Sheriff's win over Real Madrid was a "dream come true" but captain Frank Castaneda warned the Champions League debutants will not dwell on the upset as they target the last 16 amid their giant-slaying run.

In one of the biggest shocks in Champions League history, Sheriff claimed a late 2-1 victory at Spanish giants Madrid on Tuesday.

Jasurbek Yakhshiboev's first-half header was cancelled out by Karim Benzema's spot-kick after the interval in the Spanish capital, given following a VAR check after Vinicius Junior went down in the box.

However, Sheriff had the final say to maintain their 100 per cent record in Group D, Sebastien Thill's thunderous strike in the 89th minute earning the Moldovan visitors a remarkable triumph.

"For us this is a dream come true to have won here," Castaneda said. "We're so happy, and just enjoying it. We have full faith in what we've been doing and things are going well for us.

"We came here to win. We didn't just come here to sit around, we know how good our players are and luckily for us Madrid weren't able to take their chances and we took ours.

"Thill's goal is out of this world. It's one you dream of. I thanked him at the end of the game!

"We are dreaming of getting into the last 16 and that's our objective. Our attention now turns to Inter and we'll work hard in order to ensure we keep getting positive results." 

Sheriff – who beat Albanian champions Tueta Durres, Armenian titleholders Alashkert, Serbian champions Red Star Belgrade, Croatian titleholders Dinamo Zagreb and Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk during their European campaign this term – became the first team to win their first two games in the Champions League since Premier League outfit Leicester City in the 2016-17 campaign.

This was just the third ever away victory by a Moldovan team in a major European competition, following Zimbru Chisinau in the UEFA Cup in 1995 and Sheriff themselves in the UEFA Europa League in 2017.

Sheriff head coach Yuriy Vernydub said: "I'm happy to play a game like that against Madrid. I'm so full of emotion and thankful to my boys for what they've done. They went out there as a side, and we deserved it.

"Of course we knew that we were going to have to defend. We did that well and we countered really well too, and we were able to score a winner right at the end.

"I'm happy and proud of my side, these boys. We're on the right path and we'll continue to follow it."

Sheriff are three points clear of Madrid atop of Group D, while they are five points ahead of Inter and Shakhtar.

"We aren't thinking about the last 16 yet as we still haven't done anything extraordinary, we're just going forward step by step," said Vernydub. "We have four very important games to go, and when it comes to the final group stage game then we'll talk about the next round."

Sheriff match-winner Thill added: "We're so happy today. We played a really good game. The side were so brave with how we played and luckily enough I was able to score a bit of a stunner.

"It's the best and most important goal of my career, that's for sure! We'll go game by game. We've got a tough group, and we'll give our all in what's left of it."

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli was left frustrated that key decisions went against his side in their 2-1 Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid.

The Rossoneri were deservedly ahead through Rafael Leao after 20 minutes at San Siro before Franck Kessie received a second yellow card for catching Marcos Llorente on the foot.

The home side survived until the 84th minute when substitute Antoine Griezmann swept home a fine first-time finish to level the scores on Tuesday.

Then, deep into injury time, referee Cuneyt Cakir awarded a penalty against Pierre Kalulu for handball, allowing Luis Suarez to net the 97th-minute winner.

"More than anger, there's disappointment. We were close to an important result," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.

"At 11 versus 11, we played much better. It's a shame because a little more attention was needed for the first goal. The boys made an important effort and losing complicates qualification for us.

"We're still missing that piece that can make the difference. We're not missing much. We played great football for half an hour, [and] we suffered when outnumbered. It's a performance that must give us confidence."

He added on the Kessie red card: "Franck had already been booked. It didn't look like a second-yellow offence in the 30th minute of the first half. The referee was certainly not the best on the pitch tonight."

The result put Atleti two points behind group leaders Liverpool and four clear of Milan, who lost to Jurgen Klopp's side on matchday one.

Diego Simeone admitted Atletico had been second best until Kessie's dismissal changed the course of the contest.

"In the first 30 minutes, they put us under pressure and we didn't have the tools to get out," he told reporters.

