Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi claimed a penalty was the only way Juventus were going to score against his side after Sunday's 1-1 draw in Serie A's first Derby d'Italia of the season.

Inter were held by rivals Juve at San Siro, the first time since April 2019 the two teams have shared the points in the league as Massimiliano Allegri's fast-improving side earned another point in their recovery after a poor start to the 2021-22 campaign.

Edin Dzeko's first-half strike – his seventh goal in nine top-flight outings, as many as he scored in 27 appearances last term – was cancelled out by Paulo Dybala's late penalty, his 18th converted spot-kick in his last 20 attempts.

Inter substitute Denzel Dumfries was adjudged by VAR to have fouled Alex Sandro for Juve's 89th-minute penalty, a decision that infuriated Inzaghi so much he was sent off by referee Maurizio Mariani for throwing the ball away.

After the game, Inzaghi was still furious as he felt defending champions the Nerazzurri deserved all three points but did offer his apologies for his reaction.

"It was the only way in my opinion we could concede," Inzaghi told DAZN with Inter third and seven points behind Napoli and Milan, while Juve are three pointers further back. "We led the game from start to finish, we didn't concede anything to Juventus.

"They are two points thrown away that do not please me. The referee is there two metres away, he says that everything is fine and then he is called back. Sorry for the fans, we deserved more."

Inzaghi was then asked if Dumfries' infringement was avoidable and added: "I think so because we were clearly in numerical superiority close to the ball.

"We were never under pressure, we controlled from start to finish. I admit my gesture was not a good image to portray, but I felt in that moment it was not a VAR incident.

"As a coach, at the 89th minute of a game like that, with the referee right there waving play on, it's natural you’re going to get a bit angry the way I did."

Meanwhile, Allegri – who had previously won all three away league meetings against Inzaghi – was satisfied with a point as his side extended their unbeaten run to 10 games across all competitions.

"Before the draw, we had some actions where we didn't close and they were situations where we could have done better," Allegri started to DAZN post-match.

"We played with more confidence against Inter, it's an important point and allows us to have the possibility - even if we have to win - to increase the streak and then to nibble a few points before the break.

"But on Wednesday against Sassuolo we need to win. The match was beautiful, fought on a physical level and with good technical plays. We must improve in closing the action."

However, Allegri still implored Juve to improve after conceding 11 times in their opening nine Serie A matches – the first time they have done so since 1992-93.

"It depends on the first three games where we left eight points out of nine and it influenced us a bit," Allegri responded about Juve's form.

"We had to start from the basics, or rather from a good defensive position.

"We need to work on this, it's a matter of self-esteem. if we are aggressive in front, they play with a pipe in their mouth in the back."

Paulo Dybala's late penalty cancelled out Edin Dzeko's first-half strike as Inter were held by Juventus 1-1 in Sunday's Derby d'Italia clash in Serie A.

The Bianconeri started this term poorly – going winless in their first three top-flight games – but had responded well with a four-match winning run before travelling to Inter, who were facing consecutive league defeats for the first time since March 2020.

However, it was Dzeko who opened the scoring after 17 minutes at San Siro with his eighth goal of the season as the division's early top scorers added their 24th goal of the term.

Juve's nine-match unbeaten run across all competitions seemed destined to end but Dybala's late penalty, aided by a VAR decision that infuriated Simone Inzaghi so much he was sent off for his reaction, ensured Massimiliano Allegri's men left Milan with a point.

Samir Handanovic produced a fine double save to deny Alvaro Morata and Alex Sandro in the opening stages after Milan Skriniar had headed narrowly wide for Inter.

Hakan Calhanoglu then curled against the right-hand post before Dzeko converted on the rebound from close range – his fifth Serie A goal in just four home appearances so far this campaign.

Juan Cuadrado fired wide at the other end and Leonardo Bonucci sliced off target on the stroke of half-time as Juve looked to respond.

Dzeko flicked wide after the interval as he sought to extend Inter's lead before Ivan Perisic skewed over Wojciech Szczesny's goal just after the hour mark.

