Robert Kovac has been appointed as Wolfsburg's new head coach following a topsy-turvy season for the Bundesliga side.

Wolfsburg began the 2021-22 campaign with Marc van Bommel at the helm, but he was dismissed in October after a promising start tailed off dramatically.

Successor Florian Kohfeldt inspired a brief upturn in form, only for a nine-match winless run to see the team fall from the European places in November to a potential relegation battle in January.

Kohfeldt remained at the helm as Wolfsburg recovered to secure a mid-table finish, although he was sacked following the final-day draw with champions Bayern Munich.

Next, Wolfsburg have turned to Kovac, who was last in work at Monaco in Ligue 1.

He has signed a three-year contract and will aim to repeat the successes of his previous Bundesliga stints, winning the DFB-Pokal with Eintracht Frankfurt and both the league and cup at Bayern Munich.

"I am a child of the Bundesliga," Kovac said, "and the desire and motivation are very great to open another successful chapter with the Wolves."

Former Bayern coach Kovac, who also has experience with Croatia, left Monaco during Ligue 1's winter break at the start of this year.

The principality club subsequently enjoyed a stunning late-season run under Philippe Clement to finish third and enter next season's Champions League qualifying rounds.

Robert Lewandowski paid tribute to Thomas Muller for his role in a partnership that delivered the wantaway Bayern Munich striker his seventh Torjagerkanone in 2021-22.

The trophy, awarded to the Bundesliga's leading scorer, will be in Lewandowski's possession once again this season, equalling Gerd Muller's record of seven wins.

This was Lewandowski's fifth triumph in a row as he finished the campaign with 35 league goals – the last of them coming in Saturday's season-ending 2-2 draw at Wolfsburg, before which Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic confirmed his talisman had asked to leave.

Team-mate Muller set up Lewandowski's goal with a left-footed cross in what could prove to be the final link-up of a hugely effective attacking combination.

"He's amazing," Lewandowski said of Muller after the match, when he confirmed he would not be renewing a contract that expires in 2023.

"He always plays his style, his performance, his skills.

"I know him very well because we have this feeling. When he kicks the ball, I know when the ball is coming, and that's why I'm always ready to get the ball from him.

"Even today, I should be thankful not only for Thomas, but all the guys who assist me, who give me the ball to score the goals. I'm very proud of this team."

Muller has at least committed to new terms with Bayern, to the relief of captain Manuel Neuer, who addressed the media without knowing of Lewandowski's comments. 

"[Muller and Lewandowski] are absolutely world class and guarantors for our success, for the club's success over the past years," Neuer said.

"So, it is good that Thomas renewed his contract and will stay with Bayern."

Asked about Lewandowski's future, Neuer said: "Lewy just came here for an interview, I don't know what he said there but, as far as I know, he has a contract for another year."

Lewandowski will certainly be missed if he does depart, as is rumoured, for Barcelona, with Jamal Musiala just enjoying being part of a team that features two outstanding forwards.

"They're two masterminds in the game," the youngster added. "They score goals, assist, they do everything in the attack.

"It's just amazing to see, and to be part of it is just as good."

Robert Lewandowski scored what he hopes will be a farewell goal for Bayern Munich as the champions drew 2-2 at Wolfsburg in their final Bundesliga game of the season.

The perfectly judged header from Lewandowski was his 50th goal of the season, and 35th in the Bundesliga for the campaign, and it followed an opener from Josip Stanisic.

At 2-0 in front after 40 minutes, Bayern looked to be cruising, but Jonas Wind and Max Kruse surprisingly brought the home side back to level terms.

Lewandowski, who has told Bayern he wants to leave, could not find another goal as Bayern were forced to settle for a point in the final game of Julian Nagelsmann's first season at the helm.

Leon Goretzka was denied by a smart early save from Koen Casteels after Thomas Muller's clever ball over the Wolfsburg defence picked out the midfielder's run, and Bayern were soon in front.

The opener came from Stanisic in the 17th minute as the Croatian defender sent a header looping beyond Casteels from Joshua Kimmich's right-wing corner.

Bayern doubled that lead when Lewandowski nodded Muller's cross from the right flank into the left corner. It was his 35th goal in the Bundesliga this term, and gave Muller an 18th assist, with both tallies being league highs.

