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Champions League

Player ratings as Barça slump to another European defeat

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Barcelona suffered another night of Champions League frustration as they sank to a 1-0 defeat at Inter.

Hakan Calhanoglu scored the only goal of the game in typically stylish style, finding the corner of the net with a perfectly placed shot after Barcelona appeared to have repelled the initial attack.

However, the story of the night was more about a lack of imagination from Barça, who struggled to create chances despite dominating possession.

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They did have the ball in the net in the second half, with Pedri sweeping home. However, the goal did not survive the VAR check with Ansu Fati adjudged to have handled in the build-up.

Barcelona were also adamant that they should have had a penalty in the second half after substitute Denzel Dumfries appeared to have used his arm to win a ball in the box. However, VAR went against the La Liga side again after a lengthy check.

In truth, though, Barça probably got what they deserved from the game. Inter were disciplined, but Barcelona created nothing.

The result leaves Barca sweating on their chances of reaching the Champions League knockout stage with them picking up just three points from their opening three matches.

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GK: Andre Onana – 6/10 – Probably not as tested as much as he was expecting, largely due to how good his defence was in front of him.

CB: Milan Skriniar – 8/10 – Tenacious in the tackle and more than played his part.

CB: Stefan de Vrij – 8/10 – Inter needed him to be good, and he was.

CB: Alessandro Bastoni – 8/10 – Stood up well to the pressure.

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RM: Matteo Darmian – 7/10 – Given a real test by Dembele but kept to his task admirably.

CM: Nicolo Barella – 6/10 – Kept things nice and simple and played his part.

CM: Hakan Calhanoglu – 8/10 – Brilliant first-half goal to break the deadlock. Provided the quality when it was needed.

CM: Henrikh Mkhitaryan – 6/10 – Nowhere near his best but It was a tenacious display and disciplined performance.

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LM: Federico Dimarco – 7/10 – Lovely assist for Calhanoglu’s goal and largely solid throughout.

CF: Joaquin Correa – 5/10 – Some nice touches at times but struggled to truly assert himself.

CF: Lautaro Martinez – 6/10 – A hugely industrious performance and always looked like he could be a threat.

SUB: Edin Dzeko (56′ for Correa) – 6/10 – Brought on to try to retain possession higher up the pitch and, for the most part, managed to make an impact.

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SUB: Francesco Acerbi (76′ for De Vrij) – 7/10 – Came on and played his part.

SUB: Denzel Dumfries (76′ for Darmian) – 6/10 – The Serie A side needed some extra legs and athleticism to see this one out and the Dutchman provided it. Slightly fortunate to get away with a late handball, though.

SUB: Robin Gosens (76′ for Gosens) – 6/10 – Came on at a time when shape was everything and he slotted in well.

SUB: Kristjan Asllani (85′ for Calhanoglu) – N/A

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Manager: Simone Inzaghi – 8/10 – A defensive masterclass and good execution of a solid gameplan.

GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 6/10 – Not much he could do about Calhanoglu’s strike, in all fairness.

RB: Sergi Roberto – 6/10 – Didn’t really do much wrong, just not especially influential either.

CB: Andreas Christensen – 6/10 – Solid enough before injury ended his evening early in the second half.

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CB: Eric Garcia – 6/10 – Comfortable for the most part.

LB: Marcos Alonso – 6/10 – He was okay although he never truly influenced the game.

DM: Sergio Busquets – 5/10 – Far too slow to close down for the opener and his side paid the price.

CM: Pedri – 6/10 – Neat and tidy, as you would always expect. Thought he had scored the equaliser before VAR’s intervention.

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CM: Gavi – 6/10 – A very similar performance to that of Pedri.

RF: Ousmane Dembele – 6/10 – Often exciting but wasteful far too often. Hit the post in the second half to add to the frustration.

CF: Robert Lewandowski – 5/10 – Didn’t present his usual threat, although he was starved of service by an excellent Inter defence.

LF: Raphinha – 6/10 – A frustrating night for the Brazilian, who struggled to get himself into the game.

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SUB: Gerard Pique (58′ for Christensen) – 6/10 – Slotted in and wasn’t really troubled.

SUB: Alejandro Balde (63′ for Balde) – 6/10 – Failed to offer much.

SUB: Ansu Fati (63′ for Raphinha) – 5/10 – Was not able to influence things at all.

SUB: Franck Kessie (83′ for Gavi) – N/A

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Manager: Xavi Hernandez – 4/10 – Always easy to blame the manager, isn’t it? He was as frustrated as anyone though and was even yellow carded for displaying it.

