It's fair to say LaLiga's reputation took a battering last week as three of its four representatives were eliminated from the Champions League with a match still to be played in the group stage.

What made this scenario even uglier for Spanish football is that none of it was even that surprising.

Barcelona's elimination before they'd even played was the headline-grabber, but Atletico Madrid and Sevilla both had their fates sealed as well, albeit in rather different circumstances.

Sevilla won 3-0 at home to Copenhagen, though the score flattered them greatly, while Atletico drew 2-2 with Bayer Leverkusen, Yannick Carrasco seeing a last-gasp penalty saved before Saul Niguez headed the rebound against the crossbar and a follow-up effort was blocked on the line by Carrasco.

Last week's woes mean that for the first time since the Champions League expanded to 32 teams in 1999, there will only be one Spanish side in the knockout stages – Real Madrid.

But given LaLiga's decline, that might become the norm before long.

Dark days

Barcelona and Sevilla can at least point to having particularly difficult groups.

Most would still have expected Barca to at least get in the top two, but Bayern Munich and Inter were always likely to be problematic, and so it proved. As for Sevilla, realistically the best they could've hoped for was second behind Manchester City, but Borussia Dortmund's starting XI simply boasts far more quality than the Andalusians'.

And then there's Atletico. Alongside Club Brugge, Porto and Bayer Leverkusen, Diego Simeone's side would've been most people's favourites, and yet they head into matchday four with the possibility of finishing bottom.

They also go into Tuesday's trip to Porto winless in their past four Champions League games, their worst run since going nine without a win between December 2008 and December 2009.

That, of course, makes it their worst such run in the competition under Simeone, although Barca can beat that in the 'woes' stakes as they fail to get out of the group for the second year in a row.

Before last season, Barca got to at least the last 16 for 19 campaigns in succession, and if they lose away to Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday, it'll be the first time they've lost four consecutive Champions League away games since October 1997.

The fall from grace

It wasn't so long ago that LaLiga was at worst considered the main 'rival' – if leagues can have rivals – of the Premier League. It had superstars, El Clasico, teams winning at various levels in Europe and there was a brand of football widely associated with the competition.

LaLiga still has its draws, and let's not forget we've seen Spanish teams win the Champions League and Europa League in the past 18 months, but the Premier League is now undoubtedly world football's biggest domestic league in virtually every way.

This has more or less become the case through money, something many LaLiga clubs do not have much of.

For example, last season in the Premier League, Sporting Intelligence estimated only Norwich City received less than £100million (€116.1m) across prize money and TV revenue. Even then, Norwich raked in £98.6m (€114.5m), and £79m (€91.7m) of that was the equal share every club gets.

By comparison, that's roughly the same as the €115m (£99.1m) Barcelona took in last season. Only Atletico Madrid (€154m, £132.7m) and Real Madrid (€158m, £136.1m) earned more in LaLiga, which highlights the financial might of the Premier League.

In football, few issues can be completely separated from money, but there's an argument Spanish football has suffered from a lack of evolution.

The Premier League's always been regarded as "physical", but the competition has so much power now that the clubs are able to sign most of the best technical players as well. Their resources and the improved coaching make it easier than before to turn technical players into greater physical specimens and physical players into greater technicians.

Similarly, the competition can boast a range of different playing styles and philosophies. Again, it would be unfair to say this is exclusive to the Premier League, but the point is there are signs of evolution everywhere in English football when it might once have been seen as somewhat insular.

Barcelona's ingrained principles make it pretty difficult for them to alter course; stylistically, Atletico have hardly changed at all through Simeone's tenure; and Sevilla work with the same buy-to-sell model as they have for 20 years, while on the pitch they're currently paying the price for failing to adapt to key defensive losses and signing too many ageing players over the past three years.

Of those three and Madrid, Los Blancos are probably the only ones you could say have evolved with the times, with Zinedine Zidane and Carlo Ancelotti both valuing approaches regarded more pragmatic than perhaps the club is known for.

