UEFA Champions League updates: 7-13 March

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This blog is now closed, but our rolling coverage of the UEFA Champions League will resume on Monday with the countdown to the last round of 16 deciders.

Casemiro headed in a late winner as Real Madrid dug deep to clinch a 2-1 success at Las Palmas, moments after they had been pegged back. Sergio Ramos nodded in from a corner to give Zinédine Zidane's men the lead halfway through the first half, but they looked set to drop points when Willian José levelled for Las Palmas on the break with three minutes to go.

The visitors refused to be denied and reclaimed their advantage when midfielder Casemiro found the net two minutes later. Ramos was dismissed for a second bookable offence in added time, yet Madrid held on to keep themselves within four points of second-placed neighbours Atlético – 12 shy of Liga leaders Barcelona.

Zlatan Ibrahimović has hinted that his future may lie away from Paris Saint-Germain next season after his four goals helped the club wrap up their fourth successive Ligue 1 title with a 9-0 win at Troyes. Out of contract in the summer, the 34-year-old sent out a cryptic message following the landmark triumph.

"I am happy, [but] for the moment I am not at PSG next year," he told beIN Sports. "I have another one and a half months, I'm enjoying staying here while I'm here, so what happens next year I don't know. But, for the moment, I am not here. I don't believe they can change the Eiffel tower for my statue, so… but if they can I will stay here, I promise you."

Paris president Nasser Al-Khelaifi indicated that the capital side are keen to keep their record scorer on board, meanwhile. "Zlatan is magical," he said. "He's a great player. We are going to talk him and see what he wants to do. We want him to stay."

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Odion Ighalo and Adlène Guedioura struck as Watford stunned FA Cup holders Arsenal in the last eight to book a semi-final berth. Ighalo gave the Hornets a 50th-minute lead after the hosts had spurned a series of good chances. Thirteen minutes later, Guedioura doubled the lead with a powerful effort - the visitors' second shot on target. Substitute Danny Welbeck reduced the deficit two minutes from time but his late effort was unable to prevent the Gunners suffering a third successive home defeat in all competitions for the first time since November 2002.

On Wednesday, Arsenal will attempt to reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2010. However, the Premier League side have a mountain to climb after Lionel Messi's late double in the first leg gave Barcelona a 2-0 victory in north London.

Paris secured their fourth successive Ligue 1 title with eight games to spare in style after Zlatan Ibrahimović notched four goals in a commanding 9-0 triumph at bottom-ranked Troyes. Needing a win to reclaim their crown at this early stage, the Parisians raced into a three-goal lead inside 19 minutes as Edinson Cavani, Javier Pastore and Adrien Rabiot all struck in a dominant first-half display. Ibrahimović then hit a nine-minute hat-trick after the break, Matthieu Saunier scored an own goal, and Cavani added his second before the Sweden forward completed the rout late on.

Paris, Real Madrid and Arsenal are all in action on Sunday, the Gunners hoping to overcome Watford in the FA Cup - and not thinking about their upcoming UEFA Champions League decider according to Arsène Wenger. "We want to stay alive in all [competitions] but then again let's be focused on the next one," he said. "I don't believe anyone in my side is thinking about Barcelona at the moment, or Everton, they are completely focused on Watford."

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Atlético remain firmly anchored in second place in the Spanish table after a fourth successive Liga win, 3-0 at home against Deportivo La Coruña. Saúl Ñíguez headed in the opener on 17 minutes, and Diego Simeone's side upped the pace after the break, Antoine Griezmann striking for the fourth match in succession on the hour before captain Gabi set up the third for Ángel Correa.

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PSV's ten-game winning streak in the Eredivisie came to an end with a 1-1 draw at Heerenveen. The Eindhoven side responded smartly after Mitchell te Vrede put the hosts in front in the 53rd minute, Luuk de Jong heading in from Luciano Narsingh's cross for his 19th league goal of the season. However, Phillip Cocu's side could not build on that momentum, and will cede top spot in the table if Ajax beat NEC Nijmegen on Sunday.

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Having dropped five points in their previous two Bundesliga games, Bayern rediscovered their killer instinct to beat Werder Bremen 5-0. Kingsley Coman set up Thiago Alcántara for their opener, and then crossed for Thomas Müller to volley their second from close range. Müller made it 3-0 after the break, tidying up after Franck Ribéry's superb volley was saved. Robert Lewandowski – on as a substitute – made it 4-0, and star-man Coman set up Thiago again for the fifth.

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Bayern have confirmed that the decision to omit Arjen Robben from the squad for today's game against Werder Bremen was a tactical one, and not an indication of any injury.

Barcelona geared up for their round of 16 second leg tie against Arsenal with a 6-0 demolition of Getafe in the Liga. Juan Rodríguez's early own goal set the tone for the visitors before Lionel Messi missed a penalty in the 11th minute. It was no matter, however, as Munir El Haddadi resumed the scoring before a Neymar double, trademark Messi strike and a 57th-minute Arda Turan goal delivered a resounding victory for Luis Enrique's side.

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Dynamo Kyiv captain Olexandr Shovkovskiy played his 412th Ukrainian top-flight match on Friday to match former Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and Metalist Kharkiv midfielder Oleh Shelayev's Ukrainian league appearance record. The 41-year-old goalkeeper can set a new record on 20 March, when Dynamo will host Zorya Luhansk.

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Andrej Kramarić's third goal for Hoffenheim since joining on loan from Leicester took a little gloss off a fine week for Wolfsburg, who made it past Gent to the quarter-finals. The Croatian struck in the third minute to secure a 1-0 home win for his side, though the visitors' Koen Casteels saved a Kevin Volland penalty after the break. Defeat brought an end to a run of three straight wins in all competitions this March.

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Manchester City remain nine points behind the Premier League leaders after a 0-0 stalemate with Norwich City dented their hopes of winning the English title. Sergio Agüero was twice frustrated by goalkeeper John Ruddy while City also had a scare of their own when Patrick Bamford hit the crossbar for the hosts from 30 metres. The result leaves Manuel Pellegrini's side two points ahead of West Ham United, in fifth place, before the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg with Dynamo Kyiv on Tuesday evening.

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Paris coach Laurent Blanc urged his players "to crown a brillant campaign" by wining at bottom side Troyes tomorrow to take their fourth Ligue 1 title in a row. Monaco's draw on Friday night has handed Paris a first chance to take the title, with eight games of the campaign remaining. However, Blanc insisted that winning the title would not kill off his side's hunger. "Look at our April schedule," he said. "We have a lot of games to play. For that alone, it would be good to wrap up the league now. Then we have a [League Cup] final [23 April v Lille] and maybe another one [holders Paris plays Loriend in the French Cup semi-finals on 19 April]. You do not need to motivate players for such high-profile games."

