Jurgen Klopp said Napoli can win the Champions League, while the Liverpool manager backed his team to bounce back from their defeat.

Defending champions Liverpool were beaten 2-0 by hosts Napoli in a controversial Group E opener on Tuesday.

Dries Mertens converted an 82nd-minute penalty after Jose Callejon appeared to go down under minimal contact from Andy Robertson at Stadio San Paolo, where the referee's decision was ratified by a VAR check, and Fernando Llorente sealed the win.

Liverpool manager Klopp, whose side lost 1-0 to Napoli in last season's group stage, was frustrated with the penalty decision afterwards and when asked about the Champions League chances of Carlo Ancelotti's side, he said: "They can win the competition, that’s how it is.

"If you have a good plan, if you have good players, which is what they obviously have, then they can win the competition. We experienced that you don't have to be the best team in the world to win the Champions League.

"You have to be in the right moment, you need to be lucky in some situations and when there's only two guys in the room that think it's a penalty you still have to accept that's a penalty, but that's all. They can win the competition, of course."

Klopp was pressed as to whether Napoli were fresher and finished stronger than Liverpool due to Serie A starting later than the Premier League, and the German was not happy.

"Tonight, the questions are really a challenge, to be honest," Klopp said. "I think the guy from Sky Italia asked me or told me Napoli was much better than us. I didn't see that game, so I don't know exactly where he was when the game happened.

"But now you say we were tired. Who had the cramps? Who was on the ground? Liverpool players or Napoli players? After the 2-0 they looked fresher than us, after the 1-0 they looked fresher than us – that's normal. You have a boost. But there was no fresher team on the pitch. There was no physical problem apart from the normal physical problems in a game like this, which is very intense [because] both teams fight hard and all that stuff. It's not a physical problem tonight.

"We have to finish the situations off. How everybody is in life, you need positive moments and you can run forever. We didn't have really positive moments tonight. They obviously got the second air, so they could go again. That's normal, but that was not the reason."

Klopp added: "I hope it [the result] is not decisive. Give us at least a few more games to change the table. In the moment it looks like Napoli’s through, but we still will be playing. We will not stop."

Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed sex with model girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez is superior to the best goal of his glittering football career.

Speaking in an interview on ITV, Ronaldo was asked about a spectacular overhead kick he scored against Juventus for Real Madrid in April 2018.

The 34-year-old agreed it was the best goal of his career, but it still did not match a night between the sheets with 25-year-old Rodriguez.

"No, not [when compared] with my Geo, no!" Ronaldo said as he laughed at the question.

"I tried to score this goal for many, many years. I had scored 700-odd goals but I hadn't done this. I thought 'finally I had scored a bicycle, the beautiful jumping'.

"The way I had done against Gianluigi Buffon, against Juventus, in the Champions League. It was a beautiful goal."

Ronaldo spoke about how it was "love at first sight" with Spaniard Rodriguez, who he first encountered at a Gucci shop.

"Geo's the mum of my kids, and I'm so passionate for her, you know. It's great," explained the Juventus forward.

"Geo, is, you know, part of me. She helped me so much. Of course, I'm in love for her.

"She's my friend. We have conversations, I open the heart for her, she open the heart for me."

When pressed by Morgan on whether he would soon marry Rodriguez, Ronaldo added: "One day. No, we'll be [married] one day, for sure. 

"It's my mum's dream as well. So, one day. Why not?"

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag says his side needs to "play smarter" despite a resounding 3-0 win over Lille to open their 2019-20 Champions League campaign.

Last season's beaten semi-finalists were largely in dominant mood against their Ligue 1 opponents. Quincy Promes headed them into an 18th-minute lead before Edson Alvarez scored his first goal for the club five minutes after the interval.

Nicolas Tagliafico added a third with a thumping header after 62 minutes but Lille did carve out a number of golden opportunities over the course of the 90 minutes.

While Ten Hag was delighted to start their Group H campaign with a win, he did urge his side to sharpen up.

"My players have an enormous urge to push forward," he told Ziggo. "We have many players who want to get to the goal quickly but there are times when you have to brake and keep the ball longer. 

