Massimiliano Allegri is confident Juventus "will be fine" against Benfica on Tuesday, even with their Champions League hopes hanging by a thread.

A shock defeat to Maccabi Haifa last time out has given Juve no room for error, with anything less than victory in Lisbon resulting in their elimination from Europe's elite club competition.

Even with a win this week, the Bianconeri would need another result against Paris Saint-Germain while hoping Benfica slip up at Maccabi.

Heading into matchday five, though, Allegri has no concerns, saying in Monday's news conference: "Tomorrow, I think it will be fine. I may be wrong, but I'm confident.

"We have only one result [to chase]; we are not yet eliminated from the Champions League, but neither have we qualified for the Europa League.

"Two games, six points to go, and our fate does not depend only on us. Benfica, on the other hand, are the owners of their own destiny."

Defender Alex Sandro is similarly backing Juve to "prove our worth".

"This game has a great value," he said. "Only the victory counts. We are here to win and play a great game. We are growing. And we know you can't go wrong anymore.

"We will go on the pitch to prove our worth. We hope to give Benfica their first defeat. I know them; some are very strong. It will be a very difficult game. There are players who can make the difference at any time."

Pep Guardiola praised Jude Bellingham's "special mentality" as Manchester City prepare to face the Borussia Dortmund man in Tuesday's Champions League encounter.

City travel to Signal Iduna Park this week already assured of their place in the knockout rounds, thanks in no small part to a former Black and Yellow star in striker Erling Haaland.

But following the Norway international's exit from the Bundesliga club, it has been England international Bellingham soaking up the plaudits this term.

The 19-year-old captained Dortmund in both domestic and European competition for the first time earlier this month, and now Guardiola has praised him as "the whole package".

"I think Dortmund is a perfect place for young, talented players," he stated. "Maybe [if] Bellingham went to a top Premier League team, he wouldn't get the minutes.

"The best way for a young player to get better is to play. He has a special mentality. He is already one of their captains - [for it] to happen at 19 is impressive.

"It's not just about the goals, the whole package is really good. He's already playing for England at 19. We know the quality that he has."

With their hosts still requiring a result to secure their own qualification, Guardiola knows he will face a tough test in Germany and is relishing his side playing in front of the famous Yellow Wall once again.

"It's a fantastic stadium and everybody knows it," he added. "The atmosphere, the attractive football they play. I'm happy to be back here."

Chelsea head coach Graham Potter believes his team as a whole must "do better" in attack following Saturday's drab draw with Manchester United.

The Blues had just six attempts and two on target in a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge, their goal coming from the penalty spot through Jorginho.

Raheem Sterling was quiet again as he waits on a first career goal against United. He has a sole goal involvement in his past six Chelsea matches in all competitions and none in his past four.

Speaking ahead of the midweek Champions League meeting with Salzburg, Potter deflected blame from Sterling, calling on the entire team to improve going forward.

"I think it's more of a team thing. We have to try to do better as a team, improve our attacking play as a team, and then individuals can do better," he said.

"I always want to look at how the team functions, and there is a lot of improvement possible in that area, and that will help Raheem."

Potter was asked what needed to change for Chelsea, but he pointed to the absence of key players.

"It's a simple question to ask but quite a complex one to answer," he replied. "There's lots of things, we've had a couple of issues, losing Reece [James], [Kalidou] Koulibaly and Wesley [Fofana] in terms of stability.

"On the back of away matches in the Champions League, there have been tough places to go, so it's a combination of finding balance, a bit of a process in terms of not too much training time between the games; I think we've played seven games in the last three weeks.

"When players are coming out, to find that stability and the structure is a bit more complex, so that's been a bit of a challenge."

Carlo Ancelotti insists his Real Madrid players are not playing in fear of injuries before the World Cup, as Luka Modric and Karim Benzema were ruled out of their Champions League trip to RB Leipzig. 

Having established a four-point lead over Leipzig at the summit of Group F, Madrid can secure top spot with a game to spare by avoiding defeat against the Bundesliga outfit on Tuesday.

However, Madrid's efforts to do so could be hampered by the absences of Modric and Benzema, while in-form midfielder Federico Valverde has joined the duo on the sidelines after suffering a knock in Saturday's win over Sevilla.

All three players are set to feature when the World Cup begins in less than a month's time, but Ancelotti does not feel the tournament is impacting players' thoughts.

"I don't think they think about it. It is better to enter the World Cup well, with continuity," Ancelotti said at his pre-match news conference.

"They are small things, and we don't want to risk them at an important moment. It is better to lose Modric and Karim for one day than for a month.

"Injuries exist in football. If you don't want to get injured, stay on the couch. I tell my players that. 

"Nothing can be done. I don't think the players are worried about this. If anyone is afraid of training, I tell them to stay home; there are many good series and movies."

