Robert Lewandowski has reiterated his intent to depart Bayern München this summer, stating that “something died” inside him.
The Polish international has repeatedly said he wants to leave, but Bayern want the striker to honor his contract, which expires in 2023.
Speaking to Polish media outlet Onet Sport, however, Lewandowski emphasized once more that he doesn’t want to keep playing for Bayern.
“I am leaving because I want more emotions in my life. They didn’t want to listen to me until the end. Something died inside me – and it’s impossible to get over that. Even if you want to be professional, you can’t make up for it,” Lewandowski told Onet Sport (via @iMiaSanMia).
“When you have been at the club for so many years, you were always ready, you were available, despite the injuries and pain you gave your best, I think it will be best to find a good solution for both sides. And not to look for a one-sided decision.
“It does not make sense. Not after this time. After such a successful path and on my part of readiness and support, this loyalty and respect are probably more important than this business.
“What kind of player will want to come to Bayern Munich if he knows he can’t leave the club? Where is that loyalty and respect? I was always ready, I always wanted to play, even when there were injuries.”
It’s all to play for next week as Europe will fill up the remaining three slots allotted to them for the FIFA World Cup and be sure that Apex Football will bring you all the action as it happens. See you soon!
What a night…totally unexpected and unbelievable! European Champions Italy will not be at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, after suffering a shock 1-0 loss to North Macedonia in the play-off semi-final on Thursday night.
A 92nd minute strike from Trajkovski helped the minnows seal a playoff Final encounter against Portugal next week, who themselves saw off Turkey 3-1 with Otavio, Diogo Jota and Mattheus Nunes all on the scoresheet for the Selecao. Veteran striker Burak Yilmaz who scored what proved to be a consolation, missed a late second half penalty which would have made it 2-2 for the Turks.
FULL-TIME AT THE ESTADIO DO DRAGAO STADIUM: Portugal 3-1 Turkey
FULL-TIME IN PALERMO: Italy 0-1 North Macedonia
90+2′ MIN: What a beauty from just outside the box! Aleksandar Trajkovski lashes the ball with incredible pace and power into the bottom left corner.
GOOOAAALLL!!! Italy 0-1 North Macedonia (A. Trajkovski)
90+4′ MIN: Portugal have surely won this one! Matheus Nunes finds the back of the net off an assist from Rafael Leao.
GOOOAAALLL!!! Portugal 3-1 Turkey (M. Nunes)
83′ MIN: Burak Yilmaz misses the penalty! His poor effort goes well over the crossbar. The ball is off of the pitch and it’s a goal kick for Portugal.
82′ MIN: The referee awards a spot-kick to Turkey, following consultation with the VAR after Fonte was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.
PENALTY!!! To Turkey
65′ MIN: Cengiz Under lays the ball off to Burak Yilmaz, who shoots from close range into the top of the net, leaving the goalkeeper helpless.
GOOOAAALLL!!! Portugal 2-1 Turkey (B. Yilmaz)
SECOND HALF UNDERWAY AT THE ESTADIO DO DRAGAO STADIUM: Portugal 2-0 Turkey
SECOND HALF UNDERWAY IN PALERMO: Italy 0-0 North Macedonia
HALF-TIME AT THE ESTADIO DO DRAGAO STADIUM: Portugal 2-0 Turkey
HALF-TIME IN PALERMO: Italy 0-0 North Macedonia
42′ MIN: Diogo Jota leaps to meet a beautiful cross and produces a header which goes low inside the left post.
GOOOAAALLL!!! Portugal 2-0 Turkey (D. Jota)
15′ MIN: The Selecao finds the opener through Otavio off an assist from Bernardo Silva.
GOOOAAAALLLL!!! Portugal 1-0 Turkey (Otavio)
KICK-OFF IN PALERMO: Italy 0-0 North Macedonia
KICK-OFF AT THE ESTADIO DO DRAGAO STADIUM: Portugal 0-0 Turkey
In our other simultaneous fixture, Azzurri coach Roberto Mancini has named a line-up that has the likes of Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, Marco Verratti of PSG and Lazio hitman Ciro Immobile.
The Turkish squad set to take on the Selecao of Portugal tonight at the Estadio do Dragao Stadium in Porto.
Selecao boss Fernando Santos has made a strong side available to him, as center-back duo of Ruben Dias and Pepe will not feature in tonight’s clash but there is a lot of Premier League representation with Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Moutinho, Diogo Jota and Bernardo Silva all in the line-up.
It all comes down to tonight. Can Turkey pull off a shock or will Cristiano Ronaldo inspire Portugal and send them through to Tuesday’s final? A tense night could be in store as both sides push for World Cup qualification.
Portugal and Italy both find themselves in the same playoff group, following the draws last year. Both nations had been in the driving seat to clinch qualifications for the Mundial in their respective groups but surprisingly threw away their chances of making it to Qatar with ease. They now face the horrible possibility of not making the World Cup – at least, one of them WILL NOT be on the flight to the Middle East.
A great evening to you soccer fans! This is the playoff round of the European section for the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup set to hold in Qatar later this year and Apex Football will bring you LIVE updates of the fixtures involving Portugal vs Turkey and Italy vs North Macedonia.
The captain of the Poland football team, Robert Lewandowski, considered the decision “appropriate” to suspend Russia from their World Cup playoff semi-final which had been due to take place later this month, with Poland advancing to the final. ‘Probably each of us could not have imagined a different situation’, he said.
On Tuesday, FIFA confirmed that Russia have been removed from the qualification process for the 2022 World Cup. The decision comes in the wake of the country’s ongoing war in Ukraine, with Poland given a bye into the Path B playoff final on March 29.
Poland had been due to face Russia in the semi-final of the playoff process days earlier, but following the invasion of Ukraine, the Polish FA and players made it clear that they did not want to face Russia.
