UEFA has opened a disciplinary investigation against Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid, the three clubs who are yet to withdraw from the European Super League.

Nine of the original 12 founding teams involved in the controversial project – including all six English clubs – have renounced the competition and promised to take all possible steps to remove themselves from it.

They all agreed a peace accord with UEFA last week that saw them recommit to the current structures of club and international football.

As part of the deal, those nine teams also accepted light punishments including goodwill payments to UEFA and a small portion of their prize money being withheld.

But Barca, Juve and Madrid are yet to terminate their involvement and on Saturday insisted the breakaway project was lawful, hitting out at "intolerable" pressure and vowing to persevere. 

When announcing their agreement with the nine clubs who came back into the fold, UEFA said it would "take whatever action it deems appropriate" against the remaining three.

That process has now begun, as UEFA released a statement on Wednesday confirming the disciplinary probe.

It read: "In accordance with Article 31(4) of the UEFA disciplinary regulations, UEFA ethics and disciplinary inspectors have today been appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding a potential violation of UEFA's legal framework by Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus in connection with the so-called 'Super League' project.

"Further information regarding this matter will be made available in due course."

Speaking last week, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin discussed the recent developments, praising the nine clubs for stepping back from the Super League.

"I said at the UEFA Congress that it takes a strong organisation to admit making a mistake especially in these days of trial by social media," he said.

"In accepting their commitments and willingness to repair the disruption they caused, UEFA wants to put this chapter behind it and move forward in a positive spirit.

"The measures announced are significant, but none of the financial penalties will be retained by UEFA. They will all be reinvested into youth and grassroots football in local communities across Europe, including the UK.

"These clubs have done just that, recognised their mistakes quickly and have taken action to demonstrate their contrition and future commitment to European football.

"The same cannot be said for the clubs that remain involved in the so-called 'Super League' and UEFA will deal with those clubs subsequently."

Virgil van Dijk has confirmed he will not be taking part in Euro 2020 for Netherlands due to injury.

The Dutch captain will miss the tournament and complete his recovery with the aim of being ready to start pre-season training with Liverpool.

Van Dijk, 29, has missed much of the season having suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Everton in October, ruling him out ever since.

And Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp recently dented fans' hopes of seeing Van Dijk in action again this season by saying he is still "quite a way" from returning to training despite footage of the player running.

Van Dijk has now confirmed he will not risk his recovery by playing at the Euros, though he is disappointed to miss out.

The defender told Liverpool's website: "In this latest stage for myself, I have come to a decision that I had to make: would I be involved in the Euros, yes or no?

"With everything that is going on, I feel physically it is the right decision that I've decided not to go to the Euros and to go into my last phase of rehab during the off-season. 

"So, the full focus will be on pre-season with the club and that's a realistic goal, so I am looking forward to that.

"Obviously I am very gutted to miss the Euros, to miss the European Championship and leading out my own country there, but things have been like they have and I have to accept it – we all have to accept it. 

"I think the decision to not go is the right decision in the grand scheme of things. It's tough, but I'm at peace with it.

"I am looking forward to football hopefully with fans and with Holland, we will try to reach the next tournament [the World Cup].

"Hopefully I can lead the boys there for a historical tournament, but we're not there yet. 

"It's going to be a very, very hard but hopefully a promising 18 months for club and country."

Van Dijk's status for the Euros has been a talking point ever since his injury, with debate over whether he should risk playing if he is not fit to return for Liverpool.

His leadership and imperious attributes made him a huge part of the Reds' Premier League title triumph last season, playing all 38 matches.

Only one defender in the league bettered his 191 aerial wins, he attempted – and completed – more passes than any of them and Trent Alexander-Arnold was the sole defensive player to have more than his 3,624 touches of the ball.

His excellence did not only help keep them solid at the back but his influence stretched to their wider philosophy on the ball as well, yet they have been without that for most of 2020-21.

The injury absence of Van Dijk and a host of other players, particularly in defence, has hit Liverpool hard in a campaign where they are now struggling to finish in the top four.

"We all know how the season has gone – and we're not happy with how it's gone," added Van Dijk. "It's been frustrating for all of us, for all the Liverpool fans.

"With everything that is going on in the world and in the football world as well, personally it has been a very tough year, but I am looking forward to next season.

"It has been a very, very tough journey so far, but I am in a good place right now and I'm progressing nicely.

