Latest domestic and international news


Greek Under-21 international Giannis Gianniotas has joined second-tier German side Fortuna Düsseldorf from Aris Thessaloniki FC for a reported transfer fee of €450,000. The 20-year-old winger, who can play on both flanks, has signed a three-year deal with the 2. Bundesliga outfit. "Fortuna's officials made a big effort to sign me," said Gianniotas, currently on FIFA U-20 World Cup duty in Turkey. "They're a great club with a beautiful stadium. I've always wanted to play football in Germany. I hope I can help my new team return to the Bundesliga."



After a disappointing season, 2011/12 Romanian champions CFR 1907 Cluj have rebuilt, starting with the appointment of coach Mircea Rednic, who led R. Standard de Liège into next season's UEFA Europa League. Rednic has signed a one-year contract and is followed by forward Florin Costea from relegated CS Severin, while nine players have left: Nuno Claro, Nuno Diogo, Nicolas Godemeche, Cristian Panin, Weldon, Dominique Kivuvu, Sasa Bjelanovic, Pedro Celestino and Nwa Obiora.

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Belgian champions RSC Anderlecht have signed Spanish Under-19 international Fede Vico from Córdoba CF. Midfielder Vico, 18, arrives at the Brussels club from Spain's second tier on a five-year contract. Described as quick, powerful and technically adept, Vico said he was looking forward to lining up alongside "top players like Matías Suárez, Dennis Praet and Massimo Bruno", adding that joining Anderlecht was "the right move".

Norway 2-0 Macedonia
A Norway team containing several second-string players made light work of their opponents at Ullevaal. Per Ciljan Skjelbred marked his first game for the national team in three years with the opening goal, heading in a Tarik Elyounoussi cross. Macedonia's task became a mountainous one when Boban Grncharov was sent off and their fate was sealed courtesy of Daniel Braaten's 78th-minute finish.

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Estonia 1-1 Kyrgyzstan
Playing their third friendly in eight days, home coach Tarmo Rüütli took the opportunity to blood several younger players. Estonia nonetheless started with intent but failed to make the most of their first-half dominance. Estonia continued to probe and ended Kyrgyzstan's resolve when Sander Puri (pictured) punished a mistake by the goalkeeper on the stroke of half-time. The visitors emerged re-energised after the restart and Vadim Kharchenko resorted parity with a tidy finish when one-on-one with Artur Kotenko.

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Estonia 1-0 Trinidad and Tobago
Henri Anier got the only goal of the game as Estonia defeated Trinidad and Tobago in a friendly. Having lost their most recent friendly at home to Belarus, Tarmo Rüütli's men were keen to make amends, and a lively start saw them go ahead after 13 minutes. Tarmo Kink's cross from the right allowed Sergei Zenjov to cut back for Anier who made no mistake with a fierce shot to register his third international goal in seven matches.

Zenjov and Aleksandr Dmitrijev squandered further chances for Estonia, while Trinidad and Tobago had the upper hand early in the second half when Jamal Gay and Ataullah Guerra troubled Sergei Pareiko, but the hosts earned the win.

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Hungary 1-0 Kuwait
Vilmos Vanczák scored the only goal of the friendly in Gyor as Hungary ended the season on a high.

The experienced right-back broke the deadlock in the 57th minute, rising unchallenged to head home a corner on the right from captain on the night Balázs Dzsudzsák. Sándor Egervári’s side had laboured up until that point against their well-organised visitors, Vanczák and Ádám Gyurcsó coming closest to scoring in a goalless first half but thwarted by goalkeeper Kahled Al-Rashidi.

Hungary could have added to their tally late on, twice hitting the post through Dzsudzsák and Tamás Priskin, and debutant Gergő Lovrencsics also forcing an acrobatic save from Al-Rashidi. Goran Tufegdžić’s side rarely threatened Ádám Bodgán’s goal, but in the end Hungary had to settle for Vanczák’s solitary effort.

Next up, Hungary play the Czech Republic in a friendly in August before facing Romania in Bucharest on 6 September in their next qualifier.

Denmark 2-1 Georgia
Goals from Nicklas Pedersen and Christian Eriksen ensured a home friendly win after Irakl Dzaria had given Georgia the lead in Aalborg on Denmark's Constitution Day.

After a first half with few opportunities, Dzaria benefitted from a cross from Mamuka Kobakhidze on the right to make it 1-0 for the visitors six minutes into the second half. The lead lasted until the 77th minute, when substitute Pedersen intercepted a pass from Georgia goalkeeper Giorgi Loria and shot into the empty net from 35 metres out. With two minutes left Eriksen's superb free-kick found the top corner to complete the comeback.

Denmark will hope to build on this win when they resume FIFA World Cup qualifying on Tuesday against Armenia in Copenhagen, aiming to improve on their current fourth position in Group B. Georgia's next qualifier is at home to France on 6 September as they attempt to close the six-point gap to Les Bleus in Group I second place.

Bundesliga side 1. FC Nürnberg have signed Poland striker Mariusz Stępiński from RTS Widzew Łódź. The 18-year old's previous contract had run out but Nürnberg still had to pay a training compensation fee for the the player who will sign a deal until summer 2016. Following Martin Angha (Arsenal FC), Daniel Ginczek and Nick Weber (both Borussia Dortmund) he is Nürnberg's fourth signing this summer

"F or a long time we have followed Mariusz Stępiński's development," said sporting director Martin Bader. "He is a versatile attacker and adds options to our attack. He is a young and very promising player, one of Poland's big attacking hopes and who has already proven his qualities by winning his first-tier and senior international team debut aged 17.

Mariusz Stępiński himself added: "I am looking forward to playing for 1. FC Nürnberg next season. The Bundesliga is a big challenge for me. In the past, many young players broke through at Nürnberg. I want to continue that tradition."



Ciprian Marica hit a hat-trick as Romania swept aside Trinidad and Tobago 4-0 in the first meeting of the nations. The FC Schalke 04 forward opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark and struck again minutes later. An own goal by Daneil Cyrus added to the visitors woes and their misery was complete when Marica added the final flourish nine minutes from time.

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FK Partizan defender Ivan Ivanov's header secured Bulgaria a 2-1 friendly victory in Almaty against Kazakhstan. Second in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying Group B behind Italy, the visitors went ahead ten minutes into the second half when Georgi Iliev struck with a spectacular free-kick. Three minutes later Ivanov rose highest to thump his effort into the net, past a helpless Aleksandr Mokin. The hosts upped the tempo in their bid to get back into the game and eventually got a consolation in the 90th minute through Dmitri Shomko.

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OGC Nice midfielder Kevin Anin has been seriously injured in a road accident. The 26-year-old reportedly sustained arm and spinal injures and has been placed in an artificial coma. "In the light of the information currently in our possession, the situation seems quite serious. We are worried," said Nice chief executive Julien Fournier. "I am in touch with the family of Kevin and I await the medical verdict."

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Alexander Kacaniklic's 38th-minute header steered Sweden to a 1-0 victory against the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Fulham FC schemer profited from some fine work from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose delicious cross allowed him to score the game's only goal. Kacaniklic almost set the seal on a fine individual performance when his shot bounced back off the crossbar.

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It was a memorable night for 34-year-old Kristen Viikmäe who made his 115th and final international appearance for Estonia in a friendly against Belarus. The veteran forward played the first 42 minutes and missed a glorious opportunity before he was replaced by Rimo Hunt.

The visitors had succumbed to defeat in four of their previous five meetings with Estonia but soon made light of such facts when Anton Putilo turned in Maksim Skavysh's centre. Estonia's Taavi Rähn was shown a red card just after the hour mark and Vitali Rodionov's calm finish ten minutes from time ensured Viikmäe bowed out on the losing team.

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FC Rostov and FC Krylya Sovetov Samara will continue in the Russian Premier League again next season, after both came through play-offs with second tier opposition to hold on to their top-flight status.

Rostov earned a 7-2 aggregate victory against SKA-Energiya Khabarovsk, with Benoît Angbwa and Igor Portnyagin both scoring twice in the second leg, while Krylya Sovetov won both home and away against FC Spartak Nalchik. The results mean just two sides from the second tier will come up into the top division next season, with FC Ural and FC Tom Tomsk replacing FC Mordovia Saransk and FC Alania Vladikavkaz.

Israel 2-0 Honduras
Hen Ezra and Shimon Abuhazira gave Israel victory in a friendly in New York. Ezra came off the bench in the second half to open his international account from 25 metres out and Abuhazira also claimed his first goal for Israel 15 minutes before the final whistle thanks to a fine pass from Elyaniv Barda.

A goalless draw proved a fair result between Ukraine and Cameroon in Kyiv as the hosts warmed up for Friday's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier away against Montenegro. Forced to rest a number of key players ahead of that game, Ukraine failed to win for the first time under coach Mikhail Fomenko (pictured), who took over in December. Cameroon's Vincent Aboubakar had the best chance of the first half but was unable to register from close range, while Roman Zozulya spurned two good opportunities in the final ten minutes.


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Two goals from Robbie Keane helped the Republic of Ireland defeat Georgia 4-0 in a friendly ahead of their FIFA World Cup qualifying match against the Faroe Islands on Friday. Moving joint level with Shay Given as Ireland's most capped player on 125 appearances, Keane struck a pair of late goals after earlier efforts from Richard Keogh and Simon Cox, goalkeeper Giorgi Loria having been sent off for Georgia on just 20 minutes. Before the match, the two sides commemorated former Ireland captain Tony Grealish, who died in April.


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Russia will be without Oleg Shatov (pictured) for Friday's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Portugal as the FC Anji Makhachkala midfielder is making an early trip to join up with the Under-21 squad currently preparing for the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Israel. Originally selected by Nikolai Pisarev for U21 duty this summer, Shatov was meant to travel to Israel after helping the senior side tackle Portugal, but he will now be available for Russia's Group B opener against Spain on Wednesday.


Meanwhile, FC Spartak Moskva defender Evgeni Makeev and FC Lokomotiv Moskva goalkeeper Miroslav Lobantsev have also been withdrawn from the squad to face Portugal. Both had been called up for the first time to give coach Fabio Capello a closer look at their attributes. Russia currently sit top of World Cup qualifying Group F on 12 points, one more than Portugal but having played two games fewer.


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The Czech Republic have gathered for their training camp in Prague ahead of the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Italy on Friday 7. The squad is now complete, with the bulk of the players joining those, such as Libor Kozák or Petr Jiráček, who arrived on Monday for a pre-camp.

"Tomáš Pekhart and Michal Kadlec have some minor health problems, they will train individually today, but all the other players are fit," said coach Michal Bílek. "We also expect all the FC Viktoria Plzeň players, who became champions yesterday, to join the team in the afternoon and start training."

Long heavy rain spells in the Czech capital caused flooding in some parts of the city on Sunday, but the team have not been impacted. "We have three training sessions planned where we will have perfect conditions, though we all hope the weather will be better soon," Bílek added.



Italy prepared for next week's FIFA World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic by beating neighbours San Marino 4-0 in a friendly in Bologna. Midfielder Andrea Poli scored his first international goal after 28 minutes and Bologna FC striker Alberto Gilardino added the second (34) after reacting quickest when San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini could only parry a shot by Alberto Aquilani

Five minutes after the break Andrea Pirlo scored the third with a wonderful free-kick and Aquilani (79) added the fourth when Simoncini parried another set-piece effort by Pirlo. Mario Balotelli went close to adding further gloss but his late header cannoned back off the bar. "The players are eager to show what they can do," said Italy coach Cesare Prandelli. "This is the right spirit to have when playing with the national team."

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The Bulgarian Football Union has approved a new league format for the 2013/14 season. The league, which will now consist of 14 teams, will have a regular season with 26 matchdays. The teams will then be split into two groups in which the clubs will meet each other twice. The change will mean an early start to the season of 20 July. The number of top-flight clubs will be reduced for the following season after it was confirmed four teams would be relegated and just two promoted in 2014.

Meanwhile, UEFA Europa League hopefuls PFC Levski Sofia have appointed Nikolay Mitov on a full-time basis. The 40-year-old was named interim coach in April after the departure of Ilian Iliev and guided the team to the Bulgarian Cup final, which they lost on penalties to PFC Beroe Stara Zagora. Mitov, whose side lost the league title to PFC Ludogorets Razgrad on the final day of the season, has signed a one-year deal with the option for a further two seasons.

FC Barcelona goalkeeper Víctor Valdés will not be renewing his contract at the club once his deal expires next summer. The 31-year-old – who won six Liga crowns and three UEFA Champions Leagues among other titles during an illustrious, lifelong career with the Blaugrana – announced his decision at a press conference on Friday. "I have spent 20 years here, 12 of which have been with the first team," the Spanish international said. "I have been lucky enough to have shared a dressing room with some of the best players in the world while winning titles that you only dream about as a child. [However,] I feel that my time here will end [with] my current contract in 2014."

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Fernando Santos's 21-man squad for Greece's FIFA World Cup qualifier in Lithuania next Friday is notable for the absence of centre-backs Avraam Papadopoulos, Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Stelios Malezas. Borussia Dortmund's new signing, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, and Olympiacos FC's Kostas Manolas are the only recognised central defenders in the group, though Kostas Katsouranis and Loukas Vyntra can play there if needed.

The 3-1 away defeat by Bosnia and Herzegovina in March has left Greece trailing in Group G and Santos was blunt in his assessment of his side's situation when announcing his selection. "We need to win in Vilnius," he said. "We need to prove on the pitch that we are better than our rivals. We can't afford any excuses from now on, either about the plastic pitch or about the fact that some players are still engaged in the Super League play-offs."

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Japan 0-2 Bulgaria
Bulgaria continued their good form under Luboslav Penev with a friendly win in Toyota. Just three minutes in midfielder Stanislav Manolev took a free-kick from the left that deceived goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and went into the net. Seven minutes before the break Bulgaria lost central defender Iliya Milanov through injury and Alexander Dragomirov Alexandrov made his international debut.

In the second half Japan did their best to turn the game, but Bulgaria defence showed resilience and with 19 minutes to go home captain Makoto Hasebe turned Hristo Zlatinski's free-kick into his own net. Bulgaria next face Kazakhstan on Tuesday.

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Croatian champions for the eighth successive season, GNK Dinamo Zagreb have signed goalkeeper Pablo Migliore on a three-year deal from CA San Lorenzo de Almagro in his native Argentina. The 31-year-old is likely to replace Ivan Kelava, who is expected to join Granada CF. "I talked to [compatriot] Luis Ibáñez and he told me that I can come without any fear as this is a great club," said Migliore. Nicknamed 'El Loco' (crazy), Migliore will wear the No22 shirt.



Belgium ran out 4-2 winners in their friendly against the United States. Marc Wilmots's side were on the front foot from the start and forged ahead on six minutes when Everton FC foward Kevin Mirallas chipped into an empty net after club colleague Tim Howard failed to gather at the feet of Romelu Lukaku.

Geoff Cameron's 23rd-minute equaliser for the hosts came against the run of play but Belgium reestablished their lead on the hour through Christian Benteke. Marouane Fellaini made it 3-1 five minutes later before Benteke grabbed his second and Belgium's fourth. There was still time for Clint Dempsey to reduce the deficit but Belgium saw out the remaining minutes to clinch victory.

"4-2 is a good result, especially away from home," said Belgium coach Wilmots. "It is important that we played a good match and got into the rhythm. This is the match we needed before Serbia [their next FIFA World Cup qualifying opponent on 7 June]."

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When Germany play Ecuador in Miami on Wednesday, it will be a depleted side with many players who recently played the UEFA Champions League final not available, as well as both of their Real Madrid CF players, while Miroslav Klose and Sven Bender will only take part in Sunday's match against the United States in Washington DC.

However, Joachim Löw has brought along four uncapped players in central defender Philipp Wollscheid, midfielder Sidney Sam (both Bayer 04 Leverkusen), attacking winger Nicolai Müller (1. FSV Mainz 05) and striker Max Kruse (SC Freiburg) and has found words of praise for them: "The new guys have left a very, very good impression. Wollscheid's heading is great, Müller is being drawn towards goal. Kruse is a very clever player and Sam very strong when dribbling."

Prospects seem especially good for Kruse, 25, who will join VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach this summer and for whom Löw had special praise: "I am very fond of Kruse. Because he is a clever, nifty player who is always asking for the ball, running very well and is very good when it comes to finishing."

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Turkey 3-3 Latvia
Two goals from 18-year-old Latvia striker Valērijs Šabala denied Turkey revenge for their memorable defeat in the UEFA EURO 2004 play-offs in this international friendly in Duisburg.

Abdullah Avcı's side was clearly better in the first half and took a quick lead through Olcay Şahan, who headed in after eight minutes. Selçuk İnan doubled the lead from the spot to make it 2-0 at the break.

A deflection allowed Veysel Sarı to restore a two-oal lead after Edgars Gauračs's strike, but Latvia coach Aleksandrs Starkovs had Šabala to count on. The Skonto FC youngster scored his first goal for Latvia midway through the second half and then secured a draw with a header six minutes from time.

Lithuania will be missing at least one key player in each position for their upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying home game against Greece. Goalkeepers Žydrūnas Karčemarskas and Giedrius Arlauskis are injured, defender Marius Žaliūkas is not yet fit after missing few months with an ankle problem, while midfielder Deividas Šemberas and striker Darvydas Šernas are suspended

"It's not easy having two main goalkeepers injured, but on the other hand, Emilijus Zubas is in great form in the Polish league and already has international experience at Under-21 level," said coach Csaba László. "It’s a pity we are missing players like Žaliūkas and Šemberas at the back, but this is also a chance for others. I hope Marius Stankevičius will be ready to play." Stankevičius returns after recovering from a long-term injury, while Kazahstan-based Arūnas Klimavičius is back from suspension.

Lithuania squad:
Goalkeepers: Emilijus Zubas (GKS Bełchatów), Armantas Vitkauskas (VMFD Žalgiris), Paulius Grybauskas (Skonto FC).

Defenders: Marius Stankevičius (S.S. Lazio), Arūnas Klimavičius (FC Zhetysu Taldykorgan), Tadas Kijanskas (Korona Kielce), Vytautas Andriuškevičius (Djurgårdens IF),Tomas Mikuckis (SKA-Energia Khabarovsk), Arūnas Klimavičius (Zhetysu), Valdemar Borovskij (FK Daugava Rīga), Saulius Mikoliūnas (PFC Sevastopol), Mantas Fridrikas (FC Šiauliai).

Midfielders: Edgaras Česnauskis (FC Rostov), Deividas Česnauskis (Baki FK), Mindaugas Panka (Ruch Chorzów), Arvydas Novikovas (Heart of Midlothian FC), Kęstutis Ivaškevičius (Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv FC), Vytautas Lukša (KSP Polonia Warszawa), Mindaugas Kalonas (Ravan Baku FC), Fedor Chernych (FC Dnepr Mogilev), Andrius Bartkus (FK Atlantas), Artūras Žulpa (VMFD Žalgiris).

Forwards: Deivydas Matulevičius (CS Pandurii Târgu Jiu), Evaldas Razulis (FK Atlantas), Tadas Eliošius (FK Atlantas).

Kolo Touré is to join Liverpool FC after the expiry of his Manchester City FC contract at the end of next month. The 32-year-old moved to City from Arsenal FC in 2009 and helped them win the 2011/12 title but this season appeared only 13 times. His signing follows the retirement of Liverpool central defender Jamie Carragher.

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Crystal Palace FC won today's Championship promotion play-off against Watford FC to clinch the remaining available place in England's Premier League next season. The south London club, who were last in the top flight in 2004/05, booked their return thanks to substitute Kevin Phillips's penalty 15 minutes into extra time. The 39-year-old's spot kick was the solitary goal of a Wembley final in which Ian Holloway's Crystal Palace had the better chances, save for a Watford siege in the closing moments. Cardiff City FC and Hull City AFC had been promoted automatically as the division's first and second-ranked teams.

