFL Cup (November 9) in quick succession.

"We're at home at Stamford Bridge [against Dinamo] and we'll try our very best," he said. "We want to win every game we play, that is the mentality we have to have.

"But clearly, we have a game at the weekend and another game the weekend after, so maybe we can rotate a little bit. But we will try our best."

Stefano Pioli will set his Milan side out to qualify for the Champions League round of 16 in style by beating Salzburg in a decisive San Siro showdown next week.

The Rossoneri moved above Salzburg into second place in Group E on Tuesday with a 4-0 demolition of Dinamo Zagreb at Stadion Maksimir.

Matteo Gabbia opened the scoring with his first Milan goal, heading in a Sandro Tonali free-kick, and the Serie A champions ran away with it in the second half.

Rafael Leao's solo strike doubled their lead, and Olivier Giroud added a third from the penalty spot before a bizarre Robert Ljubicic own goal completing the scoring, with Dinamo's hopes of qualifying emphatically dashed.

Milan now only need a point to advance along with group winners Chelsea, who beat Salzburg 2-1, but head coach Pioli will not be taking a cautious approach to such a crucial game against the champions of Austria at San Siro next Wednesday.

He said: "Two out of three results are not a double-edged sword. We are not mentally and tactically built to manage, we have to play our best to get the win."

The Rossoneri finished bottom of their group last season, and Pioli believes reaching the last 16 would show the strides they have made.

He added: "I think it is clear that our growth comes from qualification. We have to play with our mentality, and it is the next step, where we would show that we are doing better than last year.

"We must close the discussion next Wednesday without forgetting the championship. We need concentration for the league match against Torino [on Sunday]. Then we will have the time and attention necessary to take care of the next Champions League match in the best possible way."

Pioli praised centre-back Gabbia, who was rock solid at the heart of the Milan defence after coming in to replace the suspended Fikayo Tomori.

"I continue to be convinced of the strength of my group," he said. "I emphasise Matteo's seriousness, but also his skills. He has a sense of position, physicality and skill in aerial duels."

Kai Havertz fired Chelsea through to the Champions League last-16 stage as his second-half strike secured a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Salzburg.

Mateo Kovacic's first-half effort gave the Blues the lead, but the hosts hit back swiftly in the second half, Junior Adamu capping off a fine counter-attack.

Goalkeeper Philipp Kohn was called upon in both halves to keep the visitors at bay but could do nothing with Havertz's winning effort, as the Germany international drilled in to end Salzburg's 40-game unbeaten home run.

Victory means Chelsea's spot in the knockout stages is confirmed, while Graham Potter's side could still be confirmed as group winners if Dinamo Zagreb fail to beat Milan in the Croatian capital.

Opportunities were few and far between until Chelsea took the lead after 22 minutes, Kovacic drilling a shot into the top-left corner after the ball fell kindly to him just outside the area.

Three minutes after the break, Salzburg equalised on the counter as Maximilian Wober's superb cross-field pass found Adamu and the 21-year-old jabbed a first-time finish past Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Adamu then had a major impact at the other end, superbly clearing Jorginho's header off the line to prevent the visitors swiftly retaking the lead.

There was no denying Havertz three minutes after the hour mark, however, as he collected Christian Pulisic's pass just outside the box and fired home a fine finish in off the left post to leave Kohn helpless.

The hosts had chances for an equaliser, notably with Thiago Silva needing to be alert to clear Strahinja Pavlovic's header off the line as the Chelsea defence stood firm.

Benfica could dump Juventus out of the Champions League, while Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea are among the other clubs who can seal a round-of-16 spot on Tuesday.

Juve must win at Benfica to have any chance from qualifying from Group H, while a victory will be enough to see the home side through. They can also advance with a point if Maccabi Haifa are unable to beat PSG.

The Ligue 1 champions will be through with a victory at the Parc des Princes or if they draw and Juve fail to win in Lisbon.

Chelsea travel to Salzburg as the Group E leaders and are guaranteed to progress if they win, while the Austrian side also remain in the hunt to qualify. The Premier League club can also go through if they draw and third-placed Milan defeat Dinamo Zagreb, who are bottom but only three points behind the leaders.

Borussia Dortmund will be sure to join Manchester City in getting out of Group G if they secure a home win over Pep Guardiola's side, who could win the pool with a game to spare. Real Madrid are in a similar situation to City, while RB Leipzig bid to join the holders in the knockout stage.

Ahead of another tense night of action, Stats Perform picks out the standout Opta numbers for the eight matches.

Benfica v Juventus

Juve have lost all three of their European matches away at Benfica, with their most recent loss a 2-1 Europa League defeat in 2014. 

The Turin giants only have one victory home or away in the seven previous meetings between the two famous clubs, Jurgen Kohler, Dino Baggio and Fabrizio Ravanelli on target in a 3-0 UEFA Cup clash in 1993.

