Lionel Messi's cheeky, chipped penalty against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday took him to 700 career goals for club and country.

The Barcelona and Argentina star has been the scourge of defenders in Spain and across the globe since making his debut professional debut at 17 and his career has now yielded another incredible landmark.

In the process, the forward has collected 34 club trophies and a record six Ballons d'Or, but international honours have eluded him since he won gold at the 2008 Olympics.

To celebrate Messi's latest century, we take a look at 10 of his very best and most important goals.

 

Albacete (H): May 1, 2005

Even at 17, Messi had the confidence of a veteran. Having already had 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 pass before lobbing the ball over Albacete stopper Raul Valbuena from 16 yards. Some way to open your account for a club.

 

Getafe (H): April 18, 2007

In the 12 years since he first got on the scoresheet, only one of Messi's strikes was ever going to top this list: his Diego Maradona-esque solo goal against Getafe. Messi picked up the ball in his own half and danced around two players before turning on the pace, beating two more defenders and going around the goalkeeper, capping it with a right-footed finish.

Real Zaragoza (A): March 21, 2010

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

 

Real Madrid (A): April 27, 2011

This was the height of one of the fiercest Clasico rivalries in decades, as Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid waged war on Guardiola's Barca. They met four times in three competitions in less than a month, including in the Champions League semi-finals, when Messi faced pretty brutal treatment as Madrid tried to shackle him. He scored twice in a 2-0 first-leg win at the Santiago Bernabeu but it is the first goal people remember: the tension of the match, the bitterness of the rivalry, the ducking, weaving slalom through the defence and the composed finish past Casillas, all from the most nonchalant Sergio Busquets assist you will ever see.

 

Iran (N): June 21, 2014

Prior to the 2014 World Cup, Messi had only scored one goal in eight appearances. Seemingly determined to step up for Argentina, he netted in his side's opening match before going on to score one of the goals of the tournament in the second against Iran. With the score at 0-0 heading into stoppage time, Messi took control of the ball and bent a powerful strike past the despairing arms of Alireza Haghighi to break Iranian hearts.

Bayern Munich (H): May 6, 2015

Having already opened the scoring three minutes earlier to give Barca a 1-0 advantage over Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final, Messi doubled his tally with a sumptuous effort. Ivan Rakitic's pass sent Messi on his way, before the little maestro's trickery put Jerome Boateng on his backside and allowed the Argentine to casually lift the ball over the onrushing Manuel Neuer.

 

Athletic Bilbao (N): May 30, 2015

The second part of a treble-winning season for Barca came in the form of the Copa Del Rey against Athletic Bilbao. With 20 minutes gone and the score deadlocked, Messi set off on a marauding run down the right wing and soon found himself trapped amongst three defenders. Naturally, Messi was able to float past the trio as if they weren't there, before cutting into the box and beating Iago Herrerin at his near post.

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 Real Madrid the title, and it looked to be headed for a 2-2 draw until Sergi Roberto's swashbuckling run in the 92nd minute gave Jordi Alba the chance to square it to Messi, who finished with aplomb from the edge of the area for his 500th Barcelona goal.

 

Ecuador (A): October 11, 2017

Romario Ibarra's first-minute goal in the last match of CONMEBOL qualification left football fans across the globe staring at the prospect of the unthinkable – a World Cup without Messi. Enter the man himself, who dragged Argentina out of a bumbling stupor to single-handedly tear Ecuador apart with a sensational hat-trick. The shift of pace and stunning, dipping finish into the top corner to claim the matchball was the best of the bunch and a grateful bench spilled on to the field to mob their hero.

 

Real Betis (A): March 17, 2019

Messi has never won the FIFA Puskas Award for the best goal of the year, although he has twice come second, most recently for this effort against Real Betis in a 4-1 win last season. He sent the ball left to Ivan Rakitic and hurried to the edge of the box for the return ball, then - having shaped for a powerful strike towards the near post - chipped a sublime effort into the far corner beyond the despairing Pau Lopez. The goal completed his hat-trick and earned an ovation from the home fans but was not enough to beat Debrecen's Daniel Zsori to the Puskas prize.

Thiago Silva, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Sergio Rico will all stay at Paris Saint-Germain until the end of the season.

