Lionel Messi has his sights on a record set by Real Madrid great Raul when Barcelona face Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, as the Champions League proper gets started for the 2019-20 season.

Barca's talisman is back in their squad for the trip to Germany after missing the start of the campaign with a calf injury and, while he is unlikely to start, few would bet against him having a decisive impact if he does make an appearance.

Reigning champions Liverpool begin their title defence at Napoli in what will surely prove to be a tricky test, although Sadio Mane will be aiming to equal a record set by Didier Drogba.

There will also be Champions League bows in the dugout for Frank Lampard and Sylvinho.

Below, we examine the key data for Tuesday's encounters...

Salzburg v Genk

0 - Salzburg have not lost any of their last 18 home matches in European competition (W14 D4 – including qualifiers), with their most recent defeat at home coming in October 2016 against Nice in the Europa League.

1 - Genk forward Mbwana Samatta scored nine goals in 12 appearances in European competition last season and he also finished with 23 goals in the Belgian top flight in 2018-19. Should he play in this match, he will be the first Tanzanian player to make an appearance in the Champions League.

 

Napoli v Liverpool

5 - Napoli have won just one of their past six European meetings with English clubs, losing the other five in this run and failing to score in the most recent three. That one victory was against Liverpool last season, though.

15 - Liverpool forward Sadio Mane has scored 14 goals in 24 Champions League appearances. Should he score in his next outing, he will equal Didier Drogba's record of needing just 25 appearances to score his first 15 goals in the competition, a record for any African player.

 

Inter v Slavia Prague

20 - Inter will be making their 20th appearance in the Champions League/European Cup – only Juventus (34) and AC Milan (28) have had more among Italian sides (including 2019-20).

24 - Inter forward Alexis Sanchez has been involved in 24 goals (12 goals, 12 assists) in his 52 Champions League appearances, but none of these involvements came in six games in the competition for Manchester United, the club he left on loan last month.

 

Borussia Dortmund v Barcelona

33 - Lionel Messi has scored against 32 of the 37 different opponents he has faced in the Champions League. Should he score against Dortmund, the Barcelona star will equal the competition's record for different teams scored against, set by Raul (33 clubs).

2 - Borussia Dortmund have won just two of their past eight Champions League home matches (D2 L4), losing their most recent match 1-0 against Tottenham in the last 16 in 2018-19.

 

Lyon v Zenit

1 - Lyon boss Sylvinho will manage in the Champions League for the first time, also becoming the first non-Frenchman to take charge of the club in Europe's elite competition. The Brazilian made 32 Champions League appearances as a player for Barcelona, Celta Vigo and Arsenal, scoring three goals.

58 - Zenit captain Branislav Ivanovic could make his first Champions League appearance since March 2016 (for Chelsea) in this match. He has made 58 appearances in the competition; only Dejan Stankovic (87) and Predrag Djordjevic (62) have made more among Serbian players.

 

Benfica v RB Leipzig

10 - Benfica are Portugal's sole representative in the 2019-20 Champions League, making it the first time in a decade that there is only one Portuguese club in the competition.

3 - Timo Werner scored three goals from just seven shots on target in the Champions League back in 2017-18, more than any other RB Leipzig player. He went on to net seven times in European competition that term, the highest total by an RB Leipzig player in a single season.

 

Ajax v Lille

6 - Ajax won six games in the 2018-19 Champions League, as many as they did in their previous four participations in the competition.

11 - Including qualifiers, Lille have not won any of their past 11 European matches in all competitions (D6 L5) and scored only five goals in these games.

 

Chelsea v Valencia

102 - Frank Lampard will take charge of a Champions League game for the first time in his managerial career. As a Chelsea player, he made 102 appearances in the competition and is one of only 22 players to have played 100 games or more in the tournament with the same club.

2 - Valencia have reached the Champions League in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2012-13 (three in a row), which was also the last time they made it to the knockout stages of the competition, before being beaten by Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16.

Inter Miami are continuing their stunning bid to sign Lionel Messi.

Messi, 32, can reportedly leave Barcelona at the end of any season for a club outside of Europe despite being contracted at the LaLiga champions until 2021.

Linked with a shock switch to David Beckham's MLS outfit Inter Miami, the club are continuing to make moves for the Argentina superstar.

 

TOP STORY – INTER MIAMI REPRESENTATIVE MEETS MESSI'S DAD

Beckham sent Inter Miami sporting director Paul McDonough to London for talks with Messi's dad Jorge, according to The Sun.

Inter Miami are set to enter MLS in 2020 and are looking for a big-name signing, with Messi undoubtedly the biggest of the names linked.

