Barcelona Wonderkid Ansu Fati Makes Decision on Who to Represent at International Level

?Barcelona starlet Ansumane Fati has come to a decision over who he wishes to represent at international level, following a scintillating start to the 2019/20 season.

The 16-year-old burst onto the scene when he made his debut against Real Betis in La Liga at the end of August, becoming the second youngest player to appear for the club. He followed up his cameo with his first goal for the senior side when La Blaugrana travelled to take on Osasuna the following week. 

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As a result, the forward has been one of the most talked about names in the game of late, with national sides also looking to get him to commit his future to them. 

Fati is eligible to play for three countries: Guinea-Bissau, as it was his place of birth, Portugal – as Guinea-Bissau is a former colony, and Spain, because the youngster has been living there since he was six.

Despite the options, ?Sport are now reporting that Fati always wanted to chose Spain. The report claims that he has never had any doubts, despite the best efforts of Portugal to persuade him to join their ranks. The player has passed on his wishes to Guillermo Amor, who is the head of institutional relations and he has relayed the information to the Spanish Football Federations. 

Anssumane Fati

It has also been revealed that Spain are hoping they will be able to get the paperwork sorted in time for the ?Barça man to be eligible for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. That tournament is due to take place in Brazil between 26th October and 17th November.

The Spanish Football Federations are expected to help Fati as he will need to gain citizenship through his father, which can be a complicated process. However, the hope is that the young prodigy will be available to represent Spain by the time the U-17 World Cup comes around. 

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Barcelona President Confirms Lionel Messi Is Allowed to Leave Camp Nou for Free This Summer

?Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has confirmed that Lionel Messi has a clause in his contract which would allow him to walk away from the club whenever he wants.

A recent report suggested that Messi – who has a €700m release clause in his contract – actually has the power to walk away at the end of any given season, but this had not been confirmed by the club…until now.

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Bartomeu spoke to ?Barca TV this week to reveal that ?Barcelona actually offer such a clause to all their legendary players, not just Messi, explaining: “Leo ?Messi has a contract through to the 2020/21 season, but the player is able to leave Barça before the final season.

“It’s the same case as with the final contracts that Xavi, [Carles] Puyol and [Andres] Iniesta had. They are players who deserve that liberty, and we shouldn’t worry, as they are very committed to Barça. We want Messi to play for Barça through to 2021 and beyond. We are very calm.”

Since making his debut back in 2004, Messi has made 687 appearances for Barcelona. In that time, he has racked up an astonishing 603 goals and 242 assists, establishing himself as one of the greatest players of all time.

However, at 32 years old, he is undoubtedly approaching the latter stages of his career, and Barcelona have begun to picture life without Messi.

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Bartomeu has previously revealed that he wanted to keep Messi at Camp Nou ‘?forever’, adding that they will look to bring the winger back to the club in some capacity upon his retirement.

Having netted 51 goals in just 50 appearances last season, he is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon, and Barcelona will certainly be eager to keep Messi at the club for many years to come. 

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FIFA 20 Ratings: EA Sports Name Top 100 Players Ahead of Game’s Release

?EA Sports have revealed the identities of the 100 highest-rated players in their upcoming game FIFA 20, whilst also adding that Kaka will be a fully playable icon in the game.

The Brazilian has long been high on the wish list of fans of previous games, but he will now finally make his long-awaited return to the series when the game hits the shelves on 27th September.

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EA took to ?YouTube to begin the process of the ratings reveal, and Kaka features heavily in the video. The Brazilian joins the ?long list of new icons in the game and has been handed a 91-rated prime card, an 89-overall middle icon and an 87-rated base.

The likes of Zinedine Zidane, Didier Drogba and Pep Guardiola have also been added to the game, in what promises to be one of the most exciting releases to date.

They then revealed the identities of the 100 highest-rated players on their ?official website, and all the usual suspects are there. ?Cristiano Ronaldo, ?Lionel Messi and ?Neymar are expected to be named as the three best players in the game, whilst ?Eden Hazard and Jan Oblak won’t be far behind.

Lionel Messi

There are also plenty of new additions to the top 100. ?Barcelona wonderkid Frenkie de Jong and ?Juventus (or Piemonte Calcio) star Matthijs de Ligt both make the cut, as does former Ajax teammate Hakim Ziyech. ?Liverpool’s Andy Robertson has also earned himself a huge upgrade.

You can check out the full list of players below.


Goalkeepers

Player? Club? Position?
?Alisson Liverpool? GK?
?Thibaut Courtois Real Madrid? GK?
?David de Gea Manchester United? GK?
?Gianluigi Donnarumma AC Milan? GK?
?Ederson Manchester City? GK?
?Samir Handanovic Inter? GK?
?Hugo Lloris Tottenham Hotspur? GK?
?Keylor Navas Paris Saint-Germain? GK?
?Manuel Neuer Bayern Munich? GK?
?Jan Oblak Atletico Madrid? GK?
?Wojciech Szczesny Piemonte Calcio? GK?
?Marc-Andre ter Stegen Barcelona? GK?

Defenders

Player Club Position?
?David Alaba Bayern Munich? LB?
?Jordi Alba Barcelona? LB?
?Toby Alderweireld Tottenham Hotspur? CB
?Alex Sandro Piemonte Calcio? LB?
?Leonardo Bonucci Piemonte Calcio? CB?
?Dani Carvajal Real Madrid? RB?
?Giorgio Chiellini Piemonte Calcio? CB?
?Matthijs de Ligt Piemonte Calcio? CB?
?Jose Gimenez Atletico Madrid? CB?
?Diego Godin Inter? CB?
?Mats Hummels Borussia Dortmund? CB?
?Joshua Kimmich Bayern Munich? RB?
?Kalidou Koulibaly Napoli? CB?
?Aymeric Laporte Manchester City? CB?
?Kostas Manolas Napoli? CB?
?Marcelo Real Madrid? LB?
?Marquinhos Paris Saint-Germain? CB?
?Gerard Pique Barcelona? CB?
?Andy Robertson Liverpool? LB?
?Sergio Ramos Real Madrid? CB?
?Milan Skriniar Inter? CB?
?Niklas Sule Bayern Munich? CB?
?Thiago Silva Paris Saint-Germain? CB?
?Samuel Umtiti Barcelona? CB?
?Virgil van Dijk Liverpool? CB?
?Raphael Varane Real Madrid? CB?
?Jan Vertonghen Tottenham Hotspur? CB?