French football was halted in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Ligue 1 subsequently concluded early at the end of April. Final table positions were decided on a points-per-game basis and thus secured PSG the title.

But a decision on the two cup competitions, the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue, was delayed in the hope of potentially playing two finals at a later date.

The French Football Federation (FFF) confirmed earlier this month that the two matches will take place on July 24 and 31, respectively, while UEFA also announced the remaining rounds of the Champions League are to take place in Lisbon the following month.

PSG have now ensured Silva, Choupo-Moting and Rico will be available for all three competitions.

The Parisians had already announced club captain Silva, 35, will be leaving at the end of the 2019-20 campaign, but his extension means he could depart having potentially lifted three more trophies.

Choupo-Moting is also set to leave the club on a free transfer, while Rico had been due to return to parent club Sevilla at the end of June.

PSG will face Saint-Etienne in the Coupe de France, before contesting the last ever Coupe de la Ligue final with Lyon.

They are also into the quarter-finals of the Champions League having eliminated Borussia Dortmund prior to the season's hiatus.

Bayern Munich could be set to match their 2012-13 treble this season, according to former club president Uli Hoeness.

Hansi Flick's side rounded off their Bundesliga campaign with a 4-0 win at Wolfsburg at the weekend, leaving them with a final 13-point margin over Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table. 

This season was Bayern's eighth consecutive success in Germany's top flight – a run that began under Jupp Heynckes in 2012-13, when the club swept the board by also picking up the DFB-Pokal and Champions League. 

They face Bayer Leverkusen in this season's Pokal final on Saturday, while a 3-0 advantage over Chelsea leaves them handily placed for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie. 

"If our team can preserve this form, we have a good chance of winning everything," Hoeness told Blickpunkt Sport. 

"I hope that the team can keep the rhythm. 

"It is something very special to score 100 goals in a Bundesliga season. It is a sensational achievement." 

Hoeness balked at the suggestion Bayern's dominance was an unhealthy state of affairs for German football and called on their rivals to do more.

"The others have to put in even more effort," he added.

"You can't expect Bayern to work only half a day to make the Bundesliga more exciting."

Julian Nagelsmann has urged his RB Leipzig players to seize their "big chance" to win the Champions League.   Die Roten Bullen confirmed their place in next year's Champions League and a third-place finish in the Bundesliga with a 2-1 win at Augsburg thanks to two goals from outgoing striker Timo Werner.   It was Germany international Werner's final appearance for the club before he joins Chelsea in a reported €53million (£47.5m) deal, yet the campaign is not over for Leipzig, who are still in this season's Champions League.   The competition will resume in August and Leipzig are already assured of a spot in the last eight.   And the fact that the quarter-finals and semi-finals are both one-legged affairs at a neutral venue in Lisbon has given Nagelsmann encouragement that, even without Werner, his team can conquer Europe.   "Of course it's a huge challenge for us, but also for the other teams that are still in the Champions League," he told a news conference.   "I do not want to complain because we are very happy that we can participate there. I think we have a big chance because it will not be that easy again to win this tournament, with three games.

"It's demanding but I want us to go there with the following thoughts - we need only three victories to win the most valuable trophy in club football."

Werner left Leipzig as their all-time top scorer having broken the record when he took his tally to 95 for the club with his brace on Saturday.

Only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski scored more than Werner's 28 goals in the Bundesliga this term and he will now look to transform that form to Chelsea, with the backing of the club and coach he is leaving.

Asked about any goodbye message the team delivered to Werner, Nagelsmann added: "Our sporting director Markus Krosche said some words in front of the team. 

"I also said goodbye to him before and told him some things, but they stay private.

"It's easy to say that he leaves a huge gap when you look at his numbers, but also as a human because he has the heart in the right place.

"He has a lot of friends here in Leipzig and felt very comfortable. I wish him all the best in London and hope that he'll have similar numbers in four years as well."

Werner was delighted to sign off by grabbing the club record and admitted he will depart Leipzig with fond memories.

"Firstly, it makes me really happy that we won our last game of the season," he said.

"We qualified for the Champions League and ended the season on a high.

"The fact that I am the record goalscorer for Leipzig makes me really proud. I will miss the club and the city."