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Portugal coach Paulo Bento has given midfielder André Martins his first ever call in the squad to face Russia in FIFA World Cup qualifying and a friendly against Croatia. Back in the squad is defender Ricardo Costa, midfielders Ruben Amorim and Ruben Micael and attackers Nani and Nélson Oliveira.

Bento's side are third in Group F and need victory in Lisbon against leaders Russia on 7 June, before a trip to Geneva to face Croatia three days later. The Spain-based players - Beto, João Pereira, Fábio Coentrão, Ricardo Costa, Sílvio, Sereno, Cristiano Ronaldo, Hélder Postiga and Nélson Oliveira - do not link up with the team until next Monday.

"There is no more room for errors," Bento said. "We made some during this qualification and this game is extremely important. We play under pressure but our players are used to it and we will respond well and fight for our goal, which is qualify for the World Cup."

Portugal squad
Goalkeepers: Rui Patrício (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Beto (Sevilla FC), Eduardo (Istanbul BB)

Defenders: Bruno Alves (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid CF), Sereno (Real Valladolid CF), João Pereira (Valencia CF), Neto (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Ricardo Costa (Valencia CF), Sílvio (RC Deportivo La Coruña).

Midfielders: André Martins (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Custódio (SC Braga), João Moutinho (AS Monaco FC), Miguel Veloso (FC Dynamo Kyiv), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahçe SK), Ruben Amorim (SC Braga), Ruben Micael (SC Braga), Vieirinha (VfL Wolfsburg).

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF), Danny (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Hélder Postiga (Real Zaragoza), Nani (Manchester United FC), Nélson Oliveira (RC Deportivo La Coruña), Silvestre Varela (FC Porto).

Coach Norbert Meier has left Fortuna Düsseldorf after their relegation from the Bundesliga. A statement on the official club website read: "After a number of days of contemplation and personal discussions with the 54-year-old coach, the pair have decided to mutually end their work together."

Meier had been in charge of Fortuna since January 2008, taking over as Fortuna arrived in the third division. In just four years he took the club to the Bundesliga. Chairman Wolf Werner thanked Meier for his services: “With Norbert Meier we found someone who successfully led us from the third division to the Bundesliga. The club’s sporting rise to recognition will forever be linked with his name.”

Fortuna were 13th at the winter break, 12 points above the drop zone, but only secured nine more points all season, sealing their, and Meier's, fate.

Kris Commons has announced his retirement from international football having won 12 caps for Scotland. The Celtic FC midfielder said: "I have enjoyed my time immensely with the Scotland team and it was a very proud moment every time I pulled on the Scotland shirt. I will always, of course, be a Scotland supporter. At this stage of my career I just want to give Celtic my 100% commitment and ensure I can prolong my club career as long as possible." Commons has been involved in two of Scotland's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

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Romania captain Răzvan Raţ, who has spent the past decade at FC Shakhtar Donetsk, will join West Ham United FC on a free transfer on 1 July. Raţ, a UEFA Cup winner with Shakhtar in 2009, helped the Ukrainian side to this season's UEFA Champions League last 16 and to another domestic title. The 31-year-old has 87 caps for his country. "I'm hugely happy that we've got a player of his experience and his character," said West Ham manager Sam Allardyce. "We certainly know he's got the ability and he's at an age where he's still capable of producing." Raţ has signed an initial one-year deal.

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FK Crvena zvezda defender Marko Vešović, 21, has received his first senior call-up for Montenegro's FIFA World Cup qualifier against Ukraine on 7 June, though several regulars are missing. Miodrag Džudović and Mitar Novaković are suspended, Nikola Drinčić is injured, while Simon Vukčević, Milan Jovanović and goalkeeper Vukašin Poleksić are short of competitive matches.

Montenegro lead Group H with 14 points from six games, two ahead of second-placed England. Ukraine are on eight points, but one game in hand. "This is very important match, for us and Ukraine," said coach Branko Brnović. "If we get three points we will be very close to securing a top-two place and be favourites for automatic qualification; Ukraine will be back in contention if they win in Podgorica."

The fixture will be Montenegro's 50th since independence from Serbia, and Brnović is eyeing another landmark. "We beat Ukraine [1-0] in Kyiv, but they are very dangerous on their travels. I hope we can find a way to stop them and make a big step towards fulfilling our dream of playing in a World Cup."

Mladen Božović (Videoton FC), Srđan Blažić (Nea Salamis Famagusta FC).

Savo Pavićević (Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC), Vladimir Božović (FC Mordovia Saransk), Marko Baša (LOSC Lille), Stefan Savić (ACF Fiorentina), Ivan Kecojević (Gaziantepspor), Blažo Igumanović (FK Rudar Pljevlja), Marko Vešović (FK Crvena zvezda).

Vladimir Volkov (FK Partizan), Branko Bošković (SK Rapid Wien), Elsad Zverotić (BSC Young Boys), Milorad Peković (FC Hansa Rostock), Nemanja Nikolić (OFK Beograd), Miloš Krkotić (FC Dacia Chisinau), Marko Bakić (Torino FC).

Stevan Jovetić (ACF Fiorentina), Mirko Vučinić (Juventus), Fatos Bećiraj (GNK Dinamo Zagreb), Andrija Delibašić (Rayo Vallecano de Madrid), Filip Kasalica (FK Crvena zvezda), Dejan Damjanović (FC Seoul).



Norwich City FC midfielder Anthony Pilkington is in line to make his senior debut for the Republic of Ireland after being named in the squad for Giovanni Trapattoni's side's four upcoming fixtures. Ireland face England in a friendly at Wembley on 29 May, before taking on Georgia four days later. They then host the Faroe Islands in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying Group C on 7 June, before finally taking on Spain in New York. Trapattoni, 74, has named a 28-man squad, though there is no place for Wolverhampton Wanderers FC trio Kevin Doyle, Stephen Ward and Stephen Hunt.

David Forde (Millwall FC), Keiren Westwood (Sunderland AFC), Darren Randolph (Motherwell FC).

John O'Shea (Sunderland AFC), Sean St Ledger (Leicester City FC), Damien Delaney (Crystal Palace FC), Richard Keogh (Derby County FC), Marc Wilson (Stoke City FC), Seamus Coleman (Everton FC), Stephen Kelly (Reading FC), Darren O'Dea (Toronto FC), Paul McShane (Hull City AFC).

Glenn Whelan (Stoke City FC), James McCarthy (Wigan Athletic FC), Paul Green (Leeds United FC), Jeff Hendrick (Derby County FC), Aiden McGeady (FC Spartak Moskva), Anthony Pilkington (Norwich City FC), James McClean (Sunderland AFC), Robbie Brady (Hull City FC), David Meyler (Hull City AFC).

Andy Keogh (Millwall FC), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Shane Long (West Bromwich Albion FC), Conor Sammon (Derby County FC), Jonathan Walters (Stoke City FC), Simon Cox (Nottingham Forest FC), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City FC).

Tonight's French Cup semi-final between ES Troyes AC and FC Girondins de Bordeaux has to be postponed because of a waterlogged pitch at Stade de l’Aube. The match will now be played on Tuesday 14 May at 20.55 CET, as confirmed by the French Football Federation (FFF). Évian Thonon Gaillard FC play host to FC Lorient tomorrow night in the other semi-final.

HNK Hajduk Split and NK Lokomotiva will play in the Croatian Cup final on 8 and 22 May after completing last-four victories. Already 2-1 going into their home leg against NK Slaven Koprivnica, Hajduk came from behind to draw 1-1 on the night to reach their tenth cup final, in pursuit of a sixth trophy. Zagreb's Lokomotiva, by contrast, are in their first final after overcoming HNK Cibalia 3-0 to complete a 4-1 aggregate triumph.

Blagoja Milevski has been reappointed as coach of FK Vardar just three months after being replaced by Nikola Ilievski, who stepped down on Sunday. Vardar are third in the Macedonian First League, a point adrift of FK Turnovo and FK Metalurg Skopje. "Unlike the previous occasion when I took over as Vardar coach, when we were on equal terms with our main rivals for the title, this time we are behind," said Milevski. "Nevertheless, we still have the same players that last year won the title and this winter were top of the table. It's certain that over these past couple of months they haven't forgotten how to play and therefore I hope that we can very quickly return to winning ways."

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With France's interest in European competition ended, the country's attention turns to the Coupe de France quarter-finals which kick-off on Tuesday, with Ligue 1 bottom side ES Troyes AC hosting AS Nancy-Lorraine, and AS Saint-Étienne entertaining FC Lorient. The remaining half of the programme takes place the day after, with FC Girondins de Bordeaux travelling to the last remaining Ligue 2 side, RC Lens, while Paris Saint-Germain FC will be hoping to keep their dreams of a domestic double alive at Évian Thonon Gaillard FC.

That is not the only cup action in France this week, as on Saturday a UEFA Europa League berth is up for grabs as Stade Rennais FC take on St-Étienne in the French League Cup final. Rennes coach Frédéric Antonetti declares the competition "holds a special spot in [my] heart", with the current tenth-placed team are seeking a first major trophy since 1971. Les Verts themselves are looking to end a 32-year wait for significant silverware and will be full of confidence as they are in the midst of an excellent campaign.

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BSC Young Boys have parted company with coach Martin Rueda (pictured). The 50-year old took over following Christian Gross's departure last summer, but his side have not lived up to expectations: YB are currently sixth and in danger of missing out on their goal of a European place. We have always stressed how much we value Martin Rueda and his work," said club president Werner Müller. "But the lack of success and the position in the table forced us to act." Reserve team boss Joël Magnin will act as caretaker while the club look to bring in a new coach for the last ten games of the season.

Elsewhere in Switzerland, FC Luzern have found a successor for coach Ryszard Komornicki in Carlos Bernegger, who has agreed a contract until summer 2015 at the second-from-bottom club. The 44-year old last coached the reserves at FC Basel 1893. Komornicki was let go on 2 April, having taken 19 points from 19 matches.

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FC Internazionale Milano are likely to be without forward Rodrigo Palacio for around 20 days after the Argentinian international picked up a muscular injury during the 2-0 win at UC Sampdoria on Wednesday. The 31-year-old scored both Inter's goals in the rearranged Serie A game, but then underwent scans which revealed a problem to the back of his left thigh. The prognosis remains unclear, but Palacio should be sidelined for three weeks, further depleting Inter’s attacking options as Diego Milito is already out for season with a knee injury.

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FC Sheriff Tiraspol have sacked coach Mihai Stoichiță after a series of unconvincing results in Moldova league. The vacancy has quickly been filled by Vitali Rashkevich who first took the helm of the first team in 2011-12 and has lately been working with Sheriff's reserve side. The Tiraspol outfit are topping the league table with 12 point cushion from  FC Dacia Chisinau.


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Athletic Club took a big step towards securing their Spanish Liga status on Monday night with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Granada CF. Aritz Aduriz scored the only goal, midway through the second half, to earn the home side - who finished with ten men after Markel Susaeta was dismissed for two yellow cards - a vital win. Athletic now sit 13th, 11 points clear of the drop zone. Granada hover just four points above it.

Real Betis Balompié and Getafe CF remain seventh and eighth respectively after a goalless draw in the day's late kick-off.


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FC Anji Makhachkala full-back Andrei Eschenko will be sidelined for at least six months after suffering a severe knee injury. 

The 29-year-old Russian international, who joined Anji in January, was injured during the first half of the 4-0 league defeat by FC Krasnodar, damaging his meniscus and cruciate ligaments. Anji are currently third in Russian Premier-Liga and bowed out of UEFA Europa League after 1-0 aggregate loss to Newcastle United FC.


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Anorthosis Famagusta FC have parted company with coach Roni Levy after the Cypriot title chasers suffered a 2-0 home defeat by APOEL FC on Sunday to fall six points off the pace. An announcement on the club's website on Monday confirmed the 46-year-old former Maccabi Haifa FC and FC Steaua Bucureşti boss's exit with six games to go in the end-of-season play-offs.

Anorthosis appeared to be on track for their first major trophy since 2008, but since a shock 2-1 reverse at Nea Salamis Famagusta FC on 10 February they have picked up only six points from a possible 18. Levy's charges were also dumped out of the Cypriot Cup after a heavy 6-0 aggregate loss to AC Omonia.

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Vitória SC secured a 2-0 win against second-tier leaders CF Os Belenenses in the first leg of their Portuguese Cup semi-final. Belenenses are 22 points clear at the summit in their ppromotion push but conceded goals to Ricardo on 29 and 76 minutes to leave them with a tough task in their home return in Lisbon on 17 April.

In the same city on the same day, double-chasing SL Benfica will defend a 2-0 lead at home to FC Paços de Ferreira from the first leg on 30 January.




France coach Didier Deschamps said there was no shame in losing to Spain after Les Bleus slipped to a first Group I defeat and surrendered top spot in the section. "We had our chances in that game against the best team in the world and we shouldn’t be ashamed to have lost but things could have panned out differently even," he said. "Even with ten men on the pitch, we kept threatenting an equaliser and were a match for them."

Franck Ribéry was one of France's stand-out performers and could not hide his disappointment after defeat in Paris. "I have many regrets tonight, we just missed that vital goal," he said. "It is a pity because we produced a good game as a team. I had a clear chance in the first half. We tried hard and we'll keep trying to go to qualify for Brazil next year."

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Everything you need to know about Tuesday's FIFA World Cup qualifying games all in one place ...


Despite winning 2-0 in Malta and sitting top of FIFA World Cup qualifying Group B, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli wants more from his players. "We have to react better in these circumstances," said Prandelli after watching Mario Balotelli score both goal in Ta' Qal. "Mario has got to find stability and have the desire to keep scoring goals and never tire out in order to stay on top form."

"Every match is fundamental and we cannot risk losing any points as this would ruin all the hard work we have done so far.  We want to get mathematical qualification as early as possible."

Malta coach Pietro Ghedin spoke of his disappointment after losing back-to-back games against Bulgaria and Italy. "In Bulgaria my team were not balanced and of course the wintry conditions did not help.  Today, we were much more motivated but Italy were still strong enough to see them through."

Ghedin also backed Michael Mifsud to overcome his penalty miss. "When you face a goalkeeper such as [Gianluigi] Buffon in goal the goalposts seem so small," he added. "I thank all my players and the stupendous support today and we will continue to move forward with our work."

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Joachim Löw will be without FC Schalke 04's Benedikt Höwedes and FC Bayern München's Mario Gomez for Germany's FIFA World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan this evening. As a result of their injuries, both players have left the team camp in Herzogenaurach. Höwedes is struggling with a tight muscle, whereas Gomez has picked up a muscle strain. Both were forced out of training on Monday night as a result. After discussions with national team doctors, it was agreed that the pair would receive treatment at their respective clubs.

"I don't think we can ever play any poorer than we did against Bulgaria," said Malta coach Pietro Ghedin, whose team are still reeling from Friday's chastening 6-0 defeat by Bulgaria. Tonight's visit of Group B leaders Italymeans there is no respite for Malta with a record crowd expected inside the Ta’ Qali National Stadium. "We arrive back in Malta with the intention of setting the record straight and improving upon the few things we did well in Sofia," added Pietro.

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Bologna FC have rewarded coach Stefano Pioli for a positive spell since replacing Pierpaolo Bisoli as coach in October 2011, with the 47-year-old signing a two-year extension to his contract, binding him to the cluib until June 2015. The former Parma FC, AC Chievo Verona and US Città di Palermo coach led the Felsinei to ninth place in Serie A last term, and Bologna are currently 12th, nine points clear of the relegation zone.

"I feel happy here - I have never felt like that before, even when I was a player," Pioli said. "I am only thinking about the league. I want the players to do the best they can this season then start working towards the next one."

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Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has called up midfielder Alessandro Florenzi from the country's Under-21 squad ahead of the Azzurri's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Malta on Tuesday. The 22-year-old has been selected as a replacement for AS Roma club-mate Daniele De Rossi, who is suspended, and joins the senior side having featured for the U21s in Friday's 2-0 friendly win against Russia. Italy lead qualifying Group B by one point ahead of Bulgaria, who have played one game more.


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Republic of Ireland captain Robbie Keane has been ruled out of his team's FIFA World Cup qualifier at home against Austria on Tuesday. The Los Angeles Galaxy forward helped Ireland earn a 0-0 draw away to Sweden on Friday, but has been forced to withdraw from the squad due to a calf strain as Giovanni Trapattoni's men look to improve their position in qualifying Group C.


Currently fourth, level on points with Austria, Ireland have called up Wolverhampton Wanderers FC striker Kevin Doyle as Keane's replacement. "The manager has spoken to Kevin, and he will link up with the squad in time for training in Malahide tomorrow morning," read a statement from the Football Association of Ireland (FAI).


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Germany coach Joachim Löw has reacted to a raft of suspensions and injuries in his squad by calling up a pair of replacements for Tuesday's FIFA World Cup qualifier at home against Kazakhstan. With midfielder Julian Draxler the latest player to pull out due to concussion, Marcell Jansen and Patrick Herrmann have been called up for action by the Group C leaders. Hamburger SV defender Jansen (pictured) has been capped 36 times by Germany, while uncapped VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach forward Herrmann – on Under-21 duty against Israel today – will travel to Nuremberg on Monday.


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France midfielder Yohan Cabaye is savouring what will be "an important game" when Spain visit the FIFA World Cup qualifying Group I leaders at the Stade de France on Tuesday. "We know that a draw will be enough for us to stay top, two points clear," said the Newcastle United FC player, an unused substitute as Les Bleus went top by beating Georgia 3-1 on Friday. "They'll be coming here to win. Either way, nothing will be decided, as we'll still have difficult matches to come."


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Germany will be without Mario Gomez for Friday night's FIFA World Cup qualifier in Kazakhstan. The FC Bayern München striker has pulled a muscle in his right thigh and will be on the sidelines for two days. Joachim Löw had already hinted at playing a 4-6-0-formation – with no natural striker – even before the Gomez injury. Mario Götze now looks likely to play furthest forward. Kazakhstan visit Nuremberg on Tuesday.

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Paris Saint-Germain FC defender Mamadou Sakho spoke to media inquisitors about France's upcoming fixtures, Friday's FIFA World Cup qualifier with Georgia and the game with Spain four days later.

We were given a DVD of Georgia's recent meeting with Spain. We know they are a very defensive team and we are not expecting an easy ride. We will have to be patient and remain focused, and even more so against Spain. You can't afford to switch off against some of the best players in the world. Playing for your country is a completely different experience to representing your club. Wearing the blue shirt comes with all sorts of expectations.
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Olympique de Marseille forward Mathieu Valbuena talked about his growing role in France's squad at Clairefontaine today.

I want to score more. I have proved I can play the killer ball, but I want to find the net more often. I would love to score as often as I set them up. Of course it was disappointing not to play a single minute at the EUROs, but I feel I have worked hard since and now the coach trusts me with a more central position. I think I have been doing well there, I have been in the squad for long enough and I feel at ease here. I can make an impact as soon as I am asked to play.


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The Netherlands training on Wednesday morning ...

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Defender Giorgio Chiellini has withdrawn from Italy's squad with an ankle injury suffered in Saturday's 2-0 win at Bologna FC.


"His condition has improved in the past few days, but not enough to make him ready to play against Brazil or Malta," explained Azzurri team doctor Enrico Castellacci. "We opted to release him so he can recover with his club in Turin." Italy face Brazil in a friendly on Thursday before their FIFA World Cup meeting with Malta next Tuesday.

