UEFA’s regulations stipulated that the home side must find a way of hosting the match or risk forfeiting it as a 3-0 defeat.
Liverpool’s Champions League last-16 away tie against RB Leipzig will be staged in Budapest as coronavirus restrictions bar the English champions travelling to Germany, UEFA announced on Sunday.
The February 16 first leg “will now take place at Puskas Arena in Budapest,” European football’s governing body confirmed.
UEFA’s statement thanked the two clubs “for their close cooperation and assistance in finding a solution to the issue at hand, as well as the Hungarian Football Federation for their support and agreeing to host the match in question.”
Confirmation of Budapest as hosts ended any doubt about the tie taking place after the imposition of strict entry rules in Germany to combat the spread of the pandemic.
UEFA’s regulations stipulated that the home side must find a way of hosting the match or risk forfeiting it as a 3-0 defeat.
Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp had said he believed an exemption should have been made for his side to travel.
The decision from the German authorities on travel bans also places a question mark over another Champions League last-16 match, as Borussia Moenchengladbach host Manchester City on February 24.
Lionel Messi is hopeful his old foe Cristiano Ronaldo will be able to take part in Barcelona’s Champions League clash against Juventus despite testing positive for coronavirus.
The 35-year-old forward has so often lead the way for the Turin giants and continued to defy his age, but may be absent from the mouthwatering clash due to returning a second positive test for the disease.
Juventus are scrambling to ensure that Ronaldo will be available for selection should one final test come back negative – and Messi also appears keen to face off against him again in another ‘special’ match-up.
He told DAZN: ‘Obviously when Cristiano played for Real Madrid the games were special. Matches against them always are [special], but with Cristiano on the pitch they took on a particular significance.’
Ronaldo was doubtful despite initially contracting the virus while on international duty on October 13.
He immediately began a mandatory period of quarantine, and was forced to miss Juventus’ fixtures against Crotone and Dynamo Kiev while completing the quarantine.
Andrea Pirlo’s side host Barcelona next Wednesday, and Ronaldo took a second test in the hope that he would be cleared to return and add another thrilling chapter to his encounters with Messi.
The former Manchester United man soon discovered he still had Covid-19, however, placing his spot in the game in serious jeopardy.
When questioned over his rivalry with Ronaldo during his trophy-laden days in Madrid, Messi added: ‘That is now in the past and we look forward to today’s challenges.
‘Wednesday there could be this challenge and we hope Cristiano can be there and will soon recover from Covid.
‘The ones with Cristiano were and are a special duel which will remain forever. They last many years and it is not easy to maintain those levels for such a long time.
Our teams were also very demanding: Real Madrid and Barcelona, the two strongest clubs in the world.
‘Competing as equals for so many years is something that will remain forever. The duel between me and Cristiano was very good on a personal level and I think people enjoyed it.
‘The fans of Real, Barca, but in general all football fans, have seen a great show. We hope to give them even more emotions [on Wednesday].’
The fierce debate over which of the two superstars can claim the title of the best player in the world, and perhaps in history, continues to rage on.
Both have won 11 Ballon d’Or awards between them, although Messi narrowly leads the way with a record amount of six.
Juventus are hoping UEFA will grant them permission to test Ronaldo once again 48 hours before the European tie. The organisation’s protocols means that the player should have tested negative a week before the game in order to take part.
But his club have filed a medical report to UEFA that argues Ronaldo’s test showed a low viral load which, provided his test result on Friday is negative, should allow him to play.
Bayern Munich won the European Cup for the sixth time on Sunday as Kingsley Coman’s goal gave them a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in an engrossing Champions League final in Lisbon, completing a fantastic season for the German giants and leaving their opponents still searching for the trophy they covet more than anything.
It was often a cagey final, with a bit of needle between the teams, but chances too, especially before Coman appeared at the back post to head in Joshua Kimmich’s inviting 59th-minute cross and wrap up a treble for a team who had already won the Bundesliga and German Cup.
Hansi Flick’s team will feel they deserved their victory, yet PSG will regret not taking any of the chances that were offered up to them on a surreal occasion at an empty Estadio da Luz.
Kylian Mbappe in particular should have done better than shoot straight at Manuel Neuer right on the stroke of half-time.
The France World Cup-winning forward had spoken of his determination to go down in his country’s history by helping PSG become just the second French winners of European football’s greatest prize.
