Mikel Arteta played down concerns over Bukayo Saka’s fitness after he was forced off during Arsenal’s 2-0 win over Sevilla in the Champions League.

Saka scored in front of England manager Gareth Southgate to help the Gunners record a third victory in Group B and move within touching distance of the last-16.

Arteta substituted goalscorer Leandro Trossard and the excellent Gabriel Martinelli in the 81st minute but left Saka on and seconds later he went down holding his ankle after landing awkwardly before he limped off.

Arsenal host Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday while Southgate names his England squad for this month’s European Championship qualifiers with North Macedonia and Malta on Thursday, but Arteta suggested his six-goal attacker would be fine despite this latest bruising encounter.

He said: “At the end he wasn’t comfortable to carry on. Hopefully it’s not too much but I’m really pleased with his performance.

“I think he’s getting used to it (being kicked). I don’t think that’s going to change, especially with the way he plays and the way he attracts players, so he better get used to it because I don’t think it’s going to change.

“It was just a kick and I was told by the physios on the radio he wasn’t happy to continue. So he will have some discomfort but hopefully I am going to assume he will be OK.”

After the controversy of last weekend’s loss at Newcastle, where Arteta labelled the decision by VAR to award Anthony Gordon’s winner as “embarrassing”, this was a much-needed routine night for his injury-hit team.

With Eddie Nketiah ruled out with an ankle knock to join Martin Odegaard and Gabriel Jesus on the sidelines, Trossard led the line and broke the deadlock when he finished off a slick move in the 29th minute.

Jorginho unlocked the Sevilla defence with a wonderful through ball to Saka, who squared for Trossard to stroke home his fifth goal of the campaign.

Saka, who was fouled four times inside the opening 17 minutes, made the points safe with a smart finish after 64 minutes.

Martinelli released the England international away on the right and Saka cut inside Adria Pedrosa before he curled into the bottom corner.

Arsenal would have qualified for the knockout stages had Lens been victorious at PSV. But with a four-point gap at the top of Group B, the north London club will almost certainly continue their Champions League adventure in 2024.

Arteta added: “I think it was more of the really good things that we did against Newcastle. We didn’t need a response because the team performed extraordinarily well against a team that are really difficult to play against.

“Today it needed other requirements, tactically we needed something else and we implemented what we wanted really, really well, so I’m really happy with the last two performances.”

On top of worries over Saka, Takehiro Tomiyasu was also taken off during the interval.

“He had some discomfort in the first half,” Arteta said of the defender.

“We didn’t want to take any risks because he’s played a lot of minutes. With Alex (Oleksandr Zinchenko) on the bench ready to come in, I think it was the right decision.”

On Odegaard (hip) and Nketiah (ankle), Arteta added: “They are racing against the clock to be fit.

“They tried their best to be here today with us, it wasn’t possible and we have another 48 hours before we play Burnley. We’ll try again and see because we need players at the moment.”

Sevilla only managed their first shot on target in the seventh minute of stoppage time and suffered a second group defeat.

Boss Diego Alonso admitted: “We weren’t able to put in the performance we wanted to.

“Our opponents were better than us and did well. Our aim was to win the ball high up the pitch, but we were very far away from their area. That is my assessment.”

Arsenal took a huge step towards qualifying for the knock-out stages of the Champions League as Bukayo Saka starred in victory over Sevilla before limping off late on.

Saka set up the opening goal for Leandro Trossard before scoring the second himself as the Gunners secured a straightforward 2-0 win at the Emirates Stadium that leaves them on the cusp of the last 16.

Mikel Arteta opted to play Trossard through the middle as his central striker with Eddie Nketiah joining Gabriel Jesus in the treatment room, with the Belgium forward the only change from Saturday’s contentious defeat at Newcastle.

There was not such drama here although four early fouls on Saka went unpunished as both Nemanja Gudelj and Kike Salas left their mark on the England international.

Kai Havertz, without a goal from open play since his £65million summer move from Chelsea, fluffed his lines with an early headed chance, but Arsenal set out their intent from the off.

Saka went down again under close contact from Salas, but this time Romanian referee Istvan Kovacs was unmoved as the hosts wanted a penalty.

Just moments later, however, and the deadlock was broken. The lively Saka unsurprisingly laying on the assist for Trossard to tap home – but Jorginho was the architect with a slide-rule pass to start the move.

It proved to be the only shot on target of a forgettable first half as Sevilla, without a LaLiga or Champions League win under head coach Diego Alonso since his appointment last month.

Havertz bent an effort inches wide as Arsenal went in search of a second after the break and Trossard should have done better soon after, but curled his strike the wrong side of the post.

