Manchester City are waiting for updates on Jack Grealish after an injury to the England midfielder took the shine off an impressive Champions League return in Denmark.

Grealish was forced off with a groin problem after 21 minutes of the holders’ largely straightforward 3-1 victory over FC Copenhagen on Tuesday.

Bernardo Silva also left the action before the end of the first leg of the last-16 tie after a blow to the ankle but it was Grealish pulling up that caused the most concern.

“He wanted to continue but we didn’t want to make the damage even worse,” said manager Pep Guardiola after the game. “We’ll make tests tomorrow (Wednesday).”

Grealish was making his first start in six games in what has been a difficult campaign for him.

The 28-year-old had a spell out with a dead leg earlier in the season and has been kept out of the side at other times by the good form of team-mates, notably Jeremy Doku in the first instance and latterly Phil Foden.

Another lay-off would be a blow for City as they chase a repeat treble, restricting attacking options soon after Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland had returned from their own injuries.

Silva could be doubtful for Saturday’s Premier League clash with Chelsea while it has also emerged that Josko Gvardiol and Mateo Kovacic have been nursing knocks.

Neither featured in Denmark and although midfielder Kovacic should be back in contention for the weekend, defender Gvardiol faces two to three weeks out with an ankle injury.

Fitness issues aside, City were dominant at the Parken Stadium, controlling in all aspects as they eased to a win that was far more convincing than the scoreline suggested.

The Danish champions, still in their winter break and clearly rusty, struggled to live with City and fell behind to an early De Bruyne strike.

City spurned several chances to increase their advantage before an Ederson error gifted Copenhagen debutant Magnus Mattsson an unlikely equaliser.

Silva restored the lead with a fine flicked finish and Foden wrapped up the win in stoppage time. The second leg takes place in three weeks’ time.

“I think getting the early goal helped us,” said Foden. “It is such a difficult place to come.

“We’re delighted with the performance and we take the 3-1 back.

“I thought the way we controlled the game and we picked the right times to attack was brilliant.

“I think we have a great group of lads. We’re all determined and the hunger is just the same from last year, to keep on and keep pushing.”

De Bruyne, who has quickly found top gear since returning from a five-month lay-off in January, provided the assists for both goals.

“He’s playing very well,” said defender Nathan Ake. “I think everyone expected him to come back a bit slower because he’s been out for five months or so, but straight away he hit the ground running and he’s been top. Hopefully he can continue like this.”

Pep Guardiola was left to rue injuries to Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva after Manchester City returned to Champions League action with a 3-1 win at FC Copenhagen on Tuesday.

Grealish, handed his first start in six matches, lasted just 21 minutes of the holders’ largely straightforward last-16 first-leg success at Parken Stadium before being forced off with a groin injury.

Silva, who put City into a 2-1 lead just before the break with a fine flicked finish, took a knock to the ankle late in the game.

The double blow comes after Josko Gvardiol missed the game with an ankle injury and Mateo Kovacic was also unavailable.

City manager Guardiola said: “It’s something muscular with Jack, his groin.

“He felt it on the grass, started to complain. The players can feel it immediately if it’s muscular. It’s a pity, he’s gutted.

“He wanted to continue but we didn’t want to make the damage even worse. We’ll make tests tomorrow.

“Bernardo has a big knock in his ankle and Josko is out two to three weeks. Kova is ready to come back.”

The injuries took the gloss off what was a mainly comfortable night for City.

They took an early lead through Kevin De Bruyne and, dominant in all departments, should have led by more before Magnus Mattsson levelled after an Ederson error.

Silva restored the lead and Phil Foden gave the scoreline a more realistic look in stoppage time.

Guardiola said: “It was really, really good. I’m so proud we played at that tempo. It was perfect.

“We were patient in the right moments but it’s not done. I know how difficult it is.

“It’s not decisive but a good result. Hopefully we can finish at home in front of our own people and go to the next round.”

Danish champions Copenhagen had not played competitively for two months due to their league’s winter break and their rustiness was evident.

Coach Jacob Neestrup admitted it will now take something spectacular to progress but will not give up.

He said: “Of course it’s going to be difficult, but now we have three games in the Danish league where we need to get results. Then we take the away game, where we try to do our very, very best.

“The players did everything they could. I can’t blame them for anything. We played against a top, top team who know exactly what to do in every situation.

“I think City came with a very, very professional mindset. They took control of the game from the first second.”

Brahim Diaz provided a stunning response to the challenge of deputising for the injured Jude Bellingham by firing Real Madrid to a 1-0 Champions League victory at RB Leipzig.

Diaz’s superb 48th-minute solo effort secured a last-16 win at the Red Bull Arena to put the Spanish side in the driving seat ahead of the second leg at the Bernabeu, although he later limped off in a fresh blow for boss Carlo Ancelotti.

His intervention could hardly have been better timed with 20-goal England international Bellingham facing two to three weeks on the sidelines with a sprained ankle and the 14-time European champions misfiring for long periods in his absence.

