AFP

Paris Saint Germain

Marseille’s Pele will attempt to shut out PSG’s superstar

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Marseille (AFP) – His famous namesake was the “King of Football”, but Marseille backup goalkeeper Yohann Pele will take a reputation as the “Prince of the clean sheet” into his encounter with the potent Paris Saint-Germain attack.

Steve Mandanda has not recovered from his thigh injury so the “Albatross,” as Pele is known, will start at Parc des Princes on Sunday.

Frustrated Monaco coach wants VAR after controversial penalty

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Paris (AFP) – Frustrated Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim demanded VAR video assistance be introduced in French Ligue 1 after a controversial penalty saw his team squander two points in a 3-3 draw at struggling Toulouse on Saturday.

Monaco could find themselves 14 points behind runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain by the end of the weekend and Jardim insisted the referee did his team no favours by awarding a penalty in the 78th minute when his side were leading 3-1.

Frustrated Monaco coach wants VAR after controversial penalty

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Paris (AFP) – Frustrated Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim demanded VAR video assistance be introduced in French Ligue 1 after a controversial penalty saw his team squander two points in a 3-3 draw at struggling Toulouse on Saturday.

Monaco could find themselves 14 points behind runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain by the end of the weekend and Jardim insisted the referee did his team no favours by awarding a penalty in the 78th minute when his side were leading 3-1.

Lewandowski’s change of agent fuels fresh Real rumours

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich’s top-scoring striker Robert Lewandowski is again at the centre of Real Madrid rumours after connecting with the agent who helped fix Neymar’s record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

Lewandowski, who has scored 29 goals in all competitions this season, has split with Cezary Kucharski, his Polish agent of ten years, and linked up with Pini Zhavi.

Lewandowski’s change of agent fuels fresh Real rumours

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Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich’s top-scoring striker Robert Lewandowski is again at the centre of Real Madrid rumours after connecting with the agent who helped fix Neymar’s record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

Lewandowski, who has scored 29 goals in all competitions this season, has split with Cezary Kucharski, his Polish agent of ten years, and linked up with Pini Zhavi.

French goalkeeper Douchez handed fine after drunken rampage

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Paris (AFP) – Former Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Nicolas Douchez was given a 10,000-euro ($12,293, £8,800) fine by a Paris court on Friday after an incident of drunken violence last year.

Douchez, who now plays for Lens in France’s Ligue 2, will not appeal against the court ruling, his lawyer said.

AC Milan

Skriniar, Ranocchia rescue dire Inter against Benevento

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Milan (AFP) – Milan Skriniar and Andrea Ranocchia nodded crisis-hit Inter Milan back up into third place in Serie A on Saturday with a hard-fought 2-0 win over bottom club Benevento.

It was only Luciano Spalletti’s side’s second win in two months and moves them up one point ahead of AS Roma who take on AC Milan on Sunday with Lazio a futher point back in fifth ahead of their game at Sassuolo.

Skriniar, Ranocchia rescue Inter against Benevento

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Milan (AFP) – Milan Skriniar and Andrea Ranocchia nodded crisis-hit Inter Milan back up into third place in Serie A on Saturday with a hard-fought 2-0 win over bottom club Benevento.

It was only Luciano Spalletti’s side’s second win in two months and moves up them one point ahead of AS Roma who take on AC Milan on Sunday with Lazio a futher point back in fifth ahead of their game at Sassuolo.

Arsenal paired with AC Milan in Europa League last 16

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Nyon (Switzerland) (AFP) – Arsenal, the last surviving British club, on Friday drew seven-time European champion AC Milan in the last 16 of the Europa League.

Arsenal struggled to overcome Swedish minnows Ostersunds in the last round, being booed off by their fans at the Emirates after losing 2-1 on Thursday but going through 4-2 win on aggregate.

English Premier League

Salah takes Liverpool to second, West Brom cut adrift

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London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp described a near perfect Liverpool performance as a “joy to watch” as Mohamed Salah scored for the sixth straight game in a 4-1 thrashing of West Ham at Anfield on Saturday.

