Cristiano Ronaldo missed a late chance as Juventus drew their Champions League opener against Atletico Madrid, but Diego Simeone remains aware the Portuguese can decide any encounter.

Atletico came from two goals down with 20 minutes to go at the Wanda Metropolitano, Stefan Savic and Hector Herrera converting well-worked set-pieces.

It was a measure of revenge for Simeone's side after Juve knocked them out of the competition last term despite losing the first leg of their last-16 tie 2-0 in the Spanish capital.

Ronaldo's hat-trick in the return fixture eliminated Atletico and he almost snatched all three Group D points at the death on Wednesday, firing wide after beating a series of defenders.

The former Real Madrid forward has scored 25 career goals against Atletico, with Simeone relieved his late chance narrowly missed Jan Oblak's goal.

"It was a tremendous piece of play," Simeone told Movistar of the Juve superstar.

"We know the player he is, that he can decide an encounter at any moment."

Set-pieces offered Atletico a route back into the game after goals from Juan Cuadrado and Blaise Matuidi put the Serie A champions in control.

Savic nodded home after a free-kick to bring Atletico within one goal and when Kieran Trippier delivered a corner in the 90th minute, substitute Herrera steered in a magnificent header.

"Hector was working really well and it's no accident that he came on and scored," Simeone said.

"In life, work always has reward, and more so in football. The competition is very good and that makes us grow.

"It was a spectacular Champions League game, against a really strong opponent, really tough, with great individual and collective quality.

"We started well, although without chances to score, but in the second half they hurt us twice; Cuadrado and Matuidi took the game from us, but we didn't lose face.

"In the first half we had really good circulation of the ball, although we didn't have chances at goal, which is what counts.

"I like this draw because we haven't lost face and because we recovered from being 2-0 down. When the youngsters evolve, we'll be closer to winning."

Hector Herrera came off the bench to score a 90th-minute equaliser as Atletico Madrid fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Juventus in the Champions League.

Juan Cuadrado's stunning strike and a Blaise Matuidi header looked to have earned Maurizio Sarri's side victory in Group D on Wednesday.

However, Atletico produced a wonderful fightback as set pieces proved Juve's undoing, Stefan Savic nodding home from close range to set up a grandstand finish at the Wanda Metropolitano.

With injury time beckoning, substitute Herrera rose highest in the box to superbly flick home a header from Kieran Trippier's left-wing corner, leaving the spoils shared.

Barcelona great Xavi believes Raheem Sterling is on course to emerge as the world's best player when Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo leave centre stage.

Manchester City star Sterling has started the new season in scintillating fashion, scoring eight times for club and country.

His goal return and overall effectiveness has markedly improved with Pep Guardiola's guidance and the 24-year-old is now one of the first players chosen for the Premier League champions.

Sterling won Europe's Golden Boy award in 2014 - given to the continent's brightest young talent - and Xavi thinks the England international is on course to replace Messi and Ronaldo at the front of the queue for further honours.

Xavi told The Mirror: "Messi is the best ever for me, and even though they're both still playing at a very high level, there will come the day not so long away when somebody else must step into those shoes.

"You look at young players who can be crowned the future best in the world and you still think of Neymar, [Kylian] Mbappe, [Mohamed] Salah and of course Sterling. I look at the moment and Sterling is winning that race.

"He's always been a good player, a dangerous player, but under Pep he [has] become one of the best in the world.

"I know how Pep works - he would have worked closely with him since his arrival - where he needs to improve and what he needed to work on.

"We're now seeing the results of that. He's still young and can be the world's best."

Barca captain Messi, 32, and Juventus forward Ronaldo, 34, have dominated the game's top awards for the past decade, winning the Ballon d'Or five times apiece since 2008.

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid begin their respective Champions League campaigns with huge tests against Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus in the pick of Wednesday's action.

