Diego Godin compared in-demand Inter team-mate Lautaro Martinez to Luis Suarez and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero amid links to Barcelona.

Martinez has reportedly emerged as Barca's top transfer target, with the LaLiga champions keen to sign a long-term replacement for veteran forward Suarez.

Barca's LaLiga rivals Madrid are also reportedly interested, while Premier League giants Manchester United and Manchester City have both been linked.

Inter defender Godin heaped praise on 22-year-old Argentina international Martinez, who had scored 16 goals across all competitions before Serie A was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Lautaro is similar to Luis and Sergio Aguero," the Uruguayan centre-back told ESPN.

"He's learning to play using his whole body, with his back to the ball. He's a football player.

"His confidence has a high ceiling and he's maturing with every match. You can spot things in him that tell you he'll be around for 10 or 15 years."

Martinez swapped Racing Club for Inter in 2018 and he has quickly established himself as one of the most sought-after forwards in European football.

He has scored 25 goals in total since joining Inter from Racing Club in Argentina.

Independiente head coach Lucas Pusineri hopes Manchester City star Sergio Aguero one day returns to the club.

Aguero came through the youth ranks at Independiente before joining Atletico Madrid in 2006 and moving to City five years later.

His former Independiente team-mate, Pusineri, is now in charge of the Argentine club and wants Aguero – and Milan midfielder Lucas Biglia – to return.

"With Sergio Aguero and Lucas Biglia I have a beautiful relationship," he told InfiernoRojo on Tuesday.

"We were partners and I have a lot of respect for the trajectories they have taken with Argentina and in Europe as well."

Pusineri added: "Of course it would be nice to have them tomorrow. In the future, it is hopeful to count on them."

Aguero has said previously he wants to return to Independiente, although his contract at City runs until 2021.

He scored 23 goals in 30 games before this season was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk labelled Barcelona great Lionel Messi his toughest opponent.

Van Dijk and Messi went head-to-head last season, when Liverpool produced an incredible second-leg comeback to beat Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals.

The Netherlands international paid tribute to Messi, a record six-time Ballon d'Or winner who is regarded as one of the greatest players of all-time.

"There are some difficult strikers out there, but probably Leo Messi," Van Dijk wrote on Twitter when asked who his toughest opponent was.

However, Van Dijk also credited Sergio Aguero, having faced the Manchester City forward regularly in recent seasons.

Asked who the hardest player to mark was, the defender replied: "Aguero."

Van Dijk said he was "feeling fine" and would be ready to go when the Premier League season, which is suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, resumes.

Liverpool held a 25-point lead atop the table when the season was stopped.

The resumption of football in Europe's top five leagues still appears some way off due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving players with plenty of time to analyse their performances this season.

Using Opta data, we have already examined some of the worst attacking and passing numbers from 2019-20, so now it's the turn of the defence.

We have analysed nine metrics for defenders to have featured in at least 10 league games this season, thereby giving us a good summary of those whose defending could use some improvement.

The metrics include success rates in duels, tackling and aerial challenges, errors leading to shots and goals and how many times a player has been dribbled past by an opponent.

As always when it comes to data, context is key. For success rates in duels, tackling and aerial challenges we have only included players who have completed 20 actions in each category, which accounts to two per game.

The below therefore provides a good indication on where improvement is needed, and there are a few surprising names…

 

THE WORST DEFENDING STATS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

BUNDESLIGA:

Most tackles lost: William (29)
Worst tackle success: Alexander Hack (40.91 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Robin Koch (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Robin Koch (3)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: William (32)
Most duels lost: Stefan Lainer (125)
Worst duel success: Julian Ryerson (35 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Robin Koch and Sven Bender (56)
Worst aerial success: Christian Gunter (22.86 per cent)

LALIGA:

Most tackles lost: Pervis Estupinan (34)
Worst tackle success: Nacho Monreal (40 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Joseph Aidoo and Sergio Ramos (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Pervis Estupinan (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Marc Cucurella (35)
Most duels lost: Marc Cucurella (167)
Worst duel success: Daniel Carrico (40.3 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Didac Vila (55)
Worst aerial success: Xavi Quintilla (25.71 per cent)