Wind pulled one back when his shot on the turn arrowed past Manuel Neuer in the 45th minute, and surprisingly the home side drew level in the 58th minute as Kruse stretched at the far post to tap in a low cross from the left from Micky van de Ven.

Lewandowski saw a powerful strike well held by Casteels, Serge Gnabry had a menacing shot deflect just over for a corner, and Kimmich almost scored directly from that set-piece.

Bayern were unbeaten in their last 13 Bundesliga matches against Wolfsburg (W12 D1 L0), outscoring their opponents 46-8 during this run, so the fightback here was a jolt to the champions' system.

Eric Choupo-Moting fired just wide before Leroy Sane missed a glorious late chance to give Bayern a winning finish to the season, running through on goal before dragging a left-footed shot wide of the right post.

Robert Lewandowski reached 50 goals for the season on the final day of Bayern Munich's campaign, as it emerged he wants to leave the club.

The Polish striker headed Thomas Muller's smart cross from the left past Koen Casteels for Bayern's second goal of the game against Wolfsburg, helping the visitors to a 2-1 half-time lead.

It took Lewandowski to 25 goals in 22 Bundesliga games versus Wolfsburg, including his only five-goal haul in the top-flight.

In Bundesliga history, only Gerd Muller has scored more goals against a single opponent, having hit 27 against Hamburg.

Lewandowski took his Bundesliga tally for 2021-22 to 35, while he has also scored 13 times in the Champions League and twice in the German Super Cup.

Before kick-off, Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic announced 33-year-old Lewandowski has told him he wants to leave the club and has refused a new contract.

Lewandowski is the top scorer among all players from Europe's top five leagues this season, moving six goals ahead of Real Madrid's Karim Benzema after his first-half goal at Wolfsburg.

Bayern Munich star Kingsley Coman is set to miss the first two games of next season after being handed a three-match ban by the German Football Association (DFB).

Coman was shown a red card in stoppage time of Bayern's 2-2 draw with Stuttgart on Sunday after raising his hand to Konstantinos Mavropanos following a challenge from the Greek defender at the Allianz Arena.

It is a blow for Coman, who has scored eight goals and registered five assists in 32 games in all competitions for his club this season, though Bayern can still appeal the decision.

The DFB confirmed in a statement on its website on Tuesday: "Kingsley Coman [is] banned from three competitive games (championship and/or DFB cup games) by the Bundesliga club FC Bayern Munich in single-judge proceedings after the DFB control committee had brought charges for assault against the opponent after an anti-sporting act had previously been committed against him. 

"In addition, the player is also suspended from all other competitive matches for his club until the suspension expires."

The France international will serve the first game of his suspension on Saturday when the German champions play their final match of the Bundesliga season at Wolfsburg.

Tom Rothe made Bundesliga history as Borussia Dortmund cut Bayern Munich's lead at the top of the German top flight to six points in emphatic fashion.

Dortmund thrashed Wolfsburg 6-1 on Saturday, putting pressure on Bayern ahead of their meeting with Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday.

It was Rothe who put Dortmund ahead with a near-post header in the 24th minute, as Marco Rose's side scored five times in a rampant first-half display.

In doing so, Rothe - aged 17 years and 169 days - became the youngest player to score on his Bundesliga debut.

Axel Witsel, Manuel Akanji, Emre Can and Erling Haaland all found the net before half-time, with Haaland then doubling his tally in the 54th minute.

Dortmund face Bayern in Der Klassiker next Saturday, by which point Die Roten will be expected to have restored a nine-point advantage at the Bundesliga summit.

Wout Weghorst has completed his transfer from Wolfsburg to Burnley for a fee reported to be in the region of £12million (€14.4m).

Weghorst scored 20 goals for Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga last season, with only Erling Haaland (27), Andre Silva (28) and Robert Lewandowski (41) netting more.

The 29-year-old Netherlands international also provided eight assists and converted 21.5 per cent (20) of his 93 shots. 

At 6ft, 6in, Weghorst provides a towering presence for Sean Dyche's side, who sold Chris Wood to relegation rivals Newcastle United this month, and the Clarets will be hoping the Dutchman provides the goals needed to stay in the Premier League.

