Neymar admits to injury woes

Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar has revealed he cried for two days after suffering a broken metatarsal bone in his right foot last month.

The Brazilian forward, who has been a key figure for the Ligue 1 outfit since leaving Barcelona, has been ruled out of action until April with the injury.

This is the second time Neymar has had the same injury after suffered a metatarsal brake in February last year, which raised some questions on whether he would be able to feature at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Neymar has admitted it has been much tougher this time around to come to terms with the enforced break from football.

"This time I had a tough time getting over it," the 27-year-old told Brazilian TV channel Globo.

"I spent two days at home crying.

"The first time I hurt myself I said, 'I'll have an operation, it has to be fixed as quickly as possible'. I wasn't sad."

Neymar will miss PSG's Champions League last-16 tie against Manchester United, which the French side lead 2-0 after the first leg at Old Trafford, with the second encounter in Paris on 6th March.

PSG are 5/1 to win the Champions League this season.

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Tedesco: Perfect day required

Schalke head coach Domenico Tedesco accepts his side have to have a 'perfect day' to get anything out of their Champions League clash with Manchester City.

Die Konigsblauen host the first leg of their last-16 tie against the reigning champions of England on Wednesday evening, with the home side going into the game having not won any of their last four Bundesliga matches.

And Tedesco is aware that his team will definitely be the underdogs, but he also said his team deserve to be in the knockout stages, having qualified from a group which also included FC Porto, Galatasaray and Lokomotiv Moscow.

He told reporters: "We are the clear underdogs in the game, that much is obvious, but we deserve to be here because we advanced deservedly from a group of good teams.

"Tomorrow we have to have a perfect day if we are to get anything out of the game."

Schalke are priced at 11/2 to gain a draw on Wednesday, with the visitors 2/7 to win the game and 11/2 to do so by a 2-0 scoreline.

Meanwhile, Serbian defender Matija Nastasic is looking forward to the challenge of facing the Citizens, who he played for between the summer of 2012 and January 2015.

He added on the official Schalke website: "We are facing one of the best teams in the whole of Europe. City basically don't have any weaknesses.

"They score lots of goals, are technically amazing, press effectively and have great players in every position.

"Obviously it's not going to be easy and we know we will go into the game as the underdogs. Despite that, we still have a chance and we will give everything we've got."

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Gundogan makes Euro win claim

Manchester City can only be classed as one of Europe's elite teams by lifting the Champions League, according to Ilkay Gundogan.

The Citizens have won three Premier League titles, three League Cups and an FA Cup since Sheikh Mansour's takeover in 2008, but European glory has continued to elude them.

Premier League rivals Liverpool defeated them in the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season with their best finish in the competition being a semi-final appearance in 2015-16 when they lost to Real Madrid.

City are preparing to travel to face German Bundesliga side Schalke in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Wednesday night with Gundogan stressing that they must lift the trophy to move up another level in terms of status.

The Germany international said: "If you want to be in the international elite, when you want to be there both as a club and as a player, you need to clinch this trophy.

"You can't go past it, at least in my opinion. I think that, if we were to win it someday, the club would enter a new era.

"(It would be lifted) to the same level as Real, Barca, Bayern or Juventus, clubs that are maybe a step above us. Maybe not in the way they play football, but as a club at least.

"Our job is to try and give it our all to make it a reality someday. We'll try and will hopefully manage that somehow.

"We've experienced a lot in the Champions League in recent years – not all of it positive, of course.

"We should've won it at least once. So as you can imagine, there's a very big drive within us to do something in the Champions League. The biggest low was probably being knocked out by Liverpool last season.

"For that reason, the motivation to go far in this competition is huge and I think we have the quality required."

City, who are 3/1 to win the Champions League this season, are 2/7 to win at Schalke on Wednesday, while the hosts are 10/1 to pick up a first leg leg and the draw is 11/2.

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Solari insists title still possible

Real Madrid boss Santiago Solari insisted his team are still in the hunt for the La Liga title despite losing at home to Girona.

After leaders Barcelona won on Saturday and Atletico moved into second with victory, Real had the chance on Sunday to move back to second with a win of their own.

However, despite Casemiro giving the home side a first half lead Girona gave their relegation concerns a huge boost with two goals in 10 second half minutes.

They equalised from the penalty spot after a Sergio Ramos handball, converted by Cristhian Stuani and then, after Portu had hit the crossbar, he won the game with a diving header on 75 minutes.

Real's woes were increased in injury time with Ramos being sent off for two yellow cards.

Their seventh defeat of the league season means they now trail Barcelona by nine points in La Liga, a gap that Solari insists can still be breached.

He said after the game when asked if they can still win the title: "Always. We are always in it. We need to get good results as soon as possible, but we're still in three competitions.”

On the game he added: "We tried to increase our energy levels with our changes but we did not achieve it – we have a big squad and a lot of good players.

