Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has hailed his side's 5-1 win over Club Brugge as "one of the best performances" they have produced in Europe.

Riyad Mahrez scored twice, with Joao Cancelo, Kyle Walker and Cole Palmer all getting on the scoresheet too, while Hans Vanaken netted for the hosts in Belgium.

It was a scintillating showing from last season's losing Champions League finalists and Guardiola believes they could have won by an even greater margin.

"[It was] one of the best performances we have done in Europe, definitely," Guardiola said after the match. "I looked over Brugge in the international break. I looked at many games. I know how good they did against PSG.

"We found a lot of passes with Phil [Foden]. We had runners in behind. We could have scored more goals, we had many chances. All of us are delighted with the performance we have done."

Palmer scored his first Champions  League goal for the club, becoming only the third teenager to do so for City after Foden and Kelechi Iheanacho, and Guardiola is prepared to be patient with the gifted 19-year-old.

"Cole has a special quality in front of the box, a talent that is difficult to find," Guardiola continued. "When he has the ball there, most of the time it ends up in the net. It’s difficult to find that.

"I know how it works with young players. We have to be calm and patient. His position is the second team but at the same time he trains with us and works with our principles.

"I am happy with the goal. He could have done a few actions a little bit better, but that is normal. It is experience."

Palmer will hope to eventually tread the same path as Foden, who performed admirably as a false nine, setting Cancelo up for the opener with a delightful lofted ball into the box. 

Foden has six goals and six assists in the Champions League for City - the only player to provide more under Guardiola in the competition before turning 22 is Lionel Messi (14 - nine goals and five assists) - and the 50-year-old tactician made special mention of the 21-year old's versatility and quality in the final third.

"Yeah, definitely [Foden can play anywhere]," Guardiola added. "He can play as a striker. He can go in behind. He is not in a static position.

"Phil is a special talent. We don't have a striker who scores 25 goals, I have to put players near the box to score goals. He is one of the guys, Sterling is one of the guys, Riyad is and Gundogan. Phil is someone who you feel can create."

Teenage midfielder Cole Palmer scored his first Champions League goal as Manchester City produced a slick performance to secure a 5-1 win over Club Brugge in Belgium.

Full-backs Joao Cancelo and Kyle Walker both found themselves on the scoresheet, the former scoring the first on the half-hour mark with a composed finish from Phil Foden's pass.

Riyad Mahrez calmly tucked a penalty away before half-time and, soon after the restart, Walker got in on the action, drilling into the bottom-left corner after Kevin De Bruyne - playing in his home country - set him up.

Palmer struck within three minutes of coming off the bench, taking a neat touch before rifling a left-footed effort past Simon Mignolet from just inside the area.

While captain Hans Vanaken grabbed a late consolation for Brugge, a controlled outing for City was capped by Mahrez scoring his second of the night.

The Champions League group stage reaches the halfway point this week and Tuesday provides another set of tasty fixtures.

Liverpool travel to Atletico Madrid seeking revenge two seasons on from their last-16 exit to Diego Simeone's side in the pick of the games.

Real Madrid and Manchester City are each looking to respond to defeats last time out when they take on Shakhtar Donetsk and Club Brugge respectively.

Elsewhere, Paris Saint-Germain host RB Leipzig and two of Europe's great entertainers in Ajax and Borussia Dortmund face off in Amsterdam.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the key Opta data ahead of some key contests.

 

Atletico Madrid v Liverpool: Reds face bogey side

Following their last-16 exit to Atletico two seasons ago, Liverpool are winless in four Champions League meetings with the LaLiga champions – only Basel have they faced as many times without winning in Europe's top competition.

The Reds have also lost six of their past seven games on Spanish soil in the tournament since beating Real Madrid in the 2008-09 last 16, though they were victorious at the Wanda Metropolitano against Tottenham in the 2018-19 final.

Mohamed Salah opened the scoring in that meeting with Spurs and he has more recently scored in each of his past five away games for Liverpool in the Champions League – the longest-such streak by a Reds player in the competition.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Madrid: Will Ancelotti be Los Blancos' lucky omen?