But they will have to wait for the chance to match Marseille, who won the inaugural Champions League in 1993.
PSG’s Qatari owners spent a combined 402 million euros ($474m) on Neymar and Mbappe in 2017 to win this competition, not just reach the final. However, in the end, it was one who got away from Paris who denied them.
The 24-year-old Coman was born in Paris and started his career at PSG, only to leave in 2014 for Juventus, sensing he wouldn’t get the regular football he desired if he stayed put.
He had been on the bench in the semi-final against Lyon but was promoted to the starting line-up for the final, replacing Ivan Perisic on the left-wing.
Now he may not be welcome back in his home city again.
But at Bayern, he will always be remembered as the man who won them this trophy in 2020, in the club’s 11th final and seven years after they were last European champions.
– Mbappe’s big miss – Flick’s team have ended this season with 21 straight victories and unbeaten in 30 matches. They deserved to be crowned in a full stadium.
However, only a few hundred lucky invitees were inside the cavernous home of Benfica to see the denouement of the ‘Final Eight’, at the end of a competition so long delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The strangest of finals pitted together two clubs who have taken very different routes to becoming part of Europe’s elite, with Bayern’s status as Germany’s most successful and powerful side long-established and PSG having left the rest of the French game behind following the Qatari takeover of 2011.
But if this was a mismatch in terms of history, on and off the pitch right now they are almost perfectly balanced.
That translated into the kind of proper match-up on the field that neither side often experiences these days.
Bayern came desperately close to opening the scoring midway through the first half when Lewandowski — looking for his 56th goal of the season — took down an Alphonso Davies cross, turned and struck a shot against the post.
The Pole also came close with a header that was saved by Keylor Navas, PSG’s goalkeeper who won the Champions League three times with Real Madrid and who was returning after injury ruled him out of the semi-final against RB Leipzig.
But Bayern take risks by playing with such a high line, and PSG should have punished them in the first half.
Neymar was denied by an excellent Neuer save after being set up by Mbappe, while Mbappe himself contrived to fire straight at the goalkeeper after David Alaba gited him the ball in the Bayern box.
Alaba had earlier seen his central defensive colleague, Jerome Boateng, limp out seemingly with a recurrence of the hamstring problem that forced him off against Lyon.
Niklas Suele replaced him and helped contain the Paris attack as Bayern held onto their lead.
Bayern had broken the deadlock just before the hour mark in a move that began with a sprayed Thiago Alcantara pass forward, and ended with Coman arriving to head in Kimmich’s perfect delivery.
Neymar ended the game with a yellow card for chopping down Lewandowski, and a runners-up medal, while Bayern celebrated.
Nasser Al-Khelaifi revelled in Paris Saint-Germain’s semi-final success against RB Leipzig on Tuesday.
Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was left struggling for words after the club achieved their dream of reaching a first Champions League final.
PSG eased past RB Leipzig 3-0 in Tuesday’s semi-final thanks to goals from Marquinhos, Angel Di Maria and Juan Bernat in Lisbon.
Marquinhos put PSG ahead in the 11th minute, powerfully meeting Di Maria’s cross, before the latter got in on the action three minutes prior to half-time following some sublime skill from Neymar.
Di Maria then teed up Bernat near the hour mark to ensure PSG await Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich or French rivals Lyon in Sunday’s final.
PSG – who remain on course for an unprecedented quadruple in 2019-20 – have dominated domestic football in France since Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) purchased the team in 2011, but the capital club are within touching distance of the coveted European crown that has long deserted them.
“It’s an historic evening,” Al-Khelaifi told RMC Sport. “This is the first time that we have gone to the Champions League final. The players, they had a magnificent match, it’s a magnificent evening against a difficult team.
“I am proud of the technical staff. We played great matches after difficult times. Now we will play the final. This is a dream. I hope he will continue. I don’t know what to say because it’s a wonderful evening.”
The Champions League has been played behind closed doors since the competition resumed in August amid the coronavirus pandemic, and Al-Khelaifi added: “For me, the supporters are very important, they are not there with us.
“I know they have a heart with us, it is something magnificent. We’ve been waiting for this victory for a long time, this historic evening, it’s for you [the supporters].
“Our dream is the Champions League. We’re close. I said to the players: ‘Tonight, you had a magnificent match but we must not stop here, we want to win in the final’. I do not say a result but for football, my players want to give everything. I am very proud of everyone.”
