Euro round-up: Barca keep up pressure on Atletico

Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi fired Barcelona to a confidence-boosting 2-0 win at in-form Sevilla on Saturday to keep the pressure on La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Dembele latched on to a through ball from Messi and knocked it through the legs of Sevilla keeper Bono to give Barca a deserved lead in the 29th minute after dominating the first half and barely giving their hosts a hint of a chance.

Sevilla improved after the break but Barca continued to have the edge and found a second goal five minutes from time when Messi played a one-two with teenage midfielder Ilaix Moriba and netted with a scrappy finish after his first effort was saved.

The result ended a six-game winning streak in the league for Sevilla, who remained fourth in the standings on 48 points, while Barca climbed above Real Madrid into second place with 53 points, two behind Atletico but having played two more games.

Sevilla can avenge the defeat on Wednesday when they head to the Camp Nou for a Copa del Rey semi-final second leg with a 2-0 lead in the tie.

Bundesliga: Bayern back to winning ways

Maxim Choupo-Moting scored his first league goal of the season
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Maxim Choupo-Moting scored his first league goal of the season

Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry both struck twice as Bayern Munich crushed Cologne 5-1 to earn their first win in three league games and go five points clear at the top.

Apart from Lewandowski and Gnabry, Bayern were also indebted to Leon Goretzka who delivered another silky performance with three assists.

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting opened the champions’ account with his first league goal this season, heading in Goretzka’s cross at the far post in the 18th minute.

Lewandowski struck 15 minutes later, combining with Goretzka after a bad pass back from Cologne and the Pole made it 28 league goals from an assist by Thomas Muller, seconds after the midfielder came on in the 65th minute following a coronavirus infection.

Muller is the league’s top provider with 11 assists while Lewandowski is looking to break Gerd Muller’s record of 40 league goals in one season dating back to the 1971-72 campaign.

Substitute Gnabry completed the rout with two late goals in four minutes.

RB Leipzig’s Alexander Sorloth headed in a stoppage-time winner as they battled back from two goals down to beat visitors Borussia Monchengladbach 3-2 and stay two points behind leaders Bayern Munich.

Sorloth headed in at the far post to complete a second-half comeback deep in stoppage time.

Gladbach had stunned Leipzig with two goals in the opening 19 minutes, one from in-form Jonas Hofmann after six minutes and the second a flick off Marcus Thuram’s shoulder.

The hosts, who were lucky not to concede a third goal before the break, shot out of the blocks in the second half and overran their opponents, scoring twice in nine minutes to level.

Christopher Nkunku tapped in a cutback in the 57th and Yussuf Poulsen then thundered in a shot that went in off the post to equalise in the 66th.

Substitute Emil Forsberg’s 76th-minute free-kick forced a sensational save out of Gladbach keeper Yann Sommer, who tipped it onto the crossbar as the visitors thought they had done enough for a draw.

But Sorloth beat his marker to head in the late winner and put Leipzig on 50 points, one place behind Bayern.

Schalke sporting director Jochen Schneider had to deny reports of mutiny within the squad before his struggling team lost 5-1 to Stuttgart.

Kicker and other media outlets reported several players asked for Christian Gross, already Schalke’s fourth coach of the season, to be replaced.

The team’s performance seemed to confirm the reports – Japan midfielder Wataru Endo was left completely free to score his first two goals in the league, before more lacklustre defending allowed Saa Kalajdic to score in the 34th minute.

Sead Kolainac answered for Schalke just before half-time, but substitute Nabil Bentaleb saw his weak penalty saved and Endo set up Philipp Klement for Stuttgart’s fourth late on. Daniel Didavi completed the rout in injury time.

Borussia Dortmund beat Arminia Bielefeld 3-0 with Jadon Sancho on target from the spot, while Hertha Berlin’s winless streak stretched to nine games after losing 2-0 at Wolfsburg.

Dortmund cut the gap on fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt to three points with their victory.

Bielefeld’s defeat was good news for Hertha, who lost despite a good performance in Wolfsburg. Only goal difference is keeping Hertha above Bielefeld in the relegation zone.

Let’

Messi nets twice in win over Elche

Lionel Messi scored twice in the second half as Barcelona moved back up into third place in La Liga by defeating Elche 3-0.

Jordi Alba also scored after the break to help Barcelona move within two points of second-place Real Madrid and five behind leaders Atletico Madrid, who still have a game in hand.

Barcelona were coming off two consecutive setbacks at home a 4-1 loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League and a 1-1 draw against Cadiz in the Spanish league.

Messi reached 18 league goals with his double, moving two ahead of Atletico Madrid’s Luis Suarez.

He opened the scoring at the Camp Nou Stadium with a shot from inside the area after a give-and-go exchange of passes with Martin Braithwaite, then added to the lead after picking up a pass from Frenkie de Jong and fending off a few defenders before finding the net.

Alba closed the scoring in the 73rd after being set up by Braithwaite and Messi.

Barcelona’s next two matches are against Sevilla, a league meeting on Saturday followed by the second leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final on March 3.

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Does Messi to Man City make sense?

