Ange Postecoglou has done a phenomenal job since taking over at Tottenham and was a natural choice to oversee the club's rebuild due to his charismatic personality.

That is the view of former England striker Emile Heskey, who came up against Postecoglou in the A-League during a two-year spell in Australia with Newcastle Jets between 2012 and 2014.

Postecoglou has had a remarkable impact on Spurs since taking charge, making the best start by any manager in Premier League history by overseeing a return of 26 points from his first 10 games in the competition.

Tottenham trail champions Manchester City by just a single point at the summit ahead of Saturday's trip to Wolves, having suffered their first league defeat under Postecoglou last time out.

Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie were both sent off as Spurs fell to a 4-1 defeat to Chelsea on Monday, though Postecoglou still earned praise for implementing a daring high line with nine men.

Heskey thinks Postecoglou's openness and willingness to take inspiration from different cultures has helped him succeed, telling Stats Perform: "Ange has been fantastic. 

"I obviously played in Australia for two years, and I saw some of the stuff that the Aussie coaches can do, [it's] very, very technical. 

"A lot of them work off the Dutch philosophy, but with a bit of Aussie grit, they love that. But then he obviously went over to Japan in different places, so he probably learnt the discipline from them.

"Working with that and getting some of that stuff, bringing it over to Europe… what he did at Celtic was phenomenal. 

"Now taking that step into Spurs – and Spurs is a big club – we've got to give it to them. 

"The training ground, the stadium, they're building a squad, they're in London. They should be where they are right now. 

"He's probably the right manager to actually build that, the right manager to take a lot of the pressure away because he's approachable, he's charismatic, he's got everything. 

"He takes a lot of the pressure away from the place that so they can actually perform as well."

Tottenham's flying start to the season has come despite the loss of their all-time leading goalscorer Harry Kane, who is in exceptional form for his new club Bayern Munich, scoring 19 goals and adding seven assists in just 15 appearances for the Bundesliga champions.

Though Heskey accepts Kane's departure may have altered expectations at Spurs, he does not believe it can be seen as a positive for the club.

"I don't know if it [losing Kane] was a bonus," Heskey said. "You can't say getting rid of Harry Kane was a bonus because of what he's doing and what he's done. 

"But I think it's a different focal point now, isn't it? I think it's more of a team focal point. Not just one player. 

"You've got Son [Heung-min], he has to step up to the plate, you've got [James] Maddison, who will always step up to the plate, that's just his temperament. 

"You've got all these players that are now having to pull their weight because they're not just relying on one person."

Postecoglou is looking to avoid back-to-back defeats when Spurs visit Wolves on Saturday, having not lost consecutive league matches since he was in charge of Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan, losing three in a row between November 2020 and February 2021.

Thomas Muller has overtaken Bayern Munich team-mate Manuel Neuer as the player with the most Bundesliga wins in history.

Muller won his 323rd game in Germany's top flight as he helped Bayern beat Mainz 3-1 on Saturday.

That sets him clear of Neuer as the outright leader for Bundesliga victories.

Muller's contribution at Mewa Arena was limited as he replaced Kingsley Coman as an 88th-minute substitute, but with fellow Bayern legend Neuer still sidelined by injury, that brief cameo saw Muller edge ahead of his team-mate to claim the record for himself.

Goals from Coman and Harry Kane put Bayern 2-0 up within 16 minutes before Anthony Caci pulled one back for the winless hosts, but Leon Goretzka's second-half strike ensured Bayern ran out 3-1 winners.

The victory maintained Bayern's unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season, though Thomas Tuchel's men still trail surprise contenders Bayer Leverkusen and Stuttgart at the summit.

Muller's standout stats

Muller has played 449 Bundesliga matches, 127 more than any other Bayern player since he made his debut in August 2008.

The 34-year-old has created 884 chances for his team-mates in that time, with Franck Ribery (536) ranking a distant second for the Bavarian giants.

Of current Bayern players, Joshua Kimmich (505) is the closest to Muller, who has directly contributed to 306 Bundesliga goals, another team-high. Robert Lewandowski is second, with 273 goal contributions.

