Champions Monaco slip up with Amiens draw

< !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> Paris (AFP) – French champions Monaco were held to a 1-1 draw at newly-promoted Amiens on Friday despite an equaliser from Stevan Jovetic to drop two points in the Ligue 1 title race. Christophe Pelissier’s home side took a shock 31st-minute lead through Serge Gakpe, but Jovetic came off the bench in the second half to equalise. Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain can move six points clear of Monaco when they welcome Nantes to the Parc des Princes on Saturday, after Leonardo Jardim’s men saw a three-match winning streak come to an end. Monaco went into the game four points adrift of PSG, but were boosted by the return from injury of captain Radamel Falcao. The Colombian quickly went in search of his 14th league goal of the season, but twice fired wide before being denied by the legs of Amiens goalkeeper Regis Gurtner. The Stade de la Licorne burst Continue reading "Champions Monaco slip up with Amiens draw"

Lille win over Saint-Etienne to ease pressure on Bielsa

< !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> Paris (AFP) – Lille beat Saint-Etienne 3-1 on Friday to ease the pressure on under-fire Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa and move out of the Ligue 1 relegation zone. The second straight win dragged Lille out of the bottom two, having ended a nine-match winless streak with a 3-0 victory over Metz before the international break. Saint-Etienne stay sixth in the table, after losing their first game under new coach Julien Sable since Oscar Garcia quit this week. Lille forward Nicolas Pepe leapt highest at the back post to open the scoring in the 20th minute at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy with his third goal in two matches. Jonathan Bamba fired home a penalty on the stroke of half-time to equalise for the visitors, but the hosts retook the lead in the 71st minute. Brazilian Thiago Mendes proved the difference, as the 25-year-old midfielder curled into the bottom corner from outside the Continue reading "Lille win over Saint-Etienne to ease pressure on Bielsa"

Barcelona braced for week of reckoning – Valverde

< !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> Barcelona (AFP) – Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde warned against complacency when the La Liga leaders travel to Leganes on Saturday ahead of a testing week with trips to Juventus and Valencia also to come. Barca could move seven points clear of Valencia at the top of the table and open up an 11-point lead over Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, who face each other later on Saturday, with an 11th win in 12 La Liga matches since Valverde took charge. “It is clear it is an important week given the opponents we are facing,” said Valverde on Friday. “We have a lot of games in the run up to Christmas in which a lot is at stake in all three competitions.” However, having thrown away the title last season with defeats at Malaga, Deportivo la Coruna, Celta Vigo and at home to Alaves, Valverde wants Barca’s minds concentrated on Continue reading "Barcelona braced for week of reckoning – Valverde"

Garcia hopes Evra’s career won’t end with kick

< !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> Marseille (AFP) – Marseille coach Rudi Garcia said on Friday that he hopes Patrice Evra will not finish his “fantastic career” on “this note”, referring to the left-back’s attack on a fan. Evra is without a club after kicking a supporter in the head before Marseille’s Europa League game with Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal on November 2. The 36-year-old agreed to terminate his contract with Marseille eight days later. “It would be a pity for it to finish this way,” Garcia told a press conference ahead of Marseille’s league match at Bordeaux on Sunday. “I will take this chance to say that Pat is a great man and that all the dressing room liked him.” Garcia said he thought the decision to part ways “was the best option”. He added that he was not worried about leadership in the Marseille dressing room. “I don’t lack for experienced players in this Continue reading "Garcia hopes Evra’s career won’t end with kick"

Madrid giants face similar issues ahead of derby

< !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> Madrid (AFP) – Accustomed to a place at the top table in recent seasons, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid resume an old rivalry at a new home on Saturday with little room for error. Early season struggles have left both sides eight points adrift of La Liga leaders Barcelona and four points below revitalised Valencia. The pair have each contested two Champions League finals and won a La Liga title in the past four seasons. Saturday’s derby will be the first derby at Atletico’s new Wanda Metropolitano stadium but the 20th since February 2014, with six wins apiece and seven draws in the 19 contests, a demonstration of how closely matched they have been. However, after stumbling out of the blocks this year, Real and Atletico find themselves playing catch up due to Barca’s flying start. The poor form of their stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann, usually reliable sources Continue reading "Madrid giants face similar issues ahead of derby"

Guardiola mulls Kompany return for Man City

< !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is considering calling on captain Vincent Kompany to solve his centre-back problems at Leicester City on Saturday. The Belgium international, 31, has not played since picking up a calf injury during his country’s 9-0 win over Gibraltar in August. Since then, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi have impressed in defence for City, but the Argentinian is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Arsenal. “I have something in my mind to replace him,” Guardiola said on Friday. “We have Manga (Eliaquim Mangala), maybe Kompany can come back. We will see. “We have other options, of course. Kyle (Walker) can play in central defence, Fernandinho can play in that position. “It’s not a natural position for Kyle and Dinho, but we have options.” Kompany has struggled to keep himself fit for the majority of the Continue reading "Guardiola mulls Kompany return for Man City"

Ibrahimovic, Pogba back for Man Utd – Mourinho

< !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Paul Pogba and long-term injury victim Zlatan Ibrahimovic will make their Manchester United returns against Newcastle United on Saturday, manager Jose Mourinho announced on Friday. France midfielder Pogba has been out since September with a hamstring injury, while former Sweden striker Ibrahimovic has not played since damaging knee ligaments against Anderlecht in April. Argentinian defender Marcos Rojo is also set to return, having suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury in the same Europa League game as Ibrahimovic. “Zlatan, last season we played with him every minute almost until he was injured,” Mourinho told his weekly press conference at United’s training base west of Manchester. “This season we learn how to play without him, but he’s a very important player for us. “So welcome back and of course he is an incredible personality to fight such an important injury. We were all saying in 2017 he Continue reading "Ibrahimovic, Pogba back for Man Utd – Mourinho"