Antoine Griezmann looks set to be at the heart of 2019's major transfer saga, having announced his intention to leave Atletico Madrid.

Griezmann has been Atletico's leading light since he joined from Real Sociedad five years ago, but he confirmed on Tuesday he will leave the Wanda Metropolitano at the end of the season, with Barcelona reportedly his preferred destination.

Atletico can reflect on a period of success for the club with Griezmann playing a key role, the France forward firing them to Europa League glory last year before winning the World Cup with his country.

Replacing Griezmann will prove a major challenge for Diego Simeone as the striker has scored 133 of their 463 goals in all competitions since 2014-15, 28.7 per cent of the club's total.

But how does that figure compare to some of the other elite strikers of European football in recent seasons?

 

CRISTIANO RONALDO

There was European disappointment for Cristiano Ronaldo this season, but he helped Juventus cruise to another Serie A title and contributed 28 of the 86 goals they scored in all competitions - 32.6 per cent

That figure is remarkably similar to his record at Real Madrid between the 2009-10 and 2017-18 seasons, where he was responsible for 450 of their 1,378 goals - 32.7 per cent - contributing to a historic run of three consecutive Champions League crowns.


LIONEL MESSI

Griezmann could line up with Lionel Messi at Camp Nou next term, with the Argentina attacker on track to win the European Golden Shoe for a record sixth time.

Messi, now captain at Barca, has scored 27.9 per cent of his team's goals since breaking into the team as a teenager in October 2004.

LUIS SUAREZ

Griezmann is widely expected to be a successor to Luis Suarez, with the Uruguay international aged 32 and seemingly coming towards the end of his career.

Suarez has scored 177 of 767 Barcelona's goals in all competitions - 23.1 per cent - since he joined the club from Liverpool in 2014.


ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI

Bayern Munich look set to clinch another Bundesliga title, their success continuing to be built around the reliable goalscoring of Robert Lewandowski.

Poland international Lewandowski joined Bayern in July 2014 and has since scored 189 goals in all competitions for the club, 29.7 per cent of their total in that time.


HARRY KANE

Pep Guardiola once famously described Tottenham as 'the Harry Kane team' and the Opta numbers bear out his assessment to a degree.

England captain Kane has scored 30.6 per cent of Spurs' 519 goals in all competitions since the start of the 2014-15 campaign, winning two Premier League Golden Boots in the process.


SERGIO AGUERO

Perhaps surprisingly, Manchester City's all-time record goalscorer Sergio Aguero has the joint-lowest percentage for his club among the strikers we examined.

Since joining City ahead of the 2011-12 season he has scored 231 of their 1,019 goals in all competitions for a comparatively low 22.7 per cent. However, that still marks a hugely significant contribution to City's ongoing success. 



EDINSON CAVANI

Paris Saint-Germain's all-time leading goalscorer Edinson Cavani has had an injury-hit campaign for the Ligue 1 champions.

Since 2013-14, Suarez's international team-mate Cavani has scored 192 of PSG’s 847 goals in all competitions - 22.7 per cent - although he did play wide when Zlatan Ibrahimovic was at the club.

Arjen Robben has admitted he could retire when he leaves Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old winger is set to depart the Allianz Arena after a decade and is yet to make a call on his next move.

Persistent fitness issues have hampered Robben's final season in Bavaria, though he has still been linked with the likes of Inter and former clubs PSV and Groningen.

The Champions League winner revealed in January that several clubs had made contact, but all options remain on the table.

"I'm late in making a decision, but that has to do with my injury. I wanted to get back on the pitch and then think about my future," Robben told a news conference on Tuesday.

"I hope to make a decision within one or two weeks, but I can't promise anything.

"It's not an easy choice to make. The whole package has to be right, not just in a footballing sense but also for my family.

"The easiest thing to do would be to stop. That is also an option for me, but I'm not sure whether I will do that."

Robben recently returned from a calf injury to make his 700th professional appearance and will bow out from Bayern with an eighth Bundesliga title if the leaders avoid defeat at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on the final day of the season.

"I've already played Saturday's game three times in my head," the former Netherlands international said.

"It would be absolutely incredible [to finish with the title]. That's a dream, but you have to make dreams come true. I am convinced that it works."