LIGUE 1:

Most tackles lost: Boubacar Kamara (33)
Worst tackle success: Lionel Carole (34.78 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Sofiane Alakouch, Timothee Kolodziejczak and Stefan Mitrovic (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Wesley Fofana, Alexander Djiku and Malang Sarr (4)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Arturo Calabresi (42)
Most duels lost: Issiaga Sylla (161)
Worst duel success: Colin Dagba (40 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Pablo Martinez (59)
Worst aerial success: Hamza Mendyl (17.39 per cent)

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Most tackles lost: Ricardo Pereira (50)
Worst tackle success: Calum Chambers (38.46 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Jan Bednarek (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Jan Bednarek, Tyrone Mings, John Egan, Davinson Sanchez and James Tarkowski (4)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Ricardo Pereira (53)
Most duels lost: Ricardo Pereira (215)
Worst duel success: Benjamin Mendy (37.38 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Ben Mee (84)
Worst aerial success: Max Aarons (26.09 per cent)

SERIE A:

Most tackles lost: Matteo Darmian (32)
Worst tackle success: Andrea Cistana (40 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Jhon Chancellor, Fabio Lucioni, Jose Luis Palomino, Alex Sandro (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Fabio Lucioni (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Stefano Sabelli (40)
Most duels lost: Giovanni Di Lorenzo (126)
Worst duel success: Hans Hateboer (40.63 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Mattia Bani (57)
Worst aerial success: Jeremy Toljan (28.00 per cent)

AND THE TOP NINE:

Most tackles lost: Ricardo Pereira (50)
Worst tackle success: Lionel Carole (34.78 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Robin Koch and Jan Bednarek (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Pervis Estupinan and Fabio Lucioni (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Ricardo Pereira (53)
Most duels lost: Ricardo Pereira (215)
Worst duel success: Julian Ryerson (35 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Ben Mee (84)
Worst aerial success: Hamza Mendyl (17.39 per cent)

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan admitted he is "okay" with handing Liverpool the Premier League title following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Reds are 25 points clear at the top of the table but uncertainty over when the 2019-20 season will resume is leading some to suggest it may not be finished at all.

City clinched back-to-back titles in the previous two seasons, but Gundogan - who won the Bundesliga under Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp during their time together at Borussia Dortmund - would have no issue in conceding the crown to their rivals this season.

He told German broadcaster ZDF: "It would be okay for me. You have to be sporting."

Asked whether playing out the rest of the season behind closed doors might appeal as an option, Gundogan replied: "Honestly, I can't imagine that - and I don't know how realistic it is."

With the Football Association opting to cancel the season for all clubs below the three National League divisions in non-league football, many of the smaller clubs in England are facing difficulties amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gundogan would be in favour of top players sacrificing their salaries to help those struggling lower down the football pyramid during the crisis, saying: "Of course I would find that okay, of course. The lower league clubs do not have it so easy."

The 29-year-old, who joined City in June 2016, revealed he is finding life difficult during the lockdown.

"You are sometimes afraid to go for a walk for 10 to 15 minutes outside, even though it was oddly and ironically extremely beautiful weather here in Manchester," said Gundogan.

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan admitted he is "okay" with handing Liverpool the Premier League title following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Reds are 25 points clear at the top of the table but uncertainty over when the 2019-20 season will resume is leading some to suggest it may not be finished at all.

City clinched back-to-back titles in the previous two seasons, but Gundogan - who won the Bundesliga under Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp during their time together at Borussia Dortmund - would have no issue in conceding the crown to their rivals this season.

He told German broadcaster ZDF: "It would be okay for me. You have to be sporting."

Asked whether playing out the rest of the season behind closed doors might appeal as an option, Gundogan replied: "Honestly, I can't imagine that - and I don't know how realistic it is."

With the Football Association opting to cancel the season for all clubs below the three National League divisions in non-league football, many of the smaller clubs in England are facing difficulties amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gundogan would be in favour of top players sacrificing their salaries to help those struggling lower down the football pyramid during the crisis, saying: "Of course I would find that okay, of course. The lower league clubs do not have it so easy."

