Manchester City, Juventus and Barcelona will have home advantage for the crucial second legs of their Champions League last-16 ties after a UEFA ruling on Thursday.

Their respective clashes against Real Madrid, Lyon and Napoli are all on a knife edge after tight first games.

There had been talk of the return games possibly being played on neutral territory, as European football's governing body deals with how to finish its 2019-20 competitions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Champions League will be played to a conclusion in Portugal from the quarter-final stage onwards, and the Europa League will conclude similarly with its final rounds being played in Germany, with each competition aiming to complete by the end of August.

UEFA said it considered the "principle of sporting fairness" in reaching its decision regarding the last-16 ties that had started but were unresolved in each competition.

That means Manchester City will defend their 2-1 lead over Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium, Juventus will welcome Lyon to Turin, chasing a deficit after losing 1-0 to the French side in the first game, and Barcelona and Napoli will play again at Camp Nou after a 1-1 draw in Italy.

Bayern Munich, who lead Chelsea 3-0 after a successful trip to London, will take on Frank Lampard's side at the Allianz Arena.

The same rule will apply in the Europa League, although two last-16 ties in that competition have yet to begin and have been moved to Germany, where they will be played as single-leg fixtures, with Inter facing Getafe and Sevilla playing Roma.

UEFA said in a statement: "Consistent with the principle of sporting fairness and considering that current conditions - all clubs due to play at home the return leg of the round of 16 are currently playing the remaining matches of their domestic leagues in their own stadiums and that travelling is possible without restrictions for the visiting clubs – the UEFA executive committee decided that the remaining UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League round of 16 second-leg matches will be played at the home teams' stadiums.

"UEFA will continue to monitor the situation and reserves the right to reassign any such matches to the venues of the final tournament of the relevant competition should new events occur that would make it impossible to play one or more matches at the original venues."

UEFA said it would announce fixture details after Friday's quarter-final draws at its Swiss headquarters.

The governing body also said all its matches would be played behind closed doors until further notice.

"UEFA will monitor the evolution of the situation and advise on any full or partial lifting of restrictions at the appropriate time," its statement added.

Kai Havertz is reportedly ready to leave Bayer Leverkusen – and he knows where he wants to go.

The Germany international enjoyed another fine campaign with the Bundesliga club, leading to interest from across Europe.

And, it seems Havertz knows his preferred destination.

 

TOP STORY – HAVERTZ WANTS CHELSEA MOVE

Havertz wants a move to Chelsea and his agents have told Bayer Leverkusen he would like to leave if an important bid arrives in the next few weeks, according to Fabrizio Romano.

The 21-year-old is contracted at Leverkusen until 2022, but has been linked with the likes of Real Madrid.

Havertz scored 17 goals for Leverkusen in 2019-20, having netted 20 times in the previous season.

ROUND-UP

- Amid growing pressure on Antoine Griezmann, Barcelona have reassured the forward he has a future at the LaLiga club, according to ESPN.

- Real Madrid will listen to offers for forward Luka Jovic, according to Marca. The Serbia international has struggled during his first season at the LaLiga giants, scoring just twice in 25 games. Jovic has been linked to the likes of Milan, Arsenal and Newcastle United.

- Staying at Real Madrid and Sport reports the LaLiga leaders will target Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe and Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga next year.

- Paul Pogba may be happy to stay at Manchester United. Fabrizio Romano reports United have opened contract talks with the midfielder's agent Mino Raiola, with Pogba having been linked to Madrid and Juventus.

- Alexandre Lacazette could be set for an Arsenal exit. CalcioMercato reports Juventus have already started talking to the forward's agents about a possible move.

- Also in Turin, CalcioMercato says Juventus are considering a move for Atalanta left-back Robin Gosens if Alex Sandro decides to leave.

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien lauded Luis Suarez after the star forward moved third on the club's all-time goalscoring list thanks to his match-winning display against Espanyol.

Suarez surpassed Ladislau Kubala with his 195th Barca goal from 278 appearances in Wednesday's 1-0 win over LaLiga rivals Espanyol, who were relegated as a result.

