Chelsea star Mason Mount believes it is time for the Blues to win a final at Wembley.

Thomas Tuchel's side recovered from Champions League extra-time heartbreak against Real Madrid by coasting past Crystal Palace to reach a third successive FA Cup final on Sunday.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek struck with 25 minutes remaining as he slammed in his first Chelsea goal since May 2019, while Mount made sure of victory with a second nine minutes later.

The pair became the first English duo to score in a club game at Wembley for the Blues since Peter Houseman and Ian Hutchinson netted in the 1970 FA Cup final against Leeds United.

However, Mount does not have too many fond memories of England's national stadium, where he has lost an EFL Cup and two FA Cup finals, along with the Euro 2020 showpiece with England.

The 23-year-old was also a part of Derby County's Championship play-off final side that lost to Aston Villa in 2018-19, taking his tally at Wembley to five losses – a record he wants to overturn.

"It is a game we used to bounce back. It was a very, very tough game. They made it very difficult for us. They have some top players. It wasn't easy," he told ITV Sport after the game.

"The way we came through it we showed character.

"I am buzzing for Rubes [Loftus-Cheek]. He is a top, top player. He comes on in a difficult game and steps up. He is dominant and the way he drives the ball forward helps us. He was brilliant today.

"Timo Werner is brilliant, he has done so well the last couple of games. He had a chance in the second half that he missed but then ran all the way back to win the ball and that shows the player he is.

"It is time for us to win a final at Wembley. It is five finals I have lost, so we have to put the pressure on us to step up."

Chelsea now have to overcome Liverpool, who defeated the Blues on penalties in the EFL Cup final in February.

Indeed, it will be just the second time two sides will contest both the EFL Cup and FA Cup final in the same campaign after 1992-93, when Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday did so, with the Gunners winning both trophies that year.

Thomas Tuchel expressed his delight with a "controlled and serious" performance that guided Chelsea into the FA Cup final.

Chelsea reached a third successive FA Cup final, matching the feat achieved by Arsenal between 2000-01 and 2002-03, with a 2-0 triumph over Patrick Vieira's Crystal Palace at Wembley.

Substitute Ruben Loftus-Cheek opened the scoring in the 65th minute with his first goal in any competition since November 2020, before Mason Mount sealed semi-final success with 14 minutes remaining.

The 2021-22 campaign now marks Mount's new-best scoring season, with his 12th strike this term surpassing his 11-goal haul for Championship side Derby County in 2018-19.

Tuchel, who has progressed from each of the 11 semi-final ties in his managerial career, congratulated his players for their efforts amid a hectic schedule, with Chelsea having slipped out of the Champions League after going to extra-time against Real Madrid on Tuesday.

"It was not easy because we played three games in three different competitions," Tuchel told ITV Sport. 

"It is not always easy, very challenging physically, we are the team with the most minutes in Europe I think, it is also challenging mentally.

"I thought the performance was very controlled and very serious, we took care of their counter-attacks. It was hard, the opponent changed system twice, you cannot lose focus for a minute."

Tuchel also reserved special praise for Loftus-Cheek, who scored his first Chelsea goal since May 2019, when he netted in a Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt.

"He [Ruben Loftus-Cheek] was very, very strong in matches against Southampton and Real Madrid, he would have deserved to start," said Tuchel.

"We knew Ruben would have a big impact off the bench. I am very happy.

"He hid his talent and potential for a long time in his career. He is capable of producing performances that everyone sees on the pitch. For him, it is step by step that he continues to grow in his confidence."

 

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool stand in the way of Chelsea in the final, and it will be the second time the same two sides have competed in the EFL Cup and FA Cup showpiece events in the same season, after Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday met in both competitions in 1992-93.

Tuchel, though, cannot wait to renew his battle with the quadruple-hunting Liverpool, who ran out penalty shoot-out victors in the EFL Cup in late February and defeated Premier League title rivals Manchester City in Saturday's semi-final.

"I am happy to be part of it again, I cannot be more excited and more proud because it is a huge competition. We will be ready," he added.