Midfielders

Player? Club? Position?
?Allan Napoli? CM?
?Bruno Fernandes Sporting CP? CAM?
?Casemiro Real Madrid? CDM?
?David Silva Manchester City CAM?
?Kevin De Bruyne Manchester City? ?CAM
?Frenkie de Jong Barcelona? CM?
?Paulo Dybala Juventus? CAM?
?Christian Eriksen Tottenham Hotspur? CAM?
?Fabinho Liverpool? CDM?
?Fernandinho Manchester City? CDM?
?Alejandro Gomez Atalanta? CAM?
?Isco Real Madrid? CAM?
?N’Golo Kante Chelsea? CDM?
?Koke Atletico Madrid? RM?
?Toni Kroos Real Madrid? CM?
?Blaise Matuidi Piemonte Calcio? CDM?
?Sergej Milinkovic-Savic Lazio? CM?
?Luka Modric Real Madrid? CM?
?Thomas Muller Bayern Munich? CAM?
?Dani Parejo Valencia? CM?
?Miralem Pjanic Piemonte Calcio? CM?
?Paul Pogba Manchester United? CM?
?Ivan Rakitic Barcelona? CM?
?Marco Reus Borussia Dortmund? CAM?
?Rodri Manchester City? CDM?
?James Rodriguez Real Madrid? CAM?
?Saul Atletico Madrid? CM?
?Sergio Busquets Barcelona? CDM?
?Thiago Bayern Munich? CM?
?Marco Verratti Paris Saint-Germain? CM?
?Axel Witsel Borussia Dortmund? CDM?
?Hakim Ziyech Ajax? CAM?

Forwards

Player? Club? Position?
?Sergio Aguero Manchester City? ST?
?Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal? ST?
?Karim Benzema Real Madrid? CF?
?Bernardo Silva Manchester City RW?
?Edinson Cavani Paris Saint-Germain? ST?
?Philippe Coutinho Bayern Munich? LW?
?Cristiano Ronaldo Piemonte Calcio? ST?
?Angel Di Maria Paris Saint-Germain? RW?
?Antoine Griezmann Barcelona? CF?
?Eden Hazard Chelsea? LW?
?Zlatan Ibrahimovic ?LA Galaxy ST?
?Mauro Icardi Paris Saint-Germain? ?ST
?Ciro Immobile Lazio? ST?
?Lorenzo Insigne Napoli? CF?
?Harry Kane Tottenham Hotspur? ST?
?Alexandre Lacazette Arsenal? ST?
?Robert Lewandowski Bayern Munich? ST?
?Romelu Lukaku Inter? ST?
?Sadio Mane Liverpool? LW?
?Kylian Mbappe Paris Saint-Germain? ST?
?Dries Mertens Napoli? CF?
?Lionel Messi Barcelona? RW?
?Neymar Paris Saint-Germain? LW?
?Roberto Firmino Liverpool? CF?
?Mohamed Salah Liverpool? RW?
?Leroy Sane Manchester City? LW?
?Heung-min Son Tottenham Hotspur? CF?
?Raheem Sterling Manchester City? RW?
?Luis Suarez Barcelona? ST?

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Spain Prepares for First Ever Women’s Clásico as Barcelona Host ‘Real Madrid’

?While England is gearing up for a big weekend of women’s football as the new Women’s Super League season kicks off with some huge opening clashes, Spain is also preparing for its own landmark as El Clásico makes its debut in the women’s Primera División.

Saturday evening will see 2019 Champions League finalists Barcelona Femení host newly promoted CD Tacón at the brand new Estadi Johan Cruyff.

It may not sound like much of a big deal, but with Tacón taken over by Real Madrid this summer and set to adopt the club’s famous name and branding as of 2020, this is technically now the first Clásico that Spanish women’s football has ever seen.

There is already a club by the name of Madrid CFF in the Primera División, playing in white, as it happens. But there is no affiliation to Real. Tacón, meanwhile, are to play their home game at Ciudad Real Madrid, the club’s training complex in Valdebebas.

While Barcelona have been around in some form or another for 31 years, have been crowned Spanish champions four times since 2011 and are an emerging power at European level, Tacón are a young club and relatively unknown after forming as recently as 2014.

Sandra Panos,Maria Leon,Vicky Losada,Marta Torrejon,Mariona Caldentey,Alexia Putellas,Aitana Bonmati,Leila Ouahabi,Toni Duggan,Andrea Pereira,Lieke Martens

Real have never previously operated a women’s team, but it hasn’t stopped Tacón from making their mark in order to establish themselves among Spain’s elite.

Kosovare Asllani and Sofia Jakobsson, both stars of the 2019 Women’s World Cup as Sweden finished third, were big name arrivals in the Spanish capital in July. Brazilian defender Thaisa, another player that feature at the World Cup, has joined from AC Milan. Tacón were then also able to tempt England international Chioma Ubogagu to Madrid from Orlando Pride.

When Asllani, formerly of Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and most recently noted Swedish side Linköpings, tweeted about her move to Spain shortly after the World Cup it was clear the 30-year-old was excited about the future prospect of turning for ‘Real Madrid’.

But to get anything against Barcelona this weekend, Tacón will have their work cut out. The Catalans boast some of the finest players in the world, with 2017 Best FIFA Women’s Player and 2019 World Cup finalist Lieke Martens among their ranks.

Nigerian forward Asisat Oshoala was named BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2015 and is still only 24 years of age, while Norwegian maestro Caroline Graham Hansen joined the club this summer, as did returning Spain international Jenni Hermoso.

Alongside Hermoso, many of the national team’s top talents play for Barcelona.

Yet despite Clásico connotations, the rivalry will take time to develop. The rivalries that have developed over decades in men’s football are often transplanted to women’s football and can sometimes have a forced or manufactured feel to them.

Women’s football produces its own rivalries and, for now, at least, Barcelona are unlikely to view this weekend’s clash with Tacón as the biggest game on their calendar. That is reserved for clashes with Atletico Madrid, who have won the Primera División title in each of the last three seasons, and are the single biggest reason Barcelona haven’t been champions since 2015.

Tacón, however, might think differently as this weekend is the start of a whole new chapter in their hitherto very short history.

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Romania 1-2 Spain: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Ten Men Visitors Hold Off Late Fightback

Spain survived a late fightback from Romania to deservedly beat the home side 2-1 in their Euro 2020 qualifying match, in turn maintaining their place at the top of Group F ahead of Sweden.

?It was a siege on the Romanian goal from the offset, with Ciprian Tatarusanu the busiest man on the pitch in the opening exchanges and stood tall to Spain’s dominance. Their pressure eventually told after 29 minutes when Ciprian Deac fouled Dani Ceballos in the box, with Sergio Ramos making no mistake from the spot to put La Roja in front.

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Less than two minutes into the second half the visitors got the goal their performance deserved, with Paco Alcacer slotting into an empty net after a fine flowing move ended with Jordi Alba feeding the ?Borussia Dortmund striker. Their two goal lead was cut short against the run of play not long after, as former ?Brighton striker Florin Andone headed home to lift the home crowd.

While Spain continued to control proceedings, they were dealt a huge blow as Diego Llorente saw red for a last-man challenge on Andone, leaving the visitors to survive the final ten minutes with ten men. They looked like snatching it in added time, as Kepa brilliantly saved late from George Puscas, before a stunning stop seconds later prevented the hosts from snatching an unlikely point. However, in the end it was the result Spain deserved.


