Alvaro Morata wants to end Juventus' long wait for Champions League glory after completing a "dream" return to Turin.

The Spain striker is back with Juve on an initial one-year loan deal from Atletico Madrid, with the Serie A club having an option to buy Morata for €45million or spend a further €10m to loan him for a second campaign.

Morata previously spent two years with Juventus between 2014 and 2016, scoring 27 goals in 93 appearances before returning to Real Madrid and helping them to win the 2016-17 Champions League, when they beat the Bianconeri in the final.

Achieving European success with Juventus - who last won the Champions League in 1996 - is one of Morata's main goals.

"Juve took a punt on me when I was younger and coming back was a dream of mine," he told reporters at his presentation.

"Leaving Juventus was not up to me. I was happy in Madrid, but now it's important for me to be here and I have kept in touch with everyone over the years.

"It was a great memory and now we have new challenges to face together.

"The Champions League is very important to Juventus. If we were to win it this year, I would be the happiest man in the world. We want to win it."

Morata, now 27, conceded he has been affected by those who have doubted his ability in the past, with a big-money move to Chelsea in 2017 not panning out as expected.

However, he believes he has now matured and is able to handle the pressure of playing for one of Europe's biggest clubs.

"I used to pay attention to the critics when I was younger. I know that I need to work hard and be clear about what I have to do," Morata said.

"I'm happy to be back. I've come back to Turin as a person that's grown in all senses. I'm in the right place at the right time: I know what I need to do, I have the necessary experience. Juve is the opportunity of a lifetime."

Morata played alongside Cristiano Ronaldo with Los Blancos and revealed the Portuguese is excited about being his team-mate again.

"I know Cristiano rather well, he's happy," Morata added. "We spoke quite a lot, even before I returned."

Barcelona midfielder Miralem Pjanic said the LaLiga giants want revenge this season following their Champions League embarrassment.

An 8-2 humiliation against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals capped a forgettable and trophy-less 2019-20 campaign for Barca.

Barca were also dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid in LaLiga, prompting the embattled Catalan powerhouse to sack head coach Quique Setien and appoint Ronald Koeman.

Superstar captain and six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi also handed in a transfer request before opting to stay at Camp Nou.

Now preparing for Sunday's season opener against Villarreal, recruit Pjanic told Sport: "This team wants to take revenge for what happened in Lisbon and show that it was a huge accident.

"Our goal is to go step by step: starting with the league, which will not be easy. And in the Champions League, there will be five or six candidates to win the trophy.

"Starting in March, a new season will begin within the season itself, with the knockout stages of the Champions League and the decisive stretch of the league championship; that's where we have to be at full throttle.

"These players have already earned the respect of the football world and I don't think they have to prove anything to anyone. But in football there are accidents, and I don't think there is a Barca player who doesn't want to show that 8-2 was just that, an accident.

"I do not have any doubt. I have spoken with some of them and they have not lost an ounce of self-confidence. Last year was not easy for anyone, but I am sure that this year we will have a good season, because we have good players.

"Nothing is easy in today's game. We know that Barca is undergoing changes, perhaps the newcomers will need some time to adapt, but we will succeed."

Pjanic swapped Serie A champions Juventus for Barca as Arthur moved in the opposite direction and the Bosnia-Herzegovina star added: "It is never a bad moment to come to Barca. Barca are a team designed to win everything. It may be that last year was not a good season and that it ended badly.

"Things did not turn out as they had imagined, but think about all the teams that each year are built to win, and logically not all of them can win. It is not easy to win titles.

"It was a strange season for everyone, with the coronavirus: we were unemployed for several months, then we had to start almost suddenly, with a strange calendar and no fans at the grounds."

UEFA has confirmed clubs will be allowed to make up to five substitutions per match in the Champions League and Europa League throughout 2020-21.

The Executive Committee of European football's governing body met on Thursday to rule on a variety of matters for 2020 and 2021.

Arguably the biggest decision made was to extend the rule alteration relating to substitutions, which allowed teams to make up to five in-game changes after the coronavirus crisis forced top-flight football to a halt earlier this year.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), rule-makers for the sport, initially implemented the change in May and extended it two months later for club competitions set to be completed by July 31, 2021 and international tournaments scheduled in July/August 2021.

While some domestic competitions, such as England's Premier League, have opted to revert to three substitutions allowed per team in each match, UEFA believes it is necessary to permit five "in order to alleviate the burden on players caused by the condensed international match calendars 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic".

The five substitutes rule will be extended to Euro 2021 qualifying playoffs, Women's EURO qualifiers, the Nations League group phase and the Women's Champions League for the rest of the season.