"Seven months ago I got injured and it's been a very, very long road. I had to take it step by step, as I have done. Things have been going well, I've not had a real setback or anything, I've just progressed nicely.

"I am not the youngest anymore; I'm obviously not old, but I am quite mature and I know by now what could be a good decision.

"I think this decision has definitely been the right one, in my opinion, to give my body and my knee a little bit more extra time.

"Obviously I want to be back out there, I want to be helping my team-mates, helping my country in this case and I obviously want to help the club.

"But I think it’s the right thing to do to stay a little bit more patient and work even harder during the off-season and get ready."

Netherlands are in Group C for Euro 2020 along with Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer applauded Mason Greenwood for playing with responsibility alongside some of Manchester United's younger players against Leicester City and wants him to retain that authority when teaming up with first-team regulars.

United lost 2-1 at home to Leicester on Tuesday, a defeat that confirmed Manchester City as Premier League champions for the third time in four years.

The result did not come as a huge surprise, however, given Solskjaer had made 10 changes to his starting XI from the 3-1 win over Aston Villa just two days earlier – Greenwood the only player to keep his place.

The England international got United's goal, a tidy finish into the bottom-left corner after skipping past Caglar Soyuncu to cancel out Luke Thomas' spectacular opener.

Alongside him in the United attack were 18-year-old Amad Diallo, making his Premier League debut, and Anthony Elanga, who was playing his first ever game for the senior side – Greenwood, although only six months older than the latter, was making his 102nd appearance.

Solskjaer felt Greenwood – occupying the central striker position – played with greater authority and responsibility as a result and he wants the 19-year-old to take that into their next game against Liverpool on Thursday, when the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba can expect to be back in the team.

"You saw some definite leadership, the way he had to take responsibility," Solskjaer said.

"He's got Amad and Anthony next to him, looks at them and thinks, 'I've got 100 games here so I need to help them', which is great.

"He did really well, considering his age he's got 100 games and has got loads of experience.

"The way he took responsibility, I was really pleased with it. That's maybe not as easy when you've got Bruno, Paul, Marcus and Edinson [Cavani] next to you, which is natural.

"I still want him to take that responsibility when he plays. No matter how old you are, if you believe in yourself, trust in yourself, and think it's the right decision, you make that decision.

"He did that [against Leicester] and I still want him to do that on Thursday, when he plays with the more experienced ones."

It has been a testing season for Greenwood, who struggled early on to replicate the remarkable form he had shown in 2019-20.

The teenager had to cope with the death of a close friend and was then involved in controversy on England duty, finding himself sent home after making his debut and then being excluded from the next selection.

Greenwood also appeared to become something of a target for certain sections of the British media, and his form suffered considerably, only managing three goals across all competitions between the start of the season in September and the end of 2020.

His struggles continued into 2021 and the forward went on a run of 15 appearances without a single goal from late January, but he ended that barren spell against Leicester City on March 21 and has since netted eight times in 11 matches.

No Premier League player has scored more goals on all fronts over the same period, with Greenwood once again showing the kind of killer-instinct in front of goal that made him so feared in 2019-20, when he scored 17 goals.

Ten of those came in the league from an expected goals (xG) value of just 2.9, meaning he scored 7.1 goals more than expected. No player in the division could match that xG overperformance.

This would generally indicate elite-level finishing or a player getting lucky. Greenwood's form earlier this season suggested it was the latter, but since March 21 his xG overperformance across all competitions is 5.0 – almost double the next-most efficient player in that time, Kelechi Iheanacho (xG overperformance of 2.9).

After a shaky period, Greenwood is seemingly back on track and showing the finishing talents that made people sit up and take note last season.

While Solskjaer wants him to keep playing with authority for United, on current form many would even be backing him to take extra "responsibility" with England at Euro 2020.

Manchester United head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has criticized the scheduling of his side's league fixtures, labelling them as "impossible" amid a pile-up.

Solskjaer fielded a second-string line-up for Tuesday's 2-1 home loss to Leicester City, which comes only two days after they won 3-1 away to Aston Villa in the Premier League.

The Red Devils' fixture pile-up has been compounded by their run to the Europa League final, having completed their passage on Thursday with an 8-5 aggregate win over Roma.

But United's backlog was made worse by their postponed league fixture against Liverpool due to fan protests at Old Trafford.

United play that fixture against Liverpool on Thursday before another league match against Fulham on Tuesday.

