Liverpool players dominate Ballon d’Or shortlist

Press Association Sport 23:31 21/10/2019
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Liverpool’s Champions League winners dominate the nominations for the Ballon d’Or after seven of Jurgen Klopp’s men were included on the 30-man shortlist.

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker, defenders Virgil Van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and strikers Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino all featured amongst the candidates when they were announced by France Football and L’Equipe on Monday evening.

In all, 15 Premier League-based players were named alongside five-times winners Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Manchester City quintet Sergio Aguero, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez made the list, as did Tottenham duo Hugo Lloris and Son Heung-min, while there was a place too for Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

There were also four spots for Barcelona players Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Frenkie De Jong, Antoine Griezmann and Messi, while Ronaldo was joined by Juventus team-mate Matthijs De Ligt, who was nominated for the young players’ award too.

Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema were Real Madrid’s only representatives, while World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe and Brazilian defender Marquinhos made it for Paris St Germain.

England international Jadon Sancho was nominated for the Kopa Trophy for young players along with Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, Everton striker Moise Kean and Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix, who like De Ligt also made the senior list.

Goalkeepers at four English clubs were nominated for the Yashin award as Liverpool’s Alisson, Ederson of Manchester City, Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and Lloris were selected alongside Manuel Neuer, Samir Handanovic, Jan Oblak, Andre Onana, Wojciech Szczesny and Ter Stegen.

World champions the United States and Champions League winners Lyon dominated the nominations for the women’s award, with England’s Lucy Bronze and Ellen White in the running.

USA’s Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Rose Lavelle all made the shortlist, while Bronze was one of six Lyon players to join them along with Ada Hegerberg, who claimed the award last year, Amandine Henry, Sarah Bouhaddi, Dzsenifer Marozsan and Wendie Renard.

Manchester City’s White and Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema also made the top 20, as did Brazil star Marta.

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Ben Davies confident of Euro 2020 spot as Wales are a "proper team" again

Press Association Sport 10:23 15/10/2019
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Ben Davies believes Wales can book a spot at Euro 2020 next summer because they are a “proper team” again.

The Euro 2016 semi-finalists have had an up-and-down qualifying campaign, featuring wins over Slovakia and Azerbaijan and defeats to Croatia and Hungary.

Wales’ destiny is out of their hands heading into the final two games next month, but Davies feels Ryan Giggs’ side can qualify after encouraging 1-1 draws against Slovakia and Croatia.

“We’ll take a lot from them, it’s probably two of our best performances,” Davies said after Wales had held the World Cup finalists in Cardiff.

“We looked really solid, we looked like a proper team out there – the boys performed.

“We’ve been hard to beat and that’s where we want to get to. We have been brave in the past and played out from the back a lot.

“But sometimes you just need to slow it down, get organised and get back to what we are good at. I think the last two games have really shown that.”

Wales conclude their campaign with a trip to Azerbaijan on November 16 and a home clash with Hungary three days later.

Two wins will see Wales secure a top-two qualifying place, as long as Slovakia do not win both of their remaining games.

Slovakia finish away to Group E leaders Croatia – who need a point to guarantee qualification – and at home to bottom-placed Azerbaijan.

“We know exactly what we’ve got to do, and that’s win our games,” said Davies, who won his 50th cap against Croatia and set up Gareth Bale for Wales’ equaliser.

“Nothing more than that really. But this week has been good for our confidence going into two massive games at the end of the group.

“I think it was important we didn’t lose the Croatia game. It keeps the group competitive and keeps them on their toes against Slovakia.

“Hopefully we can do our job, but there are no mugs in this group.

“Azerbaijan are a better side than people give them credit for. It will be a tough place to go.”

Davies now returns to club football and a Tottenham squad desperate to get their season back on track.

Spurs suffered sobering 7-2 and 3-0 defeats to Bayern Munich and Brighton before the international break and are at home to the Premier League’s bottom club Watford on Saturday.

“It will be nice to get back there now. It’s time to get results,” Davies said.

“International football is very separate from club football. But for us it’s about putting the performances in on the pitch. If we do that for Spurs, then hopefully we can kick on and get on a good run.”

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Didier Deschamps hints Olivier Giroud may need move away from Chelsea to boost France career

Press Association Sport 10:12 15/10/2019
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France coach Didier Deschamps praised Olivier Giroud for delivering under pressure but admits a lack of game time with Chelsea is damaging his international chances.

The 33-year-old came off the bench in France’s Euro 2000 qualifier against Turkey on Monday night and scored within four minutes. It was his third goal in four matches for France, but his header was cancelled out late on by Kaan Ayhan in a 1-1 draw.

Giroud had scored an important winner against Iceland on Friday but Deschamps did not feel he could manage two starts in four days, having managed just 187 minutes for his club this season.

“You know, Olivier suffers his situation. Before January, nothing will move,” Deschamps told a press conference.

“After, it will be up to him to see. I hope he will have more playing time.

“But we cannot take away his goals, his good performances. He scores, he makes others play well. He knows he is under pressure, but he always responds.”

France laboured at home to Turkey, who remain Group H leaders ahead of their opponents on 19 points because of a superior head-to-head record after a 2-0 win in Konya in June.

They had 23 shots but only nine were on target, producing only one goal.

“We did everything we needed to win that game,” Deschamps said. “We had the chances, they didn’t, but it is what it is.

“It’s a good point. We’ll have to finish the job in November,

“We are the two best teams in the group. Qualifiers are always complicated, it’s a long road.

“We should have been more efficient. They defended a lot and they deserve to be where they are.”

France face Moldova next month while Turkey host third-placed Iceland.

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