0′ Match ends, Manchester City 1, Lyon 3. 95′ Second Half ends, Manchester City 1, Lyon 3. 95′ Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Jason Denayer. 94′ Attempt blocked. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by David Silva. 93′ Attempt missed. Kyle Walker (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne with a cross following a corner. 93′ Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Anthony Lopes. 93′ Attempt saved. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left is saved in the top centre of the goal. 92′ Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing. 92′ Foul by Kenny Tete (Lyon). 90′ Kyle Walker (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half. 90′ Foul by Moussa Dembele (Lyon). 88′ Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the right wing. 88′ Foul by Marçal (Lyon). 86′ Goal! Manchester City 1, Lyon 3. Moussa Dembele (Lyon) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. 86′ Attempt saved. Houssem Aouar (Lyon) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Jeff Reine-Adélaïde. 86′ Substitution, Lyon. Jeff Reine-Adélaïde replaces Karl Toko Ekambi. 85′ Attempt missed. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from very close range is just a bit too high. Assisted by Gabriel Jesus. 83′ Substitution, Manchester City. David Silva replaces Rodrigo. 82′ Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half. 82′ Foul by Marçal (Lyon). 80′ Corner, Lyon. Conceded by João Cancelo. 78′ Goal! Manchester City 1, Lyon 2. Moussa Dembele (Lyon) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Houssem Aouar.
76′ Attempt missed. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is too high. Assisted by Raheem Sterling. 75′ Attempt missed. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right. 74′ Attempt blocked. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is blocked. 74′ Attempt blocked. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Raheem Sterling. 74′ Substitution, Lyon. Moussa Dembele replaces Memphis Depay. 73′ Substitution, Lyon. Kenny Tete replaces Léo Dubois. 73′ Foul by Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City). 73′ Léo Dubois (Lyon) wins a free kick in the defensive half. 72′ Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Anthony Lopes. 72′ Attempt saved. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top left corner. Assisted by Riyad Mahrez. 71′ Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Léo Dubois. 70′ Foul by Eric García (Manchester City). 70′ Memphis Depay (Lyon) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
69′ Substitution, Lyon. Thiago Mendes replaces Bruno Guimarães. 68′ Goal! Manchester City 1, Lyon 1. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Raheem Sterling. 67′ Attempt blocked. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Eric García. 66′ Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half. 66′ Foul by Karl Toko Ekambi (Lyon). 65′ Attempt missed. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner from a direct free kick. 63′ Marcelo (Lyon) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul. 63′ Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half. 63′ Foul by Marcelo (Lyon). 62′ Attempt saved. Marçal (Lyon) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Maxence Caqueret. 61′ Foul by Kyle Walker (Manchester City). 61′ Maxwel Cornet (Lyon) wins a free kick in the defensive half. 59′ Hand ball by Rodrigo (Manchester City). 59′ Attempt saved. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. 58′ Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half. 58′ Foul by Marcelo (Lyon).
58′ Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half. 58′ Foul by Houssem Aouar (Lyon). 57′ Rodrigo (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul. 57′ Foul by Rodrigo (Manchester City). 57′ Bruno Guimarães (Lyon) wins a free kick in the defensive half. 56′ Foul by Raheem Sterling (Manchester City). 56′ Maxwel Cornet (Lyon) wins a free kick in the defensive half. 55′ Substitution, Manchester City. Riyad Mahrez replaces Fernandinho. 55′ Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Léo Dubois. 53′ Foul by Fernandinho (Manchester City). 53′ Maxwel Cornet (Lyon) wins a free kick in the defensive half. 52′ Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Léo Dubois. 52′ Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Léo Dubois. 51′ Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half. 51′ Foul by Marcelo (Lyon). 50′ Attempt blocked. Memphis Depay (Lyon) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. 50′ Foul by Eric García (Manchester City). 50′ Memphis Depay (Lyon) wins a free kick in the attacking half. 48′ Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing. 48′ Foul by Maxence Caqueret (Lyon). 46′ Corner, Lyon. Conceded by Aymeric Laporte. 45′ Second Half begins Manchester City 0, Lyon 1. 47′ First Half ends, Manchester City 0, Lyon 1. 45′ Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Maxwel Cornet. 45′ Attempt blocked. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is blocked. 44′ Attempt missed. Rodrigo (Manchester City) header from the left side of the box is too high. Assisted by Kevin De Bruyne with a cross following a corner. 43′ Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Maxwel Cornet. 42′ Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Marcelo. 42′ Attempt saved. Rodrigo (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. 40′ Foul by Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City). 40′ Bruno Guimarães (Lyon) wins a free kick in the defensive half. 38′ Attempt saved. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the left is saved in the top centre of the goal.