Talk of Lionel Messi’s future will ramp up in the coming months as he approaches the end of his Barcelona contract, but does a move to Man City make sense? The Pitch to Post Review show panel discuss.

Spokespeople for both Man City and Messi have confirmed to Sky Sports News no offers have been made by City to the player, neither last summer nor since, contrary to reports in a British newspaper on Friday a £430m contract offer was to be made.

Messi’s spokesperson has also reiterated the Argentina forward will choose whether to leave or stay at the end of the season, having announced his intention to do so in an interview in December.

Messi has resettled at the Nou Camp this season since demanding to be released from his contract last summer, when Pep Guardiola and City were considered the frontrunners to sign him.

Having entered into the last six months of his current deal, Messi is keen to find out the result of next month’s presidential election and what the winner will offer to him both in financial and sporting incentives, before making a call on the next step in his career.

Jasper Taylor was joined by skysports.com’s Ben Grounds and Nick Wright to discuss whether the move makes sense, or whether the money could be better spent elsewhere…

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Messi can prolong career like the best

Lionel Messi shows his frustration after Cadiz's late penalty
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Messi is keen to find out the result of next month’s presidential election and what the winner will offer to him both in financial and sporting incentives

Sky Sports’ Nick Wright on the Pitch to Post Review:

“There are many things to consider and I think the first is that Lionel Messi remains the best player in the world at 33, there is little or no evidence that he is on the decline. Elite players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are prolonging their careers at the moment, and Messi has everything around him to keep going. He has everything in his power to sustain his output for a long time.

“Another thing to remember is that Manchester City’s owners have near-limitless wealth, so they are capable of doing this deal. Is it good business? I would hate to be the guy arguing against signing Lionel Messi because he would make them better, of course he would.

“There is also the status-factor, which would be appealing to the owners. They already have the best manager in the world, so having the best player in the world I am sure is something they would be keen on.

Lionel Messi
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Messi is currently in the final months of his Barcelona contract

“Messi played some of his best football for Barcelona under Guardiola, they have a pre-existing relationship and an understanding, and I am sure he will have a good idea of how he would intend to use him.

“I think all the ingredients are there for it to make sense: obviously the financials are eye-watering. It is an enormous amount of money. But this is Messi we are talking about. I hope it happens, because it would just be incredible to see him in the Premier League.

“The owners want to turn City into the biggest club in the world, to win Champions Leagues and make it the most marketable club in the world. Signing the best player in the world, as well as having Guardiola as manager, that’s exactly the sort of thing they are aiming for. If they can find a way to finance the deal, let’s do it, let’s go for it. I hope it happens.”

To hear more, download the Sky Sports Pitch to Post Review podcast on your provider

Haaland or Mbappe a better use of money?

17 February 2021, Spain, Sevilla: Football: Champions League, knockout round, round of 16, first leg Sevilla FC - Borussia Dortmund at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. Erling Haaland of Dortmund celebrates after scoring the goal to make it 1:3. Photo by: Daniel Gonzalez Acuna/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)
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Would City be better off chasing a deal for either Erling Haaland (pictured) or Kylian Mbappe?

Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds on the Pitch to Post Review:

“You have got this Manchester City juggernaut that has clicked back into gear since late November. There was talk even last season about whether that was it for Pep – could he rebuild City again?

“We have seen how Phil Foden has kicked on, and they signed Ferran Torres – and their signings are pointing more towards long-term thinking. This Messi deal would be a little bit different, but it’s an opportunity. He’s coming to the end of his Barcelona contract, has that relationship with Pep Guardiola.

“Even if he is turning 34 in June, this is Lionel Messi. He’s different. He will be at the top of his game for at least a couple years to come.

“Yes, it is a bit of a vanity project, but the owners have always wanted that marquee signing to back up their credibility. That’s what it would be.

“But there are two other key players out there I think would be a better use of their money – Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe. I would rather see City go for them.

“Would Messi help Foden? I would be keen to see whether it disrupts him or improves him. If he did come in, I would be intrigued to see where he fits in. Does he play down the middle as a replacement for Sergio Aguero? What impact will that have on Gabriel Jesus?

“You do also wonder whether the intensity levels, the energy we see in the Premier League, will have an impact. That’s what all players say when they move from Spain to England – that the physicality and intensity is higher.”

To hear more, download the Sky Sports Pitch to Post Review podcast on your provider

Where could Messi fit in? Everywhere!

Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi enjoyed huge success together
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Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi enjoyed huge success together at Barcelona

Sky Sports’ Nick Wright on the Pitch to Post Review:

“It would be dangerous to second-guess Pep Guardiola’s thinking, anyone with a Fantasy Football team can testify. Against Arsenal they were so fluid in the final third, with two or three players popping up in different positions, particularly in that false nine position at different times.

“I think Guardiola would see Messi as someone who gives him options; he used him famously as a false nine at Barcelona, he could use him from the flanks, he could play as a No 10, and could even play even deeper than that. He is still scoring at an extraordinary rate, but he has got more and more creative in recent years, with 21 assists in La Liga last season. Messi has had to drop further back as Barcelona’s midfield becomes less influential.

“Pep could basically do what he likes with him – there are so many areas he could play and fit in. It’s just a thrilling prospect.