Chelsea secured their place in a third successive FA Cup final after second-half goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mason Mount clinched the 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace at Wembley on Sunday.

The Blues have made something of a habit of reaching the FA Cup showpiece in recent years, contesting four of the past five, and while this semi-final win was by means vintage, Thomas Tuchel's side looked comfortable once they found the breakthrough.

Neither side showed much inspiration in attack during a cagey opening 45 minutes and there were few signs of improvement initially after the interval.

But a couple of kind deflections helped substitute Loftus-Cheek break the deadlock just past the hour for his first Chelsea goal since May 2019, and Mount's finish soon after ensured the Blues will face Liverpool for the trophy.

It took 35 minutes for a dull first half to come to life as Edouard Mendy did brilliantly to save a goal-bound volley from his Senegal team-mate Cheikhou Kouyate down to his left.

Kai Havertz attempted to win a penalty with a dive at the other end a few moments later, but referee Anthony Taylor saw through his deception and brandished a yellow card.

Kouyate went close again early in the second half when a header flew agonisingly off target and Chelsea capitalised in the 65th minute.

Havertz's cutback was diverted into Loftus-Cheek's path and another touch off a Palace defender took the midfielder's powerful strike out of Jack Butland's reach.

Mount wrapped things up 14 minutes from time, tucking a neat finish into the bottom-right corner after good work from Timo Werner, with Romelu Lukaku's dreadful late miss proving irrelevant.

Lautaro Martinez was very close to joining Barcelona from Inter Milan two years ago.

The Blaugrana and the Argentina international had reached a personal agreement, but the financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered any possibility for the former to make any transfer happen.

As ever, though, circumstances in football change and according to reports, they have changed in a way that would allow Barca to finally get the Martinez deal over the line.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN FRAME FOR LAUTARO

Barcelona are back in the running to sign Inter's Lautaro Martinez, according to reports from Sport.

The 24-year-old is increasingly likely to leave the reigning Serie A champions, but it appears the club would be willing to lower their asking price in exchange for players as part of a package deal.

Inter have shown interest in Miralem Pjanic and Memphis Depay, two players who appear to be surplus to requirements in a rebuild under Xavi at the Catalan giants.

Martinez, who has provided 15 goals and three assists in 28 league appearances this season, is seen as a more affordable alternative to Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski.

 

ROUND-UP

– Liverpool are eyeing Aberdeen right-back Calvin Ramsey to provide depth for Trent Alexander-Arnold, the Sun reports.

Paris Saint-Germain are ready to part ways with Mauricio Pochettino in order to hire Zinedine Zidane as their head coach, per Le Parisien.

– Corriere dello Sport is reporting Roma would consider an offer of €60million (£49.6m) for highly-rated 22-year-old Nicolo Zaniolo, as interest from Serie A and Premier League clubs looms.

– Juventus are prepared to offer for Chelsea's Jorginho, with the Turin giants seeking to bolster their midfield next season, according to Tuttosport.

– Chelsea are willing to let 28-year-old striker Romelu Lukaku go with Inter and PSG interested, per 90Min.

Romelu Lukaku should look at Timo Werner for inspiration if he plays any part in Chelsea's FA Cup semi-final against Crystal Palace on Sunday, according to Blues boss Thomas Tuchel.

Werner has endured a largely difficult time at Stamford Bridge since arriving from RB Leipzig in June 2020, but he has shone in the past week.

He followed up a brace in the 6-0 Premier League win over Southampton last weekend with another goal in the Champions League quarter-final second-leg win at Real Madrid in midweek.

Like Werner, Lukaku has had difficulties since joining the club from Inter ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

He has scored just five goals and registered zero assists in his 12 Premier League starts, while he has created only 16 opportunities and converted 17.2 per cent of his 29 shots, just 11 of which have been on target.

Lukaku's 12 goals in all competitions only marginally exceeds his expected goals (xG) of 11.8, however, showing he is at least scoring at a rate that reflects the quality of chances that have come his way.

