Juventus have left Emre Can and Mario Mandzukic out of their Champions League squad.

Midfielder Can, who joined from Liverpool on a free transfer in 2018, has been overlooked in favour of Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi, Miralem Pjanic and new signings Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot.

Mandzukic, who scored in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in 2017, misses out in favour of Gonzalo Higuain, Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi in attack.

Experienced defender Giorgio Chiellini has also been left out as he is expected to be sidelined for approximately six months following surgery on a damaged anterior cruciate ligament.

Head coach Maurizio Sarri expressed concern last month that he would be forced to omit senior players from the 22-man list for the group stage given the size of his squad.

He branded the club's transfer policy "embarrassing" as Juve struggled to offload stars to accommodate the arrivals of several new players, including Rabiot, Ramsey, Matthijs de Ligt, Danilo, Luca Pellegrini, Merih Demiral and Gianluigi Buffon.

"We have to cut six players from the Champions League squad," he said. "If we don't, the choices we have are crazy.

"The last 20 days of the [transfer] market will be difficult for us. It's a difficult, embarrassing situation, because we risk leaving top players out of the squad list.

"It's a situation we have to resolve, and it's not strictly connected to the choices of the coach or club."

Juve are in Group D of the Champions League alongside Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow.

They begin their campaign against Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano on September 18.

Martin Skrtel has terminated his Atalanta contract by mutual consent less than a month after joining from Fenerbahce and been replaced by Simon Kjaer on deadline day.

Skrtel, 34, is reported to have fallen out with coach Gian Piero Gasperini regarding slow first-team integration and the two parties agreed to end their association just 24 days after the defender joined.

Atalanta moved efficiently to secure a replacement, however, with Denmark international Kjaer arriving on loan from Sevilla, where he had spent two seasons.

Although generally first choice at the back in those two campaigns, the signings of Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos saw Kjaer fall way down the pecking order and he becomes the third player to swap Sevilla for Atalanta in this window after Luis Muriel and Guilherme Arana.

Kjaer is the 19th player to leave Sevilla since Monchi's return as sporting director, while they added a 13th new signing of this window with the deadline-day arrival of goalkeeper Yassine Bounou on loan from Girona with a purchase option.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk are the three finalists for The Best FIFA Men's Player award.

FIFA announced a 10-man shortlist for the gong in July and, following the initial voting period, the final three have been revealed.

Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Harry Kane, Eden Hazard, Sadio Mane, Kylian Mbappe and Mohamed Salah were the seven players cut from the initial list.

Liverpool defender Van Dijk is the favourite of many after playing a vital role in the Reds' Champions League triumph and their Premier League title challenge – finishing just a point behind Manchester City.

He was recognised for his exploits just last week, when he was named UEFA's Player of the Year, beating Messi and Ronaldo to the prize.

The Netherlands international also helped his country to the final of the Nations League, only for a Ronaldo-inspired Portugal to lift the inaugural title.

Ronaldo also enjoyed success at club level, helping Juventus cruise to an eighth successive Scudetto, finishing as their top scorer across all competitions with 28 goals.

Messi's numbers dwarfed Ronaldo's, though, as the Barcelona star scored 51 goals in total, including 36 from 29 starts in LaLiga, with Barca retaining their title.

Those goal-scoring exploits won Messi the European Golden Shoe and, on top of being LaLiga's most prolific player, he also set up 13 goals, a haul only matched by Pablo Sarabia.

Messi's Barca team-mate Marc-Andre ter Stegen is among the three finalists for the goalkeeper award, with City's Ederson and Alisson of Liverpool also in the hunt.

And there is a distinct Premier League feel to the final three of the coaches' award, with Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino all in the running.

The winners will be announced on September 23.

Manchester City "dream" of winning the Champions League, but Pep Guardiola will not let success or failure become an obsession.

Expectations in Europe have grown even greater for City following a second successive Premier League title.

An agonising quarter-final loss to Tottenham ended their run last term and forced a domestically dominant outfit to watch from afar as Liverpool went on to lift the trophy in an all-English final.

City's best Champions League result, a semi-final berth in 2015-16, was achieved under Manuel Pellegrini but his successor, a two-time winner of the competition with Barcelona, will not be consumed by the idea of making history.

"It's important, I know it's important but if it doesn't happen it will be important too," Guardiola said.

"I'll be the same guy, wake up in the morning, work a lot, go to sleep as early as possible, eat good and take care of myself as much as possible, love the people I love.

"It's not going to change my life.

"I'm going to do my best but when I say thank you to everybody for my time here it's not going to change my opinion about this title or no title."

He added: "The day I arrived [at City] in the first season, people say you have to win the Champions League because Manuel and [Roberto] Mancini won the Premier League.

"They say you have to. Okay, I have to try. I know the reason why we'll be judged."