Only two players have scored more goals for Barca – superstar captain Lionel Messi (630) and Cesar (232) – following his 56th-minute strike at Camp Nou midweek.

And Setien was full of praise for Suarez, who arrived from Premier League giants Liverpool in 2014.

"It wasn't difficult to figure out Luis Suarez was eventually going to score goals again as he continues to play games," Setien told reporters.

"When you're not playing for a while you need time to get back into your rhythm. That's something you only get through minutes on the pitch.

"He knows how to score goals and he's always showed that throughout his career. He did it, which moves him up to third in Barcelona's all-time scoring list and you can't take that away from him."

Barca moved within a point of bitter rivals and leaders Real Madrid, who have a game in hand as they prepare for Friday's match against Deportivo Alaves.

Setien's Barca are nine games unbeaten following back-to-back wins, though they were far from their best after Sunday's 4-1 rout at Villarreal.

"I think we certainly weren't brilliant," Setien said. "It was a difficult match. We managed to win and we'd all like to repeat, of course, the same performance we produced against Villarreal but it's not easy.

"You always need to take your opponents into account. In any case, I'm very happy with the win because I watch practically all the matches in LaLiga and I see a lot of teams are winning 1-0 and finding it a struggle. It's a very level playing field right now."

Barca substitute Ansu Fati was sent off after coming on at the start of the second half, while Espanyol's Pol Lozano was also dismissed.

Five minutes after coming on teenager Fati was heading off again, a VAR review upgrading his caution to a red card as he was punished when a high right foot caught Fernando Calero.

"He was very humble afterwards," Setien added on Fati. "He came to talk to me. He felt very bad about what happened.

"He wasn't provoked. He went in to win the ball. After I watched it, the challenge looked harder than it actually was. It's a moment that could have been avoided. When he goes to win the ball I saw he tried to fold his leg back so there wouldn't be any contact, but the decision was made.

"He'll be affected by this and we'll see what the punishment is but it's a moment that I don't blame him for."

Pep Guardiola is confident Eric Garcia will stay at Manchester City amid reported interest from Barcelona.

Garcia, 19, has been linked with a return to the LaLiga club, the outfit he left to join City in 2017.

The Spain youth international has made nine Premier League appearances this season, but was an unused substitute in Wednesday's 5-0 thrashing of Newcastle United.

City manager Guardiola said he would try to convince Garcia to stay at the club for "many, many, many years".

"I am confident he will stay but in the end it is his decision," he told a news conference.

"He knows we want him but it was the same with Leroy [Sane, who has joined Bayern Munich]. We want him but if he doesn't want to stay we cannot do anything else.

"He knows, his agent knows, his family knows that we want him. And if Barcelona want him, they have to call Txiki [Begiristain, City director of football]."

City are away to Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League on Saturday.

Barcelona star Luis Suarez surpassed Ladislau Kubala for third spot on the club's all-time goalscoring list.

Suarez leapfrogged Kubala with his 195th Barca goal from 278 appearances in Wednesday's 1-0 win over LaLiga rivals Espanyol.

The 33-year-old forward broke the deadlock in the 56th minute to move Barca within a point of leaders Real Madrid, while relegating Espanyol.

Suarez already eclipsed Josep Samitier's 184-goal haul in October, with only two players above him – superstar captain Lionel Messi (630) and Cesar (232).

Since arriving from Premier League giants Liverpool in 2014, Suarez has flourished and even contributed 97 assists for Barca.

Suarez has won four LaLiga titles, the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup among other honours at Camp Nou.

Quique Setien is unworried about Real Madrid after Barcelona moved back within a point of their rivals with a 1-0 win over Espanyol on Wednesday.

Both teams were reduced to 10 men in the derby clash at Camp Nou before Luis Suarez scored the 56th-minute winner.

Barca have played one more game than rivals Madrid, who are a point clear at the top and host Deportivo Alaves on Friday.

But Setien is refusing to worry about Zinedine Zidane's side, with Madrid having four league games left to play.

"It is not our business. We have to worry about ourselves," the Barca head coach told Movistar.

"What Madrid does we will see."