Bayer Leverkusen were denied a place in next season's Champions League after Borussia Monchengladbach defeated Hertha Berlin.

Gladbach earned a 2-1 home victory over Hertha on Saturday to ensure they will be back in Europe's elite club competition for the first time since the 2016-17 campaign.

They were denied a place in the top four on the final day of last season when they lost at home to Borussia Dortmund while Leverkusen beat Hertha.

But Gladbach ensured there would be no repeat and this time they were celebrating after defeating the side from Berlin.

Jonas Hofmann's seventh-minute opener settled any nerves for the hosts.

He was set up by Breel Embolo and roles were reversed when Hofmann created Gladbach's crucial second with 12 minutes remaining, which was scored by the Switzerland striker.

Vedad Ibisevic got one back for Hertha but Gladbach were not to be denied.

It meant disappointment for Leverkusen even though they did what was required of them to stand a chance of qualifying, defeating Mainz 1-0 at home courtesy of Kevin Volland's second-minute goal.

Last week's defeat at Hertha ultimately proved costly for Leverkusen, with Gladbach surging up to fourth with three straight wins to wrap up the season.

Leverkusen will hope to bounce back in the DFB-Pokal final against Bayern Munich on July 4, while they are also still in the Europa League.

RB Leipzig, meanwhile, were all but mathematically certain of a Champions League spot going into the final day of the campaign.

They sealed a third-place finish with a battling 2-1 win at Augsburg, with Timo Werner scoring a double on his final appearance for the club.

Leipzig would have ended up fourth had Werner not scored the winner 10 minutes from time.

Champions Bayern ultimately finished 13 points clear of Dortmund at the top. 

Dortmund were three ahead of Leipzig, who finished on 66 points, while Gladbach and Leverkusen ended up with 65 and 63 respectively.

Hoffenheim's win over Dortmund on the last day saw them move above Wolfsburg, who lost against Bayern, to finish sixth and ensure automatic entry to the Europa League group stage.

Seventh-placed Wolfsburg will now have to go through the qualifying rounds.

Kevin De Bruyne has urged his Manchester City team-mates to make 2019-20 a season to remember from the rubble of their failed title defence.

A stunning free-kick from the Belgium midfielder could not avert a 2-1 defeat at Chelsea – a result that ended saw Liverpool crowned Premier League champions and ended City's two-year stint as top dogs in England.

Attention now turns to an FA Cup quarter-final at Newcastle United on Sunday, with Pep Guardiola's side looking to add to the EFL Cup they collected thanks to a 2-1 triumph over Aston Villa in March.

Then there is the small matter of a tilt at an elusive Champions League success, after Gabriel Jesus and De Bruyne gave City a 2-1 advantage over Real Madrid in the first leg of their last-16 encounter.

Their focus in Europe's elite competition might be further sharpened if the club's appeal against a two-year ban from UEFA tournaments is not overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport next month.

"I think we have still got big chances in the FA Cup and Champions League," De Bruyne said.

"Imagine if we come out after winning these cups, it will be an unbelievable season. We have got a lot to play for and look forward to it."

Thursday's game with Chelsea amounted to City's season in microcosm, as a moment of De Bruyne brilliance nestled frustratingly alongside missed chances and costly defensive errors.

As such, the 28-year-old has no qualms in crediting Jurgen Klopp's side for a richly deserved triumph.

"We didn’t play badly, but at the end of the day, too many mistakes cost us," he said.

"We knew it was impossible [to catch Liverpool after lockdown]. You are always disappointed when you don't win, but I think we are honest enough to say Liverpool were better this year.

"I think we worked really hard, we played really well but we weren't good enough and that's no problem for us to admit.

"If everything goes to plan for us then I think we still have 13 or 14 games, so we still have a lot to play for and a lot of objectives."

Individual awards at the end of the season might be considered an objective for De Bruyne, given his frequently stellar showings and the likelihood of a split Liverpool vote.

His strike at Chelsea took him on to double figures for goals and assists in the Premier League campaign.

Nevertheless, after missing out to Mohamed Salah for the PFA and Football Writers' Association prizes in 2017-18, De Bruyne takes a typically phlegmatic view.