"Then, they were left with a man down and the game changed from there. We managed to impose ourselves in the second half.

"We have great room for improvement. We need to find that consistency in creating play and doing the right actions."

Lionel Messi revelled in his maiden goal for Paris Saint-Germain as the superstar helped take down Manchester City 2-0 in the Champions League.

Messi scored his first goal for PSG, who gained some revenge for their 2020-21 Champions League semi-final loss to Pep Guardiola's City on Tuesday.

After Idrissa Gueye broke the deadlock inside 10 minutes, Messi opened his PSG account with a sublime strike 16 minutes from the end in the French capital.

Messi savoured his first goal for PSG, the 673rd of the six-time Ballon d'Or winner's illustrious club career as the Ligue 1 giants took their tally to four points from two matchdays.

"It was a perfect night against a great opponent," Messi, who joined PSG on a free transfer at the conclusion of his Barcelona contract in the off-season, told Canal+. 

"For us, it was very important to win this game after Club Brugge [1-1 away draw].

"I am very happy to have scored. I haven't played much recently; I had only played one game here [at the Parc des Princes]. I am adapting little by little. What is important is to keep winning."

Messi has scored more Champions League goals against City (seven) than any other player, while his seven strikes against sides managed by Pep Guardiola (two against Bayern Munich, five versus City with him as manager) is also the most of any player in the competition's history.

Meanwhile, Messi has scored 27 Champions League goals against English clubs – 15 more than any other player. Only Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more goals against opponents of a specific nation (28, versus German teams) in Champions League history.

Kylian Mbappe was instrumental in the creation of Messi's latest, teeing him up in a clever one-two, and Messi hopes to continue improving his understanding with the Frenchman and Neymar.

"Our relationship will get better and better with each game. We all have to grow together, increase our level of play. We have to continue," Messi added.

"We won a very important game against a very big rival, who was in the final last year. We must continue to progress, improve a lot of things for the future."

For so long, the idea of Lionel Messi being anywhere other than Barcelona seemed utterly alien, but if he was going to leave, teaming up with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City – a club so heavily influenced by the Blaugrana – was surely the most likely option.

But there he was, lining up in the navy blue of Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday, Guardiola in the opposite dugout and City on the other side of the pitch.

There was more than a hint of inevitability about what came to pass, as Messi made a telling impact in trademark fashion towards the end to put the match beyond City in what was a 2-0 win for PSG.

But the predictability of his decisiveness didn't exactly come from an overriding brilliance that was displayed in this encounter in general.

In fact, Messi was somewhat subdued for much of the match.

His first-half performance was littered – by his standards, anyway – with heavy touches and his influence in the final third was lacking.

After all, he finished the game without contributing a single key pass, making this one of only four matches across all competitions since the beginning of last season that Messi's started but not set up a chance in.

Of course, it's worth taking into consideration that Messi's arrival at PSG was delayed by his Copa America involvement, he then went away on international break and also recently suffered a minor knee injury.

A slow start was almost to be expected in those circumstances, even for someone as good as Messi, but with City throwing men forward in search of an equaliser, you always got the sense he would get one opportunity on the break.

He did, and it produced a goal that will go down in history as his first club goal away from Barcelona.

Messi received the ball out on the right flank, just inside the City half, darted forward with much of the visitors' side on the offensive, and as Achraf Hakimi overlapped on the right, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner cut inside.

He held off Rodri as he played a one-two with Kylian Mbappe, the Frenchman's touch exceptional given the pressure he was under, and Messi strode on to the return pass before guiding it effortlessly into the top-right corner with a first-time finish.

So much of it was quintessential Messi, from the surging 19.2-metre dash to the glorious ease with which he picked out the one area of the net Ederson wouldn't be able to reach. It also summed up just how devastating he is: one shot, one goal.

Even with 672 club career goals preceding that one, it's still impossible to tire from seeing Messi hit the back of the net – or, perhaps it is now a little boring if you support an English club.