Poland will now face either Sweden or the Czech Republic in the final.
‘Probably each of us could not have imagined a different situation. I think this is the right decision. It would be difficult to choose the team with whom we could play in the qualification semi-finals (instead of Russia – editorial note), because any of those that would not be selected would feel disadvantaged. ’
‘For us, the most important thing will be to focus on the preparations on the final game, play it as best we can and do everything we can to advance to the final stage of the World Cup in Qatar’ – Lewandowski said in an interview with Polsat Sport after a record-breaking Champions League performance for Bayern Munich.
Poland will play for the promotion to the World Cup Final on March 29 with the winner between Sweden and the Czech Republic.
‘The final qualification match will be interesting. The training under our new coach will be beneficial for us. It doesn’t matter if we would play two games or one. In terms of the fact that we only have to win one match and surely we will be in the World Cup Final Stage.’ Lewandowski analyzed.
At the beginning of this week, the Bayern Munich and Poland star, Lewandowski cut his ties with Huawei amid reports the Chinese technology company is helping Russia amid invasion of Ukraine.
The 2021/22 Europa League is already preparing for the last 16 stage after the preliminary knockout round playoff ties concluded on Thursday night.
Due to the addition of the Europa Conference League to the UEFA club calendar, this is the first season that has seen a reshuffled format in the knockout stages.
The eight Europa League group stage winners from the first half of the season earned byes straight into the last 16, with the eight group runners-up contesting two-legged ties this week and last against the eight clubs who dropped out of the Champions League – including Barcelona.
When is the Europa League last 16 draw?
UEFA will make the last 16 draw at 11am (GMT) at their headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland (12:00pm local time) on Friday 25 February 2022.
• The group winners are seeded and will be drawn against the winners of the knockout round play-offs.
• The UEFA Europa League group winners play the second leg at home.
• Clubs from the same association cannot be drawn against each other.
Which clubs have qualified for the Europa League last 16?
Seeded (Europa League group winners) Red Star Belgrade Eintracht Frankfurt Galatasaray Bayer Leverkusen Lyon Monaco Spartak Moscow West Ham
Unseeded (knockout round playoff winners) Barcelona Real Betis Rangers Braga Atalanta RB Leipzig Porto Sevilla
First legs: 9, 10 March Second legs: 17 March
• Porto and Betis will play the first legs at home on Wednesday 9 March (kick-off 18:45 CET) to avoid a clash with Braga and Sevilla, repectively. The other first legs will take place on Thursday 10 March.
When is the 2022 Europa League final?
The 2022 Europa League final will be played at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, home of record winners Sevilla, on Wednesday 18 May. As has been the case for several years, whichever club wins will automatically qualify for next season’s Champions League group stage.
The 2022 Champions League final, currently set to be played in Saint Petersburg, Russia in late May, could be moved by UEFA, according to numerous reports from across the globe.
With Russia currently embroiled in a military escalation on the border with Ukraine, world leaders are looking to take action as Eastern Europe grapples with the consequences of a potential conflict.
UEFA also could take action, not only as a statement of intent against Russian aggression, but also to secure a more stable environment for its marquee event. The European football governing body has not yet made a formal announcement, but there is much reporting and speculation about a possible shift of location for the event.
However, it’s possible that a de-escalation of the situation could see the match remain in Saint Petersburg, and it’s possible that UEFA will wait until its hand is forced before moving the venue. Here is the latest on the 2022 Champions League final and its venue.
Could UEFA move Champions League final 2022?
Currently, UEFA is holding firm, saying in a statement on Feb. 22, “UEFA is constantly and closely monitoring the situation. At present, there are no plans to change the venue.”
However, according to multiple reports, including from ESPN and The Independent, UEFA is holding internal discussions regarding a contingency plan for the 2022 Champions League final, pending the escalating situation in Eastern Europe.
The latest action by Russian president Vladimir Putin to move troops across the border into the Ukraine has placed additional pressure onto UEFA, and according to The Independent’s report, this action makes it “virtually certain” that the final will be moved. The Independent continues to state that “UEFA now sees a contingency plan as essential.”
While the outward appearance could be that UEFA is taking action against Russia for its aggression towards another member association, the move is also likely to be made due to logistical issues surrounding a final located in a nation involved in ongoing military activity. A final in Russia could present additional difficulties for fans and media to travel to and from the event.
Numerous major airlines in Europe, including Dutch company KLM, have announced a restriction of travel and a reduction of flights to and from Russia and Ukraine as a result of the latest developments. In addition, there are numerous reports that Russia could restrict its airspace as an economic retaliation to any major sanctions placed by foreign governments.
Is Russia invading Ukraine? Latest reports
On Feb. 22, Russian president Vladimir Putin formally announced that his nation would recognize the “independence” and “sovereignty” of two Ukrainian regions most heavily affected by separatist fighting: Donetsk and Luhansk. The two regions have been stricken with pro-Russian civil uprisings since 2014.
A day later, in the waning hours of Feb. 23, Putin officially declared war on Ukraine, announcing a “special military operation” in the Donbas region of Ukraine which encompasses Donetsk and Luhansk. Minutes after his announcement, explosions were seen not just in the Donbas region but across the country, including in the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv and the port city of Kharkiv.
U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson has come out publicly against Russia’s actions in the days before the invasion, emphatically stating his opposition to the idea of the aggressive nation hosting a Champions League final.
“It is clear from the response of the world to what he has done already in Donbas that he is going to end up with a Russia that is poorer as a result of the sanctions that the world will implement,” Johnson said. “A Russia that is more isolated, a Russia that has pariah status — no chance of holding football tournaments in a Russia that invades sovereign countries.”
Where is UEFA Champions League final 2022?