After Ansu Fati was sent off in the 50th minute, Pol Lozano saw red for Espanyol three minutes later.

Setien accepted his team were below their best three days after crushing Villarreal, with Suarez's goal boosting their title chances.

"We did not have a great match. They have made it difficult for us in defence," he said.

"We have not found spaces nor have we had precision to handle ourselves."

Barcelona's busy run of fixtures continues with a clash against Real Valladolid on Saturday.

Luis Suarez said Barcelona must be ready if LaLiga leaders Real Madrid drop points as the title race nears its conclusion.

Two-time defending champions Barca kept their slim title hopes alive with a 1-0 victory over rivals Espanyol on Wednesday.

Suarez scored the only goal of the match in the 56th minute to relegate Espanyol midweek, while moving Barca to within a point of Madrid.

Madrid can restore their four-point advantage against Deportivo Alaves on Friday and while Barca only have three games remaining, star forward Suarez insisted the Catalan giants have to be ready to pounce on any slip-ups.

"What we have to do is win our next three games," Suarez, who moved third on Barca's list of all-time scorers, said afterwards. "Whatever Madrid do is up to them.

"If the rival drops points then fantastic, we have to think about being there if they do."

Barca were far from their best at Camp Nou, where substitute Ansu Fati was sent off after coming on at the start of the second half, while Espanyol's Pol Lozano was also dismissed.

But Barca managed to extend their unbeaten run to nine games following back-to-back triumphs.

Suarez added: "We knew it was going to be difficult. We knew their situation. We have to be aware of the fact that we put in a great performance on Sunday and were still feeling the consequences of that physically. The important thing is to win and to get three more points.

"I think if I didn't score in the first half or Barcelona didn't create more chances, that's virtue of the rival, who were very well organised.

"I think they make it difficult for Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba to push up on the flanks. But eventually the chance came and I'm delighted to be able to take it.

"I didn't see Ansu Fati's [red card] because there was a player in the way and the other one I didn't see either, there was another rival blocking my view.

"But in both cases VAR – which is there to help in these kind of situations – was able to help the referee to take the right decisions."

After his goalscoring display in the 4-1 rout of Villarreal on Sunday, Antoine Griezmann was handed another start alongside Suarez and Lionel Messi.

"It's the manager who takes the decision," Suarez said. "He wanted to find a formula, it's the formula he's trying at the moment. It's the first year of Antoine here so we know it's difficult – the adaptation period. The other day we could all enjoy a brilliant performance from Antoine Griezmann."

Espanyol knew anything but a derby victory at Camp Nou on Wednesday would relegate them to the second tier for the first time since 1994 but they were unable to preserve their top-flight status.

"I think today's match I'm proud of my team-mates, we had chances," Javi Lopez said. "If I'm here now it's to ask for forgiveness from our fans because we know these are tough moments for us but also for our fans. It's been a season in which nothing has gone right for us.

"I thank the fans but apologise again because it's the players' fault. We apologise again and tell them we are committed to coming back stronger and will fight for this club badge. That's all I've got to say – sorry to the fans, that's the minimum we can do.

"I think we all assume the responsibility in the changing room. We're most responsible for this. The players are out on the pitch and the ones who fault it is. These are really tough moments for all of us. We just have to be absolutely committed to come back stronger than ever before. I'm convinced that we will."

Luis Suarez's second-half strike consigned Barcelona's rivals Espanyol to a 1-0 defeat and relegation from LaLiga in a match that saw two red cards.

Espanyol knew anything but a derby victory at Camp Nou on Wednesday would relegate them to the second tier for the first time since 1994.

They were given hope when substitute Ansu Fati was sent off five minutes after coming on at the start of the second half, only for the numbers to be swiftly evened up when Pol Lozano was also dismissed.

Suarez capped off a crazy six-minute passage by scoring the only goal as Barca moved a point behind leaders Real Madrid, who have a game in hand, in the title race.

In an all-or-nothing game for Espanyol, they were the better side in the first half, while Barca failed to have a single shot on target.

Adrian Embarba was the first to test Marc-Andre ter Stegen when he got in down the right, only for the German goalkeeper to thwart his effort with an outstretched right foot.