Among the other decisions communicated on Thursday, UEFA – having reached an agreement with the European Club Association and the European Leagues – will stretch the March and September international match windows in 2021 to allow for three fixtures instead of two.

UEFA says this will allow it to "recover the dates lost due to the cancellation of the March 2020 window and the postponement of Euro 2020".

It was also confirmed that the format of the UEFA Youth League has been temporarily altered – rather than beginning with a group phase, the competition will start at the round of 64 in March as a straight knockout competition.

While the focus is on Barcelona, Atletico Madrid should be getting immediate improvement with the arrival of Luis Suarez.

After six trophy-laden seasons at Camp Nou, Suarez's €6million move from Barca to Atletico was confirmed on Wednesday.

As Ronald Koeman's rebuild continues at Barcelona, one of their former stars heads to Atletico.

And Diego Simeone's team should get an instant reward as we assess Suarez's move using Opta data.

Immediate improvement for Atletico?

Amid the links to Suarez, Atletico allowed Alvaro Morata to return to Juventus – initially on loan – and Diego Costa could also reportedly leave. There is little wonder Atletico chased Suarez when comparing his albeit declining output last season to the Los Rojiblancos' two forwards.

Suarez scored a LaLiga goal every 125.1 minutes in 2019-20, comfortably better than Morata (175.3) and Costa (270.2), finishing with 16 – almost as many as the Atletico duo (17) combined. Taking away penalties, Suarez scored 15 to their 13.

It came despite a knee injury that sidelined Suarez for five months at the start of the year, limiting him to 28 LaLiga appearances and 22 starts.

Still, Suarez had 63 shots, more than Morata (57) and Costa (32), who made 34 and 23 league appearances respectively, with Barca netting a LaLiga-high 86 times in 2019-20 as Atletico found the back of the net on just 51 occasions.

Suarez converted 10 of his 25 big chances, a better rate than Morata (10 of 28), but worse than Costa (five of 10). Unsurprisingly given Barca's approach, Suarez also had more assists (eight) than Morata and Costa combined (six).

And it could have been an even better campaign for Suarez, who hit the woodwork four times in LaLiga. Only Osasuna midfielder Roberto Torres (six) and Real Madrid star Karim Benzema (five) hit it more.

Suarez, who turns 34 in January, may be declining, but he shapes as a shrewd signing by Atletico. He is, of course, declining from a player who produced an incredible 2015-16 season, when he scored 40 goals and provided 16 assists in 35 LaLiga games to lead the formidable 'MSN' trident that included Lionel Messi and Neymar.

Finding form again in the Champions League

Atletico have fallen heartbreakingly short in two Champions League finals since 2014, and were knocked out at the same stage as Barcelona – the quarter-finals – last season.

Suarez had struggled in Europe's top club competition in two seasons before 2019-20, scoring just twice in 20 Champions League appearances.

In fact, Suarez was directly involved in just eight goals in those 20 games, but he improved on that last season, scoring five and assisting two in seven outings.

Morata, meanwhile, scored three times and had an assist in eight appearances, while Costa was goalless in seven. Suarez also converted four of his six big chances, while creating 11 chances – the same number as Real Madrid playmaker Eden Hazard and just two fewer than Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe.

Plenty would need to go right for Atletico to end their Champions League wait in 2020-21, but Suarez at least recaptured some better form in Europe last season.

Luis Suarez's trophy-laden association with Barcelona came to an end on Wednesday as he joined LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid.

Suarez celebrated countless titles after swapping Premier League giants Liverpool for Barcelona in 2014, while establishing himself as a Blaugrana great.

During his time at Camp Nou, Suarez formed part of Barca's famed 'MSN' alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar before it was broken up three years ago.

As Suarez prepares for life in the Spanish capital, we look at the 33-year-old's Barca career in numbers.

 

13 – Suarez departs Catalonia having won no less than 13 pieces of silverware in a Barca jersey. Among his haul are four LaLiga titles, the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup, four Copa del Rey triumphs and a pair of Supercopa de Espana honours.

283 – The Uruguay international was a mainstay in Barca's starting XI, amassing just under 300 appearances.

198 – Only two players in Barca's history have scored more goals than Suarez – Messi (634) and Cesar (232). Of those goals, 147 were in LaLiga from just 191 matches. He also netted 25 Champions League goals.

1 – He opened his goalscoring account for Barca in his sixth game. A Champions League encounter against APOEL in November 2014 set the tone for Suarez.

59 – In his second year at Barca in 2015-16, Suarez earned the Golden Shoe as Europe's top scorer thanks to 40 LaLiga goals and 59 across all competitions.

114 – Suarez reached a century of Barca league goals quicker than anyone else in the team's history – needing just 114 games – in January 2018.

