Real Madrid salvaged a 1-1 draw at Valencia on Sunday thanks to a late Karim Benzema equaliser that Zinedine Zidane believes is proof of the team's fighting spirit.

Valencia looked to be heading for a 1-0 win when Carlos Soler put the hosts in front with 12 minutes to go, then surviving a scare as Luka Jovic had a goal disallowed for offside.

But Madrid continued to plug away and eventually restored parity deep into stoppage time – Benzema slamming home after goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was remarkably denied when his header was saved by Jaume Domenech.

As such, Madrid go into Wednesday's Clasico against Barcelona with something of a morale boost, with Zidane suggesting the late goal highlights his team's mentality.

"This shows you what we are, we fight until the end. We fight and what we want is to get a good result," he told Movistar.

"We don't lower our arms. We got it [the equaliser] with the courtesy of Courtois and Karim. I'm glad for them because it has been a tremendous effort from everyone.

"You have to be proud of the game. When in such a difficult stadium, you concede a goal a few minutes from full-time, you can fall apart, but we still thought that something could be achieved, and we achieved it."

Club captain Sergio Ramos was less philosophical about dropping points, however, acknowledging he leaves Mestalla disappointed.

"Despite scoring at the end, it tastes a bit bitter despite adding a point. When you don't leave with the three points, you leave with that pity," he said.

"I think we've controlled the match well, with balance. We had in front of us a rival who came into the match in good form.

"We can't press for the full 90 minutes, but we've gone all the way. We've made a point that allows us to stay joint-top."

Karim Benzema rescued Real Madrid at the death with a stoppage-time equaliser that salvaged a 1-1 draw away to Valencia, but they missed the chance to go into El Clasico top of the table.

Madrid looked to be heading for a deserved defeat when Carlos Soler netted with 12 minutes to go, but Benzema smashed in from close range right at the end, meaning Los Blancos head into Wednesday's clash with bitter rivals Barcelona level on 35 points with them.

Madrid started with the greater purpose but failed to make the most of their opportunities, offering encouragement to Valencia, who threatened several times through Ferran Torres.

Much of the second half was cagier, with clear-cut chances less frequent, but Soler finished off a swift move to finally open the scoring, before Madrid avoided defeat with one of the last kicks of the game – Benzema saving Zinedine Zidane's men.

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski has his sights set on a slice of Champions League history when Tottenham visit the Allianz Arena on Wednesday.

The Poland international needs two goals against Jose Mourinho's side to claim the record for goals in the group stage of a single campaign – an honour held by Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 11 in 2015-16 for Real Madrid.

Atletico Madrid will book their place in the last 16 if they beat Lokomotiv Moscow, while Shakhtar Donetsk will join Manchester City in progressing from Group C if they overcome Atalanta.

In Group A, already-qualified Paris Saint-Germain host Galatasaray and Real Madrid – who have also booked their place in the knockout stages – travel to Club Brugge.

Here is the pick of the key Opta facts for Wednesday's eight matches.

Club Brugge v Real Madrid

7 - This is the seventh Champions League group stage campaign which Club Brugge have failed to progress from. No side has ever competed in more group stages without progressing from any in the history of the competition.

2 - Karim Benzema has scored two goals in each of his last two Champions League games. Only four players have scored two or more in three consecutive games - Giovane Elber (2001), Filippo Inzaghi (2002), Cristiano Ronaldo (2013, twice in 2017) and Lewandowski (2018).

Paris Saint-Germain v Galatasaray

18 - PSG striker Kylian Mbappe has scored 18 goals in 29 appearances in the Champions League. If he scores twice in this game, Mbappe would become the youngest player in the competition's history to reach 20 goals, aged 20 years and 356 days.

1 - Galatasaray scored their first goal of the 2019-20 Champions League campaign in their last game against Club Brugge, ending a run of 38 shots without scoring from the start of the campaign. In total, they have only scored once from 43 shots in the competition this term.

Bayern Munich v Tottenham

16 - Bayern Munich had 16 shots on target in their 6-0 win over Red Star Belgrade on matchday five; the most by a team in this season's Champions League. Bayern last had more in a Champions League game in October 2013 against Viktoria Plzen (18).

