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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.


How do Champions League, Europa draws affect Premier League title, Top Four?

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Did the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal draw go a long way toward clinching Liverpool’s first Premier League title?

In a world without Manchester City as its main rival for the throne, you’d have to say probably.

[ MORE: Analyzing the draw ]

Liverpool’s drawing of Porto takes the trickiest part of its league run-in and makes it a lot more palatable. Instead of drawing one of five extra challenging clubs to sandwich around a home league date with Chelsea, the Reds will get arguably their best possible challenger.

And while you could say that Man City would prefer Spurs over at least four of their six other possible draws, beating the same team thrice in eight days while chasing your first Champions League title is… not easy.

Here’s how it all looks now for the Top Six:

First impressions:

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be tested. Wow. If Manchester United can weather April, then maybe OGS should get a 10-year deal. The margins are so thin in the race for the Top Four, and United is a weekend FA Cup win away from this being their April: at Wolves, FA Cup semi, home Barca, home West Ham, away to Barca, at Everton, home Man City, home Chelsea. At least a lot are at home?

Spurs and Man City’s European and Premier League ambitions run through each other. Pochettino and Pep matching tactical wits three times over 8 days in two competitions is a fascinating managerial match-up, but could hit both teams hard. Who do you fancy? We know City won’t sacrifice one league for the other.

Chelsea and Arsenal favorites for 3rd and 4th? While Arsenal will hate its draw of Napoli in the Europa League, both UEL contenders will look at their schedules with some favor. Chelsea is especially happy that its draw of Slavia Prague, who it will not overlook, allows it some flexibility with the Liverpool league fixture sandwiched in between.

Liverpool should probably win the league.ย While there’s no guarantee that Man City will drop points, the Reds really shouldn’t. The drawing of Porto allows the Reds their best opportunity to focus on Chelsea in the league. Should Jurgen Klopp negotiate a home clean sheet win over Porto in the first leg, even better for their title odds.

Here’s how I think they finish:

  1. Liverpool (95 points)
  2. Man City (94)
  3. Chelsea (82)
  4. Tottenham Hotspur (82)
  5. Arsenal (80)
  6. Manchester United (76)

Europa League draw: Arsenal gets Napoli, Chelsea exhales

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Who’s got the best route to Baku?

The Europa League draw was held in the shadows of the UEFA Champions League draw on Friday, and it’s certainly not Arsenal.

[ MORE: Sporting KC advances in CCL ]

The Gunners will have to get past Napoli, and vice versa, if they want a chance at upending Chelsea and winning an automatic berth in the Champions League group stage.

Chelsea will meet Slavia Prague, easily the best draw of the bunch.

It’s an all-La Liga tie when Valencia meets Villarreal, while Benfica and Eintracht Frankfurt have a huge chance to entertain.

Should Arsenal defeat Napoli, it would face the Valencia-Villarreal winner.

In some ways, this gives Maurizio Sarri‘s Chelsea the clearest route to Azerbaijan, though Eintracht Frankfurt can trouble any back line and Benfica has plenty of European experience.

Agree? Disagree? Comment below.

Europa League: Arsenal complete comeback over Rennes

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In recent weeks, when Arsenal has been under pressure and against the odds, Unai Emery has pushed all the right buttons.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a brace and Arsenal completed an incredible comeback from a two-goal aggregate deficit, defeating Rennes, 3-0 on Thursday evening, 4-3 on aggregate. Ainsley Maitland-Niles scored in-between Aubameyangโ€™s pair to help lead Arsenal to the UEFA Europa League quarterfinals.

Aubameyang only needed four minutes to put Arsenal in front on the night, latching onto a cross in the box and finding the back of the net.

Maitland-Niles made it 2-0 after some Rennes defenders lost focus, expecting the referee to stop the action for offside.

Ultimately, Arsenal continued to push for a third goal, but Rennes was holding up much stronger defensively. Yet in the 72nd minute, Sead Kolasinac made his way down the left side and crossed into the middle to Aubameyang, who scored past Rennes goalkeeper Tomas Koubek.

 

Live, Europa League: Chelsea, Arsenal in last 16 action

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Premier League duo Arsenal and Chelsea are both in UEFA Europa League action on Thursday, with the London clubs in very different situations.

Heading into their last 16 second leg ties, Chelsea have a 3-0 lead to take with them to Dynamo Kiev, while Arsenal must overturn a 3-1 deficit from their trip to Rennes last week.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

With the top four race so tight in the Premier League season, both Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery know that the automatic Champions League place you’d get from winning the Europa League is a wonderful safety net.

Elsewhere, Inter host Eintracht Frankfurt at the San Siro with the scores locked at 0-0, while Napoli and Villarreal have healthy leads.

Below is the schedule in full, while you can click on the link above to follow all the action live and we will have analysis and reaction on the game right here at Pro Soccer Talk.


Thursday’s Europa League last 16 second leg schedule

Red Bull Salzburg v. Napoli – (Napoli lead 3-0 on aggregate) – 1:55 p.m. ET
Dynamo Kiev v. Chelsea – (Chelsea lead 3-0 on aggregate) – 1:55 p.m. ET
FC Krasnodar v. Valencia – (Valencia lead 2-1 on aggregate) – 1:55 p.m. ET
Villarreal v. Zenit – (Villarreal lead 3-1 on aggregate – 4 p.m. ET
Slavia Prague v. Sevilla – (2-2 on aggregate) – 4 p.m. ET
Arsenal v. Rennes – (Rennes lead 3-1 on aggregate) – 4 p.m. ET
Inter Milan v. Eintracht Frankfurt – (0-0 on aggregate) – 4 p.m. ET
Benfica v. Dinamo Zagreb – (Zagreb lead 1-0 on aggregate) – 4 p.m. ET