97 – Not only a prolific goalscorer, Suarez provided plenty of support up front. The veteran contributed close to a century of assists in Barcelona.

Kevin De Bruyne, Robert Lewandowski and Manuel Neuer have made the shortlist for the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award for the 2019-20 campaign.

Manchester City playmaker De Bruyne, who recently won the PFA Players' Player of the Year award, is in the final three along with two Bayern Munich stars who helped their side to the treble last season.

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk won the honour in the previous season, finishing ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

None of those three are on the shortlist this time, though, and whoever comes out on top will be a first-time winner.

Neuer missed only one game in Bayern's treble season and kept six Champions League clean sheets, while Lewandowski netted 55 goals in 47 appearances for Hansi Flick's team.

De Bruyne, meanwhile, produced a record-equalling 20 assists in the Premier League for City, adding 13 goals.

The final order of the top three is yet to be revealed, but UEFA has confirmed the occupants of positions four to 10.

Barcelona forward Messi came in at tie for fourth with Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar, while Juventus attacker Ronaldo was down in 10th spot.

Thomas Muller (6th), Kylian Mbappe (7th), Thiago Alcantara (8th) and Joshua Kimmich (9th) were the others who featured in the top 10.

Ronaldo has won the honour three times since it was first awarded in 2011, while Messi has claimed it twice.

Andres Iniesta, Franck Ribery, Luka Modric and Van Dijk were the other victors, with the award voted for by coaches and journalists.

Lucy Bronze, Wendie Renard and Pernille Harder are up for the Women's Player of the Year accolade in the 2019-20 awards.

Bayern head coach Flick, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann are on the shortlist for Men's Coach of the Year.

The winners will be announced at the Champions League group stage draw ceremony on October 1.

Messi and Ronaldo also won the previous version of the award - UEFA Club Footballer of the Year – once each. That award was replaced after the 2009-10 season, when Diego Milito came out on top.

Rob Friend hailed "world class" Alphonso Davies and insisted Bayern Munich's treble-winning star has put Canada on the map after years of disrespect.

Davies has established himself as one of the most exciting players in European football since joining Bayern from MLS outfit Vancouver Whitecaps in 2019.

The 19-year-old speedster, who capped a fine domestic campaign with the 2019-20 Bundesliga Rookie of the Year award, has been a revelation on the left side of Bayern's defence, helping them to an eighth consecutive league crown, DFB-Pokal success and Champions League glory.

Davies – born in a refugee camp in Ghana after his parents fled their native Liberia before moving to Canada when he was five and eventually attaining citizenship in 2017 – became the first Canada international to play in a Champions League final as Bayern defeated Paris Saint-Germain to claim the treble.

Friend earned 32 caps for Canada between 2003 and 2011 and the 39-year-old former forward, who is chief executive of Canadian Premier League team Pacific FC, marvelled at Davies' impact.

"It's unbelievable," Friend told Stats Perform News. "I can certainly tell you sitting here in Canada, being part of the Canadian game currently with the Canadian Premier League which I'm involved in and really trying to grow the game, what he's done singlehandedly as a Canadian player at his age, it's going to be very hard to repeat for any young Canadian.

"If you told me a year-and-a-half ago that we were going to have a young Canadian winning the Champions League and starting, we all would've laughed. His growth in the last couple of years has honestly been a joy to watch as a former national team player, being involved in the game on a business side here. Once in a while, it takes a player like that to put this country on the map. We've never been a footballing country. Our national team has always sort of struggled at international level, never played on the world stage at the World Cup. It's gonna take once in a while a country like this to be put on the map and be respected. 

"I can certainly tell you that what he's done has opened up the door for a lot of young Canadians. I'm getting a lot of calls, asking if there's another Alphonso out there. Is Canada a hotbed for young talent? Even you look at Jonathan David, young Canadian who just transferred to Lille. A bigger transfer than Alphonso. Those are two of the top young players in Europe and they're Canadian. I would certainly say there are more Canadians out there. It's challenging when we're not making the World Cup to be on that level. We need more young Canadians going off to Europe."

Friend, who played for Bundesliga clubs Borussia Monchengladbach, Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt in Europe, added: "It attests to his personality and the adversity he's gone through in his life, being an immigrant coming to Canada but also being a proud Canadian and representing this country. He is very grateful, him and his family. In the final on the stage he had the Canadian flag around him.

"Sitting back as a fan and a former player, I'm very proud he is representing Canada so well on and off the field. He's just a joy to watch. It's going to be fun to watch him over his career. Hopefully he has the luck, with injuries etc. I think he is world class already but you have to sustain that if you want to be at the top level year in, year out.