Klopp’s men moved up into second in the Premier League by edging a point ahead of bitter rivals Manchester United, who host fourth-placed Chelsea on Sunday, as Emre Can, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were also on target.

Klopp welcomes break as Salah’s hot-streak moves Liverpool into second

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Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes a welcome mid-season break has refreshed his side at the perfect time after a 4-1 thrashing of West Ham on Saturday.

In their first outing since beating Porto 5-0 in the Champions League 10 days ago, Liverpool moved up to second in the Premier League with the prolific front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane all on target.

Salah takes Liverpool to second, West Brom in danger

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London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp described a near perfect Liverpool performance as a “joy to watch” as Mohamed Salah scored for the sixth straight game in a 4-1 thrashing of West Ham at Anfield on Saturday.

Klopp’s men moved up into second in the Premier League by edging a point ahead of bitter rivals Manchester United, who host fourth-placed Chelsea on Sunday, as Emre Can, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were also on target.

Salah takes Liverpool to second, West Brom in danger

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London (AFP) – Jurgen Klopp described a near perfect Liverpool performance as a “joy to watch” as Mohamed Salah scored for the sixth straight game in a 4-1 thrashing of West Ham at Anfield on Saturday.

Klopp’s men moved up into second in the Premier League by edging a point ahead of bitter rivals Manchester United, who host fourth-placed Chelsea on Sunday, as Emre Can, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were also on target.

Salah’s hot-streak continues as Liverpool go second

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Liverpool (AFP) – Mohamed Salah continued his incredible goalscoring streak as Liverpool eased to a 4-1 victory over West Ham United to move up to second in the Premier League on Saturday.

The Egypt international took his tally to 18 in his last 17 top-flight games for Liverpool with his 31st goal of the season in all competitions as the Reds won by the same scoreline as when the two sides met in the reverse fixture in November.

Salah leads Liverpool up to second in West Ham rout

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Mohamed Salah scored for the sixth straight game as Liverpool took advantage of being the only Premier League top six side in action on Saturday to move into second with a 4-1 thrashing of West Ham at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s men still trail runaway league leaders Manchester City by 15 points, but strengthened their case to finish in the top four and make the Champions League next season as Emre Can, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were also on target.

Butland blunder costs Stoke at Leicester

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – An own goal from Stoke City captain Jack Butland cost his side the chance to move out of the Premier League relegation zone on Saturday in a 1-1 draw at Leicester.

Despite being largely outplayed before the break, Stoke took the lead thanks to a curling long-range effort from Xherdan Shaqiri just before half-time.

‘As good as Maradona’: Tottenham boss hails Dembele

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London (AFP) – Tottenham make the short journey across London to take on Crystal Palace on Sunday with manager Mauricio Pochettino comparing midfielder Mousa Dembele to Diego Maradona.

“I have said before that he is a genius of football,” said the Spurs boss of the Belgium international.

Arsenal’s Wenger vows to attack Man City in League Cup final

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London (AFP) – Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger vowed Friday to take the attack to Premier League leaders Manchester City as he bids to lift the League Cup for the first time in his career.

Wenger has won the FA Cup a record seven times since he took the helm at Arsenal but has twice been beaten in the final of the League Cup, by Chelsea in 2007 and Birmingham City in 2011.

Arsenal’s Wenger vows to attack Man City in League Cup final

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London (AFP) – Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger vowed Friday to take the attack to Premier League leaders Manchester City as he bids to lift the League Cup for the first time in his career.

Wenger has won the FA Cup a record seven times since he took the helm at Arsenal but has twice been beaten in the final of the League Cup, by Chelsea in 2007 and Birmingham City in 2011.

lewandowski

Lewandowski, Heynckes miss records as Bayern held

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Berlin (AFP) – Robert Lewandowski and Jupp Heynckes both missed out on records as runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich were held to a lacklustre goalless draw at home to Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

Despite the disappointing result, Bayern are now 20 points clear in the table as second-placed Borussia Dortmund host Augsburg on Monday.