That was his 27th Champions League goal against a Premier League team, which is – remarkably – 15 more than any other player (Cristiano Ronaldo, 12) in the competition's history. Ronaldo is the only player to score more against teams from a specific nation (28 versus German clubs) in Europe's elite competition.

While Arsenal may have proven particularly powerless against Messi over the years, conceding nine times to him in just six games, it's fair to say he boasts a stunning record against City that few could match in this era, his tally now sitting at seven from as many games.

Messi seemingly has a similar kind of hold over Guardiola as well, given that was the seventh time he's scored against his old boss in the Champions League, a record.

It was under Guardiola at Camp Nou that Messi was initially elevated to his world-class perch, and there he has remained.

After a rather uncharacteristically quiet beginning in Paris, perhaps it was only fitting that his mentor was there behold Messi's true arrival in Paris.

Jurgen Klopp was pleased to see Liverpool iron out a few issues on the pitch as they thrashed Porto, but insisted they will need to be better when they take on Manchester City next.

Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino both scored twice on Tuesday as the Reds cut loose against their Portuguese opponents in the Champions League, easing to a 5-1 triumph on the road.

Liverpool capitalised on Porto goalkeeper Diogo Costa's struggles to make it two wins from two in Group B, though Klopp admitted there were early moments of concern as their opponents appeared keen to follow Brentford's lead.

The German coach saw his team twice pegged back by the Bees in the second half as a pulsating Premier League game finished 3-3 on Saturday. However, there were no such issues in European action.

"The game started and we could see that Porto watched our last game against Brentford obviously, as they started off going direct," Klopp told BT Sport.

"We had our struggles again, but that's very important. The boys are human beings, that's one of the reasons I didn't change today. I wanted to get it sorted on the pitch – and that's what we did, step by step, during the game. 

"We maybe didn't score the most wonderful goals in the first half, but really important ones. In the second half we controlled the game, obviously. 

"Porto had massive problems – they had one centre-back out because of the red card in the previous game, then Pepe couldn't play. I don't think their partnership had ever played before together, so that gives you a lot before the game."

Sadio Mane scored for a fifth time in five appearances against Porto, his goal late in the first half sandwiched in between Salah's brace. Klopp took both players off with the City game in mind, as well as James Milner, who seems set to continue at right-back if Trent Alexander-Arnold remains sidelined.

Mehdi Taremi pulled a goal back for Porto to make it 3-1, but Klopp was not overly worried about conceding.

"Defensively we played a super game today. Goals happen, I'm not concerned," he said.

"I'm not that type of guy who points a finger at this situation and forgets all the rest, so there were a lot of good things. We can improve so much, but for today it was for sure good enough." 

While Liverpool were convincing winners, their next opponents slipped to a 2-0 defeat away at Paris Saint-Germain. Klopp expects a response from City, even though his side will have home advantage.

Asked if momentum could be crucial for Liverpool, the former Borussia Dortmund boss replied: "It always helps, but against City it doesn't help a lot.

"Against them, we need many more things than just momentum. We need to play better than we did tonight, but it will be a completely different game.  

"I only just heard the result from the PSG game, so City will want to strike back for sure. We are at home, finally, after a few games without our crowd, so let's give it a go."

Manchester City controlled Paris Saint-Germain but were undone by a "fantastic" Lionel Messi goal, Pep Guardiola said.

City were beaten 2-0 at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday in their Champions League clash with the Ligue 1 giants.

Idrissa Gueye gave PSG a first-half lead and Bernardo Silva somehow hit the crossbar with the goal gaping with the best City chance of the half.

The Premier League champions had 54 per cent of the possession but could not find a way past Gianluigi Donnarumma in the PSG goal, and Messi then made the result safe with a spectacular finish from Kylian Mbappe's lay-off.

Yet Guardiola had few complaints about his side's performance, coming just three days after an impressive 1-0 win at Chelsea in the Premier League.

"A good performance. We did everything, but we could not score," the City manager told BT Sport.

"We defended well, they defend deep and of course the counter-attack is always dangerous with the quality they have, but we controlled them. Unfortunately, we couldn't score. It's football. Nothing to say, more than my biggest compliment to the team.