2 - New Spurs manager Mourinho has lost both of his previous away games against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, losing in the quarter-finals with Chelsea in 2004-05 and the semi-finals with Real Madrid in 2011-12.

Olympiacos v Red Star Belgrade

1 - Olympiacos have picked up just one point from their five Champions League games this season. Only in 2017-18 (one) have they picked up one point or fewer from a completed group stage.

19 - Red Star have conceded 19 goals in their five Champions League games this season, more than any other side. There have been just five occasions of a team conceding 20+ goals in a single group stage in the competition, most recently by Legia Warsaw in 2016-17 (24).

Dinamo Zagreb v Manchester City

5 - Dinamo Zagreb have picked up five points in this season's Champions League. Only in 1998-99 (eight points) have they won more in a single group stage in the competition. 

19 - City’s Raheem Sterling has scored 19 goals in 46 appearances in the Champions League. He could become the sixth Englishman to reach 20 goals in the competition after Wayne Rooney (30), Paul Scholes (24), Frank Lampard (23), Steven Gerrard (21) and Harry Kane (20). Should Sterling score in his 47th appearance, he would be the second quickest Englishman to 20 Champions League goals after Kane (24 appearances).

Shakhtar Donetsk v Atalanta

5 - Shakhtar Donetsk are without a win in each of their last five Champions League home games (drawn three, lost two). It is their longest ever winless run at home in the competition.

2 - Atalanta have lost their last two away games in the Champions League, conceding nine goals in the process. They last lost three consecutive away matches in all European competition back in October 1987.

Atletico Madrid v Lokomotiv Moscow

2 - Atletico Madrid have lost consecutive matches in the Champions League; they've never lost three in a row in the competition. The Spanish side last lost three consecutive games in all European competitions back in October 1984 in the UEFA Cup.

0 - Lokomotiv Moscow have never won an away game against Spanish opposition in all European competition, losing six of their seven such games and failing to score in each defeat.

Bayer Leverkusen v Juventus

3 - Bayer Leverkusen have benefited from three own goals in this season's Champions League, with only two teams benefiting from more in a single campaign: Inter in 2002-03 (four) and Barcelona in 2017-18 (five).

27 - Juventus forward Ronaldo has scored 27 goals in 24 Champions League appearances against German clubs; the most a single player has accumulated against sides from a particular nation in the competition's history.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ballon d'Or 30-11 list in full:

=28. Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)

=28. Donny van de Beek (Ajax)

=28. Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)

=26. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)

=26. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

=24. Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli)

=24. Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona)

23. Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)

22. Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

=20. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

=20. Dusan Tadic (Ajax)

19. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)

18. Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona)

17. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)

16. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

15. Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)

14. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)

13. Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)

12. Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

11. Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona)

There were enough sub-plots for Real Madrid's Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain to be turned into a feature-length film before a ball had even been kicked at the Santiago Bernabeu.

By the end of 90 breathless, pulsating and sheer joy-inducing minutes there were enough storylines to make a franchise that could rival even the lucrative Marvel series.

For 81 of those, Zinedine Zidane and his expensively assembled squad of Galacticos were almost tactically flawless.

The decision to hand Isco a first start in six weeks appeared truly inspired. The short, sharp passing in a midfield trio alongside Federico Valverde and Casemiro had PSG – who had dominated the same opponents 3-0 on matchday one – chasing white shirts with about as much success as an excitable dog longing to reach its tail.

If that problem wasn't big enough then the one caused by Eden Hazard would have given PSG's defence and head coach Thomas Tuchel nightmare-filled sleep for the foreseeable future.

Injury woes early in his Madrid career have meant it has taken Hazard a little while to get up to speed in the Spanish capital.

But for 70 minutes here, Hazard was utterly joyous – try as you might, taking your eyes of this Rolls Royce of a footballer was an impossible task.

Hazard was full of the sort of invention, creativity and genius nuances that convinced Madrid to part with over €100million to prise him from Chelsea.