It was Saka, though, who made the difference once again, beating the offside trap to race onto a Gabriel Martinelli pass before cutting inside Adria Pedrosa and tucking home with aplomb.

Gabriel Jesus had provided the goal and assist that ultimately saw off Sevilla in Spain a fortnight ago, but he was injured during the game and has not played since.

The same went for Saka here, who fell awkwardly and limped off with five minutes to go, with England manager Gareth Southgate – who announces his next squad on Thursday – watching from the stands.

Arteta had said on the eve of the game that Arsenal should “put to bed” qualification for the last 16 with two games to spare and his players did their bit.

But PSV Eindhoven’s win over Lens leaves Group B open, although a draw against the Ligue 1 side at the Emirates Stadium in three weeks time would be enough for Arteta’s side to advance.

Sergio Ramos admits the appeal of Champions League football only added to the lure of an emotional return to Sevilla as he hopes the LaLiga side can win at Arsenal in his absence on Wednesday.

The 37-year-old won the competition four times during a trophy-laden spell at Real Madrid but is now back at his boyhood club following a stint with Paris St Germain.

The former Spain centre-back has been ruled out with a calf injury and has not travelled for Sevilla’s crucial Group B clash away to Arsenal.

Defeat for the reigning Europa League champions would leave their chances of progression into the Champions League knockout stages on a knife-edge with two games remaining.

Ramos will no doubt be desperate to feature in those fixtures and help keep Sevilla’s ambitions alive after making the “passionate” decision to return after an 18-year absence.

“I had received offers of going abroad, to Saudi Arabia, for instance – but this was a debt I had to my club, to Sevilla, the first team where I triumphed,” he said.

“This is also a personal debt towards my family, my parents, my grandparents – it’s very emotional, very passionate to me. This was a very personal decision, a decision made with the heart.

“The Champions League is something that everybody knows what it means, especially personally to me, when making a decision the Champions League is an important competition.

“Sevilla were playing in the Champions League and that was a plus in making such a decision.

“Arsenal are a consolidated team with young players with a well-defined style of play. They know how they play and we know it will be a very, very difficult game.

“Winning? Well, we know that Arsenal are an amazing team. But of course, the team will go there with the intention of taking the win, the three points home.

“We know how difficult it can be but we will try to play a serious game, very concentrated to try to make sure that they don’t have a lot of opportunities and we take advantage of the ones we have.”

Asked about his fitness ahead of Saturday’s 1-1 LaLiga draw against Celta Vigo, a match the World Cup winner was not involved in, Ramos replied: “Let’s take it one day at a time. It is true it’s not a big injury, it is a minor injury.”

Arsenal sit top of the group after a 2-1 win in Spain a fortnight ago but Mikel Arteta’s side have lost two of their three domestic games since.

Speaking at the Emirates Stadium on the eve of the clash, Sevilla head coach Diego Alonso praised Arsenal as one of the elite clubs in Europe.

“The game at a strategic and football level is complex,” he said.

“We are facing the fourth or fifth best team in Europe, they showed it last season, same in this one. It puts us in difficulties, but it also put us in difficulties two weeks ago. We competed well, with an unfair result for me because we did more for the game.”

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Mikel Arteta has stood by his VAR outburst following Arsenal’s loss at Newcastle on Saturday and insists he will continue to “talk loudly” until he believes the situation improves.

The Gunners lost 1-0 at St James’ Park on Saturday – their first Premier League defeat of the campaign – as Anthony Gordon scored a controversial winner for the hosts.

The second-half goal was checked for three separate VAR offences – the ball going out of play, a foul by Joelinton on Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes and a potential offside – but survived them all to ultimately earn Newcastle the three points.

Speaking after the defeat, Arteta said it was “embarrassing” and a “disgrace” that the goal stood – while Arsenal issued a statement on Sunday in support of their manager’s forthright views.

Asked on Tuesday if he would have done anything differently, the Spaniard replied: “It is my duty to stand in front of you, to stand in front of the cameras, and give a very clear and honest assessment of what happened in the game.

“And this is what I did, reflect very openly on how I felt that the team played and how the game was conditioned by this results with the decisions that were made. It is the duty.

“My duty is to be defending my players, supporting my players, supporting my club, defending my people in the best possibly way and this is what I am going to time after time.

“I do it, not the way I feel, (but) with the evidence and being as clear as possible. And I always do it, when we play real I need to say it, when we have lost, to take my responsibility, the first one is me to do it. It is the way that I am and I have to defend my club.”

Arteta suggested it is the duty of managers to discuss VAR and the issues it is currently presenting within the game.

“If you guys and everyone watching football are there, we have to give our opinion in an honest way and clear,” he added.

