Salzburg will have to do what no other Austrian side has done before at Milan to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages, while Jude Bellingham has his eyes on an achievement managed by only two players previously.

The Rossoneri need only a point from the game at San Siro and the historical facts suggest they will achieve their aim to make it out of Group E.

For Bellingham, he can put his name in the record books alongside former team-mate Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe by scoring for Borussia Dortmund at Copenhagen.

There is plenty to play for as the Champions League group stage wraps up on Wednesday, and Stats Perform has trawled through the data to shine a light on the most interesting angles.

Milan v Salzburg

With a win, Salzburg will advance to the knockout stages for the second consecutive season after never making it out of the group stage previously.

They will need to defy the odds on their trip to Milan, where the Italian side are undefeated in home fixtures against Austrian opponents in the competition (W4 D1), while averaging 3.8 goals per game.

Salzburg have never beaten Milan in their three previous Champions League meetings, but after losing the first two, they collected their first point with a 1-1 draw in this campaign's reverse fixture.

While Olivier Giroud became the oldest player in Champions League history to reach 20 goals (36 years old) during Milan's win at Dinamo Zagreb last time out, Salzburg boast the youngest starting XI in the competition with an average age of 22 years and 279 days.

Shakhtar Donetsk v RB Leipzig

Shakhtar have only won one game in the group stage, but sit three points behind second-placed. A win would see them through to the knockout stages for the third time in the past four seasons.

The reverse-fixture was a memorable one for Shakhtar and exciting young winger Mykhailo Mudryk, who showed why he is so in-demand with a goal and two assists in a 4-1 away win.

Unfortunately for the Ukrainian side, that was their only victory from their past 12 Champions League matches (D6 L5).

Meanwhile, Leipzig have found some form in the competition, with back-to-back victories against Celtic before making it three wins in a row when they beat Real Madrid 3-2.

Manchester City v Sevilla

City are eyeing an undefeated group stage when they host Sevilla, having only conceded one goal in total from their five games until this point.

English sides have given Sevilla trouble for years now, with their last Champions League win over a Premier League team coming back in 2007 against Arsenal. 

If Jorge Sampaoli's side are to stand any chance of a shock win, they will need to pay special attention to Jack Grealish, who has impressed in the group stage with 10 chances created from open play, the most in Pep Guardiola's squad.

Maccabi Haifa v Benfica

If Juventus can salvage even a draw in their clash with Paris Saint-Germain, then Benfica will be able to win Group H by defeating Maccabi Haifa.

It has been a special run of form for Benfica, who for the first time since 1990 have gone six Champions League games without a loss (W3 D3).

Maccabi will have their backs against the wall, as only Malmo have a worse winning percentage (17 per cent) than their 24 per cent among teams to have played at least 15 Champions League games.

Also working in Benfica's favour is manager Roger Schmidt's record in the competition. Between his time with Bayer Leverkusen (2014-2017) and Benfica in this campaign, his run of 13 games unbeaten is the most by any active manager qualified for this season's Champions League.

Other fixtures:

Juventus v Paris Saint-Germain

- Juventus are looking to avoid becoming the second Italian side to ever lose five matches in a Champions League group stage, after Roma in 2004-05.

- Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe has six goals in the group stage. With one more he can tie Christopher Nkunku (last season) for the most by a French player in a single group stage, while with two more he can tie Zlatan Ibrahimovic's club-record of eight in 2013-14.

Copenhagen v Borussia Dortmund

60  - Despite Copenhagen still being without a win in Group G, they have kept a clean sheet in 60 per cent (nine-of-15) of their Champions League home games – the best ratio of any team with at least 10 appearances.

- With a goal, Bellingham can become just the third teenager to ever score in all three away games in a Champions League group stage, following Mbappe (2017-18) and Haaland (2019-20).

Chelsea v Dinamo Zagreb

10  - Chelsea are undefeated in their past 10 group stage games in the Champions League dating back to September 2019 (W6 D4). Over that period, they are averaging 2.3 goals per game.

