Paulo Dybala looking forward to renewing rivalry with compatriot Lionel Messi

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Juventus star Paulo Dybala has rediscovered his scoring form just in time as he renews his rivalry with fellow Argentina Lionel Messi in Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Barcelona.

The 30-year-old Messi scored two goals to help Barcelona to a comfortable 3-0 win over Juventus, last season’s finalists, at the Nou Camp in September.

Messi then scored a hat-trick in Ecuador to carry Argentina through to the 2018 World Cup.

Dybala was on the substitutes bench in Quito but the 24-year-old will be on the field in Turin where a win will ensure Juventus reaches the knockout rounds.

Barcelona lead Group D by three points with two rounds to go, and Ernesto Valverde’s side need only a draw to advance as group winners.

Dybala made a record-setting start to the Serie A season with 10 goals in six games before suffering a dip in form.

He got back on the scoresheet in the final seconds of Sunday’s 3-2 loss at Sampdoria, to bring his tally to 12 goals in 13 games.

Since arriving in Turin from Palermo in 2015, the player dubbed “The Jewel” has scored 56 goals in 112 games. But he has yet to open his tally in Europe this term.

Messi has hit three in the Champions League this season to join Ronaldo in the exclusive club of players who have scored 100 goals in European competition.

Paulo Dybala and Lionel Messi renew their friendly rivalry on Wednesday.

Paulo Dybala and Lionel Messi renew their friendly rivalry on Wednesday.

“MESSI LIKE MARADONA”

Diminutive, dynamic and with a deadly left foot like his idol, Dybala names Messi as a source of inspiration, although he has also spoken about how difficult it is to play alongside the superstar in the Argentine national team.

Dybala said he had been misinterpreted, adding that Messi had laughed off the comments when he tried to explain.

“Leo is like Maradona for those of our generation,” Dybala told France football. “For me it’s an honour to play with him in the national team.”

“He dragged us to the World Cup with the hat-trick in Ecuador. He is a born leader.”

Dybala has said that he would like one day play alongside Messi’s former Barcelona team-mate Neymar Jr. The pair have long been tipped as heirs to Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who have dominated world soccer’s annual awards in recent years.

“I have to work to improve and win trophies. Once, in front of a bonfire with friends we all made a wish – my own was to win the Ballon d’Or.”

As for his future at six-time defending Serie A champions, he added: “In football you never know, but I’m not thinking of going away.”

Barca are in top form having won 11 and drawn one of 12 domestic matches this season to sit four points ahead of Valencia in La Liga.

Juventus, after their setback at Sampdoria, are third in Serie A.

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Mohamed Salah has matched expectations at Liverpool

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In red-hot form: Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah is in dangerous form right now and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp can only imagine how self-assured he might become should he prosper at Sevilla on Tuesday.

The Egyptian winger scored twice in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Southampton, bringing his tally to 14 goals in all competitions since he joined the Reds from Roma in the summer.

Salah’s next outing will come against Spanish side Sevilla at the Sanchez Pizjuan in a Champions League match from which Liverpool are seeking a victory that could put them into the next round.

Klopp was not willing to dwell on Salah’s display at Anfield, instead expressing his hope the player can find a further confidence boost in Spain.

When asked if Salah has exceeded his expectations, the German manager told liverpoolfc.com: “He has reached them at least, that’s clear.

“I like his goals and all that stuff but we don’t have to talk about that, it’s in the past. I’m more interested in his performance tomorrow night. He could get confidence off this.”

Liverpool lead Sevilla by a point in Group E, while Spartak Moscow are another two points behind in third, and Klopp wants things to be simpler by the time the sixth matchday rolls around.

“When you come to the end of the group stage the more decisive the games are,” he said.

“It’s all good so far. It’s a really interesting journey in the Champions League. “But it depends on the result tomorrow whether it will be another interesting two weeks.

“(Sevilla) are a good football playing team and that’s the Champions League and how it should be.

“We’re looking forward to it.”

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Liverpool's curious defence and other talking points as they travel to Sevilla

Carl Markham 20/11/2017
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Liverpool travel to Seville knowing a win will guarantee them a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League with a match to spare.

Here’s a look at some of the issues surrounding the game.

IS THERE A STURRIDGE SOLUTION?

Reports have emerged again that striker Daniel Sturridge is unhappy with the amount of pitch time he is getting and is looking for a January move to bolster his World Cup chances with England.

The 28-year-old is probably the fittest he has been since the season he and Luis Suarez tore defences to shreds in 2013/14 but he is still second choice behind Roberto Firmino, who is not even a recognised centre-forward.

He represents an effective option off the bench, which appears manager Jurgen Klopp’s preferred tactic, but could see some increased action in the busy period leading up to the new year.

How that goes may determine Sturridge’s thinking when the transfer window opens but Klopp will not countenance a departure with the possibility of an FA Cup run and involvement in the Champions League knockout stages in 2018.

In the short-term Sturridge is unlikely to get his wish for more game time in Seville – even with the weekend visit of Chelsea looming on the horizon.

Daniel Sturridge

Not first choice: Daniel Sturridge

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO LIVERPOOL’S DODGY DEFENCE?

Saturday’s clean sheet against Southampton was the Reds’ fifth in six Premier League matches at home, where they have conceded just one goal.

Since leaking four against Tottenham at Wembley Klopp’s side have let in just one in four matches, including back-to-back European shut-outs against minnows Maribor.

Injury to Joel Matip means Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan are set to start as the centre-back pairing and they are likely to be tested more by their Spanish opponents than anyone since Spurs at Wembley.

Defence not an issue?

Defence: Ready to be tested

HOW MUCH ROTATION CAN KLOPP AFFORD?

Top-four rivals Chelsea are the visitors to Anfield for a late Saturday kick-off but the Reds boss will be focused on his first objective which is to secure Champions League qualification with a win against Sevilla.

For that reason he is likely to keep changes to a minimum. Loris Karius will start in goal and Joe Gomez is expected to replace Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, in keeping with Klopp’s policy of rotating his youngsters and goalkeeper for European games, but otherwise there will only be minor tweaks.

James Milner and Emre Can, both substitutes at the weekend, could both come into midfield, although it is more likely they will be vying for just one spot, while the front three of Mohamed Salah, Firmino and Sadio Mane picks itself.

Midfielder Adam Lallana, who has not started a competitive match this season because of a thigh injury, could be on the bench to be given a run out if circumstances allow to ease him back into things ahead of Chelsea.

Could feature for Liverpool: Emre Can

Could feature for Liverpool: Emre Can

PAIN IN SPAIN?

Liverpool have lost 1-0 on each of their last three visits to Spain, most recently against Villarreal in their 2016 Europa League semi-final first leg.

The 3-0 win in the return game is the Reds’ solitary victory in their last six matches against LaLiga clubs.

Overall their record on Spanish soil is better than in home legs, however, winning seven and drawing four of 16 fixtures.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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