Indeed, had Leipzig striker Benjamin Sesko made the most of the chances which came his way and Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin not been in inspired form, the Spaniards might have had significantly more work to do on their own pitch.

The hosts set out their stall from the off when Sesko headed into the net after Xaver Schlager had helped the ball back into the box from Lunin’s punch as he dealt with David Raum’s second-minute corner.

However, the assistant referee’s flag went up immediately and the goal was disallowed, with replays showing Sesko was not offside but team-mate Benjamin Henrichs, who made contact with Lunin, was.

Sesko might have had a hat-trick inside the opening 10 minutes, failing to make the most of Xavi Simons’ fine pass and then firing straight at Lunin, although in the meantime, Real defender Aurelien Tchouameni saw a ninth-minute header cleared off the line, with keeper Peter Gulacsi safely claiming Eduardo Camavinga’s follow-up.

Henrichs tested Lunin from distance, but Toni Kroos responded in kind to keep Gulacsi on his toes after Vinicius Jr had made his first real contribution down the left.

Camavinga got in a vital touch to deflect Sesko’s 20th-minute attempt into the side-netting as Real continued to look vulnerable at the back, with Tchouameni having to make a vital challenge to deny Sesko before Vinicius stabbed wide after exchanging passes with Diaz in stoppage time.

But Bellingham’s replacement broke the deadlock within three minutes of the restart, and he did so in spectacular fashion.

Picking up the ball wide on the right, Diaz span away from Raum and cut inside Simons and then Schlager before curling a left-foot shot across Gulacsi and inside the far post.

Leipzig would have been level almost immediately had Lunin not produced a double save from Dani Olmo and Sesko, and the keeper had to race from his line to prevent Sesko from latching onto Olmo’s excellent through-ball as the Germans fought for a way back into the game.

At the other end, Schlager did just enough to put off Rodrygo as he ran onto Vinicius’ 64th-minute pass after Real had broken at pace, and the Brazilian saw a shot come back off a post after he and Diaz had ripped the home defence to shreds with 19 minutes remaining.

Lunin produced a string of saves to deny Simons, Sesko and Amadou Haidara as Leipzig pushed for an equaliser, but the late assault proved to no avail.

Manchester City resumed their Champions League defence with a comfortable 3-1 win at FC Copenhagen on Tuesday.

Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva netted either side of an unexpected Magnus Mattson equaliser as City dominated a last-16 first leg they could have won far more convincingly.

Pep Guardiola’s side dominated in every aspect at the Danish capital’s famously atmospheric Parken Stadium and Phil Foden completed a deserved success late on.

With close to 80 per cent possession, the holders were hardly troubled and will be confident of wrapping up a place in the quarter-finals when the sides meet again in Manchester in three weeks.

The only real downside for City was the loss of Jack Grealish through injury in the first half.

Despite having almost complete control, one thing City could not do was silence the home fans.

As anticipated, Copenhagen’s raucous following produced an intimidating atmosphere and greeted every City attack with loud whistles and even a siren.

Yet it appeared to have no effect on City, who immediately imposed themselves and should have taken the lead when De Bruyne fluffed a header from a Nathan Ake cross.

Ruben Dias also forced a save from Kamil Grabara and Ake fired the rebound over, although a raised flag suggested neither might have counted.

Copenhagen, their rustiness amid Denmark’s long winter break evident, were struggling to live with City and it came as no surprise when De Bruyne hit his 11th-minute opener.

The Belgian, who has quickly eased back into gear after a long injury lay-off, timed his run onto a Foden pass superbly and finished clinically with a low shot.

City looked hungry for more and Erling Haaland was inches away from meeting a De Bruyne cross before a Silva ball was deflected onto the woodwork by Denis Vavro.

City suffered a blow when Grealish, making his first start in six games, was forced off after 21 minutes soon after a challenge from Diogo Goncalves but his replacement Jeremy Doku added more energy to City’s attack.

Within moments of coming on Doku set up Haaland for what would have been a spectacular goal with a volleyed cross but the Norwegian’s overhead kick flew over.

City looked capable of running up a huge score but remarkably found themselves level when Ederson gifted the hosts an equaliser on 34 minutes.

The goalkeeper passed straight to Mohamed Elyounoussi and, although the former Southampton forward’s shot was blocked, debutant Mattson followed up with a fine finish.

Mattson, a recent signing from NEC Nijmegen, almost added another soon after but blazed over.

The home fans were animated but their excitement was not to last.

Silva restored normal order before the break with a fine flicked finish after De Bruyne got the better of Mattson to pick out the Portuguese.

De Bruyne almost added to the lead early in the second half when he tested Grabara before Haaland headed tamely at the keeper and Foden had an effort deflected wide.

Grabara also pushed away a long-range Doku strike and Haaland was twice denied by the keeper in stoppage time before Foden wrapped up the win after exchanging passes with De Bruyne.

Bayern Munich boss Thomas Tuchel has defended “p****d off” Thomas Muller’s right to deliver a withering assessment of his team after their Bundesliga title hopes suffered a major setback.