37′ Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing. 37′ Foul by Jason Denayer (Lyon). 32′ Foul by Fernandinho (Manchester City). 32′ Houssem Aouar (Lyon) wins a free kick in the attacking half. 30′ Attempt saved. Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. 29′ Kyle Walker (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half. 29′ Foul by Marcelo (Lyon). 28′ Fernandinho (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul. 28′ Foul by Fernandinho (Manchester City). 28′ Houssem Aouar (Lyon) wins a free kick in the attacking half. 26′ Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing. 26′ Foul by Jason Denayer (Lyon). 23′ Goal! Manchester City 0, Lyon 1. Maxwel Cornet (Lyon) left footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner. 22′ Foul by Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City). 22′ Houssem Aouar (Lyon) wins a free kick in the defensive half. 16′ Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half. 16′ Foul by Jason Denayer (Lyon). 14′ Foul by Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City). 14′ Houssem Aouar (Lyon) wins a free kick in the defensive half. 11′ Léo Dubois (Lyon) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul. 11′ João Cancelo (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half. 11′ Foul by Léo Dubois (Lyon). 9′ Attempt saved. Marçal (Lyon) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. 8′ Corner, Lyon. Conceded by Eric García. 2′ Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Marcelo. 0′ First Half begins.
Barcelona players and staff have been reacting to their humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter finals on Friday evening.
The Catalan giants were torn to pieces, conceding eight goals for the first time in 74 years as they suffered a dramatic Champions League quarter final exit for the third successive season.
The result brought an end to a campaign of turmoil at Camp Nou, which has already consisted of a managerial sacking, public squabbling, behind the scenes resignations and a social media scandal.
Speaking at full time, Gerard Pique – a three-time Champions League winner with the club – gave an honest assessment of the club’s future. “We feel devastated, although shame is the real word I’m looking for,” Pique said.
“We cannot afford to compete like this because it’s not the first, the second or the third time that something like this has happened.
“This is very painful but I hope it serves some purpose… We all need to reflect deeply, the club needs lots of changes, I’m not talking about the coach, players – I don’t want to point the finger at anyone but the club needs changes on a structural level.
“If new blood needs to come for the club to change course then I’m not untouchable and I’ll be the first to leave if needs be, because it seems as if we’ve hit rock bottom.”
Frenkie de Jong echoed Pique’s sentiments about alterations being needed at Camp Nou.
“I think today showed that we have a lot of problems in the team,” the midfielder said [via Goal]. “I think tonight showed that and we know we have to make a lot of changes.
“It’s difficult for the fans to take too so sorry to them. We believed we could beat Bayern. The first 15-20 minutes because they scored early but we scored the equaliser and had two good chances so believed in it of course.
“But they were much better than us. I don’t think it’s too much about talent, I think it’s about putting in intensity and hard work and we need to change these things.”
Manager Quique Setien – whose Barcelona future is in grave danger following the result – admitted he was hurt by the manner and magnitude of the defeat.
“Barça is a club that is so great that this will cause us a lot of damage,” Setien said [via the Daily Mail]. “Obviously some things will have to change. The truth is this is a tremendously painful defeat.
“We have to reflect, taking the situation into account and the importance that such a humiliating and painful defeat means. I’m hurt, evidently, by such a hefty defeat. The way it came about has been tremendously painful.
“Right now, it’s too soon to think about whether I will stay or not. It doesn’t depend on me.”
A merciless Bayern Munich inflicted a humiliating, record defeat on Barcelona on Friday, recording a scarcely believable 8-2 victory in their Champions League quarter-final in Lisbon to leave Lionel Messi forlorn and surely hastening in the end of an era in Catalonia.
Thomas Mueller scored twice either side of goals from Ivan Perisic and Serge Gnabry in a stunning opening 31 minutes at an empty Estadio da Luz, with a David Alaba own-goal having briefly brought Barcelona back level.