"Hopefully it opens up the door for more Canadians. That could honestly be one of his biggest achievements if he can help young Canadians because I certainly know you're at a disadvantage as soon as you walk into Europe with a Canadian passport. I would always joke that if I had a Brazilian passport I would have received double the offers I had. The wind is against you as a Canadian walking into Europe because they don't respect us as a country but he is certainly opening the doors and will provide more opportunities for Canadians moving forward."

Borussia Monchengladbach can sustain their place in the Bundesliga's top four this season as they prepare to return to the Champions League, according to former forward Rob Friend.

Gladbach will play in the Champions League for the first time in four years after a final-day win over Hertha Berlin sealed a top-four finish in 2019-20, behind champions Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

Having missed out on fourth spot to Bayer Leverkusen on the final matchday in 2018-19, Gladbach bounced back thanks to the arrival of head coach Marco Rose and shrewd signings, including Marcus Thuram, Breel Embolo, Stefan Lainer and Ramy Bensebaini.

Gladbach have added Hannes Wolf and Valentino Lazaro (both loanees) to a squad boasting captain Lars Stindl, star Denis Zakaria, Christoph Kramer, Alassane Plea, Matthias Ginter, Nico Elvedi and Yann Sommer.

As Gladbach embark on just their third Champions League campaign, not before opening their Bundesliga season at Dortmund on Saturday, Friend is not surprised by the club's success.

"It's a huge achievement for the model of club that they are," Friend, who spent three seasons at Gladbach and helped the club earn promotion to the Bundesliga in 2007-08 before leaving in 2010, told Stats Perform News. 

"They've obviously, over the last five-10 years, punched above their weight in my opinion. They've done a phenomenal recruiting job. They really have a nice template of what the club is, the identity. Really strategic recruiting with the right players and maximising them. Selling them at their peak. They have a nice model. 

"All credit, obviously it's an entire organisation but the sporting director [Max Eberl], he was there when I was there, has done an outstanding job with everything - scouting, recruiting. Once you get to that level of knowing what club you are, the identity and template to follow, I'm not saying it's easy but you've seen success is slowly built and the base foundation is getting better and stronger. 

"It's no surprise in terms of how stable they are. Once in a while reaching the Champions League. When I say once in a while, the top five or six clubs in the Bundesliga, it's very competitive. We all know the top two and after that, you have the big spenders like Leverkusen who can spend, you never know with Schalke. But based on the years and the base Gladbach have built, it's no surprise they've now reached the Champions League. The question is can they sustain the top four in the league and I believe they can because they have the right base."

Rose has played an instrumental role in Gladbach's success after being lured to Borussia-Park by Eberl last year.

After winning back-to-back league titles and the Austrian Cup with Salzburg, Rose replaced Dieter Hecking and he oversaw Gladbach's best start to a Bundesliga season since 1976-77, having topped the table through 14 matchdays following a memorable victory against Bayern.

While Gladbach were unable to maintain their place atop the table in pursuit of a first Bundesliga crown since 1977, they returned to Europe's premier club competition as Friend hailed the 44-year-old coach.

"He's in the new group of modern young coaches," ex-Canada international Friend said. "With him, he's had the opportunity to learn and not get thrown into a big club as an inexperienced coach. He's allowed himself the right steps to learn. Rolling into the Bundesliga with a club who are very stable. He has the ability but he has provided himself the ladder and learning opportunities. Smart enough to know Gladbach are a very stable club. 

"For example, the Hamburgs, Stuttgarts and Schalkes, they've very unstable. You look at the rotation of coaches. For a young coach to walk into one of those environments is risky. Any coach walking into a club like Gladbach with the stability they have, definitely sets you up for success. It's the path to get there where he has honed his skills."

All eyes will again be on Gladbach midfielder Zakaria, who has established himself as one of the Bundesliga's finest talents.

Zakaria's exploits since joining Gladbach in 2017 have reportedly attracted interest from Premier League champions Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Bayern, Dortmund and Inter.

Friend believes the 23-year-old Switzerland international - who is contracted to Gladbach until 2022 - could command a similar fee that saw Kai Havertz swap Leverkusen for Chelsea in an initial £72million (€80m) deal.

"He's obviously the big name they throw around in terms of who is going to make the next move," Friend said. "Overall the Bundesliga, let's probably remove the top two in Bayern and Dortmund. You look at what Kai Havertz did at Leverkusen. Close to €100m move. That just shows you don't have to be a top club to achieve those transfer fees. 

"I think if you're Gladbach you're looking at a player like that. He has a pretty hefty price tag on him. As these players move on, whether it's Havertz, Werner etc it will be important that they have the success with the price tags they have on them. When I was playing, maybe you had a guy moving for five-10m outside the top two clubs and it was very important they had success in those leagues to substantiate the price tags that league is demanding. 