Lewandowski (238) is the only player to have scored more Bundesliga goals for Bayern than Muller (144) since the latter made his bow for the club, while the Germany international has provided 162 assists, almost 80 clear of second-best Ribery (85).

Muller has had 2,448 touches in the opposition box, over 500 more than any other Bayern team-mate since he made his Bundesliga debut, while he has also had the most duels (4,314), winning 1,904 of them.

 

His best goalscoring season came in 2015-16, when he netted 20 times in the Bundesliga and provided five assists.

However, it was in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons that Muller provided his most goal contributions in the Bundesliga, with 29 in each campaign.

Muller netted eight times in 2019-20, but supplied 21 assists. The following term, he teed up 18 goals and scored 11 himself.

Bayern Munich boss Thomas Tuchel is expecting the unexpected when his side returns to Bundesliga action on Sunday against Freiburg.

Bayern sit third in the table, unbeaten in their opening six matches, but had to fight back from 2-0 down to salvage a point in last week’s 2-2 draw at Leipzig.

Tuchel’s side also came from behind in midweek to win 2-1 in Copenhagen and make it two wins from two Champions League group matches.

After quickly refocusing on this weekend’s domestic challenge, Tuchel told a press conference: “We really want to get all three points, but we know how difficult it will be, so we’ll have to show up on Sunday.

“Freiburg change their system a lot and I’m 100 per cent sure that they’ll do everything possible to make our lives difficult. We’ll have to be ready for that.”

Freiburg have not beaten Bayern in the Bundesliga in 14 attempts – their last win being in 2015 – but they knocked Tuchel’s side out of the DFB Cup last season.

Lucas Holer scored a 95th-minute penalty as Freiburg came from behind to win the quarter-final tie 2-1 in Tuchel’s second game in charge of Bayern.

The Bavarians’ last three matches have all been on the road and Tuchel admitted after Tuesday night’s win in Denmark that the travel had taken its toll.

“It was a long journey, which the boys are feeling the effects of,” he said. “We’ve played a lot of away games recently.”

Tuchel confirmed Matthijs de Ligt has still not recovered from the knee injury sustained in last month’s 7-0 home win against Bochum, but Raphael Guerreiro was back in training.

The Portugal midfielder has been sidelined since injuring his calf during pre-season.

“Unfortunately, Matthijs de Ligt has not made as quick a recovery as we had hoped for. Dayot Upamecano and Kim (Min-jae) are fit to play,” Tuchel added.

Freiburg, whose cup success at the Allianz Arena last season was their only win against Bayern in Munich, will be without suspended midfielder Nicolas Hofler.

Michael Gregoritsch and Yannik Keitel both missed Freiburg’s 2-1 home Europa League defeat to West Ham on Thursday and remain doubtful.

Harry Kane will still have the support of Tottenham fans despite his decision to leave the club, according to fellow Spurs favourite Jermain Defoe.

Kane signed for Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich for an estimated €117million (£100m) in the most recent transfer window, leaving North London having overtaken Jimmy Greaves as the club's all-time record goalscorer.

Kane scored 280 goals in 435 appearances in all competitions before ending his 19-year association with Spurs, and he has started life at Bayern in similarly prolific fashion, netting eight times in six Bundesliga outings while also getting off the mark in the Champions League.

Though Kane decided to leave in pursuit of the silverware that eluded him at Spurs, Defoe believes the club's fans will continue to back the England captain in his new surroundings.

Speaking to Stats Perform at the Legends of Football event, in aid of Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy, Defo said: "For Harry, it's amazing for him and his family. It's a new challenge.

"Everyone at Tottenham wants to wish him the best – we always knew he was going to do well anyway because he's a world-class player. He'll score goals anywhere. Nothing changes in terms of goals.

"We just want to wish him the best because Harry as a footballer is special but he's a special guy and he deserves everything he gets."

 

Kane the final piece of Bayern's puzzle?

Bayern have claimed 11 Bundesliga titles in a row, but the trophy they really want to lift is the Champions League having not made it past the quarter-final stage since last winning European football's elite competition in the 2019-20 campaign.