City have been drawn alongside Shakhtar Donetsk, Atalanta and Dinamo Zagreb for this season's group stage.

Guardiola warned even the slightest misstep could be the club's undoing, their dreams having been dashed in April by a last-gasp offside call spotted only by VAR.

"There are incredible teams in Europe, as strong as we are," he said.

"One inch, one decision, one bad performance, one mistake and you're out. We spoke many times about that.

"We're going to try. Of course we want to win it. We dream of it, we work for it, but the same as we work for the Premier League again."

Bayern Munich have the perfect blend of young and experienced players to win the Champions League, according to striker Robert Lewandowski.

The German champions have been unable to transfer their domestic dominance onto the continental stage in recent years, lifting the famous trophy just once in the past 18 years.

They last made the final in 2013 and were knocked out by Liverpool in the last 16 last season, but Lewandowski believes the five-time European champions can go all the way in 2019-20.

"This is a big goal for us. I think we can do it," the Poland international told Bild.

"Of course it always takes some luck - it can decide a single game - but we have a great squad now."

Bayern have been placed in a group with Olympiacos, Red Star Belgrade and last season's finalists Tottenham.

And Lewandowski feels Bayern are in good shape after adding Ivan Perisic, Lucas Hernandez, Benjamin Pavard, Michael Cuisance, Jann-Fiete Arp and Philippe Coutinho to their squad since last season.

"We have a lot of young and hungry players, but also enough experienced players - the mix is ​​very good," he said.

"But it will also be important that we play well in the group stage and get into the competition well."

Lewandowski has scored five goals in two Bundesliga games this term and signed a new four-year deal with Bayern on Thursday.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed on Friday that Oliver Kahn will succeed Karl-Heinz Rummenigge as the club's chief executive and chairman of the board in 2022.

Liverpool and Netherlands defender Virgil Van Dijk beat Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi and Juventus tallisman Cristiano Ronaldo to UEFA's Best Player title. Should he have? The Zone Blitz team asks the question.

Borussia Dortmund and Inter are relishing taking on Barcelona in this season's Champions League group stage following Thursday's draw.

The three clubs were paired alongside Czech champions Slavia Prague in Group F, with the action set to get under way in mid-September.

Dortmund captain Reus said he and his team-mates had been hoping to draw LaLiga holders Barca, who have not reached the final in any of the past four years.

"A few of us from the team were stood together at breakfast this morning and we all agreed that we'd love to draw Barcelona," Reus said on UEFA's official website.

"Buzzing that it's actually happened! Obviously the group is extremely difficult; we're coming up against teams who we've not tested ourselves against in recent years.

"The games against Barcelona will have a party atmosphere for us and our fans! We believe in our quality and our aim is to go through."

Serie A side Inter have been drawn in the same group as Barcelona for the second successive season.

Inter finished third behind group winners Barca last term, but Nerazzurri vice-president Javier Zanetti feels they can thrive under new head coach Antonio Conte.

"Barcelona have been protagonists in the Champions League for a very long time, they have players of extraordinary value but there are also two other strong opponents in the group," Zanetti told Inter's official website.

"We will have to play our cards and see what happens on the field. We are a well-built team, we have purchased experienced players and we must aim to make a good group to win the round of 16. There are the conditions to do well, we face great teams but we are Inter.

"Against Lecce [a 4-0 win] I saw a team that will always try to make the match and this. It is an important point: the coach is very happy with the work of the boys, he knows that a demanding season is waiting for us, but he has brought the right mentality.

"You know how football lives, he transmitted to the team all his enthusiasm and his desire to win."

Cristiano Ronaldo is hoping for a kinder reception from the Atletico Madrid faithful after Juventus were drawn against Diego Simeone's side in the Champions League group stage.

Juve met Atleti in the round of 16 last season with Real Madrid icon Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick in the second leg to overturn the Rojiblancos' 2-0 lead from the first match.

Ronaldo was jeered by the Atleti support during the first leg and responded by gesturing a "five" to the home fans, demonstrating the number of Champions League trophies he has won.

The Portugal star also told reporters in the post-match mixed zone: "I won five Champions Leagues, Atletico Madrid zero. Defeat? That's what happens in football, let's see if Atletico will qualify."

Ronaldo's warning shot to Atleti ultimately proved true and now the sides will meet again in this season's competition having been matched up in Group D alongside Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow.

However, Ronaldo is holding out for a less hostile return to the Wanda Metropolitano on his next return to Madrid.

"It's one more game. Atletico is a great team as we all know," Ronaldo, the all-time leading scorer in the Madrid derby, told Movistar.

"In Madrid I played many times and they were always a tough opponent. I hope they don't crush me again at the stadium, calling me unsportsmanlike. 