10  - Along with City's Grealish, Chelsea's Mason Mount is the only other Premier League player from this Champions League campaign to tally at least 10 shots and 10 chances created.

Real Madrid v Celtic

20  - Since the beginning of last season's Champions League, no player has been involved in more open-play sequences that have resulted in a goal than Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior (20).

14  - Celtic's Matt O'Riley has attempted the most shots in the Champions League this season without scoring, with no goals from his 14 shots.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes French football is "collapsing" without him, declaring the presence of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi as "not enough".

Ibrahimovic enjoyed a trophy-laden spell with Paris Saint-Germain between 2012 and 2016, winning 12 domestic honours including four consecutive Ligue 1 titles.

The Sweden striker's tally of 156 goals for PSG, meanwhile, is only bettered by Edinson Cavani (200) and Mbappe (188) in the club's history, although his return of 0.87 goals per game is better than both of those players.

Ibrahimovic, who is expected to return for Milan in 2023 after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury at the end of last season, claims Ligue 1 has suffered for his absence.

Speaking to Canal+, Ibrahimovic said: "Since I left France, everything is collapsing. 

"There is no longer any interesting subject. France needs me, but I don't need France. 

"Even if you have Mbappe, Neymar and Messi, it's not enough, because you don't have God."

Mbappe (11), Neymar (10) and Messi (seven) have scored a combined 28 league goals for PSG this season after all three men netted in Saturday's dramatic 4-3 victory over Troyes.

 

Christophe Galtier admits Paris Saint-Germain are lacking balance and cannot rely on their superstar forwards to bail them out after scraping a 4-3 victory over Troyes.

The reigning Ligue 1 champions twice trailed to goals from Mama Balde, either side of Carlos Soler's leveller, in Saturday's clash at the Parc des Princes.

But Lionel Messi scored a superb equaliser and then played in Neymar to put PSG ahead for the first time, before Kylian Mbappe emphatically converted from the penalty spot.

There was still time for Ante Palaversa to pull one back, making Troyes the first side to score three or more goals at PSG in the league since Bordeaux in February 2020.

Rather than showing pride in PSG's ability to fight back and move five points clear at the summit, Galtier criticised the defensive performance of his side.

"The team was very unbalanced from the start," Galtier told Amazon Prime. "Some players had trouble finding their levels.

"We won very few balls high up the pitch and lost too many duels. On a defensive level, we made far too many mistakes and again conceded from a set-piece.

"This is something we have to spend time on to fix, something we have to make work. If we have to score four goals to win each time, it's going to be complicated.

"We got ahead of ourselves because we succeeded on the offensive level, but we left ourselves completely open."

 

PSG have scored 54 goals in 19 games in all competitions this season, a tally only Bayern Munich (69 in 20) can better among teams across Europe's top five leagues.

However, having defeated Maccabi Haifa 7-2 in the Champions League in midweek, they have now conceded five goals in their past two matches.

Midfielder Marco Verratti accepts the Parisians have to tighten up at the back if they are to challenge for trophies on multiple fronts this season.

"We didn't defend well today. We cannot concede three goals at home," he said. "We have to find a better balance to our game."

The past 25 goals netted by PSG in all competitions have been either scored or assisted by Messi, Neymar and Mbappe in a run stretching back to September 3.

Galtier fielded all three of his superstar trio for the full match against Troyes – a decision the Frenchman defended after his side's 19th game without defeat since he took over.

"They had to stay on until the end if we were going to get the win," he said. "If the score had been different, with the team a few goals ahead, we could have managed it more.

"Plus, we know Neymar will not play on Wednesday [against Juventus] because of suspension. We knew today we would have to keep our attacking power to score goals."

Christophe Galtier says Paris Saint-Germain will not "break" their front three of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi if they do not have to.

The trio have helped fire the Ligue 1 champions to a superb start to the season despite continued noise around Mbappe's future.

