Barcelona president Joan Laporta is "convinced" the LaLiga giants will reach the Champions League last 16 by beating Bayern Munich next month.

Barca's Champions League hopes hang in the balance following Tuesday's goalless draw at home to Benfica.

Xavi's Barca remain second in Group E and two points ahead of their Portuguese counterparts but face runaway leaders Bayern in two weeks' time with their fate yet to be decided.

Barca last failed to advance beyond the group stage in 2000-01, when they finished behind Milan and Leeds United.

However, Laporta is confident Barca can seal progress to the knockout phase heading into the December 8 showdown in Munich.

"Beating Bayern is something that can be achieved," Laporta said to Diario AS, with Barca looking to bounce back from the 3-0 defeat in the reverse fixture.

"There is going to be a miracle, I am convinced that we are going to win.

"Xavi is very motivated and very strong. I hope everything goes well for us.

"I think that at the moment Xavi's arrival has generated a little respect from our opponents. They know we can do it again."

The stalemate against Benfica was Barca's 133rd home game in the Champions League, and just the eighth to end as a goalless draw.

Xavi became the 13th consecutive head coach to avoid defeat in his first Champions League game in charge of Barcelona (W11 D2), with Louis van Gaal in 1997-98 being the last to lose his first game (3-2 against Newcastle United).

Barca have only scored two goals in five Champions League games this season; only Malmo (0.2), Dynamo Kyiv (0.2) and Shakhtar Donetsk (0.25) have a lower goals-per-game ratio than the Catalan side (0.4) in the competition this term.

Head coach Simone Inzaghi warned Inter not to rest on their laurels after continuing their impressive form with victory over Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Nerazzurri moved to the brink of qualification for the Champions League last 16 as Edin Dzeko scored both goals in a 2-0 win at San Siro.

After making it two wins from two following the hard-earned 3-2 victory over Napoli on Sunday, the reigning Serie A champions are now unbeaten in their last eight matches in all competitions.

And Inzaghi urged his players to ensure they continue their momentum.

"We needed this victory," he said. "We had created a lot in the first half and a bit of tension had built up, so Dzeko's first goal was a release. 

"Qualifying for the knockout stage would be a great achievement.

"I think that we played a great game and let's not forget that we are just over 48 hours away from a match [against Venezia on Saturday] like the one with Napoli in which we have spent a lot of energy, including mental energy. 

"We are in a good moment, but we must continue on this path."

Dzeko's brace secured the points on Wednesday, the striker netting his 50th European goal along the way.

Inter previously had two goals disallowed with Ivan Perisic and Lautaro Martinez denied, but Dzeko believes the hosts were rewarded for their patience and perseverance.

"Inter signed me to score goals and I'm trying to make my contribution," the former Manchester City forward added.

"In the first half, we made a lot of mistakes, but their goalkeeper was also good. 

"We earned three crucial points.

"The ball did not want to go in in the first half, but also the second half seemed cursed with the goals disallowed.

"You have to be patient, without conceding a goal, and then in the second half, we finally managed to score two."

Edin Dzeko scored his 50th European goal as Inter took a huge stride towards the Champions League knockout stages with a 2-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

The former Manchester City striker netted a brace at San Siro as the Nerazzurri moved to the brink of the last 16.

Dzeko opened the scoring with a clinical finish in the 61st minute, before sealing the win six minutes later with a close-range header.

Simone Inzaghi's side move to the summit of Group D and will secure a top-two finish if Real Madrid beat Sheriff Tiraspol later on Wednesday.

Inter asked Shakhtar plenty of questions during the first half with 14 shots on goal.

The visitors had Anatolii Trubin to thank as the goalkeeper made strong blocks to deny Lautaro Martinez and Dzeko, while Andrea Ranocchia headed a decent opportunity wide from a corner.

Inter thought they had taken the lead when Ivan Perisic drilled home in the 24th minute, but the effort was ruled out after Hakan Calhanoglu strayed offside.

Chances for Shakhtar were few and far between at the other end, although Samir Handanovic was called into action to deny Fernando following a strong run.

