Marco Reus and Toni Kroos will sit out Germany's friendly match with Russia on Thursday, head coach Joachim Low has confirmed.

Borussia Dortmund forward Reus has a bruised foot and is due to take part in light training with a view to being available for the Nations League meeting with Netherlands on Monday.

Kroos, who is yet to link up with the squad, will be given extra time to rest.

"Marco Reus can't train at the moment and unfortunately he is not available for the game against Russia," Low told a news conference.

"He is scheduled to do light running training on Thursday, but we have to look at it from day to day.

"Toni gets a few days off."

Low expects a difficult match against World Cup quarter-finalists Russia, as Germany look to restore some order following a run of just two wins in their last seven outings.

Relegation from League A of the Nations League a real possibility, but Low is not too anxious ahead of his side's final two games of 2018.

"We're in a phase of upheaval. France was an important indicator for the next few months. The result tomorrow [Thursday] is not so crucial," he said.

"Russia are back to the level they had in 2008. They're a very disciplined side, very aggressive in defence and dangerous on the counter. The coach's influence on the team is clear to see.

"We've made the mistake of regarding the Nations League too highly. A relegation wouldn't be the end of the world, either.

"If we go down, we have to accept it and then the focus is on qualification [for Euro 2020]."

Virgil van Dijk would give his Netherlands defensive partner Matthijs de Ligt a glowing reference should Liverpool want to add him to Jurgen Klopp's squad.

De Ligt's reputation has gone from strength to strength since making his Ajax debut in 2016 and establishing himself at the heart of the club's defence.

A first international call-up followed last year and this season De Ligt has been linked with a string of Europe's top clubs – with Barcelona said to be at the front of the queue.

Paris-Saint Germain, Inter and Liverpool have also been named as potential destinations for the 19-year-old, who is contracted with Ajax until 2021.

Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman expects the teenager to leave the Eredivisie in the near future but Van Dijk has yet to be asked about his international team-mate by Liverpool's hierarchy.

"He will be on the [Liverpool] lists because they have enough scouts at the club," he told De Telegraaf.

"No [they haven't mentioned De Ligt], but if they need my opinion, I'll give it.

"He is already very far, especially for his age. [He is] a good defender, good boy, calm, knows what he wants and hopefully he makes the right choice."

But Van Dijk does not expect De Ligt to take his record as the world's most-expensive defender, Liverpool having paid £75million for the 27-year-old in January.

"They will pay less for Matthijs," he added. "The amount for me was very high.

"It's just like that and if he ever becomes the most expensive defender, I'll be the first to congratulate him."

Malcom has described team-mate Lionel Messi as "a football alien" and pledged to take full advantage of the opportunity to play alongside the talismanic superstar at Barcelona.

The Brazilian was included alongside Messi in Barcelona's starting line-up for the first time in Sunday's clash with Real Betis at Camp Nou, though the duo could not prevent the hosts slipping to a 4-3 defeat.

Despite finding his opportunities limited since arriving from Bordeaux in July, Malcom is relishing the chance to learn from a true footballing great.

"A few minutes before starting the match, in the tunnel, he told me that when he gets the ball he will find me," Malcom said in an interview with ESPN Brasil. "And he does because he's a football alien.

"He's someone who always wants the best for the group. This is why he's the captain and someone who can inspire players to give their best because, coming from someone who has five Ballon d'Or awards, you end up doing well and you're motivated to do it."

"For me, he's the best in the world," he added. "It's difficult to talk about.

"You never know what he's going to do because he never gives anything away, so it's difficult to know which direction he's going to go in.

"Simply by exchanging passes with him, I am learning so much.

"I want to take advantage of this opportunity to the maximum."

The 21-year-old admitted that he was looking forward to a move to Roma when Barcelona came in for him, but said he had no regrets about heading to Spain.

"I was going to Roma and I was very happy," he said.

"Then the opportunity to sign for Barcelona arrived and I did not think twice because it had been my dream since I was a kid.

"Being here is a dream come true."

Christian Pulisic thinks "the sky is the limit" for Borussia Dortmund team-mate Jadon Sancho.

Sancho has plundered four goals and six assists in 11 Bundesliga matches this season to help propel his side to the top of the table.

The 18-year-old's performances in Germany have also seen him establish himself in the senior England squad, underlining the success of his decision to leave Manchester City in search of first-team football in 2017.

And Pulisic, another of Dortmund's talented young forwards, believes Sancho has a great career ahead of him.

"The sky is the limit for a guy like that," he told Sky Sports. "He's got so much talent and he's a great young player.

"We've talked about playing against each other possibly. It would be a lot of fun because obviously we are in training and competing every day and it's cool to see a guy like that."

Pulisic believes Sancho's success in Germany proves the importance of making bold choices in football.