Weghorst has not been as prolific this season, however, scoring just six times across 18 league games for Wolfsburg, netting every 259 minutes on average, while his shot conversion rate has dropped to 15.8 per cent.

 

However, this is still an improvement on the form of Wood, who managed just three league goals in 17 appearances for Burnley this season, converting only three of his 30 attempts, while the New Zealand forward is yet to score for Newcastle.

"Wout is a player that our scouts have been strong on for some time and we feel that he can add to all that we do at Burnley," Dyche told the club's official website.

"His signing is a continued show of the club's and team's development. We wish Wout well as he earns the right to push our group forwards."

Burnley were also hoping to sign Mislav Orsic from Dinamo Zagreb to further bolster their attack.

On Saturday, though, Dinamo released a statement confirming Orsic would be staying put. 

Wolfsburg, meanwhile, have drafted in Jonas Wind from FC Copenhagen as Weghorst's replacement.

Burnley sit bottom of the Premier League and are four points from safety, but the Clarets have between two and four games in hand on their fellow strugglers.

They face a huge clash against Watford on Saturday, which could mark Weghorst's debut.

Julian Nagelsmann expressed his satisfaction with Bayern Munich as the Bavarians head into the mid-season Bundesliga break top of the table.

Bayern cruised to a 4-0 victory on Friday over Wolfsburg, with Thomas Muller – who was making his 400th league appearance for the reigning champions – scoring the first and assisting Dayot Upamecano's second.

Leroy Sane soon added a curling third before Robert Lewandowski sealed victory as the Poland striker netted his 43rd top-flight goal of 2021, surpassing Gerd Muller's long-standing calendar-year record for Bundesliga goals, set in 1972 (42).

Bayern boast a nine-point lead over second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who play their game in hand against Hertha Berlin on Saturday, and former RB Leipzig head coach Nagelsmann has been pleased with his side's efforts to date.

In the three points-for-a-win era, Bayern have won the title in 14 of the 15 seasons they have topped the league at the halfway point.

"I'm very satisfied with our first half of the season," Nagelsmann told reporters. "It's not simple to score this many goals against such a compact defence. 

"We had very good control and pressed even better in the second half. The key was counter-pressing: we won the ball high and closed all gaps.

"I'm very happy with the performance. We played a lot of games recently; the first half was more difficult. The initial phase was good, then we slowed down a bit. Then [Wout] Weghorst had a chance, we were lucky, or we had a good goalkeeper, maybe a mixture of both.

"The way we played in the second half was great. The goals were outstanding."

On Lewandowski's landmark strike, Nagelsmann added: "I was very happy that he scored. It was a wonderful goal – Lewy played a great game."

Nagelsmann also reserved praise for Upamecano, who made a staggering 103 passes in Wolfsburg's half – a game-leading figure – while also leading Bayern for tackles made (five) and possession won (14 times).

"He scored a goal, which is great," the Bayern head coach continued. "We know how important it is to have goalscoring defenders when the opponent sits very deep. 

"He was very focused today. Overall, he's having a good season, except for a couple of games. We shouldn't forget he's young, he isn't 28."

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski surpassed Gerd Muller's long-standing Bundesliga calendar-year scoring record with his second-half finish against Wolfsburg.

Muller found the net 42 times in the German top flight in 1972, but Lewandowski set a new record with his 43rd league goal of 2021.

Thomas Muller opened the scoring for Bayern after just seven minutes on Friday, while Lewandowski volleyed over as he searched for the landmark goal.

Dayot Upamecano and Leroy Sane netted the second and third goals for Julian Nagelsmann’s side, before Lewandowski’s milestone strike eventually arrived in the 87th minute when he smashed into the roof of the net following Jamal Musiala's header.

The Poland international has now scored 24 goals in 21 Bundesliga games against Wolfsburg, including a five-goal haul against them back in September 2015 in a 5-1 victory for the Bavarians.

Yet another landmark for Lewandowski caps a fantastic year in which the former Borussia Dortmund star won France Football's inaugural Striker of the Year award, after finishing second to Lionel Messi in the 2021 Ballon d'Or reckoning.