At the present time, the 2022 Champions League final is scheduled to be played in Saint Petersburg, Russia at Krestovsky Stadium.
However, UEFA announced it is “closely monitoring the situation” between Russia and Ukraine. There is significant recent precedent for UEFA to move finals, even at the last minute.
Russia was initially scheduled to host the 2021 Champions League final, but due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the final was moved to Porto, Portugal and all subsequent hosts, including Russia, were pushed back by a year, leaving Saint Petersburg to host the 2022 final. UEFA’s announcement of that venue change came on May 13, just 16 days before the match was to be played.
The 2020 Champions League final was also moved due to the COVID-19 pandemic, originally scheduled to take place in Istanbul, Turkey but it was announced in March that the final was postponed due to the heightening pandemic situation. In mid-June, the venue was moved to Lisbon, Portugal and scheduled for August 23.
According to reports in England, Wembley Stadium in London is being considered as an alternative should the event be moved. However, outlets outside the English tabloids have yet to corroborate those reports or float other possible venues for UEFA’s contingency plans.
Other UEFA European finals affected by political unrest
UEFA was recently forced to manage a similar incident just three years ago, and that experience and the widespread criticism leveled at the European governing body could inform future decisions.
The 2019 Europa League final, contested between Chelsea and Arsenal, was held at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan.
UEFA received extensive criticism for sticking with the final in Azerbaijan despite an ongoing conflict with neighboring Armenia. This conflict saw Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who is an Armenian international, unable to play in the match, as he was held back for concerns over his safety while in Azerbaijan.
In addition to Mkhitaryan’s inability to play, a number of fans from the United Kingdom of Armenian descent were initially denied visas for the trip, until UEFA stepped in and helped smooth over the situation.
UEFA could face a similar situation depending on the teams that advance to the final. Most notably, Manchester City, the current betting favorite for the competition, features Ukrainian international Oleksandr Zinchenko as a regular contributor, and should the club potentially reach a final held in Russia, the venue might put into question his participation in the event.
Manchester United was mistakenly drawn with Villarreal, even though both teams faced each other in the group stage while the Premier League side’s ball was not added to the bowl as a potential opponent for Atletico Madrid.
Manchester United was mistakenly drawn with Villarreal, even though both teams faced each other in the group stage while the Premier League side’s ball was not added to the bowl as a potential opponent for Atletico Madrid.
The last 16 ties will be played in February and March.
UEFA blamed a “material error” due to a “technical problem with the software of an external service provider” as it announced that the draw for the first knockout round of its flagship competition would be redone at 2 p.m.GMT.
Key players, rankings, ones to watch: all you need to know about the 16 teams through.
There are nine former winners among the teams through to the UEFA Champions League round of 16. UEFA.com profiles all these high-flying contenders.
Champions League round of 16 draw
The draw will be streamed live on UEFA.com and on the official UEFA Champions League app from midday CET on Monday. Two seeding pots will be formed: one consisting of the eight group winners (seeded teams) and the other of the eight runners-up (unseeded teams). No team can play a club from their group or any side from their own
UEFA ranking: 17 Group C: winners (W6 D0 L0 F20 A5) Last season: group stage (UEFA Europa League quarter-finals) European Cup best: winners (1970/71, 1971/72, 1972/73, 1994/95)
Campaign in ten words: Fearless, dynamic, inventive and relentlessly attack-minded: at home and away.
UEFA.com Ajax reporter: Yet another Ajax side shaped in the totaalvoetbal mould. Every player in the team – keeper included – is comfortable in possession and can take the ball even when under extreme pressure. They switch positions effortlessly, excel at creating and exploiting space, and are committed to flowing, creative football. What’s not to like?
Coach: Erik ten Hag Ten Hag has done a magnificent job with a squad that is constantly evolving. After taking Ajax to the brink of the Champions League final in 2018/19, he lost many key players that summer, but has simply rebuilt the side: same script, different actors.
Key player: Sébastien Haller The first player ever to score nine goals in his first five Champions League matches. The Ivory Coast striker has taken to the top tier with aplomb.
Did you know? Ten-goal Haller is only the second player to score in all six group games in a single season, following in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2017/18.
UEFA coefficient ranking: 10 Group B: runners-up (W2 D1 L3 F7 A8) Last season: round of 16 (L 0-3agg vs Chelsea) Best European Cup performance: runners-up (1973/74, 2013/14, 2015/16)
Campaign in ten words: Struggled in a tough group but produced when it mattered.
UEFA.com Atlético reporter: A campaign that never really got going until the win against Porto on Matchday 6. A goalless draw with the same opponents on Matchday 1 was followed by a last-gasp win in Milan which did not have the galvanising effect many had anticipated. Successive defeats by Liverpool left them with their backs against the wall, but that’s just how they like it.
Coach: Diego Simeone Simeone has coached the Rojiblancos to two UEFA Europa League titles, two UEFA Super Cups and two Champions League finals. Last season, he added a second Liga crown to show his powers remain undiminished.
Key player: Luis Suárez Signed from Barcelona in summer 2020, the Uruguay striker has proved an inspired acquisition. He plundered 21 league goals in 2020/21, the last of them guaranteeing his club would claim their first championship for seven years.
Did you know? The only time Atleti failed to get out of the Champions League group stage under Simeone, in 2017/18, they went on to win the Europa League.
UEFA ranking: 1 Group E: winners (W6 D0 L0 F22 A3) Last season: quarter-finals (L on away goals vs Paris) European Cup best: winners (1973/74, 1974/75, 1975/76, 2000/01, 2012/13, 2019/20)
Campaign in ten words: Scoring freely, hungry and deeply committed to title number seven.