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Paulo Dybala's 14th league goal of the season proved sufficient for Juventus to beat Sassuolo and move six points clear at the Serie A summit.

Dybala's sublime arcing finish from the edge of the area after good work from Juan Cuadrado in the 36th minute was enough to give Massimiliano Allegri's men victory with Juventus then seeing out the game to become the first team in history to keep ten consecutive Serie A clean sheets.

The tenth straight shut-out ensured Gianluigi Buffon passed Juventus legend Dino Zoff's 1972/73 landmark of 903 minutes without conceding. Only Milan's Sebastiano Rossi, who was unbreached for 929 minutes in 1993/94, stands between the Bianconeri and the all-time top-flight record. Buffon will break that streak if he is unbeaten in the opening four minutes of the derby against Torino next Sunday.

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Dynamo Kyiv made it 16 wins from 18 league games this season as they came from a goal down to beat hosts Karpaty Lviv 2-1.

The visitors had only conceded six goals in the league ahead of the contest but they feel behind when Ambrosiy Chachua gave Karpaty the lead in the 27th minute. However, Denys Garmash set up Łukasz Teodorczyk (55) and Andriy Yarmolenko (64) to ensure Serhiy Rebrov's men maintained their unbeaten away Premier League record.

Rebrov, without the injured Júnior Moraes, Danilo Silva and Serhiy Rybalka, gave debuts to 20-year old Artem Besedin and 19-year-old Paul Orzechowski in the second half.

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Barcelona have confirmed that Sandro Ramírez will be sidelined for "six to seven weeks" with a thigh injury. It rules the 20-year-old forward out of the Blaugrana's round of 16 second leg against Arsenal on Wednesday and any prospective quarter-final should the Catalan side progress.

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has said that Yaya Touré will miss tomorrow's Premier League game with Norwich City due to a heel injury and added that the midfielder is doubtful for the visit of Dynamo Kyiv on Tuesday. City lead their round of 16 tie 3-1.

Fresh from toppling Chelsea in the last 16, Paris could cap an excellent week with the Ligue 1 title on Sunday. The first French side to reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for a fourth consecutive year, Laurent Blanc's men will retain their domestic crown – their fourth in four seasons – if they prevail at bottom side Troyes and second-placed Monaco fail to win at home to Reims tonight.

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Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is totally focused on tomorrow's "tough" game against Sassuolo in Serie A despite Wednesday's second leg at Bayern to follow. "We're not thinking about the Bayern-Juve clash," he said. "Tomorrow we've got an important game that we need to win. It will be a tough match because Sassuolo have beaten some big teams. Our aim? It is to win a fifth consecutive Scudetto, it would be an extraordinary achievement.

"The next 10 days will be crucial for us, especially as far as the Scudetto race is concerned. The UEFA Champions League goal is a dream, but an achievable dream. Bayern, along with Barcelona, are one of the strongest teams in this competition. I'm sure that Wednesday's game will offer the fans an extraordinary night of football."

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"Brilliant" is the headline on the front page of Portuguese daily Record in response to Benfica's 2-1 victory at Zenit.


"Too strong," says L'Equipe of Paris after their 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge last night.


The Russian press were quick to wave goodbye to André Villas-Boas after Zenit's exit from UEFA Champions League. "Villas-Boas's time at Zenit has ended. Let's face the truth: the season is a failure," writes Sovetski Sport expert Evgeni Lovchev. "The club has maybe the best lineup in its history and even boasts a number of European stars, but the result isn't worthy of the resources expended."

Sports Daily says: "Villas-Boas failed to 'make history' as he suggested before the game, or at least did so not in the way he meant. His team was far from on top form in a match that he said was their most important of the season. He was probably right in that."


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That is all from the UEFA Champions League live blog for the day - head over to the UEFA.com MatchCentre to follow tonight's mouthwatering deciders as Zenit host Benfica from 18.00CET before Chelsea face Paris at 20.45CET.

Rui Vitória was facing a defensive headache coming into this one and the Benfica head coach has been forced to shuffle things around due to a combination of injuries and suspensions. Ederson makes his first UEFA Champions League start of the season, while Ljubomir Fejsa  drops back from midfielder to play at left-back. Meanwhile, Aleksandr Kokorin makes his first start as he begins ahead of Oleg Shatov. Ezequiel Garay is not deemed fit enough for a starting berth tonight after the Argentine defender had to pull out of Zenit's match at the weekend.

Paris star Laure Boullea, a UEFA Women's Champions League finalist in 2014/15,  "conquered London" today ...

Although he is intent on knocking out his former club again, Paris star David Luiz admits the Blues will always have a special place in his heart as he prepares for a second Stamford Bridge reunion in as many years.

While John Terry has been ruled out for Chelsea, Paris remain hopeful that Marco Verratti will recover from a groin injury to face the Blues. "We need to see if Verratti is able to train," said Laurent Blanc. "I'm not sure he will definitely be in my squad. He is a very important player for us and I hope he is fit.

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Paris coach Laurent Blanc concerned by Chelsea's strength on the counter:

We have to be careful. We have an advantage which is important. At kick-off time we will be technically qualified, but we have to impose our style of play on Chelsea, which will be a big challenge. We didn't go through the first time against Chelsea but last year we qualified with ten men. We need to have the right mental approach and we should understand that, because we have been through once, we can do it again.

Chelsea have a lot of players who allow them to break quickly. They like to soak up the pressure and then break at pace. Willian is one of those players, as is Eden Hazard. They have a lot of attacking players who can be very dangerous over 30, 40, 50 metres and get towards goal, so we need to keep an eye on them because it is very difficult when you give these players space.

We did very well in the first leg in the first 20 minutes because we kept a high line. It might seem risky but it's important to play a high line because it allows you to avoid their players running at pace. Obviously it's very difficult to maintain that for 90 minutes, physically speaking.

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Guud Hiddink, Chelsea manager:

It's always good to have an away goal in a European game, it doesn't make it easy of course. But it's a game between two big names in European football. It will be a match where hopefully Europe will enjoy two adventurous teams.

Of course Chelsea was anxious to win the Champions League once – PSG are in the same position now, they are anxious to get their first one. They are starting to build up a team, not just individual star players, but as a team they have grown very good in the last few seasons so they are on their way. I hope we can stop them in their project. But they have very experienced players, international players. Look where they have played, they are not a young group of kids not used to this.

