Champions League football resumes on Tuesday, with Robert Lewandowski's return to Bayern Munich with Barcelona being an obvious highlight.

Barcelona travel to Bavaria in a match few would be disappointed to see replicated in next year's final, with Atletico Madrid also travelling to Germany to take on Bayer Leverkusen.

After Premier League football was suspended at the weekend as a mark of respect following the death of the Queen, Liverpool are back in action against Ajax and are seeking to respond to a defeat to Napoli last week, while Tottenham travel to face Sporting CP.

Elsewhere, Inter face Viktoria Plzen after both sides lost their opening fixture and Eintracht Frankfurt, following defeat to Sporting, travel to Marseille – and the only remaining match of the day is Porto against Brugge.

For a closer look at all the action you can look forward to, Stats Perform has dived into the Opta data to highlight the most interesting facts for each match.

Bayern vs Barcelona

Scoring a hat-trick on his Champions League debut for Barcelona against Viktoria Plzen, Lewandowski returns to Bavaria with a devastating record this season and his goals in the 5-1 triumph saw Barcelona scoring more in one game than they had in their previous nine matches in the competition (4).

While that will give the visitors confidence, Barcelona have a poor record against the Bundesliga champions having suffered eight defeats in the competition to Bayern – twice as many as they have lost against any other opponent (4 vs Milan, Chelsea and PSG).

Four of those losses have come in the group stages, with Bayern winning both matches in 1998-99 and 2021-22 to boast a 100 per cent record against Barcelona in that regard, who have not lost more than twice against any other opponent in the group stage.

On top of that, Bayern have won 35 of their last 37 home matches in the group stages of the Champions League – the only exceptions being a 3-2 defeat to Manchester City in December 2013 and a 1-1 draw with Ajax in October 2018.

Liverpool vs Ajax

Liverpool won both meetings with Ajax in the 2020-21 Champions League group stages, the only campaign in the competition when they have met, with the Dutch side not beating Liverpool in any competition since a 5-1 win in December 1966.

Ajax's defeat to Liverpool in December 2020 is one of only two defeats that the Eredivisie champions have experienced in their last 25 matches (W13, D10) away from home in UEFA competition, the other being a 2-0 defeat to Getafe in February 2020 in the Europa League.

Having suffered defeat to Napoli last week, Liverpool are looking to avoid back-to-back defeats to start a Champions League campaign for the first time, while they have only lost their first home match in two of their previous 46 major European campaigns (W35, D9).

With seven Champions League wins in a row, Ajax travel to Anfield with a stellar run in the competition as only Bayern (8) boast a better winning streak currently.

Sporting vs Tottenham

While the two sides have never met competitively, Sporting are winless in all six of their Champions League matches against English opposition (D1, L5) and have lost all three of those games in Lisbon without scoring a single goal.

Tottenham's record against Portuguese opponents is scarce, winning against Pacos de Ferreira in the qualifying phases for the 2021-22 Europa League but not facing an opponent from the country in the Europe's premier competition since a 4-3 aggregate defeat to Benfica in the 1962-63 semi-final.

Sporting have never won their opening two matches in the Champions League, while Antonio Conte is looking to follow in the footsteps of Mauricio Pochettino as Spurs seek back-to-back wins to open a Champions League campaign for the first time since 2017-18 season under the Argentine.

Bayer Leverkusen vs Atletico

Neither side has a particularly good record to encourage them heading into Tuesday's tie, with Leverkusen having won just four of their last 20 Champions League matches (D8, L8), while Atletico have only kept one clean sheet in 21 away matches against German opposition in major UEFA competitions.

Atletico have only won one of four away matches against Leverkusen, a 4-2 victory in February 2017 in the Champions League, and have won only one of their last seven matches in Germany – though that was the match in 2017.

Late drama is to be expected whenever Atletico compete in the Champions League, with five of their last 10 goals in the competition coming in the 90th minute of matches.

