Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp: I want to beat the best, not be the best.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has told France Football he has never wanted to manage the "best team" but is far more interested in "beating the best."
Last week, Klopp said his side would have to be Rocky Balboa when competing with Premier League champions Manchester City -- who he compared to Ivan Drago from "Rocky IV" -- for the Premier League title this season.
The Liverpool boss said he had been the underdog throughout his football career but has Pep Guardiola's City in his sights.
"If a team is better than yours, sort yourself out to get up to their standard and beat them," he said.
"I have never wanted to have the best team. I have never been part of that myself, as a player or manager.
"What I'm interested in is beating the best. The best team today in England is Manchester City -- that means all the others aren't the best. The aim is to beat City as often as possible."
Klopp said Liverpool were "in a league that brings together six of the world's biggest clubs, who are all fighting for four Champions League places," which made his task "very difficult."
"Apart from Manchester City, who were way ahead early on, it was a huge relief for all the others to qualify," he added.
"Liverpool's history is made up of battles. And when you battle, you never expect it to be easy. Why would it be now? Yes, we're aiming for the stars, but we respect the game."
Liverpool are still searching for their first trophy under Klopp after losing in a League Cup, Europa League and Champions League final.
Klopp is in his fourth season as manager, having taken charge in October 2015 after leaving Borussia Dortmund, and believes Anfield is the perfect stage for him to deliver success.
"I feel the size of the club and above all the honour given to me to lead the team," he said.
"Last year, I turned 50 and I invited quite a lot of people to celebrate. I hadn't seen some of them for 20 years. The words that I heard most were: 'Who would have thought it? That you would, one day, be manager of Liverpool?'
"It's true that when you're born in the Black Forest and you have played in Germany's seventh division, it seems improbable.
"I didn't even dream of being a professional or having a career in football ... so for me, I'm at the club that suits me to achieve every goal."
Chelsea's Willian: 'No chance' I would be here if Antonio Conte stayed.
HUDDERSFIELD, England -- Willian said there is no chance he would still be at Chelsea if Antonio Conte remained the manager.
Willian caused a stir in the wake of Chelsea's FA Cup final triumph in May by posting a team celebration picture on his Instagram account in which Conte was obscured by trophy emojis -- though he later told ESPN Brasil that his daughter was responsible for the edit on the image.
He also said Conte had been very difficult to work with, and speculation that he might leave Chelsea rumbled on throughout the summer with Barcelona and Manchester United both harbouring serious interest in signing him. Speaking after Chelsea's 3-0 win over Huddersfield Town, though, Willian was adamant that his future lies at Stamford Bridge.
"I'm here," Willian said. "I'm here because I want to play for Chelsea. I will only leave if Chelsea want me to go."
Asked if he would still be a Chelsea player if Conte had remained, Willian replied: "No chance. No chance. No."
The early signs are that Willian will enjoy a prominent role under Sarri, having started the first game on Saturday and created the opening goal for N'Golo Kante with a cross from the left wing.
"We are just in the beginning," he said. "We know we have to improve. Jorginho has played very well. He has a lot of quality and helps our play build up from the back. I think we played very well.
"Now we have to continue like that because next week, we have a great game to play against Arsenal [on Saturday] and we want to win again."
Arsenal proved difficult opponents in Conte's two seasons as head coach, with Chelsea winning just one of eight matches against them in all competitions.
But with Sarri in charge, Willian is confident that they can regain the upper hand on their London rivals.
"I think so because now we have a different profile of football, a different way to play football," Willian said. "The manager tells us to play, to enjoy ourselves on the pitch -- with responsibility. Now I think we have a different style to play and that's why we can create problems for Arsenal.
"We have a lot of players with quality up front, players like Eden [Hazard] and Pedro. Players like that want to play football, no? That's why [Sarri] talked about 'fun' football because he wants to build from the back. This is what we will try to do this season."
Arsenal can't rely on Mesut Ozil to lead them forward in Unai Emery's new era.
Mesut Ozil is the leader at Arsenal; the talisman, the rallying point for the team and fans. It is a responsibility from which he cannot hide.
No player is bigger than a club -- especially one as huge as the Gunners -- yet Ozil is to Arsenal what Harry Kane is to rivals Tottenham Hotspur: the man everyone looks to at times of crisis. The big difference between the pair is that Kane delivers regularly enough to maintain that belief; Ozil disappoints too often.
The German opened the season with a sub-par performance in his side's 2-0 defeat by Manchester City at the Emirates. Arsenal, in Unai Emery's first Premier League game as manager, were swept aside by the under-strength and sometimes wasteful champions. Few of Emery's players could be proud of their performances, yet Ozil was singled out for particular vitriol.
There are a few reasons for this. The first is that the 29-year-old was arguably the most talented player on the pitch, so expectations were high. This is a bold claim in a game that featured the likes of Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne but in terms of pure technique and skill, Ozil is close to the top rank of players.