Inter had the ball in the net again 12 minutes after the restart, Martinez volleying past Trubin, only for his strike to be ruled out for a push.

But there was no denying the hosts four minutes later as Dzeko fired home from just inside the box after Matteo Darmian's initial effort ricocheted kindly into his path.

The Bosnia-Herzegovina international doubled his tally within six minutes, popping up at the far post to head home Perisic's inviting cross and secure the points.

Xavi has issued a rallying cry to Barcelona as their Champions League hopes hang in the balance following Tuesday's 0-0 draw with Benfica.

The Blaugrana missed the opportunity to seal their progress to the knockout stages of the competition, despite a dominant performance at Camp Nou.

Although Xavi became the 13th consecutive manager to avoid defeat in his first Champions League game in charge of Barca, his side were unable to break down a stubborn Benfica.

The goalless stalemate was only the eighth that Barcelona have recorded in 133 home matches in this competition, while they have mustered just two goals from their opening five games.

They remain second in Group E and two points ahead of their Portuguese counterparts, but face runaway leaders Bayern Munich in two weeks' time with their fate yet to be decided.

Xavi insists his side will travel to Germany with a positive mentality.

"We were far superior to Benfica. If we had scored, we would be talking about a good match," the Barca head coach said.

"We take a point that means very little. We have one day left, and we have to go to Germany to win.

"We have one goal in two games [since I took over] and we have scored it from a penalty. It is clear that we have to be more effective.

"You have to go to Munich to win; we are Barca."

Barca did have the ball in the net through Ronald Araujo in the 83rd minute, but the defender's volley was ruled out for offside.

The Uruguay international was pleased with the mentality demonstrated by the hosts, but admitted the result left a bitter taste in his mouth.

"We missed the goal, which was the golden key to qualify," Araujo said. "The attitude was very good, but they were very tight in defence.

"There is a bitter taste because we wanted to win the three points here, in front of our people, but we have to win now in Munich."

Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior must learn a has the humility to improve after making an impressive start to the season, according to head coach Carlo Ancelotti.

The 21-year-old has played an instrumental role in Madrid's surge to the top of the LaLiga table after their opening 13 games.

Only team-mate Karim Benzema (10) has scored more times in the Spanish top flight than Vinicius, whose tally of eight is as many as he managed in the previous three seasons combined.

The forward has attempted (89) and completed (41) more dribbles than any other player, while only Young Boys' Moumi Ngamaleu (42) has attempted more in the Champions League.

 

The Brazil international has also registered three assists in Europe's premier club competition; a tally only bettered by Bruno Fernandes and Ajax's Antony.

Nevertheless, Ancelotti insists that Vinicius can get even better.

"Because of the way he plays, [he] is the most unbalanced there is in football, there are not many players who do these things at the moment," he said.

"He has to improve because one-on-one is important in football, but it is not the most important thing. 

"But he has the humility to improve and not be happy about what he's doing; he wants to learn and he has to learn. 

"His head is fine – he doesn't have the head of someone who has won everything; he has the head of a young man who thinks he has to improve."

 

Ancelotti also played down suggestions of a fall-out between himself and Isco.

The Spain international abandoned his warm-up during Sunday's 4-1 win over Granada after being told he would be introduced at a later point in the game.

"I don't have to talk to Isco, I'm very fond of him and it's not much of a problem," Ancelotti added.

"He tells me that he had already warmed up, he was ready to go in and he has entered. 

"Isco is professional, serious, and angry because he doesn't play, but he has never disrespected me and I have never disrespected him. And he will never disrespect me, and I will never disrespect him. 

"We have a relationship that is not only professional; we have spent a lot of time together, we respect each other to the fullest."

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti says Vinicius Junior is brimming with confidence following his wonderful individual goal in their thrashing of Shakhtar Donetsk.

The 13-time European champions romped to a commanding 5-0 victory in Kiev, their biggest away win in the Champions League since beating Viktoria Plzen by the same scoreline in November 2018.

Vinicius was on target twice, his second goal in the 56th minute the highlight of a dazzling performance.