ROMANIA

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Player Ratings

Starting XI: Tatarusanu (9*); Benzar (4), Nedelcearu (4), Chiriches (5), Grigore (4), Tosca (5); Deac (4), Marin (4), Stanciu (5); Puscas (6), Keseru (4).

Substitutes: Andone (6), Hagi (5), Maxim (4).


SPAIN

Key Talking Point

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In Group F it looks like being a straight shootout between Sweden and Spain for top spot, with the two sides the obvious favourites to seal either an automatic spot or a play-off place for next summer’s tournament.

Romania are the dark horses to sneak a top two spot, but on Thursday’s showing, that looks increasingly unlikely to happen. Spain played their opponents off of the park, dominating the ball throughout and deservedly going in front via Ramos’ penalty on the half hour. It could well have been another three before half time, however, Tatarasanu thwarted them on numerous occasions to keep the score in the balance before the break.

Whatever resistance or confidence they may have had appeared to be shattered after less than two minutes into the second half, although the introduction of Andone looked like paying dividends when he reduced the lead. It was still dominance on the visitor’s part, yet a lapse in concentration saw Llorente pull down Andone when clean through on goal, although somewhat harshly, and being sent for an early shower.

The expected onslaught on the Spanish goal followed, but the table toppers saw out the remaining ten minutes with to keep hold of first position in Group F.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Kepa (6); Navas (8), Llorente (4), Ramos (8), Alba (7); Saul (7), Busquets (8), Ruiz (7); Ceballos (7), Alcacer (7), Rodrigo (7).

Substitutes: Oyarzabal (7), Sarabia (6), Hermoso (N/A).


Star Man

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Dictating the play is his forte, while breaking up opposition attacks is his bread and butter. There weren’t many of the latter on display in Bucharest, but Sergio Busquets was at his usual best in his defensive midfield slot. 

Having made a name for himself as one of the best in the business at ?Barcelona over countless years at the top of his game, the Spaniard once more looked a class above the opposition midfield and bossed the show for Robert Moreno’s side.


Looking Ahead

La Roja continue their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a home clash against minnows Faroe Islands, as they continue their surge towards top spot in Group F.

For Romania, they will need to dust themselves down for Sunday’s clash against Malta, knowing victory will be crucial if they are serious about qualifying for next summer’s tournament.

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FIFPro Awards: Ranking the 6 Greatest World XIs

?FIFA have released their 55-man shortlist of contenders for the 2019 FIFPro World XI and, no matter who you support, you’ll be a bit disappointed.

Regardless of who is selected, there will always be players who appear to have been hard done by and supporters are invariably quick to point out glaring omissions. Still, it’s a pretty phenomenal group – good luck predicting which of the chosen 55 make it into the final lineup.


Will it be the strongest in the history of the awards? It’s doubtful. There have been some mouth-watering teams over the last 15 years.

Here, 90min ranks the six best FIFPro World XIs in history.


6. 2009

Fernando Torres,Steven Gerrard

XI: Casillas; Alves, Terry, Vidic, Evra; Xavi, Iniesta, Gerrard; Messi, Ronaldo, Torres.

Don’t laugh, Fernando Torres was unplayable a decade ago. With Steven Gerrard pinging inch-perfect balls his way, the quicksilver striker swiftly became one of the most potent forwards in the ?Premier League era.

Add a blossoming Lionel Messi and the already-ridiculously-good Cristiano Ronaldo to the attack and you know you’ll be scoring for fun, especially when Xavi and Andres Iniesta are orchestrating play from deep.

The defence looks solid as a rock. John Terry and Nemanja Vidic were tenacious, uncompromising centre-backs with a clear understanding of the game, whilst Patrice Evra was almost infallible and Dani Alves was like an auxiliary winger.

Can’t complain in the goalkeeping department either. One World Cup, two European Championships, three ?Champions Leagues and 167 caps for Spain; Iker Casillas must have been doing something right.


5. 2012

Andres Iniesta,Lionel Messi,Xavi Hernandez

XI: Casillas; Alves, Ramos, Pique, Marcelo; Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta; Messi, Ronaldo, Falcao.

We have a similar scenario three years on. There is a distinct Catalan feel once more, with six ?Barcelona stars included. And if they weren’t playing at the Nou Camp, they were at least plying their trade in ?La Liga.

The midfield metronome of Xabi Alonso kept things ticking over in the centre of the park, whilst Sergio Ramos was well on his way to becoming – and forgive me for saying this – the best centre-back on the planet.

Radamel Falcao spearheads the frontline and that would have been a terrifying prospect in 2012. In his final season with ?Atletico Madrid, the Colombian hit 34 goals in 41 appearances, though that is somehow still 57 short of Messi’s tally for the calendar year…


4. 2006

(files) - A picture taken 12 October at

XI: Buffon; Thuram, Cannavaro, Terry, Zambrotta; Pirlo, Zidane, Kaka; Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Henry.

That midfield unit oozes class and would control proceedings in any match, no matter the opposition. Three playmakers, each with different styles of play – other sides wouldn’t stand a chance.

Prime Ronaldinho was a nightmare to defend against given his unpredictability and Samuel Eto’o had a blistering turn of speed to skin would-be tacklers. Oh, and there’s also the finest finisher in Premier League history playing as a striker.

Gianluigi Buffon is an undisputed legend of the game, Fabio Cannavaro led an Italian charge to World Cup glory, Lilian Thuram is one of the most accomplished defenders of any generation and Gianluca Zambrotta had the footballing-intelligence to rise to the top.


3. 2018

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XI: de Gea; Alves, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Kante, Modric, Hazard; Messi, Ronaldo, Mbappe.

He may be putting in some diabolical displays at present, but David de Gea used to be a brick wall in goal. With a centre-back pairing like Ramos and Raphael Varane standing in front of him, you can guarantee a fair few clean sheets.

N’Golo Kante is so good at what he does that they should rename the ‘Makelele Role’ in his honour and it would have been a travesty if the Frenchman had been overlooked. His defensive nous allows the creativity to flow freely from virtuoso talents such as Eden Hazard and Luka Modric.

Hello Messi and Ronaldo, I see you’re both selected again – wonder why that is?

We will never see another duo compete for supremacy like they have.

However, we may soon witness one single man dominate the world of football. The sky is the limit for Kylian Mbappe. 93 goals in his first 162 professional club games is just ridiculous, regardless of the fact he’s in France.


2. 2005

Chelsea's Frank Lampard (L) and John Ter

XI: Dida; Cafu, Terry, Nesta, Maldini; Makelele, Zidane, Lampard; Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Shevchenko.

Cafu may well have been the greatest right-back to ever lace a pair of boots and Paolo Maldini may well have been the greatest left-back to ever lace a pair of boots. In terms of all-round ability, it’s hard to argue there have been any better in their position.

Claude Makelele is everything an attacking midfielder wants in a partner and he screens a backline that – let’s be honest – doesn’t really need the extra help. 

We know the stellar quality Eto’o and Ronaldinho provide, with Andriy Shevchenko still at his peak during this time. At ?Milan, the Ukrainian was absolutely lethal.


