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‘Hazard is truly out of this world’ – De Ligt blown away by Belgium star – football news

Netherlands defender Matthijs de Ligt described Eden Hazard as “out of this world” after facing the Belgium star in a friendly on Tuesday.

Ronald Koeman’s men held Belgium to a 1-1 draw in Brussels after Arnaut Groeneveld cancelled out Dries Mertens’ opener in the first half.

The highly rated De Ligt, 19, played the first half – like Hazard – and was impressed by the Chelsea attacker.

“I obviously knew about the size of [Romelu] Lukaku,” the Ajax defender said.

“And Hazard is truly out of this world. It’s been some night for me.”

De Ligt came through the youth system at Ajax and has been linked to the likes of Manchester City and United and Barcelona among other clubs.

The teenager enjoyed the opportunity to face some of the world’s best, saying: “It was fantastic.

“You start playing football for games like these. Strikers like Lukaku, wingers like Hazard, it’s great to face them on the pitch.”

Article continues below

De Ligt has made 11 international appearances, but dismissed suggestions he was already a certain starter for Netherlands.

“I wouldn’t say irreplaceable, but I have played many games recently,” he said.

“That was one of my goals, but to be irreplaceable, you have to play really consistently over a longer period of time.”

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Monaco the natural move for Henry – Martinez – football news

Thierry Henry starting his career as a head coach at Monaco was the “natural move” he had been waiting for, according to Belgium boss Roberto Martinez.

Former France and Arsenal star Henry began his playing career at Monaco and was announced as the successor to Leonardo Jardim on Saturday, signing a three-year contract.

The 41-year-old, who oversaw his first training session on Monday, had been working under Martinez with Belgium since August 2016 and the Spaniard backed his former number two to be a success at a club that means so much to him.

On Henry’s departure, Martinez told a news conference: “I don’t think it’s a loss. The initial project was to have Thierry’s experience preparing the group for the World Cup and we achieved that.

“After that it’s been great for Thierry to want to be with the national team until the natural move would appear. It wasn’t a case of leaving for the sake of it or trying to force a move.

“We’re all supportive because Monaco is his home, it’s where he started as a player and it’s a natural way to start his coaching career.

“He will be a top coach, there’s no two doubts about it; his obsession for the game, his experience, his know-how, but then we all hope he gets a bit of luck because you always need luck in football.”

Belgium take on Netherlands in a friendly on Tuesday and Martinez detailed plans to use a variety of players, while also disclosing that Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet could start.

Article continues below

Appointing a replacement for Henry is on the Spaniard’s agenda, something he hopes to have sewn up ahead of the next set of internationals in November.

“I think we need an extra body on the staff. The technical staff is very strong, we’ve been working now for a long time, but it’s important – maybe not for a short camp – but when you’re going into a big tournament that we need that extra body, but we’re going to take our time,” he said.

“It’s more assessing what the group needs – they aren’t the needs that were needed two years ago and we didn’t have the experience that we had in the World Cup. We will be adding someone for November.”

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Thierry Henry holds talks with Aston Villa over vacant manager job – football news

Aston Villa have held talks with Thierry Henry as they look to bring in a new manager to replace sacked Steve Bruce, GBP Sports can confirm.

Bruce had led the Championship side to the promotion play-offs in the 2017-18 season, eventually losing to Fulham in the final, but a rapid dip in form in the new term forced the Birmingham club into action.

One particularly disgruntled supporter threw a cabbage at Bruce in his final match in charge, a 3-3 draw with Preston North End after relinquishing a two-goal lead.

Operating in much the same way as he did during talks to take over at Bordeaux, Henry has been seeking assurances over his influence over transfers and player budget should he take over at Villa Park.

The Frenchman will need guarantees from the Villans, however, with the former Arsenal and Barcelona striker having turned down the Bordeaux role due to financial reasons.

Joe DaGrosa, head of GACP, Bordeaux’s owners, told L’Equipe at the time: “We had hoped to reach an agreement with Thierry Henry, but sometimes reasonable people can disagree. That’s what happened. I have a lot of respect for him. 

Thierry Henry Bordeaux

“He was a great player and he has a very interesting career plan, but we took a financial decision and not an emotional one.”

John Terry, who most recently turned out for Villa before failing to secure a move to another club, announced his retirement from playing football on Sunday and has been mooted as Henry’s assistant.

There are no certainties over whether Terry will be offered the role, though the former Chelsea captain has made no secret of his desire to turn his hand to coaching.

