Italy OUT of World Cup after defeat to North Macedonia, Portugal through to final

ITALY are OUT of the World Cup after being stunned by North Macedonia.

Aleksandr Trajkovski’s long range effort was enough to send the Balkan nation through to a final in Portugal.

Cristiano Ronaldo and co were a little bit jittery at times but got the job done with a 3-1 semi-final victory over Turkey.

Wales are also through to the final, but they don’t know yet when it will be as the other semi-final between Scotland and Ukraine has been delayed following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In South America, Uruguay and Ecuador have joined Brazil and Argentina in Qatar.

And in Africa we have a repeat of the Africa Cup of Nations final between Senegal and Egypt to decide who goes through.

Meanwhile Paulo Dybala has reportedly chosen his next club after it was confirmed that he will leave Juventus on a free transfer.

The forward is said to have snubbed the likes of Tottenham and Atletico Madrid in order to join PSG.

Get all the latest football news and updates here…

  • Merson on Sancho for England

    Arsenal legend Paul Merson reckons Gareth Southgate should’ve picked Jadon Sancho instead of Raheem Sterling for the England squad.

    Merson said in his Daily Star column: “Gareth Southgate should have picked Jadon Sancho instead of Raheem Sterling in his England squad.

    “Surely you’re better off having Sancho in the squad than Sterling? We know what Sterling can do.

    “We know he’s going to the World Cup. Sterling always performs for England. Leave him out, he’s got big games coming up for Manchester City. And put Sancho in.”

  • Barcelona ‘keeping close eye on Salah’

    Mo Salah has reportedly emerged as a top target for Barcelona who are weighing up a possible summer swoop for the Liverpool star.

     Mundo Deportivo have now stated that the Blaugrana could make a move for Salah if the opportunity arrives in the upcoming transfer window.

    They state they are keeping tabs on his contract stand-off, though he is not their No1 priority.

    The report declared that Borussia Dortmund centre-forward Erling Haaland is the club’s main target.

    But should the Norwegian starlet join Manchester City or another club, Salah is next in line for the LaLiga giants.

  • Diego Simeone’s father dies

    Carlos Simeone the father of Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone, has died at the age of 80.

    The man, who is also the grandfather of Atletico Madrid B striker Giuliano Simeone, was confirmed to have passed away after a statement was released on the club website.

    He died in his home country of Argentina on Friday – in the capital Buenos Aires.

  • Rivaldo backs Ten Hag appointment

    Brazilian legend Rivaldo has backed Erik Ten Hag to become Man United’s new boss.

    He said to Betfair: “According to reports this week, Manchester United have spoken to Erik ten Hag about becoming their next manager and he is now the odds-on favourite in the betting.

    “Looking at what the Dutchman has been doing with Ajax, I’m sure he could be a great option to become United’s next manager. He is an excellent coach.”

  • Hulk’s pregnant wife trains

    Football ace Hulk’s pregnant wife showed off her punishing gym routine with her prominent baby bump as she counts down the days to their first child.

    She did leg squats and forward thrusts with dumbbells before getting to work on her arms to the hit Sia song Cheap Thrills featuring Sean Paul.

    Camila wrote over the video: “When they say a pregnant woman can’t train.”

  • Brereton Diaz sparks transfer battle 

    Ben Brereton Diaz is wanted by FIVE Premier League teams, according to reports.

    Brereton Diaz, 22, has produced a red-hot season for Blackburn Rovers and is also being watched by Sevilla.

    Spanish newspaper Estadio Deportivo explains that Brighton are the English club with the “most interest” in the British-born Chilean hotshot.

    West Ham, Crystal Palace and Everton are the other teams keen on the No9.

    Leeds United have also been eyeing up Brereton Diaz all season.

    It says that the Premier League clubs could “overcome any offer” that comes from Spanish rivals.

  • Southgate promises Three Lions debuts

    England boss Gareth Southgate has promised to hand out first caps to players in the upcoming games against Switzerland and Ivory Coast.

    Crystal Palace pair Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell are both in the senior squad for the first time while Southampton’s Kyle Walker-Peters is also uncapped.

    Looking to use the two friendlies to experiment with ideas, Southgate said: “We will have debuts this week, for sure. There will be great moments for those players, and we will always look to put them in with experienced players.”

    Crystal Palace duo Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell arrive for England training.

    Crystal Palace duo Marc Guehi and Tyrick Mitchell arrive for England training.

  • Smith Rowe issue ‘not serious’

    Gareth Southgate has revealed that the problem that kept Emile Smith Rowe out of England training this morning is not a major one, but he’s unlikely to feature against Switzerland at Wembley tomorrow.

    Discussing fitness issues within the squad at this afternoon’s press conference, the Three Lions boss said: “Emile [Smith Rowe] did not train today so he is unlikely to be involved tomorrow. It’s nothing too serious, but we’ll check on him late to see if he can take part.”

    Southgate had better news regarding another forward, but was left rueing another increase in Covid-19 cases.

    “Raheem [Sterling] is absolutely fine. However, it was a shame to lose Bukayom [Saka], but that we’re back in those moments with Covid where there’s been a spike in the country.”