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Blaise Matuidi has been attracting the praise of coaches of club and country as he prepares for France's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Spain. "He is playing at a high standard," said France boss Didier Deschamps. "I am not worried about his ability to perform." Paris Saint-Germain FC trainer Carlo Ancelotti added: "He is one of the best defending midfielder in Europe."

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Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has called Aston Villa FC midfielder Barry Bannan into the squad for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Wales on Friday and Serbia on 26 March. The 23-year-old replaces West Bromwich Albion FC's James Morrison who has withdrawn with a hamstring injury. Strachan's charges currently sit bottom of Group A with two points from their opening four games.

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England international midfielder Frank Lampard is keen for his side to avoid a potential banana skin in FIFA World Cup qualifying Group H against San Marino before their trip to section leaders Montenegro.

"These are the moments when you need a strong squad," said Lampard, who has 94 caps to his name and is still enjoying international football at the age of 34. "We're very fortunate to have young players and it's time for them to step up. San Marino is a game to be professional and disciplined and to go about our job in the right way. We have to respect the smaller countries.

"The games are of huge importance. We're aware how tough Montenegro will be after last year [when they went unbeaten in all four group games]. I just want to earn more caps, it's nice to come away with England. I appreciate it more than ever now."



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With Real Madrid CF goalkeeper Iker Casillas still recovering from a broken thumb, Manchester United FC's David de Gea has been promoted from the Under-21 squad for the FIFA World Cup qualifying Group I fixtures against Finland on Friday and France four days later. De Gea said: "It's a pity that Iker can't be here, he's an idol for everyone; he's our captain."

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Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba, called into France's senior squad for the first time for Tuesday's crucial encounter with Spain, is not worried by comparisons drawn with former Les Bleus captain Patrick Vieira. "It's right that I'm rather tall, as he is," the 20-year-old said. "I also run in the same style he does. He is a role model, his name's a path to follow. But Vieira will stay Vieira. I want to be Pogba. I take Viaira as an example to become Pogba."

"[To be back at Clairefontaine] reminds me of my first caps with the U16 team. A new era begins. I'm satisfied but it's just the beginning."

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England's defensive problems have mounted with Gary Cahill pulling out of the squad to face San Marino on Friday, following from Rio Ferdinand's withdrawal yesterday. A Football Association (FA) statement reads: "Chelsea defender Gary Cahill has been ruled out of England’s World Cup qualifier with San Marino on Friday evening. Cahill was assessed by England medical staff on Monday and will not be able to take part in the match, but will be reassessed later in the week with a view to the qualifier against Montenegro on Tuesday. Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor will join the squad in place of Cahill."

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BREAKING: Michael Owen has announced that he will retire at the end of the season. The former England, Liverpool FC, Real Madrid CF, Newcastle United FC and Manchester United FC striker has been playing at Stoke City FC but has not featured regularly. More to follow on

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Germany Under-21 goalkeeper Kevin Trapp has suffered a broken finger in training for Sunday's friendly in Israel and is expected to be out for several weeks, a blow to Eintracht Frankfurt in their bid for a UEFA Champions League place. Frankfurt coach Armin Veh could now call upon former number one, 38-year-old Oka Nikolov.

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Armenia coach Vardan Minasyan has been shorn of five first-team regulars for their 2014 FIFA World Cup home qualifier against Czech Republic on 26 March. Defender Hrayr Mkoyan and midfielders Artur Edigaryan and Karlen Mkrtchyan are suspended, while injuries have ruled out playmaker Aras Özbiliz and defender Levon Hayrapetyan. FC Gandzasar left-back Artur Avagyan, 25, received his first call-up while 20-year-old FC Sheriff defender Artyom Khachaturov is poised for his first competitive appearance. Armenia have collected three points in as many games in Group B and lie fourth.

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Portugal coach Paulo Bento has called Málaga CF left-back Antunes into the squad for the FIFA World Cup qualifying Group F games against Israel on Friday and Azerbaijan four days later. The 25-year-old, who joined the Spanish side on loan from FC Paços de Ferreira in the winter transfer window, already has three caps to his name and has been rewarded for his impressive form this term. The ex-AS Roma defender was a member of the Málaga side who eliminated FC Porto in the UEFA Champions League round of 16. During that fixture João Moutinho sustained a thigh injury which makes him a doubt for the upcoming fixtures, while Sevilla FC goalkeeper Beto missed training with the flu.

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Due to a hamstring injury sustained this weekend during Newcastle United FC's loss to Wigan Athletic FC, Mathieu Debuchy has withdrawn from the France squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Spain on 22 and 26 March respectively. Olympique de Marseille's Rod Fanni (pictured) has been named as his replacement.


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S.S. Lazio forward Libor Kozák, the current UEFA Europa League top scorer, has been added to the Czech Republic squad to face Denmark and Armenia. He scored his first hat-trick for Lazio against VfB Stuttgart in the round of 16. "He is in a great shape, so I believe that he is going to bring his scoring potential to the national team," Czech coach Michal Bílek said.

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Rio Ferdinand has withdrawn from the England squad to face San Marino and Montenegro. The Manchester United FC defender had received his first call since August 2011 but according to a Football Association (FA) statement a decision to withdraw "was taken following a meeting in London on Sunday evening with Rio Ferdinand and England manager Roy Hodgson".

Hodgson, who has promoted Steven Caulker from the Under-21s, said: "I'm disappointed Rio will not be available, but due to the detailed pre-planned training and medical programme he must follow it's not possible. However, I was pleased that Rio called and asked to meet with me. It was important to hear from him personally about the way he must manage his body between games.

"This is not to say he cannot play back-to-back games - he can and has proven so. He's out this time due to particular pre-planned details already in place for his programme. I must place on record how I was impressed with his commitment to playing for England and I look forward to hopefully selecting him for squads in the future."

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Midfielders Lars Bender, Sven Bender and Toni Kroos have withdrawn from Germany's FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan on 22 and 26 March. Lars Bender is suffering from an infection of his heel, while his twin brother Sven is ill and Kross has a knee problem. No decision has been made about any replacements.

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Cesare Prandelli has confirmed Italy's 27-man squad for Thursday's friendly against Brazil and the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier versus Malta next Tuesday. Torino FC winger Alessio Cerci has earned a maiden call-up, while Genoa CFC left-back Luca Antonelli returns for the first time since 2010. Paris Saint-Germain FC midfielder Marco Verratti has been ruled out through injury, while AS Roma's Pablo Osvaldo and Daniele De Rossi have recieived international recognition depite being suspended for the Malta game. Italy are currently top of Group H with ten points from four games.

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England have been dealt a blow ahead of their upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers after Tottenham Hotspur FC duo Aaron Lennon Michael Dawson both withdrew from Roy Hodgson's squad for the matches against San Marino and Montenegro. Winger Lennon is suffering from a groin injury and centre-back Dawson has picked up a hamstring complaint, prompting Hodgson to call up Manchester City FC defender Joleon Lescott (pictured).
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Évian Thonon Gaillard FC's former France winger Sidney Govou faces several months on the sidelines after rupturing ligaments in his left knee during his side's 2-1 Ligue 1 victory at LOSC Lille on Saturday. The 33-year-old, whose contract with Évian expires at the end of the season, had to be substituted late on following a challenge with Lucas Digne.


A seven-time league champion with Olympique Lyonnais, the player capped 49 times by Les Bleus will now undergo surgery in Lyon during the week. "Thanks all for the support," he tweeted. "I have a meeting with the surgeon tomorrow."


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Fourth-placed Iceland take on fifth-placed Slovenia (three points adrift) in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying group E on Friday and Iceland assistant coach Heimir Hallgrímsson has spoken of the difficulties in preparing to face a team who changed coach in January.

We know Slovenia have a well-organised, hard-working team who like to play the ball rather than get into a battle. The change in their gameplan [reappointing coach Srečko Katanec] meant all our preparation went down the drain. They used to played with three in the middle of the defence, but we do not know if they will still. The group is very equal so any team can win their game but if we win, we will leave Slovenia behind.

Feyenoord playmaker Tonny Trindade de Vilhena, 18, has earned his first senior call-up after being named in the Netherlands squad for their FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Estonia and Romania on 22 and 26 March. Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart and Maarten Stekelenburg all return to the Oranje fold after missing February's friendly draw against Italy, but Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is out with a knee injury.



Olympiacos FC centre-back Avraam Papadopoulos is set for a return to the international fold nine months after suffering knee ligament damage in Greece's opening match of UEFA Euro 2012. "He is a very good, experienced player. He is as strong as a bull and I believe he can play all 90 minutes," said coach Fernando Santos, naming his 23-man squad for the crucial trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina on 22 March.

FC Schalke 04 defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos and AC Chievo Verona's Nikos Spyropoulos are injured but for the first time there is a place for Skoda Xanthi FC goalkeeper Yuri Lodigin. "It is every player's dream to be called to the senior team," said the 22-year-old. I am looking forward to reuniting with my friends from the Under-21s, Kostas Fortounis and Panagiotis Tachtsidis."  


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Cyprus boss Nikos Nioplias has dropped three regular starters for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Group E qualifier against Switzerland in Nicosia on 23 March. All-time top scorer Michalis Konstantinou, 35, has been omitted despite recently returning from a long injury lay-off to score in the Cypriot Cup for AEL Limassol FC in midweek, while APOEL FC's Efstathios Aloneftis and Andreas Avraam of Anorthosis Famagusta FC have also been left out by the Greek coach.

Meanwhile Nioplias has given a call-up to 20-year-old attacking midfielder Alex Konstantinou after the youngster impressed for Apollon Limassol FC this season. AEL defender Christos Theophilou, 32, has been recalled for the first time since a 4-0 reverse against Germany in a UEFA EURO 2008 qualifier back in November 2007. Cyprus sit bottom of the group with three points from their opening four games.

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Juventus youngster Paul Pogba has earned his first senior call-up with France as Les Bleus prepare for key FIFA World Cup Group I games against Georgia (22 March) and Spain (26 March). Real Madrid CF centre-back Raphaël Varane is also set to appear against the world and European champions at the Stade de France, and Queens Park Rangers FC forward Loïc Rémy is a surprise inclusion in the selection. France and Spain are level on seven points at the top of the section.

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Having missed February's friendly get-together, Pepe returns to the Portugal squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Israel (22 March) and Azerbaijan (26 March), aling with Carlos Martins, Paulo Machado, Vieirinha and Pizzi, but there is no space for Nani. João Pereira and João Moutinho, both nursing thigh injuries, have been called up by coach Paulo Bento, whose team lie third in Group F, level on seven points with Israel and five adrift leaders Russia, who boast a 100% record.

"We can still qualify, but finishing top is no longer down to us," said coach Paulo Bento. "What is down to us is trying to qualify for the World Cup by some other way. Our goal was to finish first in the group, but we also knew that three other teams had that target. We will try to win the matches our way."

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Ukraine coach Mykhailo Fomenko has named a 25-man squad to face Poland and Moldova in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification. With Ukraine in severe need of points, several experienced players have been recalled including 37-year-old FC Metalist Kharkiv goalkeeper Olexandr Goryainov, FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk holding midfielder Serhiy Kravchenko and FC Arsenal Kyiv striker Volodymyr Homenyuk.

Dnipro attacking midfielder Yevhen Konoplyanka is also in the squad but is touch-and-go having missed the two last weeks because of a back injury. Ukraine lie fifth in Group H with just two points from three games and play in Poland on 22 March before hosting Moldova four days later. "We still have seven games to play," said Fomenko (pictured below). "They are all important. We will not rush things and proceed step by step. Now we have important games in Warsaw and Odesa. Then we can point out the next goals."

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As expected Frank Kramer has been been named as new coach of SpVgg Greuther Fürth, bottom of the Bundesliga. The former TSG 1899 Hoffenheim reserve coach, signing a deal until summer 2015, will follow Mike Büskens, who was sacked three weeks ago. Caretaker coach Ludwig Preis, who coached the team in the last three matches, will assist Kramer until the end of the season. Fürth president Helmut Hack said: "In Frank we have signed a coach who completely convinces us. He will initiate our reconstruction process so we can positively look forward."

Kamer, a former Fürth reserve player and coach, said: "I am happy to return to Fürth. It surely is not an easy situation at the moment, but I will work day and night to make the best of it. The club is healthy and that's why I am confident concerning the tasks ahead. Our common way is it to work with young and talented players and I totally submit to that."

Russia coach Fabio Capello has named a 25-man squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Norther Ireland on 22 March in Belfast and the London friendly versus Brazil three days later. Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Aleksandr Kokorin are the sole forwards with goalkeeper Anton Shunin, defender Oleg Ivanov and striker Fedor Smolov dropping out of the provisional squad. FC Lokomotiv Moskva defensive midfielder Dmitri Tarasov - previously called up by Capello's predecessor Guus Hiddink but never capped - is the only potential debutant.

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First-time title winners last season, FC Daugava Daugavpils beat Skonto FC 4-1 in the Latvian Super Cup game. The cup holders and league runners-up sent a youthful side to Daugavpils with the first team preparing for the new season in Turkey, and were 3-0 down by half-time, Stanley Ibe, Ibrahim Olalekan Babatunde and Armands Pētersons - who joined Daugava from Skonto this winter - on target.  Another newcomer, Nigerian defender Joseph Enakarhire made it 4-0 after the break, before 16-year-old Nikita Ivanovs struck back for Skonto.

"It was nice to see the fans who came to the stadium despite freezing temperatures," said Daugava coach Ivan Tabanov. "The difference between the sides was obvious, but those are not our problems. Daugava took the pitch to win the game and get the Super Cup and we cmpleted both tasks in emphatic fashion. Now we can switch all our attentions to the league." Defender Igors Savčenkovs, who joined Daugava from Skonto this winter, added: "It was a bit annoying to concede that goal as our fans deserved a 4-0 victory. However I hope they were not angry about that as they saw us playing solid quality football today."

Daugava will host FC Jūrmala in the Latvian Cup quarter-finals next Saturday while Skonto visit SK Liepājas Metalurgs.

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Republic of Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni has conceded defeat in his bid to have Aston Villa FC defender Richard Dunne fit for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria. Trapattoni has named a provisional 29-man squad for the games away to Sweden and at home to Austria, but there was no place for veteran defender Dunne – who has not played for club or country since the Republic's defeat to Italy at UEFA EURO 2012 - and midfielder Keith Andrews, who are both struggling with injury.

"Richard Dunne said he is not ready - he said he may be ready in the future but for now, it was a serious injury, and it's a pity as Richard is a very important player for us,” said Trapattoni. “We have confidence in Ciaran Clark, we follow him a lot, he has a good personality and I have a good relationship with him."

The uncapped Norwich City FC midfielder Anthony Pilkington, who was denied a possible debut in a friendly against Poland last month, is included while Stoke City FC defender Marc Wilson is also named after recovering from a broken leg.

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There are no suprises in Igor Štimac's 26-man squad for Croatia's FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Serbia and Wales on 22 and 26 march. "We have two very important matches ahead of us and I was analysing all the players form and abilites until the last moment," said Štimac. "I have some problems with the competitive form of some players - the season has just restarted in Ukraine, and young Mateo Kovačić and Josip Radošević have had less time on the pitch since leaving Dinamo and Hajduk. Milan Badelj is looking tired, Ognjen Vukojević is not in top form, Ivan Perišić is playing in a key position but has lost his place at Wolfsburg... For these matches we will choose players in top form who are ready to play all 90 minutes." With three victories and one draw, Croatia share top spot in Group A with Belgium.

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Simon Rolfes will stay at Bayer 04 Leverkusen two more years after extending his contract with the Bundesliga club. "Simon's signature is important in setting the course for a successful future," said sporting director Rudi Völler. “He has exceptional strategic awareness and has been a crucial part of our team's good performance in the past years. He will also play an important role for us as a leading player in the years to come."

Rolfes, who has made 223 Bundesliga appearances and scored 34 goals for the club, is looking forward to the years ahead. "So far, I've had a fantastic and successful career with Bayer Leverkusen," he said. "The next few years are all about the football. In Leverkusen, consistency is written in bold and the aim is to develop the team. The mix of youth and experience makes for quality players. I want to do my bit so that we can continue to achieve more in the future."

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Struggling Pescara Calcio have parted company with coach Cristiano Bergodiafter Sunday's 1-0 home loss to Udinese Calcio left the club five points from safety in the relegation zone. The 48-year-old joined Pescara in November to replace Giovanni Stroppa, who resigned after a difficult start to the league campaign, but the former defender managed to collect just ten points in 14 Serie A outings. The Udinese defeat represented a seventh in the Abruzzo outfit's last eight games, and the club are expected to name Bergodi's successor in the next 24 hours.


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Ligue 1 high-fliers AS Saint-Étienne will be without midfielder Jérémy Clément for the rest of the season after the 28-year-old underwent surgery on the ankle fracture he suffered in Saturday's 4-0 win against OGC Nice. Clément, who had started 26 of St-Étienne's 27 Ligue 1 outings this term, is expected to need five to six months to recover. "I can honestly say that I'd rather have lost this game than lose Jérémy," said coach Christophe Galtier, whose team sit fourth in the standings.

RC Lens on Thursday booked their place in the French Cup quarter-finals courtesy of a 2-0 victory against SAS Épinal of the third tier. Second division Lens are the only non top flight side into the last eight, where they will take on FC Girondins de Bordeaux.

French Cup quarter-final draw
RC Lens v FC Girondins de Bordeaux
ES Troyes AC v AS Nancy-Lorraine
AS Saint-Etienne v FC Lorient
Evian Thonon Gaillard FC v Paris Saint-Germain FC

PSV Eindhoven and AZ Alkmaar will meet in the Dutch Cup final in Rotterdam on 9 May. Dick Advocaat's PSV won 3-0 at PEC Zwolle thanks to a hat-trick from 19-year-old forward Jürgen Locadia, who started in the absence of Jeremain Lens (suspended) and Tim Matavž (ill). Holders PSV will defend their trophy against AZ , who beat AFC Ajax 3-0 at the Amsterdam ArenA. It took until 16 minutes from the end for Jozy Altidore to open the scoring, but Jóhann Berg Gudmundsson doubled the visitors' advatange, while Altidore added one more at the death.

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FC Zenit St Petersburg forward Danko Lazović has joined FC Rostov on loan until the end of the season. The 29-year-old, who scored 21 goals in his 77 competitive appearances for Zenit, had featured only once for the UEFA Europa League contenders' reserve team so far this season.

Former Slovenia coach Matjaž Kek has taken charge at HNK Rijeka after Elvis Scoria resigned following a 4-1 defeat at GNK Dinamo Zagreb and a home draw against HNK Cibalia. The 51-year-old managed Slovenia from 2007 to 2011 and has won two Slovenian titles with NK Maribor. Rijeka are currently fifth in the Croatian First League and play NK Istra on Sunday.

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Stade Rennais FC say Romain Alessandrini has successfully undergone surgery in Marseille after suffering a serious knee injury on 16 February. Some spectacular goals have made the 23-year-old a popular player on his Ligue 1 break-out season and the No19 is given a round of applause in the 19th minute of Rennes home games.

"I had the same injury four years ago," the French international said. "Back then, the surgeon predicted this could occur to my other knee. Here we are. Many things have happened to me recently. I'll try to make the most of this imposed break to reflect on that."




Hannover 96 will be without midfielder Szabolcs Huszti for "several weeks" after he suffered a knock during Sunday's 5-1 win against Hamburger SV. The Hungarian international picked up a muscle injury just before half-time, slipping after scoring a penalty to make it 2-1, and must now undergo an operation. Huszti has scored nine goals and provided 11 assists so far this season.

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FK Ekranas and VMFD Žalgiris have both been busy in the transfer market ahead of their Lithuanian Super Cup showdown on Saturday. Polish international midfielder Jakub Wilk joins Žalgiris on a season-long loan from KS Lechia Gdańsk, while Ekranas have acquired the services of 24-year-old Spanish defender Óscar Reyes Sánchez, who spent a portion of his youth at RCD Espanyol and Real Madrid CF.