Shakhtar beat Madrid home and away in the group stage last season and could become just the third side to win three in a row against Los Blancos in the competition after Bayern Munich and Juventus.

While Madrid's recent record against the Ukrainian outfit is poor, head coach Carlo Ancelotti has won all four of his previous Champions League games against Shakhtar – only against Bayern (six) and Liverpool (five) has he won more often.

Prior to their shock defeat at the hands of Sheriff last time out, Madrid beat Inter 1-0 at San Siro in their opening Group D contest. However, not since 2014-15 have they won their opening two Champions League away games.

 

Paris Saint-Germain v RB Leipzig: History not on Germans' side

After netting in PSG's win against Manchester City three weeks ago, Messi is looking to join Neymar (2017), Alex (2012) and George Weah (1994) in scoring in his first two home games for the club in the competition.

PSG have a great record against German opponents, having won seven of their eight meetings with Bundesliga clubs on home soil, though the exception in that run was in April this year when Bayern won 1-0 at the Parc des Princes.

The Ligue 1 side do not tend to slip up at home in the group stage, losing just one of their past 28 such games – against Manchester United in October 2020 – and netting 2.7 goals per game on average.

Club Brugge v Manchester City: Pep seeking response to Paris pain

Ahead of this first ever meeting with City, Brugge are winless in 12 matches against English opponents in all European competitions since beating Chelsea in the Cup Winners' Cup 26 years ago.

The Belgian champions are unbeaten in their past four home group matches in the Champions League, though, picking up eight points across that run – only once have they gone five in a row without defeat (a run of six that ended in October 2019).

But Pep Guardiola will be confident of City getting their campaign back on track following defeat in Paris, the Catalan coach having lost successive away games in the competition once previously when in charge of Bayern in 2014-15 (against Porto and Barcelona).

 

Other fixtures:

Ajax v Borussia Dortmund

2 - Dortmund have won their previous two major European matches in the Netherlands, both in the Champions League. Their last defeat on Dutch soil was in the 2002 UEFA Cup final against Feyenoord.

3 - Ajax are aiming to win their opening three games to a Champions League campaign for the first time since 1995-96 under Louis van Gaal, the season in which they last made it all the way to the final.


Besiktas v Sporting CP

4 - Sporting have failed to win a European match on Turkish soil, drawing three times and losing once, with that loss coming against Istanbul Basaksehir in February 2020 in the Europa League. Besiktas, though, have won just once in 11 home Champions League games, beating RB Leipzig 2-0 in September 2017.

3 - Sporting lost their opening two group matches, against Dortmund and Ajax, and are at risk of losing three in a row for the first time in the current group-stage format.


Porto v Milan

6 - Porto have kept a clean sheet in six of their past seven games in the group stage of the Champions League, though they did concede five times in their last outing in the competition against Liverpool.

7 - Including qualifying matches, seven of Milan's eight away matches in UEFA competitions in Portugal have ended as a draw, with their only win coming against Porto in March 1993 courtesy of a Jean-Pierre Papin goal.


Inter v Sheriff

- Inter have failed to score in their previous three home Champions League games (the last two group games in 2020-21 and against Madrid this term). They have never previously gone four major UEFA European home games without scoring.

- Sheriff are looking to become just the third team this century to win their first three games in the Champions League, after Leicester City in 2016-17 and Malaga in 2012-13.

Pep Guardiola has explained why Manchester City signed Jack Grealish from Aston Villa despite already possessing a wealth of attacking talent.

The England international became the Premier League's most expensive player in August, arriving in Manchester for a fee of £100million, as City smashed their transfer record despite boasting the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden in the wide and attacking midfield roles.

Guardiola, who led City to their third Premier League title in four years last season, insisted that signing top-quality players is necessary to keep things fresh for a successful side.