Nevertheless, there's a perception LaLiga football is slow, and this certainly doesn't help the idea the Spanish game has struggled to modernise. It considers itself a greater financial power than the German Bundesliga, and yet, in eight Champions League meetings between teams from those countries this term, Spain has one win to Germany's five.

Too little, too late?

Coaching remains a high standard in Spain, and that's highlighted by the technical qualities of the players, but with money at a premium compared to the biggest clubs and the Premier League, the best managers and players soon move on.

Evolution is difficult: you're just hoping your team lands on the perfect combination of coach and sporting director, but after one or two – if you're lucky – good seasons, one is lured away and the cycle starts again.

That may be a simplistic way of looking at it, granted, but it's difficult to shake the notion LaLiga is paying the price for its own lack of vision.

In 2015, a new TV money distribution agreement came into effect, with 50 per cent of all revenue being shared equally among all clubs. It was much needed but arguably too late.

LaLiga had the world's best players for over a decade, but much of the money from that era just went into the pockets of the big two rather than to improving the league's infrastructure or commercial clout.

However, the new TV money distribution deal was a big win for LaLiga as a whole, and the league's crackdown on financial irregularities also stands to help the competition build a sustainable future.

In that regard, the future could be quite bright for LaLiga. But will it ever be the same again? Due to the might of the Premier League, probably not.

Diego Simeone acknowledged Atletico Madrid are still hurting from their early Champions League exit but vowed to battle with the same intensity to qualify for the Europa League.

Atleti failed to make the knockout stages of Europe's premier club competition for the first time in five years after a 2-2 home draw with Bayer Leverkusen last week, in which Yannick Carrasco missed a late penalty.

Simeone's side also trail LaLiga leaders Real Madrid by nine points, while they are winless in their past four Champions League games, their longest run since between December 2008 and December 2009.

Atleti failed to win in nine games in that period before the appointment of Simeone, who admitted he and his players are still reeling from their elimination ahead of Tuesday's clash at Porto.

"Today we are out of the Champions League. It hurts us, it p****s me off because of the responsibility we have with many people who grow up in the club," the Atleti coach said.

"But it's a reality and we can't go against it. Reality is what we have and I invited us all to be together and see if we can express what we feel on the pitch."

Simeone insisted he is no stranger to an unfavourable situation in the Spanish capital, but suggested not letting those around the club down remains his primary concern.

"In my fourth year the same thing was said, in the sixth the same," the 52-year-old said of recent criticism. "In the [coronavirus] pandemic we were sixth and with a lot of work we achieved our goals. 

"In the following season it seemed that we could not win LaLiga and we won it. Last season, the same – with 14 games to go, the group and the people came together to get back together.

"I suffer more for the people who work and have been around for years. People are always with us. There are things that we did not do well, but competitively I have nothing to complain about. 

"I'm ready to compete, I don't know how to do it any other way. I was raised that way, knowing that you can lose, but it's nicer to win."

Simeone has his sights on the Europa League, needing to match Bayer Leverkusen's result against Club Brugge when they visit Porto to secure third place in Group B.

"They taught me since I was a child to always compete and now we can get in the Europa League," he continued. "For this we have to be strong and want it.

"We will go [every] match with our [best team], knowing that we are not in the Champions League but the Europa League is important."

Luciano Spalletti says Napoli will "not be fooled" by Liverpool's recent struggles, nor by Jurgen Klopp suggesting the Reds cannot record an emphatic victory to top their Champions League group.

Klopp's side must defeat Napoli by four goals at Anfield on Tuesday to win Group A, having been thrashed 4-1 by Napoli on matchday one in the reverse fixture before recovering with four successive wins.

While Liverpool progressed to the knockout stages with a game to spare, the Reds have struggled in the Premier League this season, sitting ninth in the table – some 15 points behind leaders Arsenal.

Klopp heralded the potential of Napoli on Monday, suggesting a four-goal victory would be near-impossible as he backed the Serie A side to reach the final, though Spalletti took the praise with a pinch of salt.