UEFA.com Bayern reporter: Despite all their limitations through injuries and illness this season, it’s been relatively smooth sailing results wise and Bayern will again be major contenders in the spring if they continue to build on this rhythm. The tactical ploys new coach Julian Nagelsmann is currently implementing should also become even more visible as the campaign progresses.0 seconds of 0 secondsVolume 0% Lewandowski’s best Champions League goals
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann The 34-year-old has been diligent as successor to Hansi Flick, overseeing some fine displays and a cruise through the group stage. In 2016, he became the youngest coach in Bundesliga history when he took the Hoffenheim reins aged 28, leading them into the Champions League by finishing fourth the following season. He continued to impress across two seasons at Leipzig prior to joining Bayern last summer.
Key player: Robert Lewandowski The relentless Polish marksman hit new heights last term, scoring a record 41 German league goals as Bayern sealed a ninth straight championship. He has maintained that form this season with nine goals in six group fixtures and sits third on the list of all-time scorers in the Champions League.
Did you know? Bayern have extended their record unbeaten streak in Champions League away games to 21 matches.
UEFA ranking: 29 Group E: runners-up (W2 D2 L2 F7 A9) Last season: third qualifying round (L 1-2 vs PAOK) European Cup best: winners (1960/61, 1961/62)
Campaign in ten words: Finishing above Barcelona looked impossible but Benfica pulled it off.
UEFA.com Benfica reporter: Group winners Bayern were just too strong, but Benfica – starting the campaign as clear underdogs – finished above Barcelona with the help of an impressive 3-0 win in Lisbon. Darwin Nuñez’s goals, Rafa Silva’s pace and Nicolás Otamendi’s resilience at the back made sure the Eagles got the job done.
Coach: Jorge Jesus During his first stint, from 2009 to 2015, Jorge Jesus became the most successful coach in the club’s history by winning ten trophies: three Liga titles, a Portuguese Cup, a Super Cup and five League Cups. He returned in 2020.
Key player: João Mário The 28-year-old won a Portuguese title last term with Sporting CP while on loan from Inter. He only arrived at Benfica in July but has made an instant impact with his organisational skills, vision and ability to dictate the pace of games. “He adds class to the team,” says Jesus of the midfielder, a UEFA EURO 2016 winner with Portugal.
Did you know? The Lisbon giants have reached seven European Cup finals but have lost their last five (most recently against Milan in 1990).
UEFA ranking: 4 Group H: runners-up (W4 D1 L1 F13 A4) Last season: winners (W 1-0 vs Man. City) European Cup best: winners (2011/12, 2020/21)
Campaign in ten words: Defensively outstanding with the attacking variety to challenge the best.
UEFA.com Chelsea reporter: This is some team. Everything Thomas Tuchel touches seems to turn to gold and his side have once again been a joy to watch. The Matchday 2 reverse in Turin aside, they look just as ruthlessly efficient as they were during last season’s knockout phase. It will take something special to stop them.0 seconds of 7 minutes, 49 secondsVolume 0%00:0007:49 All Chelsea’s 2020/21 Champions League goals
Coach: Thomas Tuchel The coach took over last January and immediately went 14 games unbeaten. The former Mainz and Dortmund boss was a runner-up with Paris in 2020 before going one better with the Blues last season. His Midas touch is yet to desert him.
Key player: Jorginho The 2020/21 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year is a metronomic presence in midfield who more often than not dictates the tempo of his team and the match.
Did you know? The Blues had conceded just three goals in 12 Champions League games since Tuchel’s arrival before their 3-3 draw with Zenit on Matchday 6.
UEFA ranking: 24 Group D: runners-up (W3 D1 L2 F8 A5) Last season: group stage European Cup best: winners (1963/64, 1964/65, 2009/10)
Campaign in ten words: Strong defensively and creating plenty of opportunities but not clinical.
UEFA.com Inter reporter: Simone Inzaghi’s Inter may be less solid than Antonio Conte’s version, despite the same 3-5-2 system, but the Nerazzurri are certainly playing more attacking football compared with last season. They have missed an incredible number of chances, particularly against Real Madrid and Shakhtar. Should they become more clinical up front, they could go a long way.
Coach: Simone Inzaghi A Serie A and three-time Coppa Italia winner as a player with Lazio, the 45-year-old also brought a domestic cup to Rome during his five seasons in charge. From a tactical viewpoint, he is another exponent of the 3-5-2, like his predecessor Conte.
Key player: Marcelo Brozović The Croatian international has the perfect attitude in putting himself at the service of the team both defensively and going forward; indeed he often leads the ‘distance covered’ stats after a game. The key phases of play often go through him and he has the sort of mentality every coach loves. A real leader.
Did you know? European champions in 2010, Inter have reached the knockout stage for the first time in a decade.
UEFA ranking: 8 Group H: winners (W5 D0 L1 F10 A6) Last season: round of 16 (L on away goals vs Porto) European Cup best: winners (1984/85, 1995/96)
Campaign in ten words: Blend of impressive veterans and youngsters with potential; lacking consistency.
UEFA.com Juventus reporter: Massimiliano Allegri rejoined Juventus in May but he is still searching for the magic dust that carried the team to two finals during his first spell. Very inconsistent in Serie A, Juve were impressive with four wins in as many games to start their European campaign but the 4-0 loss at Chelsea on Matchday 5 brought the Bianconeri down to earth.
Coach: Massimiliano Allegri The 54-year-old returned to the bench with a mission after two sabbatical years. He steered Juve to the Champions League finals of 2015 and 2017 but lost on both occasions.
Key player: Federico Chiesa After tasting EURO glory with Italy, the winger is continuing his progression and turning into a real leader of this Juve team. He scored the only goal in the crucial victory over Chelsea in Turin.
Did you know? The Bianconeri have made the final five times since their last triumph in 1996 but are still waiting for a third success in the competition. No club have lost more finals than their seven defeats.