It was as much a blow to the neutrals watching when Hazard was helped off the pitch following a strong challenge from Belgium team-mate Thomas Meunier as it was to Zidane and his Madrid team-mates.

That Hazard departing the pitch through injury became almost a footnote tells a story in itself about this classic of the Champions League genre.

Karim Benzema's second goal in the 79th minute should have been the cherry atop of a scrumptious cake for Madrid, who despite Zidane's protestations to the contrary would have had revenge in mind.

Granted it had taken a helping hand from the VAR, another of football's most divisive modern issues, to get that point.

The decision to overturn a red card for Thibaut Courtois – who rashly wiped out Mauro Icardi – for the softest of fouls from Idrissa Gueye on Marcelo earlier in the move appeared certain to dominate the narrative.

Even accounting for that let-off, it was another side-note in a game swimming with them that kept Madrid at bay.

Keylor Navas, who left for PSG having fallen behind Courtois in the goalkeeper pecking order at Madrid, was in inspired form – Benzema and Isco particularly left frustrated by his brilliance. That he was received so well by the home crowd speaks volumes of his contribution over five trophy-laden years at the Bernabeu.

Indeed it was his heroics that allowed Kylian Mbappe – the man so desired by Los Blancos fans – to take an almighty spanner and throw it directly into the works.

Those familiar with the story know Madrid have not exactly been quiet in expressing their admiration for the World Cup winner. Heck, even this week Zidane publicly declared his love for the rapid forward, who it is hard to imagine will not one day don the famous white of Madrid.

That love may have dwindled a little when Mbappe capitalised on a lack of communication between Courtois and Raphael Varane to hand PSG a precious lifeline.

Two minutes later, the irony will not have been lost on Zidane that the man to deny Madrid what would, in truth, have been a deserved victory to keep their hopes of finishing top of Group A alive was Pablo Sarabia – a player who graduated through the youth ranks at the Bernabeu.

Remarkably, only the width of a post denied one final twist and one so tantalisingly delicious it would not have been out of place in an M. Night Shyamalan film.

Gareth Bale, a man much derided by his own fans and the Spanish media for his 'WALES. GOLF. MADRID. IN THAT ORDER' banner celebration after Wales qualified for Euro 2020, stood poised over a free-kick 30 yards from goal.

This particular narrative only narrowly failed to play out. Had it done so the reactions would have been incredulity, shock and uncontrollable laughter. In that order.

When the dust settles, Zidane will analyse with forensic scrutiny Madrid's failure to first kill the contest through the numerous chances they created, and second to manage the game when two up with 10 minutes to go.

But for anyone without an affiliation for either of these two giants of European football, the only thing to do was sit back, jaws gaping, as the credits rolled on a match worthy of any big screen.

Real Madrid kept pace with Barcelona at the summit of LaLiga after coming from behind to beat Real Sociedad 3-1 at Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.

Barca had edged past Leganes earlier in the day to open up a three-point lead over their bitter rivals but Zinedine Zidane's side registered a second consecutive league win to rejoin them on 28 points.

Willian Jose took advantage of a woeful mistake by Sergio Ramos to put Sociedad ahead in the second minute but Karim Benzema restored parity before half-time.

Federico Valverde – who opened his Madrid account in the 4-0 win over Eibar before the international break – completed the turnaround shortly after the restart before Luka Modric sealed all three points 16 minutes from time.

Gareth Bale was introduced as a second-half substitute by Zidane and was greeted by a mixture of whistles and cheers from Madrid supporters after holding a banner following Wales' win over Hungary in midweek that read: 'WALES. GOLF. MADRID…IN THAT ORDER'.

Sociedad were gifted the lead inside the opening two minutes thanks to a moment of madness from Ramos.

The Madrid captain's backpass to Thibaut Courtois was cut out by Willian Jose, who took a touch past the Belgium international and rolled into an empty net.

Alex Remiro got down well to keep out Ferland Mendy's powerful drive soon after, while at the other end Courtois had to beat away Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard's fierce effort.

Madrid conjured up a scarcely deserved leveller eight minutes before the interval when Benzema used his chest to steer home Luka Modric's free-kick from six yards.