Other fixtures:

Viktoria Plzen vs Inter

8 - Viktoria Plzen have won their last eight home European matches (including qualifiers), scoring at least twice in every win (21 in total). They have only lost one of their last 19 on home soil in European football (W16 D2), a 5-0 reverse against Real Madrid during their last UEFA Champions League campaign in November 2018.

2 - Since the start of the 2020-21 campaign, Inter striker Lautaro Martínez has scored just two goals from 48 shots (inc. blocks) in the UEFA Champions League. The Argentine’s shot conversion rate of 4.2 per cent (including blocks) is the lowest of any player to have attempted 30+ shots during this period.

Porto vs Brugge

3 - Porto have lost their last three UEFA Champions League matches, with two of those coming against Atletico; they have never lost four in a row in the competition before.

1 - In major European competition, Club Brugge have lost five of their six away matches in Portugal (W1), their one win coming against Sporting Braga in September 2011 in the UEFA Europa League.

Marseille vs Eintracht Frankfurt

15 - Marseille have lost 15 of their last 16 UEFA Champions League matches (W1), with the exception coming in their last home game in the competition in December 2020 against Olympiacos.

2 - Marseille and Eintracht Frankfurt will face in European competition for only the second time, also meeting in the 2018-19 UEFA Europa League group stages. Frankfurt won both matches (2-1 away, 4-0 home).

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann confirmed Kingsley Coman has sustained a muscle injury, and he is unsure how long the France international will spend on the sidelines.

Bayern host Stuttgart on Saturday in the Bundesliga after a 2-0 win at Inter in their opening Champions League group stage game.

Nagelsmann stated his intention to rotate some players, including starting Leon Goretzka for the first time this season, though he did suggest Joshua Kimmich will play despite sustaining an eye injury in the win at San Siro on Wednesday.

However, Coman will not feature after the winger suffered a muscle tear in training, with the Bayern boss waiting to learn how long he faces out of action.

"King suffered an injury during training and is getting an MRI right now," Nagelsmann said at a press conference on Friday. "It's a muscle injury. We hope it's nothing serious.

"We will rotate and there will be several changes. Everyone is feeling good. Josh is also able to play. His eye was pretty swollen and colourful yesterday, but it's already looking better today and he can play."

Bayern have drawn their last two Bundesliga games 1-1 against Borussia Monchengladbach and Union Berlin, finding themselves in the unfamiliar position of third in the table after five outings.

Their next Champions League clash on Tuesday sees them host Barcelona, who have former Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski in their ranks, but Nagelsmann is certain his team are solely focused on Stuttgart.

"It would be silly to take it out of my head completey," he said. "We are concentrating on the Stuttgart game... I don't understand this kind of question [about looking ahead to the next game] because if you don't play well, you don't play well.

"Everyone here wants to be German champions again, and right now we're not in first place. Yes we do have the game against Barcelona, but we want to win this home game as well, and it makes no sense to give less tomorrow against Stuttgart."

Nagelsmann, like many other sporting figures, also expressed empathy after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Tributes from across the world arrived shortly after the UK's Royal Family announced the long-serving monarch died on Thursday at the age of 96.

All football fixtures in England scheduled for the weekend have been postponed as a mark of respect.

"The first thing that goes through your head when someone has passed away is empathy for those affected by the news, friends, family," Nagelsmann said.

"The Queen was someone we saw regularly on the television and has a big meaning for the country."

Former Bayern Munich and Germany defender Holger Badstuber has announced his retirement from football.

Badstuber made 178 appearances for Bayern in all competitions after making his debut in 2009, though injuries reduced him to just 28 games between the end of the 2012-13 season and his 2017 departure. 

The defender, who won 31 international caps and played at the World Cup in 2010 and then Euro 2012, later featured for Stuttgart and FC Luzern.

But Badstuber had been without a club after leaving the Swiss outfit by mutual agreement last December, and has now pledged to pursue a coaching career after hanging up his boots at the age of 33.

"Dear fans... after 13 years of professional football, I'm announcing the end of my career as an active player," he wrote on Twitter.