Lewandowski may have felt hard done by, given he has managed 58 goals in 2021 across all competitions – 15 more than any other player across Europe's top-five leagues, with Dortmund's Erling Haaland occupying second (43).

The Bayern talisman also leads the scoring charts across Europe this campaign, with 30 goals to his name in all competitions. Liverpool's Mohamed Salah is the next best with 22.

Worryingly for Wolfsburg, the 33-year-old may now eye another record for most goals against a single opponent in the Bundesliga, also held by Muller, who netted 27 times against Hamburg.

Julian Nagelsmann's side boast a healthy advantage over Dortmund at the top of the table heading into the mid-season break.

Thomas Muller starred on a milestone appearance and Robert Lewandowski broke a long-standing Gerd Muller record as Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich cruised to a 4-0 victory over Wolfsburg on Friday.

Muller marked his 400th top-flight outing for Bayern with the opening goal after seven minutes at the Allianz Arena, before the Germany international teed up Dayot Upamecano for a second after the interval.

Leroy Sane added a third for Julian Nagelsmann's side and Lewandowski was able to find a record 43rd league goal in 2021 to surpass Bayern legend's Gerd Muller's long-standing Bundesliga calendar-year scoring record as the hosts cruised to victory.
 
Leaders Bayern hold a nine-point advantage at the summit, with Dortmund – who play Hertha Berlin on Saturday – sat in second heading into the mid-season break.

Bayern were soon ahead when Muller poked home from close range after Koen Casteels had parried Serge Gnabry's strike, before Manuel Neuer thwarted Wout Weghorst at the other end.

Jamal Musiala almost doubled Bayern's lead but dragged wide, while Casteels denied Lewandowski's header from point-blank range.

Muller delicately chipped for Upamecano to head into the bottom-left corner after the interval, with Sane expertly curling in via the left post just two minutes later.

Lewandowski then had two opportunities to break Gerd Muller's benchmark, but wastefully prodded over with the first before an excellent Casteels save denied him from the second.

The Poland striker eventually managed his landmark finish when Musiala selflessly headed across goal for the Poland striker to volley in as Bayern eased to victory.


What does it mean? Bayern title favourites again heading into mid-season break

Bayern, who have not lost any of their last 25 home league matches against Wolfsburg, once again head into the mid-season break top of the Bundesliga – this time leading by at least six points, with Dortmund set to play their game in hand against Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

In the three points-per-win era, the Bavarians have won the title in 14 of the 15 seasons when they have been at the summit at the halfway point. By contrast, Wolfsburg have now lost seven consecutive competitive matches.

Gnabry the Great

Muller and Lewandowski seemingly steal the plaudits most weeks, but Gnabry's dominant performance should not go under the radar.

The Germany winger not only provided an assist but also laid on a team-leading three chances – along with full-back Alphonso Davies and Musiala – as he ensured a torrid game for Yannick Gerhardt at left wing-back.

Woeful Weghorst

Weghorst wasted a glorious opportunity to equalise immediately after Muller's opener and that set the tone for a frustrating performance from the striker.

The Netherlands international cut an isolated figure up top, winning just over a third of his 14 duels, while relinquishing possession a team-high 18 times.

What's next?

The Bundesliga now takes a break until 2022. Bayern return to action at home to Borussia Monchengladbach on January 7, while Wolfsburg visit Bochum two days later. 

Julian Nagelsmann declared he is "incredibly satisfied" with life as Bayern Munich head coach and urged his team to go into the winter break on a high.

Nagelsmann replaced Hansi Flick at the Bavarian club in July and has led them to the top of the Bundesliga with 13 victories from their first 16 games, as well as winning each of their six Champions League group stage fixtures.

The low point of the 34-year-old's tenure at the club came on October 27, when Bayern suffered a shock 5-0 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach in the DFB-Pokal.

However, Bayern bounced back to win nine of their subsequent 10 games in all competitions, opening up a six-point lead over Borussia Dortmund in the process, and Nagelsmann is pleased with his side at this stage.

Bayern host 11th-placed Wolfsburg on Friday, with the visitors on a run of six straight defeats in all competitions. It is the final game for Bayern before their mid-season break.

