Liverpool lead the way with 10 nominations for the EA Sports FIFA Team of the Year.

Harry Kane has no limits to what he can do and is still yet to reach his peak, according to former Tottenham team-mate Roberto Soldado.

Soldado joined Spurs from Valencia in 2013 but the striker – a regular scorer in LaLiga – found life tough in England, managing just seven goals in 52 league appearances over the course of two seasons before leaving for Villarreal.

However, Soldado believes he was not helped by the emergence of Kane, who quickly impressed his fellow frontman during their time working together in England.

"I always say that if there is one period of my career I'm not happy with, it's my time at Tottenham," Soldado, now at Granada, said in an interview with The Guardian.

"I also had Harry Kane's boom to contend with, I understood perfectly because you could see it from the start.

"I saw his level in training and it was amazing. I don't think there's a limit to what he can do; we still haven't seen the best of Harry Kane.

"When we did shooting drills… pfff. With both feet, he was prolific. He plays so well back to goal, gives assists, is intelligent, thinks quicker than before.

"Maybe he had struggled this season because the team wasn't having the best time, but he's continually improving."

Soldado came through the ranks at Real Madrid and believes Kane would fit right in at the Spanish club, adding: "I'd like to see it."

The 34-year-old has watched from afar as Tottenham have struggled this season, leading to the departure of Mauricio Pochettino.

Jose Mourinho has since taken charge, with Soldado confident the Portuguese will "get them competing" after a sticky start.

"I don't know [what went wrong for Pochettino]," Soldado said on the current situation. "I still talk to Danny Rose and Jan Vertonghen, but about personal stuff. You could see it wasn't working. 

"[Mauricio] Pochettino had a very clear idea; he worked us very hard tactically and physically, which I think we needed after Tim Sherwood. From the start, he connected with the dressing room and every year it got better.

"The level Pochettino got from the players was higher than anyone could have expected. [But] they lost consistency and maybe Spurs needed a change.

"Now one of the best coaches has arrived and he’ll get them competing. Kane will always be grateful to Pochettino, I’m sure: his big change came with him. But he’ll trust José Mourinho because he’s a great coach."

Dani Carvajal would like Kylian Mbappe to leave Paris Saint-Germain for Real Madrid as he believes the world's best players should be at the Santiago Bernabeu.

France star Mbappe continues to be linked with a future move to Madrid and has reportedly stalled on the idea of a new PSG contract in order to make a transfer more likely.

Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane has repeatedly expressed his admiration for the 20-year-old forward, whose relationship with PSG boss Thomas Tuchel has shown signs of strain lately, not least when Mbappe ignored him after being substituted against Montpellier last weekend.

Carvajal would certainly not be against Mbappe moving to the Spanish capital, telling reporters on Thursday: "What we've seen is obvious. He's one of the greats and it would be good [to play with him] because the best have to be here."

Madrid defender Carvajal was speaking ahead of a difficult week for Madrid, who face Valencia at Mestalla on Sunday before next Wednesday's Clasico with Barcelona at Camp Nou.

That fixture was due to take place in October but was rearranged after concern about political unrest in Catalonia.

Security issues remain a concern ahead of the game, while it is expected that a large banner encouraging dialogue over the issue of Catalan independence will be displayed by a protest group in the stands.

Carvajal is keen for authorities to ensure the match goes ahead safely, but he insists he is only concerned with getting three points.

"We're calm. We want it to be played with the maximum guarantees of security. We don't know if it was a mistake to rearrange it," said the full-back.

"I want to go to Camp Nou and win. The rest doesn't bother me.

"It's a very important, beautiful week for us and we're going to try to make it three [wins] from three.

"We have fewer hours of rest than Barcelona and after a demanding game like at Mestalla, it can show in your legs."

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo has targeted a reunion with his former club Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

Ronaldo netted for Juventus in a 2-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday as they finished their Group D campaign with five wins and a draw.

The Italian champions will be joined in the knockout stages by Group A runners-up Madrid, with whom Ronaldo spent nine memorable years before heading to Turin in 2018.