Luis Suarez pulled it back to 4-2 at one point in the second half, but Barcelona then caved in, with Joshua Kimmich getting Bayern’s fifth before three more goals in the final stages, one for the prolific Robert Lewandowski and two for substitute Philippe Coutinho.
That was the really humiliating part for the beaten side, with Coutinho on loan in Bavaria from Barcelona, who spent huge money on signing the Brazilian in 2018.
The game was eerily reminiscent of Germany’s 7-1 destruction of Brazil in the 2014 World Cup, a game in which Mueller also played and scored.
Germany went on to win that World Cup and Bayern look a good bet to win this Champions League, although they will surely face a sterner test in the semi-final regardless of whether it is against Manchester City or Lyon.
This was their 19th consecutive victory in all competitions, and a 28th game unbeaten for Hansi Flick’s side. They have now scored 39 goals in nine Champions League outings this season.
– End Of An Era – But the story of this game is Barcelona’s remarkable capitulation and the question is what happens to them now.
Messi was 27 when they last won the Champions League in 2015. He is 33 now and this game may make up his mind that he needs to finally leave the Camp Nou if he is to win it again.
Barca have just about been here before: They were torn apart by Bayern in the 2013 semi-finals, losing 7-0 on aggregate, but this was eight goals in 90 minutes.
And with an aging team featuring six players aged 31 or older, this has to be the end of an era.
Coach Quique Setien will not survive. His team, having already come second to Real Madrid in La Liga, simply could not cope with Bayern’s pressing.
Bayern went ahead in the fourth minute as Mueller controlled a ball in from the left by Perisic and played a one-two with Lewandowski to scuff a shot low past compatriot Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
They did leave themselves open at the back and parity was restored when Alaba, in attempting to stop a Jordi Alba cross, sliced the ball over Manuel Neuer and into his own net.
For a very brief spell Barca were even on top, as Neuer was forced into a key save from Suarez and a Messi cross came back off the far upright.
But Bayern, suffocating their opponents with their pressing, went back in front midway through the first half. Gnabry won back possession on the edge of the final third before feeding Perisic, who fired past Ter Stegen and into the far corner.
That was the first of three goals in a 10-minute spell.
Leon Goretzka’s deft touch over the top took out Clement Lenglet and Gnabry drilled home to make it 3-1. Then Mueller stole in front of Lenglet to turn in Kimmich’s delivery from the right for 4-1.
Suarez briefly gave Barca something to cling to as he controlled Alba’s ball in from the left, body swerved away from Jerome Boateng and fired home.
Yet there would be no comeback, as Kimmich converted Bayern’s fifth following a remarkable assist by Alphonso Davies, and then Lewandowski headed in Coutinho’s cross to make it six.
As Barcelona collapsed, Coutinho made it seven in the 85th minute at the end of a move started when Messi was robbed of possession and then had time to score another in the 88th minute.
Barcelona face Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals and Antoine Griezmann, expecting a long stay in Lisbon, has packed his PlayStation.
Antoine Griezmann is confident that Barcelona will go all the way to the Champions League final and quipped he has even packed his PlayStation for his stay in Lisbon.
Barça saw off Napoli 3-1 in Saturday’s last-16 second leg to advance 4-2 on aggregate and set up a meeting with much-fancied Bayern Munich at the Estadio da Luz on Friday. Bayern have won 26 and drawn one of their last 27 competitive matches and are the favourites of many to win Europe’s premier club competition but Griezmann says Barça are ready to knock the Bavarian giants out.
Just three games to get through “I have the suitcase ready to be in Lisbon until August 23 – I have even brought the PlayStation,” he told the club’s official website. “We have three games left to win the Champions League but we have the tools to achieve it. Every team has the potential to win a single match. We are looking forward to it, we have worked well tactically and we are ready to play the game. We know it will be difficult, but we know what we have to do to qualify for the semi-finals. It will be a very good match. We hope to take advantage of the quality we have. We are in a good moment and we can play a good game. We have to be together, up front and at the back, and try to have the ball as much as possible.”
Prolific Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski either scored or assisted all seven of his side’s goals in their 7-1 aggregate victory over Chelsea in the first knockout round. Griezmann acknowledged it will be tough to stop the Poland international and is well aware of the other attacking talents in the German champions’ ranks.
