Category Archive: UEFA Champions League

UEFA Champions League News

Aug 15

Liverpool prosper in Tuesday’s play-off openers

Liverpool spoiled Hoffenheim’s European debut, FCSB stood tall to earn a draw at Sporting, and CSKA Moskva won away at Young Boys thanks to a bizarre own goal.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=2492998.html?rss=2492998+Liverpool+prosper+in+Tuesday's+play-off+openers

Aug 15

Leigh Griffiths says Astana tie is ‘make or break’ for Celtic’s season

• Striker says Champions League play-off win ‘would put everyone on a high’
• Brendan Rodgers adds European games had instilled resilience in his players

Leigh Griffiths says the success of Celtic’s entire campaign could hinge on Wednesday tonight’s Champions League play-off first leg with Astana.

After sweeping all domestic rivals aside last season Brendan Rodgers’ side again have aspirations of making their mark in Europe. They take on the Kazakhstan champions in the opening leg of their final qualifier, with a ticket for the group stages and a potential £30m windfall on the line.

Related: Leigh Griffiths double breaks Hearts as Celtic begin title defence in style

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/aug/15/celtic-champions-league-playoff-astana

Aug 15

Liverpool close on Champions League group stage with win at Hoffenheim

It was the 90th minute when Liverpool switched off at a set-piece for the first time against Hoffenheim. Benjamin Hubner was unmarked and met Nadiem Amiri’s free-kick with a thumping header six yards out. Not again? Not this time. Hubner headed over and Liverpool, once the relief subsided, found themselves within touching distance of the Champions League group stage. Youthful exuberance and experience had proved a potent mix for Jürgen Klopp’s team.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, the 18-year-old right-back born a stone’s throw from Melwood, swept Liverpool into a precious lead in the play-off first leg with a stunning debut goal for his boyhood club on his European bow. James Milner, older than the opposition coach, Julian Nagelsmann, looked to have, in effect, secured progress with a deflected second only for Mark Uth to set up a fraught, tense finale with a late reply. Thanks to Hubner’s miss and Simon Mignolet’s first-half penalty save, however, Liverpool secured a valuable advantage in Germany.

Related: Hoffenheim 1-2 Liverpool: Champions League play-off first leg – as it happened

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/aug/15/hoffenheim-liverpool-champions-league-match-report

Aug 15

Hoffenheim 1-2 Liverpool: Champions League play-off first leg – as it happened

  • Alexander-Arnold gives Liverpool lead
  • Nordtveit deflects cross by Milner into net
  • Uth strikes late to give Hoffenheim hope

10.00pm BST

Related: Liverpool close on Champions League group stage with win at Hoffenheim

9.41pm BST

Liverpool complete a precious victory. The tie is far from over because both sides created a load of chances in the game. Liverpool were grateful to Mignolet for some fine saves while Baumann made a few for Hoffenheim. But the outstanding moment came from Trent Alexander-Arnold, who crowned his first appearance in the Champions League with a magnificent goal to give Liverpool the lead.

9.38pm BST

90+4 min: Encouraging composure from Liverpool as they take the ball down the other end and move it about well. Grujic tries to crown it with a delicate finish from the edge of the area but his sidefooter is tipped away by Baumann.

9.37pm BST

90 + 2 min: There are screen writers in Hollywood who would love to be able to ensure endings are as tense as Liverpool always seem to make them …

9.35pm BST

90+1 min: Demiraby strokes a lovely freekick from the left into the danger zone.. and Hubner finds himself with a free header from nine yards! Surely he will punish Liverpool for their set-piece slackness …. no, he nods over the bar!

9.34pm BST

90 min: There will be at least four more minutes. Hoffenheim are raging forward in search of an equaliser…

9.34pm BST

90 min: Alexander-Arnold puts a dangerous cross behind for a corner. So that’s Liverpool facing a last-minute set-piece to hold on to a lead …. they do it well this time.

9.32pm BST

Liverpool substitution: Grujic on, Mané off. Any lead will do now for Klopp.

9.32pm BST

A long diagonal ball from the right sails over the Liverpool defence. Alexander-Arnold appeals in vain for offside but Lovren is keeping Uth on … and the striker takes the ball down well and then drills a low shot from the edge of the box into the far corner! The tie is back in the balance…

9.29pm BST

85 min: Liverpool continue to seek a third. Salah, whose sights have been just off today, overhits an attempted cross to Solanke, who had peeled off his marker to find space near the back post.