"It is not me who decides that," he added. "Two years ago I was second and we won the title 20 points ahead, so I don’t know how people decide.

"I think I have a chance. It is not me who decides and I think I can make my own analysis of how this season has gone.

"Whatever you get in the end is nice, but we will see."

City welcomed Phil Foden, John Stones and Claudio Bravo back to training ahead of the trip to Newcastle.

Foden picked up a knock during his two-goal showing against Burnley earlier this week, while centre-back Stones (ankle) and back-up goalkeeper Bravo (hamstring) have not featured since City resumed their season.

Wolves coach Nuno Espirito Santo is adamant the futures of star players such as Ruben Neves and Adama Traore are not tied to the club qualifying for the Champions League.

Nuno's side sit sixth in the Premier League after 31 matches and certainly appear to be in with a good chance of securing Europa League football, though a top-four finish is not beyond them yet either.

However, five points separate them from Chelsea in fourth, and even if Manchester City's Champions League ban is upheld, Manchester United are in pole position to take the final qualification spot for Europe's elite competition – though they are only ahead of Wolves on goal difference.

Wolves could still qualify for the Champions League through the Europa League. Nuno's men drew 1-1 with Olympiacos in the away leg of their last-16 tie, which is to be completed in August before the last eight is contested in Germany, the final to be held at the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne.

Neves, Traore and Raul Jimenez have all been key components for Wolves over the past two seasons, but there is a sense they could be outgrowing the club as other teams reportedly weigh up potential moves.

Nuno insists Wolves do not need to qualify for the Champions League to keep their squad intact, however.

"I don't think that's the reason they are here," Nuno said when asked if Champions League qualification is vital for certain players.

"The reason is they enjoy working together, so we don't have to achieve anything to retain them. At no point am I thinking about it.

"We don't think about that [the top four]. There's no race for anything, the race is to compete, improve and make good games. This is the challenge for every team in this moment.

"I'm very proud of the work we have been doing. We have begun to build something, we did the right things and we are still in a building process.

"We have achieved important and remarkable things but still have a long way to go, there is still a lot of room to improve.

"When we started we didn't know what was in front of us but we know we had a fantastic club to take care of and try to become as huge as it was in its past history."

Thomas Tuchel believes Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League prospects are "different but not impossible" after learning he will not be able to call upon Thomas Meunier and Edinson Cavani.

PSG's all-time leading scorer Cavani and Belgium right-back Meunier rejected short-term contracts to stay on for the final stages of Europe's premier competition in August, with the Ligue 1 giants having reached the quarter-finals courtesy of victory over Tuchel's old employers Borussia Dortmund.

France's top-flight was curtailed in April, with PSG declared 2019-20 champions, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

That in turn complicated matters for Tuchel's out-of-contract players, with an eye towards the Champions League and the finals of the Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France – the latter two showpieces which are yet to be given rescheduled dates.

Captain Thiago Silva, along with Layvin Kurzawa, is reportedly set to stay on for the short term, but the veteran Brazil centre-back will not be offered a deal beyond this season.

"All the players are important to create a group and a mentality and to lose these three [Cavani, Silva and Meunier] decreases the group," Tuchel told a news conference.

"We have always played with these players and therefore we lose quality with their departures, that's for sure.

"After that it will not be impossible and I am convinced that we will be very strong. We have to prepare this team for the two finals with a very good mentality.

"We played an extraordinary Champions League with everyone. It is different but not impossible."

PSG were not only depleted in terms of senior professionals on their return to training this week.

Despite making 13 first-team appearances this season, 18-year-old defender Tanguy Kouassi has rejected an extended contract and is understood to be on the verge of joining Bayern Munich.

Midfielder Adil Aouchiche will also seek pastures new, although Kouassi's exit is the one preying on Tuchel's mind.

"For Adil I can understand because it is difficult to fight for a place in midfield at a club like this," he said.

"But for Tanguy, I'm sorry because it's been a pleasure to work with him. It's different because it's no secret, I wanted to keep him with us.

"He played against Dortmund, the most important game of the season with the most tension and stake. He played at 17 when he had no contract.

"There was confidence, he would have had minutes, he could have been a key player. I can't understand and I'm sad, but that's how it is. It is difficult to understand this situation for him."