Benfica could qualify for the knockout stage for a second consecutive season, a back-to-back feat they have only previously achieved in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons under Rui Vitoria. 

Juve could be eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League for the first time since the 2013-14 season, when Antonio Conte was in charge.

Paris Saint-Germain v Maccabi Haifa

Maccabi are winless in three away European games (including qualifiers) in France, losing two and drawing in a Cup Winners' Cup tie at PSG back in 1998.

PSG have only lost one of their past 32 group stage games at the Parc des Princes in the Champions League (W25 D6), with their lone defeat during that run coming against Manchester United in October 2020 (1-2). They have averaged 2.7 goals per game in those fixtures, scoring 86.

Since Kylian Mbappe's Champions League debut in September 2016, only Robert Lewandowski has been directly involved in more non-penalty goals (55) than the France forward (54 – 34 goals, 20 assists). 

Omer Atzili has scored twice for Maccabi in the Champions League this season. The last Israeli player to net more in a single campaign in the competition was Eran Zahav, who scored three for Hapoel Tel Aviv in 2010-11.

Salzburg v Chelsea 

Chelsea have only played two away European matches in Austria, losing 1-0 at Weiner Sport-Club in November 1965 in the Fairs Cup and drawing 1-1 against Austria Vienna in November 1994 in the Cup Winners’ Cup. 

Salzburg are winless in all seven of their European matches against English teams (D2 L5), failing to beat Blackburn Rovers (D1 L1), Manchester City (L2), Liverpool (L2) and Chelsea (D1).

In-form Chelsea have won back-to-back Champions League games, beating Milan 3-0 at Stamford Bridge and 2-0 at the San Siro. The last time they won three games in a row in the competition by a margin of at least two goals was in October-November 2013.

Salzburg have scored exactly one goal in each of their past seven games in the Champions League – only one team have ever had a longer run of scoring a single goal in the competition, with Olympiacos doing so in 10 in a row in a run ending in November 2005. 

Borussia Dortmund v Manchester City

No player has been directly involved in more goals than City's Erling Haaland (five goals) or Dortmund's Jude Bellingham (four goals, one assist) during the group stage this season.

Dortmund have won just one of their five Champions League matches against City (D1 L3), a 1-0 home victory in the 2012-13 group stage. 

No full-back has been involved in more sequences of play that have ended in shots (29) or goals (five) thans Joao Cancelo in the Champions League this season. The Portugal international has provided three assists in four games, equalling his season-best tally in a Champions League campaign (three in nine games last season). 

If Haaland scores on his return to face his former club, it will be the third time he has scored in five or more consecutive appearances in the Champions League. Only five players have achieved that feat on three occasions – Cristiano Ronaldo (five), Lionel Messi (three), Lewandowski (three), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (three) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (three). 

Other fixtures:

RB Leipzig v Real Madrid

13 – Madrid are unbeaten in their past 13 games against German sides in European competition (W9 D4), scoring at least two goals in every game during this run (31 in total). 

3 – Leipzig will be looking to win three consecutive Champions League games for just the second time – they won three in a row between February and August 2020, beating Tottenham twice and Atletico Madrid once. 

Dinamo Zagreb v Milan

5 – Dinamo have lost all five of their matches against Milan in European competition (including qualifiers). Against no side have they lost more games in their European history (also five v Ajax). 

100 – Milan's 100 per cent record against Dinamo – winning five out of five games against them – is their best against any side in Europe.

Sevilla v Copenhagen

29 – The average age of Sevilla's starting line-up in the Champions League this season is 29 years and 73 days, the second-oldest of any side in the competition this term after Rangers (29 years 96 days). 

13 – Copenhagen are winless in all 13 of their major European matches against Spanish teams (D5 L8), losing their last three on Spanish soil. 

Celtic v Shakhtar Donetsk 

– Celtic have lost seven of their past eight games in the Champions League (D1) and are looking for their first win in the competition since September 2017 (3-0 v Anderlecht).

0 – Shakhtar have never won a Champions League away match against a British team, losing on eight of their nine total trips. They did avoid defeat in the most recent one, however, drawing 1-1 against Manchester City in November 2019. 

Real Madrid and Manchester City could qualify for the Champions League round of 16 by maintaining their 100 per cent records on Tuesday.

Madrid travel to Shakhtar Donetsk sitting pretty at the top of Group F and the holders will be guaranteed to progress if they make it four wins out of four.

The same goes for free-scoring City, who have been victorious in all three Group G games and will be expected to get the better of Copenhagen at Parken.

Borussia Dortmund could also advance if they beat Sevilla again, while Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica meet in the battle of the top two in Group H.

Milan will look to exact revenge on Chelsea at San Siro, while Group E leaders Salzburg travel to Dinamo Zagreb.