They started the second half with a spring in their step and forged ahead in the 47th minute when Valverde's shot from just outside the penalty area took a wicked deflection off Mikel Oyarzabal to wrongfoot Remiro.

Bale shrugged off his hostile reception to play a part in Madrid's third. His cross from the right was headed down into Modric's path by Benzema and the Croatian lashed a fine half-volley past Remiro to add gloss to the scoreline.


What does it mean? Madrid march on against tough opposition

After a challenging start to the season Madrid are now on a six-game unbeaten run in all competitions and look well set for a mouth-watering duel with Barca for the league title. They were far from their fluid best against Imanol Alguacil's side but Zidane will be pleased to overcome a Sociedad outfit who have been in stellar from so far this season.

Benzema's fine campaign continues

The former France international has been in wonderful form this season. He again showed why Zidane has so much faith in him, pulling Madrid level with his 10th league goal and then teeing up Modric's third with a precise header.

Ramos gives Sociedad a helping hand

The Madrid captain gift-wrapped Sociedad's opener with as careless a display of defending as the Santiago Bernabeu faithful are likely to witness this season. He will be a relieved man that it did not matter in the end.

What's next?

Madrid host Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday before returning to domestic action on Saturday with a visit to Deportivo Alaves. Sociedad, meanwhile, welcome Eibar to Anoeta on Saturday.

Are we about to see a Jose Mourinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic reunion?

Mourinho and Ibrahimovic worked together at Inter, before the Portuguese manager brought the Swedish star to Manchester United in 2016.

Now, new Tottenham boss Mourinho is reportedly eyeing the 38-year-old striker.

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO TARGETING IBRA

Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho is poised to make a move for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, according to the Telegraph.

Ibrahimovic is on the lookout for a new club after opting to leave MLS outfit LA Galaxy following two seasons in the United States.

The 38-year-old has been linked to AC Milan, Bologna, Napoli, Manchester United and Australian team Perth Glory; however, Mourinho reportedly wants to reunite with Ibrahimovic at Tottenham.

 

ROUND-UP

- Spanish newspaper Sport reports a close friend of Flamengo coach Jorge Jesus predicting he will get the Barcelona job if his side win Saturday's Copa Libertadores final against River Plate, who are led by another reputed Catalan target in Marcelo Gallardo. Ernesto Valverde is under pressure at the LaLiga champions.

Real Madrid are set to open talks with star striker Karim Benzema over a new contract, Marca reports. The 31-year-old's current deal expires in 2021.

- Out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic is wanted by LaLiga's Atletico Madrid, according to ESPN FC. Matic has struggled for game time under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with AC Milan and Inter also interested.

- With Tottenham reportedly looking to hijack AC Milan's pursuit of Ibrahimovic, Sky Sport Italia says the Rossoneri are rivalling Inter and Borussia Dortmund for Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud.

- The Daily Mail reports that Leicester City have opened talks with James Maddison over a new contract. The 22-year-old England international has been heavily linked to Manchester United.

- Partizan Belgrade sensation Strahinja Pavlovic is on the verge of joining Ligue 1 outfit Monaco. Sportski Zurnal says the 18-year-old defender has undergone a medical ahead of a €10million transfer plus add-ons.

Karim Benzema has told French football chief Noel Le Graet to stop interfering after claiming the Real Madrid striker would never play for his country again.

The 31-year-old last turned out for Les Bleus in a 4-0 win over Armenia in October 2015, since when he has been conspicuous by his absence from every squad selected.

Despite being a talisman for one of the biggest clubs in world football, the door appears closed to Benzema when it comes to Didier Deschamps' France team.

Since 2015, Benzema has strenuously denied any wrongdoing in an alleged attempt to blackmail former France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.

He has not played for France since the allegations were made, and that appears unlikely to change whatever the circumstances after Le Graet this week vowed a Benzema recall was out of the question.

Le Graet spoke out days after Real Madrid's French boss Zinedine Zidane said Benzema should "definitely" be recalled by Deschamps.