“Don’t talk about other things. Be very clear and respectful, but clear and honest and value what we have.

“Errors are part of evolution. The trajectory is never going to be like this (gestures straight up), there are always going to bumps in the road and these things are necessary to improve the game in the right way.

“But we have to talk loudly. If you have a problem and you put it in your draw, the problem is in the draw and it’s going to stink at some point. If you have a problem, let’s talk about it, try to improve it. That’s what we are trying to do. Nothing else.”

Arsenal’s statement claimed “yet more unacceptable refereeing and VAR errors” occurred during the loss at Newcastle as the club “wholeheartedly supports” Arteta’s comments, stating players, coaches and supporters “deserve better”.

The statement has been criticised in some quarters with Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville labelling it “dangerous”.

Arteta, though, believes it does not legitimise those who abuse referees for perceived poor decision-making against the club.

“No, the support we have given to everybody is not going to change. I will be in meetings trying to reinforce that,” he said.

“This is not the topic. Everyone wants the same thing, but we have to understand that we (managers) have to be there.

“We have a duty to express how we feel with all the evidence we have and the history of what happened.

“We have to stand for our people, our values and who we are. When the club has done it, it’s been in very specific moments for the right reasons.

“It shows the unity and understanding that is within the club to position ourselves in a really clear and honest way. That’s our duty as a club.”

Arteta was speaking ahead of Arsenal’s Champions League clash against Sevilla, where victory on Wednesday night could see his side qualify for the knockout stages with two Group B games to go.

“The moment you have a chance in football to put it to bed, do it,” he said of wrapping up qualification early.

“We have to do a lot of things right tomorrow to earn the right to win it and against a really good team with enormous experience in this competition.

“We have to prove it tomorrow in front of our people how excited we are to play that game and what it means for us.”

Sergio Ramos admits the appeal of Champions League football only added to the lure of an emotional return to Sevilla and is hoping injury will not rule him out of Wednesday’s trip to Arsenal.

The 37-year-old won the competition four times during a trophy-laden spell at Real Madrid but is now back at his boyhood club following a stint with Paris St Germain.

The former Spain centre-back is currently struggling with a calf injury and could miss Sevilla’s crucial Group B clash away to Arsenal.

Defeat for the reigning Europa League champions would leave their chances of progression into the Champions League knockout stages on a knife-edge with two games remaining.

Ramos will no doubt be desperate to feature and help keep Sevilla’s ambitions alive after making the “passionate” decision to return to Sevilla after an 18-year absence.

“I had received offers of going abroad, to Saudi Arabia, for instance – but this was a debt I had to my club, to Sevilla, the first team where I triumphed,” he said.

“This is also a personal debt towards my family, my parents, my grandparents – it’s very emotional, very passionate to me. This was a very personal decision, a decision made with the heart.

“The Champions League is something that everybody knows what it means, especially personally to me, when making a decision the Champions League is an important competition.

“Sevilla were playing in the Champions League and that was a plus in making such a decision.

“Arsenal are a consolidated team with young players with a well-defined style of play. They know what they play, and we know it will be a very very difficult game.

“Winning? Well, we know that Arsenal are an amazing team. But of course, the team will go there with the intention of taking the win, the three points home.

“We know how difficult it can be, but we will try to play a serious game, very concentrated to try to make sure that they don’t have a lot of opportunities and we take advantage of the ones we have.”

Asked about his fitness ahead of Saturday’s 1-1 LaLiga draw against Celta Vigo a match the World Cup winner was not involved in – Ramos replied: “Let’s take it one day at a time.

“It is true it’s not a big injury, it is a minor injury. I hope to be able to play the game but I don’t know whether it might come too soon.

“Let’s just take it one day at a time and let’s see how I’m able to evolve and hopefully, I would love to play.”

Arsenal sit top of the group after a 2-1 win in Spain a fortnight ago but Mikel Arteta’s side have lost two of their three domestic games since.

Despite a small blip, Ramos has been impressed with the progress made by the Gunners in recent times and is a particular fan of captain Martin Odegaard, who he spent time with as a team-mate in Madrid.

“We see what kind of style of play they have, they were almost Premier League champions last year, one of the most important competitions in the world,” he added.

“Regardless of the great group – it’s very well balanced. I would maybe refer to Martin Odegaard (as a key player) – his role, he’s very participative, very involved – even if he’s the first one to receive the ball.

“Jorginho, Gabriel Jesus too, I think that their structure is clear and they know what they play. But I would refer to those three names first – Jesus, Jorginho and Martin Odegaard.”

Gabriel Jesus believes he can finally win the Champions League and has told his Arsenal team-mates to share the faith.