But the fact his xG is not higher suggests a lack of cohesion between Lukaku and his team-mates.

The Belgium international has missed Chelsea's last two games through injury, although he returned to training this week and is expected to play some part in Sunday's last-four clash at Wembley.

 

Asked if the 28-year-old needs to emulate Werner if he is selected against Palace, Tuchel told a media conference: "For sure. He had a huge chance against Real Madrid [at home] and things can go so fast.

"Nobody knows what this goal would have done for us if he had taken his chance with the late header in the first leg.

"It is exactly what he needs to do. Wait, be patient, work hard and put the team first, be ready to help the team, because as a striker you can help within seconds.

"Especially for strikers, things can be turned around in minutes, in moments. Whole careers can be upside down and in any direction but always as a striker you can have a chance to put things into your favour, as a substitute or if you have the chance to perform from the beginning."

Chelsea have won each of their last nine fixtures with Palace, all coming in the Premier League.

In the club's history, they have enjoyed five separate instances of 10 or more successive wins against an opponent, most recently a run of 11 versus Brighton and Hove Albion between 1967 and 2019.

Thomas Tuchel has revealed he explained to Conor Gallagher in person why Chelsea could not allow the on-loan Crystal Palace midfielder to play in their FA Cup semi-final.

Chelsea meet Palace in the last four of the competition at Wembley on Sunday, but breakout star Gallagher will be merely a spectator.

The England international belongs to Chelsea but is yet to make a senior appearance for the club, instead establishing himself as a top Premier League midfielder for Palace this season.

Gallagher has scored eight goals and provided five assists in all competitions in 2021-22, including two assists in four FA Cup matches prior to the semis.

That sort of form shows why Chelsea could not accommodate Palace's request to allow him to play this weekend. The Blues have won both matches against Palace in his absence this season, extending a winning run in the fixture to nine games.

"I had the chance to speak to Conor and I could also see his frustration," Tuchel said ahead of the match. "We met some weeks ago, after the international break, by coincidence in a restaurant.

"We had a chat, and the subject came up. I apologised, because I know how competitive he is, and I like him a lot. I know his character very well, and it was a pleasure to have him here in pre-season.

"This is the way it is. We play to win the game. The rules were clear when we made the loan.

"I can totally understand Patrick Vieira and the disappointment of Conor, but these were the rules when we made the loan, and we don't want to suffer from our rules."

 

Chelsea must still take on an England international brought through their academy, however, with Marc Guehi a permanent Palace signing last year.

Guehi, like Gallagher, has impressed at Palace, while Tino Livramento has been one of Southampton's star performers this season, but Tuchel explained their sales could not be reassessed with hindsight.

"It's a decision we took together. We are happy about these decisions," he said. "We cannot go back and reflect, because at the point where we took the decision it was the right thing to do, given the circumstances.

"It's very individual decisions. For Tino Livramento, for example, we had a plan and we preferred a loan, but he saw his future to go, and the situation was then better to agree to the sale.

"For Marc, it is a fantastic development. It's very hard or maybe even impossible to say if we had kept him he would be better or worse or the same. Maybe he needed exactly that, maybe he needed a change of environment, maybe he needed a different club, maybe he needed a bigger role, more minutes to develop your full potential.

"It just tells you over and over again that if you trust younger players and if you have a role for them, they can on a very regular level match your expectations or even over-perform.

"It's nice to see there are so many Chelsea players out there in every league. We are very well aware of it, and it's also nice to play against them and see them develop."

Chelsea still have academy graduates in their first team, with Mason Mount leading the way in terms of goal involvements (25 – 11 goals, 14 assists) this term.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek (31), Reece James (30), Callum Hudson-Odoi (28) and Trevoh Chalobah (26) have each made more than 25 appearances for the Blues in 2021-22.

"We will always use as many academy players as possible," Tuchel said.

"Like I said many times before, it makes the club very special and makes every team in the world very special if you have the mix between world-class players, between big personalities from abroad, from outside the club, with the academy boys.

