Marco Verratti said Paris Saint-Germain are not thinking about their Champions League clash with Atalanta as they focus on the Coupe de la Ligue final.

PSG will face Atalanta in a one-legged quarter-final tie in Lisbon on August 12, not before Friday's Coupe de la Ligue showpiece against French rivals Lyon.

And PSG star Verratti insisted the Lyon showdown at the Stade de France in Paris is the Ligue 1 holders' sole focus.

"We are not thinking about that game yet, the most important match is [Friday]," Verratti said in a news conference.

"We are happy to play against Lyon, they are an excellent team."

PSG are set to be without star forward Kylian Mbappe for the Atalanta fixture after he suffered a sprained ankle in last week's Coupe de France final victory over Saint-Etienne.

"We thought of him when we raised the trophy, but injuries are part of being a football player," added Italy international Verratti.

"We will miss him. Any team would miss a player like him."

Kylian Mbappe requires "a miracle" to have a chance of playing in Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League quarter-final against Atalanta, according to boss Thomas Tuchel.

The France international sprained his ankle in last week's Coupe de France final victory over Saint-Etienne and scans on Monday revealed he will miss around three weeks.

PSG face Atalanta in a one-legged tie in Lisbon on August 12 and Tuchel, while not completely ruling Mbappe out, concedes it is almost certain he will be without the striker.

"We still have hope and every day counts to achieve a miracle," Tuchel said at a news conference ahead of PSG's Coupe de la Ligue final with Lyon on Friday.

"But tomorrow we will be without him and his absence will have an influence on us. I hope that a solution can be found."

Thilo Kehrer and Colin Dagba are expected to miss out against Lyon, while Juan Bernat remains doubtful, but Marco Verratti will be hopeful of earning a recall to the side.

Tuchel left Verratti on the bench for 75 minutes last week, instead preferring Leandro Paredes alongside Idrissa Gueye, and has hinted he may again elect for a 4-4-2 on Friday

"It was a super complicated decision to leave Marco on the bench, but I felt I deserved to let Idrissa and Paredes play together after the Borussia Dortmund result," he said.

"If we do keep our 4-4-2, we can do that with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Angel Di Maria or Pablo Sarabia.

"We can make the decision tomorrow. I want to wait until after the final training session."

PSG have won the Coupe de la Ligue a record eight times, including five seasons in a row before last year, and are strong favourites to overcome Ligue 1 rivals Lyon.

But Tuchel says it would be wrong to write off Friday's opponents, who lead Juventus 1-0 in their Champions League last-16 tie, and look ahead to the clash with Atalanta.

"Tomorrow will be a huge challenge against a Champions League-level opponent," he said. 

"We won a complicated match against Saint-Etienne and this is now another step up against a side on course to eliminate Juventus.

"We cannot prepare to face Atalanta yet. I don't know another team that plays like them. All we can do is work on our state of mind and how our hunger to win matches.

"That will prepare us well if we get a positive result against Lyon."

Quique Setien says Lionel Messi was right to send out a warning to his Barcelona team-mates ahead of their Champions League last-16 tie with Napoli and did not feel attacked by his superstar forward.

Barca were beaten 2-1 at home by Osasuna on Thursday as the defence of their title in LaLiga officially came to an end, albeit Real Madrid's victory over Villarreal by the same scoreline rendered their result meaningless.

After the game an emotional Messi issued a rallying cry, with an eye on the second leg against Napoli to conclude a tie delicately poised at 1-1.

"We need to change a lot, otherwise we will also lose against Napoli," he told Movistar. 

"I already said before that playing like this we won't be able to fight for the Champions League and you see, we could not even fight for the league. We need to be self-critical."

Setien understands Messi's message but insisted it is not all doom and gloom at Barca.

"It is true that if we play as badly as in the last matches, obviously it is not going to give us what we need to win the match," head coach Setien said ahead of Barca's final LaLiga contest against Deportivo Alaves on Sunday.

"But we have also had great moments and if we play like this it can give us what we need to win it. We are all aware that there are many things to improve, we must be more consistent and more reliable. 

"This is the reality. If we manage to play a match like [the 4-1 win at] Villarreal, where everything went well, it surely gives us what we need to win the Champions League. 

