Virgil van Dijk conceded he had to "respect greatness" after losing out on the 2019 Ballon d'Or to Lionel Messi.

Barcelona and Argentina forward Messi won the prize for a record sixth time having scored 41 times in 44 club appearances for Barcelona, with whom he won a 10th LaLiga title last season.

Success in the Champions League eluded him, though, as Van Dijk helped Liverpool oust Barcelona in the semi-finals en route to a sixth triumph in Europe's most premier club competition.

Van Dijk's performances for the Reds in that competition and with Nations League finalists Netherlands ensured he finished second in the voting for the Ballon d'Or, though he had no qualms about being pipped to the prize by Messi.

"It was amazing," Van Dijk said of his 2019.

"Unfortunately there are a couple of players like him that are a bit unnatural, I think.

"They're fantastic. Six-time Ballon d'Or [winner], you need to respect greatness as well. I was close but there was just someone a little bit better.

"I'm very proud of what I achieved last year with Liverpool, Holland and hopefully we can do that again this year.

"It's going to be tough as long as these guys are around still."

While Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who finished third in the voting, have long been considered greats, 28-year-old Van Dijk has had a slower rise to the top.

The former Groningen, Celtic and Southampton defender only won his first international cap four years ago and thinks the recognition he has recently received is a reflection of his attitude.

"I never thought that I would be up for a Ballon d'Or until I was actually nominated," Van Dijk added.

"It says a lot about how my career has been. It's never been easy. My career is just different to the winner here.

"I came late but I never gave up on my dreams. I had to work hard every step of the way. Where I am right now is something I'm very proud of."

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann has been voted 18th in the final list for the 2019 Ballon d'Or, a fall of 15 places from last year.

Griezmann finished behind only Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo 12 months ago after winning the World Cup with France and impressing for Atletico Madrid at club level.

However, an underwhelming end to his Atletico career and a tough start to life at Barcelona - who he joined in a €120million deal in July - has seen him drop down the list.

It marks the second time the 28-year-old has slipped from third to 18th, having done likewise in 2017.

Griezmann's Barcelona team-mate Marc-Andre ter Stegen finished 24th and Frenkie de Jong, who spent the first half of the year with Champions League semi-finalists Ajax, was voted 11th in the standings.

Three Liverpool players missed out on the top 10, with Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino in 26th, 19th and 17th, respectively.

Fellow Premier League side Manchester City were also heavily represented in the 30-11 rankings, as were Dutch champions Ajax following their run to the final four of last season's Champions League.

Lionel Messi and Virgil van Dijk are the frontrunners to win the most prestigious individual accolade in world football during Monday's ceremony.

Ballon d'Or 30-11 list in full:

=28. Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)

=28. Donny van de Beek (Ajax)

=28. Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)

=26. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)

=26. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

=24. Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)

=24. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)

23. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

22. Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

=20. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

=20. Dusan Tadic (Ajax)

19. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

18. Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona)

17. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

16. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

15. Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)

14. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

13. Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)

12. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

11. Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)

That such brilliance at a key moment of a pivotal game felt somehow inevitable underlined how much Lionel Messi has spoiled us for so long.

Needing to dart in-field towards a packed defence on a sodden playing surface, before receiving a bouncing return pass 20 yards from goal, with one of the world's best goalkeepers between the posts.

Those would not represent favourable circumstances for any other player. But when Messi drew back his left boot to caress a side-footed finish, Atletico Madrid number one Jan Oblak knew what was coming. So did the 64,226 fans inside the Wanda Metropolitano and they had about as much chance of averting a 1-0 defeat.

The arc of the ball, low into the left corner, mimicked his last-gasp Clasico winner at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2017. Another showreel moment in a career bursting with them.

As usual, with Barcelona nudging back ahead of Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga on the eve of the Ballon d'Or ceremony in Paris, Messi's timing was impeccable.

"I don't follow these awards galas because they are too long," said Barca boss Ernesto Valverde afterwards, luxuriating in his embattled door-to-door salesman demeanour. "But if you have to give it to the best, let's just give it to Messi and the problem is solved."

Messi = problem solved. It's been the story of Valverde's Barcelona tenure to an even larger extent than it was for his predecessors

Normal service resumed?

The 32-year-old is tipped to collect the sixth Ballon d'Or of his career in the French capital on Monday and once again move ahead of eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the overall standings.