“There is a question mark as to whether Messi would contribute defensively, if he is walking around the pitch, but he tends to be conserving energy and walking around when his team are in possession rather than out of it. I think he is more than capable of getting involved in the defensive side of the game.

“I think there are a lot of reasons this makes sense to City and Guardiola in a playing sense.”

To hear more, download the Sky Sports Pitch to Post Review podcast on your provider

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Cadiz end Barca winning streak, Bayern’s lead cut

Lionel Messi marked his record 506th appearance for Barcelona in La Liga by scoring a penalty but the Catalans could only draw 1-1 with Cadiz on Saturday after conceding a spot-kick late on.

The Argentine overtook former team-mate, Xavi Hernandez, in the all-time list of Barca appearances in the league and opened the scoring in the 32nd minute by calmly passing the ball into the bottom corner from the spot after Pedri had been tripped by Cadiz’s Iza.

Fielding the same starting 11 that had been thrashed 4-1 at home to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday, a rusty looking Barca failed to build on their lead and paid the price when Clement Lenglet gave away a penalty for striking Cadiz forward Ruben Sobrino as he tried to clear the ball.

Cadiz’s Alex Fernandez made no mistake from the spot in the 89th minute to disrupt Barca’s run of seven straight league wins as the Catalans failed to take advantage of La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid’s surprise 2-0 defeat by Levante a day earlier.

Barca are third in the standings on 47 points, trailing leaders Atletico by eight points and second-placed Real Madrid by five points.

Cadiz are 14th on 25 points.

Koeman: Draw more diappointing then CL defeat

Lionel Messi scored but Barcelona were pegged back to draw 1-1
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Messi scored but Barcelona were pegged back to draw 1-1

Ronald Koeman called the draw with Cadiz more disappointing than Tuesday’s heavy Champions League defeat to Paris St Germain as Barcelona’s frustrations continued.

“It is disappointing,” Koeman said in comments reported by Marca. “These types of games have to be won and we did not. It was a great opportunity lost after the loss of Atletico. I am very disappointed, more so than on Tuesday.

“We could not afford to let two points get away. I don’t like to blame individual players but we were not up to the task offensively and we have to defend differently. For our quality, we had to win.”

The draw leaves Barca continuing to trail both Madrid clubs but Koeman said there was still time for them to turn things around.

“We can still do something,” he said. “There is no team that wins games easily. But we must recognise that opportunities like this cannot be missed anymore. I don’t think it is unforgivable, but it was an opportunity to close the gap.

“[The league] is not more complicated than before. No team is unbeatable, nor are they going to win every game. There are still options. But we have missed two important points.”

Serie A: Inter hammer rivals AC Milan

Romelu Lukaku celebrates his side's 3-0 win (AP)
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Romelu Lukaku celebrates his side’s 3-0 win (AP)

Lautaro Martinez scored twice as Inter Milan established a four-point lead at the top of Serie A with a 3-0 derby win over second-placed AC Milan.

Martinez opened the scoring with a fifth-minute header before Inter keeper Samir Handanovic made a brilliant save to deny Zlatan Ibrahimovic an equaliser.

The Argentinian doubled Inter’s lead in the 57th minute and Romelu Lukaku drove home the third from a tight angle nine minutes later after a defence-splitting pass from Ivan Perisic.

Inter players celebrate their 3-0 win at the end of the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Inter Milan, at the Milan San Siro Stadium, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
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Inter players celebrate their 3-0 win at the end of the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Inter Milan, at the Milan San Siro Stadium, Italy, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Elsewhere, Udinese hit back from two goals down to grab a precious point in a 2-2 draw at relegation rivals Parma.

The hosts ended a run of eight home games without a goal when Andreas Cornelius headed them in front after three minutes.

Juraj Kucka doubled Parma’s lead from the penalty spot but Stefano Okaka reduced the deficit against his old club, then Bram Nuytinck headed the equaliser 10 minutes from time.

Leipzig power past Hertha to close in on leaders Bayern

Willi Orban, left, celebrates his goal for RB Leipzig on Sunday
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Willi Orban, left, celebrates his goal for RB Leipzig on Sunday

RB Leipzig eased past Hertha Berlin 3-0 on Sunday to cut the gap to leaders Bayern Munich to two points with their fourth consecutive Bundesliga victory.

Marcel Sabitzer put the visitors in front in the 28th minute with a ferocious shot from 30 metres that went straight into the top corner with Hertha goalkeeper Rune Jarstein frozen to the spot on a sunny afternoon in the capital.

Nordi Mukiele then took advantage of a mistake by Hertha’s Matteo Guendouzi in the box to drill the ball in and double their lead in the 71st.

Leipzig, who lost 2-0 to Liverpool in their Champions League round-of-16 first leg on Tuesday, were initially on the backfoot with Hertha missing several good chances before Sabitzer’s goal against the run of play.

They then survived late pressure from Hertha with keeper Peter Gulacsi coming to the rescue twice before Willi Orban headed in Leipzig’s third goal in the 84th to seal the win.

