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England vs France combined XI

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England take on France on for a place in the World Cup semi-final on Saturday evening, with Gareth Southgate in touching distance of a third consecutive major tournament semi-final.

That, when you think about it, would be a pretty impressive feat for a manager who continues to divide fan opinion despite the Three Lions’ relatively serene progress through to this stage.

There was heartache against Croatia in Russia four years ago in the semi-final of the World Cup and complete anguish last year as Italy emerged victorious from a dramatic Euro 2020 final penalty shootout, so England will be hoping it’s third time lucky if they’re able to advance to the final four.

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But in order to reach such dizzying heights again, Southgate’s England must first overcome World Cup holders France, and the current most dangerous attacking player in football who isn’t a gigantic nordic man currently stretched across his corner sofa at home.

That’s right: Olivier Giroud.

Okay, so it’s not Olivier Giroud who is the talk of the town, rather the tournament’s top scorer Kylian Mbappe – who scored two superb goals to help advance Les Bleus past Poland in the round of 16 – and how Kyle Walker will possibly stop him.

But rather than worry about that debate, there’s a much bigger question to be answered. Yes, who makes the England vs France combined XI? Here’s who…(apologies in advance, Phil Foden, you were *this* close to making it).

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GK: Jordan Pickford – Not the strongest pair to choose between but Jordan Pickford, tiny arms aside, remains underrated in an England shirt. Hugo Lloris, while still France’s captain, has increasingly proved more of a liability than a point of strength over recent years, meaning Pickford, whose performances for Southgate have been nothing short of excellent for a long time now, gets the nod in goal.

RB: Kyle Walker – Over an out of position Jules Kounde there really is no contest here. In truth, Kieran Trippier, Reece James or Trent Alexander-Arnold would also have the nod over the Barcelona man, but it’s Kyle Walker who is the outstanding candidate. Much has been made of it pre-game but it’s true: if there’s one full-back who can keep tabs on Mbappe, it’s Walker.

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CB: Raphael Varane – As good as Harry Maguire has been this tournament, he did look slightly exposed against Senegal in the round of 16, which is a bit of an ominous sign given what is to come against France. Raphael Varane brings an assured, unflustered quality to France’s backline which is invaluable in itself. He’s composed on the ball, strong in the air and the tackle and commands an otherwise inexperienced (at international level) backline with aplomb.

CB: Dayot Upamecano – Alongside Varane in the centre of defence is his partner, Bayern Munich’s Dayot Upamecano. He has been quietly superb at the back for France and his recovery pace is vital in a team that can get exposed on the break. At 24 he is by no means the perfect defender – and has mistakes in him – but when fully engaged he can be a brick wall for opposing forwards to come up against.

LB: Theo Hernandez – Luke Shaw is brilliant for England and unlucky not to find his way into this team, make no mistake about that. But AC Milan’s vice-captain Theo Hernandez is a different beast entirely. Why it took an unfortunate injury to his brother, Lucas, for Didier Deschamps to realise that the more attack-minded Theo was a much better fit for this France team is unclear, but it has proven to be every bit the blessing in disguise. He’s one of the best full-backs in Europe.

Theo Hernandez

A close call but Theo Hernandez edges Luke Shaw at left-back / Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

CDM: Declan Rice – Arguably England’s unsung hero, since his international debut no player other than Harry Kane has made more appearances for England under Southgate than Declan Rice. There are few better holding midfielders in the world and he walks into this team as the defensive anchor.

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CM: Aurelien Tchouameni – Just ahead of him is the formidable presence of Aurelien Tchouameni, Real Madrid’s all-action midfielder. France have scarcely felt the absence of N’Golo Kante this tournament and the reason for that is Tchouameni’s performances in the middle of the park for Les Bleus.

CM: Jude Bellingham – Speaking of standout performances in the middle of the park, it’s time to add Jude Bellingham to the team. The rave reviews are deserved, this kid is sensational and is a future England captain. There isn’t much else to add other than: have you seen him play!? He’s 19! 19!

CAM: Antoine Griezmann – Another player going slightly under the radar has been Antoine Griezmann who, whatever his struggles at club football have been over recent years, has been a model of consistency for France. Playing in a new, deeper role as part of France’s midfield three, ‘Grizi’ has pulled the strings with intelligent passing and movement, and is aging like a fine Merlot.

Jude Bellingham

Jude Bellingham makes up a dream midfield partnership with Aurelien Tchouameni / Richard Sellers/GettyImages

CF: Kylian Mbappe – Do we have to justify the inclusion of possibly the world’s best striker? No disrespect to Callum Wilson. but Mbappe is the clear and obvious choice alongside…

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CF: Harry Kane – …Sir Harold of Kane, who despite having just a single goal to his name at the World Cup, may be the most rounded striker in world football. When he isn’t smashing them in by the truckload, Kane can be found holding the ball up and creating pockets of space like nobody else – his passing range is also pretty spectacular. France will be acutely aware of his appetite to add to his tournament goal tally.



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Atletico Madrid Confirm Signing of Kieran Trippier From Tottenham on 3-Year Deal

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​Atletico Madrid have confirmed the signing of Tottenham right back Kieran Trippier for a fee believed to be worth £20m plus add-ons.

Trippier’s future at Spurs was in doubt following the conclusion of the 2018/19 season and he was linked with Serie A sides Juventus and Inter.