It comes just days after Messi said in an interview with Sport that he wanted to remain at Camp Nou for "as long as possible".

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid could chase Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba again in January. Sport Bild reports Real Madrid are planning to use Toni Kroos in an exchange deal to land the France international, who was heavily linked with a switch during the close season.

- Sadio Mane re-signed with Liverpool until 2023 less than 12 months ago, but the European champions are already looking for the attacker to recommit. Liverpool have opened talks with Mane for an extension, according to Soccer Link.

- Seemingly unwanted at Juventus, Mario Mandzukic's future remains a talking point. Qatari club Al-Gharafa have offered €6million net per year to the striker and can meet Juve's demands, according to CalcioMercato, which reports Los Angeles FC are also interested in the Croatian despite the MLS transfer window not reopening until February.

- Inter are already looking to lock down a couple of stars. CalcioMercato reports the Serie A giants want to extend the contracts of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic – until 2022 – and forward Lautaro Martinez until 2024. The report says Inter would also double Martinez's salary from €1.5m to €3m per season amid interest from Barcelona.

- Sam Allardyce is ready for a return to management. The Sun reports the former England boss, who left Everton in May last year, is eyeing a return to Sunderland if the reported takeover by an American consortium is completed.

Jurgen Klopp believes the "sensational" rapport between Liverpool's players will go along way to deterring them from seeking new opportunities elsewhere.

Liverpool opted to remain quiet during the close-season transfer market as they successfully focused on keeping together the core of the side that won the Champions League.

LaLiga giants Real Madrid have been intermittently linked to forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane but the latter, scorer of two goals this term, recently gave an interview in which he spoke of being entirely happy with the Reds.

Klopp said: "First and foremost we have to make sure it stays like this, that we are all like this with each other.

"We have a wonderful atmosphere inside the group, a sensational atmosphere at Melwood, we all know the atmosphere we have at Anfield.

"No matter where we go in the world people are happy to see us, at least our supporters are. That's absolutely special but we worked hard for that and we have to keep that. How can we keep that? Focus on the next step, trust the next step, improve, try to fight as much as you can, run as far as you can, jump as high as you can, all that stuff.

"That's what we have to do, then it can stay like this. It's nice. This club is wonderful, it was always wonderful, just the atmosphere was not always like this because of different things.

"Now we have quite a good basis and we have to use it and improve it, and then the boys have no reason to leave.

"If they look left and right and see the quality players they have in the dressing room and, on top of that, they like each other, it helps a lot. It's not the most important thing, but it helps a lot.

"They want to use the opportunity the club gave this team and I'm happy about that, obviously."

Liverpool won each of their opening four Premier League games before the international break and are now preparing to entertain Newcastle United at Anfield on Saturday.

Avoiding defeat would extend the club's unbeaten home run to 43 league games.

Klopp asked his players to forget about the streak and instead focus on replicating the levels they reached in last month's 3-1 victory over Arsenal.

"Each team could have [beaten us] but in most of the games we were better and deserve the win or three points or draw," the German said.

"So that's good, but all I'm concerned about really is how can we be again in a similar or a better mood or shape than we were against Arsenal because that was, attitude-wise, a really high level, the highest level to be honest.

"That's what we have to do again, not worry about what happened in the last two and a half years."

Sadio Mane feels Roberto Firmino deserves the credit for Liverpool's UEFA Super Cup triumph, although it was the Senegal star who struck twice.

Olivier Giroud gave Chelsea the lead in Istanbul on Wednesday in what was the first all-English Super Cup clash.

But after Firmino came off the bench for the start of the second half, he provided two assists for Mane to turn the tie around before Jorginho made it 2-2 with a penalty.

Adrian, deputising for Alisson, was then the hero by denying Blues striker Tammy Abraham to give the Reds a 5-4 victory on penalties.

Even though Mane is Liverpool's top scorer in 2019 with 18 goals in all competitions, he is more than happy to share the limelight.

"To be honest, I think I was just a lucky boy," Mane told UEFA.

"I think all the credit should go to my team-mates, especially Bobby [Firmino] – he could have scored but he preferred to give it to me.

"I think this is how we play at Liverpool. We play for each other and we always enjoy playing for each other and to give each other passes. I think that makes us strong."

Liverpool, who won their Premier League opener 4-1 at home to Norwich City last week, are back in action away to Mane's old club Southampton on Saturday.

Liverpool are one UEFA Super Cup trophy away from equalling the hauls of Barcelona and AC Milan after overcoming Chelsea in a penalty shoot-out.