1. 2013

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XI: Neuer; Alves, Ramos, Silva, Lahm; Xavi, Iniesta, Ribery; Messi, Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic.

Before his form fell off a cliff, Manuel Neuer was a faultless goalkeeper, almost robotic in his on-field demeanour. ?Bayern Munich teammate Philipp Lahm was a consummate professional and a nuisance for opponents to deal with.

Die Roten’s third player in this lineup was Franck Ribery, a man who was capable of single-handedly shredding defences when in the mood. Put him in a team with Iniesta, Xavi, Messi and Ronaldo and you have a melting pot of deadly talent.

Of course, Ibrahimovic had to be in the greatest XI. After all, it is Zlatan. Whether it be gravity-defying kung fu moves or 30-yard bicycle-kicks, the Swede has a taste for the spectacular and is more than deserving of a starring role in this side. 


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Lionel Messi Free to Leave Barcelona at End of Each Season as Contract Clause Is Revealed

?Lionel Messi is allowed to choose when he leaves Barcelona thanks to a clause in his contract at the Camp Nou, meaning he could walk away before it expires in 2021.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner first joined Barcelona 19 years ago and has gone on to make 687 appearances across all competitions and is comfortably their all-time record goalscorer ahead of César Rodríguez.

Messi put pen to paper on a new four-year contract in 2017 which more than doubled his release clause to €700m, but El País claims that there’s another clause which gives the Argentine complete freedom over his future.

Lionel Messi

According to their report, Messi is free to walk away from Barcelona on his own terms at the end of any given season.

That means that while Messi has a contract with the club until 2021, he could leave Catalonia for nothing next summer, although there’s no evidence to suggest that he’ll be considering that over the course of this season.

Additionally, previous reports have also claimed that Messi has clause in his contract which will be activated in 2020 which stipulates he may leave the club for nothing ?should he choose to join a ‘non-elite club’ – meaning he could follow in the footsteps of former teammates Xavi and Andres Iniesta, who departed for Qatar and Japan respectively. 

Making his debut for Barcelona in 2004, Messi has scored 603 goals throughout his career, as well as claiming 242 assists.

He hasn’t been able to add to his tally so far this season due to injury, but Messi could still be in with a chance of overtaking club legend Xavi as the player with the most number of appearances for the Blaugrana – he’s 82 behind the Spaniard.


During Messi’s absence, new signing Antoine Griezmann has taken his time to make an impact with Barcelona, scoring two goals in three games as the club sits in eighth place in the league table.

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Champions League 2019/20: All 32 Team’s Confirmed Squads

?After one of the most absorbing Champions League campaigns of recent memory last term, the competition is finally back on our screens with all 32 sides learning what they must overcome to make it into the knockout stages.

With the groups confirmed, all that remained was for the respective clubs to reveal their squads for the six matches. 

That’s been finalised now, with each side submitting a primary 25-player squad – known as List A – to UEFA, leaving all that is left is for a ball to be kicked.

Here are the squads for each of the 32 sides in this season’s Champions League.


Group A

Paris Saint-Germain

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The most striking aspect of PSG’s squad is the inclusion of the mercurial Neymar. After the Brazilian’s failed attempts to move back to La Liga were scuppered, it appears as though all those troubles have been forgotten with Thomas Tuchel understandably including the talented forward as they look to secure a maiden Champions League crown.

Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas, Sergio Rico.

Defenders: Presnel Kimpembe, Thilo Kehrer, Marquinhos, Juan Bernat, Colin Dagba, Abdou Diallo, Layvin Kurzawa, Thomas Best, Thiago Silva.

Midfielders: Angel, Di Maria, Julian Draxler, Idrissa Gueye, Ander Herrera, Leandro Paredes, Pablo Sarabia, Marco Verratti.

Forwards: Edinson Cavani, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Mauro Icardi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar Jr.


Real Madrid

Zinedine Zidane

Much like PSG, the most notable inclusion in the Madrid squad is that of Gareth Bale, who despite failed attempts to be shipped out, will be hoping to secure his fifth Champions League title with the club and their 14th overall – the most in the competition’s history. Meanwhile, Eden Hazard will feature for his new club on the European stage for the first time.

Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola, Thibaut Courtois.

Defenders: Dani Carvajal, Eder Militão, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Nacho, Marcelo, Alvaro Odriozola, Ferland Mendy.

Midfielders: Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Casemiro, James Rodriguez, Fede Valverde, Brahim Diaz, Isco.

Forwards: Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema, Lucas Vázquez, Luka Jovic, Mariano Diaz, Vinicius, Rodrygo.


Club Brugge

SOCCER CL PLAY-OFFS CLUB BRUGGE VS LASK

The only Belgian side ever to reach a European Cup final, Club Brugge have been handed a tough group with this time around. Notably in their ranks they boast former Liverpool stopper Simon Mignolet, who is likely to start between the sticks for his new club in the tournament.

Goalkeepers: Simon Mignolet, Ethan Horvath.

Defenders: Eduard Sobol, Odilon Kossounou, Matej Mitrovic, Simon Deli, Federico Ricca, Dion Cools, Brandon Mechele, Clinton Mata.

Midfielders: Eder Balanta, Siebe Schrijvers, Thibault Vlietinck, Hans Vanaken, Ruud Vormer, Mats Rits.

Forwards: Amadou Sagna, Jelle Vossen, Mbaye Diagne, Krepin Diatta, David Okereke, Percy Tau, Emmanuel Bonaventure.


Galatasaray

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The most successful Turkish team in European competition, Galatasaray make up the final spot in Group A. Previous winners of the UEFA Cup in 2000, the club have plenty of new faces in the squad after 12 signings walked through the door during the transfer window. Boasting such an array of talent, they are certainly dark horses to reach the knockout stages.

Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera, Okan Kocuk.

Defenders: Sener Ozbayrakli, Omer Bayram, Mariano Ferreira, Christian Luyindama, Marcao, Yuto Nagatomo.

Midfielders: Jean Michael Seri, Selcuk Inan, Younes Belhanda, Ryan Babel, Ryan Donk, Sofiane Feghouli, Steven Nzonzi, Mario Lemina.

Forwards: Adem Buyuk, Radamel Falcao, Florin Andone, Emre Mor.


Group B

Bayern Munich

Niklas Suele,Lucas Hernandez,Thomas Mueller,Serge Gnabry,Robert Lewandowski

Titans of German football, the Bundesliga champions will have been fairly pleased with their group, as only Tottenham will pose any real threat to them finishing as group winners. There are places in the side for forward duo Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Perisic, while a pair of new defenders are also set to make their European bow for the club.

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer, Sven Ulriech.

Defenders: Niklas Sule, Benjamin Pavard, Jerome Boateng, Lucas Hernandez, David Alaba, Lars Lukas Mai.

Midfielders: Thiago Alcantara, Javi Martinez, Mickael Cuisance, Leon Goretzka, Alphonso Davies, Corentin Tolisso, Sarpreet Singh, Joshua Kimmich, Joshua Zirkzee, Daniel Ontuzans.