Former Barcelona duo Neymar and Messi have both returned to top form, with 22 and 23 goal involvements respectively.

Ahead of this weekend's encounter with Troyes, Galtier acknowledged a hectic schedule could force a reshuffle in attack, but he hopes all three superstars will be fit to feature again.

"It's their state of fatigue that will judge whether they play," the coach said. "They have scored 40 goals out of 50 for us this season, so it won't be based on their state of form.

"When we have this dynamic, we don't break it, we maintain it. The medical staff have done an excellent job in recent weeks. They are fine. When there is this dynamic, it is maintained."

A midweek Champions League rout against Maccabi Haifa, where the Mbappe, Neymar and Messi netted a combined five goals in a 7-2 win, ensured PSG head into next week's final Group H fixture guaranteed of progression to the knockout stages.

But whether they are seeded or not depends on their result with Juventus, with Galtier recognising the need to strike a balance between domestic and European commitments.

"We have an obligation to win against Troyes," he added. "There will also be a lot at stake in the middle of the week in Turin. Over the duration of the match, there is the possibility of involving other players."

Benfica could dump Juventus out of the Champions League, while Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea are among the other clubs who can seal a round-of-16 spot on Tuesday.

Juve must win at Benfica to have any chance from qualifying from Group H, while a victory will be enough to see the home side through. They can also advance with a point if Maccabi Haifa are unable to beat PSG.

The Ligue 1 champions will be through with a victory at the Parc des Princes or if they draw and Juve fail to win in Lisbon.

Chelsea travel to Salzburg as the Group E leaders and are guaranteed to progress if they win, while the Austrian side also remain in the hunt to qualify. The Premier League club can also go through if they draw and third-placed Milan defeat Dinamo Zagreb, who are bottom but only three points behind the leaders.

Borussia Dortmund will be sure to join Manchester City in getting out of Group G if they secure a home win over Pep Guardiola's side, who could win the pool with a game to spare. Real Madrid are in a similar situation to City, while RB Leipzig bid to join the holders in the knockout stage.

Ahead of another tense night of action, Stats Perform picks out the standout Opta numbers for the eight matches.

Benfica v Juventus

Juve have lost all three of their European matches away at Benfica, with their most recent loss a 2-1 Europa League defeat in 2014. 

The Turin giants only have one victory home or away in the seven previous meetings between the two famous clubs, Jurgen Kohler, Dino Baggio and Fabrizio Ravanelli on target in a 3-0 UEFA Cup clash in 1993.

Benfica could qualify for the knockout stage for a second consecutive season, a back-to-back feat they have only previously achieved in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons under Rui Vitoria. 

Juve could be eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League for the first time since the 2013-14 season, when Antonio Conte was in charge.

Paris Saint-Germain v Maccabi Haifa

Maccabi are winless in three away European games (including qualifiers) in France, losing two and drawing in a Cup Winners' Cup tie at PSG back in 1998.

PSG have only lost one of their past 32 group stage games at the Parc des Princes in the Champions League (W25 D6), with their lone defeat during that run coming against Manchester United in October 2020 (1-2). They have averaged 2.7 goals per game in those fixtures, scoring 86.

Since Kylian Mbappe's Champions League debut in September 2016, only Robert Lewandowski has been directly involved in more non-penalty goals (55) than the France forward (54 – 34 goals, 20 assists). 

Omer Atzili has scored twice for Maccabi in the Champions League this season. The last Israeli player to net more in a single campaign in the competition was Eran Zahav, who scored three for Hapoel Tel Aviv in 2010-11.

Salzburg v Chelsea 

Chelsea have only played two away European matches in Austria, losing 1-0 at Weiner Sport-Club in November 1965 in the Fairs Cup and drawing 1-1 against Austria Vienna in November 1994 in the Cup Winners’ Cup. 

Salzburg are winless in all seven of their European matches against English teams (D2 L5), failing to beat Blackburn Rovers (D1 L1), Manchester City (L2), Liverpool (L2) and Chelsea (D1).