"In the second half, we had many [chances]. Donnarumma made good saves, but the team was there, same as Stamford Bridge.

"It's a pity because we played to win, we played to be there. Unfortunately, they don't need much to score goals, and they did it.

"The goal [from Messi] was fantastic."

City suffered their first Champions League group-stage defeat since September 2018, when they lost 2-1 to Lyon – they had been unbeaten in 18 such games since then.

Guardiola's City had 18 shots against PSG, their joint-most without scoring in a Champions League match, also failing with all of their 18 shots against Porto in December 2020.

The result puts PSG top of the group with four points, just one ahead of Club Brugge and City, who must now turn their attention to a showdown with Liverpool on Sunday.

Guardiola did not appear concerned that Tuesday's loss would have much of an impact on their chances at Anfield, though.

"Now, we are going to eat good tonight, we're going to drink a glass of wine, we're going to recover and we're going to prepare the game on Sunday," he said.

Atletico Madrid star Antoine Greizmann is hopeful his goal against Milan will kick-start his second coming in the Spanish capital after making Champions League history on Tuesday.

Griezmann scored his first goal for Atletico since returning from Barcelona on deadline day as the LaLiga champions claimed a last-gasp 2-1 win over 10-man Milan.

Atletico trailed 1-0 at half-time following Rafael Leao's opener but the visitors eventually capitalised on their numerical advantage after Milan's Franck Kessie received a second yellow card on the half-hour mark at San Siro.

Griezmann fuelled Atletico's comeback on matchday two, coming off the bench and equalising in the 84th minute before Luis Suarez converted a penalty in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

Already Atletico's all-time leading goalscorer in the Champions League (22), Griezmann became the club's top scorer in away games after netting his sixth in the competition.

"I hope to get to my best level as quickly as possible. [There've been] a lot of changes," Griezmann told Movistar post-game.

"It [the transfer] was done on the last day and it's different tactics, a different dressing room, another way of playing. In the end it's a lot of changes.

"Everything is different. I have to get used to it as quickly as possible because the coach and my team-mates need me. Nights like this are going to help me to get better.

 "[Head coach Diego Simeone] improved me, he got me to my best level. I want to pay him back and the club, the fans, my team-mates. I'm very proud to be here. I think the fans, the people, want to see me like this like tonight.

"I want to bring them happiness and they'll be going to bed happy tonight. My only objective coming back here is to make them happy."

This was Atletico's first away win against Italian opponents since they beat Milan in the Champions League in February 2014 (1-0), having been winless in four such games entering Tuesday's contest (D2 L2).

Excluding extra time, Suarez's penalty at 96:21 was the latest game-winning goal in the Champions League since the start of the 2003-04 season (as far back as Opta have exact goal times).

Champions League debutants Sheriff pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the competition's history by stunning Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu with a dramatic 2-1 victory.

Jasurbek Yakhshiboev's first-half header was cancelled out by Karim Benzema's spot-kick after the break, given following a VAR check after Vinicius Jr. went down in the box.

However, it was the visitors who claimed a remarkable win to maintain their 100 per cent record in Group D, Sebastien Thill's stupendous left-footed strike in the 89th minute earning the Moldovan club their most famous win.

Los Blancos subjected the minnows to a 31-shot barrage, with goalkeeper Georgios Athanasiadis forced into 10 saves, but the competition's most successful team were unable to salvage anything from the contest on a fairytale night for Sheriff.

 

 

A penalty deep into second-half stoppage time from Luis Suarez gave Atletico Madrid a dramatic 2-1 Champions League win over Milan at San Siro.

Antoine Griezmann scored his first goal since his return to the club to level the scores in the 84th minute after Rafael Leao had deservedly put the hosts in front.

Franck Kessie received a second yellow card after only 30 minutes, but Stefano Pioli's men remained impressively resolute until Griezmann's impact off the bench.

Suarez then converted from the spot in style in the seventh minute of added time after Pierre Kalulu was penalised for handball, the decision upheld after a VAR check.

 

 

Liverpool once again put Porto to the sword as they made it back-to-back wins at the start of a new Champions League campaign, coasting to a 5-1 victory at the Estadio do Dragao.  