Julian Draxler could also be heading for the exit door, with Hertha Berlin reported to be his next destination, although Tuchel would be keen to keep the Germany international.

"He is with us and for the moment," Tuchel added. "I only see the two finals and the Champions League. For me he is a very important player, I like working with him, he is ready.

"I count on him in the next four or five weeks for the finals and afterwards for the Champions League.

"After that is not my choice, we have to talk and make a decision together. I really like this player, I'm very happy that he is here."

Cristiano Ronaldo's impact at Real Madrid was truly phenomenal – there's certainly an argument for him being the greatest signing in the history of the sport.

But when his move from Manchester United to the Santiago Bernabeu was completed on June 26, 2009, there was certainly more than a hint of scepticism.

Let's not forget, when Madrid paid a reported €94million (£80m) for him, Ronaldo became the most expensive footballer ever at the time, breaking a record that had stood for eight years.

There were plenty of people suggesting Madrid had paid over the odds for him, but now we all know what a remarkable signing he was for Los Blancos and Spanish football until his departure for Juventus in 2018.

On the 11th anniversary of Ronaldo joining Madrid, we look back on his time with the club and his legacy, with a little help from Opta.

The early years – finding another level

Ronaldo had already won the Ballon d'Or during his time at Old Trafford, so his quality was never in doubt, but a haul of 33 goals across all competitions in his first season with Los Blancos was an impressive start, particularly given it was an increase of eight on his final campaign in England.

But it was just the tip of the iceberg. As it would turn out, 2009-10 was the only one of Ronaldo's nine seasons with Madrid in which he failed to reach the 40-goal mark.

Granted, the Portugal star played significantly more games over the next few years, but to maintain that consistency – and arguably improve on it – over 50-plus matches without suffering fatigue is genuinely remarkable.

In 2010-11 Ronaldo claimed his first trophy for the club – the Copa del Rey – and had a hand in 69 goals (53 scored, 16 assisted) in 54 matches. He then improved on that further the next year, his 60 goals and 15 assists helping Madrid to their first LaLiga title in four years and the Champions League semi-finals.

By 2012, Ronaldo was already finding himself mentioned in debates regarding the "greatest player of all time" – that would only intensify in the coming years.

Sustaining greatness

The Champions League has long been an obsession of Real Madrid's, and so too it became a major goal of Ronaldo's – after all, three successive last-four eliminations meant five full seasons passed without the forward lifting the famous trophy.

For Madrid, the barren run had been even longer. They'd been chasing 'La Decima' since 2002, but finally, in 2013-14, the wait was over – Ronaldo's 65 goal involvements (51 goals, 14 assists) leading them to a European and Copa del Rey double. His late penalty in the 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid that saw them crowned Champions League kings took his tally to 17 goals for the season in that competition, a record.

Three more Champions League titles followed over the next four years, though 2014-15 – when Ronaldo enjoyed the best individual season of his career with 61 goals and 21 assists – was the anomaly. He would only score in one of those three finales, however, the 4-1 over future employers Juventus, though he did net the decisive shoot-out spot-kick a year to again break Atletico hearts in 2016.

Ronaldo's final two years in Madrid saw the club win a total of eight trophies, while he scored 86 times and moved level for a while on five Ballon d'Or wins with Lionel Messi.

Ronaldo became synonymous with the Real Madrid brand – it became difficult to imagine the two without each other, but in 2018 they parted ways, ending one of the most iconic player-club associations in modern football.

The legacy

Across his nine years with Madrid, Ronaldo scored 450 goals and laid on another 119. The former figure makes him the club's all-time leading scorer.

He surpassed Raul (323) in October 2015, having already cruised past the like of Ferenc Puskas, Carlos Santillana and Alfredo Di Stefano.

Of those goals, 311 came in LaLiga, a figure only Messi (440) can better – though the Argentina star has spent his entire career in Spanish football.

While all defenders are likely to have been glad to see Ronaldo leave LaLiga, he had a particular penchant for netting against a select few teams. Barcelona (18), Celta Vigo (20), Atletico Madrid (22), Getafe (23) and Sevilla (27) were his most frequent victims.

