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Alejandro Garnacho: “Un énorme talent” peut jouer un rôle clé dans le rodage de Man Utd en Premier League

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Alejandro Garnacho
Le retour d’Alejandro Garnacho pour Manchester United est survenu après 12 matchs sur blessure

À la fin de la victoire 2-0 de Manchester United contre Wolverhampton Wanderers samedi, le patron Erik ten Hag est allé directement à Alejandro Garnacho, 18 ans, et lui a fait un câlin.

Le manager néerlandais est réputé pour cultiver les talents, et à Garnacho, il ne fait aucun doute qu’il en a un exceptionnel entre les mains.

L’adolescent a marqué son retour après deux mois de blessure avec une finition brillante à la 94e minute à Old Trafford pour conclure une victoire que Manchester United avait travaillé dur pour mettre hors de portée des Wolves.

Cela a permis aux supporters locaux de pousser un grand soupir de soulagement, craignant à juste titre que leur équipe soit punie pour avoir raté une multitude d’occasions car ils semblaient en grande partie édentés en l’absence de leur attaquant blessé de 16 buts Marcus Rashford.

La victoire signifie que Manchester United a quatre points d’avance sur Liverpool, cinquième, avec seulement deux victoires sur ses trois derniers matchs nécessaires pour cimenter le top quatre, et Ten Hag pense que Garnacho peut jouer un rôle important pour s’assurer qu’ils atteignent leur objectif.

“Il a presque tout fait de bien et cela lui donnera confiance et c’est bien pour le reste de la saison”, a déclaré le patron de Manchester United.

“Il est de retour, cela lui donnera confiance et il peut avoir un impact.”

Garnacho a connu une première saison complète époustouflante à Manchester United depuis ses débuts en avril de l’année dernière.

L’adolescent a marqué cinq buts mais a souvent eu un impact révélateur en sortant du banc. En janvier, il est entré en seconde période contre Manchester City et a fourni la passe décisive à Rashford pour marquer le vainqueur dans une victoire 2-1.

Sa progression a été stoppée par la blessure au ligament de la cheville qu’il a subie lors d’un match nul avec Southampton le 12 mars qui lui a fait manquer les 12 prochains matchs de United.

Mais de retour sur le banc samedi, les supporters locaux attendaient son retour sur le terrain dans la mesure où ils appelaient son nom bien avant que Ten Hag ne se tourne vers lui à la 82e minute.

Douze minutes plus tard, ces appels étaient justifiés alors que Garnacho chargeait dans l’espace avant de produire une superbe finition à l’intérieur du poteau.

“Pour jouer à Manchester United, il faut être spécial, encore plus à un jeune âge”, a déclaré le milieu de terrain Bruno Fernandes à propos de Garnacho.

“C’est vraiment important de le faire revenir. Il peut créer, aller en tête-à-tête, marquer des buts, créer des passes décisives. C’est important pour nous.”

Ten Hag a maintenant mis Garnacho au défi de ne plus être un sous-marin d’impact.

Cette saison, il a inscrit 10 buts, dont cinq passes décisives, mais n’a commencé que quatre matchs de Premier League jusqu’à présent.

“J’espère qu’il pourra progresser si rapidement qu’il pourra concourir pour une position de onze de départ car c’est son prochain défi”, a ajouté Ten Hag.

“Il montre quand vous marquez des gagnants – Fulham – la passe décisive contre City et maintenant le deuxième but, il montre certaines choses.

“De plus, parfois, il manque de transition défensive et de pressing. Il doit intensifier, lorsque vous entrez dans une action ou gardez le ballon, donc des décisions. Mais quand vous voyez partout, il a un énorme talent et il est courageux.”

Avec trois matchs de la saison restants et le football de la Ligue des champions à la portée de Manchester United, Garnacho n’a pas de meilleure opportunité d’intensifier et de montrer qu’il est prêt à avoir un impact dès le départ.

Alejandro Garnacho est félicité par le patron de Manchester United, Erik ten Hag
Alejandro Garnacho est félicité par le patron de Manchester United, Erik ten Hag

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Euro 2024: Why Kobbie Mainoo has ‘wow factor’ and could be one of greats – Rio Ferdinand

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It took Gareth a little while to realise Kobbie is the right man to partner Declan Rice in England’s midfield.