"We must be more reliable during the 90 minutes and convince ourselves that if we give our best level, of course we can win the Champions League. "

When questioned if he felt Messi's words were a slight on him, Setien added: "No, not at all. 

"We all say things that are misinterpreted and others well, it is lived daily. I do not give it more importance. We all need a break, clean our minds. We will try to think in this sense."

Setien was only hired by Barca in January but reportedly finds his position under threat at Camp Nou.

However, he has little intention of walking away.

"The day I arrived I said that I would enjoy until the last day. I continue to enjoy despite the circumstances and I never thought that this would be easy," he said. 

"Defeat is always an option to overcome. I am not living nothing that I have not lived before. At no time have I had the feeling of wanting to leave."

Speculation his position is under threat grew after Setien met with president Josep Maria Bartomeu this week.

But Setien says the meeting was just par for the course.

"It's normal that there are meetings with the president," he added. 

"The meeting consisted of preparing for the future. The concern we all have for improving is evident and we are trying to find solutions."

Lionel Messi says Barcelona "need to change a lot" if they are to avoid being knocked out of the Champions League by Napoli after relinquishing their LaLiga title.

Barca fell to a shock 2-1 loss to Osasuna in Thursday's clash at Camp Nou when only a win would do to prevent Real Madrid from sealing top spot for the first time in three years.

The defeat ultimately did not matter in the grand scheme of things as Karim Benzema's double earned Madrid a 2-1 win over Villarreal.

Barca exited the Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage in February and all focus is now on next month's Champions League last-16 second leg with Napoli.

The rearranged tie will either be played on neutral soil in Portugal or at Camp Nou and is finely poised at 1-1 after Antoine Griezmann cancelled out Dries Mertens' opener in the first leg five months ago.

And Messi, who was on target in the defeat to Osasuna, fears Barca will exit the competition at the first knockout stage hurdle unless his team-mates show more fighting spirit.

"People are losing patience after defeats to Roma and Liverpool in recent years," he told Movistar. 

"We need a break and forget about this if we want to fight for the Champions League. We need to change a lot, otherwise we will also lose against Napoli. 

"I already said before that playing like this we won't be able to fight for the Champions League and you see, we could not even fight for the league. We need to be self-critical."

Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City players that failure to turn dominance into goals and making mistakes will cost them if repeated against Arsenal and Real Madrid.

City fell to a shock 1-0 defeat at Southampton on Sunday, their ninth loss of the Premier League campaign leaving them 23 points adrift of champions Liverpool.

Che Adams lobbed goalkeeper Ederson after City lost possession and despite 26 shots from the visitors – just six of which were on target – it proved to be the only goal of the game.

Guardiola feels one-off mistakes and his side being unable to take their chances has proven damaging this season.

He insists there is no room for a repeat ahead of key upcoming matches against Arsenal and Madrid in the FA Cup semi-final and Champions League last 16.

"We played really good in terms of what we wanted to do, the commitment with the players after two or three successful seasons is still unbelievable," Guardiola said ahead of Wednesday's home league game against Newcastle United.

"But we are in the point that sometimes we make a mistake that we have to avoid in some games and are punished as a team. And in some games the lack of goals punish us as a team.

"In the semi-final against Arsenal and Madrid this is the reality. We can play the way we played, I don't have doubts this is going to happen and if we are consistent in both boxes, we have a big chance or opportunity to go through.

"But if what happened against Southampton and other games this season like Tottenham home and away or Norwich away, where we dropped points, we will be out and Arsenal and Madrid will go through.

"That is the reality we have to accept. We can be lucky to convert what we produce and defend the less we concede.

"But I don't have any doubts that the team will be there to compete like we have done all season. That is my feeling. We still have incredible targets to fight for."

Guardiola acknowledged a lack of consistency compared to title rivals Liverpool was what really set City back.

He added: "Our consistency has been missing. We've not converted our game plan and in this business you have to win. 

"When you lose nine games you cannot win the Premier League right now – maybe years ago. The champions have to score above 90 points so when you lose nine games you cannot win the league. 

"I was not able to solve the problem that we have had since the beginning. I remember the game against Tottenham at home, they had two shots on target and we shot more than 20 and we drew. 

"It happened in the second game in the league and the last game against Southampton was similar. I was not able to change this dynamic."