Bayern, who have won the league for the last 11 seasons, were beaten 3-0 at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday as the hosts opened up a five-point lead at the top of the table, prompting 34-year-old Germany international Muller to reveal he was “p****d off” at their lack of “energy and freedom” in an explosive post-match interview.

However, speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League last-16 clash with Lazio, Tuchel said: “I think he pretty much hit the nail on the head – and if anybody is allowed to issue a statement like that, it is Thomas.”

Tuchel, who admitted his players are currently struggling to transfer their quality in training into games, added: “Thomas is allowed to say this to the microphones because he’s also going to address it internally.

“And it’s important that the team internally talks about it because when we wake up tomorrow and look out of the window and see Rome, you know it’s a different competition and a new day.

“Even though Bayern Munich loses, the sun will rise again, even though you won’t believe it. We will allow ourselves to really be happy and to try to win. That’s part of the game.”

Tuchel finds himself under pressure heading into the game, but is adamant he will not allow it to distract him.

He said: “No, I don’t feel any increasing pressure. Pressure as such is a privilege, it’s a sporting pressure. I’ve never felt it differently and it hasn’t changed anything.

“It’s important to stay self-confident, to stay self-critical.

“The stronger the noise is around the game and the stronger the pressure gets, it’s more important to stay calm. Nothing will change.”

Lazio will hope to inflict further misery on the 2020 winners, and striker Ciro Immobile is relishing the chance to go head-to-head with Bayern’s 28-goal England striker Harry Kane.

Italy international Immobile told a press conference: “Numbers are important for a striker.

“Being able to compare myself with top-level players like Harry Kane is a big motivation for me. It allows me to understand the level I have reached in my career.

“But tomorrow it’s not a direct match with Kane that matters but the match between Lazio and Bayern.”

The Serie A side returned to form on on Saturday when they won 3-1 at Cagliari, in the process ending a run of three games without a victory, but they remain in eighth place in the table and a full 23 points adrift of leaders Inter Milan.

However, head coach Maurizio Sarri said: “We must not forget that we play to have fun. We need to rediscover the sense of fun on the pitch despite all the responsibilities we have to assume.

“If the child who loved playing football dies, the man also has less fun.”

Paris St Germain boss Luis Enrique has described Wednesday night’s Champions League opponents Real Sociedad as one of the tournament’s best sides.

The Parisians will resume their quest for an elusive Champions League title in the first leg of their last-16 tie at the Parc des Princes and Enrique refused to say his side were favourites.

Enrique told a press conference: “Real Sociedad have a tight defence in the Champions League. They don’t give the ball away easily. We will have to press them aggressively.

“They are certainly one of the best teams in the competition. That is why they qualified as group winners.

“They were in a group with last year’s finalists. They are top level and I’m not going to get into whether we are favourites or not.

“My team has to show that on the pitch. That is where we do the talking.”

Sociedad were unbeaten as they finished top of Group D ahead of Inter Milan, beaten 1-0 by Manchester City in last season’s final in Istanbul.

The Spanish side won three and drew three of their six group matches – they beat Benfica home and away – and Enrique saluted head coach Imanol Alguacil and his club.

“I hope it is not a decisive factor that he has been there six years and I have been here six months,” Enrique added. “I know the coach very well. He is a great coach.

“He is at home with a fantastic philosophy. They bring through many players themselves. They are well balanced. They do well in the transfer market.

“They have been playing really good football during his six years there, and even before that, as there were other coaches who did a great job there.

“So he is reaping the fruits of the hard work by the club. I can only congratulate them. I hope they don’t play as well tomorrow and in the second leg.”

Kylian Mbappe (ankle) is expected to start after being rested last Saturday when PSG moved 11 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after their 3-1 home win against Lille.

Enrique, whose side are unbeaten in 16 matches in all competitions, has no new injury concerns but is still without Presnel Kimpembe (Achilles), Nuno Mendes (hamstring) and Milan Skriniar (ankle).

Jude Bellingham has not travelled to Germany for Real Madrid’s Champions League round-of-16 first-leg clash against RB Leipzig due to an ankle injury.

The England midfielder was not named in the Real squad for the trip after a sprained ankle forced him off in Saturday’s 4-0 win over surprise LaLiga title rivals Girona – but not before he had scored a brace.

Bellingham has scored 20 goals in 31 appearances for Real and rapidly become one of their most important players but manager Carlo Ancelotti is confident his side can cope.

“We have to think that Bellingham isn’t here, but we’ve won four out of four games without him,” the Italian said at his pre-match press conference. “Those who have replaced him have done very well, like Brahim (Diaz) or Joselu.

“He’s a very important player, but I think this has been an opportunity to get more motivated.

“We arrive on the back of a good run – the form is good. We are up against a good side with plenty of quality that plays a high-tempo game.

“We have shown lots of character, and credit to the team. The vibe is good.”

Leipzig boss Marco Rose, who coached Bellingham at Borussia Dortmund in 2021-22, is not convinced the 20-year-old will not feature on Tuesday.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Monday, he said: “I won’t believe that Jude will be out until he’s not in the stadium tomorrow.