"I think I've read that he said they don't think about winning 4-0 ... I think he said it seriously," the Napoli coach said in a jovial manner.

"If he said it seriously that he can't win 4-0 if he wants to, let's talk about it! Excessive compliments sometimes serve to lift you up and then smash you down.

"[Klopp] made the last two Champions League finals, so he is better than everyone, he and his team. We accept compliments if they are sincere, but compliments do not make results and standings.

"We know the game will be very hard. We will have to be the same as always, as in the first leg, and it is almost impossible to repeat that match.

"To finish first or second, everything changes, it seems stupid to answer whether we want to win or not – we came here with the best intentions possible.

"Then there is a stage like Anfield, against those players there, and we will have to prove that we are up to it."

Back-to-back domestic defeats against Nottingham Forest and Leeds United, in between a European victory over Ajax, have raised more questions over Liverpool's capabilities.

Spalletti refused to accept the Reds are a struggling side, though, suggesting their results belie Liverpool's performances in recent weeks.

"Liverpool are a team in great health – let's not be fooled by the result of the last match, which I have watched as well as the previous ones," he added.

"I find Liverpool the same as always. It is clear if they miss ten goals in front of the goalkeeper and by chance everything goes wrong, as in their last game [against Leeds], a result can be questioned.

"But teams like Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, they have the best footballers in the world, here in the Premier League, and we come to gamble against them."

Tottenham will simply have to "deal with the fact" Antonio Conte will not be with them when they face Marseille in Tuesday's crunch Champions League group-stage game.

That is according to Spurs midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who took over press conference duties along with assistant head coach Cristian Stellini after Conte decided not to attend following his red card at the end of the draw with Sporting CP last week.

The Spurs head coach was furious after Harry Kane's stoppage-time goal at 1-1 was ruled out by the video assistant referee for offside, and his reaction saw him sent off.

As a result, Conte will be banned from being on the touchline or in the dressing room for the crucial Group D clash with Marseille at Stade Velodrome.

"Of course, your head coach is a massive part of the team," Hojbjerg told reporters on Monday. "Luckily he has a very good staff and players who are very well aware of what he expects from them and we'll try the best to fill his role.

"Whether he'll hide in a laundry basket [referencing Jose Mourinho doing so at Chelsea in 2005 when banned], I don't know. I'd say no," he joked.

"He's a person who lives every game with great passion, with his heart. We need to make sure we're well-prepared, which we are. We have to deal with the fact that he's not on the sideline.

"For me it's not a difficult situation, it's more a different situation. We know what we have to do and realise the ambition. The focus is on the pitch and what we have to do."

Spurs lead the group heading into the final round of matches but know they must win to guarantee their passage to the last 16, with a draw only being enough should Sporting and Eintracht Frankfurt also draw.

Marseille are bottom of the group, but will leapfrog Spurs with a home win, though Igor Tudor's side are winless in their past four games in all competitions (D1 L3).

"Our ambition is to go through. That's what we're playing for," Hojbjerg added. "It was a rollercoaster last week [against Sporting CP] but that doesn't help us now. We have the chance tomorrow to achieve our objective."

Stellini confirmed Spurs will still be without injured trio Dejan Kulusevski, Richarlison and Cristian Romero, and outlined what the situation will be with Conte's involvement on the day.

"He will sit next to Gianluca [Conte, technical and analytics coach] for sure. I don't know where. He will be here at the stadium," Stellini said. "He will work with us until we arrive here and then we have to stop the communication and then he will stay close to Gianluca.

"We have prepared all the strategies and our strategies are clear. We have to play our match at the best and we all have to do something more to fill the gap."

Simone Inzaghi confirmed Romelu Lukaku will miss Inter's Champions League clash with Bayern Munich due to injury, but should recover before the World Cup.

Inter have already qualified for the knockout stages of UEFA's premier club competition after defeating Viktoria Plzen 4-0 on matchday five in Group C, subsequently eliminating Barcelona.

