Ronaldinho told Paris Saint-Germain fans they should be careful what they wish for as he mounted a defence of the club's under-fire superstars.

Neymar and Lionel Messi have faced a backlash from supporters in recent months, with Kylian Mbappe the only member of the much-vaunted forward trio seemingly immune to their criticism.

It helps that Mbappe has enjoyed another spectacular season for PSG, scoring 35 goals and adding 19 assists, while Neymar and Messi have struggled to live up to their lofty reputations.

Many supporters have been unimpressed by the team's performances this season, despite a costly recruitment drive that brought a raft of big names to the Parc des Princes.

Messi, an all-time great, arrived from Barcelona, while the likes of Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum also joined, along with Inter's flying full-back Achraf Hakimi.

Despite PSG assembling a star-studded squad, there has been such a backlash against the side's performances that last month's Ligue 1 title success was barely celebrated by supporters.

Squandering a 2-0 aggregate lead to lose to Real Madrid in the Champions League's last-16 was a shattering blow, and many supporters want change to come not only on the pitch, but in the boardroom, with President Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Sporting Director Leonardo facing heavy criticism.

Ronaldinho, however, does not understand those questioning the side, telling RMC Sports: "I don't understand because there are all these great players.

"And you want to change everything? What do you want to have? The worst players in the world?

"We have to wait for them to understand this new way of living and playing football. And the rest will come slowly. This adaptation is normal, to do things well."

Neymar signed a big-money contract extension last May so appears unlikely to leave any time soon, but patience is in short supply among some fans when it comes to the Brazilian.

His compatriot Ronaldinho, who spent two years at PSG before joining Barcelona in 2003, defended the winger by declaring: "He's one of the best players in the world.

"He has had several injuries this year. When he's at 100 per cent he's a really special player for this team. Neymar, [Angel] Di Maria, Messi... the greatest players are together. If you're not happy with that, who are you going to play with?"

Mbappe, meanwhile, will reach the end of his contract next month with Madrid remaining eager to take him to the Santiago Bernabeu, although reports have suggested he could yet decide to remain in the French capital.

Ronaldinho refused to offer an opinion as to where the 2018 World Cup winner should play next term, saying the most important thing is Mbappe's happiness and predicting he will become the world's best player.

"I have no advice. I love him so much," he added. "The most important thing is that he is happy, the rest will come normally. He will become the best player in the world. The rest is up to him to decide where he will play and what he wants to do."

Antonio Conte insists he is "100 per cent and more" committed to Tottenham as speculation persists over his future next season.

Conte was appointed as Nuno Espirito Santo's successor in November and has transformed Spurs' fortunes, lifting them from ninth to fifth in the Premier League with two games to play.

Tottenham sit just a point behind fierce rivals Arsenal after winning 3-0 against Mikel Arteta's side on Thursday, their biggest league win over the Gunners since April 1983 (5-0).

However, questions continue to surround the future of Conte, who has been linked with the Paris Saint-German job should Mauricio Pochettino be dismissed for his Champions League failures.

But the Italian appears set on staying put at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

"From the moment I came into the club – and in every club I worked in in the past – I go totally with my heart, mind and head," he told reporters.

"Totally, 100 per cent and more. This is my characteristic. I'm a passionate person. I think I showed this passion. I think to see me afterwards sometimes on TV, it's not simple to see me in this way. I'm very passionate, I'm this way. I like to go totally into the club where I work.

"I know that only in this way I'm able to give everything. And also to find the way to receive everything from my players, my club and the fans.

"Because if I'm the first person to give 200 per cent, then for sure I can ask for this [in return]."

The expectation is that Conte will remain in charge should Spurs seal Champions League football next term, and Tottenham can move into the top four with victory over Burnley on Sunday.

With Arsenal not in action at Newcastle United until Monday, Spurs can look to seize the initiative. But relegation-threatened Burnley will prove a challenge given they defeated Conte's side 1-0 in the reverse fixture.

That loss at Turf Moor led Conte to explode in a post-match interview where he questioned whether he was up to the task, but he later suggested this was to rally his players.

"I think honestly there are moments that if you want to change the situation, address the situation in the way you're used to addressing, sometimes you have to go strong," he said of his outburst.

"I understand very well that I took a risk because a lot of people didn't understand. I read that it only took two months for Tottenham to make Conte crazy! I remember very well I was the crazy one.

"Sometimes coaches have a strategy, and the strategy is the stick or the carrot. At the time, all the environment needed the stick.

"Myself was the first person because I hit myself. And then the others. Because before saying something wrong about the players or the situation, the first to take the blame has to be the manager. The manager has to address the situation.

