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Messi injured in Argentina return; likely to recover for Man Utd clash

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Lionel Messi made his first appearance for Argentina in 265 days on Friday, and that’ll be his final involvement during the current international break after he felt a pain in his groin following the 3-1 friendly defeat to Venezuela.

[ MORE: Mourinho “preparing” for next job; expects to start “in June” ]

Messi finished the game and played all 90 minutes. The injury was described as a flare-up of an existing problem.

The Barcelona superstar has since been ruled unavailable for Tuesday’s friendly against Morocco.

[ MORE: Sterling’s hat trick gets England off to flying start in EURO qualifying ]

With Barcelona set to face Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday, April 10, skipping any further involvement with Argentina will net Messi an extra seven days of rest before his club side returns to La Liga action next Saturday.

Mourinho ‘preparing’ for next job; expects to start ‘in June’

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If you thought Jose Mourinho would simply vanish from the public eye of management after the highest-profile embarrassment of his career, being fired by Manchester United, think again.

[ MORE: Sterling’s hat trick gets England off to flying start in EURO qualifying ]

Not only does Mourinho expect to be back on the manager’s hot seat one day, he expects that day is fewer than three months away. Speaking this weekend, the 56-year-old Portuguese is “preparing” himself for a return to the game “in June” — quotes from the BBC:

“I would like to be back in the summer in June for a new club and a new pre-season. I know exactly what I don’t want. I know what I want, in terms of not the specific club but the nature of the job, the dimension of the job.”

According to Mourinho, he could have already taken his next job as he has had “three or four” offers since his dismissal from Old Trafford in December, but he preferred the extended sabbatical instead.

It is unclear whether or not the recently-filled Real Madrid job was, or wasn’t, one of the “three or four” offers. Of course, Mourinho would only ever tell you it was, whether or not that is actually the case.

Must-See Goal: Pogba beautiful assist to Griezmann

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Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann seem to have a great relationship off the field, and that chemistry showed on the field on Friday.

Pogba produced a delightful chip into the box and Griezmann smashed home a strike on the volley to give the France National Team a 1-0 lead at the time over Moldova in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying action. It was actually a give-and-go, as Griezmann started the move before darting into the box and scoring. But Pogba’s pass kept the entire Moldova team entranced on the ball, and Griezmann was wide open for the finish.

Perhaps Manchester United could attempt to sign Griezmann, and unite the pair at club level. Based on this goal, it may not be the worst idea, if Man United can afford Griezmann.

Watch the video below.

Neymar charged for actions, comments after VAR controversy

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Neymar, the world’s most expensive footballer, has been charged by UEFA for “insulting and/or molesting acts against the match official” following the video-review controversy which ultimately eliminated Paris Saint-Germain from the UEFA Champions League earlier this month.

[ MORE: Sane, Gundogan allegedly racially abused on Germany duty ]

While Neymar was unable to play in the game due to a broken metatarsal, he was seen near the PSG bench in the game’s final minutes, waiting to celebrate progression to the quarterfinals with his teammates. Then came the controversial decision to award Manchester United a penalty kick deep into stoppage time, which sent the Red Devils through instead.

[ MORE: Report: Man United stars lined up for exit ]

Once the following whistle had blown, Neymar is alleged to have attempted to confront referee Damir Skomina, but was eventually restrained. He then took to Instagram where he posted some quite unsavory comments:

“This is a disgrace, they put four people that know nothing about football in charge of looking at the replay for VAR. There is no penalty. How can it be a handball when it hits his back?! Go f**k yourselves!”

A hearing will take place at a later date to determine what, if any, punishment Neymar will receive.

Fans urging UEFA to curb Champions League ticket prices

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GENEVA (AP) After Barcelona and Manchester United raised prices for their Champions League quarterfinal matches, UEFA was urged on Thursday to enforce stricter ticketing rules by the group it consults to represent European soccer fans.

Football Supporters Europe criticized “exorbitant pricing” in hikes imposed on visiting fans by two of the world’s wealthiest clubs for their games on April 10 and 16.

After Barcelona set prices at $134 for visiting Man United fans, the English club retaliated with an equivalent 102 pound price for away fans at Old Trafford. That is almost 70 percent more than the base ticket price of $80 for the Champions League final in Madrid.

Man United said $35 from each ticket sold to Barcelona fans will subsidize tickets at Camp Nou for its own fans “again being subjected to increased/excessive prices.”

“Yet again, this is proof that the current regulations for UEFA competitions are not sufficient,” the fan group, described by UEFA as a key stakeholder, said in a statement.

English clubs have long complained to UEFA about opposing clubs, typically in Spain, raising prices for their traveling fans.

UEFA’s current rules prohibit two-tier pricing, and have been used to force Anderlecht and AEK Athens to compensate Bayern Munich fans in the past two seasons. Bayern fans attending the away games were due to get $34 from Anderlecht and $11 from AEK.

However, most Barcelona fans avoid paying the full price charged to visitors. The club discounts prices for season ticket-holders and members.

“We expect UEFA to change the regulations to state that ticket prices for away fans should be the same as the cheapest tickets available for home fans,” Football Supporters Europe said.

The Germany-based group also said Man United responding with “reciprocal pricing is part of the problem.”

“Barcelona fans should not be forced to pay for the sins of their club,” the FSE said. “Indeed, just because elite level football is awash with money does not mean that fans are – quite the opposite. It is incumbent upon clubs to recognize this fact and act accordingly.”

Champions League safety rules currently say away fan tickets “must not exceed the price paid for tickets of a comparable category” for home fans.

A strict interpretation of UEFA rules could see Man United more likely to face a disciplinary case, despite seeking to help its own fans financially by raising prices for Barcelona’s visit on April 10.

UEFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Amid one dispute between two storied clubs, two more former European champions made a fan-friendly deal for their quarterfinals matches.

Liverpool said Thursday it had “extensive discussions” with UEFA and Porto before agreeing its fans will be charged $68 to see the second leg in Portugal on April 17. That is $17 less than Liverpool fans paid last season for a round-of-16 game at Porto.

“(Liverpool) would like to thank Porto for working with the club on a pricing structure,” the English club said , noting other Champions League clubs are working with UEFA “to negotiate the fairest ticket prices for their fans.”