Karim Benzema insisted Real Madrid are not overly dependent on his goals as Carlo Ancelotti's men prepare to face Inter in Wednesday's Champions League clash.

Madrid open their campaign with a trip to San Siro, having won just one of their previous eight away games against Inter in European competition.

Benzema, who is set to feature in his 17th consecutive Champions League, needs just one goal to overtake Raul and become the all-time fourth highest scorer in the competition.

However, the forward deflected questions as to whether his side are too reliant on his output and chose to focus on the team dynamic of Los Blancos.

"Real Madrid are a very strong team," Benzema said at Tuesday's pre-match news conference. "What I need to do is try to help my team with assists and goals. We have to win something and that is a collective effort.

"The Champions League is a different competition and we must try to do everything to win games.

"It's the most important competition. There are favourites, but something different often happens on the pitch, we have a good team and we will fight to win this Champions [League]."

Benzema also quashed suggestions that Madrid's new front three, which he has formed recently with Eden Hazard and Vinicius Junior, could recreate what he had with Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I don't know, together we have done many things and many goals and that trident will remain in history," Benzema said.

"Vini [Vinicius Junior] is a strong player, he has grown and in this beginning of LaLiga he is scoring a lot. I am always by his side, I talk to him, if I can I talk to him and advise him because he is a top player.

"Now, however, let's think about today, about scoring and winning games."

Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe could feature together for the first time when Paris Saint-Germain tackle Club Brugge, Mauricio Pochettino has confirmed.

How the superstar trio perform as a unit could define PSG's season and Pochettino's reign with the French giants, after Messi's shock switch from Barcelona.

Some observers harbour concerns that fielding three such forwards together could leave PSG exposed in other areas. Yet if they click, then PSG could be a rampant force in the Champions League, the tournament they dearly want to win.

Asked if he would select all three on Wednesday in PSG's European opener, Pochettino said: "Maybe, yes. It is possible."

There is little doubt PSG have three of the world's best forwards, but developing a winning team around them is the challenge facing their Argentine head coach.

Speaking in the pre-game news conference, Pochettino was asked whether he was excited about the prospect of the three front players teaming up.

"I will have to get on board all the excitement because I know how excited everyone is," he said. "I would be crazy to think otherwise."

Across the last four Champions League campaigns, only six players have been directly involved in 30-plus goals in the competition, and Pochettino can call on three of those in Mbappe (37 involvements), Messi (36) and Neymar (31).

If Messi plays a part, he will be making his 150th Champions League appearance after previously turning out 149 times for Barcelona, scoring 120 goals and providing 35 assists so far.

However PSG eventually line up, their Belgian hosts may be privately fearing the worst. That is because the last time Club Brugge hosted the Parisians, they were beaten 5-0 in the 2019-20 Champions League – this remains Brugge's heaviest home defeat in European competition. Mauro Icardi scored twice, while Mbappe came on as a substitute and grabbed a hat-trick.

Pochettino knows many expect his team to be major challengers for Champions League glory this season, but he believes holders Chelsea will take some stopping. He also rates the London outfit, coached by former PSG boss Thomas Tuchel, as a model that PSG should look to follow.

"Chelsea are the holders and they are the team to beat, if there is one," Pochettino said. "They have also strengthened by signing good players and have spent a lot more money than Paris Saint-Germain.

"We are not a team yet. We are a club that has recruited many players this summer. There are some very big names, but we have to turn into a team in the way that Chelsea did last season.

"Chelsea are the team to beat because they achieved their targets. We are a group of players that need to achieve the target of becoming a solid team in order to get the results that we want.

"There are no timeframes. At Paris Saint-Germain, you will be judged on the results that you achieve. There is always pressure at every club and in this case at PSG the club has been targeting a dream for many years of winning the Champions League, and that is something that we cannot deny."

Quinton de Kock blasted an unbeaten 59 as South Africa sealed a T20I series whitewash over Sri Lanka with a 10-wicket win on Tuesday.