Forwards: Robert Lewandowski, Philippe Coutinho, Ivan Perisic, Jann-Fiete Arp, Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller, Kingsley Coman.


Tottenham

Harry Kane

Runners-up in the competition last season, it will be a case of trying to go one better this campaign as Mauricio Pochettino aims to defy the odds and bring European glory to north London. With him, he’s going to bring Irish teenager Troy Parrott, who is a surprise inclusion on the squad at just 17 years old.

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris, Paulo Gazzaniga.

Defenders: Danny Rose, Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Davinson Sanchez, Eric Dier, Kyle Walker-Peters, Serge Aurier, Ben Davies.

Midfielders: Harry Winks, Erik Lamela, Victor Wanyama, Moussa Sissoko, Giovani Lo Celso, Ryan Sessegnon, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Tanguy Ndombele.

Forwards: Harry Kane, Lucas Moura, Troy Parrott, Son Heung-min.


Olympiakos

FBL-EUR-C3-OLIMPIAKOS-DYNAMO-KIEV

The Greek giants have long dominated their domestic league, and after a season in the Europa League last term, they’re back for another crack of the whip. Their presence in the competition is something of a given, such has been their longevity, yet they’ll have their work cut out this time with some strong sides in Group B.

Goalkeepers: Jose Sa, Bobby Allain.

Defenders: Ruben Semedo, Omar Elabdellaoui, Yassine Meriah, Kostas Tsimikas, Avraam Papadopoulos, Vasilis Torosidis, Papa Abou Cisse, Bruno Gaspar.

Midfielders: Mohamed Camara, Andreas Bouchalakis, Yassine Benzia, Guilherme, Daniel Podence, Giorgos Masouras, Maximiliano Alberto Lovera, Mathieu Valbuena, Lazar Randjelovic.

Forwards: Miguel Angel Guerrero, Youssef El Arabi.


Red Star Belgrade

FBL-EUR-C1-REDSTAR-CROATIA-CRIME

While few names in the Serbian side’s squad will ring any bells, the club’s name certainly should, as the famous club boast a European Cup medal to their name. Only going back as far as 1991, the Star secured their name in the competition’s history books as they beat Marseille on penalties, as well as seeing off Bayern in the semi finals.

Goalkeepers: Zoran Popovic, Aleksandar Stankovic, Milan Borjan.

Defenders: Milos Degenek, Radovan Pankov, Srdjan Babic, Jander, Nemanja Milunovic, Milan Rodic, Marko Gobeljic.

Midfielders: Milos Vulic, Mirko Ivanic, Marko Marin, Mateo Garcia, Njegos Petrovic, Velkjo Simic, Dusan Jovancic, Jose Canas, Rajiv van la Parra.

Forwards: Milan Pavkov, Richmond Boakye, Tomane, Aleksa Vukanovic.


Group C

Manchester City

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-BRIGHTON

The only blotch on an otherwise faultless CV for Pep Guardiola is Champions League success with the Citizens. Having won all their is, he and his players will be desperate to launch a meaningful assault on the competition this season, as they bid for first-ever title. As Kevin De Bruyne is now back fit, their squad looks more than capable of rustling feathers this season.

Goalkeepers: Ederson, Claudio Bravo, Scott Carson.

Defenders: Kyle Walker, John Stones, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Angelino, Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy, Joao Cancelo, Nicolas Otamendi.

Midfielders: Raheem Sterling, Ilkay Gundogan, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva, David Silva, Fernandinho, Riyad Mahrez.

Forwards: Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero.

Note: Phil Foden features on the ‘List B’ due to his age and is in the full squad.


Shakhtar Donetsk?

FBL-EUR-C3-FRANKFURT-SHAKHTAR

Another side who have become a regular fixture in the Champions League, the Ukrainian outfit are familiar foes to City, having been placed in a group with them for the third season running. The? Miners were UEFA Cup winners ten years ago – and have won eight of the last ten domestic league campaigns – but the club are always pumped up for their mouthwatering clashes among Europe’s elite, boasting a few flair players in their side.

Goalkeepers: Oleksii Shevchenko, Andriy Pyatov.

Defenders: Bogdan Butko, Sergii Kryvtsov, Davit Khocholava, Mykola Matviyenko, Ismaily, Eduardo, Dodo.

Midfielders: Taras Stepanenko, Taison, Marcos Antonio, Dentinho, Marlos, Tete, Yevhen Konoplyanka, Manor Solomon, Viktor Kovalenko, Alan Patrick, Marquinhos Cipriano, Andrii Totovytskyi, Serhi Bolbat.

Forwards: Junior Moraes, Andriy Boryachuk, Danylo Sikan.


GNK Dinamo Zagreb

FBL-EUR-C3-ANDERLECHT-DINAMO

As the biggest club in Croatia, Dinamo Zagreb have had their fair few attempts at Champions League success, often at the top of the pile in their domestic league. With them this season is Spanish sensation Dani Olmo, who shone at the Under-21 European Championships, so that added flair in attack may boost their chances of making out of Group C.

Goalkeepers: Danijel Zagorac, Dominik Livakovic.

Defenders: Ivo Pinto, Jacques Francois Moubandje, Marin Leovac, Kevin Theophile-Catherine, Petar Stojanovic, Marko Leskovic, Joska Gvardoil, Dino Peric, Emir Dilaver.

Midfielders: Arjan Ademi, Lovro Majer, Amer Gojak, Luka Ivanusec.


?Forwards:
Dani Olmo, Izet Hajrovic, Komnen Andric, Mario Gavranovic, Mario Situm, Iyayi Atiemwen, Bruno Petkovic, Robert Miskovic, Sandro Kulenovic, Damian Kadzior, Mislav Orsic.


Atalanta

Duvan Zapata

The Serie A side defied the odds to reach their first ever Champions League group stage after a fourth-place finish in the league last season. Much of their fine efforts came courtesy of striker Duvan Zapata, who notched no less than 23 goals and seven assists in their historic campaign.

Goalkeepers: Francesco Rossi, Marco Sportiello, Pierluigi Gollini.

Defenders: Rafael Toloi, Simon Kjaer, Andrea Masiello, Jose Luis Palomino, Robin Gosens, Guilherme Arana, Berat Xhimshiti, Timothy Castagne, Hans Hateboer, Roger Ibanez.

Midfielders: Remo Freuler, Marten De Roon, Ruslan Malinovskyi, Josip Ilicic, Mario Pasalic.

Forwards: Luis Muriel, Alejandro Gomez, Duvan Zapata.


Group D

Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo,Gonzalo Higuain

Under the new guidance of Maurizio Sarri, the Bianconeri will be looking to add to their two Champions League successes having been instilled as one of the tournament favourites prior to group stage announcement. They will do so, however, without Emre Can and Mario Mandzukic, who were left out of the squad

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon, Wojciech Szcz?sny, Carlo Pinsoglio.

Defenders: Mattia De Sciglio, Matthijs De Ligt, Alex Sandro, Danilo, Leonardo Bonucci, Daniele Rugani, Marih Demiral.