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Former Paris player David Beckham visited the Parisian team's London hotel before their tie against Chelsea ...


È sempre un piacere rivederti @davidbeckham ✌️✌

A photo posted by Marco Verratti (@marcogufetto) on

Maybe not the biggest name in Real Madrid's glittering squad, yet Costa Rican international Keylor Navas is having a stellar campaign. The custodian has saved his side on numerous occasions and is yet to concede in eight UEFA Champions League matches, sitting behind only Jens Lehmann (853) in minutes played without conceding in the competition. He conjured outstanding stops to deny Alessandro Florenzi, Kostas Manolas and Diego Perotti andas quickly off his line to put off Salah and Edin Džeko in one-on-ones.

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Since lifting the trophy in 2012, Chelsea have played nine knockout round fixtures and won only two. Unless they can make it three from ten tonight - while at the same time ensuring the away goals don't become relevant - they will exit the competition for the second successive season at the round of 16. Who knows when they will return? A season that began so poorly has made it impossible for them to take their customary place in next season's UEFA Champions League through their league placing. And with the identity of new manager still a cause of speculation and doubts over the long-term futures of a number of senior players, there's no guarantee that the 2016/17 campaign will see them restored to rude health.

So a huge amount rides on the outcome of this latest confrontation between these cross-Channel rivals - more than in either of their duels in the previous two seasons. Paris are desperate to win the biggest of all club prizes - Chelsea don't want to take their leave of a stage that holds so many memories for them - good and bad. Let battle commence.

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Francesco Totti's name was greeted with applause from all corners before kick-off. The 39-year-old was later afforded something reserved for only a select group of opposition players when taking to the field on 74 minutes: a standing ovation from the Madrid crowd. "He deserves the applause for his career," coach Luciano Spalletti observed. "The Bernabéu is a stadium that has always known how to recognise great players." As did the Merengues players. Marcelo sprinted over to the Roma No10 at full time to ask for his shirt – though it was Sergio Ramos showing off Totti's top during post-match formalities.

Rui Vitória, Benfica coach:

Yes, we don't have the easiest of schedules, but we knew that in advance. We have already beaten Sporting, now we are ready to win and try to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

We are not rivals with André [Villas-Boas]. He's a great coach, one of the best in the world, who has done an excellent job at all his clubs, including Zenit. I always wish him the best of luck – except the match tomorrow perhaps!

Benfica always know what to do and always believe in our abilities. Yet it is important to respect the opposition, and Zenit are a good team with great players. Concentration is important for us, we must do everything we can. Despite our injuries, we have high-quality young players in reserve. Rúben Dias is a good young player, the future of Benfica.

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André Villas-Boas, Zenit coach:

Ezequiel Garay will play but Domenico Criscito and Javi García will not. We will have to make some changes to the lineup, but it is important to look beyond that. It's a historic moment for us, it is important to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Benfica always play very compactly. They are good in combination play. It is always difficult to find space in how they set up defensively, but we must do that.

Hulk is eager to play and win, he has already written his name into the history of Zenit and continues to do so today. Any player can have an off-day, this is football. We believe that tomorrow we will be able to fix our mistakes, create chances and take them.

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Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid:

I'm happy. We achieved the objective that we set out to, which was to win and get into the quarter-finals. The side played well, we scored twice again and we're delighted.

We knew it was going to be a tough game. Roma also had their chances and could have scored one or two goals, but we also had a lot of opportunities. It was an even game in the first half, but in the second Real Madrid played better, created more chances and scored two very important goals.

Keylor [Navas] has been a crucial player from the start of the season. In my opinion, he's one of the side's best players and is a top keeper. He's playing very well and I'm made up for him.

Who we get doesn't matter. We'll just have to wait and see what happens. There's still a long way to go in the Champions League. We know that the quarters and semis will be even more difficult, but the team is ready.

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On another night Egypt winger Mohamed Salah would have stolen the headlines. His dynamic performance was a joy. His neat footwork and electric pace helped him exploit space vacated behind attacking full-back Marcelo. It caused problems for Zinédine Zidane's men all evening. Unfortunately for Roma, Salah did not have his shooting boots on, missing two gilt-edged opportunities. If the 23-year-old can develop a clinical streak, he should grace the latter rounds of this competition for years to come.

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Vierinha, Wolfsburg midfielder:

We have made history in the Champions League and it's difficult to say who we might like to play as all of the teams in the quarter-finals will be tough. We got through the group stage for the first time and we've advanced to the quarter-finals. Now we can dream.

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It would be fair to say Cristiano Ronaldo enjoys playing in the UEFA Champions League. The tournament's all-time leading scorer with 90 goals, Ronaldo netted a competition-record 11 times in this season's group stage and added one in either leg against Roma to help Real Madrid to a 4-0 aggregate victory. The Portuguese's latest strike came on his record 57th knockout stage appearance just when the Liga side needed it most. It was a far cry from Roma's finishing at the other end.

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Watch the five fastest goals in UEFA Champions League history including efforts from Alessandro Del Piero, Clarence Seedorf and Roy Makaay ...

André Schürrle promised "two amazing games" in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals after Wolfsburg reached the last eight for the first time.

The FIFA World Cup winner scored the only goal in the knockout stage debutants' round of 16 second-leg triumph against Gent and was excited at the prospect of breaking more new ground as he looked ahead to the draw on 18 March.

"It's going to be difficult no matter who we play," the 25-year-old told UEFA.com. "A lot of the players here have never experienced this stage of the UEFA Champions League so we want to give it our all. It's fantastic for our fans, who've never had anything like this; they will see two amazing games. It's great for the whole club."

The 1-0 win completed a 4-2 aggregate success against the Belgian champions, with Schürrle pleased with a job well done. "The first thing we wanted was to avoid conceding," he said. "The first half was hard as Gent had plenty of the ball and we had to run a lot while trying to regain possession. But we defended well over the 90 minutes and in the second half we created some chances and scored our goal."

Full article: Schürrle and Dante flag up Wolfsburg achievement

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Luciano Spalletti, Roma coach:

The reality is that we lost 2-0 twice. It's only right that Real Madrid go through. We've got to improve in terms of our mentality and how clinical we are. We weren't at the level we had to be tonight. The regret isn't to have lost but to have not played the game with the right conviction.

We didn't play badly in either leg, but we didn't take advantage of the chances we created. Right now on a mental level perhaps we are a bit fragile. It's a big game, big games make you nervous and we have to change this. We needed to be more aggressive, communicate more and show more confidence.