Kane has hit the ground running at Bayern, giving fans hope that he can be the man to lead them back to European glory.

The England international has scored eight goals in his first six Bundesliga appearances, with only Erling Haaland scoring more in his first six games in the league, while he has surpassed some of Bayern's greatest strikers in terms of their starts at the club.

His seven goals in his first five Bundesliga games for the club is more than Bayern legends such as Miroslav Klose and Robert Lewandowski managed, while his 10 goal involvements during those games is also the most in a player's first five Bundesliga appearances.

Kane is second behind only Serhou Guirassy (10) for Bundesliga goals this season, finding the net every 66 minutes on average while converting 34.78 per cent of his shots.

His three assists indicate he has also been a key facilitator for Bayern, while he is tied for fourth in the Bundesliga in terms of big chances created (four).

It is still early days, but Kane's excellent start suggests he could be the one to help Bayern back to the very top of European football.

Richarlison is not capable of filling the hole Harry Kane has left at Tottenham, according to former Spurs manager Harry Redknapp.

Kane joined Bayern Munich for a Bundesliga-record €117million (£100m) earlier this month, leaving Tottenham as the club's all-time top goalscorer having netted 280 times in 435 appearances in all competitions, including 30 in 38 Premier League games last season as Spurs finished a disappointing eighth.

Kane's departure has left Tottenham fans concerned over their attacking options for this season, with the striker's impressive output last term making up for disappointing campaigns from the likes of Son Heung-min and Richarlison, who only scored 11 league goals between them.

Richarlison particularly struggled in his first season with Spurs, netting just once in the Premier League after joining from Everton for £60m, and Redknapp doubts whether the Brazil international can step up in Kane's absence.

"[Richarlison] can't fill Harry [Kane's] boots," Redknapp told Stats Perform. "No, he's not on the same level as Harry Kane.

"He's got to do better than what he did last year for sure. He's played for the Brazilian team and is a regular for them, he played at the World Cup. [He] scored goals at Everton, did okay there.

"I think Son will play through the middle. They'll let him off the leash and stick him through the middle. I think that's where he wants to play. He'll score goals, he will get between 15 and 20 goals, I think. 

"But Harry Kane and Son together is definitely better than Son on his own. So that is the problem."

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy decided to cash in on Kane with a year left on the striker's contract, a decision that Redknapp understands but does not necessarily agree with, adding: "It's difficult. Daniel had that problem with him at the end of the year as a free agent.

 

"So do you wait and let him walk away for free, or do you take the 100 million? Could he have bought in that type of money by just staying this year and getting them back in the Champions League? Quite possibly.

"I thought Tottenham made some good signings, [James] Maddison coming in would be a big plus for Harry. He'd supply and make goals for him.

"[It is a] difficult one, but Daniel does what he feels is right for the football club at the end of the day, and he obviously feels it's better to take the 100 million now than get nothing at the end of the season."

Kane's exit is one of several big changes at Spurs, with former Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou appointed ahead of this season as Tottenham bid to return to the top four.

Redknapp feels Postecoglou is in for a baptism of fire in Premier League management, having to cope without Kane in a league that will prove to be very competitive at the top end again, explaining: "He's got a great job. He's got a result as he's come from nowhere, really, in the last few years to manage Celtic and then manage Tottenham.

"I like him. When I see him, I like him an awful lot. It looks good. He's a good character. And I think he'll do a good job. I suppose when he came he always knew that he would have Harry for a year at most.

"I'm sure he's excited with the players he's working with, it will be the best players he's ever worked with anyway. 

"He's never worked with a squad of players near that standard before. It's going to be a tougher division this year and he needs time.

"There's Man City, Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Newcastle [United] and Tottenham. Seven teams here scrapping it out for four places.

"I think Spurs will be okay. I think Maddison was a great signing. They just took the centre-half now, the Dutchman [Micky van de Ven], who is supposed to be a good player. They'll bring two or three more in.

"They will be pushing for a top-four place, [but] whether they can make it without Harry Kane, I'm not sure now."

Harry Kane's transfer to Bayern Munich came as a surprise to former Tottenham player and assistant boss Gus Poyet.