The Brazil forward has a love affair with Europe’s premiere club competition and was the difference-maker as Arsenal won 2-1 at Sevilla on Tuesday night.

Jesus provided a moment of magic to lay on the opening goal for compatriot Gabriel Martinelli before curling home a fine individual effort – although his celebrations were curtailed as he limped off with 10 minutes to go.

The former Manchester City striker, who came off the bench when Pep Guardiola’s side lost the 2021 Champions League final to Chelsea, has a phenomenal strike-rate in the competition – his goal at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium was his 23rd in 41 appearances for City and Arsenal.

He still harbours ambitions of winning the trophy and feels it is something he and his colleagues can achieve this season.

“It’s a competition that I love,” he said after his man-of-the-match display.

“All the competitions I love, because I just love to play football. But I don’t know, since day one in the Champions League, my debut, I scored goals.

“I haven’t won it yet, so I am looking for this, for this beautiful trophy. Obviously it is not easy, but I think we have to believe. If we don’t believe, we cannot be here.”

While his goal was a moment to savour, Jesus’ role in Martinelli’s opening effort will live long in the memory as a deft touch took two Sevilla midfielders out of the game.

A perfectly-weighted slide-rule pass played in Martinelli who, having missed a golden chance to break the deadlock earlier in the game, obliged with a cool finish as the two Brazil internationals combined to great effect.

“I think for me as the type of player I am, I drop a lot more on the left side than the right side,” Jesus replied when asked about his relationship and understanding playing alongside Martinelli.

“Obviously I drop on the right as well to help B (Bukayo Saka) and to play with B, but I drop more on the left. It works.

“The wingers we have, not just Martinelli and B, but Reiss (Nelson), Leo (Trossard) and even Eddie (Nketiah) or Fabio (Vieira) when they play there, they are quality players.

“I just go out wide and I try to play short passes and give them the ball, and they try to find me as well. It worked with Martinelli and I am very happy.”

Mikel Arteta’s side return to domestic action when they welcome Premier League bottom club Sheffield United to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Gunners are unbeaten in their opening nine league games of the campaign and Jesus could yet be involved despite limping off late on in Spain.

“I felt something. Let’s see,” he said. “I did some tests with the physio, it looks not that big, but let’s see. I have a scan, maybe tomorrow. I’m pretty sure it will be nothing.”

Mikel Arteta has praised Gabriel Jesus for bringing “belief” and “energy” to Arsenal as the forward shone in victory at Sevilla.

Jesus continued his love affair with the Champions League with a fine goal and assist double as the Gunners won 2-1 at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.

A piece of magic set up compatriot Gabriel Martinelli to open the scoring on the stroke of half-time before Jesus doubled the lead with a fine, curling finish of his own – although he later limped off having moments earlier held his hamstring.

The Brazil forward may not boast the most prolific strike record but he has now scored an impressive 23 goals in 41 appearances in Europe’s elite club competition.

Asked if Jesus had been signed from Manchester City because of his prowess in the competition, Arteta replied: “For sure. He has been through a lot in the last few years and he’s still really young.

“He has enormous experiences – some of them not the nicest but very necessary to be the player that he is today. I’m really happy to have him in the team.

“He came here for a reason. I think he changed our world. He brought so much belief and energy to that team, he needs to step in in those moments. He’s done that. That’s when a player becomes accountable for the team.

“Big games are for big players. He needed to produce those moments to win in a stadium like this. He’s done it for us in a really big way. Then, really sad because he felt something in his hamstring and I’m worried about that.

“We need those players to win games. If you want to play Manchester City, then go to Stamford Bridge, then come here – that’s the level we’re at right now. To come here and win, big credit to the boys.”

Jesus’ night ended as he hobbled off to be replaced by Eddie Nketiah in the latter stages – with Arteta admitting he is concerned for the striker.

“(I am) really sad because he felt something in his hamstring and I’m worried about that,” he added.

“He straight away asked to be subbed which is not good news because Gabriel is not a player who does that at all. We will have to wait and see in the next few days.”

The victory saw Arsenal recover from defeat in Lens last time out and was enough to take them to the top of Group B at the halfway stage.

Arteta’s side will be in a good position to reach the knockout stages if they beat Sevilla in the return game at the Emirates Stadium in a fortnight and the Spaniard was pleased with the reaction to defeat in France.

“That result against Lens put us in a difficult position and the team had to react,” he said.

“We are coming from the back of very difficult games where the team has to step in and go against adversity as well with some of the injuries that we picked up to big players.

“The team is so willing to at least try their best even if we don’t manage to be our best all the time.”

Gabriel Jesus continued his love affair with the Champions League with a fine goal and assist as he led Arsenal to victory over Sevilla.