"We did not take our chances when we had them and it was really difficult for us in the first 25 minutes."

Real are still in contention in two other competitions as Solari indicated. They are in the Copa del Rey semi-finals where they are tied with Barcelona 1-1 after the first leg.

They are also in the Champions League and, having won the trophy the last three years, have a 2-1 lead over Ajax after the first leg of their round of 16 tie in this season's competition.

They are 8/15 to win the second leg with Ajax 17/4 and the draw 7/2.

Real Madrid are 9/1 to win the Champions League while they are 5/4 to win the Copa del Rey.

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Lovren doubtful for Bayern game

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says that Dejan Lovren is not expected to be fit in time for the side's meeting with Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

The teams meet at Anfield on Tuesday in the round of 16 first-leg and Liverpool will be without Virgil van Dijk who is suspended for the game.

However, Lovren is unlikely to play as his replacement. The Croatian suffered a hamstring injury against Wolves last month and has not travelled with the squad to their warm-weather training camp in the south of Spain.

Klopp admits that Lovren is not expected to be fit for Tuesday night's game.

He said: "I don't want to rule it out but I cannot really plan with it.

"He is not here for good reasons, because he cannot be part of training. We are back on Friday. Then from Saturday on, Dejan is back at Melwood and we will see.

"But in the moment we prepare the game and in this preparation Dejan is not involved. We have to find other solutions."

Klopp though did have better news on Georginio Wijnaldum who had been ill and missed training in Marbella.

His manager said that he was recovering and should be in contention to face the Bundesliga champions.

Liverpool are 1/1 to win the first-leg and take a lead to Germany with Bayern 23/10 and the draw 14/5.

Liverpool are without a match this weekend with the FA Cup fifth round ties taking place, having lost to Wolves in the third round.

Klopp's side are second in the Premier League table and follow the Bayern fixture with a match away to Manchester United next Sunday.

Liverpool are 6/5 to win their first Premier League title with Manchester City 8/11 to retain the trophy they won last year.

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Barca dismiss Neymar return

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has dismissed the prospect of Neymar returning to the club in the near future.

The Brazilian striker left the Nou Camp to move to Paris St Germain in 2017 but has been the subject of speculation at times linking him back with the La Liga leaders.

However, president Bartomeu ruled out the possibility, saying although he had spoken with Neymar, there had never been any indication that he wanted to return.

He told a Spanish radio station: "No one's called us about it. Neymar has a contract with PSG. It's his second season there and it's very difficult (to imagine) they want to sell.

"The club's taken another path, with (Ousmane) Dembele, (Philippe) Coutinho. We have to move on with them. They're the two biggest investments in the club's history and we back them 100 per cent."

Neymar is currently out injured after suffering a metatarsal injury last month and missed PSG's Champions League round of 16 first-leg win at Manchester United in midweek.

He may well be ruled out when the teams meet again in the French capital next month but insists he will be back in what he predicts will be a run to the final.

He is quoted as saying: "PSG is not just about me – it has an awesome team with great athletes and a genius coach.

"Besides, the PSG fans are like a 12th player when we are playing in Paris. I have no doubts that we will be champions and that I will be playing."

PSG are 1/2 to win their home leg against Manchester United who are 5/1 with the draw 10/3.

Barcelona are 5/1 to win the Champions League this year with PSG 5/1.

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Vertonghen eyes last-eight spot

Jan Vertonghen is confident that Tottenham can reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 2011 this season.

The 31-year-old Belgium international defender has been preparing for Spurs' last-16 first leg tie against German Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund at Wembley on Wednesday night.

Vertonghen, who is poised to be up against England international midfield starlet Jadon Sancho in the left-back role with Ben Davies and Danny Rose struggling because of respcetive injury problems, felt the north Londoners merited a place in the last-eight 12 months ago.

Spurs beat Dortmund twice in last season's group stage and picked up four points from eventual winners Real Madrid.

Meanwhile, Mauricio Pochettino's side recovered from a poor start to this season's Group B campaign as they defeated PSV Eindhoven and Inter Milan before drawing 1-1 against Barcelona at the Camp Nou to secure their place in the knockout stages.

And Vertonghen feels they can take that form into the two-legged tie against Dortmund.

He said: "We can beat anyone.

"We have shown that last year. Over two games we were the better team against Real Madrid who were the eventual winners of the trophy.

"That is why it was a shame we could not do better last year because we felt we should have done better. That is why everyone has the feeling we can do it this year."

Tottenham, who are 9/1 to be the furthest progressing Premier League team this season, are 23/20 to defeat Dortmund in the first leg, while the German outfit  are priced at 5/2 and the draw is 13/5.

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Solari targets four in a row

Santiago Solari does not think it is beyond the realms of possibility for Real Madrid to win a fourth consecutive Champions League this season.