But it wasn't just LaLiga opposition against whom he thrived – he was the first player to score 10 Champions League goals in seven successive seasons and to reach a haul of 100 in the competition for a single club.

At the age of 35, he continues to excel for Juve in Serie A. But it was with Madrid where his impact was most felt, and it will be a long time before the club see anything even remotely comparable again, if they ever do.

Barcelona's squad are in "perfect condition" for the end-of-season run-in and to pip Real Madrid to LaLiga glory, according to Arturo Vidal.

Spain's top flight resumed this month with defending champions Barca two points clear of Madrid, but that advantage was wiped out by the Blaugrana's stalemate with Sevilla last Friday.

Zinedine Zidane's side have won four out of four since the restart and are now top due to their superior head-to-head record against Barca, who are bidding to win a third title in a row.

However, Vidal is optimistic Barca can handle the rigours of a hectic schedule that will see them play seven league games in the space of three weeks.

"As the games are closer together we need to use the time as best we can to ensure we go into the next game in the best possible shape," he told FOX Sports.

"But I think we are in perfect condition to be champions.

"The great atmosphere among the team is an important factor. We have all become close friends and that helps on the field. It's very important because it really shows. I'm happy."

Barca's season will not end when their LaLiga campaign concludes at Deportivo Alaves on the weekend of July 18-19.

Quique Setien's side are still in the Champions League and have the second leg of their last-16 tie with Napoli to play in August, having drawn 1-1 in Italy back in February.

The quarter-finals and semi-finals are now one-legged games that will take place in Lisbon, which will also host the final, and Vidal is excited about the way the Champions League will finish.

"I like the format," he added.

"If we can beat Napoli it's going to be very odd because of how and where it's happening, in August and over single legs.

"But all-or-nothing games are the ones I like the best. I want to be important in those games."

Neymar will be the leading contender for the Ballon d'Or if he guides Paris Saint-Germain to Champions League glory in August, according to Kaka.

PSG have not played a competitive game since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, though they were declared Ligue 1 champions when the season was curtailed in April.

Thomas Tuchel's team will therefore be fresh when they head into a re-formatted Champions League finale in six weeks.

Due to international travel restrictions, the last eight of Europe's premier club competition will head to Lisbon for a mini-tournament of single-leg knockout games played across 12 days to decide the title.

PSG will take part after Neymar scored in both legs of their last-16 elimination of Borussia Dortmund before the season was put on hold.

Kaka won the Ballon d'Or in 2007 and was the last player not named Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi to receive the award until Luka Modric took it in 2018.

The former Real Madrid and Milan star thinks inspiring PSG to their first Champions League trophy would put Neymar in line for similar recognition.

Asked if Brazil had any candidates for the Ballon d'Or, Kaka told Globo Esporte: "The first is Ney, who is a strong favourite.

"I believe Neymar is one of the best players today. Whether he wins the award will depend on the team achievement he is part of.

"Now, let's look at this Champions League final in Lisbon: Neymar being the protagonist, Paris Saint-Germain the champions.

"Neymar deservedly wins the award for best player in the world."

The Champions League quarter-finals will start on August 12, with four last-16 ties to be settled the week prior.

Pep Guardiola is hopeful Sergio Aguero can return for the conclusion of Manchester City's Champions League campaign after the club's all-time leading scorer underwent knee surgery.

Aguero was operated on by Guardiola's preferred surgeon, Dr Ramon Cugat, in Barcelona on Wednesday, two days on from aggravating a pre-existing complaint during Monday's 5-0 win over Burnley.

City have not confirmed the precise nature of the striker's setback but reports in his native Argentina claim Aguero has suffered meniscus damage.

The recovery period from such a surgery typically ranges from four to six weeks, meaning a return for the second leg of City's last-16 encounter against Real Madrid – which will take place on August 7 or 8 – looks a possibility.

Speaking ahead of the trip to Chelsea in the Premier League, Guardiola acknowledged being without his most reliable goalscorer would be a significant setback in the quest for continental glory.