In-form Chelsea have won back-to-back Champions League games, beating Milan 3-0 at Stamford Bridge and 2-0 at the San Siro. The last time they won three games in a row in the competition by a margin of at least two goals was in October-November 2013.

Salzburg have scored exactly one goal in each of their past seven games in the Champions League – only one team have ever had a longer run of scoring a single goal in the competition, with Olympiacos doing so in 10 in a row in a run ending in November 2005. 

Borussia Dortmund v Manchester City

No player has been directly involved in more goals than City's Erling Haaland (five goals) or Dortmund's Jude Bellingham (four goals, one assist) during the group stage this season.

Dortmund have won just one of their five Champions League matches against City (D1 L3), a 1-0 home victory in the 2012-13 group stage. 

No full-back has been involved in more sequences of play that have ended in shots (29) or goals (five) thans Joao Cancelo in the Champions League this season. The Portugal international has provided three assists in four games, equalling his season-best tally in a Champions League campaign (three in nine games last season). 

If Haaland scores on his return to face his former club, it will be the third time he has scored in five or more consecutive appearances in the Champions League. Only five players have achieved that feat on three occasions – Cristiano Ronaldo (five), Lionel Messi (three), Lewandowski (three), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (three) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (three). 

Other fixtures:

RB Leipzig v Real Madrid

13 – Madrid are unbeaten in their past 13 games against German sides in European competition (W9 D4), scoring at least two goals in every game during this run (31 in total). 

3 – Leipzig will be looking to win three consecutive Champions League games for just the second time – they won three in a row between February and August 2020, beating Tottenham twice and Atletico Madrid once. 

Dinamo Zagreb v Milan

5 – Dinamo have lost all five of their matches against Milan in European competition (including qualifiers). Against no side have they lost more games in their European history (also five v Ajax). 

100 – Milan's 100 per cent record against Dinamo – winning five out of five games against them – is their best against any side in Europe.

Sevilla v Copenhagen

29 – The average age of Sevilla's starting line-up in the Champions League this season is 29 years and 73 days, the second-oldest of any side in the competition this term after Rangers (29 years 96 days). 

13 – Copenhagen are winless in all 13 of their major European matches against Spanish teams (D5 L8), losing their last three on Spanish soil. 

Celtic v Shakhtar Donetsk 

– Celtic have lost seven of their past eight games in the Champions League (D1) and are looking for their first win in the competition since September 2017 (3-0 v Anderlecht).

0 – Shakhtar have never won a Champions League away match against a British team, losing on eight of their nine total trips. They did avoid defeat in the most recent one, however, drawing 1-1 against Manchester City in November 2019. 

Paris Saint-Germain boss Christophe Galtier was impressed by how his team played while utilising three central midfielders in their 3-0 victory against Ajaccio on Friday.

In the match, Galtier started Renato Sanches, Marco Verratti and Fabian Ruiz as the three midfielders in a 4-3-3 setup, after spending much of the season playing a 3-4-3 with two central midfielders.

The breakthrough came in the 24th minute when Lionel Messi assisted Kylian Mbappe for the opener, and that score would hold until Messi got on the end of a spectacular team move in the 78th minute, where Mbappe would return the favour with an assist for the second goal.

Mbappe then finished things off in the 82nd, again off an assist from Messi, and their chemistry drew praise from Galtier in his interview with PSGTV.

"We scored another two magnificent goals [in the second half]," he said. "Of course, the move from Leo [to] Kylian, [back to] Leo is an extraordinary goal on this difficult pitch, but it's also the third goal. 

"The link-up between Leo and Kylian really worked well – it's very good for the team and it's very good for them. They are players that need to score and that's very good for them. 

"It also allowed me to make changes to give certain players a break, and I liked the way that our midfield played too."

Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe combined superbly to inspire Paris Saint-Germain to a 3-0 Ligue 1 win at Ajaccio on Friday.

The defending champions were without the suspended Neymar, leaving it up to the two other stars on their forward line to send PSG six points clear at the top. They did so in style.