9.27pm BST

Liverpool substitution: Solanke on, Firmino off. I fancy the newcomer to score.

9.27pm BST

82 min: Hoffenheim raid down the left. A cross beyond Moreno is headed back into the path of Demirbay, who hits a half-volley into the ground and bouncing towards goals from 16 yards. Mignolet makes another fine save. That’s several so far.

9.24pm BST

80 min: Lovren, well positioned, clears a dangerous cross by Kaderabek despite being under pressure from Kramaric. He’s played well today.

9.21pm BST

78 min: There’s a third goal here for Liverpool, you know. They could claim their ticket for the group stages today. “I like your earlier quip about Alexander-Arnold looking for guidance in vain,” says Edouard. “As it stands, I think by the end of the 90 minutes the rest of Liverpool’s defensive line will be asking him how to proceed on the pitch. What a Champions League debut. Also, Phil Coutinho should be offended: it’s quite clear Barcelona haven’t been scouting Liverpool games. If they had, they’d be bidding for Mané instead.” That’ll come, no doubt.

9.19pm BST

Wijnaldum cleverly took a quick freekick in midfield and Firmino worked it wide on the left to Milner. He tried to pick out Salah at the back post but his cross took a nick off Nordtveit and looped over the keeper and into the net at the far post!

9.16pm BST

73 min: Moreno curls over a freekick from the left. Can’s header never looks like hitting the target.

9.16pm BST

72 min: Hoffenheim are suddenly looking all punched out. Liverpool sense that and are going for a knockout blow….

9.15pm BST

71 min: Lovren meets another well delivered corner by Alexander-Arnold. It’s a powerful header from eight yards. But Baumann saves well.

9.14pm BST

70 min: Hubner gives the ball away as he tries to tippy-tap his way forward from the back. Can slips an easy pass through to Salah, who romps into the box and bears down on goal before letting fly from 10 yards. Letting trickle, rather. It’s a comfortable save for Baumann and a real let-off for the hosts.

9.11pm BST

67 min: Alexander-Arnold takes a Liverpool corner – he strikes the ball beautifully, that much has been established – but Hoffenheim manage to clear this one.

9.10pm BST

66 min: Kramaric races past Alexander-Arnold again down the left. Gnabry meets his cross at the near post but can’t turn it on to the target.

9.09pm BST

65 min: Hoffenheim win three corners in a row. Demiraby’s deliveries are wicked. But Liverpool head them clear each time.

9.08pm BST

64 min: Kaderabek gets behind Liverpool down the left and floats a dangerouss cross towards the back post. Matip leaps high to head it behind for a corner. Mignolet rebukes Mané for failing to provide Moreno with any cover.

9.06pm BST

Liverpool substitution: Milner on, Henderson off.

9.06pm BST

61 min: Salah pings a nice pass through to Can, who had darted forward to provide an underlap. But Firmino demands a similar service and would be through on goal if he gets it … but Can overhits the attempted pass, granting Hoffenheim a reprieve.

9.04pm BST

Here’s a young Alexander-Arnold helping to calm an old pro’s jitters before a match many years ago …

⚽️ pic.twitter.com/DlQAutfe6R

9.01pm BST

57 min: “Liverpool should sell Moreno asap: he has been so bad bar an excellent interception for a cross,” blasts Ruth Purdue (and many others). You realise that’s not a persuasive sales pitch, right?

9.00pm BST

56 min: Alexander-Arnold booked for … I’m not sure what. He seems bemused, too. I’d wonder if it might be a case of mistaken identity if not for the fact that everyone now knows who Trent Alexander Arnold is.

8.58pm BST

Hoffenheim substitutions: Nagelsmann has recognised Becakcic’s ordeal and decided to spare him further persecution from Mané. I doubt the former West Ham defender Nordtveit is going to fare any better. Also, Amiri has come on for Rupp.

8.56pm BST

51 min: Alexander-Arnold crosses from the right. It rools all the way over to Mané on the left. He dances past poor Becakic again and opens fire from a difficult angle. Baumann parries and Hoffenheim scramble clear. I’m no master strategist, but always giving the ball to Mané seems like a good ploy at this point. “Dear Paul, I was about to object to Phil Sawyer’s claim that roller coasters zigzag, but I realized he is right,” confides Dave Hannah. “When Lovren and Moreno are on the field, Liverpool regularly go off the rails defensively.”

8.53pm BST

49 min: Zuber shows strength and speed to stop Salah from breaking through down the right. This is a very open game and there’s little sign of Liverpool sitting on their lead.