The Proteas, who clinched the series victory on Sunday, completed another routine win after the hosts limped to a run-a-ball 120-8, with Kagiso Rabada and Bjorn Fortuin taking two wickets apiece.

De Kock, who top-scored with 58 not out against in the previous game, was ably supported by Reeza Hendricks (56 not out) as the pair sealed victory inside 15 overs.

Sri Lanka opening batsmen Kusal Perera offered the most resistance, making 39, but when he was dismissed by Keshav Maharaj with the score at 80-5, the hosts failed to reach an imposing total once more.

Chamika Karunaratne managed an unbeaten 24 – his highest score in the format – but with De Kock and Hendricks racing to 46 without loss after the powerplay, another victory for the tourists was all but confirmed.

De Kock reached his 11th T20I fifty, and fifth for the year, off 40 balls and Hendricks followed suit, recording his sixth T20I half-century in two balls fewer as Maharaj's side triumphed with 32 balls remaining.

Miserly Maharaj

De Kock will steal the headlines with more top-order fireworks, but captain Maharaj should take credit as well as he continues to improve ahead of the spinning surfaces that await him at the T20 World Cup.

The left-armer assumed the captaincy role for his first ever T20I series and, in the final match, bowled a game-high 12 dot balls as he conceded just 14 runs from his full allocation, including the wicket of Perera.

Persistent Perera

Perera scored a third of his team's runs in the second T20I as he made 30 off 25 balls and he almost repeated the feat on Tuesday with his highest score of 2021.

However, the opener was not supported by his team-mates, with only Karunaratne and Dasun Shanaka (18) troubling the opposition bowlers, who dominated once more in Colombo.

Cristiano Ronaldo was set to equal Iker Casillas' Champions League appearance record after being selected in the starting XI for Manchester United's clash with Young Boys.

Casillas holds the record after appearing 177 times in his glittering career across spells for Real Madrid and Porto.

However, he will have former team-mate Ronaldo for company, with the Portugal star set to add another record to his enviable list.

Ronaldo was selected for his second successive start since returning to United from Juventus, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United looked to improve on last season's group-stage exit from the Champions League.

Ronaldo started and scored twice for United on Saturday in a 4-1 win over Newcastle United in the Premier League, marking his second debut in style.

The former Madrid forward is the Champions League's record goalscorer having found the net 134 times. Fifteen of those goals were scored during his first spell with United from 2003 to 2009, with the rest coming across subsequent stints with Madrid and Juve.

He has lifted the trophy five times, once with United and on four occasions with Madrid.

His last appearance in the Champions League for United came in the defeat to Barcelona in the final in May 2009, 12 years and 110 days ago.

By playing against Young Boys, Ronaldo's gap between Champions League appearances will be the fourth longest gap for the same club, behind Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Ajax, 2006-18, 12y 189d), Timmy Simons (Club Brugge, 2003-16, 12y 280d) and Steed Malbranque (Lyon, 2001-15, 14y 194d).

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been ruled out of Milan's Champions League clash at Liverpool after suffering an injury setback.

The 39-year-old former Manchester United striker made a goalscoring return for Milan as a substitute against Lazio on Sunday, coming on to tap in the second goal in a 2-0 Serie A victory.

That followed a four-month knee injury lay-off, and the Swedish frontman has now reportedly suffered discomfort in an Achilles, forcing him out of plans for Wednesday's Anfield tussle.

That means coach Stefano Pioli will name Ante Rebic or former Arsenal and Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud as his attacking spearhead when he selects his side to face Jurgen Klopp's Reds.

Pioli stated Giroud would not be able to play a full 90 minutes, having returned from a spell on the sidelines after testing positive for COVID-19.

Speaking in a news conference on Tuesday, Pioli said: "Zlatan has had an inflammation; he gave it a go this morning but it's useless to take risks at this point of the season.

