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11-03-2017, 09:44 AM

Marseille open investigation into Evra's physical altercation with fan


Marseille have launched an internal investigation after full-back Patrice Evra was dramatically red carded before kick-off for appearing to kick a club supporter on Thursday.

Rudi Garcia's Marseille suffered a 1-0 loss at Vitoria Guimaraes in the Europa League but the result was overshadowed by a pre-match altercation between veteran Evra and some fans in Portugal amid growing tension.

Former Manchester United defender Evra – under pressure for his form and performances this season – became the first player to be sent off before kick-off in a Europa League match after lashing out at a supporter, having been confronted by fans – believed to be Marseille followers – during the warm-up.

In a statement released afterwards, Marseille said: "Olympique de Marseille has noted the altercation between an individual and Patrice Evra in the warm-up of players during the match against Guimaraes."An internal investigation was carried out to establish all responsible.
"In any case, a professional player must keep his cool in the face of provocations and insults as hard and unjustified as they are."Similarly, the club can only condemn by definition any destructive behaviour by a 'pseudo supporter' who insults his own players when everyone must instead support his team."

Evra has made 10 appearances in all competitions this season, while the 36-year-old has featured in four of Marseille's 11 Ligue 1 fixture so far.
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11-03-2017, 09:45 AM

'The sooner Pogba comes back the better' - Man Utd goal struggles down to absent star, says Robson


Manchester United’s struggle to produce their early-season spark is down to the ongoing absence of Paul Pogba, says Bryan Robson.
The Red Devils have been without the services of their £89 million midfielder since September 12.
An unfortunate hamstring injury picked up in a Champions League meeting with Basel has kept Pogba out of 11 fixtures and counting.Jose Mourinho has conceded that he still has “no idea” when the 24-year-old will be back, which spells bad news for former captain Robson who considers United to be missing a key cog in a unit which burst out of the blocks in 2017-18.

"The only thing which is a little bit of a shame for United so far, because I think United might have had even more points on the board, is if Pogba had been fit all the time," he told Betsafe.

"Because I thought the balance of Matic and Pogba, Herrera or Fellaini, whichever way the manager wanted to play them: Pogba was scoring goals, but he was creating goals because he had this really good understanding with Lukaku.

"So I think we’ve missed that to a certain degree and that’s why we’re not scoring as many goals as when we started the season."The sooner Pogba comes back the better for the club."

United will be without Pogba once again when they take on reigning Premier League champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.Jose Mourinho will be relying on others to get the job done against his former club and keep the Red Devils in the title hunt.

Robson believes United are capable of claiming a positive result, but only if they are able to control the area of the field in which Pogba would have been deployed.

He added: "If United can dominate the midfield area where we don’t let [Eden] Hazard get a lot of the ball and Pedro, then I think our centre halves can handle [Alvaro] Morata."If we can dominate the midfield area then we’ve got a great chance of getting a result.

“I’m going to go for a draw. Yeah, I think there could be a few goals, but I think it’ll be a tied game."
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11-03-2017, 09:49 AM

‘We will continue giving our best until the end’ – Monaco’s Balde assures after Besiktas draw


Keita Balde vowed that Monaco will keep fighting despite settling for a 1-1 draw against Besiktas in Wednesday’s Uefa Champions League tie.Leonardo Jardim’s men face an uphill task after Cenk Tosun’s second half penalty cancelled out Rony Lopes’s opener for the visitors at the Vodafone Park.

The result leaves the Principality outfit at the bottom of the Group G log and the 22-year-old forward is confident that they can turn the tides around after garnering just two points from four games.

“Great attitude of the team, we will continue fighting and giving our best until the end!," Balde wrote on Instagram.
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11-03-2017, 09:50 AM

Aguero adds to contract confusion: I don't know when my Man City deal ends!


Sergio Aguero believes he is in the form of his life after breaking the Manchester City scoring record, but has once again added to the confusion over his contract situation by saying he "doesn't know" how many years are left on his current deal.Aguero surpassed Eric Brook's tally, which had stood for 78 years, by notching his 178th goal for City in their 4-2 win at Napoli on Wednesday evening.

The Argentine has scored at least 28 goals in five of his six full seasons in England, including a personal high of 34 under Pep Guardiola last season, and his achievement will be recognised with a presentation before Sunday's game against Arsenal.And, with nine goals in 11 outings so far in the current campaign, Aguero believes he is at the top of his game right now.

"Yeah, I think so," he replied when asked by reporters about his form. "This year I think we are playing very good, but the other years are different because now we have a different manager, different players. This year is new, new players came and we are very good. I think this squad is stronger now.

"The season only recently started, two-and-a-half months or so ago, so there's still a long way to go. Individually and collectively I think we've started very well, and we have to continue like this because, as we all know, there are a lot of games in England and we have to be in good physical shape for what is to come."