8.52pm BST

47 min: Mané skins Becackic down the left wing and continues on into the box. He tees up Firmino with a perfect low pass across the face of goal. Firmino meets it six yards out … but fails to beat the keeper, who spread himself at his feet. A dink would have done it.

8.49pm BST

46 min: No changes during the break. Hoffenheim attack from the off, and Gnabry races past Alexander-Anrold and delivers a decent cross. Moreno, providing intelligent cover (that’s worth highlighting), clears wel.

8.44pm BST

Watching the replay of the penalty incident, it’s clear that the main reason that Lovren found himself in a one-on-one with Gnabry on the left-hand side of the box is that Moreno was up pressing the opposing keeper, who saw the gap and punted the ball long. Gnabry might have been offside, mind. The replay also confirms what an awful penalty it was by Kramaric, pretty much as bad it can be while being on target. Actually, that’s unfair on Pat Nevin.

8.40pm BST

“I was typing an email about Liverpool’s deficiencies and pre-season hopes already evaporating,” admits Phil Sawyer. “Then Alexander-Arnold scored. Then Moreno was left stranded and Hoffenheim nearly scored. After this half and the Watford match I think the only think I can safely say about this season is that I’m going to need to speak to my GP about possibly upping the blood pressure medication. We appear to be on a rollercoaster zigzagging wildly between Elation and Doomed.”

8.35pm BST

In other news, Everton have finally reached a deal with Swansea for Gylfii Sigurdsson. That and more developments can be found in this here transfer guide.

Related: Transfer window 2017 – every deal in Europe’s top five leagues

8.34pm BST

A very pleasing scoreline so far, thanks to a delightful goal by Alexander-Arnold following a penalty save by Mignolet. That’s unlikely to be the end of the scoring, however, as Hoffenheim are dangerous and Liverpool are sharp on the counter-attack.

8.32pm BST

45 +1 min: Lovren rises well to meet a Liverpool corner with a strong header. It bounces just past the far post!

8.32pm BST

45 min: Hoffenheim are pulled themselves together again and are looking very dangerous. They’re throwing plenty of players into the box and feeding them well. Liverpool’s defenders have had to make several critical interventions in the last couple of minutes.

8.29pm BST

42 min: A simple long ball forward by Hoffenheim finds Liverpool’s defence wanting, as Moreno is beaten in the air and Kramaric has a free shot near the penalty spot! Mignolet rushes off his line to make a fine block, and Wagner then drives a low shot inches wide from the edge of the area.

8.25pm BST

39 min: Liverpool have some swagger now. They’ve been unburdened off their earlier deference and are now try to assert themselves more.

8.23pm BST

37 min: Can sends a rasping shot at goal from 30 yards. Baumann saves. Meanwhile, Liverpool fans are still bobbing up and down and singing in honour of Alexander-Arnold. Klopp deserves a hymn of praise, too: that was pretty spectacular vindication of his faith in the youngster.

8.21pm BST

A star is born! Alexander-Arnold strolls up to the freekick and curls a wonderful shot over the wall and right into the bottom corner! That was masterful from the 18-year-old Champions League debutant!

8.20pm BST

34 min: Bicakcic booked for chopping down Mané after the Senegalese scampered past Hubner and towards the box. Moreno, Can and Alexander-Arnold stand over the freekick, which is about 28 yards out and central.

8.19pm BST

33 min: Alexander-Arnold charges down an attempted clearance by Kramaric, and the ball rebounds off him and fizzes towards goal from 12 yards! Fortunately for Hoffenheim, Baumann was well positioned and saved without fuss.

8.17pm BST

31 min: Matip makes an important block rom a shot by Kramaric after two other Hoffenheim players passed in Liverpool’s box rather than shot. There’s an ominous brashness to the hosts’ play.

8.15pm BST

29 min: This is all a tad too passive from Liverpool. They could really do with taking the initiative, if only to circulate the ball a bit and prick the home team’s rising momentum.

8.13pm BST

27 min: A freekick to Hoffenheim mid-way inside the Liverpool half. Liverpool set the line just outside their D. And Lovren hoofs a good delivery to safety.

8.12pm BST

26 min: Demirabay digs a cross out from the left, curling it beyond the far post. Moreno is caught unaware, would you believe, and Kaderabek runs in to attempt a half-volley from 12 yards. But he doesn’t catch it right and shanks it way wide.