With Madrid also topping LaLiga after winning 10 of their first 11 games, Ancelotti believes the timing of the World Cup may benefit his side following a manic stretch of fixtures.

"It is a very intense period, with many games, too many," Ancelotti added. "We are holding it well. 

"We have some problems, which is normal when you play every three days. The World Cup comes at the right time."

Madrid's injury concerns could mean several fringe players get an opportunity to impress in Germany, including Marco Asensio, who recently said he was unhappy with his lack of minutes.

Ancelotti remains pleased with Asensio's application and is committed to discussing his future during the World Cup break.

"The club knows very well what I think, and so does Asensio. Soon there is a long break, and it is time to talk about this issue," Ancelotti said.

"Until the first phase is over, I don't think we should talk about this issue.

"What I ask of those who play less is that they be serious, professional and endure the difficult moments.

"That's what Asensio and the rest who play less do. Tomorrow we have casualties and their contribution can increase."

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Christophe Galtier has explained his tactical changes in recent matches, making clear a return to a three-man defence is not off the table.

PSG switched approaches for their last two Ligue 1 games, playing with a four-man backline and securing victories against Marseille and Ajaccio.

The move impacts Neymar, who has been in outstanding form this season, as he was moved inside against Marseille having previously played from the wing.

Galtier accepts there is now a different demand defensively of the Brazil forward – or anyone else in that position – although he wants his players to work as a team "whatever the formation".

"We changed the system for different reasons," he said ahead of Tuesday's game against Maccabi Haifa. "We played two games in this formation.

"Whatever the formation, you always have to run, and even if tomorrow [Tuesday] we have to evolve in this formation, we need the efforts of each other.

"But it is true that it is more precise defensively for the player who plays under both strikers."

This is not necessarily a long-term switch, however, as Galtier added: "Do not think that the three centre-back system has been abandoned. It is an advantage to have two formations, two systems.

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 will be without Luka Modric when they face RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Modric did not travel to Germany with the Madrid squad on Monday after he was a late withdrawal from the squad.

The midfielder opened the scoring in a 3-1 LaLiga defeat of Sevilla on Saturday before being substituted after 77 minutes.

The club did not state why Modric will miss the game against Bundesliga side Leipzig.

A club statement said: "Luka Modric won't play in tomorrow's Champions League group stage match between Real Madrid and Leipzig, at the RB Arena.

"The Croatian had been named in [head coach,Carlo] Ancelotti’s squad for the game, but is a last-minute withdrawal and won't be travelling with the team to Leipzig."

Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema and Federico Valverde also remain sidelined due to injury.

Holders Madrid have already secured their place in the round of 16 and can win Group F if they avoid defeat.

Pep Guardiola says Erling Haaland will be a "genius" if he can break the Premier League scoring record, and hailed the impact of Borussia Dortmund on the striker's development.

The Norway international has scored 17 top-flight goals in 11 outings since his move from Dortmund, managing a brace in Saturday's 3-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

Haaland also became the first City player to score in seven consecutive home games in all competitions since Sergio Aguero in the 2017-18 season.

Alan Shearer and Andy Cole both scored 34 goals in a single campaign, sharing the English top-flight record, with Guardiola expecting Haaland to surpass that mark if he can continue his impressive form.

"If he continues to score with this rhythm, he will be a genius, with the average every game, he's going to break the record," the City manager said.

"But football, maybe you score then a few days later you stop scoring, I don't know.

"All the strikers I have ever seen, [Samuel] Eto'o, [Lionel] Messi, [Robert] Lewandowski, [Thomas] Muller, [Sergio] Aguero, their ambitions to score goals, goals and more goals is normal, it has to be like that."

While the 22-year-old forward will eye breaking more Premier League records, Haaland's attention must first turn to a reunion at Dortmund in the Champions League.

City have already qualified for the knockout stages of UEFA's flagship club competition but will progress as Group G winners with victory at Signal Iduna Park.

Tuesday will mark a memorable return for Haaland, who scored 86 goals in 89 appearances during his two-and-a-half-year spell at BVB, and Guardiola credited the influence of the Bundesliga side on the striker's progression.

"It will be good [the reception he gets]. Salzburg in Austria, then Dortmund, he scored a lot of goals as well," the Spaniard added.

"At Dortmund, that period helped, the managers he had, the team-mates he had. In a few years, he will be a better player again from the [City] team-mates he plays with, definitely."

With a goal against his former side, Haaland would become just the sixth player to score in five or more consecutive Champions League outings on as many as three separate occasions, joining Cristiano Ronaldo (5), Messi (3), Lewandowski (3), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (3) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (3). 

Leon Goretzka says Robert Lewandowski "was spoiled" at Bayern Munich as he taunted his former team-mate over Barcelona's Champions League struggles.