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Zinédine Zidane singles out substitute Lucas Vázquez for praise after Real Madrid held off a Roma:

It was a difficult game but in the end we achieved our objective, which was to go through. And we didn't concede a goal. Over the 90 minutes a lot of things could have happened because we were up against a team with good, fast footballers. But we got the job done.

Casemiro played well and [substitute] Lucas Vázquez was also important. He gives his all whenever he plays and he always competes.

I'm happy with James's goal. He is training well and it's always important for a player like him to score. Every time Cristiano Ronaldo is on the pitch he wants to score and he keeps doing it. We can now look forward to the draw and relax. We need to rest.

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Meanwhile, Dieter Hecking was thrilled to continue Wolfsburg's first knockout campaign into the last eight:

A very big compliment to my team. We were favourites in this tie and we've confirmed that with two good performances. Everybody thought that this draw would be easy for us, but it wasn't. We had to give a lot to get through, but we built a foundation to qualify in Gent.

The quarter-final is a very big success for us – and we're able to go even further. This might not be the end. Of course we are the outsiders in the next round, but we will have a chance. I'm not finished with the Champions League yet. We're hoping for a good draw – it should be exciting.

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Gent coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck complained that the Buffalos missed their chance in Germany but "say goodbye in a good way" ...

There have been moments where we had the chance to score, but we didn't take them. We were well organised and had chances to get the first goal. If we'd gone 1-0 up it might have been a different match, but nevertheless we performed well.

We wanted to get an early goal and we created the opportunities to do that. In the second half we had to take more risks and brought on some more attacking players, but just in this moment we conceded the decisive goal.

We played better than we did at home and did not concede easy goals like in the first leg. That was quite OK.

We've done very well in the competition and we say goodbye in a good way. This season makes me confident for the future.

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Hear from Gareth Bale and André Schürrle as our panel – host Rob Daly, Chris Parrott, Richard Kaufman and Richard Connelly – review Real Madrid and Wolfsburg's UEFA Champions League round of 16 second-leg successes and preview Wednesday's action in the official podcast. You can listen in the player above or via Soundcloud, or download the podcast from iTunes ...

Zlatan Ibrahimović, Paris:

When I was young the Champions League was an obsession; now I reckon whether I win it or not, it will not change me as a player. I've been lucky to win a lot of trophies. I've been lucky to play for fantastic clubs, with fantastic players. I could win the Champions League this year and I will do my best to do it, but it wouldn't change the player I am.

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Paris striker Zlatan Ibrahimović will become only the 14th player to score 50 or more goals in UEFA club competition should he find the net against Chelsea tonight ...

It's been a wet and windy morning in London and with the forecast for more of the same throughout the day, heavy pressure will weigh on defenders at Stamford Bridge as they seek to avoid giving the opposition the boost of an early goal. Chelsea have to score - a 0-0 draw will usher Paris into the quarter-finals - and it can only help their confidence to remember that they have scored in 19 of the 20 games they have hosted this season. The exception was the 1-0 defeat by Bournemouth in José Mourinho's final days as manager last December while on average at home the Blues score just over two goals per match.

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Paris have used the same hotel as last year ahead of their rematch with Chelsea, and will repeat the same activities on the day before the game. The French press reports this morning that former PSG players David Beckham and Yohan Cabaye - both based in London - have paid a visit to Laurent Blanc's squad. Also getting behind Paris in the English capital will be Laure Boulleau – the most followed French sportswoman on social media – who could not join France on their United States tour due to injury.

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Russian sports daily Sport-Express sees tonight's meeting with Benfica as potentially the end of an era for Zenit, expecting Hulk to join Axel Witsel and coach André Villas-Boas in moving on this summer. "It is possible all of us will see a happy ending, but it could be a dead end as well, and that will prove the club moved in the wrong direction in recent years instead of making progress," it writes. "Anyway, this summer they will demolish an old temple and will start to build a new one: without Villas-Boas, Witsel and, very likely, without Hulk."

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Today's Marca salutes Real Madrid's 2-0 victory over Roma, the front cover paying homage to the impact of substitute Lucas Vázquez, who came on to help change the game. The sports paper writes that his pace and directness helped turn the game in Madrid's favour, while special praise is also reserved for Cristiano Ronaldo and Keylor Navas.


L'Équipe says "Paris need to control the game to upset Chelsea" tonight as they defend a 2-1 lead from the first leg. The daily's front page pits Ángel Di María against Branislav Ivanović, with the 'shoot first!' headline a reference to the 1745 Battle of Fontenoy, a notable victory for the French in the War of the Austrian Succession.


The Süddeutsche Zeitung was rather unimpressed by Wolfsburg's performance last night, despite their progress to the quarter-finals. "Dieter Hecking had announced 'full-throttle football' before the match, but instead we saw plain safety football," it writes. Der Westen agreed that Wolfsburg "delivered no more than what was necessary after the good result in the first leg", but congratulated the Wolves on their "biggest success on the European stage ever".

After returning to the Real Madrid starting XI following a calf injury, Gareth Bale said his team were happy to finish off the tie, but admitted they rode their luck against a lively Roma side ...

'Wasteful Roma' is the headline in Gazzetta dello Sport after the Giallorossi's 2-0 defeat against Real Madrid. "Džeko and Salah give Real a let-off, Ronaldo punishes Roma," adds the pink paper citing missed opportunities at 0-0. "This is a defeat, not a disaster," Gazzetta dello Sport concludes, giving Roma credit for a good performance.

Corriere dello Sport's headline is 'Troppo Ronaldo' (too much Ronaldo). "Players who don't miss good opportunities when they get them make the difference," the Rome-based paper notes. Meanwhile Il Messaggero stressed the Real Madrid fans' standing ovation for Roma substitute Francesco Totti, quoting Roma's captain as saying: "It was a very touching. [Having never played for] Real Madrid is probably my only regret, but this applause means that I gave a lot to football."


We have our first two quarter-finalists: Real Madrid and Wolfsburg. We'll have reaction in this blog on Wednesday plus the build-up to Zenit v Benfica and Chelsea v Paris.

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That is all from the UEFA Champions League blog for the day - head over to the MatchCentre to follow tonight's games. The blog will resume in the morning.

Benfica's Nicolás Gaitán has described Zenit as "high class", adding: "They can win the match at any time so it will be very difficult for us, but we'll try to do as well as we can. We're two great teams, so the game will be a strong and interesting; anything can happen and in a matter of minutes, everything could change."