The 29-year-old, who joined City in June 2016, revealed he is finding life difficult during the lockdown.

"You are sometimes afraid to go for a walk for 10 to 15 minutes outside, even though it was oddly and ironically extremely beautiful weather here in Manchester," said Gundogan.

With the Premier League season on hold until April 30 at the earliest, the English top-flight's big names still managed to get their message across on Saturday.

The Premier League, along with the majority of sporting tournaments and events across the globe, is currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Many nations are in total or near-total lockdown, with people only allowed to leave their homes for essential trips and exercise.

Though there is no sport to keep people entertained, some of the biggest names – both players and managers – from the Premier League came together on Saturday at 1500 GMT to spread the message: "stay at home, save lives."

 

Using his official Twitter and Instagram accounts, Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling shared a video.

"We need to stay at home, let's help our NHS by staying home, only leave if you need food, medicine or exercise," Sterling said. "The NHS have been doing a fantastic job so let's help them continue doing their wonderful work."

He was also joined by his City team-mates Aymeric Laporte and Benjamin Mendy, as well as the club's ladies captain Steph Houghton.

Across the city, Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also offered his support to the campaign.

"Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives," the Norwegian said in a video posted to United's Twitter feed.

Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 and, having now recovered, he also shared the message.

"I encourage everybody, please be responsible and stay at home as much as possible," the Spaniard said.

Meanwhile, Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard said: "To help save lives, you must stay home. Only leave home to buy essential food, medicine or for individual exercise and always stay two metres apart. This is an urgent message. Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives."

Premier League leaders Liverpool shared a graphic which read: "Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives."

Tottenham striker and England captain Harry Kane did not share a video, but wrote in a post on Twitter: "Saturday 3pm normally means football. But at the moment it's far more important everyone stays home. Do your bit. Protect the NHS, save lives."

It is easy to lose track of time in these strange days of lockdowns and isolations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Right now it seems an eternity ago, yet it was only a year to the day – March 28, 2019 – that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed as Manchester United's full-time manager.

The Red Devils had won 14 of their 19 games in all competitions during Solskjaer's temporary stint, including a famous Champions League last-16 second-leg comeback at Paris Saint-Germain.

Rio Ferdinand had demanded United hand his fellow club icon a blank contract to sign and the good times were, it seemed, on their way back to Old Trafford.

And yet after all that early promise, it has been a year largely of stagnation. Twelve months of two steps forward, then a couple back. Those early successes seem like halcyon days, although there were encouraging signs prior to the suspension of the Premier League as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Below, we have taken a look at how Solskjaer's United compare to the other "big six" (Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal) over the past 12 months in the Premier League with the help of Opta data.

ONLY HALF AS GOOD AS SIZZLING REDS

If Manchester United knocked Liverpool off their (insert naughty word here) perch, then Jurgen Klopp's Reds have conquered all in front of them in their bid to return to it.

Liverpool's wait for a Premier League title may have been frustratingly held up but over the past year they have accumulated an astonishing 103 points from 36 top-flight matches.

That is 22 more than Manchester City, second in our table for this span, have accumulated.

United are a whopping 50 points adrift of Liverpool's accumulation having played a game more. Indeed, their tally of 53 is only the seventh best and is fewer than Wolves (56) and Crystal Palace (55).

Chelsea have managed 63 and are fourth behind Leicester City (64), but United have amassed more points than both Tottenham (51) and Arsenal (50).

 

LAGGING BEHIND IN WINS AND GOALS

A slight concern for United fans is the fact they have won just 14 of the 37 league games played during Solskjaer's permanent stewardship thus far.

Of the so-called "big six", only Arsenal (12) have triumphed in fewer outings, with Tottenham on the same number and Chelsea (18), City (26) and Liverpool (34) all ahead.

In the same period, only Spurs – now managed by the man Solskjaer replaced, Jose Mourinho – have lost more games, with 14 to United's 12.