"Karim Benzema is a very good player, I've never doubted his qualities," French Football Federation president Le Graet told RMC Sport. "On the contrary, he shows with Real Madrid that he is one of the best players in his position. But the adventure with France is finished."

That prompted a seething response from Benzema, who wrote on Twitter: "Noel I thought that you wouldn't interfere in the coach's decisions!

"[You should] know that it's me and me alone who will put an end to my international career.

"If you think I'm finished, let me play for one of the countries for which I'm eligible and we'll see."

Benzema, who comes from Algerian heritage, scored 27 goals in 81 appearances for France before being sidelined from the national team.

With Real Madrid he has won a host of trophies, including the Champions League on four occasions, and with nine goals this season he is LaLiga's top scorer.

World champions France play Albania on Sunday in their final Euro 2020 qualifier, already assured of a place at next year's finals.

Lyon sporting director Juninho wants Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema to finish his career at the Ligue 1 club.

Benzema, 31, came through the Lyon academy and starred in Ligue 1 before joining Madrid for €35million in July 2009.

The Frenchman has scored 233 goals for Madrid, helping the Spanish giants win two LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues among numerous other trophies.

Juninho, who played alongside Benzema at Lyon, wants the forward to return to the club.

"My desire is to propose to Karim that he finishes his career at Lyon," the Brazilian told OLTV.

"He is from here, he feels from here. Why not make an economic effort between both parties to make it happen?

"We can't offer the same salary as Real Madrid, but we will wait for the right moment.

"We exchanged messages when I was in Brazil. I felt like he would like to come. He has a lot of respect for the club.

"I want him to come and play with us for two years, and then train some of the younger players.

"Karim could be the leader that we need. I dream that he will end his career here at Lyon, his home."

Benzema has made a fine start to this season, scoring 11 goals in 15 games in all competitions for Madrid.

Lyon, meanwhile, are struggling in 14th in Ligue 1, with Rudi Garcia replacing Sylvinho at the helm last month.

Karim Benzema maintained his impressive form with two first-half goals as Real Madrid eased to a 4-0 win at Eibar that takes them top of LaLiga.

Madrid suffered a 3-0 reverse on their last visit to Ipurua 12 months ago but were comfortable winners in Saturday's clash thanks to the impressive form of Benzema, who made it nine league goals for the season.

The 31-year-old gave the visitors a 17th-minute lead and doubled his tally from the penalty spot before the half-hour mark after Sergio Ramos had also converted from 12 yards.

Federico Valverde added a fourth for Zinedine Zidane's men, who climbed above Barcelona and surprise package Real Sociedad into top spot.

Madrid had won only two of 10 away league games since Zidane's return as coach but did not take long to assert their authority in the Basque Country, Valverde teeing up Benzema to convert the opener from close range.

Ramos tucked away the first of his side's penalties three minutes later after Pablo de Blasis stuck out a leg and tripped Eden Hazard inside the box.

Madrid put the game out of Eibar's reach with 29 minutes played, Benzema matching Ramos in sending Marko Dmitrovic the wrong way from the spot following Cote's challenge on Lucas Vazquez.

After a slow start to the second half, Madrid soon clicked into gear and had a fourth goal through Valverde's side-footed finish into the bottom-right corner.

Eibar struggled to muster much of a fight in the remainder of the match as Zidane's men claimed a fifth clean sheet in a row in all competitions.


What does it mean? Madrid move top of LaLiga

Last weekend's goalless home draw with Real Betis, two weeks on from a 1-0 loss away at Real Mallorca, led to fresh talk of a crisis at Santiago Bernabeu.

However, Madrid beat Galatasaray 6-0 in midweek and were just as impressive here, this win taking them three points above Barcelona, who play their game in hand against Celta Vigo later on Saturday.

Benzema surpasses Puskas

Benzema has now netted 11 goals in all competitions this season, this latest brace lifting him above the iconic Ferenc Puskas up to sixth on Madrid's list of all-time LaLiga scorers.

He also scored a double against Eibar in April and has been directly involved in nine goals in his nine LaLiga games against them.