The Saxony club are in second place on 47 points, with Bayern top on 49 following their 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. VfL Wolfsburg and Frankfurt are on 42 in third and fourth place respectively.

Hertha are now without a win in their last eight league games and are stuck in 15th place, level on 18 points with 16th Arminia Bielefeld, who sit in the relegation playoff spot.

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No offers from City with Messi to decide in summer

Manchester City have yet to make any offers to Lionel Messi, with the Barcelona star to decide his future in the summer.

Spokespeople for both the Premier League-leaders and Messi have confirmed to Sky Sports News that no offers have been made by City to the player, neither last summer nor since, contrary to reports in a British newspaper on Friday.

Messi’s spokesperson has also reiterated that the Argentina forward will choose whether to leave or stay at the end of the season, having announced his intention to do so in an interview in December.

Messi has resettled at the Nou Camp this season since demanding to be released from his contract last summer, when Pep Guardiola and City were considered the frontrunners to sign him.

Short of entering into a legal dispute over a contract clause that would have allowed him a free transfer, Messi stayed but is now free to negotiate with other clubs outside Spain, with Paris Saint-Germain also interested, having entered into the last six months of his current deal.

However, Messi is keen to find out the result of next month’s presidential election and what the winner will offer to him both in financial and sporting incentives, before making a call on the next step in his career.



Ronald Koeman and Lionel Messi




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Messi’s current contract at Barcelona expires in the summer. Should he remain a one-man club or move elsewhere? The panel from The Beautiful Game podcast have their say

The 33-year-old has said publicly he would like to play in Major League Soccer before he retires.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s current contract – signed in 2017 – was leaked last month by Spanish newspaper El Mundo, claiming its worth to total £492m (€555m).

It went on to claim it was the most expensive ever awarded to an athlete, describing it as having “ruined” Barcelona by causing their current financial crisis. Barcelona since denied the leak came from the club’s board and threatened legal action against the paper.

In December, interim president Carlos Tusquets also claimed the club should have sold Messi last summer when he wanted to leave. “Both in terms of what you save on the wage bill as well as the money you make, it would’ve been desirable,” he said.

GRAPHIC

Lionel Messi 360: The view from all sides as Man City, Paris Saint-Germain, MLS clubs prepare to lure Barcelona star

Lionel Messi is now free to speak to clubs outside of Spain about finally leaving Barcelona in the summer but – despite last year’s transfer request – does he still want to leave?

His future is shrouded in uncertainty with every option on the table, so Sky Sports News has pulled together this comprehensive analysis from all sides of the equation.

Will he be reunited with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City? Will he play for compatriot Mauricio Pochettino at Paris Saint-Germain? Will he fly straight to the United States to play in MLS? Or will he finish his career as a one-club man and stay with Barcelona?

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Laporta: I will do everything to keep Messi

Barcelona’s prospective new president Joan Laporta insists he will do “everything possible” to persuade Lionel Messi to stay at the club.

Laporta is one of the leading candidates to succeed Josep Maria Bartomeu when the next elections are held on March 7, and he believes Messi needs to be offered a plan that will see Barca win the biggest prizes again, if he is to sign a new deal.

Barca were thrashed 4-1 by Paris Saint-Germain, who along with Manchester City want to sign Messi in the summer when he will become a free agent, in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday night – and Laporta believes for Messi it is “not about money”.

“I will do everything possible for Messi to stay,” he told Sky in Italy.

“Messi should be valued with the affection he deserved and with a suitable financial package, but it’s not about money. He needs a winning sporting proposal, Leo wants to win again with Barcelona.

Joan Laporta, former president and pre candidate to presidency of FC Barcelona, speaks during an interview for The Associated Press in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020. Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta believes he is the best man to convince Lionel Messi to stay put at Camp Nou. Laporta is one of a handful of men who hope to become F..tbol Club Barcelona...s next president in an election by club members called for Jan. 24. (AP Photo/Hernan Mu..oz)..
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Joan Laporta is considered one of the favourites to takeover as Barca president next month

“I know him well, I have a good personal relationship with him. He is not someone that is here for the money. He will need a competitive sporting offer because he’s a winner.”

Messi pledged to remain with Barca until the end of the season after a protracted battle with the board last summer, in which he formally requested to be released from his contract with a year to spare.

City and PSG remain the most credible suitors for him if he is to leave Barca at the end of the season, with a long-term aim to eventually finish his career in Major League Soccer.

Along with Victor Fonte, Laporta is considered one of the favourites to take over as Barca president next month.

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Mbappe hits hat-trick as PSG demolish Barcelona

Kylian Mbappe’s hat-trick inspired Paris Saint-Germain to an emphatic 4-1 victory at Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

In what was an open first half at the Nou Camp, Lionel Messi (27) gave Barca the lead from the penalty spot after Frenkie de Jong had his heels clipped by Layvin Kurzawa before Mbappe responded five minutes later for the visitors, who were without Neymar and Angel Di Maria.

After the break, PSG took over and Mbappe (65) added his second of the night before Moise Kean, who is on loan from Everton, stretched the French side’s advantage.

Mbappe (85) then produced a brilliant curled finish to leave Barcelona stunned, rounding off a stunning evening for Mauricio Pochettino’s side.