Substitute Dybala's free-kick was then beaten away by Handanovic before the Argentina international converted from the spot to score a late equaliser following Denzel Dumfries' foul on Alex Sandro, which was picked up by VAR.

Toni Kroos has fallen out of favour with Real Madrid. 

A January transfer is a top priority with the World Cup looming.

Could a reunion with Pep Guardiola await? 

 

TOP STORY – KROOS HEADED TO CITY?

Manchester City have reached out to Toni Kroos about a January transfer, El Nacional reports. 

The Germany international has played in just one league match for Real Madrid this term. 

The 31-year-old previously played for City boss Guardiola at Bayern Munich and a reunion could be on the cards. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Ferran Torres is set to land a contract extension at Manchester City, says the Daily Star, with the new five-year deal set to pay him £100,000 a week.

- Lazio midfielder Luis Alberto could be headed for a reunion with Simone Inzaghi at Inter, reports Calciomercato. 

- Everton lead several clubs in pursuit of Manchester United's Jesse Lingard, says Football Insider, with West Ham and Newcastle United also interested. 

- Liverpool and Manchester United are among the clubs queuing for 18-year-old United States and Dallas sensation Ricardo Pepi, the Mirror reports. Milan, Juventus and Bayern Munich also have been linked to the teen. 

- Newcastle have increasingly focussed on Ajax's Erik ten Hag to replace Steve Bruce, the Express reports, adding that Marc Overmars could also make the move to St. James' Park as director of football. 

 

Inter were labelled as favourites to win the Serie A title by Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, and Simone Inzaghi took the compliment in his stride.

The Nerazzurri host Juventus in the Derby d'Italia on Sunday, with three points separating the sides in the standings.

Inter are behind Milan and a Napoli side who have made a flying start to the campaign, winning all eight matches.

However, Allegri insisted in his pre-match news conference on Saturday that Inter were still the favourites, despite having lost coach Antonio Conte, star striker Romelu Lukaku and full-back Achraf Hakimi over the close season.

Inzaghi responded by accepting Allegri's flattery, though the Inter boss does not agree with his Juventus counterpart.

"The championship is at the beginning," Inzaghi told a news conference. "It's a very important match between two very competitive teams.

"If [Allegri] says so, a coach I respect so much, it's nice. I could say the same about them, Napoli, Milan and more.

"We want to be favourites and we will try to do our best."

Juve come into Sunday's fixture on the back of a four-match winning run in Serie A, while Inter lost 3-1 at Lazio last time out in the league.

The Turin giants are also expected to be able to welcome back forward Paulo Dybala, who has been out for almost a month due to injury.

 

"Of course, Juventus are our historical rivals," Inzaghi said. "We will have to do well to make the match ours. They have recovered all their players, they have excellent results and we must give them great attention.

"We have always held our ground and lost only two games despite playing well, even deserving a different result.

"The progress is good, we have slowed down for a moment, but we are aware and play excellent football."

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri believes Inter remain the favourites for the Scudetto ahead of their clash in the Derby d'Italia.

Allegri's men visit San Siro on Sunday as they look to continue an eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions.

The Bianconeri are 10 points adrift of leaders Napoli, who hold a two-point lead over Milan and are seven points ahead of defending champions Inter.

Inter's drop-off from their title-winning campaign is not a surprise given they lost coach Antonio Conte, star striker Romelu Lukaku and full-back Achraf Hakimi in the close-season.

But Allegri still sees the Nerazzurri as the team most likely to win the title come the end of the season.

"It will be a beautiful evening, there will be many spectators and a great atmosphere," he told a pre-match media conference. 

"There are many expectations from us, from Inter and from the fans. In my opinion, Inter is still the favourite for the Scudetto: it will be an important test."

Juve sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United in the transfer window and, though he netted only twice in six games against Inter in his time with the Turin club, Allegri accepts it will be more difficult to prevail without the superstar forward.