"At the time I thought it was right to go strong to try to change the situation. At the time, in my opinion, no one could think with two games to go Tottenham could fight for the Champions League.

"Instead, now, we are there, and from that step, we improved a lot. Also, there are moments when everyone has to take responsibility. The manager is the first, then the players, the club and all the employees of Tottenham. Because we win and we lose together."

Should Burnley win again, they would become just the fourth side to complete a top-flight double over a team coached by Conte, after Sampdoria (2012-13 v Juventus), Manchester City (2017-18 v Chelsea) and Juventus (2019-20 v Inter).

Fabinho will definitely be back available for Liverpool's Champions League final against Real Madrid, manager Jurgen Klopp has said.

The Reds were dealt a huge blow ahead of Saturday's FA Cup final against Chelsea with the news that the Brazil international has been ruled out with a muscular injury.

Fabinho was forced off during the first half of Tuesday's 2-1 win over Aston Villa and will not return in time for this weekend's trip to Wembley.

However, providing a further update at his pre-Chelsea news conference on Friday, Klopp confirmed the 28-year-old will be available to face Madrid in Paris on May 28.

"He will definitely be back for the Champions League final," Klopp said. "Whether he will play before that, we don't yet know.

"Fab is a professional. He was obviously not happy about missing the Chelsea match, but he took it and is already taking on the fight against time, if you want. That's how it is.

“It is not enough if you are ready on Friday before the final, it should be Tuesday or Wednesday or something like that and we are working on that.

"We are all very positive that it will be the case. So he is absolutely OK."

Liverpool have lost just three of the 47 games that Fabinho has played in this season, conceding 0.7 goals per game compared to 0.9 in the 12 matches he has not featured.

Jordan Henderson is likely to return to central midfield alongside Naby Keita and Thiago Alcantara for the clash with Chelsea, and Klopp has full confidence others can step up.

"If all the other boys didn't show the attitude they have had in training all season, we'd have had no chance this season," he said. That's been very important."

Liverpool are competing in their first FA Cup final since 2011-12 when losing 2-1 to Chelsea, with the most recent of their seven triumphs in the competition coming in 2006.

The Reds have already lifted one cup at the national stadium this year, though, having overcome Chelsea on penalties following a goalless draw in February's EFL Cup final.

Klopp's side are therefore looking to win both of England's domestic cup competitions in the same season for the first time since 2000-01, when also winning the UEFA Cup.

"We didn't 'beat' Chelsea. We won the penalty shoot-out," Klopp said. "I've said a few times, without luck you have no chance, and luck was on our side that day.

"It was a tough, tight game and we know how good Chelsea are and we expect another tough game.

"Both teams will go for all they have. That's what I expect from Chelsea and that's what I especially expect from us this time.

"It's the biggest domestic cup competition in the world. I haven't watched 20 FA Cup finals but I don't think that's necessary to understand how big it is.

"We are really looking forward to this opportunity. The boys worked their socks off to arrive here, with all the different challenges over the year.

"It's now a massive final for us and I'm really happy we are part of it. We always gave our all to arrive to the final [in previous years], we just didn't make it."

The three previous meetings between Liverpool and Chelsea this season have finished level and Klopp is anticipating another tight contest against Thomas Tuchel's side.

"Chelsea are a really well-coached team. They have a similar system to others but a different level," he said.

"They have an idea for all areas. They're organised defensively and offensively, with incredible talent. We have no idea how Thomas will line up. There are so many options."

Pep Guardiola says any extension to his Manchester City contract will not be agreed until next year, insisting now is not the time to discuss his future.

City require just four points from their final two games to secure the fourth Premier League title of Guardiola's reign at the Etihad Stadium after thrashing Wolves 5-1 on Wednesday.

Title rivals Liverpool extended manager Jurgen Klopp's contract until 2026 last month, sparking speculation City could look to do the same with Guardiola, whose current deal expires at the end of next season.

But Guardiola says any new contract will have to wait until next year, even though he revealed he would be happy to stay for another decade if he was certain City would continue to perform at their current level.

"If I extend the contract, it will be at the end of the next season," he told Sky Sports. "Before then, it's not going to happen. 

"It's many years and I have to see how the team and ourselves, how we are together. Knowing it, I would stay 10 more years. 

"But we have to take time for that, absolutely. It's not time, absolutely in this season, or during the next season."

City look increasingly likely to wrap up another domestic title after becoming the first team in English top-flight history to win five consecutive league games by at least three goals.

However, their European woes continued when they fell to a stunning 6-5 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals earlier in May.

Guardiola will have gone 12 years without winning European football's biggest prize by the time he gets another opportunity to win the competition, but insists continental success will not dictate his future.

Asked whether he would only stay if City win the Champions League next term, he responded: "Absolutely not. We compete, for the margins, extremely well in the Champions League. 