Barca face being eliminated from the competition in the group stage in successive campaigns for only the second time heading into Wednesday's tie with Bayern at Camp Nou.

The Catalan giants will be unable to advance to the last 16 should they lose or if Inter beat Viktoria Plzen, while they will also be eliminated should both games be drawn.

While Barca have struggled in Europe of late, Bayern have reached at least the quarter-finals in all but one of the past 11 seasons, which Goretzka says can be taken for granted.

"Lewy was very spoiled at Bayern, always being at least in the round of 16 and progressing," Goretzka told reporters. "But now we can no longer take that into account."

Bayern beat Barca 2-0 in last month's reverse fixture, in which Lewandowski missed two presentable opportunities, and are already assured of a place in the knockout stages.

The German side have defeated Barcelona in nine of their 12 Champions League encounters, including the past five in a row.

Only Bayern themselves against Real Madrid (10) have lost more games against a single side in the competition's history, and Goretzka is targeting another victory next week.

"If we play against Barcelona at the Camp Nou, it can be a preparatory game or a Champions League final, it doesn't matter," the Germany international added. 

"It's going to be a super cool game that we're looking forward to. And we will also do everything to win it."

 

Lewandowski has scored five Champions League goals for Barca, each of those coming at Camp Nou – the most ever by a Barca player after their first two matches.

The prolific striker lifted the famous trophy with Bayern in 2020, but he will have to settle for Europa League football – at best – if results go against his side.

"It's their last chance," Bayern striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting said. "I'm definitely looking forward to the game and to seeing Lewy. 

"He's a world-class player and a great guy. Playing against Barcelona is always something special."

Federico Valverde will miss Real Madrid's Champions League game at RB Leipzig on Tuesday, joining Karim Benzema in being ruled out of the trip to Germany.

Uruguayan midfielder Valverde has been in revelatory form for Madrid this season and scored his seventh goal of the campaign in Saturday's 3-1 win against Sevilla.

However, he took a heavy knock late in that game after being clattered by Papu Gomez, who was booked, and that blow has counted Valverde out of head coach Carlo Ancelotti's midweek plans.

Ballon d'Or winner Benzema was already expected to miss the Leipzig fixture, having been absent against Sevilla due to muscular fatigue in his left leg, and that was confirmed as Madrid announced their travelling squad.

Neither Valverde nor Benzema is expected to be sidelined for long, with reports in Spain indicating both could come back into contention for next Sunday's LaLiga game against Girona.

Madrid have already made sure of a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League, and they will be confirmed as winners of Group F if they avoid defeat at second-placed Leipzig, who sit four points behind Ancelotti's defending champions.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp expects Darwin Nunez to face Ajax in midweek after missing Saturday's shock defeat to Nottingham Forest with a hamstring injury.

Uruguay striker Nunez scored the only goal of the game on Wednesday as the Reds beat West Ham, building on a lively – albeit chaotic – cameo against Manchester City last weekend.

But he was withdrawn in the second half with a hamstring strain and that prevented him from featuring at the City Ground, his absence a blow as the Reds lacked presence in attack.

Forest won 1-0 thanks to a goal from former Liverpool youngster Taiwo Awoniyi, and Klopp will be desperate for his side to get the defeat out of their system as quickly as possible.

Liverpool can secure their progression to the last 16 of the Champions League when they face Ajax in Amsterdam on Wednesday and Klopp expects his big-money signing to return.

"Darwin should be back, this game was just too early," Klopp said.

"I think another day recovery would have helped him, but we played today. At least that is my knowledge in the moment.

"Ibou [Ibrahima Konate] will train from [Sunday] on and Naby [Keita] as well, but Naby is far off so he starts training now after a long period."

Liverpool's preparations for Saturday's match were also hampered by Thiago Alcantara falling ill in the 24 hours before kick-off and Klopp is unsure if he will face Ajax.

"Thiago got a bad ear infection last night and there was no chance for him to do anything. We drove him home," Klopp added.

"The decision was [made] in the moment he woke up and had the pain. The doctor went there and they tried everything, went to the hospital and stuff like this. It didn't work out."

That proved to be a spanner in the works for the Reds, with Klopp acknowledging the Spain international's absence left his side lacking creativity in midfield.

But he praised Curtis Jones for filling in, as he played in a deeper, unfamiliar role.

"We were obviously lacking up front a bit runs in behind, we were lacking vision in the centre, that's all true," he continued.

"I thought Curtis did really well but is not used to the position. He can play that definitely, but he was not even in my thoughts to start, so that all happened last night. But he did really well.

"But that we then did not create that much, I am not concerned about that, I'm not surprised – that's things that can happen."

Reece James has described the knee injury that threatens to rule him out of the World Cup as "devastating", but says he will do everything in his power to feature in Qatar.

The right-back sustained the injury in Chelsea's Champions League win at Milan last week, and was ruled out for eight weeks after seeing a specialist.