"It won't be a decisive match, but winning would allow us to extend the positive streak and take a leap forward," he added.

 

"With Ronaldo having left, everyone has more responsibilities, and we must seek this goal with all the players we have.

"Tomorrow, we will have to play well technically. Inter are strong: we need clarity and a desire to fight."

One player Juve should be able to count on is forward Paulo Dybala, who looks set to return having missed the last four matches with a muscle injury.

Despite being limited to five league appearances this season, Dybala has already displayed clinical form in front of goal, finding the net twice from 15 shots with an Expected Goals value of 0.8.

Gianluigi Donnarumma's move to Paris Saint-Germain dominated headlines following a busy off-season in the French capital.

Donnarumma was part of an incredible transfer window for PSG, which included the likes of Lionel Messi and Achraf Hakimi arriving.

But Donnarumma is already reportedly considering his future with the Ligue 1 giants.

 

TOP STORY – DONNARUMMA WEIGHING UP FUTURE

Gianluigi Donnarumma will leave Paris Saint-Germain if he continues to be overlooked in favour of Keylor Navas, according to Calciomercato.

Donnarumma only joined PSG from Milan on a free transfer at the start of the season, but he has found himself playing second fiddle to Navas in Paris.

The Italy international has already been linked with Juventus and Barcelona.

 

ROUND-UP

Luis Suarez is seeking a new contract at Atletico Madrid but the LaLiga champions want to hold off until the end of the season before deciding, per Saturday's Marca. Atletico have been linked with wantaway Fiorentina star Dusan VlahovicManchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal and Inter have also been linked to Vlahovic.

Bayern Munich are pushing to sign Salzburg forward Karim Adeyemi, reports Sport1. The 19-year-old has impressed in Austria, where he has been linked with Liverpool, Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, Inter and Real Madrid.

- Porto's Luis Diaz is attracting interest from Newcastle United, Chelsea, Bayern and Madrid, claims Nicolo Schira.

Antonio Rudiger's priority is to stay at Chelsea but Fabrizio Romano says the race is open to sign the Germany defender, with Madrid and Bayern among his admirers.

- Mundo Deportivo claims Inter midfielder Marcelo Brozovic has emerged as an option for Atletico, who are planning for life without Saul. Brozovic has been linked with Manchester United and Barca.

 

Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta said star duo Nicolo Barella and Lautaro Martinez will extend their contracts with the Serie A champions, while he hit out at former striker Romelu Lukaku.

Barella is contracted to Inter until 2024 amid links with Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, and the Nerazzurri have been determined to tie the Italy international down to a new long-term deal.

Martinez – long linked with LaLiga giants Barcelona – and his current deal does not expire until 2023.

Marotta addressed the futures of Barella and Martinez ahead of Sunday's Derby d'Italia against rivals Juventus, while highlighting the time needed to re-sign midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, who is reportedly wanted by Manchester United and Barca.

"Barella and Lautaro will extend their contract with a pay rise, we are close," Marotta told Il Corriere della Sera.

"Brozovic's contract is expiring, it will take more time, but I am confident."

Marotta, meanwhile, said there is not much difference between Inter's Edin Dzeko and former star Lukaku – who he claims left San Siro for more money.

After leading Inter to the Scudetto last season, Lukaku re-joined Chelsea in a club-record £97.5million (€115m) deal.

Dzeko was brought in from Roma as a replacement for Lukaku ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

"Lukaku was sold for €115m and we bought Dzeko for free. On the pitch, there isn't much difference,” Marotta said. "Lukaku left to double his salary, in Italy these figures can't exist.

"Today, we can't make important investments, I wouldn't be allowed to sign Lukaku for €75m. We need reduced and specific investments."

Barella and Arturo Vidal netted in the last home Serie A match against Juventus – the last Inter midfielder to score in consecutive league seasons against the Bianconeri at San Siro was Lothar Matthaus (in 1989-90 and 1990-91).