Solskjaer acknowledged the situation the postponed Liverpool fixture had created but called for fairer re-scheduling.

"It can’t be like this again," Solskjaer said post-game. "You can’t play Thursday, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday - it is impossible.

"That’s the reason why we had to make these changes because it is unheard of. I say it again, if this game was tomorrow, no problem and if we have another game on Saturday.

"If you have two days in between, there is no problem but this is impossible for the players to perform at this level Thursday night, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday. It is impossible."

Sadio Mane has been urged "not to panic" despite the Liverpool forward admitting he is enduring the worst season of his senior career.

The Senegal international has scored 13 times in all competitions this season, nine of which have come in the Premier League, with his effort against Southampton last weekend just his third league goal at Anfield in 2020-21.

That form has been in stark contrast to last season, when Mane scored 18 times in the top flight alone to help propel the Reds to their first Premier League title.

The 29-year-old has struggled to find answers to his problems and has even sought medical advice to see if physical impairments are behind them.

"This is the worst season of my career. I have to admit it," he told Canal Plus. "If you ask me what is wrong I will struggle to give you an answer. Personally, I don't know.

"I have always tried to be positive, whether things are going well or badly. I question myself all the time. I even underwent a test to take a look at my body. Am I eating the right foods, or has everything changed? But they checked the test results, and everything is fine.

"I need to understand that in life there are ups and downs. I will keep on working hard – and perhaps in time this situation will pass."

BELOW EXPECTATIONS

Mane's output in terms of creating for others is similar to last season's: he is only two assists (five) and seven chances created (52) down on the numbers he recorded in the league in 2020-21.

His reduction in goals is also not for lack of trying. He has already attempted 86 shots in the league this term, nine more than last season, while his shot accuracy has dropped by just three per cent. Similarly, his conversion rate for Opta-defined 'big chances' has only reduced by 4.4 per cent.

However, Mane's overall shot conversion rate in the league this season has dropped to 10.47 per cent from 23.38 per cent in 2019-20. This indicates a broader problem with his finishing – and the evidence supports this.

Last season, Mane scored 18 times in the league from an Expected Goals figure of only 13.67. His Expected Goals on Target – a metric that helps to model the quality of a player's on-target shots – was 15.86. That gives him a difference between xG and xGOT, called Shooting Goals Added (SGA), of 2.21.

This indicates that, when presented with a chance by team-mates, Mane was often executing shots that were in locations a goalkeeper would find difficult to save. In other words, he was finishing clinically. This season, however, things have changed.

Mane's xG in 2020-21 has lowered slightly to 12.45, but his xGOT has dropped substantially to 10.65, giving him an SGA of -1.8. The likelihood of him scoring this term based on the quality of his own shooting has fallen discernibly, albeit not massively.

KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

If Mane's problems in front of goal are clear but not drastic, what is the solution? The message from one former coach is clear: don't panic.

Alain Giresse, who was Senegal coach from 2013 to 2015, thinks part of the problem is that Jurgen Klopp's side were always bound to suffer some sort of dip in standards given their sustained excellence in the previous two seasons.

"The pole vaulter who is getting people used to clearing six metres, the day he clears 5.80m, we're not going to question it," Giresse told Stats Perform.

"The seasons that Liverpool have just had were at such a high level that to keep them for years to come is extremely difficult.

"They have dominated European football and English football. To stay at the top at this level is very complicated. Something eventually erodes and they are in the middle of that.

"I'm still in touch with Sadio and I tell him not to panic even though it's clear you have to work constantly. Clubs know this. For example, Monaco were on a 12-game winning run, and when they lost the 13th game in Strasbourg, the coach said that it was bound to happen.

"The problem in this type of situation is that you get the impression that it's the end of the world. You say to yourself that out of 13 games, you lose one, while you've won all the others... Liverpool are in a similar situation."

Lionel Messi and Erling Haaland together at Camp Nou?

Barcelona are among a host of clubs interested in Borussia Dortmund's Haaland.

Joan Laporta is reportedly fighting to bring Haaland to Spain.

 

TOP STORY – BARCA NOT GIVING UP ON HAALAND

Erling Haaland remains Barcelona's number one transfer target, according to Diario Sport.

Borussia Dortmund star Haaland has been linked with Barca, Real Madrid, Manchester CityChelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

Despite their financial problems and cheaper alternatives, Barca are determined to prise Haaland to Camp Nou, though Inter's Lautaro Martinez and Tottenham star Harry Kane remain possible options.