The January signing of Bruno Fernandes has gone some way to helping United's creativity void in midfield, though their return of 51 goals is significantly lower than Liverpool (85) and City (84).

Only the Gunners (50) have managed fewer, with Chelsea (64) and Spurs (57) both ahead of Solskjaer's side in this bracket.

It comes as little surprise that United also struggle in terms of shot conversion (9 per cent). Chelsea (10 per cent), Spurs, City, Arsenal (all 12 per cent) and Liverpool (15 per cent) all perform better.

It is not necessarily for a lack of efforts, either. United have registered more shots (544) and shots on target (203) than both Arsenal (411 and 141) and Spurs (486 and 169).

 

FEWER CLEAN SHEETS THAN A HOTEL LAUNDRY ROOM

Defensively, United stand up reasonably well against their five major rivals. They have conceded fewer goals (44) than each of Arsenal (48), Spurs (47) and Chelsea (45). Liverpool (25) and City (33), unsurprisingly, lead in that department too.

But United have not been able to keep too many clean sheets. Indeed, they have denied opposition sides from scoring on just eight occasions. Only Tottenham - with seven - have a worse record.

United have faced 142 shots on target, which is less than Spurs (180) and Arsenal (185).

Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge insists a swap deal involving David Alaba and Leroy Sane has "nothing to do with reality".

The futures of both Bayern utility man Alaba and Manchester City winger Sane remain unclear as the two are on deals that run out in 2021.

The noise surrounding Austria international Alaba, 27, has only intensified since he reportedly hired a new agent, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Chelsea all mooted as possible destinations.

Sane, who is yet to play in the Premier League this season due to a knee injury, is a long-time target for Bayern and the Bundesliga leaders could reignite their interest once the transfer window reopens, though a simple swap deal involving Alaba has been dismissed by Rummenigge.

"As I've heard, rumours are circulating that we would like to hand David Alaba over to Manchester City in exchange for Leroy Sane," he told TZ.

"In addition, I say very clearly: This is Grimm's Fairy Tale and has nothing to do with reality."

On the suggestion a swap had been proposed by Alaba's agent, Rummenigge added: "I would like to say very clearly that this is not an option for Bayern at all, we are not in the bazaar."

Alaba is one of a host of long-serving players whose current deal with Bayern expires after next season.

Manuel Neuer, Thiago Alcantara and Thomas Muller, all of whom had been in fine form before the Bundesliga campaign was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, are also coming to the end of their contracts.

"I would like to emphasise that we are currently only talking to players whose contracts expire in 2021," Rummenigge said.

"So, with Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller, Thiago, David Alaba et cetera. They all have great merits for FC Bayern, that has to be taken into account."

There could be a number of goalkeeping changes around Europe.

With Kepa Arrizabalaga's future uncertain at Chelsea, Manuel Neuer is reportedly an option for Frank Lampard's side.

Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen has also been linked with a move away from Camp Nou.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA TARGET NEUER

Chelsea are interested in signing Bayern Munich captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, according to Sport Bild.

Lampard's Chelsea are reportedly looking to move on from Kepa – the world's most expensive goalkeeper after leaving Athletic Bilbao in 2018.

Neuer is on Chelsea's radar, with the Germany star yet to agree a new deal at Bayern, who have been linked to fellow German and Barcelona keeper Ter Stegen.

ROUND-UP

Leonardo Bonucci to Manchester City? Calciomercato claims Pep Guardiola is "obsessed" with Bonucci and wants to bring the Juventus defender to the Etihad Stadium at the end of the season. Juve, however, are unwilling to sell the Italy international.

- The Mirror claims Barcelona are tracking Tottenham midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. The Frenchman became Tottenham's club-record signing ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, but he has struggled in London amid criticism from head coach Jose Mourinho. Spurs have been linked to RB Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer.

- Bayern star David Alaba is likely to leave the Bundesliga champions at the end of the season, reports Sky Sport Germany. It comes as reports link the Austria international to Barca and Real Madrid. Meanwhile, The Sun claims City are set to be offered Alaba and cash for Leroy Sane.