Among the 13 teams he has faced at least 10 times in Serie A, Juventus are one of the two against which Dzeko has been involved in the fewest goals (alongside Torino) – only three (two goals and one assist).

Inter have scored 78 goals (in 32 games) in 2021 in Serie A. In the big five European leagues, only Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have netted more (89 in 29 games) this calendar year; Juventus have scored 64 goals in 33 matches.

Paulo Dybala looks set to return from injury for Juventus' eagerly anticipated clash with reigning Serie A champions Inter on Sunday.

The Argentina international has missed each of the Bianconeri's last four matches after sustaining a muscle injury against Sampdoria at the end of last month.

However, he successfully returned to group training on Friday and should be available for this weekend's Derby d'Italia at San Siro.

Despite his absence, Dybala is Juve's joint-top scorer this season with three goals from six appearances so far.

The 27-year-old's existing contract is due to expire at the end of the season, but he is reportedly close to agreeing an extension with the club.

Juventus are seventh in Serie A, having collected 14 points from their opening eight games, but they can move level with third-placed Inter should they prevail on Sunday.

Replacing Romelu Lukaku was never going to be easy, though, in Edin Dzeko, Inter may have gone some way to doing just that.

The 2021-22 campaign may still be in its infancy, but 35-year-old Dzeko has made a fantastic start as Inter look to defend the Serie A title that Lukaku's goals propelled them towards last season.

Dzeko took his tally for the season to seven with a sublime volley against Sheriff in the Champions League on Tuesday. Inter were pegged back, but the former Roma man turned from scorer to provider to tee up Arturo Vidal and swing the match back in the Nerazzurri's favour.

Heading into the first Derby d'Italia of the season, Simone Inzaghi's Inter sit three points above Juventus, who themselves have had to contend with the loss of a superstar forward.

Cristiano Ronaldo beat Lukaku in the Serie A scoring charts in 2020-21, yet while Inter, spearheaded by Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez, lead the way for goals scored so far this season with 23, Juve are lagging some 11 behind.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform assesses how the two giants of Italian football have adapted – and are still adapting – to the attackers at their disposal, and if that could prove the difference on Sunday.

Replacing Rom

Chelsea broke their transfer record to re-sign Lukaku in August for a whopping £97.5million (€115m). The cash was needed by Inter, who had already sold Achraf Hakimi to Paris Saint-Germain and lost their title-winning coach Antonio Conte as well. Lukaku had initially been happy to stay on under Inzaghi, but the pull of a return to Stamford Bridge ultimately proved too strong to turn down.

Across his two seasons with Inter, Lukaku scored 64 goals in 95 games across all competitions. Last season he scored 24 goals and set up a further 11, putting the suggestion he was merely a penalty box poacher firmly to bed. Indeed, Lukaku's tally of seven secondary assists (the pass before the assist) ranked joint-highest in Italy's top flight.

Lukaku refined his game and has returned to the Premier League a better player, leaving Inter with a huge void to fill. Dzeko represented a prudent option.

Having spent the last six seasons at Roma, Dzeko needed no adaptation to the league. He scored 85 Serie A goals during his spell in the capital, having previously played a huge role in Manchester City's Premier League title successes in 2012 and 2014.

Since his move to Wolfsburg in 2007, Dzeko has only scored under 10 goals in all competitions in three seasons, while he missed only 22 league matches during his stint with Roma. Reliable, experienced and a proven goalscorer. With Inter's financial restraints, it was a no-brainer.

Joaquin Correa, capable of playing anywhere across the frontline, has also come in to boost Inter's ranks, though the start Dzeko has made may have even exceeded the club's expectations. 

Dzeko is averaging just under a goal per game in Serie A, having netted six times across eight appearances, with an impressive shot conversion rate of 35.29 per cent and scoring five of the six big chances that have come his way.

He has also picked up where Lukaku left off in terms of creativity, crafting 15 chances so far across his 11 appearances in all competitions, registering two assists.

