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De Gea limps off for Spain ahead of Man Utd-Liverpool tilt

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Here’s the good news for Manchester United supporters: David De Gea played incredibly well for Spain in its EURO qualifier on Tuesday as La Furia Roja clinched a place in EURO 2020.

The bad news? The performance was truncated, with De Gea limping off the pitch and replaced by Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga in the 60th minute.

[ MORE: EURO qualifying wrap ]

De Gea appeared to injure himself while attempting a goal kick of all things, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be wondering what fresh hell awaits him next.

Perhaps that’s simply the fact that Liverpool visits Old Trafford on Sunday in a match that Solskjaer previously said was perhaps ideal for his reeling Red Devils.

Solskjaer would turn to Sergio Romero should De Gea been unable to play at the weekend. Lee Grant is United’s third goalkeeper with Dean Henderson on loan to Sheffield United.

United was already going to need a lot of help to beat back the unbeaten Reds.

EURO qualifying wrap: Spain earns place in stoppage time

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Spain clinched a spot in EURO 2020 via a last-minute equalizer, but the rest of the picture only got murkier thanks to dramatics in Romania and Switzerland.)

[ MORE: How should USMNT line up? ]


Sweden 1-1 Spain

A Marcus Berg header had Sweden on the verge of a significant home win against nearly unbeatable David De Gea and Spain, but Valencia forward Rodrigo delivered a stoppage time goal to give Robert Moreno’s men a place in EURO 2020. But Sweden can breathe a little easier thanks to a stoppage time goal across the continent.

Bad news for Manchester United, though, as De Gea’s strong day ended early due to injury.

Romania 1-1 Norway

New York City FC’s Alexandru Mitrita added another beauty to his collection in scoring for the second successive qualifier, but it wouldn’t stand up thanks to former Crystal Palace striker Alexander Sorloth‘s stoppage time equalizer.

Switzerland 2-0 Republic of Ireland

Terrible from the Irish, who trailed after 16 minutes and then went down to 10 men when Seamus Coleman was shown a red card in the 76th minute. Former West Ham man Edimilson Fernandes put it to bed in stoppage time as the Swiss out-attempted Ireland 20-9.

The Irish are tied for the lead in the group with 12 points but that’s about where the good news ends. They do not have an automatic spot in the playoffs while Denmark does and has 12 points. Switzerland has 11 and has also played one fewer match.

Ireland will need to beat Denmark next month and hope for help on the out-of-town scoreboard when Switzerland meets Gibraltar and Georgia.

Finland 3-0 Armenia

Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki continued his fine year with a pair of goals after Fredrik Jensen staked the Finnish side to a lead in Turku. Group J second place side Finland has a five-point lead on chasing Armenia and BNH.

Elsewhere

Faroe Islands 1-0 Malta
Gibraltar 2-3 Georgia
Greece 2-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Liechtenstein 0-5 Italy
Israel 3-1 Latvia

Sergio Ramos “wouldn’t say no” to Olympics if Spain asks

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Sergio Ramos is an animal.

The Real Madrid center back has won just about everything there is to win, but is eyeing a gold medal should he be asked to participate in this summer’s Olympics.

[ MORE: Neymar injured again ]

Olympic squads can have three players above the age of 23. Spain last qualified in 2012, when Javi Martinez, Juan Mata, and Adrian Lopez were its overage players.

Spain is one of six nations to have qualified for the Games, joining France, Romania, Germany, New Zealand, and hosts Japan. From AS.com:

“It’s a bit soon to talk about the Olympic Games, but if someone was to call me, I wouldn’t say no,” he said. “It’s something you can’t reject. There is a lot of time left in the season and it’s a really nice idea.”

Ramos will be 34 when the Olympics begin, and is now the most-capped player in Spain history. Remarkably, reports say he believes he’ll time and spirit for both the Olympics and EURO 2020.

EURO runs from June 12-July 12, when the Olympics beginning July 23.

Ramos is now 16 caps from the all-time record for caps, held by Ahmed Hassan (Egypt).