Champions League holders Liverpool claimed their fourth Super Cup thanks to Wednesday's 5-4 triumph on penalties in Istanbul.

Goalkeeper Adrian proved the hero for Liverpool, denying Chelsea's Tammy Abraham from the spot after the showdown ended 2-2 at the end of extra time.

Liverpool celebrated as they joined Real Madrid on four Super Cups, within touching distance of five-time winners Barca and Milan.

Adrian saved from Tammy Abraham as Liverpool beat Chelsea 5-4 on penalties to win the first all-English UEFA Super Cup following a 2-2 draw in Istanbul.

Olivier Giroud gave Frank Lampard's side a deserved first-half lead on Wednesday, but the introduction of Roberto Firmino as a half-time substitute changed the game for the Reds.

Firmino quickly set up Mane for the equaliser and, in the first period of extra time, the Senegal star smashed home from his team-mate's pass again before Jorginho equalised from the penalty spot.

But it was the European champions who triumphed in the shoot-out, Alisson's deputy Adrian denying Abraham with his right leg to secure victory for Jurgen Klopp's side.

Sadio Mane and N'Golo Kante both start in the UEFA Super Cup clash between Liverpool and Chelsea in Istanbul.

Mane came off the bench as Liverpool opened their Premier League season by beating promoted Norwich City at Anfield but starts on Wednesday for Jurgen Klopp's side.

Kante, meanwhile, was a second-half substitute as Chelsea were thumped at Manchester United. He comes into midfield as Frank Lampard leaves out Ross Barkley and Mason Mount.

Christian Pulisic makes his full debut for Chelsea after coming off the bench at Old Trafford while Olivier Giroud replaces Tammy Abraham in attack.

Antonio Rudiger, who missed the end of last season with a serious knee injury, makes his return to the Chelsea squad but the centre-back is only on the bench. Billy Gilmour, an 18-year-old midfielder, is also among the substitutes.

Mane comes into the Liverpool team along with James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joel Matip while Trent Alexander-Arnold, Roberto Firmino, Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum drop out.

Matip, making his 100th appearance for the Reds, is included in defence with Gomez shifting across to right-back, while former West Ham goalkeeper Adrian starts for the first time with Alisson ruled out by a calf injury sustained against Norwich.

Before announcing their team, Liverpool confirmed Naby Keita was not available due to an injury suffered in training on Tuesday.

"The muscle strain occurred around the hip area and Keita will be assessed further by the Reds' medical team in the coming days," said a statement from the club.

The game, the first Super Cup to be contested by two English clubs, will see French official Stephanie Frappart take charge.

She will become the first female to take charge of a major UEFA men's competition event, Frappart having also been the referee for the Women's World Cup final last month.

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane insists he will be ready to start Wednesday's UEFA Super Cup clash with Chelsea.

Mane returned to training last Monday after being given a 16-day break following Senegal's run to the Africa Cup of Nations final, where they were beaten 1-0 by Algeria.

The 27-year-old missed the whole of Liverpool's pre-season campaign, including the penalty shoot-out defeat to Manchester City in the Community Shield, but he was back as a second-half substitute against Norwich City.

After getting 16 minutes under his belt in the 4-1 win at Anfield, Mane vowed he is raring to go against Chelsea in Istanbul.

"I think I am ready. Tiredness I think is here [pointing to his head]," he said at a news conference on the eve of Wednesday's match.

"For sure I have been playing for a long time. I don't think I've had a holiday of more than 20 days in seven years.

"I'm used to it. For sure, I'm ready. I'm here. Let's do it!"

Liverpool's victory against Norwich came at a cost as Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who also missed a large part of pre-season because of international commitments, pulled up with a calf injury that will see him miss the rest of the month.

Recently-signed Adrian will step in for Alisson at the Vodafone Arena and he was backed to impress on his first start for the Reds by new team-mate Virgil van Dijk.

"Adrian has been in now for his second week. We have been working day in, day out," Van Dijk told reporters.

"For him it’s obviously very good that he starts playing straight away. It’s not the situation you hope to be in, that Alisson is injured and you have to come in.

"But he’s experienced enough to go out there and show his qualities because he has plenty of quality. He played for so many years in the Premier League and we could already see in training how good he can be.

"He needs our support - we all do it together, we defend together. We need him there, he needs us as well. He will definitely do the job."

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and five Liverpool players have been shortlisted for 2018-19 Champions League positional awards. 

Liverpool defeated Tottenham in the Champions League final and have seen goalkeeper Alisson, defenders Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk, midfielder Jordan Henderson and forward Sadio Mane named among the contenders in their respective categories.