“I know Jude, I know that he will do everything to play a Champions League game.”

Even without Bellingham, Ancelotti has plenty of star-power to choose from, but Rose insists his side will not be intimidated.

“We’re certainly not afraid,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the opponent, to the task, to our stadium. That’s what we want. What we worked hard for last season and now in the group stage.

“Real Madrid have developed outstandingly this season and become one of the strongest teams in Europe. They are in exceptionally good shape – in all areas.

“They know what it means to play in the Champions League and win it too. And we know about their qualities.

“But we’re not that bad and we have great footballers in our ranks. We will give everything and look for our opportunities to develop a good starting position.”

Defender Mohamed Simakan is in contention despite picking up a knock in the weekend Bundesliga draw at Augsburg, while midfielder Amadou Haidara has stepped up training after picking up a knee problem on Mali duty at the Africa Cup of Nations but remains doubtful.

Pep Guardiola has told Erling Haaland to focus more on getting his body language right than scoring goals.

The Manchester City manager admitted to being concerned about the prolific Norwegian’s demeanour since his return to action following a two-month lay-off with a foot injury.

Guardiola feels the striker has been preoccupied with adding to his remarkable goal tally and wants him to relax more.

He thinks Saturday’s victory over Everton was a good example, when Haaland had a quiet first half before netting twice late on to secure a 2-0 success.

Guardiola, speaking in Denmark at a press conference to preview Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 clash with FC Copenhagen, said: “Erling is young, playing in the most difficult position on the pitch surrounded by four or five players with minor space.

“In the first half maybe we didn’t have the special delivery players, like Kevin (De Bruyne) for example, who can find him.

“In that moment he has to be positive. When he scored a goal, he reacted but he doesn’t need to score because he helps us for many things.

“He is defined on goals but it is not just scoring a goal. As much it’s how he is clapping, encouraging his mates and the first intense press. This is what we need from Erling.

“But we cannot forget he has been two months out, which is a lot of time for a guy who is so tall.

“Back to the dynamic is not easy. He’s a huge competitor who wants to score goals. OK, we know that, so relax.

“If we don’t score today, or if he doesn’t score in 10 minutes, it’s OK. In the process he has to try because the team always wins when they overcome bad moments.”

Guardiola did stress this was a minor problem and he has no doubts about the 23-year-old.

“It looks like I am complaining about Erling but it was in general,” the City boss said. “How many games did Erling play and how many goals? His body language is not a problem.

“If he doesn’t score tomorrow, the day after or next week, it’s not a big issue.

“He’s so strong. It comes from nature. He’s coped perfectly because he’s so strong mentally. He scores one goal and wants a second and a third.

“You see his numbers at his age. In the Champions League not even (Lionel) Messi or Cristiano (Ronaldo) had these numbers at his age.”

City are hoping to silence a raucous atmosphere at Parken to take the initiative after the first leg of their tie against Copenhagen.

The Danes have not played competitively for two months due to their winter break but Guardiola expects a stern challenge from a side that finished above Manchester United and Galatasaray in their group.

He said: “I would say they are starving to compete and hungry and have full energy, fresh in legs and mind.

“I don’t know the rhythm but they have had lots of time to prepare for the game. Hopefully we can be in a good level to compete.

“It’s back to business in the competition but huge respect for the opponents. It was not an easy group and they did really well in all the games.”

Jurgen Klopp will leave Liverpool at the end of the 2023-24 season.

In an emotional announcement, released via Liverpool's media channels on Friday, Klopp confirmed this campaign would be his last at the helm at Anfield.

Klopp, who is under contract at Liverpool until 2026, claimed he is running out of energy, and after nearly nine years in charge, he will be leaving the club as a legend.

While Liverpool will hope to round off the German's time in charge with a second Premier League title, and possibly further trophies – they are already in the EFL Cup final – the Reds will also have to face the daunting prospect of what comes next.

Regardless, Klopp is set to leave as one of the club's most successful managers. 

With the help of Opta data, we break down Klopp's time in charge.

An Anfield giant

Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Kenny Dalglish. Klopp will take pride and place among the list of great managers to have taken charge of one of England's most successful clubs.

Since replacing Brendan Rodgers in October 2015, Klopp has taken charge of 466 matches, winning 283 of those. His win percentage of 60.7 makes him the best Liverpool manager in that metric, at least as far back as Opta's records go.

Klopp has lost just 78 games, while drawing 105. His team have scored 972 goals, an average of 2.1 per match.

Not that it has always been easy. In his first season – 2015-16 – his win rate was 44.2 per cent. However, it has never dropped below 50 per cent in a single campaign since then, with the low mark coming last term (50 per cent).

Klopp is the only Liverpool manager to win each of the top-flight, European Cup/Champions League, FA Cup, and League Cup with the club, while he has five major honours as it stands, which ranks him behind only Dalglish, Paisley (both six) and the great Shankly (13).

