Atalanta will hope to keep Italy's Champions League interest alive in Tuesday's last-16 second legs.

Gian Piero Gasperini's men have the simple tasking of overturning a 1-0 deficit away to Real Madrid, the most successful club in the competition's history and winners of four of the past seven tournaments.

Zinedine Zidane's men have struggled for consistency in 2020-21 but the Champions League traditionally brings out their best, while Atalanta's visit could also be one to celebrate for Toni Kroos.

Madrid may be confident in their chances, but Manchester City are in an even more enviable position, having won 2-0 away to Borussia Monchengladbach in their first leg.

Gladbach have struggled badly since the announcement that Marco Rose will be leaving for Borussia Dortmund ahead of next season, losing six games in a row in all competitions, and they could represent good opposition for Sergio Aguero, who is chasing a milestone goal.

 

Real Madrid (1) v Atalanta (0): Can Gasperini's men restore national pride in Spain?

Atalanta enjoyed their only previous visit to Spain in European competition, winning 4-3 at Valencia at this stage of last season's competition to secure a sensational 8-4 aggregate victory, with Josip Ilicic scoring all four goals.

However, history is not on their side this time. Italian teams have lost 11 of their previous 12 games against Madrid and conceded at least twice in 10 of those matches. You have to go back to Juventus in November 2008 to find an Italian side who stopped Los Blancos scoring.

Madrid have progressed from eight of the past nine Champions League knockout ties in which they have won the first leg, the exception being two years ago, when Ajax caused a shock with a 4-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu. However, more recent form may give them reason for concern.

Madrid have gone four home knockout games without a win, while Atalanta have not conceded an away Champions League goal this season and are enjoying a five-game winning run on their travels, the best such sequence of any side in the competition.

Toni Kroos could be in for a milestone match. The midfielder could become only the second German outfield player to start 100 Champions League matches, after Bayern Munich great Philipp Lahm, who finished on 110.

With Eden Hazard injured once more, Zidane could do with Marco Asensio ending his goal drought. The Spain international has attempted 14 shots in six games, the most of any player left in the competition who has failed to score a goal.

Manchester City (2) v Borussia Monchengladbach (0): Bundesliga side hoping for miracle

Gladbach's last visit to City ended in a 4-0 loss, their joint-heaviest away defeat in the competition. In fact, City are unbeaten in five meetings with Tuesday's opponents and have scored at least twice in each of their four victories.

Pep Guardiola's first Champions League game in charge was a 4-0 home win over Gladbach, with City having won more games (16) and scored more goals (59) in home matches than any other English side in the competition in that time. They are on a run of 10 wins in 11 European games at the Etihad Stadium, in which they have averaged 3.5 goals per match.

Gladbach enjoyed a superb group stage but, since consecutive 6-0 and 4-0 wins over Shakhtar Donetsk, they have lost three games in a row and failed to score in their previous two. It is hard to look beyond a comfortable City victory.

Aguero will hope for another start, and should the Argentinian score, he will reach 20 goals in 29 Champions League games under Guardiola. That would draw him level with Thomas Muller and leave him behind only Lionel Messi (43) for the most goals scored in the competition under the former Barcelona boss.

Zinedine Zidane is open to the idea of Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Real Madrid.

Speculation has been rife following Juventus' Champions League elimination by Porto, suggesting Ronaldo wants to head back to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Despite reports only surfacing in the past week, Spanish publication AS claims Ronaldo and Madrid have been in talks for several months and a transfer for the end of the season is being mooted, with Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe seemingly out of reach this year.

Ronaldo left Madrid for Juve in 2018, a move seen as a major statement in the Bianconeri's bid to end their Champions League drought, which stretches back to 1995-96.

But they have not been beyond the quarter-finals since, losing to Ajax, Lyon and most recently Porto in successive years.

Ronaldo is already Madrid's record scorer with 450 goals and won Europe's elite competition four times with Los Blancos, and Zidane acknowledges another link-up is not impossible.