Madrid are one of five sides Juve could face in the last 16, along with Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund, Lyon and Tottenham, but Ronaldo is hoping to avoid the LaLiga giants for now.

"Real are an extraordinary team, but if you ask me, I'd rather face them later," Ronaldo, who won the Champions League four times with Madrid, told Sky Sport Italia.

"In the final? I would sign up now to meet them in the final."

Ronaldo has scored in three successive matches for Juventus and feels fully over a niggling injury that curtailed his playing time last month.

"I feel good, the physical problems I had have passed," he said. "It was four weeks that I was playing with a little pain, but now I'm fine.

"The team is doing well. We played very well in the second half [against Leverkusen] and are first in the group. Things have improved for me too. I have more confidence and hope to continue like this."

Maurizio Sarri claimed last week that it is not possible to use Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain in a front three, with the Juventus head coach instead preferring to rotate.

Ronaldo admitted he likes playing alongside the Argentinian duo but is happy to follow Sarri's plan.

"Whether I play with Dybala or Higuain, it is great," he said.

"I like playing with both of them, we have a lot of fun on the pitch, but the coach is the one who makes the decisions and we must respect them.

"But I can't deny that we have a lot of fun."

Real Madrid teenager Vinicius Junior says he is "working hard" to follow the path of Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling by becoming a more regular goalscorer.

Vinicius slotted home from close range for his first goal since September in Wednesday's 3-1 win over Club Brugge in the Champions League.

The Brazil international has netted six times in 43 appearances for Madrid, who he joined from Flamengo in July 2018, a year after his reported €45million buyout clause was triggered.

Vinicius does not believe his game is suited to scoring goals freely, but he hopes to improve in that department over time.

Citing the example of Sterling, who has become increasingly clinical in front of goal over the past few seasons, the 19-year-old attacker said: "I don't play to score. I play to help the team.

"Sterling at City also had trouble scoring goals. I left Brazil very early and I'm working hard to do great things."

Vinicius' compatriot Rodrygo Goes was also on target for Madrid in Belgium, taking his tally to six goals for the campaign.

Rather than being envious of Rodrygo's impressive start to life at the Santiago Bernabeu, though, Vinicius is pleased for his team-mate.

"We're friends," he said, according to Marca. "I'm happy because he is doing things very well."

Europe's top five leagues have monopolised the Champions League knockout stage for the first time in the competition's history.

With Atalanta's 3-0 defeat of Shakhtar Donetsk, the Serie A side ensured only nations from Italy, England, France, Germany and Spain would complete the last-16 line up prior to the final group fixtures on Wednesday.

Atalanta's win left only one place in the last 16 to be decided, with Atletico Madrid's 2-0 triumph over Lokomotiv Moscow – combined with a 2-0 loss for Bayer Leverkusen at home to Juventus – enough to send Diego Simeone's men through.

It is the first time only teams from the top-tier nations in European football have been included in the draw for the knockout stage, which will take place on Monday.

England – Premier League: Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham

Chelsea and Liverpool had the biggest scares of the group stage when it came to the English sides, though both ultimately qualified.

Current holders Liverpool put in a clinical second-half display to dispatch Salzburg 2-0 in their final Group E match, with Frank Lampard's side progressing from Group H thanks to a 2-1 win over Lille – last season's semi-finalists Ajax dropping into the Europa League despite amassing 10 points

Tottenham were on the wrong end of a 7-2 hammering by Bayern Munich in October, but three successive victories sent them through prior to their second meeting with the German champions, while Manchester City qualified as Group C winners.

France – Ligue 1: Lyon, Paris Saint-Germain

Paris Saint-Germain look like they mean business this season and, after ensuring their place in the next round with a 2-2 comeback draw away at Real Madrid, capped off their Group A campaign in style with a 5-0 thrashing of lowly Galatasaray.

Neymar starred on Wednesday, with Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani all scoring too – with their star-studded forward line in such form, Thomas Tuchel's side should be some force in the knockouts.

Memphis Depay was the hero for Lyon, meanwhile, as his 82nd-minute equaliser against RB Leipzig sent Rudi Garcia's side from bottom up to second.