"I think it's very important also with the academy boys to match the level, to realise the level of commitment, of professionalism of players who come from other clubs, who bring the best of their cultures.

"It's very, very important for our youngsters to accept that mix and accept that challenge. Then it can be very special. This is what makes teams special, that there are players from the academy."

Luka Modric described Real Madrid's 3-2 loss to Chelsea on Tuesday that sent them through the Champions League semi-finals as a "defeat that is very sweet."

An uncharacteristically poor performance that led to a 3-1 loss in the first leg at Stamford Bridge meant Chelsea had the proverbial mountain to climb at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Yet the Blues took a 3-0 lead on Tuesday, putting them up 4-3 on aggregate, before Eduardo Camavinga's substitution for Toni Kroos and Modric's sublime assist for Rodrygo changed the complexion of the game and tie. Karim Benzema's goal in extra time eventually separated the two sides.

The Croatia international said afterwards that, given his familiarity with Chelsea, he knew the return leg was not going to be routine.

"We knew after the first leg that we will have a tough game, because for me, they [Chelsea] are the most difficult team to play against," Modric told BT Sport. "I watch them a lot because of my friend Mateo [Kovacic] and they are a very tough, physical team, very compact and we knew it was going to be tough.

"In the end, we showed great character, great desire, great togetherness and we managed to turn it around, which is amazing. A defeat that is very sweet."

Tuesday's game resembled the first leg in last year's Champions League semi-final between the two, with Chelsea pressing intensely and piercing through in transition.

Thomas Tuchel's side dictated a very high tempo early, but Madrid were able to feel their way through the game, making sufficient adjustments and gaining momentum late.

"Unbelievable to describe this game. We were dead until the goal we scored," Modric said. "Chelsea scored three good goals, maybe the first goal was a bit lucky with the deflection, but I cannot say that we played a bad game."

According to Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, his side levelling on aggregate took momentum away from Chelsea, while also saving particular praise for the 36-year-old Ballon d'Or winner.

"The changes were important, in retrospect I must say that with the goal of 3-1, they took a good blow on a psychological level," he said.

"Modric was amazing with that assist, from there we build the second goal and then we managed."

Karim Benzema's extra-time goal put Real Madrid into the Champions League semi-finals despite a 3-2 defeat to holders Chelsea on Tuesday.

Goals from Mason Mount, Antonio Rudiger and Timo Werner overturned Real Madrid’s 3-1 advantage from the first leg last week, but Rodrygo’s sublime volley forced the tie into extra time.

Benzema, who scored a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge, had the final say, though, thundering home a header six minutes into extra time to seal a 5-4 aggregate victory. 

Carlo Ancelotti's side will now face either Atletico Madrid or Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola’s side holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg.

Chelsea's strong start was rewarded in the 15th minute when Mount curled past Thibaut Courtois from just inside the penalty area after latching onto Werner's nudged ball forward.

Madrid struggled to break Chelsea's stubborn backline down in the first half, with Ancelotti's men going in at the break without a shot on target to their name. 

Chelsea levelled the tie on aggregate six minutes into the second half, Rudiger planting a powerful header past Courtois from Mount's cross. 

Alonso thought he had edged Chelsea in front 11 minutes later when he thumped into the top corner from eight yards, yet his effort was ruled out for handball following a VAR check. 

Benzema crashed a header against the crossbar soon after, before Werner put Chelsea ahead on aggregate in the 75th minute with a strike that proved too hot for Courtois to handle. 

Madrid clawed their way back into the tie with 10 minutes remaining, though, as Rodrygo, who had only been on the pitch for two minutes, steered a superb volley past Edouard Mendy from Luka Modric's breathtaking cross. 

That set the stage for Benzema's decisive goal in additional time, the France international heading past Mendy from 10 yards out following fine work down the left by Vinicius Junior. 

 

Karim Benzema's brilliance was the difference as Real Madrid stormed into a 3-1 lead over Chelsea last week.

The 34-year-old, as evergreen as they come, was at his sublime best once again with a sensational hat-trick at Stamford Bridge to put Madrid on the verge of reaching the Champions League semi-finals.