Espanyol continued to have joy on the counter attack and after Ter Stegen prevented a Clement Lenglet own goal, Didac Vila's effort hit the outside of the post just before half-time.

Quique Setien hoped Fati's half-time introduction would have an impact on his team and it certainly did, though not how he had imagined.

Five minutes after coming on the teenager was heading off again, a VAR review upgrading his caution to a red card as he was punished when a high right foot caught Fernando Calero.

However, Espanyol's one-man advantage lasted only three minutes, as Lozano joined Fati in being dismissed.

As was the case in Fati's instance, Lozano was initially awarded a yellow card that was changed to a red as replays showed he caught Gerard Pique on the shin when going over the top of the ball.

And it was Barcelona who adjusted better to going a man down as Suarez soon put them ahead, following up when Lionel Messi's effort was blocked after a brilliant Antoine Griezmann flick.

A vicious Messi volley was superbly saved by Diego Lopez and Espanyol could not muster an equaliser, let alone the two goals they needed, as their fate was sealed.

 

What does it mean? Espanyol go down with a fight

Espanyol have looked doomed for months, but they at least showed plenty of fight, even if it was a case of too little, too late.

It might be too late for Barca in the title race too with just three games to play, though Setien will at least be encouraged by Griezmann, Messi and Suarez's role in their goal ahead of the Champions League resumption next month.

Griezi on the eye again

A lovely goal at Villarreal last time out suggested Griezmann may finally be finding his feet at Camp Nou, and he had an instrumental role in the winner here too.

Though he will not be credited with either a goal or an assist, his vision to initially tee up Messi was fantastic.

Youthful naivety from Lozano

Fati deserves criticism for raising his foot way too high to prompt his red card, but Lozano had to be smarter when he was dismissed moments later in his first LaLiga start.

To rush into a challenge with Pique in midfield was ill-judged and Espanyol barely had any opportunity to make use of their one-man advantage as a result.

What's next?

Barcelona travel to Real Valladolid next on Saturday while their city rivals host Eibar the following day in their penultimate top-flight home game.

Lionel Messi could easily play for another five years at the highest level, according to former Liverpool and Barcelona midfielder Luis Garcia.

Messi's future has come under uncertainty again amid reports he wishes to leave Barca when his contract expires in 2021, although club president Josep Maria Bartomeu is confident the six-time Ballon d'Or winner wants to stay.

Messi will be 34 by the time his present contract runs out, but he remains LaLiga's most imperious attacking player, with 22 goals and 19 assists placing him top of both rankings in 2019-20.

Garcia, who left Barca in 2004 to join Liverpool just as Messi was breaking into the first team at Camp Nou, says his ability to adapt will keep the Argentina star playing until he is close to 40 years old.

"Why not? The way he is playing, adapting his style to the game is impressive," said Garcia, courtesy of LaLiga.

"Every year he shows us something different but keeps up the same amount of goals, of assists. Even getting more every year!

"He's adapting, he doesn't spend so much time up front because he knows it's harder, so he drops a little more. 

"He shows why he's so intelligent. He adapts his game to what the team needs in every game. 

"I could see him playing in 2025, easily!"

Barcelona face a derby match with Espanyol on Wednesday knowing a win is crucial to their hopes of winning LaLiga this season.

Quique Setien's side sit four points behind leaders Real Madrid, who boast the superior head-to-head record, with just four games remaining.

Real Madrid are planning to make a splash in the transfer market.

Reports claim three of Europe's finest – Kylian Mbappe, Kai Havertz and Eduardo Camavinga – are waiting to make the move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Could it happen?

 

TOP STORY – TRIO WAITING ON LOS BLANCOS

Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz and Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga are holding off contract talks as they wait for Real Madrid, according to the frontpage of Wednesday's edition of Marca.

Mbappe is highly coveted by Zinedine Zidane and Madrid, Havertz has been linked to Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, while Camavinga is reportedly a Madrid target.

However, the trio may have to wait beyond this year to make the move to the Spanish capital, though Sport Bild claims Havertz has asked to leave Leverkusen before 2020-21.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport reports Barcelona still want to sign Inter star Lautaro Martinez, despite his release clause expiring.