"[We signed Grealish because of his] quality in the final third," Guardiola said ahead of City's Champions League clash with Club Brugge on October 19. "He is able to attract opponents and find his [team-mates].

"We have many players but we added another one because we have a lot of games in many competitions. He is at a perfect age and when you are on top in those competitions, the squad must be removed a little bit otherwise it is difficult.

"Everyone has to feel the pressure from the new ones, and the new ones have to understand what the club has done. All the big clubs do it."

Guardiola feels Grealish has performed well since his arrival, adapting to the new challenge of playing regular European football alongside domestic competitions.

Since his arrival at City, the 26-year-old has managed two goals and two assists from 10 appearances across all competitions.

Additionally, the playmaker leads his team for chances created (22) and has the second-highest dribble success rate of any player to have attempted at least 20 (53.13 per cent).

"We spoke about [playing in Europe] and how he has to live when he is not here, in terms of eating, resting and sleeping," Guardiola continued.

"What he has done so far is excellent. Apart from [against] Burnley, he has played every game at a good level and I'm sure he will improve. As a manager, you have to know the best position, but he has played very well.

"He is focused on and off the pitch and he is strong, his weight and body fat is perfect and he is mentally is in the right position. It is the first time he plays every three days. We play every three days for 11 months and it's difficult but it is a good challenge for him."

Guardiola praised City's upcoming opponents for their quality in attack and revealed that Brazilian pair Ederson and Gabriel Jesus are both in contention to feature after flying straight to Belgium after the international break.

"We see the protocols, [Ederson and Jesus] couldn't land [in England] unless they isolate [for] 10 days," Guardiola added. "We will join them in the hotel and [on Tuesday] they will do preparation, maybe play, maybe not.

"I'm sure they will feel good because they recovered really well, they will train there, and we will see tonight how they feel.

"What we have seen [from Club Brugge] is physicality and they know what they have to do. They have a lot of quality up front. We go there, we have four games left and 12 points to fight for to qualify for the last 16.

"This is the target, and our mentality will be the same. We want to make them adjust and control the game with how we play."

Steve Bruce's days at Newcastle appear to be numbered.

Rumours of possible replacements are swirling, with plenty of managers having been mentioned. 

Frank Lampard may well lead the race.

 

TOP STORY – LAMPARD FAVOURED TO REPLACE BRUCE

Frank Lampard is the leading candidate to step in once Steve Bruce is inevitably shown the door at Newcastle, The Sun reports. 

The Telegraph claims Lampard and former Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre top the new owners' wish list.

The 43-year-old Lampard was sacked by Chelsea in January 2021, about six weeks after Favre, 63, left Dortmund. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool are keeping a close eye on Ousmane Dembele, who is out of contract at Barcelona at the end of the season, Mundo Deportivo reports.

- Dortmund and RB Leipzig are the top potential landing spots for 19-year-old Salzburg striker Karim Adeyemi, reports Sky Sport Germany.

- Feyenoord will make another effort to prise Amad Diallo from Manchester United in January, according to The Sun, after a potential loan move fell through due to injury during the last transfer window. 

- Club Brugge and Belgium midfielder Charles De Ketelaere is drawing interest from Milan and Napoli, says Calciomercato, with Everton and West Ham also monitoring the 20-year-old.

- Former Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero is expected to finalise his deal with Venezia on Tuesday, reports Fabrizio Romano. 

Paris Saint-Germain will be out for revenge when they face Manchester City in a blockbuster Champions League clash. 

City reached their first Champions League final last season by beating PSG 4-1 on aggregate last season and they will meet again in a Group A clash at the Parc des Princes. 

PSG were held by Club Brugge in their opening game, while Premier League champions City hammered RB Leipzig 6-3. 

Milan face Atletico Madrid in their first home match in Europe's premier cup competition since 2014. 

Leaders Liverpool travel to Porto in the other Group B game with fond memories of their previous two trips, while Real Madrid entertain Sheriff in the battle between the top two in Group D. 

Here, Stats Perform look at the key Opta data ahead of the games taking place on Tuesday. 