If James were to miss the tournament, it would represent a severe blow for England manager Gareth Southgate, who is facing the prospect of a selection crisis on the right of his defence.

Manchester City's Kyle Walker is also battling to be fit after suffering an abdominal injury earlier this month, while Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold has come under fire for his recent performances.

However, Chelsea boss Graham Potter said last week that James would "fight" to return in time for the tournament, and the defender has now made a similar pledge.

"It's obviously devastating and you know the World Cup is only a month away," James said on his YouTube channel. "As a kid, growing up, I always wanted to go and this is my first opportunity.

"I'll do everything I can to try to be there, but I'm obviously devastated. Just [the] injury came at the wrong time. But every day, we need to be grateful and thankful.

"I'll keep you updated with what's happening on a day-to-day basis, and I'll touch base soon."

England begin their World Cup campaign in less than a month's time, facing Iran in their Group B opener on November 21.

Massimiliano Allegri backed his Juventus side to claim a vital Champions League win at Benfica after they thrashed Empoli 4-0 on Friday.

The Bianconeri followed up their derby victory over Torino last weekend with an impressive display at the Allianz Arena, where Moise Kean put them in front with his first goal since April.

Weston McKennie opened his Serie A account for the season to double their lead and there were two late goals for Adrien Rabiot as Juve moved above Inter into seventh place.

Allegri's future had been called into question following defeats to Milan and Maccabi Haifa, but the Turin giants look to have turned the corner.

They must win at Benfica on Tuesday to have any chance of qualifying for the Champions League round of 16 and head coach Allegri fancies their chances in Lisbon.

He said: "Tonight it was important to win because we are behind in the championship and we hadn't won two in a row.

"Unfortunately we have to chase in the championship for the points lost against Salernitana and Monza. Tuesday will be an important match for two reasons: we are not out of the Champions League and we are not even in the Europa League.

"We will face a strong team, we can go there and overturn the result [they were beaten at home by Benfica], we need to be confident."

Romelu Lukaku is expected to return from injury when Inter host Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League next Wednesday, Simone Inzaghi has revealed.

Lukaku scored 24 goals as Inter won the Serie A title in the 2020-2 season, and was expected to play a key role in another tilt at the Scudetto after returning on a season-long loan from Chelsea.

However, a thigh injury has kept Lukaku sidelined since August, with the Belgium striker's recovery taking longer than was initially expected.

With Inter bidding to secure qualification for the Champions League round of 16 next week, Inzaghi is keen to get Lukaku back, but he will not feature at Fiorentina in Serie A on Saturday.

"He has been training partially in a group for two days. He has to regain his condition, but he is very motivated," Inter head coach Inzaghi said. "Finally, after a very long time, he has overcome the injury. 

"He will not be with us tomorrow in Florence, [but] we try to bring him back on Wednesday. He has to find his condition, but after seeing him work, I am confident."

Inter finished just two points behind rivals Milan at the culmination of the Scudetto battle last season, but are already eight points adrift of leaders Napoli this campaign.

Asked whether Inter could still play a part in the title race, Inzaghi added: "Now we have to look at the calendar, to be realistic. 

"There is a gap and they are racing ahead, now the goal is to recover points in the league and go through in the Champions League.

"What matters most is to think game-by-game, now there are so many games missing until the [World Cup] break, and we have to get there in the best possible way."

Inter have won on their last two Serie A trips to Fiorentina; only once in their history have they won three successive away league games against the Viola (between 1977 and 1980).

Meanwhile, the Nerazzurri are unbeaten in their last 10 league meetings with Fiorentina (W5 D5), having lost five of their previous six games against them (W1).

Gavi has added the Golden Boy award to the Kopa Trophy he won earlier this week, following in the footsteps of Barcelona team-mate Pedri by winning both prizes in the same year.

The 18-year-old saw off competition from the likes of Eduardo Camavinga, Jamal Musiala and Jude Bellingham to land the Kopa Trophy – given to the best player in the world under the age of 21 – at Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony.

At a press conference in Palermo on Friday, it was revealed that Gavi had beaten another 19 nominees – including that aforementioned trio – to land the Golden Boy prize, which follows similar rules to the Kopa Trophy,

Gavi has become the third player to win the Golden Boy award while representing Barcelona, after Lionel Messi in 2005 and Pedri in 2021.

The teenager has been a revelation since breaking into the Blaugrana's first team, scoring twice and providing six assists as he made 34 appearances in LaLiga last season.

That form has seen the diminutive midfielder win 12 caps for Spain after becoming the youngest player to represent La Roja's senior side in October last year.

Barcelona had four players shortlisted for the award, with Ansu Fati and Nico Gonzalez – who is currently on loan at Valencia – joining Gavi and Pedri among the final 20 nominees.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.