Tottenham also have representation through keeper Hugo Lloris and midfielder Christian Eriksen.

Barcelona superstar Messi, who was the top scorer in last season's competition with 12 goals, will vie with Mane and old adversary Ronaldo for the forward award.

Midfielder Frenkie de Jong and defender Matthijs de Ligt – who are now at Barcelona and Juventus respectively – were also nominated after playing pivotal roles in Ajax's run to the semi-finals.

The awards will be presented during the 2019-20 Champions League group stage draw in Monaco on Thursday 29 August.

The shortlisting jury comprised the coaches of the 32 clubs from last season's group stage and journalists from each of UEFA's 55 member associations.

 

Full list of nominees for 2018-19 Champions League position awards:
  
Goalkeepers: Alisson (Liverpool), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur); Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona).
 
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax, now Juventus), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool).
 
Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong (Ajax, now Barcelona), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool).
 
Forwards: Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus).

Leroy Sane was named in Manchester City's starting line-up for the Community Shield against Liverpool despite ongoing speculation linking the Germany international with a move to Bayern Munich.

Sane, who has four goals in five Premier League appearances against Liverpool, will feature in a front three alongside Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling at Wembley, with Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus taking places on the City bench following late returns to training due to their involvement in the Copa America.

Pep Guardiola has regularly stated his desire to keep Sane but conceded on Friday that talks with the 23-year-old over a contract extension had regressed.

Like City's Africa Cup of Nations-winning winger Riyad Mahrez, Liverpool's celebrated front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane all had last season significantly extended by international commitments.

Salah and Firmino both start for the Reds, while Mane is not due to link up with the squad following his break until Monday.

James Milner is not available, the former City midfielder left out as a precaution after complaining of a tight muscle, while Joe Gomez is preferred to Joel Matip alongside Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the defence.

City's record signing Rodri makes his competitive debut in Fernandinho's absence, while Danilo is not part of Guardiola's matchday squad amid reports he will be used as a makeweight in a deal to bring Juventus full-back Joao Cancelo to the Etihad Stadium.

Aymeric Laporte is an injury absentee, meaning John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi start as City's only fit senior centre-backs in front of goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. Teenage defender Eric Garcia is on the bench after long-serving club captain Vincent Kompany departed at the end of last season.

Antoine Griezmann and Neymar are not on the shortlist for The Best FIFA Men's Player award, with Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi up against Cristiano Ronaldo and Eden Hazard for this year's prize.

Griezmann completed his long-awaited €120million transfer to the Spanish champions in July but his 15-goal contribution to Atletico Madrid's second-place finish in the 2018-19 LaLiga table was not enough to impress FIFA's panel.

Liverpool trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk are in contention after helping the Reds to glory in last season's Champions League, while Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong have been recognised for their part in helping Ajax to the semi-finals and to a domestic title.

There is no place for 2018 winner and Ballon d'Or holder Luka Modric, nor his Real Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale, and Neymar misses out while Paris Saint-Germain colleague Kylian Mbappe is among the nominees.

 

 

The Best FIFA Men's Player nominees:

Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)
Frenkie De Jong (Barcelona)
Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)
Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)
Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Mohmed Salah (Liverpool)
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

Andy Robertson expects Liverpool to rise out of their pre-season rut when stars including Mohamed Salah return to the squad this week.

Liverpool slumped to a third defeat in four friendly matches on Sunday, losing 3-0 to Serie A side Napoli.

Ten players that featured in the Champions League final triumph over Tottenham were involved in Edinburgh but Jurgen Klopp still has several key men to return.

Salah, Alisson and Roberto Firmino will return for a training camp in Evian starting on Monday, as will fit-again pair Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri.

Sadio Mane, who helped Senegal to the Africa Cup of Nations final, is due to return after the Community Shield clash against Manchester City.

"The lads coming back, even if they don't play, it gives you a lift when they train and with the way they go about their business," Robertson told his club's website.

"Mo and Bobby are two of our main men and Alisson was magnificent last season. They are huge characters in the changing room as well so that'll be massive for us, and then Sadio will come back the following week. 

"Once we get the whole team back together, and I think Shaq and Naby aren't far off too, they're players that are familiar around the set-up and around the system and that's what we need.

"The quicker we get all of us back together then hopefully the better."

Liverpool play their final pre-season friendly against Ligue 1 outfit Lyon on Wednesday and Robertson warned the Reds not to underestimate the value of a result.

"We need to be a hell of a lot better than we were [against Napoli] and that's what this week coming up is for," he said.