 

His Liverpool side peaked between 2018 and 2020. After reaching the Champions League final in 2017-18, the Reds won their sixth European Cup the following season, before then breaking their Premier League duck in 2019-20, albeit they wrapped up that title behind closed doors. They had also won the Super Cup and Club World Cup earlier that term.

The FA Cup and EFL Cup were both won in 2022 en route to what could have been a historic quadruple.

Liverpool still have four trophies left to play for this season. They sit top of the Premier League as it stands; they will face Chelsea in the EFL Cup final; they are into the knockout stage of the Europa League and they have a home tie against Norwich City in the fourth round of the FA Cup coming up on Sunday.

Klopp's best season based purely on win percentage came in 2021-22, when Liverpool won a remarkable 73 per cent of their games in all competitions, only to fall short of pipping Manchester City to the title on the last day of the Premier League season, before losing to Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

A European master

Klopp started as he meant to go on when it came to European football with Liverpool, leading the Reds to the Europa League final in his first season in charge.

Though they lost to Sevilla on that occasion back in 2016, Liverpool have gone from strength to strength in continental competitions. They were undone by Gareth Bale's magic and Loris Karius' error in Kyiv in 2018, but left all in Europe in their wake when they overcame Tottenham in Madrid a year later, having signed Alisson to ensure they had a top-class goalkeeper between the posts.

Liverpool were back in the showpiece match three years later. Again, it was Madrid they faced, and again Los Blancos came out on top – Vinicius Junior's goal and Thibaut Courtois' heroics enough to deny Klopp his second Champions League crown.

 

Klopp will not manage Liverpool again in the Champions League, meaning his 61.5 win percentage (40/65) in the competition will be maintained. His Liverpool team have scored an incredible 144 Champions League goals - an average of 2.2 per game.

Unbeaten runs, Guardiola rivalry and dominating the derby

The rivalry between Klopp's Liverpool and Pep Guardiola's Man City has been the lifeblood of the Premier League over recent seasons. 

While Liverpool are not exactly cash-strapped, they do not have the state-backed wealth that City enjoy, yet Klopp has managed to keep the Reds highly competitive – on two occasions, they have finished just one point below City with points tallies that in almost any other circumstance would have surely seen them win the title.

Since Klopp's first Premier League game, Liverpool have taken 671 points, a tally that trails only City (716), while the Reds have a positive goal difference of 367 (675 goals for, 308 goals against).

As it stands, Klopp is the Premier League's third-most successful manager based on points per game, with his 2.12 ranking behind only Alex Ferguson (2.16) and Guardiola (2.34).

His next victory in the top flight will bring up his 200th as Liverpool manager, from what will be his 318th such match in charge.

Only Guardiola (18 with City between August and December 2017) has been on a winning run as long as Klopp has in the Premier League, with Liverpool having rallied off 18 straight wins between October 2019 and February 2020. The Reds had previously gone on a 17-game winning streak between March 2019 and October 2019, a run that was ended by a 1-1 draw with Manchester United. 

Liverpool went on a 44-game unbeaten streak, meanwhile, between January 2019 and February 2020. Arsene Wenger (49 games between May 2003 and October 2004) is the only Premier League manager to have gone more successive matches without defeat.

Klopp has gone up against Guardiola on 24 occasions, making City the team Liverpool have faced the most in his time at the club. He has claimed 10 wins (41.7 per cent), lost six times and drawn eight games.

 

Of the four other 'big six' clubs, Chelsea rank as Klopp's least favourite, with just a 27.3 per cent win record from 22 matches (six victories). Klopp has faced Manchester United, meanwhile, on 18 occasions, winning seven times (36.8 per cent).

Meanwhile, Klopp has dominant form in the Merseyside derby. From 18 such meetings, Liverpool have lost just once to Everton, with that defeat coming at Anfield, behind closed doors, in 2021. The Reds have beaten the Toffees 11 times under Klopp (61.1 per cent).

Of the current Premier League sides, Klopp has claimed 12 victories over Bournemouth from 15 meetings, with that win percentage (80) his best against any side he has faced over six times.

Superstar Salah, fearsome front threes and flying full-backs

The story goes that Klopp was not initially in favour of signing Mohamed Salah from Roma back in 2017, but his arm was twisted by Liverpool's then-recruitment guru, Michael Edwards. If that is indeed true, then Klopp will no doubt be thrilled he was swayed to bring in the Egyptian.

Salah has scored 204 goals in 332 appearances for Liverpool, 84 goals more than any other player under Klopp (Sadio Mane – 120 goals from 269 appearances).

 

Only Roberto Firmino (355) has played more times for the Reds in Klopp's tenure than Salah, whose 306 starts puts him out in front. The 31-year-old has totalled up 27,037 minutes, over 2,000 more than next-best Firmino (24,903).

Salah also tops the charts for goal contributions (286), having added 82 assists on top of his strike tally.

Firmino and Mane, Salah's partners in crime in what was arguably the most feared forward line in world football, chipped in with 182 and 157 goal contributions respectively.