Following a 3-3 draw against Germany on 13 February, France will intensify their preparations for UEFA Women's EURO 2013 with home friendlies against Brazil and Canada on 6 and 9 March respectively. Les Bleues were drawn alongside England, Russia and Spain in Group C for this summer's finals in Sweden.

Gian Piero Gasperini has resumed the coaching reins at US Città di Palermo just three weeks after parting company with the Serie A side. The 55-year-old takes over from Alberto Malesani, who lasted just three league games, all of which ended in draws. Palermo are bottom of Serie A with 20 points from 26 games following Saturday's 0-0 stalemate at home to Genoa CFC.

Croatia's Eternal Derby between rivals HNK Hajduk Split and GNK Dinamo Zagreb was postponed on Sunday due to heavy rain. The match was due to kick-off at 18.00CET, but referee Ivan Bebek decided the game could not go ahead due to a waterlogged pitch. The game has been rescheduled for Wednesday at 19.00.

FC Kuban Krasnodar have bolstered their midfield options with the acquisition of Burkino Faso captain Charles Kaboré and Nigerian international centre-back Ayodele Adeleye on four and three-year deals respectively. Kaboré joins from Olympique de Marseille, where he amassed nearly 200 appearances, while Adeleye arrives from SC Tavriya Simferopol in Ukraine. "I have no doubt he will make us stronger and help us to solve our problems in the league," said Kuban sporting director Sergei Doronchenko. Kuban are fourth in the Russian Premier League, 11 points off leaders PFC CSKA Moskva.

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Juan Carlos Garrido has extended his contract as coach of Club Brugge KV until the end of next season. The former Villarreal CF boss joined the Belgian outfit in November, succeeding the sacked Georges Leekens initially on a deal until the end of the campaign.

"I want to thank everyone for showing faith in me and for believing in the way I work," said Garrido, whose team are sixth in the Eerste Klasse. "I have been here for three months; everyone knows me and knows how I work. I am happy got get the chance to continue here. I love my job." (@UEFAcomBerendS)

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Jess Thorup will become Denmark Under-21 coach in June after the expiry of his contract at Superliga club Esbjerg fB. Thorup is replacing Morten Wieghorst who has joined Swansea City AFC as assistant coach to Michael Laudrup.

"I was very happy when I was approached by the [Danish Football Association] DBU regarding the U21 team," Thorup said. "It is a big challenge, as I will be responsible for working with the oldest group of talents in Danish football."

The DBU's John Helt added: "In Jess Thorup we get a relatively newly-educated coach with a lot of experience as a player at the highest club level nationally as well as abroad, international club matches and experience as head coach as well as assistant coach."

With Denmark absent from this summer's UEFA European U21 Championship finals in Israel, Thorup's challenge will be to qualify for the 2015 edition in the Czech Republic. Denmark are up against Russia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Estonia and Andorra in Group 2 and first up go to Estonia on 7 June.


Emmanuel Emenike will miss FC Spartak Moskva's opening Russian Premier League games after the winter break because of a thigh injury sustained during Nigeria's Africa Cup of Nations semi-final victory against Mali. The 25-year-old finished as the tournament's leading scorer with four goals, helping Nigeria to lift the trophy. Emenike is expected to be out for a month, with Spartak resuming their campaign against FC Terek Grozny on 10 March. They are sixth in the Russian top flight, 11 points adrift of leaders PFC CSKA Moskva.

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Aleksandr Gutor has swapped FC BATE Borisov for domestic rivals FC Dinamo Minsk. Gutor, 23, has taken up the option to terminate his contract with the UEFA Europa League round of 32 contenders having been largely overlooked last season. "I had no conflict with the coach," said the Belarusian Under-21 international. "He always said he would field the first-choice keeper and I respect that. Whatever happens, happens for the best. If you want to improve you need to do something about it. I've missed too much football and now I want to prove I'm still ready for big things."



Second-half goals from Nani and Javier Hernández ensured Manchester United FC's safe passage to the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 2-1 win against Premier League strugglers Reading FC.

Introduced for the injured Phil Jones just before the interval, Nani was a thorn in the visitors' side throughout. He had seen a blistering volley come back off the woodwork before his deflected strike found the net following Antonio Valencia's centre 21 minutes from time. The Portuguese then turned provider, delivering a cross for Hernández to swiftly double United's lead at the near post.

Sir Alex Ferguson's team did not have it all their own way, however, with David de Gea ulling off a string of fine stops and Nemanja Vidić clearing off the line with the score 0-0. Jobi McAnuff did pull one back nine minutes from time, but a trip to Old Trafford awaits the winner of the tie between Chelsea FC and Middlesbrough FC.

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France forward Mathieu Valbuena has extended his Olympique de Marseille contract by two years June 2017. Second on the Ligue 1 assists list to LOSC Lille’s Dimitri Payet, Valbuena joined Marseille from FC Libourne Saint-Seurin in 2006 and now has 19 caps. Marseille sit third in the league, five points adrift of leaders Paris Saint-Germain FC, who they visit on Sunday.

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Francisco Costa, best known as Costinha, is the new coach from struggling SC Beira-Mar. The former Portuguese international, who won the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League for FC Porto, will make his debut as a coach at the Aveiro outfit, who lost last Friday at home 2-0 to FC Porto and lie 15th in the 16 team Portuguese Liga, with only three wins in 19 matches.

After ending his football playing career, at Atalanta BC, he became Sporting Clube de Portugal and Servette FC’s sporting director and will now lead Beira-Mar until the end of the season, starting this Monday.

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Former SSC Napoli forward Carmelo Imbriani has died after losing his battle with cancer; he was 37. Imbriani, who made his Serie A debut with Napoli under Marcello Lippi in 1994 a few days after turning 18, scored four goals in 34 games with the Partenopei. He was called up several times by Italy at Under-21 level but never made his debut.

After leaving Napoli in 1996 he played for several clubs in Serie B and Serie C1 ending his career at 33 with hometown club Benevento Calcio. It was there that he started his coaching career, first with youth sides and from November 2011 taking over the senior team.

Reflecting on France's 3-3 home draw against Germany in Strasbourg yesterday, with both teams gearing up for UEFA Women's EURO 2013, coach Bruno Bini said he was "happy to be being asked what more we needed to do to win games rather than a little time ago when the big question was how much more we needed just to get a draw". Les Bleues were 3-1 up 24 minutes from time. "We failed to finish two counterattacks we got at 3-1," Bini said. "But it's these kinds of games that will help us get ready for the tournament. This was the first time we have taken the lead against Germany since [a 1-0 Algarve Cup win in] 2007." France next host Brazil in Nancy on 9 March, and will take on Russia, Spain and England in Group C in Sweden.



AC Ajaccio club doctor Gilles Testou revealed today that Adrian Mutu is suffering from a torn calf. The 34-year-old forward picked up the injury in his left leg during last weekend's 1-0 success against FC Girondins de Bordeaux. “He will certainly be out for a minimum of three weeks.” stated Testou. The picture will be clearer after the former Chelsea FC player, who joined the Corsican side as a free agent in the summer, undergoes scans in the upcoming days.

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Denmark Under-21 coach Morten Wieghorst (left) has left his post to assist former Danish international Michael Laudrup, now coach of Swansea City AFC. The Danish Football Association (DBU) have released the 41-year-old with six months left on his contract, with general secretary Jim Stjerne explaining: "We have agreed with his new club that we can call him back if we are in a position to offer him a job with our senior team." Former Celtic FC midfielder Wieghorst added: "I have been very content with my work in the DBU for the past 18 months. It has been a challenge to work with the many talents in Danish football."

©Getty Images French newsdesk:
France coach Didier Deschamps appeared unfazed after his side's second consecutive home defeat with Germany winning 2-1 at the Stade de France. "There is no reason to worry," the former France captain said. "We knew how good Germany were and it was just a warm-up game. "The aim was to win," he added. "We lacked efficiency up front. Now we'll prepare the best we can for the two games to come." Stakes will be much higher on 26 March for the visit of Spain, France's main rivals in FIFA World Cup Group I. French newsdesk:
Before tonight's friendly against Germany at Stade de France, the players who took part in the famous 1982 FIFA World Cup semi-final in Seville will be presented to the fans. Michel Hidalgo's charges left their mark onFrance football history in spite of losing on penalties havingy led 3-1 in extra time.

That was one of four famous France-Germany games recently highlighted by "As Les Bleus meet Germany on 6 February at Stade de France, and in the context of the 50th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty, tribute will be paid to the participants in the semi-final France-West Germany held in Seville in the 1982 FIFA World Cup," the French Football Federation (FFF) stated. Although France have subsequently won the 1998 World Cup and two UEFA European Championships, that game still has a special place in the heart of the nation.

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 Klaus Fischer celebrates equalising in Seville Portuguese newsdesk:
Uncapped SL Benfica midfielder André Gomes (pictured right) today joined the Portugal squad in Guimaraes preparing for a friendly on Wednesday against Ecuador. The 19-year-old, who has replaced injured SC Braga player Rúben Micael, said: "I'm very happy, it was a big surprise and I thank Benfica. I've always been very supportive and coach [Jorge Jesus] has taught me a lot. I owe this to them."

Gomes scored on his Benfica debut, a 4-0 win against SC Freamunde, earlier this term in the Portuguese Cup and made two appearances in the Eagles' unsuccessful UEFA Champions League group stage campaign.  

©Sportsfile German newsdesk:
Miroslav Klose tore ligaments in his right knee on Sunday during S.S. Lazio's Serie A encounter with Genoa CFC and will miss Germany's midweek friendly against France as a consequence. It is not known for how long the 34-year old striker will be sidelined. Borussia Dortmund midfielder Sven Bender has been called up as a replacement.

Bender's twin brother, Lars, has a minor knee problem but has joined up with the squad nonetheless. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Marcel Schmelzer, Mario Götze and Marco Reus have already pulled out of Joachim Löw's party due to illness or injury. Italian newsdesk:
US Città di Palermo have parted company with coach Gian Piero Gasperini after less than five months with the 55-year-old at the helm.  Gasperini makes way with the Sicilian club having won just three league games since his appointment last September, when he replaced Giuseppe Sannino. The Rosanero are expected to name a successor for the former Genoa CFC and FC Internazionale Milano boss in the next few hours. Palermo are bottom of Serie A with 17 points from 23 games following the 2-1 home defeat on Sunday by Atalanta BC. 

©Getty Images French newsdesk:
France coach Didier Deschamps is looking forward to seeing his team back in action against Germany. "Historically, Germany are one of our main rivals," he said. "I am expecting a good game against a very strong side. Joachim Löw's side are very disciplined, talented, but also very experienced - nearly all of their players have already taken part in a major tournament. It is good to be back in France as we haven't played since November and our last two games were away. Hopefully we can build up on the good football we were playing in the latter stages of 2012. The most important thing is to enjoy ourselves."

©AFP/Getty Images Russian newsdesk: 
FC Dinamo Moskva
have strengthened their attacking options with the loan signing of Sergei Davydov, who leaves FC Rubin Kazan FC to link up with old coach Dan Petrescu. "Dan is one of the best coaches I have worked with," said the 27-year-old, who flourished under the former Romanian international during a two-year spell at FC Kuban Krasnodar. Italian newsdesk: 
forward Sebastian Giovinco has withdrawn from Italy's squad ahead of Wednesday's friendly against Netherlands after sustaining a thigh injury in Sunday’s 2-1 victory at AC Chievo Verona. Meanwhile, Azzurri coach Cesare Prandelli has reserved special praise for AC Milan's Mario Balotelli, who scored twice on his debut, the second a nonchalant last-minute penalty to see of Udinese Calcio 2-1. "I'm glad that Mario has returned to Italy. He appears more motivated and we can keep taps on him," said the 55-year-old tactician.

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©AFP/Getty Images Spanish newsdesk:
FC Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernández joined international team-mate Xabi Alonso in pulling out of Spain's squad for Wednesday's friendly against Uruguay after the 33-year-old suffered a knock to his right hamstring in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Valencia CF. Lionel Messi's 34th Liga goal of the campaign from the penalty spot cancelled out Éver Banega's opener in a game where David Villa came on against his former side to make his 100th appearance for Barça. "We're not looking for excuses; we weren't at our best today," said full-back Daniel Alves after the encounter. "Valencia matched us with an intense game and [for that reason] we have to be happy with a point."


©Getty Images Spanish newsdesk:
Real Madrid CF midfielder Xabi Alonso has pulled out of Spain's traveling party to Doha for the international friendly against Uruguay on Wednesday after complaining of discomfort in his groin following his club's 1-0 Liga defeat against Granada CF on Saturday. Club Atlético de Madrid's Mario Suárez will take his place. Speaking after his Madrid's fifth league reverse of the campaign, coach José Mourinho said, "We didn't play well and lost as a consequence. I wasn't happy at all with the first half we put in, frankly it was horrible."

©Getty Images French newsdesk:
Defender Raphaël Varane has withdrawn from the France squad for Wednesday's friendly against Germany in Paris. The 19-year-old sustained a hamstring injury during Real Madrid CF's 1-0 loss to Granada CF this weekend. Newcastle United FC's January signing Mapu Yanga-Mbiwa has been called up as a replacement by coach Didier Deschamps.


©Getty Images English newsdesk:
Jermain Defoe
has withdrawn from England's squad to face Brazil in Wednesday's friendly at Wembley after suffering suspected ankle ligament damage during Tottenham Hotspur FC"s 1-0 win against West Bromwich Albion FC on Sunday. Manchester United FC midfielder Michael Carrick has also pulled out after injuring an ankle against Fulham FC on Saturday, while Liverpool FC forward Daniel Sturridge is a doubt due to a thigh complaint.


©AFP/Getty Images German newsdesk: 
Germany will be without Bastian Schweinsteiger for their trip to France on Wednesday after the FC Bayern München midfielder sustained an ankle injury in their 3-0 win against 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday. The 28-year-old, who has scored six goals in all competitions this term, is expected to be out for around three days. 

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Türker Tozar in Istanbul:
coach Abdullah Avcı (pictured) has called up Karabükspor's uncapped winger Ahmet İlhan Özek in his 23-man squad to face the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The 25-year-old player has impressed since joining from Manisaspor and caught the eye with his quick bursts of speed as well as scoring key goals in Karabükspor's victories against Galatasaray AŞ and Trabzonspor AŞ this year.

Speaking about his call-up, Ahmet İlhan said: "Wearing the national team shirt has always been a passion for me. I'm really excited that I have a chance to do so. I am hoping to go beyond my league performance and be a regular for this team."

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Rangers FC's hopes of winning the Scottish Cup from the fourth tier have been dashed with a 3-0 last 16 defeat by Premier League team Dundee United FC. Johnny Russell scored twice, either side of a Jon Daly header for the home team, under new manager Jackie McNamara while Rangers, top of the third division, ended with nine men.

The remainder of the round is played over the weekend, with UEFA Champions League contenders Celtic FC visiting Raith Rovers FC on Sunday,


Dmitri Rogovitski from Moscow:
FC Alania Vladikavkaz have signed former Real Madrid CF mifielder Royston Drenthe as a free agent on a three-and-a-half-year deal. The 25-year-old, capped once for the Netherlands, is set to join his new club today at their training camp in Turkey, becoming their eighth newcomer this winter. He started his career at local club Feyenoord before moving to Madrid in summer 2007. After dropping out of favour, he played on loan for Everton FC and Hércules CF.

"I have not trained for a while dedicating myself to my family and things I love," the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championship winner said. "But the people from Alania came to the Netherlands and gave me the feeling that I can start everything again. They gave me energy and self-belief. I am sure a month will be enough for me to get into shape. I do not come here to play jokes but to prove everyone that I can play football and that I have not had my last say yet." Valeri Gazzaev's Alania are bottom of the league with 11 points after 19 games.

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Evgheni Balaniuc from Tiraspol:
Moldova coach Ion Caras has named a 23-man squad ahead of the friendly against Kazakhstan in Turkey, including three midfielders from their Under-21 side. FC Rapid Chisinau's Ion Jardan, FC Sheriff's Serghei Gheorghiev and FC Aarau's Artur Ioniţă are the players selected, although their former U21 team-mate Radu Gînsari has been allowed to continue his trial at FC Rubin Kazan having been in the provisional squad. FC Hoverla Uzhhorod midfielder Vitalie Bordian is absent due to personal reasons while FC Zimbru Chisinau's Radu Catan is injured. Moldova lie fourth in FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifying Group H with four points from as many matches. Spanish newsdesk: 
Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque has included uncapped Málaga CF midfielder Isco and Chelsea FC full-back César Azpilicueta in his squad for Wednesday's international friendly with Copa América champions Uruguay in Doha. Expected to feature prominently for La Rojita in summer's UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Israel, Isco's call up to the senior side at just 20 is recognition of his displays at the heart of a Málaga side which has progressed to the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League undefeated, as well as sitting fourth in Liga. Azpilicueta, meanwhile, is continuing his notable progress at Chelsea where he has made 16 Premier League appearances since signing from Olympique de Marseille in August. While the uncapped duo will be hoping for a first international appearance Spain regular Carles Puyol will earn a 100th cap if selected.

©AFP/Getty Images Dutch newsdesk: 
Daley Blind
and Jonathan de Guzman could make their international bows against Italy on Wednesday after being included in Louis van Gaal's 20-man Netherlands squad. The son of assistant coach Danny Blind, Daley is a product of AFC Ajax's world famous youth academy and played every minute of their 2012/13 UEFA Champions League Group D campaign. Canadian-born De Guzman, meanwhile, has flourished in the Premier League while on loan at Swansea City FC from Villarreal CF, scoring five goals in 19 appearances. A series of more familiar names including Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart, Arjen Robben and John Heitinga, have been rested for the friendly at the Amsterdam ArenA.

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Vassiliki Papantonopoulou in Athens (@UEFAcomVassP): 
Atromitos FC central defender Sokratis Fitanidis has received his first call up to the national squad from Greece coach Fernando Santos. The 28-year-old central defender is the only new name in the 21-man selection for the friendly encounter against Switzerland on 6 February in Piraeus. "It is a dream come true for me to be called into the national squad," said Fitanidis "I have been working hard for so many years for this moment.".

The Portuguese coach cannot call on the services of injured duo Kyriakos Papadopoulos of FC Schalke 04 and Giorgos Samaras of Celtic FC, but welcomes back R. Charleroi SC goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis for the first time since UEFA EURO 2012, as well as Giorgos Karagounis and Kostas Katsouranis, who both missed the November friendly against the Republic of Ireland.

©Getty Images English newsdesk: 
England goalkeeper Jack Butland has signed for Stoke City FC on a four-and-a-half-year deal from Birmingham City FC, with the 19-year-old set to link up with his new club in the summer. Butland became the youngest ever England international goalkeeper when he made his debut against Italy last May. "Im very lucky to come to such a great club and I'm really looking forward to it," he said. 

©Getty Images Turkish newsdesk: 
Beşiktaş JK have snapped up Senegalese striker Mamadou Niang on loan from Qatari outfit Al-Sadd. The 33-year-old former Olympique de Marseille player spent the 2011/12 season with Fenerbahçe S.K, scoring 15 goals in 29 Turkish Super League games.

©Getty Images French newsdesk: 
Former France captain Alou Diarra, 31, has returned to the country of his birth, joining Stade Rennais FC on loan until the end of the campaign. Diarra, capped 44 times by his country, arrived at West Ham United FC from Olympique de Marseille in the summer but has struggled for first-team opportunities and started just one Premier League match.