Stats Perform preview the eight matches to be staged on Tuesday by picking out the standout Opta data.


Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Madrid

After beating Madrid home and away in the Champions League in 2020-21, Shakhtar have lost three consecutive matches against the holders - the latest being a 2-1 defeat at the Santiago Bernabeu last week.

There have been 14 goals in the previous three matches between the two sides in Donetsk, Madrid scoring nine of those.

Carlo Ancelotti's side are on a five-game winning streak in the Champions League, a run that began with a 3-1 victory over City in the second leg of last season's semi-final. They last had a longer winning streak in the competition between April 2014 and February 2015 - a run of 10 straight victories.

Among teams to have featured in the Champions League in every season since 2018-19, Shakhtar have the lowest win percentage of any side in that period (18.5 per cent - 5/27).

Copenhagen v Manchester City

City hammered Copenhagen 5-0 last week. Their best combined record against an opponent in a single Champions League campaign is 9-0 versus Shakhtar in 2018-19.

Copenhagen have only lost one of their 13 home games in the group stage of the Champions League (W6 D6), that defeat coming against Real Madrid in December 2013.

English teams are winless in their last two visits to Denmark in the Champions League, with Liverpool drawing 1-1 with Midtjylland in December 2020 and Leicester City drawing 0-0 with Copenhagen in November 2016. 

Erling Haaland has 28 goals in 22 Champions League appearances. His next strike in the competition will see him equal the goal tallies of David Trezeguet (58 games), Roy Makaay (61 games) and Patrick Kluivert (71 games).

Paris Saint-Germain v Benfica

PSG have hosted Benfica on three previous occasions in European competition, with the Ligue 1 champions beating them 2-1 in the UEFA Cup in 2007, 3-0 in the Champions League nine years ago and drawing 1-1 in the Europa League in 2011.

No Portuguese side has ever won away at PSG in European competition. They have suffered five defeats and drawn twice, with all three Champions League contests won by PSG.

PSG could equal their longest winning streak of six consecutive home victories in the competition. Their last run of six wins in a row in Europe's premier club competition ended in November 2014. 

Benfica are unbeaten in four Champions League away games (W2 D2), their longest run without defeat on the road in the competition.

Milan v Chelsea

Milan are winless in five meetings against Chelsea in Europe (D3 L2) since winning the very first match between the two sides in the Fairs Cup in February 1966. 

The Serie A champions only had four shots in a 3-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge last week. Since Opta have had this data available for the Champions League, the Blues have only faced fewer in a game in the competition twice - versus Malmo in October 2021 (two) and Galatasaray in March 2014 (three).

The Rossoneri have lost four of the last five games when hosting an English team in the Champions League, with their only victory coming against Arsenal in February 2012 (4-0). The only previous time they hosted Chelsea in the competition was in a 1-1 draw in October 1999.

Milan's former Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori has initiated more sequences of play than any other player in the Champions League this season, with the centre-back regaining possession for his side 47 times in three games.


Other fixtures:

Borussia Dortmund v Sevilla

273 - Sevilla have gone 273 minutes without scoring away from home in the Champions League, having failed to net in their previous three matches. 

4 - Only Haaland (5) has been directly involved in more goals than Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham in the Champions League this season (3 goals, 1 assist). 

Maccabi Haifa v Juventus

3 - Maccabi have lost all three of their matches against Juventus - home and away in the group stage of the Champions League in 2009-10, and again last week in Turin.

5 - Juve have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their past five matches in the Champions League. That is their longest run without a clean sheet since a run of eight games between April and December in 2013.

Celtic v RB Leipzig

6 - Celtic have lost six consecutive home games in the Champions League. If they lose this match, they would equal the longest run of home defeats by a team in the competition, previously set by Monaco between May 2017 and December 2018.

9 - Christopher Nkunku scored his ninth Champions League goal for Leipzig against Celtic last week, equalling Emil Forsberg's tally for the most goals for the club in the competition. Since the start of last season, only four players have more Champions League group-stage goals than him (8).

Dinamo Zagreb v Salzburg

3 - Dinamo have lost all three of their major European matches against Salzburg, losing twice in the 2014-15 Europa League and 1-0 to the Group E leaders last week.

23 - Salzburg's starting XI has had an average aged of 23 years and 36 days in the Champions League this season, the youngest of any side. The average of 22 years and 336 days in their 1-0 win over Dinamo was the third-youngest by a winning team in a Champions League match; the two younger were in 2004-05 in the reverse fixtures between Ajax (22y 300d) and Maccabi Tel Aviv (22y 213d).

Chelsea will host Milan on Wednesday in what could well be a must-win fixture for the Blues, who sit last in Champions League Group E.

England has not been a happy hunting ground for Milan, but the group leaders and reigning Serie A champions will be hoping for a change of fortune when they roll into Stamford Bridge.