"In my life, we won the Champions League in Barcelona with seven players who came from the academy. Nothing changed my life. I was happy for that.

"Yes, I'm disappointed, we wanted to play the final, but it's not going to change my future or my past. The reason why we came here to England, it's already done. We wanted to do it, we did it."

Mikel Arteta suggested he would be "suspended for six months" if he gave his honest assessment of key refereeing decisions made during Arsenal's 3-0 north London derby defeat to Tottenham.

Arsenal went into what many considered as the most important north London derby in Premier League history knowing victory would secure Champions League football for next season.

But they were blown away by Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with Rob Holding's 33rd-minute sending off for two bookings playing a big role – though the hosts were already 1-0 up thanks to a Harry Kane penalty.

Kane got Spurs' second shortly after Holding's dismissal and Son Heung-min put the game beyond the Gunners early in the second half, as Antonio Conte's men moved to within a point of Arsenal heading into the final two matchdays of the season.

Should Arsenal ultimately miss out on Champions League football again, many will point to this defeat as a pivotal moment, and Arteta seemingly laid the responsibility at the feet of the officials.

When asked for his "thoughts" on the game, Arteta told Sky Sports: "Well, if I say what I think, I'm suspended [for] six months, so I cannot say.

"I'm allowed to give my interpretation of what happened in the game, but I don't know how to lie so I prefer not to say what I think."

But it was unclear precisely which decision Arteta felt aggrieved by, as Holding was arguably lucky not to have been already sent off before his brutal barge on Son, which in itself could have potentially drawn a straight red.

That was his fourth foul of the game, more than he has ever committed in a single Premier League match despite playing just 33 minutes.

Similarly, the decision to penalise Cedric Soares for a shove on Son in the area appeared a clear-cut one by referee Paul Tierney.

Arteta initially refused to delve much deeper, as he reiterated the belief he would be banned if he was honest, but he did eventually call out the officials.

"You can ask the referee to come in front of the camera and explain his decisions," he said. "It's a shame because such a beautiful game was destroyed today."

Arsenal have two more matches to secure fourth – they face Newcastle United and Everton in their last games of the season.

 

Mikel Arteta and Arsenal now face a thorough examination of their mentality and focus after Thursday's morale-sapping 3-0 north London derby defeat blew the race for fourth wide open.

While the importance of Champions League qualification might feel exaggerated to some given the financial muscle of practically every Premier League club, regardless of finishing in the top four or not, the end of 2021-22 will undoubtedly have significant implications for both clubs.

A top-four finish would be Arsenal's best Premier League season in six years and simultaneously the first time since the same season that they'd finished above their bitter rivals.

Champions League qualification would also be vindication of the faith placed in Arteta and a clear sign of genuine progress since he replaced Unai Emery.

For Spurs, on the other hand, it's difficult to look at these final 10 days of the season being anything other than a sliding-doors moment.

Failure to return to European football's top table would plausibly see Antonio Conte call it quits, whereas the possibilities could be endless under him with the extra cash, exposure and lure provided by the Champions League, particularly when you consider the transformational effect he's already had in north London and elsewhere previously.

With those points in mind, it was no surprise to see Thursday's contest – the first with fans present at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – labelled the most important north London derby in Premier League history, and it's fair to say the hosts handled the occasion far better than the Gunners.

Perhaps that wasn't actually as shocking as it initially felt during the match.

The turning point came with just 33 minutes on the clock. While Tottenham were already ahead thanks to a Harry Kane penalty, it was just past the half-hour mark when Rob Holding's pushed his luck once too often.

Having already been booked – frankly, he could have been carded several times by this point – Holding cynically blocked off the relentless Son Heung-min with a combination of shoulder and elbow, deservedly earning himself a second yellow and subsequent red card.

It had been coming. Holding's early duels with Son had the South Korean showing signs of frustration – not because he couldn't get the better of his opponent, but because he was getting the better of him. He just kept getting fouled by the Arsenal defender.

Holding's wry smile when walking away from an angry Son after a tangle that wouldn't have looked out of place on a Judo mat belied a degree of arrogance and misplaced confidence.

It was ill-judged to say the least.

But of course, this is by no means the first time indiscipline's been seen as the scourge of Arsenal. Since Arteta's appointment, the Gunners have been shown five more red cards (13 in total) in the Premier League than any other team.

Granted, they are the youngest team in the Premier League, so perhaps a hint of indiscipline is to be expected as a consequence of inexperience – but that argument can't really be applied to 26-year-old Holding.

Arsenal had actually started the match quite well. Their pressing intensity was excellent, so much so that a Spurs passage of play consisting exclusively of passes between the defence and Hugo Lloris drew significant jeers of derision and frustration from the home crowd.