  • Arteta future in doubt amid Tite link

    Mikel Arteta’s long-term future as Arsenal manager is in question after it emerged that talks had taken place between the Premier League club and Brazil coach Tite.

    According to sensational reports in South America, Gunners sporting director Edu has identified his compatriot as the man he wants to take the Londoners forward.

    Tite is contracted to the Brazil national team until the completion of this year’s World Cup, but could be installed at the Emirates for the beginning of the 2023-24 season.

    Arteta has revitalised a young and exciting Arsenal side in recent months, but is only contracted to the club until the summer of 2023.

  • Williams to make Fulham move permanent

    While Gareth Bale stole the show at the Cardiff City Stadium last night, there were a number of other impressive performances within the Wales ranks – not least from Neco Williams.

    The 20-year-old Liverpool full-back has been enjoying a superb loan spell at Fulham since heading to Craven Cottage in January, and now wants to make the move permanent, once his new club win promotion back to the Premier League.

    The runaway Championship leaders enjoy a good relationship with Liverpool, and plan to to capture Williams for the long-term in the summer – when Portuguese starlet Fabio Carvalho heads in the opposite direction.

    Williams is under contract with The Reds until 2025, and is expected to cost the Cottagers around £15million.

  • Spanish press take another swipe at Bale

    Football journalists in Spain have launched another attack on Gareth Bale following his two-goal heroics for Wales in their World Cup play-off with Austria last night.

    The 32-year-old Real Madrid man scored two stunners to put his country within 90 minutes of Qatar 2022, and then afterwards responded to recent claims in the Spanish press that he has become a ‘parasite’, ‘sucking money’ out of the LaLiga club.

    Bale said: “I don’t need to send a message. It’s a waste of my time. It’s disgusting, and they should also be ashamed of themselves.”

    However, it wasn’t long before Real mouthpiece Marca took another sly dig at Bale with the headline of their match report: ‘Bale is a phenomenon – when he wants to be.’

  • Takeover latest: Some Candy talking

    Nick Candy’s offer to purchase Chelsea has not made Raine Group’s official shortlist – but the property developer may yet be in with a chance of being part of the club’s ownership.

    According to the BBC’s Alistair Magowan, Candy’s Blue Football Consortium have claimed that they have been asked to speak to other bidders and that those talks are now underway.

    The bids from the consortiums led by Todd Boehly and Sir Martin Broughton are understood to be the frontrunners to takeover at Stamford Bridge.

  • Smith-Rowe misses England training

    Emile Smith Rowe became the latest Arsenal player to sit out England training when he was absent from this morning’s practice.

    The Gunners midfielder also missed Wednesday’s session although there has not yet been an official reason given for today’s non-appearance.

    The news comes a day after his club teammate and good friend, Bukayo Saka, withdrew from England duty, having testing positive for Covid-19.

    Last week, Aaron Ramsdale was forced to pull out of the squad with a muscle injury.

    Gunners fans will be hoping the Arsenal curse doesn’t strike their one remaining England representative, Ben White.

  • Hammers donate to animal welfare

    West Ham United have announced that they have donated the proceeds of Kurt Zouma’s recent fine to a number of animal welfare charities.

    The French defender was subject to an internal investigation and punishment after a video emerged on social media of him abusing his pet cat.

    A club statement read: “A total of nine organisations, supporting the care and wellbeing of animals both in the United Kingdom and internationally, have been identified to receive significant payments which will go towards supporting the fantastic work they do.”

    The charities approached include Cats Protection, National Animal Welfare Trust, and International Fund Animal Welfare.

  • FA lay on buses for fans

    The Football Association have announced that they will lay on 100 free buses for fans wishing to attend the FA Cup semi-final between Manchester City and Liverpool at Wembley.

    The English game’s governing body had come in for criticism after persisting with the national stadium as the venue for the tie despite engineering works ensuring there were no trains between the two cities and London.

    The FA had resisted calls to move the semi to Old Trafford, and have instead chartered coaches to accommodate an estimated 5,000 of the expected 90,000 crowd.

    Travelling supporters will also have to deal with ‘unnecessary roadworks’ for their tie on Saturday, April 16. The game is scheduled to kick-off in the capital at 3.30pm.

    The other semi-final – an all-London affair between Crystal Palace and Chelsea – will take place at Wembley the following day, beginning at 4.30pm.

  • Poch waiting on United call

    Mauricio Pochettino is ‘waiting to hear back’ from John Murtough after holding initial talks with Manchester United’s director of football several weeks ago.

    According to reports in The Express, the PSG boss spoke to Murtough about the upcoming position, but is yet to receive confirmation of an official interview for the role.

    The Argentine coach was a long time favourite for the job, but has now slipped behind Ajax manager Erik ten Hag in the betting.

    And Ten Hag now appears in pole position after he was said to impress United officials at his interview earlier this week.

    Whether Murtogh actually gets round to contacting Pochettino remains to be seen.

  • Charming Gunners pursue Benfica’s Nunez

    ArsenaL have reportedly begun a ‘charm offensive’ in their bid to sign Benfica striker Darwin Nunez.