Robben will be joined in leaving Bayern by Franck Ribery and experienced full-back Rafinha, who has become the latest long-serving squad member to confirm his impending departure.

The 33-year-old Brazilian said his fond memories of a lengthy stay with the German giants will not be sullied if second-placed Borussia Dortmund pip them to top spot.

"We've been together for so long. That's the most important. Not the last game or the last title," Rafinha said.

"The friendship we have here is the most important thing. That's why my mother said that I should say thank you for everything, to all employees and players. These people are very important to me."

Bayern Munich full-back Rafinha has confirmed he will leave the Bundesliga champions at the end of the season.

The Brazilian joined from Genoa in 2011 and quickly established himself as an important first-team player.

His opportunities have been limited under Niko Kovac this term, however, and he has made just nine Bundesliga starts.

He joins veteran wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery in bidding farewell to the Allianz Arena ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.

"The eight years have been wonderful," he told a media conference. "I've had some great moments. The treble in 2013 was special. All things come to an end eventually."

He will hope to play a part in Bayern's final Bundesliga game of the season at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

Bayern need to beat Kovac's old club at the Allianz Arena to defend their title once more and hold off the challenge of Borussia Dortmund.

Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman have the ability to succeed departing duo Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, says Bayern Munich's former striker Claudio Pizarro.

Ribery and Robben are both leaving the Allianz Arena at the end of the season, having spent a combined 22 years at the club.

Bayern made a public play to sign Chelsea teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi in the January transfer window, having a series of bids for the winger rejected by the Premier League side.

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has indicated Bayern could make another attempt to bring in England international Hudson-Odoi, but Pizarro feels Ribery and Robben's replacements may already be at the club.

"I think they are able to replace them," Pizarro, now in a fourth stint at Werder Bremen, told Omnisport.

"You reach a certain point where you've got to stop [talking about Robben and Ribery] and new people arrive.

"This is normal and these two are very good players. They will have a good development and do good things for Bayern.

"I would like to play with them [Robben and Ribery] but I don't know what they are going to do. I wish them all the best for their future, as I said. I hope they find something they really want to do after Bayern.

"I know Arjen a bit better to be honest, because I was at Chelsea for one year together with him. Since then we had a very good relationship on and off the pitch. I was very happy when he returned to the pitch again after his injury.

"Both are special players on the wing. They would be important for any team. They are good at one-on-ones and how they score goals is essential for any team. It was an honour for me to play with them and I wish them all the best."

Pizarro scored a potentially decisive goal in the title race, his late leveller earlier this month earning Werder a 2-2 draw at home to Borussia Dortmund, who are now two points behind Bayern going into the final weekend of the Bundesliga season.

Werder, meanwhile, wrap up their campaign at home to RB Leipzig, with Florian Kohfeldt's side able to finish as high as seventh in the table.

"Kohfeldt is very good in leading the team," Pizarro, 40, said. "He is a coach that can speak very well to a player. He gives a lot of confidence to the player. I think the player returns this confidence on the pitch.

"He is very good in tactics, he does that really well. And I think he will be a good coach, he is heading in the right direction. With more experience he will become one of the greatest coaches in Germany."

Asked if Kohfeldt, 36, is a potential successor to Germany coach Joachim Low, Pizarro added: "It could happen. We will see. Now he is still at Werder.

"He still has some years here at Bremen where he can gain more experience. This is very important, I think. In the end he will decide on what's best for his career."

RB Leipzig have not held talks with Bayern Munich over a deal for Timo Werner, says the club's chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff.

Germany striker Werner has enjoyed another strong campaign in the Bundesliga, scoring 16 league goals to help Leipzig seal Champions League qualification.

But the 23-year-old's long-term future at Leipzig remains in doubt as his contract runs out in 2020, with Liverpool and Real Madrid among the other clubs reportedly interested.

Werner's last game for Leipzig could therefore come in the DFB-Pokal final against Bayern, with a decision on his future expected soon after.

Mintzlaff previously indicated Leipzig "cannot afford" for Werner to enter the last year of his deal, but he remains hopeful the striker will sign a renewal.

"We have not talked to Bayern about Timo Werner yet," Mintzlaff told Sky. "It was important for us what Timo Werner wants. 