First he tried Trent Alexander-Arnold at these Euros, then it was Conor Gallagher. But Gareth knows now, and so does everyone else. You cannot leave Kobbie out.

I said that straight away after I watched us beat Slovakia in the last 16, which was the first competitive international Kobbie had started.

I thought there was no way Gareth could have watched that game and thought ‘oh, we still need to experiment in midfield’. The kid showed he is the real deal, so that’s it. He has to play.

Kobbie’s age and lack of experience is almost irrelevant. He already plays way beyond his years. He knows he belongs at this level and it is like nothing fazes him at all.

On Sunday, he is going to be playing in a European Championship final as a teenager but there is no way the size of the occasion is going to intimidate him.

We saw that at the FA Cup final, not just with his man-of-the-match performance but also his celebration, or lack of it, after helping Manchester United beat Manchester City at Wembley. A lot of other players his age would be a bit over-exuberant maybe, but he is just so level-headed and calm.

Part of that is down to his background. I spent a bit of time with his family earlier in the tournament, and after the semi-final win over the Netherlands too.

They were enjoying themselves and having a good time, soaking it all up the same way I expect Kobbie is, but without going crazy or getting carried away. They are all really lovely, balanced, grounded, well-rounded people, which is why he is the same and appears to be unaffected by fame.

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Watch: Emslie bundles Scotland ahead in Slovakia

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Slovakia 0-1 Scotland

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Downpour forces players off in Slovakia

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Rain stops play

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Marcelo Bielsa criticises Colombia fans, organisers and media in Copa America rant

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Uruguay manager Marcelo Bielsa says his players deserve an apology from Colombia fans for the brawl that broke out following his side’s Copa America semi-final defeat on Wednesday.

Disorder broke out between a number of Uruguay players – led by Liverpool forward Darwin Nunez – and a set of Colombia fans in the stands at the Bank of America Stadium in North Carolina.

The Colombia fans were seated in an area where many family members of the Uruguay squad were also sitting.

Conmebol. South American football’s governing body, has opened an investigation into the incident, with suggestions that some Uruguay players could face bans for their actions.

“How can you not defend your mother, your sister, a baby?” Bielsa said in a press conference before his side’s third-place play-off against Canada.

“If they did not do it, they would have been condemned by all of us.”

Asked if he feared sanctions for his team, Bielsa said: “The sanction does not have to be for the footballers, but for those who forced them to act like this.

“This is a witch hunt. It is a shame.”

More than 70,000 fans were in attendance in Charlotte, with estimates suggesting more than 90% of the crowd was there in support of Colombia.

More than a dozen Uruguay players climbed into the crowd during the melee, which lasted more than five minutes.

The Copa America is being held in the United States for the second time, as the country prepares to co-host the 2026 World Cup, but Bielsa says not enough has been done to protect his players.

“We are in the United States, the country of security,” he said.

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England 2-1 Republic of Ireland: Russell goal ‘huge’ for Irish – Gleeson

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Courtesy of being in League A, the Irish are guaranteed a play-off in their bid to reach the Euro 2025 finals in Switzerland next summer.

Russell’s goal helps the Republic’s goal difference as they look to improve their seeding ahead of the play-off draw on 19 July.

But the Irish made a bad start in Norwich as Arsenal forward Russo opened the scoring within five minutes.

Stanway converted a penalty in the 57th minute after Niamh Fahey brought Lauren Hemp down in the area.

“Obviously we conceded an early goal which is what we didn’t want to do,” Gleeson added.

“We had a bit of a shaky start but we settled.

“In the first half we weren’t really offering a lot up top. We got into good positions two or three times in the first half but the final quality wasn’t good enough.”

Gleeson introduced Russell and Liverpool forward Leanne Kiernan for fresh legs, and she said that had a “huge impact” on the game.

Russell got on the end of a flick-on by Caitlin Hayes to volley home as the Irish pressed for a consolation.

“They were energetic and they hassled,” Gleeson added.