    Nunez, 22, was believed to be on Arsenal’s radar in January with the club making initial contact with the player’s agent.

    The Gunners are increasing their contact with Benfica and are beginning to talk up a move to North London, according to Record.

    And Arsenal are reportedly a few steps ahead of Newcastle and West Ham in the race to sign Nunez.

    Both clubs were said to be interested in the Uruguayan in January but were put off by his asking price.

    At one point Toon were prepared to pay £50million for the forward but given interest in Nunez is only increasing his asking price is now believed to be in the region of £67m.

  • Azpi has choice to make

    Cesar Azpilicueta is unsure whether to stay at Chelsea or sign for Barcelona, according to reports.

    Azpilicueta, 32, could leave the club for free this summer and has already snubbed several offers from the Blues to extend his deal.

    The Express claims that the club captain is still torn on what he should do next.

    The Spanish star ‘feels deeply rooted’ in London and is ‘proud’ to have been Chelsea skipper since 2019.

    But he has been offered an initial two-year deal at Barcelona and the lure of going back to his motherland.

    Azpilicueta has refused to commit to either Chelsea or Catalonia as he decides.

    Speaking at a press conference whilst on international duty, the wing-back said: “My future? It’s not the place or time to discuss it.

  • PSG cast Net-o over Pedro

    Wolverhampton Wanderers Pedro Neto is a shock target for Paris Saint-Germain, according to a morning report in the Daily Mail.

    The big-spending French side are supposedly tracking the Portuguese forward as they look to freshen up their attacking options in the summer.

    Yet Neto seems a surprise choice considering his injury issues. The 22-year-old recently returned to first team action after ten months out with a fractured kneecap.

    And the Wolves man still has five years to run on his contract at Molineux, having signed an extension earlier this month.

    Any offer from the Ligue 1 club will have to be attractive one in order for the Old Gold to accept – not that money is an issue for PSG.

  • Barca’s shock move for Mbappe

    Barcelona have emerged as a surprise contender to sign Kylian Mbappe, according to L’Equipe.

    The French superstar had looked set for Real Madrid after verbally agreeing to a move to the Bernabeu months ago.

    But now Barca have entered the picture and are ready to challenge their old LaLiga enemy for Mbappe’s signature.

    It is thought that the Catalan club’s major sponsorship deal with Spotify has released significant finances for transfers.

    The 23-year-old forward is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain in the summer and available on a free, but will come with major wage demands.

  • Arsenal’s Tierney opens Scotland account

    Kieran Tierney scored his first international goal for Scotland in last night’s 1-1 draw with Poland – and then joked afterwards that it only puts him on an equal balance for his country.

    The Arsenal defender headed home John McGinn’s free-kick at Hampden to give Steve Clark’s men a first half lead in Thursday’s friendly.

    And after the game, Tierney laughed: “It’s good to get my first goal. That’s one goal and one own-goal for Scotland so that’s me even.

    “I was thinking ‘is this onside or offside?’ but that’s just the shock. When do I score a header?”

  • United and PSG in Poch stand-off

    The Glazer family’s unwillingness to pay substantial compensation to land Mauricio Pochettino is another reason why Erik ten Hag is now the preferred candidate to take over at Old Trafford.

    In an intriguing stand off, Paris Saint-Germain officials are considering sacking Pochettino, but don’t want to hand him to United for nothing.

    ESPN report that PSG would rather force the Red Devils into paying a sizeable fee for the Argentine’s services – which United officials are refusing to do.

    The compensation package necessary to bring Ten Hag to the Premier League is understood to be both less costly and less complicated.

  • Brighton’s Lamptey withdraws from U21s

    Tariq Lamptey has been forced to withdraw from the England Under 21 squad due to illness.

    The Brighton defender has returned home and will now miss the European Championship qualifiers against Andorra and Albania.

    There has been no confirmation as to whether Lamptey’s ailments are Covid-19 related.

  • Boehly and Broughton the preferred bidders

    It now seems apparent that Raine Group’s favoured candidates for Chelsea ownership are the bids from consortiums led by Todd Boehly and Sir Martin Broughton.

    Several news sources are reporting that the two parties are the names at the head of the merchant bank’s shortlist.

    The Guardian’s football correspondent Jacob Steinberg has tweeted that Boehly and Broughton are the preferred bidders, but there has been ‘no clarity’ on the offers from Nick Candy and the Ricketts family.

    The bid from Saudi Media Group was said to have been ruled out last night.

  • United’s Elanga makes Sweden debut

    Anthony Elanga’s dream season took another turn last night as the teenager made his international debut.

    The 19-year-old came on for the last five minutes of extra-time in Sweden’s World Cup play-off semi-final win over the Czech Republic.

    The United starlet replaced Emil Forsberg at a crucial point in proceedings, but Janne Andersson’s men held on to their 1-0 lead and will now face Poland in Tuesday’s final.

    The late cameo ensures Elanga’s international allegiance for Sweden. The forward was also eligible for England and Cameroon.

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