If he does, it will be natural to sympathise with Virgil van Dijk, insofar as the Liverpool and Netherlands centre-back's bravura campaign came the year after Luka Modric was a celebrated recipient of the game's grandest individual honour.

Champions League glory with Real Madrid and inspiring Croatia to the 2018 World Cup final, embellishing a career of sustained excellence and artistry, made Modric a worthy candidate. But his cause was helped by a thirst for it simply to be someone else. Those 50-goal seasons had become so run of the mill.

Messi or Ronaldo had taken home the prize every year since Kaka triumphed in 2007. Now Modric has served as a kind of sorbet for that decade of footballing decadence, Van Dijk might suffer for the fact nobody needs their palate cleansed anymore.

It will be Messi's first Ballon d'Or since 2015, which is the only time he has been officially declared as the best player in the word in the past five years. Last year, he failed to make the top three. That same inevitability that served him so well in a damp Madrid on Sunday night has hindered him in this regard.

Messidependencia 3.0

Messi's stellar career can be roughly broken down into three acts.

The prodigious youngster blessed with the easiest touch you've ever seen, phenomenal awareness and blistering acceleration – he didn't walk as much back then – was instantly noteworthy at Barcelona before becoming the shimmering jewel in Pep Guardiola's all-conquering side around the turn of the last decade.

Under Luis Enrique, the emphasis shifted from super-team to superstar forward line and Messi dazzled alongside Luis Suarez and Neymar. MSN swept all before them on the way to a treble in 2014-15, an attack of potent brilliance unlike anything else.

In between those two periods, during the reign of the late Tito Vilanova, talk of Barca's "Messidependencia" really began to grow. He scored an absurd 70 goals in the 2012-13 season.

Guardiola joked that pouring over the tactical intricacies of his Barca side was futile, given the plan was simply to give Messi the ball. Valverde would not laugh that one off so easily because the Blaugrana have never depended on their captain as much as they do right now.

The huge drop-off in standards when Barcelona are without Messi is startling and last season's Copa del Rey offered a clear demonstration. He was rested for the first leg of ties against Levante and Sevilla, they lost both and he was recalled each time to score in comfortable return wins.

Van Dijk has a decent claim to being the next most important player in world football when tying the presence of an individual to the fortunes of a team. The Dutchman's £75million arrival from Southampton transformed a destructive but inconsistent side into a relentless winning machine.

If Liverpool continue their unblinking Premier League form, Van Dijk can expect to be in contention for the Ballon d'Or next year. And why shouldn't they?

Jurgen Klopp can call upon 2019's answer to MSN in Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, while their star centre-back is flanked by Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson – probably the best pair of full-backs any club can boast.

The team-man in the one-man team

Beyond goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, whose heroics against Atletico laid the foundations for Messi's own, it is hard to make a strong case for any of his Barca team-mates being serious contenders for a world XI. Frenkie de Jong, perhaps, but that would owe much to his body of work at Ajax.

It seems laughable to think one of the arguments made by Messi detractors during those interminable Leo v CR7 debates was that he only succeeded because of the Barcelona team in which he played. Then as now, it was a case of brilliance being taken for granted.

"I'd like to have an explanation about Leo, the talent he has," Valverde said after his key man's latest masterstroke.

"But not just that, because there are a lot of people with talent. Leo's can be seen always. He has an ambition and a sense of obligation with the club, which you see in every game."

Just because Messi does these things all the time doesn't make them any less remarkable. He is a team-man and a one-man team who continues to stand above the rest.

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has insisted there will be "no losers" when the Ballon d'Or winner is announced in Paris on Monday.

The Premier League star ranks among the leading contenders to take home the most coveted individual honour in European club football.

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi looks most likely to claim the award, but the five-time winner faces stiff competition from Van Dijk.

The bedrock on which Liverpool built their Champions League triumph, the 28-year-old also captained his country to the Nations League final and was named UEFA Men's Player of the Year in August.

"I am going to be there for a reason and there are no losers on the evening," Van Dijk said.

"I am very proud to be in that bracket, to be in there for the way I performed with the team last year and also with the country.

"It is just something to be proud of because not a lot of players go there and are up for these kind of things."