It followed on from his three goals in that remarkable comeback against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 and it would not be unreasonable to expect Benzema to hit another hat-trick on Tuesday when Thomas Tuchel's reigning European champions visit the Santiago Bernabeu, such is the France international's prolific form.

"To say that we are dependent on Benzema is the truth, there is no need to hide it," said Carlo Ancelotti in Monday's news conference previewing the second leg.

"I am very happy to be dependent on Benzema."

While Benzema thrives with that dependence on his shoulders, Chelsea visit the Spanish capital without the striker they hoped would take them to the next level. It is safe to say that Romelu Lukaku's return to Stamford Bridge has not gone to plan.

 

Having rediscovered his best form over two seasons with Inter, driving the Nerazzurri to their first Serie A title in over a decade, Lukaku has come closer to resembling the much-maligned version of himself that struggled at Manchester United.

Lukaku will be absent through injury for what is his team's biggest game of the season, a rather fitting summary of how his second spell at Chelsea has played out so far.

All going wrong for Rom

It seemed the perfect match. Lukaku was fantastic for Inter, providing not only goals but also adding creativity to his game as he formed a supreme partnership with Lautaro Martinez.

Lukaku directly contributed to 35 goals in Serie A alone last season, converting 25 per cent of his 96 shots and creating 52 chances for team-mates, with 10 of those being big chances - defined by Opta as an opportunity from which a player would reasonably be expected to score.

The Belgian averaged a goal every 120 minutes and converted 20 of the 39 big chances that came his way, as Antonio Conte helped get Lukaku back to his best.

 

But matters could hardly be more different at Chelsea.

Lukaku has hinted that Tuchel's style does not suit his preferred way of playing, though his ability to drop deep and link the play at Inter seemed to have put the 28-year-old in good stead to do the same with the likes of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic in west London.

The drop-off has been significant – just 12 Premier League starts, five goals and zero assists, while he has created only 16 opportunities and converted 17.2 per cent of his 29 shots, just 11 of which have been on target.

Lukaku's 12 goals in all competitions do slightly exceed his expected goals (xG) of 11.8, showing he is at least scoring at a rate that reflects the quality of chances that have come his way, though he headed wide from Chelsea's best opportunity of the first leg (0.29 xG).

 

Chelsea won the Champions League without a recognised number nine, given Tammy Abraham's failure to cement a place under Tuchel and Werner's hit-and-miss form, which has continued into this campaign.

Indeed, Havertz netted the winner in Porto against Manchester City last May and in recent weeks has been the player Tuchel has utilised to lead Chelsea's line, even with Lukaku fit. It was the Germany forward who scored for the Blues against Madrid last week and he seems set to continue up front.

All going right for Benzema

In contrast, Benzema is at the very top of his game. His hat-trick at the Bridge took him to 37 goals for the season. That tally far exceeds his xG (28.3), illustrating just how excellent his finishing has been.

That supreme ability was on show in all its glory in the first leg. His opener was a quite wonderful header that he somehow kept down and floated beyond Edouard Mendy - Opta's xG model suggests there was just an eight per cent chance of that opportunity resulting in a goal.

Benzema's second, another header under three minutes later, was equally impressive, while his third came as a result of his aggression in the press, forcing a mistake that gave him a simple finish into an empty net.

Similar to Lukaku in Serie A last season, Benzema is converting roughly a quarter of his attempts across all competitions, and he has already crafted 66 chances for others and contributed 13 assists. 

Of strikers in Europe's top five leagues, only Robert Lewandowski has scored more goals than the Frenchman, who has as many assists as Lionel Messi and scores every 84 minutes.

 

Benzema is the heartbeat of a Madrid side pushing for a double, crucial to everything Los Blancos do in attack, dropping into midfield to aid the build-up as well as being in the right place to finish chances.

Lukaku, meanwhile, is on the periphery at Chelsea and though the £97.5million (€115m) outlay may yet prove worthwhile, he is not going to be able to stand up and be counted when his side might just need him the most.