"With 31 senior international matches, World Cup and European Championship appearances, six German championships, four DFB-Pokal victories, winning the Champions League, the Club World Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and three national super cups, I can look back on a successful period.

"Of course I would have wished for a few less serious injuries, but the joy of what has been achieved is very great. I am thankful for everything.

"I will stay true to football, my passion. I will follow in my father's footsteps and start a coaching course.

"I hope that I will stay with football for a long time, albeit in a different role. Many thanks to all my companions and to you fans."

Badstuber won five Bundesliga titles and four DFB-Pokal trophies during his long spell with Bayern, as well as contributing to their 2012-13 Champions League triumph.

Julian Nagelsmann insisted Bayern Munich sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic did not mean to offend when he said the club's training matches could be better spectacles than Bundesliga games.

The comments from Salihamidzic came in a wide-ranging interview with German broadcaster Sky Sport, as he answered a question about Tottenham's Harry Kane by pointing out the wealth of attacking talent already in Bayern's ranks.

Salihamidzic said in the interview, released on Thursday: "If you look at the training sessions, it's great fun to watch. Some training games are better than Bundesliga games."

It was the sort of throwaway comment that could be interpreted as a provocative remark towards Bayern's Bundesliga rivals.

Bayern have won 10 consecutive German league titles, an unprecedented run of success, sweeping all before them over the last decade and looking strong again this season.

They have 10 points from four games so far, and only Saturday's opponents Union Berlin have matched that haul.

Asked about Salihamidzic's comments, Nagelsmann said on Friday: "We don't want to offend any Bundesliga club. I think 'Brazzo' [Salihamidzic] didn't want to talk about the quality of the Bundesliga as much as he wanted to emphasise that we have a good team spirit on the pitch.

"They cheer each other on during training and it's always a good vibe. But in training you can play from the soul because there is a different pressure. Only the results count in the Bundesliga. Brazzo just said that we train well."

Bayern dropped points for the first time this season in their 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend. They had 20 shots on target against the Foals, though, setting a new record for a single Bundesliga game since detailed data collection began in 2004-05.

Bayern begin their Champions League campaign next week, facing Serie A giants Inter on Wednesday at San Siro.

Nagelsmann suspects Saturday's domestic assignment will be an ideal test ahead of that game. Ominously for Union, Bayern have scored 13 goals in their first two Bundesliga away games this term – a new league record.

"Inter and Union are similar in some respects, especially with their two strikers," said Nagelsmann. "It won't be a bad scouting game for Inter."

Bayern will be without the injured Mathys Tel and Bouna Sarr, but Leon Goretzka came through his first-team return when he came off the bench and scored in the 5-0 DFB-Pokal win over Viktoria Koln on Wednesday.

After a knee injury lay-off, Nagelsmann will hope to have Goretzka fit enough for regular starts before long.

"I hope that he stays healthy and that we manage his stress in a healthy way," Nagelsmann said.

Bayern are unbeaten in their six Bundesliga games against Union Berlin (W4 D2).

They have only faced Rot-Weiss Oberhausen and SV Darmstadt more often in the top flight without ever losing (both eight times).

Indeed, Bayern are the only current Bundesliga side Union have never managed to beat.

Cristiano Ronaldo was on the move on transfer deadline day – but only as a passenger on the Manchester United team bus for the Premier League trip to Leicester City.

The prospect of Ronaldo finding a new club looked certain to come to nothing, despite the 37-year-old forward being linked with the likes of Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Sporting CP and Napoli.

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic revealed he spoke to Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes about the Portugal great, but there was never any real prospect of him joining the Bundesliga champions.

Ronaldo has been widely reported as being keen to play in this season's Champions League, but doors have repeatedly closed on that possibility with clubs distancing themselves from suggestions they might be keen suitors.

The man who became Real Madrid's record goalscorer during a nine-year stint in Spain is facing up to the prospect of Europa League action with United, a step down from the familiar elite level for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

He was set for Premier League duty on Thursday evening, with Sky Sports News stating Ronaldo was travelling to the Leicester game with his United team-mates.