It leaves Barca requiring another considerable comeback heading into the second leg at the Parc des Princes on March 10, four years on from the sides’ memorable last-16 clash in which the La Liga outfit recovered from a 4-0 first-leg loss in France by winning the second 6-1 at the Nou Camp.

How PSG stunned Barca…

Kylian Mbappe scored twice for PSG
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Mbappe scored twice for PSG

PSG started brightly, with Mbappe’s pace causing the Barcelona defence problems straight away. The French forward tried to latch onto Marco Verratti’s pass over the top but Marc-André ter Stegen was quickly off his line to clear for the hosts.

Despite a confident start from the visitors, it was Barca who created the first clear opening. Messi dropped deep to start the move, playing the ball into Pedri, who then slid in Antoine Griezmann. However, the Frenchman scuffed his shot, allowing Keylor Navas to make a simple block at his near post.

The deadlock was eventually broken in the 27th minute and Messi was at the heart of it for the hosts. His direct pass looked to release De Jong into the penalty area and the midfielder had his heels clipped by Kurzawa as the defender tried to track the run, and referee Bjorn Kuipers correctly pointed to the spot.

Player ratings

Barcelona: Ter Stegen (7), Dest (5), Pique (6), Lenglet (5), Jordi Alba (6), De Jong (6), Sergio Busquets (5), Pedri (6), Griezmann (5), Messi (6), Dembele (5).

Subs: Mingueza (6), Tincao (n/a), Puig(n/a), Pjanic (n/a), Braithwaite (n/a).

PSG: Navas (7), Florenzi (7), Marquinhos (7), Kimpembe (7), Kurzawa (8), Paredes (8), Gueye (6), Kean (8), Verratti (8), Mbappe (9), Icardi (7).

Subs: Herrera (7), Draxler (7), Pereira (n/a), Kehrer (n/a).

Man of the match: Kylian Mbappe.

It was over to Messi, who emphatically picked out the top corner with his penalty for his 20th goal of the season in all competitions.

Ousmane Dembele had a brilliant chance to make it two moments later, but his scuffed shot was straight at Navas, and it proved to be costly as Mbappe struck the equaliser.

PSG's Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring his side's second goal against Barcelona
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Mbappe celebrates after scoring his second goal against Barcelona

Verratti’s flick picked out the striker in the penalty area and he showed quick feet to shift the ball past Clement Lenglet before powering the ball into the roof of the net for a crucial away goal.

The game was now end-to-end as Ter Stegen denied Kurzawa, while Griezmann shot wide after a swift Barca counter-attack. Ter Stegen also had to be alert to keep out Kean’s powerful strike before Mauro Icardi powered a header wide in the closing stages of a brilliant first half.

Team news

  • Barca’s line-up included Gerard Pique, returning to Ronald Koeman’s defence after almost three months out due a knee injury. Ousmane Dembele was also among the players coming in as he joined Messi and Antoine Griezmann in the attack.
  • PSG, with former Barca man Neymar and Angel Di Maria still sidelined, started with a front three of Mbappe, Mauro Icardi and Kean.

Barcelona needed Ter Stegen to keep them in the game after the break too as the goalkeeper produced a smart save to keep out Kean’s deflected effort.

However, he could do nothing about Mbappe’s second of the evening. Leandro Paredes’ pass released Alessandro Florenzi and his cut-back was deflected into the path of Mbappe, who guided the ball into the back of the net.

Magical Mbappe

Of players with 20 or more goals in the UEFA Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe has netted the highest proportion in away matches (71 per cent – 17/24).

Mbappe was then denied a third by a smart block from Ter Stegen but again, he was powerless to prevent PSG’s third as Kean ran through unmarked to head home Paredes’ free-kick.

Barca had absolutely no answer to PSG’s dominance and Mbappe rounded off a perfect night for Pochettino’s men with a curled finish after a swift counter-attack from the visitors.

Man of the match- Kylian Mbappe

PSG's Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring his side's first goal against Barcelona
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Mbappe celebrates after scoring his first goal

Sky Sports’ Oliver Yew:

Many a Champions League night at the Nou Camp has been about the irrepressible Lionel Messi, but, against PSG, he was well and truly upstaged by Kylian Mbappe’s stunning performance.

As early as the second minute, the French forward was giving the Barcelona defence a fright with his pace and from then on, every time he got the ball, he caused Ronald Koeman’s side problems.

It was a performance that drew special praise from Barca forward and international team-mate Antoine Griezmann. “Kylian Mbappe had a great night,” he said. “PSG has a great star for the future, who will be at the level of Leo Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.”

And it is hard to argue.

Mbappe went on to produce three fine finishes to become only the third player to score a treble in the competition against Barcelona, after Faustino Asprilla for Newcastle and Andriy Shevchenko for Dynamo Kiev (both in 1997) and the first player to score a hat-trick against the Spanish club in the knockout phase.

But on what was a truly special night for PSG, he could have had more goals but for some fine saves from Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

With 110 goals now to his name, the 22-year-old is already PSG’s third highest goalscorer in all competitions, overtaking Pauleta (109). Now only Edinson Cavani (200) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (156) have netted more for PSG, but, if he stays at the club those records will not be intact for long.