UEFA ranking: 3 Group B: winners (W6 D0 L0 F17 A6) Last season: quarter-finals (L 1-3agg vs Real Madrid) European Cup best: winners (1976/77, 1977/78, 1980/81, 1983/84, 2004/05, 2018/19)
Campaign in ten words: A perfect group stage facilitated by an in-form attacking unit.
UEFA.com Liverpool reporter: The Reds have left their challengers for dust, storming to the Group B summit without dropping a point. It’s not been plain sailing, though, as they have had to show some mettle to battle back against top-quality opposition in AC Milan and Atlético.
Coach: Jürgen Klopp Liverpool boss since 2015, Klopp guided the Reds to continental glory in 2018/19 and to their first English title in 30 years the next season. A striker turned defender at Mainz, he lifted two Bundesliga titles with Dortmund before heading to Anfield.0 seconds of 0 secondsVolume 0% Thiago’s sensational Liverpool strike
Key player: Mohamed Salah The Egypt forward has been the face of this Liverpool side since arriving from Roma in 2017. A star at Basel, he first landed in England with Chelsea in 2014, but has proved a major talent on Merseyside, his pace, intelligence and finishing helping him bag 32 Champions League goals for the club. He has seemingly gone up another notch this term.
Did you know? Liverpool have been European champions six times – more than any other English team. That is as many titles as Bayern, with Milan and Real Madrid the only sides to have won more.
UEFA ranking: 62 Group G: winners (W3 D2 L1 F7 A4) Last season: UEFA Europa League round of 32 (L 2-4agg vs Ajax) European Cup best: round of 16 (2006/07)
Campaign in ten words: Surprise French champions keen to cause more upsets in Europe.
UEFA.com LOSC reporter: After collecting two points from their opening three games, few would have expected LOSC to reach the last 16. Nevertheless, Jocelyn Gourvennec’s men eventually found their feet at this level, earning their first group stage win in nine years on Matchday 4 and building on that victory to clinch a first knockout round berth since 2006/07.
Coach: Jocelyn Gourvennec The boss made his name in six seasons with Guingamp, winning the French Cup for only the second time in their history in 2014. He had a second spell there following a stint at Bordeaux and returned to the touchline last summer after two years without a club.
Key player: Jonathan David The 21-year-old Canada striker was the most expensive player in LOSC’s history when he joined in August 2020 from Gent, and he truly began to deliver during the business end of the club’s French title charge last season. Even more prolific this term, David weighed in with vital goals on Matchdays 4, 5 and 6.
Did you know? This is just the second time in eight attempts that LOSC have advanced beyond the group stage.
UEFA ranking: 2 Group A: winners (W4 D0 L2 F18 A10) Last season: runners-up (L 0-1 vs Chelsea) European Cup best: runners-up (2020/21)
Campaign in ten words: Guardiola’s free-flowing outfit have been mesmerising to watch at times.
UEFA.com Man. City reporter: City have arguably taken their game to another level this season. They came so close to that elusive first title last term and Josep Guardiola has raised the bar once more as he chases a first Champions League triumph since 2011. When on song, their football is peerless.0 seconds of 45 secondsVolume 0%00:0000:45 Watch Man. City’s winner against Paris
Coach: Josep Guardiola One of the most decorated coaches in the game, the 50-year-old won this competition twice with Barcelona. He has scooped three league titles apiece at the helm of the Catalan club, Bayern and City.
Key player: Kevin De Bruyne The 30-year-old schemer passed 250 appearances for the club last season and remains a talismanic figure in their midfield despite the riches around him. He has endured something of a stilted campaign but remains key.
Did you know? Guardiola reached his eighth Champions League semi-final last season – the joint-most in the competition’s history alongside José Mourinho.
UEFA ranking: 9 Group F: winners (W3 D2 L1 F11 A8) Last season: group stage (UEFA Europa League runners-up) European Cup best: winners (1967/68, 1998/99, 2007/08)
Campaign in ten words: Ronaldo has brought salvation to a topsy-turvy season so far.
UEFA.com Man. United reporter: Jadon Sancho thumped home his first Red Devils goal to confirm their spot in the knockouts with a game to spare. In the midst of a turbulent Premier League campaign, United recovered from an opening-day upset against Young Boys to stabilise their European season at least.0 seconds of 2 minutes, 26 secondsVolume 0%00:0002:26 Cristiano Ronaldo’s last-gasp goals
Coach: Ralf Rangnick The 63-year-old ‘professor of football’ has replaced Ole Gunnar Solskjær as United’s interim manager until the end of the season. Having coached clubs including Hoffenheim and Schalke – whom he guided to the semi-finals in 2011 – Rangnick then oversaw Leipzig’s meteoric rise from fourth tier to Bundesliga and Europe’s elite.
Key player: Cristiano Ronaldo The Portuguese veteran has justified his summer return to Old Trafford, scoring six times in five group appearances. His last-gasp heroics against Villarreal and Atalanta secured United’s last-16 berth.
Did you know? United have been English champions a record 20 times, but have won only two major trophies – the 2015/16 FA Cup and the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League – since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 after 27 years in charge.
UEFA ranking: 7 Group A: runners-up (W3 D2 L1 F13 A8) Last season: semi-finals (L 1-4agg vs Man. City) European Cup best: runners-up (2019/20)
Campaign in ten words: Star-studded team with huge potential still seeking the right balance.