 

Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester City: Messi could face another Guardiola reunion

Lionel Messi, who was linked with City before his sensational move to PSG, has been sidelined be a knee problem and it remains to be seen if he recovers in time for a reunion with his former boss Pep Guardiola.

PSG and City will meet for the sixth time, while the Ligue 1 side still looking for their first win in this fixture (D2 L3). Only against Juventus (8) have they played more games in European competition without winning.

City are unbeaten in 10 away Champions League away games (W8 D2), not losing in the competition outside of England since December 2017 (against Shakhtar Donetsk).

Milan v Atletico Madrid: Rossoneri eyeing happy homecoming

Milan and Atleti's only previous meetings came in the 2013-14 Champions League, with the Rossoneri losing both legs in the round of 16. The clash with the reigning LaLiga champions seven years ago was Milan's last at home in the competition. 

Antoine Griezmann is Atleti's all-time top scorer in the European Cup/Champions League (21 goals), and could also become their outright top scorer in away games if he finds the net in this game (currently on five). 

In the loss at Anfield, Brahim Diaz (22 years 43 days) became the youngest player to score on his Champions League debut for Milan since Yoann Gourcuff in September 2006 (20 years 64 days v AEK Athens). 

Porto v Liverpool: Reds to cut loose again?

This will be the fifth time Liverpool have faced Porto in the Champions League since Jurgen Klopp became the club's manager – they have won more games (3), scored more goals (11) and kept more clean sheets (3) against them than any other opponent in the competition.

Porto have only scored once in those four previous meetings (D1 L3), despite attempting 45 shots. In contrast, Liverpool's 11 goals have come from 54 attempts. 

Sadio Mane has been directly involved in five goals against Porto, scoring four times and providing one assist. Mane's four goals are the joint-most by a Liverpool player against an opponent in the competition, along with Steven Gerrard v Marseille and Philippe Coutinho v Spartak Moscow. 

Real Madrid v Sheriff: Madrid on brink of century

Madrid are one short of becoming the first team to record 100 home victories in the Champions League. Their win percentage of 73 is the highest for any team in the competition's history with at least 10 home games played (99/136). 

Sheriff won 2-0 on their Champions League debut last time out against Shakhtar Donetsk - they are looking to become the first team since Leicester City in 2016-17 to win their first two games in the competition. 

Sheriff's Cristiano scored twice on his Champions League debut against Shakhtar, becoming the first Brazilian to score a brace in his first game in the competition since Chelsea’s Oscar in September 2012 (v Juventus). 

 

Other fixtures:

Ajax v Besiktas

4 - Ajax striker Sebastien Haller scored four goals on his Champions League debut against Sporting CP. If he gets another against Besiktas, he would move clear of a tie with Marco van Basten, Diego Simeone, Didier Drogba and Erling Haaland for the most by a player in their first two appearances in the competition.

2 - Besiktas have conceded at least two goals in each of their previous four games against Ajax (10 in total).

Shakhtar Donetsk v Inter

1 - Shakhtar have only scored one goal in their previous five meetings with Inter and have failed to find the back of the net in the three most recent encounters.

32 - Inter and Shakhtar played out two goalless draws in the Champions League last season despite the Serie A champions attempting 32 shots, with an expected goals total of 3.1 across the two games.

RB Leipzig v Club Brugge

10 - Club Brugge have not won any of their past 10 games against German opponents in European competition (D3 L7).

4 - Christopher Nkunku scored a hat-trick for Leipzig against City, but became just the fourth player in Champions League history to score at least three goals and still end on the losing team. 

Borussia Dortmund v Sporting CP

100 - Dortmund have a 100 per cent win record at home to Portuguese opposition in European competition, winning all six of their previous games by an aggregate score of 17-2.

63 - Erling Haaland has averaged a goal every 63 minutes in home games for Dortmund in the Champions League. His seven goals at Signal Iduna Park is the most of any player at a single stadium in the competition since he joined the club.