©Getty Images French newsdesk: 
Olympique de Marseille have added 29-year-old midfielder Alaixys Romao to their ranks. The Togo international, who is currently on duty at the Africa Cup of Nations, leaves FC Lorient having made 18 league appearances this season. "It's a disappointing move for us but a great one for him," said Lorient coach Christian Gourcuff.


©AFP/Getty Images Italian newsdesk: 
Udinese Calcio have reached an agreement with Defensor Sporting Club to take diminutive midfielder Diego Rodríguez on loan for the remainder of the season. The 23-year-old was part of the Uruguay team that featured at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. French newsdesk:
Toulouse FC have strengthened their attacking options with the signing of Eden Ben Basat, while Emmanuel Rivière has left for AS Monaco FC. Ben Basat, an Israeli international, makes the move from fellow Ligue 1 side Stade Brestois 29 having scored nine league goals this term. As for Rivière, his departure comes just 18 months after signing for Toulouse in a €6m deal from AS Saint-Étienne. The 22-year-old has penned a four-and-a-half-year contract with Claudio Ranieri's side, who currently lie second in Ligue 2.

©AFP/Getty Images Italian newsdesk:
Greece midfielder Lazaros Christodoulopoulos has ended a five-year spell with Panathinaikos FC to link up with Bologna FC. The 26-year-old, formerly of PAOK FC, made 76 league appearances for the Greens, scoring 15 goals. Well-travelled forward Davide Moscardelli has also agreed to join the Rossoblù from Serie A rivals AC Chievo Verona.

©Getty Images Italian newsdesk: 
ACF Fiorentina
have lured experienced midfielder Mohamed Sissoko from Paris Saint-Germain FC in a loan deal that runs until the end of the season. The former Juventus and Liverpool FC player, 28, has slipped down the pecking order at the capital club, featuring in just three Ligue 1 fixtures this term. Fiorentina are sixth in Serie A following their 2-1 defeat at Calcio Catania last weekend.

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TSG 1899 Hoffenheim have signed goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes on loan from Tottenham Hotspur FC until the end of the season. The 31-year-old Brazilian is "an experienced keeper, who has played on the highest level both domestically and internationally", according to general manager Andreas Müller. The former PSV Eindhoven keeper made 95 league appearances in three and a half years for Spurs.

©Getty Images Italian newsdesk:
Marco Rigoni has joined Genoa CFC on loan until the end of the campaign. The 33-year-old attacking midfielder was in the middle of a season-long spell at AC Chievo Verona but struggled to make an impact, mustering one league goal to date. He will hope to rediscover the form that brought 11 Serie A goals for relegated parent club Novara Calcio in 2011/12.

©Getty Images London newsdesk:
Aston Villa FC have completed the signing of midfielder Yacouba Sylla from French Ligue 2 outfit Clermont for an undisclosed fee. The 22-year-old, who has represented France at Under-21 level, made 65 appearances for Clermont in a three-year spell. Sylla is Paul Lambert's sole signing of the January transfer window thus far. Russian desk:
PAOK FC have signed Liberia international Sekou Oliseh on loan from Russian Premier League leaders PFC CSKA Moskva until 30 June 2012.

The 22-year-old joined the Russian side in August 2009 from Danish side FC Midtjylland. He has started 27 of his 70 league appearances at CSKA. "I told my agent that I wanted to find a club where I could show my abilities. He offered me this option and I know PAOK FC very well. I came here to play and will do my best to make fans happy," said Oliseh.

©Getty Images London newsdesk:
Danny Graham has completed his move to Sunderland AFC from Swansea City FC for a fee in the region of €6m and has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal at the Stadium of Light.

The 27-year-old striker, who joined Swansea in the summer of 2011 from Watford, made 54 league appearances for the Welsh outfit and scored 15 goals.

Graham told Sunderland's website: "As soon as I heard about the interest from Sunderland I didn't even have to consider any of the other options that were on the table. I was born and brought up in the north east so I know first-hand the intense passion that people have for their football in this part of the world - it's special and there's nowhere else like it."


©Getty Images French newsdesk:
UEFA Champions League contenders Paris Saint-Germain FC have loaned midfielder Adrien Rabiot to fellow Ligue 1 side Toulouse FC for the rest of the season. The 17-year old appeared once in the UEFA Champions League this season and featured in six Ligue 1 games.

"The aim will be to play more to improve," Rabiot said. "I also want to help the club to reach the next level." Toulouse have also welcomed defensive midfielder Adil Rami yesterday, a former RC Lens player who has returned to Ligue 1 after a spell in Saudi Arabia with Al-Hilal FC.

©AFP/Getty Images French newsdesk:
France coach Didier Deschamps has named his 23-man squad for Les Bleus' friendly against Germany on 6 February, and among the list of usual suspects, two names stood out. Stade Rennais FC forward Romain Alessandrini and Real Madrid CF centre-back Raphaël Varane have both been rewarded for their fine club form this season with call-ups, leaving both in line to make their international debuts next week.

The 23-year-old Alessandrini has struck nine times - in nine different matches - during his 19 outings for Rennes this season after joining the club from Clermont last summer. Varane's impressive campaign reached a high on Tuesday in a man-of-the-match display in a 1-1 draw against FC Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg. Marca described the 19-year-old's performance as "Colossal" on their front page today.


©AFP/Getty Images London newsdesk:
Fulham FC
have announced the loan signing of AC Milan's Urby Emanuelson until the end of the season. The 26-year-old, who can play full-back or in midfield, has 16 caps for the Netherlands. A graduate of the famed AFC Ajax academy, Emanuelson made 172 appearances for the Amsterdam club, where he was managed by Fulham boss Martin Jol in 2009/10. He departed for San Siro in January 2011 but has struggled to make an impact with the Rossoneri.

©Getty Images London newsdesk:
Luciano Becchio has completed his move to Norwich City FC from Leeds United AFC, with the Canaries paying an undisclosed fee plus striker Steve Morison (pictured) in exchange for the Argentinian's services.

The 29-year-old Becchio, who has scored 16 second-tier goals this season, has put pen to paper on a three-and-a-half year deal at Carrow Road and told the Norwich website: "I cannot wait to play my first game for Norwich. I am really happy about having the chance to play in the Premier League, it is brilliant for me personally and for my career."

©AFP/Getty Images Italian newsdesk:
Serie A strugglers US Città di Palermo have announced the signings of midfielder Alejandro Faurlín (pictured left) and forward Diego Fabbrini from Queens Park Rangers FC and Udinese Calcio respectively.

Faurlín, 26, made 112 league appearances for QPR and joins the Sicilian outfit on loan until the end of the season with an option to make the deal permanent in the summer. No details have been released about the transfer of 22-year-old Fabbrini, who scored two goals in 20 Serie A games for Udinese after joining the Zebrette from Empoli FC in 2011.

©Getty Images


©Getty Images Italian newsdesk:
Torino FC have signed forward Jonathan on loan from Serie A rivals Pescara Calcio with an option to make the deal permanent at the end of the campaign. The 23-year-old former AZ Alkmaar player has scored one goal in ten Serie A games this season for Pescara after joining in the summer from Brescia Calcio. London newsdesk:
Wigan Athletic FC have re-signed Paul Scharner on loan from German club Hamburger SV until the end of the season. The 32-year-old Austrian international, who played for the Latics from 2006 to 2010, becomes the Latics' fourth signing of the January transfer window, following Roger Espinoza, Angelo Henríquez and Joel Robles.

Manager Roberto Martínez said: "His experience will be a huge asset going into the last third of the campaign and he knows our football club inside out the same way that we know Paul and his professionalism in detail. He is ready for the challenge and to help the team in an area where we have suffered a few injuries."

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SL Benfica won 2-0 at FC Paços de Ferreira in the first leg of their Portuguese Cup semi-final. Lima broke the deadlock on 58 minutes, with Ola John doubling the Eagles' advantage a quarter of an hour from time following the dismissal of Vítor Silva for a foul on Nicolás Gaitán. The other semi-final first leg, between Vitória SC and CF Os Belenenses, will take place on 27 March, with the returns scheduled for 17 April.

Olympique de Marseille will play Paris Saint-Germain FC in the last 16 of the French Cup after triumphing 2-1 at Rouen FC in their rearranged round of 32 tie. Goals from Mathieu Valbuena (42) and debutant Modou Sougou (59), a January signing from CFR 1907 Cluj, were enough for Élie Baup's men to progress, despite Rémy Dugimont (68) halving the third-tier side's arrears. OM will now face PSG twice in a matter of days next month, with their cup tie set to follow the Ligue 1 fixture between the clubs on 24 February.

©AFP Italian newsdesk:
Genoa CFC have reached an agreement with ACF Fiorentina to sign Italy right-back Mattia Cassani on loan with a view to a permanent transfer in the summer. The 29-year-old, formerly of Juventus, UC Sampdoria, Hellas Verona FC and US Città di Palermo, made eight Serie A appearances prior to Christmas, but has not played since. He earned his second international cap, three years after his first, in September when the Azzurri defeated Malta in FIFA World Cup qualifying.

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Berend Scholten @UEFAcomBerendS:
Marco van Basten's SC Heerenveen have signed midfielder Yassine El Ghanassy (pictured right) on a six-month loan. The 22-year-old Belgian international made just three appearances, all in domestic cups, in the first half of the season while on loan at West Bromwich Albion FC from KAA Gent.

©Getty Images German newsdesk:
1. FC Nürnberg have utilised the January transfer window by bringing in Japan midfielder Mu Kanazaki from Nagoya Grampus. The 23-year-old, who has featured five times for his country, arrives on an 18-month deal with the option of a further two years. "Mu can play in every attacking position, which give us flexibility," said Nürnberg coach Michael Wiesinger. French newsdesk:
French full-back Ronald Zubar has left Wolverhampton Wanderers FC to join AC Ajaccio. Zubar, 27, made 69 appearances for the West Midlands club, scoring four goals. "He has made a valuable contribution during his time at Wolves," chief executive Jez Moxey told the club site. "He leaves with the best wishes of everyone at the club". Meanwhile, defender Carl Medjani has ended a five-year spell with the Ligue 1 outfit by signing on at AS Monaco FC.

©Getty Images Italian newsdesk: 
AC Chievo Verona 
have reinforced their defensive options with the signing of centre-back Nikolaos Spyropoulos from Panathinaikos FC. The Greek international, capped 31 times by his country, moves on having made 117 appearances for the Greens. Chievo's 1-0 win at S.S. Lazio on Saturday lifted them up to 11th in Serie A.

©Getty Images French newsdesk: 
FC Sochaux have agreed a deal with VfL Wolfsburg for former French Under-18 international forward Giovanni Sio, subject to a medical. The 23-year-old is expected to sign on a season-long loan, having already featured for FC Augsburg this season. Italian newsdesk: 
Argentinian midfielder Adrián Calello has swapped GNK Dinamo Zagreb for AC Siena. The 25-year-old, who began his career at CA Independiente, made four UEFA Champions League group stage appearances this season. He joins Siena with the club rooted to the bottom of Serie A having won just one of their last eight league fixtures.

©Getty Images English newsdesk:
Queens Park Rangers FC have stepped up their bid to avoid the drop by signing South Korean international defender Yun Suk-Young. The 22-year-old has put pen to paper on a three-and-a-half-year deal, ending an affiliation with South Korean outfit Chunnam Dragons that began in 2008. Harry Redknapp's side are four points adrift at the foot of the Premier League following a 1-1 draw at home to Manchester City FC on Tuesday evening. French newsdesk:
LOSC Lille have won the race to sign highly rated midfielder Florian Thauvin from SC Bastia, with the 20-year-old set to link up with his new club at the end of the season. Tahuvin, who has scored three goals in his debut top-flight season, said: "Lille are a huge club. I'll always be grateful to Bastia for giving me the opportunity to play at the highest level." French Newsdesk:
France and LOSC Lille midfielder Rio Mavuba is set for a long lay-off after undergoing surgery on his left knee today. The club expect the 28-year-old to be sidelined for up to three months, after damaging the patella in his side’s penalty shootout loss at AS Saint-Étienne in French League Cup semi-final on 15 January. The injury will mean Mavuba is also likely to miss France's home FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Spain at the end of March.

©AFP/Getty Images Spanish newsdesk:
Liga strugglers RCD Mallorca have confirmed the signing of Scottish international full-back Alan Hutton who arrives at the islanders on-loan from Aston Villa FC until the end of the season. The 28-year-old – who began his career at Rangers FC before joining Tottenham Hotspur FC – will hope to lift the fortunes of the Liga's second-from-bottom team who have won just one of their last 16 top-flight encounters.

©Getty Images German-language newsdesk:
The Austrian Bundesliga's top goalscorer Philipp Hosiner has received his first senior international call-up under Marcel Koller for Austria's game against Wales in Swansea on 6 February. Koller said: "We will take him with us to get an idea of what he can do. He deserves it." The 23-year-old FK Austria Wien striker has scored 16 goals in 14 league games since making his debut for the club at the start of September, and won his only cap to date under Koller's predecessor, caretaker boss Willibald Ruttensteiner, coming on briefly during a 4-1 FIFA World Cup qualifying win in Azerbaijan in October 2011.

Koller hopes Wales will be good preparation for Austria's next Group C fixture against the Republic of Ireland. "They are not exactly the same," he said. "Wales are very compact, solid in defense. It will be difficult to score against them."

©GEPA German newsdesk:
VfL Wolfsburg forward Srdjan Lakić has signed for fellow Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt on loan until June 2014. The 29-year-old former Croatian Under-21 international has vast experience in Germany's top flight having previously played for Hertha BSC Berlin, 1. FC Kaiserslautern and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim before his arrival at Wolfsburg. Eintracht sporting director Bruno Hübner said: "In Lakić we've got a striker who is good in the air and one who fits perfectly to Eintracht Frankfurt and the requirements of manager Armin Veh."

©Getty Images French newsdesk:
French Under-19 international midfielder Soualiho Meite (pictured, left) has joined LOSC Lille on a four-and-a-half-year deal from AJ Auxerre, where he will remain on loan for the rest of the season. The Paris-born 18-year-old has impressed in Ligue 2 this term and is excited at the prospect of joining his new club. "I am a player who can bring more to both defence and attack," he said. "I work daily to fine tune my short and long passing. I realise how lucky I am to join one of the biggest French clubs, but this is just the first step."

©Philippe Le Brech London newsdesk:
Queens Park Rangers FC defender Anton Ferdinand has joined Turkish side Bursaspor on loan until the end of the season. The former West Ham United FC centre-back made 44 Premier League appearances for the west London club since joining from Sunderland AFC in August 2011. Bursaspor are currently seventh in the Turkish Super League, nine points adrift of leaders Galatasaray AŞ.

©Getty Images Italian newsdesk:
Parma FC have lured defender Andrea Coda, 25, from Serie A rivals Udinese Calcio in a loan deal until the end of the season. The move temporarily ends his seven-year affiliation with Udinese after joining the club from Empoli FC. After their 2-1 defeat at home to SSC Napoli on Sunday, Parma slipped to tenth.

©AFP/Getty Images London newsdesk:
West Ham United FC have signed Austrian international defender Emanuel Pogatetz on loan from VfL Wolfsburg for the rest of the campaign with the option to make the deal permanent at the end of the season. The 30-year-old has Premier League experience having spent five seasons at Middlesbrough FC and has represented his country 52 times.

"I feel very good to be here and I am very excited about playing for West Ham," he said. "I am looking forward to the opportunity to play for the club and help it get good results. I will be doing my best to play well and hope I can play a part in the club achieving the targets for this season.

©Getty Images


Emil Gasevski from Skopje: 
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia coach Cedomir Janevski has named his 21-man squad for the upcoming friendly against Denmark in Skopje, which includes no new faces, but is shorn of a number of familiar names due to injury and suspension.

Right-back Daniel Georgievski (FC Steaua Bucureşti), central defender Vance Sikov (FC Volyn Lutsk) and midfielder Feran Hasani (VfL Wolfsburg) will miss the match on 6 February due to injury, while left-back Goran Popov (West Bromwich Albion FC) and striker Stevica Ristic (Suwon Bluewings FC) remain sidelined after both were suspended from the national team prior to October's FIFA World Cup qualifier against Serbia due to disciplinary reasons.

"The injured trio will not be with us for the upcoming test with Denmark, but I hope they will be fit [for the FIFA World Cup qualifying double-header] against Belgium at the end of March," said Janevski. "I think that we made the right choice with the test against the Danes as they have a similar style to Belgium and we can put into practice some of our tactics."





Berend Scholten from Diest  (@UEFAcomBerendS)
RSC Anderlecht have signed 19-year-old Ghanaian forward Frank Acheampong on loan until the end of the season. Acheampong, who made his senior Ghana debut in August last year, arrives from Buriram United FC in Thailand. The Belgian First League leaders have the option to buy at the end of the campaign. Italian newsdesk:
US Città di Palermo have reached an agreement with Wigan Athletic FC to sign the 27-year-old Mauro Boselli on loan until the end of the season. The Argentinian, formerly at CA Boca Juniors and CA Estudiantes de La Plata among others, has experience of Serie A having played seven games on loan at Genoa CFC in early 2011. Palermo are currently second from the bottom in Serie A, with 17 points from 22 games.


©Getty Images London newsdesk:
Everton FC have confirmed that they agreed a deal with FC Twente for the transfer of Dutch international Leroy Fer. The 23-year-old midfielder, capped twice by the Netherlands, will now head to Merseyside to discuss personal terms and undergo a medical. Fer began his career at Feyenoord before making the switch to FC Twente in summer 2011, where he has made 38 appearances, scoring 11 goals.


©Getty Images London newsdesk:
1. FSV Mainz 05 have announced the signing of Danish international midfielder Niki Zimling from Club Brugge on a four-and-a-half-year contract.

The 27-year-old has joined for a fee believed to be worth around €2m and will help fill the void left by Poland international Eugen Polanski, who has departed for Bundesliga rivals TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.

Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel told the club's official website: "Niki Zimling is a player fully suited to central midfield. He has skill and physical strength, has played regular internationals for his country and is also known for playing in Europe at club level."




Ondřej Zlámal (@UEFAcomOndrejZ) in Prague:
SK Slavia Praha, one of the oldest Czech clubs, celebrated its 120th anniversary at the end of last week. The celebrations finished in the famous National Theatre on Sunday evening where a ceremonial evening took place; the stage dressed in red and white - the traditional colours of Slavia.

"We could have not chosen for such an important occasion a better place as the history of our club is closely connected to Czech one. 120 years ago, when a group of enthusiasts founded a club that is legendary today, they certainly could not know what kind of phenomenon they would be merited these days," said Zbyněk Kusý, Slavia Prague's general manager.

Among the honorary guests were also the representatives from Slavia's first English opponents following club's foundation back in 1892. Civil Service London and Oxford University Association Football Clubs came to Prague with congratulations and symbolic presents.


© 1998-2012. All rights reserved.


John Leonidou in Nicosia:
APOEL FC have taken Israeli striker David 'Dudu' Biton on loan from R. Standard de Liège in a bid to make last push towards a 22nd Cypriot title. Ivan Jovanović's side are nine points adrift of league leaders Anorthosis Famagusta FC - who have played a game more - with the Serbian coach having identified one of the problems this season in his attacking line-up. Last season's surprise UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists have already suffered early exits this season in the UEFA Europa League play-offs and, this month, the Cypriot Cup, and have now only the domestic title to fight for.

The 24-year-old forward is the Nicosia club's second import in the winter transfer window following the arrival of Danish forward Mikkel Beckmann from FC Nordsjælland. Biton, who has represented Israeli at youth level, counts Wisła Kraków, R. Charleroi SC, Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Maccabi Haifa FC among his former clubs. An announcement on APOEL's website on Saturday confirmed that Biton had arrived on loan until the end of the season with the club having the option to make the move permanent.