"It was legitimate for a young player like Werner to spend time deciding on his future.

"Maybe Timo will tell us after the cup final: 'Come on, I'll extend by two more years'."

Mintzlaff also confirmed Ralf Rangnick will stay at the club for next season, returning to his old job as sporting director when Julian Nagelsmann arrives from Hoffenheim to take over as head coach.

"We have no dissent at all, but have extremely harmonious and open discussions about the future," he added. "We are glad that we have Ralf Rangnick and do not intend to let him go."

James Rodriguez has stepped up his recovery from a calf injury by playing a full part in Bayern Munich training on Sunday.

The Colombia international has not appeared since having to be replaced shortly after coming on as a substitute against Nurnberg on April 28.

But the midfielder could be available to play a part in Bayern's final Bundesliga game of the season at home to Eintracht Frankfurt.

Bayern need to beat Niko Kovac's old club at the Allianz Arena on Saturday to defend their Bundesliga title once more and hold off the challenge of Borussia Dortmund.

Javi Martinez and Manuel Neuer trained individually as they continue their own recovery programmes.

And there was more good news for Bayern as tests found Thiago Alcantara did not sustain a serious injury in their draw at RB Leipzig.

Bayern head into the final weekend two points ahead of Dortmund, who travel to Borussia Monchengladbach.
 

Niko Kovac has backed Bayern Munich to secure the Bundesliga on the final day of the season after his side's title celebrations were put on hold by a controversial VAR call.

Leon Goretzka had a 51st-minute strike ruled out in Saturday's goalless draw with RB Leipzig after Robert Lewandowski was adjudged to be marginally offside.

Bayern president Uli Hoeness described the decision to disallow the goal as the "joke of the year" but Kovac, although casting doubt on using technology to intervene for such tight calls, has defended the system.

"I have always said that I am a friend of VAR," he said. 

"As it turned out, it was probably a very slight offside. For me, the only question in these situations is: when is the stop button pressed? If I do it too late, then it can be offside and if I press too early, then it is not offside.

"I think you have to hit this point to one hundredth of a second exactly and I don't know if that's possible. But it was offside, and I don't want to discuss that at all."

Bayern's draw at Red Bull Arena, coupled with Borussia Dortmund's 3-2 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf, leaves the reigning champions two points better off than their title rivals with a game to go.

The leaders face Eintracht Frankfurt at the Allianz Arena next Saturday, while Dortmund travel to Borussia Monchengladbach at the same time, and Kovac hopes Bayern can now get the job done against his former employers.

"We have the chance to become champions next week with a point or a victory," he said. "Life writes the best stories. I can play against my old club and can try to win the championship.

"Although, I know Frankfurt have goals in them and they also want to enter European competition, not only in the Europa League but also in the Champions League. It won't be easy."

Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed Thiago Alcantara bruised his knee in Bayern's stalemate with Leipzig, but he is expected to be available for the final day of the season. 

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness blasted the VAR decision to disallow the Leon Goretzka goal that would have secured the Bundesliga title as the "joke of the year".

Niko Kovac's men ultimately slumped to a 0-0 draw away to RB Leipzig, meaning they head into the final weekend of the season just two points ahead of second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who beat Fortuna Dusseldorf 3-2.

Bayern needed to match Dortmund's result and would have done so had Goretzka's 51st-minute strike stood, but it was chalked off after a VAR review adjudged Robert Lewandowski to be marginally offside.

Hoeness was fuming at the decision, with his understanding of VAR technology being that it should only be used in clear-cut cases, rather than those that are marginal.

"I saw a great performance from our team," he told reporters. "We were clearly the better team with many, many chances to score.

"The so-called offside is the joke of the year, because that was not a clear mistake. The video evidence is there to correct clear mistakes.

"It was the same height, millimetres are no advantage. But you're always negative anyway, we're not used to it any other way."

Hoeness was similarly prickly when asked about reported Bayern target Timo Werner playing for Leipzig, with a reporter asking the former West Germany international if he was paying particular attention to the 23-year-old.

"Today I've looked at the Bayern players and not the whites [Leipzig players]," he added. "We're playing for the championship and you [the media] are always looking for other avenues.

"If a dog bites a steward soon, that's more important to you than the football game. We have to get used to that.