Mbappe, who recently slammed reports of him wanting to leave the club as "completely false", cut a frustrated figure for much of the game even after breaking the deadlock in the 24th minute.

He was teed up by Messi for that opener before missing a series of chances to claim a hat-trick.

However, a commanding PSG display was eventually reflected by the scoreline as Mbappe and Messi linked up brilliantly for the latter to make it 2-0 before the long-time Real Madrid target added further gloss with his second.

 

Carlo Ancelotti was not put out by Manchester City being named the team of the year in Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony, saying last season's Champions League glory is proof of Real Madrid's standing.

Madrid finished third in the votes for the team award, despite winning LaLiga and the Champions League last season.

Liverpool finished as runners-up behind City, as they did in the Premier League. The Reds also lost to Madrid in the Champions League final, but won the EFL Cup and FA Cup last term. Indeed, Los Blancos also beat Pep Guardiola's side en route to winning their 14th European crown.

Ancelotti, though, insists Madrid – who won the Super Cup in August and are top of LaLiga after defeating Barcelona in Sunday's Clasico – are still the best.

He said in a press conference: "I don't know the criteria well, because they don't talk about the team. Madrid is the best team and that is why they have won the Champions League.

"I have all the respect for that award. We received the most important award in May."

Madrid did enjoy success on Monday, though, with Karim Benzema taking home the main individual prize after his stunning season in 2021-22, becoming the first French player to do so since Zinedine Zidane in 1998.

Benzema, 34, led Madrid to their success, which came somewhat against the odds – at least in the Champions League.

However, when asked if had been surprised by his achievements since re-joining Madrid from Everton last year, Ancelotti replied: "No, I don't think so. What we have achieved so far has been very good.

"For me it is not so surprising, here you have everything to be successful: history, tradition, competition, quality of the players, atmosphere... At the beginning of last season I had many more doubts than now."

Benzema scored 44 times last season, a tally bettered only by Robert Lewandowski (50) of players in Europe's top-five leagues.

Next on the list after Benzema was Kylian Mbappe, who scored 39 goals for Paris Saint-Germain and appeared all set to join his France team-mate at Madrid until a late change of heart.

Reports last week claimed Mbappe now wanted to leave PSG, though he denied those rumours on Monday. 

Asked if Mbappe would deserve another chance to sign for the club, Ancelotti instead chose to hail the next generation already coming through at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"What is the future? I do not know. On a personal level, I don't know what can happen," he said.

"The future of this club and this team is already written with young players like Vinicius [Junior], Rodrygo, [Aurelien] Tchouameni, [Eduardo] Camavinga, [Federico[ Valverde, [Eder] Militao... who have already written the future of this team.

"The players change, but these players have shown what the future of Real Madrid will be."

Florentino Perez says it is "out of the question" for Real Madrid to sign Kylian Mbappe in January, but did not rule out a move for the forward further down the line.

It was reported last week that Mbappe wants to leave Paris Saint-Germain as he feels "betrayed" by the club only five months after signing a new three-year deal.

The France international had been strongly linked with a move to Madrid as a free agent at the end of last season after his contract expired, but instead opted to stay with the Ligue 1 champions.

Mbappe has rubbished reports he wants to make a PSG exit and Madrid president Perez says the European champions are not planning to make a bid for the 23-year-old.

He told El Larguero: "It's not that I'm bored about Mbappe, it's that I don't even read it. We already had a good summer, so that's out of the question.

"You can't know anything about the future, but the Real Madrid players are progressing spectacularly in the forward areas. Rodrygo and Vinicius [Junior] still have a lifetime to prosper. I see them both as Ballon d'Or [winners]."

Perez added: "Real Madrid only looks at the players it has and we are delighted with them. We are not doing badly with the number of young players we have. We have a very promising future."

The Madrid supremo hailed Karim Benzema after the Los Blancos captain won the Ballon d'Or for the first time on Monday.