The unique competition between the Champions League last eight in August is likely to produce a surprise winner, according to Abel Xavier.

Former Portugal international Xavier is thrilled the country's capital city of Lisbon will host one-off matches from the quarter-final stage onwards as the competition ends with a mini-tournament.

Atalanta and RB Leipzig are among the teams already to have secured their place in the last eight, along with Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid.

Lyon and Napoli are hoping to upset Juventus and Barcelona respectively when the last-16 stage is concluded, while Bayern Munich and Manchester City – who lead their own ties – are rated as favourites to win the competition.

But Xavier feels the unique format and environment could benefit the sides who are not used to playing in the final stages.

"Yes, I think from my analysis of what I've seen with surprising results that have been happening in the [domestic] leagues, there is an extra buzz with the top teams because of the fans," Xavier said to Stats Perform News.

"There is a moment where fans give a buzz to the top teams. I think there is going to be a surprise in this last stage. 

"There are teams who are in the group and they can surprise because the teams are more exposed. 

"The teams who aren't used to being in this stage, they are more strong mentally because they play more freely, they play more open and the gap [in quality] will reduce, making games more competitive.

"For that reason, I honestly believe that it is going to be difficult and there will be a surprise in the end."

Xavier hopes the Champions League conclusion will be a fitting reward for those who have worked hardest during the coronavirus pandemic.

The former Liverpool defender added: "It's a completely different environment because of the pandemic situation and everybody readjusts. There is sporting reasons and also economic reasons.

"When you're looking at the leagues and what options they have to play and finish the leagues, there are a few countries that have decided to not continue playing, repeating the health issues.

"They for me are the priority - before football comes health. Of course, everyone must be protected and safe. 

"Portugal is one of the countries that has managed the [COVID-19] crisis very well. I think when you look at the impact, now things are becoming better, I think it's a safe place [to play football]. 

"For that reason, I believe that the opportunity to receive the eight best teams and play this kind of format in Lisbon is also a way to appreciate and say thanks for all those who made these events possible. 

"We are talking about people who work in health, hospitals because we are talking about health matters. If you are not safe you cannot have football either. 

"For that reason, I think Portugal, if things keep going the same way [with COVID-19], the teams will come here and it's going to be a great competition in a positive way.

"It's also going to attract a very positive image in Portugal because when you look back, Portugal was able to organise the big events in the best way possible. 

"For that reason, I think the final stages will be possible and I hope we can have a percentage of the public in the stadium, that would also be an upgrade if things [with COVID-19] stay like this with safety."

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.

Federico Balzaretti welcomed the introduction of an eight-team tournament in Lisbon for the return of this season's Champions League and called for the format to be an annual event on the football calendar.

There will be a condensed finish to the 2019-20 Champions League after the season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Champions League will be completed in Portugal's capital city in August – the quarter-final and semi-final ties to be just one-off matches as opposed to the traditional two legs.

Quarter-final matches will take place across four nights from August 12-15, with last-four games contested on August 18-19, and the showpiece to be held at Benfica's Estadio da Luz on August 23.

"This kind of match of competition, new competition for Champions League, just one direct match. Great surprise because in one match you can beat or lose against everyone," former Juventus full-back and Italy international Balzaretti told Stats Perform News.

"Also Atalanta, they could win against anyone in a single match. I'm waiting for a big, big surprise in this kind of Champions League and I'm happy about that.

"I think it's great to have a final eight every year. In one city, it's like a mini European Championship every year.

"Why not [every year]? I'm very curious about it. I think it's good. There's less matches and you create Euros every year, with big surprise.

"It could be interesting. Also because FIFA would like to introduce a World Cup for clubs every two years. So, with one competition and more matches, this is a question of money, eh?"

The outstanding last-16 games will be completed on August 7-8, though a decision has not yet been taken on whether they will be played at the home stadiums without fans or in Portugal. The Estadio do Dragao in Porto and the Estadio Dom Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes will be added as venues if need be.

Juventus' last-16 clash with Lyon is one of the remaining ties after the Serie A champions lost 1-0 on the road in February prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

Since then, the Ligue 1 campaign was cancelled and Paris Saint-Germain were crowned champions, much to the anger of Lyon.