UEFA.com Paris reporter: Despite coming second in their group to Manchester City, Paris remain among the chief contenders for the trophy. The 2019/20 runners-up have everything required to go one better this term – not least attacking talent aplenty in Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi and Neymar – but they must improve their consistency in Europe and Mauricio Pochettino needs to find the best way to support his ‘MNM’ spearhead.0 seconds of 0 secondsVolume 0%00:0000:00 In the Zone: Paris’ counterattack against Leipzig
Coach: Mauricio Pochettino The brains behind Tottenham’s surprise run to the 2019 final, the Argentinian replaced Tuchel at the Paris helm in January 2020, some 20 years after signing for the club as a defender.
Key player: Kylian Mbappé Competing for the limelight with Messi, Neymar and Ángel Di María, the France starlet has been the main source of goals for Paris in this season’s tournament, providing devastating runs into the final third, assists and lethal finishes.
Did you know? When Paris overcame Bayern in the 2020/21 quarter-finals, it was the first instance in Champions League history of the previous season’s runners-up eliminating the holders in the knockout stage.
UEFA ranking: 5 Group D: winners (W5 D0 L1 F14 A3) Last season: semi-finals (L 1-3agg vs Chelsea) European Cup best: winners (1955/56, 1956/57, 1957/58, 1958/59, 1959/60, 1965/66, 1997/98, 1999/2000, 2001/02, 2013/14, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18)
Campaign in ten words: Looking ominously back to their best after a shaky start.
UEFA.com Real Madrid reporter: Madrid’s strong form on the road – three wins, nine goals, none conceded – underpinned their progress. With Karim Benzema and Vinícius Júnior delivering the goods, the Merengues could afford a surprise stumble at home to debutants Sheriff. Madrid are where they want to be, and from here they’re always a threat.
Coach: Carlo Ancelotti The manager who steered Madrid to ‘La Décima’ in 2014 returned last summer for a second stint in charge. He is one of just three coaches to have won the European Cup/Champions League on three occasions.
Key player: Karim Benzema Many people wondered where Real Madrid’s goals would come from when Cristiano Ronaldo left in 2018, but the France forward has more than stepped up to the plate to become the club’s talisman. Fittingly, he scored Madrid’s 1,000th European Cup goal against Shakhtar earlier this campaign.
Did you know? Madrid have never failed to make it through the group stage of the Champions League.
UEFA ranking: 22 Group G: runners-up (W3 D1 L2 F8 A6) Last season: group stage (UEFA Europa League round of 32) European Cup best: group stage (1994/95, 2019/20, 2020/21, 2021/22)
Campaign in ten words: Nerves jangled after a brilliant start, but potential is there.
UEFA.com Salzburg reporter: Salzburg looked to be cruising after taking seven points from their first three games, but faltered as they prepared to take the final step towards the knockouts. Results have not been quite as sparkling since November, but this exciting young team will be a force to be reckoned with once they regain their composure.
Coach: Matthias Jaissle It was a considerable surprise when Salzburg announced that a 33-year-old former Hoffenheim defender, who had never coached a top-flight team, would be their new boss last summer. He made the move up after two years in command of their U18s.
Key player: Karim Adeyemi The striker has big boots to fill but could be the next top-class forward to come off the Salzburg production line, after Patson Daka and Erling Haaland. The 19-year-old is quick, versatile and shows no mercy in front of goal. He has also worked his way into the senior Germany team.
One to watch: Luka Sučić What the 19-year-old midfielder lacks in experience, he makes up for in quality. Already a central component in Salzburg’s system, his success in the Champions League earned him a first cap for Croatia.
Did you know? Salzburg have made it to the round of 16 for the first time in their history; they reached the final of the UEFA Cup in 1994, losing 2-0 on aggregate to Inter.
UEFA ranking: 28 Group C: runners-up (W3 D0 L3 F14 A12) Last season: UEFA Europa League play-offs (L 1-4 vs LASK) European Cup best: quarter-finals (1982/83)
Campaign in ten words: Mightily impressive recovery after September setbacks for vibrant young side.
UEFA.com Sporting reporter: The outlook was bleak after the Lions opened their first group stage in four years with back-to-back defeats but three straight wins – and big ones at that – saw them through to the knockouts for only the second time. Some debut campaign for 37-year-old coach Rúben Amorim.
Coach: Rúben Amorim The former Portugal midfielder masterminded Sporting’s first Liga title in 19 years during his first full season as coach. The Lions set a league record for the longest unbeaten sequence in a single campaign – 32 matches unbowed – and dispatched Braga in the League Cup final.
Key player: Pedro Gonçalves He had netted just seven career goals for Famalicão before joining Sporting in August 2020 but ended his first term in Lisbon as the league’s top scorer with 23. The 23-year-old started this campaign in similar form after winning his first two Portugal caps in June.
Did you know? Sporting had progressed from the group stage on only one of their eight previous attempts in the Champions League era.
UEFA coefficient ranking: 21 Group F: runners-up (W3 D1 L2 F12 A9) Last season: UEFA Europa League winners (W on penalties vs Man. United) Best European Cup performance: semi-finals (2005/06)
Campaign in ten words: Lack of a finisher nearly cost them a knockout place.
UEFA.com Villarreal reporter: The Yellow Submarine played some excellent football during the group stage, in particular dominating Manchester United for large swathes at Old Trafford. Gerard Moreno’s injury issues meant that they lacked a natural goalscorer, which cost them dearly on more than one occasion, but they got the job done.
Coach: Unai Emery The former Almería and Valencia coach made the Europa League his own with a hat-trick of successes at Sevilla. Led Paris to the treble in 2017/18 and Arsenal to a European final a year later, before joining Villarreal in summer 2020 – and promptly winning the Europa League again.
Key player: Arnaut Danjuma A summer arrival from the English second tier might not have had fans overly excited, but the Dutchman has been a revelation both domestically and in Europe for Villarreal, terrorising defences with his skill, pace and directness – as well as his eye for goal.
Did you know? Just under half of Villarreal’s 52,000 inhabitants can fit inside their 23,500-seater stadium.