Atletico will be smarting from last season's 3-2 aggregate defeat to Juve in the round of 16, when Cristiano Ronaldo – a consistent nemesis of theirs during his time in LaLiga – netted a hat-trick in a 3-0 second-leg win to see the Old Lady into the quarter-finals.

Madrid get started away to PSG, who will be aiming to continue their fine run at home in the group stage despite being without Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani.

Last term's beaten finalists Tottenham, Premier League champions Manchester City and German giants Bayern Munich are also in action.

Below, we have highlighted the key data ahead of Wednesday's contests.

Club Brugge v Galatasaray

4 - After losing their first two matches in the 2018-19 Champions League, Club Brugge remained undefeated in their final four (W1 D3) – should they avoid a loss in this match, it will be the best unbeaten run by a Belgian side in the competition took on its current format in 1992.

12 - Galatasaray's new striker Radamel Falcao has scored 12 goals in the Champions League, just one goal off the record by a Colombian player in the competition: Jackson Martinez with 13.

 

Paris Saint-Germain v Real Madrid

21- PSG are unbeaten in 21 Champions League home games in the group stage (W15 D6), not losing since December 2004 against CSKA Moscow (1-3). 

1.97 - Real Madrid have averaged the most goals per game (2.13) in Champions League history. PSG are third on 1.97, with Barcelona the only club separating them in the rankings (2.02).

Olympiacos v Tottenham

8 - Olympiacos are winless in eight Champions League matches (D1 L7) since a 2-1 win against Dinamo Zagreb in November 2015. It is their joint-longest winless run in the competition alongside a streak that ended in October 2003.

50 - Mauricio Pochettino's will oversee his 50th European game as manager of Spurs on Wednesday. Only Bill Nicholson (55) has presided over more for the club.

 

Bayern Munich v Red Star Belgrade

36 - Robert Lewandowski has scored 36 goals in just 52 Champions League appearances for Bayern – only Thomas Muller has scored more for the club in the competition (42 goals in 105 games).

17 -  Red Star conceded more goals in the group stage of the 2018-19 Champions League than any other team (17).

Dinamo Zagreb v Atalanta

11 - Dinamo Zagreb have lost their last 11 consecutive Champions League matches, their joint-worst run in the competition. Only Anderlecht have lost 12 successive matches in Europe's elite competition, that run coming between December 2003 and November 2005.

3 - Just three of the nine Italian clubs to have participated in the Champions League before Atalanta have won their opening match in the competition: AC Milan in 1992, Juventus in 1995 and Udinese in 2005.

 

Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City

79 - Excluding own goals, 79 of Shakhtar's 124 Champions League goals have been scored by Brazilians (64 per cent) – only Barcelona (85) have seen more goals scored by Brazilians than Shakhtar, while Braga (11-12 – 92%) are the only team to have had a higher proportion of goals scored by players from Brazil.

124 - Gabriel Jesus scored a hat-trick for City in their last meeting against Shakhtar in November last year, inspiring a 6-0 win. Of the 73 Brazilians to have scored four or more goals in the Champions League, Jesus has the best minutes-per-goal (124) ratio.

Atletico Madrid v Juventus

54 - Atletico will be competing in their first Champions League season without Antoine Griezmann since 2013-14. He scored or assisted 54 per cent of their goals in the competitions (19 goals, 7 assists) between September 2015 and March 2019 before leaving this year for Barcelona.

25 - Juventus star Ronaldo has scored 25 goals in his career against Atletico, having tormented them regularly in derbies with Madrid and netted a hat-trick last term for the Bianconeri. Only against Sevilla (27) has he scored more in all competitions.

 

Bayer Leverkusen v Lokomotiv Moscow

0 - Bayer Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz has yet to win a Champions League game as a manager (D2 L4, with Dortmund). Each of Leverkusen's past four managers have failed to win their first Champions League match in charge.

7 - Lokomotiv forward Jefferson Farfan will be looking to score in his seventh different Champions League campaign (2004-05, 2005-06, 2007-08, 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2018-19). The only Peruvian to have scored in more seasons is Claudio Pizarro (eight).

