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Messi v Ronaldo: Champions League storylines to watch

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images 2020 10 18T174009.346 Messi v Ronaldo: Champions League storylines to watch

The Champions League group stage kicks off on Tuesday with Bayern Munich beginning their defence of the trophy won in Lisbon in August . AFP Sport picks out some of the storylines to watch over the next few weeks:
– Messi v Ronaldo –
They are the two greatest players of their generation with 11 Ballons d ’Or between them , and the two highest scorers in Champions League history . Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are now set to renew their individual rivalry when Barcelona and Juventus clash in Group G .
They have not faced off since the Portuguese superstar left Real Madrid for Juventus in 2018 .
Ronaldo is currently self – isolating after testing positive for Covid-19 and will need to pass a negative test before being allowed to feature against Barca in Turin on October 28 . The return at the Camp Nou is on December 8 .
Both sides should advance from a group also containing Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros, but both Messi and Ronaldo are running out of time to win the Champions League again. Messi, now 33 , has featured in four victorious campaigns , while 35 – year -old Ronaldo has won it five times .
– Will Man Utd get out of their group ? –
Manchester United begin their campaign at Paris Saint – Germain in a repeat of their dramatic last -16 meeting in 2018 -19 , when the Red Devils progressed thanks to a controversial late penalty .
That was arguably the high point of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign as Old Trafford manager. It was his 14 th win in 17 games as caretaker , and soon after he got the job permanently . But United went out to Barcelona in the quarter – finals and did not qualify for last season’ s Champions League .
Solskjer ’ s first full campaign in charge saw United finish third to return to Europe ’s top table, but serious doubts remain about his managerial ability and they are in a tough group , with last season’s semi- finalists RB Leipzig and the Turkish champions , Istanbul Basaksehir , as well as PSG .
The knives will be out for the Norwegian if they fail to make the knockout stage .
– Haaland to star again? –
Erling Braut Haaland was the star of last season’ s Champions League before the competition was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Norwegian was a sensation for Red Bull Salzburg in the group stage , scoring eight times. After moving to Borussia Dortmund in the winter he scored two more in the defeat of PSG in the last 16 , first leg , although Dortmund ended up losing on aggregate.
In total Haaland scored 44 club goals last season, all before turning 20 in July . He already has 11 this season for club and country and Dortmund will hope he can help them out of a group also containing Zenit Saint Petersburg , Lazio and Club Brugge .
– Atalanta : Dark horses no more –
Atalanta ’ s run to the quarter – finals , where they suffered an agonizing defeat to PSG , would have been heartwarming even had it not coincided with their home city of Bergamo being devastated during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gian Piero Gasperini ’ s side qualified for the last 16 despite losing their first three group games and then beat Valencia 8 -4 on aggregate in their debut Champions League campaign . They also finished third in Serie A to return to Europe ’ s elite club competition .
But Atalanta are no longer a surprise package and are probably now favorites to advance from their group along with Liverpool , and ahead of Ajax and the Danish champions , Midtjylland . Will they continue to thrive despite no longer being the dark horses ?
– The debutants –
Atalanta may no longer be the new boys but four teams are appearing in the group stage for the first time .
The most interesting first -timers are Rennes , who had a best-ever third -place finish in France a year on from winning the French Cup . In Julien Stephan , they have one of Europe ’s best young coaches, while midfielder Eduardo Camavinga is possibly the hottest young prospect in world football . They are in a difficult group , though , with Chelsea , Sevilla, and another newcomer in Russian side Krasnodar .
Midtjylland will have it tough up against Liverpool , Atalanta , and Ajax . Meanwhile, after breaking up the dominance of the Istanbul giants in Turkey , Basaksehir will hope to cause problems for PSG , Manchester United and Leipzig .

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Arsenal Lose At Home To Leicester For The First Time In The EPL As Vardy Scores

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download 13 1 Arsenal Lose At Home To Leicester For The First Time In The EPL As Vardy Scores