Meanwhile, Serie A leaders Juve – eyeing their first Champions League title since 1996 after finishing runners-up in 1997, 1998, 2003, 2015 and 2017 – are preparing to restart their season away to Bologna on Monday following Wednesday's Coppa Italia final defeat to Napoli.

"I think for Lyon it will be very hard because they didn't play for six months," Balzaretti, who spent two years at Juve, said. "So this is incredible. You play your most important match of the year and after six months you haven't played.

"And Juventus, they'll play 14 matches for this game. It is a big advantage for sure. I think [Lyon president Jean-Michel] Aulas is not happy about that. It will be very difficult.

"Everything is possible of course. But it's a big advantage."

The Champions League delivered drama in droves last season.

With the 2019-20 competition on hold for now, it is the perfect opportunity to remember just how crazy Europe's premier competition became 12 months ago.

In a run of games from early March to early May, the Champions League churned out a succession of classic contests that will live long in the memory.

Here we look back at three months where Europe's grown-up football tournament started behaving like a devil-may-care teenager and was all the better for it.

March 5, 2019: Real Madrid 1 Ajax 4 (3-5 agg)

Ajax's team of fearless young stars produced one of the great Champions League campaigns.

Despite their impressive display in a 2-1 first-leg defeat, nobody really seemed to think Erik ten Hag's side could turn things around in the last 16 at the Santiago Bernabeu. Sergio Ramos certainly did not – he earned a booking to avoid the risk of a quarter-final ban, earning an extra game suspension from UEFA in the process.

In the absence of their captain, Madrid completely capitulated to their fearless and thrilling opponents.

Hakim Ziyech and David Neres put the visitors 2-0 up after only 18 minutes and it was 3-0 just after the hour mark thanks to the inspired Dusan Tadic.

Marco Asensio got a goal back, but Lasse Schone's free-kick beat Thibaut Courtois and sent Madrid crashing out. It was the first time they had ever been knocked out after winning the first leg of a Champions League tie.

March 6, 2019: Paris Saint-Germain 1 Manchester United 3 (3-3 agg, United won on away goals)

A day on from Ajax's thrashing of Madrid, Manchester United made history at the Parc des Princes.

No side had ever won a knockout tie after trailing 2-0 from a first leg at home and with 10 senior players missing, including the banned Paul Pogba, United's chances looked slim.

Romelu Lukaku scored just two minutes in, though, and despite Juan Bernat's equaliser on the night, Lukaku struck again after a Gianluigi Buffon error to make it 2-1.

As the game crept towards second-half injury time, Diogo Dalot's shot struck Presnel Kimpembe's arm and the referee awarded a penalty after a lengthy VAR review. Marcus Rashford scored it, United progressed, and the clamour for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to be given the permanent manager's job grew louder.

April 17, 2019: Manchester City 4 Tottenham 3 (4-4 agg, Spurs win on away goals)

Tottenham scored through Son Heung-min in a tense, frenetic first leg. Crucially, as it turned out, City did not. They were not about to make the same mistake as Raheem Sterling thrashed an early opener past Hugo Lloris at the Eithad Stadium.

Son responded with two superb finishes of his own, leaving Pep Guardiola's side with a mountain to climb. They duly began to scale it. Bernardo Silva scored, Sterling scored again. There had only been 21 minutes played.

Something faintly resembling a normal football match broke out and Sergio Aguero finished emphatically to give City the lead in the tie for the first time in the 59th minute.

In a sight Ajax are now familiar with, Spurs looked spent until Fernando Llorente bundled them back into the lead on away goals. That advantage ultimately remained, but only after Sterling thought he had completed his hat-trick. Bedlam ensued until VAR showed Aguero was fractionally offside during the build-up.

May 7, 2019: Liverpool 4 Barcelona 0 (4-3 agg)

Fresh from netting a late winner at Newcastle United the weekend before, Divock Origi allowed the Liverpool faithful to dream by poaching his maiden Champions League goal in the seventh minute. Still, overturning the 3-0 advantage Barca had brought to Merseyside looked a tall order.

Jurgen Klopp needed Alisson to be on form as he saved from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, before another unlikely hero emerged.

Andy Robertson's injury forced James Milner to left-back and Georginio Wijnaldum into the fray at half-time. By the hour, the Dutch midfielder had Liverpool level thanks to two goals in 122 delirious seconds.