Kane completed a switch to the Bundesliga champions last week, signing a four-year deal in Munich.

That came after Bayern had finally struck an £86.4million (€100m) deal with Tottenham for the 30-year-old, who scored 30 Premier League goals last season.

The England captain made his debut in Bayern's 3-0 defeat to RB Leipzig in the DFL-Supercup after saying he moved to Germany to win trophies.

For Poyet, the move was a shock, however, especially after Kane failed to seal a transfer to Manchester City in 2021.

"I was surprised at Kane leaving because I said it, and I'm not going to change my mind, two years ago I thought it was the time for him to go," Poyet said in an interview with Stats Perform.

"I thought he's experienced, still young, so at that age he was still at the top of his career, looking for titles or silverware.

"He didn't [go], and it was a big shock for me, so I wasn't expecting him to leave. I was not.

"Going now and going abroad surprised me quite a lot."

Poyet is happy that Kane is going to test himself in another competition.

He added: "I'm pleased for him because it's going to be totally different for him, a new challenge completely different to England and I hope he does well because he deserves that feeling of winning a title."

Spurs began the post Kane era with a 2-2 draw at Brentford in Ange Postecoglou's first Premier League game in charge, and Poyet knows Tottenham will have a hard time replacing their former talisman.

"I'm really sad for the coach, because you go to Tottenham, and it's your first job in the Premier League and your main man – the one who is going to score 20+ goals – is gone, so you need to replace him and it's not easy," said Poyet, who is nevertheless excited to see Spurs in action this season.

"I'm not saying they cannot score goals [with] their front three, I'm saying that it's just different, and they're going to have to adapt.

"I think we saw already in pre-season and the first game that Tottenham is going to be very, very entertaining. 

"I would be surprised if a Tottenham game [involves] less than three goals – for or against – because this is the style of football.

"They're going to be very offensive, they're going to be creating a lot and obviously when you go too far that way [forward] you leave space the other way and everybody plays. It's completely opposite to the way Spurs were playing in the last few years."

Union Berlin secured Champions League qualification for the first time in their history as Schalke suffered relegation from Bundesliga on the final day of the season.

Rani Khedira's 81st-minute winner at home to Werder Bremen saw Union pip Freiburg to fourth place in the German top flight, with Urs Fischer's side booking their spot in UEFA's top club competition for next season.

There was no such good fortune for Schalke, though, as they dropped back down to 2. Bundesliga following a 4-2 defeat to third-placed RB Leipzig on Saturday.

As Bayern Munich celebrated edging out Borussia Dortmund for the title on goal difference, Stuttgart will be left to fight for their top-flight status in a play-off after a 1-1 draw at home to Hoffenheim.

Stuttgart will face either Hamburg or Heidenheim, with whoever finishes third in the German second division due to battle with Sebastian Hoeness' men for a place in Bundesliga next term.

Had Stuttgart won, Augsburg would have been in that play-off after a 2-0 final-day defeat at Borussia Monchengladbach, while Bochum pulled clear of danger with a 3-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen.

Borussia Dortmund suffered final-day heartbreak as they missed out on a first Bundesliga title for 11 years on goal difference, despite fighting back for a 2-2 draw against Mainz.

Edin Terzic's side squandered the opportunity to be crowned champions of Germany as Bayern Munich snatched the title with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Koln, as Jamal Musiala hit a late winner for Thomas Tuchel's men.

Dortmund were always playing catch-up after falling 2-0 down to first-half goals from Andreas Hanche-Olsen and Karim Onisiwo, while Sebastien Haller saw a weak penalty saved.

Raphael Guerreiro gave them hope in the second half, but Musiala's late strike for Bayern at RheinEnergie Stadion rendered Niklas Sule's last-gasp BVB equaliser academic.

Bayern Munich relinquished control of the Bundesliga title race as they collapsed to a 3-1 defeat to RB Leipzig at the Allianz Arena.

The reigning champions had their destiny in their own hands when Serge Gnabry fired them ahead on Saturday, but a terrific counter-attack saw Konrad Laimer level things up in the second half.