Germany – Bundesliga: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig

Along with PSG, Bayern were the standout performers of the group stage – their haul of 18 points and a goal difference of +19 making them the best group winner in Champions League history.

Leipzig made history when they secured their first participation in the knockout stage thanks to Emil Forsberg's double against Benfica on matchday five in Group G, though Borussia Dortmund had to see off Slavia Prague 2-1 in their final Group F game – and rely on Barcelona to defeat Inter.

Italy – Serie A: Atalanta, Juventus, Napoli

Atalanta seemed on the brink after three straight defeats to start their Group C campaign, yet Gian Piero Gasperini's side battled back – a draw with City and wins over Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar continuing their Champions League adventure, becoming the first side to go through after losing their opening three matches.

Juventus' tally of 16 points in Group D saw them equal their own record – set in 1996-97 and matched in 2004-05 – while Napoli hammered Genk 4-0 on Tuesday to book their last-16 berth, though it was not enough to keep Carlo Ancelotti in his job.

There will be no place in the last 16 for Serie A leaders Inter, though, with Antonio Conte's side dropping into the Europa League.

Spain – LaLiga: Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia

LaLiga, like the Premier League, will have four representatives in the knockout stage. Barca were unconvincing at times in Group F, but had enough to seal their spot with a game to spare before ending Inter's hopes.

Atleti needed to overcome Lokomotiv on matchday six, but did so easily enough thanks to Joao Felix and Felipe – though Kieran Trippier missed an early penalty – and their city rivals Real Madrid ultimately easily progressed from Group A despite a chastening defeat to PSG in their opening match.

Valencia were involved in a mighty tussle with Chelsea and Ajax, who beat them 3-0 in their first home match, but eventually topped Group H thanks to a 1-0 win over the Eredivisie champions on Tuesday.

Zinedine Zidane joked his Real Madrid side would have no issues beating last season's winners Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The LaLiga giants had already secured their knockout berth before their 3-1 win over Club Brugge on Wednesday and can now turn their attention to the draw for the next stage, which takes place on Monday.

Hans Vanaken cancelled out Rodrygo Goes' opener within the space of two second-half minutes, but a first Champions League goal for Vinicius Junior and a sublime strike from Luka Modric sealed all three points for Zidane's side.

Madrid finished second in Group A, five points behind Paris Saint-Germain, which means they will be drawn against the winners of another group, potentially Jurgen Klopp's Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Asked if the Reds were a team to be avoided, Zidane smiled and said: "If we play Liverpool, we will eliminate them."

More soberly, he added: "We can't do anything about the draw."

Madrid were far from their best in Belgium but Zidane insists he was happy with his side's performance.

"We are happy with the victory and with the way we played," he said. "We had difficulty with our game since they usually play with five at the back and, today, they played with four.

"It took 10 or 15 minutes for the players to adjust. The second half was better in every area."

Luka Jovic was chosen to start in attack alongside Rodrygo and Vinicius, but the Serbian was again unable to make an impression.

He has still scored just one goal in Madrid colours since his move from Eintracht Frankfurt, and Zidane concedes the striker needs more playing time to find his groove.

"I don't think he feels lost," the Frenchman said. "He has played little and a player needs to play a lot to be well. 

"I think he has done well and has to continue working as he does. It's a problem of mine, it's not yours. He needs to continue working and, every time he plays, respond. 

"It's not easy because he doesn't play much, but knows the situation. He needs to play, it's true."

Real Madrid ended their Champions League Group A campaign with a routine 3-1 win over Club Brugge at the Jan Breydel Stadium.

Zinedine Zidane's side had already secured their last-16 berth before the clash in Belgium and can now turn their attention to the draw for the knockout stages, which takes place on Monday.

Hans Vanaken cancelled out Rodrygo Goes' opener within the space of two second-half minutes, but a first Champions League goal for Vinicius Junior and a sublime strike from Luka Modric sealed all three points for the LaLiga giants.

Galatasaray's defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital, meanwhile, means Brugge finish third in the group and will now compete in the knockout stages of the Europa League in 2020.