While a win for Van Dijk would be his first, another for Messi would move the incredible Argentinian clear of Cristiano Ronaldo and into outright first on the leaderboard.

The 32-year-old scored the lone goal for Barca in a 1-0 LaLiga win over Atletico Madrid on Sunday, his 11th in all competitions this term.

Atletico midfielder Saul Niguez was left exasperated by the attacker's brilliance.

"We played a great game, [Barca] did not have many chances, but then Messi appears and does what he does with terrible ease," Saul said.

"That is why he is the best."

Antonio Conte says Inter's run of just one defeat in nine matches has led to a "feel-good factor" at San Siro but he has warned his players against complacency ahead of their clash with struggling SPAL.

Inter are second in Serie A, one point behind leaders Juventus, as they prepare to face 19th-placed SPAL on Sunday, and Conte was in ebullient mood in his pre-match press conference.

The Nerazzurri returned to form in the Champions League by beating Slavia Prague 3-1 on Wednesday and victory at home against SPAL would extend Inter's Serie A winning streak to five matches.

Conte was asked how he intends to maintain his side's strong form in order to keep Inter's title challenge on course, and he called for everyone at the club to keep their feet on the ground.

"In the league and in Europe we are doing very well," Conte told reporters. "In Europe we have played with real pride. Even when we lost we gave a good performance.

"We have always played every game on level terms. In Europe the situation is in our hands again. That is very encouraging.

"I am very optimistic and pleased with the feel-good factor. However, we cannot get carried away and must stay grounded. We need to make sure we are realistic.

"We have lots of confidence and that should spur us on. Let's beat SPAL and keep going. I want to see the same spirit and desire. I want us to be hungry."

Martinez has already matched his league goal tally from last season by scoring six this term and Lukaku has endeared himself to Inter fans with 10 goals in 13 league appearances since his £75million transfer from Manchester United.

"Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku aren't the same strikers who started the season," said Conte.

"They are both atypical modern strikers, as they can be a centre-forward or a support striker, they work hard for their team-mates and are really developing an understanding with each other.

"They have grown a lot. They have come a long way since the start of the season. They have a good understanding. They are working very well and very hard.

"The goals are coming which is important. But the whole team play their part. I am attentive at both ends of the pitch. However, there is still lots of work to do."

Tottenham are the team to avoid in the knockout stages of the Champions League because of the Jose Mourinho factor, according to Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci.

Mourinho has won both matches since replacing Mauricio Pochettino as head coach, including a 4-2 victory over Olympiacos on Tuesday that secured a place in the last 16 of UEFA's flagship club competition.

Tottenham cannot finish above Bayern Munich in Group B, while Juventus are assured of top spot in Group D with one round of fixtures still to play.

The two teams could therefore meet in the next round, but Bonucci would prefer not to play the London club.

"If I have to choose who to avoid, I would say Mourinho's Tottenham," he told reporters. "In some games he can give them a little extra.

"But many things can change between now and February."

Cristiano Ronaldo was back in Juve's starting line-up for Tuesday's 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid after missing last weekend's league victory at Atalanta due to a knee complaint.

The Portugal international reacted angrily to being substituted two games in a row earlier this month, but Bonucci insisted there are no issues behind the scenes.

"We talked about it," Bonucci said. "The important thing is that when somebody isn't playing at their best, someone else steps up. 

"We have more than one player that is ready to do that. 

"Ronaldo is part of a group that will be competitive until the end. The goal is to remain competitive until March and beyond."

Willian says he is eager to stay on at Chelsea beyond the end of the campaign but has yet to be offered a new deal by the Premier League side.

The Brazil international is into his seventh season at Stamford Bridge and is due to be out of contract next June.

But Willian, who turns 32 next year, intends to remain a Chelsea player and is waiting for discussions to begin over fresh terms.

"I feel happy here," he told reporters. "I feel happy to play for this club but the situation is not in my hands. It's in their hands. 

"I'm waiting for them. They know what I want, what I want to do, so I wait for them."

Head coach Frank Lampard recently called on Chelsea chiefs to award Willian with an extension and the forward will bide his time.

"I don't want to talk to [other clubs] because I have a contract until the end of the season," he said. "I am a Chelsea player but I just want to say the club know what I want to do."

Willian made his 17th appearance of the season on Wednesday in Chelsea's 2-2 Champions League draw with Valencia, playing 80 minutes before being replaced by Mason Mount.