 

Partners in crime

Lukaku's departure also left Inter needing to find a suitable partner for Martinez. The duo combined for eight Serie A goals last season, more than any other pairing, albeit the first of those did not arrive until matchday eight in November.

In total, Lukaku found Martinez on 68 occasions in Serie A last term (at an average of 1.9 per game), with 16 of those being key passes, and five resulting in assists.

A brilliant example of their stellar combination in action came in a pivotal 3-1 win over Lazio in February; Lukaku – on a hat-trick at the time – charging clear of a desperate defender before coolly sliding it across for the waiting Martinez to tap in.

Martinez picked out Lukaku 52 times, providing three assists and creating a total of 13 chances for his strike partner. They played 36 league matches together, accumulating 2,069 minutes.

Dzeko too, however, has been able to link up well with Martinez. On average over the seven matches they have played in, he passes to his team-mate 1.7 times per game, with the Bosnia-Herzegovina forward creating two chances for his Argentine counterpart.

Across the 357 minutes played together, the duo have found each other 22 times, though Martinez is yet to craft a chance from those passes.

Inter, who have scored 78 goals across 32 Serie A games in 2021 (only Bayern Munich have managed more across the big five European leagues), would be extremely fortunate if this partnership proves as profitable as the Lukaku-Martinez axis did, though there are certainly bright signs.

 

Replacing Ron

Inter might have struck gold with Dzeko, but Juve have struggled in attack early in Massimiliano Allegri's second spell in charge.

With Ronaldo gone, the onus is on Paulo Dybala. He scored against Udinese in the opening game of 2021-22 and found the net against Sampdoria last month, only to succumb to an injury that has since kept him out.

Only four players across Europe's top five leagues managed more goals in all competitions than Ronaldo did last season (36), while Alvaro Morata (20) and Federico Chiesa (14) were the only other Juve players to get into double figures.

Dybala's injury issues have derailed his last few campaigns, leaving Morata as Juve's main goal threat.

The Spain international enjoyed an impressive partnership with Ronaldo, providing four assists and creating 15 chances in 2020-21, though the favour was not returned – Morata only receiving four key passes from Ronaldo in 27 league matches.

 

Yet if Juve can keep Dybala fit, there may be something for Allegri to build on, with Morata playing more passes to the Argentina forward than he has done to any other team-mate so far this season (12), albeit that has only resulted in one goalscoring opportunity.

Sunday's showdown at San Siro comes too early in the season to be truly decisive, though a second successive home win over Juve would be a huge boost.

In Dzeko and Martinez, Inzaghi has a functioning strike force that has already contributed 12 goals to Inter's cause. Allegri's two central forwards, meanwhile, have only managed six between them. 

Raheem Sterling is open about a move away from Manchester City for more game time.

The 26-year-old dropped down the pecking order at City last season before an excellent Euro 2020 campaign, where he scored three times for runners-up England.

Sterling has only managed five starts in all competitions this season and could be on the move in the January transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA PRIORITISE STERLING MOVE

Barcelona will make completing a loan deal for Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling their priority in January, claims Sport.

Sterling faces strong competition for places at City and has spoken publicly about his desire for more time on the field.

The Catalans have financial restraints inhibiting their transfer activity but view a loan deal for the England international as an attractive option given their ambition.

ROUND-UP

- Real Madrid have lost ground in the pursuit of Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland , who is also being tracked by Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain,  according to AS. Madrid are being squeezed out financially by the competition for Haaland's signature.

- France forward Ousmane Dembele is open to a move to Newcastle at the end of his contract, claims Goal.com. Dembele has not played a minute for Barcelona this season.

- Newcastle are also interested in signing Everton's England striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin,  reports The Telegraph.

- Manchester City are keeping a close eye on Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic as the race for his signature hots up, according to Tuttosport. City are short on forward options, having not replaced Sergio Aguero following his exit for Barcelona.

- Calciomercato reports that Inter are concerned about the state of contract talks with Croatia international Marcelo Brozovic,  whose current contract expires in June.