"Otherwise, you make the opponent stronger. From an organisational point of view, we have to play smarter.

"We sometimes want way too much and that made it an open game. We talked about it in advance because Lille are a powerful side. We want to give a final pass too quickly instead of holding the ball."

Lille coach Christophe Galtier, meanwhile, was left to rue his side's missed chances and pointed to Ajax's ruthlessness as the only difference between the two teams.

"We played as we wanted to play," he said.

"We wanted to be dangerous. The difference came in being clinical in the penalty areas. They were, and we weren't. The man of the match was the Ajax goalkeeper, which shows we created chances.

"But at this level, you have to put them away and punish your opponents. We didn't do that."

Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente struck late to earn Napoli a 2-0 win at home to holders Liverpool in the first game of the Reds' Champions League defence.

Carlo Ancelotti's men won the corresponding fixture last term with Mertens' spot-kick and Llorente's injury-time goal enough to ensure history was repeated in the Group C clash at the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday.

Andy Robertson was deemed to have tripped Jose Callejon in the box and, after VAR ratified the penalty decision, Mertens squeezed his penalty past Adrian in the 82nd minute.

Liverpool rode their luck in reaching the knockout rounds in 2018-19 and Jurgen Klopp's men will again have to bounce back from an away loss to Napoli this year after Llorente's first goal for the club sealed all three points.

Napoli had an early strike ruled out for offside when Hirving Lozano headed home the rebound after Adrian's excellent double save from Fabian Ruiz.

Sadio Mane's shot was saved by Alex Meret in the 20th minute - Liverpool recording their first shot on target in the game having failed to manage any in last season's visit.

And the Reds should have gone into the break 1-0 up, Firmino heading wide a fine James Milner cross on the Brazil forward's 200th Liverpool appearance.

Napoli had the first big chance of the second half, Adrian showing superb reactions to prevent Mertens from turning in Fabian's deep cross, then Mane overhit a pass to Mohamed Salah as Liverpool broke at speed.

Liverpool were starting to build pressure and, after successive errors from Kalidou Koulibaly and Kostas Manolas handed him a sight of goal in the 65th minute, Salah's drive was turned around the post by Meret.

Napoli's goalkeeper had to deny Mane again as Liverpool looked to finish strongly, but when Callejon jinked into the box he went over Robertson's outstretched leg to win a penalty.

Mertens had to wait for the VAR check, but calmly drilled his strike past Adrian, with Virgil van Dijk's terrible error in stoppage time ensuring former Tottenham striker Llorente could ease home a second.

John Stones has been ruled out for a month with a muscle injury, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

City's defensive options had already been hit by Aymeric Laporte being ruled out for six months by a knee injury, while no replacement was signed for departed club captain Vincent Kompany.

That left Stones and Nicolas Otamendi as City's only senior centre-backs and the pair looked shaky last time out as the champions went down to their first Premier League defeat since January, losing 3-2 away to promoted Norwich City.

City will be further stretched for the upcoming period after Guardiola told reporters ahead of a Champions League trip to Shakhtar Donetsk that Stones was injured in training on Tuesday.

"A month, four or five weeks," Guardiola said when asked how long Stones would be out.

Guardiola previously indicated full-back Kyle Walker and defensive midfielder Fernandinho - an unused substitute against the Canaries - could be options in the heart of City's defence.

The City boss said he could also turn to teenage duo Eric Garcia and Taylor Harwood-Bellis to address the growing injury crisis at the back.

"[It is a] Big challenge. For me as a manager, it's an incredible challenge: just one central defender in Nico," he added.

"But I believe a lot. People don't know the spirit and resolve to solve this problem. The players are going to come back with Fernandinho, Garcia, Harwood-Bellis.

"It's happened, but what we are not going to do is complain. If they are not able, they are not able. We have to have 11 players on the pitch, and I like it, finding a solution."

Stones will likely miss Premier League games against Watford, Everton and Wolves at least as well as an EFL Cup trip to Preston North End and a Champions League home game against Dinamo Zagreb.