He has also drawn level with Zinedine Zidane with eight goals in the list of the top goalscorers in the Champions league knockout stages, with just Thierry Henry (12) and Karim Benzema (18) ahead of him.

The sky is the limit for Mbappe, who confirmed himself as football’s best young player with an astonishing performance that Messi himself would have been proud of.

Opta stats – Barca’s dismal night

  • In what is their 151st home match in the European Cup/Champions League, Barcelona have lost consecutive matches for the very first time.
  • Barcelona have played 278 home matches in all European competitions and have lost by a 3+ goal margin only six times – the last two occasions have come in successive games at Camp Nou (0-3 vs Juventus, 1-4 vs PSG).
  • Paris Saint-Germain became just the second French side to beat Barcelona at Camp Nou after Metz also won 4-1 in the 1984-85 Cup Winners’ Cup. French sides were winless in 10 subsequent visits (D2 L8).
  • Coming into this game Barcelona were unbeaten in their last 15 UEFA Champions League knockout stage matches at Camp Nou (W13 D2) since losing 0-3 to Bayern Munich in 2012-13 in the semi-final.

Messi on target on bad night for Barca

Lionel Messi’s opener was his 20th goal of the season for Barcelona in all competitions; it’s the 13th consecutive campaign he’s scored 20+ goals for the club.

Messi has scored in the UEFA Champions League in each calendar year since 2005. This run of at least one goal in 17 consecutive years is the joint-longest run in the competition’s history alongside Raul (1995-2011).

What’s next?

Barcelona host Cadiz in La Liga on Sunday; kick-off 1pm. Meanwhile, PSG host Monaco in Ligue 1, also on Sunday; kick-off 8pm.

The second leg of this Champions League last-16 tie takes place on March 10 at the Parc des Princes; kick-off 8pm.

Champions League key dates

Round of 16 first legs: February 17/23/24

Round of 16 second legs: March 9/10/16/17

Quarter-final and semi-final draws: March 19

Quarter-finals first legs: April 6/7

Quarter-finals second legs: April 13/14

Semi-finals first legs: April 27/28

Semi-finals second legs: May 4/5

Final: May 29 (Atatürk Olympic Stadium)

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Barcelona vs PSG preview: Barca wait on Pique

Team news and stats ahead of Barcelona vs PSG in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday; kick-off 8pm.

Team news

Barcelona hope to have experienced centre-back Gerard Pique available again following a long-term knee problem.

Boss Ronald Koeman told reporters: “He is fine and has been training with the group for four or five days. We have good confidence about his condition, but I have one more day to decide if he’s going to be in the team.”

Koeman is certain to be missing fellow central defender Ronald Araujo due to an ankle issue.

Mauricio Pochettino suffered his first defeat as PSG manager at Lorient
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Mauricio Pochettino is leading PSG for the first time in the Champions League

Paris Saint-Germain will be without Brazil forward Neymar and Argentina international Angel Di Maria, with both players suffering from thigh problems.

But midfielder Marco Verratti is recovering well from a hip issue.

How to follow

Follow Barcelona vs PSG with our dedicated live blog across Sky Sports’ digital platforms and on Gillette Soccer Special, live on Sky Sports News and Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm.

Opta stats

  • Barcelona have knocked out Paris SG in each of their last three UEFA Champions League knock-out ties: 2012/13 quarter-finals (3-3 agg. away goals), 2014/15 quarter-finals (5-1 agg.), 2016/17 round of 16 (6-5 agg.). The only previous time Paris SG overcame the Catalans in a UCL knockout tie was in the 1994/95 quarter-finals (3-2 agg.).
  • The last time Barcelona and Paris SG met was in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League round of 16. The Catalan side became the first – and so far only – side to qualify for the next round following a 4+ goals first-leg margin of defeat (0-4 first leg at Parc des Princes; 6-1 second leg at Camp Nou).
  • Since 2012/13, only Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid have faced each other more often (10 times) than Barcelona and Paris SG (8) in the UEFA Champions League. Those eight games have produced 32 goals, an average of four per match.
  • Only one French club has beaten Barcelona at Camp Nou – it was FC Metz in the first round of the Cup Winners Cup in October 1984 (4-1). No French side though has ever beaten FCB on their own patch in the UEFA Champions League (D2 L8).
  • Barcelona will attempt to reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the 14th consecutive season, a record. The last time they were knocked out in the round of 16 was in 2006/07 against Liverpool (2-2 agg. away goals).
  • Paris SG have reached the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League for the ninth consecutive season, matching the record for a French club set by Lyon between 2003/04 and 2011/12. They’ve made it past the round of 16 once in the last four seasons (2019/20).
  • Barcelona have only lost one of their last 33 home games in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League (W25 D7), a 0-3 defeat against Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the 2012/13 edition. This includes winning 13 of their last 15 k/o games at Camp Nou (D2), setting a goal difference of +33 over those 15 matches (41 goals for, 8 against).
  • Paris SG’s only away win against a Spanish side in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League came eight years ago against Valencia (2-1, February 2013). They have lost the last three-such visits to Spain in the competition by an aggregate scoreline of 11-2.
  • 44% of Barcelona’s goals in this season’s UEFA Champions League group stages came from set-piece (7 out of 16), the highest ratio among the 16 teams left in the competition.
  • Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann has more yellow cards (2) than goals or assists (1 goal) in his seven UEFA Champions League appearances at Camp Nou.
  • Paris SG’s Neymar has scored as many goals at Camp Nou (16 goals in 20 games) as he has at the Parc des Princes (16 in 14) in the UEFA Champions League. He’s failed score in his last three knockout games in the competition – he’s never gone four in a row without a goal.