Belgium international Lukaku scored from the bench in the win over Plzen and was introduced as a substitute in Saturday's 3-0 win over Sampdoria, in which he aggravated a reoccurring left-hamstring injury.

While Inzaghi will be without the on-loan striker at Bayern on Tuesday, he suggested Lukaku should be fit before the World Cup, where Belgium start their campaign against Canada on November 23.

"He had a little problem with his scar [in his hamstring] in Saturday's match when he came on," Inzaghi said.

"There was a statement from the club, he will have to rest for a few days and then he will be re-evaluated at the weekend.

"It is a slowdown that was not needed, he was giving a lot in this period, we hope to be able to use him again before the [World Cup] break."

The trip to Allianz Arena may prove a step too soon for Marcelo Brozovic, too, though Inzaghi suggested the Croatia midfielder will be available for Sunday's crunch Serie A clash against Juventus.

"Brozovic we hope can return on Sunday, then [Danilo] D'Ambrosio is out and we won't have him until after the break," he added.

"We know what game we have on Sunday, I will change something but not too much. Today we did something on the pitch, but not too much. In my opinion the team is giving excellent responses."

Inzaghi hailed an "almost perfect" October after Inter made it seven games without defeat in all competitions, winning six of those, in what has been a transformation of fortunes for the Nerazzurri.

"Compared to September we are in better shape, the conditions of the players have improved," he continued.

"Tomorrow it will not count for the group, but it will be a match in a beautiful stadium, against one of the best in Europe.

"We want to have a serious, organised match, knowing that there will be difficulties, we find a very strong team, with a deep squad."

Barcelona head coach Xavi attempted to put the club's embarrassing Champions League elimination into perspective as he insisted the team is on the "right track".

The Blaugrana will play no part in the Champions League knockout stages for the second season running after accumulating just four points from five games.

Prior to last season, Barca had reached at least the last 16 of the Champions League in 19 successive campaigns.

Their fate was sealed last Wednesday when Inter beat Viktoria Plzen to secure their passage alongside Group C winners Bayern Munich, who crushed Barca 3-0 at Camp Nou later that day.

While it was undoubtedly a major blow considering Barca's significant squad investment in the face of financial issues during the transfer window, Xavi feels he is able to offer perspective given he has seen the club at its worst and its best.

"Unfortunately and luckily, I have lived through the worst period in the club's history, from 2000 to 2003, and the best, from when [Frank] Rijkaard arrived until I retired," he said.

"We have to insist, now is not the time to doubt. We are in a situation that we did not expect, eliminated from the Champions League, but we have to believe in the idea, draw a line and have faith.

"I am very positive. I continue to think that we are on the right track. The titles will be won in 2023 [not now].

"It did not help to be put in a very difficult Champions group, but this year we have taken a step. In Munich the team played very well.

"We had the opportunity in our hands, but it escaped us due to football mistakes, adverse situations and refereeing decisions.

"We had the chance, but we did not score points in Munich after the good game we played, and then only managed a draw against Inter when we had it under control. They were things that depended on us.

"We had the misfortune of being drawn into a very strong group and not being up to the task. This is the reality."

Tuesday's trip to Viktoria Plzen has very little riding on it, with Barca already assured of their spot in the Europa League.

As such, Xavi is expected to rotate his squad and he confirmed Robert Lewandowski is being rested due to a slight back problem.

But as for those who can feature, Xavi is urging them not to be complacent just because the result is essentially irrelevant, as he looks to maintain their momentum in LaLiga ahead of the World Cup.

Asked what Barca have to play for on Tuesday, Xavi said: "Winning, playing well, offering good feelings.

"For prestige and professionalism, we have to go all out and finish this competition well. It's very important to go into the last two league games before the World Cup with a good feeling."

The great Arrigo Sacchi is in awe of "genius" Luciano Spalletti's Napoli team, comparing them to his Milan side and Pep Guardiola's Barcelona.