 

ROUND-UP

- Le10Sport claims Arsenal are desperate to lure Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga to London. Camavinga is in demand amid reported interest from Madrid, United and PSG. Mundo Deportivo, meanwhile, reports Barca are eyeing the France international as a replacement for Sergio Busquets.

- Milan intend on signing Fikayo Tomori on a permanent deal from Chelsea, reports Fabrizio Romano. Tomori has impressed since arriving at San Siro on loan. It comes as Chelsea work to extend Thiago Silva's contract.

- FT says Bayern star Kingsley Coman wants to double his wages in a contract extension. The France international has previously been linked with United.

- Liverpool have shown interest in Leeds United forward Patrick Bamford, according to The Athletic.

- Calciomercato reports Serie A champions Inter and Lazio are targeting Chelsea veteran Olivier Giroud, who is set to leave Stamford Bridge amid the Blues' links with Bayern star Robert Lewandowski and City free agent Sergio Aguero.

Iconic former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson put aside any anti-Liverpool agenda as he saluted the impacted Steven Gerrard has had on another of his old clubs, Rangers.

Gerrard played for United's bitter rivals Liverpool from 1998 to 2015, a period that coincided with Ferguson's glory years at Old Trafford, and was Reds captain for much of that time.

But despite their respective roles in one of English football's fiercest rivalries, Ferguson can appreciate the job Gerrard has done since trying his hand in management.

Gerrard took over at Rangers – with whom Ferguson spent two years as a player in the 1960s – in 2018, the club having been without a top-flight title since 2010-11. They had to start all over again in the third tier in 2012 after insolvency.

Rangers' great rivals Celtic went on to claim nine successive Scottish Premiership titles, but under Gerrard's guidance they ended the Bhoys' dominance this term, cruising to the crown in remarkable fashion.

They wrapped it up in early March having not lost a single game and, with two games left, are in with a chance of completing the campaign undefeated, a feat they have not managed since 1898-99.

And Ferguson, who won 16 top-flight titles with United and Aberdeen, has been impressed.

"Oh, he's done magnificent," Ferguson told the Guardian ahead of the release of a documentary about his life.

"He really has, both on and off the field. A press interview can lose you your job in management. But Steven's press conferences are fantastic.

"He's cool, he's composed, he gives the right answers. He's really top because it's an art."

Nevertheless, Ferguson stressed he has not exactly become an avid follower of Rangers in his retirement – he is only really bothered when it comes to one game in particular.

"The only time I really support Rangers is when they play Celtic. The big one," he added. "Jason [his son] is a Celtic fan.

"I love phoning him up when Rangers have beaten them. The funny thing is that the one team I always look for on Saturday night is Queen's Park, my first club.

"I had a great learning experience as a 16-year-old lad playing for them. People think it's an amateur team but you had to be tough to play for Queen's Park. That was a great foundation for me."

As the 2020-21 season comes to an end, Jadon Sancho's future is dominating headlines.

Having been tipped to leave Borussia Dortmund at the start of the campaign, the England international is once again in the spotlight.

A move could be on the cards but remaining in Germany is also an option.

 

TOP STORY – BAYERN TO SWOOP FOR SANCHO?

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are considering a move for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to The Telegraph.

Sancho has long been linked with Premier League giants Manchester United, as well as Liverpool and Chelsea in the past.

But Bayern are believed to be ready to prise Sancho from Dortmund as they also reportedly wait to prise in-demand team-mate Erling Haaland to Bavaria.

Haaland, who has a release clause that is not valid until 2022, is wanted by Bayern, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, United, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain.

 

ROUND-UP

- After re-signing Neymar, PSG are on the right track to lure Madrid captain Sergio Ramos to the French capital, claims ParisFans. Ramos is out of contract at the end of the season and yet to renew with Madrid.

Leicester City are set to sign Lille star Boubakary Soumare for less than £26million (€30m), reports Fabrizio Romano. He has previously been linked to United.

- Romano and L'Equipe say Julian Draxler has signed a contract extension with PSG. Arsenal and Bayern had reportedly been eyeing the German.

- Telefoot continues to link PSG with Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, who has a host of admirers, including United, Barca and Madrid.

