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Wales announce squad for 2022 World Cup

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Wales manager Robert Page has confirmed his 26-man squad to compete in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with Gareth Bale named as captain.

Page’s side will play in Group B alongside England, Iran and the United States, who they meet in their opener on Sunday, November 20.

Bale has been named alongside the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies and Joe Allen, who have played crucial parts in Wales’ progress through their two recent appearances in the European Championships.

Wales made the semi-finals in 2016 and were knocked out by Denmark in the second round in Euro 2020, but this is their first World Cup campaign in 64 years.

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Goalkeepers: Danny Ward, Wayne Hennessey, Adam Davies

Defenders: Connor Roberts, Chris Gunter, Chris Mepham, Ethan Ampadu, Joe Rodon, Ben Cabango, Ben Davies, Neco Williams, Tom Lockyer

Midfielders: Joe Allen, Joe Morrell, Aaron Ramsey, Dylan Levitt, Rubin Colwill, Matt Smith, Sorba Thomas, Jonny Williams, Harry Wilson, Daniel James

Forwards: Gareth Bale, Kieffer Moore, Brennan Johnson, Mark Harris

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EPL

RB Leipzig End Liverpool’s Hopes of Early Naby Keita Move

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Naby Keita will not be allowed to ditch Leipzig for ​Liverpool in January, regardless of progression to the knockout stages of the Champions League, according to Leipziger Volkszeitung.

It was announced during the summer that Liverpool had met Keita’s release clause and the Guinean midfielder would move to Anfield at the end of the 2017/18 season. 

However, recent speculation suggested that die Roten Bullen could be persuaded into letting Keita leave the club during the winter transfer window.

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“Even if we should not reach the knockout stages of Champions League, it would make no sense to allow Naby to join Liverpool earlier,” said RB Leipzig sporting director, Ralf Rangnick.

“We want to qualify for Europe again, and we need Naby for that.”

Leipzig have won just one Champions League game this season, with defeats to FC Porto and Besiktas making progression to the knockout stages a difficult task this year.

Following their impressive maiden season in the Bundesliga, in which RB Leipzig finished ahead of Borussia Dortmund, the Red Bulls will be desperate to make sure their Champions League status continues next season.

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The 22-year-old has struggled to replicate the incredible form he showed last year since the announcement of his move next summer. 

Questions about Keita’s disciplinary record have also arisen this season, the midfielder seeing three red cards for club and country in less than one month.



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Man Utd’s fixture list up to Carabao Cup final including Barcelona & Leeds clashes

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Manchester United reached their first final under Erik ten Hag by securing safe passage through the Carabao Cup semi finals at the expense of Nottingham Forest.

The Red Devils have enjoyed a brilliant run of form after their infamous defeats to Brighton and Brentford to start the season. They’re firmly in the Champions League qualification mix and remain alive in the FA Cup and Europa League.

However, their commitments in cup competitions means Ten Hag faces a tough February as he tries to balance the playing time of a squad that has recently been struck by injuries to key players.

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Here’s United’s truncated schedule leading up to the Carabao Cup final, including some juicy derbies and European fixtures.

Michael Olise, David De Gea

Olise denied Man Utd with a late free kick last time out / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

Fresh from sealing their spot in the Carabao Cup final against Newcastle, United are back into Premier League matters when they host Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday 4 February in a 15:00 GMT kick off.

The two sides duked it out earlier a few weeks ago in their first meeting of the season as a late Michael Olise free-kick earned Palace a point after Bruno Fernandes’ strike just before half time.

Manchester United and Leeds are fierce rivals and the tension between the two teams has risen again following Leeds’ promotion to the Premier League.

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The Red Devils have scored 15 goals in the four meetings in that time, only failing to win once when they were held to a goalless draw in April 2021. The fixture was originally postponed following Queen Elizabeth II’s death in September and will take place on Wednesday 8 February at 20:00 GMT.

Fred, Anthony Elanga

Fred and Elanga struck at Elland Road last season / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

That fixture rearrangement means the two Uniteds will face each other twice in four days.

In this fixture last season, two headless chickens went at it as Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds were downed 4-2 by Ralf Rangnick’s Man Utd. Goals from Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes had the visitors 2-0 up before two goals in two minutes from Rodrigo and Raphinha squared things up.

Substitutes Fred and Anthony Elanga gave the Red Devils all three points. However, they would win only three more league games before the end of the season.

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The stakes are really upped in mid February when Man Utd travel to Barcelona to face the Catalan giants at Camp Nou in the Europa League knockout play-off round.

It’s Barça who hold the edge in recent meetings, having won the past four games between the two sides.

Once they return home from the trip to Catalonia, United have a home game against Leicester to contend with.

The Foxes have endured some turbulent form this season but have mostly been a mess at the back, though the sides were only separated by Jadon Sancho’s strike they met back in September.