Salihamidzic said of Ronaldo: "He's an incredibly big personality. A big player who has made his mark on the world of football in recent years.

"It wasn't an option for us because we were doing other things and before that we organised our attack in such a way.

"But you don't have to feel sorry for him. He's a great footballer who has achieved great things in recent years."

Asked if he had spoken to Ronaldo's agent, Salihamidzic told Germany's Sky Sport: "I often talk to Jorge Mendes. Yes, we spoke."

 

Tottenham's Harry Kane was also linked with Bayern during the transfer window, albeit without any apparent genuine prospect of a deal being done.

England captain Kane is said to have admirers within the Bayern ranks, but Salihamidzic would not be drawn on whether the Bavarian giants would consider a move for him next year.

"It's too early to talk about it," said Salihamidzic. "If you look at our attack now: we have eight players for four positions. If you look at the training sessions, it's great fun to watch.

"Some training games are better than Bundesliga games. That's why it's much too early to talk about it. The way we played offensively and scored so many goals, I'm very happy about that."

Hasan Salihamidzic's tenure as Bayern Munch executive board member for sport has been unanimously extended by three more years by the club's supervisory board.

Salihamidzic served as Bayern's sport director from August 2017 until July 2020 when he moved on to the board, overseeing a period of great success for the Bavarians including winning 2020 Champions League.

The former Bayern player has had his contract for three more years until 2026, having been originally appointed in 2020 for an initial three years.

Bayern president and supervisory board chairman Herbert Hainer said: "During his five years in the FC Bayern management, Hasan Salihamidzic has done an excellent job.

"He is constantly advancing the sporting side of our first team and young talents, both structurally and personnel-wise.

"As well as our targets on the pitch, he always keeps in mind the financial conditions. Hasan Salihamidzic gives everything for FC Bayern 24 hours a day. He represents the FC Bayern DNA, continuity and titles.

"Our team is delighting our fans with attractive, winning football. The supervisory board is convinced that he will continue to successfully shape the sporting future of FC Bayern together with his board colleagues in the coming years."

During Salihamidzic's time in charge of the sporting department, Bayern have won five Bundesliga titles, the DFB-Pokal twice along with their 2020 Champions League triumph and 2020 FIFA Club World Cup victory.

Salihamidzic added: "I've always said: I love FC Bayern, Munich is my home. I'm very pleased that we can continue our very good and productive collaboration until 2026.

"It's my goal and the goal of my board colleagues - who I'd also like to thank - to give our members and fans a team that is competitive and successful domestically and internationally every season, based on sound financial sense. I will continue to give everything to achieve that - we're on a very good path."

Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer was "delighted" to deliver a record-breaking performance on a "really tough day" at Bayern Munich.

Switzerland international Sommer made a sensational 19 saves, the most on record in a single game in Europe's top five leagues, to help his team to a 1-1 draw against the champions.

Gladbach took a first-half lead against the run of play through Marcus Thuram, but a second-half onslaught from Julian Nagelsmann's side ramped up the pressure on the visitors. 

However, Sommer made save after save and looked impenetrable until Bayern finally found a way through as Leroy Sane picked out the bottom-left corner, giving the goalkeeper no chance.

The hosts pushed for a winner, but Sommer held firm to earn Gladbach a hard-fought draw, preventing a staggering 3.3 goals according to expected goals on target data.

"I'm glad I did a good job so we can take a point today," Sommer told Sky Sport.

"It was a really tough day today, because we know how much power and pressure Bayern exert on opponents.

"The defence can't keep everything out, so I'm delighted that I had such a good game."

Sommer has been linked with a move away from Gladbach, with Manchester United reportedly interested in the former Basel keeper.

And he indicated he would discuss his future in the next next week, adding: "I've been here for eight years, so of course I feel at home here, it's like a family"

"But we'll still sit down and have a chat in the next few days."