Bayern not only about Lewandowski “Bayern are playing very well, they have a great striker, but we also have the tools to play a great game. We have to look at our strengths and try to qualify,” he said. “They’re a very physical team that’s used to having the ball. We have to make life difficult for them and play our game. Bayern are not just Lewandowski. The wingers get forward a lot, [Thomas] Muller, [Serge] Gnabry are also very good. Lewandowski scores a lot of goals but the danger comes from anywhere.”
Barça have disappointed domestically this season, finishing second to Real Madrid in LaLiga after being knocked out of the Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage. However, the fit-again Griezmann – who lasted 84 minutes against Napoli – is adamant his side have showed signs of progress ahead of their showdown with Bayern.
“On a personal level it was good for me to have a few days to be able to recover and play against Napoli,” he said. “In the first minutes of the Napoli game I had no rhythm but little by little I felt better. The team really wanted to play a great game, and we are on the right track.”
Barcelona are into the last eight of the Champions League after beating Napoli over the weekend and they can head to Lisbon dreaming of getting their hands on their sixth European crown.
Bayern Munich won’t be easy opponents in the quarter-finals, nor will Manchester City or Lyon in the semi-finals, but the Catalans will be hoping to put their struggles behind them and go all the way in Portugal after reaching a record-breaking 13th consecutive quarter-final.
Even despite their problems, Barcelona have reasons to dream of getting their hands on the trophy:
Lionel Messi A little bit of Messi is a lot, and the Argentine is good enough to lead them to silverware.
He turned it on for half an hour against Napoli and, just like that, the game was done.
He’s shown Bayern before in 2009 and 2015 that he’s unstoppable at his best, but he’s also had to suffer against the Bavarians in 2013.
Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal will be available again after missing the last 16 second leg through suspension.
Their returns give Setien more options, which means he can make more changes and keep his players fresh.
Ousmane Dembele could also feature at some stage, meaning that the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Sergi Roberto and Ivan Rakitic could be rotated.
Frenkie de Jong is back
The Dutchman was back to his best against Napoli.
He completed 93 percent of his passes in the Italians’ half, allowed his team to breath and broke the lines with his passing.
Barcelona won’t miss Arthur Melo if De Jong can stay at this level.
Playing each game over one leg suits Barcelona.
A two-legged tie would make their shortcomings easier to expose, but in one-off games their chances increase.
“There are no favourites with this format,” Sergi Roberto himself said, showing that Barcelona back themselves.
Their defensive axis
Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet are so important to Setien’s side.
Ter Stegen will want to prove himself with Manuel Neuer at the other end of the pitch, Pique has been one of their most consistent players this season and Lenglet himself has continued to improve.
Barcelona have defended better since lockdown and they’ll be hoping that continues into the Champions League’s latter stages.
UEFA have announced the Player of the Week nominees for the Champions League games this week.
Lionel Messi (Barca) Lionel Messi scores incredible solo goal for Barcelona vs Napoli in Champions League, the onus is always on him to inspire Barcelona and he did just that against Napoli on Saturday night.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
Ronaldo scored twice, once in each half to bring his side closer to a miraculous comeback after the visitors took an early lead in the match and doubled their aggregate score. The Portuguese maestro equalised a couple of minutes before half-time with a penalty and equalised on aggregate in the second half with a stunner that has rendered many speechless.
Robert Lewandowski (Bayern)
Robert Lewandowski scored his 12th and 13th UEFA Champions League goals of the season and set up Ivan Perisic and Corentin Tolisso as Bayern Munich beat Chelsea 4-1 at the Allianz Arena (7-1 on aggregate) on Saturday night.
Kyle Walker (Man City) Phil Neville, UEFA technical observer: “Aggressive in his defending, really positive in possession and had good quality on the ball.”
Manchester City capitalised on two Raphael Varane errors as they made it through to the Champions League quarter-finals with a 2-1 win over Real Madrid (Agg: 4-2).
9′ GOOOOOAAAAALLL!!! CITY 1-0 MADRID!! The visitors have been a little too keen to pass out from the back early on and have paid the ultimate price. Courtois rolls the ball to Varane to his right and the centre-back is caught in possession by Jesus, who squares for Sterling to guide it into an empty net.
28′ GOOOOAAAAALLLL!!! CITY 1-1 MADRID!! GAME ON! Benzema plays the ball to Rodrygo and continues his run into the middle. Rodrygo, having knocked the ball down the line to himself, crosses towards the edge of the six-yard box and Benzema gets to it ahead of Fernandinho to head in.