"We played a very good first half of the season, I want to go into tomorrow's game highly concentrated in order to keep the distance [at the top of the table]," Nagelsmann said.

"Of course, we had a very big damper, but it also triggered a certain process in us that no team in the world is infallible. That was a little damper for the first half of the season, which put a little shadow over it, but not in such a way that there is no light."

Bayern have scored 52 goals in their first 16 games of the Bundesliga – a record for such an opening stretch. They have also never lost a home Bundesliga clash with Wolfsburg in 24 past such meetings, winning 22 of those. No other team in Bundesliga history has faced an opponent as often at home without ever losing, Opta said.

Star striker Robert Lewandowski has scored 42 Bundesliga goals in 2021 and would break Gerd Muller's calendar year record (also 42 goals) from 1972 if he scores against Wolfsburg. Worryingly for Wolfsburg, Lewandowski has scored 23 goals in 20 Bundesliga games against them – including his only five-goal haul in the top flight.

In Bundesliga history, only Gerd Muller scored more goals against a single opponent – 27 goals against Hamburg.

Lewandowski's prowess has been one of many aspects that have added up to a successful year for Bayern, and a lively start for Nagelsmann.

"There were many high victories, many emotional moments," said the former RB Leipzig boss. "I am incredibly satisfied, as I am in the club and with the fans, I took on a great team, took on a great staff.

"I love this job at Bayern Munich, I love the city, I enjoy being on the site every day."

Barcelona head to Bayern Munich on the final matchday desperately needing a positive result to secure their spot in the Champions League knockout stages.

Benfica, who face Dynamo Kiev in Group E's other clash, hold the head-to-head edge over Xavi's new side as Barca travel to Germany knowing they likely need a win to make it through to the next round.

Manchester United and Chelsea are already through their respective groups, while Juventus host Malmo with the Bianconeri's place in the last-16 sealed before the final matchday as well.

As Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo edge towards more records, Stats Perform takes a look at the key Opta data heading into the games taking place on Wednesday.

Bayern Munich v Barcelona: Blaugrana face thankless task to qualify

Bayern have won their last three Champions League meetings with Barca, which is already the longest run against the Blaugrana in European history by any side.

Julian Nagelsmann's team, who have averaged five goals per home game in this season's competition, have cruised through to the next round, while Barca could fall to their second-worst performance in terms of points if they fail to avoid defeat.

The visitors will have to deal with Lewandowski, who is the top scorer in the group stage with nine goals and the Poland forward could become the only player in history to net 10-plus times in the group stage on multiple occasions. Ronaldo (11 in 2015-16) and Lionel Messi (10 in 2016-17) are the only other players to have achieved this once.

Zenit v Chelsea: Blues edge towards more defensive milestones

Chelsea could become just the second English team, after Manchester United in 2003-04 and 2010-11 to win four consecutive games in the competition while keeping a clean sheet on each occasion.

Indeed, with a clean sheet the Blues and Thomas Tuchel could become the fastest team and manager combination to reach 10 shutouts in the competition, having already recorded nine in just 12 games since the German's appointment.

The defending champions have also had 14 different scorers, excluding own goals, the most of any team in the Champions League since Tuchel's Blues bow in Europe.

Manchester United v Young Boys: Ronaldo looks to repeat history

Ronaldo has scored in all five of his Champions League appearances since returning to United (six goals), while Bruno Fernandes boasts the most assists in the competition so far this term (five).

Portugal captain Ronaldo will be looking to repeat the feat of scoring in all six group stage games in a single campaign, having previously done so for Real Madrid in 2017-18 – the only previous instance of this in the competition’s history.

Worryingly for Young Boys, who never kept a clean sheet in 11 attempts in the competition, the Swiss side have lost their last six away games between 1986 and 2021, last tasting European Cup/Champions League victory in August 1960.

Juventus v Malmo: Bianconeri aim to match record home dominance

Juve have won each of their last five Champions League home matches, only registering more consecutive such victories in a run of six between December 2016 and 2017.

While the Bianconeri did suffer their heaviest defeat in the history of the competition against Chelsea, Juve have a perfect record against Malmo in their opening three games – only Barca have ever won their opening four games against a specific opponent in the competitions.