The midfielder also made light of Benfica's selection problems, saying: "We've not been lucky with injuries but the 11 players who are selected tomorrow will do as well as they can – and we will fight to the end."

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Zenit goalkeeper Yuri Lodygin believes keeping a clean sheet against Benfica will be mandatory, explaining: "My goal is not to concede – that will be very important, not least psychologically."

Jonas' added-time goal was all that separated the teams in the first leg, and Lodygin acknowledged: "Benfica played well as a team that night. It was our first game after the winter break and that played a role, but I think overall it was our toughest match against Benfica. I expect another good game tomorrow."

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André Villas-Boas, Zenit coach:

We will have to make some changes to the lineup, but it is necessary to look beyond that. It's a historic moment for us, it is important to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Benfica always play very compact. They are good in combination play. It is always difficult to find space in how they set up defensively, but we must do that.

Hulk is eager to play and win, he has already written hs name into the history of Zenit, and continues to do so today. Any player can have an off day, this is football. We believe that tomorrow we will be able to fix our mistakes, create chances and take them.

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Yuri Lodygin, Zenit goalkeeper:

Being a goal down after the first leg is not a daunting predicament. In the first game Benfica played well - it is difficult to highlight a specific player. Jonas scored, but he was dangerous for the entire 90 minutes. I think that tomorrow will be another good contest.

Prior to a 4-0 victory away to Hannover on 1 March, Wolfsburg's domestic campaign appeared to be in trouble. One win in ten top-flight games signalled a significant problem for a team that finished runners-up in the Bundesliga and lifted the German Cup at the end of the previous campaign. "The crisis was there, it was ever present," coach Dieter Hecking explained of his side's troubling run. An ever-increasing injury list and a lull in team spirit led to defensive lapses and uncertainty in attack for the dispirited Wolves. Yet, according to Hecking, "the team has since given the right responses so that we can still reach our goals this season."

If spirits were raised in Hannover, they are currently soaring following last weekend's 2-1 win at home to Gladbach. "Our goals have been well-played out and we are once again looking to make quick transitions [while] the recently tense injury situation has improved a little," the German tactician purred. Gent beware.

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Chelsea's best player currently is Willian, according to Paris winger Lucas. Ahead of Wednesday's last-16 return at Stamford Bridge, the PSG star highlighted his compatriot as one to watch. "He is very strong," Lucas told PSG's website. "But he is not the only one who can make a difference. I think [Eden] Hazard or Pedro can do it too. They are also great players."

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Real Madrid are the only team left in the competition yet to let in a goal on home soil. Overall they scored 13 goals in amassing three straight home victories in the group stage.

Kalifa Coulibaly on Gent's maiden voyage in the UEFA Champions League:

It has been phenomenal in the Champions League for Gent this season. The Champions League is a great competition, and it's a great thing for us to take part in it. It's a dream for any player to play in the Champions League. And I've been lucky enough to play in it and score a goal in this competition. As a kid I watched the Champions League on TV, and now I'm taking part in it and scoring a goal, so it's extraordinary for me. We have done well in the Champions League. We are well recognised here in Belgium, and now many people know Gent on the European scene too. It's a good thing for the club, and I hope we will have the opportunity to play in it again next season.

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Ever-present in Gent's UEFA Champions League campaign thus far this season, goalkeeper Matz Sels spoke of the need for the Belgian champions to maintain a sense of calm tonight, despite the fact that they trail Wolfsburg 3-2 in the tie. "We shouldn't look to throw everyone forward from the off as conceding would be deadly for us," the recently crowned Belgium Goalkeeper of the Year warned. "At 0-3 down in the first-leg it looked as though we would be coming here on a city break but thanks to our two goals this is still a contest," he added. "If we even manage to score quite late on to put ourselves 1-0 up on the night, there could be ten more minutes for Wolfsburg to sweat it out. You never know."

Paris's Kevin Trapp on why he chose to become a goalkeeper:

When you talk to kids, they all want to become strikers and score goals, and that was the same with me. I started out as a forward, but I realised after the first training session that it was just too exhausting for me, and my team's goalkeeper was injured, so I went to our coach and asked him if I could try playing in goal for the next training session, and he said yes. Thank God everything has gone as it has since then. I stayed in goal. Actually, I had one year where I tried playing as a striker, and I didn't do so badly, but we all agreed that I was better in goal.

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Danijel Milićević on Gent's prospects of eliminating Wolfsburg:

It will be very difficult to win in Germany, but you never know in football. I don't think we ever change our playing philosophy. That is a great quality of our coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck, and the team – we have never adapted our playing style to the opponents we face. An early goal would be very important for us, to put some doubts in the German team's minds.  We have to score twice – that's a fact. But we cannot just travel to Germany with a completely free mind, we have to be completely focused, because Wolfsburg are a strong team especially on the counterattack, and they have some top-level players. So we have to be focused, be patient, and wait for our moment.

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Paris striker Zlatan Ibrahimović could this week become only the 14th player to score 50 or more goals in UEFA club competition* ...


Before this season Gent had faced German opponents on only two occasions and won away from home each time. In the 1991/92 UEFA Cup second round they drew 0-0 at home to Eintracht Frankfurt and won 1-0 away. In the 2001 UEFA Intertoto Cup third round the Buffalos triumphed 3-2 away to SV Werder Bremen and after losing 1-0 at home, went through on away goals.

Tonight's home encounter against Gent will be a special occasion for Wolfsburg's Belgian goalkeeper Koen Casteels. The 23-year-old will face his compatriots once again after Wolves No1 Diego Benaglio was ruled out through injury. Casteels, who made his UEFA Champions League debut in the first leg in Belgium, previously played for KRC Genk before joining Bundesliga side Hoffenheim in 2011.

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Television expert Erik Meijer has praised Julian Draxler's performance in the first leg against Gent, as Wolfsburg prepare for tonight's decider. "Right now he plays very well," Meijer told Sky Germany. "His two goals in the first leg showed that he is a genius. Perhaps he was able to rid himself of the pressure that was on his shoulders after he had to replace [former Wolves playmaker] Kevin De Bruyne."

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The 1-0 first-leg reverse at Benfica was perhaps no disaster for Zenit, given it was their first game of the year. Now further sharpened by an extra-time Russian Cup triumph against Kuban and an underwhelming 0-0 draw at Krasnodar in their first Premier-Liga fixture of 2016, midfielder Danny reckons his side are up to speed. "We have increased our confidence and tempo and we are ready, 100%," he noted. "Benfica are a top-quality team but we are strong, we are at home and we want to win."

