Sports Mole looks at how Portugal could line up for Thursday’s Euro 2024 qualifier with Liechtenstein in Vaduz.
Roberto Martinez is set to name a strong Portugal side for their Euro 2024 qualifier in Liechtenstein on Thursday despite qualification already being assured.
Portugal have won all eight qualifiers in Group J, and wins here and over Iceland in a few days’ time would see them finish with a 100% winning record for the first time.
A new seeding format for the finals incentivises teams to continue to take their remaining qualifiers seriously, as the pots will be decided based on how many points are won in qualifying, so Portugal will be targeting a spot in pot one and can confirm that with a win here....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Either way, given the quality of their opposition, Martinez could utilise anybody in his squad and they will still get the job done against the group minnows.
Cristiano Ronaldo will hope to start though as he looks to add to remarkable international goalscoring record.
The 38-year-old netted two in the reverse fixture – a 4-0 win back in March on matchday one – and he has since scored another seven in the following six qualifiers, taking his overall tally to 127 in 203 caps.
Portugal are not short of attacking options, but Joao Felix has been the preferred choice alongside Ronaldo in qualifying. However, Martinez could also go with the likes of Goncalo Ramos or Diogo Jota here.
With Liechtenstein unlikely to provide any threat at the other end, Martinez may go with a three-man defence, or even a two, with Joao Palhinha dropping in to plug any potential gaps.
That will leave Joao Cancelo free to rampage down the right-hand side like he did in the reverse fixture, where he netted the opener.
With Raphael Guerreiro not in the squad as he aims to return to full fitness, there are no recognised left-backs in the squad, with Diogo Dalot, Nelson Semedo and Toti the only players with experience in that role.
As all three would be playing out-of-position though, Martinez may choose to go with an attacking option to play in a left-wing back/left-winger hybrid role, with Rafael Leao, Otavio or Bruma all capable.
Missing out on the squad are Paris Saint-Germain and Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielders Danilo Pereira and Pedro Neto, who both picked up injuries in recent weeks.
Renato Sanches is also still absent as he has had a frustrating start to life with Roma under fellow Portuguese Jose Mourinho.
Ricardo Horta is back in the squad after missing October’s break with injury, and fellow Primeira Liga star Pepe also returns to the fold at 41, and is in contention for a run out here.
Portugal possible starting lineup:Rui Patricio; Antonio Silva, Ruben Dias, Goncalo Inacio; Joao Cancelo, Palhinha, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Rafael Leao; Ronaldo, Joao Felix
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Kobbie Mainoo ‘set to double Manchester United wages’
Manchester United midfielder Kobbie Mainoo is reportedly set to double his wages at Old Trafford on account of becoming a first-team regular for Erik ten Hag....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Manchester United midfielder Kobbie Mainoo is reportedly set to double his wages at Old Trafford following his first-team breakthrough.
The 18-year-old is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the Red Devils’ setup but was denied the chance to make an impression in the early stages of the 2023-24 campaign due to an ankle injury sustained in pre-season.
Mainoo took months to recover from the affliction, but the teenager has since exited the treatment room and was trusted by Erik ten Hag from the first whistle in last weekend’s 3-0 Premier League win over Everton.
Mainoo – who made his debut for the Red Devils against Charlton Athletic in a January EFL Cup clash – received high praise for a performance well beyond his years and was then brought off the bench for his Champions League debut against Galatasaray a few days later.
Sofyan Amrabat was given the nod in Europe instead of Mainoo, but the Fiorentina loanee was overlooked for the youngster in Saturday’s trip to Newcastle United, where the Red Devils fell to a 1-0 defeat.
Amid Man United’s indifferent form on the field and protracted takeover saga, Mainoo has been a shining light for the 20-time English champions, and his rapid rise is now set to be rewarded.
According to the Daily Star, Mainoo is currently on a modest £10,000 per week at the Theatre of Dreams, but his salary will soon double to £20,000 per week owing to a clause in his contract.
Back in February, the Red Devils tied the 2005-born lynchpin down to a new long-term deal until the end of the 2026-27 campaign, with the option of an additional 12 months.
Rather than Man United agreeing another fresh deal with Mainoo, the midfielder’s existing terms apparently include a clause stipulating that his wages will double in size once he becomes a first-team regular.
The report adds that Mainoo’s salary increase has not been triggered just yet, but he is “close” to taking home an extra £10,000 per week, and he would already be on a higher wage had he not spent a couple of months in the treatment room.
The 18-year-old – who has been with the club since the age of nine – completed 80 minutes of Saturday’s showdown with Newcastle, which was his sixth first-team appearance for the Red Devils.
However, Mainoo and his Man United teammates were run ragged by Newcastle, who deservedly picked up a 1-0 win in freezing temperatures thanks to a second-half Anthony Gordon goal.
Having also been beaten by the Magpies in this year’s EFL Cup and a 2-0 loss at St James’ Park in the 2022-23 Premier League, Man United have now suffered three successive defeats to Newcastle in all competitions for the first time since January 1922.
The Red Devils’ sixth league loss of the season has bumped them down to seventh place in the Premier League table, and the visit of Chelsea to Old Trafford is next up for Ten Hag’s troops on Wednesday.
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Xavi reveals he wanted to sign Alvaro Morata for Barcelona
Barcelona head coach Xavi reveals that he was keen on bringing Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata to Camp Nou....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Barcelona head coach Xavi has revealed that he was keen on bringing Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata to Camp Nou.