©Getty Images


Stefán Stefánsson in Reykjavik:
Eidur Gudjohnsen has been recalled to the Iceland squad for the team's friendly against Russia on 6 February. His country's record scorer with 24 goals in 68 games, the former Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona forward had not featured on the international stage since a friendly against the Faroe Islands last August, but coach Lars Lagerbäck has rewarded him for some impressive showings in Belgium this term. The 34-year-old struck six goals in 13 league games for Cercle Brugge KSV after joining in October last year, and earlier this month he sgned for the club's city rivals Club Brugge KV.


©Getty Images Italian newsdesk:
ACF Fiorentina have announced the signing of Rafał Wolski (pictured) and Marvin Compper from Legia Warszawa and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim respectively for undisclosed fees. Midfielder Wolski, widely considered one of the most talented players in Poland, has already been capped three times at senior level despite being only 20 and has signed a contract until 2017 with the Viola. The 27-year-old defender Compper, who has one cap for Germany and scored six goals in 157 league games with Hoffenheim, has penned a deal until 2016.

©Getty Images


Berend Scholten in Diest (@UEFAcomBerendS):
Belgian First League pacesetters RSC Anderlecht have reinforced their ranks with the double signing of Samuel Armenteros and Demy De Zeeuw. Armenteros, a 22-year-old forward, will join on a three-year deal from Heracles Almelo when his current contract expires in the summer. "I am very proud to join this club. It's a fantastic career move for me," he said. Former Dutch international De Zeeuw signs on loan from FC Spartak Moskva until the end of the season with the option to make the deal permanent. "I wanted to play football again," said the 29-year-old midfielder. "Anderlecht are a huge club and I'm happy to be here." 


©Getty Images Italian newsdesk:
AS Roma have suffered a blow with the news that Mattia Destro could be sidelined for up to two months after suffering a knee injury in their 2-1 Coppa Italia semi-final first leg victory against FC Internazionale Milano on Wednesday. The Italian forward, who made the switch from AC Siena in the summer, has scored five goals in 15 Serie A games for the Giallorossi.

©Getty Images French newsdesk:
Stade Rennais FC have moved swiftly to fill the void left by Yann M’Vila's departure, signing Norwegian international Anders Konrasden from Stromsgodset IF. The 22-year-old, who has agreed terms on a three-and-a-half-year contract, said: "I am delighted to come to Ligue 1. Rennes are a big club with a good reputation, and when I heard they were interested in signing me, I didn't have to think twice about the move. Now, I'm going to try and learn French and adapt to life in France as quickly as possible."

Berend Scholten in Diest (@UEFAcomBerendS):
Club Brugge KV have signed Ghana midfielder Enoch Adu from Danish side FC Nordsjælland, with the 22-year-old signing a three-and-a-half year contract with the Belgian side.

"It is a big step for me to sign for this club," said Adu, who played in all six of his side's UEFA Champions League group stage games in the autumn. "I am ready to show these fans what I can do. I would describe myself as a focused, hard-working player, and I want to prove that here too. My ambition is clear - to help build the future of this club!"

©Getty Images Italian newsdesk:
Struggling Serie A outfit US Città di Palermo have signed veteran goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino from AC Chievo Verona for an undisclosed fee. The 33-year-old, who played 163 games in Serie A with Chievo, signed a contract until 2016 with the Rosanero. The former Torino FC, AEK Athens FC and RC Recreativo de Huelva goalkeeper becomes Palermo's fifth signing in January after Salvatore Aronica, Andrea Dossena, Anselmo and Mauro Formica. The Sicilian side lie second from bottom in Serie A.

©Getty Images


©Getty Images Turkish newsdesk:
Greek international Fanis Gekas has signed a six-month deal with Turkish club Akhisar Belediyespor. The 32-year old forward started the season at Levante UD but was released on 27 November after four league appearances. The former Panathinaikos FC and Bayer 04 Leverkusen striker, who has scored 23 goals in his 66 internationals, played in the Turkish Süper Lig for Samsunspor last season and will hope his new club do not suffer the same fate of relegation – Belediyespor currently prop up the table after 18 matches.

©AFP/Getty Images German newsdesk:
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim have signed Ghanaian international Afriyie Acquah from Parma FC. The 21-year-old defensive midfielder has signed a contract until June 2017 – there have been no details of a transfer fee released. Acquah played 44 matches in Serie A for Parma and US Città di Palermo. TSG sporting director Andreas Müller said: "Despite his young age, Afriyie Acquah has a touch of class and the will to help us make a big step forward."

©Getty Images Portuguese newsdesk:
FC Porto drew level with SL Benfica at the top of the Portuguese Liga on Wednesday after a 3-0 win at Vitória FC in a rearranged fixture. The Dragons took the lead from the penalty spot early on through Jackson Martínez, who doubled the champions' advantage with four minutes left, by which time the hosts' Bruno Gallo and Jorginho had been sent off for collecting two bookings each. Lucho González completed the scoring in added time.

Jackson (pictured heading in his second last night) is now the league's top scorer with 14 goals, one more than Óscar Cardozo (Benfica) and Albert Meyong (Setúbal). "It was a very difficult match and I have to give merit to Vitória," said Porto coach Vítor Pereira. "They were an aggressive team with great soul. We took three points home and we are very pleased."

©AFP/Getty Images French newsdesk:
Olympique de Marseille have signed Senegalese international striker Modou Sougou from CFR 1907 Cluj for a €3m fee. The 28-year-old trained with the Ligue 1 side this morning and is realising one of his great ambitions. "This is a dream come true because I grew up as a Marseille fan," he said.

©Getty Images London newsdesk:
Everton FC have been handed a boost with the news that central defender Sylvain Distin has signed a new one-year contract extension. The 35-year-old, whose current deal was due to expire at the end of the season, has made 114 Premier League appearances at Goodison Park since joining from Portsmouth FC in August 2009 and will remain at the club until summer 2014.

©Getty Images


Swansea City AFC forward Michu has signed a fresh four-year contract with the Welsh club after a hugely impressive first six months in England's Premier League. Spaniard Michu, 26, has scored 13 goals in 22 league games since arriving unheralded from Rayo Vallecano de Madrid last summer. The new deal marks an extra year's commitment, and the attacker said: "It was an easy decision for me. I am living a dream here at Swansea."

©AFP/Getty Images


Berend Scholten (@UEFAcomBerendS) in Diest:
K. Beerschot AC have announced the return of Jacky Mathijssen as head coach. Mathijssen, 49, succeeds Wim De Corte and has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract. De Corte had only been in the job since November after replacing Dutch coach Adrie Koster, but Beerschot collected one point from six matches during his short reign and fell to 15th place – one of the relegation play-off berths.

Mathijssen said: "The is the start of a eight to nine weeks' effort. We have to collect points. I am absolutely convinced that this squad contains enough quality to stay in the Eerste Klasse." It marks a return for the coach to a club he led between December 2010 and March 2012, when he was succeeded by De Corte, who now returns to being his assistant.

©Getty Images


FC Spartak Moskva midfielder Demy de Zeeuw (below right) will spend the next six months on loan at RSC Anderlecht. The 29-year-old Dutch international moved to Russia in July 2011 from AFC Ajax having had previous spells with Go Ahead Eagles and AZ Alkmaar, but has been a fringe player at Spartak and not added to his 27 caps since the move. Both Spartak and Anderlecht finished fourth in their UEFA Champions League groups this season.

©Getty Images French newsdesk:
Ligue 1 high-flyers and League Cup finalists Stade Rennais FC have signed defender Hérita Ilunga on a six-month contract. The DR Congo player, 30, arrives from English third-tier side Doncaster Rovers FC, having previously played for AS Saint-Étienne, Toulouse FC and West Ham United FC. He started his career in the Rennes academy from 1999 to 2002.

Rennes coach Frédéric Antonetti has also allowed right-back Yassine Jebbour, 21, to join Ligue 1's bottom side AS Nancy-Lorraine on loan, with French international Yann M'vila also expected to move on. Italian newsdesk:
AC Chievo Verona have signed Chilean midfielder Felipe Seymour on loan from Genoa CFC, with an option to make the deal permanent. The 25-year-old moved to Genoa from Club Universidad de Chile in January 2011, but spent the remainder of that campaign on loan at Calcio Catania. He has made 14 Serie A appearances for the Grifoni this term.

©Getty Images French newsdesk:
The French Cup round of 32 tie between FC Rouen and Olympique de Marseille has been rescheduled for 30 January after last night's original fixture was postponed following a gas leak near the Stade Robert-Diochon.

The round of 32 continues this evening with Paris Saint-Germain FC visiting Toulouse FC in one of the key ties. The round of 16 draw will be made on Thursday night, ahead of the game between Stade Plabennécois and LOSC Lille. French newsdesk:
SAS Epinal's fairytale continues, as the third-level side reached the French Cup last 16 with a 4-3 penalty shoot-out victory against FC Nantes, following a 1-1 draw. "It's unbelievable," said coach Fabien Tissot, whose side ousted holders Olympique Lyonnais in the previous round. "It was already crazy in the last round and now it's magical. Our guys played above their limits and they didn't buckle under pressure in spite of our bad luck at the end of added time. They stayed focused - it's fantastic."

Epinal president Stéphane Viry couldn’t agree more, stating: "It's amazing, it's magnificent. Right now, I'm thinking about everyone who works at or has worked at Epinal - about our volunteers, about the players. It's amazing." Italian newsdesk:
Serie A strugglers AC Siena have signed Swiss international Innocent Emeghara on loan from FC Lorient, with an option to make the deal permanent next summer. The 23-year-old Nigerian-born striker scored five goals in 28 Ligue 1 games with Lorient but has made just one first-team appearance this term.

©Getty Images Italian newsdesk:
Pescara Calcio have boosted their attacking options with the signing of Argentinian forward Milton Caraglio from Chilean club C.S.D. Rangers. The 24-year-old, a product of CA Rosario Central, scored 17 goals in 37 league games for his former employers and is due to be unveiled by the Italian side in the next few days. Pescara, fourth from bottom in Serie A with 20 points, will be hoping the forward can help them move away from the relegation zone. French newsdesk:
The French Cup round of 32 kicks off today with underdogs once again hoping to grab the headlines, inspired by third-tier SAS Épinal's penalty defeat of holders Olympique Lyonnais in the previous round. Épinal will hope to upset the odds again against FC Nantes of Ligue 2, while CS Sedan-Ardennes host Ligue 1's FC Lorient, and minnows Stade Plabennécois entertain six-time winners LOSC Lille tomorrow. OGC Nice face AS Nancy-Lorraine, Montpellier Hérault SC take on FC Sochaux-Montbéliard and Paris Saint-Germain FC host Toulouse FC in the top flight clashes.

Elvir Islamović in Zagreb:
Croatia coach Igor Štimac has named his squad for the friendly against South Korea on 6 February in London, at Fulham FC's Craven Cottage, handing 21-year-old midfielders Arijan Ademi (GNK Dinamo Zagreb) and Franko Andrijašević (HNK Hajduk Split) their first call-ups. "We will always use the friendly matches to try several young players. It will be useful for us but also for them," said Štimac.

The coach has also selected forward Mladen Petrić (pictured right) for the first time since taking the national team reins: "It will be a nice chance for him as he's playing for Fulham and we will be playing there," said Štimac.

©Getty Images


Mauricio Pochettino's first game in charge of Southampton FC, at home to Everton FC, ended goalless. The hosts dominated for long periods of the first half, with Rickie Lambert's free-kick striking a post. Everton emerged rejuvenated after the restart and could have snatched all three points if Nikica Jelavić had connected with Victor Anichebe's centre.

In Spain, fourth-placed Real Betis Balompié drew 1-1 with Athletic Club after Castro Rubén's second-minute opener was cancelled out by Aritz Aduriz, while SL Benfica went three points clear at the Portuguese Liga summit with a commanding 2-0 win at bottom club Moreirense FC.

©Getty Images Italian newsdesk:
Pescara Calcio have reinforced their midfield with the loan signing of Gaetano d'Agostino (pictured) from AC Siena. The 30-year-old, capped five times by Italy, has previously turned out for, among others, AS Roma, Udinese Calcio and ACF Fiorentina. Atalanta BC have also been active in the transfer market, acquiring 32-year-old Croatia forward Igor Budan on loan from US Città di Palermo with the option to make the deal permanent.

©Getty Images


Aidan Fitzmaurice in Dublin:
Giovanni Trapattoni has called up five uncapped players to the Republic of Ireland squad for a friendly at home to Poland on 6 February. The Derby County FC trio of Richard Keogh, Jeff Hendrick and Conor Sammon are all named in the senior party for the first time, having played for Ireland at Under-21 level, while Norwich City FC midfielder Anthony Pilkington (pictured) has also been promoted. Pilkington earned an U21 cap in 2008. West Ham United FC goalkeeper Stephen Henderson also gets the nod as the Ireland coach rests senior players like Stephen Kelly and captain Robbie Keane.

"We saw a number of strong performances from our younger players in the second half of last year and we intend to build from those strong foundations, using this friendly match to introduce more new talent like Pilkington, Hendrick, Sammon and Richard Keogh," said Trapattoni. "I look forward to working with these players and seeing what they have to offer."

©Getty Images
©Getty Images London newsdesk:
Videoton FC have appointed José Manuel Martins Teixeira Gomes as coach to replace the recently departed Paulo Sousa. Gomes, formerly part of the backroom staff at Panathinaikos FC, SL Benfica, FC Porto and Málaga CF, has signed a two-and-a-half year contract with the option of a further 12 months. Videoton owner István Garancsi said: "I believe José Gomes' own proven concept can continue the work and approach that we started with Paulo in respect of the development of Videoton and the Puskás Academy to an international level."

Dmitri Rogovitski from Moscow:
Russia coach Fabio Capello handed a first call-up to FC Terek Grozny attacking midfielder Igor Lebedenko (in green) ahead of the 2 February friendly game against Iceland, to be played in Marbella, Spain. The 29-year-old will join club-mate Oleg Ivanov at the Russia training camp, with the Terek midfielder an unused member of Russia's UEFA EURO 2012 squad. FC Rubin Kazan midfielder Aleksandr Ryazantsev (26) also returns to the fold, having won his only cap in a friendly match against Cameroon in June 2011. Marat Izmailov, however, has been omitted despite being tipped for a recall following his move from Sporting Clube de Portugal to FC Porto.

©Getty Images Danish newsdesk:
FC København have handed midfielder Daniel Jensen a contract until the end of the season after the former Danish international impressed while on trial. "In many ways the club is at the same level as many of the top clubs in Europe," said the 33-year-old. "I can contribute using my experience and the way I play football." Sporting director Carsten V. Jensen added: "We knew beforehand that Daniel is a fine player and he has done very well with us. He has a winning mentality." French newsdesk:
Paris Saint-Germain FC are mourning the passing of head of performance Nick Broad, who died on Friday from injuries sustained in a car accident. The 38-year-old, a member of Carlo Ancelotti's coaching staff, was involved in a collision on Thursday evening on the outskirts of the French capital. Broad worked under Ancelotti as head of sports science during the Italian's tenure as Chelsea FC manager.  

Club Atlético de Madrid are in a commanding position after their Copa del Rey quarter-final first leg thanks to a 2-0 victory against Real Betis Balompié. Strikes from Falcao (below, celebrating his goal) and Felipe Luis in the opening 23 minutes gave the hosts the advantage ahead of the return leg next Thursday. Meanwhile, Atlético goalkeeper Joel, 22, has joined Wigan Athletic FC on loan for the remainder of the season.

©AFP Portuguese newsdesk:
UEFA Europa League contenders SL Benfica comfortably won 4-0 at A. Académica de Coimbra in the Portuguese Cup quarter-finals to book a last-four meeting with FC Paços de Ferreira. The Lisbon giants struck early through Ola John (5) and Lima (9), with the latter scoring his second after 27 minutes. Cup holders Académica were unable to respond and Benfica completed the scoring after 71 minutes through Eduardo Salvio.

Elsewhere, second-tier CF Os Belenenses were triumphant at FC Arouca, winning 4-1. The Lisbon side will meet Vitória SC in the semi-finals, the first legs of which take place on 30 January, after the Minho outfit beat rivals SC Braga on Wednesday. Russian newsdesk:
Striker Maksim Kanunnikov has moved to FC Amkar Perm on a contract until summer 2016 from FC Zenit St Petersburg, who have the option to buy the Russia Under-21 international back for a fixed fee. Kanunnikov, 21, made his debut for Zenit in August 2009 and went on to play 32 league matches, scoring twice, and three times in this season's UEFA Champions League.

©Getty Images Belarusian newsdesk:
FC BATE Borisov defender Mario Simić has left for Turkish club Kayserispor. The Serbian moved to BATE in 2011 and became a regular starter, winning league titles in 2011 (when he was named the division's best defender) and 2012. "I am happy that BATE were in my career," he said. "But now I want to take the next step and to play in astronger league. I hope that people in Borisov were satisfied with my performance. And I hope they not only qualify for the UEFA Champions League again, but also qualify from the group stage." Italian newsdesk:
Udinese Calcio have reached an agreement with Serie A rivals AC Siena to sign midfielder Matías Campos for an undisclosed fee. The 23-year-old has penned a contract until 30 June 2017 with the Zebrette, who are eighth in the Italian top flight. Campos, who has scored one goal in six outings for Chile, moved to Europe, joining Granada CF, from Audax Club Sportivo Italiano 12 months ago, but was immediately loaned back to his homeland and Club Deportivo Universidad Católica. He made the switch to Siena last summer, appearing for just 19 minutes in the first half of the season. Italian newsdesk:
Genoa CFC have signed Bosnian and Herzegovinian attacking midfielder Enis Nadarević from Serie B side AS Varese 1910 for an undisclosed fee. The 25-year-old is Luigi Delneri's fifth signing of the transfer window following the arrivals of Antonio Floro Flores, Thomas Manfredini, Matuzalém and Eros Pisano. Genoa are third from bottom of Serie A with 17 points. French newsdesk:
"I hope that Rennes' fans will be up to St-Étienne's," said Stade Rennais FC coach Frédéric Antonetti after his team booked a French League Cup final meeting with AS Saint-Étienne at the Stade de France on 20 April. The home side defeated French champions Montpellier Hérault SC 2-0 on Wednesday night in a one-off semi-final. "I'm happy for the players because they worked hard," Antonetti said. "I have said it once and I say it again: they are the best squad I have coached since I came here [in 2009]. We deserve to reach the next level in football." The French League Cup winners earn a place in next season's UEFA Europa League.

©AFP/Getty Images Portuguese newsdesk:
FC Paços de Ferreira and Vitória SC booked their places in the Portuguese Cup semi-finals with 2-1 victories, beating Gil Vicente FC and SC Braga respectively on Wednesday night. Paços will face the winner of tonight's clash between A. Académica de Coimbra and SL Benfica, while second division sides FC Arouca or CF Os Belensenses will compete to take on Guimarães.

In the Minho derby, Vitória scored in the first few seconds through Jean Pierre Barrientos but Éder Lopes leveled for Braga five minutes from the end to force extra time. However, the Arsenalistas had no response after Barrientos scored his second of the night on 93 minutes. Earlier, Kalidou Yero's own goal (17) put Paços ahead against Gil Vicente, and while João Vilela (72) equalised, Rui Caetano struck at the death to win the game. London newsdesk:
Third-placed Chelsea FC are 13 points off the Premier League pace as they let a two-goal lead slip in a 2-2 draw at home to Southampton FC. Demba Ba and Eden Hazard put the UEFA Europa League contenders in control at the break but Rickie Lambert and Jason Puncheon prised a point for a Southampton side who began the day just two points above the relegation zone.