Juventus and Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo opened up on the sadness he feels that his alcoholic father never saw his greatest football achievements.

Ronaldo, 34, has enjoyed a glittering trophy-laden career with club and country, while he is the recipient of five Ballon d'Or awards.

However, his father Dinis Aveiro passed away when Ronaldo was aged 20 after liver failure from excessive drinking and did not see Real Madrid's all-time leading scorer reach the zenith of his career.

"My family see, my mum, my brothers, even my old son, but my father, he didn't see nothing, and it was - he died young," Ronaldo said in an interview on ITV with Piers Morgan.

"I have to have these images to show my family. But I really don't know my father 100 per cent.

"He was a drunk person. I never spoke with him, like a normal conversation. It was hard.

"Sadness? To be the number one, and he don't see nothing, and he don't see me receive awards."

Ronaldo – a five-time Champions League winner – also admitted he has banned his mother from attending big matches for her own health.

Maria Dolores dos Santos Aveiro, 64, has collapsed on a few occasions at tense games which prompted the Juve forward to step in.

"She gets so nervous, I don't understand. She is not allowed now to watch big games," he added.

"I get friends to stay with her and she goes for walks around the house. She fainted two times in the stadium. She is nervous.

"It is impossible, I don't have a father anymore and I don't want to lose my mum, so I told her 'you will not watch semi-finals or finals anymore'."

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?"

Maurizio Sarri has warned Juventus must escape the "illogical phobia" of previous Champions League campaigns if they are to prosper in it this season.

Juve travel to face another side Sarri believes can win the Champions League this season, Atletico Madrid, in Wednesday's Group D opener.

The Italian giants have won eight Serie A titles in succession but have not triumphed in Europe's elite competition since 1996.

They strengthened again in the close season, adding the likes of Matthijs de Ligt, Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot to an all-star squad already including Cristiano Ronaldo as they attempt to end that wait for Champions League glory.

“We don’t feel this pressure," Sarri, who confirmed Miralem Pjanic is available, told a news conference.

"We are Juventus, every time we step on to the pitch, the objective is to win, but we also know full well there are 10-12 other teams who feel the same way and have the same resources as we do.

"At this moment, I don't see Italian football as the favourites going into the Champions League, as over the last 20 years we've lost ground. The fault for that goes to everyone, from presidents to journalists, everything that surrounds the sport.

"I think we need to face this competition with exceptional determination, but also a relaxed mind. We've got to get back to enjoying our football, without this illogical phobia.

"Atletico Madrid are one of the teams who can win the Champions League. It's difficult to fight against the Premier League sides, as they have so much money in the sport.

"Atletico lost an extraordinary player in Antoine Griezmann, but brought in one just as extraordinary in Joao Felix. Saul Niguez has made huge leaps forward and I consider him one of the best in Europe right now.

"Atleti have the players to beat anyone, but unfortunately at this level, you need mental strength, technique, tactics and a bit of luck."

Cristiano Ronaldo is not the only threat Atletico Madrid will have to contend with against juventus, Jose Gimenez has warned ahead of Wednesday's Champions League showdown.

Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in the last meeting between the two sides in March, securing a 3-2 aggregate win for Juve in Turin.

While that victory sent Juve into the quarter-finals - where they were beaten by Ajax - their reunion with Atletico comes in the opening fixture of Group D, which also includes Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Former Real Madrid star Ronaldo has a great record against Los Blancos' rivals and is the record goalscorer in Madrid derbies.

But Gimenez does not believe Atletico will need to draw any extra motivation from Juve's comeback, and urged them not to focus too much on Ronaldo. 

"The motivation comes from us, the past is the past," Gimenez said ahead of the match at Wanda Metropolitano.

"We want to play with the same desire we have in any game, in any competition.

"He's a great striker, but Juve is not just Cristiano Ronaldo. We can't think of the game that way. The important thing is to do a great group job.

"We are always motivated. But we know how important this game is, it is the first of the group. It's another season, with other players, it's all different."