Asked by Sky Sport Italia if there was truth in the rumours linking Ronaldo to Madrid, Zidane said: "Maybe. We know Cristiano, the person he is and what he did here.

"But he is a Juventus player. I did what I had to do with him, now we will see what happens in the future. I was lucky enough to train him because he is really impressive."

Zidane was speaking ahead of Madrid's Champions League last-16 second leg against Atalanta, having beaten Juve's Serie A rivals 1-0 in Bergamo in their previous meeting.

Remo Freuler was sent off after just 17 minutes for the home side, with Zidane's men then finally breaking the deadlock through Ferland Mendy four minutes from time.

Madrid are in the driving seat in the tie but Zidane insists he is not relaxed heading into Tuesday's game. While he realises Atalanta have to come out and go for goals, he is also well aware that is their main strength.

"I'm not calm, in football that doesn't exist," Zidane added. "You must have a great performance to get through the round, you can't go to 95 per cent because they will come here to win.

"We will need the best Real Madrid. I don't expect anything different from Atalanta. They always play in the same way: they attack and score, a lot. It's a great team.

"It's true that everything changed early on in the first leg, but many things were said to each other and they are rightly angry about the sending off, which was harsh. But we also prefer to play against 11 men, because then our game was also different."

Pep Guardiola has rejected talk of a rift with Raheem Sterling after the Manchester City star was left out of their win over Fulham.

The runaway Premier League leaders breezed to a 3-0 victory against the relegation-threatened Cottagers on Saturday despite Sterling's omission from the squad.

Sterling was quick to dismiss speculation of disharmony between him and Guardiola in a post on Twitter.

He wrote: "Some crazy rumours on socials today... That's absolutely FALSE. Looking forward to a big week with the team."

And Guardiola indicated all is well in their relationship, insisting it is normal for players to be dissatisfied at not being involved.

"He travels with the team for tomorrow of course. All the squad travel to Budapest," the City boss said ahead of their Champions League last-16 second-leg clash with Borussia Monchengladbach. 

"Raheem and all the players always train and react very well. I don't expect the guys who are not selected are happy. It is normal.

"It has happened since football was created. Raheem in this case has been so important and is so important

"He [Sterling] doesn't need to do it [dismiss the rumours]. Nothing happened, he was not selected, that's all.

"Sometimes during the season when we travel to Stamford Bridge, we had 14 players and the rest from academy, that's easy to do the selection.

"When you have 30 players, top-class players, incredible success in the past, recent past, present, always it will be hard for most of them.

"That is the point. I have 20 players, I trust them, I love them, they are the main reason we are in the position we are in the Premier League, Champions League, final for the Carabao Cup, FA Cup.

"They're the reason why, I understand completely, that game he was not selected, another game with other players, it's no more than that."

Karim Benzema has no issue with talk of Erling Haaland joining Real Madrid as he has become accustomed to speculation linking the club with other strikers. 

Haaland's future remains a subject of great interest in the media, with the Norway international continuing to be prolific for Borussia Dortmund. 

The 20-year-old, who already has 31 goals in all competitions this season, has been linked with a move to Madrid, along with another highly talented young forward in Kylian Mbappe. 

Ahead of the second leg of Los Blancos' last-16 Champions League tie with Atalanta on Tuesday, Benzema spoke about the possibility of Haaland heading to the Spanish capital at some stage in the future. 

"He's not at the club," the Frenchman, whose double against Elche at the weekend moved him to 20 goals for the season, told the media. 

"I've spent many years here and every month they talk about strikers and people who can get a lot of goals. 

"He's young and he does a lot for his team. He has to work more for his team and if one day he has the opportunity, and he comes here, then so be it."

Benzema was also asked in the pre-match news conference about Cristiano Ronaldo, the club's all-time leading scorer who has been linked with a sensational return. 

Ronaldo left in July 2018, moving to Juventus. "The time has come to open a new stage in my life," he said at the time of the stunning transfer. 