Bayern Munich were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to Borussia Monchengladbach as their winning start to the Bundesliga season came to an end.

The champions had been in blistering form previously in 2022-23, scoring 15 goals across three wins, but they were met with firm resistance by Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer on Saturday.

Julian Nagelsmann's side saw two first-half Sadio Mane goals disallowed before Dayot Upamecano's mistake was pounced upon by Marcus Thuram, whose cool finish looked like it might be enough to win the game.

Bayern threw everything at Gladbach in the second half, with most of it repelled by Sommer until a powerful Leroy Sane effort snatched a point – the very least the hosts deserved but enough to take them back to the top of the table.

Consistent with the theme that was to develop throughout the game, Bayern were nearly ahead within a minute, but Sommer made a brilliant save to palm Upamecano's header wide.

The hosts continued to dominate, and Mane saw two goals ruled out for offside in quick succession before Nagelsmann's men were hit with a sucker-punch before half-time.

Upamecano failed to deal with a long punt forward, and Thuram raced onto it, sliding the ball past Manuel Neuer to give his side the lead against the run of play.

Bayern ramped up the pressure further with a second-half onslaught, and Sommer was forced into an excellent double-stop to deny Mane from close range with just under half an hour left.

The Switzerland international was alert again to keep out Sane in a one-on-one situation, but the winger finally got the better of him on 83 minutes, steering into the bottom-left corner.

Bayern pressed for a winner, yet Sommer returned to form to keep them at bay, finishing with a remarkable 19 saves.

Robert Lewandowski deserves to receive a positive reception when he returns to Bayern Munich as a Barcelona player, according to Julian Nagelsmann.

Lewandowski is set for a swift visit to his former club after Barca were drawn to face the Bundesliga champions in Group C of the Champions League, alongside Inter and Viktoria Plzen.

The Poland international, who scored his first competitive goals for Barca in a 4-1 thrashing of Real Sociedad last week, left Bayern in somewhat acrimonious fashion after declaring that something had "died" within him in Germany.

But Nagelsmann believes Bayern's fans will give Lewandowski a warm welcome on his Allianz Arena return, declaring: "I think there will be applause.

"I never like it when someone gets whistled. I don't know all of the processes [leading to his exit], the fan in the stadium are even further away.

"There is always a second truth, that things are exaggerated, mistranslated."

On Bayern's tough-looking European draw, Nagelsmann added: "It's a challenging group, but we can and want to come through it."

 

Before Bayern turn their attentions to the Champions League, they will look to maintain a scintillating start to the Bundesliga campaign when they host Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday.

With nine points and a goal difference of +14 (15 goals scored, one conceded) after three games of the new season, Bayern have made the best start in the competition's history at this stage.

And they have been handed a further boost after midfielder Leon Goretzka returned to full training for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in July, although he will not play any part in Bayern's next outing.

"[Eric Maxim] Choupo-Moting was training again but had a few problems today," the Bayern boss added at a pre-match press conference on Friday. 

"Leon was also back today and completed parts of team training. Neither of them are options to play tomorrow."

Bayern's tally of 15 goals in their first three games of the Bundesliga season is also unmatched in the competition's history, and Jamal Musiala has played a key role, matching new arrival Sadio Mane with three league goals this campaign.

Bayern and Germany great Lothar Matthaus recently declared the 19-year-old could become the best player in the world within the next few years, but Nagelsmann is keen to keep the youngster grounded.

"He doesn't have a starting eleven guarantee," Nagelsmann said of Musiala. 

"Lothar's comparison is an honour. Lionel [Messi] has played at a high level for many years and he has yet to prove that. I trust him. But he's not quite at 100 per cent yet. 

"I'll be spoiled for choice tomorrow. He has no guarantee that he will play, like everybody else."

Bayern Munich and Barcelona await Inter in the Champions League group stage, but Nerazzurri vice-president Javier Zanetti insists his side are "not afraid" of the challenge.

UEFA's flagship club competition has provided a headline reunion with new Barca arrival Robert Lewandowski returning to his former side Bayern in Group C.