Both goalkeepers were forced into excellent saves inside the opening 15 minutes; Alphonse Areola used his legs to keep out Percy Tau's close-range effort, while Simon Mignolet pawed over Luka Jovic's drive that capped a flowing move.

Isco came agonisingly close to opening the scoring shortly after the half-hour mark, the Spain international dragging wide of Mignolet's right-hand post from 18 yards.

The game then burst into life shortly after the interval, with two goals in as many minutes.

After a marauding run down the right-hand side, Alvaro Odriozola picked out Rodrygo and the Brazilian steered in a superb left-footed volley off an upright to put the visitors ahead.

That was cancelled out just 101 seconds later, however, when Vanaken collected Dennis' pass and whipped the ball past Areola from 15 yards.

Madrid restored their lead after 64 minutes when Vinicius slotted home from close range after Rodrygo had failed to get a shot away inside a crowded penalty area.

Modric then added a touch of gloss to the final scoreline with a sumptuous finish in stoppage time, the Croatian curling his effort past Mignolet from a central position just outside the penalty area.

 

What does it mean? Madrid through but improvement required

It has been far from a stellar campaign so far in this season's Champions League from Madrid, with just three wins from their six group games.

Zidane will know his side needs to improve dramatically if they are to go deep into the latter stages of a competition they won three times between 2016 and 2018.

Rodrygo at home on the big stage

The 18-year-old announced his arrival in European football's premier club competition with a hat-trick against Galatasaray and again showed why he is so highly rated. He took his goal superbly and was in the thick of the action throughout.

Jovic fails to deliver again

The former Eintracht Frankfurt striker has struggled since his move to the Spanish capital, scoring just one goal across all competitions. He came close to adding to his tally in the first half, but offered little else before he was substituted for Karim Benzema in the second half.  

What's next?

Zidane takes his side to Valencia in LaLiga on Sunday before a huge Clasico clash with Barcelona at Camp Nou. Brugge also return to domestic action on Sunday, taking on Mechelen at home.

Lionel Messi believes the gap between Barcelona, Real Madrid and the rest of LaLiga has closed.

Barcelona lead Madrid on goal difference at the top of the table on 34 points, with Sevilla three points back in third.

However, just three points separate fourth-place Real Sociedad on 27 points and Granada in ninth.

Barcelona have lost three and drawn one of their 15 games this season, while Madrid have drawn four and lost one.

Messi thinks it displays that the strength of the teams across the league has improved.

"Everything is becoming more and more even," the Argentina forward said at an Adidas media event on Wednesday.

"They have been for several years and we notice that there is more equality, that any team beats any other team, which is increasingly difficult to play as an away team.

"The teams have become stronger at home because they know that in order to achieve their goals they must do it well at home.

"This makes everything more equal and more complicated."

Messi has one eye on El Clasico with Madrid on December 18 and has no doubt the fixture will once again be pivotal in the title race.

"I expect a very strong Real Madrid," Messi added. "They have shown it in the last matches, in LaLiga and in the Champions League.

"Barca v Madrid and Madrid v Barca are always special matches. It doesn't matter how the teams arrive, although it's true that we both go into it at a good time."

Aaron Wan-Bissaka has been rewarded for his brilliant display up against Raheem Sterling in the Manchester derby, earning inclusion in FIFA Ultimate Team's latest Team of the Week.

Manchester United claimed a fine 2-1 win at the home of the champions on Saturday, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial getting the goals.

But arguably just as vital was the performance of Wan-Bissaka at right-back, as the England Under-21 international played an integral role in nullifying Sterling, one of the Premier League's form players.

Wan-Bissaka completed a match-high five tackles – one a last-ditch challenge to deny Sterling what looked set to be a certain goal – and also made seven clearances.

Liverpool star Sadio Mane is back in the TOTW for the second time, while Serie A's chief creator Luis Alberto lines up in midfield having set up another two goals in Lazio's 3-1 win over Juventus, taking his campaign tally to 11, five more than anyone else in the competition.

Unsurprisingly there is also a place in the team for Real Betis' Joaquin after he became the oldest player in LaLiga history to score a hat-trick, while Memphis Depay and Marco Reus lead the line.