City will also be without Phil Foden against Shakhtar, with Guardiola confirming: "He has a virus, a problem with the stomach. He's not able [to play] this game or I think the next."

John Stones has been ruled out for a month with a muscle injury, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

City's defensive options had already been hit by Aymeric Laporte being ruled out for six months by a knee injury, while no replacement was signed for departed club captain Vincent Kompany.

That left Stones and Nicolas Otamendi as City's only senior centre-backs and the pair looked shaky last time out as City went down to their first Premier League defeat since January, losing 3-2 away to promoted Norwich City.

City will be further stretched for the upcoming period after Guardiola told reporters ahead of a Champions League trip to Shakhtar Donetsk that Stones was injured in training on Tuesday.

"A month, four or five weeks," Guardiola said when asked how long Stones would be out.

Birmingham City have been fined £42,500 by the Football Association (FA) after Jack Grealish was attacked by a fan during the derby clash with Aston Villa in March.

Grealish was punched by a supporter, who was later sentenced to 14 weeks in prison and handed a 10-year ban from football matches, as Villa beat Birmingham in the Championship en route to promotion.

Birmingham issued Grealish an apology and banned the perpetrator for life, with the FA now confirming the club's punishment over the incident.

"An independent regulatory commission has fined Birmingham City £42,500 and warned them as to their future conduct," said the FA's statement.

"The club submitted it used all due diligence but was found to have failed to ensure that its spectator[s], and all persons purporting to be its supporters or followers, conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and/or refrained from improper and/or violent behaviour and/or refrained from encroaching onto the pitch area during the EFL Championship fixture against Aston Villa on 10 March 2019."

David Alaba will miss up to three weeks with the thigh tear he suffered on Saturday, Bayern Munich head coach Niko Kovac has confirmed.

Austria international Alaba was forced to skip the Bundesliga draw against RB Leipzig after injuring his left thigh during the warm-up at the Red Bull Arena.

Kovac's timeline potentially rules the left-back out of action until after the October international break.

He will miss Wednesday's home meeting with Red Star Belgrade and is in doubt for the club's second Champions League encounter, a trip to Tottenham at the start of next month.

"David will be out for two, maximum three weeks," Kovac said.

"Obviously, David is a really important player for us. Unfortunately he's going to be out for a couple of weeks but Lucas Hernandez won the World Cup in that position.

"He has a different interpretation of how to play at left-back than David does but he does a very good job.

"Alphonso [Davies] can play in that position, that's actually why we fielded him against Leipzig. He didn't play as a left-back but we fielded him so that he could work together with Lucas. Tomorrow is a Champions League game, it might be a bit different."

One man who could benefit from Alaba's injury is Jerome Boateng.

The centre-back, routinely linked with a move elsewhere during the transfer window, stepped into the starting XI at late notice against Leipzig and impressed Kovac.

"I keep saying the same thing about Jerome Boateng - he's a part of this team and as a part of this team I treat him like everyone else," the Bayern boss said.

"Everyone has the right to play here. Jerome didn't play a lot in the last couple of weeks, however, on Saturday he had to play from the first moment to the last and it was a class performance. I want to emphasise that.

"Of course, I have a lot of very good players. It was his first game [in the Bundesliga] and he played 90 minutes. That's a different rhythm from someone who plays once or twice a week.

"We'll have to see how he copes. I am happy with him and he will get chances to play, that's all I can say really."

Lionel Messi has his sights on a record set by Real Madrid great Raul when Barcelona face Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, as the Champions League proper gets started for the 2019-20 season.

Barca's talisman is back in their squad for the trip to Germany after missing the start of the campaign with a calf injury and, while he is unlikely to start, few would bet against him having a decisive impact if he does make an appearance.

Reigning champions Liverpool begin their title defence at Napoli in what will surely prove to be a tricky test, although Sadio Mane will be aiming to equal a record set by Didier Drogba.

There will also be Champions League bows in the dugout for Frank Lampard and Sylvinho.

Below, we examine the key data for Tuesday's encounters...

Salzburg v Genk

0 - Salzburg have not lost any of their last 18 home matches in European competition (W14 D4 – including qualifiers), with their most recent defeat at home coming in October 2016 against Nice in the Europa League.