However, Juve's exit from the Champions League to Porto means they have failed to make it any further than the quarter-final stage during the Portugal forward's three years at the club, with reports in Spain suggesting the player is keen to head back to Madrid. 

"I did a lot with him here, a lot of goals and assists. It's already been three years [without him]," Benzema said about Ronaldo, who scored a hat-trick for Juve against Cagliari on Sunday. 

"He's at another team. I'm neither the president nor the coach. I don't know if he's happy or not at Juventus. 

"I played with him in another time... we always got on well together. And we always scored goals."

As for his own future, Benzema remains relaxed about the situation but is willing to open talks about extending his stay at "the best club in the world". 

"I go day by day. I enjoy every training session, every match," he explained. "I have a contract until 2022 but my door is open if the president wants me to renew. It's the best club in the world." 

Zinedine Zidane has described the latest injury to Eden Hazard as "inexplicable" as frustrations build over the Real Madrid star's fitness.

The Belgium international returned from a six-game absence in LaLiga as a second-half substitute in Madrid's 2-1 win over Elche on Saturday.

It had been hoped the 30-year-old would be ready for more game time on Tuesday, when Madrid host Atalanta in the Champions League last-16 second leg.

However, Hazard had to miss training on Monday due to a damaged hip flexor, and head coach Zidane confirmed he would not be in the squad for the visit of the Serie A side.

"He's not going to be fit. We're going to put something out shortly [on the injury]; I can't say any more," Zidane said.

"Something is going on. These are things I can't explain. I want to be positive and think it's going to be something small.

"They [the fans] have to wait. We know what sort of player he is. They want to see him, of course, just like everyone else here. But now, they can't."

Hazard has played just 14 times this season as injuries continue to blight his time in the Spanish capital.

The €100million signing from Chelsea has only started 29 matches in all competitions since joining two years ago and has not completed 90 minutes in a single game since November 2019.

"There are four questions on Hazard – I can't say any more," Zidane replied when pressed about the player's problems.

"We want to help him. I don't know if it will be with me or someone else, because he has a long contract, but I want with all my strength for him to be seen as the player he is. Sooner or later, he'll arrive."

Hazard is one of a number of fitness concerns Madrid have had this term but Zidane refused to pin any blame on the club's medical department.

"I don't think there's a problem [with the department]. We have very competent people here who are on top of the players," he said.

"We're going to find out what is happening, but at the moment, it's inexplicable. We've talked about pre-season, the accumulation of matches, also in the head.

"We're going to try to recover [the injured players]. Now, we have fewer injuries. Enough of them have returned."

Striker Karim Benzema, meanwhile, was left saddened by Hazard's latest setback, saying: "He hasn't had much luck since he came here.

"I'm sad because he's a top player. He's sad because he wants to show that he's a world star. We need him."

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said the Gunners are still eyeing a top-four finish in pursuit of Champions League football following their Premier League win over rivals Tottenham in the north London derby.

Alexandre Lacazette's second-half penalty helped Arsenal beat Tottenham 2-1 on Sunday as Arteta celebrated his first Premier League win over Spurs since taking charge.

Erik Lamela's stunning rabona goal put Tottenham ahead just past the half-hour mark before Martin Odegaard equalised on the stroke of half-time.

Tottenham midfielder Lamela went from hero to villain – sent off in the 76th minute after Lacazette completed the turnaround 12 minutes earlier.

Arsenal are 10th in the Premier League standings – 10 points adrift of the top four with 10 rounds remaining – but Arteta is not giving up on Champions League qualification.

"Up until mathematically it's impossible we're going to believe and we're going to give it a go that is for sure," Arteta, who replaced Unai Emery in December 2019, said in his post-match news conference.

"We know that we're going to have to be extremely consistent, to have any chance in the last two or three matches to be close to that.

"But we're going to give it a go and we're going to keep trying, going game-by-game."