He said: "I'm happy because at last he deserves to be the best player in the world. He has been the best for three or four years.

"He is a nine who is a mixture of Ronaldo Nazario and Zinedine Zidane. He is a nine who does these two jobs at the same time. He moves forward like Zidane did and shoots on goal like Ronaldo Nazario did."

Karim Benzema said he had realised a childhood dream by winning the Ballon d'Or for the first time on Monday.

The Real Madrid captain was rewarded for an outstanding 2021-22 campaign when he was named the best player in the world at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.

Benzema scored an astonishing 44 goals in 46 games as Madrid accomplished a LaLiga and Champions League double under Carlo Ancelotti last season.

The France striker, who turns 35 in December, became the oldest Ballon d'Or winner since the great Stanley Matthews way back in 1956.

Benzema was presented with the award by his former Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, who had been the last French player to win in 1998, on a special evening in his homeland.

He said: "Seeing this award in front of me makes me really proud of the work I have done. It was childhood dream, to have the motivation... I had two role models, Zidane and Ronaldo [the Brazil legend], and always I had this dream in my mind that anything is possible.

"There was a difficult period where I wasn't in the French team, but I never stopped working hard or gave up.

"Really proud of my journey here. It wasn't easy, it was difficult. To be here today for the first time, I am happy, pleased for my work and want to keep going.

"I want to thank all my team-mates at Real Madrid and France and my coach and the Real Madrid president, who is here this evening, and also the support of Jean-Michel Aulas [Lyon president].

"There are a lot of people to thank. It is an individual prize but still a collective one because of everyone who played a role in it."

Bayern Munich's former Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was the runner-up, with Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne third and Robert Lewandowski fourth after an outstanding final season for Bayern Munich before joining Barcelona.

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah was ranked fifth and Paris Saint-Germain's prolific France international Kylian Mbappe only sixth.

Benzema added: "Age is just a number for me. People play until their later years now, and I still have this burning desire.

"It is this drive that has kept me going and never allowed me to let up. It kept this dream alive and was the fire behind me. I just want to make the most if it."

Karim Benzema has been rewarded for his career-best 2021-22 season with his first Ballon d'Or in a ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.

Real Madrid captain Benzema was a strong favourite for the top award on Monday after inspiring the Spanish giants to a LaLiga and Champions League double last term.

Ahead of a November-December World Cup, a change in the format saw the Ballon d'Or awarded based on performances over a regular season rather than the calendar year for the first time.

France international Benzema would have been a leading candidate in either case, but he was the clear winner after scoring 44 goals in 46 matches and earning a fifth European crown in the 2021-22 campaign.

Bayern Munich's former Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was the runner-up, with Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne third and Robert Lewandowski fourth after an outstanding final season for Bayern Munich before joining Barcelona.

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah was ranked fifth and Paris Saint-Germain's prolific France international Kylian Mbappe only sixth.

Lewandowski won the Gerd Muller Award, presented to the best striker, before Benzema was handed the Ballon d'Or by his former Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane.

Although his haul was topped by Lewandowski (50), 10 of Benzema's goals came in the Champions League knockout stages, tying a Cristiano Ronaldo single-season record.

Vinicius Junior netted the decisive strike in the final versus Liverpool, but Benzema had already established himself as the world's best with hat-tricks against both Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.

Adding 15 assists, Benzema's total of 59 goal involvements last season fell just shy of Mbappe's Europe-wide high of 60 (39 goals, 21 assists).

Benzema had been nominated for the Ballon d'Or on 10 previous occasions but only cracked the top 10 for the first time in 2021, finishing fourth as Lionel Messi – not nominated this year – claimed a seventh award.

Cristiano Ronaldo finished in 20th place in the Ballon d'Or voting as he headlined an array of stars to fall short of 2022 winner Karim Benzema.

Ronaldo, Benzema's former Real Madrid team-mate, was nominated following a strong season with Manchester United, but he could not come close to adding a sixth Ballon d'Or.