His touch is astonishing -- he can kill the most difficult pass dead and take control of the ball with casual ease. He is fast and, though most the time he glides across the pitch giving the dangerous illusion that he is idling, when he stretches into an all-out sprint not many can catch him. He is even quicker of thought; few players can see a pass as well, or deliver one so perfectly, whether it is a subtle three-yard dink or a cross-pitch defence-splitter.
Ozil is a rare sort of player who can turn a game and his teammates are in awe of his skillset. He is also the highest-paid player in Arsenal's history, having signed a deal worth £350,000-per-week. But for that money, he needs to turn matches on a regular basis. Against City, one of the best sides in Europe, Ozil was a peripheral figure -- his influence on the game was negligible.
It was not supposed to be like this when Arsene Wenger brought him to north London five years ago. Ozil was acquired from Real Madrid to be the fulcrum of the Frenchman's last great side, the type of player who could bring the Premier League title back to north London. Instead, the transfer heralded half a decade of decline that was disguised by three FA Cup wins.
Wenger was frustrated by the German's tendency to drift out of games. Ozil always did enough to cause the crowd to gasp and supply his teammates with chances -- his record of assists is frequently cited in the player's defence -- but he rarely dominated matches in a way the Frenchman believed that he could.
Some question his motivation, but this is unfair. The forward frequently shows his appetite for the sport -- after a defeat by City at the Etihad two years ago, Ozil kicked out at a dressing-room locker in rage.
The row with the German football association after the World Cup is another example of Ozil's passion. His long and detailed explanation on social media about why he was giving up international football showed how much he cares about people's perceptions. The criticism hurts.
After a rancorous summer when Germany underachieved in Russia and with Arsenal starting afresh with a new manager, this should be Ozil's time to seize the moment. However, the campaign has already started badly and for Emery this presents a problem.
The new manager should be delighted that he inherited one of the planet's best players. Yet questions have arisen over whether the Spaniard can succeed where Wenger failed and turn Ozil into a consistently dominant force. Can Emery afford to alienate or drop a world-class talent and the club's highest earner?
This is a critical few months for Ozil. Every time Arsenal stumble he will be in the spotlight; his performances will be judged against his high-profile peers at City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Spurs and Chelsea.
There is plenty of time for his season to spark into life and there are, at least for the first week of the campaign, an excuse or two. The lingering effects of the row in Germany remain and many players at the Emirates are struggling to adapt to the new regime after operating under Wenger for so long.
But for all the mitigation, one thing is clear: Ozil is not the leader Arsenal need going forward. The only thing which unites fans and his teammates is that they want more from him. He does not take enough responsibility and his career at the Emirates thus far has not reflected his incredible ability. Once again that was on show against Man City and Arsenal have been left with more questions around their star player just one game into the new season.
Juventus' Champions League ambition greater for Cristiano Ronaldo arrival - Massimiliano Allegri.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said his side's desire to win the Champions League is greater than ever after they signed Cristiano Ronaldo this summer.
Ronaldo made his first appearance in a Bianconeri shirt in a 5-0 win over Juve's second team in a traditional preseason warm-up game in Villar Perosa on Sunday.
His arrival has enthused Juve's fans, with thousands descending on the small village near Turin to catch a glimpse of CR7. That enthusiasm is not lost on Allegri either, who says now is the time to go one better after losing two Champions League finals in his four years in charge of the Old Lady.
"This year, our ambition to win the Champions League is greater than in previous years, as is the desire to win the league, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa, but nobody is going to gift us anything before we've won them," he told Sky Sport Italia. "It's normal that Ronaldo brings quality and international experience.
"Above all, Ronaldo can motivate the younger lads to grow, and help the whole club to develop. Nobody gifted Real the four Champions Leagues he won there, it was down to everybody working and making sacrifices. We need to do the same.
"People had told me he's a consummate professional, but results don't come by chance. We're talking of a player who has won the Ballon d'Or five times and been top scorer many times. He always wants to win and this proves that Juventus have signed a great player, both on the field but especially off it."
Ronaldo scored on his first run-out for his new club and afterwards he paid tribute to the fans who have made him feel welcome in his first month as a Juve player.
"An emotional day in a special atmosphere which tells the winning story of Juve. Thanks to all the fans for the great affection!" he wrote on Twitter.
It was not only about Ronaldo, though, as Juve made their final preparations ahead of the start of the new Serie A season next Saturday, when they will travel to Chievo.
Leonardo Bonucci made his first appearance since returning to the club after a year at AC Milan, and there was applause for the Italian defender who had upset many fans a year ago by moving to the Rossoneri.
"He looked good," Allegri said. "He's an important player with experience and he's raised the technical level of our defence.
"Leo's been a Juventus player for seven years and now he's back and he's important for us. I'd say he's settled in already in the best possible way."