Meanwhile, Malmo have only managed one win in their last eight against Italian opponents in the European Cup/Champions League, with their lone triumph against Inter in September 1989.

 

Other fixtures:

Atalanta v Villarreal:

21 - There have been 21 goals scored in Atalanta’s five games against Spanish opponents in the Champions League (11 goals for, 10 against), at an average of 4.2 per game. Only one of these five games have seen a team manage to keep a clean sheet, with Real Madrid doing so in a 1-0 victory back in February.

1 - Villarreal have won just one of their eight visits to Italian opponents in major European competition (D3 L4), though it came in their most recent such outing, defeating Roma 1-0 in the Europa League in 2016-17.

Benfica v Dynamo Kiev:

4 - Since losing their first ever meeting with Dynamo Kiev in European competition (0-1 in November 1991), Benfica are unbeaten in four games against the Ukrainian side (W3 D1), with all four coming in the European Cup/Champions League.

60 – Dynamo Kiev have lost 60 per cent of their away matches in the competition, only Olympiakos (75) and Galatasaray (71) have lost a larger percentage out of teams to have played at least 50 such games.

Red Bull Salzburg v Sevilla:

5 – Red Bull Salzburg are winless in their last five fixtures against Spanish opposition in the Champions League and have only won one of their last 11 meetings against such sides.

3 – Sevilla's Ivan Rakitic has managed three goal involvements in his side's five goals in the competition, despite only starting two games – only for Barca in 2015-16 did he record more (four).

Wolfsburg v Lille:

5 - Wolfsburg have gone unbeaten in their last five games against French opponents in European competition (W2 D3) after previously going eight games without recording a victory against French teams across all competitions (D3 L5).

8 – Lille have claimed eight points from their opening five games and could equal, or improve on, their best ever return in a group stage in the competition - nine points in 2006-07, where they qualified with a second-place finish.

Erling Haaland has been passed fit to make his Borussia Dortmund return in the Bundesliga encounter at Wolfsburg on Saturday.

The prolific striker has been out of action since a 4-0 Champions League thrashing at Ajax last month due to a hip flexor injury.

Dortmund on Friday confirmed Haaland is in the squad for the trip to Wolfsburg, but will be on the bench and the club revealed he would be ready for a "brief shift."

England midfielder Jude Bellingham misses out after taking a knock to the knee.

Dortmund boss Marco Rose said: "Mo Dahoud feels good and is ready, the same applies to Emre Can. Youssoufa Moukoko is doing better, and he trained.

""Marius Wolf is here and Erling Haaland will be on the bus. Jude Bellingham is out, and with Rapha Guerreiro we have to wait a bit more."

Haaland has scored 13 goals in 10 appearances in all competitions for Dortmund this season.

Second-placed Dortmund are a point behind Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga table and Rose will be expecting a positive response to a 3-1 defeat to Sporting Lisbon that ended their participation in the Champions League this season.

Manchester United start life without Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with a huge Champions League showdown at Villarreal, while Chelsea and Juventus face a blockbuster battle.

A 4-1 Premier League hammering at Watford was the final straw for the United board as Solskjaer was sacked on Sunday.

Michael Carrick has stepped in to take charge on an interim basis and must rally the troops for the clash between the top two in Group F at Estadio de la Ceramica.

Juventus are already assured of a place in the round of 16 and Chelsea will join them in qualifying from Group H if they avoid defeat at Stamford Bridge.

Barcelona take on Benfica in their first Champions League match with Xavi as boss knowing a win will see them through. 

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the key Opta data for the fixtures on Tuesday.

 

Villarreal v Manchester United: Red Devils in troubled waters ahead of Yellow Submarine showdown

Villarreal have failed to beat United in five Champions League matches, drawing four and losing one.

The LaLiga side did get the better of the Red Devils in the Europa League final last season on penalties, though, and may never have a better opportunity to consign them to a defeat in Europe's premier club competition.

Carrick takes charge for the first time following Solskjaer's departure and will need United to tighten up at the back as they look to end a four-match winless away run in the Champions League. The wounded Premier League side have not kept a clean sheet in the competition this season.