Coach Diego Simeone echoed Gimenez's thoughts, though conceded Atletico may not be able to keep out Ronaldo if he is in the mood once more.

"It is difficult to prepare a game against him," said Simeone.

"He is a goal animal, he is at a different level and with him in the area he needs attention, he is not easy to control, he has a change of pace and an ability to score that we have suffered as seen."

Portugal's next rising star is Joao Felix, who has scored one goal in four LaLiga appearances so far this season for Atletico following his €126million move from Benfica, but Simeone stressed the 19-year-old will need time to adapt to the intensity of the Champions League.

"Champions are talented players who can make you win games against any rival," he said.

"We are trying to improve, to grow, to adapt to this type of competition, to make young players understand what it is. I think with Joao Felix, it will take time."

Cristiano Ronaldo said he felt "embarrassed" after being accused of rape.

Kathryn Mayorga claimed Ronaldo raped her in a hotel room in Las Vegas 10 years ago, with German publication Der Spiegel reporting the story last October.

Ronaldo repeatedly denied the accusation and the Clark County District Attorney's Office announced in July that the Juventus striker would not face charges as they could not "be proven beyond a reasonable doubt".

According to Der Spiegel, Mayorga first made a complaint of sexual assault in 2009 and subsequently reached an out-of-court settlement with Ronaldo. It was claimed by the magazine she was paid $375,000 as part of a privacy agreement, preventing her from going public with the allegations.

The Portuguese, speaking to Piers Morgan in an interview to be aired on ITV on Tuesday, has spoken for the first time about the impact the case has had on his family life.

"They play with your dignity. It's hard," said Ronaldo.

"You have a girlfriend, you have a family, you have kids. When they play with your honesty, it's bad, it's hard.

"I remember one day I was at home in the living room with my girlfriend watching the television, to see the news and they talk about Cristiano Ronaldo and this and that, I listened to my kids coming down the stairs and I changed the channel because I was embarrassed.

"I felt embarrassed, I just changed the channel for Cristiano Jr not to see that they speak badly about his father, about a very bad case. It makes me feel so bad, to be honest."

Manchester City will do all they can to help Raheem Sterling get to the same level as "absolute legends" Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, says Pep Guardiola.

The England international has been in outstanding form in the early stages of the 2019-20 season, following on from two highly productive campaigns that saw him score 35 league goals as City won back-to-back Premier League titles.

Sterling also found the net in Euro 2020 qualifying wins over Bulgaria and Kosovo while away on international duty, though Guardiola played down comparisons to superstars Messi and Ronaldo ahead of his side's clash with Norwich City.

Still, the Spaniard sees no reason why the former Liverpool forward, 24, should not have ambitions to match the lofty standards set by the duo.

"Right now he is not in that level, I wish maybe in the future," Guardiola told the media.

"It would be a dream for him, for all of us and for him, but right now these two guys the last decade have scored 50, 60 goals every season and I don't know how many assists.

"They have won the Ballon d'Or and all the individual prizes every single season, except maybe last season.

"So the consistency of these two guys – they are legends, they are something unique in world football. And if Raheem can target that level, wow.

"We will be here to help him and of course he can do it, I will not be the guy to say don't think about that. No, absolutely not, I want it.

"But right now, nobody, not in this club but in all the clubs in the world, nobody can compare to what they have done every single week for 10 years. They [Messi and Ronaldo] are absolute legends and nobody can compare, nobody."

England manager Gareth Southgate said after the win over Bulgaria that the biggest change in Sterling's attitude had been his desire to score goals.

"I think with Brendan Rodgers in Liverpool, he played incredibly well, and with the national team he's played incredibly well," Guardiola said.

"So, I think his style, his desire, I think, the most I saw from the beginning is the fact he has an incredible mentality, he's a winning player.

"Before he made good actions but didn't finish too much. And now he's a player who can win games for himself."

