McCarthy ready for ´cup final´ against Denmark after Switzerland defeat

Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy says a “cup final” against Denmark awaits his players after defeat to Switzerland damaged their hopes of qualifying for Euro 2020.

Haris Seferovic opened the scoring before a Shane Duffy own goal secured the Swiss a 2-0 win over their 10-man opponents on Tuesday, with the visitors having Seamus Coleman sent off.

McCarthy’s team remain top in Group D with Denmark level with them on points. Switzerland are a point further back but both they and the Danes have a game in hand before the final round of fixtures on November 18. 

Denmark finish up with a trip to Dublin, where they ended Ireland’s 2018 World Cup hopes in the play-offs.

“We’ve got to play Denmark now at home,” said McCarthy. “I would’ve taken that at the start and I’ll take it now. We’ve still got a chance to qualify automatically.”

He added: “We’ve got ourselves a cup final against Denmark next month and if you have handed me that before the group began, I’d have taken it.”

A philosophical McCarthy had no complaints over the outcome as his team were beaten for the first time in the group, capping a disappointing few days following a 0-0 draw against Georgia.

“We were beaten by the better team, much the better team actually,” he added,

“Certainly in the first half we didn’t play particularly well. Whatever system we play it does not excuse our wayward passing and the stuff that we did.

“I changed it midway through the second half and that settled things down a bit. Second half we played much better. I think it was a performance that we can be proud of, certainly when the players went down to ten men. Second half, not the first half.”

Midfielder Glenn Whelan admitted they gave their hosts “too much respect” in the first half in Geneva.

“We stood off them a little bit but, in the second half, we had a go and tried to get back in the game,” he added.

“I think, for us, we need to do that all of the time. We show teams too much respect and then get sloppy on the ball. If we are on the front foot we will get the fans behind us and give anyone a go.”

Switzerland boss Vladimir Petkovic praised his team’s response after defeat to Denmark in their previous outing but insisted they still have much to do despite having the easiest run-in.

“It was a good performance. We had to show a reaction after losing to Denmark and that’s what we did,” he said.

“The result doesn’t mean a lot in the group – we still need to get results in our next two games. If we get the points we need against Georgia and Gibraltar, we can turn our attentions to Euro 2020.”

Spain suffered in Sweden en route to Euro 2020 qualification – Ceballos

Dani Ceballos acknowledged Spain were made to suffer before sealing their place at Euro 2020 with a dramatic 1-1 draw in Sweden.

Marcus Berg’s 50th-minute opener and an abductor injury for David de Gea looked set to add up to a frustrating outing for Robert Moreno’s men on Tuesday.

But Valencia striker Rodrigo Moreno came off the bench to poach a stoppage-time equaliser and make certain of qualification for next year’s European Championship.

Spain were on the receiving end of a similar fightback when Norway snatched a 1-1 draw in their previous match and Arsenal playmaker Ceballos – who operated at the tip of a midfield diamond during an impressive opening – noted improvement in Stockholm.

“Against Norway we were more hesitant. Today we were very plugged in,” Ceballos said.

“If Thiago [Alcantara’s] chance had gone in, the game would have been different. The team is growing, it’s time to be united for Euro 2020.

“The point gives us glory. In the first 30 minutes we dominated, but then it was complicated by the goal and injury to De Gea.

“The team has known how to suffer and we leave with good feelings of achieving our goal.

Moreno made six changes to the side that faced Norway but Spain’s squad unity looked in good order as the bench deliriously joined in Rodrigo’s celebrations.

“It has been crazy to look at the bench and see [unused substitute Sergio] Busquets celebrate with Rodrigo,” Ceballos added.

“That reflects the good atmosphere of the dressing room, with the coach also celebrating like crazy. We have a good dressing room.”

Italy match record winning run but Mancini sees room for improvement

Italy matched a national team record as a 5-0 thrashing of Liechtenstein stretched their winning streak to nine games, but head coach Roberto Mancini’s still sees areas where they can improve.

The Azzurri, who qualified for Euro 2020 by beating Greece at the weekend, eased to victory against Group J minnows Liechtenstein on Tuesday.

Victory means the current crop have equalled the achievement of the Italy team that played under Vittorio Pozzo, with their run spanning from May 1938 to March 1939.

Mancini, however, is more interested in another Pozzo record, as he explained following proceedings at the Rheinpark Stadion.

“Matching Pozzo’s record of victories is nice, but I’d rather match his record of winning two World Cups!” Mancini, who also said there was still plenty of improvements for his side to make, told Rai Sport.

“It was natural with so many changes that we’d lack some consistency. There were some positives, other things we can improve, but the main issue was that these players haven’t really worked together before.”