Nicolas Anelka fired a warning that darker days could lie ahead after Paris Saint-Germain fell flat against Club Brugge despite fielding Neymar, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe in the starting line-up.

The disappointment of a 1-1 draw in Belgium was compounded by an ankle injury sustained by Mbappe that forced the France forward off early in the second half.

PSG were out-shot 16-9 by Club Brugge, with Messi having three attempts but proving unable to mark his 150th Champions League appearance with what would have been a 121st goal in the competition.

Messi had never previously played against a Belgian side in the competition, scoring against teams from all 17 other nations he has faced. The closest he came was when he struck the crossbar in the 29th minute.

Neymar did not take a shot, while Mbappe had only one attempt before being substituted.

"It is the PSG that we do not want to see," Anelka said, speaking to French broadcaster RMC Sport.

"Nothing. There was nothing, except for the first 15 minutes. But apart from that, there was no intensity. We did not see anything offensively, it will be complicated."

The star attacking trio may take time to become a cohesive threat, given playing together is so very new, but head coach Mauricio Pochettino will be expected to return PSG to winning ways.

Manchester City visit Paris on September 28, and Anelka is already worried about the Parisians' prospects of finishing in the top two in Group A.

"If they play like that, it will not be possible," said former PSG and City striker Anelka.

The result on Wednesday evening means Messi has gone four consecutive Champions League games without enjoying a win (D2 L2). Only between March 2006 and February 2007 has he gone longer without a victory in the competition, then experiencing a run of five with Barcelona around the outset of his career.

Pochettino saw the performance of his team rather differently to Anelka's viewpoint.

"The problem today wasn't our three attackers," Pochettino said. "We just had to be more solid in both penalty areas but I'm happy with the defensive performance of our attackers."

The PSG boss defended Messi's performance, saying of the former Barcelona captain: "When you don't win, people try to put the focus on the less positive aspects.

"But I'm happy with his performance in terms of his spirit and attitude but also in terms of his adaptation to the team. It is clear that none of us is happy today as here at PSG we want to win every game and then also play well."

Mauricio Pochettino insisted Lionel Messi will take time to settle as Paris Saint-Germain await more information on Kylian Mbappe's ankle injury following their 1-1 draw with Club Brugge in the Champions League.

Pochettino unleashed Messi, Neymar and Mbappe together for the first time, with the latter teeing up Ander Herrera's fourth goal in four games in all competitions – as many as he had scored in his previous 70 PSG matches.

However, Hans Vanaken's seventh Champions League goal for Brugge stunned the star-studded Ligue 1 outfit, who failed to recover, now having won their European opener in just one of their past four campaigns.

To make matters worse, Mbappe was forced off in the second half after a challenge by former team-mate Stanley N'Soki, and Pochettino could not reveal the extent of his injury post-match.

"Mbappe twisted his ankle, he already had problems with both ankles," Pochettino told RMC Sport. "We will see tomorrow [Thursday] if we can have a more precise update."

Even with Mbappe stricken, PSG should have had enough to defeat Brugge, instead turning in an underwhelming attacking performance – although Messi hit the crossbar with one of three shots and also created a trio of opportunities.

"We need time to work for them [Messi, Neymar and Mbappe] to build an understanding," Pochettino told reporters.

"That's been clear and we've said that in recent days. We still have to create a team.

"We didn't have a good evening. We have to stay calm, keep working and take the time we need. Things will get better."

He added: "Nobody in the team can be happy with their performance and nobody can be happy with this result."

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were unleashed together for the first time but Paris Saint-Germain had to settle for 1-1 Champions League draw at Club Brugge.

Mauricio Pochettino started with his formidable attacking trio at Jan Breydel Stadion on Wednesday, with Mbappe teeing up Ander Herrera for the opener after a mazy run on the left flank.

Many may have expected Brugge to crumble, however, they responded through Hans Vanaken's fifth goal in eight games in the competition.