Midfielders: Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira, Aaron Ramsey, Blaise Matuidi, Juan Cuadrado, Adrien Rabiot, Radrigo Bentancur, Federico Bernardeschi.

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Douglas Costa, Gonzalo Higuain.


Atletico Madrid

Joao Felix,Koke

After suffering heartbreak in three European Cup and Champions League finals, a new-look Rojiblancos side are another outfit who will feel they have a chance of reaching the latter stages and beyond this season. Plenty of faces have both left the club this summer as well as joined, with Diego Simeone’s latest crop of stars set to be one of the sides to look out for this tournament.

Goalkeepers: Jan Oblak, Antonio Adán.

Defenders: Jose Giménez, Santiago Arias, Renan Lodi, Stefan Savic, Felipe, Mario Hermoso, Kieran Trippier, Sime Vrsaljko.

Midfielders: Thomas, Koke, Saúl Niguez, Thomas Lemar, Marcos Llorente, Vitolo, Manuel Sánchez de la Peña, Hector Herrera.

Forwards: João Félix, Alvaro Morata, Angel Correa, Ivan Saponjic, Diego Costa, Sergio Camello.


Bayer Leverkusen

Kai Havertz,Lars Bender,Sven Bender

A fourth-place finish in last season’s Bundesliga earned the German side their first taste of Champions League football after two years away from the competition. Once a dominant force among Europe’s elite, Leverkusen finished runners-up in the 2002, falling victim to Zinedine Zidane’s wonder goal in Glasgow. 

Goalkeepers: Lukas Hradecky, Ramazan Ozcan, Niklas Lomb.

Defenders: Panagiotis Retsos, Jonathan Tah, Sven Bender, Aleksandar Dragovic, Wendell, Mitchell Weiser.

Midfielders: Paulinho, Lars Bender, Kerem Demirbay, Nadiem Amiri, Julian Baumgartlinger, Charles Aranguiz, Daley Sinkgraven, Kai Havertz, Adrian Stanilewicz, Karim Bellarabi.

Forwards: Leon Bailey, Lucas Alario, Joel Pohjanpalo, Moussa Diaby, Kevin Volland.


Lokomotiv Moscow

Anton Miranchuk,Vladislav Ignatyev,Luka Djordjevic

With plenty of other Russian heavyweights often beating Lokomotiv to the punch, the Moscow-based club have been starved of Champions League football for 13 years. Since last featuring in the 2005/06 season the club have been mostly lurking in the Europa League, however, as runners-up in their domestic division last season, they sealed their return to the continent’s elite club competition.

Goalkeepers: Guilherme, Nikita Medvedev, Anton Kochenkov.

Defenders: Dmitiri Zhivoglyadov, Bryan Idowu, Benedikt Howedes, Vedran Corluka, Vladislav Ignatyev, Murilo Cerquiera, Boris Rotenberg, Maciej Rybus, Solomon Kverkvelia.

Midfielders: Dmitri Barinov, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Anton Miranchuk, Rifat Zhemaletdinov, Aleksandr Kolomeytsev, Joao Mario, Aleksei Miranchuk.

Forwards: Fedor Smelov, Eder, Luka Djordjevic.


Group E

Liverpool

Mohamed Salah

There is simply only one thing that can top winning the Champions League: retaining it. After producing one of the competition’s greatest-ever comebacks in the semi finals, the Reds went one better and lifted the trophy with victory over Premier League rivals Tottenham to banish painful memories of the season before. Among the favourites to repeat their stunning feat, Jurgen Klopp’s exciting side looks mostly identical for the coming campaign.

Goalkeepers: Alisson, Adrian, Andy Lonergan.

Defenders: Virgil van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Andy Robertson, Joel Matip, Sepp van den Berg.

Midfielders: Fabinho, Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Xherdan Shaqiri, Jordan Henderson.

Forwards: Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, Divock Origi, Harvey Elliott.

Note: Trent Alexander-Arnold does not feature as he is part is Liverpool’s ‘List B’ squad


Napoli

Giovanni Di Lorenzo,Hirving Lozano

No strangers to facing Liverpool, the Serie A club faced off with the Anfield outfit in last season’s group stages winning one and losing one of their two encounters. Under the guile of Carlo Ancelotti, the Partenopei will be looking to escape the group stages after dropping into the Europa League last season, where they were beaten by Arsenal in the quarter finals.

Goalkeepers: Alex Meret, David Ospina, Orestis Karnezis.

Defenders: Kevin Malcuit, Mario Rui, Sebastiano Luperto, Nikola Maksimovic, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Mario Rui, Elseid Hysaj, Kalidou Koulibaly, Faouzi Ghoulam, Kostas Manolas.

Midfielders: Allan, Fabian Ruiz, Eljif Elmas, Piotr Zielinski.

Forwards: Jose Callejon, Fernando Llorente, Hirving Lozano, Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne, Amin Younes, Arkadiusz Milik.


Red Bull Salzburg

RB Salzburg v FC Chelsea - Pre-Season Friendly

Austrian champions Salzburg are in the Champions League proper for the first time since being reformed as their current name. With a squad hardly brimming with big names, the club will be aiming to spring a few surprises, although they’ll have their work cut out for them. 

Goalkeepers: Cican Stankovic, Phillip Kohn, Carlos Miguel.

Defenders: Alexander Walke, Albert Vallci, Jerome Onguene, Andre Ramalho, Andreas Ulmas, Patrick Farkas, Marin Pongracic, Maximilian Wober, Rasmus Kristensen.

Midfielders: Majeed Ashimeru, Zlatko Junuzovic, Takumi Minamino, Antoine Bernede, Masaya Okugawa.

Forwards: Sekou Koita, Hee-Chan Hwang, Smail, Prevljak, Erling Braut Haland.


Genk

FBL-BEL-PROLEAGUE-BRUGGE-GENK

Flying the flag for Belgium in this season’s competition alongside Club Brugge, the Belgian Pro League side are most certainly favourites to finish bottom of this group with some formidable opponents standing in their way. 

Goalkeepers: Maarten Vandevoordrt, Gaetan Coucke.

Defenders: Dries Wouters, Neto Borges, Sebastien Dewaest, Jere Uronen, Joakim Maehle, Jhon Lucumi, Carlos Cuesta, Vladimir Screciu.

Midfielders: Casper De Norre, Junya Ito, Bryan Heynen, Patrick Hrosovsky, Jakub Piotrowski, Ianis Hagi, Theo Bongonda, Dieumerci Ndongala.

Forwards: Ally Mbwana Samatta, Joseph Paintsil, Benjamin Nygren, Stephen Odey, Paul Onuachu,


Group F

Barcelona

Lionel Messi

Their defeat to Liverpool in last season’s semi finals will go down as one of the worst results in the club’s European history, having led the first leg 3-0 only to succumb to a 4-0 hammering at Anfield to leave their Champions League dreams in tatters. With five crowns already under their belt, a sixth could definitely be on the cards with their improved squad this season.