"Sometimes you have to take a risk if you want great things to happen," said the United States international, who could face Sancho in Thursday's friendly match against England at Wembley.

"I had to do the same thing moving to Germany. I'm really happy for him that things are working out and just want him to continue to push and continue to get better."

Christian Pulisic indicated he would be open to joining a Premier League club but says he avoids speculation over his Borussia Dortmund future.

Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham are reportedly among the clubs interested in buying the versatile 20-year-old from the Bundesliga leaders.

But United States international Pulisic, whose side face England in a friendly at Wembley on Thursday, is not worried about transfer talk.

"As you can see, we are having a great year at Dortmund and I am enjoying every moment of that," Pulisic told reporters in London. 

"Then, when the time comes for me to talk in the breaks about my future, then that’s when those things happen.

"Like I said before, reading these articles [about his future], I tend to stay away from that stuff. I know it is going to be there but it is not my priority.

"England and the Premier League, it is a league where lots of kids dream of playing, so there is no reason why maybe one day I won’t play here."

Thursday's game against the Three Lions will see Wayne Rooney make his 120th and final appearance for England, with some proceeds from the game going towards the striker's charity.

Rooney has thrived in MLS since leaving Premier League side Everton for DC United, with Pulisic inspired by the longevity of the former Manchester United attacker's career.

"He was a very passionate guy, and I loved watching that about him," Pulisic said of England's all-time leading goalscorer. "He worked so hard, and my dad always told me he was a good guy to look up to. I still agree with that.

"A guy like him has had such a successful career, that's something I can look at and I want to be just like that. I want to have a long career, wherever I may be, [and one where] I'm doing the best I can.

"Now he's ended up in MLS. Who knows if I'll end there one day? But it's great to see that and it's great to look up to a guy like that.

"What he's done in Europe and now what he's doing in MLS is honestly great for our country as well because he's gone there and you can see what he's still doing over there. It's great to see."

Suso has declared his pride at being linked with a move to Real Madrid but insists he is happy at AC Milan.

The Spain international is reportedly a target for Madrid, with Milan having rejected interest from rivals Inter ahead of the 2018-19 season.

Suso has scored three goals in his last five appearances, his fine form helping to push Gennaro Gattuso's side up the Serie A table.

But although the 24-year-old - who spent a season on loan at Almeria from Liverpool - would welcome a LaLiga return, he does not intend to push for a move home at this stage of his career.

"When the best teams in the world are interested in you, it is to be proud that things are going well. Who would not be happy to have them interested in you?" Suso told Radio Marca. 

"To make the jump to one of the biggest teams in the world is always to be happy.

"Playing at home is always beautiful, now I am in a country whose culture is very similar to the Spanish one and, at the moment, I am very happy there.

"I feel important in the team, I am very comfortable, I am happy and with the coach I get along quite well."

Milan have climbed into Champions League contention in Serie A but speculation continues to surround the future of Gattuso.

Arsene Wenger denied he was being lined up as a successor to Gattuso, with Suso backing the current coach to keep the Rossoneri on the right track.

"It's like when he played, he has not lost that intensity as a coach," Suso added. "When he finishes training he's the nicest and friendliest person you can find, he's the perfect man for the club we're at."

Giovani Lo Celso will sign permanently for Real Betis when his loan from Paris Saint-Germain comes to an end, according to club president Jose Miguel Lopez Catalan.

The 22-year-old midfielder has been in fine form since joining Betis in August and shone in the club's shock 4-3 victory over Barcelona on Sunday.

Lo Celso scored in the 71st minute at Camp Nou to put Betis 3-1 up and put in an eye-catching performance in a game that saw Lionel Messi score twice for the hosts on his return from injury.

Lopez Catalan said the club would endeavour to keep Lo Celso when his loan expires in June, and explained that Betis have a compulsory clause to purchase the player should they qualify for European competition as well as first refusal if they do not.

"It is very clear that Lo Celso is going to stay at Betis," Lopez Catalan told Radio Marca.

"We are convinced. We were convinced throughout the summer."
 
Lopez Catalan was in talks with Barcelona over the potential signing of Rafinha before the season started but he claimed that Lo Celso was always the preferred option.

"He was our option number one and is proving that he is the player we believed," said the Betis chief.

"There is a mandatory purchase option for €25million if we enter Europe. And if not, it is optional for us and mandatory for PSG, if we carry it out."

Germany are in danger of suffering relegation as the inaugural Nations League nears the conclusion of the tournament's opening phase.

With the last fixtures set to be played over the next few days, teams will be seeking to round off their campaigns on a high with plenty still to be decided.

All four places in the Nations League finals remain up for grabs, while only two teams have been promoted (Georgia and Ukraine) or relegated (Iceland and Poland) so far.

