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Gennaro Gattuso backing Gianluigi Donnarumma after AC Milan fan abuse

AC Milan fans held up a banner abusing Gianluigi Donnarumma. AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso says he is standing by Gianluigi Donnarumma after the goalkeeper faced abuse from the club’s fans on Wednesday night. In the past few days, Donnarumma, 18, was reported to have written to the Serie A club demanding they rip up the contract he signed in the summer because he had been pressured into extending it. Fans held up a banner prior to Milan’s 3-0 win over Hellas Verona in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday, reading: “Psychological violence by giving you €6 million a season and signing your parasite brother? It’s time to leave… our patience is over!” Donnarumma’s name was also met with jeers when the teams were announced and the player was seen to be crying...

Bayern Munich fans accuse club of ‘away rip-off’ over ticket prices

Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes felt his side were not at their best in their 1-0 win over Cologne. A Bayern Munich supporters’ group has accused club president Uli Hoeness of exploiting away fans and breaking German Football League (DFL) regulations to do so. Fan group Munich’s Red Pride hit out at their club during the Bundesliga win over Cologne, displaying a banner that depicted Hoeness milking away fans. Another banner referenced a Hoeness quote from 2012 in which he criticised ticket prices for the Champions League final at the Allianz Arena and said he did “not regard the fans as cash cows.” Munich’s Red Pride claimed Bayern had acted against regulations by reducing the allocation of the cheapest tickets for away fans by 401 from 1,593 to 1,192. DFL...

Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar to play in Brazil charity match – Nene

Marco Verratti believes PSG will have to play two perfect games against Real Madrid to progress in the Champions League. Neymar will take part in a charity match raising funds to provide food for the needy in Brazil, former Paris Saint-Germain player Nene has told Globo. Nene, who organises the annual match in Jundiai, spoke to Neymar after attending PSG’s recent win over Lille. He confirmed that Brazil star Neymar would play in the match on Dec. 23, saying: “Neymar already took part back in 2014, and he enjoyed it so much that he promised me he would come back. “When I was with him last week, we talked a lot and he told me that we could count on him. “I am very pleased, and I hope that the stadium will be full so that there is a lot of food.” The charity matc...

Argentina’s Lionel Messi hopes football pays him back with World Cup win

Jorge Ramos breaks down each of the five qualified South American teams’ groups following the World Cup draw. The ESPN FC crew feel Group D which contains Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria could prove to be the most exciting group of them all. Nigeria will again face Argentina at a World Cup, after both were drawn into Group D with Iceland and Croatia. Lionel Messi hopes football “ends up paying” the debt the sport owes him at the 2018 World Cup after losing three straight finals with Argentina in a three-year span. Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli said after Messi’s hat trick at Ecuador in the 3-1 win in their final qualifier on Oct. 10 that football “owes Messi a World Cup.”  The Albiceleste went into that game in danger of missing out not only on ...

Could Everton’s Yannick Bolasie add style to Sam Allardyce’s steel?

Everton’s revival under Sam Allardyce continued on Wednesday with a workmanlike, and at times fortunate, 1-0 victory over Newcastle United that had all the hallmarks of ‘Big Sam’s’ teams. The Merseysiders were organised in defence, worked hard for each other, were cynical in their timewasting at times, and took one of the few chances they created as a rejuvenated Wayne Rooney took his Premier League tally for the season to nine goals. Ten points from the last 12 available, and just a single goal conceded, is chalk and cheese from earlier in the campaign when Everton couldn’t stop the bleeding in terms of goals conceded and looked genuine relegation candidates. They can probably put those thoughts to the back of their minds now, and the next step for Allardyce ...

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli: UCL win is objective, not dream

The FC crew agree that while Juventus will be favourites against Tottenham, the margin between them is slimmer than it may appear. Juventus president Andrea Agnelli has said winning the Champions League is now an objective rather than a dream. The Serie A champions have lost to Barcelona and Real Madrid in two of the past three Champions League finals, and Agnelli has now set his sights on the trophy. Speaking at the Juve Christmas dinner, he said: “We know that our objectives on the horizon must expand. “We want to win in Europe. This year we know that it is an objective, whereas in the past it was just a dream. “It’s something we are working towards, aware that what we have done in Europe has given us a new dimension. “What has made the difference these year...