But Spurs identified they could find joy by playing direct, which was exactly how the opener arrived, with Cedric Soares – no, not Holding this time! – the one guilty of barging Son over at the back post as he looked to reach a deep delivery.

Just four minutes after Holding's red card, Kane – who had endured a career-worst derby drought of two matches prior to Thursday – exploited Eddie Nketiah's lack of awareness to stoop in at the back post to head home his second goal of the game, extending his all-time record as this fixture's top scorer.

Conte was a figure of calm after the first goal, but this time he wore his near-trademark terrifying jubilation with pride, presumably aware only a miracle would save Arsenal now.

The sparkling Son made sure any Arsenal hopes were thoroughly extinguished less than two minutes after the restart, pouncing on a loose ball in the area before steering beyond Aaron Ramsdale with the kind of expertise we've come to expect from a player only outscored by Mohamed Salah in the Premier League this season.

Arteta can console himself with the fact Arsenal remain fourth heading into their final two games of the season. Had you given him the option of being in that situation back in August, he'd have snapped your hand off.

But Thursday's ultimately crushing defeat once again raised questions of the Gunners' mentality and discipline, and their squad is becoming more depleted by the game. It's hardly an ideal combination when the pressure is on – and boy is it on now.

Tottenham – whose kind run-in sees them face Norwich City and Burnley – still need either Newcastle United or Everton to do them a favour at the very least.

But Thursday was evidence of Spurs keeping their cool when it matters. Arsenal didn't, and there's nothing to suggest they're too good to capitulate.

Fabinho has been ruled out of Saturday's FA Cup final, but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hopes the midfielder will return before the end of the season.

Brazil international Fabinho was forced off during the first half of Liverpool's 2-1 win over Aston Villa on Tuesday.

It was subsequently confirmed that the 28-year-old had sustained a muscle problem and Klopp has confirmed he will not feature against Chelsea at Wembley.

However, Klopp is confident that Fabinho will make his comeback in time to play against Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 28.

"There's a good chance that he will be available for the Champions League final," Klopp told Liverpool's official website. "Not for the weekend."

Liverpool trail Manchester City by three points in the Premier League, with two games remaining. They face Southampton next week and host Wolves in the final fixture of the campaign.

When you think about the most iconic fixtures in English football, the north London derby is surely right up there.

Arsenal and Tottenham have played out some classic contests down the years, many of which have been goalfests.

But Thursday's clash at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is arguably among the most important derbies between Spurs and the Gunners in the Premier League era.

With three matches remaining, four points separate the two teams in the table – Arsenal occupy fourth, the final Champions League spot, while Spurs remain set on pushing them all the way.

Of course, Spurs will need Arsenal to drop points in one of their two remaining matches as well to have any hope of usurping them, but victory for Antonio Conte's men on Thursday will at least test the nerve of Mikel Arteta's young and inexperienced squad.

Ahead of that game, Stats Perform looks back on some previous Premier League classics between the two giants.

Tottenham 2-2 Arsenal - April 25, 2004

What could be more perfect than winning the title without losing a game? The answer is simple: winning the title without losing a game while clinching the championship at the home of your bitter rivals.

That is precisely what Arsenal did in 2004 – though the game initially looked as it would be more routine than it proved. Patrick Vieira finished off a fine counter-attack just three minutes in, before another incisive move allowed Robert Pires to make it 2-0. Spurs fought back, with Jamie Redknapp and a late Robbie Keane penalty denying the Gunners the three points, but still Arsene Wenger's men danced away on the White Hart Lane turf at full-time.

Tottenham 4-5 Arsenal - November 13, 2004

The scoreline says it all, really. There have only ever been six Premier League matches with more goals scored than this 2004 classic. Remarkably, only two of the nine goals here were netted in the first half, with Noureddine Naybet's volley cancelled out by Thierry Henry.

Spurs were constantly playing catch-up thereafter, with Jermain Defoe pulling one back after Lauren and Vieira increased the Gunners' lead. Freddie Ljungberg and Pires just about put the game beyond the hosts, though Fredi Kanoute capitalised on a Henry error two minutes from time to force a tense finale.

Arsenal 4-4 Tottenham - October 29, 2008

David Bentley's stunning early opener was a sign of things to come in what ended up being another Premier League classic. Arsenal ultimately found themselves 3-1 up in the second half thanks to goals from Mikael Silvestre, William Gallas and Emmanuel Adebayor, and just a few moments after Darren Bent seemingly got the visitors back in the contest, Robin van Persie smashed in to make it 4-2.