8.10pm BST

24 min: Liverpool spend a couple of minutes in possession. They knock it about in the Hoffenheim half without ever looking like they know how to unlock the defence. Without Coutinho and Lallana they’re not exactly bursting with creativity.

8.07pm BST

22 min: A heavy touch from Wijnaldum puts an end to a promising Liverpool counter-attack.

8.06pm BST

20 min: Hoffenheim are dominating possession here but Liverpool are generally playing with enough discipline to keep them at arm’s length. Can they keep that up? “Thanks to the jersey choices this visually resembles Germany vs Italy 1982 World Cup Final, sort of,” suggests Marc. The team in blue missed a penalty early in that match, too … and went on to win 3-1.

8.03pm BST

17 min: Alexander-Arnold joins in the attack again – there’s regularly plenty of space for him to do so down the right – and fires in a good low cross. It’s put behind for a corner. Alexander-Arnold takes it himself but fails to beat the first man.

8.01pm BST

14 min: A big blunder by Vogt puts Salah racing clear on goal! Vogt’s fear of humiliation seems to make his legs move faster and he does very well to catch up with the Egyptian and pressurise him into a weak finish, Salah shooting tamely wide from the edge of the box.

7.57pm BST

Kramaric takes a short run-up and and dabs a weak shot straight at Mignolet, who appears to have been sorely under-estimated by the Croat!

7.56pm BST

Gnabry nutmegs Lovren and then goes down under contact. Not sure how Lovren was supposed to get out of the way: Gnabry ran into him as his legs were still tangled up.

7.54pm BST

7 min: Yikes! Hoffenheim swing in a sumptuous freekick from wide on the left; if Lovren does not cut it out, one of two lurking home players will surely get to it; Lovren does slide in to meet it but does not make a clean connection and the ball rebounds off his foot on to his arm; Hoffenheim appeal for a penalty! But the ref decides, rightly, that it was not intentional. It wasn’t reassuring, either.

7.51pm BST

5 min: Kramaric tricks his way past Moreno down the right and then delivers a cross worthy of his former Leicester team-mate Marc Albrighton. Matip does superbly to stretch out a leg and deviate it the ball at the near post. Otherwise Wagner would surely have reached it and had a free shot from six yards.

7.49pm BST

4 min: Can does well to win possession of Zuber in midfield and then hold off another challenge. But Liverpool are soon pestered into giving the ball away, and then Mignolet has to charge out of his box to clear before Gnabry can latch on to a hopeful through-ball in down the left-hand channel.

7.48pm BST

2 min: No sign of Alexander-Arnold being overawed on his Champions League debut: he’s just strode forward from the back to receive a pass from Can and clip a nice pass in to Salah, who turns just inside the area and tries to get a shot off.

7.46pm BST

1 min: Liverpool kick off. Hoffenheim’s pressing intention become immediately clear as they force Liverpool to play all the way back to Mignolet, who lashes it downfield.

7.43pm BST

Here come the teams. Hoffenheim are all in a kit that is mostly Everton-blue while Liverpool are in smart white tops and black shorts, like a waiters’ gym team. There’s a tremendous din in the Rhein-Neckar Arena, with Liverpool fans well represented among the 30,000 crowd.

7.33pm BST

Asked about why he went with the same team as against Watford, he replied: “We can do pretty much everything better but I thought it made sense to build on the second half at Watford, which was very good.” Asked to describe Hoffenheim to English viewers who don’t know them, he replied: “I don’t think that in Germany many people know about Bournemouth but it’s a proper football team.”

7.27pm BST

Owen Hargreaves is on BT offering his expert opinion of Hoffenheim. “They are very attacking and high-scoring, defensively very strong and tactically very fluid. They are a brilliantly coached team.” Gulp! He reckons, though, that “Liverpool will score …. it’s going to be an incredibly entertaining game.” Hargreaves is great: he’s very knowledgeable and has an endearing way of conveying huge enthusiasm without coming across as a hype-merchant.

7.19pm BST

“I think Coutinho’s gone through the process that most brilliant footballers have to go through,” suggests Ben Bennett. “People overrate them as they think they should win games single-handedly, then underrate as they don’t do that. Coutinho keeps the ball moving like no other. Klopp is faced with a catch-22, something Mignolet couldn’t face without dropping it 21 times.”

