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UEFA Champions League

PAST ENCOUNTERS OF CHAMPIONS’ LEAGUE GLADIATORS

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BY APESIN ADEMOLA.

With the set-up for the first knockout  stage of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League completed, some clubs are paired against familiar foes.

Liverpool v Bayern München

Last year’s finalists Liverpool had played seven times against Bayern München , prevailing two times, sharing honours on four other occasions with the German champions winning only once.

Their last match-up in the 2001 UEFA Super Cup on August 24, 2001, which English Premier League current leaders won 3-2.

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In 1981, Liverpool played goalless with Bayern in the first leg of the European Cup semi-final and edged the Germans out on away goal rule having played 1-1 in Munich.

Liverpool’s current manager Jürgen Klopp will be up against a familiar side in the Round of 16 this time. He hasfaced Bayern more than any other team in his managerial career with 29 matchesso far, winning nine, drawing four and losing the rest.

AFC Ajax v Real Madrid

Ajax had played 12 times against Real Madrid in the Champions League and the European Cup competitions with the defending champions recording seven wins, one draw and four losses.

Ajax triumphed over Real Madrid in the semi-final of the 1972/3 European Cup, which the Dutch team eventually won, Ajax beat the Spaniards 2-1 in the first leg at Amsterdam and won in Madrid 1-0 with Juventus falling 0-1 in the final.

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Their other matches were at the group stage of the Champions League, the recent face-off being five years ago.

Olympique Lyonnais v Barcelona

In six Champions League matches against Lyon, Barcelona have won four times and drawn the remain.

Both teams first met at the preliminary group stage in the 2001/2 editions which the Catalans won 3-2 away and 2-0 in Barcelona.

In 2007/8 season, Barcelona were paired in Group E along with Lyon, Rangers and VfB Stuttgart. Although the Spanish club won 3-0 at home and battled 2-2 in the return leg, the two teams qualified to the knockout stages.

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On the way to winning the Champions League in the 2008/9 season, Barcelona faced Lyon in the Round of 16 forcing 1-1 draw away and emerging victorious 5-3 at home.

Atlético Madrid v Juventus

Both teams were paired in the same Group A of the 2014/5 UEFA Champions League. Atlético won the group and the Old Lady also progressed to the second round as runners-up.

In their head-to-head in that group , the LaLiga side won the first leg 1-0, while the return leg in Turin ended goalless.

Both teams had also clashed in the semi-final of the 1964/5 edition of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup with the home team winning each of the two legs 3-1, while Juventus won the decisive fixture by the same margin.

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Schalke 04 v Manchester City

Both teams are yet to meet in the Champions League.

In other European competitions, they have had three encounters with the current English champions winning two and losing the other.

In the semi-final of the 1969/70 UEFA European Cup Winners Cup on April 1, 1970, Schalke 04 prevailed 1-0 at home, while City won the second leg 5-1. Manchester City eventually won the trophy that season.

The last match between both clubs was a decade ago in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup, Manchester City victorious 2-0 at the one-match group stage.

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Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund

Spurs and Dortmund were in the same group in the last episode of this competition. The English club won 3-1 at home and 2-1 in Dortmund to win the group and eliminate the German side who finished third.

Their other match-ups were in the Europa League in the 2015/16 season. Dortmund won home and away 5-1 aggregate.

AS Roma v FC Porto

FC Porto sent Roma out of the Champions League in last season’s play-off phase. The Portuguese club, who had won the competition two times, played 1-1 at home but beat Roma 3-0 in the return leg in Rome.

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Manchester United v Paris Saint-Germaine

These teams don’t have any previous match-up in competitive matches.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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UEFA Champions League

Italy and Germany to have five clubs in 2024-25 Champions League

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How CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup Draw will be conducted

Italy and Germany have earned an extra spot in the Champions League next season after their clubs performed well in European competitions this season, Europe’s soccer governing body UEFA said on Friday.

With the Champions League expanding to 36 teams next season, UEFA said two of the four additional places would be filled by European Performance Spots which go to associations “with the best collective performance by their clubs” in UEFA competitions.

After the semi-final legs of the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League concluded this week, UEFA said Italy and Germany are guaranteed to finish in the top two of the 2023-24 association club coefficients.

As things stand, Borussia Dortmund are outside the top four in the Bundesliga but will qualify in fifth place.

Dortmund are also in the Champions League final where they will play Real Madrid and should they beat the Spanish giants, they would qualify as winners anyway.

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Their German rivals and Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen are in the Europa League final where they will face Italian side Atalanta, who currently hold on to fifth place in Serie A with a game in hand.

But AS Roma are also in contention, with both teams on 60 points while Lazio are four points behind.

Premier League clubs Manchester City and Arsenal exited the Champions League in the quarter-finals which hurt England’s chances of improving its club coefficient.

Aston Villa — who were knocked out of the Europa Conference League semi-finals on Thursday — can seal the fourth and final spot if they win their next game to deny fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur a place in the Champions League.