Sacchi's Rossoneri were widely considered one of the greatest club teams of all time, but the coach sees similarities in Napoli's class of 2022-23.

The Partenopei are unbeaten through 12 matches in Serie A, opening up a five-point gap at the top already as they chase a first Scudetto since Diego Maradona's time at the club.

In the Champions League, Napoli have five wins from five, including remarkable 4-1 and 6-1 defeats of Liverpool and Ajax respectively.

Sacchi, in an interview with Il Mattino, suggested a run to the semi-finals should be "the minimum goal" for this season, while he is backing them for domestic success.

His praise went further, too, as he said: "This Napoli are spectacular and a team one step away from legend.

"They are in the wake of the greats of the past, [Rinus] Michels' Ajax, Guardiola's Barcelona and my unbeatable Milan.

"I never get tired of watching them play. How could I? There is style, there is pride, there is a spirit of belonging, there is beauty, and there is a coach who has put ideas at the centre of everything.

"In a country where we only look for profit, Spalletti focuses on merit, on strategy, and not on tactics."

Among teams in Europe's top five leagues, Napoli have won the joint-most matches in all competitions (15 – also Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain) and have the outright best winning percentage (88.2).

Only Bayern (69) and PSG (54) have netted more goals (50 for Napoli), while the Bundesliga giants are the sole side averaging more goals per game (3.45 vs 2.94).

Napoli's early season success is all the more impressive given the number of stalwart stars who left the club ahead of the campaign.

Kalidou Koulibaly and Fabian Ruiz were sold for significant fees, while greats Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne moved on at the end of their contracts.

But Napoli invested superbly, signing Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Kim Min-jae and a host of impressive loan recruits.

"It's a lesson for everyone: ideas are worth more than money," Sacchi continued.

"What [owner Aurelio] De Laurentiis did this summer is something extraordinary: he took semi-unknowns and put them in a project where there was a vision, which many clubs lack.

"And the rest was done by the genius of Luciano."

Jurgen Klopp thinks Napoli can go all the way to the Champions League final if they can maintain their current level of performance.

The Liverpool manager has already felt the force of Luciano Spalletti's in-form side this season, losing 4-1 at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on matchday one of the Champions League group stage.

Napoli sit top of Group A with five wins from five games, and also lead Serie A by five points after beating Sassuolo 4-0 on Saturday.

When questioned at a press conference ahead of Tuesday's return fixture at Anfield whether Napoli can reach the Champions League final, Klopp said: "I think if they can play like they play at the moment, they have a good chance to go to the final... I think Napoli is the team in form in Europe, they play really well.

"Spalletti is a very experienced coach, has worked everywhere pretty much, and it looks like all his experience and a few really good signings and good decisions, he brought a group together which works on an exceptionally high level together."

Napoli have not lost since April, and have won a staggering 13 consecutive matches.

Liverpool have had a comparatively poor start to their season, sitting ninth in the Premier League with just four wins from 12 games.

They have fared well in the Champions League, though, winning four of their five group games to qualify along with Napoli for the last 16 with one game to go.

In order to leapfrog the Italians and top the group, Liverpool will need to win by at least four clear goals on Merseyside.

Klopp is not "scared" of facing Napoli again three days after his team were beaten 2-1 at home by Leeds United.

"When I speak about the positive aspects of Napoli at the moment it is because I am a football lover," he said.

"I'm not afraid or scared [of playing them] it's just a tough challenge, that's all. I really respect what they are doing and I know Luciano respects what we have done the last few years."

Karim Benzema returned to individual training ahead of Real Madrid's Champions League clash with Celtic, having missed Los Blancos' past three games.

The Ballon d'Or winner sat out league meetings with Sevilla and Girona, as well as a Champions League defeat at RB Leipzig, after suffering from muscular fatigue in his left leg.

Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti recently revealed Benzema had undergone tests that came back clear, but the Champions League holders have been unwilling to take any risks with his fitness.

Benzema limped out of Madrid's 3-0 win at Celtic in September with a knee injury, and defending World Cup champions France will be watching on with interest as he prepares to return from his latest setback.