Which teams are in the Champions League last 16 draw?
The draw features the 16 teams that advance from the UEFA Champions League group stage; the group winners are seeded and the runners-up are unseeded:
Confirmed group winners (seeded) Ajax (NED) Bayern (GER) Juventus (ITA) Liverpool (ENG) LOSC Lille (FRA) Manchester City (ENG) Manchester United (ENG) Real Madrid (ESP)
Confirmed group runners-up (unseeded) Atlético (ESP) Benfica (POR) Chelsea (ENG) Inter (ITA) Paris Saint-Germain (FRA) Salzburg (AUT) Sporting CP (POR) Villarreal (ESP)
Can teams from the same country face each other in Champions League last 16?
No side can face another team from the same national association. Clubs cannot face opponents they met during the group stage, either.
Is the Champions League last 16 over two legs?
Ties take place over two legs, with seeded teams at home in the second legs.
When is the Champions League round of 16?
The first legs are scheduled for 15/16/22/23 February, with the second legs on 8/9/15/16 March. Kick-offs are at 21:00 CET.
The draw for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final is on Friday 18 March.
What changes are there this season?
The so-called away goals rule has been removed, so ties level after 180 minutes will go to extra time irrespective of the number of goals each team has scored at home and away. If the teams still cannot be separated after the additional 30 minutes, the tie goes to a penalty shoot-out.
Where is the 2022 final?
Saint Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena will stage the final of the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League, with the game scheduled for 28 May 2022.
Welcome to the final matchday of the Champions League group stage! Let’s have a quick look at what will happen in the final matches.
Game of the Week
Bayern Munich vs Barcelona
1, It proved to be a fantastic weekend for Bayern Munich who brushed aside great rivals Borussia Dortmund 3-2 in a chaotic ‘Der Klassiker’ showdown to move four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga standings. Here, they enter this clash with Barcelona, having already sealed top spot in UEFA Champions League (UCL) Group E after winning all five of their previous group stage matches, netting a whopping average of 3.8 goals per fixture.
2, That included a mammoth 3-0 away H2H victory at Camp Nou on matchday one, a result that extended their streak to three straight wins against Barça – the longest such streak suffered by the visitors against any opposition in European football history. Bayern have also won a remarkable 22 of their 23 prior UCL home group stage matches (D1), a run dating back to 2013/14, which will further increase confidence here.
3, A late 1-0 home defeat to Real Betis over the weekend was hardly ideal preparation for this crucial UCL clash for Barcelona, especially as that defeat ended their previous six-game run without a loss (W3, D3). Sitting two points clear of Benfica in second spot in Group E, only a victory here would guarantee that the Catalans would qualify for the knockout stages given their negative H2H record versus the Portuguese outfit.
4, That could prove an extremely tough task as Barcelona have now netted just four goals across their previous eight UCL clashes, whilst they’ve also failed to score more than once in a UCL match since December 2020 – their longest ever such run in competition history.
5, Players to watch: Bayern’s Thomas Müller loves this fixture as he’s scored seven goals in six previous UCL matches vs Barcelona, including the opener in the reverse H2H. Barça’s Ousmane Dembélé is expected to be fit for this match and has three goal contributions in four previous H2Hs with Bayern (G1, A2).
6, Hot stat: Bayern have scored two or more goals in their last 11 home UCL outings.
7, Apex prediction: Bayern 2-0 Barcelona
Miracle in Milan?
AC Milan vs Liverpool
1, Seven-time European champions AC Milan have a mountain to climb to advance to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League (UCL), needing a win over six-time champions Liverpool to stand any chance. The footballing gods will ultimately decide their fate though, as whilst a draw in the Porto vs Atlético Madrid match would put Milan through (if they win here), a win for Porto would see Milan finish outside the top two, as would a win for Atlético if it came by a higher margin than any Milan victory.
2, The Serie A leaders could also finish last in Group B and fall out of European competition all together if they don’t show up ready for a war. But the ‘Rossoneri’ will have to find at least another gear here based on the fact they’ve lost five of their last six matches (W1) when English opposition have visited the San Siro in European competition (excluding qualifiers), notably failing to score in four of those defeats.
3, Liverpool will still be on a high after scoring a 94th minute winner over Wolves last time out, securing their fourth win ‘to nil’ in their last five games. Boss Jürgen Klopp has the luxury of rotating his squad should he wish given that their Round of 16 status is already guaranteed, although a win would make Liverpool the first English club to navigate the UCL group stages with a 100% record.
4, The ‘Reds’ have been marauders this UCL campaign, scoring first in all of their group games. Milan did give Liverpool a scare in the reverse fixture though, leading 2-1 at the break – the only time across Liverpool’s 22 games played this season that the Merseysiders trailed at half-time.
5, Players to watch: Milan could use some Franck Kessié magic here, as they’ve never lost when the midfielder has found the net (W26, D4), while Divock Origi’s heroics at the weekend could earn him a start, and his last six Liverpool goals have come away from home.
6,Hot stat: Milan have seen the opening goal arrive before the half-hour mark in 12 of their last 14 matches.
7, Apex prediction: Milan 2-1 Liverpool
‘Group of the Week’
1, For the first time since 2009, all four teams go into the final matchday with a chance of progression. That’s the case in Group G which features Lille, Salzburg, Sevilla and Wolfsburg who are fighting it out for two places.
2, While there will be plenty of twists and turns along the way, the situation is relatively straightforward. The top two (Lille and Salzburg) can secure qualification by avoiding defeat and they don’t play each other, while Sevilla and Wolfsburg in the chasing pack must win to stand any chance. But every team knows three points will see them through. Talk about perfectly poised.