"He certainly comes with a price tag that would eliminate most clubs. I know Gladbach won't stop him from moving but it will come with a major transfer fee and certainly there would be clubs watching who would be willing to pay. The rest is a bit of luck. Make sure he has a strong season and stays healthy."

Friend played with two highly rated prospects during his time at Gladbach - German duo Marco Reus and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Attacking star Reus spent three years at Gladbach before returning to boyhood club Dortmund in 2012, having been released six years earlier, while goalkeeper Ter Stegen emerged from Gladbach's youth system in 2010 and was eventually snapped up by LaLiga giants Barcelona in 2014.

Friend added: "By day one in training, you saw he [Reus] was something special. What stood out was his character. At the time, he maybe seemed like a hotshot with his character but he absolutely knew he had it from day one. An 18-year-old with that kind of confidence is almost a differentiator. He had the talent but the confidence, he didn't really give a s***. He knew what he wanted. There was no doubt he had the talent but it certainly takes more than that.

"With Ter Stegen, I would say even more so. He was 17 or so when I was there. Third or fourth keeper when he first started coming into practice. We would joke in the changing room and call him Oliver Kahn as a joke because he presented himself very confidently, his chest was out, his head was high as an 18-year-old kid coming into practice. I was blown away with the confidence he had, especially as a goalkeeper. He had so much confidence and work ethic. He was always the first one there and last to leave training."

Leicester City's Timothy Castagne says he decided to leave Atalanta after being left out of the Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain.

The Belgium international scored on his debut for Leicester in Sunday's 3-0 Premier League win at West Brom.

He joined Brendan Rodgers' side on a five-year deal after impressing during three seasons with Atalanta, with his versatility as a wing-back capable of playing on either flank helping him to stand out.

However, Castagne says part of the reason he chose to move clubs was because he wanted a more regular playing position.

When he was omitted from the starting line-up for the 2-1 loss to PSG, coming on as a substitute with just eight minutes of normal time remaining, he knew the time was right to leave Bergamo.

"I could have renewed the contract," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"The decision came after the game against PSG. The technical situation weighed on me. I'd been tried in the starting XI all week, and the night [of the game] I was left out. Honestly, it was a surprise.

"I needed to play regularly in the same role: once, I was on the right, then on the left, then on the bench. It wasn't exactly the best."

Castagne also suggested he would have preferred a more forthright relationship with Atalanta head coach Gian Piero Gasperini.

"Technically and tactically, he is among the absolute elite, but there wasn't a great relationship on a human level - not because of any particular problem between us," he said.

"He has his own way of doing things. For example, if you're left out, it would be important to have an explanation from the coach. But that's okay: this made me stronger mentally."

Lionel Messi is staying put, meaning he will be able to add to his stunning goal haul for Barcelona.

Messi made his first-team debut as a 17-year-old and has gone on to become Barca's all-time leading scorer with 634 goals and 276 assists in 731 appearances in all competitions for the club.

His incredible feats in front of goal have helped him win 34 trophies with the Catalan club, but his days had looked numbered when he expressed a desire to leave following a trophy-less campaign in which the club suffered a humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final loss to Bayern Munich.

However, after running into issues over the release clause in his contract, the Argentina superstar confirmed a dramatic U-turn on Friday.

Despite all of the drama, Messi's goals have undoubtedly solidified his status as an all-time great and here is a look at a chronological top 10 from the six-time Ballon d'Or winner's collection.

Albacete (H): May 1, 2005

Even at 17, Messi had the confidence of a veteran. Having already seen one goal wrongly ruled out for offside – an audacious chip from the edge of the box – Messi's confidence was far from knocked and just a minute later he latched onto Ronaldinho's scooped pass before lobbing the ball over Albacete goalkeeper Raul Valbuena from 16 yards. Some way to open your account for one of Europe's great clubs.

Malaga (H): March 22, 2009

Thierry Henry's favourite goal by Messi during their time playing together for Barca. Why not let the France great take up the story? "It defied logic what he did," Henry said in the 'Take the Ball, Pass the Ball' documentary. "There's a diagonal ball and he controls it on his chest. He runs full speed, then the first player goes and the second player is just behind. If he takes another step, that player will clear the ball." A shimmy of the body and deft touch later – in the blink of an eye – Messi stabbed into the top corner to conclude a moment of 100-miles-per-hour brilliance.

Real Zaragoza (A): March 21, 2010

Described by some as 'a defining goal' in his career, this strike against Zaragoza seemed to take him from very good into another class entirely. Messi displayed all he had to offer in a goal that began when he won the ball from a tackle at halfway. From there, he shrugged off one challenge, raced towards the box and turned a defender inside out before drilling into the far corner, leaving coach Pep Guardiola speechless.