The United forward instead fell to his lowest finish since he last came 20th in 2005, then tied with Liverpool's Champions League winner Jamie Carragher.

Great rival Lionel Messi did not even earn a nomination after his first year at Paris Saint-Germain.

Some of the biggest names of the future came rather closer to troubling Karim Benzema, with Kylian Mbappe sixth and Erling Haaland 10th.

But neither made the final four, where Robert Lewandowski's world-leading 57-goal season for club and country was only enough for fourth place.

Ahead of him, Kevin De Bruyne was in third, with Sadio Mane second, perhaps showing what might have been for the ex-Liverpool forward had the Reds, not Madrid, won the Champions League final.

With Ronaldo 20th and Messi absent, the highest-ranking former Ballon d'Or winner was 2018's Luka Modric, one of Benzema's existing Madrid colleagues.

Modric came ninth, the lowest of four Madrid players in the top 10, as Champions League final winner Vinicius Junior was eighth and Yashin Trophy recipient Thibaut Courtois seventh.

2022 Ballon d'Or:

1. Karim Benzema
2. Sadio Mane
3. Kevin De Bruyne
4. Robert Lewandowski
5. Mohamed Salah
6. Kylian Mbappe
7. Thibaut Courtois
8. Vinicius Junior
9. Luka Modric
10. Erling Haaland
11. Son Heung-min
12. Riyad Mahrez
13. Sebastien Haller
14. Fabinho
14. Rafael Leao
16. Virgil van Dijk
17. Casemiro
17. Dusan Vlahovic
17. Luis Diaz
20. Cristiano Ronaldo
21. Harry Kane
22. Trent Alexander-Arnold
22. Phil Foden
22. Bernardo Silva
25. Joshua Kimmich
25. Mike Maignan
25. Antonio Rudiger
25. Joao Cancelo
25. Christopher Nkunku
25. Darwin Nunez

Karim Benzema has been rewarded for his career-best 2021-22 season with his first Ballon d'Or in a ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.

Real Madrid captain Benzema was a strong favourite for the top award on Monday after inspiring the Spanish giants to a LaLiga and Champions League double last term.

Ahead of a November-December World Cup, a change in the format saw the Ballon d'Or awarded based on performances over a regular season rather than the calendar year for the first time.

France international Benzema would have been a leading candidate in either case, but he was the clear winner after scoring 44 goals in 46 matches and earning a fifth European crown in the 2021-22 campaign.

Although his haul was topped by Robert Lewandowski (50) – then of Bayern Munich and now of Barcelona – 10 of Benzema's goals came in the Champions League knockout stages, tying a Cristiano Ronaldo single-season record.

Vinicius Junior netted the decisive strike in the final versus Liverpool, but Benzema had already established himself as the world's best with hat-tricks against both Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.

Adding 15 assists, Benzema's total of 59 goal involvements last season fell just shy of Kylian Mbappe's Europe-wide high of 60 (39 goals, 21 assists).

Benzema had been nominated for the Ballon d'Or on 10 previous occasions but only cracked the top 10 for the first time in 2021, finishing fourth as Lionel Messi – not nominated this year – claimed a seventh award.

Kylian Mbappe has described reports he wants to leave Paris Saint-Germain in January as "completely wrong".

Mbappe, who played in PSG's 1-0 Ligue 1 win over Marseille on Sunday, was said to have felt betrayed by the club hierarchy.

The World Cup-winning 23-year-old signed a new contract in May, after months of uncertainty, but he was reported to have become unsettled once more after a failure to meet his demands both tactically and in recruitment.

PSG football advisor Luis Campos emphatically denied those reports by claiming Mbappe had not informed the club of such intentions, while head coach Galtier also expressed confusion over the speculation.

The France international has now had his say on the reports, which surfaced just before PSG's Champions League match against Benfica on Tuesday, and is adamant they are not true.

"I'm very happy, I never asked to leave in January," he said, speaking to French media. "The info came out on the day of the match, I didn't understand. I'm not even remotely involved in this news. I was just as shocked as everyone else.