Article continues below

Elsewhere, Brendan Rodgers, who had come under some scrutiny following Celtic’s poor start to the season, has ruled himself out of the running for the job.

In terms of Henry’s current role as assistant coach of the Belgium national team, it is understood that the FA will not stand in the 41-year-old’s way if he decided to take Villa up on their offer.

As yet, however, the country’s governing body have not received a formal approach from the Championship side.

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Asensio, Balotelli and the winners and losers of international week – football news


WINNER: MARCUS RASHFORD


Marcus Rashford England 2018-19

Many England players emerged from the World Cup with their reputations enhanced. It must be said that Marcus Rashford wasn’t one of those.

While the country fell in love with the likes of Kieran Trippier and Harry Maguire, Rashford was somewhat on the fringes and did not contribute a lot to the English charge to the semi-finals.

He has however started the new cycle in fine form.

England may have lost against Spain on Saturday in their UEFA Nations League opener but Rashford was bright and busy, scoring the opener and serving a reminder of his capabilities to the onlooking Jose Mourinho.

He was efficient in front of goal on Tuesday as well when England beat Switzerland in a friendly at the King Power Stadium, scoring the only goal of the game.

It’s been a difficult start to the Premier League season for Rashford – and indeed for Manchester United as a whole – but goals in back-to-back games for the first time for his country will do his confidence the world of good.


WINNER: GEORGE WEAH


George Weah

Some 15 years after his retirement, the president of Liberia George Weah made an incredible international comeback in a 2-1 home defeat to Nigeria.

Weah, Africa’s only Ballon d’Or winner, was to be honoured at the game in the Samuel Doe Stadium in Monrovia where his legendary No. 14 shirt was to be retired.

Those in attendance were taken by surprise when Weah – now aged 51 – led the Lone Stars out with the captain’s armband instead of merely watching from the stands.

He lasted an impressive 79 minutes and by all accounts put in quite a shift despite a paunch reflecting his years of good living. James Debbah – one of Weah’s former international team-mates – also played aged 48.

There are repercussions in Nigeria where many are demanding answers on why the NFF agreed to send a senior representative team to play in a glorified friendly.

For the president – elected in a runoff last December – it was a fond farewell on the same night his son Timothy played for the United States against Mexico.


WINNER: RICHARLISON


Richarlison Brazil El Salvador Friendly 11092018

A strong start to the season for new club Everton preceded a first call-up to the Brazil squad for Richarlison, who took Pedro’s place late in the day.

And having been handed the legendary No. 9 shirt by Tite, the £50 million man made quite the impression on his first start for his country.

He won an early penalty against El Salvador in a Stateside friendly – which Neymar converted – before Richarlison stole the show himself in front of goal.

Brazil won 5-0 – to add to their 2-0 win last week over the United States – and Richarlison provided the pick of the bunch.

He scored in either half; the first a curler into the top corner and the second a powerful effort from the edge of the box.

With that performance and those goals, he will have served notice of his abilities to Tite, who is plotting the next stage of Brazil’s cycle after a disappointing World Cup.


WINNER: MARCO ASENSIO


Marco Asensio Spain 2018-19

Long heralded as one of the coming forces in world football, this is expected to be the season Marco Asensio stands among the elites.

He has won two Champions Leagues with Real Madrid but now with Cristiano Ronaldo gone he will step up to become one of the European champions’ key players.

And for his country too, Asensio looks ready to become a superstar.

Spain have won six points from six in their opening Nations League fixtures and on Tuesday night Asensio ran the game against Croatia.

The World Cup semi-finalists were smashed 6-0 by Spain with Asensio providing three assists as well as a stunning long-range strike of his own.


LOSERS: ITALY AND BALOTELLI


Balotelli Italy Poland

This was supposed to mark the start of a new era under Roberto Mancini.

The 2006 World Cup winners failed to qualify for this year’s tournament and so a new regime took over. Italy, however, look scarcely better for swapping Giampiero Ventura for the former Inter manager.

They were lacklustre and out of ideas in a 1-1 draw against Poland before succumbing to a 1-0 loss against Portugal on Sunday. 

Alarmingly, they have won a total of two matches in a year of football – a World Cup qualifier against Albania and a friendly against Saudi Arabia. They are a team bereft of confidence and ability.

One thing they have been lacking is firepower in front of goal. Mario Balotelli being sent back to his club for being a reported 15 kilograms over weight will not have helped the cause and they are already looking at Nations League relegation.