Federico Bernardeschi opened the scoring inside two minutes – the Azzurri’s fastest goal since June 2013 – though Italy had to wait until midway through the second half to double their lead.

Andrea Belotti headed home in the 70th minute, sparking a flurry of goals, the forward grabbing another after Alessio Romagnoli and Stephan El Shaarawy had also scored.

El Shaarawy’s goal marked his first Italy appearance since 2017 and the former Roma and AC Milan forward admitted it was an emotional moment.

“There was a bit of everything. It was emotional for me, very satisfying to be back on the field in an Italy jersey,” El Shaarawy told Rai Sport.

“I feel Italy really deserved this qualification and these results, as we are all working so hard and are very pleased with how things are going.

“I was so hungry to be out there, as my last game for Italy was two years ago, the play-off that saw us fail to reach the World Cup. I needed to change the impressions from that match.”

Inter Milan thinking about Ruben Neves

Inter Milan are expected to do a lot of work in the January and the next summer transfer window, at least according to the media reports. With the news of Crystal Palace being interested in signing Gabriel Barbosa a.k.a. Gabigol for around 30 million euros, the Italian side could be possibly getting into another business with an English club.

This time it would be Wolverhampton Wanderers, as Inter are interested in their star player Ruben Neves. There are certain reports suggesting that the Portuguese midfielder could find himself the subject of an attempted purchase in the new year.

The 22-year-old is currently closing in on a hundred games for the club, having joined Wolves back in 2017 when they were still playing in the Championship. Since then, he helped them get promoted and then even to reach Europa League group stages. Inter are hoping to make him a marquee midfield signing under Antonio Conte.

Switzerland 2-0 Republic of Ireland: Seferovic and Fernandes strike blow to Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifying

Haris Seferovic and Edimilson Fernandes both scored to deal a massive blow to the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifying hopes as Switzerland edged past the Republic of Ireland 2-0 in UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying on Tuesday evening.

The Benfica man gave the hosts the lead just after the quarter of an hour mark as he blasted home a low shot from outside of the penalty area. The Swiss were by far the most creative throughout the game and looked like they were going to put a seal on their win late on as a Seamus Coleman handball saw them awarded a spot-kick. However, Ricardo Rodriguez could not beat Darren Randolph.

The Swiss did eventually get their second right at the death as Fernandes found plenty of room at the far post and swept the ball into the net, albeit via a massive deflection off of Shane Duffy.

Swiss enjoy positive start

In a match that was initially in doubt due to severely testing conditions, the hosts started the better as Granit Xhaka tested Randolph with a powerful, low effort.

The Middlesbrough stopper could not do anything as Switzerland opened the scoring though. Seferovic lined up his target from the edge of the area and with assistance from the greasy pitch, the ball skimmed into the bottom corner.

Newcastle man Fabian Schar then could have doubled the lead but curled a brilliant shot just wide. Seferovic then could also have doubled his night’s work as he did well to control the ball on his chest in the box but fired some way over the crossbar.

Hosts continue to be the better side

The Benfica striker continued to be the hosts’ most dangerous weapon throughout the game. It took a wonderful reaction save from Randolph to once again deny the forward as he leapt from a free-kick and headed powerfully towards the top corner.

Chances continued to come for the hosts and Schar again went close as he connected with Rodriguez’s corner, only to see his headed effort bounce back off of the upright.

Coleman sees red yet again

Despite their chances, Vladimir Petković’s men looked to have been given a huge helping hand – in the literal sense. With the ball falling to Breel Embolo at the back post, the striker struck towards goal, only for the ball to slam into the arm of Seamus Coleman. Having already been cautioned in the first-half, the Everton man was given his marching orders and a penalty awarded. Thankfully for the Irish, they were not made to suffer any more as Randolph leapt across his line to halt Rodriguez’s kick.

The match was eventually rubber stamped as with the visitors committing men forwards in an effort to get back into the game, they were caught cold at the break. Former West Ham United midfielder Fernandes collected the ball at the far post and then attempted a cool finish. Duffy tried his hardest to get a block in but was left scrambling as the ball ricocheted off of him and then into the back of the net.

Final Thoughts

The result in Geneva was probably a fair one on reflection. The hosts were by far the more impressive of the two teams. Dangerous in attack whilst remaining resolute defensively, they put on a highly impressive showing. The only blot on their copy book could potentially be that they weren’t quite able to find the net more.

Mick McCarthy will be severely disappointed that the group has now opened up. The solace that he has though is that they still sit top of their qualifying group ahead of a huge game against Denmark next time.