-Reuters

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UEFA Champions League

PSG can take positives despite missing out on Champions League again

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Champions League - Semi Final - Second Leg - Paris St Germain v Borussia Dortmund - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - May 7, 2024 Paris St Germain coach Luis Enrique and Kylian Mbappe look dejected after the match REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnie

Paris St Germain missed a golden opportunity to reach their second Champions League final, but it was not all doom and gloom at the French club after a season of transition with a new coach.

The Ligue 1 champions were knocked out in the semi-finals on Tuesday after a 1-0 defeat against Borussia Dortmund for a 2-0 aggregate loss, having hit the woodwork six times over the two legs and managed 31 attempts at the Parc des Princes.

“We were not inferior over the two legs, but football rewards those who score not those who hit the woodwork,” said PSG coach Luis Enrique.

“My goal was to be fighting for all the titles. Tonight I’m proud of my team, of all the players.”

PSG won the Ligue 1 title and have the French Cup final to come later this month.

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“We weren’t efficient, they were efficient, they scored two goals and won both matches. There’s a lot to take back from this competition,” captain Marquinhos told reporters.

“At the start of the season, nobody believed we’d get this far. We’ve overcome a lot of obstacles, but we can’t throw everything away now just because we’ve been eliminated. We have to remember that this is a new project, with a new coach.

“There are positive things to take into the next season.”

PSG have now lost all six legs of their three two-legged Champions League semi-finals, after double defeats against AC Milan in 1995 and Manchester City in 2021.

The year they reached the final, in 2020, they beat RB Leipzig in a one-off semi-final after COVID-19 disrupted the season. They lost in the final against Bayern Munich.

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This season started with a new coach in Luis Enrique and without Lionel Messi and Neymar as club president Nasser al-Khelaifi put an emphasis on building a team over individual talents.

While not always brilliant, PSG have looked like an organised outfit and the coach said he was already working on building a team without Kylian Mbappe, who is widely expected to leave at the end of the season.

“The players and coach gave their all. Congratulations to Dortmund, we deserved better. It’s a tough game. I’m proud of my team, the youngest in Europe,” Al-Khelaifi said.

“We’ve reached the semi-finals three times in five years. That’s not our objective, it’s still the final. That’s soccer, you have to accept it and sometimes it’s not fair. We’ll accept it.”

-Reuters

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UEFA Champions League

Hummels on target as composed Dortmund knock PSG out to reach final

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Champions League - Semi Final - Second Leg - Paris St Germain v Borussia Dortmund - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - May 7, 2024 Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels scores their first goal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Borussia Dortmund showed great composure to reach their third Champions League final after Mats Hummels’ second-half goal earned the visitors a 1-0 victory against misfiring Paris St Germain for a deserved 2-0 aggregate win on Tuesday.

Hummels headed home from a corner five minutes into the second half to send the Germans, who won the title in 1997, into their first final in Europe’s top club competition since 2013.

They will meet either 14-times champions Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, who clash at the Bernabeu on Wednesday after a 2-2 draw in the first leg, in the June 1 showdown at Wembley.

Luis Enrique’s PSG hit the woodwork four times but failed to find the net as Kylian Mbappe, widely expected to leave at the end of the season, was a shadow of his usual brilliant self.

“We lacked efficiency,” PSG captain Marquinhos said.

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“There are still positives to take from this competition. At the beginning nobody thought we would go that far. We’re out in the semi-finals but with a new coach and a new project.”

Dortmund coach Edin Terzic said his team deserved their place in the final.

“I am very proud, very happy. We beat PSG and we kept a clean sheet. We had a bit of luck but we deserve to go to the final,” he said.

AGGRESSIVE START

PSG, who entered the tie as favourites to reach their second final after finishing runners-up in 2020, made an aggressive start and Mbappe had their first chance in the seventh minute with a half-volley as the hosts piled on the pressure.

With Mbappe on the left flank and Goncalo Ramos as a lone striker, the France forward had some space out wide and the possibility to cut in and threaten the Dortmund goal.

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The visitors, however, were composed and held firm. Their confidence grew and they had their first opportunity through Julian Ryerson, whose shot hit the side netting.

Dortmund had a better chance in the 35th when, after a sharp counter attack following a woeful Mbappe miss, Gianluigi Donnarumma pulled off a brilliant save to deny Karim Adeyemi.

PSG were lucky the score on the night was level at halftime.

Luis Enrique’s side stepped up a gear after the break with Warren Zaire Emery’s shot hitting the outside of the post after Mbappe’s attempt was deflected into his path by Ramos.

But Dortmund were more clinical as Hummels headed home from Julian Brandt’s corner five minutes after the interval to double the German side’s advantage over the two legs.

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Ramos’s shot on the turn then went just over and Nuno Mendes’s 25-metre missile hit the post as PSG reacted swiftly.

Another Mbappe attempt was deflected onto the bar before Vitinha’s powerful shot also hit the woodwork.

PSG’s Ousmane Dembele was a constant threat after the hour mark but, just like the rest of the team, the France forward came more into the game far too late against a side who never lost their composure and fully deserve their place in the final.

-Reuters

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