Mbappe was forced off in the second half with a slight foot problem as PSG, despite their embarrassment of attacking riches, failed to kick-off their Group A campaign with a win.

The visitors started brightly, Mbappe dancing past Clinton Mata before finding Herrera, who opened the scoring after 15 minutes with a first-time left-footed strike into the bottom-left corner.

Mbappe should have added a goal of his own after being rolled through by Messi but his right-footed drive was beaten away by Simon Mignolet.

Brugge then stunned the star-studded away side, with Eduard Sobol driving down the left flank before cutting back to the penalty spot, where Vanaken powered past Keylor Navas for his seventh goal in the Champions League - the most in his club's history.

Messi looked to respond immediately but his left-footed strike smashed against the crossbar before Vanaken and Charles de Ketelaere were both denied by smart Navas saves.

Brugge almost took the lead after the break through Jack Hendry but Presnel Kimpembe produced an important last-ditch block, with Mbappe limping off moments later following a challenge from Stanley N'Soki.

Noa Lang acrobatically volleyed wide in another fright for PSG before substitute Nuno Mendes found Messi, who spurned a glorious opportunity to win the game as he blasted over.

Lionel Messi was handed his first start for Paris Saint-Germain in Wednesday's Champions League group tie with Club Brugge.

The superstar forward joined PSG from Barcelona on a free transfer last month and made his debut as a second-half substitute in the 2-0 Ligue 1 win against Reims on August 29.

He was not considered for selection against Clermont Foot last weekend after arriving back late from Argentina duty, but he was part of PSG's travelling party for the Brugge game.

And the six-time Ballon d'Or winner was named in the French giants' starting line-up at Jan Breydel Stadion in a star-studded attack that also included Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

It is the first time the trio have been on the field together for PSG, with Neymar the player who made way for Messi when the latter made his only previous appearance.

Messi was making his 150th appearance in the Champions League and his first not with Barcelona, whom he scored 120 goals for and provided 35 assists in the competition.

The 34-year-old had never previously played against a Belgian side in Europe's primary club competition, scoring against teams from all 17 other nations he had faced before Wednesday.

Elsewhere in the XI named by Mauricio Pochettino in Belgium, Keylor Navas was selected over Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal after losing his place between the sticks last weekend.

PSG have scored at least one goal in each of their last 32 games in the group stage of the Champions League, a run that stretches back to November 2015 – the longest current scoring streak in the group stage of the competition.

Lionel Messi is in line to make his 150th Champions League appearance and his first with Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.

Mauricio Pochettino's men travel to Club Brugge and Messi is about to partake in his first European campaign without Barcelona, while Manchester City host RB Leipzig.

Liverpool and Milan renew rivalries in the competition for just the second time since the 2004-05 final between the pair but the Serie A side have a woeful record against English teams.

Inter have a similarly poor record against Spanish teams and they face Real Madrid, with Karim Benzema edging towards another goalscoring landmark.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the key Opta data ahead of Wednesday's fixtures.

Inter v Real Madrid: Benzema looks to edge past former Galactico Raul 

Inter have lost four of their last five against Real Madrid but Los Blancos have only won one of their previous eight away games against Wednesday's opponents as they prepare for a replay of last year's group stage outing.

However, Inter have not won against a Spanish team in Europe's premier competition since 2010 and Madrid have been victorious in 12 of their last 13 against Serie A outfits.

Carlo Ancelotti has Karim Benzema among his ranks and the forward will appear in his 17th consecutive campaign as he looks for his 72nd goal to move ahead of Raul (71) into fourth in the all-time scoring list.

 

Manchester City v RB Leipzig: Guardiola's group stage dominance

Manchester City are unbeaten in their last 17 group-stage ties and, since Pep Guardiola was appointed, they have lost just three of 30 at this stage of the competition.

The hosts are eyeing their 50th win in their 91st game as they look to become the second fastest to the half-century, while RB Leipzig have lost three of their last four against English opposition.