Pep Guardiola is delighted with Raheem Sterling's form but has urged the Manchester City attacker to ignore comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

The England international has starred for club and country this season with eight goals and three assists in seven matches.

Sterling earned plenty of plaudits following his man of the match display against Kosovo on Tuesday, with former City and England winger Trevor Sinclair claiming he is on the same level as Ronaldo and Messi.

Guardiola has played down the comparisons, however, believing that nobody can match the two players who have battled it out to be the world's best for more than a decade.

"I'm so happy for him, for the way he's playing here and national team, but hopefully he won't read or listen to these kind of things," Guardiola said at Friday's news conference. 

"Nobody can compare with Cristiano or Messi. 

"I don't know if he's the best in England. Since we're together, not just now, he's been incredible with his work ethic. He's a nice guy. I'm delighted for him."

Sterling has been responsible for five of City's 14 goals in their opening four Premier League matches, the reigning champions collecting 10 points from their opening run of fixtures.

Liverpool are two points better off with a perfect return but Guardiola insisted it is too early to call it a two-horse race at the summit, especially with the games now coming thick and fast.

Speaking ahead of City's trip to Norwich City on Saturday, Guardiola told reporters: "I'm not predicting. Every week there are incredible predictions - there's a tendency for that but we've played four league games and that's nothing.

"We start the real competition, we play Saturday, then travel, play Wednesday, land Thursday, Saturday we have Premier League and then we go to Preston to play in the EFL Cup. 

"Of the next five games we've got four away, so many things can happen. We've had two terrible injuries with Leroy [Sane] and Aymeric [Laporte]. 

"It's too early to say what is going to happen. Chelsea, United, Tottenham, Everton doing well, everything can happen, but it's four games. In February or March we can say better. Now it's just four games and it's nothing."

Massimiliano Allegri lauded the mentality of Cristiano Ronaldo, while the former Juventus head coach believes Inter can win the Scudetto.

Ronaldo should be in the twilight of his career, but the 34-year-old has shown no signs of slowing down after joining Juve from LaLiga giants Real Madrid in 2018-19.

Allegri was in charge when Juve prised Ronaldo to Turin in a stunning €112million deal last season – the five-time Ballon d'Or winner scoring 21 Serie A goals and 28 in all competitions as the Italian champions claimed their eighth consecutive Scudetto.

Asked about Ronaldo – who netted four goals in Portugal's 5-1 rout of Lithuania to become the highest scoring player in European Championship qualifying history – Allegri hailed the veteran superstar.

"His strength is on a mental level," said Allegri. "He is 34 years old, he has won Championships, European titles and Golden Balls but he continues to give himself important stimuli that make the difference.

"The technique is fundamental to stay at high levels for many years, but the difference is made by the head and the professionalism. If I prefer to coach Ronaldo or a young talent? Ronaldo, without a doubt."

Allegri worked with Ronaldo last season before the Italian coach and Juve parted ways following his fifth successive league title.

Juve reportedly turned to Maurizio Sarri in pursuit of European glory after their Champions League quarter-final exit – the Old Lady managing two runners-up medals under Allegri in 2015 and 2017.

Reflecting on his exit, Allegri said: "I have absolutely not regretted the choice made with Juventus, things must not be forced. After five years it was time to take a break, perhaps the president had understood it before me."

There is a touch of Juve at Inter this season, with former Bianconeri coach Antonio Conte joining chief executive Giuseppe Marotta in Milan.

Allegri won four straight Serie A title under Marotta's leadership before the 62-year-old moved to Inter in 2018 and the Nerazzurri are now one of the favourites to dethrone Juve.

"At Juve I won both with him [Marotta] and without him," Allegri added. "At Inter he built a strong team and with Conte he made a choice of weight on the bench. They can win the scudetto."

Lionel Messi insists he has no issue with Cristiano Ronaldo and would accept a dinner invitation from his long-time awards rival.

The pair crossed paths at a recent ceremony to crown the UEFA Men's Player of the Year for 2018-19, which Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk won.