On Monday, a club statement revealed Benzema and Aurelien Tchouameni – who missed Sunday's draw with Girona due to a muscle injury – had trained individually ahead of Wednesday's match.

Benzema has missed five of Madrid's 12 games in LaLiga this season but has found the net five times in his seven appearances in the competition. 

Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool will "not stop fighting" to improve despite a patchy start to their season.

After seeming to get back on track in the Premier League with wins against Manchester City and West Ham, Liverpool have suffered defeats against Nottingham Forest and Leeds United in their last two league outings.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of their final Champions League group game against Napoli on Tuesday, Klopp said he understood criticism of him and his team, but he feels the time to properly judge them will closer to the end of the campaign.

"We obviously do the job in public, and I think the judgement for [if the team is in decline] will come later, or maybe at the end of the season where we might say, 'That's obviously it for this group of players,' whatever, 'for this manager,' if you want, whatever questions will be asked then," he said.

"At the moment, it is not 100 per cent fair to judge this team because that means the squad, obviously, because we never had them [all] available. We miss especially now up front top quality [injured pair Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota], which is not helpful.

"That doesn't mean we don't have top quality [there now], but with the amount of games, you would usually make changes; we can't do that."

Liverpool are in ninth place in the Premier League, with four wins, four draws and four defeats from 12 games, and are still yet to win a league game away from home in 2022-23.

Klopp acknowledges his team's issues are not simple fixes, but he promised to give his all to try to turn their fortunes around, saying: "We can say now this was never [going to be] a quick fix, and now it looks like it is proven not to be a quick fix, but we will not stop fighting.

"Probably everything will be judged about me now, which is completely fine. When people look at me and say, 'He looks tired,' I'm not. I can't use that excuse.

"My job is not just to be here when the sun is shining; my job is also to be here when we have to go through a really rough period.

"And I will do that with all I have, or if possible, even more."

Reds vice-captain James Milner backed up his manager's words, saying Liverpool's difficulties stem from a number of small issues rather than one big problem.

"If it was one easy fix, you'd know and fix it," the 36-year-old told reporters. "To be a successful football team, there's so many little things that you need to do well, and at the moment, we're not doing those consistently enough.

"We've shown some very good performances this year, but we haven't had that consistency, and that's something that we need to improve."

Joshua Kimmich insists Bayern Munich will want to "send a message" in their final Champions League group game against Inter, despite it being a dead rubber.

Bayern secured top spot in Group C last week with a 3-0 win at Barcelona, while Inter confirmed second place prior to that with a 4-0 victory at home to Viktoria Plzen.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the clash at the Allianz Arena, Kimmich emphasised the importance for the Bundesliga side to maintain their recent high standards, even with nothing riding on the outcome of the game.

"The coach has addressed it already," he said. "We need to send a message to ourselves and our opponents. We want to play freely and have fun out on the pitch, like we have [been doing] lately. We want to win the game in order to send a message."

Bayern are unbeaten in nine games in all competitions (W8 D1) but despite being on course to win all six of their games in a tough Champions League group, Kimmich believes they cannot be considered favourites to go all the way until the competition resumes next year.

"In February, March and April, it will be decided who the favourites are," he said. "We are proud that we won our group, a very difficult group. It's remarkable that we topped it before the final matchday."

Head coach Julian Nagelsmann admitted he will look to partially rotate his team against Inter, with this one of four games they still have to play before breaking for the World Cup in less than two weeks.

"We will rotate," he said. "How many changes we make depends on how things go today and tomorrow. We won't take any risks, after all, the last few weeks have been very intense."

The former RB Leipzig boss added the game will come too soon for the likes of Leroy Sane, Lucas Hernandez, Thomas Muller, Matthijs de Ligt and Manuel Neuer, though did add the goalkeeper - who has not played since the 2-2 draw with Borussia Dortmund on October 8 - could be back for the weekend, putting to rest concerns Neuer might not make the World Cup.