Origi had the final word thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick thinking from a 79th-minute corner, leaving Barcelona and Messi crestfallen.

May 8, Ajax 2 Tottenham 3 (3-3 agg, Spurs win on away goals)

As they did at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Ajax made a smooth start and led through their inspirational captain Matthijs de Ligt in the fifth minute.

Ziyech emphatically made it 2-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate, but Lucas changed the complexion of the contest as he was supported by Dele Alli's intelligent running from midfield and Llorente's robust accompaniment in attack.

Ziyech hit the post and Spurs centre-back Jan Vertonghen hit the bar. Amsterdam held its breath and Lucas proved to be the coolest man in the stadium in the 96th minute, sending his side through to face Liverpool in Madrid, where the Reds ultimately prevailed.

Unai Emery hit out at referee Deniz Aytekin, Barcelona forward Luis Suarez and an un-named Paris Saint-Germain player as he reflected on the 6-1 Champions League collapse suffered at Camp Nou in 2017.

PSG, then coached by Emery, romped to a 4-0 win in the first leg of their last-16 tie, but on March 8, a day Emery remembers as the worst of his career, Barca recorded an unbelievable second-leg comeback.

Leading 3-1 on the night but still trailing 5-3 on aggregate after 88 minutes, Barca were on the brink of elimination.

However, they managed to score three times in a dramatic finale to seal the largest comeback in Champions League history, with future PSG star Neymar scoring twice for Luis Enrique's hosts.

Reflecting on the devastating loss more than three years later, Emery hit out at the performance of Turkish official Aytekin.

He also discussed his belief Suarez kept going down easily in the box and suggested there was a PSG player who was "hiding" as he explained the other circumstances that worked against his team.

"There are lots of details in that game that can be scrutinised," Emery said, per EFE, in a discussion with his former Sevilla assistant Diego Martinez, who now coaches Granada.

"But if I start from the end, I'd change the referee and that's it. I watched a repeat of the game the other day because I found it while I was zapping through channels. I watched it from the 50th minute to the 82nd minute.

"We were 3-0 down, we scored to make it 3-1 and we had a one-on-one that Edinson Cavani hit at the goalkeeper to make it 3-2; a clear penalty on Angel Di Maria that wasn't given; and in the 82nd minute, Di Maria fouled Neymar for the goal. That's when I stopped watching.

"In that section of the game, I saw that one of our important players, who had had injury problems during the season, was hiding in the result. Maybe I would substitute him now. 

"They are details, circumstances that escape you in a game.

"Then there are other key circumstances: the Barcelona players, especially Suarez, going down in the box continuously, pressuring the referee until he fell into their trap."

Barca were knocked out in the by eventual finalists Juventus in the last eight.

It took a pandemic to stop the goals flowing from Lionel Messi, the brilliant Argentinian who first found the back of the net for Barcelona on May 1, 2005.

Fifteen years since that first strike, Messi has ploughed through the 600-goal mark for the Catalan giants, coincidentally reaching that landmark on May 1, 2019.

He was spending May 1 at home this year, along with every other footballer in LaLiga, which has been paused since March due to the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.

To watch Messi in his pomp and assess the pick of his goals for Barcelona is a pick-me-up for any dark day, and here is a look at a chronological top 10 from the Argentinian's collection.

Albacete (H): May 1, 2005

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

Malaga (H): March 22, 2009

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

Real Zaragoza (A): March 21, 2010

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

Real Madrid (A): April 27, 2011

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

Athletic Bilbao (A): April 27, 2013

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

Bayern Munich (H): May 6, 2015

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

Real Madrid (A): April 23, 2017

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

Real Betis (A): March 17, 2019

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

Liverpool (H): May 1, 2019

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

Atletico Madrid (A): December 1, 2019

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

Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (Ronaldinho Gaúcho) became only the second Barcelona player after Diego Maradona to receive a standing ovation from Real Madrid fans at the Santiago Bernabéu. In that season he was to win his second FIFA World Player of the Year award as well as the Ballon d’Or. Ronaldinho had scored two spectacular goals in the game between Barcelona and Real, a derby known for pitting two of the world’s greatest footballing rivals against each other. His heroics in the El Clásico would come a year after Ronaldinho had won the World Cup with Brazil. He was at the top of his game and that put him on top of the world.