Daniel Wass scored eight minutes from time for Valencia to leave Lampard's side potentially needing a home victory over Lille next month to advance to the last 16.

"The end of the game was crazy and it's difficult to play at Valencia with the atmosphere," said Willian.

"At least we got a point and now we have a decider at home. I think we got a little bit lucky but it was like this so now we go to the game against Lille."

Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard says Virgil van Dijk "100 per cent" deserves to claim the Ballon d'Or for his "faultless" performances en route to winning the Champions League.

Van Dijk is in the running for football's top individual prize, going up against Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

But Gerrard, now Rangers boss, while claiming to be "Messi's number one fan", is in no doubt that the Liverpool defender should get the award.

Speaking after Rangers' draw with Feyenoord, Gerrard responded when asked by a Dutch reporter if Van Dijk should win: "Yes, 100 per cent.

"I'm Messi's number one fan, for sure. I love the player. Obscene numbers in his game in terms of assists and goals. I'm definitely a Messi fan, in the gang.

"But if you talk about consistency from one player over a year, who wins the European Cup and is absolutely faultless in every performance, that means you deserve to win the Ballon d'Or."

Van Dijk finished second behind Messi in FIFA's The Best awards in September.

Sadio Mane believes winning the Club World Cup could give Liverpool the adrenaline surge they might need to drive home their Premier League title push.

Jurgen Klopp's side will have Flamengo among their trophy rivals in Qatar next month and have complicated their build-up to the FIFA tournament with Wednesday's 1-1 Champions League draw against Napoli.

A win would have made sure of a last-16 place with a game to spare, allowing manager Klopp to possibly rest some stars for the Group E finale at Salzburg.

Instead, Liverpool may need a point to be sure of qualification and a win to seal top spot, making the trip to Austria one with high stakes.

And with holding midfielder Fabinho nursing an ankle injury that could keep him sidelined for a significant period, Liverpool are a key man down.

It remains to be seen whether the Brazil international can return by the time the Club World Cup comes around, but Mane is in no doubt about the potential significance of that competition.

"To win games and win trophies motivates players all the time," the forward said. "Hopefully we're going to win it and give us high energy for us to go again until the end of the season."

Front-runners Liverpool have begun their Premier League campaign with a staggering 12 wins and one draw from their opening 13 fixtures, and they face Brighton and Hove Albion at Anfield on Saturday.

A hectic December awaits, with matches and travel that should test their resources to the limit. Klopp will need to shuffle his line-ups, yet Mane is confident the Reds can overcome the obstacles in their way to make it a successful month.

He said: "We are Liverpool, we have a big squad. We have many players who can play. It's part of football and we have to deal with it. We know it won’t be easy.

"Tiredness is in the head. If the coach needs us, we'll play to help the team."

Mane dismissed any suggestion he threw himself to the ground in an effort to win Liverpool a first-half penalty against Napoli, after he went down when surrounded by defenders.

The appeals for a spot-kick were waved away, much to the hosts' frustrations.

"I think it was a penalty, sure. I wasn't diving like usual!" Mane said, with a chuckle, having been at the centre of subsequently retracted diving accusations from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola at the start of this month.

Georginio Wijnaldum described the ankle injury sustained by Fabinho against Napoli as "a big blow' for Liverpool but vowed to be the perfect stand-in in a more defensive-midfield role.

The Netherlands international came off the bench to replace Fabinho in Wednesday's Champions League contest at Anfield in an indication he may fill the void despite having played a more advanced role for Jurgen Klopp's side this term.

But Wijnaldum appreciates the likely loss of Fabinho for a number of games, as Liverpool await clarity on the severity of the injury, comes as a serious setback to the reigning European champions and Premier League leaders.

"It's a big blow for the whole team, of course, and for him as a player," he said. 

"It's a situation you've got to deal with. Over the years we've had a few blows with injury and we just have to show that we can deal with the situation."

Fabinho has a crucial holding role to play at the hub of Liverpool's team, and it perhaps goes against Wijnaldum's attacking instincts to occupy that position.

However, he has done so studiously in the past, and when asked about the challenge of taking over from Fabinho, there was a twinkle in the eye of the Dutchman.