"I see AC Milan with Zlatan and I absolutely think we'll have him back soon. Absences are a part of football; I'll need to choose between Ante and Olivier but we have the cover."

Ibrahimovic has abundant Champions League experience, scoring 48 goals in the competition from 120 games, with nine of those coming for Milan between 2010 and 2012 in a previous spell with the Rossoneri.

The Swede has scored for more teams in the Champions League than any other player (six – Paris Saint-Germain, Milan, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona).

He arrived from LA Galaxy midway through the 2019-20 season and helped Pioli take Milan into the Champions League for the first time in eight years with last term's second-placed finish in Serie A. 

They last featured in the competition in the 2013-14 campaign, a worrying drought for the club that have won the European Cup or Champions League on seven occasions.

"Our growth over the past year is clear for all to see," Pioli said. "Our experiences have helped us to grow and improve, and the beginning of this season has shown that this team knows how to play and how to approach games.

"The level is higher now; it's what we wanted and it's a chance for us to show that we can mix it with the best."

Milan have won just one of their last 13 games against English opponents in European competition (D4 L8), with that lone victory a 4-0 drubbing of Arsenal at San Siro in the Champions League in February 2012.

Pioli, quoted on Milan's official website, said: "Many of us have never played in the Champions League, but football is football. We know what to do and how to try and play against a really strong side.

"We've prepared really well for this game. There are no easy fixtures in this group; our opponents are all highly competitive and have been playing European football for a while. It's a chance for us to start writing our own history; we have a lot of belief in our own quality."

Cristiano Ronaldo can help Manchester United "do great things" after returning to Old Trafford, according to Diogo Dalot.

Portugal superstar Ronaldo netted twice in the 4-1 win over Newcastle United at the weekend to mark his second debut in style.

More than 12 years on from his previous Premier League outing – a record gap – the 36-year-old is still delivering the goods.

And compatriot Dalot is revelling in having the five-time Ballon d'Or winner back in red.

"It's fantastic not just for me, but for everyone to have Cristiano here," the full-back told the club's official website.

"He gives so much energy to everyone and he's been fantastic.

"On the day [he signed] there was a lot of speculation and it was very good news for everyone involved. Everyone was buzzing with his return to United.

"I texted him and congratulated about him coming back. He said how happy he was to be part of this club again and he wants to help the team and that's what we want.

"I think fans can expect the same Cristiano as always. To be here winning what he has won and playing like he is playing you can expect the best.

"We are here to help him and he is here to help us as well and I think with everything combined we can do great things."

Ronaldo's brace against Newcastle came 12 years and 124 days after his last in the English top flight – only Matt Jackson (13 years, 187 days) has gone longer in Premier League history.

At 36 years and 218 days, he became the oldest player to score a double in a Premier League match since Graham Alexander for Burnley against Hull in April 2010. Alexander was 38 years and 182 days old.

The arrival of Ronaldo before the transfer deadline capped an impressive window for United, who also signed star defender Raphael Varane from Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side face Young Boys in their Champions League opener on Tuesday.

The New York Yankees produced their biggest comeback of the season fueled by Aaron Judge's three-run homer as they eclipsed the Minnesota Twins 6-5 in extra innings in MLB on Monday.

The Yankees trailed 5-0 in the sixth before a rally capped by Judge crushing a game-tying home run, which was his 33rd homer of the season.

The win came with an ounce of luck in the eighth inning with Brett Gardner fortunate to be walked on a close call with two strikes, two outs and the Yankees 5-2 down before Judge stepped up to the plate.

In the 10th inning, Gary Sanchez ripped a single down the line to get Gleyber Torres home for the walk-off win.

Earlier, Miguel Sano hit a two-run homer for the Twins, who led 4-0 after the first inning, while Max Kepler made a super catch on DJ LeMahieu in the sixth.