However, Atleti have now confirmed the deal after Trippier passed his medical on Wednesday, revealing the England international has signed a three-year deal with the Spanish giants.

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In a ​statement on their website, Atleti stated: “Atlético de Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have reached an agreement for the transfer of Kieran Trippier. The English player, 28, signs for the next three seasons.”

Trippier is ​Atletico’s latest signing this summer, with the club having already signed Marcos Llorente, Felipe, Hector Herrera and Joao Felix among others. The former Burnley man will compete with Santiago Arias for a starting spot under Diego Simeone.

Trippier enjoyed a fine 2017/18 campaign and an even better World Cup, but his form tailed off the following season.

The deal leaves ​Tottenham with Serge Aurier and Kyle Walker-Peters as their recognised right backs, while Juan Foyth is also an option having played in that position for Argentina at this summer’s Copa America.

Trippier made 114 appearances for the north London club after joining for £3.5m from Burnley, scoring two goals and helping them reach the final of the ​Champions League last season.





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Brighton vs Liverpool – FA Cup: TV channel, team news, lineups & prediction

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Brighton host Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday afternoon, a fortnight after dismantling Jurgen Klopp’s side at the Amex Stadium in England’s top flight.

Roberto De Zerbi’s south coast hot-shots sit two points and three places above Liverpool in the Premier League table at the halfway stage of the season, underlining their advantage with a 3-0 triumph against Sunday’s foes two weeks ago.

Jurgen Klopp described that “horror show” as “the worst game I’ve ever seen from a team of mine”. Liverpool have kept consecutive clean sheets against Wolves and Chelsea after “everything went wrong” against the Seagulls.

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Here’s everything you need to know about one of the standout fixtures from the FA Cup fourth round.

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Brighton team news

Alongside long-term absentee Jakub Moder, Levi Colwill (quad) and former Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana (muscular) will sit out the upcoming cup tie.

Moises Caicedo is entirely fine physically but has been asked by the club to take a step back for the rest of the January transfer window. Bids from Arsenal and Chelsea lured the integral midfielder into a public declaration of his desire to leave, prompting the club to take action and effectively sideline Caicedo for Sunday’s match.

Brighton predicted lineup (4-2-3-1): Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Van Hecke, Estupinan; Mac Allister, Gilmour; March, Gross, Mitoma; Ferguson

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Liverpool team news

Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino are still recovering from calf injuries while Virgil van Dijk and Arthur Melo are “a couple of weeks” away from shaking off respective hamstring and thigh problems.

Luis Diaz is a longer term absentee with a serious knee issue while fellow forward Fabio Carvalho is a doubt after missing this week’s training. Back-up centre-back Nat Phillips has been laid low with a cold in the buildup to Sunday’s fixture.

Liverpool predicted lineup (4-3-3): Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Gomez, Robertson; Keita, Bajcetic, Thiago; Salah, Nunez, Gakpo

Prior to the riotous victory on the south coast, De Zerbi led his new side to a thrilling 3-3 draw against Liverpool at Anfield on his debut in the dugout. Brighton haven’t only proven to be prolific against the Reds, rattling in 19 goals across six matches since Christmas Day.

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Liverpool have drawn a blank in two of their last three games. Klopp was keen to highlight the “little step” forward represented by last weekend’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea but Liverpool are still struggling to rediscover anywhere near the same edge that took them to two titles – including the FA Cup – last season.

It’s highly unlikely that Klopp would allow his side to be as outrageously open as they were on their previous visit to the Amex. And without Caicedo snaffling around in midfield, Brighton may have a tougher time muzzling Liverpool going the other way in a contest which could lead to a rematch at Anfield.

Prediction: Brighton 1-1 Liverpool



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Anthony Hudson comments on head coach future amid USMNT restructure

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United States Men’s National Team interim boss Anthony Hudson says he’ll remain in the role as long as he’s required as the federation undergoes a restructure.

The Englishman took charge of his first match as an experimental group full of MLS talents and European youngsters lost 2-1 to Serbia at LAFC’s BMO Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Up next is another friendly against Colombia at LA Galaxy’s Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday in what was initially thought to be Hudson’s final game in charge.

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However, since his appointment, sporting director Earnie Stewart has left for PSV Eindhoven, while legendary USMNT striker Brian McBride’s contract as general manager was not renewed. With nobody currently around to pick a successor, Hudson is happy to keep steering the ship for now.

“Obviously there’s been some changes,” Hudson told reporters, adding: “My focus is just to keep preparing the team for as long as I’m asked to do it.

“I wasn’t really expecting any of this, how this has evolved. But my focus is purely on, when we get back, I’m going to focus on the next window. And if I’m still asked to do the one after that, I’m going to prepare for that one. And I’ll continue doing all I can. This is a really, really special team. I know how important this national team is and I want to do all I can to make sure it’s in a good place for whoever comes in, whenever that is.”

So, with his future assured for now, Hudson’s focus returns to Saturday’s game against Colombia. The priority, as is usually the case in these January friendlies, is on giving new players a chance to thrive who wouldn’t usually get one in an international window.

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“Everyone having played in these two games, that’s the objective,” said Hudson. “We want to see new players; can we add depth to the squad? And also by doing that, we need to make sure that we carry the players through these two games physically in the right way. Of course, we want to win every game we go into, but we are led by the physical capacity of each player in these games.”



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