Jamie Vardy came off the bench to score a customary goal against Arsenal and send Leicester to within a point of the Premier League summit with a first win at the Gunners’ home since 1973.
Vardy, 33, had missed two games with a calf injury but was reintroduced after a largely sterile opening hour at Emirates Stadium and promptly ended a 262-minute Leicester goal drought in the league.
The former England international headed home fellow substitute Cengiz Under’s smart pass to bring up a remarkable 11th Premier League goal against Arsenal in 12 appearances. Only Wayne Rooney, with 12, has more goals.
Until Vardy’s arrival Leicester had barely threatened but they have now won their opening three away league games for the first time.
Arsenal were disappointing and, despite dominating possession and having 12 shots on goal, never looked like seriously testing Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel as they slipped to a first home league defeat of 2020.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta criticised the decision to disallow an Alexandre Lacazette header for offside early in the first half.
“I’m really disappointed. We had it in our hands in the first half and I don’t know how the hell the goal was disallowed.
“They caught us with space at the back and in that moment we lost the game.”
The scourge of Arsenal
Four summers ago Arsenal tried to prise Vardy away from Leicester and he continues to pile on the regret with every game.
He had only 11 touches after replacing Dennis Praet, but still scored the winner and was only denied a second by the head of Bernd Leno as he raced through on goal late on.
Leicester lined up with no forward at all in his absence, with winger Harvey Barnes nominally playing up front, and their lack of cutting edge meant James Maddison had all four of their efforts, all from outside the area, before number nine Vardy came on.
Their improvement was as marked as it was predictable with Vardy on the field, and it was no surprise when they grabbed the lead.
Youri Tielemans’ excellent pass over the top freed Under, and he squared for the free Vardy to score with a stooping header.
There is no more clinical player in the Premier League. Vardy has scored six goals from just nine shots this season – 20 fewer than Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and one fewer than the champions’ full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Last season Leicester capitulated from a position which seemed certain to deliver Champions League football, when they were 14 points ahead of Manchester United at the start of February. Could they seal the deal this time around?
Predictable Gunners firing blanks
Arsenal thought they had scored in the opening minutes when Lacazette headed in from a corner, but Granit Xhaka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were both offside.
From that point Arsenal controlled the game for the most part, but, despite Kieran Tierney raiding with intent down the left, they struggled to bust open the organised visitors.
Arsenal had 11 shots in the first half but Schmeichel’s only save of note came from the one effort after the break, pushing out a decent volley from Hector Bellerin.
Aubameyang, who has now gone five Premier League games without a goal for the first time, was largely anonymous.
Thomas Partey made a much-vaunted full league debut in midfield but was not alone in failing to shine as Arsenal moved the ball painfully slowly at times.
They have scored only eight goals in six league games this season. They have managed fewer at this stage in one of the previous 20 campaigns, when they scored five goals in 2015-16.

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Tottenham nowhere near Real Madrid team yet -Mourinho

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images 2020 10 26T094222.866 Tottenham nowhere near Real Madrid team yet -Mourinho

Jose Mourinho says free – scoring Tottenham are nowhere near his record – breaking Real Madrid team just yet.
Spurs have scored 31 goals in their last nine games in all competitions with Harry Kane and Heung -min Son leading their attack . Mourinho’ s La Liga- winning Real Madrid side scored 121 goals on their way to the title in 2011 / 12 , accumulating 100 points and conceding 32 goals .
“ In Real Madrid , I had amazing , amazing attacking players and we managed to build the team in a certain way, ” he said ahead of the trip to Burnley , live on Monday Night Football .
“ I have to be honest and say we have lots of good attacking players here but we need to give stability to the team because the team needs stability in the back to feel solid , confident – to ( be able to) have a go . So we need to find that balance.
“ Let’ s say that it is a team thing, it ’s not just about individuals . We need to be able to play with all these attacking players and have the team with everybody ready to be organised defensively and not to give space to the opponent .
“ And behind, we need to improve in some details – that ’s obvious .
“ You look to our squad and incredible quality and numbers and options from midfield to attack and we are trying to find solutions and we are trying to be organised. ”
On criticism labelled towards him for the pragmatic style of play Mourinho adopted at Manchester United and in his first season at Spurs, the Portuguese added : “ Depends on the team . They cannot say that about my Real Madrid team that scored 121 goals in the league. ”

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Vardy rock arsenal as Leicester go fourth

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0 Jamie Vardy 190 Vardy rock arsenal as Leicester go fourth

Vardy was only fit enough for the bench after a calf injury, but Brendan Rodgers sent the Leicester striker on with 30 minutes left and he responded with his sixth goal of the season.

The 33-year-old has made a habit of tormenting Arsenal and has now scored 11 goals in 12 Premier League games against them.

Leicester climbed up to fourth place after ending a run of two successive league defeats.

Arsenal are languishing in 10th after a second consecutive league loss following their 1-0 defeat at Manchester City last weekend.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta will have been disappointed by his team’s lack of cutting edge.

The principle problem is a sudden dip in form for captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Gabon forward is without a goal in his last five league games, although he did net against Rapid Vienna in the Europa League on Thursday.

Aubameyang has scored just once in the league this season, hardly the kind of form Arteta would have hoped for after handing him a lucrative new contract in September.

Arsenal’s ability to challenge for a top four place rests on Aubameyang leading the charge and so far this term he has been a flop.

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