The Brazil forward may not boast the most prolific strike record but he has now scored an impressive 23 goals in 41 appearances in Europe’s elite club competition and he was the difference here as the Gunners won 2-1.

A piece of magic from Jesus set up compatriot Gabriel Martinelli to open the scoring on the stroke of half-time before he doubled the lead with a fine, curling finish of his own – although he later limped off having moments earlier held his hamstring.

A thunderous Nemanja Gudelj header reduced the arrears on the hour but Mikel Arteta’s side saw out the closing stages to secure victory, moving top of Group B in the process.

Martinelli should have put Arsenal ahead inside eight minutes after being played through on goal by Jesus, only to shoot straight at the advancing Orjan Nyland.

Moments later Lucas Ocampos stabbed an effort just wide at the other end as both sides looked to strike early in an atmospheric Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.

David Raya’s inclusion in the Arsenal goal at the continued expense of Aaron Ramsdale was again a talking point before the game and the Spaniard gifted possession to Sevilla at the midway point of the first half but the home side failed to take advantage.

Neither team created anything else of note until stoppage time when, firstly, Sevilla easily cut through the Arsenal defence but Youssef En-Nesyri failed to hit the target as he dragged a shot wide.

Arsenal then took the lead, having escaped another Sevilla attack they broke at pace and a fine touch and perfectly-weighted pass from Jesus set Martinelli in behind. This time the Brazilian made no mistake, calmly rounding Nyland before rolling the ball into an empty net.

The Gunners should have doubled their lead soon after the restart but captain Martin Odegaard blazed over when well-placed inside the box.

Jesus, though, was in confident mood and extended the advantage with a fine solo goal, moving in off the left to curl a finish past Nyland.

Sevilla responded well and got themselves back into the contest when Gudelj powered a header past Raya from Ivan Rakitic’s corner.

The Europa League holders came within inches of equalising soon after, as substitute Mariano Diaz’s strike was tipped onto the crossbar by Raya.

Jesus did not have chance to savour a memorable performance as he gingerly hobbled off to be replaced by Eddie Nketiah with 10 minutes left on the clock.

Arsenal, though, were able to navigate through the difficult closing stages, surviving a late onslaught to secure victory ahead of the return game at the Emirates Stadium in a fortnight’s time, where another three points will leave Arteta’s side sitting pretty.

Mikel Arteta is hoping he will be left talking about football after his Arsenal side take on Sevilla in Spain on Tuesday.

Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr was allegedly racially abused during Saturday’s LaLiga clash at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Vinicius later took to social media to praise staff in the ground for ejecting a fan and reporting him to the authorities.

The Brazilian then said he had also seen footage of abuse being aimed at him from a child, posting on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Congratulations to Sevilla for their quick positioning and punishment in yet another sad episode for Spanish football.

“Unfortunately, I had access to a video of another racist act in this Saturday’s match, this time carried out by a child.

“I am very sorry that there is no one to educate you. I invest, and I invest a lot, in education in Brazil to form citizens with attitudes different from these.”

Just three days later and Arsenal will be the visitors for their Champions League Group C clash.

Arteta echoed Vinicius’ sentiment and is hoping he is left discussing the result when he addresses the media after Tuesday’s game.

“What I can say is Sevilla reacted in a really strong and quick way,” he said.

“Great. Let’s enjoy a beautiful football atmosphere. It doesn’t get much better than the atmosphere here and I hope that we can just talk about the football and enjoy that atmosphere tomorrow.”

Arteta is once again expected to prefer David Raya over Aaron Ramsdale in goal, although the latter has travelled despite reports he would stay in England following the birth of his child on Saturday.

The goalkeeping position at the Emirates Stadium has dominated discussion in recent weeks, especially following a nervy performance from Raya in the 2-2 draw at Chelsea on Saturday.

Asked if Raya was suffering from the intensity of the attention at the moment, Arteta replied: “I haven’t seen that. If I am fair, I haven’t seen that at all.

“That’s the pressure of playing in big clubs where you have to win and you have to be at your best, and you have someone next to you who is pushing you every single day.

“If we go player by player, position by position, you will tell me what’s happening at left-back, what happens with the holding midfielder.

“That’s the debate. That’s the beauty of the game as well. The fact that you have other options as well is going to make those talks more frequent.”

England and Scotland’s Champions League representatives return to action this week with some looking to maintain momentum and others determined to kick-start their campaigns.

Holders Manchester City and Newcastle currently top their respective groups while Arsenal are well placed after two games, but Manchester United and Celtic are yet to open their accounts.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the teams the British contenders face in the latest round of fixtures.