Real Madrid ‘suffered’ vs. Al-Jazira due to wasted chances – Luka Modric

Real Madrid survived a scare against Al Jazira to reach their third Club World Cup final in the past four years. Gareth Bale’s late goal completed the comeback as Real Madrid advanced to the Club World Cup final. Cristiano Ronaldo’s leveler for Real Madrid against Al-Jazira puts him atop the Club World Cup goalscoring charts. Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric says his team’s inability to convert their chances was the reason why they “suffered” in Wednesday’s 2-1 Club World Cup semifinal victory against Al-Jazira in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Madrid dominated possession against Al-Jazira, but Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema missed a host of chances before the Dubai-based club took the lead when Romarinho took advantage of some poor defending. Even after...

Mario Balotelli’s Nice stay may depend on European qualification – president

Mario Balotelli helped Nice finish third last season. Mario Balotelli could leave Nice in the summer if they do not qualify for European football next season, club president Jean-Pierre Rivere has said. Balotelli joined from Liverpool last year and signed a contract for a further year after helping Nice finish third in 2016-17. Although they lost to Napoli in a Champions League playoff this season, they remain in the Europa League but are 12 points adrift of the top four Ligue 1 spots that guarantee European football. Rivere told RMC the size of Balotelli’s salary meant Nice needed to maintain a revenue stream supported by European competition. “Balotelli is a very nice guy, and he’s incredible on the pitch. He’s changing his style of play, I think he’s improv...

Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski joins top 10 Bundesliga scorers

Jupp Heynckes says Bayern Munich aren’t ready to celebrate anything despite their comfortable position at the top of the Bundesliga. Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski became one of the Bundesliga’s top 10 all-time goal scorers when he struck against Cologne on Wednesday. Lewandowski’s 60th-minute winner took his tally for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern to 166 goals in 242 matches. That puts the Poland international level with former Cologne attacker Hannes Lohr, who took 381 Bundesliga matches to reach the total. Lewandowski is 11 goals away from the tallies achieved by Klaus Allofs and Dieter Muller, next highest-placed on the list, and 13 short of 1996 European Championship winner Stefan Kuntz. He failed to reach double figures only in his first season after joinin...

Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid side controlled without dominating – Alonso

Real Madrid survived a scare against Al Jazira to reach their third Club World Cup final in the past four years. Gareth Bale’s late goal completed the comeback as Real Madrid advanced to the Club World Cup final. Cristiano Ronaldo’s leveler for Real Madrid against Al-Jazira puts him atop the Club World Cup goalscoring charts. Ex-Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso has explained how Jose Mourinho’s teams can be “in control” of games without dominating possession. Alonso was a key member of Mourinho’s Madrid side from 2010 to 2013, a period in which they at first struggled against Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, but eventually beat them to the La Liga title. Mourinho’s favoured attritional style of play has not always impressed fans or neutrals, and ...

Fabinho set to leave Monaco in summer amid Atletico Madrid, PSG links

Fabinho had seemed likely to leave Monaco before the start of the season. Fabinho has said he will leave Monaco next summer, with Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain reported to be among the clubs interested in him. Brazil international Fabinho had said he would welcome a move to Manchester United last summer, only for them to sign Nemanja Matic, and was then widely expected to join PSG. But the midfielder stayed at the Stade Louis II as teammates including Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Kylian Mbappe left. He told reporters on Wednesday that the club had given him their word that he could leave despite a contract that runs until 2021 and said: “Normally, it’s my last season at Monaco. I don’t think there’s the possibility to leave [before ...

Rafa Benitez: I don’t have information on Newcastle takeover

Wayne Rooney scored his 10th goal of the season for Everton as they held off a frustrated Newcastle side at St James’ Park. Wayne Rooney scored his 10th goal of the season for Everton as they held off a frustrated Newcastle side at St James’ Park. Wayne Rooney scored his 10th goal of the season for Everton as they held off a wasteful Newcastle side at St James’ Park. Rafa Benitez insisted he was still in the dark over Amanda Staveley’s proposed Newcastle takeover after seeing his team slump to a seventh defeat in eight Premier League outings. Wayne Rooney’s 27th-minute goal ultimately secured a 1-0 win for Everton at St James’ Park as they extended their unbeaten run under new manager Sam Allardyce to four games. Much of the talk on Tyneside ahead of kic...