Aguero has not always seen eye-to-eye with Guardiola since the Catalan arrived at the club last summer, though his performances and goal output over the past year serve as proof that he has taken his coach's ideas on board.

And although the 29-year-old's future appears to be in Manchester, despite he himself suggesting that he could be moved on earlier this year, the circumstances surrounding his current agreement with the club are still far from clear.Aguero extended his contract for one year, until 2020, over 18 months ago, but an official announcement has never been made by the club.

When asked in February when his deal expires, Aguero said 2020, but has since told Argentine media that it is in fact 2019.Asked if he could clear up the situation on Wednesday evening, he only muddied the waters further.

"I don’t know, I don’t remember," he said with a smile. "2019 I think, I will have to go and check again now."
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11-03-2017, 09:52 AM

Mane offers timely boost to Liverpool as he returns to full training

Sadio Mane has offered Liverpool a timely boost by returning to full training after shaking off a hamstring injury.The Senegalese forward has been out of action since picking up a knock during the last international break.

His last appearance for the Reds came in a 1-1 draw with Newcastle on October 1.Mane has missed domestic fixtures against Manchester United, Tottenham and Huddersfield along with a Champions League double-header with Maribor.He was initially expected to be sidelined for around six weeks, but has rejoined Jurgen Klopp’s ranks after progressing ahead of schedule in his recovery.

Mane will not form part of Liverpool’s plans at West Ham on Saturday, with the 25-year-old needing to build up his sharpness to be ready for competitive action.

He could, however, come into contention for a meeting with Southampton on November 18.Klopp recently stated that he hoped to have a man with three goals to his name this season back in his squad for a clash with the Saints.

He told Liverpool’s official website: “After the international break, I think Adam [Lallana] and Sadio are back.“It will be close, so hopefully they can train during the international break and be part of the normal training.”

The Reds will be eager to get Mane back into the fold after seeing him endure a disjointed 2017-18 campaign.A red card picked up against Manchester City in September saw him sit out three games, before then being forced onto the treatment table and missing five more.

Liverpool have fared OK without him in their last two outings, seeing off Huddersfield and Maribor 3-0, but will welcome another injection of pace and power to their attacking unit.
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11-03-2017, 09:53 AM

Heynckes' winning history key for German champions Bayern, says former defender Lucio


Lucio believes Jupp Heynckes' winning history at Bayern Munich will be key as he continues his bid to turn their season around.Heynckes was appointed for a fourth spell in charge last month after Carlo Ancelotti was dismissed following a stuttering start to the season.

Bayern have won each of their six matches in all competitions since Heynckes took over, usurping Borussia Dortmund at the Bundesliga summit and opening a three-point advantage in the process.

The Bavarians face Dortmund in Der Klassiker on Saturday and Lucio, who played under Heynckes when the 72-year-old took over as caretaker in 2009, is confident in the abilities of a coach who led the club to the treble in 2013.

"Yes, I worked with him in a similar situation, at the end of the season he replaced another manager," Lucio told DAZN. "He's a typical German guy. He is very demanding. He likes to win and has written a winning history at Bayern Munich. That gives him some credibility to work now at Bayern.

"As I said, he likes to win and at Bayern it couldn't be different. The pressure for winning the German league and the Champions League is very high. But he knows how it works and I am sure he will be helpful to Bayern."On this weekend's contest at Signal Iduna Park, Lucio added: "Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are always big competitors.

"In the past few years, Dortmund improved a lot, reaching several finals such as the Champions League and managing to win some of them, like the German Cup. This is always a close match with a great atmosphere, whether you are playing in Munich or Dortmund.

"The pressure and the noise of the supporters are always present in this derby. For us players, it's great to be involved in these kinds of games."In Germany, they always respect both teams, your local team and your opponent, which is nice. But the pressure and the motivation are always there."It is a pleasure to play this match, despite the expectations the game involves.There are always great pays and goals in this derby. For all players, you are grateful to play in front of such great supporters and that atmosphere."
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11-03-2017, 09:54 AM

'He is the future of Manchester United' – Matic heaps praise on McTominay


Scott McTominay is the future of Manchester United, according to his team-mate Nemanja Matic. McTominay put in an impressive performance in his first Champions League start on Wednesday, as United defeated Benfica 2-0 at Old Trafford.

Matic, who started alongside McTominay in central midfield, feels Wednesday's game is just the beginning for the United academy product. "I think Scott is going to be a great player and already is a great player," Matic told MUTV.

"He’s very young, very talented and physically strong."I’m sure he is the future of Manchester United and I enjoy playing with him because he also works really hard and is very confident.