LOSERS: IRELAND AND ROY KEANE


Roy Keane Ireland

Controversy is raging in Ireland with assistant manager Roy Keane predictably at the centre of things.

A leaked WhatsApp voice message from left-back Stephen Ward detailed two extraordinary training camp rows between Keane and Irish internationals Jonathan Walters and Harry Arter. It has led to calls for Keane’s sacking given the manner in which he addressed the players and brought questions about exactly what it is he does in Martin O’Neill’s regime.

That overshadowed things to such an extent that it was easy to forget Ireland were hammered in their opening Nations League fixture against Wales before giving up a late draw away to Poland in a friendly.

The Irish public has simply been turned off the national team given the poor levels of performance in recent games and the lack of anything approaching a shake-up – in the boardroom, the dugout or on the pitch.

The rot has well and truly set in.


LOSERS: ICELAND


Iceland Belgium Nations League

The surprise team of Euro 2016 have long since shed their underdog tag and are struggling with life at a higher level.

Article continues below

They qualified well for the World Cup but could not get out of their group. Now their failings are being exposed in the Nations League.

They were annihilated 6-0 by Switzerland on matchday one before the boos rang out in Reykjavik on matchday two as Belgium ran riot with a 3-0 victory.

It was their first home defeat since June 2013 and a demoralising one at that given they were in the game until Eden Hazard scored from the penalty spot.

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Griezmann ’embarrassed’ by Courtois criticism of France – football news

Antoine Griezmann says he was “embarrassed” by Thibaut Courtois’s criticism of France’s style of play after they knocked Belgium out of the World Cup, considering it hypocritical after Courtois won a title with a similar style at Atletico Madrid.

Goalkeeper Courtois claimed he would have preferred to lose to Brazil in the quarter-finals as “at least that was a team that wanted to play football”, before describing France as “an anti-football team”.

Eden Hazard was also scathing of Didier Deschamps’ side, who had only 36 per cent of the possession at Krestovsky Stadium but still attempted 10 more shots than their opponents, with their winning goal coming from a Samuel Umtiti header from a corner.

Griezmann thinks Courtois’s comments were hypocritical given he was part of the Atletico team under Diego Simeone that won La Liga and reached the Champions League final in 2013-14 by often playing defensive football.

“What Courtois said embarrassed me because he played for Cholo, he knows how it goes, he won La Liga like that,” Griezmann told L’Equipe.

“They’re two different playing styles. There was a time for [Pep] Guardiola and his attacking 4-3-3. Now, there’s a time for this kind of 4-4-2.”

When asked if the remarks annoyed him, Griezmann replied: “No, but I still would have said the same in their situation.

“You play a game where you have possession and spend your time attacking. Opposite you, you have a boring, solid team, who concede almost no chances. When that happens, the goalkeeper makes an amazing save. And you get the goal from a set-piece, then the team goes back to defending…

“Yes, I would have said the same.”

Griezmann felt his own form in Russia peaked in the Belgium match, admitting he did not hit his stride until the knockout phase after struggling with fatigue during the group stage.

“I think that from the last 16 until the final, I was good in relation to what the match required,” he said.

“Against Argentina, I remember a ball I took off Lionel Messi on the surface and I thought, ‘that’s it, I’m okay, it’s going to be okay’. Against Uruguay, I was successful with set-pieces and then I took the game into my own hands, as I do at club level: keep the ball, win fouls…

“Against Belgium, I think that’s where I was best. I took control and found passes between the lines in difficult situations. And I was there defensively.”

Article continues below

Griezmann ended speculation of a move to Barcelona on the eve of the finals, releasing a video entitled ‘The Decision’ in which he confirmed he would be staying with Atletico.

The forward received some criticism for the timing and manner of his announcement, but he insists he had not made a decision until that time.

“It was the moment I knew my decision was made and I would not change any more,” he said. “Maybe it didn’t please everyone, but I wanted to show the moments we can go through in these situations and I received messages from sportspeople who loved it.”

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September 2018 international break: Every match, kick-off times & competition details – football news

Following a month of World Cup action over the summer, the first international break of the 2018-19 season has arrived.

Premier League and Ligue 1 teams have so far played out four fixtures each, La Liga and Serie A three, while the new Bundesliga campaign is only two games in as we head into a 10-day rest period.

The 2018 September break sees the introduction of the new, bi-yearly UEFA Nations League, where 55 teams are split into four leagues (A-D), each consisting of four groups.