Goalkeepers: Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Neto.

Defenders: Nelson Semedo, Gerard Piqué, Jean-Clair Todibo, Clement Lenglet, Moussa Wagué, Jordi Alba, Samuel Umtiti, Junior Firpo, Ronald Araújo.

Midfielders: Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Arthur, Carles Aleñá, Sergi Roberto, Frenkie De Jong, Arturo Vidal.

Forwards: Luis Suárez, Lionel Messi, Ousmane Dembélé, Antoine Griezmann, Hiroki Abe.


Borussia Dortmund

Jadon Malik Sancho

After narrowly missing out on the Bundesliga title last season, it will be revenge on two fronts for Die Borussen who also came up short in the Champions League after being eliminated from the round of 16 following a crushing 4-0 aggregate loss to Spurs. With Jadon Sancho firing on all cylinders once again though, they’ll back themselves to make to further this year.

Goalkeepers: Roman Bürki, Marwin Hitz, Eric Oelschlägel.

Defenders: Manuel Akanji, Leonardo Balerdi, Achraf Hakimi, Raphael Guerreiro, Mats Hummels, Mateu Morey, Lukasz Piszczek, Marcel Schmelzer, Nico Schulz, Julian Weigl, Dan-Axel Zagadou.

Midfielders: Julian Brandt, Jacob Bruun Larsen, Mahmoud Dahoud, Thomas Delaney, Mario Götze, Thorgan Hazard, Marco Reus, Gio Reyna, Axel Witsel.

Forwards: Paco Alcacer.

Note: Jadon Sancho features on Dortmund’s ‘List B’ due to his age and is part of their full squad.


Inter

Romelu Lukaku

Like many sides in the competition this season, Inter head into the Champions League with a new-look side after a summer of spending, while Antonio Conte has returned to his homeland to take the reins at the Nerazzurri. Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez will be looking to get off the mark in Europe for their new club, filling the boots of the now-departed Mauro Icardi.

Goalkeepers: Samir Handanovic, Daniele Padelli.

Defenders: Diego Godin, Stefan De Vrij, Andrea Ranocchia, Kwadwo Asamoah, Federico Dimarco, Danilo D’Ambrosio, Cristiano Biraghi, Milan Skriniar, Andrea Bastoni.

Midfielders: Roberto Gagliardini, Matias Vecino, Stefano Sensi, Valentino Lazaro, Borja Valero, Nicolo Barella, Marcelo Brozovic, Antonio Candreva.

Forwards: Alexis Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Lautaro Martinez, Matteo Politano.


Slavia Prague

FBL-EUR-C1-DRAW

The Czech club’s chances of making it out of their group were summed up perfectly by the reaction of club officials as their name was drawn from the hat. In a group resembling that of a ‘group of death’, it will be an almighty task. At this stage, single points are about as precious as three.

Goalkeepers: Ondrej Kolar, Premysl Kovar.

Defenders: David Hovorka, Tomas Holes, Vladimir Coufal, Jaroslav Zeleny, Ondrej Kudela, Jan Boril, Ladislav Takacs, Michal Frydrych.

Midfielders: Nicolae Stanciu, Josef Husbauer, Lukas Provod, Tomas Soucek, Petr Sevcik, Ibrahim-Benjamin Traore, Lukas Masopust.

Forwards: Peter Olayinka, Stanislav Tecl, Mick van Buren, Milan Skoda, Abdulla Yusuf Helal.


Group G

Zenit St Petersburg

Artem Dzyuba,Yaroslav Rakitskiy

Russia’s strongest side were rewarded with a place in Pot 1 this season, and will feel they stand a chance of progressing from what is an interesting group they find themselves in. Adding to their strike force in the shape of Malcom, they could pose a few sides problems this season.

Goalkeepers: Mikhail Kerzhakov, Aleksandr Vasyutin, Andrei Lunev.

Defenders: Douglas Santos, Yordan Osorio, Branislav Ivanovic, Vyacheslav Karavaev, Igor Smolnikov, Emanuel Mammana, Yaroslav Rakitskyy.

Midfielders: Wilmer Barrios, Daler Kuzyaev, Oleg Shatov, Yuri Zhirkov, Robert Mak, Aleksandr Erokhin, Magomed Ozdoev, Matias Kranevitter, Aleksei Sutormin.

Forwards: Sardar Azmoun, Malcom, Sebastian Driussi, Artem Dzyuba.


Benfica

FBL-POR-LIGA-BELENENSES-BENFICA

Winners of the European Cup twice, it has been many years since the Lisbon-based club tasted such success on the continent. They do perform will in their domestic league, however, winning the title last season for a record 37th time. Other sides will need to be wary of the Portuguese side, despite losing their star man Joao Felix in the summer.

Goalkeepers: Ivan Zlobin, Odisseas Vlachodimos.

Defenders: German Conti, Alex Grimaldo, Ruben Dias, Tyronne Efe Ebuehi, Jardel, Andre Almeida, Ferro.

Midfielders: Ljubomir Fejsa, Gabriel, Chiquinho, Pizzi, Andreas Samaris, Adel Taarabt, Florentino, Gedson Fernandes.

Forwards: Caio, Raul De Tomas, Franco Cervi, Haris Seferovic, Andrija Zivkovic, Rafa, Carlos Alves Morais.


Lyon

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-LYON-BORDEAUX

The French side have never gone beyond the semi final stage of the Champions League, losing on that occasion to Bayern Munich in 2009. With a really interesting group awaiting them, they, along with the other sides, will believe there’s every chance of progressing to the last 16 in a difficult to call group.

Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes, Ciprian Tatarusanu, Kayne Bonnevie.

Defenders: Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Joachim Andersen, Rafael, Jason Denayor, Marcelo, Leo Dubois, Fernando Marcal, Kenny Tete, Oumar Solet. Youssouf Kone.

Midfielders: Martin Terrier, Houssem Aouar,  Thiago Mendes, Jeff Rene-Adelaide, Jean Lucas, Maxence Caquret, Lucas Tousart.

Forwards: Moussa Dembele, Bertrand Traore, Memphis Depay, Maxwel Cornet, Fofana Boubacar.


RB Leipzig

Timo Werner

With star striker Timo Werner signing a new deal at the club in the summer, the future looks bright for Germany’s new kids on the block. With an excellent stadium, superb fanbase and exciting young talent, it adds to what is already a dramatic group with further debate being sparked over who will clinch those top two spots.

Goalkeepers: Peter Gulacsi, Yvon Mvogo.

Defenders: Marcelo Saracchi, Willi Orban, Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate,  Lukas Klostermann, Nordi Mukiele, Marcel Halstenberg, Ethan Ampadu, Frederick Jakel.

Midfielders: Amadou Haidara, Tyler Adams, Ademola Lookman, Christopher Nkunku, Hannes Wolf, Konrad Laimer, Diego Demme, Kevin Kampl, Tom Krauss.