The draw of the Poland talisman revisiting the Allianz Arena remains the standout pick of the group-stage clashes, with Inter and Viktoria Plzen the other two sides to compete alongside the European giants.

Simone Inzaghi's side pushed Liverpool close in the round-of-16 clash last season and, despite falling to the Reds, Zanetti insists the Nerazzurri will take a no-fear approach to their draw alongside Bayern and Barca.

"It is a difficult, complicated group, with two teams that know how to play very well in this competition," Zanetti told Sky Sport Italia when asked about facing the two European heavyweights. 

"The Champions League is a competition of details, with the best in the world. We are there and we will play it.

"It is a challenge to face these teams now. Bayern is a team that has consolidated, Barca has found balance with Xavi, we want to give continuity to last year's progress.

"We are not afraid, only respect, I believe that Inter will be ready and prepared."

While the prospect of locking horns with Barca and Bayern may prove daunting, Inter and Zanetti have fond memories of facing both sides in Europe's premier club competition.

Indeed the Nerazzurri, then managed by Jose Mourinho, overcame the Blaugrana 3-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals, before seeing off the German giants 2-0 to lift the trophy in 2009-10 – a feat that Zanetti hopes his side can repeat.

"Yes, it's a good memory that came to mind," the Argentine said as he discussed that victorious campaign.

"This is another story, football has changed. We will prepare our matches in the best possible way; we are growing and we proved it last season. We will try again this year."

Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann has conceded that lots of clubs would want to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, but suggested his wage demands are preventing most from being interested.

The Bavarian giants were linked with a move for the Manchester United forward earlier in the transfer window after reports emerged he wanted to leave Old Trafford in search of Champions League football.

However, Bayern ruled themselves out of a move, with CEO Oliver Kahn saying it "would not fit into our philosophy".

Ronaldo has been linked with another Bundesliga side in Borussia Dortmund, though their CEO, Hans-Joachim Watzke, also distanced his club from the Portugal international on Friday.

Asked about possible Bundesliga interest in Ronaldo at a press conference, Nagelsmann said: "Honestly, I don't really care if he goes to Dortmund or not. He has a contract at Man Utd.

"He is a great player, he scores many goals, he will score many goals, I don't know at what club, but I don't think that's relevant."

Nagelsmann was asked why he thought that Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, was apparently offering the 37-year-old to various clubs around Europe.

"I think he takes 10 per cent," he joked. "I think Mendes is a lot on the phone. I saw him in a documentary. I think it's okay, it's a good thing the players have agents who are not only about the money but are working… I think it's quite normal he's trying that.

"I think you have to be able to afford him. He's not the youngest guy, it's a huge amount of money. I think there are many clubs who would like to have him, but I think for 15 teams of the Bundesliga, it would be very difficult to pay his annual salary.

"Every club knows he's a really good player, he will score many goals and sell many jerseys, but he also brings more press. You would have to ask Mendes though – I think he knows more."

Bayern have won their first two games of the new Bundesliga season and travel to Bochum on Sunday.

Nagelsmann left most of his new signings out of the wins against Eintracht Frankfurt and Wolfsburg, with Sadio Mane the only recent arrival to start either game, as Matthijs de Ligt, Ryan Gravenberch, Noussair Mazraoui and Mathys Tel took their places on the bench.

The 35-year-old coach explained they will need time to get used to things at Bayern and are being eased in slowly, mentioning that despite his two starts, Mane is also having to adapt.

"Even Sadio Mane, who is on a world-class top level, who played for a long time in one of the best leagues of Europe, who won everything, even he says that you have to get used to everything," he said.

"The language, the country, the city, until the family has arrived, all those private things. Until they are done it takes a little time until you are really free in your mind, even Sadio says that.

"Ryan, Nous, they played in the Netherlands [with Ajax], which is a good league but not among the top three in Europe. I guess they need a little bit more time to get used to everything.