Meanwhile, Mykhaylo Mudryk will get a chance to show why he is considered one of the top young talents in Europe as Shakhtar Donetsk head to the Santiago Bernabeu to take on Real Madrid.

Paris Saint-Germain will look to change their poor historical record against Benfica, with Kylian Mbappe on the brink of becoming the club's record European goalscorer.

Stats Perform has dug up the most interesting facts and angles for each contest on Wednesday.

Chelsea v Milan

This is the first time these two teams will meet in the Champions League since they were in the same group in 1999, with both of those matches ending in draws. They have not met in a competitive game since, with all four of their 21st-century contests coming in the International Champions Cup (Chelsea won three of those with Milan recording one victory).

Chelsea have only lost twice at home to Italian teams in continental competition, collecting eight wins and three draws. They lost to Lazio 1-2 in 2000, and to Inter 1-0 in 2010.

Milan's record in England also gives no reason for optimism, with only one win from 20 tries in European play (D7 L12). 

Olivier Giroud was subbed off in Milan's dramatic 3-1 win over Empoli on Saturday. The France striker could become the 10th player to score for and against Chelsea in the Champions League, and first since Loic Rémy for Lille in December 2019, should he net in this meeting.

Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk

This is the third consecutive season these sides have met in the group stages. It is the fifth time teams have ever been paired together in three consecutive seasons, and Shakhtar was involved in the most recent occasion as well, against Manchester City from 2017-18 through to 2019-20.

Over the past two seasons, they have split the wins evenly, with Shakhtar winning both games in the 2020-21 campaign, before Madrid triumphed in both fixtures last season.

After a win and a draw in the first two matchdays, Shakhtar boast the highest shot conversion rate in the competition, scoring with five of their 10 shots, including two goals from 21-year-old rising star Mudryk.

On the other side, Vinicius Junior leads the Champions League with 33 chances created and seven assists from open play since the start of last season, and he shares the mantle for most goal involvements at 18 with Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski.

Benfica v Paris Saint-Germain

Benfica are looking to extend their surprisingly strong record against Paris Saint-Germain, having won three of their six previous meetings (1D 2L) in European competitions, including the past three in a row. Their last fixture came in the 2013-14 season, with Benfica winning 2-1 at home.

In fact, Benfica have enjoyed plenty of success while hosting French sides, with five consecutive home wins – twice against Lyon, as well as beating Lille, Monaco and PSG.

However, PSG are a different beast now then they were back in 2014, and have only lost one of their past 11 matches in the group stage (8W 2D).

At only 23, Mbappe can become the club's all-time leading scorer in European competitions with one more goal. He is currently tied at 30 with Edinson Cavani.

RB Leipzig v Celtic

These sides both won their home fixtures when they were matched up in the 2018-19 group stage, and they will be desperate for a result as they enter Wednesday's game with only one point between them in Group F.

Celtic will be looking to make history as they have never won a European game away in Germany (10L 3D), failing to score on nine of those 13 occasions.

But it might be a case of a stoppable force meeting a movable object, as Leipzig have not kept a clean sheet in their last seven home games in the competition. They have only shut out their opponents twice from 15 Champions League home games.

Jota will be the key for Celtic's chances, with his six chances created trailing only Napoli's Piotr Zielinski (eight), while only Madrid star Vinicius is credited with more take-on dribbles (11) than Jota's nine.

Other fixtures:

Manchester City v FC Copenhagen

23 – Manchester City are two games away from tying Manchester United's record of 23 consecutive Champions League home fixtures without a loss. They are unbeaten at home in the competition since 2018.

62 – City's Erling Haaland averages a goal every 62 minutes in the competition, netting 26 goals in 21 appearances. He is well clear of second-placed Mario Gomez, who scored his 26 goals on an average of every 102 minutes.

Sevilla v Borussia Dortmund

1 – Borussia Dortmund have only won one of their past 11 trips to Spain in the Champions League (L7 D3), but that win came from their most recent opportunity, against Sevilla in February 2021.

3 – Sevilla have failed to score in each of their past three Champions League games. They have never gone four consecutive games in European competition without scoring.

Juventus v Maccabi Haifa

29 – It has been 29 years since Maccabi Haifa defeated an Italian team in European competition (3L 1D), with their only victory coming in 1993 against Parma. 

8 – The Israeli side have lost all eight of their Champions League fixtures since 2002, by a combined aggregate score of 13-1.

Salzburg v Dinamo Zagreb

6 – Salzburg can become the first Austrian team to ever go six games unbeaten in the Champions League if they can avoid defeat against Dinamo Zagreb, with three wins and two draws from their past five.

23 – The last time Zagreb kept a clean sheet away from home in this competition was 23 years ago, drawing 0-0 against United at Old Trafford in 1999. Since then, they have conceded 52 goals in 18 away games (2.9 per game).

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