Lewandowski, Heynckes miss records as Bayern held

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Berlin (AFP) – Robert Lewandowski and Jupp Heynckes both missed out on records as runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich were held to a lacklustre goalless draw at home to Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

Despite the disappointing result, Bayern are now 20 points clear in the table as second-placed Borussia Dortmund host Augsburg on Monday.

Neymar

Neymar fit for PSG squad against Marseille

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Paris (AFP) – Neymar has been named in the Paris Saint-Germain squad to face arch-rivals Marseille on Sunday, despite missing Friday’s training session with illness.

PSG coach Unai Emery had said that Neymar was “ill”, but that he hoped he would be fit for the Ligue 1 match at the Parc des Princes.

‘Ill’ Neymar misses PSG training ahead of Marseille clash

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Saint-Germain-en-Laye (France) (AFP) – Brazilian star Neymar missed training on Friday because, said Paris Saint-Germain coach Unai Emery, he was “ill”.

PSG play bitter rivals Marseille in Ligue 1 on Sunday at the Parc des Princes.

“Today he was ill,” Emery said. “I hope Neymar will be well enough to train tomorrow and will be ready for Sunday, but we will wait.

united kingdom

Butland still the best for Lambert despite Leicester blunder

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Leicester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Stoke City boss Paul Lambert hailed Jack Butland as the “best goalkeeper in Britain” despite an own goal from the England international that cost his side a potential victory as they drew 1-1 draw at Leicester on Saturday.

Stoke took the lead thanks to a curling long-range effort from Xherdan Shaqiri just before half-time.

Mourinho respects Pogba’s ‘professionalism’ amid reports of row

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho said Friday he respects Paul Pogba’s “professionalism” following reports of a heated training ground row with the out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder.

Mourinho last week dismissed as “lies” any talk of the Frenchman wanting to leave Old Trafford less than two years after he returned to the club from Juventus for a then world-record fee of £89 million ($124 million).

Mourinho respects Pogba’s ‘professionalism’ amid reports of row

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Jose Mourinho said Friday he respects Paul Pogba’s “professionalism” following reports of a heated training ground row with the out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder.

Mourinho last week dismissed as “lies” any talk of the Frenchman wanting to leave Old Trafford less than two years after he returned to the club from Juventus for a then world-record fee of £89 million ($124 million).

Juan Mata’s ‘Common Goal’ to use football for good

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Oldham (United Kingdom) (AFP) – World Cup winner Juan Mata is breaking the mould, challenging the general perception of spoilt, rich footballers and helping to awaken the sport’s social conscience through the ‘Common Goal’ project.

The Manchester United midfielder is encouraging players to follow his example and pledge a minimum of one percent of their wages to a collective fund - and he wants to make it “the biggest football club in the world”.

Pep Guardiola

FA charges Pep Guardiola over Catalonia political symbol

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London (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was Friday charged by the Football Association over his wearing of a yellow ribbon in support of jailed Catalan independence leaders.

The FA said in a statement that the symbol worn by the former Barcelona boss on his jacket was in breach of its kit and advertising regulations.

FA charges Pep Guardiola over Catalonia political symbol

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London (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was Friday charged by the Football Association over his wearing of a yellow ribbon in support of jailed Catalan independence leaders.

The FA said in a statement that the symbol worn by the former Barcelona boss on his jacket was in breach of its kit and advertising regulations.

Morocco

Wydad set to stretch Moroccan winning run as VAR debuts

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Casablanca (Morocco) (AFP) – Wydad Casablanca should continue a run of Moroccan successes Saturday by lifting the CAF Super Cup, the first match in Africa to use the video assistant referee (VAR) system.

The Casablanca club won the CAF Champions League last November, the same month that the national team qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

African migrants keep football dreams alive in Morocco camp

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Casablanca (Morocco) (AFP) – The rubbish had been cleared away and spectators emerged from makeshift tents: it was time for kick-off in the daily football game at the Oulad Ziane migrant camp in Morocco’s Casablanca.