The win improves the Yankees to 80-64 and they are hanging on for the second Wild Card spot in the American League (AL) despite having lost eight of their last 10 games.

 

Giants book playoff spot, Guerrero tops charts

The San Francisco Giants locked in their first playoff spot since 2016 with an impressive 9-1 win over the San Diego Padres, set up after a five-run opening inning.

Home runs by Evan Longoria, Mike Yastrzemski and Brandon Belt highlighted the Giants win as Yu Darvish struggled again on the mound for the Padres, conceding eight earned runs, three walks and six hits in four innings.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr leapfrogged Shohei Ohtani into top spot on the MLB home run charts as the in-form Toronto Blue Jays won 8-1 over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Guerrero laced his 45th homer of the season with a liner into the left-field corner as the Jays won their 12th game from their past 13 in their battle for a Wild Card spot in the American League.

Clayton Kershaw returned to the hill for the first time since July 3 due to forearm tightness, tossing down five strikeouts in the Los Angeles Dodgers' 5-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Mitch Haniger hit a home run for the third consecutive game to help the Seattle Mariners beat the Boston Red Sox 5-4 and keep alive their Wild Card aspirations.

 

Rangers hammered as Siri makes history

It has been a tough season for the Texas Rangers and a 15-1 hammering from the Houston Astros added to that as Jose Siri made history in his first start with five RBIs and two homers. The Rangers allowed 16 hits, trailing 9-0 after three innings. Spencer Howard surrendered six hits and six runs early, while AJ Alexy conceded four walks, four hits and six earned runs.

 

Wainwright proves age no barrier

Adam Wainwright may be 40 years old but the St Louis Cardinals right-hander is not slowing up, pitching six shutout innings in their 7-0 win over the New York Mets. The veteran only allowed four hits while recording four strikeouts, helping the Cardinals stay firmly in the National League Wild Card race. Wainwright improved to 16-7 and lowered his ERA to 2.88.

 

Monday's results 

New York Yankees 6-5 Minnesota Twins
Miami Marlins 3-0 Washington Nationals
Toronto Blue Jays 8-1 Tampa Bay Rays
St Louis Cardinals 7-0 New York Mets
Houston Astros 15-1 Texas Rangers
San Francisco Giants 9-1 San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 Arizona Diamondbacks
Seattle Mariners 5-4 Boston Red Sox

 

Rays at Blue Jays

The in-form Blue Jays (81-63) have piled on 42 runs in their past four games and take on the Rays (89-55) for the second time in their three-game series in a crunch AL East clash.

Sergio Garcia enters his 10th Ryder Cup as the all-time leading scorer in the competition but he is thinking only of another team victory as he looks ahead to Whistling Straits.

Europe have won four of the last five and nine of the last 12 showdowns with the United States but Garcia is hungry for more at the delayed 2021 edition, to be held September 24-26.

He pointed out that the Americans still hold an overwhelming edge in the history of the biennial event, with 26 wins compared to only 14 for their opposition. 

"We still have some catching up to do, and that's a goal to try to tilt the balance to our favour when it comes in the global score of the Ryder Cup," Garcia told reporters after being selected for this year's team by captain Padraig Harrington. 

The USA's advantage stems mostly from the days when a player from Spain like Garcia would not have been eligible to contest the Cup. 

From its inception in 1927 through 1971, Great Britain provided the sole opposition. The next three Ryder Cups, from 1973-77, added players from Ireland as well. 

The Americans won 18 and lost three, with one tie, across that span before a full European team was first fielded in 1979. The USA won the first three after that format change but Europe are 11-5-1 since 1985. 

Garcia has been a huge part of that success since making his debut in 1999 as a 19-year-old.

At the last edition in Paris in 2018, Garcia raised his career point total to 25.5, passing Nick Faldo to become the highest-scoring player in history, but team success was – and remains – top of mind.

"Being the highest points-scorer in Ryder Cup history, that was never my goal," Garcia said. "It's something that I never thought about because I was always focused on winning the Ryder Cup as a team.