Just five minutes after doubling his side’s lead, the winger beat several defenders with a jinking run from the left, before firing past Shakhtar keeper Anatolii Trubin.

Ancelotti saluted the Brazil international, who now has seven goals in all competitions this season, his highest tally during a single campaign for Los Blancos.

But the head coach insisted the highest praise should be reserved for the entire team as they bounced back from successive defeats, and warmed up nicely ahead of Sunday's Clasico showdown with Barcelona.

"My team thrives on incredible ambition, which is why we've produced the perfect match," Ancelotti said to reporters post-match.

"After our recent results, it was vital to react and we've done it well. We did what we promised to. 

"Vinicius finished very well indeed, but it was a team effort to produce the goals. 

"He's a young guy, a great player in the making, learning and right now, he's brimming with confidence. But the special praise I'll give is to the entire team." 

As well as his two goals, Vinicius teed up international compatriot Rodrygo's goal as the former recorded a goal and an assist for the first time in 24 Champions League appearances.

The 21-year-old is pleased with the strides he is making, while he also expressed his gratitude for the faith shown in him by Ancelotti.

"I'm still 21, there's lots of time for me to grow into a great player," Vinicius commented after the full-time whistle.

"But I'm working hard so that even if sometimes things don't come off for me, other moments will. I've scored seven times this season – better than the last season – and that's important.

"I love playing in pressure matches, that's natural to me. But the trust and confidence this coach has shown in me is important, too."

Marco Rose believes Erling Haaland deserves his Ballon D'Or nomination, with the Borussia Dortmund head coach insisting he would vote for the "extraordinary" star.

Haaland is among the 2021 Ballon d'Or nominees following his exploits for Bundesliga side Dortmund.

The in-demand 21-year-old forward scored 41 goals in as many appearances over 2020-21 – including 27 from 28 in the Bundesliga as he was named the league's player of the season.

Haaland – linked with the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona – has 24 goals for Dortmund in just 25 games across this calendar year.

As Dortmund prepare for Tuesday's Champions League fixture against Eredivisie giants Ajax, Rose hailed the Norway international.

"When Jule [Julian Brandt] says that he was better at headers," Rose told reporters. "Then you know exactly which huge step he [Haaland] has made forward in the last months but yes, it’s for sure something where he has made a great development.

"We are a little bit biased because Erling is our player and we always support our players. What he does is extraordinary. He is nominated and deserves it... If you see his experienced competitors who have more years of experience already then it’s just beautiful to have such a young player at this level.

"I think that Erling can win great individual titles in the next [few] years when he stays healthy but the beautiful thing about him is that he cares more about the team titles. That's the most important [aspect]. But if I could take a vote [in the Ballon D'Or], I would vote for Erling."

Haaland has scored nine goals in nine away Champions League appearances so far – a goal in this game will see him become the fastest player to score 10 away goals in the competition, breaking the record of 12 games set by Mario Gomez in February 2011 and Kylian Mbappe in February 2019.

Dortmund have won their last two major European matches in the Netherlands, winning 3-1 against PSV in October 2002 and 4-1 against Ajax in November 2012, both in the Champions League. Their last defeat on Dutch soil was in the 2002 UEFA Cup final, a 3-2 defeat in Rotterdam against Feyenoord under Matthias Sammer.

Meanwhile, Dortmund have won four of their last five away Champions League matches (L1) – more than they had in their previous 15 on the road (W3 D2 L10).

Mauricio Pochettino admitted he is lost for words when it comes to describing Lionel Messi but said the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has settled in quickly at Paris Saint-Germain ahead of his Champions League debut for the club.

PSG signed Messi in August when financial issues left Barcelona unable to retain him, and he played 24 minutes of his new club's Ligue 1 victory over Reims before the international break.

Messi, who won the Champions League four times with Barcelona, is set to make his bow in the competition for PSG against Club Brugge on Wednesday, and Pochettino told UEFA.com that he is preparing well.