Real face Ajax in the last 16 of the competition and are 10/1 to win Wednesday's first leg in Amsterdam 2-0.

When the draw for the last 16 was made in December, Real were struggling but they have picked up recently and Saturday's 3-1 victory at Atletico Madrid was their fifth La Liga win in a row.

In contrast Ajax have been poor of late, slumping to an embarrassing 6-2 defeat at Feyenoord last month and losing to mid-table Heracles at the weekend.

Real Madrid  have beaten Atletico, Juventus and Liverpool in the last three Champions League finals and can be backed at 10/1 to win the competition again this season.

Asked whether he thought his team could win the Champions League again this term, Solari replied: "Nothing is impossible for Real Madrid.

"Ajax are very well-known for their work in the youth system, for their commitment to young talent and their offensive football.

"That's the way they still work, with a team that has already shown that it was competitive last year and that it remains competitive this year.

"The tie is going to be difficult, like all these occasions in the Champions League."

Real are 1/5 to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League and 5/2 to keep a clan sheet against Ajax on Wednesday.

Reus to miss Wembley clash

Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus will miss the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie at Tottenham because of a thigh injury.

The 29-year-old Germany international has scored 17 goals in all competitions for the Bundesliga leaders this season.

However, he picked up the injury during last week's German Cup defeat to Werder Bremen and missed Saturday's 3-3 draw with Hoffenheim.

"We would, of course, have liked to have him in London, because his presence is a bit intimidating for the opponent," said Dortmund official Sebastian Kehl. "But we'll compensate for his absence."

It is unclear whether Reus will be fit enough to play in the return leg in Dortmund on 5th March.

Meanwhile, Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris accepts that it will be difficult to get the better of Dortmund and reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Mauricio Pochettino's team were fortunate to beat Leicester City 3-1 at Wembley on Sunday when not playing well while France international Lloris had to save Jamie Vardy's penalty and keep out an effort by Harvey Barnes with an outstretched leg.

"Dortmund play fantastic football with fantastic players and I'm not surprised they're top of the league in Germany," said Lloris.

"It's going to be very, very difficult. Some days it's difficult to deal with Wembley but, hopefully, in this big game, we'll receive help from the crowd.

"Leicester played fantastic and we won the game thanks to our spirit and character. Without that, we could not win. [But] we need to improve the team performance. Against a bigger side we couldn't have won that type of game. It's up to us."

Spurs can be backed at 21/20 to qualify for the last eight of the Champions League and at 8/1 to beat Dortmund 2-1 on Wednesday. Pochettino's team are 9/4 to keep a clean sheet in the first leg against the German side and 8/1 to win the Wembley clash from behind.

City hit Chelsea for six

Manchester City moved back to the top of the Premier League table in emphatic fashion, beating Chelsea 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

City were 4-0 up before half an hour, exposing the visitors defensive frailties to move back above Liverpool on goal difference.

Chelsea began the game by attempting to press high up the pitch but their tactics were undermined within the first five minutes, City taking the lead.

It was the recalled Kevin De Bruyne who began the move with a quick free kick which found Bernardo Silva and, with the Chelsea defence failing to react, crossed for Raheem Sterling to pounce and turn the ball past Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Sergio Aguero should have scored shortly afterwards but, after being set up by Silva, shot wide with the goal gaping.

However, Aguero and City weren't denied for long and he doubled City's lead on 13 minutes, Oleksandr Zinchenko losing possession but the ball fell to the Argentine who shot into the top corner from about 25 yards out.

All Chelsea's plans were in tatters and City continued to pour forward to test a stretched defence and were rewarded on 19 minutes, Aguero getting a rather more scruffy goal but again Chelsea failed to clear the ball from their own area.

With less than half an hour of the game gone it was 4-0 when Ilkay Gundogan took advantage of a poor clearance from Antonio Rudiger and shot home.

City made it five about 10 minutes into the second half, Aguero completing his hat-trick from the penalty spot. Cesar Azpilicueta was ruled to have brought Sterling down in the area and the striker made no mistake from the spot to compound Chelsea's misery.

City have a heavy fixture list in coming weeks, taking on Newport in the FA Cup, Schalke in the Champions League and Chelsea again in the EFL Cup final and Pep Guardiola made changes with those games in mind.

The game already won he took off Aguero and De Bruyne, replaced by Gabriel Jesus and Riyad Mahrez.

It looked as if City were winding down but Guardiola recently suggested the Premier League title race could come down to goal difference and City scored another before the end to be nine goals ahead of Liverpool, Sterling getting on the end of another excellent moving involving David Silva and Zinchenko.

That completed the scoring and City, having played a game more than Liverpool, are back above them at the top of the Premier League.

City are 8/11 to win the Premier League with Liverpool 6/5.

City are 13/8 to reach the final of the Champions League this season with Liverpool 4/1 and Manchester United 14/1.

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