EURO 2020 qualifying: Spain slips up in final seconds; Danish delight

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in 2020 European Championship qualifying…

[ MORE: Italy qualifies for EURO 2020 with win over Greece ]

Norway 1-1 Spain

Spain led for the entirety of the second half and was mere seconds from a victory that would have extended their perfect record through qualifying (now 6W-1D-0L) and seen them move to within two points of qualification to EURO 2020. La Roja conceded a 93rd-minute penalty when Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga clattered into Omar Elabdellaoui. Bournemouth attacker Joshua King stepped up and converted to keep Norway in touching distance of automatic qualification.

Alas, Spain remains in control of Group F with a six-point advantage on third-place Romania, but they now require a victory of their own and points dropped by Romania to book their place in next summer’s tournament during the current international window.

Saul Niguez had put Robert Moreno’s side ahead in the 47th minute, but the 2008 and 2012 European champions were unable to see their one-goal advantage over the finish line. Sergio Ramos overtook Iker Casillas as Spain’s record holder for all-time appearances, winning his 168th cap.

Denmark 1-0 Switzerland

Yussuf Poulsen scored the only goal in a colossal six-pointer between Denmark and Switzerland. The two nations entered Saturday’s clash separated by a single point in the race for second place and automatic qualification. Denmark sat on nine points, Switzerland on eight.

For 83 minutes, a scoreless deadlock ensued. Switzerland would have been the far happier side, not only as the away side but also the side with a one-point disadvantage and a game still in hand. Instead, they trail the Danes by four points after Poulsen slotted home to complete a lethal counter-attack in the 84th.

Elsewhere in EURO 2020 qualifying

Group D

Georgia 0-0 Ireland

Group F

Liechtenstein 1-1 Armenia

Group J

Bosnia-Herzegovina 4-1 Finland — FULL RECAP
Malta 0-4 Sweden
Faroe Islands 0-3 Romania

Spain squad short on players from Real Madrid, Barcelona

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Is it a sign of the times, or an injury crisis?

Spain National Team coach Robert Moreno announced his 24-man squad ahead of Euro 2020 qualifying matches against Norway and Sweden during this month’s international fixture dates, and it was notable more for what wasn’t there than what was.

[READ: Top Premier League Storylines]

From the big three in Spain, Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid, only four total players earned a call-up this month. Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal from Real Madrid, Sergio Busquets from Barcelona, and Saul from Atletico Madrid.

Meanwhile, Villarreal alone had four players called up to La Roja, including former Arsenal and Premier League star midfielder Santi Cazorla. The veteran midfielder is having another strong season so far despite being 34-years old. According to Moreno, the makeup of this squad is more of a sign of the times.

“It is a reflection of current football…historically the big teams have been backed by seven or eight players from a great team, such as Bayern or Ajax,” Moreno told reporters, via Spanish publication Sport. “But now there are not many national players in the teams. In this squad, Villarreal is the one who contributes the most, but it is the one that has more Spaniards apart from Athletic (Bilbao). As a coach I would love to have nine of the same team because I already know they would know, but it is not that moment now. Neither Barça nor Madrid have many Spaniards unless they are holders. That makes our work difficult.”

One thing is clear. There are some injuries, as well as technical decisions that have kept players from the Big Three out of this squad. From Real Madrid, there’s no Isco, Marco Asensio, or Nacho. For Atletico Madrid, Diego Costa, Koke, Alvaro Morata are all out, while for Barcelona, there’s no place this month for Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto.

However, we’re no doubt a long way from a decade ago, when Barcelona and Real Madrid made up the bulk of the starting lineup. The 2010 World Cup winning squad included 12 players from Real Madrid and Barcelona alone. Barcelona had the likes of Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, while Real Madrid had Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, and Xabi Alonso.

If you look at both clubs, with the exception of Pique and Ramos – who are both still there – each of these players has been replaced at their club by a foreign-born player. Both clubs’ desire to bring in the best, already developed talent, has taken their gaze abroad.

Real Madrid’s goalkeeper is a Belgian international while their holding midfielder is a Brazilian. For Barcelona, they had just three Spanish nationals in their lineup for the 2-1 win over Inter in the UEFA Champions League. Xavi and Inesta have been replaced by Artur (Brazil) and now Frankie de Jong (Netherlands), while all three forward positions are foreign-born.

Ultimately, until Real Madrid and Barcelona either provide young Spanish players more chances to play, or commit to buying the best young players in the league and developing them – like Real Madrid did for Sergio Ramos after buying him from Sevilla – this trend of Spanish National Team players playing for other clubs than the Big Three will continue.