When asked to describe his compatriot, Pochettino said: "I may not be the most appropriate person to describe him. There are many more people who have a wider vocabulary to describe him closer to the reality Leo deserves.

"He will always be considered among the best in the world. Since he arrived, he has really adapted very quickly and he's been training very well, trying to achieve his highest level as soon as possible to compete at his best.

"I didn't think it was possible [that he would sign for us], and when an opportunity appears and everything goes so fast, you can't immediately process it. However, there's that connection: we both are Argentinian, we both support Newell's [Old Boys], we both come from Rosario.

"I have also admired him for a long time when facing him as an opponent, so having him now training with us is really nice. We hope that, together, we will be able to achieve what the club desires."

Messi's experience in the Champions League is matched by team-mate Sergio Ramos, who won the competition four times before joining PSG from Real Madrid in July.

Pochettino, who admitted that most of the players in his squad deserve to be in his starting line-up, said Ramos would be able to guide younger colleagues through the pressurised environment of Europe's top competition.

"Sergio is also a player that we think can, given the possibility, convey his experience, his competitiveness," said Pochettino.

"He's a player that has also won everything, just like Leo.

"It's good having him at the club for all that he can share with his team-mates: all that experience he gained at Real Madrid."

Lionel Messi will win the Champions League with Paris Saint-Germain before retiring at Barcelona, according to former team-mate Juan Roman Riquelme.

Messi joined the Ligue 1 giants on a two-year deal last month following the conclusion of his contract with Barca, making his debut as a substitute in their 2-0 victory over Reims.

While PSG have dominated French football over the past decade – winning seven Ligue 1 titles, as well as the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue on six occasions apiece in that time – the Champions League crown has continued to elude them.

Riquelme, who played alongside Messi for club and country, believes his ex-team-mate will provide the missing piece of the jigsaw in PSG's quest for continental glory.

But at the same time, the former midfielder does not think Messi's story at Barcelona is over just yet.

 

"Messi is the best because he likes to play ball," said the Boca Juniors vice-president, who won Olympic gold for Argentina alongside Messi in 2008.

"If PSG don't win the Champions League now with Messi, they don't win it anymore.

"I'm sure Messi is going to win the Champions League with Paris and retire with Barcelona."

Lionel Messi has targeted Champions League glory with Paris Saint-Germain after finalising a "complicated" exit from Barcelona.

The Argentina international's 21-year association with Barca officially ended on Tuesday when joining PSG on a two-year deal with the option of a third.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi looked certain to sign a new long-term deal at Camp Nou, but financial complications at the LaLiga club forced him out of the door.

Less than a week after Barca announced the 34-year-old was to leave, he was unveiled as a PSG player at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.

Reflecting on a whirlwind week, Messi admits it was difficult departing the only club that he has represented in his career to date.

"It's been a very hard moment after so many years," he said at a news conference. "It was a difficult change after so much time. But the moment I arrived here I felt very happy. 

"I'm really enjoying my time in Paris and want to begin training now, starting this new moment in my life.

"The club were really quick with negotiations. It's been a really easy process, even if it was a tricky situation. I want to thank them for sorting out any problems."

 

He added: "Everything that happened to me this week has been very strange. It's been emotional. I can't forget what I lived and experienced at Barcelona.

"But I feel impatient and ready for this new life with my family. I'm very happy. This whole week I've been going through up and downs, but we are processing all of this little by little every day. 

"I was in Barcelona when the press talked about the move. The people in Paris were already outside. It was incredible to see them in the streets. I really want to see them in the city, in the stadium. It will be an incredible year."

Messi departs Barcelona having scored 672 goals and assisted 265 more for the Catalan giants across 778 appearances.

He won 35 trophies at Camp Nou, including four Champions League triumphs.

PSG have never won the competition, coming closest to doing so last year when losing to Bayern Munich in the final, but Messi is hopeful of lifting the famous trophy once again.

"I still want to play and I still want to win, as I did at start of my career," he said of his ambitions with the French giants. "This club it is ready to fight for all the trophies.

"That is my goal. I want to keep growing and winning titles. That's why I came here to this club. I hope we can make it happen."