Match Report

Switzerland: Sommer (7); Elvedi (6), Akanji (6), Schar (7); Rodriguez (7), Xhaka (6), Zakaria (6), Lichtsteiner (6) (Freuler (6), 70′); Mehmedi (6) (Fernandes (7), 28′), Seferovic (7), Embolo (7) (Steffen (N/A), 88′).

Republic of Ireland: Randolph (7); Stevens (6), Egan (5), Duffy (6), Coleman (5); Browne (6), Whelan (5), Hendrick (6); McClean (6), Collins (5) (O’Dowda (5), 46′), Connolly (5) (Hogan (5), 70′).

Goals: Seferovic (16′), Fernandes (90+3′)

Referee: Szymon Marciniak

Yellow Cards: Coleman (32′, 76′), Xhaka (32′), Browne (34′), Akanji (46′), Hendrick (55′), Duffy (66′)

Red Cards: Coleman (76′)

De Gea limps out of Sweden v Spain

David de Gea was forced off through injury during Spain’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Sweden – making him a huge doubt for Manchester United’s weekend showdown with rivals Liverpool.

Goalkeeper De Gea made a number of fine saves at the Friends Arena on Tuesday, including a fabulous double stop that immediately preceded Marcus Berg’s 50th-minute opener for the hosts.

But the damage appeared to have already been done at that stage, with 28-year-old appearing to be discomforted by his groin following a first-half clearance.

Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga warmed up extensively during half-time and De Gea made way with an hour played.

De Gea has been an ever-present for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men in the England’s top flight this season, although Sergio Romero will now be on standby to step in for United against the Premier League leaders.

Real Madrid confirm muscle bruising for injured Modric

Luka Modric escaped significant injury in Croatia’s 1-1 Euro 2020 qualifying draw with Wales, with Real Madrid confirming he suffered bruising to his right quadriceps.

The midfielder had to be helped from the pitch by Croatia’s medical staff with a minute of normal time remaining, having received a knock when he fouled Harry Wilson and earned a booking in Cardiff on Sunday.

He underwent tests after returning to his club, with the results announced on Tuesday.

“Following the tests carried out today on our player Luka Modric by the Real Madrid medical department, he has been diagnosed with a contusion to his right quadriceps,” a statement from Madrid read.

“His recovery will continue to be assessed.”

Zinedine Zidane’s side resume their LaLiga campaign with a trip to Mallorca on Saturday.

Vidal sees room for improvement after Chile win

Arturo Vidal was in no mood to paper over the cracks after Chile secured a 3-2 friendly victory over Guinea. 

The Barcelona midfielder scored from the spot as Chile came from behind to triumph at Estadio Jose Rico Perez in Spain on Tuesday.

It was Chile’s first win in normal time since June, but the performance left a lot to be desired and Vidal conceded there was plenty of room for improvement. 

“The important thing was that we won,” he said, with Reinaldo Rueda’s side having been held to goalless draw by Colombia at the weekend. “We scored three goals and that has not happened for a long time. 

“The desire and work are there, we have to wait a little longer and keep improving, we can give more. If we give everything in each game, we can reach our goals.

“We gave them the first chance and they scored with it. We had to go looking and we managed to score three goals. We have to improve, clearly.

“There are very few players left from the last 10 years, there are new players that need to be supported. In the future this team can achieve a lot.”

Jean Meneses and Felipe Mora were both on target, opening their accounts at international level. 

Cavani offers himself to Juventus

According to a recent report from Calciomercato, Juventus have been offered the services of Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani. His contract is set to expire at the end of the current season, despite the fact that he is believed to be in talks with PSG over renewing his contract. The 32 year old is open to the possibility of returning to Serie A and has reportedly reached out to the club himself, as the Uruguay forward attempts to reignite his passion for the game after a difficult few years with PSG.

Cavani’s physical presence and finishing ability has always made him one of the most dangerous goalscorers in world football, and with just a few years left of his prime before he probably starts to slow down, he definitely deserves the chance to have one last big surge at the top table.

Either way, it doesn’t feel like he’s going to be staying in Paris.

Inter Milan plan busy January window

According to a recent report from Calciomercato, Inter Milan have set out their plans for the January transfer window. The belief is that they want to bring in both a back-up forward as well as another starring midfielder, with Antonio Conte setting his sights on his former club in order to try and sign veteran forward Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman isn’t believed to be the only name on the list of stars that Inter are interested in, but that’s one of the main stars that is being reported right now.

Inter aren’t messing around when it comes to trying to add to their already impressive squad, with Conte almost certainly playing a starring role in that.

The January window doesn’t always feature some of the biggest deals with a lot of teams waiting until the summer months in order to get their business done, but Milan are ready to change that trend.