But back came Spurs. Jermaine Jenas' 89th-minute curler breathed life into their fightback and, deep into stoppage time, Aaron Lennon buried a rebound after Luka Modric's effort was deflected onto the post.

Arsenal 2-3 Tottenham - November 20, 2010

This was a momentous day for Spurs, who ended 17 years of frustration and torment by clinching their first win at Arsenal since 1993 – not that an away win always looked plausible.

Arsenal were seemingly on course to go top of the Premier League when Samir Nasri and Marouane Chamakh had them two up, but Gareth Bale's excellent strike halved the deficit and Rafael van der Vaart levelled from the spot following a blatant handball by Cesc Fabregas. Younes Kaboul was the unlikely hero, glancing home a late header from a Van der Vaart free-kick.

Tottenham 3-3 Arsenal - April 20, 2011

That's right, 2010-11 served up two courses of north London derby drama as Spurs dealt Arsenal's dwindling title hopes a near-fatal blow. The Gunners, just as they did at home a few months earlier, squandered a two-goal lead and were left facing the likelihood of another trophyless campaign.

Theo Walcott and then Van der Vaart struck in the first seven minutes, before Nasri and Van Persie ensured Arsenal were 3-1 to the good by the 40th minute, but Tom Huddlestone's typically thumping finish on the stroke of half-time had Spurs back in the hunt. Van der Vaart then sealed Spurs a deserved point from the spot in the second half.

A disappointing season to the season followed for the Gunners as their title aspirations ultimately faded, with fourth the best they could muster.

How times change – it's fair to say they'd have snapped your hand off at the start of the season if offered fourth this term, and Thursday's derby will likely be decisive in determining which of the two clubs takes it.

The Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool will be refereed by Clement Turpin, UEFA has announced.

Liverpool overcame Villarreal in the semi-finals, while Madrid edged past Manchester City in dramatic fashion to reach the showpiece of UEFA's flagship club competition in Paris on May 28.

Turpin, who has been an international referee since 2010, will officiate his first Champions League final.

The Frenchman previously served as fourth official in the 2018 showpiece in Kyiv, where Madrid defeated Liverpool 3-1.

Turpin, who refereed last season's Europa League final in which Villarreal defeated Manchester United on penalties, will be joined by compatriots Nicolas Danos and Cyril Gringore as his assistants.

Continuing with the French theme, Benoit Bastien will be fourth official and Jerome Brisard will lead the VAR team, which also includes Frenchman Willy Delajod and two Italians, Massimiliano Irrati and Filippo Meli.

In the Europa League final between Rangers and Eintracht Frankfurt in Seville on May 18, Slovenian Slavko Vincic will be the man in the middle with compatriots Tomaz Klancnik and Andraz Kovacic on the line.

Meanwhile, Romanian Istvan Kovacs will take charge of his first UEFA club competition final when he officiates the Europa Conference League final, which sees Roma face Feyenoord at Arena Kombtare in Albania on May 25.

Kovacs will be joined by fellow countrymen Vasile Florin Marinescu and Mihai-Ovidiu Artene.

Aleksander Ceferin has defended UEFA's allocation of Champions League final tickets following criticism from Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

The Stade de France has a capacity of 75,000, but less than 20,000 tickets apiece will be allocated to Reds and Real Madrid fans for the showdown on May 28.

Liverpool manager Klopp made his feelings about that perfectly clear after his side beat Villarreal at the semi-final stage.

He said: "It is absolutely not right, but it happens everywhere. It doesn't make it better, just in this specific case you are not only paying more than last time for a ticket, but you only get 50 per cent of the tickets and the rest goes to people who pay thousands and thousands for the tickets."

Klopp added: "When you see the ticket prices and all this kind of stuff, the amount of tickets you get only... did I read, is it right that we only get 20,000, they get 20,000, [but] 75,000 in? That makes 35,000, what? Where are these tickets?

"I cannot be more appreciative, more thankful for what [the fans] are doing. Unbelievable... It is the only bad thing about the journey [fans struggling to obtain tickets]. I really hope they all can make it somehow and can create an incredible atmosphere.

"That is what I love about this game, really. The world will be red or white, but everybody will be either or, so that's really cool."

UEFA president Ceferin responded by stating that the system works.

He said: I explained the same thing to one of the coaches of the two teams [Liverpool and Madrid] a couple of days ago and I can do it here. I explained it to him a bit more and took much more time because I went through every single number.

"From the revenues from the finals, UEFA gets 6.5 per cent and 93.5 per cent goes to the clubs. From the other matches 100 per cent of the revenues goes to the clubs.

"Fans of both teams get 20,000 tickets each. If sponsors that pay 100 or more million euros sponsorship – of which 93.5 per cent goes to the same clubs – get some tickets, it's part of a contractual obligation that we have.