A pair of late penalties then stunned Bayern, Christopher Nkunku converting after being tripped by Benjamin Pavard and Dominik Szoboszlai doing likewise following Noussair Mazraoui's handball.

Bayern now need Borussia Dortmund to slip up in one of their remaining games – at Augsburg on Sunday and against Mainz next Saturday – to have any chance of claiming an 11th consecutive title.  

Serge Gnarby bagged a double as Bayern Munich kept their grasp on the Bundesliga title race with a 6-0 rout against relegation-threatened Schalke at Allianz Arena.

Thomas Tuchel's side claimed a comfortable win to go four points clear at the top on Saturday, although Borussia Dortmund could slice that gap when they host Borussia Monchengladbach later on.

Thomas Reis' visitors offered little as Thomas Muller's pinpoint finish and a Joshua Kimmich penalty placed Bayern in full control before the half-time whistle in Bavaria.

Gnabry's brace after the break prefaced late strikes for Mathys Tel and Noussair Mazraoui, further compounding Schalke's misery, as the hosts continued their charge towards an 11th straight title.

Having handed Schalke an 8-0 thrashing on their last visit to Munich in 2020, Bayern looked like they might repeat that feat after Muller, Gnabry and Kingsley Coman all missed early chances.

The visitors saw their resistance broken 21 minutes in however when the former curled Leroy Sane's deft ball into the bottom-left corner, before matters worsened.

A VAR check awarded Bayern a penalty eight minutes later for a stray Cedric Brunner elbow on Jamal Musiala, with Kimmich sending Alexander Schwolow the wrong way from the spot.

Gnabry inflicted further damage after the interval, seizing Joao Cancelo's cut-back pass to drill past the goalkeeper, a quarter-hour before he rounded him for a second.

Tel added a late fifth from Musiala's pass to further pad the scoreline, before Mazraoui capitalised on torrid defending for a final strike in injury-time.

Real Madrid are "the best team of this generation" and could go all the way in the Champions League again this season, according to former European champion Mario Gomez.

Madrid claimed their 14th European crown in incredible fashion last term, overcoming Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City in a series of dramatic knockout ties.

Having reached the final despite losing a game in the last 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals, Los Blancos captured their fifth Champions League title in nine seasons by beating Liverpool 1-0 in Paris.

As Carlo Ancelotti's men prepare to face City in a repeat of last year's semi-final tie, former Bayern Munich striker Gomez described them as the "true beast" of Europe's premier club competition.

"With Real Madrid, over the last 10 years, how many times have we thought, 'it is over for them', and they just come back every time," Gomez said in an interview with the Go Turkiye YouTube channel.

"They are the true beast of the Champions League, absolutely unbelievable. 

"Since I was very little, I have been a Barcelona supporter, but I really enjoy this Real Madrid side.

"They believe until the last second, so, for me they are the best team of this generation.

"For that reason, I think that they will go really far. I don't know if they will win it, because football is unpredictable, but they can reach the final."

 

Turkey striker Cenk Tosun was speaking alongside Gomez, and having worked with Ancelotti during a stint in the Premier League with Everton, he believes the Italian could be set for more glory in Istanbul next month.

"It is always a special event to have the Champions League final here in Turkey," Tosun said. "Of course, Real Madrid is the winner of last season and a clear favourite. 

"They have the same manager as last year, Mr. Ancelotti. I worked with him at Everton and I really like him, he is a special person for me, so I would pick Real Madrid to win it."

Gomez appeared as a substitute as Bayern beat Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League final, as part of a memorable treble won by Jupp Heynckes' team.

Reflecting on that win, Gomez said: "It was one of the most beautiful days in my life, because we were in the final one year before against Chelsea, and we lost [on penalties].

"To this day nobody knows how we lost that game. In 2012-13 we really had the power and energy to show people that it was our year, it was our time. 

"The final wasn't that good. Dortmund were as strong as us, if not better, but in the end, we got the trophy. When we got handed the trophy and lifted it in front of the fans, it was amazing.

"The four years I spent there were just incredible. There were so many special players in that team.

"I'll start with the two wingers. They were the stars and I was just the finisher. On the left-hand side we had Franck Ribery. 