Edin Dzeko admitted he is sometimes guilty of missing simple chances after leading Inter to an important 3-1 Champions League win over Sheriff.

The Bosnia-Herzegovina striker scored an expert volley in the first half to put the Nerazzurri ahead at San Siro on Tuesday.

Sebastien Thill levelled with a fine free-kick, but Dzeko set up Arturo Vidal to restore Inter's lead and Stefan de Vrij made certain of just their second win in 10 Champions League matches.

Dzeko's superb finish came after he missed an easier chance when through on Dumitru Celeadnic's goal 17 minutes in.

And the 35-year-old, who has scored seven goals in 11 appearances in all competitions since being signed to replace Romelu Lukaku, accepted he often fails to make the most of more presentable openings.

"Sometimes I make difficult goals seem easy and other times I miss easy goals!" he said to Sky Sport Italia.

"It might be a question of concentration, but the important thing is to have scored tonight.

"We deserved much more in Rome [against Lazio], but the important thing is there was another match where we could give everything like we have today. We did well after taking only one point from two Champions League games."

Inter's first win of their Champions League campaign moved them to within two points of Group D leaders Sheriff and Real Madrid and gave a major boost to their hopes of reaching the last 16.

Vidal felt the victory was vital not just for their European campaign, but to give the team confidence ahead of Sunday's Serie A clash with Juventus.

"It was a really perfect night for us," Vidal told Inter TV. "We needed a win by this sort of margin to gain confidence, also in terms of looking at Sunday's game.

"We want to progress in the Champions League and we needed to win today. We lost a really bad game against Lazio last Sunday. Today, we had a good game that gives us confidence for the future."

Inter ended a three-game run without a home goal in the Champions League as they secured an important 3-1 victory over Sheriff on Tuesday.

With just one point from their opening two matches of 2021-22 and only one victory from their past nine games in the competition, the pressure was on the Nerazzuri to deliver at San Siro.

Edin Dzeko broke the deadlock 34 minutes in, but Sebastien Thill, who scored a stunning winner against Real Madrid on matchday two, drew Sheriff level early in the second half.

Inter responded well, though, Dzeko setting up Arturo Vidal to restore their lead and Stefan de Vrij adding a third to make certain of three points.

Dzeko had failed to beat Dumitru Celeadnic from a simpler position in the middle of the box earlier in the first half, making his breakthrough goal all the more impressive.

After Vidal flicked on Federico Dimarco's corner, Dzeko arrowed a controlled left-footed volley into the top-right corner through a crowded penalty area.

Sheriff had offered a threat despite leaving Samir Handanovic relatively untested, and few neutrals would have begrudged them their equaliser, Thill curling home a superb free-kick from more than 25 yards out.

Inter's response was exemplary, though. Only six minutes later, Vidal controlled Dzeko's pass and slotted beneath Celeadnic at his right-hand post, and Denzel Dumfries spurned a chance for a third soon afterwards.

Compatriot De Vrij showed more precision, though, firing home a low finish on the turn from Dumfries' header back across goal.

It could have been a more one-sided scoreline by the end, Ivan Perisic crashing a shot off the crossbar and Lautaro Martinez seeing a volley tipped over by Celeadnic.


What does it mean? Inter reignite Champions League campaign

Inter's win put them on four points from three games in Group D, two behind Real Madrid – who were 4-0 winners at Shakhtar Donetsk – and Sheriff.

Should Simone Inzaghi's men win the reverse fixture against the Moldovan champions, they will be in a strong position to progress to the last 16.

Viva Vidal

This was the first time Vidal had scored and assisted a goal in a Champions League game since he did so for Juventus against Chelsea in 2012.

While not quite the same colossus he was nine years ago, the Chile midfielder remains a supremely useful and experienced asset.

Shoot to Thill

Thill is fast making a name for himself with spectacular Champions League goals. His stunning winner at the Santiago Bernabeu was followed up here by a magnificent, measured free-kick that was too much for Handanovic to keep out.