"Atletico has an excellent team and an excellent coach. The other two adversaries are tough. This is the draw."

Despite their superb comeback against Atleti, Juve were dumped out in the next round, going out to Erik ten Hag's scintillating Ajax side.

It was a defeat that ultimately appeared to cost Massimiliano Allegri his job, with Juve also moving to sign one of Ajax's scorers in that encounter – Netherlands star Matthijs de Ligt – in the close season.

But Ronaldo is confident the Serie A champions can go deeper into the tournament this time around.

"The favourite does not always win. Look at last year. Barcelona in Anfield, with Juve the same," Ronaldo said.

"I hope it is this year. I am confident. I hope it is the year of Juve. All teams reinforce to win. I hope it's Juve. We have great team and great players, a great coach."

Thomas Tuchel expects Paris Saint-Germain will face big atmospheres in the Champions League after they were drawn with Real Madrid, Club Brugge and Galatasaray.

PSG are still seeking their first European crown and have been knocked out in the last 16 in each of the last three seasons, after a run of four successive quarter-finals.

Tuchel's side failed to get to the last eight in 2018-19 when they squandered a first-leg lead earned at Old Trafford to crash out at home to Manchester United in the round of 16.

That defeat put pressure on PSG coach Tuchel, who also saw his side fail to defend either their Coupe de la Ligue or Coupe de France titles.

PSG were knocked out by Madrid in 2017-18, Neymar's first season at the club, with the Brazilian superstar now reportedly a target for the LaLiga giants.

Neymar's future remains uncertain ahead of the September 2 European transfer deadline, but Tuchel was satisfied with his side's position in Group A of the Champions League.

"These are three big atmospheres and very nice atmospheres to play football," Tuchel told PSG's official Twitter account.

"We know like every year that we must be ready from the first match. We will be well prepared to show form from the start."

The group stage gets under way in mid-September, with the final due to be held in Istanbul on May 30 next year.

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi added: "We do not have an easy draw but it's the Champions League, we do everything we can to get ready.

"Real Madrid is a big club, we have a lot of respect for them, but we're PSG, we need to prepare well for this match, it's a good preparation for us, the goal is to go as far as possible."

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo thinks Lionel Messi has pushed him to become a better player and says he enjoys a "good relationship" with the Barcelona star.

The pair dominated the Ballon d'Or voting for a decade, winning it five times apiece before Luka Modric broke their stranglehold last year.

Messi and Ronaldo were second and third respectively for the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award for 2019, which was won by Virgil van Dijk.

Ronaldo swapped Real Madrid for Juventus in 2018 and Messi recently confessed he has missed having the Portugal international in LaLiga.

Speaking at UEFA's award ceremony ahead of Thursday's Champions League draw, Ronaldo thanked Messi for helping to raise his game and vowed to maintain his high performance levels.

"We have shared the stage [for] 15 years. I don't know if that's happened before - the same two guys, all the time," he said.

"We had that battle in Spain, I pushed him, and he pushed me. So, it's good to be part of the history of football.

"Of course, we have a good relationship. We haven't had dinner together yet, but maybe in the future!

"Leo is two years younger than me but I look good for my age. I hope to be here next year, and in two or three. People who don't like me will continue to see me here."

Messi, sitting alongside Ronaldo at the glitzy ceremony in Monaco, pipped Ronaldo to be named the Forward of the Season for the 2018-19 Champions League.

"With Cristiano, it was a beautiful rivalry," he said.

"It's nice to score goals. The goal is always to try to do things to win, before scoring. But if you can win and score, then [it's] better."

Cristiano Ronaldo should have won the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award instead of Virgil van Dijk, Juventus vice president Pavel Nedved has suggested.

Defender Van Dijk triumphed at Thursday's ceremony having played a key part in Liverpool's Champions League triumph last term and Netherlands' run to the Nations League final.

Ronaldo appeared in good spirits despite being overlooked for the prize, joking with old rival Lionel Messi in a stage-side interview.

Nedved, though, was in no doubt over which of the nominated trio should have been given the trophy.

"I expected Ronaldo's victory, but we accept everything," he said to Sky Sport Italia.

Ronaldo hit a hat-trick to steer Juve through a Champions League last-16 tie with Atletico Madrid last season and the two clubs will meet again in the 2019-20 group stage.

The Serie A champions will also face Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow in Group D.

"A tough round, not easy, but there are no easy matches in the Champions League," Nedved said. "We have changed a lot, we have a new coach and players, but I am convinced that we can do well."

Juve coach Maurizio Sarri is yet to lead his team from the dugout in a competitive game after contracting pneumonia.

He missed a 1-0 win at Parma on the opening weekend and will be absent again for Saturday's visit of old club Napoli.

Nedved, though, believes the former Chelsea boss will be ready to take his place when Juve face Fiorentina on September 14, ahead of their first Champions League group game the following week.