"So I never thought, oh, you know, even if we lose, if I win three or 3.5 points, I had a great Ryder Cup. No, that doesn't do it to me.

"I've always said it; I could win five matches. If we don't win the Ryder Cup, it's not a good Ryder Cup for me.

"I'm not one of those guys that would look at the individual stats over the team stats on that particular week.

"It's not the way my brain works and probably is one of the reasons why I've been fortunate to be a part of so many teams and do so well in it."

It also helps that Garcia cares so deeply about the competition and has always seemed to feed off the team dynamic and the unique atmosphere around any Ryder Cup gallery. 

He knows Europe will face the full wrath of the fans in Wisconsin, particularly with COVID-19 restrictions limiting travel from Europe. 

"Obviously when we're in the US, we are always out-numbered when it comes down to [crowds]. But this year is going to be even more," he said. "So the way you look at it, you can look at it two ways: You can feed off the energy that their crowd is going to have, and also you can feed off your good moments how they will get quiet and how you can quiet their crowds.

"I think that's going to be important and it's going to be important for everyone to know that when the course is quiet, this is a good thing for Europe."

Everton manager Rafael Benitez revealed Dominic Calvert-Lewin will be sidelined for more than two or three weeks after missing Monday's 3-1 win over Burnley with toe and quad injuries.

The 24-year-old England international had scored in Everton's opening three Premier League matches but was not part of the matchday squad against the Clarets.

Calvert-Lewin has been playing through injuries and Benitez revealed the full extent, stating he will be sidelined for several weeks to recover.

“It could be longer, he broke his toe, then was playing with an injection, with pain, it was not easy for him," Benitez said.

"He was not training with the rest of the team and that is the reason, I think, why he had the problem.

"For me, it will be longer than two or three weeks."

Everton's victory over Burnley lifted the Toffees up to fourth spot in the league, remaining one of only five unbeaten sides.

Benitez's side stormed back from 1-0 down in the second half with three goals in six minutes including a stunning long-distance strike from winger Andros Townsend who supplied the assist for Michael Keane's equalizer.

"The main thing in this team, everyone said we needed wingers," Benitez said.

“Today, Richarlison did a great job [up front] also and the two wingers helped the striker do better.

“When I decided Andros could be an important player for us, I was convinced. He is a professional and keen to learn and we have a group of players who want to improve."

Dominic Thiem believes Emma Raducanu's sensational US Open triumph might be the "greatest breakthrough performance of all time".

Raducanu, 18, overcame fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 on Saturday to cement her place in history.

Her triumph meant she became the first qualifier – male or female – in tennis history to win a grand slam final.

She did not lose a set in 10 matches across qualifying and the main draw, becoming the first player since Serena Williams in 2014 to win the US Open without dropping a single set.

Raducanu – whose first grand slam appearance only came at Wimbledon in June – was ranked 150th in the world before the US Open, but her stunning win in New York has seen her break into the top 30.

Thiem, who missed the men's tournament with a wrist injury, was in awe of Raducanu's stunning run at Flushing Meadows and says he can scarcely recall a more impressive breakthrough in the sport.  

"There were some other great achievements in the past but with Emma Raducanu, starting in the qualifiers and then playing such great tennis and making this incredible path, it's definitely, maybe, the greatest breakthrough performance of all time," he exclusively told Stats Perform.

 

"It's an incredible journey if you look at the stats. She didn't lose one set the whole tournament. She came from qualifying and she didn't even play one tie-break. That's simply amazing and something that was probably never witnessed before.

"And also the way she plays, her technique, the way she moves, somehow she brought it up to a new level for the whole game and it was great to see.

"But as well, her opponent, it was so fun to watch her. I was excited for it, watching every single point on TV. And it was great not only for women's tennis, but for all sports in general."

Shock US Open champion Emma Raducanu has what it takes to win Wimbledon in the future, according to British great Virginia Wade.