"On the other wing, Arjen Robben. Totally different from Franck. He always wanted to finish. 

"With Arjen I always had to predict the keeper's movement, and if they saved his shot, I was there for the rebound. I scored many goals liked that!"

 

Bayern Munich stretched their lead at the Bundesliga summit to four points as goals from Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane clinched a 2-1 win over a stubborn Werder Bremen.

Having taken advantage of Borussia Dortmund's slip-up at Bochum to go top last week, Bayern knew an 11th consecutive league title is now in their hands as they travelled to the Weserstadion on Saturday.

Thomas Tuchel's stuttering start at Bayern looked set to continue as Werder held firm for over an hour, but Gnabry's close-range finish broke the hosts' resistance before Sane capped a flowing move to make it 2-0.

Though Niklas Schmidt's stunning strike ensured a nervous finish, Bayern clung on to pile the pressure on Dortmund ahead of their meeting with Wolfsburg on Sunday.

Jiri Pavlenka smothered Gnabry's shot from a tight angle early on before making an even better save 20 minutes in, blocking Benjamin Pavard's powerful close-range header.

Werder threatened on the break as Mitchell Weiser went close to converting Romano Schmid's cross, while Christian Gross fired over at the end of a mazy run.

Gnabry misjudged an overhead kick as Bayern's pressure mounted after the restart, and then teed up Sadio Mane to side-foot narrowly wide.

It was Gnabry who made the breakthrough just as Bayern seemed to be running out of ideas. The Germany international lost his marker to sweep home from close range after Jamal Musiala's shot deflected into his path.

Bayern extended their lead 10 minutes later as substitute Sane slotted into the bottom-left corner.

There was a tense finish to come as Schmidt found the top-right corner from long range, but Bayern stood firm to take a huge step towards retaining their title.

Thomas Tuchel admitted Bayern Munich have reached the point where "nothing is easy" as he demanded his faltering team show a reaction to losing top spot in the Bundesliga.

Tuchel was undecided about whether to tune in for Borussia Dortmund's clash with Bochum on Friday, knowing a Dortmund win would lift them four points clear of Bayern.

This weekend sees Bayern have to wait until Sunday for their turn, as they host Hertha Berlin. After that, both they and Dortmund will have four rounds of games remaining.

The clock is ticking, and Bayern's 10-in-a-row title run is under serious threat following a damaging 3-1 defeat to Mainz last weekend.

Head coach Tuchel has injuries to contend with too. Centre-back Dayot Upamecano will miss the Hertha game due to a thigh strain and faces a fortnight on the sidelines, with striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and wing-back Alphonso Davies also set to be absent.

"I don't even know if I'm watching Dortmund," Tuchel said. "For us, the starting position is clear: we no longer have it in our own hands, and now we have to get 15 points.

"We have to improve. It's not too late to show a reaction. We need them right away on Sunday. More than ever, it's all about us. We have to deliver and then hope that's enough."

Hertha, who sit bottom of the Bundesliga, recently brought in Pal Dardai to replace coach Sandro Schwarz, and for that reason, Tuchel described the strugglers as an "unpredictable" prospect.

"That's why we have one more reason to focus completely on ourselves. Nothing is easy for us at the moment," Tuchel said. "The situation is crystal clear. We have to deliver."

Former Chelsea, Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain boss Tuchel has experienced a turbulent start to his Bayern reign, since being appointed on March 25, overseeing exits from the DFB-Pokal and Champions League.

Should Bayern also fail to land the league title that has been their preserve for the last decade, it would compound this season's woes.

A draw against Hoffenheim in mid-April was another damaging result, and Bayern cannot afford to fluff their lines this weekend.

"We are very honest with each other, very critical," Tuchel said. "The team know my opinion on the Mainz game.

"In sport there is always the opportunity to make amends. In the last two games we lost points after taking the lead. That's very atypical for us.

"Honesty and openness is the best form of interaction. We've shown that we can do it. It's more the consistency that we lack."

Juan Mata has named Didier Drogba as the best team-mate he played alongside in the Champions League, while Lionel Messi is the Spaniard's most revered opponent.