"It was right that, for these first two Serie A matches, he should be left to recover: with pneumonia, there is no joking," he said. 

"I think we will see him back on the bench immediately after the international break."

Bayern Munich's sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge have welcomed the club's Champions League draw.

The Bundesliga champions are in Group B with last term's beaten finalists Tottenham, as well as Greek giants Olympiacos and Red Star Belgrade.

Bayern were knocked out by Liverpool at the round of 16 stage last term, falling 3-1 at home after a goalless draw at Anfield.

But Bayern's executives are in bullish mood that they will put in a better performance under coach Niko Kovac this time out.

"We can definitely live with that group," said Salihamidzic on Bayern's official Twitter account. 

"Our expectation is to qualify for the knockout stages as group winners, but we would be well-advised not to underestimate any team.

"Especially in Piraeus and in Belgrade we will not only come up against highly-motivated opposition, but also a very passionate home crowd."

Chief executive Rummenigge was also satisfied with Bayern's draw.

"I think we can be pleased with our group," he said. "It is important to be highly motivated and fully concentrated from the start and to treat each opponent with respect."

Former Bundesliga star Son Heung-min is pleased to be heading back to Munich to take on Bayern.

"Bayern will be special because they are one of the biggest teams in Europe," the Tottenham forward told his club's official Twitter account.

"You're always excited to play in this competition against these teams. We need to remember and learn from what we did last year." 

Istanbul will host the final on May 30 with the group stage getting under way in mid-September.

Virgil van Dijk has won UEFA's Player of the Year award.

The Liverpool defender took the honour ahead of Barcelona captain Lionel Messi and Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.

Van Dijk's arrival from Southampton made him the world's most expensive defender and he helped repay his fee by starring as the Reds won Champions League glory last term.

"I need to thank all my team-mates and the staff. I wouldn't have achieved what I have over the last year [without them], my family of course, it's been a long road but it's part of my journey, who I am," Van Dijk said.

"I had to work hard every step of the way, it's part of me and I'm happy about that. I'm proud to get that trophy and it's a credit to everyone who helped me along the way.

The Netherlands international is considered a leading contender to win this year's Ballon d'Or, which has not been given to a defender since Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro triumphed in 2006 having led the Azzurri to World Cup glory.

Taking the Women's Player of the Year award was England right-back Lucy Bronze, who beat out Lyon team-mates Ada Hegerberg and Amandine Henry.

UEFA also handed out positional awards for male players, with Van Dijk landing Champions League Defender of the Season recognition in addition to taking the top prize.

Midfielder of the Season went to Frenkie de Jong for his performances in Ajax's stunning run to the semi-finals, while Forward of the Season was given to Messi.

Champions League holders Liverpool have learned their opponents for the 2019-20 group stage, with Jurgen Klopp's side facing Napoli again.

The Reds were placed in Group B, which also includes Salzburg and Genk, when Thursday's draw was made in Monaco.

Inter's return to the Champions League saw them placed along with Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund in a daunting Group F, which also includes Slavia Prague.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid's bid to recapture their crown will see Zinedine Zidane's men take on Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, as well as Club Brugge and Galatasaray.

Champions League group stage draw in full:

Group A: Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Club Brugge, Galatasaray

Group B: Bayern Munich, Tottenham, Olympiacos, Red Star Belgrade

Group C: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo, Atalanta

Group D: Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moscow

Group E: Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg, Genk

Group F: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter, Slavia Prague

Group G: Zenit, Benfica, Lyon, RB Leipzig

Group H: Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia, Lille

Holders Liverpool have been drawn with Napoli in the Champions League group stages, while Real Madrid will face Paris Saint-Germain.

Madrid and PSG will also meet Club Brugge and Galatasaray in Group A, with the action set to get underway on September 17 and 18, while the final will be played in Istanbul on May 30.

Liverpool's attempt to defend their title will see Jurgen Klopp's Reds come up against Napoli, Salzburg and Genk in Group E.

Meanwhile, beaten finalists Tottenham are in Group B with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, as well as Greek giants Olympiacos and Red Star Belgrade.

The strongest group is arguably F, where Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Antonio Conte's Inter are joined by Slavia Prague.

Perhaps the most open is Group G,where Russian champions Zenit are in with Benfica, Lyon and RB Leipzig.

Juventus take on Atletico Madrid in a repeat of last season's quarter-final in Group D, where Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow were also placed.

Manchester City, among the favourites for the tournament, take on familiar foes in the form of Shakhtar Donetsk, along with Dinamo Zagreb and tournament debutants Atalanta.

Europa League winners Chelsea meet last term's semi-finalists Ajax in Group H, with those sides meeting in European competition for the first time. Valencia and Lille complete that section.

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