Orellana struggles to make an impact

Fabian Orellana has been directly involved in five of Eibar's last six goals in LaLiga, but he failed to register a shot of any note prior to being replaced 25 minutes from time.

What's next?

Madrid's first match back after the international break is a home meeting with Real Sociedad on November 23, while Eibar host Deportivo Alaves the following day.

Karim Benzema's brace against Eibar lifted him to sixth on Real Madrid's all-time LaLiga goals list, surpassing the great Ferenc Puskas.

The 31-year-old striker, who coach Zinedine Zidane championed for an unlikely France recall this week, netted the opener after 17 minutes and soon had a second from the penalty spot.

Benzema moved onto 157 league goals for Madrid, nudging ahead of Puskas, although he remains a long way short of Cristiano Ronaldo's incredible club record of 311.

The former Lyon star overtook another Madrid great in terms of Champions League/European Cup goals on Wednesday.

Benzema scored twice against Galatasaray in a 6-0 thrashing to move onto 50 in the competition, ahead of Alfredo Di Stefano's 49.

Ronaldo boasts the Madrid record in the Champions League, too, having netted 105 times for the club.

Zinedine Zidane raised the issue of Karim Benzema's continued absence from the France team again on Friday ahead of Real Madrid's trip to Eibar.

Benzema has been one of Europe's outstanding strikers during a 10-year Madrid career, yet he has not represented his country since 2015.

The Madrid frontman has not featured at international level since he was allegedly involved in a plot to blackmail his then-France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena.

Zidane claims Benzema still wants to represent France, though, and believes his player to be "the best" and worthy of a call-up.

"He's always wanted to play for the French side," Zidane told a news conference. "To be honest, I don't know exactly what's going on.

"But from a football point of view, he's the best. I think he should definitely have a place in the French national team. It's beyond my role here, but he should definitely be called up."

Benzema scored his 50th Champions League goal for Madrid in midweek, surpassing the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano on the club's all-time list in the process.

Karim Benzema insisted he was "no legend" after reaching 50 Champions League goals for Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Benzema struck a brace in a 6-0 thrashing of Galatasaray as Rodrygo Goes stole the show with a hat-trick at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Often criticised, Benzema is behind only Cristiano Ronaldo (105) and Raul (66) for most Champions League goals for Madrid.

The Frenchman overtook Alfredo Di Stefano (49) but played down any talk he was a Madrid legend.

"We scored goals, played well and did not concede. It was a real party with the fans," Benzema said, via the club's website.

"I am no legend. When I signed for the club I never thought I'd get to this point and I am so happy.

"I try to help the team and be at my best, I want to continue to help. I feel very confident, if I can help my team-mates by talking to them out there, then I will, that is down to my experience in this club."

Rodrygo was the star with his hat-trick, while Sergio Ramos also netted a penalty in Madrid's resounding victory.

Benzema talked up Rodrygo and Eden Hazard, backing the latter to improve after his move from Chelsea in the close season.

"Rodrygo looked very good to me, he's not afraid. He plays the ball and I love it when I see a young man playing like that," he said.

"As for Hazard, he's a great player and our connection is very good. Little by little you'll see what a great player he is."

Cristiano Ronaldo is chasing another slice of history when Juventus travel to Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Tottenham, meanwhile, will hope Harry Kane can continue his wonderful form in the competition against Red Star Belgrade, while Manchester City take on Atalanta at San Siro.

Elsewhere, Kylian Mbappe will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing Club Brugge again after he plundered a hat-trick against them two weeks ago.

Here is the pick of the key Opta facts for Wednesday's eight matches.

 

Paris Saint-Germain v Club Brugge

4 - PSG forward Mbappe scored a hat-trick as a substitute against Brugge on matchday three, becoming only the fourth player to achieve the feat in the Champions League. In three games against Belgian opposition, Mbappe averages a goal or assist every 28 minutes.

2 - Emmanuel Dennis scored both of Brugge's goals in their previous Champions League away game against Real Madrid. No player has ever found the net in consecutive matches on the road for the Belgian side in the competition.