 

Asked specifically about PSG's Champions League hopes, Messi said: "This team is ready. There are some new transfers, but they have been close and are ready to win it.

"I have just come here to help. My dream is to win this trophy again and I think Paris is the best place to do so.

"It was very complicated to exit Barcelona without knowing where I would go. Barcelona was my home since I was a kid. 

"I knew I'd arrive in a strong team that was aiming to win the Champions League, which I love to win. I know my goals and Paris' goals are the same. 

"It's difficult to win it, you need a strong group. Luck is also a factor. Sometimes the best team in the world does not win. We want to win the Champions League."

Messi may cross paths with Barcelona in UEFA's showpiece competition this coming campaign, potentially giving the superstar forward a chance to sign off at Camp Nou in front of supporters.

"It would be very nice to go back, hopefully with fans," Messi said. "It would be very strange to play at home, there in Barcelona, in another shirt, but it could happen."

The implosion of the European Super League (ESL) over the past 48 hours was more about the breakaway group losing out to the establishment and had little to do with the fans.

Bayern Munich face mounting injury problems ahead of Saturday's showdown with Union Berlin, as Hansi Flick fears Niklas Sule could miss the second leg with Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

Sule, Leon Goretzka, Lucas Hernandez and Marc Roca will all be absent when Bayern return to Bundesliga action at the weekend.

Defender Sule and midfielder Goretzka were both injured in the 3-2 quarter-final first-leg loss to PSG, with the former a major doubt for the return match.

"Leon Goretzka, Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez and Marc Roca will all be unavailable," said head coach Flick.

"Niklas Sule and Leon Goretzka have muscular problems. Leon's problems aren't quite as bad as Niklas'.

"So Niklas will probably miss the second leg versus PSG as well. We need to wait and see how things develop.

"Marc got injured against Leipzig. He started training again but had to stop. Lucas suffered a knock, this is nothing to do with his abdominal muscle injury, but it's painful.

"We're hoping Leon and Lucas will be available in Paris."

Despite Bayern's midweek setback in defence of their Champions League title, Flick's men sit seven points clear at the Bundesliga summit ahead of the visit of seventh-placed Union Berlin.

Union held the German champions to a 1-1 draw in December and Flick expects another tough test from Urs Fischer's side.

"We want to beat Union, but it will be difficult," he said. "We will also be taking workload into consideration however, but three points are our priority.

"I like their mentality and the way they play football. They run a lot and are very dynamic. The coach is doing an outstanding job and I'm looking forward to seeing him again."

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo will look to inflict more Champions League pain on Porto and Borussia Dortmund travel to Sevilla for the first leg in the round of 16 on Wednesday.

Juve advanced from Group G at a canter, winning five of their six games to finish level on points with Barcelona.

The Serie A champions will be expected to knock Porto out, but Andrea Pirlo will be braced for a stern test in the first leg at Estadio do Dragao.

Sevilla do battle with Dortmund at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan a couple of days after it was announced that Borussia Monchengladbach head coach Marco Rose will take over at the Bundesliga club at the end of the season.

We take a look at the best stats on the two ties courtesy of Opta.

Gerard Pique is in contention to face Paris Saint-Germain after being named in the Barcelona matchday squad.

Barca host PSG at Camp Nou on Tuesday as their huge Champions League last-16 tie gets under way.

Pique has not played for almost three months since being replaced in the November 21 defeat to Atletico Madrid in LaLiga.

He suffered a sprain to his right knee and partial damage to his anterior cruciate ligament.

But the defender has been named in a 21-man squad on the morning of the game, from which head coach Ronald Koeman will pick his team.

Barca followed the announcement with an excited tweet declaring Pique "is back".

As well as Pique, forward Martin Braithwaite is included after being medically cleared.

Ronald Araujo is still out, so the potential involvement of Pique alongside Clement Lenglet at centre-back will come as a big boost to Barcelona.

While former Barca star Neymar is ruled out, PSG still boast a host of attacking talent including Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi and in-form Moise Kean.

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