Real Madrid (A): April 27, 2011

At the height of the Clasico rivalry between Guardiola's Barca and Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid, the two teams met four times in three different competitions in less than a month. The league meeting ended in a draw and Madrid won the Copa del Rey final, but Barca triumphed in the Champions League semi-final with a 3-1 aggregate win. The first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, an ill-tempered affair to say the least, saw Messi make it 2-0 by bursting beyond four attempted challenges and slotting past Iker Casillas, all in the space of around five seconds.

Athletic Bilbao (A): April 27, 2013

Barca would regain their LaLiga title from Madrid but were in the midst of a Champions League semi-final shellacking from Bayern when they arrived at San Mames. A goal down in a match that would eventually finish 2-2, Messi received possession from Thiago Alcantara, twisted past Mikel San Jose, Carlos Gurpegui and Ander Herrera with minimal space in which to operate before nonchalantly side-footing home from just inside the penalty area.

Bayern Munich (H): May 6, 2015

Guardiola returned to Camp Nou with a Bayern side struggling with injury problems. They kept Barca at bay until the 77th minute of this Champions League semi-final first leg, when Messi finally struck. It was his second goal that earns a place in this list, though: collecting Ivan Rakitic's pass, a simple-looking shimmy left Jerome Boateng on his backside before he chipped Manuel Neuer with his weaker foot.

Real Madrid (A): April 23, 2017

El Clasico rarely disappoints for football fans around the globe, and this edition was no different. Anything but a win would essentially hand Madrid the title, and it looked to be headed for a 2-2 draw until Sergi Roberto's swashbuckling run in stoppage time gave Jordi Alba the chance to square to Messi, who finished with aplomb from the edge of the area for his 500th Barcelona goal.

Real Betis (A): March 17, 2019

Rarely has a hat-trick been completed in finer fashion. Messi's two goals had helped Barca to a 3-1 lead at the Benito Villamarin, before he passed to Rakitic, ran onto the return ball and sent a first-time chip over goalkeeper Pau Lopez and in off the crossbar from just inside the box. It was a sublime effort that even had the home fans on the feet, applauding – something Messi himself admitted he had not experienced before.

Liverpool (H): May 1, 2019

Over the past few years, Messi has mastered the art of free-kick taking, with the skill being one of few to elude him in his younger days. Liverpool held their own for long periods at Camp Nou but goals from Luis Suarez and Messi gave the hosts breathing space. Jurgen Klopp's side then had to bow to greatness when, after being brought down by Fabinho, Barca's talisman swept an unstoppable 30-yard effort into the top corner. Barcelona would incredibly blow their 3-0 first-leg advantage, however, losing 4-0 at Anfield as Liverpool reached the Champions League final.

Atletico Madrid (A): December 1, 2019

It was goalless in the 86th minute at the Wanda Metropolitano when Messi collected the ball on the right flank, 10 yards inside the Atletico half. Those famous feet began to shuffle with purpose, and although Atletico knew what Messi had in mind, they were powerless to resist the execution of his plan. Messi surged on, playing the ball to Luis Suarez on the edge of the penalty area before taking the return pass and cracking a brilliant 20-yard shot into the bottom left corner of Jan Oblak's goal. A winner, and one of the highest class.

Juventus head coach Andrea Pirlo said expectations are high after replacing Maurizio Sarri as the Serie A champions eye a 10th consecutive Scudetto and Champions League final berth with "great desire".

Juve surprisingly turned to first-time coach and club great Pirlo last month following the dismissal of Sarri, who led the Italian giants to a ninth successive Serie A title in 2019-20.

While Sarri helped maintain Juve's dominance in Serie A, albeit by only a point ahead of Inter, a shock Champions League last-16 exit to Lyon proved the final straw for the club's hierarchy.

With Pirlo – who was promoted from his position as Under-23 coach following just a week in charge – now at the helm, the former Italy midfielder provided an assessment of his squad ahead of their Serie A opener against Sampdoria on September 20.

"We will give all of ourselves, we will certainly have a great desire to show the fans that Juventus wants to win the 10th consecutive Scudetto and possibly reach the end of the Champions League," the 41-year-old told JTV.

"There's a great desire and high expectations, but we are here, and we want to do our best."

"I've had good impressions, we started well with enthusiasm and desire to go again," Pirlo added. "After a few days, the lads left with the national teams but we continue to work with those who stayed here.

"The lads are eager to do well, they have found a new methodology with some new exercises they have never done and therefore this already brings enthusiasm.

"The path will be long, also because we don't have a lot of time to work with many players who are away.

"But we are working well with those we have available. I hope I will have transmitted some concepts we are working on already for the first day and hope to find something in the middle of the pitch."