7.05pm BST

“Spare a thought for Jurgen Klopp and his transfer window dilemma,” interjects David Flynn. “He could really do with some functioning defenders. He could also really do with a dainty Brazilian playmaker pulling the strings. However to gain one he has to give up the other. Who’d be a well paid millionaire football manager who’s employed to make just these sort of decisions. It’s no life.” But is it such a huge dilemma? Couldn’t Klopp have both? OK, perhaps not necessarily a Brazilian playmaker if he sells Coutinho, but he could surely get someone nearly as good as Coutinho while also strengthening defence (and midfield, and goalkeeper). It’s not as hard as Liverpool make it look.

6.47pm BST

Below are the teams. Klopp has kept faith with exactly the same starting lineup and bench that he picked for the game against Watford, which means he still doesn’t think Andy Robertson is ready for action. That seems dicey, because the Scot has more defensive sense than Moreno (and is a useful crosser going forward) – indeed, so does Milner, who might also have been considered for the right-back spot if not the left-back one. Can’t accuse Klopp of not giving youth a chance today: this is a big test for Alexander-Arnold and the 18-year-old will be grateful for the guidance that he is sure to get from … um … good luck, young man!

Hoffenheim: Baumann; Blcakcic, Vogt, Hübner; Kaderabek, Rupp, Demirbay, Zuber; Kramaric, Gnabry; Wagner

2.52pm BST

Hello and welcome to the future. Today’s match against a decent Hoffenheim side could go a long way towards determining the mood around Liverpool for the season ahead. Get a good result and Jürgen Klopp’s men can congratulate themselves on keeping cool amid adversity, be confident of marching into the group stages of the Champions League and probably increase their appeal to transfer targets; but flunk this exam and Liverpool will not merely face a very difficult second leg but risk being engulfed by another wave of frustration from fans aghast at the persistence of obvious problems. They’re such a tease, this Liverpool side! They have the ability to put this tie to bed today but also the capacity to drive their fans potty. There’s really no telling how things will go today.

Just a couple of weeks ago, of course, everything was going swimmingly for Liverpool in Germany. There they were, thrashing Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena, 2-0 up and dancing a merry jig. But then Daniel Sturridge simultaneously scored a superb goal and stepped on a metaphorical rake and the whole club was hit by unwanted reminders of every one of their vulnerabilities: Sturridge himself immediately pulled up lame; Adam Lallana injured his thigh; Barcelona tried to claim droit du seigneur on Phillipe Coutinho; new Chinese owners strengthened Southampton’s grip on Virgil van Dijk; and Georginio Wijnaldum’s head shrunk into his neck just as he was about to clear a corner at Watford. And now here Liverpool are, back in Germany. Will they break the cycle? Or will the cycle break them? That’s what we’re here to find out.

Related: Julian Nagelsmann: the 30-year-old coach out to wreck Liverpool’s hopes

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/live/2017/aug/15/hoffenheim-v-liverpool-champions-league-play-off-first-leg-live

Aug 15

Men’s Player of the Year: the case for Ronaldo

How to follow a season in which you won the UEFA Champions League and UEFA EURO 2016? Win more trophies and break more records if you’re UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award nominee Cristiano Ronaldo.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=2492046.html?rss=2492046+Men's+Player+of+the+Year:+the+case+for+Ronaldo

Aug 15

Men’s Player of the Year: the case for Buffon

A presence behind a rock-solid Juventus defence, Gianluigi Buffon stood tall when his team needed him most as the Old Lady landed another domestic double and reached the UEFA Champions League final.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=2492047.html?rss=2492047+Men's+Player+of+the+Year:+the+case+for+Buffon

Aug 15

Men’s Player of the Year: the case for Messi

Lionel Messi is vying to reclaim the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year prize he won in 2015 and 2011 after another fine season in which he averaged over a goal a game in the Spanish Liga and UEFA Champions League.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=2492048.html?rss=2492048+Men's+Player+of+the+Year:+the+case+for+Messi

Aug 15

Buffon, Messi and Ronaldo on Player of the Year shortlist

Gianluigi Buffon, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been shortlisted for the UEFA Player of the Year Award, with the winner to be named during the group stage draw on 24 August.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=2492844.html?rss=2492844+Buffon,+Messi+and+Ronaldo+on+Player+of+the+Year+shortlist

Aug 15

Julian Nagelsmann: the 30-year-old coach out to wreck Liverpool’s hopes

Hoffenheim’s guiding spirit, who has his best ideas while taking his morning bath, is a true innovator and always challenges his players to improve

The Frankfurter Rundschau called it a Schnapsidee, an idea that was so outlandish it could only have come about under the influence of alcohol. Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung described it as a “PR-gag”, an opportunity for one of the smaller Bundesliga clubs to get some nationwide and even worldwide publicity. And perhaps the scepticism was inevitable.