"We're hoping Manu will return this weekend," he said. "He had no issues during and after training today. We will need to wait and see."

Robert Lewandowski will miss Barcelona's final Champions League Group C game against Viktoria Plzen with a back problem.

The striker scored the only goal of the game late in Saturday's LaLiga clash at Valencia, but he will play no part in Barca's last Champions League match of the season in the Czech Republic on Tuesday.

"The coach has decided to rest Robert Lewandowski as the striker has an issue with his back," read a brief statement from the club on the Poland international's absence.

The Blaugrana have only won one Champions League game this season, so they will be playing in the Europa League after Bayern Munich and Inter sealed places in the round of 16.

Lewandowski has scored 18 goals in 17 games for Barca following his move from Bayern Munich, finding the back of the net five times in as many Champions League matches.

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."

Hasan Salihamidzic is doing a great job as Bayern Munich sporting director and does not deserve to be criticised, according to his former team-mate Sammy Kuffour.

Salihamidzic has held the role since July 2017 and was recently handed a new contract to remain as part of the Bayern boardroom staff for the next four years.

Bayern have won five successive Bundesliga titles during the Bosnian's tenure, as well as the Champions League, Club World Cup and the DFB-Pokal on two occasions.

Despite Bayern's success, Salihamidzic has often had to defend himself when it comes to the club's transfer business, not least after Robert Lewandowski's recent departure. 

But Kuffour, who played alongside Salihamidzic for the Bavarian giants, has defended the work of his former colleague.

"Why do people talk about him so often? Why do you allow yourself to criticise him?" Kuffour told Sport1. "He is doing a great job. 

"Bayern won the Champions League, they have the German championship with him and won the Club World Cup. What more could you ask for? He should carry on as he is."

Bayern have won the Bundesliga 10 seasons running and are well-placed to continue their domestic dominance this campaign.

However, since winning the Champions League in 2020, they have exited the competition in the quarter-finals in back-to-back seasons – something Kuffour says must change.

"I think the league is no longer attractive for Bayern fans," he said. "What Bayern fans need is the Champions League."

Antonio Conte does not want Tottenham "to be silent" in the wake of recent decisions he feels have gone against his team.

The Spurs boss was infuriated twice in the last week, firstly by Newcastle United's opening goal in their 2-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last Sunday being awarded despite Conte's belief that scorer Callum Wilson obstructed goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Then in the final seconds of Wednesday's 1-1 home draw with Sporting CP in the Champions League, a Harry Kane goal was disallowed for offside after a lengthy VAR check, which enraged Conte so much he was shown a red card for his reaction.

"I spoke with the sporting director [Fabio Paratici] and also I sent a message to [chairman] Daniel Levy," Conte said at a press conference on Friday. "Also after what happened against Newcastle, we spoke about this, because there is an image very, very clear that it was a foul.

"Sometimes you can accept and say: 'OK, they made a mistake, we have to move on.' But at the same time I think that sometimes you have to try to go to speak and to protect your club. I have to protect my club and the club has to protect itself. To be silent is not good.

"From the start of the season, I always said that I don't want to comment on every decision. And what happened? Every decision has been a disaster from the start, between the Premier League and the Champions League. All I ask is to pay a bit of attention and to try to have the same evaluation for every team."

The draw with Sporting leaves Spurs with a crucial final group game away to Marseille on Tuesday, and Conte admitted that is the main focus for his team, despite a Premier League clash at Bournemouth taking place before then on Saturday.

"In the Premier League, we have a lot of games to play in front of us," he said. "In the Champions League we want to have more games to play but there is a final on Tuesday and this is the difference between the game tomorrow in the Premier League and a game in the Champions League.

"In the Premier League you can have time to recover. In the Champions League we are going to play a final. For this reason my decision is to try make the best decision to understand very well who are the players who are really tired because I don't want to take risks.

"For us, it is a final on Tuesday. I try to make my best selection tomorrow because we also want to have a good result against Bournemouth."

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