©AFP/Getty Images


Dmitri Rogovitski from Moscow:
PFC CSKA Moskva have made their first winter signing by bringing striker Vágner Love back to the club. The Brazilian, who has 20 caps for his country and four goals, has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal having left Russia to join CR Flamengo for a reported fee of €10m just a year ago. "I am happy to return home," said the 28-year-old. "I want to meet the lads as soon as possible, start training, show my potential and start scoring the way I used to. I will do my best to help the club win the title and qualify for the UEFA Champions League."

Vágner joined CSKA from SE Palmeiras in 2004 and went on to score 117 goals in 244 appearances for the Army Men, thus becoming the first foreign player to amass more than 100 goals for a Russian club. He won two league titles, five Russian Cups and the UEFA Cup in 2004/05. Homesickness lead to him being loaned to Palmeiras and Flamengo in 2009 and 2010 respectively before signing a permanent three-year agreement with the latter, for whom he scored 13 league goals in 2012.

©Getty Images French newsdesk:
Évian Thonon Gaillard FC have landed Brazilian centre-back Betão from UEFA Europa League hopefuls FC Dynamo Kyiv until the end of the season. The 29-year-old won the Ukrainian title in 2009, a year after joining from Santos FC, and went on to make 106 league appearances.

©AFP/Getty Images London newsdesk:
Queens Park Rangers FC have signed Olympique de Marseille striker Loïc Rémy, with the 26-year-old signing a four-and-a-half year contract with the Premier League strugglers.

The 17-times capped France international said: "I want to develop my game here. This season the objective is to stay up but beyond that we have greater objectives. After seven years in France, this is the right time for me to pursue a new challenge in the Premier League – the best League in the world. I am confident I can adapt to the Premier League. My main characteristics have taken me to the level I am at today but I am keen to keep improving in the Premier League."

"I didn't think we'd get him to be honest," added QPR manager Harry Redknapp. "He's always been a player I've admired. I've watched him on so many occasions throughout the last few years. I actually spent three or four hours with him last year so he knew what I thought of him, and I think that was important. He's quick, can score goals and makes great runs. His movement is excellent. He’s got the potential to be a really outstanding striker."

©AFP/Getty Images


Mikhail Malkin from Tallinn:
FC Levadia Tallinn central defender Igor Morozov (pictured) - 2012's Player of the Year in the Estonian league - has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with KSP Polonia Warszawa while his international team-mate Martin Vunk has left Greek second tier club Panahaiki FC.

Morozov has spent his entire career with Levadia, and is moving abroad for the first time at 23. Capped 16 times, he said: "I believe Polonia is a good place for my professional development. I hope to play here as much as possible as one of the key central defenders has left the team."

Vunk, 28, who has played abroad for Syrianska FC in Sweden and Nea Salamis FC in Cyprus has left Panahaiki, but intends to find a new club in Greece. "I'm not going to go back to Estonia," said the 51-times capped midfielder. "It's not the time for that yet."

©Mateusz Sokołowski French newsdesk:
"These are not just players but men," said AS Saint-Étienne coach Christophe Galtier after his side prevailed 7-6 on penalties following a goalless draw against LOSC Lille in the French League Cup semi-finals. "Will all due respect to our opponents, I think we would have won long before that, had Steeve Elana had a better day."

Ten-time French champions St-Étienne have reached a cup final for the first time in 31 years, with their last appearance ending in a shoot-out defeat to Paris Saint-Germain FC in the 1981/82 French Cup decider. "It's very emotional, and it is a joy to see the Geoffroy-Guichard celebrate," Galtier added. "I know there will be smiles on the faces in the streets for a 24, 48 hours, for weeks. And this a source of pride for all of us."

©AFP French newsdesk:
Valenciennes FC have signed Israeli international Maor Melikson for an undisclosed fee from Wisła Kraków. The midfielder, 28, joins on a two-and-a-half-year contract, having only moved to Poland from Hapoel Beer Sheva FC in 2011. Valenciennes have also recruited Stade Lavallois FC centre-back Lindsay Rose, 20, on a three-and-a-half-year deal. They become the club's second and third winter signings after midfielder Younousse Sankharé from Dijon FCO. French newsdesk:
Ligue 1 high-fliers OGC Nice have signed former Dutch Under-21 international midfielder Luigi Bruins from SBV Excelsior following a short trial period. He said: "I’m sure I can have a good understanding with Dario [Cvitanich], the in-form striker who is currently second in the scoring charts behind Zlatan Ibrahimović." The 25-year-old has previously had spells at Feyenoord and FC Salzburg and moves to the Riviera outfit with the club fifth in the standings, just nine points behind leaders Olympique Lyonnais.

©Getty Images


Berend Scholten from Diest (@UEFAcomBerendS):
Club Brugge KV have completed the signing of experienced Iceland forward Eidur Gudjohnsen from city rivals Cercle Brugge KSV. Gudjohnsen has signed an 18-month contract with Club Brugge, who are fifth in the Belgian First League, 13 points behind leaders RSC Anderlecht. The former Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona striker scored six goals in 13 league appearances for Cercle Brugge. "Again, this is a beautiful step in my career, certainly considering my age," said Gudjohnsen.


©Getty Images



Peter Bruun in Copenhagen:
Danish champions FC Nordsjælland have signed Costa Rican international Francisco Calvo on a two-and-a-half year contract. A left-back who can also play in the centre of defence, the three-times capped 20-year-old had been playing for Costa Rican club Municipal Pérez Zeledón."FCN play the type of football which I am best at," he said. "I have heard a lot of positive things about the club, and I am really looking forward to showing what I can do."

"Francisco Calvo is a skilful left-footed defender who possesses quite a lot of international experience in spite of his young age," said Nordsjælland sporting director Jan Laursen. "He fits very well into the way we like to play, and I am looking forward to seeing how he develops. Costa Rican players have tended to do well in Scandinavia, and Francisco has all the qualities to do the same."

Emil Gasevski from Skopje:
Macedonian First League champions FK Vardar have move quickly to appoint Nikola Ilievski (pictured) as their new coach following the dismissal of Blagoja Milevski on Friday. "My wish came true," said the 58-year-old, who has a wealth of experience in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia having previously enjoyed spells in charge of FK Belasica, FK Pobeda and FK Metalurg Skopje. "I come here with the ambition of winning the Macedonian league and cup double and to help Vardar to reach the UEFA Europa League group stage next season. Time will tell whether we succeed."

Vardar are three points clear at the top of the table having kept a clean sheet in their last seven league games prior to the winter break. Their title defence resumes against FK Pelister on 3 March and they are also in the semi-finals of the Macedonian Cup where they face FK Shkëndija 79.

© London newsdesk:
West Ham United FC have made their fourth signing this month by bringing in Brazilian striker Wellington Paulista from Cruzeiro EC. The 28-year-old has joined the Hammers on an initial six-month loan with the option of a further three years. "I am really happy to be here," said the forward, who scored 33 goals in 86 league games for Cruzeiro over four seasons. "I think I can do my best here and I am coming to England to prove to everyone that I am one of the best strikers in Brazil and to get better. I am strong, I am a fighter and I can score with both feet." Russian newsdesk:
There has been a flurry of activity at FC Dinamo Moskva with Zvjezdan Misimović and Gordon Schildenfeld both shown the exit door, while defender Denis Kolodin has signed a new contract until the end of the season. Attacking midfielder Misimović, 30, links up with Chinese outfit Guizhou Renhe FC and Schildenfeld, who only joined the capital club in July, will spend the remainder of the campaign on loan at PAOK FC. Italian newsdesk:
US Città di Palermo
have reached an agreement with UEFA Europa League contenders SSC Napoli to sign the 31-year-old midfielder Andrea Dossena on loan until the end of the season, with the option to make the deal permanent in June. Dossena, who played with Hellas Verona FC, FC Treviso, Udinese Calcio and Liverpool FC before moving to Napoli in 2010, played seven league games with the Partenopei this season, and featured in all the six Group F games, helping his side to get the second place and qualify for the round of 16 against FC Viktoria Plzeň.

©Getty Images French newsdesk:
France coach Didier Deschamps is under no illusions as to the importance of every FIFA World Cup qualifying Group I game but he is playing down the significance of the home fixture against the world and European champions Spain on 26 March after a 1-1 draw in Madrid in October. "I believe we can qualify for Brazil as group winners, but the return leg against Spain is not a final," said the former Les Bleus captain and 1998 World Cup winner. "The game against Georgia [on 22 March] comes first and is just as important. We must have ten points in the bag by the time we face Spain. When I was appointed, everyone was talking about the play-offs. Now, I am under pressure to win the group. We must keep things in perspective, a good result in Spain doesn’t make us the best team in the world."

©AFP/Getty Images


Berend Scholten in Diest (@UEFAcomBerendS):
KAA Gent have appointed Victor Fernández as coach until the end of this season. The 52-year-old Spanish trainer succeeds Bob Peeters, who lasted only two months in the role with Gent slipping to 12th in the 16-team Belgian top flight. Fernández won the Spanish Cup in 1994 and the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup a year later with Real Zaragoza. He also coached CD Tenerife, RC Celta de Vigo, Real Betis Balompié, and was José Mourinho's successor at FC Porto in 2004. London newsdesk:
Sunderland AFC have completed the signing of Alfred N'Diaye on a three-and-a-half-year deal from Turkish Super League side Bursaspor for an undisclosed fee. The former France Under-21 international began his career in Ligue 1 at AS Nancy-Lorraine before moving to Turkey where he scored four goals in 51 league appearances over two seasons. "Alfred is a strong, powerful young player and as such can offer us more strength in depth," said Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill, whose side sit 16th in the Premier League. "He will give us options and I'm delighted that we have been able to bring him to the club."

Tottenham Hotspur FC have announced that they will be without Emmanuel Adebayor (pictured) while the forward joins up with Togo for the Africa Cup of Nations. Adebayor will be available for this weekend's game at Queens Park Rangers FC before leaving for the tournament in South Africa where Togo begin against Ivory Coast on 22 January and could be involved up until the final on 10 February.

©AFP/Getty Images


Fuad Krvavac from Sarajevo:
FK Željezničar's Amar Osim has been named the 2012 coach of the year in Bosnia and Herzegovinia after losing just three league games in 12 months on the way to a domestic double.

The Bosnian-Herzegovinian Premier League's longest serving coach has also guided his side to the top of the standings and the semi-finals of the cup this term and is showing no signs of letting up. "It is worth nothing to have been the best last year if it does not happen again this season," said Osim, who is currently in this second spell in charge of Željezničar having previously been at the helm from 2001 to 2003. "We have a chance to defend the double crown. We have the strength and quality but we have to play much better in the spring and more efficiently than we did in the autumn."

In two spells spanning six seasons as Željezničar coach, Osim has won eight trophies including four league titles (2001, 2002, 2010, 2012) and four cup wins (2001, 2003, 2011, 2012). It is a feat he puts down to an emphasis on youth. "At Željezničar we focus on the long term with special attention paid to young players," he added. "The more we strengthen and we get good results, the more chance there is to give young players a chance."

©Fedja Krvavac London newsdesk:
Zoltán Gera will miss West Bromwich Albion FC's push for European qualification after the attacking midfielder ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. The Hungarian international, 33, was injured during West Brom's FA Cup third-round tie against Queens Park Rangers FC and faces a six-to-nine-month lay-off. Gera had played in 16 of seventh-placed Albion's opening 21 Premier League games. "I'm devastated for Zoltan," said Baggies manager Steve Clarke.

©Getty Images


Matthew Watson-Broughton in Budapest:
Coach Paulo Sousa has left his post at Hungarian club Videoton FC after one and a half years in charge citing family reasons. The former Portugal midfielder, who won the 1996 UEFA European Champions League with Juventus and the same trophy a year later with Borussia Dortmund, led Videoton to second place in the Hungarian championship in his first season, as well as winning the domestic League Cup and Super Cup. This autumn, he won a second Hungarian Super Cup and took Videoton into the UEFA Europa League group stage, where they were eliminated despite two wins in their first three matches.

©Getty Images London newsdesk:
Struggling Premier League side Queens Park Rangers FC have announced that central defender Ryan Nelsen is set to leave the club after agreeing a deal to become head coach of Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Toronto FC. Nelsen, 35, has MLS experience having previously played for DC United prior to his move to the Premier League in January 2005 when he spent seven seasons at Blackburn Rovers FC before a short spell at Tottenham Hotspur FC. The New Zealand defender signed for QPR at the beginning of the current campaign and has made 18 league appearances this term – he could bow out against former employers Spurs on Saturday.

©AFP/Getty Images


Boaz Goren from Israel:
The Israeli League Cup final between Hapoel Haifa FC and Hapoel Beer Sheva FC, initially scheduled to take place this evening, has been postponed by a fortnight due to heavy rain in Israel.

John Leonidou in Nicosia:
APOEL FC have made their first notable signing of the winter, after agreeing terms with FC Nordsjælland for 29-year-old forward Mikkel Beckmann. The Danish international – who will be playing for a foreign club for the first time – helped steer Nordsjælland to the league title last season and scored in a famous 1-1 UEFA Champions League draw against Juventus in the autumn.

With his side second in the domestic rankings, APOEL boss Ivan Jovanović had recently stated that he was on the look-out for a forward, with key attackers Ivan Trickovski and Aílton having left in the summer for Club Brugge KV and FC Terek Grozny respectively. Last season, APOEL made history by becoming the first team from the island to reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. Beckmann has signed a deal that will tie him to the Nicosia club until May 2015.

©Getty Images Portuguese newsdesk:
Sporting Clube de Portugal announced the departure of 56-year-old coach Frank Vercauteren, after just two and a half months in charge, with Jesualdo Ferreira named as Sporting's fourth coach of the season, with Ricardo Sá Pinto and Oceano Cruz also having been in charge of the Lions' this season.

Former RSC Anderlecht and KRC Genk boss Vercauteren's six league matches in charge produced a win, two draws and three defeats, and he could not prevent his side being eliminated from the UEFA Europa League group stage. Ferreira, 66, took over as the club's sporting director a month ago after leaving Panathinaikos FC, and will now take charge of the first team. He is now one of the handful of coaches to have led the country's four main clubs - Sporting, SL Benfica, SC Braga and FC Porto - winning three titles in the progress.

©AFP/Getty Images English newsdesk:
Everton FC produced a polished performance to see off fourth-division Cheltenham Town FC and reach the fourth round of the FA Cup. Goals from Nikica Jelavić, Leighton Baines and Leon Osman put the Premier League team in control, before Russell Penn reduced the deficit. Any hopes of an unlikely comeback were quashed, however, when Seamus Coleman's delicate chip found the net and Marouane Fellaini steered in from close range. German newsdesk:
VfL Wolfsburg have snapped up Croatian international midfielder Ivan Perišić from German champions Borussia Dortmund for an undisclosed fee. The 23-year-old joined Dortmund from Club Brugge KV in July 2011 and made 42 Bundesliga appearances for the club, scoring nine goals. He won the league and cup double with the side last term and represented Dortmund 11 times in the UEFA Champions League, finding the net against Arsenal FC in last year's group stage. "Borussia Dortmund wish Ivan Perišić all the best for his future career," read a statement from his former club.


©Getty Images

Berend Scholten in Diest (@UEFAcomBerendS):
Feyenoord have made a permanent move for striker Graziano Pellè, following a successful loan spell from Parma FC. The 27-year-old Italian striker has signed a four-year contract with the Rotterdam club which will begin on 1 July 2013. "I am very happy that with this contract I will be bound for a longer period to this great club," Pellè said. Having played under Ronald Koeman at AZ Alkmaar, Pellè linked up with the coach again at Feyenoord last summer, and has scored 14 goals in 14 matches since, with the Rotterdam club fourth in the Eredivisie, three points adrift of league leaders PSV Eindhoven.

Paolo Menicucci in Milan:
Serie A high-flyers ACF Fiorentina have agreed a deal with Villarreal CF to sign Italian international Giuseppe Rossi. The 25-year-old striker is currently recovering from a second anterior cruciate ligament injury to his right knee, setbacks that have kept him on the sidelines since October 2011.

A scorer six times in his 27 appearances for Italy, Rossi has only played in his home country's top division for half a season in 2006/07 when he struck nine goals in 19 games for Parma FC. Rossi had left the Ducali to join Manchester United FC in 2004 when only 17.

The United States-born forward arrived at Villarreal in 2007 and scored 54 goals in 136 Liga games. At Fiorentina, Rossi will be reunited with his former Yellow Submarine team-mates Gonzalo Rodríguez and Borja Valero. 

©Getty Images



SK Rapid Wien have made their first signing of the winter transfer period, bringing in forward Marcel Sabitzer from FC Admira Wacker Mödling. The 18-year-old has signed a contract until summer 2016. "I'm delighted that it's happened now and I'll give my all for my new club. This is a real childhood dream come true for me," said Sabitzer, who has been capped four times by Austria's Under-21 side and has scored three goals in 17 league games this term.

Stoyan Georgiev in Sofia:
Bulgaria's most successful club PFC CSKA Sofia have sacked coach Stoicho Mladenov following a disappointing first half of the season. The 31-times champions are currently fourth in the table, trailing league leaders PFC Ludogorets Razgrad by nine points. Mladenov, a club legend and a former national team coach, returned to the club last February, but failed to deliver the title last season following a dramatic 1-0 away defeat to eventual champions Ludogorets on the last day of the campaign. In his previous two spells Mladenov won the league in 2003 and then in 2008. The name of the new coach will be announced next week. London newsdesk:
West Ham United FC have completed the signing of Joe Cole from Liverpool FC with the England midfielder returning to the club where he began his career on an 18-month contract. Cole, 31, made 125 Premier League appearances in his first spell at the Hammers between 1998 and 2003 before moving to Chelsea FC and Liverpool prior to a loan spell in Ligue 1 with LOSC Lille last term.

"It is a great move for me," said Cole, who has played for England 56 times. "Coming back here brings back all the memories of the pitches I learnt how to play on. This is where I learnt my trade and I'm happy to have another chance to be here. I've always loved West Ham and I hope I can give the club a few memorable seasons. The timing was right for me to come back and I'm happy. I'm back in London and I'm delighted to be here. I want to be here and I want to make an impact."

The east London club have also captured striker Marouane Chamakh from Arsenal FC on loan for the remainder of the season.




Elvir Islamović in Zagreb (@UEFAcomElvirI):
Croatian champions GNK Dinamo Zagreb have signed 24-year-old midfielder Said Husejinović from FK Sarajevo on a five-year-deal. "I had offers from few other clubs, but when I heard that Dinamo wanted me, I knew where I want to continue my career," said Husejinović, who had spells at SV Werder Bremen and 1. FC Kaiserslautern and has been capped twice by Bosnia and Herzegovina. "We found just the player that we were looking for," said Dinamo's sporting director Zoran Mamić. "He is fast and accurate, and also strong in one-on-one situations. He's got a good shot and he is dangerous for opponents."

Berend Scholten (@UEFAcomBerendS), Dutch correspondent
PSV Eindhoven
have signed Sweden Under-21 midfielder Oscar Hiljemark. The 20-year-old comes over from IF Elfsborg and has signed a contract until the summer of 2017 in Eindhoven. Having helped Elfsborg to the 2012 Swedish title he is aiming to secure another league crown this season.

"I feel good," he said. "PSV have a great reputation all over Europe. This choice feels very good. I am really eager to play at PSV. And to become champions of course, just like with Elfsborg. Two titles in one season, that would be fantastic!"

©Getty Images
 London newsdesk:
England international defenders Phil Jagielka and Ryan Shawcross (pictured below) have signed contract extensions at their respective clubs.

Everton FC centre-back Jagielka has been a key part of the Merseyside club's impressive Premier League campaign this term and has committed his future to the club until summer 2017. The 30-year-old is in his sixth season at Goodison Park and has 16 England caps to his name. "We are delighted Phil has agreed to commit his long term future here at Goodison Park," said chief executive Robert Elstone. "Phil is a hugely important and influential player and I, like many Evertonians, look forward to seeing him play in a blue shirt for many years to come."