Arsenal have not featured in the Champions League since 2016-17 – the Gunners consigned to the Europa League for the past four seasons.

The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 10 Premier League home games against Spurs (W6 D4), while Arteta is the third consecutive Arsenal boss to win his first home league meeting with Tottenham following Arsene Wenger and Emery.

Since losing his first London derby at Emirates Stadium in the Premier League (2-1 against Chelsea in December 2019), Arteta is unbeaten in his last five such games, picking up four victories (D1).

Mauricio Pochettino said he is searching for answers to Paris Saint-Germain's post-Champions League struggles after the Ligue 1 holders were stunned by lowly Nantes on Sunday.

PSG missed the chance to go top of the Ligue 1 table following a shock 2-1 home defeat against relegation-threatened Nantes.

Pochettino's side looked on track to claim maximum points thanks to Julian Draxler's 42nd-minute opener, but two unanswered goals in the second half lifted Nantes to their first win away to PSG in Ligue 1 since 2002.

PSG have now lost their last three Ligue 1 fixtures immediately after Champions League clashes – the French giants fell to Lyon 1-0 following their 5-1 rout of Istanbul Basaksehir on December 9 and suffered a 2-0 defeat against Monaco after crushing Barcelona 4-1 at Camp Nou on February 16.

Now, after being shocked in Paris on the back of their 1-1 draw with Barca in the second leg of the last-16 tie on Wednesday, head coach Pochettino told reporters: "Surely there must be some connection, which we have to find.

"After the match in Barcelona, we played with practically the same players and you could think that we lacked energy. But today we brought in new players.

"It's clear that the energetic and stressful demands of the Champions League are hard for the team, especially when the matches are as physical as tonight's.

"In the first half we absolutely dominated the match. In the second half, when we conceded the goal, it cost us a lot and that's when it affects us to have played a match as important as the one we played here on Wednesday."

It was a forgettable outing for Pochettino and last season's Champions League finalists PSG, who are second and three points behind leaders Lille through 29 Ligue 1 rounds.

PSG have lost two consecutive home games in Ligue 1 for the first time since November 2012.

Pochettino is the first PSG coach to lose three of his first 12 Ligue 1 games since Antoine Kombouare in 2009 (four).

Meanwhile, Angel Di Maria and an as of yet unnamed PSG team-mate had their houses broken into during the Nantes showdown.

Di Maria was taken off midway through the second half at Parc des Princes, after a curious discussion between officials – including sporting director Leonardo, who appeared visibly angry – in the stands, and the coaching staff on the touchline over the phone.

The substitution caused confusion - not only off the pitch, but also on it. PSG conceded just before Di Maria went off, and then again nine minutes later to throw away their lead and ultimately lose.

On the Di Maria case, Pochettino added: "There are situations outside football that we should be aware of.

"The footballers are the first to know the disappointment of losing the three points but there are other situations, beyond football, that the footballers and we should be concerned about, I think you already know that."

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of football's all-time greats and cannot be blamed for Juventus' early Champions League exit, according to international team-mate Bruno Fernandes.

Juve were eliminated from Europe's elite club competition by Porto at the last-16 stage on Tuesday, crashing out 4-4 on away goals after extra time at the Allianz Stadium.

Sergio Oliveira scored the decisive goal late on from a free-kick that went straight through the Juve wall, with Ronaldo sheepishly turning his back on the effort.

Former Bianconeri boss Fabio Capello singled out Ronaldo on the back of the two-legged defeat, in which the five-time Ballon d'Or winner failed to find the back of the net.

Ex-president Giovanni Cobolli Gigli went as far to suggest Juve should never have spent €100million to sign the forward in 2018, meanwhile, but Fernandes has defended his compatriot.

"Cristiano is one of the greats in football history. His mentality inspires those who practice this sport," Fernandes told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "He has won a lot, but no one can win alone. 

"I understand that his presence at Juve had created enormous expectations for the Champions League, but when a team lose, the whole squad lose, not one single player.