Barcelona captain Messi and Juventus star Ronaldo finished second and third respectively, but the event gave the former Real Madrid forward the chance to publicly reflect on their "battle in Spain" and the time they have spent at the pinnacle of the game.

Ronaldo floated the prospect of a private dinner in future, an idea welcomed by his fellow five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

"Yes, I don't have any problem with that," Messi told SPORT.

"I've always said that I don't have any issue with him. We might not be friends because we've never shared a dressing room together, but I always see him at award shows and there's no problem.

"We actually spoke with each other for quite a long time at the most recent show.

"I don't know if there will be a dinner because I don't know if our paths will cross for obvious reasons, each one of us has our own life and our own commitments. But obviously I would accept the invitation."

Messi has missed the early weeks of the new season because of a calf injury suffered before Barca's pre-season tour to the United States.

The 32-year-old ruled himself out of Saturday's clash with Valencia and remains unsure whether he will be available for next week's Champions League date with Borussia Dortmund.

"I feel better," he said. "It [the injury] was really bad because it happened on my first day back [after the Copa America] and it originally looked to be something minor but, in reality, I have been out of action for the past 15 days.

"Now I know what it is and I feel more at ease. I will return when I feel I have fully recovered.

"I've spent a long time on the sidelines. As soon as I started this happened to me and I can’t wait to return."

Barca have struggled in their skipper's absence, winning one of their opening three LaLiga games.

Raheem Sterling acknowledges he cannot be compared to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo until he has performed at the highest level for a number of seasons, but that is his aim.

The Manchester City forward was in irrepressible form in England's 5-3 win against Kosovo on Tuesday, scoring an early equaliser and then laying on three assists in a stunning first-half display.

Sterling's performance continued an outstanding start to the new season, with eight goals to his name for club and country already.

The 24-year-old scored 35 times in the Premier League across the previous two campaigns, but he concedes he is still some way short of the standard set by all-time greats Messi and Ronaldo.

"The most remarkable thing about these players is not that they've been doing it for two or three seasons," said Sterling. "They've been doing it for pretty much their whole career, season after season.

"This is my third season at a high level, I would say, and I just have to keep continuing. I have full belief in myself.

"I have goals and they've been goals of mine since I was a child, and I'll keep thriving and keep learning and try to get all the way to the top, for sure."

Sterling had scored just twice for his country prior to visiting Spain last October but doubled his international tally with a brace in that away win and now has 10 goals in England colours.

"When I first put on the England shirt, I wasn't looking at my stats too much," he said. "It wasn't until I saw how bad they were I put extra pressure on myself to score.

"But I said to myself that once my first goal goes in, I know that the goals will come after that. That's all I was waiting for.

"That night in Spain when I scored two, from then I knew I'd kick on and keep scoring goals."

"This is the clear and irrevocable proof that he is the best player in the world." That was the message from Portugal head coach Fernando Santos after Cristiano Ronaldo's four-goal display.

Ronaldo became the all-time leading scorer in European Championship qualifiers with 25 goals after leading Portugal past Lithuania 5-1 on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old superstar was unstoppable in the Euro 2020 Group B qualifying clash in Vilnius, where he celebrated his eighth Portugal hat-trick while improving his international tally to 93 goals.

A five-time Ballon d'Or winner among numerous other honours in a remarkable career, Ronaldo's standing in the game is often debated alongside Barcelona captain Lionel Messi.

But Portugal boss Santos has no doubt as to who the best player in the world is following another memorable Ronaldo display.

"This is the clear and irrevocable proof that he is the best player in the world," Santos said following the Euro 2020 qualifying rout away from home.

"There is no stadium in the world where Ronaldo is not applauded," Santos added. "He is the best in the world.

"We went to Paris in my first game, and the hotel in France was just across the street. There were a thousand people at our door."

Santos continued: "I think it's strange when he doesn't score. They say it is ending ... Nothing is ending. You have to be careful because it never ends."

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