Roma and Juventus are eyeing former Inter captain Mauro Icardi as ParisFans says the PSG striker's future could be away from Paris at the end of the season.

Manchester City will have to wait to get their hands on a third Premier League title in four years after they fell to a 2-1 home defeat against Chelsea on Saturday.

Sergio Aguero in particular will want to forget the game in a hurry after a failed Panenka attempt, which he later apologised for on social media.

Liverpool kept their first home clean sheet in nine top-flight games as they overcame Southampton 2-0, while Leeds United cruised past Tottenham 3-1 at Elland Road.

Elsewhere in Yorkshire, Crystal Palace inflicted yet more misery on Sheffield United, running out 2-0 winners at Bramall Lane.

Stats Perform News uses Opta data to take a look at the best facts from the four games.


Manchester City 1-2 Chelsea: Aguer-woe for leaders as Blues hit back

City suffered more penalty woe as they missed the chance to be crowned Premier League champions.

It had started well for the hosts, however, with Raheem Sterling giving them the lead with his 10th Premier League goal of the campaign. The England international has now reached that total in four successive seasons, with only Aguero (nine) hitting double figures more regularly in the competition for City.

Aguero should have doubled their advantage before the interval, but his woeful Panenka attempt from the spot was comfortably gathered by Edouard Mendy. City have now failed to score more penalties (four) than any other side in the Premier League this season, while they are the first to miss at least four spot-kicks in consecutive top-flight seasons since Tottenham in 1993-94 and 1994-95.

Hakim Ziyech made the most of that reprieve, levelling with his first Premier League goal in 18 appearances since scoring against Burnley in October.

There was worse to come for Pep Guardiola, who has now lost four home league games this season – twice as many as he had lost in any other campaign in his managerial career.

At 91 minutes and 54 seconds, Marcos Alonso's scuffed finish was the latest winning goal scored by the visitors in a Premier League game at City since Paul Scholes for Manchester United in April 2010 (92:41).

Liverpool 2-0 Southampton: Mane helps sink former employers

Liverpool kept their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League alive with victory at Anfield in the late kick-off.

Sadio Mane opened the scoring in the first half with his second goal in three Premier League games, having found the net just once in his previous 14 outings in the competition before that.

He was teed up by Mohamed Salah, marking the first time the pair have combined for a top-flight goal this season.

Thiago Alcantara added a second in the 90th minute to become the 140th player to score a Premier League goal for Liverpool, though the first to get off the mark for the Reds from outside the box since Divock Origi in December 2015.

Southampton, meanwhile, have now earned just 11 points from their 18 Premier League games in 2021, fewer than any other side this calendar year.

Leeds United 3-1 Tottenham: VAR bars Kane as Spurs suffer

Leeds' superb record against the Premier League's 'big six' continued.

Marcelo Bielsa's side became the first to remain unbeaten at home in the top flight against each of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Spurs in a season since West Ham in 2015-16, and only the third newly promoted team to do so, after Ipswich Town in 2000-01 and Birmingham City in 2009-10.

Stuart Dallas broke the deadlock to become the first Northern Ireland player to score as many as eight Premier League goals in a season since Chris Brunt in 2008-09.

Son Heung-min equalised for the visitors, but Patrick Bamford restored Leeds' advantage to move onto 22 Premier League goal involvements this term (15 goals, seven assists). Harry Kane is the only Englishman to have been involved in more (34).

Rodrigo then added a third late on as Spurs suffered a fifth defeat in 10 top-flight away games in 2021 – more than they experienced in the entirety of 2020.

Sheffield United 0-2 Crystal Palace: Benteke helps Eagles deal with blunt Blades

After a run of three consecutive defeats, Palace could not have wished for more accommodating opponents than the already relegated Blades.

Christian Benteke opened the scoring after just 66 seconds, registering the club’s earliest Premier League goal since James McArthur's strike against Everton in November 2017 (51 seconds).

Benteke has now scored more goals this season (seven in 27 appearances) than he managed in his previous three Premier League campaigns combined (six in 71).

Eberechi Eze continued his impressive season with a second late on. Only Wilfried Zaha (12) has been directly involved in more Premier League goals for Palace this season than Eze (four goals, five assists), while no Eagles player has laid on more goals than the former Queens Park Rangers man.

The result meant United have failed to score in 20 matches within a single league season for the first time in their history, while in terms of the Premier League, only Derby County in 2007-08 (22), Leeds United in 1996-97 (21) and Huddersfield Town in 2017-18 (21) have failed to score in more games in a single campaign.

