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Higuain left out again as Sampaoli looks to save Argentina

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Argentina faces a pair of make-or-break qualifiers as CONMEBOL wraps up its World Cup qualifying in the upcoming international break. Once again, Gonzalo Higuain will be watching from his couch.

Head coach Jorge Sampaoli has left the Juventus striker off the roster yet again as he looks to keep Argentina afloat in matches against Peru and Ecuador. Higuain has two goals in three matches for Juventus to start the Serie A season, but he has found it hard to make the national team in recent times, appearing in just three of Argentina’s last eight matches. He has not scored for the country since October of 2016. Despite that, his scoring record for Argentina remains high-quality, owning a lifetime record of 31 goals in 69 appearances.

[ MORE: Brazil releases roster ]

In Higuain’s place, the Argentine boss did bring in 24-year-old Inter striker Mauro Icardi who has five goals in Inter’s first three Serie A games this season.

Sampaoli also kept PSG midfielder Javier Pastore off despite selecting the 28-year-old last international break and using him off the bench in both matches. Pastore has two goals in four matches for PSG so far this season, but no assists.

Argentina sits in fifth position – only a playoff spot – and is just one measly point from falling out of qualification altogether. That team on their heels is Chile, with Peru in a surprising fourth place, above Argentina only on goals scored, with the two countries level on points and goal difference.

The biggest issue for Argentina has been its attack, with just 16 goals in 16 qualifying games. They’ve scored just a single goal in their last three matches, drawing blanks against Uruguay and Bolivia.

FULL ROSTER

GK: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres), Agustin Marchesin (America).

DEF: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Federico Fazio (Roma), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Emanuel Mammana (Zenit), German Pezzella (Fiorentina).

MF: Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Leandro Paredes (Zenit), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica), Emiliano Rigoni (Zenit), Alejandro Gomez (Atalanta).

FWD: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City).

Klopp on dominant Liverpool’s late lost lead, Sevilla scuffle

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That little touch line altercation between Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp and Sevilla’s bench staff? No big deal, says Klopp.

The Reds’ boss says Sevilla’s staff accused him of lobbying for manager Eduardo Berizzo to be sent off, which he was, in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with Sevilla at Anfield in UEFA Champions League play on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Pulisic on Wembley loss, Lalas rant ]

“The coach was no problem, but I do not think I had any decision on the referee,” Klopp said. “I did not ask for it. The people on their bench thought I was responsible for his red card and did not like me too much.”

Klopp’s men went down early when Dejan Lovren‘s weak intervention went awry, allowing a pass to Wissam Ben Yedder on the doorstep.

Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Saleh gave the hosts a 2-1 lead, before Firmino missed a penalty. The Reds dominated the game and chances, but Joaquin Correa made sure both sides earned points with a late goal.

Klopp’s diagnosis was an odd one, at least considering the result.

“It was pretty much a winning performance for 85-86 minutes and the team played well against a side who play well. We had answers for everything apart from the goals. I have to see them again. That is not the good thing. It was an exciting game from my side, everyone saw our desire and passion but we got a point.”

I get the underlying point, but doesn’t Klopp’s assertion that they were fine apart from the goals meet the general criticism of his teams’ defensive performances? And doesn’t it sound like the old “Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” cliche?

Anyway, a draw with Sevilla is not the end of the world, especially in a group with Maribor and Spartak Moscow. Essentially, the Reds have three-plus months to sort out their back line, and may just need the January transfer window.

Premier League releases 25-man squads for 2017-2018 season

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With the close of the transfer window, Premier League rosters are now set for the season.

On Friday evening, after teams submitted their squads, the Premier League released each team’s 25-man squads for the current season.

There are some notable omissions. Arsenal left out Santi Cazorla, who continues to recover from an achillies injury while Chelsea left Abdul Baba Rahman off its list. However, Diego Costa was included on Chelsea’s roster despite the Spanish international’s attempts to force a move away. Southampton’s Virgil Van Dijk and Everton’s Ross Barkley made their club’s squads as well.

There are six Americans currently registered for the upcoming season. Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron, Newcastle United’s DeAndre Yedlin and Huddersfield Town’s Danny Williams are registered as senior squad members. Bournemouth’s Emerson Hyndman, Arsenal’s Gedion Zelalem and Chelsea’s Kyle Scott are registered as Under-21 players, while Tottenham’s Cameron Carter-Vickers, on loan at Sheffield United for the season, is also registered as an Under-21 player.

 

Per Premier League rules, no more than 17 players who don’t fulfill the league’s “home grown” requirements can be registered. A home grown player is someone who has been registered by the FA or the Welsh FA for three years before the age of 21.

Under-21 players, those born after January 1, 1996, are eligible to play in the Premier League this season without being registered. Teams can update and change their squads

Here’s a look at the 2017-2018 Premier League squads:

(more…)

Ex-Brazil midfielder Ederson says he has testicular cancer

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) One-time Brazil midfielder Ederson says he has testicular cancer and won’t be able to play for his Flamengo club for months.

The disease was detected last Saturday and he will undertake surgery on Monday, the 31-year-old footballer said in a news conference on Monday.

Ederson has played for Nice and Lyon in France, and for Lazio in Italy. He represented Brazil once in 2010, and joined Flamengo in 2015.

[ MORE: Dom Dwyer traded ]

Flamengo doctor Marcio Tannure said there was a 99 percent chance of total recovery for Ederson, who was contracted to the club to Dec. 31.

Tannure said the disease was discovered after Ederson failed doping tests after three matches of the Brazilian championship in May. The substance beta-HCG, which stimulates the production of testosterone, was discovered by medics in his urine samples.

Flamengo chairman Eduardo Bandeira de Mello said Ederson will have the club’s full support regardless of the end of his contract. He expects the midfielder to play for the Rio de Janeiro giant again.

“When we had the first news of the anti-doping we kept our full confidence in him, he is an example of an athlete,” de Mello said. The cancer was detected after blood and image exams.

[ MORE: Milan talk to Costa, Falcao agent

An emotional Ederson said he was still processing the discovery.

“I am upset, but also confident about the next days. It will be another battle and I have won a few in my life,” he said. “I am sure that I will win this one, too, to play football as soon as possible.”

Tannure said only after surgery will it be clear how serious the tumor is.

“There is a chance he will go through chemotherapy, but that depends on the biopsy. But the prospects for recovery are indeed good.”

Enner Valencia heads back to Liga MX; Gignac available?

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Enner Valencia is returning to Liga MX, finding a new home at Tigres UANL.

West Ham United announced the sale for an undisclosed fee on Thursday, ending Valencia’s tenure in the Premier League with 11 goals in 75 appearances between the Irons and a loan to Everton. The Toffes had a buy option, but did not exercise it.

Valencia found his way to the PL after a terrific 2014 World Cup with Ecuador and a final season with Pachuca which saw him score 18 goals in 23 matches.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

However his international future has been tumultuous, including a wild child support story which saw him chased off the pitch by police during a CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier.

Valencia has 20 goals in 38 Ecuador caps, and joins a Tigres side with former USMNT midfielder Jose Francisco Torres, Chilean star Eduardo Vargas, and French striker Andre-Pierre Gignac.

The latter has been linked with the LA Galaxy, and the addition of Valencia — while not like for like — could boost the chances of an MLS arrival for Gignac.

Reports claimed the Galaxy headed down to Monterrey for a discussion regarding Gignac’s availability last week, and it’s not crazy to put two-and-two together.