Hoffenheim, deep in relegation trouble, had just responded to the news that their hugely experienced manager, Huub Stevens, was leaving due to health problems by appointing the under-19s coach, Julian Nagelsmann, in his place. Nagelsmann’s inexperience was one thing but above all it was his age that stood out: he was 28.

Related: Jürgen Klopp focused on old foe Hoffenheim despite Coutinho distraction

Related: Jürgen Klopp gives Liverpool a wake-up call for Hoffenheim play-off match

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/aug/15/hoffenheim-julian-nagelsmann-liverpool-champions-league

Aug 14

Jürgen Klopp gives Liverpool a wake-up call for Hoffenheim play-off match

Reds manager reckons two legs against Bundesliga’s fourth-placed club will be tough and thoroughly deserving of a Champions League place for the winner

Jürgen Klopp has described Liverpool’s Champions League play-off with Hoffenheim as “the most difficult step” towards reaching the lucrative group stage for only the second time in eight seasons.

Liverpool visit the Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Tuesday without the injured Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge and with the transfer saga surrounding the Brazilian plus fresh set-piece problems at Watford on Saturday casting a shadow over the start of their campaign. Hoffenheim, who like Liverpool finished fourth in their league last season, have also suffered disruption this summer with two key players, the Germany internationals Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Sule, departing for Bayern Munich.

Related: Liverpool register interest in signing Nice midfielder Jean Michaël Seri

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/aug/14/liverpool-wake-up-hoffenheim-champions-league-play-off

Aug 14

Jürgen Klopp focused on old foe Hoffenheim despite Coutinho distraction

Klopp was pipped to promotion by Hoffenheim when in charge of Mainz and is keen to gain revenge and secure Champions League qualification for Liverpool

The rise of Hoffenheim has been swift, steep and has already cost Jürgen Klopp one shot at an elite. That was nine years ago when the club built on the fortune of the German software entrepreneur Dietmar Hopp pipped Klopp’s first employers Mainz to promotion to the Bundesliga. Halting their Champions League ambitions with Liverpool is not simply a matter of revenge, it is imperative to his Anfield aims.

With Philippe Coutinho’s head turned by Barcelona, Emre Can’s Anfield future still unresolved and Virgil van Dijk unable to remedy any defensive deficiencies from Southampton, the Liverpool manager can ill-afford last season’s exhausting pursuit of Champions League qualification to unravel before the lucrative group stage has arrived.

Related: Roberto Firmino stands tall for Liverpool amid familiar defensive frailties | Sachin Nakrani

Related: Jürgen Klopp says Philippe Coutinho’s Liverpool future is out of his hands

Continue reading…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/aug/14/jurgen-klopp-hoffenheim-coutinho-liverpool-champions-league

Aug 14

Memories of Ronaldo’s debut: on this day in 2002

Cristiano Ronaldo made his debut for Sporting CP on 14 August 2002 – UEFA.com looks back to the start of a remarkable career and remembers the player’s other senior bows.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=2490044.html?rss=2490044+Memories+of+Ronaldo's+debut:+on+this+day+in+2002

Aug 12

Champions League play-off teams in domestic action

Fifteen of the 20 teams involved in next week’s play-off first legs have been in domestic action, CSKA picking up a derby win with Nice beaten again and Liverpool held in their league opener.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=2492085.html?rss=2492085+Champions+League+play-off+teams+in+domestic+action

Aug 12

What you might not already know about the play-offs

Mario Balotelli’s previous against Napoli? Celtic’s past encounters with Astana? Get in the mood for tonight’s UEFA Champions League play-off openers with some key facts.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=2492037.html?rss=2492037+What+you+might+not+already+know+about+the+play-offs

Aug 11

How the play-off contenders fared at the weekend

Nine of the 20 teams involved in next week’s play-off first legs were in domestic action on Friday, with Nice suffering a second successive defeat at the start of the 2017/18 Ligue 1 season.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=2492085.html?rss=2492085+How+the+play-off+contenders+fared+at+the+weekend

Aug 11

İstanbul Başakşehir v Sevilla: play-off facts and stats

İstanbul Başakşehir host Sevilla in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off tie – the Turkish club’s most high-profile match since their European debut in 2015/16.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2018/matches/round=2000880/match=2021572/prematch/background/index.html?rss=2490840+%C4%B0stanbul+Ba%C5%9Fak%C5%9Fehir+v+Sevilla:+play-off+facts+and+stats

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