There are many, whom, having seen Ronaldinho, declare him the most skillful player to ever play the game, but the midfielder was also effective. That skill, the ability to dribble past players, score goals almost at will, and produce trickery that would make the world sit up and watch, brought with it trophies. Ronaldinho would become versed at taking free kicks and was always dangerous because of his ability to play anywhere in the attacking third of the football field. Ronaldinho was sometimes deployed as a winger, on either side of the midfield, as well as in the more central number-10 role. On occasion, he would also become the striker, which made him fearsome to defend. What was most scary about playing against Ronaldinho was the almost natural way he had of creating danger for opposition defenders. According Netherlands midfield general, Edgar Davids, who played with him at Milan, "For the skills and tricks, Ronaldinho was the best player that I ever played with."

Playing Career

Full name: Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (Ronaldinho Gaúcho)

Date of birth: 21 March 1980 (age 40)

Place of birth: Porto Alegre, Brazil

Height: 1.81m (5ft 11 in)

Playing positions: Attacking midfielder, forward

Club Career

        Years                    Team                             Apps   (Gls)

  • 1998–2001          Grêmio                              52      (21)
  • 2001–2003          Paris Saint-Germain            55     (17)
  • 2003–2008          Barcelona                         145      (70)
  • 2008–2011          Milan                                 76      (20)
  • 2011–2012          Flamengo                          33       (15)
  • 2012–2014          Atlético Mineiro                  48       (16)
  • 2014–2015          Querétaro                          25         (8)
  • 2015                   Fluminense                         7         (0)
  • Total                                                        441    (167)

Club Honours

  • Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Intertoto Cup: 2001
  • Barcelona - La Liga: 2004–05, 2005–06; Supercopa de España: 2005, 2006; UEFA Champions League: 2005–06
  • Milan - Serie A: 2010–11
  • Flamengo - Campeonato Carioca: 2011; Taça Guanabara: 2011; Taça Rio: 2011
  • Atlético Mineiro - Campeonato Mineiro: 2013; Copa Libertadores: 2013; Recopa Sudamericana: 2014

International Career

  • 1999-2013 Brazil 97 (33)

International Honours

  • FIFA U-17 World Championship: 1997
  • Copa América: 1999
  • CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament: 2000
  • FIFA World Cup: 2002
  • FIFA Confederations Cup: 2005
  • Olympic Bronze Medal: 2008

Individual Honours

  • FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Ball: 1999
  • FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Shoe: 1999
  • South American Team of the Year: 1999
  • Bola de Prata: 2000, 2011, 2012
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 2002
  • Ligue 1 Goal of The Year: 2003
  • La Liga Best Foreign Player: 2003–04, 2005–06
  • Trofeo EFE: 2003–04
  • FIFA World Player of the Year: 2004, 2005
  • UEFA Team of the Year: 2004, 2005, 2006
  • World Soccer Magazine World Player of The Year: 2004, 2005
  • UEFA Club Forward of the Year: 2004–05
  • FIFA Confederations Cup Bronze Ball: 2005
  • Ballon d'Or: 2005
  • Onze d'Or: 2005
  • FIFPro World Player of the Year: 2005, 2006
  • FIFPro World XI: 2005, 2006, 2007
  • UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 2005–06
  • La Liga top assist provider: 2005–06
  • UEFA Champions League top assist provider: 2005–06
  • FIFA Club World Cup Bronze Ball: 2006
  • FIFA World Player of the Year Bronze award: 2006
  • Golden Foot: 2009
  • Sports Illustrated Team of the Decade: 2009
  • Serie A top assist provider: 2009–10
  • Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Team of the Year: 2011, 2012
  • Campeonato Brasileiro Série A Best Fan's Player: 2012
  • Campeonato Brasileiro Série A top assist provider: 2012
  • Bola de Ouro: 2012
  • Copa Libertadores top assist provider: 2012, 2013
  • South American Footballer of the Year: 2013
  • UEFA Ultimate Team of the Year (substitute; published in 2015)
  • FIFA 100
  • Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame
  • C. Milan Hall of Fame

Michel Platini’s claim to fame comes from being one of the finest passers the game has ever seen. His efforts from the penalty spot and from free kicks are legendary but he was also quick and elegant on the ball, combined with being a very intelligent reader of the game. His technical ability was also renowned during a period where South Americans were believed to be the masters in this arena. Platini also had an eye for goal from his more withdrawn role behind the strikers and was prolific as a midfielder, winning a number of top goalscorer accolades throughout his career.