Inter are considering a move to sign Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen as a free agent at season's end, says Calciomercato. The Nerazzurri are also unwilling to keep Alexis Sanchez, who is on loan from Manchester United.

Mauro Icardi has turned down a transfer to LaLiga in order to push for a move to Juventus, according to Elgoldigital. Icardi is on loan at Paris Saint-Germain from Inter.

- Calciomercato says United and Tottenham have made offers for Inter centre-back Diego Godin. The reports adds United are looking to sign both Godin and Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly.

'Next Generation' is a series focusing on the young players tipped to establish themselves as the elite in the 2020s.

When Ferran Torres scored the fourth and final goal of Valencia's 4-1 Champions League win over Lille in November, he further enhanced his burgeoning reputation and announced himself to another mass of admirers.

While the goal mattered little in the grand scheme of the match, and it wasn't a contest that was likely to draw in all of the indecisive neutrals on that night, it gave him his own slice of history, becoming the first player born in 2000 to net a Champions League goal for a Spanish club.

His cool top-corner finish after an incisive run into the box will have been met with nods of approval from those being alerted to Ferran, but his talent was no secret at that point.

A skilful and direct winger capable of playing on either flank, Ferran appears destined to terrify full-backs across European football in the 2020s.

THE EXPLOSION

Despite only being 20, this is Ferran's third season in the Valencia first-team squad and he already has 62 LaLiga appearances to his name – 20 of which have been as a starter this term.

He had only played 12 times for Valencia's B team in the third tier before Marcelino Garcia Toral promoted him permanently to the senior side in December 2017, his LaLiga debut as the fifth-youngest player in the club's history a rare ray of sunlight as he came off the bench in the rain during a 2-1 defeat at Eibar.

"All of us within the club were sure that we were looking at a very high-level footballer," Marcelino told Panenka magazine earlier this month. "It was only a matter of time before he exploded, because it was clear this player had to play. He still has a significant margin for improvement, but along with [Martin] Odegaard, for me, he is one of the revelations of the season."

Ferran's form for the Spain Under-19s in July further highlighted his potential, scoring the both goals in the 2-0 final win over Portugal and earning himself a spot in the Team of the Tournament.

He has since established himself in Valencia's starting XI, taking full advantage of Goncalo Guedes' injury absence – but with great exposure comes a greater worry for Los Che.

TEEING UP A FRENZY

Ferran and his sister Arantxa have a tattoo in common. "An anchor. It was a reminder for us not to let ourselves be sunk by anything or anyone," she told OTRO last year.

Perhaps that should serve as a portentous warning to Valencia at this time, with Ferran's future becoming more uncertain by the week and his contract due to expire in 2021.

While that agreement is reported to contain a €100million release clause, Valencia would rue holding out for such a figure at this point, as to do so will surely see him ultimately leave on a free transfer next year.

Local sports paper Super Deporte remain optimistic, some might say naively so. His silence in replying to an offer "should not necessarily be interpreted as a no forever", they wrote this month, suggesting they are trying to convince themselves as much as anyone else. Strong reports elsewhere suggest he plans to depart.

If Ferran enters the final 12 months of his contract, a transfer frenzy is bound to occur, with Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Barcelona, Liverpool and Manchester City all said to be keen admirers. 

The fact of the matter is, Valencia are running out of time. 

NOT THE FINISHED ARTICLE

There's no doubting Ferran's ability to excite – after all, only five midfielders in LaLiga have attempted more dribbles this season than his 92. But he certainly hasn't hit his ceiling.

Ferran has many areas in which he can improve, particularly with respect to increasing his chance creation frequency. 

Although his record of 21 opportunities crafted this term is by no means terrible, he is way behind Jose Campana (58), Lionel Messi (55) and Odegaard (54) leading the way in LaLiga.

His dribble map suggests a potential reason for this, as it shows that on many occasions he attempts to carry the ball, he is not in the final third of the pitch.

The greater awareness he requires should come with experience. It would be a bigger problem if he was struggling to ever find dangerous positions.

But he has touched the ball more times (51) in the opposing area than any of his midfield team-mates this term.