Player of the Match: Hakan Calhanoglu



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Champions League

How can I watch the 2022/23 Champions League last 16 draw?

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So, the excitement of the group stage is over. Having witnessed some European powers breeze through their groups and others progress by the skin of their teeth, we can now look forward to the thrill and the ‘there’s nothing quite like it’-feeling of Champions League knockout football.

Here’s all you need to know about the Champions League round of 16.

The draw for the first round of this campaign’s Champions League knockout phase will take place on Monday 7 November at 11:00 (GMT).

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How to watch the 2022/23 Champions League last 16 draw in the UK

How to watch the 2022/23 Champions League last 16 draw in the United States and Canada

The eight group winners and the eight second-placed sides will feature in the Champions League round of 16 stage.

All four English teams that entered the competition have made it through to the knockout phase, with Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City joining Napoli, Porto, Bayern Munich, Benfica and reigning champions Real Madrid as the eight seeded sides.

Meanwhile, Liverpool are joined by Club Brugge, Inter, Eintracht Frankfurt, Milan, RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain as the unseeded sides.

The table-toppers and runners-up will be drawn against each other – apart from those that competed in the same group and those from the same Associations.

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We’ll be able to see these European heavyweights lock horns after the turn of the year, with the first legs set to be played over the 14 and 15 February, and the second legs over the 21 and 22.

We’ve got to get through a World Cup first, though.



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Who could Tottenham face in the 2022.23 Champions League knockout stages?

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After a two-year absence from the Champions League knockout stages, Tottenham Hotspur will return to the competition’s last 16 this campaign.

Spurs famously earned a runner-up finish in 2018/19 before crashing out at the round-of-16 stage with a 4-0 aggregate defeat to RB Leipzig the following year. After a sixth-placed Premier League finish in 2019/20 to boot, the 2020/21 season saw them bow out at the same stage in the Europa League before a humiliating group-stage exit from the Europa Conference League last term.

But, after topping a very competitive Group D this time around, all that seems irrelevant now. So, who could Tottenham face in the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League?

Tottenham’s return to Europe’s top table has yielded mixed results.

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Frustration was the prevalent theme of their Matchday 1 bout with Marseille, although the French giants were eventually put to the sword by Richarlison’s first two Spurs goals to ensure Antonio Conte’s side enjoyed a winning return to the Champions League.

Things subsequently got a little murkier for Conte’s men as a 2-0 defeat to Sporting Club and a goalless draw with Eintracht Frankfurt left them second in the group just a point above the basement spot.

Amid a drop in domestic form, however, came results in Europe. Having earned a 3-2 victory over Frankfurt when welcoming the German outfit to north London on Matchday 4, Spurs’ 1-1 tie with Sporting on Matchday 5 left Group D wide open before its conclusion.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s dramatic crashing strike in the final seconds of Conte’s side’s visit to the French Riviera, however, ensured they flew back to England from the Stade Velodrome with a table-topping 2-1 comeback victory.

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Tottenham have shared the goals around somewhat in this year’s Champions League campaign, with Son Heung-min and Richarlison both tied on two strikes to top their scoring charts, while Ivan Perisic boasts a squad-leading three assists.

As group winners (just about), Spurs can look forward to a clash with one of the eight runners-up from the group stage.

This leaves a few very tasty options for the neutrals to look forward to. Being from the same Association, we won’t see Tottenham face Liverpool in a rematch of the 2019 final, although we could see them battle Leipzig in a repeat of that last-16 demolition (of Spurs) back in 2020.

Other intriguing matchups include potential battles with either of the Milan teams, Borussia Dortmund or Paris Saint-Germain, while Club Brugge also represent potential opponents.

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Champions League

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia: ‘My dream is to win the Champions League with Real Madrid’

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Khvicha Kvaratskhelia: 'My dream is to win the Champions League with Real Madrid'

Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who we rank among the strong competitors for Ballon d’Or next year, has stood up on his greatest dream.

In a meeting with Corriere dello Sport, Kvaratskhelia: “My biggest dream? To win the Champions League. With who? With Real Madrid.

“Since I was a kid, I was a Real Madrid fan. Always watched their games,” the winger added in the interview just before joining Napoli for just €10m from Dinamo Batumi.

The Georgian technician has registered as many as 8 goals and 10 assists in just 17 games for the Neapolitans this season.

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It’s why many top clubs seem to have their sights set on the Georgian international. But the man of the moment only dreams of Real Madrid.

Source: Corriere dello Sport (h/t Total Cristiano @ Twitter)
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