"UEFA doesn't get more tickets than the others. Some tickets go to the market, some tickets go to the fans and some go to the partners. It's not UEFA. I'm not giving tickets for free to my friends or selling to my friends.

"It's the system that works, and clubs couldn't function differently. For us, not much will change if all the tickets will be €10, but it will change a lot for the clubs. A lot."

Erling Haaland is a "great player" who is joining a "great club" in Manchester City, but Carlo Ancelotti suggested he is not overly upset at missing out on the much-coveted striker.

City confirmed on Tuesday they have reached an agreement to sign Haaland, who had been linked with an array of clubs across Europe – Ancelotti's Real Madrid among them.

Haaland's 85 goals in 88 games since joining Dortmund in January 2020 is bettered only by Robert Lewandowski (122) and Kylian Mbappe (89) across Europe's top five leagues.

But Madrid already boast a prolific striker of their own in Karim Benzema, whose 57 direct goal involvements in all competitions is unmatched in the continent's major divisions.

While Ancelotti has made no secret that he is a fan of Haaland, he is happy with his current squad, having already wrapped up his first LaLiga title and reached the Champions League final thanks to their sensational comeback against City last week.

"I don't really like to talk about this," Ancelotti said at a news conference on Wednesday when asked about Haaland's imminent switch to the Premier League leaders.

"He's a great player, City's a great club. But I'm sticking with my squad, which has led me to enjoy another Champions League final."

Madrid set up a showdown with Liverpool in Paris by overcoming City in a remarkable semi-final tie that they trailed 5-3 with a minute of normal time remaining.

Los Blancos followed that up with a 1-0 loss to rivals Atletico Madrid last weekend in a game that saw Ancelotti make seven changes to his starting line-up.

Ancelotti confirmed the likes of Thibaut Courtois, Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior will each return for Thursday's visit of Levante, who have lost just one of their last four trips to face Madrid in LaLiga.

Despite the title being secured with four games to spare, Ancelotti insists his side are not yet focusing on their upcoming clash with Liverpool at the Stade de France on May 28.

"The time we have spent together since the Atletico match has been looking only at tomorrow's game," he said. 

"It's important we give minutes to those who didn't play against Atletico, and then we have another game on Sunday. We are not preparing for the final.

"Tomorrow is a game that we have to play well to win. The objective is the same: keep a good rhythm, play well with the ball and win the match.

"If you lose competitiveness, you will not do well. They must rest, but also play in order to reach 100 per cent. 

"All this time it has been said that Ancelotti did not rotate and now that he does, nobody is happy. You have to give minutes to players."

Even with Haaland no longer on the market, Madrid are expected to strengthen in attack, with Mbappe their main target.

But Ancelotti was once again unwilling to discuss any potential targets, with Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger another rumoured to be on Madrid's radar. In fact, reports on Tuesday suggested the deal had been done to bring the Germany defender to Santiago Bernabeu on a free transfer.

"After the final there will be time to talk about this. For now, we are just aiming to finish the season well," he said.

"Talking about the future transfer window is not correct, I don't want to. I want to talk about tomorrow's match. It is the day to talk about this, not about alleged new signings."

Roma will target Champions League qualification next season, Jose Mourinho has insisted.

The capital club are in a tussle with city rivals Lazio for fifth place in Serie A, and have a Europa Conference League final against Feyenoord to look forward to on May 25, with Mourinho becoming the first coach to reach the final of a major European competition with four different clubs.

Success in Europe would mark a brilliant achievement in Mourinho's first season at Roma, who are 10 points adrift of the top four in Italy's top flight.

Regardless of the final outcome of Roma's campaign, Mourinho's goal for the 2022-23 campaign is clear.

"We want to try and get into the Champions League but when you look at the level of investment at Inter, Milan and Juventus, you realise three of these spots should be closed," Mourinho told Sky Sports.

"There is a fourth spot, last season it was Atalanta, this season it's Napoli, can we get there next season? I think we can.

"In this second part of the season, after the January transfer window, we did small [changes] enough to improve the squad. I'm not as lucky as some coaches who can buy what they want.

"We can improve things. Next season after this year of work and evolution at every level I think we have a chance and that's the next target for next season."

Mourinho was also questioned over his future, but he has no plans on leaving Roma any time soon.

"In this moment, everything is very calm because I have two more years of a contract," Mourinho said.

"The club didn't approach me to try to extend so they don't put me in a situation of accept or don't accept. Everything is calm, stable and that is the way it has to be.

"I have to finish the season as best we can and 100 per cent start next season because I am not looking for a change, my people know that. I couldn't leave the club in my second season, I couldn't do that to the club. So next season I am here."