The Champions League is highly coveted in Turin, with Juventus unable to get their hands on the trophy since 1996.

Since reigning supreme in Europe 24 years ago, Juve have finished runners-up in 1997, 1998, 2003, 2015 and 2017.

"The aggression and the desire to win the ball back after losing it, that’s something we are working on a lot," Pirlo continued.

"Looking at the last Champions League, the teams that went all the way were the ones who were trying to recover the ball in the shortest possible time. That must be a characteristic that distinguishes us."

Pep Guardiola has let his ego get the better of him in his quest to end his wait for Champions League success, according to Bayern Munich icon Lothar Matthaus.

The Catalan coach won Europe's premier club competition twice in four years at Barcelona but has fallen short in all seven attempts with Bayern and current side Manchester City.

City suffered a shock 3-1 loss to Lyon in the quarter-finals of the 2019-20 edition, with Guardiola being criticised by some for his choice of formation and personnel.

And Matthaus has questioned why Guardiola, who has enjoyed plenty of domestic success during his time with Bayern and City, often feels the need to change a winning formula. 

"With Pep Guardiola I have the feeling that he always wants to do something special in big games," he told Sport Bild.

"Barcelona had a DNA, a system he pulled through. Pep was successful there. With Bayern and City, he tried it over and over again with changes and failed again and again.

"He always wanted to show that he could do even better. I would like to tell him: Pep, you are a giant trainer - but please keep your system!

"I would describe it as egocentric. That's a harsh word, but it is due to what he did. At Bayern, Robert Lewandowski even had to play left-wing once. That did not work out at all."

Bayern Munich teenager Alphonso Davies is an exciting talent Marcel Desailly would like to see playing in the Premier League or LaLiga.

Davies, 19, enjoyed a breakout 2019-20 campaign with Bayern, establishing himself as one of the best left-backs in Europe as the club sealed a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble.

It capped a remarkable journey from being born in a refugee camp in Ghana after his parents fled their native Liberia during the country's second civil war.

Davies moved to Canada with his family and attained citizenship in 2017, with two-time Champions League winner Desailly, who was born in Ghana but lifted the World Cup with France in 1998, saying the Bayern star's career shows "miracles can happen".

And although the Canada international has a contract with Bayern until 2025, Desailly would like to see him test himself in England or Spain.

"Yes, it's a long journey, but that is one of the great things about sport. It can change lives and miracles can happen," said Desailly, speaking on behalf of Laureus Sport for Good.

"Few will ever achieve what he did in Lisbon, but it is a wonderful inspiration to all young people wherever they are to give them hope and give them a dream of better things ahead.

"My experience was not exactly the same as Alphonso, but, like him, it started as a young child in Ghana. He went to Canada, I went to France. Football changed our lives.

"Alphonso's performance in the Champions League for Bayern was amazing for someone just 19. The Bundesliga are lucky to have him. He is such an exciting talent, I would love to see him play in the English Premier League or LaLiga."

Desailly has relished being able to work with Laureus Sport for Good to try to help disadvantaged youngsters in Ghana.

He said: "In Ghana, my country of origin, Laureus helped an orphanage where we built some sport infrastructure and you can see that this opened up the mind of the kids.

"Most of the kids have been under shock because of prostitution, violence and problems they have and suddenly sports allow them to be more open and we can understand their need."

Jesper Olsen believes Manchester United should continue to pursue a deal for Jadon Sancho as he hailed the quality of the Borussia Dortmund star.

United have been strongly linked with a move for Dortmund and England sensation Sancho, though his club have repeatedly insisted the 20-year-old will not be sold ahead of the 2020-21 season.

Sancho established himself as one of the hottest properties in European football last term after scoring 17 goals and supplying 16 assists for Bundesliga runners-up Dortmund, prompting links to the likes of Real Madrid, Liverpool and Barcelona.

As United reportedly continue to try to negotiate with Dortmund – who remain unmoved on their £108million (€120m) valuation – former Red Devils winger Olsen told Stats Perform News: "It's always difficult because you see somebody and you like what you see and you would like them to play for your team. You have to come up with the money and after that, it's only when it begins because you want them to perform.

"If you can get somebody of that class and they want to come to United, of course you pursue it to the end. I've always tended to watch a lot of German and English football, but when you look at the likes of Bayern Munich and the way they perform, you know it's going to be very hard.

"You have incredible teams at the top of Europe, so you have to have bigger squads. Any player of that calibre that can add something to the squad, of course you look for that."

While a blockbuster deal to bring Sancho to Old Trafford is proving difficult, United are poised to sign star Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is determined to bolster his squad after leading United to a third-placed finish in the Premier League last season and Champions League qualification.