"I'm not surprised [by the result]. Porto have a winning mentality. They play aggressive football and I expected them to create problems for Juventus."

While Ronaldo and Juve are enduring a difficult campaign, Fernandes is going from strength to strength at Manchester United.

The former Sporting CP star has scored 16 goals and assisted 10 more in the Premier League this campaign, which is the highest direct goal involvement of any midfielder in Europe's top five leagues.

Fernandes spent five years in Italian football with Novara, Udinese and Sampdoria, though it was not until joining Sporting in 2017 that his career truly took off.

"I had to complete my physical growth," Fernandes said of his time in Italy. "I was moving from one country to another.

"I didn't fully establish myself because the role of the attacking midfielder isn't easy in [Italian] football."

Fernandes cited the example of Juve attacker Paulo Dybala, who has often struggled for consistency, before explaining the differences between Italian and English football.

"The story of Dybala seems enlightening to me," he said. "Everyone expects something special from him, but we are always strict towards him.

"Udinese was, also for the years spent with the Friuli, the most important stage, but the change of coach didn't help me.

"It was too bad, because I had found a real teacher in Francesco Guidolin. If I had spent more time with him, it might have been different.

"Anyway, I can only thank Italy for what it has given me. I was happy, I lived an experience of growth, I measured myself with a country where the football is of the highest level."

He added: "There's a lot of intensity in the Premier League. The pace is high.

"The smaller sides have quality and they make you suffer. In Italy, the tactics are like a university of sport."

Fernandes is expected to start United's Europa League last-16 first leg with Milan at Old Trafford on Thursday in a battle between two historically successful European heavyweights.

Milan have not competed in the Champions League since 2013-14, while United have only made it to the quarter-finals of the competition once since the same season.

However, both teams are second in their domestic leagues and are among the favourites to go all the way in the Europa League.

"In some respects, [United] and Milan are the same," he said. "Two clubs with a prestigious past, with 10 Champions League trophies in the cabinet, both have gone through a phase of transition, but are returning to the top.

"At the beginning of the season, no one thought that Milan could fight for the Scudetto. We are in March and they are second. 

"They play well, have interesting young players and the added value of [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic's strength."

Thursday's game will mark the 11th time Milan and United have met in European competition, with all 10 previous encounters coming in the European Cup or Champions League.

United have been eliminated from four of their five knockout ties with Milan, with no side knocking out the Red Devils more often in European competition – Real Madrid having also managed it four times. 

Thiago Alcantara admits Liverpool could not imagine in their "worst nightmares" how bad this season would pan out, but the midfielder is hopeful his side are in the process of turning things around after advancing to the Champions League quarter-finals.

Liverpool have sent a number of unwanted records tumbling this season, including a run of six successive top-flight defeats at Anfield for the first time in their history.

The reigning Premier League champions have long been out of title contention and find themselves eighth with 10 games to play, seven points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea.

However, Jurgen Klopp's side put their domestic woes to one side on Wednesday by seeing off  RB Leipzig 2-0 in Budapest to complete a 4-0 aggregate victory in their last-16 tie.

And Thiago, who joined from Bayern Munich in September for a reported £20million upfront fee, believes the victory can be a catalyst for the Reds to kickstart their Premier League campaign.

"It's a boost to our morale," he told LFCTV. "We deserve to celebrate and be happy with something and from now on have this feeling we have right now. With that we can win all the games we have left.

"It's been a tough period for all of us because we didn't in our worst nightmares expect we are now in this position in the Premier League.

"But we are trying to perform the best that we can and get better in every training session, and I think this performance is a positive for all of us."

Thiago returned to the line-up against Leipzig and impressed during his 72 minutes on the field, with no Liverpool player managing more tackles (six) and only Trent Alexander-Arnold (41) playing more passes in the opposition half than the Spaniard's 30.