Newcastle United were one of the sides linked to Mourinho before they appointed Eddie Howe, who has since guided them to Premier League safety.

"I learned what Newcastle is and how to like the club very much through Bobby's [Robson] eyes and heart," Mourinho said.

"I'm very happy that they found their stability. Eddie is doing good work, the club gave the tools for a change in the January market and I wish them the best."

Even when Jack Grealish charged into the penalty area in the 87th at the Santiago Bernabeu last week and saw his shot cleared off the line by Ferland Mendy, there seemed no way Manchester City wouldn't be in the Champions League final.

They were already 1-0 up on the night, 5-3 up on aggregate. Real Madrid had three minutes plus stoppage time to turn things around – even for a side that produced some memorable comebacks en route to the semi-finals, turning things around looked impossible.

Yet we all know how the tale unfolded in a matter of minutes, with City's Champions League aspirations dissolving for another season.

Over the course of the two legs, City were comfortably the better team and few would disagree with the idea that they're almost certainly better equipped than Madrid to stop Liverpool in the final.

City's failure served to highlight a key deficiency in their squad. Whether that's fair or not is up for debate, because they look destined to win the Premier League title again and no one would've questioned the legitimacy of them seeing off Madrid, but when the victor is led by the type of figure the loser is lacking, it's an easy conclusion to jump to.

Karim Benzema may not have been at his unplayable best in the second leg last week, but he won and converted the ultimately decisive penalty, and the effectiveness with which he led the line in the first leg ensured Madrid were still in with a shout upon the return to Spain.

City will now hope they have such a goalscoring talisman in Erling Haaland.

The club confirmed on Tuesday that Haaland will join at the end of the season, with City apparently set to pay £51.3million (€60m) to Borussia Dortmund for his transfer. Even when you consider the apparently significant agents' fees et cetera, it's difficult to see this as anything other than a bargain for City.

Of course, while the timing of the signing might frame it as a reaction to Champions League elimination, it's clearly not. Reports have suggested for weeks that the deal was virtually done and Haaland was going to follow in his father's footsteps by signing for City.

However, it's hard not to look at the deal through the prism of Champions League failure because of what will now be expected – rather than hoped for – with a player like Haaland in the team.

When trying to understand what has specifically gone wrong for City in the Champions League since Guardiola was hired, most people seem to have different opinions. Some might point to an apparent lack of on-field leaders, others highlight wastefulness at crucial moments, and of course there are many who have bemoaned Pep's dreaded "overthinking".

The idea of there being a lack of on-field leaders has always seemed wide of the mark, while no one can accuse Guardiola of overcomplicating his selections against Madrid – even if they did try to claim that, City were on course for the final until the 90th minute of the second leg.

Similarly, wastefulness is something most clubs can be accused of at one time or another and, in fact, across all the Champions League ties from which City have been eliminated under Guardiola, they have scored 17 times from 16.99 expected goals (xG). Granted, there were occasions where they didn't score as often as they should have, but over time it evens itself out.

Yet perhaps this is where Haaland can make the difference. Sure, City's xG has evened out over the unsuccessful ties in question, but with a striker as freakishly deadly as the Norwegian, there becomes a greater opportunity to finish chances that maybe you wouldn't generally expect to.

Haaland is a pure finisher unlike any other player in the world. Since his Bundesliga debut on January 18, 2020, he has scored 85 times from 69.7 xG across all competitions. Similarly, when excluding penalties he remains almost as potent, with 75 goals from 60.2 np-xG.

In both instances he has scored roughly 15 more goals than he should have based on the quality of his chances – among players with 30 or more goals over the same period, only Son Heung-min (16.1 and 16.5) can boast better xG differential figures. Again, ordinarily you'd expect this to even out over time, with such form usually unsustainable – but when you make the implausible look routine, this is the output you can produce.

One thing you cannot accuse City of is being ineffective when it comes to controlling football matches and creating chances – they wouldn't be about to claim a third Premier League title in four years if they were.

But in knockout ties when there is such a limited amount of time to respond to setbacks or make amends for certain mistakes, whether that's defensive or in front of goal, the value of the greatest strikers can shine through even more: Benzema showed that against City.

While there are likely to be stylistic compatibility questions to be asked regarding City and Haaland, particularly given the Premier League champions-elect haven't really played with an out-and-out striker for a couple of years now, they suddenly have arguably the finest finisher of his generation in their arsenal.

If Haaland isn't the final piece of the puzzle in City's quest for a maiden Champions League crown, Guardiola might as well give up.

UEFA has approved changes to the Champions League format from the 2024-25 season, including an increase to eight group-stage matches.

European football's governing body had already announced in April that the competition would expand from 32 teams to 36 in two seasons' time.