Playing Career

Full name: Michel Platini

Date of birth: 21 June 1955 (age 64)

Place of birth: Jœuf, France

Height: 1.79m (5ft 10 in)

Playing position: Attacking midfielder

Club Career

           Years                Team                    Apps      (Gls)

  • 1972–1979          Nancy                    181        (72)
  • 1979–1982          Saint-Étienne         104        (58)
  • 1982–1987          Juventus                147        (68)
  • Total                                              432    (224)

 

Club Honours

  • Nancy - Coupe de France: 1977–78; Division 2: 1974–75
  • Saint-Étienne - Division 1: 1980–81; Coupe de France runner-up: 1980–81, 1981–82
  • Juventus - Serie A: 1983–84, 1985–86; Coppa Italia: 1982–83; European Cup: 1984–85; runner-up: 1982–83; European Cup Winners' Cup: 1983–84; European Super Cup: 1984; Intercontinental Cup: 1985

International Career

  • 1976–1987 France 72 (41)
  • 1988 Kuwait  1   (0)

International Honours

  • UEFA European Championship: 1984
  • Artemio Franchi Trophy: 1985
  • FIFA World Cup third place: 1986
  • 1976 Pre-Olympic Zone European

 

Individual Honours

  • Ballon d'Or: 1983, 1984, 1985
  • Onze d'Or: 1983, 1984, 1985
  • Onze d'Argent: 1977
  • IOC European Footballer of the Season: 1983–84, 1984–85
  • World Soccer Player of the Year: 1984, 1985
  • UEFA European Championship Player of the Tournament: 1984
  • UEFA European Championship Top Scorer: 1984
  • UEFA European Championship Team of the Tournament: 1984
  • French Player of the Year: 1976, 1977
  • French Player of the Century: 1999
  • L'Équipe French Champion of Champions: 1977, 1984
  • FIFA XI: 1979
  • Guerin d'Oro: 1984
  • Capocannoniere (Serie A Top Scorer): 1982–83, 1983–84, 1984–85
  • European Cup Top Scorer: 1984–85
  • Intercontinental Cup Most Valuable Player of the Match Award: 1985
  • FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1982, 1986
  • FIFA World Cup All-Time Team: 1994
  • World Team of the 20th Century: 1998
  • FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2002
  • Italian Football Hall of Fame member
  • English Football Hall of Fame member (voted All-Time Greatest European Footballer. He is only the second person outside the English game to be honoured by the Museum.)
  • Artemio Franchi Prize
  • Golden Foot: 2004, as football legend
  • FIFA 100
  • UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll: #9
  • Premio internazionale Giacinto Facchetti: 2011
  • Globe Soccer Awards Player Career Award: 2012
  • IFFHS Legends
  • Juventus Greatest XI of All Time: 2017

George Manneh Oppong Weah played as a striker in his prolific 18-year professional playing career that ended in 2003.

After beginning his career in his home country of Liberia, Weah spent 14 years playing for clubs in France, Italy, and England.

Arsène Wenger first brought him to Europe, signing him for Monaco in 1988. Weah moved to Paris Saint-Germain in 1992 where he won Ligue 1 in 1994 and became the top scorer of the 1994–95 UEFA Champions League.

He signed for A.C. Milan in 1995 where he spent four successful seasons, winning Serie A twice.

His most notable goal in Italy saw him run the length of the field against Verona. He moved to the Premier League towards the end of his career and had spells at Chelsea and Manchester City, winning the FA Cup at the former, before returning to France to play for Marseille in 2001, and subsequently ending his career with Al-Jazira in 2003.

FourFourTwo named Weah one of the best players never to win the UEFA Champions League.

At the international level, Weah represented Liberia at the African Cup of Nations on two occasions, winning 53 caps and scoring 13 goals for his country.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest African players of all time, in 1995, he was named FIFA World Player of the Year and won the Ballon d'Or, becoming the first and to date only African player to win these awards.