Chelsea v Juventus: Bianconeri plotting another Italian job on holders

Juventus could win the group if they halt Chelsea's nine-match unbeaten run, as they lead the holders by three points.

The Premier League leaders have not lost since they went down 1-0 to Juve in September and they are overdue a victory against Italian opponents.

Chelsea have not come out on top in their past four meetings against Italian teams and Juve could become the first side to record three consecutive wins over the London club in the Champions League.

 

Barcelona v Benfica: Pressure on for Xavi's Champions League bow 

Xavi celebrated a derby victory over Espanyol in his first game as Barcelona boss on Saturday and another win over Benfica will secure qualification from Group E.

Third-placed Benfica beat Barca 3-0 in September and will attempt to become only the third side to do the double over the Catalan club in the group stage, Dynamo Kiev in 1997-98 and Bayern Munich in 1998-99 being the others to achieve that feat.

Barca are two points ahead of Benfica following back-to-back 1-0 wins over Dynamo and are looking to keep clean sheets for three consecutive Champions League games for the first time since May 2019.

 

Sevilla v Wolfsburg: Los Nervionenses nearing last chance saloon

Sevilla dropped points when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Deportivo Alaves in LaLiga on Saturday, and they can ill afford to slip up when they face Wolfsburg.

Bottom of Group G and without a win from four matches, they have not been victorious in their past seven meetings with German sides, losing four and drawing three.

Third-placed Wolfsburg have not been a Spanish team away from home in Europe, losing to Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid either side of a draw with Villarreal.

 

Other fixtures:

Dynamo Kiev v Bayern Munich

17 – Bayern have scored 17 goals in their four Champions League matches this season, the joint most by any team after four matches in a season alongside Paris Saint Germain's tally in 2017-18. Already through to the round of 16, the Group E leaders have also had the most shots (84) and shots on target (34) of any side this campaign. 

9 – Dynamo have failed to score in any Champions League matches this season, attempting just nine shots on target – three fewer than Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski has managed in 2021-22 (12).

Lille v Salzburg

43 – Following their 2-1 victory away at Sevilla, Lille will be aiming to record back-to-back wins in the Champions League for the very first time. This will be their 43rd game in the competition.

2 –  Salzburg have only won two of their previous 12 away games in major European competition (excluding qualifiers), drawing twice and losing eight times. These 12 games have seen a total of 46 goals scored (19 for, 27 against), at an average of 3.8 per game.

Malmo v Zenit

– Zenit have only won one of their past 11 games in the Champions League (D1 L9). That solitary victory and clean sheet in this run of games came in their last meeting with Malmo (4-0 in September). 

8 – If Malmo fail to score in this game, they will equal the record for most consecutive games without finding the back of the net in the European Cup/Champions League (currently on 7). The previous instances of a team going eight games in a row without scoring are Dinamo Zagreb (2016), Deportivo La Coruna (2004) and Avenir Beggen (1986).

Young Boys v Atalanta

3 – Since winning three consecutive away Champions League games without conceding a goal between October and December 2020, Atalanta have failed to win each of their past three away games in the competition (D1 L2), conceding eight goals in the process.

4 – Young Boys won their opening group game against United but have since suffered three consecutive defeats in the competition. Bottom of Group F, If they lose this game, they will have suffered four defeats in a row in major European tournaments for the first time.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is seeking a second away victory in a week as the Champions League returns, with the 3-0 success at Tottenham on Sunday being his first in six domestic games.

Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri will also be hoping for a win to seal qualification from Group H with two games to spare, having lost back-to-back Serie A matches.

Bayern Munich and Chelsea will expect more of the same after they both won 4-0 against their opponents last time out in the Champions League.

Stats Perform pick out the key Opta facts ahead of Tuesday's Champions League action.

 

Atalanta v Manchester United: Ronaldo aiming to hurt Italians once more

United are looking to record their 150th victory in the European Cup/Champions League, which would make them the first English side to reach this milestone, and fourth overall after Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

Having failed to win in five domestic games prior to Sunday, pressure was starting to pile on Solskjaer. A third win in a row in the Champions League will boost confidence further.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be aiming to break Atalanta hearts as he did when he scored the winner in a 3-2 turnaround at Old Trafford on matchday three. Since returning to United, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in all three of his Champions League appearances – the last player to score in four consecutive appearances for the club in the competition was Ruud van Nistelrooy in April 2003.