Manchester United v Copenhagen (Tuesday)

 

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Danish champions Copenhagen began their campaign in the second qualifying round, easing past Iceland’s Breidablik 8-3 on aggregate, but were extended much further to secure their place in the play-offs as they drew 0-0 with Sparta Prague at the Parken Stadium before progressing 4-2 on penalties after an eventful 3-3 draw in the Czech capital.

Polish champions Rakow Czestochowa provided the opposition as they fought for a place in the group stage and a 1-0 away win in the first leg proved decisive as the sides drew 1-1 in Denmark in the return.

Copenhagen are currently a point clear of Silkeborg and Brondby at the top of the Danish Superliga, but have won only once in their last four games in all competitions – Saturday’s 2-1 home victory over lowly Vejle BK.

They launched their Group A campaign with a 2-2 draw at Galatasaray, where they led 2-0 before defender Elias Jelert was sent off and were beaten 2-1 at home by Bayern Munich last time out, having gone ahead once again.

The game could prove something of a family affair for United striker Rasmus Hojlund, 20, who could come up against 18-year-old twin brothers Oscar and Emil, both part of former club Copenhagen’s squad for the competition.

Sevilla v Arsenal (Tuesday)

Sevilla are making their ninth appearance in the group stage and qualified as a result of extending their record as UEFA Cup or Europa League winners to seven with a penalty shoot-out victory over Roma in last season’s final in Budapest.

They have not made it to the last 16 in their last two attempts and welcome the Gunners to the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, having drawn both their Group B fixtures to date.

The Spaniards led French side Lens 1-0 at home in their opener courtesy of Lucas Ocampos’ early strike, but had to settle for a point after Angelo Fulgini levelled and they were pegged back once again in a dramatic conclusion to their trip to PSV Eindhoven, where they were 1-0 up and 2-1 ahead before Jordan Teze snatched a 2-2 draw deep into stoppage time.

Sevilla, who lost to Manchester City on penalties in August’s European Super Cup clash in Athens, finished 11th in last season’s LaLiga table, 39 points adrift of champions Barcelona and again find themselves in mid-table.

They have won only two of their 12 games in all competitions to date this season, but drew a second-successive league game on Saturday, when visitors Real Madrid needed a Daniel Carvajal equaliser to emerge with a point.

Celtic v Atletico Madrid (Wednesday)

 

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Twice runners-up – on both occasions to derby rivals Real Madrid – Atletico have genuine Champions League pedigree, although they failed to make the last 16 for the first time in five seasons in 2022-23.

The sides have met on six previous occasions in European competition with the Spaniards having come out on top four times, the last of them a 1-0 Europa League victory at Celtic Park in November 2011, with the Scottish champions’ only reward two draws.

Atleti currently top Group E on goals scored ahead of Lazio with both sides on four points and Feyenoord a point behind.

They drew 1-1 in Rome – where the Serie A side were indebted to goalkeeper Ivan Provedel’s last-gasp equaliser – and twice came from behind at the Estadio Metropolitano, where Alvaro Morata’s double either side of an Antoine Griezmann strike secured a 3-2 victory over the Dutchmen.

Diego Simeone’s men head into the game on the back of a six-match winning run culminating in Saturday’s 3-0 league victory at Celta Vigo.

Newcastle v Borussia Dortmund (Wednesday)

Last season’s Bundesliga runners-up, Dortmund were European champions in 1997 and went down 2-1 to compatriots Bayern Munich in the 2013 final.

They have made it to the knockout stage of the Champions League in eight of their 10 most recent campaigns, but went out to Chelsea in the round of 16 last season.

Their record in England, however, does not augur well with seven of their last eight visits having ended in defeat – both the Blues and Manchester City got the better of them last season.

Dortmund have collected just a single point from their two Group F outings to date, but are yet to find the back of the net following a 2-0 defeat at Paris St Germain and a 0-0 home draw with AC Milan.

However, the reverse in Paris remains the only one they have suffered in 11 games in all competitions and they have won their last five league games – the most recent of them a 1-0 victory over Werder Bremen on Friday – to sit two points adrift of early leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

Young Boys v Manchester City (Wednesday)

The Swiss champions are playing in the Champions League for the 10th time having missed out on a place in last season’s Europa League after a play-off defeat by Anderlecht.

They collected five points from their six games on their last appearance in 2021-22 and finished bottom of their group as a result.

Young Boys won their first home Champions League game against an English club – Tottenham in a 2010-11 play-off – but eventually went down 6-3 on aggregate and their last, a 2-1 victory over Manchester United in September 2021 on a night when Cristiano Ronaldo scored but Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off.

They went down 3-1 at home to Leipzig in their opening fixture, but were denied victory at Red Star Belgrade when Osman Bukari’s late goal ensured it ended 2-2.