"I played there last season. Do you think I'm ready?" he told reporters at Anfield. "We just have to show that it doesn't affect us."

The exit of Fabinho after 18 minutes was swiftly followed by Dries Mertens firing Napoli in front with a terrific finish across goal from a tight angle, his strike so impressive it was hard to fault Alisson.

Dejan Lovren headed an equaliser midway through the second half, but it was not Liverpool's night. Klopp's charges were oddly pedestrian at times, and the 1-1 draw means they head to Salzburg for their final Champions League Group E match on December 10 as leaders, but still probably needing a point to make sure of a last-16 place.

Wijnaldum acknowledged it was a "frustrating" position, given Liverpool knew a win over Napoli would have made sure of their qualification and taken any edge off the Salzburg game.

"Of course you want it to finish early, but this is the situation. It comes to the last game," Wijnaldum said. "There's nothing we can change about it anymore so what we have to do is to deal with this situation and try to get a good result."

There was at least some relief in the Liverpool camp when linchpin defender Virgil van Dijk was able to shake off a blow to the ribs, which came from Mertens in the lead-up to Napoli's goal.

The sight of Van Dijk receiving treatment on the pitch caused anxiety in the stands and on the pitch too.

"Everyone was worried," Wijnaldum said. "I think he is [fine] because he finished the game. With Fabinho it's difficult to say because he went off."

Luis Suarez has told Barcelona team-mate Ousmane Dembele and club doctors to find a solution to his injury problems following another setback.

Dembele went off in the first half of the 3-1 Champions League win over former club Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday due to a thigh injury.

The winger is due to have tests to determine the extent of the damage, but he is likely at least to miss Sunday's LaLiga showdown with Atletico Madrid.

Dembele has suffered three thigh problems in 2019 as part of a succession of injuries that have blighted his Barca career since moving from Dortmund in August 2017 for an initial €105million fee.

The 22-year-old, who has started only five matches in all competitions this season, has also had his professionalism called into question during a difficult time in Spain.

Suarez has now urged the player and medical staff to do their utmost to halt Dembele's problematic injury record.

"Dembele and the doctors have to try and find a solution to his injuries," Suarez said after the match, as quoted by Sport.

"[They have to find out] how he keeps getting injured after he has recovered. We hope he's back with us soon."

Suarez broke the deadlock at Camp Nou on Wednesday before setting up Lionel Messi for the second goal, and the Argentina star played in Antoine Griezmann - who came on for Dembele - to score the third.

Jadon Sancho pulled a goal back for Dortmund but Barca saw out a win that secured their place in the next round.

While he says his partnership with Messi has become easy after five years at the club, Suarez admitted they were eager to get Griezmann a goal to boost his confidence after a run of six appearances in all competitions without scoring.

"I've always said that spending time together, being with each other day to day, for so many years, playing games together makes the connection with Messi easy," Suarez said. 

"You start [running] knowing that he's going to put the ball in front of you. We always look for the best option. It's normal that we find each other because we're the two main forwards."

He added: "As has happened with other team-mates, knowing [Griezmann] was struggling to score, when we were up we looked for him. Antoine did spectacularly: he had chances and he scored. It's important for his confidence."

Tammy Abraham says he feels "much better" as the Chelsea striker prepares to undergo tests on a hip injury sustained in the Champions League draw with Valencia.

The striker hobbled off the Mestalla pitch in the first half of the 2-2 draw after a collision left him clutching his left side before he was then taken away on a stretcher.

Abraham, who is due to have an X-ray on Thursday, said after the match that he does not think the problem is as serious as first feared.

"It's much better," he told Chelsea TV. "At the time I was fearful of the worst, but I was able to walk, move about, so hopefully it's not too long [out of action].

"I'll have an X-ray and we'll see what the news is. Hopefully it's just a bruising. It was a knee to my hip area. Hopefully it's nothing too serious."

Abraham watched the remainder of the Group H thriller on his mobile phone in the Chelsea dressing room.

The England international admitted it was tough to listen to the reaction of the crowd and not be able to influence proceedings as Valencia fought back to take a point.

"I went in the changing room and I was watching on my phone. My phone is a couple of minutes behind, so I could hear everything from the fans, the reactions and all sorts," he said.

"I was watching it and I was just shaking. I wished I was still out there."