Here, we bring you up to speed with all the latest Nations League permutations ahead of this week's clashes including Netherlands versus France and Italy hosting Portugal.

 

LEAGUE A: RACE FOR THE FINALS

A trophy is up for grabs at the end of the first Nations League cycle, with four teams set to compete in semi-finals and a final at the end of the 2018-19 European club season.

World Cup winners France lead the way in Group 1 with seven points from three games, but Netherlands can overhaul them with two wins in their remaining fixtures. A draw in Rotterdam on Friday would send France to the finals, though.

Belgium or Switzerland will emerge as the winners of Group 2, with a straight shoot-out between the two for the final berth. Switzerland must win by two clear goals to guarantee their progression, while Belgium only need to be victorious.

Portugal top Group 3 and only need a draw in Italy on Saturday while Roberto Mancini's men must beat the Euro 2016 champions and hope they do not take three points against Poland.

Despite losing at home to England last month, Spain remain frontrunners in Group 4 with victory in Croatia on Thursday enough to send them through to the finals at England's expense. 

RACE FOR PROMOTION

Group 1's promotion place has already been secured by Ukraine, who have three wins out of three, while Russia will emerge from Group 2 if Sweden do not beat Turkey. Russia only need a point in Solna to be certain of their status as group winners.

A point against Austria would secure Group 3's promotion place for Bosnia-Herzegovina, who have a perfect record from their three games so far, Roma's Edin Dzeko having hit three goals in the competition to date.

Group 4 is up for grabs but Wales will claim top spot if they can beat Denmark. Victory in Cardiff on Friday, though, would send the Danes into the first division.

A point in Scotland would send Israel into League B, while Alex McLeish's side need maximum points this month to keep their own promotion hopes alive.

Finland also need a single point from their games against Greece or Hungary to top Group 2, with Norway and Bulgaria battling for first place in Group 3.

Serbia will be promoted out of Group 4 on Saturday if they win at home to Montenegro and Romania fail to beat Lithuania.

Already promoted from League D are Georgia thanks to their perfect record in Group 1, while Luxembourg will join them in League C with victory over Belarus on Thursday.

Group 3's promotion place looks likely to go to Kosovo, who need to win in Malta and hope Azerbaijan do not beat the Faroe Islands. Azerbaijan need maximum points from two games to seal promotion.

Gibraltar have been one of the big success stories of the Nations League but Macedonia will pip them to Group 4's promotion place if they take four points from their remaining fixtures, the last of which is away to Gibraltar.

BATTLE AGAINST RELEGATION

League D is the bottom rung of the ladder so there is no further to fall for Group 3's San Marino, who are yet to collect a point in the Nations League.

Albania will be relegated out of League C's Group 1 unless they win in Scotland, while Group 2's bottom side Estonia will be relegated if they lose to Hungary.

Slovenia need four points from games at home to Norway and away to Bulgaria if they are to avoid relegation at the expense of Cyprus in Group 3.

Group 4's relegation place is likely to be taken up by Lithuania, who have no points so far and must win in Romania and Serbia to have any chance of staying in League C.

Slovakia could be heading for League C as they occupy bottom place in Group 1 with zero points, but Czech Republic can seal their fate with a draw in Prague on Monday.

They reached the World Cup quarter-finals but Sweden will be relegated out of Group 2 if they lose in Turkey, who would drop down if they are beaten.

Austria only need a point from their remaining two Group 3 matches to ensure Northern Ireland - yet to secure a point - drop into League C.

Republic of Ireland look set to join their near neighbours in the third tier as Martin O'Neill's side will be relegated unless Denmark lose to Wales, then they pick up three points in Aarhus.

WHY IT MATTERS

Gibraltar securing their first ever competitive victories in international football showed just how important the Nations League can be to smaller nations.

And there remains the possibility of a place in the Euro 2020 for some countries depending on how they perform in their remaining matches.

League B, C and D promoted teams go into a play-off tournament for Euro 2020 if they do not make it through the standard qualification process.

And even those sides who cannot be promoted still have something to play for as their overall Nations League ranking affects their seeding for December 2's Euro 2020 qualifying draw.

James Rodriguez faces several weeks on the sidelines after Bayern Munich announced the midfielder has a knee injury.

The Colombia international has started five Bundesliga games and was an unused substitute for Saturday's 3-2 Klassiker defeat away to Borussia Dortmund.

That loss left the champions seven points behind their rivals and news of James' injury deals a further blow to under-pressure head coach Niko Kovac.

Bayern confirmed on Wednesday that James has sustained a partial lateral collateral ligament tear in his left knee in training on Tuesday, an injury that will keep him out for several weeks.

"James' knee will initially be rested for 10 days before he begins treatment and rehabilitation," a club statement read.

James, 27, is therefore expected to miss the rest of 2018 and will not be able to play any further part in Bayern's Champions League group campaign.