Unfortunately for Sheriff, he could not stop Inter breaking through the lines with increasing ease as the game wore on.

What's next?

On matchday four, Sheriff host Inter on November 3. More immediately, the Nerazzurri must prepare for Juventus in Serie A this Sunday.

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.

Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer running out of time at Old Trafford?

Manchester United are already five points off the pace in the Premier League and pressure is mounting.

United, though, are believed to be firmly in favour of sticking with their manager.

 

TOP STORY – SOLSKJAER WANTED AT THE WHEEL

Manchester United are still backing under-fire manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, according to Fabrizio Romano.

United slumped to a 4-2 Premier League defeat to Leicester City at the weekend, which has left the Red Devils with just two wins from their past seven games across all competitions.

As pressure mounts on Solskjaer, United still reportedly have faith in the Norwegian amid links with the likes of Antonio Conte, Zinedine Zidane and Erik ten Hag.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Serie A champions Inter are ready to battle Arsenal for Madrid forward Luka Jovic. The Serbia international has struggled for form and fitness in the Spanish capital.

PSG want to swap Mauro Icardi for Barcelona's Sergio Aguero, claims El Nacional. The reports says Lionel Messi wants to reunite with countryman Aguero, who left Manchester City for Barca, only for Messi to join PSG.

- Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni, Borussia Dortmund's Axel Witsel, Denis Zakaria of Borussia Monchengladbach and Ajax's Ryan Gravenberch are among Juventus' transfer targets as they look to add options in midfield, per Tuttosport. Tchouameni has also been linked with Chelsea, Manchester United, Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester City, while Roma have been eyeing Zakaria.

Simone Inzaghi was left anguished after his first Serie A defeat as Inter boss came at his former club Lazio, admitting: "We lost our heads."

A 3-1 setback came after a flurry of second-half goals from the home side in Rome, with the defending champions knocked out of their stride late on by a moment of controversy.

With Inter's Federico Dimarco down, apparently injured, Lazio played on and got the 81st-minute goal that put them 2-1 ahead, Felipe Anderson netting from close range after Ciro Immobile's strike was parried by Samir Handanovic.

Inter were furious and both sides had two players booked as bickering on the pitch threatened to spill over. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic sealed the points in stoppage time with a fine header, ending Inter's seven-game unbeaten start to the league campaign.

Inzaghi's new team took the lead against his former charges when Ivan Perisic converted an early penalty, but Lazio had a spot-kick in the 64th minute after Patric's header from a corner was handled by Alessandro Bastoni. Immobile tucked away that chance and the comeback gathered momentum from there.

The result rankled with Inzaghi, who said afterwards: "That was our best recent performance, but when a team like ours is a goal up, we have to manage the game better in terms of our final ball and double our lead."

Quoted on the official Inter website, he added: "Unfortunately, they scored their equaliser from a corner that we shouldn't have conceded. From that point on, the game changed and Lazio got back into the contest.

"The second goal was a bit strange and we lost our heads, which is something we can't allow to happen. It's disappointing. It's a setback that we didn't need in terms of our league position, but we'll take the performance and move on."

Inter sit third in the Serie A standings, behind Napoli and Milan, and their next league clash sees them face Juventus on Sunday of next weekend.

"When you face sides like Lazio, you can't give them a chance to get back into the match," Inzaghi said. "We managed the contest particularly well for an hour, but we then let our opponents back into the game and paid the consequences."

Lazio head coach Maurizio Sarri said Inter should have put the ball out of play themselves when they had an opportunity after Dimarco went to ground.

Sarri was also dismayed to see Luiz Felipe, who had an excellent game in central defence, red-carded after the final whistle.

Luiz Felipe, in celebration mode, jumped on his former Lazio team-mate Joaquin Correa, who left for Inter in August. Correa did not see the funny side and Luiz Felipe was in tears after being dismissed.

"Luiz Felipe told me he was saying goodbye to Correa, they played together for a long time. They didn't want to fight," said Sarri. "It's a big misunderstanding."

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