"In general, what is important is that those players show in a proactive what they are capable and really pushing the limit, then they will have time on the pitch. I am always very happy when this process goes faster. I always put players on the pitch when I think that they are at 100 per cent that they can replace any player."

Nagelsmann did suggest he could give an outing to De Ligt against Bochum if he recovers from a hand injury, though Jamal Musiala – who has scored three goals in two games already this season – is a doubt with a hip adductor strain.

"I would like to play [De Ligt]," he said. "We still have to wait and see because if he still feels some pain maybe he’s not at 100 per cent, we will decide that tomorrow.

"With Jamal, if it was the Champions League final he would play for sure because he wouldn't need to play afterwards, but with this slight injury with the hip, anything can happen and then you get a muscle injury, it would be way worse and he would be out for five to eight matches. We will see tomorrow if it’s possible."

Sevilla have completed the signing of defender Tanguy Nianzou from Bayern Munich for a reported fee of €20million.

Nianzou has signed a five-year deal with the Andalusian side.

The 20-year-old came through the youth setup at Paris Saint-Germain before moving to Bayern in July 2020.

He made 28 appearances in all competitions for the Bundesliga giants across two seasons, scoring his only goal for the club in a 4-0 win against Union Berlin in March.

Nianzou is the fourth arrival of the transfer window for Sevilla, joining Marcao, Isco and Alex Telles as head coach Julen Lopetegui looks to mount a challenge in LaLiga and the Champions League.

He could make his debut in Friday's LaLiga clash with Real Valladolid. 

Bayern Munich made it two wins from two to start the new Bundesliga season as they ran out 2-0 victors against Wolfsburg on Sunday.

First half goals from Jamal Musiala and Thomas Muller helped the champions see off their spirited visitors in sweltering summer heat at Allianz Arena, preserving their perfect record this season.

Julian Nagelsmann's side join anticipated title rivals Bourssia Dortmund as the only two sides with the maximum six-point haul so far this campaign, while former Bayern boss Niko Kovac will perhaps be quietly glad it was not by more that his side were sunk.

Bayern started strongly, Benjamin Pavard glancing the bar with a header and Sadio Mane looking to have put the hosts on top when he tapped Serge Gnabry's driven pass home from close range but was denied by the offside flag after a VAR check.

There was no chalking off Musiala's strike however, when the Germany international turned and unfurled a superb finish from the edge of the box to beat goalkeeper Koen Casteels at the far post.

Muller then got in on the act when he stuck a foot out near the penalty spot to divert Joshua Kimmich's own shot, redirecting it from right to left to fool the defence and send Bayern into the break smiling.

There were further chances for the hosts after the interval, but Wolfsburg's own hopes gradually ebbed away as the game wore on, with Max Kruse going closest.

Mane saw a headed goal overturned once more by VAR for offside, but it ultimately did not matter as Bayern ultimately shepherded their lead through to the final whistle to secure another triumph.

Kylian Mbappe claimed it is a "big lie" to say players do not care about winning the Ballon d'Or as he named Karim Benzema and Sadio Mane as his main rivals for this year's award.

Mbappe was named on a 30-man shortlist to be named the best player in the world on Friday, having scored 39 goals in all competitions as Paris Saint-Germain won the Ligue 1 title last season.

No player across the top five European leagues matched Mbappe's total of 60 goal contributions across the 2021-22 campaign, although his France team-mate Benzema is the clear favourite after helping Real Madrid to the Champions League and LaLiga trophies. 

In an interview with France Football, Mbappe, who has previously backed Benzema to win the award, acknowledged he was desperate to be named the world's best.

"I've always wanted to do it early, without limiting my dreams. I want to win it and I don't mind admitting it," he said.

"I am convinced that lifting the first one is the most complicated. Once you have officially entered that select group, it will be easier to revalidate it.

"It is a big lie that a footballer is not interested in the Ballon d'Or. It is hypocritical to say that. 

"We all think about that. We talk about a team, and a collective, because in some way it serves to camouflage our ambition, but it is honest to admit that we care. 