City's attacking riches could thrive at Etihad Stadium, too, Ferran Torres has scored four in his last six appearances in Europe - a goal every 90 minutes - and Riyad Mahrez has been involved in 22 goals in 28 starts for Leicester City and his current side in the Champions League.

 

Liverpool v Milan: Istanbul replay ends Rossoneri's seven-year wait

Milan will appear in their first Champions League since 2014, their first fixture a replay of the memorable 2004-05 final that saw Liverpool triumph.

Stefano Pioli's men have won just one of their last 13 against English opponents in European competition, while the Reds have lost just one of their last 12 group-stage games at Anfield in Europe under Jurgen Klopp.

Mohamed Salah (25) is one of two Liverpool players – along with Steven Gerrard (21) – to score 20+ times in the competition but Sadio Mane (19) could join them with a goal on Wednesday to become the fourth African to the 20-goal mark.

 

Club Brugge v Paris Saint-Germain: Pochettino's attacking riches

Paris Saint-Germain have netted 21 goals across six games against Belgian opposition – winning five and drawing once – while Club Brugge have only won one of their six opening games.

Lionel Messi – the second all-time leading scorer in the competition – could make his first PSG continental appearance, having scored 120 goals and provided 35 assists in 149 games for Barcelona against teams from 17 nations.

The visitors also boast half of the six players to be involved in 30+ goals in the competition in the last four seasons, with Kylian Mbappe (37), Messi (36) and Neymar (31) all doing so.

Other fixtures:

Atletico Madrid v Porto:

41 – Diego Simeone has won 41 of the 79 Champions League fixtures he has managed since 2013-14, with only Pep Guardiola (56) picking up more wins in this period.

4 – Porto have won four of their last five away games in the competition, their only loss coming against eventual runners-up Manchester City last term.

Besiktas v Borussia Dortmund:

1 – Besiktas have only collected one win in their last 10 home games in the Champions League and two of four defeats in that run have come against Bundesliga sides.

100 – Borussia Dortmund have a 100 per cent record against Turkish opposition in the Champions League, though all four wins have come against Galatasaray.

Sheriff Tiraspol v Shakhtar Donetsk:

1 – Sheriff Tiraspol are the first ever Moldovan team to feature in the Champions League proper. They are unbeaten in their last nine in European competition.

3 – Shakhtar Donetsk have only been beaten three times in their last 11 games as they went unbeaten against Real Madrid and Inter in the group stages last season.

Sporting CP v Ajax:

36 – Aged just 36, Ruben Amorim becomes the second youngest Portuguese manager in the competition's history, after former Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas (33) in 2011.

2 – Ajax have only lost two of 10 games against Portuguese opponents since the inaugural European Cup. However, just two of these games have taken place this century.

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe could feature together for the first time when Paris Saint-Germain tackle Club Brugge, Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed.

How the superstar trio perform as a unit could define PSG's season and Pochettino's reign with the French giants, after Messi's shock switch from Barcelona.

Some observers harbour concerns that fielding three such forwards together could leave PSG exposed in other areas. Yet if they click, then PSG could be a rampant force in the Champions League, the tournament they dearly want to win.

Asked if he would select all three on Wednesday in PSG's European opener, Pochettino said: "Maybe, yes. It is possible."

There is little doubt PSG have three of the world's best forwards, but developing a winning team around them is the challenge facing their Argentine head coach.

Speaking in the pre-game news conference, Pochettino was asked whether he was excited about the prospect of the three front players teaming up.

"I will have to get on board all the excitement because I know how excited everyone is," he said. "I would be crazy to think otherwise."

Across the last four Champions League campaigns, only six players have been directly involved in 30-plus goals in the competition, and Pochettino can call on three of those in Mbappe (37 involvements), Messi (36) and Neymar (31).

If Messi plays a part, he will be making his 150th Champions League appearance after previously turning out 149 times for Barcelona, scoring 120 goals and providing 35 assists so far.