1 - Genk forward Mbwana Samatta scored nine goals in 12 appearances in European competition last season and he also finished with 23 goals in the Belgian top flight in 2018-19. Should he play in this match, he will be the first Tanzanian player to make an appearance in the Champions League.

 

Napoli v Liverpool

5 - Napoli have won just one of their past six European meetings with English clubs, losing the other five in this run and failing to score in the most recent three. That one victory was against Liverpool last season, though.

15 - Liverpool forward Sadio Mane has scored 14 goals in 24 Champions League appearances. Should he score in his next outing, he will equal Didier Drogba's record of needing just 25 appearances to score his first 15 goals in the competition, a record for any African player.

 

Inter v Slavia Prague

20 - Inter will be making their 20th appearance in the Champions League/European Cup – only Juventus (34) and AC Milan (28) have had more among Italian sides (including 2019-20).

24 - Inter forward Alexis Sanchez has been involved in 24 goals (12 goals, 12 assists) in his 52 Champions League appearances, but none of these involvements came in six games in the competition for Manchester United, the club he left on loan last month.

 

Borussia Dortmund v Barcelona

33 - Lionel Messi has scored against 32 of the 37 different opponents he has faced in the Champions League. Should he score against Dortmund, the Barcelona star will equal the competition's record for different teams scored against, set by Raul (33 clubs).

2 - Borussia Dortmund have won just two of their past eight Champions League home matches (D2 L4), losing their most recent match 1-0 against Tottenham in the last 16 in 2018-19.

 

Lyon v Zenit

1 - Lyon boss Sylvinho will manage in the Champions League for the first time, also becoming the first non-Frenchman to take charge of the club in Europe's elite competition. The Brazilian made 32 Champions League appearances as a player for Barcelona, Celta Vigo and Arsenal, scoring three goals.

58 - Zenit captain Branislav Ivanovic could make his first Champions League appearance since March 2016 (for Chelsea) in this match. He has made 58 appearances in the competition; only Dejan Stankovic (87) and Predrag Djordjevic (62) have made more among Serbian players.

 

Benfica v RB Leipzig

10 - Benfica are Portugal's sole representative in the 2019-20 Champions League, making it the first time in a decade that there is only one Portuguese club in the competition.

3 - Timo Werner scored three goals from just seven shots on target in the Champions League back in 2017-18, more than any other RB Leipzig player. He went on to net seven times in European competition that term, the highest total by an RB Leipzig player in a single season.

 

Ajax v Lille

6 - Ajax won six games in the 2018-19 Champions League, as many as they did in their previous four participations in the competition.

11 - Including qualifiers, Lille have not won any of their past 11 European matches in all competitions (D6 L5) and scored only five goals in these games.

 

Chelsea v Valencia

102 - Frank Lampard will take charge of a Champions League game for the first time in his managerial career. As a Chelsea player, he made 102 appearances in the competition and is one of only 22 players to have played 100 games or more in the tournament with the same club.

2 - Valencia have reached the Champions League in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2012-13 (three in a row), which was also the last time they made it to the knockout stages of the competition, before being beaten by Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears set on his determination to bring young British talent to Manchester United.

There are four English names on the United manager's radar, apparently, as he looks to rebuild the team into a title-winning force once more.

The end of the season could potentially see a spend of a similar magnitude to the £150million, more or less, that he spent on Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James this year.

 

TOP STORY - MADDISON AND SANCHO TOP SOLSKJAER'S WISH LIST

As per ESPN, Manchester United will pursue deals for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho and Leicester City's James Maddison in 2020.

Manager Solskjaer is set on his policy of recruiting young, hungry British talent and remains keen on signing Sancho, who was reportedly a target this year.

United believe Leicester could sell Maddison for around £70m and are also interested in Newcastle United's Sean Longstaff, Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson and Stoke City's Nathan Collins.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona have been ordered by a judge to pay a €300 fine or play a match behind closed doors as part of Atletico Madrid's complaint against the transfer of Antoine Griezmann, Marca say. Atleti believe they are owed more than the €120m Barca paid to activate his release clause.