Stoke City FC's Shawcross has also agreed a new deal, the central defender put pen to paper on a five-and-a-half-year contract. The 25-year-old has been a mainstay in the Stoke defence since moving from Manchester United FC in January 2008 and made his England debut in a friendly against Sweden on 14 November.

©Getty Images


Berend Scholten from Diest (@UEFAcomBerendS):
KAA Gent
have parted company with coach Bob Peeters by mutual consent just two months after the former Belgian international took charge. Peeters, 38, replaced Trond Sollied on 1 November a week after being dismissed from his post at Cercle Brugge KSV but leaves the club 12th in the Belgian First League after guiding them to just three points from his nine league games at the helm. A club statement read: "Both parties have put in maximum effort in order to get good results but regret that the results did not come in these difficult circumstances." London newsdesk:
Chelsea FC interim manager Rafael Benítez confirmed that goalkeeper Petr Čech will be out for two to three weeks with the groin injury that saw him miss last night's shock defeat at home to struggling Queens Park Rangers FC.

"The doctors said Čech will be out for two or three weeks," Benítez revealed after the game. "We are quite optimistic." The Chelsea boss was less committed on a timescale for John Terry's return to action with the 32-year-old defender still recovering from a knee problem sustained against Liverpool FC on 11 November. "John can do the warm-up in training with the team soon and then we will see how he progresses, but I can't give any date," said Benítez. "He has a bone oedema, some bruising, so you can't say how long it will take."

©Getty Images Spanish newsdesk:
Sevilla FC have completed the signing of attacking midfielder Miroslav Stevanović (No8 below) from FK Vojvodina for a fee reported to be in the region of €1m. The 22-year-old – who has scored one goal in five caps for Bosnia and Herzegovina – arrives at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán on a five-year contract and will be officially unveiled on Thursday morning.

©Fedja Krvavac


Celtic FC have extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League to nine points after edging a tense game against third-place Motherwell FC. Gary Hooper (pictured below) struck the only goal 11 minutes from time, firing in moments after Fraser Forster had brilliantly saved a Tom Hateley penalty at the other end. Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC therefore remain second, despite their meeting with Ross County FC being postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

©Getty Images French newsdesk:
Algerian international Foued Kadir (No14 below), 29, has joined Olympique de Marseille on a three-year deal. The attacking midfielder, who arrives for a fee of around €500,000, has been at the heart of Valenciennes FC strong start to the Ligue 1 season, scoring six goals and claiming four assists as they went into the winter break sixth. OM are third, and though Kadir linked up with his new team-mates in training today he will be on duty at the Africa Cup of Nations later this month.

©Getty Images Spanish newsdesk:
Real Madrid CF defender Pepe has had arthroscopy surgery on his right ankle and could be out for up to four weeks. The 29-year-old has been ever-present in his side's UEFA Champions League campaign this season and coach José Mourinho will be keen to see the Portuguese international return to full fitness in time for the round of 16 encounter against Manchester United FC with the first leg at the Santiago Bernabéu on 13 February.

©Getty Images Italian newsdesk:
US Città di Palermo have signed 34-year-old defender Salvatore Aronica from SSC Napoli for an undisclosed fee. Aronica, born in Palermo, has put pen to paper a contract running until 2015. "I'm sad to leave Napoli but I wanted a new challenge with a new club," he said after joining the Rosanero, who are currently 18th in Serie A. "I think my experience could help Palermo to avoid relegation." Aronica played 111 Serie A games for Napoli heping the Partenopei to win the Coppa Italia last term.

©Getty Images London newsdesk:
Premier League side Wigan Athletic FC have signed Chilean international Ángelo Henríquez on loan from Manchester United FC for the rest of the season. The 18-year-old moved to Old Trafford from Club Universidad de Chile in the summer but is yet to feature for the first team despite scoring on his international debut in a 3-1 November friendly defeat at the hands of Serbia.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for me and I am really excited because the manager has given me this chance to prove myself," he said. "Now I need to work to try and earn my place in the team." Wigan manager Roberto Martínez added: "We're really excited about Ángelo because he is a very young man with a huge potential. He's a goalscorer with clever movement inside the box and has had a very successful time with his former club Universidad. We hope to have a good partnership in terms of allowing Angelo to develop as a footballer and learn of the demands of the English game, because I feel he can bring us something different in the forward line." London newsdesk:
Manchester City FC expect to be without Sergio Agüero for around two weeks after the forward suffered a hamstring injury during the Premier League victory against Stoke City FC on Tuesday. "Sergio won't play at the weekend and is probably doubtful for the trip to Arsenal but we'll know more in 48 hours," said City assistant coach David Platt after the game. "It's too early to make an accurate assessment but it's a blow for us because he's been playing so well. There are different degrees of hamstring injuries which is why we need to assess the extent of what has happened until Thursday."

©AFP/Getty Images


FC Augsburg have signed versatile South Korea forward Ji Dong-won, 21, on loan until the end of the season from Sunderland AFC. "It is nice that we managed to wrap up the transfer before the start of winter training," said the struggling Bundesliga outfit's sporting director, Stefan Reuter.

Reading FC have signed Sporting Clube de Portugal's erstwhile captain Daniel Carriço on a two-and-a-half-year contract in a deal worth in the region of €750,000. The versatile 24-year-old, who can play in the centre of defence as well as in midfield, wrote an open letter to Sporting's fans.

"It is with mixed emotions that I write this farewell message," he said. "I'm leaving the club of my heart, where I had the privilege of graduating through the youth ranks and serving for several years. I'm leaving because I understand that I am at a stage in my career when I have to take chances." Reading are second from bottom in the Premier League.

©Getty Images Spanish newsdesk:
RC Deportivo La Coruña
have moved quickly to instal a new man at the helm after José Luis Oltra's departure yesterday ... French Newsdesk
AS Saint-Étienne have brought in midfielder Yohan Mollo until the end of the season, the 23-year-old joining from Ligue 1's bottom side AS Nancy-Lorraine with the option to make the move permanent in the summer. "It wasn't an easy decision but we followed the player's desire," said Nancy's vice president Nicolas Holveck, whose club have re-signed former Morocco defender Abdeslam Ouaddou on a six-month contract. Ouaddou spent two seasons with Nancy before his 2012 departure and left Qatar SC at the end of last season.

Seamus Coleman has signed a new contract with Everton FC that will keep the Republic of Ireland defender at Goodison Park until 2018. "I'm over the moon," said the 24-year-old, who has made 12 Premier League appearances this season. "I'm glad to get it all done and to sign for so long at a club like Everton is a great achievement; I want to be here for as long as possible. I'm really looking forward to the next couple of years."

Everton, meanwhile, are likely to be without Coleman's Ireland team-mate Darron Gibson for a month. The midfielder has a thigh strain. Spanish newsdesk:
RC Deportivo La Coruña
have parted company with coach José Luis Oltra (below), club president Augusto César Lendoiro explaining that with the Galician outfit bottom of the Spanish Liga, it is "the right time for a change". Oltra, 43, oversaw Deportivo's promotion last term, his charges breaking the division record for points in a season. Yet 17 games into this campaign they have mustered just 12 points, conceding 39 in the process.

©Getty Images



Emmanuel Scheffer, the man who led Israel to the 1970 FIFA World Cup, has died aged 89. The Polish-born coach had two stints at the national helm after arriving in the country in 1950, between 1968-70 and 1978-80. He is best remembered for the initial spell, guiding Israel to the Olympic football tournament quarter-finals, where they bowed out after a coin toss against Bulgaria. Two summers later he led them to Mexico and the World Cup, their first and as yet only appearance at a major final tournament. He passed away on 28 December.

©Getty Images


UEFA Champions League round of 16 contenders Celtic FC suffered a 1-0 defeat by Hibernian FC on Saturday. Leigh Griffiths' 14th league goal of the season condemned the Scottish Premier League leaders to their fourth top-flight loss this term. Celtic's lead at the summit stands at six points following draws for nearest challengers Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC and Motherwell FC. Neil Lennon's side face Juventus in the last 16, with the first leg in Glasgow on 12 Feburary.

©Getty Images
 German Newsdesk
Midfielder Lewis Holtby has announced that he will leave FC Schalke 04 when he contract expires in June. The 22-year-old German international has decided against extending his current deal with the Bundesliga club, who last week tied down Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to a new contract until 2015. "We had hoped that Lewis would also see his future at Schalke beyond this season, but like Klaas-Jan he has now come to a personal decision that we respect," said Horst Heldt, Schalke board member with responsibility for sport/communications. "We're sure that he will do everything to contribute to the sporting success of our team until the last day of the season." Schalke take on Galatasaray AŞ in the UEFA Champions League round of 16.

©Getty Images



Peter Bruun in Copenhagen
FC Nordsjælland's Jesper Hansen has been named Denmark's goalkeeper of the year. The prize is based on votes from the goalkeepers in the Superliga and the 1. Division and is arranged by the Danish magazine Tipsbladet, who have run the award since 1984. "It's fantastic news, and of course I'm happy," said the 27-year-old. "It was a great moment, as it's the highest honour you can achieve in this country." Hansen, who missed only one league game in 2011/12 as Nordsjælland claimed the Danish title and played every minute of the club's maiden UEFA Champions League group stage campaign, finished ahead of FC København's Johan Wiland, who won the title the previous two years, in the vote.

Fifth in the Portuguese Liga, Rio Ave FC have signed striker Bebé (pictured below left) on a six-month loan from Manchester United FC. The 22-year-old, who has not featured this term for United, spent last season on loan at Beşiktaş JK, but was restricted to just four appearances after suffering a serious knee injury while on Portugal Under-21 duty. Bebé has previously played in his homeland for CF Estrela da Amadora and was registered to Vitória SC for a matter of weeks before moving to Old Trafford in August 2010.

Wayne Rooney, meanwhile, is likely to be sidelined for two to three weeks after straining a knee ligament in training on Christmas Day. The forward was a spectator as the Red Devils overcame Newcastle United FC 4-3 on Wednesday, a result which helped Sir Alex Ferguson's team stretch their lead at the Premier League summit to seven points.

©Getty Images German newsdesk:
Borussia Dortmund have signed German youth international Marian Sarr from Bayer 04 Leverkusen. The 17-year-old defender, who will officially join the Bundesliga champions on 1 January, made ten fourth-tier appearances for Leverkusen's reserve side in the first half of the season. Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said: "Marian Sarr is a great talent. He is a strong defender who we want to develop at first in our youth team." London newsdesk:
Celtic FC have extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Premier League to seven points after winning 2-0 at bottom-placed Dundee FC.

There were also games in Belgium: full results can be seen here.

And there was a full programme in the English Premier League: French newsdesk:
France goalkeeper Mickaël Landreau has agreed to join SC Bastia until the end of the season following the cancellation of his LOSC Lille contract. Bastia said that the signing will occur "later this week", with Landreau to be introduced next Monday. The 33-year-old, capped 11 times, left LOSC after losing his place to Steeve Elana. His new club sit 13th in Ligue 1 and resume competition on 6 January with a French Cup round of 64 tie against neighbours CA Bastiais.

©Getty Images German newsdesk:
Michael Wiesinger has been appointed as the new 1. FC Nürnberg coach following the departure of Dieter Hecking to VfL Wolfsburg. Read the full story here.

©Getty Images





Manchester City FC's Yaya Touré has been named as the African Player of the Year for the second time in succession following a poll of coaches and technical directors affiliated to the Confederation of African Football (CAF), UEFA's sister confederation in Africa. The Ivorian edged out his countryman Didier Drogba while FC Barcelona midfielder Alexander Song finished third, with the results being announced in a ceremony in Accra, Ghana. "I have a lot of emotion," Touré said as he received his award. "I think this night is so special for me."

©AFP/Getty Images German newsdesk:
Former TSV 1860 München and 1. FC Kaiserslautern coach Marco Kurz (below) has been appointed as Markus Babbel's long-term successor at Bundesliga strugglers TSG 1899 Hoffenheim after he departed two weeks ago.

Kurz, 43, played 300 Bundesliga games for VfB Stuttgart, 1. FC Nürnberg, Borussia Dortmund, FC Schalke 04 and 1860 München. He won the 1994/95 title with Dortmund and the UEFA Cup two years later at Schalke. Kurz initially coached SC Pfullendorf before his spells at 1860 and Kaiserslautern, who he led to promotion in 2009/10.

©Getty Images Austrian newsdesk:
Versatile FC Bayern München midfielder David Alaba (below) has been retained his Austrian footballer of the year crown, edging out FC Schalke 04's Christian Fuchs and prolific FK Austria Wien forward Philipp Hosiner.

"Aside from his incredible talent, I'm impressed by the joy with which he plays," said SK Rapid Wien boss Peter Schöttel, who voted along with the nine other Austrian Bundesliga coaches. "I get the impression that he's having a lot of fun every game he plays."

©AFP/Getty Images


UEFA,com Italian newsdesk:
Siena have also confirmed their new coach with Giuseppe Iachini replacing Serse Cosmi at Serie A's bottom club. Iachini, 48, led Sampdoria to Serie A promotion last term before being replaced in the summer by Ciro Ferrara, who himself departed the Blucerchiati today. "I’m used to talk on the pitch with my work," said Iachini, a combative midfielder in his playing days. "I promise to bring enthusiasm and work as hard as I can to keep the team in Serie A. If I'm here is because I believe in the strength of these players."

©Getty Images

 Iachini in his time at Brescia Calcio Italian newsdesk:
Update: Sampdoria have appointed Delio Rossi as successor to Ferrara. In a coaching career spreading back mnore than two decades, Rossi has coached 11 previous clubs, most recently ACF Fiorentina. Italian newsdesk:
UC Sampdoria have parted compay with coach Ciro Ferrara on the wake of the 3-1 defeat at Calcio Catania on Sunday After starting the Serie A season with three consecutive wins, newly-promoted Sampdoria are now 14th with 17 points, three above the relegation zone. Ferrara, 42, had signed a two-year contract with the Blucerchiati in the summer after leaving his post at the helm of the Italy team who subsequently qualified for the UEFA European Under-21 Championship. London newsdesk:
The users' Team of the Year 2012 vote is in full swing and former Spain midfielder Gaizka Mendieta has not needed to look far beyond his home country for his selection, which includes eight compatriots and nine Liga players. "As you'll see, my choice is quite Spanish-based, one which reflects the good times which our game is going through, thanks to the quantity and quality of players our country is producing," he said.

© 1998-2012. All rights reserved. Italian newsdesk:
AC Siena have parted company with coach Serse Cosmi in the wake of the 4-1 reverse at ACF Fiorentina on Sunday, third consecutive defeat for the side from Tuscany who are currently bottom of Serie A. The 54-year-old Cosmi joined Siena in the summer after failing to help US Lecce avoiding relegation last term. Former US Città di Palermo coach Giuseppe Iachini is the favourite to take over.

©Getty Images London newsdesk:
Forty international players, past and present, will join UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors Ronaldo and Zinédine Zidane in a star-studded line-up at the tenth annual Match Against Poverty, backed by UEFA and taking place in Porto Alegre, Brazil at 21.00 local time on 19 December.

The match has been organised to raise awareness of global development challenges and funds through ticket sales, sponsorship and broadcast rights to support projects to help reduce poverty in Brazil and Africa. The match is already a sell-out, and will be refereed by former Italian referee and current UEFA chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina.

Click here for more details on UNDP

Ronaldo & Friends Team
Danrlei, Dida, Cafú, Serginho, Réver, Junior Baiano, Roque Junior, Roberto Carlos, William, Lucas, Juninho Paulista, Zinho, Djalminha, Roger, Zico, Denilson, Ronaldo, Neymar, Leandro Damião, Bebeto, Cacá Ferrari, Romário, Edmundo, Paulinho.
Coach: Carlos Alberto Parreira

Zidane & Friends Team
Vitor Baía, Juliano Belletti, Diego Cavalieri, Emerson, Fernando Hierro, Míchel Salgado, Fernando Couto, Juan Pablo Sorín, Paolo Montero, Carlos Gamarra, Hidetoshi Nakata, Zinédine Zidane, Deco, Santiago Solari, Fredrik Ljungberg, Juan Román Riquelme, Christian Karembeu, Alex de Souza, Pedro Pauleta, Sebastián Abreu, Hulk, Falcão, Mário Jardel.
Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari





UEFA,com Swiss newsdesk:
FC Sion has a new manager, their fourth this season, in the shape of Víctor Muñoz. The 55-year-old Spaniard has signed a deal running to the end of the season. He takes over from Pierre-André Schürmann, whose contract expired at the end of the first half of the campaign. Schürmann was in charge for two months, following Sébastien Fournier and Michel Decastel at the side currently in fourth.

Muñoz previousy managed Swiss side  Xamax Neuchâtel FC as wekk as RCD Mallorca, Villarreal CF, Real Zaragoza and Panathinaikos FC. "The goal is to reach the summit," he said in his first press conference.

Vassiliki Papantonopoulou in Athens (@UEFAcomVassP):
UEFA EURO 2004-winner Kostas Katsouranis has signed an 18-month contract at PAOK FC, tying him to the Salonika outfit until June 2014. The midfielder, 33, has been training alone at the Greek national team headquarters in Agios Kosmas since being release by Panathinaikos FC on 3 October. Thirteen days later he won his 100th cap in a 1-0 victory over Slovakia, becoming Greece's fourth centurion.

©AFP/Getty Images


Stoyan Georgiev in Sofia:
Former Bulgaria coach Stanimir Stoilov has taken the reins at PFC Botev Plovdiv, replacing Ferario Spasov on a two-and-a-half-year deal. Stoilov, 45, led the national team in 2007 and then 2009/10 and made history in 2006 when he guided PFC Levski Sofia to the UEFA Champions League group stages – the only time a Bulgarian side has achieved the feat. Botev, Bulgarian champions in 1929 and 1967, were promoted last term and lie fifth in the table at the halfway stage.

©Getty Images Russian newsdesk: 
FC Spartak Moskva
have reached an agreement to sign FC Krasnodar's 25-year-old forward Yura Movsisyan. The Armenian international, who was brought up in the United States, netted 14 league goals last season and has already fired nine in 13 games this term. Movsisyan, who has five goals in 17 games for his country, has not played a single match since injuring his heel at the end of October. Spartak finished last in the UEFA Champions League Group G and are out of European competition.


©Getty Images French newsdesk:
Goalkeeper Mickaël Landreau has departed club side LOSC Lille with mutual consent after three years in northern France. "There was a difference between the vision of the player and the club," explained LOSC's assistant managing director, Frédéric Paquet. "When he told us, we took time to reflect and it sounded like a good decision."


A French international, the 33-year-old joined LOSC from Paris Saint-Germain FC in 2009 and helped the side claim a league and cup double in 2010/11. Les Dogues finished bottom of UEFA Champions League Group F this week following a 1-0 loss to Valencia CF. In goal for that game, Steeve Elana will take over as first choice as the club aim to improve on their current position of tenth in Ligue 1.


©Getty Images French newsdesk:
UEFA Champions League hopefuls Paris Saint-Germain FC are within sight of a major goalscoring milestone, having now scored 2,998 goals in competitive games. Bernard Guignedoux registered their first goal, in the French second tier in August 1970, with Domenique Rocheteau (league, 1983) scoring the 1,000th and Jay-Jay Okocha (league, 1998) bringing up the 2,000 mark. With 13 Ligue 1 goals this season, Zlatan Ibrahimović is surely among the favourites to score number 3,000, as is Ezequiel Lavezzi, who has scored three times in the UEFA Champions League in the autumn. PSG have four more games to play before Christmas.

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