"We are in the decisive phase of the championship. It's all about the championship, and everything else we think about afterwards."

Bayern Munich's title celebrations were put on hold after they drew 0-0 at RB Leipzig on Saturday, with a controversial VAR decision disallowing a second-half Leon Goretzka strike.

Niko Kovac's men just needed to match Borussia Dortmund's result at home to Fortuna Dusseldorf, but Lucien Favre's side ran out 3-2 winners, meaning the Bundesliga title will be decided on the final day of the season.

Bayern crafted the better opportunities in an even first half, but Peter Gulacsi rose to the challenge and twice kept Serge Gnabry at bay.

Goretzka's emphatic strike early in the second half was then contentiously wiped out due to offside against Robert Lewandowski and Leipzig held on to ensure Dortmund – two points adrift of the top – remain in the hunt next week.

Leipzig made a promising start and troubled Bayern a couple of times in the first 16 minutes, as Yussuf Poulsen shot wide of the left-hand post before Timo Werner saw a seemingly goal-bound effort crucially blocked.

Bayern gradually improved and Gulacsi produced a vital save to deny Gnabry from close range after Lewandowski's solo run and cross in the 29th minute.

Gnabry went close again just before the break from a tight angle, but again Gulacsi was there to block the winger's volley.

Bayern upped the ante again after the interval, with Kingsley Coman's rasping 25-yard drive testing Gulacsi.

The goalkeeper was unable to prevent Goretzka smashing home in the 51st minute after Ibrahima Konate's poor headed clearance, but luckily for Leipzig a VAR review saw the goal disallowed for the most marginal of offside calls against Lewandowski in the build-up.

Despite Bayern's relentless pressure towards the end they were unable to make the breakthrough, as Gulacsi managed to save a clever Franck Ribery flick and Lewandowski's 89th-minute free-kick went agonisingly wide of the bottom-right corner.

 

What does it mean? Bayern to feel the pressure on the final day

Bayern will head into their final game of the season two points clear at the top, but Eintracht Frankfurt are still chasing a top-four finish and have more than enough ability to trouble them. All of the pressure will be on Kovac's men, and in a season that has seen Bayern show cracks, that is not necessarily a desirable position to be in.

Gulacsi a safe pair of hands

Few players truly shone on Saturday, but Gulacsi in the Leipzig goal certainly stood out, making several necessary saves in an assured display.

Lacklustre Lewandowski

It was a difficult day on the whole for Lewandowski. Although a good run set up a first-half chance for Gnabry, he was otherwise quiet and dealt with well by Konate.

What's next?

Bayern host Champions League hopefuls Frankfurt as they look to secure a seventh successive title, while Leipzig – who will finish third – travel to Werder Bremen.

Former Bayern Munich striker Claudio Pizarro thinks the rest of the Bundesliga have missed an opportunity to capitalise on the champions' troubles this season and end their dominance.

Bayern have endured a difficult campaign under Niko Kovac, with their pre-Christmas form raising serious doubts about their new coach.

Despite Bayern's improvement on the pitch, Kovac's future remains uncertain, with CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge last month failing to guarantee the Croatian will remain in charge for 2019-20.

His comments came after Bayern hammered Borussia Dortmund 5-0, with Lucien Favre's men previously looking unstoppable in the first half of the season.

But dropped points from three of their past five games saw Dortmund relinquish their position at the summit as Bayern pounced, with Pizarro – the scorer of Werder Bremen's equaliser against Favre's side last Saturday – adamant the chasing pack have spurned a chance to stop Germany's most successful club winning a seventh successive title.

"I think this year was a good chance for other teams to beat Bayern," Pizarro told Omnisport.

"But this isn't the first season where they've struggled and are still champions at the end. Their quality is always high and they have many great players.

"They also have good players on the bench. I think that's why at the end they always have enough to win.

"There are two games left, but they have a four-point cushion, so they should be able to win the championship. But these are two tough games. I hope they win the title."

Pizarro's goal against Dortmund means his old club will be crowned champions with a win at RB Leipzig on Saturday, and the 40-year-old received numerous messages of thanks from Bayern players and fans.

"I have never gotten more messages from Munich than after the goal against Dortmund," he said.