The 29-year-old has struggled for consistency during his first six months on Merseyside, not helped by injury and illness lay-offs, and he accepts that performances have not been good enough so far.

"I don't read a word about what people talk about me," he told TNT Sports Brasil. "I know that I receive some criticism about my performances, but I'm not happy with my performance since I came here.

"It's a new club, a strange situation [after contracting coronavirus], a bad injury, so get to into the rhythm it was hard, but it's not an excuse."

Thiago started on the right of a midfield three alongside Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum against Leipzig in what was one of his finest performances in a Liverpool shirt.

The Spain international has been singled out for criticism this term, with club icon John Barnes suggesting he slows the game down too much, but Klopp has hit back at those comments.

"I assume when you all look at Liverpool from Germany, people say [our problems are] to do with Thiago or whatever – that's rubbish," he said.

"Thiago was good, they were all good. For the players who were new, they always needed time to get used to our game plan, but Thiago doesn't have that.

"Still, he improves week on week. It's not a short-term project, it's a long-term project and it was good."

Liverpool's win over Leipzig means they are now unbeaten in their last 12 meetings with German opponents in all European competitions since a 4-2 loss to Bayer Leverkusen in April 2002.

It is the first time they have won both legs of a Champions League knockout tie while also keeping a clean sheet in each leg since their last-16 triumph against Real Madrid in 2008-09.

Barcelona midfielder Pedri conceded Lionel Messi's saved penalty was a "big blow" in their Champions League last-16 exit, but blamed wasting numerous chances.

The Catalans prematurely exited the Champions League 5-2 on aggregate to Paris Saint-Germain after a second-leg 1-1 draw in the French capital.

Pedri admitted Barca's 4-1 first-leg defeat left them with plenty to do in Paris but argued they had the better chances.

Messi cancelled out Kylian Mbappe's penalty opener before the Argentinian had a spot-kick saved by Keylor Navas on the stroke of half-time which could have given Barca the momentum to kick on in the second half.

Messi's miss was his first failed penalty attempt in the Champions League since February 2015, having scored his previous eight spot-kicks.

"We knew it'd be vital to take our chances," Pedri said post-game. "We produced a really good game but we missed big chances.

"We believed we could produce another big fightback and qualify but the penalty just before half-time was a big blow to miss.

"We kept on fighting and you can't define a result or a game looking just at a missed penalty. We had many chances and didn't take them."

Barcelona had 21 shots compared to PSG's seven, including 10 on target, while they had 73 per cent possession.

Forward Antoine Griezmann agreed that profligacy in front of goal cost the Catalans.

"It's a real shame, I'd say there were four clear-cut opportunities plus the penalty," Griezmann said.

"If you don't put them away, it's harder later in the game. Nevertheless, it was a completely different contest to the first leg."

Barca's failure to reach the Champions League quarter-finals was their first since 2006-07; having been on the longest-run in the competition's history of 13 consecutive last-eight appearances.

France international Griezmann vowed they would return in 2021-22 to challenge for the European crown.

"It's time to keep our heads up and feel confidence because of how we played," he said.

"We need to keep improving for the season to come. We are hacked off because we were desperate to go through. I don't think we deserved to go out this early but next year we'll try to win this competition."

Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas has dedicated his penalty save from Lionel Messi's spot-kick to absent team-mate Sergio Rico.

Navas denied Messi from the penalty spot in first-half additional time and helped PSG complete a 5-2 aggregate victory over Barcelona in the Champions League last-16 on Wednesday.

The match finished 1-1 with Kylian Mbappe opening the scoring on the half-hour mark before Messi levelled with a long-range rifle in the 37th minute.

Navas made his penalty save on the stroke of half-time, dedicating it to Rico post-game with his team-mate absent due to personal reasons.

"It's always difficult, especially against Messi who shoots very well," Navas told RMC Sport post-game.

"It gives a lot of joy to everyone. This penalty is for Sergio Rico who is going through difficult times with his family, it is for him."