"I’m going to help him in training because I think with his potential he's going to be a big star for Manchester United."United manager Jose Mourinho also praised the 20-year-old, and used his performance as an opportunity to hit back against critics who claim he doesn't play young players.

"Scott? Even more fantastic with a manager who never gives a chance to a young guy," Mourinho said."In Chelsea, [I selected] the youngest player ever to play in the Champions League, I think, in Dominic Solanke.

"Again, with a manager who never gives a chance to young guys."I’m very happy for Scott, [he has] great stability and great personality."McTominay has made two Champions League appearances for United this season but is still awaiting his Premier League debut.
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11-03-2017, 09:55 AM

'I won't sign new deal' - Cristiano Ronaldo denies Madrid contract demands


Cristiano Ronaldo denied that he is seeking an improved Real Madrid contract after seeing his side defeated by Tottenham in Wednesday's Champions League clash.

With Neymar signing a lucrative agreement with Paris Saint-Germain upon becoming the world's most expensive signing and Lionel Messi recently extending his own Barcelona deal, reports had suggested that Ronaldo would seek earning parity with the two superstars.

The striker, however, who scored Madrid's only goal at Wembley in a 3-1 reverse , rubbished claims he was pressuring the Merengue board for a raise.

"I am doing very well at Real Madrid. I have four years left on my contract and I don't want to renew. I am fine," he told beIN Sports after the match. Madrid were a pale shadow of the side that has taken back-to-back Champions Leagues in the last two seasons, and Ronaldo called on his team to return to winning ways.

"It is bad because we are losing and we are used to winning. It is a bad run," he added. "It is not how we would want things, but football changes. It is a bad run but we want to change and I am sure we will change.

"We have a lot of time still to get better and I am convinced we can do so."With six goals Ronaldo is the Champions League's top scorer so far, while Madrid trail Spurs in Group H by three points with two games remaining.
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11-03-2017, 09:56 AM

Pochettino: Madrid win shows Tottenham can beat Europe's elite


Mauricio Pochettino said Tottenham's stunning win against Champions League holders Real Madrid has given Spurs great belief and confidence that they can compete with Europe's elite.Tottenham booked their place in the last 16 of the competition with a memorable 3-1 victory over Madrid in Group H at Wembley on Wednesday.

Dele Alli, suspended for the first three pool matches, scored a brace, while Christian Eriksen was also on target as Spurs condemned Zinedine Zidane's Madrid to their heaviest Champions League group-stage defeat since November 2008.

The surprise win against the Spanish and European champions follows Tottenham's impressive 1-1 draw in last month's reverse fixture, and Spurs boss Pochettino lauded his players after the final whistle.
"I'm very proud of my players and I congratulate them. I'm so pleased for Dele and our fans," Pochettino told BT Sport.

"The victory is so important for us and the players. It's a win over Real so it's great for the club and fans."There's a long way to go until the end of the season. What's important is trying to achieve our challenge and target.

"Of course, this win gives us great belief for everyone and confidence. We are now in the next stage of the Champions League. But now it's so important to compete against Crystal Palace [next weekend]. As a manager you can't stop thinking."
Pochettino was delighted with Alli's impact, but was left to rue an apparent hamstring injury for Toby Alderweireld.

"I told you yesterday [Tuesday] that Dele was coming. It's important for him - his debut in the Champions League this season. It's important he felt good," he added."I feel a little bad for Toby Alderweireld we have to assess it [his injury]."
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11-04-2017, 09:47 AM

Pickford: Everton will not be relegated


Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is confident the Premier League strugglers will move clear of the relegation zone.The Merseyside club are 18th in the table and adrift of safety on goal difference as they prepare to welcome Watford to Goodison Park Sunday.

It has been a forgettable season for Everton so far following the sacking of Ronald Koeman last month, but recruit Pickford believes the club's fortunes will change.

"It's not been ideal but we are not far away from winning games," he said."We're not a club that is going to be in the bottom three for long I'd say. It's just that the luck hasn't come our way yet.

"It's a totally different scenario for myself from last season. I think one win will get us to 13th or something in the league."Then that one win can become back-to-back wins, and that is where the confidence grows, and it starts Sunday."

"We have had a bad lot of games. I love playing games week in week out, but it has been a change with the Europa League. That may have affected us," Pickford continued."But we can't be making excuses. We have to just move forward, dig in and get the win."

The 23-year-old believes the side can lean on a strong group of veterans to help them move away from the bottom of the table."You have [fellow summer signing Wayne] Rooney, you have a lot of people who have been successful," he continued. "The senior pros have all been successful in their careers, and that is where they help us.

"And then that is when the young lads become big characters, when they wear their hearts on their sleeves in the games. We won't be struggling - it will only make us go forward and get the wins that we need."
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