3, Salzburg vs Sevilla: Amid a host of permutations in Group G, one thing is clear – the winner of this final UEFA Champions League (UCL) group stage clash between Salzburg and Sevilla will advance to the knockout stages. After winning both of their two previous home games during this group stage, the advantage rests with the Austrians, who prepared for this clash with another home league victory to maintain their near-perfect home record in all 2021/22 competitions (W11, D1). Though Salzburg were declared warm favourites on all 12 of those occasions, it remains to be seen how they’ll rise to the additional challenge offered by Sevilla, having lost three of their last four games at home to Spanish opposition.
4, Wolfsburg vs Lille: Bottom-placed Wolfsburg will end the night either in the UCL last 16 for the first time since 2015/16 or eliminated from Europe entirely. Only a victory here can see them avoid the latter scenario, and while the reverse meeting on matchday one (D 0-0) showed their defensive resilience, it remains their last clean sheet in this competition, and their record since (W1, D1, L2) is poor.
1, Players to watch: With just five games under his belt, Ajax’s Sébastien Haller is the fastest player in UCL history to reach nine goals. Memorably, four of those goals came in the reverse fixture! While none of Paulinho’s six competitive goals this season have been crucial to the result, he has found the net in three of Sporting’s five UCL group games.
2, The seemingly unstoppable form of Ajax continued unabated over the weekend, as they swept aside Willem II 5-0 to make it ten games unbeaten (W8, D2). While this UEFA Champions League (UCL) fixture will undoubtedly pose more of a challenge, Ajax have their sights set on joining an elite group of only six other clubs to pick up maximum points in a UCL group stage.
3, Even though all four places are already set in stone in this group, it is unlikely that group winners Ajax will take their foot off the pedal here. Indeed, only Bayern Munich and Manchester City have scored more goals than Ajax’s 3.2 per match on average, while only UCL holders Chelsea can boast fewer goals conceded ahead of this final match day.
4, Feeling vengeful after their comprehensive 5-1 defeat in the reverse fixture, Sporting Lisbon arrive in Amsterdam after putting together a 12-game winning streak in all competitions. Yet, with the ‘Leões’ picking up just two wins across their last 12 UCL away games in the competition proper (D1, L9), they seem well deserving of pre-match underdog status.
5, Current winning run aside, the case for Sporting mainly lies in their solid away record on Dutch soil (W5, D1, L3). However, Sporting shouldn’t lack any motivation, after winning their last three UCL games at any venue, especially as they have never previously won four consecutive games in the UCL.
6, Hot stat: Ajax have scored at least twice in eight of their last ten UCL games.
7, Apex Prediction: Ajax 3-1 Sporting
Apex Predictions (FULL)
Real Madrid vs Inter
Real Madrid lead Group D by two points and come into this midweek welcome of Inter in superb form. Indeed, Los Blancos are on an 11-game unbeaten run and have won their last eight in all competitions. Inter, too, are unbeaten in 11 and a 3-0 win at Roma on Saturday extended their winning run to five games. They did lose the reverse fixture late on back in September and have lost their last three meetings with Real Madrid. A point is enough for Real Madrid to secure first and the pair could well play out a draw at the Bernabeu. So, Madrid 1-1 Inter?
Porto vs Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid are at the bottom of Group B but they can still finish second if they beat Porto and Liverpool beat Milan. However, they have lost their last three Champions League game and have only won three of their last 10 in all competitions in total. FC Porto are on point clear of both Atletico and AC Milan in Group B. A draw would be good enough here as long as Milan fail to beat Liverpool. Porto are winless across their last three away matches in the Champions League. So, Porto 2-1 Atletico?
Zenit vs Chelsea
Zenit have third place secured no matter what happens on Wednesday due to their superior head-to-head record over fourth place Malmo. Chelsea just need to match Juventus’ result in order to secure top spot but Thomas Tuchel’s side find themselves in a rut. Defeat at the weekend was only their first lose in 13 matches but there have been warning signs in recent weeks. Chelsea have conceded in each of their last three matches and injuries are starting to pick up for Thomas Tuchel’s side. While they remain favourites on Wednesday, they should expect a very tricky game against Zenit. So, Zenit 0-1 Chelsea?
Juventus vs Malmoe FF
Chelsea’s superior head-to-head record over Juventus means the Old Lady need to win here and hope Zenit can do them a favour in Russia. The Italian side have won back-to-back league matches, and have won six of their last eight at home. Malmoe FF have been the Group F whipping boys and it is now impossible for them to secure European football in the New Year. They have earned just one point from their five matches, but have won their last three away games. Nevertheless, this should be a routine home win for Juventus. So, Juve 3-0 Malmoe FF?
Atlanta vs Villarreal
Serie A side Atlanta must beat Villarreal to leapfrog the Spanish side into second place in Group F. Atalanta will finish bottom of the group if they fail to win on Wednesday and Young Boys beat Manchester United. Villarreal must avoid defeat to secure Champions League knockout football next year. Villarreal have lost their last three matches with top-flight clubs, while Atalanta are unbeaten in 10. So, Atlanta 2-1 Villarreal?
Benfica vs Dynamo Kyiv
Benfica know that if they beat bottom side Dynamo Kyiv and Barcelona fail to beat group winners Bayern Munich then they will finish second and qualify for the knock-out stage of the competition for the first time since 2016/17. Dynamo Kyiv are bottom of Group E and cannot improve on that. While Benfica will naturally think they should beat the worst team in the group, they did only manage a 0-0 draw with them in the reverse meeting and that result would see them finish third. So, Benfica 2-0 Kyiv?
Thank you for reading our Champions League predictions for the last matchday of the group stage, never forget to keep an eye on our football app ‘Apex Football’ to get one of the quickest livescore and match event pushes. Feel free to comment your ideas and feeling below in the comment area. Enjoy the Champions League!