Manchester United wanted Jadon Sancho ahead of the 2020-21 season.

But, United were unable to prise Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.

United, though, are reportedly still pursuing the England international.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED WANT SANCHO

Manchester United are lining up a bid for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to the Daily Star.

United were heavily linked with Sancho at the start of the season but a move did not materialise, while the Red Devils have since been mentioned as suitors for fellow Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

But United have reportedly cooled their interest in Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich target Haaland as they make Sancho their top transfer priority.

 

ROUND-UP

- Diario AS claims Juventus have rejected a renewed effort from Barca to sign Netherlands centre-back Matthijs de Ligt.

- Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso, City defender Nathan Ake and RB Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer are on Jose Mourinho's list of targets as he prepares to take charge of Roma, reports Gazzetta dello Sport. Corriere dello Sport also claims Lille midfielder Renato Sanches is wanted by Mourinho.

- Mundo Deportivo says Barca are continuing to chase Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravernberch. Barca have also been linked with Liverpool's soon-to-be free agent Georginio Wijnaldum, who has since emerged as a reported target for Bayern.

Chelsea are frontrunners to prise Harry Kane from Tottenham according to Football Insider. Kane has been linked with United, City, Barca, Paris Saint-Germain and Madrid, while Chelsea have also emerged as a possible destination for Bayern forward Robert Lewandowski.

Jadon Sancho said he is "very happy" at Borussia Dortmund but is unsure over his future amid growing links to Premier League pair Manchester United and Liverpool.

Sancho was heavily linked with United at the start of the season, but a blockbuster move did not materialise, though the Red Devils reportedly remain interested in the England international.

Liverpool have also emerged as a possible destination for Sancho, who has called Dortmund home since arriving from Manchester City in 2017.

After scoring twice in Dortmund's 3-2 win over Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig on Saturday, Sancho was asked about his future as speculation mounts.

"I don't know about my future," the 21-year-old Dortmund star told ESPN.

"I am very happy here in Dortmund at the moment. I love the club, the fans and the team.

"They gave me my first professional start. The fans motivate and push me to the limit."

Sancho has scored eight Bundesliga goals and supplied nine assists for Dortmund this season, while he has netted 14 goals across all competitions in 2020-21.

Jurgen Klopp believes four wins from the final four games of the season will be enough to secure Liverpool a place in the Premier League top four.

But the German is taking nothing for granted as his side ready themselves for a rescheduled visit to rivals Manchester United on Thursday evening.

The Reds moved within six points of fourth-placed Leicester City with a game in hand on Saturday as they claimed a hard-fought 2-0 win over Southampton.

Speaking at full-time, Klopp shared his belief that Champions League qualification remains in the champions' hands, though he does not expect earning the required results to be a straightforward task.

"Yes. If we do that, I think it will be enough," he told Sky Sports. "But that's a big if. We play Manchester United on Thursday.

"I know they play Tuesday and they play Sunday and they have a big schedule, but if you look at the squad they have, they can make changes, there's no doubt about that.

"It's of course not good for them to play three games in a week. It's absolutely crazy, I really don't understand that. But it's how it is.

"All the other games, we will see. If West Brom is still fighting for the league, Burnley maybe as well, all these kinds of things.

"All the teams have their targets, and if they don't have the targets any more because they reached them already, then they can play completely without pressure – and that's not nice as well.

"We will have pressure. As long as we win, we will have pressure, because then we can reach something. If not, then not."

Thiago Alcantara later echoed his manager's sentiments, admitting that Liverpool are far from favourites to leapfrog Leicester and West Ham into fourth spot before the season's close.

But the Spaniard, who grabbed his first goal for the club to seal victory over Southampton, promised that he and his team-mates will give everything in pursuit of that aim.

Asked about his maiden strike, he said: "It's an amazing feeling.

"But the most important thing is the three points and that we keep fighting for this small miracle that we can have.

"We try to be as objective as possible. There is a very small chance, but I think we've had chances in the past.

"The door is sometimes closed for us, but the window is open – so we try to get through the window."

Liverpool kept themselves in the hunt for a top-four Premier League finish as they earned a 2-0 win over Southampton at Anfield.

Sadio Mane's 31st-minute header and a late Thiago Alcantara strike - his first for the club - proved the difference as the hosts ensured their slim hopes of clinching Champions League qualification remain alive.