An end-to-end first half finished level when Mateo Kovacic's first Chelsea goal cancelled out an opener from Carlos Soler.

Christian Pulisic put the visitors ahead and Kepa Arrizabalaga saved a Dani Parejo penalty, but the Chelsea keeper was then caught out by a cross from Daniel Wass that went straight in.

The result means Chelsea need to beat to Lille on matchday six to guarantee their place in the next round, with group leaders Ajax, who are two points above the Blues and Valencia, hosting the Spanish side in Amsterdam.

"We knew coming here was never going to be easy and we had to stick together. It's in our hands to go out and win the next game," added Abraham.

"It's a massive one. It's always been a dream to play in the Champions League and I don't want it to end at the group stage."

Julian Nagelsmann revelled in RB Leipzig's dramatic comeback as the German side reached the Champions League last 16 for the first time in their history.

Emil Forsberg's 96th-minute equaliser salvaged a stunning 2-2 draw at home to Portuguese champions Benfica in Group G on Wednesday.

Trailing 2-0 with 11 seconds of normal time remaining in the midweek clash at Red Bull Arena, Forsberg converted a 90th-minute penalty before sensationally levelling the game six minutes later.

Afterwards, Nagelsmann – who became the first head coach to guide Hoffenheim into Europe and then into the Champions League before making history with Leipzig – said via the club's website: "We played well in the first half and had a lot of good chances. But, unlike in the last few matches, we failed to convert them. It was even more difficult after going behind but we found extra courage.

"What my team then produced in the last 20 minutes was so impressive. Of course, it's a bit lucky to equalise so late in the game but we did deserve our goals because we created more than Benfica.

"We're deservedly through to the next round. It feels amazing. Some of the guys are fulfilling a lifelong dream, especially the ones who played for RBL in the second and third tiers. Now we want to make sure we finish top of the group."

Two-goal hero Forsberg added: "The last few minutes were simply incredible. I will never forget tonight's match. The atmosphere was unbelievable and it's a huge result for our fans and the club.

"We never gave up. We kept creating chances and it paid off in the end. Benfica were strong opponents and we made some basic errors in the lead up to their goals. But that doesn't matter. It's still a wonderful feeling to get through to the last 16."

The incredible fightback eliminated Benfica, who needed victory away from home to remain in the competition.

"Getting to the 90th minute and allowing the opponent to draw is hard to take," Benfica coach Bruno Lage said. "We did what we planned and prepared. We had more of the ball, more play in offensive midfield.

"We knew that they would come with everything. When we reached the 90th minute, we ended up offering the penalty and the header for the draw. For what we did, we deserved the three points."

Lionel Messi was "simply incredible" for Barcelona in their 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund, according to Lucien Favre.

Messi scored and provided two assists as Barca secured top spot in Group F in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Making his 700th appearance for the LaLiga giants, Messi broke a Champions League record by scoring against a 34th different team.

Favre, who is under pressure at the helm of Dortmund, was mesmerised by the star's performance.

"He played as a false nine and was simply incredible," he told a news conference.

"He waits really well for the ball and moves very well between the lines. And when he gets the ball, it gets pretty complicated.

"You have to commit a foul in order to stop him. Otherwise it's very, very difficult.

"He is speeding up so fast, his dribbling is so good and then his final pass is also very dangerous."

Dortmund are third in the group, level on points with second-placed Inter, and host Slavia Prague on the final matchday on December 10.

Erling Haaland labelled Liverpool the "world's best team", but feels Salzburg have a chance against the Champions League holders next month.

Haaland continued his goalscoring form in Salzburg's 4-1 win at Genk on Wednesday as they stayed alive in Group E.

Salzburg host European champions Liverpool next month and a 1-0 win would be enough to send them into the last 16.

Haaland, who is up to 27 goals in 19 games this season, believes in his team, although he praised the Premier League leaders.

"They are the world's best team," the striker said, via UEFA.com.

"But we know we are good at home and if we are at our top level, we have a chance."

Haaland became the first teenager in the history of the European Cup/Champions League to score in five straight appearances in the competition thanks to his late goal against Genk.

However, the 19-year-old was unfazed by setting that mark, saying he simply wanted to help his team.

"It's a nice record to have, but I don't really care so much about the records," he told Sky Sport Austria.

"I just care about my team."

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