"My goal was very important for them. Many players [sent messages], but I don't want to say any names. Players and many friends, and fans of Bayern."

Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac does not believe RB Leipzig get the respect they deserve.

Bundesliga leaders Bayern face Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena on Saturday, with a win enough to end the challenge of Borussia Dortmund and seal a seventh straight title.

Ralf Rangnick's side will also be the Bavarian giants' opponents in the DFB-Pokal final on May 25, as Kovac hunts a domestic double in his first season at the Allianz Arena.

The former Eintracht Frankfurt coach believes too much negativity is aimed at Leipzig, with the ownership of the club – who are third in the Bundesliga and have secured a return to next season's Champions League – still criticised in Germany.

"There's a lot of structure behind it, there are a lot of clubs that have money, no matter where they get it," Kovac told a news conference.

"Everything else about the club is always seen as too negative. Why can't we even acknowledge something positive?

"We are not talking about any team, but a very good team with a very good coach."

The title is in Bayern's hands, but Kovac - who confirmed Manuel Neuer will not be fit to feature on Saturday - has warned his side against complacency, citing the Champions League semi-final comebacks by Liverpool and Tottenham.

"Anything less than success is failure, I know that, these 10 months were very educational, very intense, and if it was a little quieter at times, it would not be so bad," Kovac continued.

"Believing we have won the championship is not a sure thing. The last two nights have shown that anything is possible in football.

"We've worked for a long time on how to approach these kinds of situations. We were nine points and plenty of goals behind. Now we can take the decisive step and win the title."

Outgoing Bayern Munich forward Franck Ribery is open to linking up with Markus Babbel at Australian team Western Sydney Wanderers.

Ribery will leave Bundesliga champions Bayern when his contract expires at the end of the season and the 36-year-old has been linked to Western Sydney and Al Sadd.

Former Bayern defender and Stuttgart boss Babbel – now head coach of the Wanderers – floated the prospect of Ribery moving to the A-League in March.

In an interview with the Herald, Babbel said: "Franck Ribery, of course, I was in touch with him. I said 'OK, if you want to earn a lot of money then you have to go to Qatar or somewhere. But if you want to be a rock star, then you have to come to Australia'.

"He hasn't decided at the moment but I can't believe that he will come here, because we're talking about a category that normally for the A-League is not realistic.

"We also have to go further, and find a team for next season – I can't wait the next 100 years. If there's a chance there, you have to try it. But the chance to get someone like that is maybe one per cent."

Ribery – who is set to bring down the curtain on his trophy-laden 12-year association with Bayern – was asked about Babbel and reports of a switch to Australia.

"You know that I played football because of the fun and to enjoy it," Ribery told reporters. "I love football.

"If you play well, then you make yourself a great name and the money comes on its own. You earn money for what you did. I do not just play for money.

"But why should not I move to colleague Babbel? I do not know. There are many options. I'm not sure yet where I'm going."

Ribery has scored five goals in 23 league appearances this season, with the Frenchman set to become the only player to win the Bundesliga nine times if Bayern beat RB Leipzig on Saturday.

Sensational comebacks are increasingly a staple of the modern Champions League and Liverpool arguably topped them all on Tuesday.

Heading into the second leg of their semi-final against Barcelona at Anfield nursing a 3-0 deficit and without injured forward Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, Jurgen Klopp's men appeared to be on a hiding to nothing.

However, Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum had not read the script – or maybe they just avidly consumed a few of the plotlines below.

Their heroics place Liverpool's 4-0 win among the greatest Champions League salvage operations of all time. Here it is alongside a few others to jog your memory.

Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain (6-5 agg), 2017

Barcelona remain the perpetrators of the most remarkable of all Champions League comebacks, at least in terms of deficit overhauled.

Trailing 4-0 from the first leg of their last-16 tie with PSG, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi scored either side of a Layvin Kurzawa own goal, only for Edinson Cavani to grab what was expected to be the decisive strike for the visitors.

However, two quickfire Neymar goals – the second a highly controversial penalty after an apparent Suarez dive – levelled the tie at 5-5.

Then, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Sergi Roberto struck to create a slice of Champions League history – no side had ever turned around a four-goal first-leg deficit before.