The Saints, meanwhile, failed to make themselves mathematically safe from relegation as they suffered defeat, though with 10 points separating them from 18th-placed Fulham, it is highly unlikely they will be dragged into the mix.

Liverpool's last two outings - 1-1 draws against Leeds United and Newcastle United - were largely defined by a failure to take their opportunities, rather than any issues creating them.

And Jurgen Klopp could have been forgiven for worrying that a familiar pattern was once again emerging as his team missed chance after chance in the opening 25 minutes.

Mohamed Salah was guilty of twice finding Fraser Forster's gloves when he might have done better, while Diogo Jota and Mane each shot over from good positions.

And when Alisson did brilliantly to close the angle on a Che Adams one-on-one created by Nathan Tella just after Georginio Wijnaldum hit the bar, it looked like the Reds were in for another forgettable outing.

However, from the resulting attack, Liverpool went ahead, Salah sending in an inswinging cross that Mane simply could not fail to head home from close range.

The fragility of that lead was underlined before the break when Tella headed straight at Alisson with the goal at his mercy, and the Brazilian needed to show sharp reactions again to deny substitute Michael Obafemi just past the hour mark as the Saints pushed.

Clearly enjoying his starring role, the goalkeeper even gave himself another huge stop to make as he passed the ball to the feet of Adams before getting down to block the subsequent shot.

A nervous finish could have been avoided had Mane stayed onside before lashing home a recycled ball beyond Forster late in the second half, but the hosts wrapped things up in the 90th minute through Thiago's low finish from the edge of the box.

What does it mean? Reds still in top-four running

Chelsea may well be out of reach for Liverpool as they look to sneak into the Champions League places late in the season, but Klopp's squad have every reason to believe they can catch Leicester City.

The fading Foxes are now just six points ahead of the Reds having played a game more and must take on Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham in their final three games.

Alisson the hero

It always felt like Liverpool's goalkeeper could be in for a busy game with such an inexperienced centre-back pairing ahead of him, Nathaniel Phillips partnering Rhys Williams in defence.

But the Brazilian was more than up to the task, with almost all of his six saves across the 90 minutes coming in situations where the opposing player looked the clear favourite to win the duel.

Wijnaldum toils

A Liverpool team that has prided itself on midfield solidity in recent years lacked that for large periods of this game, and the typically reliable Wijnaldum cannot escape his share of the blame for that.

The Dutchman made just 41 passes, zero tackles and zero interceptions in an anonymous showing that perhaps shows why Klopp might be willing to let him go this summer.

What's next?

Southampton are back in action as early as Tuesday when they host Crystal Palace, while Liverpool head to Old Trafford on Thursday in order to fulfil their postponed meeting with bitter rivals Manchester United.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus have described warnings from UEFA as "intolerable" and "unacceptable" as the three clubs continue to back a breakaway European Super League.

Spain's biggest two clubs and Italian outfit Juve are the only three remaining of the 12 European giants who signed up for the controversial project, with all others having withdrawn just days after the competition was announced last month.

UEFA on Friday stated that Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham, Arsenal, Chelsea, Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid would not face Champions League or Europa League bans after pulling out of the proposed Super League.

The governing body warned that the three remaining rebel clubs could be sanctioned due to their unwavering stance.

UEFA stated: "UEFA has reserved all rights to take whatever action it deems appropriate against those clubs that have so far refused to renounce the so-called 'Super League'. The matter will promptly be referred to the competent UEFA disciplinary bodies."

Barca, Madrid and Juve released a joint statement on Saturday to make it clear they are not happy with UEFA's actions.

The statement said: "The founding clubs have suffered, and continue to suffer, unacceptable third-party pressures, threats, and offenses to abandon the project and therefore desist from their right and duty to provide solutions to the football ecosystem via concrete proposals and constructive dialogue.

"This is intolerable under the rule of law and tribunals have already ruled in favour of the Super League proposal, ordering FIFA and UEFA to, either directly or through their affiliated bodies, refrain from taking any action which may hinder this initiative in any way while court proceedings are pending."

The three clubs defended the Super League proposal by stating that "structural reforms are vital to ensure our sport remains appealing and survives in the long-term".

They added that the founding clubs agreed that the new competition would only take place if it was "recognised by UEFA and/or FIFA or if, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, it was deemed to be a competition duly compatible for all purposes with the continuity of the founding clubs in their respective domestic competitions".

