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Netherlands wins, relegates Germany

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Ronald Koeman‘s Netherlands sent Germany into League B, and moved a draw away from the semifinals after taking care of the World Cup champions in the highlight of Friday’s UEFA Nations League matches.

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Netherlands 2-0 France

Georginio Wijnaldum was in a prime position to slot in a rebound after Hugo Lloris made a save on Ryan Babel, and Memphis Depay converted a stoppage time panenka penalty as Netherlands’ win sent Germany into League B.

The Dutch are still alive for A1, and can make the semifinals with a win over Germany on Monday.

Wales 1-2 Denmark

An even match saw Denmark score off a counterattack, with Nicolai Jorgensen supplying the finish off put the Danes ahead of the hosts. Martin Brathwaite made it 2-0 in the 88th minute, with Gareth Bale‘s goal the only Welsh answer a minute later.

Denmark goes top of Group B4, and end Wales’ hopes of promotion to League A. It’s Denmark into the “top flight” next cycle, and the nation is guaranteed at least a playoff spot in qualification for EURO 2020.

Gibraltar 2-6 Armenia

Former Real Salt Lake attacker Yura Movsisyan scored four for captain Henrikh Mkhitaryan‘s side.

Elsewhere
Cyprus 1-1 Bulgaria
Slovenia 1-1 Norway
Liechtenstein 0-2 Macedonia
Slovakia 4-1 Ukraine

Man City’s Mendy undergoes knee surgery

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Manchester City left back Benjamin Mendy went to Barcelona for international break, but it’s hardly a vacation.

Mendy, 24, withdrew from France duty and instead flew to Spain where he’s undergone knee surgery and will miss more time for City.

No timetable was given for his recovery.

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He missed around three weeks earlier this season with a foot injury, and more than six months with an ACL tear last year.

Fabian Delph has played left back for City during Mendy’s extended absences, and the club has used Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Mendy played 40 minutes for France in its World Cup triumph and has nine caps.

UEFA Nations League preview: Last chance to dance

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The path to Portugal or Italy concludes this week with the final group matches of the inaugural UEFA Nations League.

We’ll begin with Group A3, where only Poland has been eliminated from qualification for the final. The hosts for the finals will come out of this group, and Portugal has a two-point lead heading into its final two matches.

[ MORE: England-USMNT preview ]

Italy only has one, and has to hope it beats Portugal at the San Siro on Saturday and hope Portugal fails to beat Poland three days later. Portugal has done it all without Cristiano Ronaldo, and won’t have the Juventus striker for these two matches.

World Cup champions France lead Group A1 and can clinch a spot in the finals by not losing to the Netherlands on Friday. Should the Dutch win in Rotterdam, they can pass the French with a defeat of Germany or a draw in Gelsenkirchen coupled with tiebreaker help.

Group A2 looks increasingly likely to go to Belgium. The Red Devils and Switzerland both have six points. They cannot advance simply by beating Iceland on Thursday, but a win or draw would mean needing just a draw or Sunday in Switzerland.

Spain is the favorite for the fourth semifinal spot, though no one in Group 4 has been eliminated from contention. Croatia can advance by beating Spain in Zagreb on Thursday and getting a scoring draw or better in England on Sunday.

Spain is through with a win over Croatia, but opens the door for England with a draw or loss. England has a number of scenarios that work for them, but the easiest involves Spain losing in Croatia and England beating Croatia at Wembley on Sunday.

The Nations League semifinals are June 5 and 6, with the final and third-place match on June 9.

League B has only promoted one team to League A so far (Ukraine). Still alive are Russia, Turkey, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, Wales, and Denmark.

Pogba, Martial out of France squad with injury

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Manchester United pair Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial will be spending the international break back in Manchester, after being released from the France National Team squad.

Les Bleus announced that due to Pogba’s thigh injury and an adductor muscle injury to Martial, the pair were dropped from the team set to face the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League and Uruguay in a friendly match. In their place, Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette and Tottenham’s Moussa Sissoko have been called in.

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Pogba, who was terrific in the 2018 World Cup semifinal and final for France, was unavailable for Man United in it’s 3-1 defeat to Manchester City on Sunday. Pogba suffered the thigh injury at Juventus. Martial meanwhile has been in terrific form, with goals in three of his last four games and six goals in his last seven games.

Martial missed out on the World Cup and had only received his first call-up since last March. It’s a big blow to Martial to miss out on a chance to impress manager Didier Deschamps, and he’ll now have to wait until March for his next chance to be called-up.

Report: PSG recruited players according to ethnic origin

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PARIS (AP) According to a report from the Mediapart news website, Paris Saint-Germain scouts have been required for years to list ethnic origins of potential recruits.

Mediapart and French TV program “Envoye Special” have reported that a young black player regarded as one of France’s most promising players was overlooked by PSG because of his skin color.

Following an investigation based on the “Football Leaks” documents, Mediapart said “only one black player was recruited between 2013 and 2018 by PSG’s provincial scouting network.”

The online website claims that 17-year-old Rennes attacking midfielder Yann Gboho, who plays for France’s under-18 team, was disregarded by PSG for its academy when he was 13 because he was black, and “that the club’s management in fact decided to cover up those implicated in the scandal.”

Mediapart has reported that up until this year, scouts were asked by PSG to mention the origin of potential young recruits according to four categories: “Francais” (French), “Maghrebin” (North African), “Antillais” (West Indian), and “Afrique noire” (Black African).

“It was a veritable ethnic identity file,” Mediapart wrote.

French law prohibits the collection of personal data that reveals the racial or ethnic origins of individuals.

According to a document obtained by Mediapart, PSG scout Serge Fournier gave Gboho excellent ratings and was impressed by the player’s “technicity” and “eye for the goal” among other qualities. He told Mediapart that PSG did not want scouts to recruit “players born in Africa, because one is never certain about their dates of birth.”

Mediapart also obtained documents of a meeting held in 2014 during which Marc Westerloppe, who was then in charge of PSG players’ recruiting in France except for the Paris area, said the club should find a better “balance.”

“There is a problem on the orientation of the club, a balance is needed on the mixing, too many West Indians and Africans around Paris,” he said.

Mediapart said the document’s authenticity is not contested by PSG, which was contacted before the story’s publication.

PSG confirmed to Mediapart the existence of ethnic classification but said the system had been operated in secret and that the PSG management was unaware of it.

Seven years ago, French soccer was rocked by revelations from Mediapart that then-national team coach Laurent Blanc and others discussed informal quotas limiting black and Arab youth players’ involvement in the national squad.