City have won six of the past seven domestic trophies on offer but have not been able to take that dominance onto the European stage, where they are facing a two-season absence pending the outcome of their appeal against a UEFA ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"Of course, the impact is big," said Guardiola, whose side will progress to a final eight tournament in Lisbon from August 12-23 if they can drive home a 2-1 advantage established at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"To win the Champions League you have to arrive in the right moment, the right time in the best possible condition.

"But at the same time, the situation is what it is and sometimes the rest of the players step forward to solve these situations.

"We have to wait and hopefully [Aguero] can help us against Madrid and, if we are good enough to go through, maybe for the next rounds."

As the games come thick and fast in the restarted season, Guardiola is ready to think creatively with Gabriel Jesus now the only fit natural striker in his first-team squad.

Selecting players in unusual roles to fine effect has become something of a forte for the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss, although the suggestion Ilkay Gundogan – who has spent most of this season in defensive midfield – could be used as an attacking spearhead raised eyebrows.

"The players who understand the game and are so smart, they can play in all the positions," Guardiola said. "There are incredible players who play in just one position and Ilkay can play in many positions.

"Not like a striker, a main target, but a striker who can drop and play and get to the box. He is an outstanding player because he is so intelligent.

"That's why, for the disappointing situation for Sergio because we need him a lot, we have Gabriel. We don't have any doubts about him.

"But of course, we play a lot of games in a short time of recovery and preparation. So that's why you have to think of different options."

City produced arguably their two finest performances this season when Guardiola picked teams without a conventional striker.

En route to EFL Cup success, a side with Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne roaming as nominal leaders of the attack beat Manchester United 3-1 in the first leg of the semi-final – racing into a 3-0 half-time lead.

The same hybrid 4-4-2 setup was also deployed from the start against Madrid, and Guardiola feels he has plenty of options with which to unleash that strategy again.

"[Raheem] Sterling can play there without a doubt, I think it is an incredible position for him," he added.

"At the same time we can play Bernardo. Bernardo played there at Old Trafford and helped us to qualify for the cup final.

"Bernardo is another player like Gundogan who can play in different positions because he is so smart."

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has undergone surgery on his left knee in Barcelona.

Aguero sustained an injury, reported to be damage to his meniscus, during Monday's 5-0 Premier League win over Burnley.

Pep Guardiola told reporters on Wednesday that his top scorer would be operated on this Thursday by his preferred surgeon Dr Ramon Cugat, who has treated City players including Benjamin Mendy, Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne during the Catalan's time in Manchester.

However, shortly after his boss' news conference to preview the forthcoming match at Chelsea, Aguero tweeted a picture of himself from his hospital bed, suggesting the procedure had already been carried out.

"Everything went well and I'll soon begin recovery," he wrote.

"A big thanks to Dr Cugat and his team – and to all of you for your support."

Recovery from meniscus surgery generally ranges from four to six weeks, meaning Aguero could return for the concluding stages of this season's Champions League.

City hold a 2-1 advantage over Real Madrid ahead of the second leg of their last-16 tie, which will take place on August 7 or 8.

Should Guardiola's men progress, they will take part in an eight-team mini-tournament in Lisbon, between August 12 and 23, comprised of one-off quarter-final, semi-final and final matches.

Aguero has scored 16 goals from 24 Premier League appearances this season, just 18 of which were starts. He averages a goal every 91 minutes.

If the injury rules him out of City's final eight top-flight matches, his streak of scoring at least 20 times in the league for the last five seasons will come to an end.

Lionel Messi is celebrating his 33rd birthday, which provides the perfect excuse to reflect on the Barcelona star's best 10 goals.

The Argentina forward has been the scourge of defenders in Spain and across the globe since making his professional debut at 17.

He has now scored 699 goals, collecting 34 club trophies and a record six Ballons d'Or, but international honours have eluded him since he won gold at the 2008 Olympics.

To celebrate Messi's special day, we take a look at 10 of his very best and most important goals.

Albacete (H): May 1, 2005

Even at 17, Messi had the confidence of a veteran. Having already had 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 pass before lobbing the ball over Albacete stopper Raul Valbuena from 16 yards. Some way to open your account for a club.

 

Getafe (H): April 18, 2007

In the 12 years since he first got on the scoresheet, only one of Messi's strikes was ever going to top this list: his Diego Maradona-esque solo goal against Getafe. Messi picked up the ball in his own half and danced around two players before turning on the pace, beating two more defenders and going around the goalkeeper, capping it with a right-footed finish.