Raducanu, 18, beat fellow debutant finalist Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 on Saturday to become the first qualifier – male or female – in tennis history to win a grand slam final.

The British sensation – the youngest women's grand slam finalist since a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova took the title at Wimbledon in 2004 – did not lose a set in 10 matches across qualifying and the main draw, becoming the first player since Serena Williams in 2014 to win the US Open without dropping a single set.

The triumph also saw her become the first British woman to win a major tournament since Wade claimed the Wimbledon crown 44 years ago.

Raducanu reached the last 16 of this year's Wimbledon – her only other grand slam appearance – before pulling out of the competition due to medical reasons.

Wade, who was in attendance for the final at Arthur Ashe Stadium, believes Raducanu has all the attributes to follow in her footsteps and win British tennis' showpiece tournament during what she predicts will be a glittering career.

"I see her winning Wimbledon some time," Wade exclusively told Stats Perform. "I don't have a crystal ball, so I don't know when.

"I feel sure her time will come. She's just too good not to.

"Physically she's wonderful, she's the right height, has long legs, moves smoothly and is very quick from left to right.

"She's light on her feet, reads the ball well, her serve is terrific and her groundstrokes are solid.

"She's got balance out there and her concentration and determination are important factors as well."

 

Fernandez, 19, defeated top five trio Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka along with three-time major winner Angelique Kerber on her way to Saturday's final.

And although she succumbed to a straight sets defeat, Wade believes the Canadian, along with Raducanu, will dominate the women's game for years to come.

"They're both absolutely terrific players and they enchanted everybody," she added. "Everybody was thrilled with them.

"You only get these extra special players once in a decade or once every two decades.

"In the women's game we have a really solid block of really good players. In my mind there are six to 10 players who will have to share the hardware in the next five to 10 years because they are all good. It's impossible for someone to win them all.

"Emma and Leylah will have their fair share of winning, and probably more than the others, being at the top and being feared."

Edinson Cavani will miss Manchester United's Champions League clash with Young Boys, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirming the striker suffered a slight strain in a friendly.

Cavani was not included as United went top of the Premier League in a 4-1 win over Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The Uruguay star has played only once this season and will not feature when United look to make a winning start to their European campaign in Switzerland.

Speaking at a media conference, Solskjaer told reporters: "Edi is hopefully back with us soon, he had a slight strain during the international break in a behind-closed-doors game. He's working hard to come back."

United, though, will have Cristiano Ronaldo at their disposal to potentially equal Iker Casillas' record of 177 Champions League appearances after he made it a second debut to remember against Newcastle following his move back to Old Trafford from Juventus.

The former Real Madrid star marked his return with a brace, his typically ruthless finishing looking like it will make United a force to be reckoned with after a transfer window in which they also added Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho.

Asked about the quality he now has in his ranks, Solskjaer said: "This team has grown and matured over the last few seasons, that was always the plan.

"When I came in, we wanted a team with experience and quality who could challenge. David [de Gea] sat next to me, Harry [Maguire] has been here for a few years now, Raphael and Cristiano. We've learned."

Ronaldo's return and subsequent immediate impact has clearly increased the feel-good factor around United, with De Gea speaking to the influence he has had in a short space of time.

He said: "It's great to have Cristiano back home — the experience of Cristiano is amazing, he's a legend at the club already and it's great to have him back. It's massive for us."

United won each of their previous two Champions League clashes against Young Boys in the Champions League in 2018-19. Tuesday's opponents have won only one of their eight games against English opposition, but Solskjaer is not taking them lightly after Switzerland's shock win over France at Euro 2020.

"I was very impressed by the reaction in the game against France, when they were 3-1 down and you could see their quality when they turned that game around," said Solskjaer.

"I managed Molde against Basel and the game against Italy was impressive as well. Some of those players will be against us tomorrow."