Forwards: Marcel Sabitzer, Yussuf Poulsen, Emil Forsberg, Timo Werner, Matheus Cunha, Patrik Schick, Fabrice Hartmann.


Group H

Chelsea

FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-SHEFFIELD UTD

Having won the Europa League last season, the Blues were granted top seed for the group stage draw, and will be fairly content with the way it turned out for them. They are by no means a shoo-in to qualify, but the level of quality in their group is fairly equal and will make for great vieiwing with Frank Lampard’s young side.

Goalkeepers: Kepa, Willy Caballero.

Defenders: Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso, Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma, Cesar Azpilicueta, Fikyaro Tomori, Emerson.

Midfielders: Jorginho, N’Golo Kante, Ross Barkley, Willian, Mateo Kovacic, Christian Pulisic.

Forwards: Tammy Abraham, Pedro Rodriguez, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Olivier Giroud, Michy Batshuayi.

Note: Reece James, Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi feature on Chelsea’s ‘List B’ due to their age and feature in the squad.


Ajax

FBL-EUR-C1-AJAX-APOEL

Such was the immense brand of football that Ajax played last year that they lost their two best players to major sides. A cruel semi final defeat in the Champions League to Tottenham didn’t dampen their spirits though, as they secured the Dutch league title as well as the Dutch Cup. Chelsea will need to watch out.

Goalkeepers: Bruno Varela, Andre Onana, Kjell Scherpen.

Defenders: Perr Schuurs, Joel Veltman. Kik Pierie. Noussair Mazraoui, Daley Blind, Lisandro Martinez, Nicolas Tagliafico.

Midfielders: Edson Alvarez, Donny van de Beek, Siem de Jong, Razvan Marin, Zakaria Labyad, Hakim Ziyech, Alex Mendez.

Forwards: David Neres, Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Dusan Tadic, Quincy Promes, Lassina Traore, Hassane Bande.


Valencia

Kevin Gameiro

It was some battle to secure Champions League football in Spain last season?, with a whole host of La Liga sides going toe-to-toe to secure a place among Europe’s elite. Valencia deservedly won that race, and their rewards are some interesting match-ups in Group H with their new faces set for action on the big stage.

Goalkeepers: Jaume Domenech, Jasper Cillessen.

Defenders: Thierry Correia,Jaume Costa, Eliaquim Mangala, Gabriel, Mouctar Diakhaby, Jose Gaya, Ezequiel Garay.

Midfielders: Geoffrey Kondogbia, Goncalo Guedes, Carlos Soler, Dani Parejo, Denis Cheryshev, Manu Vellejo,  Kangin Lee, Francis Coquelin, Daniel Wass, Ferran Torres, Koba Koindredi, Yunus Musah.

Forwards: Kevin Gameiro,  Rodrigo, Maxi Gomez, Ruben Sobrino.


LOSC Lille

FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-LILLE-SAINT ETIENNE

The French side were the only club who could contend with the power of PSG in Ligue 1, finishing runners-up to the Parisian giants with their own superb season. Top scorer Nicolas Pepe has been sold, damaging the squad’s quality, but they could still cause an upset or two in this exciting group.

Goalkeepers: Leo Cesar, Mike Maignan.

Defenders: Tiago Djalo, Gabriel, Adama Soumaoro, Jose Fonte, Zeki Celik, Jeremy Pied, Reinildo Mandavam Domagoj Bradaric.

Midfielders: Xeka, Jonathan Ikone, Luiz Araujo, Yusuf Yazici, Renato Sanches, Thiago Maia, Benjamin Andre, Ben Qadir Abou Ouattara.

Forwards: Victor Osimhen, Loic Remy, Jonathan Bamba, Timothy Weah.


Let’

Luis Suarez Admits to ‘Weeks’ of Pain Following Liverpool Defeat in Champions League Semi Final

?Luis Suarez has admitted Barcelona’s historic defeat to Liverpool in the Champions League last season hurt for ‘weeks’, with the 32-year-old enduring a torrid time in the aftermath of the match against his former club.

Leading 3-0 from the first leg of their semi final tie, progression to the final looked all-but assured until a stunning 4-0 humbling at Anfield left the eventual winners with one of the most dramatic comeback victories in the competition’s history.

Speaking to Fox Sports in Argentina, ?Suarez confessed the defeat was bitterly disappointing to him and his ?Blaugrana teammates, with the simple matter of leaving his house even becoming a difficult task as the subsequent scars took their time to heal.


“It was days, weeks, that we who loved to take the kids to school, football, activities, we suffered …I did not want to leave from home after losing,” he said, as relayed by the ?Mirror.

“It was very complicated. I really had a bad time, like most of my team-mates. We had already learned the previous year that we could have such a 3-0 result in our favour, but football has that.”

The former ?Liverpool striker then revealed how he had warned his fellow Barca stars of the task they were about to face, fully aware of the atmosphere the ?Premier League side can create at such a historic stadium, and breaking his silence about the pain he ‘suffered’ in the ensuing aftermath.

“We knew how Anfield was going to be and how tight the stadium was, I told the teammates and everything,” he added. “It is not necessary to take away merits from Liverpool , which pushed the fans. In five minutes they had two situations, at 15 minutes they already won and that enters you, it generates a nervousness.

Luis Suarez

“Then you see that a teammate loses the ball, another loses two more balls, and that leads you to an awkward situation until in the second half it goes out as it came out. The Champions League has that, if you go out 30 seconds relaxed, they pass you by. At the group, institutional level and as a human being this kind of defeat is suffered.”

Let’

Barcelona: Recent Transfer Windows Prove Recruitment Strategy Is Failing in Catalonia

?Barcelona have sold more than two-thirds of their signings over the last four transfer windows, with over €400m of new players no longer part of the squad in Catalonia.

Excluding the most recent transfer window, Barcelona have signed 22 players since the end of the 2014/15 season, splashing €679.35m on new signings.

But as journalist Eduardo Fdez-Abascal points out on social media, only seven (Jean-Clair Todibo not included in tweet) signings from the last four years are still at the club, highlighting that the club have perhaps been reckless in the market since 2015.

Out of their signings, only Samuel Umtiti (€25m), Nélson Semedo (€35.7m), Ousmane Dembélé (€125m), Arturo Vidal (€18m), Arthur (€31m), Jean-Clair Todibo (€1m) and Clément Lenglet (€35.9m) are still part of Ernesto Valverde’s first-team squad.

Big money arrivals like Philippe Coutinho, Malcom, Andre Gomes and Arda Turan all failed to live up to expectations at Camp Nou and have since been moved on, as well as a dozen other stars who struggled to establish themselves at Barça.

Although Barcelona have been able to make a profit from the majority of the signings who are no longer at the club, it’s their inability to find players who freshen up the squad each season which could be a cause for concern.

The make up of Barça’s first-team is still largely the same as what it has been for a number of years and that’s a large reason why many have tipped them to miss out on winning the title this season.


They’ve picked up just four points from the opening three games so far this season, while Real Madrid’s stumbling form has helped cement Atlético Madrid’s place among the favourites for La Liga.

Let’