Borussia Dortmund have issued an ultimatum to United. Sport Bild claims United have been told if they want to bid for Jadon Sancho, the deal must be done by August 10. Sancho has been heavily tipped to move to Old Trafford.

Arsenal want to sign Lyon's Moussa Dembele if they lose Alexandre Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, reports Foot Mercato. Lacazette has been linked to Atletico Madrid and Inter, while Barca, PSG and other clubs are reportedly interested in Aubameyang.

Inter are not David Alaba's first choice should he leave Bayern, says Sport Bild. Alaba has been linked to Madrid, Barca, PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City.

Sevilla are leading Juventus and Inter in the pursuit of Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, says the Express.

- According to the Express, Tottenham are confident of signing Kurt Zouma from London rivals Chelsea at the end of the season.

- Could Inter be about to hijack Napoli's bid for Lille forward Victor Osimhen? The Nigeria international has been tipped to join Napoli in a €80million deal, however, Le10Sport says Inter are making a last-ditch attempt to sign Osimhen.

- Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri has handed in a transfer request as he looks to reunite with Antonio Conte at Inter, reports Gazzetta journalist Nicolo Schira.

Milan are trying to hijack Inter's move for Brescia star Sandro Tonali, according to Gianluca Di Marzio. Inter have been favourites to land Tonali but Ralf Rangnick – who is tipped to become Milan's head coach in 2020-21 – has reportedly made the Italy international his top target.

Pep Guardiola has reiterated he wants to see Lionel Messi stay at Barcelona.

Barca talisman Messi is out of contract in 2021 and there is fresh speculation the six-time Ballon d’Or winner may wish to leave the club, who have not won the Champions League since 2015.

The forward has often been linked with a move to Manchester City to play under his former Camp Nou coach Guardiola.

But the City boss was reluctant to discuss transfers ahead of Wednesday's Premier League home match against Newcastle United.

He also stressed his stance on Messi has not changed, having previously expressed his hope the Argentine remains with Barca when questioned on the topic.

"I'm not going to speak about transfers until the end of the season," he said. "My wish is that Messi is going to stay in Barcelona."

Asked if a new centre-back was in his plans, he added: "At the end of the season. We still have incredible targets to fight for."

Meanwhile, Guardiola insisted he had no influence on where City's Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid will be played, with a decision due this week.

City lead the tie 2-1 after a win at Santiago Bernabeu before the coronavirus lockdown and reports suggested Guardiola had lobbied UEFA over playing the return leg in Manchester rather than at a neutral venue.

"I am not strong enough to have this impact," he said.

"I am not a president. They have protocols. I have never spoken with UEFA. I have said many times that we want to play in Manchester but we are going to accept wherever UEFA decide to play.

"What I want is to play against Madrid. This is what I want but I didn't make phone calls, I don't have this power."

The club are also getting closer to finding out the verdict from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) as they appeal against their two-year Champions League ban.

"On July 10 it is the [Champions League quarter-final] draw and [July] 13 will be the sentence," Guardiola added.

"After that, I will give my opinion. We wait for the resolution from UEFA. This season is not going to change. It is so beautiful what we have in front of us."

Barcelona boss Quique Setien is clinging to the hope Real Madrid will falter to allow for a late twist in the title race.

Despite holding a narrow LaLiga lead when the season resumed, Barcelona have slipped four points behind their great rivals and only four rounds of games remain.

A coronation for Zinedine Zidane's team appears inevitable, given they have won seven straight fixtures since the league's suspension ended.

But Setien is refusing to wave the white flag, saying on Tuesday: "Of course we can still win LaLiga. Mathematics says it. We have to keep hope until the final day.

"We have to look at what we can do. Win, leave good feelings, make progress. And if not in this situation, everything we do is worth it for the next one."

Should Barcelona take the title battle down to the final day, that would be a small triumph in itself given current circumstances.

They have the Champions League resumption to come in August, then a new LaLiga season after that, and Setien wants to see signs of progress from a team who have struggled since COVID-19 caused the 2019-20 campaign to be stalled for three months.

