Barcelona to make late decision on Lionel Messi

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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde will make a late decision on whether to include Lionel Messi for Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund.

The Argentinian star is yet to make an appearance this season having suffered a calf injury in August but travelled to Germany with his team-mates.

Speaking at a pre-match press conference, Valverde said: “We’ll decide tomorrow whether Messi is going to play. We weren’t sure a week ago, but there’s been a lot of progress.”

Valverde is considering starting Luis Suarez after he returned from his own injury problems with two goals as a substitute against Valencia in LaLiga on Saturday.

He must also decide whether to hand another start to 16-year-old wonderkid Ansu Fati, who could become the Champions League’s youngest ever goal scorer.

Fati became Barcelona’s youngest scorer when he netted against Osasuna prior to the international break and he followed up with a goal and an assist on his full debut against Valencia.

Valverde said: “We’re thrilled with Ansu Fati, but we all have to take care of him. If he plays tomorrow, it won’t be to break records, but rather because the team needs him.”

The clash will be the first in the Champions League between Dortmund and Barcelona, whose only previous meetings came in the UEFA Super Cup in 1997.

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Young Blues raring to go in Champions League, says Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga

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Kepa Arrizabalaga is confident he and Chelsea‘s other Champions League rookies can flourish in the competition this season.

Kepa, Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori are all set for their debuts among Europe’s elite when they face Valencia at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.

It might be a step into the unknown for Chelsea’s young team but Kepa feels the “energy” and “enthusiasm” they demonstrated in winning 5-2 at Wolves on Saturday will serve them well.

The 24-year-old Spain goalkeeper said: “Regardless of the fact we’re a young team and it’s only September and there is a long way to go, we are going to play with energy and try and attack the opposition.

“Many of the players in the team will be playing their first Champions League game but we’ve been waiting for this for a long time.

“We spent the whole of last year trying to qualify for the Champions League so we feel very enthusiastic.

“We can’t wait to see the atmosphere at the Bridge and play in front of our fans in the most important European club competition.”

Boss Frank Lampard, another debutant as a manager in Europe, feels his side have what it takes to get out of a tough group which also includes Ajax and Lille.

He said: “I’m confident – but very aware of the dangers.

“Our target is to qualify from a tough group. It is different from the Premier League – the main thing is that the concentration levels throughout the game have to be spot on. The different level can surprise you.

“I have belief in the players. I think we have talent that can blossom in the Champions League.”

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Jurgen Klopp determined to write ‘more stories’ as Liverpool open defence of Champions League crown

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Jurgen Klopp played down suggestions Liverpool’s Champions League triumph last season makes them the best team in Europe as he revealed he wants to “create more stories to remember in the future”.

The Reds made up for missing out on the Premier League title by one point to Manchester City by clinching the most coveted prize in European club football by beating Tottenham in the Madrid final in June.

Klopp, though, insists Liverpool cannot dwell on their success as they prepare to begin the defence of their crown against Napoli in their Group E opener.

He said: “We cannot be the best team in Europe because Man City is the best team in the world, that’s the same planet, I heard! There are a lot of good teams out there and you have to prove that constantly.

“Last season we were really good. I’m not too sure we were the best team in Europe, but we were really good in the right moments and that’s why we won the Champions League.

“You cannot imagine how normal it is to carry on after the celebrations, it’s so easy to carry on normal if you have the right character.

“If you go nuts and start taking drugs and drinking and driving different cars or whatever, and leave your missus at home because you are now the Champions League winner, then I can’t help you.

“But we are not like this, we want to create more stories to remember in the future and not only this one, so we cannot stick to that.

“I have no idea how I could use the fact that I won the Champions League with the boys, so I didn’t even think about it.”

Liverpool’s ascent to glory came despite losing all three fixtures away from Anfield in the group stage last year, when they were also paired with Napoli, who triumphed 1-0 in the corresponding encounter last October.

Klopp added: “We want to be as consistent as last year, but play our football from this year. It’s just ‘do your best’ all the time.

“Last year we learned from one game to the next game and we have to use that experience because if you don’t defend with all we have then we have no chance against Napoli, they are so strong.

“They are stubborn in a positive way. They play football, they break lines, they have good counter-attacks, they are creative. I enjoy it when I analyse Napoli. I like to watch them.”

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