They can only hope Benfica are a little distracted following Saturday's 1-0 derby success at Sporting CP – a result that put the Portuguese champions top of the Liga outright for the first time since the opening day of the season. "We're happy, but there are still nine finals left," coach Rui Vitória said. 

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The first-leg loss in Paris remains Chelsea's only defeat in 16 matches under Guus Hiddink this term, and the stand-in manager wants the west Londoners to bare their teeth in the home return. "We will need to be angry from the start on Wednesday, but in a controlled way," he said. "We are playing a class team and they will punish you if you start sloppy." Paris have not won in two Ligue 1 outings – their worst run of the campaign – but felt secure enough at the top of the table to give 18-year-old midfielder Christopher Nkunku his debut and play Presnel Kimpembe, 20, at centre-back in Saturday's 0-0 draw with Montpellier.

Diego Costa may be the man to watch for Chelsea; the Spanish international has plundered ten goals since Hiddink's arrival having managed just four in 2015/16 before the Dutchman's appointment. The UEFA Champions League has been a goalscoring blind spot of late – having hit eight for Atlético Madrid en route to the 2014 final, Costa has notched only once in 14 European appearances for Chelsea.

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Around three weeks ago, Gent coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck said the Buffalos had a "zero percent" chance of ousting Wolfsburg, who enjoyed a 3-2 win in Belgium. The 52-year-old position has since changed, albeit slightly. "Officially we have a 3.1% chance, which is not that much more than zero," he told Belgian sporting broadcaster Sporza. Although explaining that, "A miracle must happen if we are to qualify". Vanhaezebrouck has nonetheless told his players how a possible upset might come to pass. "If we can create some momentum, if we can score first, who knows? We have to go for it," he insisted.

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André Schürrle went into last Tuesday's fixture at Hannover with two goals in 33 Bundesliga appearances for Wolfsburg – figures hardly consistent with the reported €32m transfer fee paid to Chelsea for the forward in January 2015. A 27-minute hat-trick in that 4-0 success, however, has given him a huge lift. "A lot has been written, a lot has been said," Schürrle explained. "I think I just gave the right answer." Not that he was entirely satisfied, noting: "I am annoyed – I should have had four."

That impatience augurs well for the decider against Gent; the Wolves won the away leg 3-2 and the Belgian champions' coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck has given his team a "zero per cent" chance of reaching the last eight. He did say the German side might "start to panic" if they conceded the first goal, but added: "I still think they have more class. But we won't give up and I expect my players to prove me wrong."

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Meanwhile La Gazzetta dello Sport highlights former Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita as the man who can make the difference for the Giallorossi. Under the headline "Roma you can", the article adds "Keita is a specialist against Real Madrid. The Malian has won 11 out of 17 games against Los Blancos".

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Having lost 2-0 at home, Roma have a mountain to climb at the Bérnabeu but the Giallorossi have already defeated their opponents twice in Madrid. Their most recent encounter was in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 in 2007/08 when Luciano Spalletti's side recorded 2-1 home and away victories.

Back in 2002, Roma became the first Italian team to win at the Bérnabeu since Helenio Herrera's Inter in the '60s - courtesy of a Francesco Totti goal. Former Brazilian defender Aldair urged the current Giallorossi side to emulate his team. "We were an experienced team and played a great game," he recalled in an interview with Corriere dello Sport. "Roma are facing a difficult task but they played very well in the last few games under Spalletti. They have a chance and could create an upset with the quality of their play."

Mirko Vučinić, who scored the winning goal in that tie at this stage in 2008, is also convinced that Roma still have a chance. "They start from a difficult position, but there is nothing to lose, he said."

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Marca also conveys a positive mood in the Real Madrid camp, headlining their edition "European Union", and celebrating the return of the Cristiano Ronaldo-Gareth Bale partnership in attack after the Wales international, who has only played twice in the competition this season due to injuries, made his comeback at weekend having been sidelined since 17 January.


Real Madrid are heading into their second leg with Roma in high spirits, according to the Madrid press. "A different face for the Champions League", is the headline in AS, alongside a picture of a smiling Keylor Navas, Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo, all looking forward to facing the Italians after their emphatic 6-1 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday. The paper celebrates the return of Marcelo and Gareth Bale from injury, highlights the fact that Keylor Navas is yet to concede a single goal in the UEFA Champions League, and says Ronaldo, on 12 goals, is looking to beat his own record of 17 strikes in a single Champions League campaign.


Ten years ago today, goals in each half from Benfica duo Simão and Fabrizio Miccoli ended Livepools reign as European champions. The Eagles advanced to the quarter-finals for the first time since 1994/95 and completed a remarkable double having already eliminated another English side, Manchester United, from the same competition during the group stage.

Simão's spectacular first-half strike and Miccoli's late volley earned the Portuguese champions a 2-0 win at Anfield and a 3-0 overall triumph to eliminate Rafael Benítez's charges. Rui Vitória's side will be hoping to take inspiration from that famous triumph on Wednesday at Zenit as they aim to reach the last eight for the first time since 2011/12 on Tuesday.

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Willian, Chelsea midfielder:

I am at one of the biggest clubs in the world, playing in what I think is the best league and always playing in the Champions League, so playing at this club is a dream. Since I arrived, I have tried to develop every season, play better in each match, and that's what has happened. I hope to continue like this.

Guus Hiddink is a very experienced coach – a coach who has already won many trophies. The team are playing well. We have been getting victories and I hope we can keep this up. Apart from being a great coach, he's a great person. I admire him a lot for the person and coach he is. I have a lot of respect – I worked with him in Russia [at Anji]. He welcomed me with open arms there, so we have a very good relationship.

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Already 2-0 down, Roma need no reminding of Cristiano Ronaldo's class, but the Real Madrid No7 issued one anyway by scoring four in Saturday's 7-1 thrashing of Celta Vigo to go second in the all-time Liga scoring charts and top of the Liga standings for this season on 27 – one above Barcelona's Luis Suárez. The Portugal forward also leads the way in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League on 12 goals, his record 11 group-stage strikes followed by another first-leg effort against Roma as he moved onto 88 in the competition – another record.

Recently-appointed Roma coach Luciano Spalletti, however, hopes Mohamed Salah and Stephan El Shaarawy can combine to upstage Ronaldo, saying after Friday's 4-1 win against Fiorentina: "If we can give them the ball quickly from midfield, El Shaarawy and Salah can be devastating." El Shaarawy has registered five goals in six Serie A games since joining from Monaco, while Salah has five goals in his last four league outings – statistics that suggest there is fight left in Roma yet.