That, perhaps, is a sign it was simply never meant to be for Lukaku at Chelsea after all.

Paul Pogba's time at Manchester United is set to come to an end when his contract expires at the end of this season.

The France international arrived at Old Trafford in a £93million deal in August 2016, which at the time broke the record for most expensive transfer in the history of world football.

But after six seasons, Pogba appears destined for pastures new, and a giant from Ligue 1 is looking to win the race to his signature.

 

TOP STORY – PSG MAKE POGBA A PRIORITY

Paris Saint-Germain are looking to bring Pogba home to France, and are making him a "priority signing", according to Footmercato.

With the football world anticipating the exit of Kylian Mbappe from the French giants, there will be money to spend, and with Pogba available on a free transfer, his personal terms are reportedly "not so high".

In an injury-interrupted campaign, Pogba has played 18 Premier League matches this season, scoring one goal and providing nine assists.

 

ROUND-UP

Arsenal are targeting Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves, according to Sky Sports.

– El Confidencial is reporting Manchester City are ready to trigger the €60m release clause for Real Sociedad midfielder Mikel Merino.

– According to Goal, Pep Guardiola is interested in bringing River Plate midfielder Enzo Fernandez to Manchester City after signing team-mate Julian Alvarez in January.

– Calciomercato is reporting that Juventus are entering the race for Ajax's Brazilian winger Antony, who also has interest from Bayern Munich and Manchester United.

Tottenham want to convert Dejan Kulusevski's loan deal into a permanent signing, in a move that will likely cost €35m, per Calciomercato.

– NBA chairman Larry Tanenbaum and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin have joined a consortium with Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca in a bid to buy Chelsea, according to The Daily Mirror.

The Champions League quarter-final second legs are here, and the competition's two most recent winners must overcome first-leg deficits to reach the final four on Tuesday.

Defending champions Chelsea were downed by a stunning Karim Benzema hat-trick at home to Real Madrid, who are bidding to be crowned European champions for a 14th time.

Bayern Munich, meanwhile, suffered a shock reverse at Unai Emery's Villarreal, who will surely require a remarkable defensive performance to keep the free-scoring Bundesliga leaders at bay in Bavaria.

Here, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of the data from Tuesday's crucial European ties. 

Real Madrid v Chelsea: Benzema brilliance puts hosts in driving seat

Benzema's Stamford Bridge hat-trick has put Los Blancos on the brink of a semi-final spot, and he will be looking to continue his incredible European campaign when Chelsea try to overcome a 3-1 deficit in Spain.

After hitting consecutive European trebles, Benzema's tally of 11 goals is a new record for the most strikes by a French player in a single edition of the competition, and matches his record across the last two editions combined (he scored six goals in 2020-21 and five in 2019-20).

The 34-year-old's understanding with Vinicius Junior caused Chelsea all sorts of problems in London, and the duo have now assisted each other a combined five times in the Champions League this term (Vinicius providing four assists, Benzema one), the most of any two team-mates in the competition.

Carlo Ancelotti will qualify for the semi-finals for a record eighth time if Madrid can maintain their advantage against his former employers, equalling Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho.

Chelsea, meanwhile, are making their first trip to the Santiago Bernabeu in European competition, and must become the first English side to win a Champions League game there by more than one goal to have any chance of progressing.

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy's costly mistake at Stamford Bridge has left the Blues on the brink of an exit, with his dire pass to Benzema representing his first error leading directly to a goal in 20 appearances in the competition.

Chelsea may be encouraged by the fact they have not lost both legs of a Champions League tie since going down to Bayern Munich in 2019-20's last 16, and have won three and drawn two of their last six meetings with Los Blancos.

However, with Madrid progressing from nine of their previous 10 ties after winning an away first leg (the exception being a 5-3 aggregate loss to Ajax in 2019), Chelsea look unlikely to revive their title defence.

 

Bayern Munich v Villarreal: Emery eyes landmark success against Bavarian giants

Elsewhere, Bayern Munich are looking to avoid consecutive last-eight eliminations when they host Villarreal, with Arnaut Danjuma giving Unai Emery's men a precious 1-0 first-leg lead.