68′ GOOOOOAAAALLL!!! CITY 2-1 MADRID!! ANOTHER VARANE HOWLER! Or should that be double howler?! Varane misses the initial header and is then short with his attempted headed pass back to Courtois. Jesus intercepts and beats Courtois from the angle with a fine finish to surely seal a quarter-final spot for City.
Man City XI: Fernandinho, Walker, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Sterling, Cancelo, Laporte, Ederson, Jesus, Rodri, Foden
Subs: David Silva, Bravo, Otamendi, Mahrez, Stones, Zinchenko, Bernardo, Eric Garcia, Harwood-Bellis, C. Palmer, Bernabe, Doyle
Real Madrid XI: Modric, Benzema, Kroos, Hazard, Courtois, Casemiro, Carvajal, Varane, F Mendy, Militao, Rodrygo
After below-par displays against Bournemouth and Arsenal, Pep Guardiola says Manchester City will lose to Real Madrid on current form.
“It does not take a genius” to know Manchester City must improve if they are to knock Real Madrid out of the Champions League, says Pep Guardiola.
City began this week with a significant victory off the field as the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned their two-year ban from UEFA competitions, finding allegations of Financial Fair Play violations to be either “not established” or “time-barred” under regulations set out by European football’s governing body.
On the field, it has been a different story, with head coach Guardiola critical of his players’ performance in Saturday’s 2-0 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Arsenal.
Despite winning the EFL Cup in March, City’s meek Premier League title defence in 2019-20 means their campaign will ultimately be judged on how the reformatted Champions League plays out.
Man City due to host Real Madrid in last-16 second leg on 7 August They hold a 2-1 advantage over Madrid before the second leg of the last-16 tie at the Etihad Stadium on 7 August.
The winner will progress to an eight-team straight knockout tournament in Lisbon the following week, taking on whoever prevails from the match-up between Juventus and Lyon, with the Ligue 1 side 1-0 to the good at halfway.
Madrid have won 10 out of 10 since returning from lockdown to wrap up LaLiga glory, while losses to Chelsea and S toouthampton have taken City’s overall tally of Premier League defeats to nine this term.
“We have to increase our standard against Madrid” “I don’t have to tell them. They know it, they feel it,” said Guardiola, who also felt his players deserved to lose their 2-1 midweek win over relegation-threatened Bournemouth.
“We know the standards that we have to be on these kinds of stages, in these kind of competitions. Maybe we are learning, maybe not. We will see.
“The last game against Bournemouth was not good and today the first half was not good. We struggled to play at our level.
“It does not take a genius to realise we have to increase our standard against Madrid if we want to have any chance to go through.”
Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez all went close to a second-half equaliser before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang completed his brace in the 71st minute.
Arsenal semi-final lost in first half, says Guardiola Mahrez’s effort, sharply stopped by Arsenal goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez at his near post, was City’s only attempt on target, but Guardiola felt the game was lost during a lacklustre first period.
“We didn’t make a good performance,” he said, after City failed to prevail in a domestic cup tie for the first time since February 2018.
“We can lose the game. My regret is we didn’t play the first half like we played the second one. Sometimes it happens. It’s an incredible run but sometimes you can lose.
“But the way we lost, particularly in the first half, we’re sad about this.
The full results of 2019/20 Champions League last 8 draw have been confirmed as European giants learn their fate.
Real Madrid/Manchester City vs Lyon/Juventus
Leipzig vs Atletico Madrid
Napoli/Barcelona vs Bayern Munich/Chelsea
Atalanta vs PSG
When are the draws?
The draws for the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will take place at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday 10 July. The draw ceremony will begin at midday CET.
Who is involved?
There are four teams already qualified for the quarter-finals:
Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
There are four round of 16 ties still to be concluded:
Chelsea (ENG) / Bayern München (GER)
Napoli (ITA) / Barcelona (ESP)
Real Madrid (ESP) / Manchester City (ENG)
Lyon (FRA) / Juventus (ITA)
How do the draws work?
There are three draws: for the quarter-finals; for the semi-finals, pitting together quarter-final ties; and then a third to determine the ‘home’ side in the final for administrative reasons.
There are no seedings and no country protection, so teams can face opposition from the same national association.