- The Daily Mail report Napoli are interested in Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard, a player they value at around €34m (£30.1m). 

- A handful of reports in Italy suggest Bernard Arnault, the billionaire owner of Louis Vuitton, is interested in buying Serie A giants AC Milan

- Back with Manchester United, and Calciomercato say JuventusInter, Milan and Borussia Dortmund are all keeping an eye on Nemanja Matic, who has grown frustrated at his reduced role in Solskjaer's plans.

A member of the Jamaica College Manning Cup Football team was rushed to hospital evening following a lightning strike that felled five players during a match in the ISSA Manning Cup competition against Wolmers’ Boys at Stadium East in Kingston on Monday.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen says it was "inappropriate" for Manuel Neuer to criticise him for speaking out about a desire for more game time for Germany.

Barcelona goalkeeper Ter Stegen described it as a "massive blow" not to feature for his country against Netherlands and Northern Ireland in the international break.

The 27-year-old has had to serve as back-up to Neuer for most of his international career, despite increasing calls for him to be given the number one spot ahead of the Bayern Munich star.

Neuer accused Ter Stegen of being unhelpful by expressing his frustrations in public and suggested he had shown something of a lack of respect towards Bernd Leno and Kevin Trapp, who likewise are battling for more Germany playing time.

Ter Stegen, who has returned to his homeland for Tuesday's Champions League clash between Barca and Borussia Dortmund, thinks Neuer has been unfair but wants to draw a line under the issue.

He told a news conference: "I would like to say something about this. You cannot say we have competition for the goalkeeper position and then expect the players to be happy with the situation if they don't play. Football is about happiness but also disappointment.

"Manuel Neuer does not need to comment on my personal feelings and measure them, I'd say. It's my own opinion. If you think about the last few years, you realise that I always behaved well and what Neuer and other people have said is not fair.

"His remarks were inappropriate but I don't want to say much more. I want to end this controversy."

Ter Stegen's immediate priority is to help sure up Barca's defence, with the Catalans having conceded seven goals in their opening four LaLiga games of 2019-20.

"We're trying to stop the goals going in but things haven't come off," he said. "It's not what we expected. We have to improve. There have been mistakes that we can easily correct. We've spoken about it."

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo admits not everything is resolved with Neymar, but he wants the constant talk around the player to end.

Having failed to secure his desired move back to Barcelona in the transfer window, Neymar made his first appearance of the season in Saturday's Ligue 1 meeting with Strasbourg.

The Brazil star was booed by PSG fans with almost every touch but went on to score the winning goal in the 1-0 victory with a stunning overhead kick in the 92nd minute.

The 27-year-old said afterwards that he expects every game to be like an away match given PSG fans' frustration with his desire to leave the club.

Leonardo is not prepared to ignore Neymar's determination to force an exit just two years on from his €222million arrival, but he insists his compatriot should be allowed the freedom to make amends without scrutiny of his every word and action.

"Neymar made mistakes, yes, but when the transfer window ended he came back in a positive way," Leonardo told RMC.

"He showed up on time [for training] after his matches with Brazil and he behaved very well. He played an important game in not easy conditions. And he scored a spectacular goal, in a Hollywood scenario. And, after the match, he made an honest and very good statement.

"It's certain that, if we look at what he said word for word, we'll always find things to comment on. And it's true that we can't say today that everything is settled. But you can't make a Mexican telenovela around it all. We have to play and to train.

"He is now subject to the same internal rules as all the other players. He's here and he's part of the club.

"Neymar is not a bad guy. He's part of the heritage of football, not just PSG. When you look at the squad, and what we have, for sure we are stronger with him."

PSG meet Real Madrid at Parc des Princes on Tuesday in their opening Champions League group game, with Neymar unavailable due to a three-game suspension.

Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe are set to miss out through injury, leaving Mauro Icardi and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting as PSG's primary attacking options.

Jurgen Klopp dismissed his agent's talk of the weather in Liverpool as a joke that had been misunderstood, clarifying he would not leave Merseyside simply for a warmer climate.