Danjuma has six Champions League goals this term, with only Robert Lewandowski (12), Benzema (11), and Mohamed Salah (eight) managing more, and could prove the visitors' best outlet on the counter-attack.

Indeed, Villarreal will certainly require a resolute defensive performance in Munich, having conceded 22 shots in their surprising home triumph.

However, Julian Nagelsmann's side were uncharacteristically wasteful in Spain, and their four shots on target last Wednesday marked the lowest such tally managed by a team to attempt over 20 shots in the competition this season.

 

Bayern unquestionably have what it takes to turn the contest around, however, and haven't gone consecutive Champions League games without scoring since a 5-0 aggregate loss to Real Madrid in 2013-14's semi-final tie.

Lewandowski will carry the burden of rescuing the Bavarian giants, having already scored two European hat-tricks in Munich this season (against Benfica and RB Salzburg). Only Cristiano Ronaldo (for Real Madrid in 2015-16) has ever managed three trebles in one Champions League campaign.

If the Yellow Submarine can pull off a remarkable success at the Allianz Arena, Emery will progress beyond the competition's quarter-finals for the first time in his career.

But the omens do not make for great reading for the Spaniard. The only previous time a side of his won an opening leg in the competition's knockout stages (Paris Saint-Germain's 4-0 win over Barcelona in 2017), they became the first team to be eliminated after winning a first leg by four goals, falling to an incredible 6-1 away loss. 

Not a window goes by where Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's name does not emerge in transfer speculation.

The 27-year-old's contract expires at the end of the 2023-24 season, but Juventus are keen to move on the long sought-after Lazio midfielder.

The Serbia international has only progressed under Maurizio Sarri, attracting reported interest from the Turn giants.

 

TOP STORY – JUVE RAMP UP CHASE FOR MILINKOVIC-SAVIC

Milinkovic-Savic's agent Mateja Kezman has commenced talks with Juventus over a possible transfer from Lazio, according to Calciomercato.

The Serbian midfielder has long been a weak area since their appearance in the Champions League final in 2015, and multiple coaches in that period have not been conducive for personnel.

Lazio president Claudio Lotito famously placed an initial €100million value on Milinkovic-Savic, but it has reportedly dropped to €70m. It is perceived that price tag is still too steep a figure for Juventus, as a consequence of compatriot Dusan Vlahovic's signing in January.

It is believed that Lazio would be open to players in return as part of a packaged deal.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United and Arsenal have joined the race to sign Benfica striker Darwin Nunez, the Mirror reports.

- Erling Haaland has dismissed interest from Manchester United, believing they do not meet the Norwegian striker's ambitions, according to ESPN.

- Paris Saint-Germain are in talks to sign Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku, only a year after he joined the London club from Inter, per the Sun.

- Roma are interested in signing Aston Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz, Calciomercato is reporting.

- Spanish international Marco Asensio is expected to leave Real Madrid at the end of the season, per Mundo Deportivo, with Milan and Tottenham interested.

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira bemoaned Chelsea's decision to not allow loanee Conor Gallagher to feature in the FA Cup semi-final, claiming the midfielder will be "the only one who will lose".

Gallagher moved on a season-long loan from Chelsea to Selhurst Park at the start of the season and the midfielder has starred for the Eagles, who made the last four of the FA Cup with a 4-0 win over Everton.

The 22-year-old's performances also earned him his England debut in November and have led to suggestions he could fill a midfield void for Thomas Tuchel's side next campaign with N'Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic and Jorginho not getting any younger.

But Chelsea have refused Palace's request for special dispensation to allow Gallagher to play against his parent club in the FA Cup on April 17, with FA rules preventing loanees from featuring against the side they are contracted to.

Vieira was left bemused by the decision as he insisted Gallagher would be the only player punished by the refusal.

"It's not the best rule because the only one who will lose is Conor," the Frenchman said.

