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EURO 2020 qualifying: Portugal edges Serbia, France batters Albania

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With four goals each, France and Portugal were in no need of favors as they comfortable cruised by their opponents in Saturday’s EURO 2020 qualifying action.

[ MORE: EURO qualifying wrap ]

Serbia 2-4 Portugal

The Serbians were no match for the Portuguese.

Portugal, trailing an unbeaten Ukraine in Group B by eight points, were more than ready to cut the deficit on Saturday night in Belgrade. And despite taking 42 minutes to get the engine going, the goals, eventually, poured in.

William Carvalho broke deadlock minutes before halftime, tapping in the ball into the back of net following a lack of chemistry between Serbia’s goalkeeper and defense inside the six-yard box.

Gonçalo Guedes added one of his own to put the visitors up two goals early into the second half. More than twenty minutes later, with Serbia back into the game through a Nikola Milenković goal, Cristiano Ronaldo, as always, made sure to make his presence known.

Goals galore followed shortly, with Aleksandar Mitrovic and Bernando Silva scoring within two minutes.

Portugal, with a lot of ground to make up, now sets its sights on Lithuania, while Serbia travels to Luxembourg.

France 4-1 Albania

Is this the year that Kingsley Coman separates himself from everyone else in the elite category? So far, it’s looking like it and France – like Bayern Munich – are gladly benefiting from it.

With a brace from the winger, France cruised past Albania in Paris.

The 23-year-old scored first in the eight minute, following a sublime back from Raphaël Varane. In the 68th minute, with France up by two, Coman recorded his second of the night.


Albania spoiled Hugo Lloris‘ clean sheet following a converted penalty from Sokol Cikalleshiu.

Despite an unbeaten record through five matches, the pressure on France remains intact with Turkey and Iceland, who only trail by goal differentials, as they take on Andorra next. Albania, on the side, host Iceland.


Kosovo 2-1 Czech Republic
Lithuania 0-3 Ukraine
England 4-0 Bulgaria
Iceland 3-0 Moldova
Scotland 1-2 Russia
Slovenia 2-0 Poland
Turkey 1-0 Andorra

PHOTOS: France’s World Cup winners get glitzy rings

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The 2018 World Cup winners have a very special ring to commemorate their achievement.

Paul Pogba is the man they have to thank, as he paid for them.

France’s World Cup heroes have already received the customary winners medal after winning it all in Russia last summer, but now in true U.S. sports fashion they have been handed diamond-encrusted, customized rings to remember their success with Pogba and Antoine Griezmann designing the rings and Pogba then bought them for this teammates.

“It’s a small gesture after winning a World Cup with great players,” Pogba said. “I consider them my family. It’s a small gift from me.”

Take a look at the photos and video below to see the incredible rings.

Southampton’s Morgan Schneiderlin to miss rest of season through injury

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Morgan Schneiderlin may well have played his last game for Southampton.

The French international midfielder hobbled off in the dying stages of Saints’ 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur last weekend and the knee injury he suffered will rule him out for up to five weeks, meaning his season is over.

[ RELATED: Saints’ five-year plan ]

Saints’ boss Ronald Koeman confirmed the news in his pre-match press conference before his side head north to face relegation-haunted Sunderland on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via Live Extra) at the Stadium of Light.

“Morgan will be out until the end of the season,” Koeman said. “He has [injured] the ligaments in his left knee and he will be out for four, five weeks and that means until the end of the season.”

Schneiderlin, 25, has had another stellar campaign in the engine room for Southampton and has been a driving force in their highest ever points total as they aim to clinch a spot in the top six (that would be their best position in Premier League history) and qualify for the Europa League.

His injury means that he will now miss Saints’ four remaining games of the season away at Sunderland and Leicester City, a home game against Aston Villa and the final match of the campaign away at Manchester City.

It also means that after a seven-year stay at St Mary’s, which has seen him rise with the team from League One to the upper echelons of the Premier League, Schneiderlin may well be on his way to a new club. Last summer he publicly displayed his unrest at not being able to leave Saints when a host of others players did and he has since expressed his desire to only remain with Southampton if they qualified for the UEFA Champions League this season.

That was always going to be a long shot, even if Saints still have a mathematical chance of finishing in the top four, so Schneiderlin could be on his way with Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United all rumored to be interested in his services.

Koeman calmed any talk of him leaving and said that there were “no serious bids” for any of his players. He also said that Schneiderlin was happy but that the decision about sticking around is “up to the player.”

With a price tag in excess of $30 million, let’s see if anyone plumps for the two-way French midfielder this summer.

Ribery could face suspension if he denies France call-up


Franck Ribery could be in for a very short retirement.

After calling it quits from international football earlier this summer, Ribery could be forced to suit up for France if called upon by manger Didier Deschamps.

Ribery, 31, missed the World Cup with a back injury and retired from France in August. It was a decision that shocked many, considering Ribery is still one of the best players in the world and has been in good form with Bayern Munich. With Euro 2016 coming up in France, it seemed like an odd time for Ribery to hang up his boots.

But now fellow-Frenchman and UEFA President Michel Platini says Ribery would face a suspension if he did not play for France.

“If (coach) Didier Deschamps picks him, he must come. That’s the FIFA rule. If he doesn’t come, he will be suspended for three Bayern Munich games.”

FIFA rules stipulate that a player must accept call-ups from their national teams, in an effort to prevent clubs from picking and choosing which players can go out on international duty.

It is rare that a manager would select a player who has announced his retirement, but it could happen. And if Didier Deschamps is trying to put together France’s best possible squad, Ribery’s name would be at the top of the list.

However unlikely any of this is to happen, it’s always fun to hear about the roller-coaster ride of representing France.


Franck Ribery announces retirement from French national team

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Franck Ribery will no longer be suiting up for Les Blues.

Coming as a shock, the 31-year-old Bayern Munich winger has been quoted as saying he has quit the French national team. The interview was released during the German Super Cup final between Bayern and Borussia Dortmund with Ribery on the sidelines as he continues his recovery from a back injury.

According to German magazine Kicker, Ribery said that “the moment has come” to quit, adding that the move comes “purely” for personal reasons because he wanted to spend more time with his family.

Ribery missed the 2014 World Cup in Brazil due to injury and was an influential part of French manager Didier Deschamps’ plans. His announcement does seems a little surprising considering his superb form for Bayern over the past two seasons and the fact that the next European Championships are being held in his homeland in 2016.

Our friends over at Soccerly have all the details, as Ribery calls it quits.

French winger Franck Ribery has announced his retirement from international football at just 31-years-old. Ribery told German magazine Kicker that it is now time for him to focus on his family, club and make way for the younger players who have a thirst to shine in the international stage.

“I am stopping, I realized that this moment has come,” Ribery said. “I want to focus on my family and fully concentrate on my work at Bayern Munich and make win in the national team for the many you and exciting players.”

The Bayern Munich starlet, who was arguably having the best year of his career in 2013, suffered a sorry back injury that left him out of the French squad that competed in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The 2013 UEFA Player of the Year, came with this surprising news on Wednesday morning, on a time where many critics hailed the winger to be on his prime.