The winners of Group B, C and D will win promotion, while those who finish bottom of Groups A, B and C will be relegated. Then, in June 2019, the four league winners of Group A will contest the semi-finals, a third-place play-off and a final for the title of Nations League champions.

The England national team will meet for the first time since their World Cup semi-final run at the Russia World Cup ahead of their opener against Spain at Wembley on Saturday, before travelling to face Switzerland in a friendly on Tuesday.

And while manager Gareth Southgate has explained the tournament format to his Three Lions squad, not all of them are yet familiar with the system.

“It is quite confusing – I don’t know what you guys think of it?” said Harry Maguire when asked for his opinion of the new concept. “The boss tried to explain it to us the best he could the other day. I think he has got his head around it now, but it took a lot of studying.

“It is confusing, but we are trying to get our heads round it. For us players, we just go into each game trying to win it and see where it takes us. So we will see after the game.”

Article continues below

There are also a host of friendlies across the international break, as well as the second round of fixtures from the African Cup of Nations qualifying.

Goal runs through a day-by-day guide of which games are being played before the return of domestic football next weekend.


WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 5


Fixture Competition Time (UK)
Slovakia vs Denmark Friendly 19:00
Fiji vs Solomon Islands Friendly 07:30

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 6


Fixture Competition Time (UK)
Germany vs France UEFA Nations League 19:45
Czech Republic vs Ukraine UEFA Nations League 19:45
Wales vs Republic of Ireland UEFA Nations League 19:45
Slovenia vs Bulgaria UEFA Nations League 19:45
Norway vs Cyprus UEFA Nations League 19:45
Kazakhstan vs Georgia UEFA Nations League 15:00
Armenia vs Liechtenstein UEFA Nations League 17:00
Latvia vs Andorra UEFA Nations League 19:45
Gibraltar vs Macedonia UEFA Nations League 19:45
Austria vs Sweden Friendly 19:45
Netherlands vs Peru Friendly 19:45
Portugal vs Croatia Friendly 19:45
Trinidad and Tobago vs UAE Friendly 11:00
Bahrain vs Philippines Friendly 15:00
Kyrgyzstan vs Palestine Friendly 15:00
Uzbekistan vs Syria Friendly 16:00
Jordan vs Lebanon Friendly 17:00

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 7


Fixture Competition Time (UK)
Italy vs Poland UEFA Nations League 19:45
Turkey vs Russia UEFA Nations League 19:45
Albania vs Israel UEFA Nations League 19:45
Lithuania vs Serbia UEFA Nations League 19:45
Romania vs Montenegro UEFA Nations League 19:45
Azerbaijan vs Kosovo UEFA Nations League 17:00
Faroe Islands vs Malta UEFA Nations League 19:45
Japan vs Chile Friendly 11:00
Korea Republic vs Costa Rica Friendly 12:00
Qatar vs China Friendly 17:00
Scotland vs Belgium Friendly 19:45
Chinese Taipei vs Malaysia Friendly 12:00
Singapore vs Mauritius Friendly 12:30

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 8


Fixture Competition Time (UK)
Switzerland vs Iceland UEFA Nations League 17:00
England vs Spain UEFA Nations League 19:45
Northern Ireland vs Bosnia-Herzegovina UEFA Nations League 14:00
Finland vs Hungary UEFA Nations League 17:00
Estonia vs Greece UEFA Nations League 19:45
Belarus vs San Marino UEFA Nations League 17:00
Luxembourg vs Moldova UEFA Nations League 19:45
Comoros vs Cameroon Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 13:00
Seychelles vs Nigeria Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 13:30
South Africa vs Libya Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 14:00
Kenya vs Ghana Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 14:00
Uganda vs Tanzania Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 14:00
Namibia vs Zambia Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 15:00
Equatorial Guinea vs Sudan Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 16:00
Gabon vs Burundi Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 16:00
Mozambique vs Guinea-Bissau Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 16:00
Gambia vs Algeria Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 17:30
Mauritania vs Burkina Faso Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 18:00
Egypt vs Niger Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 19:00
Morocco vs Malawi Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 21:00
United States vs Brazil Friendly 00:30
Venezuela vs Colombia Friendly 01:00
Ecuador vs Jamaica Friendly 01:00
Mexico vs Uruguay Friendly 03:00
Argentina vs Guatemala Friendly 04:00

SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 9


Fixture Competition Time (UK)
France vs Netherlands UEFA Nations League 19:45
Ukraine vs Slovakia UEFA Nations League 14:00
Denmark vs Wales UEFA Nations League 17:00
Bulgaria vs Norway UEFA Nations League 17:00
Cyprus vs Slovenia UEFA Nations League 19:45
Georgia vs Latvia UEFA Nations League 17:00
Macedonia vs Armenia UEFA Nations League 17:00
Liechtenstein vs Gibraltar UEFA Nations League 19:45
Madagascar vs Senegal Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 12:30
South Sudan vs Mali Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 14:00
Etheopia vs Sierra Leone Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 14:00
Swaziland vs Tunisia Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 14:00
Lesotho vs Cape Verde Islands Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 14:00
Rwanda vs Ivory Coast Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 14:30
Angola vs Botswana Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 16:00
Togo vs Benin Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 17:00
Liberia vs Congo DR Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 17:00
Guinea va Central African Republic Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying 17:30
Germany vs Peru Friendly 19:45
Lebanon vs Oman Friendly 17:00

MONDAY SEPTEMBER 10


Fixture Competition Time (UK)
Portugal vs Italy UEFA Nations League 19:45
Sweden vs Turkey UEFA Nations League 19:45
Scotland vs Albania UEFA Nations League 19:45
Serbia vs Romania UEFA Nations League 19:45
Montenegro vs Lithuania UEFA Nations League 19:45
Andorra vs Kazakhstan UEFA Nations League 19:45
Kosovo vs Faroe Islands UEFA Nations League 19:45
Malta vs Azerbaijan UEFA Nations League 19:45
Russia vs Czech Republic Friendly 17:00
Saudi Arabia vs Bolivia Friendly 18:15

TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 11


Fixture Competition Time (UK)
Iceland vs Belgium UEFA Nations League 19:45
Spain vs Croatia UEFA Nations League 19:45
Bosnia-Herzegovina vs Austria UEFA Nations League 19:45
Hungary vs Greece UEFA Nations League 19:45
Finland vs Estonia UEFA Nations League 19:45
San Marino vs Luxembourg UEFA Nations League 19:45
Moldova vs Belarus UEFA Nations League 19:45
Japan vs Costa Rica Friendly 11:00
Korea Republic vs Chile Friendly 12:00
Uzbekistan vs Iran Friendly 16:00
Poland vs Republic of Ireland Friendly 19:45
Northern Ireland vs Israel Friendly 19:45
England vs Switzerland Friendly 20:00
Singapore vs Fiji Friendly 12:30
Jordan vs Oman Friendly 17:00

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 12


Fixture Competition Time (UK)
Colombia vs Argentina Friendly 01:00
United States vs Mexico Friendly 01:30
Brazil vs El Salvidor Friendly 01:30
Panama vs Venezuela Friendly 02:00
Ecuador vs Guatemala Friendly 02:00

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Former Celtic star Maloney joins Henry on Martinez’s Belgium coaching staff – football news

Roberto Martinez has drafted former Celtic and Wigan star Shaun Maloney into his coaching staff with the Belgium national team.

The Red Devils were in the market for a new addition following the departure of Graeme Jones.

A man who has worked alongside Martinez throughout his managerial career has returned to club football as deputy to Darren Moore at West Brom.

Jones has been replaced as number two within the Belgium set-up by Thierry Henry.

The Arsenal legend, who linked up with Martinez in August 2016, remains part of the fold after turning down the chance to move into management at Ligue 1 side Bordeaux.

His promotion has allowed Maloney to be brought in by Belgium, with the 35-year-old a man Martinez knows well.

The Spaniard signed the Scot during his time in charge of Wigan, with the pair spending two years together at the DW Stadium.

Maloney, since hanging up his boots in the summer of 2017, has been cutting his coaching teeth within the academy set-up at Celtic.

Martinez is delighted to have welcomed a familiar face on board, telling reporters at the announcement of his squad for upcoming fixtures against Scotland and Iceland: “Graeme Jones did a fantastic job as assistant coach. We wish him all the best.

“We are delighted that Thierry Henry has decided to carry on and stay with the team. He will now work on a full-time basis for Belgium.

“Shaun Maloney is a football player that I worked with. He knows the way we work and is someone who has an exciting coaching career in front of him.”

Belgium are set to face Scotland in an international friendly contest on September 7 before opening their UEFA Nations League campaign against Iceland on September 11.

Martinez added on the challenges which lie ahead for a team which finished third at World Cup 2018: “The Nations League brings a real meaning to the games we will play.

“This is a new and different format that is going to be successful.”

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