 In 1989, 1994 and 1995, he was also named the African Footballer of the Year, and in 1996, he was named African Player of the Century.

Known for his acceleration, speed, and dribbling ability, in addition to his goalscoring and finishing, Weah was described by FIFA as "the precursor of the multi-functional strikers of today".

 

Playing Career

Full Name: George Manneh Oppong Weah

Date of birth: 1 October 1966 (age 53)

Height: 1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)

Position: Striker

 

Club Career

Years                   Team                            Apps     (Gls)

1985–1986           Bong Range United                2       (1)

1985–1986          Mighty Barrolle                     10       (7)

1986–1987          Invincible Eleven                   23      (24)

1987                    Africa Sports                       2       (1)

1987–1988          Tonnerre Yaoundé               18      (14)

1988–1992          Monaco                              103    (47)

1992–1995          Paris Saint-Germain              96     (32)

1995–2000          A.C. Milan                           114    (46)

2000 →                Chelsea (loan)                    11       (3)

2000                    Manchester City                   7        (1)

2000–2001          Marseille                              19      (5)

2001–2003          Al Jazira                                8       (13)

Total                                                         413    (194)

 

Club Honours

  • Mighty Barrolle - Liberian Premier League: 1985–86; Liberian Cup: 1985–86; Invincible Eleven; Liberian Premier League: 1986–87
  • Monaco - Coupe de France: 1991
  • Paris Saint-Germain - Ligue 1: 1993–94; Coupe de France: 1992–93, 1994–95; Coupe de la Ligue: 1995
  • C. Milan - Serie A: 1995–96, 1998–99
  • Chelsea - FA Cup: 1999–2000

 

International Career

  • 1987-2018 Liberia 53 (13)

 

International Honours

  • CSSA Nations Cup runner-up: 1987

 

Individual Honours

  • African Footballer of the Year: 1989, 1994, 1995
  • FIFA XI: 1991, 1996 (Reserve), 1997, 1998
  • French Division 1 Foreign Player of the Year: 1990–91
  • UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 1994–95
  • BBC African Footballer of the Year: 1995
  • Onze d'Or: 1995
  • Ballon d'Or: 1995
  • FIFA World Player of the Year: 1995
  • ESM Team of the Year: 1995–96
  • Onze d'Argent: 1996
  • FIFA Fair Play Award: 1996
  • FIFA World Player of the Year – Silver award: 1996
  • IFFHS African Player of the Century: 1996
  • World Soccer's 100 Greatest Footballers of All Time: 1999
  • FIFA 100: 2004
  • Arthur Ashe Courage Award 2004
  • Golden Foot Legends Award: 2005
  • C. Milan Hall of Fame
  • IFFHS Legends
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Cuttington University: 29 June 2018.

Andrés Iniesta came through La Masia, the Barcelona youth academy, after an early emigration from his birthplace, and impressed from an early age. He made his first-team debut aged 18 in 2002. He began playing regularly during the 2004–05 season and has remained in the team ever since. Iniesta was an integral part of the Barcelona sides that won two historic trebles in 2009 and 2015, and his 33 trophies make him the most decorated Spanish footballer of all time.

 

Playing Career

Full name: Andrés Iniesta Luján

Date of birth: 11 May 1984 (age 35)

Place of birth: Fuentealbilla, Spain

Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)

National Team:

  • 2006–2018 Spain  131 (13)

Honours

  • FIFA World Cup: 2010
  • UEFA European Championship: 2008, 2012
  • UEFA European Under-19 Championship: 2002
  • UEFA European Under-16 Championship: 2001
  • FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2010

 

FIFA World Cup appearances: 4

  • Round of 16 - 2006 Germany
  • Winner - 2010 South Africa
  • First Round 2014 - Brazil
  • Round of 16 - 2018 Russia

 

Club Career

  • 2001–2003 Barcelona B 54   (5)
  • 2002–2018 Barcelona    442 (35)
  • 2018–   Vissel Kobe  38   (9)

 

Honours

  • Barcelona - La Liga: 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2017–18; Copa del Rey: 2008–09, 2011–12, 2014–15, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18; Supercopa de España: 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016; UEFA Champions League: 2005–06, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15; UEFA Super Cup: 2009, 2011, 2015; FIFA Club World Cup: 2009, 2011, 2015
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