Juve, Barca and Madrid claim the Super League provided "a unique opportunity to offer fans around the world the best possible show and to reinforce global interest in the sport".

The trio of clubs say they are "ready to reconsider the proposed approach" but it would be "highly irresponsible" if they abandoned a mission to "provide effective and sustainable answers to the existential questions that threaten the football industry".

Saturday sees the third meeting between Manchester City and Chelsea this season, but crucially not the last.

Both sides advanced through their Champions League semi-finals in dominant fashion this week, setting up an all-Premier League final in Istanbul.

This weekend's game at the Etihad Stadium is a big one for City, who will clinch the title with a win, but it will also be interesting to see how Chelsea approach it.

The Blues were blown away by City under Frank Lampard earlier this season, losing 3-1 at home, yet Thomas Tuchel then masterminded an FA Cup semi-final success against Pep Guardiola's men.

The German will hope to have the upper hand heading into the big European showpiece.

This is far from the first time two teams from the same league have contested the Champions League final, though.

We take a look at the previous seven examples and how the form book looked heading into those matches.
 

Real Madrid 3-0 Valencia – 2000

The change in the competition's format in the 1990s made these clashes a possibility, and the first such match-up was an all-Spanish affair.

Real Madrid were too strong for Valencia in Paris, scoring through Fernando Morientes, Steve McManaman and Raul, but that game was out of keeping with the rest of the campaign.

Madrid finished fifth in LaLiga, two points behind third-placed Valencia, and took just one point from their two league meetings before saving their best performance for the big stage.

Juventus 0-0 Milan (2-3 pens) – 2003

Milan also lagged behind in the league – perhaps a positive omen for Chelsea – before scraping past Serie A champions Juventus on penalties in Manchester.

The Rossoneri finished third, 11 points off the pace despite each side winning 2-1 in their respective home games against one another.

But Milan brushed aside rivals Inter (second in Serie A) in the semi-finals before getting the better of the Bianconeri from 12 yards.

Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea (6-5 pens) – 2008

Manchester United set the tone early for their Moscow spot-kick success against Chelsea, also beating the Blues on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the 2007-08 Community Shield.

That curtain-raiser kicked off a superb season for United, who recovered from a slow start in the Premier League to beat Chelsea at home in September. They lost at Stamford Bridge in April but still won the title on the final day.

Even then, Alex Ferguson's side relied on "Terry's slippy", as Guardiola put it, to claim a third European crown.

Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Bayern Munich – 2013

These single-country clashes have become increasingly common in the past decade, starting with a treble triumph for Bayern Munich.

They had lost the 2011-12 final on home turf while finishing runners-up to Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, but they righted both wrongs the following year.

Bayern beat Dortmund in both the DFL-Supercup and the last eight of the DFB-Pokal, while a pair of 1-1 draws in the league protected a 25-point advantage at the summit, setting the stage for Arjen Robben to cap the campaign off at Wembley.

Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid – 2014

Madrid and Atletico matched the Dortmund-Bayern five-match epic 12 months later with a gripping year-long back-and-forth.

Atleti won the league with Los Blancos three points back in third, having crucially lost the home Derbi and then only drawn at the Calderon.

But Madrid proved their worth in knockout ties by winning both legs of a Copa del Rey semi-final and thrashed poor Atleti in extra time in the final game of the season to complete La Decima after Sergio Ramos' 93rd-minute equaliser.

Real Madrid 1-1 Atletico Madrid (5-3 pens) – 2016

It was heartbreak again for Atleti two years later, with these games between familiar foes often so agonisingly close.

Cristiano Ronaldo dispatched the decisive spot-kick in Milan and Atleti did not have a league triumph to fall back on this time.

Neither side could beat Barcelona to the title despite Diego Simeone's men again winning at the Santiago Bernabeu to take four points from their neighbours. Atleti were third, with Madrid second.

Tottenham 0-2 Liverpool – 2019

It is only two years since the last all-English final, although neutrals will hope this year's showpiece is rather more entertaining.

A Moussa Sissoko handball within a matter of seconds took European glory away from Tottenham, who were already underdogs against Liverpool.

Spurs had lost 2-1 home and away against the Reds and trailed them by 26 points in the Premier League, although Jurgen Klopp's men still fell short of City in the title race.

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