And while eight goal involvements (four goals, four assists) may not sound remarkable, that's only one fewer than Odegaard – a standout performer for many this term – and no one with more than eight is younger than Ferran.

Lionel Messi has been thanked by a Barcelona hospital after making a donation to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 has caused havoc across the globe and subsequently brought the sporting world to a standstill, with more than 418,000 confirmed cases.

With sports largely unable to continue, many clubs and leagues are making decisions to safeguard their financial solvency, with lay-offs and salary deductions becoming more common.

But some high-profile individuals are sacrificing their own money to help the cause, with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola confirmed to have donated €1million to the Angel Soler Daniel Foundation.

Messi – a six-time Ballon d'Or winner – has made a contribution of his own to the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona.

A Tweet from the clinic on Tuesday read: "Leo Messi made a donation to fight against COVID-19 in the clinic.

"Thank you very much, Leo, for your support and your commitment."

Spain is the second worst-affected European nation with almost 40,000 people diagnosed with the virus, including over 2,800 deaths.

Pep Guardiola has made a €1million donation to aid in the fight against coronavirus.

The Manchester City manager made the sizeable contribution to the Angel Soler Daniel Foundation, which will invest it in medical equipment.

Guardiola is at home in Barcelona amid the COVID-19 outbreak and the foundation to which he made the pledge is focused on tackling the virus in the region.

The organisation's fundraising efforts started on March 21 and prior to Guardiola's gesture had raised €33,000.

A statement read: "Former football player and former FC Barcelona coach and current Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has made a donation of one million euros to the Angel Soler Daniel Foundation for the purchase and supply of medical equipment in the face of a health emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The donation campaign promoted by the Colegio de Doctors de Barcelona and managed through the Angel Soler Daniel Foundation aims to collect medical material and financial contributions from collegiate doctors and the general population for the purchase of medical equipment and equipment that is currently lacking in health centers in Catalonia.

"Also to be able to finance the alternative production (through 3D printing and others) of respirators and other elements of protection for healthcare staff."

Guardiola's decision to offer financial support follows in the footsteps of others across the world of sport.

The Germany national team donated €2.5m and Milan gave €250,000, while Bayern Munich players Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich set up a fund called 'We Kick Corona', chipping in a combined €1m.

 

Manchester City may hold a 2-1 advantage but Fabio Capello believes there will be no favourite when Real Madrid eventually travel to the Etihad Stadium for the second leg of their Champions League tie.

City have the upper hand in the last-16 clash after their impressive come-from-behind victory at the Santiago Bernabeu in February.

The two clubs were meant to meet again in the return fixture in Manchester on March 17, yet the coronavirus outbreak has led to a suspension of the European season.

UEFA announced earlier this month it remains committed to completing the calendar by the end of June, though only if the "situation should improve" on the continent.

In an interview with AS, former Madrid boss Capello claimed the delay may actually aid his old club, even though they have a deficit to overcome on their travels.

"For me, it changes everything," Capello said. "With this break there is no favourite. 

"We do not know, if it is played, how the teams will be at that point. There are no favourites, no one knows."

Vinicius Junior set up Isco to open the scoring for Madrid in the previous meeting with City, the former one of a number younger players given opportunities this season under Zinedine Zidane.

Rodrygo has also contributed in Europe during the campaign, including the teenager scoring a hat-trick in a 6-0 home win over Galatasary in the group stage.

Capello hopes Madrid will manage the two Brazilians – as well as their other rising stars – carefully, something he attempted to do during his second spell in charge of the LaLiga giants.

"We're waiting for them to explode," the Italian said of the current crop coming through.

"In my second spell at Madrid, we signed Marcelo, [Fernando] Gago and [Gonzalo] Higuain. In December, the president came to me and said, 'Why don't you put them on, Fabio?'.

"'Because they are kids', I told him, 'and you have to wait a while. They are the future, they can make history later'.

"The only one of them who did little was Gago, while the other two did their part. They needed experience and character.

"You have to sign young people and then use them little by little, taking care of them. You cannot give them the responsibility now."

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