And following talks in Vienna on Tuesday, the UEFA Executive Committee confirmed the number of rounds in the group stage will increase from six to eight.

All group and knockout-stage games up until the final will continue to be staged on midweek days, as it currently the case.

Two of the four additional places in the expanded format will be awarded on the basis of the highest-performing countries from the past season across UEFA club competitions.

If that had been the case this season, an additional team from the Premier League and Eredivisie would have qualified for next season's tournament.

It had previously been reported that those two places would go to clubs on the basis of their historic performance in European competition, but that is no longer the case.

Of the other two spots, an extra team will qualify from the fifth-ranked country in Europe, while another will go to one of the domestic champions who do not qualify automatically.

Commenting on the changes, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, said: "UEFA has clearly shown today that we are fully committed to respecting the fundamental values of sport and to defending the key principle of open competitions, with qualification based on sporting merit, fully in line with the values and solidarity-based European sports model.

"Today's decisions conclude an extensive consultation process during which we listened to the ideas of fans, players, coaches, national associations, clubs and leagues to name but a few, with the aim to find the best solution for the development and success of European football, both domestically and on the international club stage."

Under the new format, the initial phase will contain a single league consisting of all 36 teams, with each side playing four home games and four away games against eight different opponents.

The top eight sides in the league will qualify automatically for the knockout stage, while the teams finishing in ninth to 24th place will compete in a two-legged play-off to secure their path to the last 16.

Ceferin added: "We are convinced that the format chosen strikes the right balance and that it will improve the competitive balance and generate solid revenues that can be distributed to clubs, leagues and into grassroots football across our continent while increasing the appeal and popularity of our club competitions.
 
"I am really pleased that it was a unanimous decision of the UEFA Executive Committee, with the European Club Association, European Leagues and National Associations all agreeing with the proposal made. Another proof that European football is more united than ever.

"Qualification will thus remain purely based on sporting performance and the dream to participate will remain for all clubs."

Similar format changes will also be applied to the Europa League and Europa Conference League, with both also including 36 teams in the initial league phase.

Marco Verratti declared Paris Saint-Germain are "left feeling p***** off" they have nothing to play for after Champions League disappointment and winning Ligue 1.

PSG cruised to a record-equalling 10th French top-flight title – only Saint-Etienne can boast as many – in April, while no player in Ligue 1 history has won as many championships as Verratti (eight).

However, Mauricio Pochettino's side remain in search of an elusive Champions League crown, having been dumped out at the last-16 stage by a remarkable Karim Benzema-inspired Real Madrid turnaround.

Kylian Mbappe scored in either leg to hand PSG a 2-0 lead, before Benzema delivered a second-half hat-trick at the Santiago Bernabeu to stun the visitors and reopen fresh Champions League wounds.

Meanwhile, since securing the title, PSG have thrown away two-goal leads in consecutive games, allowing Strasbourg and Troyes to share the spoils on both occasions.

Verratti vented his frustrations after the stalemate with Troyes as he acknowledged finding motivation is difficult with the league already in their hands.

"There is a bit of frustration. I think these are matches where you have to have fun, it's about winning and playing well as a team," the Italy international told Amazon Prime Video.

"We are in one of the quietest moments of the season because there is no pressure. We just have to have fun. When you are free in your head, you can enjoy it even more.

"I'm a little frustrated about that. We're coming to the end of the season and we always come out of games feeling p****** off. It's not the thing you dream of at the end of the season, especially when you are already champions.

"I honestly think that we could do much better with the team we have. In difficult times, we could be better. When we are good as a team, we manage to take more pleasure from those matches.

"It was a tough season. Even if we are champions, at the start of the season it was tough, we won a lot of matches late on.

"That means we have great character, because we're still there two minutes from the end to score a goal, but I think we could be better as a team.

"It's true that we changed the team a lot with several rookies. It is not an excuse, but it's the truth. It's difficult to create a big group when you change a lot. You have to take the good things of this season and try to build on it for next season."

Whether Pochettino stays in charge for the next campaign remains to be seen, with reports in France suggesting Zinedine Zidane as a potential target if he is not waiting until after the 2022 World Cup to take DIdier Deschamps' job with France.

Whoever is at the PSG helm, Verratti knows it will take another sizeable effort next year to reset and attempt to banish the Champions League demons.

"We fought hard against Madrid and did 150 minutes very well," he added.

"We won the championship, that's good and I think there's not much missing. Everyone has to give more so at the end we can say: 'OK, we have no regrets, we gave everything, they were stronger'.

"We do have this little regret. We had a dream in the Champions League. If you reach the semi-final then you can find yourself in the final having played two games well. Madrid hit us hard."

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