They are unbeaten in four games in all competitions, but were held to a goalless home draw by FC Zurich on Saturday.

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has warned his players they must continue to make sacrifices as his side look to extend their lead at the top of LaLiga with victory at Sevilla on Saturday.

Ancelotti has deployed some players in unfamiliar positions with Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni moved back into defence and Rodrygo admitting he was not happy playing at centre forward.

But with a tough schedule ahead including next week’s El Clasico, Ancelotti made no apologies for his positional switches and said he would continue to ask his players to put the interests of his team first.

Ancelotti told a press conference: “It’s important to know where each player wants to play, and sometimes the demands of the team mean that some players have to make sacrifices.

“Camavinga, Tchouameni or Rodrygo have done that. Rodrygo is a complete forward and can play in the centre, as he did at Napoli. My idea is that the team’s demands come first and then the individual’s.”

Ancelotti’s men headed into the international break on the back of four straight wins and the Italian admitted he was concerned that they would be able to regain that momentum as speculation continues to swirl over his future.

“The team’s on a good run and it’s going to be an important week,” said Ancelotti, whose side also face a Champions League trip to Portugal to face Sporting Braga.

“I’m worried about quite a few things this week. The Sevilla game will be very demanding. They’ve changed coach and they have a lot of quality in their squad. It’s going to be a tough match.

“I’m more concerned that we might have forgotten what we did before the international break. We were playing well and I hope we can get back to the same level.”

Saturday’s game, which represents Real’s 3,000th in LaLiga, will also bring Ancelotti face to face with Sergio Ramos, who was integral to Ancelotti’s success during his first spell at the club between 2013 and 2015.

And Ancelotti admitted that he probably would not have got a second crack at the Madrid job had Ramos not scored the famous stoppage-time equaliser in their 2014 Champions League final with city rivals Atletico, which they went on to win.

“I love seeing him and saying hello,” added Ancelotti.

“Obviously, all the players I’ve had I’m very fond of, and I am especially of him. If he hadn’t scored in the final in Lisbon, I probably wouldn’t be here.

“For everything he’s done, I think everyone’s very fond of him, especially me. He’ll have a great game because he’s got real quality.”

Sevilla have sacked manager Jose Luis Mendilibar.

The Europa League holders drew 2-2 with Rayo Vallecano in LaLiga on Saturday, leaving them 14th with two wins, two draws and four defeats.

Mendilibar was hired in March but has become the club’s third manager to be dismissed inside 12 months.

The 62-year-old guided Sevilla away from relegation danger with a 12th-placed finish last season and beat Jose Mourinho’s Roma on penalties in May to clinch their seventh Europa League title.

Sevilla’s next match after the international break is a trip to Real Madrid before they host Arsenal in the Champions League.

Former Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos put through his own net to hand Barcelona a 1-0 win against Sevilla.

Xavi’s side looked set for a second LaLiga draw in succession following their midweek 2-2 clash at Mallorca before Ramos’ own goal with 14 minutes remaining.

The win takes Barcelona top of the table, one point ahead of Girona and two clear of Real Madrid, who travel to Girona on Saturday.

Following the draw at Mallorca on Tuesday, Xavi made four changes with Robert Lewandowski returning to the starting line-up. Jules Kounde partnered Andreas Christensen in defence, while 16-year-old Lamine Yamal was also handed a start.

For Sevilla, Ramos, 37, who returned to his boyhood club last month following 16 years at the Bernabeu and two seasons with Paris St Germain, was among five changes for his side’s trip to Barcelona’s temporary home at the Montjuic Olympic Stadium.

Sevilla arrived for Friday night’s fixture unbeaten in their last four outings and fresh from a 5-1 midweek demolition job of Almeria, but it was the hosts who enjoyed the best of the opening exchanges with Joao Felix involved.

First the Portuguese forward, on loan from Atletico Madrid, forced Orjan Nyland into a fine save following a low drive. And then midway through the opening period, Felix rattled the woodwork from six yards out after neat build-up play by Joao Cancelo.

Substitute Fermin Lopez then wasted a good chance just minutes before the interval when his shot from Yamal’s cross was straight at a thankful Nyland.

After the break, the chances continued to fall the way of the hosts, with Lewandowski’s close-range shot saved by the legs of Nyland on the hour mark before the impressive Yamal then dragged an effort wide. Moments later, Lewandowski’s shot was headed clear by Loic Bade.

Barcelona might have been wondering if it was going to be one of those nights but with 75 minutes gone, they were handed a lifeline.

Yamal’s header back across goal from Ferran Torres’ cross dropped into Ramos’ path and the ex-Real defender, who netted five times in 33 appearances against Barcelona, inadvertently scored past Nyland.