Meanwhile, Klopp has given more debuts to teenagers than any manager in Liverpool's history (42). One of those teenagers was Trent Alexander-Arnold, who along with Andrew Robertson, became pivotal to Klopp's heavy metal football.

The flying full-backs have been assist machines: Alexander-Arnold has created 78 goals in 298 appearances, while Robertson has crafted 63 from 275 games.

Just Firmino and Salah have played more minutes under Klopp than Alexander-Arnold (24,323) and Robertson (23,498). 

What's next?

Whoever replaces Klopp has big shoes to fill, and this might well end up being Salah's last season at Anfield too, as Saudi Pro League clubs circle.

Xabi Alonso and Julian Nagelsmann have been some early names touted around, but until the end of May, it will be all about the Kop bidding goodbye to Klopp.

He deserves a hero's farewell.

The European Super League's pledge to stream all matches for free is unsustainable and merely a ploy to coax fans into supporting the project.

That is the view of finance expert Dan Plumley, who does not see how a breakaway competition could offer enough prize money to earn the support of clubs while showing games for free. 

Despite a backlash from fans, players and media thwarting the Super League's attempted launch in 2021, the project reared its head again this week with a reworked format being announced.

After the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled FIFA and UEFA "abused a dominant position" in blocking the Super League two years ago, the competition's organisers, A22 Sports, revealed a new format for the tournament, which is still supported by Real Madrid and Barcelona. 

The plan features promotion and relegation across three tiers and also includes a promise to make all games free to stream, but Plumley doubts whether that is possible.

"Everything we've seen throughout history would point to the fact that won't be sustainable, which is where the finances and the distribution models get interesting," he told Stats Perform. 

"We've seen the proposed format of the new ESL but we've not seen the financial distribution mechanisms, we've not seen where the money's coming from and if you are going to promote a free-to-air model through a streaming service, that obviously looks good for the fans.

"But at some point you have to have some form of broadcaster to be able to generate prize money and to generate the finances of the competition. 

"Everything I've seen throughout the years would suggest that you can't go that long without a decent broadcasting deal or big commercial and sponsorship partnerships." 

Asked whether the promise of free coverage was purely intended to get fans onside, Plumley added: "Yeah, for sure. 

"You've probably made the most relevant point there, which is how much people are paying currently for sports subscription content. 

"Talking from a basis of us being located in the UK, it's not cheap. If you want a Sky Sports subscription, a TNT Sports subscription, the Amazon one… it does become quite costly for the fans. 

"So to have something that is free at the point of consumption is obviously a hook for fans to come on board with it. 

"I think we've clearly seen the backlash in the UK with the English clubs and many English fans. 

"Even if it is free-to-air and dependent on the clubs that would be involved, I think some would still turn around and say: 'No, thank you very much. Even if it's free, I'm not interested'. 

"But there is a whole range of international fans out there that follow European football and follow some of these clubs. Maybe some of those are interested. 

"You look at it through your own lens, but you also have to look at it through the lens of others. Obviously it's a ploy to try and get some positivity on board by offering it free-to-air."

Plumley said the only way the project could succeed financially with a free-to-air model was through the potential involvement of a state wealth fund.

"I think where you might see some shift in the future, and this might start to make it bigger than Europe, is will we see sovereign state wealth funds or private equity consortiums get involved with the financing of the competition, to enable them to show some free-to-air content?" Plumley said.

"In the 2021 project, it was supposed to be financed by JP Morgan and we saw that American influence, we've seen an explosion in Saudi Arabian football in the last couple of years. 

"Do one of those other big players in the market get involved in the future? I think all those questions are a little bit up in the air at the minute. 

"At some point, you have to start talking about broadcasting deals because there's only so much free-to-air content you can give away if you're going to be putting a load of prize money on the table."

Holders Manchester City will face FC Copenhagen in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Arsenal, the current Premier League leaders, will take on Portuguese side Porto in the first knockout round.

The ties, the first legs of which will take place over two weeks in February 2024, were confirmed after the draw at the Swiss headquarters of organiser UEFA in Nyon on Monday.

City played Copenhagen – who came through a group that included Manchester United – in the early stages last season, winning 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium and drawing 0-0 in Denmark.

Pep Guardiola’s side, who are currently in Saudi Arabia for the Club World Cup, qualified this time with a 100 per cent record in Group G.

Arsenal were also convincing winners of Group B on their return to the competition after a six-season absence.

Their opponents Porto came through as runners-up to Barcelona in Group H.

Spanish champions Barca, meanwhile, were handed a tough task against Serie A winners Napoli.

In the other ties, record 14-time winners Real Madrid were paired with RB Leipzig and their city rivals Atletico drawn against Inter Milan.

Paris St Germain will play the fourth Spanish side in the draw, Real Sociedad, with the two German teams, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, tackling Lazio and PSV respectively.

As winners of their groups, City and Arsenal will play the first legs of their ties away.

The first legs will take place on February 13, 14, 20 or 21 with the return matches on March 5, 6, 12 or 13.