Navas and Messi are long-time adversaries from the Costa Rican's time at Real Madrid, with his low save with his knee representing a major win.

The save, one of several from Navas, played a major part in PSG thwarting any potential Barcelona response as they rallied following their 4-1 first-leg defeat in Spain.

"It was a very great match for Barca, they pushed to the maximum," Navas said.

"We are very motivated to continue in this competition, with this state of mind. We must be united for this competition.

"The group has clear objectives in mind. This is what helps us to progress to go far in this competition."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has played down his side's Champions League title hopes, insisting he is not "silly" about their form troubles.

The Reds may be wavering domestically but they secured their spot in the Champions League quarter-finals with Wednesday's 2-0 win over RB Leipzig in Budapest completing a 4-0 aggregate victory.

Liverpool had lost six of their past eight games in all competitions prior to Wednesday's Leipzig win.

They have also lost six of their past seven Premier League games, ending their title hopes and stalling their top-four ambitions, prompting talk they would target the Champions League instead.

"The only reason you play in this competition is because you want to win it," Klopp told reporters post-game.

"I am not silly, we know so far this is not a season which it will look like we will win the Champions League in the end, but that doesn't mean we don't want to go as far as possible and then we will see what is possible for us.

"Now we have to wait for the draw; it will be extremely tough games whoever we get… then we will know, we will prepare for that and then we will see how far we go."

The German was further questioned about Liverpool's continental ambitions, admitting the 2018-19 European champions will be a threat but declining to elaborate more.

"We could be that [dangerous]," he said. "I don't want to sit here now and want to create headlines about our Champions League performance.

"In the Champions League, we had kind of momentum during the season and in the Premier League not yet.

"But we have still enough games to try and get that back and win football games in the Premier League as well – and that would be helpful for the Champions League as well definitely."

Klopp added that Wednesday's win would only be positive for his side as they strive to regain momentum after their poor recent run.

"The performance was very important, the level we played tonight was really good and was necessary as well because Leipzig is a tough opponent," he said.

"It will help, that's how it is. It will help but we know that Monday at Wolves [in the Premier League] is a different kind of game. But if we play as good as we played tonight then it will be tough for Wolves, that's clear."

If Lionel Messi is to leave Barcelona at the end of the season it will not be due to doubts over the club's direction, according to boss Ronald Koeman. 

The Catalan giants were knocked out of the Champions League in the last-16 stage on Wednesday after a 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes. 

That followed the Ligue 1 side's thumping 4-1 win in the first leg at Camp Nou last month and means Barca have failed to reach the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time since the 2006-07 season. Their run of 13 consecutive last-eight appearances was the longest in Champions League history. 

Messi, who cancelled out Kylian Mbappe's opener with a stunning strike before missing a penalty, has been tipped to leave on a free transfer at the end of the season, with PSG and Premier League leaders Manchester City the reported frontrunners for the 33-year-old.

However, new Barca president Joan Laporta is desperate for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to sign a new deal, while Koeman believes any decision the Argentina international makes about his future will be influenced by the club's commitment to giving young players a chance. 

"Leo has seen for quite some time that the team is improving thanks to all the changes we've made," he told reporters.

"Particularly, we have young players of great quality. We've got a great future ahead. Leo can't have any doubts about what the future holds for this team."

Barca started on the front foot against Mauricio Pochettino's side and only a combination of wayward finishing and smart goalkeeping from Keylor Navas ensured they did not go in at the interval ahead. 

Indeed, they took 16 shots during the opening 45 minutes – the most they have had in the first half of any game since January 2019.

Messi alone had six shots before half-time, which is the joint-highest in this season's Champions League alongside Borussia Monchengladbach's Breel Embolo. 

Despite exiting the competition, Koeman was pleased with his side's display and believes it laid down a marker for next season. 

"Okay, we are out, which is what counts in this sport," he added. "But we leave with good sensations. We had opportunities to make things very complicated for our rival. 