United enjoyed a 14-match unbeaten streak in the league as they secured a spot in the top four, while Solskjaer's side also reached the semi-finals of the Europa League, FA Cup and EFL Cup.

"Overall, it's fantastic for Manchester United but also Ole Gunnar Solskjaer," Olsen, who won the FA Cup during his four years at United, said. "All the flack that he got for a long, long time as you do when you manage United and not doing well. But you go back to [Alex] Ferguson's era, and it takes time to build up and get the players you want, the team playing the way you want. Sadly nowadays, you don't always have the time.

"We know how difficult it is to win anything in any sport around the world. Everybody says yeah we should win, but it is so tough to win anything, even getting into the semi-finals and final. To actually win something is not easy.

"I'm happy to see them play well. They were really getting into top gear at the end of the season. For Solskjaer too, he is a good guy. He is calm and collected and I think he is the right man for sure."

Bruno Fernandes played a key role in United's resurgence following his January arrival from Sporting CP – the Portuguese midfielder scoring eight goals and supplying seven assists in the Premier League.

Fernandes also managed 12 goals across all competitions as United featured in three semi-finals in 2019-20.

"He has shown, with the way he plays – simple and effective, and just makes things happen. This is what we need. He also has a good engine," former Ajax and Denmark star Olsen said.

"He's settled down some of the younger players too. Daniel James wasn't involved so much at the end of the season but then we look at [Mason] Greenwood. That's what we call exciting players. This is what you want to see."

Doubts over David de Gea's long-term position also emerged during the season, highlighted by his errors in the FA semi-final loss to Chelsea behind closed doors at Wembley amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think defensively, they made mistakes at the back. Sometimes it looked a bit like the goalkeeper De Gea and the defenders didn't fully understand each other but that happens in a lot of teams. For a long, long time we played structured with a strong defence," Olsen continued. "But suddenly, a part of the season something seems to go a bit – tiredness or playing in front of empty stadiums I don't know but certainly there were some things that could be avoided.

"That happens throughout the season. I think Barcelona are going to look back against Bayern and think it was like they weren't there. For everybody, even though we say thank God they can play and finish the season, but there's so many external things that happen to players with families. Not only around themselves but family abroad. It must be a worrying time, like for all of us, for them too. And then have to go and perform and kind of say, let's forget about that even though I think they're happy they can still play because it takes away mentally some of the other things. It must be the biggest nightmare for all of us, but also to go perform in empty stadiums, it makes no sense. We have to kind of allow them to have made a few mistakes given how the world is at the moment."

United finished 33 points behind bitter rivals and champions Liverpool last term but Olsen feels the Manchester club – who have not won the league since Alex Ferguson's final campaign in 2012-13 – can challenge in 2020-21.

"This season, I thought City were going to win the league again because when you look at Pep [Guardiola]'s record. It shows, there's some games and some part of the season that you don't always perform well. Then you have the added pressure of the Champions League, which is really, really important," Olsen added. "For status but money-wise. There's a lot around the Champions League these days and that's where the bigger clubs want to be. All the excitement of playing against the best in Europe.

"I think Manchester United, certainly with Champions League qualification, can test themselves. I think anyone that goes to Old Trafford, it will be hard to win there. If you can go away now, have a settled team, a structure and play how you want to play, then I think they have as much chance as anyone else to win the Premier League and go far in the Champions League for sure."

Neymar has pledged to stay at Paris Saint-Germain for the coming season and try to take the final step in the Champions League with the Ligue 1 giants.

The 28-year-old Brazil forward helped PSG to the final of the 2019-20 competition in Lisbon, where they were edged out by a second-half Kingsley Coman header in a 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich.

Neymar insists that near miss has redoubled the determination within Thomas Tuchel's squad to claim Europe's biggest prize.

In an interview with PSG's official club magazine, he pledged to be part of that quest.

"I am staying at PSG next season," Neymar said. "And with the ambition to return to the Champions League final, this time to win it.

"I like this idea of doing everything to leave my name in the history books of my club. If people were doubting the presence of PSG as a great European club, those doubts died in Lisbon.

"We left this city with the feeling of being renewed and confidence in our capacity to win it one day to write an even greater history."

Neymar added: "By returning from Lisbon, in the plane on the way back, we were already excited to see each other again in Paris. I will never forget what we shared with this squad. It has formed a family and I am proud."

Neymar is contracted to PSG until June 2022.

Ever since his world-record €222million move from Barcelona in 2017, he has been frequently linked with a return to Camp Nou or a switch to Barca's bitter rivals Real Madrid.

However, the financial challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic – along with a general sense of chaos around Barca following their 8-2 Champions League quarter-final loss to Bayern – means that talk has fallen relatively silent this close season.

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