Gotta love the French.
As the nation looks to overturn a two goal play-off deficit against the Ukraine, French newspapers have been polling the public to gauge confidence.
Suffice to say, hopes aren’t very high. In fact, they are downright pessimistic.
As in 84% of the French public doesn’t believe Les Bleus will make it to Brazil 2014, those figures by virtue of 23,000 votes cast in Le Parisien.
A similar poll taken from 60,000 people in L’Equipe had nearly as hopeless a response with 61% of the public believing France won’t qualify for this summer’s World Cup.
And, in what has to be the most troubling question and answer recorded, Le Parisien reports that only 16% of the country answered “yes” in regards to “Do you continue to support Les Bleus in spit of everything?”
It’s a response that will give Didier Deschamps’ team little hope after a flat performance Friday in Kiev. That match saw a weak center-back pairing of Eric Abidal and Laurent Koscielny exposed, with the latter being sent off for two yellow cards. Hopes are that the Arsenal man will be spelled by Real Madrid center-back Raphael Varane, who faces a race to be fit.
France will look to UEFA Player of the Year, Franck Ribery, to inspire the side and expect the Bayern man to link up with Mathieu Valbuena following a dismal performance by Samir Nasri last Friday.
Bowing out to the Ukraine would be a massive blow to Les Bleus after years of recent turmoil concerning fractured player relations with the management staff and the French Football Federation. At World Cup 2010 Nicholas Anelka was kicked off the team for a profanity-laced tirade against coach Raymond Domenech prompting captain Patrice Evra to organize his teammates into a training boycott.
Those actions prompted controversy, suspensions and strong reactions from French fans that have since appeared to be on the mend. But with World Cup qualification in doubt the new confidence polls raises questions as to whether this nation has ever really healed from that incident.
Liverpool came out with a furious pace in Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final, but the Reds suffered a massive blow heading into halftime despite their match with Real Madrid remaining scoreless.
Leading goalscorer Mohamed Salah was guided off the pitch by the Reds training staff, after suffering an apparent shoulder injury at the half hour mark.
Meanwhile, Real had its own injury scary just minutes after when right back Dani Carvajal left the game with a leg injury.
The Reds had their share of early chances, including Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s blast that forced a quality save out of Keylor Navas, but the Premier League side couldn’t break the deadlock.
Real seemed to benefit significantly from Salah’s absence though, and Los Blancos nearly took full advantage in the latter stages of the first half.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s close-range header was saved well by Loris Karius, before Karim Benzema’s follow-up attempt went in the back of the net, but was ruled offside.
45 more minutes to play.
Mohamed Salah‘s involvement in the UEFA Champions League final lasted less than 30 minutes.
Salah, Liverpool’s leading goalscorer with 44 goals in all competitions this season, landed heavily on his left shoulder after a challenge with Sergio Ramos.
The Egyptian forward tried to get up but couldn’t shake off the injury and was in tears as he walked off the pitch in the European final.
Ramos will no doubt receive plenty of questions as to his role in Salah’s injury as the Spanish defender made sure Liverpool’s main man hit the floor hard and locked his right arm in during the duel.
All of the focus will now be on Salah to see if he can be fit enough to play for Egypt at the World Cup this summer.
Salah is the main man for the Pharaohs, as he helped them qualify for their first World Cup since 1990.
Pro Soccer Talk takes a look at some of the day’s biggest transfer stories, including Manchester United possibly parting ways with one of its most-known stars.
[ MORE: PST ranks all 23 current MLS managers ]
Paul Pogba‘s return to Old Trafford has been anything but routine, and it appears his relationship with manager Jose Mourinho is severely damaged.
Don Balon suggests that United would be willing to include Pogba in a deal that sends the France international to Real Madrid, along with a large transfer sum, assuming Madrid parts ways with Toni Kroos.
The Red Devils paid over $118 million to sign Pogba back from Juventus, however, the midfielder has struggled to influence United with just 11 league goals over two seasons.
Staying in Manchester, Pep Guardiola isn’t done building his stacked roster.
Mundo Deportivo is reporting that Guardiola and Manchester City are readying a bid of over $90 million to sign Real Madrid and Spain international Isco.
Isco, 26, has become one of the biggest creators in Real’s attack over recent seasons, however, the Spaniard is reportedly growing tired of the Santiago Bernabeu.
Finally, Borussia Dortmund’s interest in Michy Batshuayi was made known this past season, and the German giants are prepared to bring the Belgium international in on a full-time basis.
Dortmund is currently in negotiations with Chelsea to make Batshuayi’s deal a permanent one in Bundesliga.
During his time with the German side, Batshuayi totaled nine goals in all competitions, including seven in league play.
This is it. The curtain comes down on the domestic season in Europe as Real Madrid and Liverpool clash in the UEFA Champions League final in Kiev, Ukraine.
[ LIVE: Champions League final ]
In sunny conditions in the Ukrainian capital, the two highest-scoring teams in the UCL this season meet with Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah the danger men.
For Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid, they’re aiming for a third-straight European title which would hammer home their dominance on the European stage once again. Real seeking their 13th title to extend their own record of European trophies is a daunting prospect for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool…
That said, with Mohamed Salah having the season of dreams the Anfield club believe destiny is playing its part once again as they’re in their first European final since 2007. Klopp has lost all five of his major finals as a manager and surely his luck has to change some time soon.
Click on the link above to follow all of the action from Kiev live, while we will have reaction and analysis right here on Pro Soccer Talk.