 

Roma 3-0 Barcelona (4-4 agg, Roma won on away goals), 2018

The boot was on the other foot when Barcelona were dethroned in the Italian capital last year as Roma completed one of the most unlikely turnarounds in quarter-final history.

Eusebio Di Francesco's side came back from a 4-1 first-leg deficit to progress to the last eight on away goals after a thrilling 3-0 win in front of their home fans.

Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas secured the 4-4 aggregate draw and sent the Stadio Olimpico into raptures, as Barca completely fell to pieces.

Liverpool 4 Barcelona 0 (4-3 agg), 2019

Fresh from netting a late winner at Newcastle United the weekend before, Origi allowed the Liverpool faithful to dream by poaching his maiden Champions League goal in the seventh minute.

Jurgen Klopp needed Alisson to be on form as he saved from Messi and Suarez, before another unlikely hero emerged.

Andy Robertson's injury forced James Milner to left-back and Georginio Wijnaldum into the fray at half-time. By the hour, the Dutch midfielder had Liverpool level thanks to two goals in 122 delirious seconds.

Origi had the final word thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick thinking from a 79th-minute corner, leaving Barcelona and Messi crestfallen once more.

Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (5-3 agg), 2019

Despite their impressive display in their 2-1 first-leg defeat, nobody really seemed to think Ajax could turn things around at the Santiago Bernabeu. Sergio Ramos certainly did not - he earned a booking so as to avoid the risk of a quarter-final ban, earning an extra-game suspension from UEFA in the process.

In the absence of their captain, Madrid completely capitulated amid a fearless and thrilling Ajax - the type of which Liverpool might yet be faced with in the final.

Hakim Ziyech and David Neres put the visitors 2-0 up after only 18 minutes and it was 3-0 just after the hour mark thanks to the inspired Dusan Tadic.

Marco Asensio got a goal back, but Lasse Schone's free-kick beat Thibaut Courtois and sent Madrid crashing out. It was the first time they had ever been knocked out after winning the first leg of a Champions League tie.

 

Paris Saint-Germain 1-3 Manchester United (3-3 agg, United won on away goals), 2019

It really has been quite the season for upsets in Europe's premier competition. A day on from Ajax's thrashing of Madrid, United made history at Parc des Princes.

No side had ever won a knockout tie after trailing 2-0 from a first leg at home, and with 10 senior players missing, including the banned Paul Pogba, United's chances looked slim.

Romelu Lukaku scored just two minutes in, though, and despite Juan Bernat's equaliser on the night, Lukaku struck again after a Gianluigi Buffon error to make it 2-1.

As the game crept towards second-half injury time, Diogo Dalot's shot struck Presnel Kimpembe's arm and the referee awarded a penalty after a lengthy VAR review. Marcus Rashford scored it, United progressed, and the clamour for Solskjaer to be given the permanent manager's job grew louder.

Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 AC Milan (5-4 agg), 2004

Deportivo were among Spain's major forces just after the turn of the century and one of their finest moments in Europe came in April 2004 when, despite being 4-1 down from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final with AC Milan, they stunned the Italians at home.

Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque had Depor ahead on away goals before half-time, with Fran Gonzalez – who played for them in the second division in the late 80s and is still their record appearance holder – fittingly scored the fourth to make sure of their passage.

Depor were eliminated by eventual winners Porto in the semi-finals, but this comeback stood as arguably the very best in Champions League history until Barca went one better.

 

Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (AET, 3-2 on pens), 2005

That famous night in Istanbul. Liverpool found themselves on the end of a hiding at half-time in the 2005 Champions League final, as Paolo Maldini and a Hernan Crespo brace had the Serie A side 3-0 up.

But the second half proved to be one of the most iconic 45 minutes in Liverpool's history, with goals from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso levelling the match up by the hour mark.

Milan then failed to hold their nerve in the penalty shootout, as Jerzy Dudek's leggy antics in the Liverpool goal helped the Pole outsmart both Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko after Serginho blazed the first kick over, resulting in the Premier League side lifting their fifth European title.

 

Manchester United 2-1 Bayern Munich, 1999

Possibly the two most dramatic minutes in the history of European club football.