Below, we take a look at the latest squad in full.

FUT TEAM OF THE WEEK

GK: Martin Dubravka (Newcastle United) – 83

CB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Manchester United) – 82

CB: Martin Hinteregger (Eintracht Frankfurt) – 83

CB: Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) – 86

LM: Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – 90

CDM: Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen) – 85

CDM: Luis Alberto (Lazio) – 87

CM: Morgan Sanson (Marseille) – 82

RM: Joaquin (Real Betis) – 83

CF: Memphis Depay (Lyon) – 86

CF: Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund) – 89

SUBSTITUTES:

GK: Luigi Sepe (Parma) – 81

CB: Guillermo Maripan (Monaco) – 82

LM: Cristian Ansaldi (Torino) – 82

CAM: Matheus Pereira (West Brom) – 81

ST: Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) – 84

ST: Cristhian Stuani (Girona) – 82

RF: Lukas Podolski (Vissel Kobe) – 81

RESERVES:

CM: Cristian Battocchio (Brest) – 78

CM: Carlos Sierra (America de Cali) – 73

ST: Vinicius (Benfica) – 79

ST: Adam Le Fondre (Sydney FC) – 78

ST: Josh Maja (Bordeaux) – 75

The Royal Spanish Football Federation says it is not responsible for security during El Clasico and warned it could impose sporting sanctions if political demonstrations lead to trouble at next week's Camp Nou match.

Barcelona are due to host bitter rivals Real Madrid on December 18 in the fixture that was initially due to take place in October.

The original contest was postponed due to political tension that led to violent scenes in Catalonia after nine Catalan political leaders received long prison sentences for their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent unilateral declaration of independence.

A rally had been called for October 26 – the first date set for the Clasico – and it was decided to rearrange the match for security reasons.

But the Tsunami Democratic protest group – formed of Catalan independence activists – says it has called on its supporters to head to four meeting points near Camp Nou at 4pm local time on the day of the Clasico. Tsunami Democratic says more than 18,000 are due to join its protest.

The football federation (RFEF) has since made the decision to remind Barcelona the federation is not responsible for the organising of security, while also warning of sanctions if "the application of sports discipline is necessary".

A statement from the RFEF read: "In relation to the game on December 18 at the Camp Nou between Barcelona and Real Madrid, the RFEF states that, exactly as in all meetings of official competitions and being a public event, it does not hold responsibility in security matters.

"The RFEF will apply the regulations in force both before and during and after the game if there are situations of force majeure or circumstances in which the application of sports discipline is necessary.

"Similarly, as usual, the RFEF is in contact with the security forces to coordinate the arrival of the refereeing team at the Camp Nou facilities according to established protocols."

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has his sights set on a slice of Champions League history when Tottenham visit the Allianz Arena on Wednesday.

The Poland international needs two goals against Jose Mourinho's side to claim the record for goals in the group stage of a single campaign – an honour held by Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 11 in 2015-16 for Real Madrid.

Atletico Madrid will book their place in the last 16 if they beat Lokomotiv Moscow, while Shakhtar Donetsk will join Manchester City in progressing from Group C if they overcome Atalanta.

In Group A, already-qualified Paris Saint-Germain host Galatasaray and Real Madrid – who have also booked their place in the knockout stages – travel to Club Brugge.

Here is the pick of the key Opta facts for Wednesday's eight matches.

Club Brugge v Real Madrid

7 - This is the seventh Champions League group stage campaign which Club Brugge have failed to progress from. No side has ever competed in more group stages without progressing from any in the history of the competition.

2 - Karim Benzema has scored two goals in each of his last two Champions League games. Only four players have scored two or more in three consecutive games - Giovane Elber (2001), Filippo Inzaghi (2002), Cristiano Ronaldo (2013, twice in 2017) and Lewandowski (2018).

Paris Saint-Germain v Galatasaray

18 - PSG striker Kylian Mbappe has scored 18 goals in 29 appearances in the Champions League. If he scores twice in this game, Mbappe would become the youngest player in the competition's history to reach 20 goals, aged 20 years and 356 days.