Real Madrid v Galatasaray

50 - Karim Benzema is just two Champions League goals short of his 50th for Madrid, with only Lionel Messi (113 for Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (105 for Madrid) and Raul (66 for Madrid) reaching the milestone for a single side. However, Benzema is without a goal in his past four matches in the competition, despite attempting 16 shots across those games.

5 - Galatasaray have failed to score in their past five away Champions League matches, despite attempting 45 shots in that timeframe. The last team to fail to score in six away games in a row were Schalke in November 2010.

Bayern Munich v Olympiacos

13 - Bayern have scored 13 goals after just three Champions League games this season. The only team with more after three games are Arsenal in 2010-11 (14 goals).

10 - Olympiacos have managed just 10 shots on target across their opening three Champions League matches this term – one fewer than Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski has attempted.

Red Star Belgrade v Tottenham

6 - Red Star's Marko Marin made six chances in their 5-0 defeat against Spurs on matchday three. No player has created more in the Champions League this season (13, level with Toni Kroos).

18 - Spurs striker Kane has scored 18 goals in just 22 Champions League appearances, including four in three appearances this season. In the history of the competition, the fewest number of matches needed to reach 20 goals is 26, set by Alessandro Del Piero in April 1998.

Atalanta v Manchester City

11 - Atalanta have conceded more Champions League goals than any other team this season (11). Only two teams have conceded more in their first three Champions League games – Slavia Prague (12) and Helsingborgs (13).

5 - Sergio Aguero has found the net in each of his past five away Champions League group stage matches for City (five goals), a run stretching back to September 2017.

Dinamo Zagreb v Shakhtar Donetsk

45 - Dinamo's Mislav Orsic is averaging a goal or assist every 45 minutes in the Champions League this season, scoring four and assisting one in just 227 minutes of action. Should Orsic notch in this game, he would have reached five goals in just four appearances, with only Erling Haaland and Didier Drogba having done so in fewer games (three).

22 - Shakhtar goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov has not kept a clean sheet in any of his past 22 Champions League starts. The last goalkeeper to go on a longer such run in the competition was Igor Akinfeev (43) between November 2006 and October 2017.

Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid

3 - Leverkusen are one of two clubs to lose their three Champions League games this season, along with Atalanta. They are the first German side to lose their opening three group stage matches since Stuttgart in 2007-08.

3 - Atletico have won three Champions League games against Bayer Leverkusen; they have only won more against PSV (four).

Lokomotiv Moscow v Juventus

9 - Lokomotiv striker Eder has been on the losing side in his each of his past nine Champions League starts, dating back to October 2012 for Braga. The last player to lose on 10 consecutive starts in the competition was Junior Fernandes (11) for Dinamo Zagreb, a run that ended in December 2016.

33 - Ronaldo had eight shots without scoring in Juve's 2-1 win over Lokomotiv on matchday three. Should he score in this match, he would break the record for opponents scored against in the Champions League, with Ronaldo currently level on 33 with Raul and Messi.

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane commended an inspirational display from Karim Benzema in Wednesday's 5-0 thrashing of Leganes, highlighting how the forward offers much more than just goals.

Benzema has enjoyed a fine start to the season, picking up where he left off last term and he took his tally to seven in LaLiga against Leganes.

But that goal – a second-half penalty – was only part of the story, as the Frenchman set up Rodrygo Goes and then Toni Kroos in the first eight minutes.

As such, he moved on to 10 goal involvements for the season, more than any other player in LaLiga and Zidane was unsurprisingly delighted.

"Karim as always, doesn't change much," Zidane told reporters. "It's important that he scores because he needs that as the number nine of Madrid.

"But he contributes much more than goals and does better for others. I am happy with his performance."

Luka Jovic rounded off the scoring late on with his first goal for the club in 10 matches, heading in from Dani Carvajal's cross.

Zidane was pleased for him after a difficult start to life at the Santiago Bernabeu, while he also applauded Rodrygo's improvement.

"The truth is I am happy for both of them," Zidane added. "Rodrygo has personality and is getting better in the team.

"And Luka is happy because he needed that [goal] and, although he does not play much, it's important [to make an impact] when he has minutes replacing Karim."

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