Drogba, a legend at Stamford Bridge, scored the winning spot-kick in Chelsea's penalty shoot-out victory over Bayern Munich in the 2012 Champions League final.

It brought up Chelsea's first European crown, one they followed up nine years later by beating Manchester City 1-0 in Porto.

Drogba's coolly taken penalty was his memorable final contribution during his first stint at Chelsea, albeit he returned for a brief second spell in 2014.

Mata, who now plays for Galatasaray, had left for Manchester United by that time, but for him, Drogba will always be the former team-mate synonymous with big Champions League moments.

"If I think about the Champions League, and the times we played together at Chelsea, and when we won the competition, the first big man that comes to mind is Didier Drogba," Mata said in an interview with the Go Turkiye YouTube Channel.

"He scored the goal in the final, he scored the last penalty, he was a leader on and off the pitch, and he is definitely one of the best strikers of the last 20 or 30 years, so he has to be there. 

"He was very helpful to me during my time in London, and he comes to my mind when I think of the Champions League.

"I also have to mention John Terry, [Frank] Lampard, Wayne Rooney, [Robin] van Persie, and many other greats that I had the chance to play with.

"But when I think of Champions League and that final in Munich, it has to be Didier."

 When it came to the toughest opponent playmaker Mata has faced, there was only one player who came to mind.

"I'll have to go with Messi," Mata said. "I played against him in the Spanish league with Valencia, but also in the Champions League with Chelsea.

"I remember those semi-finals when we won it, and he missed a penalty, and he was very unlucky.

"But he is an unbelievable player, still playing at such a great level, we got to see what he did at the World Cup.

"I admire him, and it was a pleasure for me to play against him, hopefully we can play against each other again.

"For me, I have to say he is the one."

Hamit Altintop, who played for Bayern and Real Madrid, echoed Mata's sentiment, though it was not as easy for the former Turkey international to pick out an individual.

"Didier is a real leader on and off the pitch, I played with him in Galatasaray," he added.

"One of my friends asked me if I could make my best XI. In goal: Oliver Kahn, Manuel Neuer, Iker Casillas… These names are all unbelievable players that get mentioned if you talk about the Champions League.

"Iker Casillas is amazing, Cristiano [Ronaldo] the same, if you're talking about the Champions League, you have to mention Messi, of course. All of these names come to mind."

An Italian team is guaranteed to reach the Champions League final for the first time since 2017, when Madrid beat Juventus, with a Milan derby on the cards in the semi-finals.

Manchester City and Madrid face off in the other semi-final tie, and Mata pointed out it is not always the strongest team that goes on to win the competition.

"Sometimes in the Champions League, the best teams don't win, because it's not as long as a normal league, so sometimes you need a little bit of luck: a post, a save, a penalty or other things like that," the 34-year-old said.

"If you don't have mental strength, and if you don't all behave as one, you're not going to win. I felt like that is what happened with Chelsea at that time, we felt like it was meant to be, we felt that was the year.

"For me the mental aspect of football, sometimes it is undervalued, but for me it is key."

Bayern Munich are not the only club in the hunt for Randal Kolo Muani, according to Eintracht Frankfurt sporting director Markus Krosche.

Reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern are making urgent moves to find a prolific striker to join them at the end of the season, having not adequately replaced Robert Lewandowski when he left for Barcelona ahead of this campaign.

France international Kolo Muani has been linked with a transfer following a strong first season in Germany's top flight with Frankfurt.

Uli Hoeness, the influential former Bayern president, is reportedly keen on seeing 24-year-old Kolo Muani come in to strengthen Thomas Tuchel's attacking options.

However, Krosche told German broadcaster Sky Sport: "So far there have been no specific enquiries, neither from Bayern nor from others."

Krosche is nevertheless alive to interest in the former Nantes player, who has managed 13 goals and 10 assists in 28 Bundesliga games for mid-table Frankfurt, converting 20.31 per cent of his chances.

"Bayern Munich are not the only club occupied with him," Krosche said. "On the other hand, Randal still feels very comfortable with us, and he also has a lot of development areas that he can work on very well with us."

 

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