However PSG eventually line up, their Belgian hosts may be privately fearing the worst. That is because the last time Club Brugge hosted the Parisians, they were beaten 5-0 in the 2019-20 Champions League – this remains Brugge's heaviest home defeat in European competition. Mauro Icardi scored twice, while Mbappe came on as a substitute and grabbed a hat-trick.

Pochettino knows many expect his team to be major challengers for Champions League glory this season, but he believes holders Chelsea will take some stopping. He also rates the London outfit, coached by former PSG boss Thomas Tuchel, as a model that PSG should look to follow.

"Chelsea are the holders and they are the team to beat, if there is one," Pochettino said. "They have also strengthened by signing good players and have spent a lot more money than Paris Saint-Germain.

"We are not a team yet. We are a club that has recruited many players this summer. There are some very big names, but we have to turn into a team in the way that Chelsea did last season.

"Chelsea are the team to beat because they achieved their targets. We are a group of players that need to achieve the target of becoming a solid team in order to get the results that we want.

"There are no timeframes. At Paris Saint-Germain, you will be judged on the results that you achieve. There is always pressure at every club and in this case at PSG the club has been targeting a dream for many years of winning the Champions League, and that is something that we cannot deny."

Lionel Messi is set to make his first appearance in the Champions League with Paris Saint-Germain after being included in the squad to face Club Brugge on Wednesday.

The Argentina superstar made a shock move to the Parc des Princes on a free transfer last month after Barcelona were unable to meet LaLiga's financial requirements to offer him a new contract.

So far, Messi has played only 24 minutes of football for PSG, that coming as a substitute in the 4-0 rout of Reims before the international break. 

It remains to be seen if Messi will start against Brugge but he is in the travelling party for the trip to Belgium.

Messi is one of the most decorated players in Champions League history, having won the competition four times with Barca.

It he does play, it would represent a landmark 150th appearance for Messi in Europe's premier competition, and first not playing for Los Cules.

He has scored an incredible 120 Champions League goals, a tally surpassed only by the 135 of Manchester United star and long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

During their time together at Barcelona, Messi and Neymar combined for nine Champions League goals in 33 appearances alongside one another (five Messi goals, four Neymar goals). Since 2003-04, only six duos have combined for 10 or more goals in the competition, with three of those pairs involving Messi – 15 with Andres Iniesta, 12 with Luis Suarez and 10 with Dani Alves.

However, centre-back Sergio Ramos must continue his wait to make his debut for PSG. Signed on a free transfer from Real Madrid, the Spain legend remains absent with a left thigh injury.

Ramos is also a four-time winner of the Champions League, lifting the trophy three years in succession between 2016 and 2018.

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."

Three years ago, Harry Kane said he wanted to win trophies at Tottenham otherwise he may have to leave.

Spurs have not won any silverware since, however, prompting speculation the England striker may have move on to fulfil his ambition elsewhere.

Kane is contracted to the Premier League club until 2024 but they are set to miss out on Champions League football again.


TOP STORY - RED DEVILS PLOT STUNNING KANE BID

The Sun reports that Manchester United are set to table a £90million bid for Kane after approval from the Glazers to appease their recent fan fury.

The move would be a stunning development, but Kane is understood to be interested in joining the Red Devils.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy does not want to sell Kane to a rival, although he may be backed into a corner financially in order to re-build the squad.


ROUND-UP

- With West Brom doomed for relegation, goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is hot property with Manchester United joining the race for his signature, alongside Tottenham and West Ham, according to ESPN. The Telegraph claims West Brom have slapped a £20m price tag on him.

- Chelsea have entered the pursuit for Jadon Sancho, joining Manchester United and Liverpool after Borussia Dortmund lowered their asking price, says Bild.

- Real Madrid are monitoring the status of out-of-favour Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling, according to Football Insider.

- Everton head coach Carlo Ancelotti is keen to lure on-loan Tottenham forward Gareth Bale to the club as the Welshman's future at Real Madrid remains uncertain, claims El Chiringuito.

- Dutch winger Noa Lang is being tracked by Leeds United, reports The Telegraph.

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