Victory in the home derby against Espanyol on Wednesday is surely imperative.

 

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has indicated he plans to keep Setien on for the 2020-21 season, with the coach speaking of "the circus that is football" as speculation surrounded his position.

"The club are happy with the work we do, I focus on that," he said in a news conference. "I don't value whether we win a game or lose others. I don't live daily, I work with more perspective.

"We are quite happy, as I have said on numerous occasions. Results are one thing and the feelings are another."

Setien feels his team are performing better than their results have been indicating, speaking of "very good moments" in the matches where Barcelona have dropped points. Three draws, alongside the four wins they have achieved since LaLiga returned, have been costly.

Coach Setien was cheered by Antoine Griezmann's delicious chip in Sunday's 4-1 win at Villarreal, where the Frenchman was given a more central attacking role than in previous games and thrived on the responsibility.

"He has enough ability to show his level," Setien said. "The other day there was a moment of inspiration and the players who played on the inside and the threat on the outside were closely linked. Sergi Roberto helped and did things very well."

Josep Maria Bartomeu believes Xavi will become Barcelona boss one day, though he has given his support to current coach Quique Setien.

Xavi, who holds the record for the most Barca appearances of all time, has long been linked with the top job at Camp Nou, where he spent 17 trophy-laden years as a player.

He was considered one of the front-runners to take the post when Ernesto Valverde was sacked in January only to suggest he was not ready, which led Barca to turn to Setien.

Xavi has since said he wants to be Barcelona coach and has been tipped to succeed the under-fire Setien, but on Sunday the ex-Barcelona midfielder signed a contract extension as coach of Qatari club Al-Sadd.

And though the jury remains out on Setien given his side have fallen four points behind Real Madrid in LaLiga, Bartomeu has given him his backing.

"Setien will continue, obviously," he told RAC1.

"I do not regret Valverde's change. The team needed a boost. Setien knows our DNA, the model and has brought new airs and new ideas.

"The coaches are obviously subject to the results, but I am happy with the evolution of the team."

On Xavi's coaching credentials, Bartomeu added: "[Xavi is] a great coach who I am sure will one day come to Barca."

Barca's poor form and infighting behind the scenes has again led to speculation that Lionel Messi could do the unthinkable and actually depart the club when his contract expires in 2021.

Bartomeu has remained steadfast in his belief that the 33-year-old will retire with the Blaugrana and said the club will do all they can to extend his deal.

"He has a contract until 2021 – normally we do not explain the conversations with the players but it is evident that we have an obligation to renew him," he said.

"Messi is the best player in the world."

Neymar returning to Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain is "unlikely", according to the LaLiga club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The Brazil forward left Camp Nou for the French capital in a world-record €222million deal back in 2017, but a return to Barcelona - where he won eight major trophies across four seasons - has long been mooted.

However, Bartomeu thinks such a move would be hard to pull off in the current climate as Europe's elite clubs adjust their plans due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Such an operation is unlikely because the situation of all the clubs in Europe is very difficult," Bartomeu told RAC 1.

Yet there was no such dismissal when Bartomeu was asked about another forward in Lautaro Martinez.

Lionel Messi's Argentina team-mate is said to have a €111m release clause in his contract, but that is thought to expire on Tuesday, and it has been reported Barca will not try to activate it before the deadline passes.

Martinez, 22, has scored 17 times in 37 appearances for Inter this term and is under contract at San Siro until 2023.

"I'm not talking about transfers," Bartomeu added when asked about Martinez.

"We have not marked the signings in the calendar on when they should be."

One man who will be joining Barcelona is midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who will move at the end of this season, with Arthur heading in the opposite direction to join Juventus.

Though Pjanic is seven years older than Arthur and there are reports Barcelona looked to offload the Brazilian to balance the books, Bartomeu insists the new signing had been a long-term target.

"Pjanic is a player who has wanted to sign for a long time, he was highly sought after and there is a Barca player who wants Juve," Bartomeu explained.

"But it is an exceptional situation. It is not to balance balances because we would have sold other players for whom we had offers. Arthur is a player who is highly valued."

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