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Lionel Messi

A lot has changed since United and Barça last met in 2019 / Etsuo Hara/GettyImages

The return leg of the Europa League knockout play-off round will determine who between United and Barça continue in the continent’s secondary club competition.

United’s last win over Barça came at Old Trafford in 2008 when Paul Scholes scored the only goal of a Champions League semi final tie to send his side to final in Moscow.

Two of the most improved sides this season meet in the Carabao Cup final in late February when Newcastle face Man Utd.

Both sides are eyeing up Champions League qualification and each sit in the top four currently and this meeting could be an opportunity to land a significant psychological blow.

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Player ratings as Mbappe injury mars routine win

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Paris Saint-Germain’s 3-1 win over Montpellier in Ligue 1 on Wednesday night was marred by Kylian Mbappe limping from the field with a suspected hamstring injury.

The Frenchman wandered off down the tunnel after just 21 minutes, which will no doubt concern PSG’s supporters less than two weeks before the Parisians are due to lock horns with Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Mbappe’s absence didn’t affect the result of the game, as Fabian Ruiz, Lionel Messi and Warren Zaire-Emery bagged second half goals for PSG, but the Frenchman did have a rather eventful night despite being on the field for less than a quarter of the game.

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After Sergio Ramos was hauled down in the area, Mbappe saw his ninth minute penalty saved by Montpellier goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte, only for VAR to determine that he’d come off of his line too soon.

But Mbappe missed the second spot kick as well, with Lecomte again denying him, before he sunk to the turf 10 minutes later clutching his hamstring.

Messi had a goal chalked off by VAR for offside before the half-time interval as PSG dominated, and it was deja vu eight minutes after the break when Achraf Hakimi also had an effort ruled out by the officials.

PSG weren’t to be denied though, and they took the lead through Ruiz after some good smart build-up play involving Vitinha, Hakimi and Mbappe’s replacement, Hugo Ekitike.

Spanish midfielder Ruiz then produced a sublime assist for Messi’s goal 15 minutes time, linking up nicely with Ekitike before sliding a perfectly weighted pass through to the Argentine. He, inevitably, did the rest by dinking the ball past the impressive Lecomte.

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Montpellier scored in stoppage time to reduce the arrears when PSG could, and should, have been out of sight, and almost levelled the game when the visitors were caught dozing moments later.

Zaire-Emery, aged just 16, sealed the deal to become PSG’s youngest ever goalscorer, but the main worry for Christophe Galtier will be whether Mbappe is fit to face Bayern when the Champions League returns to the Parc des Princes on Valentine’s night.

Warren Zaire-Emery is PSG's bright new star

Warren Zaire-Emery is PSG’s bright new star / PASCAL GUYOT/GettyImages

GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma – 6/10 – Statuesque as Arnaud Nordin pulled a goal back for Montpellier late on. Didn’t have much to do.

RB: Achraf Hakimi – 7/10 – Denied a fantastic goal by the assitant referee’s flag. There are few better full-backs to watch than Hakimi when he’s in full flow.

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CB: Marquinhos – 7/10 – Passing accuracy was on point and seemed to be in full control until a late blip almost cost PSG dear.

CB: Sergio Ramos – 6/10 – Was doing pretty well, even winning a penalty, before an unfortunate clash of heads ended the Spaniard’s night.

LB: Nuno Mendes – 6/10 – Still working his way back to full fitness but got a good hour and a bit under his belt.

DM: Danilo Pereira – 6/10 – Slipped into the back four after Sergio Ramos went off injured – a role he’s becoming increasingly familiar with.

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RCM: Carlos Soler – 6/10 – A little quiet compared to those around him and was often outduelled.

CM: Vitinha – 7/10 – Again impressive in the heart of midfield, playing a key role in PSG’s opening goal.

LCM: Fabian Ruiz – 8/10 – Was in the right place at the right time to give PSG the lead, and then produced a fantasticly weighted pass for Messi’s goal.

ST: Lionel Messi – 8/10 – Denied by VAR in the first half but showed his class to put the game beyond Montpellier. The lead orchestrator of all things good, as per.

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ST: Kylian Mbappe – 4/10 – Missed two penalties and went off injured. Not a night for Mbappe to remember.

Substitutes

SUB: Hugo Ekitike – 7/10 – Gave PSG an outlet up front, and his hard work and endeavour allowed PSG to break the deadlock.

SUB: Renato Sanches – 6/10 – Helped PSG control proceedings after coming on for the injured Ramos.

SUB: Warren Zaire-Emery – 7/10 – Took his goal superbly to become PSG’s youngest ever goalscorer. A real talent.

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SUB: Juan Bernat – 6/10 – A steady but unspectacular 20 minutes or so for the former Bayern Munich man.

Player of the Match: Fabian Ruiz (PSG)





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