"There's a semi-final, it's a really exciting game about how you will manage yourself and prepare yourself to play that game, then there's playing that kind of game and the importance of it.

"It's an experience the player is missing and I'm disappointed for him. He has played all the games so far and if there's somebody who deserves to be in the semi-final, it's him because of his performances, so I'm disappointed he won't be able to play.

"The decision for Chelsea to send him on loan is to play these kinds of games. We have as a group an opportunity to play an important game and that game would have given him more confidence and belief. We could lose but for him to have been on the field is what he needs to keep developing himself.

"Since he has been with us, he has been fantastic and for him not to have a chance to get involved in that game, it is something frustrating for his development.

"I feel for him because he wanted to play in that game –every player would want to play in that game."

Vieira also believes the impact of the FA Cup last-four draw has been clear to see on Gallagher in training.

"The next day in training he was affected by that," he continued. "He knew straight away that it was a game that he would not have the chance to get involved in. We feel for him.

"He put his head back into training straight away. It will be more difficult when we enter the week of the game.

"It will be challenging for him, looking at the team, preparing himself and him not getting involved. That will be challenging for him."

Jesse Lingard's future with Manchester United is unclear.

The 29-year-old England international is out of contract at the end of the season.

Lingard had a brilliant loan spell at West Ham United last season but has remained out of favour at Old Trafford this term.

 

TOP STORY – ITALIAN OPTIONS FOR LINGARD

Lingard could reunite with Jose Mourinho at Roma, with the Italian club joining the race for the forward, according to the Mirror.

Lingard is being pursued by West Ham following his impressive loan spell, while Newcastle United are also interested in the 29-year-old.

Serie A clubs Milan and Juventus also have an interest in Lingard, with a move to Italy offering a lucrative alternative option.

English pair Chris Smalling and Tammy Abraham have enjoyed productive spells at Roma, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles is on loan from Arsenal.

 

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid are moving on from their pursuit of Kylian Mbappe , who appears set to stay with Paris Saint-Germain, by turning their attention to landing Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, claims the Mirror.

- Inter will make a move to sign Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea, following his August exit from the Italian champions, reports Football Insider. Lukaku previously expressed his regret at leaving Inter.

- The Sun claims that Arsenal and Tottenham will battle to sign Leicester City midfielder James Maddison who is rated at £60million and could be put up for sale.

- Danny Ings could be on his way out of Aston Villa as manager Steven Gerrard plans a clear-out, according to the Mirror.

- CBS Sports claims Liverpool and West Ham are no longer interested in Leicester City's Youri Tielemans, leaving the door open for Manchester United to land the midfielder.

- Juventus are circling for Chelsea midfielder Jorginho , reports Tutto Mercato.

After a number of false dawns since Alex Ferguson's retirement from coaching, Manchester United are reportedly looking to make a splash with Erik ten Hag.

West Ham's Declan Rice has emerged as one of Europe's premier defensive midfielders and is seen as a key piece in a potential rebuild.

According to reports, this off-season might be the time West Ham and Rice's representatives look to cash in.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED TO MAKE RECORD PLAY FOR RICE

Manchester United are ready to break their transfer record and make him a marquee signing under new boss Erik ten Hag, according to 90Min.

It is understood West Ham made an offer to extend Rice's contract last year, but ultimately, the Hammers would be unable to compete with likely wage offers elsewhere.

For Rice, United appear willing to break their transfer record set in 2016 for Paul Pogba, a midfielder who has never really found a set position or provided a return on sizeable investment.

They would face stiff competition from Manchester City and Chelsea, who are also keen on the 23-year-old England international.

 

ROUND-UP

Manchester United are preparing a deal to sign Leeds United and England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, per the Manchester Evening News.

Brazil are willing to offer Manchester City manager Josep Guardiola a substantial salary to follow on from Tite as the country's national team manager, according to Marca.

Everton boss Frank Lampard has the confidence of club owner Farhad Moshiri and the board, despite the Toffees' relegation battle, the Daily Mail reports.

– The Athletic has reported RB Leipzig and Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol has emerged as a target for Tottenham .

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