Real Zaragoza (A): March 21, 2010

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

 

Real Madrid (A): April 27, 2011

This was the height of one of the fiercest Clasico rivalries in decades, as Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid waged war on Guardiola's Barca. They met four times in three competitions in less than a month, including in the Champions League semi-finals, when Messi faced pretty brutal treatment as Madrid tried to shackle him. He scored twice in a 2-0 first-leg win at the Santiago Bernabeu but it is the first goal people remember: the tension of the match, the bitterness of the rivalry, the ducking, weaving slalom through the defence and the composed finish past Casillas, all from the most nonchalant Sergio Busquets assist you will ever see.

 

Iran (N): June 21, 2014

Prior to the 2014 World Cup, Messi had only scored one goal in eight appearances. Seemingly determined to step up for Argentina, he netted in his side's opening match before going on to score one of the goals of the tournament in the second against Iran. With the score at 0-0 heading into stoppage time, Messi took control of the ball and bent a powerful strike past the despairing arms of Alireza Haghighi to break Iranian hearts.

Bayern Munich (H): May 6, 2015

Having already opened the scoring three minutes earlier to give Barca a 1-0 advantage over Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final, Messi doubled his tally with a sumptuous effort. Ivan Rakitic's pass sent Messi on his way, before the little maestro's trickery put Jerome Boateng on his backside and allowed the Argentine to casually lift the ball over the onrushing Manuel Neuer.

 

Athletic Bilbao (N): May 30, 2015

The second part of a treble-winning season for Barca came in the form of the Copa Del Rey against Athletic Bilbao. With 20 minutes gone and the score deadlocked, Messi set off on a marauding run down the right wing and soon found himself trapped amongst three defenders. Naturally, Messi was able to float past the trio as if they weren't there, before cutting into the box and beating Iago Herrerin at his near post.

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 Real Madrid the title, and it looked to be headed for a 2-2 draw until Sergi Roberto's swashbuckling run in the 92nd minute gave Jordi Alba the chance to square it to Messi, who finished with aplomb from the edge of the area for his 500th Barcelona goal.

 

Ecuador (A): October 11, 2017

Romario Ibarra's first-minute goal in the last match of CONMEBOL qualification left football fans across the globe staring at the prospect of the unthinkable – a World Cup without Messi. Enter the man himself, who dragged Argentina out of a bumbling stupor to single-handedly tear Ecuador apart with a sensational hat-trick. The shift of pace and stunning, dipping finish into the top corner to claim the matchball was the best of the bunch and a grateful bench spilled on to the field to mob their hero.

 

Real Betis (A): March 17, 2019

Messi has never won the FIFA Puskas Award for the best goal of the year, although he has twice come second, most recently for this effort against Real Betis in a 4-1 win last season. He sent the ball left to Ivan Rakitic and hurried to the edge of the box for the return ball, then - having shaped for a powerful strike towards the near post - chipped a sublime effort into the far corner beyond the despairing Pau Lopez. The goal completed his hat-trick and earned an ovation from the home fans but was not enough to beat Debrecen's Daniel Zsori to the Puskas prize.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were among the Paris Saint-Germain stars to report back at the club's training ground on Monday.

Thomas Tuchel's first-team squad attended the Ooredoo Centre to undergo medical checks, including COVID-19 tests, ahead of a planned return to training on Thursday.

There were 27 players who reported back to the club on Monday, the notable exceptions being Edinson Cavani and Thomas Meunier, who are due to leave the club at the end of this month.

Tuchel's men are expected to have further tests until Thursday, when training will resume in small groups.

PSG have not played since their 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in March.

Ligue 1 was the only one of Europe's top five leagues to have its season declared over due to the coronavirus pandemic, with PSG confirmed as champions based on a points-per-game final table.

However, French authorities are set to allow the finals of the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue to go ahead on July 24 and 31 respectively. PSG will face Saint-Etienne in the former and Lyon in the latter.

They will then compete in the remaining rounds of the Champions League - reorganised into a form of mini-tournament in Lisbon - in August, before the 2020-21 season gets underway.

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