“They were really positive changes, and I thought Aoife Mannion was solid and Megan Campbell came on. Yeah, the throw helps but they were great. It was really commendable from the girls.”

The Republic round out their qualifying campaign at home to France, who have already qualified, on Tuesday in Cork.

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Football gossip: Calvert-Lewin, Lukaku, Balotelli, Williams, Calafiori

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Newcastle still want Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Napoli remain interested in Romelu Lukaku, free agent Mario Balotelli in talks with Corinthians.

Newcastle are prepared to launch another attempt to sign 27-year-old English forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin after initial talks with Everton broke down. (Football Insider), external

Napoli remain interested in signing Chelsea‘s 31-year-old Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku. (Sky Sports), external

Former Italy, Manchester City and Liverpool forward Mario Balotelli, 33, is in talks to join Corinthians as a free agent, says a youth director at the Brazilian club. (ESPN), external

Barcelona are close to being in a financial position that would allow them to target Athletic Bilbao‘s 22-year-old Spain winger Nico Williams, according to La Liga boss Javier Tebas. (Sport – in Spanish), external

Arsenal are close to agreeing a deal for 22-year-old Italy and Bologna defender Riccardo Calafiori. (Football Insider), external

Chelsea‘s Spanish goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, 29, is in talks with Al-Ittihad over a move to Saudi Arabia. (Athletic – subscription required), external

Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Laurent Blanc is set to be named Al-Ittihad manager until June 2026. (Fabrizio Romano), external

Tottenham and Republic of Ireland striker Troy Parrott, 22, is set to have a medical before his move to AZ Alkmaar. (Football Insider), external

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England Women: Alessia Russo and Sarina Wiegman want more from Lionesses after beating Republic of Ireland

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Russo scored England’s opening goal after five minutes, rounding goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan and slotting into an empty net after a smart first-time pass from Beth Mead.

Georgia Stanway made it 2-0 from the penalty spot in the second half, before Julie Russell grabbed a goal late on for the Republic of Ireland.

Jess Carter, Lauren Hemp and Mead were all denied by Brosnan early on and several players opted not to shoot in strong positions.

“We have been training on that a lot,” said Wiegman, when asked why her players appeared hesitant to shoot, particularly in the first half.

“Sometimes when you work on things you might exaggerate the other way on the other options you have. We did say at half-time: ‘If you have the opportunity to shoot, please shoot!’

“The team are really working hard on it, but you still want to make the right decisions.”

Wiegman added: “We dominated the game. We became a little bit more sloppy [after the first goal].”

England sit second in their group after leaders France beat Sweden 2-1 in Friday’s other match, while the Republic of Ireland are bottom.

The top two teams in each League A group qualify automatically for Euro 2025. The other two sides drop into the play-offs.

Wiegman’s side will guarantee their spot at the finals in Switzerland if they avoid defeat by Sweden in Gothenburg.

“Of course playing against Sweden – whether it’s a friendly or not – is a big game. This is fighting for a spot in the Euros,” added Wiegman.

“If you don’t get a result, you’re in the play-offs, which they don’t want and we don’t want. We need to be at the top level and so do they.”

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Euro 2025: France, Iceland and Denmark secure qualification

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Denmark, meanwhile, took an impressive 3-0 win away to Belgium, meaning they will progress from Group A2 alongside Spain.

A Janice Cayman own goal after an hour was followed by strikes from Pernille Harder and Sara Holmgaard.

Meanwhile Group A1 is wide open, with all four sides still able to qualify automatically from the pool.

Just three points separate the teams, with the Netherlands on eight, ahead of Norway and Italy with six, while Finland have five.

Finland kept alive their hopes with Emma Koivisto’s 98th-minute equaliser to draw 1-1 with Norway, while Italy held the Dutch to a 0-0 draw in Sittard.

The top two finishers in each League A group qualify automatically, while the bottom two go into the play-offs against sides from Leagues B and C.

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Watch: Crazy deflection extends Scotland lead

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Slovakia 0-2 Scotland

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Watch: Highlights as Scotland beat Slovakia 2-0

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Highlights: Slovakia 0-2 Scotland

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