The Reds had come out on top in a five-goal thriller in their Group B opener against Milan at Anfield, yet there were no such nerves on Tuesday against opponents they have made a habit of beating through the years.  

Jurgen Klopp was in charge for 5-0 and 4-1 wins on Portuguese soil when steering Liverpool to successive final appearances in the competition in 2018 and 2019, and this year's squad appear on course to make the knockout stages once more.  

Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino scored twice, the latter after coming on as a substitute, while Sadio Mane was also on target, making it five goals for him in as many appearances against Porto. 

The result should not come as too much of a surprise, considering Porto had not managed a win in the previous eight meetings. The hosts were dealt a blow when Pepe was ruled out with an injury suffered in the warm-up, while Otavio's outing was cut short after 14 minutes.  

Not long after the enforced change, Liverpool went ahead. Curtis Jones' low shot was parried by Diogo Costa onto team-mate Zaidu Sanusi, leaving Salah with a simple close-range finish.  

The Porto goalkeeper did do better to deny Jordan Henderson a goal to mark his 400th appearance for the club, turning the visiting captain's fierce free-kick away, but his failure to cut out James Milner's low cross allowed Mane to tap home before the interval.  

Salah slotted away his second of the game on the hour before heading to the bench and while Mehdi Taremi headed in to pull a goal back, it only served to anger Liverpool into a response.

Costa rounded out a shocking performance by straying from his area to try to reach Jones' throughball, allowing Firmino to roll the ball into an unguarded net. The Brazilian added another just four minutes later when reacting quickly to a deflection, though only after a VAR check for offside. 

 

What does it mean? Liverpool show ruthless edge to seize control 

After a frantic 3-3 draw away at Brentford on Saturday – a game in which Liverpool trailed early before getting level, then twice let slip leads in the second half – this was far more routine for Klopp and his players.  

Such was his team's dominance, the German was able to substitute Salah, Mane and Milner with a weekend clash with Manchester City in mind, the latter set to deputise again for the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold for the visit of the Premier League champions to Merseyside.  

Salah stays hot to surpass Eto'o  

Thanks to his double, Salah moves on to 31 Champions League goals in his career, putting him clear of Samuel Eto’o for second place on the all-time list for African players in the competition. Only Didier Drogba (44) has managed more.  

The Egyptian has also now scored in each of his last six appearances for Liverpool. That is the first time a player has netted in six in a row for the club since April 2018, when Salah himself managed to do so for seven successive games.  

Costa goes cold as Porto roll over 

Porto were largely toothless in attack and porous at the back, not aided by the performance of a keeper who could have done better with at least three of the goals he conceded. 

He saved just 61 per cent of the attempts that came his way and, after Taremi’s finish from Fabio Vieira’s cross made it 3-1, his decision to rush out in the 77th minute allowed Firmino to kill off any slim hopes of a comeback. 

What's next?  

Liverpool take on City at Anfield on Sunday in a huge clash prior to the international break. Porto, meanwhile, are at home again, this time taking on Pacos Ferreira in domestic action. 

Lionel Messi scored a gorgeous first goal for Paris Saint-Germain as the French side gained a measure of revenge for their 2020-21 Champions League semi-final defeat to Manchester City with a 2-0 win to get off the mark in Group A.

Messi's start to life at PSG had been somewhat muted but he came to life late in the day to seal a hard-fought victory at the Parc des Princes, an important result after a disappointing draw with Club Brugge on matchday one.

PSG made a wonderful start and were quickly in front thanks to Idrissa Gueye, but City had opportunities to pull level, with Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva both hitting the crossbar in quick succession.

The visitors were especially dominant in the second period, but they struggled to craft clear-cut chances as PSG picked them off on the break, Messi netting against his former boss Pep Guardiola in the Champions League for a record-extending seventh time.

Gueye may not be renowned for his goalscoring prowess but his eighth-minute finish was his fourth in six this season and a strike of great precision, smashing into the top-right corner when Neymar could not control Kylian Mbappe's cut-back.