The Reds boss' future was brought up as friend and agent Marc Kosicke complained to DAZN of the gloomy weather during Liverpool winters, suggesting it had hindered contract talks in the past.

But Klopp, facing the media ahead of playing Napoli in the Champions League, sought to set the record straight.

While making repeated light-hearted comments about the temperature of the sweltering media room in Naples, Klopp explained: "He wanted to make a joke so I have to be serious.

"I could make a lot of jokes about the weather - especially sitting here sweating like crazy... I'm not sure I could work here.

"It was obviously the German humour and nobody got it. The weather was never a reason for me to choose a city.

"Liverpool is not always nice but, between March and September, it's nicer than I imagined. I came in October and you could say not to move to Liverpool in October because, until March, it's not too cool.

"It was a bit harsh and I spoke a lot about the weather, but it was long ago. Now, when I speak about the weather, I speak about the wind, which has an affect on football, but that is not allowed as well in England.

"It's not a reason for me to leave the country. I'm fine with the weather. Maybe, at the moment, it's the most healthy weather in the world - we have enough rain, wind is there, it's pretty much the opposite of this room.

"I enjoy that quite often. There's nothing in that story. Obviously it was a bump - he said something and they all went for it.

"He's not only my agent, he's my friend; friends say what they want and he did that and nobody got his joke. That's how it is."

Meanwhile, preparing for the first match of Liverpool's title defence, Klopp remained in jovial mood as it was put to him that his side might be the best in Europe.

Laughing as he heard the question, the manager said: "We cannot be the best team in Europe as Man City are the best team in the world. That's the same planet, I heard.

"There are a lot of good teams out there and you have to prove it constantly. Last year, we were really good. I'm not sure we were the best team in Europe, but we were really good at the right moments. That's why we won the Champions League."

Captain Jordan Henderson similarly was not interested in talk of being considered favourites for the Champions League.

"It's too early to be saying stuff like that," he said. "We have started the season really well and just want to continue that.

"We still feel we can improve and get better - that's what we will try to do tomorrow night. We will try to give everything and start the campaign off really well."

Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool do not feel the burden of being Champions League holders as they begin the defence of their title with a trip to Napoli.

Liverpool were crowned European champions for a sixth time in June with a 2-0 victory over domestic rivals Tottenham in Madrid.

Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti rates the Premier League leaders as favourites to retain their continental crown and Klopp is determined to create more history this season at Anfield. 

"We don't feel the burden of being champions," he said at his pre-match news conference. "It was long ago [that we won it]. 

"We haven't spoken about being holders. Until Saturday we were really focused on Newcastle and yesterday we had a session and today we had one. We spoke about the competition then.

"Will teams play differently against us? I have no clue. I've never won the Champions League before. I hope we are prepared for that.

"You cannot imagine how normal it is to carry on after the celebrations - if you have the right character. We want to create more stories in the future.

"If you start drinking and taking drugs, driving different cars and leaving your missus at home because you are a Champions League winner, then I can't help you."

Liverpool lost all three away games in last season's group phase, including a 1-0 loss to Napoli at Stadio San Paolo.

Klopp is expecting another difficult match in Tuesday's Group E opener in Naples, where the hosts have lost just one of their last seven Champions League matches.

"Last year we had a very difficult group stage and lost all the away games - we try to use that this year to do better," he said.

"Napoli had another really good season and have started the new one well. 

"They have some really good new players but are mainly the same. We are similar - we didn't sign a lot. Napoli are stubborn in a very positive way. They are creative. I enjoy analysing them.

"Can I be sure that something like that won't happen again? No, but the boys haven't given me any signs to think it.  Let's use our skills, stay in the game, fight for everything."

Liverpool are sweating on the fitness of left-back Andy Robertson for Tuesday's match and Divock Origi will definitely miss out.

"Robbo didn't train today and we have to see," Klopp told the club's official website.

"It is not a major thing, it was more precautionary today, but it is not 100 per cent sure [he will be available]. We will have to test it tomorrow and then we will see.

"Origi? We expect him [to be out for] between one and two weeks, but it depends a little bit on when he can deal with the pain."

Page 2 of 760
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.