3 - Cristiano Ronaldo has scored in three consecutive Champions League games for Manchester United for the second time, previously doing so in November 2007 en route to winning the trophy with the Red Devils. Inevitable. pic.twitter.com/eEYYnJpGV0

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 20, 2021

 

Juventus v Zenit Saint Petersburg: Allegri can cheer up Old Lady by sealing qualification

Things are not looking great for Juventus domestically, trailing Napoli and Milan at the top of Serie A by 16 points after Allegri's men were beaten by Sassuolo and Hellas Verona.

It has been a much smoother Champions League campaign so far, though, as the Turin side have won all three Group H games and will secure qualification to the knockout stage with a win against Zenit.

This will be Juve's 10th time facing Russian opponents in European competition, winning eight of the previous nine (D1) and they have kept six clean sheets. Zenit are also winless in their past nine away games in the Champions League (D1 L8). This is their longest run without an away win in the European Cup/Champions League.

 

Malmo v Chelsea: Blues can expect more goals in Sweden

Chelsea will be confident of another comfortable win against Malmo to go within a point of sealing qualification to the knockout stage. No team has conceded more goals than the Swedish side (11) in the Champions League this season, while only Besiktas (11.1) have a higher expected goals against total than their 8.7.

The holders are unbeaten in their seven meetings with Swedish teams to date, winning four and drawing three against them across all competitions. The past three have all been against Malmo, with each of them ending in Chelsea victories.

Malmo have lost seven of their eight previous games against English opponents in European competition, including each of the most recent four. The only time they have avoided defeat in such games came against Nottingham Forest in September 1995, winning 2-1 in the UEFA Cup.

 

Bayern Munich v Benfica: Bundesliga champions to mark milestone with another win?

This clash with Benfica will be Bayern’s 500th game across all European competitions, becoming only the third team to reach this milestone, after Barcelona (587) and Real Madrid (575). A win would not only be a fitting way to mark the occasion, but will also see them clinch qualification from Group E.

Bayern are unbeaten in all 11 of their meetings with Benfica in European competition, with eight of those ending in victories for the Bundesliga champions. They have faced Benfica more times without losing than against any of their other opponents in European competition.

It is also set to be a historic night for Robert Lewandowski, who could be in line to make his 100th Champions League appearance. The Poland striker has netted 78 goals in the competition to date, which is already the most by a player through their first 100 appearances in the Champions League.

Other fixtures:

Dynamo Kiev v Barcelona

11 – Dynamo Kiev's last victory against a Spanish team in the Champions League came back in March 1999, beating Real Madrid 2-0 in a quarter-final clash. Since then, they have faced Spanish opponents on 11 occasions in the competition and failed to win all of them (D3 L8).

9 – Since the start of the 2018-19 season, no full-back has provided more assists in the Champions League than the nine from Barcelona's Jordi Alba. This is three times as many as any other current Barcelona player in the same period (Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho, 3).

Villarreal v Young Boys

8 – Arnaut Danjuma has generated eight shots following carries (moving five or more metres with the ball) for Villareal in the Champions League this season (six shots and two chances created) – only Vinicius Junior (10) and Jack Grealish (9) have produced more.

10 – Young Boys have not kept a clean sheet in any of their past 10 games in the European Cup/Champions League (W2 D1 L7), with their last one coming back in September 1986 versus Real Madrid (1-0).

Wolfsburg v Salzburg

1 – Wolfsburg have lost just one of their nine home matches in the Champions League (W6 D2) and remain unbeaten in six on home soil in the competition since a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United in December 2009.

3 – Salzburg could become the first Austrian side to win three consecutive European Cup/Champions League matches since Rapid Vienna in 1982.

Sevilla v Lille

1 – Sevilla have only lost one of their past seven home games in the group stage of the Champions League (W4 D2), with that lone defeat coming against Chelsea in December 2020.

3 – Since scoring in six consecutive Champions League appearances between October 2012 and March 2013 for Galatasaray, Lille striker Burak Yilmaz has only scored in three of his past 20 appearances in the competition.

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