Lionel Messi will be the highest-rated player on FIFA 22 after EA Sports revealed the upcoming game's top 22.

The latest edition of the long-running title will be released at the start of October and will see Messi representing a team other than Barcelona for the first time.

Messi joined Paris Saint-Germain in August and will give gamers the chance to line up with him, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe all in the same front three.

With a rating of 93, Messi will be the game's best player, excluding icons and special Ultimate Team cards.

 

The ratings of Neymar and Mbappe were also among those revealed on Monday, with the pair among five players on 91 – the other three are Cristiano Ronaldo, Jan Oblak and Kevin De Bruyne.

Of course, the game will give Manchester United fans the chance to include Ronaldo in their Red Devils side after he completed his return to the club following a 12-year absence.

Messi aside, the only other player to be rated higher than Ronaldo is Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.

He broke Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 Bundesliga goals in a single season in 2020-21 as he netted 41 times en route to the title.

 

But it was not enough to topple Messi.

Even in a season that was largely underwhelming for Barcelona, Messi still managed to score 30 LaLiga goals and he set up another nine – only four players had more assists.

This perhaps goes some way to explaining why the six-time Ballon d'Or winner just pips Lewandowski to top-billing despite the latter's historic campaign.

FIFA 22's top 22 players:

Lionel Messi, Paris Saint-Germain – 93

Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich – 92

Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United – 91

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City – 91

Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain – 91

Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain – 91

Jan Oblak, Atletico Madrid – 91

Harry Kane, Tottenham – 90

N'Golo Kante, Chelsea – 90

Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich – 90

Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona – 90

Mohamed Salah, Liverpool – 89

Gianluigi Donnarumma, Paris Saint-Germain – 89

Karim Benzema, Real Madrid – 89

Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool – 89

Joshua Kimmich, Bayern Munich – 89

Son Heung-min, Tottenham – 89

Alisson, Liverpool – 89

Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid – 89

Casemiro, Real Madrid – 89

Ederson, Manchester City – 89

Sadio Mane, Liverpool – 89

Barcelona host Bayern Munich as two Champions League heavyweights headline the first round of matchday one fixtures on Tuesday.

Barca will be without Lionel Messi for a European campaign for the first time since 2003-04 as they seek revenge against the Bundesliga outfit.

Manchester United – armed with the competition's all-time leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo – travel to Young Boys while reigning champions Chelsea begin at home to Zenit.

Italian giants Juventus make the trip to Sweden's most successful team Malmo, who are making their first appearance in the group stage since 2015-16 following their title win in 2020.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the key Opta data ahead of Tuesday's fixtures.

Barcelona v Bayern Munich: Blaugrana out to make amends

Barcelona and Bayern Munich have not met in the group stages since 1998-99, but the Bundesliga side did inflict Barca's heaviest defeat since April 1951 with an 8-2 crushing in 2019-20's quarter-finals.

There are remarkable records at stake for both sides as well, Bayern boasting the longest unbeaten away run in the history of the competition (18), while Barca are unbeaten in their last 22 group-stage openers – stretching back to 1997-98.

However, Julian Nagelsmann's side have won 17 opening games in a row and they also have Robert Lewandowski to call upon, the forward scoring 28 times since the start of 2018-19 – eight more than any other Champions League player.

 

Young Boys v Manchester United: Ronaldo returns for another record

Young Boys have won only one of 13 games against English opponents in European competition as they prepare for Manchester United, who have lost just one of their last 21 openers.

However, United have been beaten in six of their 10 Champions League matches under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – as many as they did in their last 20 under Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho.

Having not appeared for the Red Devils in 12 years and 110 days – the fourth longest gap between appearances for the same club – Cristiano Ronaldo could equal the all-time appearance record in the Champions League, moving level with Iker Casillas on 177.

Chelsea v Zenit: History favours the champions

The reigning Champions League champions have only lost two of 27 games when starting their title defence, with no side ever losing a home game immediately following continental success.