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Gent face a difficult task in Lower Saxony and with Wolfsburg beginning to click at a crucial moment in the season, this UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie is ultimately theirs to lose.

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Luciano Spalletti's side are a dangerous team and will take encouragement from a run of positive results, but the return of key man Gareth Bale for Real Madrid should be enough to help Zinédine Zidane's charges see off Roma and advance to the last eight.

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Wolfsburg stars Maximilian Arnold (shin), Max Kruse (thigh) and Julian Draxler (knee) all picked up knocks during Saturday's Bundesliga win against Gladbach. The trio will face late fitness tests ahead of today's decider against Gent. "It was a very intensive game," said Wolves coach Dieter Hecking. "But we are still hopeful that all three players will be able to play."

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'A score to settle' is how the headline in this morning's L'Équipe translates, with Paris a day away from their decider against Chelsea. The paper's main concern is the club's main striker. "Since the beginning of his career, Zlatan Ibrahimović has been much less decisive as games have become harder in Champions League," it writes. Paris's top scorer this season said of his recent form that he is "walking on air", having scored eight in his last eight domestic games.


Good morning from a sunny yet very chilly Wolfsburg. Listening to today's radio sports briefings ahead of tonight's round of 16 second leg encounter against Gent, it is easy to detect the local optimism surrounding Wolfsburg's chances of reaching the last eight. Dieter Hecking's team are already 3-2 up and the coach's words from yesterday's pre-match press conference are being relayed across the airwaves this morning. "That feeling of tension and anticipation of the UEFA Champions League is back," he said. "For us to reach the quarter-finals would be historic but Gent can say the very same. Tonight's is a new game, a new task and we can't look back [to our first leg result]."

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This week's previews

Real Madrid v Roma
Wolfsburg v Gent

Zenit v Benfica
Chelsea v Paris Saint-Germain

Hein Vanhaezebrouck, Gent coach

We made a lot of mistakes in the first leg. We have to minimise them but even if we do so, Wolfsburg are a very strong team at home - they rarely lose there. That's what we have to keep in mind, knowing how difficult the task will be. But this does not mean that I give up.

As everybody knows, miracles happen in football from time to time. If we can take the lead, who knows what will happen? If Wolfsburg takes the lead, the task becomes even more difficult for us. We have to be focused from the start but we won't change anything. We could, but we won't.

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Sven Kums on Gent's second leg against Wolfsburg

We will try everything to achieve our dream of qualifying for the next round. In the first leg match we were asleep for the first 80 minutes and started too late. We have to improve on that tomorrow.

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Edin Džeko had an impact for Roma when he came off the bench in the first leg so could he have a greater role this time round? Luciano Spalletti hints as much, saying: "I don't think Real will play as expansively, so Edin Džeko could be useful for us with his attributes."

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Luciano Spalletti weighs up Roma's task in Madrid

I'm asking my team to do the impossible. The way they are training allows me to ask that question. We have to score early then we'll see what happens; it could change the balance of the tie, especially mentally. We mustn't be weak mentally and play to lose. If anyone thinks like that with me, they won't even train.

Tomorrow we must be able to choose when to attack or hold off. We must be convinced when taking the initiative. The result in the first leg was harsh seeing how we performed. We were unlucky. We've been improving game by game. This team has enormous potential.

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Diego Perotti, Roma forward on the second leg against Real Madrid

We've come here to pull off the impossible. We know we have to score twice, it won't be easy but anything is possible. We have won seven games in a row in the league, scoring a lot of goals. We are going to give our all.

I haven't been injured in Italy like I was in Spain, perhaps that's why I'm doing well in Serie A. I have to improve my finishing. I was brought in to add assists but I'd like to score more often. I've got a lot to improve upon and I hope to spend many more years developing with Roma.

I can’t understand fans whistling a player [Ronaldo] who has scored so many goals and and won almost everything. It's a little unfair.

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Birthday boy Luciano Spalletti is speaking with the media alongside winter signing Diego Perotti - I wonder what the Roma coach wants from his players to mark him turning 57 ...

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Wolfsburg's Belgian goalkeeper Koen Casteels on facing Gent

It's special to play against people from your home country, especially in the Champions League. This does not happen many times, but I don't mind. We want to win and go through to the next round tomorrow.

Midfielder Renato Neto on Gent's chances of overcoming Wolfsburg in Germany

We all need to believe together. We know how difficult it will be – they'll be playing at home with their fans, but we will go there with belief and try to get the best result. We have to keep our heads up and try to do our best in the return match; try to score the goals we need and not concede. We've already made history in the competition, and now we have to hope for better. We've already achieved a lot and surprised a lot of people. And from now on, we need to maintain our focus.

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Out since 31 March, Lisandro López (thigh) will definitely miss Benfica's decider at Zenit on Wednesday since he is not part of the squad that is flying to Russia this afternoon. With Jardel (suspended) and Luisão (broken arm) absent, the Eagles have just one available central defender - 21-year-old Victor Lindelöf - with coach Rui Vitória calling up 18-year-old Rúben Dias form the youth ranks as cover.

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Zinédine Zidane on Real Madrid's decider against Roma

Of course we are excited about the possibility of winning the competition but we should only be thinking about this difficult match ahead. Roma are a good team but I'm more worried about what we are going to do. Their forwards are very good. If you don't do things well you can be eliminated.

For me the most important match is always the next one. As a coach, you want to be involved in matches like this. You can't explain with words what you feel. We have to defend when we don't have the ball and try to hurt our opponents when we do have it. It's not true that Roma have no chance.

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Kalifa Coulibaly on coming off the bench to help Gent go from 3-0 to 3-2 down against Wolfsburg

We started well, but we made two mistakes and conceded two soft goals, and then it was 3-0 after 60 minutes. We lost our heads a bit, but that's football. [Hein Vanhaezebrouck] brought me on a few minutes before the end, and we believed in ourselves, pushed forward and scored two goals. Mine was an important goal, because at 3-2 we still have some hope. When I'm on the pitch I'm not thinking about time – whether there is ten, 15, or two minutes to go, I'm just giving everything, and that's what I did [against Wolfsburg]. I saw that Kenny [Saief] had the ball, and when he lifted his head, I knew he was going to cross it. I didn't hesitate – I ran towards the near post and flicked the ball in. 3-2.

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Pepe on his place in the Real Madrid squad

I never feel I am a guaranteed starter. I always work to help the team and try to do my best. We have four good central defenders and the coach has to choose which ones to use. The club and the players have to learn a lot of lessons from this season. We want to win this competition but we have to know there are other good teams with a lot of quality. It's going to be difficult. Real Madrid are always dangerous. We have to do what our coach ask us, and do it well.