"For two years I have been a more real candidate for the award. Before, I was content to be in the top 10. Now, on the other hand, I am among the four or five most regular.

"We don't talk about the Ballon d'Or in January, but we make comments when the lists appear. Later, as the ceremony draws near, it's obviously a topic of conversation in the group. We make our bets, we debate our opinions."

Asked for his own top three, the striker said: "I think Benzema, Mane and me."

 

Mbappe's first Ballon d'Or nomination came in 2017, when then-Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo beat Lionel Messi and Neymar to the award.

And the 23-year-old said being among the hopefuls early on in his career gave him confidence that he would make it at an elite level.

"Frankly, it was an honour," he recalled. "I was barely of legal age and I was already associated with those great names. It may seem trivial, but it was something important. A real step forward in my career. 

"Somehow it was a message that served to say that I was among the best. I accredited myself as an elite footballer in the eyes of the world, and it was significant to belong to that list at only 18 years old."

Meanwhile, the headline omission from 2022's list of nominees is seven-time winner and current holder Lionel Messi, who last failed to be nominated in 2005 – when Ronaldinho edged out Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard in the voting.

As Mbappe recalled his PSG team-mate's victory last year, he said the Argentina star's nervousness on the eve of the gala demonstrated that his desire to be the best remains strong.

"The morning of the last gala he was nervous because a few hours later he was going to collect a seventh Ballon d'Or. Maybe he was thinking about what he was going to say, how he was going to lift the trophy," Mbappe said.

"I told him it is not possible to be restless after having been there six other times. I would have gone with a cigarette in my mouth! 

"But that shows that he retains the soul of a child and that he is still excited to choose to be the best. He has not tired."

 

Robert Lewandowski believes playing under Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich represented the ideal preparation for his move to Barcelona, as he compared Blaugrana boss Xavi to his former coach.

Guardiola was one year into a three-season tenure with the Bavarian giants when Lewandowski joined from rivals Borussia Dortmund in 2014, with the striker scoring 67 goals in 100 appearances under him in all competitions. 

Having ended his Bayern career with 344 goals in all competitions, Lewandowski – one of several new faces at Camp Nou – scored for the first time in Barca colours three minutes into Sunday's 6-0 friendly thrashing of Pumas UNAM.

As Xavi looks to lead Barca to a title challenge in his first full season at the helm, Lewandowski identified similarities between with Manchester City manager Guardiola.

"Guardiola's philosophy and his style of caring for and managing the team, I think, basically was Barca at Bayern Munich," Lewandowski told Sport.

"Xavi is very similar to Guardiola. They were both 'sixes', they worked together. They think about football in the same way.

"With that memory in mind, Barca was the only option for me, and it was a great preparation when I was there.

"I didn't talk to Guardiola before signing. But when I was with him at Bayern, it was like a great preparation to get to Barca one day. 

"All the staff were Spanish, there were eight Spanish players. During that period, I had a very good relationship with Thiago [Alcantara] and Javi Martinez. Both of them congratulated me when I signed for Barca."

Lewandowski made his desire to leave Bayern clear on several occasions before finalising a move to Camp Nou and has reiterated his €45million transfer was primarily motivated by a wish to test himself in Spain.

"I feel like a small child who enters a huge store of new toys," he said. "What I feel in Barcelona so far is pure happiness and motivation to start this new chapter.

"In Munich, I was missing new challenges. I won many titles and I recognise that I felt less and less intensity. I needed another challenge, a boost, a change of environment.

"I've always wanted to play in LaLiga, live in Spain, see what life is like here. Twelve years in Germany is a long time. 

"I achieved everything there. I didn't want to stand in front of the mirror in 12 years and say to myself: 'Why haven't you tried?' There would be a lot of unanswered questions."

Lewandowski will hope to make his competitive Barcelona debut when they host Rayo Vallecano in their LaLiga opener on Saturday, with president Joan Laporta confident the Blaugrana will be able to register their new arrivals despite ongoing financial concerns.

 

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