Zenit face an uphill battle, given they are winless in their last seven fixtures, while Chelsea are unbeaten in 11 games in the group stage.

Indeed, the Blues are unbeaten in six matches against Russian teams and, since the start of last season, no team have lost fewer matches (1) or kept more clean sheets (9).

 

Malmo v Juventus: Allegri's away-day specialists

Tuesday will be Malmo head coach Jon Dahl Tomasson's managerial debut in the competition after last appearing as a player for Milan in the 2005 final.

The hosts, though, have scored just three goals across 10 previous appearances, while Juventus have won their last five group stage away games.

The visitors will also have Alvaro Morata available, the forward one of only three Spaniards to score more than 20 Champions League goals after netting six times in eight matches last term.

 

Other fixtures:

Dynamo Kyiv v Benfica

143 – Dynamo Kyiv manager Mircea Lucescu (76) and Benfica's Jorge Jesus' (67) combined age of 143 is the oldest of two managers to face off in the Champions League.

25 – The hosts are one of 25 teams to play 100 or more fixtures in the competition, but they have the third worst loss percentage (49) behind Olympiacos (52) and Galatasaray (51).

Lille v Wolfsburg

1 – Lille have only managed one win against German opposition in nine attempts in European competition, last prevailing in 2002.

5 – Wolfsburg have won five of their last six Champions League games and have scored twice in four of those victories.

Sevilla v Red Bull Salzburg

64 – Sevilla's Youssef En-Nesyri is averaging a Champions League goal every 64 minutes, recording three braces for his six goals in eight games last campaign.

2 – Red Bull Salzburg have only won two of their last 15 matches in the competition, but both of them have come away from home against Genk and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Villarreal v Atalanta

15 – Villarreal forward Gerard Moreno has 15 Europa League goals but has never played in Europe's premier competition – since 1992-93 only three players have scored more and not played in the Champions League.

5 – Atalanta have won five of their last six away games, only losing against Real Madrid, while they have also progressed from their two previous group stage campaigns.

Ronald Koeman believes Barcelona have a "unique opportunity" for revenge as they prepare to host Bayern Munich in Tuesday's first round of Champions League matches.

The last time the two teams met, the visitors inflicted Barca's heaviest defeat since April 1951 in an 8-2 thrashing in the 2019-20 Champions League quarter-final.

Bayern have won also each of their last 17 openers in the competition since 2003-04, but Barca are unbeaten in their last 22 such fixtures – a run stretching back to 1997-98.

And Koeman is looking forward to the test against Julian Nagelsmann's side as the Catalan club prepare for their first Champions League campaign since 2003-04 without Lionel Messi, who departed for Paris Saint-Germain in August.

"Tomorrow we have the first Champions League game and we are changing things," Koeman told Monday's pre-match news conference.

"Chelsea won last year and was not among the two or three favourites. We know that Bayern is a great team, with individual quality and experienced people.

"We want to compete in the Champions League and we play at home. We will try to get a good result to start the Champions League.

"It's been more than a year and several players suffered a lot in that game [the 8-2 loss]. We have a unique opportunity. We can hurt Bayern and we have a good team. We have to look for our style to hurt the opposition."

Sergio Busquets started in midfield in the crushing defeat, but he is expecting a different challenge with Nagelsmann at the helm.

"They have a new coach and he will try to play his way," Busquets told reporters. "He has kept the entire squad, except for some who have stayed on the road like Thiago.

"He will surely try to win. What happened was difficult to accept, but the world of football is like that. Time has passed and we are psyched that it will be different."

Asked to discuss his team's Champions League hopes following Messi's departure, the midfielder said: "Anything can happen in football. Chelsea won the Champions League and were not favourites.

"The important thing is the collective level and we know that we do not have Leo [Messi] or his individualities.

"We are here, excited and we are aware of the difficulty, but we have a lot of ambition and we want to win."

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