“We organise ourselves among the different nationalities,” said Djabel Niang, 21, who left Senegal two years ago to pursue his dream of crossing the Mediterranean and playing for Real Madrid.

African migrants keep football dreams alive in Morocco camp

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Casablanca (Morocco) (AFP) – The rubbish had been cleared away and spectators emerged from makeshift tents: it was time for kick-off in the daily football game at the Oulad Ziane migrant camp in Morocco’s Casablanca.

“We organise ourselves among the different nationalities,” said Djabel Niang, 21, who left Senegal two years ago to pursue his dream of crossing the Mediterranean and playing for Real Madrid.

heart attack

Nine arrests over Bilbao v Spartak fan violence

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Madrid (AFP) – Police arrested nine people, including three Russians and a Pole, during clashes in Bilbao ahead of a Europa League match between Russian club Spartak Moscow and Athletic Bilbao in which a police officer died of a heart attack, officials said Friday.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy offered his condolences for the death of the 51-year-old Basque police officer and “strongly condemned” the violence in the northern Spanish city on Thursday.

Nine arrests over Bilbao v Spartak fan violence

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Madrid (AFP) – Police arrested nine people, including three Russians and a Pole, during clashes in Bilbao ahead of a Europa League match between Russian club Spartak Moscow and Athletic Bilbao in which a police officer died of a heart attack, officials said Friday.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy offered his condolences for the death of the 51-year-old Basque police officer and “strongly condemned” the violence in the northern Spanish city on Thursday.

The Rest

‘Surprise names’ in line for Italy coaching job

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Florence (Italy) (AFP) – Italian football federation commissioner Roberto Fabbricini said Saturday to expect “some surprise names” to emerge for the vacant job of Italy coach.

“No one is now in pole position, some surprise names could emerge. We are not ruling anyone out,” Fabbricini said at the Italian national team’s training camp at Coverciano in Florence.

Zidane hails selfless Ronaldo after Benzema penalty gesture

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Madrid (AFP) – Real coach Zinedine Zidane hailed Cristiano Ronaldo’s selflessness after the forward gave up the chance of a hat-trick by allowing Karim Benzema to take a late penalty in Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing of Alaves.

Zidane restored Gareth Bale to the starting XI to reunite the ‘BBC’ front line of the Welshman, Ronaldo and Benzema, and all three scored in a confident display at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Puel challenges Leicester to be best of the rest

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London (AFP) – Leicester manager Claude Puel has challenged the former Premier League champions to win the “second championship” as the club prepare for the run-in to the end of the season.

The Foxes astonished football under Claudio Ranieri when they shunted English football’s aristocrats aside to win the title in 2016 but the “Big Six” have flexed their muscles and the top of the table has a familiar look.

FIFA says it trusts Russia to ensure safe World Cup despite clashes

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Moscow (AFP) – The world football governing body FIFA expressed “complete trust” Friday in Russia’s ability to ensure a safe World Cup despite fan violence in Spain during which a policeman died.

A Basque officer died Thursday as hundreds of security forces clashed with supporters of Russian club Spartak Moscow in Bilbao before the start of a Europa League match.

Napoli coach Sarri warns Juventus Serie A title chase is on

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Milan (AFP) – Maurizio Sarri warned Juventus that their days of Serie A domination were numbered as Napoli switched their focus to winning a first league title in nearly 30 years after their European exit.

“In Italy, in the last six years nobody has ever fought it out with Juventus,” said the Napoli coach after winning 2-0 in Leipzig on Thursday night but losing their Europa League last 32 tie 3-3 on away goals.

Switzerland’s Schmid named New Zealand football coach

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Wellington (AFP) – New Zealand Football (NZF) named Switzerland’s Fritz Schmid as the national team coach Friday, saying his brief was to get the All Whites to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

His appointment follows the departure of Briton Anthony Hudson in November after New Zealand lost an intercontinental playoff with Peru for a berth at this year’s tournament in Russia.