1 - Galatasaray scored their first goal of the 2019-20 Champions League campaign in their last game against Club Brugge, ending a run of 38 shots without scoring from the start of the campaign. In total, they have only scored once from 43 shots in the competition this term.

Bayern Munich v Tottenham

16 - Bayern Munich had 16 shots on target in their 6-0 win over Red Star Belgrade on matchday five; the most by a team in this season's Champions League. Bayern last had more in a Champions League game in October 2013 against Viktoria Plzen (18).

2 - New Spurs manager Mourinho has lost both of his previous away games against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, losing in the quarter-finals with Chelsea in 2004-05 and the semi-finals with Real Madrid in 2011-12.

Olympiacos v Red Star Belgrade

1 - Olympiacos have picked up just one point from their five Champions League games this season. Only in 2017-18 (one) have they picked up one point or fewer from a completed group stage.

19 - Red Star have conceded 19 goals in their five Champions League games this season, more than any other side. There have been just five occasions of a team conceding 20+ goals in a single group stage in the competition, most recently by Legia Warsaw in 2016-17 (24).

Dinamo Zagreb v Manchester City

5 - Dinamo Zagreb have picked up five points in this season's Champions League. Only in 1998-99 (eight points) have they won more in a single group stage in the competition. 

19 - City’s Raheem Sterling has scored 19 goals in 46 appearances in the Champions League. He could become the sixth Englishman to reach 20 goals in the competition after Wayne Rooney (30), Paul Scholes (24), Frank Lampard (23), Steven Gerrard (21) and Harry Kane (20). Should Sterling score in his 47th appearance, he would be the second quickest Englishman to 20 Champions League goals after Kane (24 appearances).

Shakhtar Donetsk v Atalanta

5 - Shakhtar Donetsk are without a win in each of their last five Champions League home games (drawn three, lost two). It is their longest ever winless run at home in the competition.

2 - Atalanta have lost their last two away games in the Champions League, conceding nine goals in the process. They last lost three consecutive away matches in all European competition back in October 1987.

Atletico Madrid v Lokomotiv Moscow

2 - Atletico Madrid have lost consecutive matches in the Champions League; they've never lost three in a row in the competition. The Spanish side last lost three consecutive games in all European competitions back in October 1984 in the UEFA Cup.

0 - Lokomotiv Moscow have never won an away game against Spanish opposition in all European competition, losing six of their seven such games and failing to score in each defeat.

Bayer Leverkusen v Juventus

3 - Bayer Leverkusen have benefited from three own goals in this season's Champions League, with only two teams benefiting from more in a single campaign: Inter in 2002-03 (four) and Barcelona in 2017-18 (five).

27 - Juventus forward Ronaldo has scored 27 goals in 24 Champions League appearances against German clubs; the most a single player has accumulated against sides from a particular nation in the competition's history.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane remains hopeful Eden Hazard will not have to undergo surgery on his fractured ankle.

Hazard was forced off late on against Paris Saint-Germain towards the end of November after receiving a bang to his ankle.

Early concerns appeared to be put to rest when Madrid's medical team claimed the Belgian had only suffered bruising, but after needing crutches for longer than expected, he was sent for a second scan.

It was then that a small fracture was identified, essentially confirming he will not feature in El Clasico on December 18.

While there is no suggestion Hazard will be able to recover in time to face Barcelona, Zidane is at least hoping he will not require an operation.

"I don't believe so [that Hazard will need surgery]," Zidane told reporters on Tuesday.

"But I don't know exactly either. Yes, I can tell you that the injury he has is now controlled and I hope it [the time out] is less than expected.

"There was talk of a week or two, but now the important thing for him is to be patient, because it is not a good time, but I hope he will return quickly with us."

Madrid face Club Brugge in Belgium on Wednesday already knowing they will finish second in Champions League Group A.

As such, Zidane has taken the opportunity to rest some key players, with Toni Kroos and Sergio Ramos not in the travelling party, but Casemiro is with the team, suggesting the coach does not feel anyone else can do the Brazilian's job.