Eddie Howe has challenged his Newcastle players to book themselves another crack at the Champions League after seeing them slip out of Europe in dramatic fashion.

At one point on Wednesday evening, the Magpies were heading for the last 16 of European football’s premier club competition, but they ended it empty-handed after AC Milan came from behind to snatch a 2-1 win at St James’ Park.

That booked them a Europa League berth and ended Newcastle’s continental involvement for the season, but a disappointed Howe is targeting a swift return.

He said: “I’d love the opportunity to do that again and I think that has to be our focus very quickly. I don’t think we can look at anything other than that.

“We want to be there again and we’re still close enough in the Premier League to do that and compete. All these things happen for a reason, I’m a believer in that.

“The ambition is there, of course. It’s there from all of us – but doesn’t mean it’ll happen. We have to make that happen.

“Any time you don’t achieve what you want, you have a setback, you have a disappointment, you have to use it as fuel and that’s very much has always been my way.

“The pain that you feel now is motivation for tomorrow. We now have to focus on the Premier League and have to try to make sure we get our form in the Premier League as strong as we can.”

The defeat by Milan – the Magpies’ third on the trot in all competitions – came courtesy of goals from Christian Pulisic and substitute Samuel Chukwueze after Joelinton had blasted them ahead.

They will resume domestic action against Fulham on Saturday sitting in seventh place in the table, seven points adrift of Manchester City in fourth.

While their domestic home for has been excellent, Newcastle have won only once on the road and with their injury problems starting to abate – Callum Wilson, Sean Longstaff and Dan Burn were all involved against the Italians – Howe is calling for a fresh focus.

He said: “I don’t want a hangover from this. We have to learn from it and quickly put it away.

“The players need to believe how good they can be, how good we are and this is a good test of that for us because of what’s happened in the last week.

“Football is an amazing thing, isn’t it? You go back 10 days and we had just beaten Manchester United with our best performance of the season. Then three games later, we’ve had three defeats.

“That’s football.”

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe defended his players after a Europa League place slipped from their grasp as they tried to secure a Champions League berth.

The Magpies were dumped out of Europe all together as a result of their 2-1 home defeat by AC Milan on a night when they had one foot in the last 16 of the premier competition, then looked destined for the lesser only to end up empty-handed.

Had the game finished 1-1, Howe’s men would have taken the group’s Europa League spot with Paris St Germain having secured second place behind group winners Borussia Dortmund after a 1-1 draw in Germany, but substitute Samuel Chukwueze’s late strike ensured it was the Serie A side who claimed it instead.

Asked if they might have played for a draw as time ran down, Howe said: “We wanted to qualify for the Champions League for sure. That was very much our intention before the game and in-game.

“I’m not sure in that moment you can take that will away from the players. If you look at the goals we’ve conceded, they’ve come from mistakes that can happen in any moment whether you are being proactive or reactive.

“Of course I take ownership of that, but I’d much rather have the intention to go and attack and to try to win rather than the other way round.”

Joelinton’s 33rd-minute piledriver had put Newcastle in the driving seat and their position improved further when Dortmund went ahead, but PSG levelled minutes later and crucially, so did the Italians through Christian Pulisic.

Goalkeeper Mike Maignan managed to turn a goal-bound Bruno Guimaraes shot on to his crossbar as the Premier League side sought the victory which would have kept them in the competition, but Chukwueze’s late intervention amid a chaotic conclusion proved decisive.

Howe said: “We’re desperately disappointed. It’s tough to take at the moment. The lads played very well in that first half and I thought we were good value.

“I was hoping the goal would come earlier than it did. Second half, we wanted to try to consolidate that and look for the second goal.

“I was really disappointed with the first goal we conceded because I think that is the key moment. We didn’t deal with a second-phase set-play well enough – it was an uncharacteristic goal, really, for us to concede and then the game became very transitional.

“It was end-to-end from both teams, both teams looking to win, and we conceded on one of those transitions.”

For opposite number Stefano Pioli, who headed into the game at St James’ Park under pressure and with former striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic having been drafted in as a senior adviser, there were mixed feelings.

Pioli said: “We definitely wanted to continue our path in the Champions League and that is very difficult. It was a bittersweet evening.

“What we could do this evening we did. Of course we’re disappointed about the Champions League and we regret it. Clearly we’re disappointed, but we also have the conviction that we’re a team that can do well.”

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers was delighted to see his players break through a Champions League barrier with a last-gasp 2-1 victory over Feyenoord at Parkhead.

Substitute Gustaf Lagerbielke headed home in stoppage time to seal Celtic’s first victory in 16 Champions League group games, stretching back to Rodgers’ first spell in charge, and their first at home for a decade.

Celtic were consigned to bottom spot in Group E after matchday five but the win ensured they improved on last year’s total to finish on four points.

“It was a big moment because it’s been so long. Since I was here the first time it’s all that’s been talked about, a win in the Champions League at home. They have now cleared that barrier and we can look forward now.