"When the season comes I've got no doubt that we'll be ready, but we can't get in the habit of losing or drawing because then it starts to sink in and you start getting used to it and that's not what we need."

Sadio Mane will miss Liverpool's Community Shield clash against Manchester City as manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed the star would return to training just days before the start of the Premier League season.

After helping Liverpool win the Champions League, Mane guided Senegal to the Africa Cup of Nations final in Egypt, where they lost to Algeria in the decider.

The attacker's busy off-season will mean he misses the Community Shield on August 4, set to return just four days out from his side's league opener against Norwich City.

"He is in good shape," Klopp told the club's website after a 2-1 friendly loss to Sevilla on Sunday.

"Obviously they had a celebration in Senegal and I'm happy about that because it showed that they respect the competition and saw the second place as a success, which is nice.

"He is now on holiday, not the longest one. He will be back on August 5, after the Manchester City game. That means he had two weeks.

"There is four or five days to prepare for Norwich, 10 days for Chelsea [in the UEFA Super Cup]."

Mane scored 26 goals in 50 games in all competitions for Liverpool last season.

Aliou Cisse urged Senegal to seize the initiative and end the nation's long wait for an Africa Cup of Nations title.

The Lions of Teranga, who have never previously won the continental competition, take on Benin in Cairo on Wednesday with a place in the semi-finals on the line.

This year's tournament is wide open following the shock exits of a much-fancied Morocco, hosts Egypt and defending champions Cameroon in the first knockout round.

And after overcoming Uganda in the last 16 thanks to Sadio Mane's 15th-minute goal, Cisse is eager for the 2002 runners-up to prolong their run and make history.

"It's true that Cameroon are not here, the big favourites are no longer here today," he told reporters. "Of course, that gives us ideas and it gives us even more confidence to say yes, maybe this year will be the one.

"But like I said, that's just hope, and it won't be enough. We'll have to work very hard, we'll have to be serious, and that is what we're doing."

Benin were responsible for one of the giant killings in the last round as they beat Morocco, a side 41 places above them in the latest FIFA rankings, on penalties following a 1-1 draw.

The Squirrels drew all three of their group matches prior to knocking out Morocco but boss Michel Dussuyer insisted their run to the last eight has not been a fluke.

"Our presence at this stage is not out of luck. We have worked hard and I believe in my players," Dussuyer said.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Senegal - Sadio Mane

The Liverpool forward has registered Senegal's last three goals and he joint-leads the AFCON scoring charts, level with Adam Ounas, Cedric Bakambu and Odion Ighalo. However, he has missed two of his three penalties in Egypt.

Benin - Cebio Soukou 

Benin have scored three times in their four matches and Hansa Rostock midfielder Soukou has delivered two assists, including the opener for Moise Adilehou in the last round.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the first encounter between Senegal and Benin in the Africa Cup of Nations. 
- Senegal have progressed from two of their previous seven quarter-finals, while Benin are competing at this stage for the first time.
- Benin are the team that have played the most Africa Cup of Nations games without winning (13 - D5 L8).

Sadio Mane fired Senegal through to the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals as they saw off Uganda 1-0 in Cairo.

The Liverpool striker is targeting more silverware after helping his club side land Champions League glory, and Mane's first-half strike carried his nation past awkward opposition.

Mane missed a second-half penalty after he had been clattered, but his earlier clinical finish proved enough.

Senegal, for whom this was an eighth win in their last nine games, will next face Benin who earned a shock 4-1 penalties win against Morocco following a 1-1 draw earlier on Friday.

In a sign of things to come, Uganda goalkeeper Denis Onyango bolted out of his penalty area and knocked Ismaila Sarr to the ground in the early stages, with Senegal urging the referee to show a red card. He opted for yellow.

Uganda, runners-up in 1978, fell behind in the 15th minute when Mane charged into the penalty area and beat Onyango with a low left-footed shot into the bottom-right corner.

Farouk Miya looked to carry some threat for Uganda, but they lacked a cutting edge and should have been 2-0 down by the hour mark.

Onyango charged off his line and mistimed a lunging tackle in his penalty area, sending Mane sprawling. It looked a foul worthy of a second yellow card, but the goalkeeper instead appeared to be given a final warning.

Mane went for the right corner again, but Onyango guessed correctly and pushed the ball away.

The miss almost proved costly, with Uganda going close to equalising in spectacular fashion when Allan Kateregga drove a 30-yard free-kick towards goal.

The ball was struck firmly and heading inside the right post, but Alfred Gomis threw himself across goal to make a fine, priceless save.

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