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Leaders Milan stunned | Atleti go eight points clear

Serie A leaders Milan were stunned 2-0 by Spezia to give Inter the chance to leapfrog them, while Atletico Madrid went eight points clear in La Liga.

Having already beaten AS Roma in the Coppa Italia and Napoli in the league since the turn of the year, Spezia, making their Serie A debut this season, scored twice through Giulio Maggiore and Simone Bastoni, both in the second half, to seal a surprise success.

Milan never got going and finished the match without having had a shot on target, while being completely outplayed by their opponents.

Spezia players celebrate during the victory
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Spezia players celebrate during the victory

Spezia saw out the win with ease to move up to 14th in the standings on 24 points, with Milan facing the prospect of losing top spot to rivals Inter Milan, should Antonio Conte’s side beat Lazio on Sunday.

Lorenzo Insigne’s penalty earned Napoli a 1-0 win over Juventus. Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini was penalised for a foul on Napoli’s Amir Rrahmani in the penalty area to concede a 31st-minute spot-kick, which Insigne converted to score what proved to be the winner and his 100th goal in all competitions for Napoli.

Lorenzo Insigne scored the decisive penalty for Napoli against Juventus
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Lorenzo Insigne scored the decisive penalty for Napoli against Juventus

Juventus looked a shadow of their normal selves offensively in the first half but improved after the break, with Federico Chiesa denied by a fine save from Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret.

Cristiano Ronaldo was having an off day in front of goal, missing a glorious chance with his head late on to snatch a point, with Napoli seeing out the win to move into fourth on 40 points, two behind Juventus in third.

Torino drew a fifth successive match as they were held by fellow strugglers Genoa in a 0-0 draw.

Genoa defender Davide Zappacosta almost scored against his old club but his effort came off the post. Torino are now two points above the drop zone. Genoa are 10 points clear of danger after an impressive run since coach Davide Ballardini took charge in December.

La Liga – Atletico move eight points clear

Angel Correra secured a late win for La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid
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Angel Correra secured a late win for La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid went eight points clear at the top of La Liga with victory at Granada. A heavily deflected strike from Angel Correa saw La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid snatch a 2-1 victory at Granada to get back to winning ways and move eight points clear at the top of the standings.

Marcos Llorente put Atletico in front in the 63rd minute with a low finish from the edge of the area.

But the visitors’ joy was short-lived as Venezuelan midfielder Yangel Herrera equalised for Granada three minutes later following a corner, his shot flying into the net after bouncing off Llorente’s trailing leg.

Atletico appeared on course to drop points for a second consecutive game after Monday’s 2-2 draw at home to Celta, which would have offered Real Madrid the chance to close the gap with them to three points if they beat Valencia on Sunday.

But Atletico regained the lead in the 75th when Argentinian forward Correa tried his luck inside the box and saw his desperate attempt bounce off the foot of Granada defender Jesus Vallejo and loop over ‘keeper Rui Silva into the net.

Munir El Haddadi (left) scored the winning goal for Sevilla
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Munir El Haddadi (left) scored the winning goal for Sevilla

Lionel Messi scored two scorching strikes as Barcelona hammered Alaves 5-1 to warm up for their upcoming Champions League clash with Paris St Germain in style.

Portuguese forward Francisco Trincao put Barca in front after a cut-back from 18-year-old debutant midfielder Ilaix Moriba and Messi thought he had doubled the lead later on when knocking in on the rebound but the goal was ruled out for a marginal offside against Antoine Griezmann.

Lionel Messi scored twice for Barcelona against Alaves
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Lionel Messi scored twice for Barcelona against Alaves

Messi then took matters into his own hands from outside the area and thumped the ball off the far post with such venom that it landed just inside the opposite post.

Alaves’s Luis Rioja pounced on a mistake by Ilaix to reduce the deficit in the second half but Barca came roaring back with a second strike from Trincao, another long-range missile from Messi, and then a fifth goal crafted by Messi and Griezmann and finished off by left-back Junior Firpo.

Barcelona players celebrate during the thumping win over Alaves
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Barcelona players celebrate during the thumping win over Alaves

Sevilla were made to suffer by basement club Huesca, but thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Bono, they held on for a 1-0 home win, their ninth consecutive victory in all competitions.

Munir El Haddadi headed home a cross from Oliver Torres to break the deadlock for the hosts in the 57th minute but it took two outstanding saves from Bono to preserve their advantage.