The same quality was not exhibited at the other end, though, as Sterling saw his header come back off the bar and Silva inexplicably hit it as well on the rebound.

Kevin De Bruyne escaped a red card for catching Gueye late in the half and he almost set up the equaliser soon after, his corner finding Ruben Dias, whose header tested Gianluigi Donnarumma.

PSG's solid defensive work ensured big chances were otherwise a rare commodity for City, and Messi put the game beyond them 16 minutes from time.

He surged in from the right, played a one-two with Mbappe on the edge of the box and then caressed a first-time finish into the top-right corner.

Simone Inzaghi bemoaned Inter's inability to take their chances after they were held to a 0-0 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Inter are still waiting for their first win of this season's Champions League after Tuesday's stalemate in Ukraine.

Each side had just two shots on target, with Shakhtar finishing with a slightly higher Expected Goals (xG) of 1.3 compared to Inter's 1.1.

Nicolo Barella was denied by the crossbar for the Nerazzurri, leaving Inzaghi to wonder what might have been.

"In some moments they did very well technically, while we did not take advantage of our chances," Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia.

"We had five in a not brilliant evening and we could have won."

Despite failing to find the net, Inzaghi praised the performance of forwards Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko.

"They had a great match, they sacrificed themselves," Inzaghi added. "Then I brought on [Joaquin] Correa and [Alexis] Sanchez who are starting to feel good.

"We knew it was a difficult away game: for once we didn't score a goal, but we were also good at not conceding it."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has revealed Trent Alexander-Arnold could be set to miss Sunday's game against Manchester City due to injury.

Alexander-Arnold did not travel with the rest of the Liverpool squad for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Porto, James Milner instead taking over at right-back for the Group B fixture.

The England international is also a major doubt for the upcoming clash against the reigning Premier League champions too, with the Reds hosting Pep Guardiola's side at Anfield.

Asked by BT Sport in his pre-match interview if Alexander-Arnold was out due to injury, Klopp replied: "Unfortunately. 

"it was shortly after training. Trent went in a little bit early, but it didn't look serious. 

"Then we did a further assessment and it was serious, so he is out for today, he didn't travel with us, and it doesn't look great for the City game as well. 

"It's a muscle thing. We thought he was a bit tired from the game, but it was more. Now we have to deal with that."

While Klopp refused to divulge any details, the club website confirmed it to be an adductor issue for Alexander-Arnold, who played the entire match as Liverpool drew 3-3 with Brentford at the weekend.

Milner would be the most likely candidate to deputise against City - one of his former clubs - having also filled in on the right side of the defence for the 3-0 win over Crystal Palace earlier this season.

City won 4-1 when they travelled to Anfield last season, emphatically ending a run of 17 away league games without a win at Liverpool.

 

Giorgio Chiellini is urging Juventus not to focus all of their attention on Romelu Lukaku when they face Chelsea on Wednesday, also highlighting the qualities of Jorginho, who he is backing to win this year's Ballon d'Or.

Juve made a winning start to their Champions League campaign two weeks ago with a 3-0 victory over Malmo, though they will expect a rather trickier challenge as Chelsea visit Turin on matchday two.

The contest will see Chiellini renew hostilities with Lukaku, their pair having enjoyed some bruising tussles during the Belgian's time in Serie A with Inter.

But the Chelsea player Chiellini seems to hold in the highest regard is Jorginho, a player he featured alongside as Italy won Euro 2020 earlier this year.

That success coupled with Chelsea's Champions League win in 2020-21 saw Jorginho win the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award in August, and Chiellini believes he deserves to add the Ballon d'Or to his collection as well.

Asked about the prospect of going up against Lukaku again, Chiellini said: "Lukaku is a great player, we will have to be careful.

"It will be important not to allow the qualities of champions like Lukaku to come out. He's a great player, whom they paid a lot for. He's not there by chance, but maybe it's a bit diminishing to talk about just the meeting of me and Lukaku – it's not just Lukaku.

"Chelsea have many champions: let's think of our great friend Jorginho, who is the 'lighthouse' of this team.