"We were the superior team in the first half, taking big risks at the back with man-to-man marking. Really, we deserved more for that effort. 

"It should at least have been 2-1 to us at half-time. If we'd led at the break, the second half would have been a whole different affair.

"In the first leg they were ultra-effective in front of goal and in this match we weren't. They scored four, here we scored once. That comparison is the big difference across this tie. 

"But no criticism of the lack of cutting edge. We put in a huge effort and merited more; maybe just a hint of luck. Their keeper was the player of the match. We had our chances but couldn't take them.

"We are departing this Champions League in a very different manner from the way we did last season. 

"In this game, we hit our level and that's the road we have to follow. Clearly we are sad but the impression we leave behind after this match is important."

Mauricio Pochettino described Keylor Navas as one of the world's best goalkeepers after he helped Paris Saint-Germain past Barcelona in the Champions League.

A 1-1 draw in Paris on Wednesday sealed PSG's progress to the quarter-finals with a 5-2 aggregate victory over the Catalans.

Barca were much improved compared to their first-leg display and were the dominant force in the first half in particular, firing in 16 shots, the most PSG have faced at home in the first 45 minutes of a game all season.

Lionel Messi's stunning goal cancelled out a Kylian Mbappe penalty and the Argentina star had the chance to make it 2-1 before half-time only for Navas to keep out his spot-kick.

That was one of nine saves made by the former Real Madrid keeper, whose efforts ensured Barca's threat of a comeback had largely dissipated by the final quarter of the match.

Navas' display was a timely reminder of his qualities following a report in England suggesting Pochettino is interested in signing Manchester United's David de Gea for next season.

The PSG boss appears to be perfectly happy with the number one he has at his disposal.

"Keylor had a huge game," he told RMC Sport. "We can say his actions show his quality. He just proves that he's at the highest level in the world.

"I think we all saw him tonight."

Defender Marquinhos was also full of praise for Navas for largely keeping Barca at bay in the first half, in which the visitors had 73 per cent of the ball.

"It was a tough match. We knew the context was going to be different compared to the first leg," he said.

"Since that defeat, Barca put together better matches. They had the courage to press very high and put us in difficulty to get the ball out.

"There are good and bad times in football. In a match, you have to know how to hold on. We were able to do that, with the help of our great goalkeeper, who made the difference.

"We were better in the second half and we deserved to go through."

Mohamed Salah knows Liverpool are "not in the best shape" but says they must show fight for the remainder of the season after reaching the Champions League quarter-finals.

Salah scored his 25th goal of the season and Sadio Mane added a second four minutes later in the second half as the Reds beat RB Leipzig 2-0 to seal a 4-0 aggregate victory.

The Premier League champions travelled to Budapest for the second leg on Wednesday smarting from a club-record sixth consecutive home defeat in the league at the hands of Fulham.

Jurgen Klopp's men face a battle to secure a top-four finish after dropping to eighth spot and may yet have to win the Champions League in order to play in the competition next season.

Liverpool posed much more of an attacking threat at the Puskas Arena, where Salah and Mane also scored in the first leg, hitting the target with seven of their 12 shots and certainly not resembling a side devoid of confidence.

Leading scorer Salah says the six-time champions of Europe must not put too much pressure on themselves as they attempt to turn the tide.

He told BT Sport: "It is a big result for us. We came here after losing a few games in the Premier League. The team is not in the best shape but we want to fight in the Champions League and also fight in the Premier League and see what can happen.

"I would love to score more. I am happy I scored today and the team won, that is the most important thing.

"We have had a few injuries this season, we have been unlucky but the most important thing is we have to keep fighting. We just have to take each game at a time and not look to the big picture because if you look to the big picture there can be too much pressure.

"It has been tough in the Premier League, we don't want it to be tough. It is part of the game. The last couple of years we were winning and flying, this year we have had injuries, it is hard. Hopefully, now we have two or three or four centre-backs we can keep winning."

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