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Pepe on Roma's chances of retrieving a 2-0 deficit against Real Madrid

Roma have great players and they are a big team in Italy and Europe. They have fast players on the wings and they will make things more difficult for us. It's going to be a difficult match.

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Real Madrid defender Pepe on Zinédine Zidane's contribution so far

Everyone works well together and the coach selects the best team depending on the opponents. Zidane has done a lot for us in a short time. First of all, in terms of teamwork. Now we don't waste time with things that aren't part of football. He has been a player and he knows exactly how players thinks and what they want. He has brought unity to the group. He was a great player and I have no doubt he will be one of the best coaches in the world.

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Massimiliano Allegri has won the Panchina d'Oro – the golden bench – after being voted the best Italian coach of the 2014/15 Serie A season by his peers. Allegri, who led Juventus to their first domestic double since 1994/95 and the UEFA Champions League final in Berlin, follows in the footsteps of predecessor Antonio Conte. The Italy coach received the award for each of the three campaigns he was in charge of the Bianconeri (2011–14). Lazio coach Stefano Pioli and Napoli's Maurizio Sarri finished second and third respectively.

Danijel Milićević on Gent's UEFA Champions League debut

It has been a fantastic experience, because many of the players hadn't experienced the Champions League before. It has really been fantastic to experience those nights, with the anthem playing before the match – it really gave us all goosebumps. I think we have achieved something incredible by qualifying for the round of 16. It has given me a lot, and many beautiful experiences. Taking ten points in the group stage is unbelievable. But now we're playing in the round of 16, and we have to be aware of that and fight until the end.

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Injuries to Julian Draxler (ligament) and Max Kruse (thigh) sustained in the weekend's 2-1 win against Mönchengladbach have given Wolfsburg concerns ahead of their decider against Gent. "It should be OK by Tuesday," Draxler said. "I mean, on Tuesday we are playing in the Champions League. Your legs run by themselves on occasions like that."

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Roma coach Luciano Spalletti has lost centre-back Antonio Rüdiger to a thigh injury, with Ervin Zukanović expected to step in to the starting XI for the Real Madrid decider. Daniele De Rossi is out with a calf injury, while Radja Nainggolan is doubtful in midfield with a groin issue. Should he fail to recover, Spalletti could decide to push full-back Alessandro Florenzi into midfield and deploy Maicon at right-back, or alternatively bring in William Vainqueur as a straight swap for the Belgian international. Edin Džeko is expected to start on the bench with Mohamed Salah, Diego Perotti and Stephan El Shaarawy confirmed in attack.

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Paris goalkeeper Kevin Trapp on the thrill of the UEFA Champions League

Well, it has always been my dream to play in the Champions League, and when I got the offer from Paris and had the chance to move, I got closer to that dream. For me it's a new experience, because I had never played in the Champions League before – only one season in the Europa League with Frankfurt, but the Champions League is obviously a different story. It is the one of the best things that can happen to a player, and once you've experienced it you don't want to give it up. 

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Benfica coach Rui Vitória could redeploy Ljubomir Fejsa or fellow central midfielder Andreas Samaris as a central defender on Wednesday at Zenit, with his side eager to defend a 1-0 lead in the absence of Jardel (suspended), Luisão (broken arm) and Lisandro López (thigh). A UEFA European Under-21 Championship winner with Sweden, 21-year-old Victor Lindelöf is the Eagles' only available centre-back at the moment. Elsewhere, goalkeeper Júlio César (harmstring) and full-back André Almeida (suspended) are absent. Brazil's Olympic team goalkeeper Ederson, 22, made his Benfica debut in Saturday's 1-0 derby win at Sporting, and should make his first UEFA Champions League start in Saint Petersburg.

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Cristiano Ronaldo has climbed to the top of the ESM Golden Shoe thanks to his four goals in Real Madrid's 7-1 win against Celta Vigo on Saturday, taking his total for the season to 27 – equating to 54 points.

Luis Suárez is in joint second place having scored Barcelona's final goal in Sunday's 4-0 success at Eibar, his 26th league goal of the season; Lionel Messi now has 21 Liga goals in 2015/16 following his double in the same game.

ESM Golden Shoe – top 10
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) 27 x 2 = 54 points
2. Gonzalo Higuaín (Napoli) 26 x 2 = 52
Jonas (Benfica) 26 x 2 = 52
Luis Suárez (Barcelona) 26 x 2 = 52
5. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern München) 23 x 2 = 46
6. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund) 22 x 2 = 44
7. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) 21 x 2 = 42
8. Eran Zahavi (Maccabi Tel-Aviv) 27 x 1.5 = 40.5
9. Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) 19 x 2 = 38
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) 19 x 2 = 38

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With Marco Verratti (groin) and Blaise Matuidi (hamstring) doubtful for Wednesday's trip to Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc gave a Ligue 1 debut to 18-year-old midfielder Christopher Nkunku in Saturday's goalless draw at home to Montpellier.

"I felt a bit of pressure," said Nkunku, who has scored twice in six UEFA Youth League appearances this season and featured as a late substitute against Shakhtar Donetsk in the group stage. "But as the game went on I felt better and better. I'm happy the key players could be rested, and we'll be ready for the big night."

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Chelsea's Willian has picked out Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti as Paris Saint-Germain's key players, telling French TV show Téléfoot: "Those two control the pace of the game when they have the ball at their feet." The Brazilian, nevertheless, remains confident, adding: "I'm sure we can do it."

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Paris Saint-Germain are at the beginning of a potentially great week. On Wednesday, they could reach the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the fourth year in a row as they travel to Chelsea defending a 2-1 lead; on Sunday they will win a fourth successive league title if they beat bottom side Troyes, providing second-placed Monaco do not defeat Reims the day before.

Midfielder Lucas needs no telling about the significance of the trip to Chelsea: "For us, it's the most important game of the season."

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Sunday's domestic league games featured away wins for Barcelona and Atlético Madrid in Spain, while Juventus stretched their unbeaten run in Serie A to 18 games with another victory.


Artem Nefedyev, St Petersburg

Igor Linnyk

Joseph Walker, Madrid

Julian Beattie, London


Marcos Prieto, Madrid

Mario Jurkschat, Wolfsburg


Paolo Menicucci

Paul Bryan, Wolfsburg

Richard Martin

Richard van Poortvliet, St Petersburg

Trevor Haylett, London

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