“I said to the players, it wasn’t a burden they had to carry, especially a lot of the new players, but clearly the longer it goes on…

“It shows the challenge of the Champions League. But we are very determined over the course of my time here to improve on that record.

“I have been really pleased with some of the performance levels, especially at home, we have shown we can play at a high level and compete but of course you have to get results.

“To get the win draws a line under that home record and we can hopefully qualify next season and go into it fresh and the players can gain confidence knowing they can win at this level.”

Celtic had conceded in the 82nd minute and looked set for further late anguish after Luis Palma’s 33rd-minute penalty put the home side in front.

“The players showed they learned throughout the process we have been in this year because we have seen games over the years where the equaliser comes and the other team go on and get the winner,” Rodgers said.

“You have to tip your hat to the players because the mentality was very good. Some people may have thought this was a nothing game but this meant everything to us in the process we are in, to get the victory and to feel the confidence.”

Sweden defender Lagerbielke came off the bench for Stephen Welsh for his first appearance since September 30 and his first in the Champions League since being sent off in Rotterdam in the opening game.

Rodgers said: “It was a great moment for him because he hasn’t been involved in squads, other guys have been in front of him. But his attitude in training in the main has been superb and he has always been ready.

“The irony of him being sent off and then getting the goal was great, a really nice moment for him.”

Feyenoord head coach Arne Slot had claimed ahead of the game that he felt sorry for Celtic because they had – like his team – had no luck whatsoever during their Group E campaign.

After the game, Slot said: “You have to credit Celtic for the way they played in their whole Champions League, maybe apart from when they had 10 men against Atletico Madrid.

“So I think they deserved, from their point of view, a little bit of luck. They came away with one point from their previous two home games despite outplaying both opponents.

“So they deserved a little bit of luck and we are the team that gives teams a little bit of luck. You don’t have to thank me for that, but that’s what we do.”

Newcastle were knocked out of the Champions League after AC Milan came from a goal down to win 2-1 at St James’ Park.

Newcastle started the brighter of the two sides and made their first-half pressure count when Joelinton rifled a superb strike past Mike Maignan and into the top corner to give them the lead at the break.

Milan shifted into the gear in the second period and found an equaliser through Christian Pulisic, but the decisive moment came with six minutes to go when Samuel Chukwueze curled home from inside the area to earn their spot in the Europa League.

Paris St Germain secured their place in the last 16 of the competition with a 1-1 draw at Borussia Dortmund.

The French side’s Champions League hopes were thrown into doubt when Dortmund took the lead early in the second half as Karim Adeyemi swept home from close range.

But they were not ahead for long as Warren Zaire-Emery found the bottom corner, which proved vital to send PSG through from Group F in second place.

In Group G, Manchester City made it six wins from six games with a 3-2 away victory over Red Star Belgrade.

Debutant Micah Hamilton powered into the roof of the net to give Pep Guardiola’s side the lead and they looked on their way to a comfortable victory when Oscar Bobb rolled home, but Belgrade responded through Hwang In-beom.

City re-established their two-goal lead thanks to Kalvin Phillips’ penalty before the Serbian side pulled another one back in stoppage time through Aleksandar Katai, but it was not enough to stop City from picking up a maximum haul of 18 points.

Benjamin Sesko and Emil Forsberg struck twice in five second-half minutes to earn already qualified RB Leipzig a 2-1 victory over Young Boys. Ebrima Colley briefly levelled for the Swiss outfit.

Celtic picked up their first victory of the group-stage campaign thanks to Gustaf Lagerbielke’s late strike to give them a 2-1 win over Feyenoord at Celtic Park.

Luis Palma opened the scoring for Celtic just after the half-hour mark, but they thought they would remain winless in the competition when Feyenoord pulled level through Yankuba Minteh. However, Celtic snatched the win in stoppage time when Lagerbielke nodded in from close range.

Strikes from Antoine Griezmann and Samuel Lino handed Atletico a 2-0 win over Lazio after both sides had already secured their place in the last 16 from Group E.

Porto progressed through to the last 16 of the Champions League with a 5-3 win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Porto hit the front in the ninth minute when Galeno opened the scoring. Danylo Sikan equalised on the half-hour mark, only for Galeno to grab a second to give the hosts a 2-1 lead at the break.

The Portuguese side doubled their advantage when Mehdi Taremi lashed into the roof of the net, but Shakhtar hit back through Stephen Eustakio’s own goal.

Porto sealed victory in the 76th minute when Pepe stabbed home and added another through Francisco Conceicao before Eguinaldo knocked in a late consolation for the Ukrainian team.

Royal Antwerp grabbed their first victory in the Champions League this season with a dramatic 3-2 triumph over Barcelona.

The Belgian side hit the front in the second minute when Arthur Vermeeren slammed home from close range, however, Barca were on level terms 10 minutes before the break through Ferran Torres.

The hosts regained their advantage with a goal from Vincent Janssen, but Barcelona thought they nicked a point thanks to Marc Gulu’s strike in the first minute of stoppage time.

But Antwerp hit a dramatic winner when George Ilenikhena struck a minute later.

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