For the past one-and-a-half seasons, the Blaugrana line has been led by Robert Lewandowski, who topped the La Liga scoring charts with 23 strikes en route to the top-flight title last season.
The former Bayern Munich man has already managed a respectable seven goals in the current top-flight campaign, although four players have netted more, including 11-goal leader Jude Bellingham of Real Madrid.
With a total of 27 strikes from 14 matches so far, Barcelona are the lowest scorers inside the top five of the La Liga table and have a seven-point gap to make up to Real Madrid and Girona.
Xavi’s side did strengthen their attack over the summer with the loan capture of Joao Felix from Atletico Madrid, while Raphinha, Ferran Torres and 16-year-old Lamine Yamal are alternative options in the final third.
However, Lewandowski is the only out-and-out senior centre-forward at the club, and speaking to reporters at a recent press conference, Xavi revealed that conversations were held with Morata.
The Barca boss waxed lyrical about Morata’s individual qualities and “world-class” connection with Antoine Griezmann, but he conceded that a summer transfer was not feasible.
“It’s true that I wanted to sign him. There was that possibility. I was talking to him and I wanted him in the team, but it couldn’t happen,” Goal quotes Xavi as saying.
“He’s a forward that I really like. Morata is a great forward. He is a generous footballer, who works a lot for the team, he works a lot.
“He goes very well into spaces and helps his teams a lot. I really like him a lot. With him and with [Antoine] Griezmann, Atletico has a world-class forward line.”
The well-travelled Morata has struggled to settle at various clubs throughout his career, enduring mixed spells with Real Madrid and Chelsea, who sent him on loan to Atletico for 18 months in 2019.
The 31-year-old’s switch to Wanda Metropolitano was made permanent for £30m that same summer, but he was loaned back out to Juventus for two years and missed the majority of Atletico’s 2020-21 La Liga title triumph.
However, Morata amassed a respectable 15 goals in all tournaments for Diego Simeone’s team last season and has begun the 2023-24 campaign strongly with 12 goals and three assists from 17 matches.
The Spain international has come up with a joint-high five goals in this season’s Champions League, level with Manchester City’s Erling Haaland and Manchester United’s Rasmus Hojlund, and his total for Atletico now stands at 49 goals and 12 assists from 123 games.
Morata’s contract with Atletico runs until the summer of 2026, and the striker will pit his wits against Barcelona in Sunday’s blockbuster La Liga clash at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys.
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Juventus ‘reduce asking price for Tottenham-linked Samuel Iling-Junior’
Juventus reduce their asking price for Tottenham Hotspur-linked attacker Samuel Iling-Junior, according to a report....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Tottenham Hotspur have allegedly been handed a boost in their efforts to sign Juventus winger Samuel Iling-Junior, whom the Old Lady have slashed their asking price for.
While Alejo Veliz was poached from Rosario Central over the summer, the Lilywhites opted to spread their Harry Kane funds around the attacking line rather than target a big-name centre-forward.
Brennan Johnson, Manor Solomon and James Maddison all made the move to North London to join the Ange Postecoglou revolution, while Dejan Kulusevski’s switch from Juventus was made permanent too.
However, Tottenham’s wide ranks have been decimated due to injuries in the first half of the campaign, as all of Solomon, Ryan Sessegnon and Ivan Perisic will remain out until various points of 2024 following surgeries.
Richarlison has also spent time out with a groin operation, and while the Brazilian should return in the coming weeks, Postecoglou currently only has Johnson, Kulusevski and Bryan Gil as his wide options while Son Heung-min plays centrally.
As a result, wingers are expected to be Tottenham’s mid-season priority when the window reopens in January, and several young players have been linked with a switch to the English capital for the second half of the campaign.
Juventus starlet Iling-Junior – a former Chelsea academy product – is said to be one name on Spurs’ wishlist, and the Bianconeri are not in a position to demand an astronomical fee for the 20-year-old, whose contract only runs until 2025.
According to Calciomercato, Juventus have now reduced their asking price for Iling-Junior, whom they previously valued at €20m (£17.2m), but a fee of €18m (£15.4m) could now do the trick.
The Serie A giants are known to be in the market for midfield additions in January, having lost Paul Pogba and Nicolo Fagioli to lengthy suspensions for doping and gambling offences respectively.
In order to finance a move for a new lynchpin, the Old Lady could be prepared to sanction the sale of Iling-Junior, and they will happily entertain appropriate offers from interested parties.
Should the winger depart, a return to the Premier League is thought to be his most likely next career move amid his current struggles to become a regular starter for Massimiliano Allegri.
Iling-Junior left Chelsea in 2020 to sign up for the Juventus academy, and he has progressed through the ranks to play 22 times for the senior team, scoring one goal and setting up three more.
However, the England Under-21 international – whose favoured position is on the left – has only made four substitute appearances in the 2023-24 Serie A season, and he has been an unused substitute in eight of Juve’s last nine top-flight games.
As well as Iling-Junior, Tottenham are also rumoured to be tracking PSV Eindhoven’s Johan Bakayoko, although Brentford are prepared to battle them for the Belgian’s signature.
Al-Ittihad winger Jota – who worked under Postecoglou at Celtic – apparently wants to end his Saudi Pro League nightmare by joining Spurs in January, but the Tottenham boss is not totally sold on the idea of reuniting with the Portuguese.
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