Where will the games take place? This season’s quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will be played as a straight knockout tournament in Lisbon, Portugal in August. All these ties will be single-leg fixtures. The games will be split between Benfica’s Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (which will host the final) and Sporting CP’s Estádio José Alvalade.
What are the key dates?
7–8 August: Round of 16 second legs
12–15 August: Quarter-finals (Lisbon)
18–19 August: Semi-finals (Lisbon)
23 August: Final (Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Lisbon)
The full fixture list will be available within a few hours after the draw.
The final eight of this season’s Champions League in Lisbon is set to go ahead behind closed doors after Uefa confirmed on Thursday that all matches in European competitions would be played without spectators “until further notice” because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision also affects the four outstanding last 16, second-leg matches, as well as the remainder of this season’s Europa League and the women’s Champions League final eight, to be played in Spain in August.
“Several elements were taken into account by Uefa when making a decision, such as the protection of the health of all those involved in the matches as well as the public at large; a responsibility to provide the safest environment for matches in order to guarantee the progress of competitions; as well as ensuring sporting fairness within a very inconsistent landscape (with some countries allowing and some forbidding stadium attendances),” European football’s governing body said in a statement.
It added that “in light of the current situation, the Uefa Executive Committee felt it prudent to conclude that Uefa matches should take place behind closed doors until further notice.”
Uefa said the decision had been made “in agreement with the national associations and authorities of the final eight tournaments’ hosts Germany, Portugal and Spain”.
It also confirmed that “irrespective of any future decision, for reasons of sporting fairness”, all matches in the qualifying rounds of next season’s European competitions which are due to be held as a single-leg ties — so not including the play-offs for the Champions League — will be played behind closed doors.
LAST-16 VENUES DECIDED
Meanwhile, the remaining last-16 games, which were postponed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, will not be played on neutral grounds when they finally go ahead in August.
Uefa had indicated last month that the matches could be played in the northern Portuguese cities of Porto and Guimaraes depending on the health situation around the continent.
However, following a review, Uefa has decided to allow those sides who were supposed to be at home to play the matches in their own stadiums on 7 and 8 August.
It means that Italian champions Juventus will host Lyon in Turin looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg played in France in late February.
Manchester City will defend a 2-1 lead when they entertain record 13-time champions Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium, while Barcelona will host Napoli at the Camp Nou with that tie poised following a 1-1 draw in the first leg.
The other outstanding tie will see German champions Bayern Munich entertain Chelsea at the Allianz Arena in pole position having won 3-0 in the first leg.
The winners of those four ties will join the already-qualified quartet of Atalanta, RB Leipzig, Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain in the last eight.
The latter stages will be played out in a unique final eight straight knockout format in Lisbon in August, starting on August 12 with the first quarterfinal and concluding with the final at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz on 23 August. All quarterfinal and semifinal ties will be one-off matches.
The Portuguese capital was announced as the venue in June but has since registered worrying numbers of coronavirus cases, with lockdown restrictions reimposed last week on 19 neighbourhoods across the northern periphery of Lisbon.
The restrictions concern some 700 000 people and will remain in place for at least a fortnight.
The Europa League will also be completed with an identical format, a final eight in Germany, with the final in Cologne on 21 August.
However, none of the last-16 ties have been completed, with only six of the eight first legs having been played.
The other two ties — Inter Milan v Getafe and Sevilla v Roma — will be played as one-off ties in Germany.
The women’s Champions League will be completed with a final eight in San Sebastian and Bilbao in Spain’s Basque Country between 21 and 30 August.
The Champions League could be what finally determines Neymar’s future at Paris Saint-Germain. The Brazilian has recognised he wants to make history with the French club and his main aim is to lead them to the Champions League, with Ligue 1 already sealed.
Meanwhile, the club’s hierarchy has also marked the Champions League as the main objective after further investing in the squad. It is the one trophy they lack. Winning or not could be vital for Neymar’s future, and also for the club’s.
In this sense, in France they are sure that Neymar, who has a contract until 2022 and is not clear if he wants to stay beyond then, could remain with PSG if they conquer Europe this summer.
There are even reports of another contract in that scenario. However, if they don’t win it that could signal the end of his time in Paris once and for all. It would be another failure for Neymar and the club. All eyes, therefore, are on Lisbon, where the games will be played in August.
For now, the relationship between Neymar and PSG remains intact. They are focused on the Champions League.