From there, a shell-shocked Sevilla never looked like getting back in the match as Barcelona saw out the game, including five additional minutes, to claim top spot in LaLiga.

Barcelona boss Xavi wants his side to defend better as they prepare for their LaLiga clash with Sevilla on Friday.

Barca are currently unbeaten in the league so far this term but have conceded four goals in their last two games, coming from behind to beat Celta Vigo 3-2 before a 2-2 draw with Mallorca.

Despite their recent defensive flaws, Xavi’s side have scored 18 goals, which is the joint most in the division alongside league leaders Girona.

The Barca boss acknowledged those differences but thinks his side have to improve at the back.

He said: “We might not be as brilliant in defence as we were last season.

“We need to improve our pressure after losing the ball, press higher up the pitch, concentrate a bit harder.

“But we have got better up front. We created six clear chances against Mallorca and I think that’s good baggage.”

The Catalan giants will face a Sevilla side who, after a tough start to the campaign, are starting to show their true colours and are currently unbeaten in three.

Xavi praised their opponents on Friday and has called on the home fans to be the 12th man.

He added: “Sevilla are the defending Europa League champions and a difficult team to play.

“They’re solid, they like to play down the wings and play a direct, vertical game. But we’re at home.

“We need the fans and the atmosphere at Montjuic to get back on the winning track.”

A win for Barcelona could take them top of the league temporarily before the top two, Girona and Real Madrid, face each other on Saturday.

Xavi is not surprised by how well current league leaders Girona are doing.

He continued: “It’s no surprise to me because they have been doing things well at that club for several years.”

The disgraced former president of the Spanish Football Federation [RFEF] Luis Rubiales was not worthy of representing his country, according to Sevilla vice president Jose Maria del Nido.

Rubiales was widely condemned for his behaviour as Spain celebrated their victory over England in last month's Women's World Cup final, having grabbed forward Jenni Hermoso before kissing her on the lips.

Hermoso repeatedly stated the kiss was not consensual and has since filed a criminal complaint against Rubiales, accusing him of sexual assault.

Though Rubiales initially refused to resign, the pressure eventually told as he announced his departure ahead of an interview with Piers Morgan, which aired last week.

Sevilla became one of the first clubs to demand Rubiales' resignation on August 25, and Del Nido believes the events have left a stain on the reputation of Spanish football. 

Speaking at the Thinking Football Summit, Del Nido told Stats Perform: "Instead of everyone talking about the success of being world champions, being the best in your sport at a global level, it's a complete failure that we should be talking about events that are totally unacceptable, of a person who should not represent the Spanish Football Federation. 

"Instead of paying attention to the damage that the attitude of the president of the federation has done, I would stay with the attitude that the Spanish people have had. 

"I think it is true that this hurts the reputation of Spain, but Spain is not Luis Rubiales. 

"Spain is everything we have manifested against the behaviour of Rubiales, everything we have done to support Jenni. 

"This type of conduct cannot be accepted under any concept, and even less if it is a person who occupies a status or a position of that magnitude. 

"He is not worthy of representing the Spanish Football Federation. Spain has spoken out against this event in a very good way. 

"I will finish as I started. What we have to do is congratulate the Spanish women's team for becoming World Cup champions, which is the only thing that should be discussed."

Despite the exits of Rubiales and World Cup-winning coach Jorge Vilda – who was sacked earlier this month having been the subject of player revolts – the storm surrounding the RFEF is far from over.

A group of 81 Spanish players announced their intention to boycott international duty and 39 said they would continue to strike for further changes on Friday, with Hermoso claiming "nothing has changed" at the governing body on social media.

However, six of the players who agreed to strike reported at Spain's training camp on Tuesday, with goalkeeper Misa Rodriguez telling reporters she was not glad to join up with the squad as she arrived. 

With the relationship between women's rights and Spanish football under the microscope, Getafe completed the controversial loan signing of Manchester United's Mason Greenwood this month.

Greenwood was arrested and charged with attempted rape, assault and controlling and coercive behaviour last year, with the charges dropped in February after the withdrawal of key witnesses.

While Del Nido was not prepared to comment on Getafe's decision to sign Greenwood, he said Sevilla never considered a move for the forward.

"I read about it in the press and it was never among the options that the sporting director of Sevilla [Victor Orta] managed," Del Nido asserted.

"With it not being within the options of the sporting director of Sevilla, I don't dare to speak about a signing for another club, Getafe, for whom we have a lot of respect. 

"They have made some signings but we have never valued the option of that footballer at a sporting level, so I have nothing to say about that."

Greenwood made his Getafe debut as a substitute on Sunday as they beat Osasuna 3-2 in LaLiga.

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