The Moroccan first made a jaw-dropping save to keep out a header by Huesca forward Rafa Mir from point-blank range, while in the 89th minute he parried an effort from Sergio Gomez and then got up to prevent Mir netting on the rebound.

Elsewhere, Eibar and Real Valladolid drew 1-1 in a battle at the bottom of the table.

Bundesliga – Haaland rescues late draw for Dortmund

Erling Haaland scored for Dortmund, but there was controversy during the build-up
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Erling Haaland scored for Dortmund, but there was controversy during the build-up

Borussia Dortmund’s poor form continues after they were held by visiting Hoffenheim to a 2-2 draw.

Erling Haaland’s 16th goal of the season salvaged the draw for Dortmund, but will do little to address questions of defensive frailties and charges of complacency among the home team.

Dortmund have won only one of their last six league games and are dropping back in the race for the Champions League places. The gap is likely to grow with Eintracht Frankfurt, Wolfsburg and Borussia Monchengladbach all playing on Sunday.

Ihlas Bebou missed two good chances for Hoffenheim before Jadon Sancho beat the offside trap at the other end to open the scoring in the 24th minute.

Munas Dabbur equalised soon after. Stefan Posch then produced a last-ditch tackle to deny Jude Bellingham before Dabbur scored on the counter-attack.

Dortmund’s shaky defence always looked susceptible, so it was no surprise when Bebou scored Hoffenheim’s second goal after the break. Goalkeeper Marwin Hitz punched the ball away but only as far as Bebou, who headed home.

Hoffenheim drew 2-2 with Dortmund in the Bundesliga
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Hoffenheim drew 2-2 with Dortmund in the Bundesliga

Haaland had a goal ruled out for offside before he finally equalised in the 81st minute. There was some pushing and shoving afterwards as a Hoffenheim player was down injured when Haaland scored, but Bebou played on and Sebastian Rudy’s botched back pass gave Haaland his chance.

Every game in the Bundesliga was drawn on Saturday

After two defeats, Hertha Berlin drew 1-1 at Stuttgart for their first points in three games since Pal Drdai returned as coach.

Sasa Kalajdic scored just before the break after a first half to forget from Hertha. Sami Khedira came on against his former club and crossed for fellow substitute Luca Netz to score the equaliser in the 82nd minute. The 17-year-old defender became Hertha’s youngest goalscorer in the Bundesliga.

Mainz also scored two late goals at Bayer Leverkusen to draw 2-2, and Freiburg played out a goalless draw at Werder Bremen. Loris Karius making a late save in his first start for Union Berlin to preserve a 0-0 draw against Schalke.

Ligue 1 – PSG back top after win

Moise Kean was on target again for PSG
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Moise Kean was on target again for PSG

Paris Saint-Germain geared up for their Champions League trip to Barcelona with a 2-1 home win against Nice that sent them provisionally top of the Ligue 1 standings.

Moise Kean netted the winner after Rony Lopes’ 50th-minute goal had cancelled out Julian Draxler’s opener for PSG in the first half.

PSG were without three key players with Neymar and Angel Di Maria injured while Marco Verratti was nursing a knock he sustained in a 1-0 Coupe de France win at Caen on Wednesday.

The Italian was replaced by Draxler, who lived up to the task as he drove the ball home from close range after Mauro Icardi’s attempt had bounced off the post into his path in the 22nd minute.

Nice, however, stepped up a gear after the break and Lopes equalised with a powerful shot under the crossbar following a rare poor clearance by Marquinhos.

Kean then scored the winner in the 76th minute, heading home from point-blank range to give PSG all three points after Icardi had stretched in the air to deflect Kylian Mbappe’s cross. It was Kean’s 10th goal in 17 league games.

The French champions are on 54 points and lead Lille, who host Brest on Sunday, on goal difference with Lyon in third place on 52 points. The result left Nice in 13th place with 29 points.

Elsewhere, Reims and Lens played out a 1-1 draw.

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Neymar’s Barca return cancelled by thigh injury

Neymar is out of Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League last-16 first leg against former club Barcelona.

The Brazil forward has been ruled out for four weeks with a thigh injury suffered in the French Cup win over Caen, ruling out his return to play in the Nou Camp on February 16.

He is also a doubt for the second leg on March 10 at the Parc des Princes in a major blow for Mauricio Pochettino, who is already without Angel Di Maria for the game in Spain next week.

PSG confirmed on Thursday: “Neymar Jr suffered an injury to the left adductor longus on Wednesday evening. Upon analysis of the clinical examination and imaging examinations, an unavailability of approximately four weeks is expected depending on the course.”

The last time the two clubs met in the Champions League last-16, Neymar scored twice for Barca in a 6-1 thrashing in the second leg, overturning PSG’s 4-0 first-leg advantage to progress in the 2016-17 competition.

Neymar, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez
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Neymar formed part a formidable front-three at Barcelona alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez

He then switched to PSG that summer, after Barca were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Juventus, in a then-world record £200m deal, reportedly against the advice of team-mates Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Barcelona have been trying to bring Neymar back to the Nou Camp since, but a deal has not materialised and now Messi’s own Barcelona future is in doubt, with PSG wanting to sign him on a free transfer this summer.

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