United were trailing 1-0 to Bayern Munich in the 1999 final at Camp Nou, with Mario Basler's skidding free-kick into the bottom-right corner looking set to be enough for the Bavarian giants to end a 23-year wait for glory in the continent's top-tier competition.

However, the United of Alex Ferguson's era could never be discounted until the final whistle, and substitute Teddy Sheringham swept Ryan Giggs' shot into the bottom corner to bring the scores level in the 91st minute.

Solskjaer, another late substitute and now the man in the United dug-out, avoided the need for extra time by stabbing Sheringham's header from a David Beckham corner into the roof of the net as United completed an historic treble in astonishing fashion.

 

Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea (AET, 6-4 agg), 2000

A 3-1 first-leg loss at Stamford Bridge – having trailed 3-0 – had Barca in danger of being on the wrong end of a major 1999-00 Champions League upset prior to the Roman Abramovich era, but in the return match the Catalans showed their true class.

Tore Andre Flo's 60th-minute goal was sending Chelsea through despite Rivaldo and Luis Figo scoring before the break, but Dani Garcia scored seven minutes from the end of regulation to force extra time.

Rivaldo then converted a penalty after Celestine Babayaro was sent off and Patrick Kluivert wrapped things up, crushing Chelsea's dreams.

Franck Ribery intends to continue playing for "another year or two" and has left the door open for a return to Bayern Munich afterwards.

Bayern confirmed on Sunday the former France international will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season, but Ribery indicated he would be open to coming back to the Allianz Arena in a non-playing role.

The 36-year-old said he has options on the table but stopped short of confirming his next destination as he prepares to bring his 12-year spell with the Bavarian giants to an end.

"I do not know what I'm going to do next season," Ribery, who has been linked with Al Sadd and Western Sydney Wanderers, told a news conference.

"There are a few options. Maybe I'll play another year or two. After that, I will come back to Munich. We feel very comfortable here. We have a nice house, everyone knows me here."

Asked about a possible return to the club, he replied: "Perhaps. We talked about it. But we have time, a lot can happen in two years.

"The most important thing is that I'm at home in Munich."

Ribery will become the only player to win the Bundesliga nine times if Bayern beat RB Leipzig on Saturday.

He pinpointed the treble-winning 2012-13 season under Jupp Heynckes as a highlight of his time with the club.

Ribery said: "2013 was the best for us and for the fans. That was a dream.

"Everyone knows that I had a lot of good coaches, but one person was very important: Jupp Heynckes."

Bayern Munich legend Ottmar Hitzfeld defended German football in the wake of criticism from within its ranks, expressing his belief that the Bundesliga "is still first class".

Hitzfeld countered former Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer's calls for the league to be shaken up in order to improve its quality, instead praising the achievement of three out of the four German clubs in the Champions League in reaching the competition's last 16 this season.

Bayern, Dortmund and Schalke all went out of Europe's top competition at the hands of English clubs, but Hitzfeld pointed to the high spending power of the Premier League rather than a lack of German quality as the driving factor behind that pattern.

"Second-class is a team that plays in the second division," Hitzfeld told t-online.de. "I believe that Germany is still first class.

"To be honest, I am not so dissatisfied with the development of German football because I always see the reality.

"I know that there is a great achievement behind moving into the round of 16 in the Champions League - and three out of four clubs have done so, that is all German participants except Hoffenheim.

"Afterwards you had the bad luck that Bayern, Dortmund and Schalke had all three English opponents."

Bayern look set to wrap up a seventh consecutive Bundesliga title after second-placed Borussia Dortmund were held to a 2-2 draw by Werder Bremen on Saturday, and some point to their dominance as a sign of weakness across the rest of the division.

But Hitzfeld, who guided Bayern to five league titles and a Champions League in two stints as manager between 1998 and 2008, highlighted Eintracht Frankfurt's progress to the semi-finals of the Europa League as a positive sign.

"It was almost logical that Bayern went out [of the Champions League] against Liverpool, because Liverpool has invested 400, 500 million euros in top stars," said Hitzfeld.

"Dortmund was unlucky enough to face Tottenham and that's a top team with outstanding players and a lot of experience. And Schalke against Manchester City – it was clear that they would go out.

"You also have to compliment Frankfurt that they are still traveling in Europe. This is a new experience and a great achievement in representing German football."

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