"People may think I'm involved, but I'm not involved at all, I was taking a nap. My entourage was at my little brother's game, all the people who take care of me weren't there, so we were flabbergasted when we found out.

"Afterwards, we had to deal with it, there was a game to play. Just to say it's completely wrong, and I'm very happy."

Mbappe had been a target for Real Madrid before agreeing to prolong his stay in Paris.

He said: "I am a football player, the most important thing for me is to play and give my best on the pitch. If I start spreading myself too thin, I will get tired very quickly.

"When you play at PSG, you know what you're getting into, what it's going to involve in the good and in the bad. You have to be ready.

"Those who come here know, we warn them. We're right in it at the moment, but we are focused on winning games and titles."

Mbappe has started the season in prolific form in front of goal, scoring 12 goals in 14 games across all competitions for the French champions.

This might be the perfect time to play Paris Saint-Germain, or it could be the worst possible time to face them.

It's been a chaotic week for the Ligue 1 champions, with rumours of in-fighting, betrayal, and possible walkouts.

Kylian Mbappe apparently wants out, and that in turn led to speculation about the possibility of football consultant Luis Campos and head coach Christophe Galtier departing as well.

Everyone remains for the time being and they must all now turn their attention to Sunday's game, Le Classique.

Victory for Marseille will move them level on 26 points with PSG – victory for the Parisians at the Parc des Princes will likely have many already declaring them champions again even after just 11 games.

A rival emerging?

Throughout Qatar Sports Investments' (QSI) ownership of PSG, genuine title rivals have been few and far between.

Marseille certainly can't claim to be so competitive yet, though there's clearly some cause for optimism.

After all, this will be the third successive Classique that has been contested by sides in the top three, which is as many as in their previous 13 meetings.

That may not mean a huge amount in isolation and even Marseille's second-placed finish last term saw them 15 points adrift of PSG, but Igor Tudor's men do appear to be making progress, with 23 points after 10 games their third-best start in the top flight.

A shock win in the capital on Sunday might force a few people to sit up and take note.

Classique, c'est bleak

Any Marseille optimism is likely to be tempered by the recent history of this fixture, however.

PSG have only lost one of their previous 25 games against Marseille across all competitions, a 1-0 Ligue 1 defeat in September 2020.

 

In fact, PSG's nine wins from 11 home meetings with OM since the QSI takeover in 2011-12 is their joint-most against a single opponent.

To make matters worse for Marseille, PSG haven't lost any of their past 19 Ligue 1 games – which is their longest such run since 21 between May 2018 and January 2019 – and are unbeaten at home in 26 top-flight matches.

But, as the saying goes; the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Right?

Verratti closes on landmark

Marco Verratti is one of the players who is most synonymous with this ultra-successful era of PSG given he arrived in 2012.

He is now set to make Classique history as he will be the first outfield player to make 20 appearances in the famous fixture.

In fact, only one player has ever made more appearances in Le Classique; former Marseille favourite Steve Mandanda.

Marquinhos isn't too far behind the Italian, though, and unlike Verratti, the Brazil defender has remarkably never lost to Marseille in Ligue 1.

That's a run of 15 games without defeat – only three players have ever played more Ligue 1 games against one team without losing. Jean-Paul Bertrand Demanes (21 versus Laval for Nantes) holds that particular record.

Galtier's point to prove

The off-field circus of this week has undoubtedly had its toll on Galtier, with the PSG embarking on a bit of a rant during Friday's pre-match news conference.

Former Nice coach Galtier fumed about questions relating to off-pitch matters, barking that he just wanted to concentrate on football.

Clearly, then, Galtier will be more motivated than anyone to get a positive result and ensure the focus is on football again after Sunday – though he'll need to put a poor run behind him if he's to do so.

Galtier has only won four of 25 games against Marseille as a coach, giving him a measly win percentage of 16.

Only against Auxerre (no wins from five games) has he a poorer record.

 

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