"We know what Case [Casemiro] does, we've talked about this many times," Zidane said. "He's a player that plays many minutes.

"A coach always has to choose a call and think about the specific game. Then we will see the others.

"There are many players who have a lot of time [and travelled], like [Raphael] Varane, and you also have to consider the minutes they have with their selections."

Real Madrid are not contenders to win the Champions League this season, according to former player Hamit Altintop.

Madrid won three consecutive Champions League trophies under Zinedine Zidane between 2016 and 2018 but, without the Frenchman, exited to Ajax in the round of 16 last term.

Zidane is back at the Santiago Bernabeu with Madrid already guaranteed to finish second in Group A behind Paris Saint-Germain, while domestically Los Blancos are only behind LaLiga leaders Barcelona on goal difference.

Altintop spent the 2011-12 season with Madrid and the former Turkey international does not believe Madrid are cut out for Champions League success this term.

"I don't think they are a championship contender," Altintop told Omnisport. "I think you can compare the situation of Real Madrid to the situation of the German national team. 

"They are in a rebuilding phase and want to integrate new players. They invested in young players and they need time. But right now they are playing good, convincing football, because the requirements are there. 

"But if it is enough for the Champions League final... I would like Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, my two former clubs, to play in the Champions League final in Istanbul, with me as an ambassador. But I think it will be difficult."

Altintop played under Jose Mourinho during his time at Madrid and the Portuguese coach is seeking a third Champions League title, having helped his new club reach the next round since replacing Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham last month.

"I think that Mauricio Pochettino did great work the five years before. And I think that the players and the team as a whole increased their value," Altintop added. 

"Considering their style of playing, the Champions League final [last season's loss to Liverpool] and their confidence I think that Jose Mourinho isn't a bad choice because he knows every factor of the game and every trick in the book. 

"He is able to get Tottenham one step further. I will follow it closely and we are still in contact. I wish him all the best. Last year they played really well and with this squad they can do it this year.

"I think he is able to separate the business from personal stuff. He is really good at that. I believe he was one of the first ones to transform football into showbusiness, what many people love.

"You need a little bit extra for that and it shows how intensely he is living that. He is able to - as a friend, as a coach - to praise your strength and to motivate you. That is what the young people need."

Barcelona and Real Madrid face a new threat of disruption at the season's first Clasico after pro-Catalan independence activists targeted the Camp Nou for protests.

The Tsunami Democratic protest group, which is run by anonymous leaders and mobilises followers by means including social media, has called on its supporters to head to four meeting points close to Barcelona's stadium at 4pm local time on December 18.

That is four hours before kick-off in the biggest match of the LaLiga season so far, which was moved from October 26 to its December date following civil unrest in Catalonia.

Tsunami Democratic says more than 18,000 supporters have already committed to joining its protest, including many who have tickets to the Clasico and members - known as 'socios' - of home club Barcelona.

The jailing of nine Catalan separatist leaders sparked major protests in Barcelona during early autumn, and the Tsunami Democratic group was behind a move to bring the city's El Prat airport to a standstill by flooding it with protesters.

Now the same group, knowing it will be unable to protest inside Camp Nou, is intending to make itself impossible to avoid on the day of the match, which could mean political protests take place inside the stadium as millions watch across the world.

Tsunami Democratic said: "In an exceptional situation, it is necessary to act exceptionally."

In a statement posted on Twitter, the group said: "At this time, an important part of the Catalan population suffers from exclusion for ideological reasons.

"It cannot exercise fundamental rights without repression, nor can it exercise his right to self-determination. In addition, dozens of people are or have been arrested simply for exercising and promoting these rights.

"After verifying the impossibility of agreeing with FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF the opportunity to make visible, in the stands and on the pitch, in an effective form, the call for dialogue that Spain ignores, Tsunami Democratic commits to doing so.

"For this, Tsunami Democratic convenes a massive concentration on December 18 at 4pm outside Camp Nou. So far, more than 18,000 people have signed up to the call.

"Many of these people, with tickets or membership [of FC Barcelona], have already received the relevant slogans and have organised to develop the actions planned for a day that will be followed by 650 million people around the world."

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