"I truly hope he can win the Ballon d'or because he's a good friend of mine and it's also an award that would feel like it's mine as an Italian and a player who was involved in the [Euro 2020] win."

Jorginho has not always had it easy at Chelsea, with many critics sceptical of his suitability to the club and English football in general, but Chiellini believes the fact he has outlasted both Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge is telling.

"I always thought he was a good player but after two or three sessions in the national team under [Roberto] Mancini, I realised just how good he is," Chiellini continued.

"What a top player he is. He maybe doesn't have great physical qualities, but the real difference is in his head, his mentality, and I was really happy because many said he could only play with Sarri.

"Instead, two other coaches arrived at Chelsea and then in the national team. Wherever he goes he plays as a regular, so I'm happy for him and he definitely deserves an award, so I truly hope he wins the Ballon d'Or."

Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri was questioned on the form of his own midfielders, specifically Adrien Rabiot.

The Frenchman has only impressed in spells since joining from Paris Saint-Germain two years ago and Allegri clearly wants more – though he is adamant Rabiot has the capacity to improve.

"It's similar to [Federico] Bernardeschi," Allegri said. "The difference among players is when they come to Juve – if a big club chooses them, there's obviously a reason, but the difference in their career depends on mentality, their specific objective in helping the team and the capacity to improve, being determined in training sessions, scoring, defending.

"These are the elements that make the difference. How many good, technical players haven't been able to explode in their careers because maybe there was something missing?

"Rabiot is a player, if I was him, I'd be very angry with myself because he's a player who's been here two years, how many goals he scored? Ten [six] in two seasons? That's not acceptable. He needs to improve in order to get much better and I'm pretty sure he'll be able to do that this year."

Raphael Varane is convinced Manchester United have a squad that is set up for success despite some alarming recent results. 

The last fortnight has seen United lose their Champions League opener to Young Boys and crash out of the EFL Cup against West Ham prior to Saturday's shock Premier League defeat at home to Aston Villa. 

Expectations are high for United in 2021-22 after World Cup winner Varane joined from Real Madrid, while long-term target Jadon Sancho came in from Borussia Dortmund and Cristiano Ronaldo made his sensational return from Juventus. 

The pressure is back on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer going into Wednesday's match with Villarreal, but Varane is not overly worried as he sees the ingredients required for success within the club. 

"What I've been able to see is, with my team-mates, there's a lot of quality in our squad," Varane said as he sat alongside Solskjaer at the pre-match news conference. 

"We've got huge potential, I'm convinced of it. 

"We're working really hard, we're working well in training and improving all the time. Since the start of the season I think we're on a positive, upward curve. 

"There is talent, there's experience there as well. We've got everything you need to have that belief that you can do well. 

"I think that's a really key issue - we've got to believe in ourselves, be convinced that we can do it. We have got to be ambitious, believe in our own potential and then I think you can achieve things when you do that. 

"Everything is there in the right place. Each time we go into a game, we go on that track and keep on that road of positivity, think on how we can improve in little details. 

"We are on the right road." 

Varane may have to hold a weakened United defence together when they face Villarreal at Old Trafford. 

Fellow centre-back Harry Maguire is out for a few weeks with a calf injury, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka is suspended and Luke Shaw will be a late fitness check. 

United face a tough test, having failed to win in their five previous meetings with Villarreal, scoring just once in those contests. 

Villarreal are also unbeaten in their last 16 major European games (W12 D4) across the Europa League and Champions League, the longest current run of any side.  

Ahead of the key Group F clash, Varane agreed the pressure of playing for United can be compared with what he experienced during his time at Madrid. 

"Big clubs are always wanting a lot of their players, they expect a lot from the players," he said. 

"There are a lot of demands. It is always hard to make comparisons but I believe that it's fairly similar in terms of the hopes and demands and expectations at big clubs. 

"After a defeat or a draw, you know what it's like, it's always very negative when that happens.  

"The key is to keep up good runs of results and be positive. That pressure you kind of live with it at big clubs - there is always a lot of expectation, for sure." 

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