Bayern have taken 10 points from four matches with group games at home to Benfica and away to Ajax to come.

Kovac, under fire after Bayern's slow start under his leadership, last month denied reports of a rift with James, who is on loan at the club from Real Madrid.

"We have a lot of international players. There will always be cases where one player plays and another doesn't," Kovac said. "James is a player of extraordinary quality and is important for the club. He's proved that several times, but I can't play with 12 men. He will play as many games as others."

James Rodriguez faces several weeks on the sidelines after Bayern Munich announced the midfielder has a knee injury.

Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet has played down rumours of unrest surrounding team-mate Ousmane Dembele, who missed the club's defeat to Real Betis due to an illness that has been the subject of debate.

Reports claimed that Barca were unhappy with the way Dembele informed them of a stomach bug ahead of the game, and France coach Didier Deschamps added to the furore by publicly stating that the midfielder is frequently late for international team duties.

But Lenglet joined Blaugrana coach Ernesto Valverde in backing the 21-year-old, saying he believed Dembele's illness was a genuine reason for missing the 4-3 reverse at Camp Nou.

"I do not think there's any problem with him," said Lenglet.

"He was sick, he could not be in training and the coach chose another player.

"Those are things that happen in all the clubs and we all have to work for the same goal."

Dembele has not started a league game for Barcelona since the 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao on September 29, despite fellow forward Lionel Messi spending a spell on the sidelines with a fractured arm.

Messi returned to match action and scored twice in the defeat against Betis, and Lenglet spoke about the experience of working alongside one of the world's best players.

The 23-year-old, who joined Barcelona from Sevilla in July, said of Messi: "As a rival you try to stop him but we always knew it was very difficult, as a team-mate it is different because he can change the game and he is still a very humble person, he has great respect for everyone and that makes his legend even bigger.

"We talk about a lot of things, he asks me about French football and we talk about how to play on the field, chatting with him is different from everything.

"When the best player in the world speaks, you have to listen very carefully, and not only that. open your eyes very well and look at what he does."

Claudio Ranieri's appointment as Fulham's new manager came out of the blue, but the Premier League strugglers have drafted in one of football's most experienced coaches.

Ranieri earned global acclaim when he led outsiders Leicester City to the Premier League title in 2015-16, the first time the club had ever topped England's summit.

The former Inter and Juventus boss has also got plenty of Premier League experience from his time at Chelsea, with the Blues finishing second in the table in the 2003-04 campaign.

Ranieri worked with Jokanovic during his time in charge at Stamford Bridge, but what else do we know about the Italian's career to date? With the help of Opta, we take a look at the numbers.

18 - Fulham will be the 18th team Ranieri has coached in his managerial career. His previous clubs include Monaco, Juventus, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, as well as the Greece national team.

60.53 - Ranieri's most successful win ratio at a major club dates back to his spell at Monaco between 2012 and 2014. He led them to promotion from Ligue 2 and they finished second behind Paris Saint-Germain the following season.

17.65 - In contrast, Ranieri only won six of his 34 games during a spell in charge of Cagliari at the start of his career. They also managed just 29 goals during his tenure.

24 - Ranieri lasted only 24 matches in his second stint with Valencia, having rejoined the Spanish side at the start of the 2004-05 LaLiga season. After winning just 10 games, Ranieri left the following February.

262 - In his first taste of the Premier League, Ranieri spent nearly four years in charge of Chelsea. The Italian - dubbed 'The Tinkerman' due to his ever-changing line-ups - saw his side score 262 goals in 146 matches.

41 - Most recently, Ranieri was in charge of Nantes, as he returned to Ligue 1. However, he lasted a single season, his team conceding 41 goals in their 38 matches and scoring only 36 times. His spell ended with a 36.84 win percentage.

57.14 - In the Champions League, Ranieri has the same 57.14 per cent win ratio at two of his former clubs - Leicester City and Inter. The Foxes sacked him while they were still in the competition, having lost 2-1 away to Sevilla in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

209 - Fulham's first game under Ranieri will be at home to fellow strugglers Southampton, on November 24. It will be his 210th Premier League match as a manager.

Santiago Solari will not last long as Real Madrid head coach, according to Diego Maradona.

Solari's appointment on an 18-month deal was confirmed on Tuesday after he won four games out of four in an interim spell in charge following Julen Lopetegui's sacking.

Maradona, though, compared the decision to give Solari a deal to 2021 with Argentina leaving Lionel Scaloni in charge after Jorge Sampaoli departed.

"I would only say that in both cases that they don't have enough backing for both teams," Maradona told Marca.

"However, if they were put there then it was because they had the backing of the Argentina federation president and the Real Madrid president, but I don't think they will be around for long.

"Coaches have a life span and theirs will not be too long."

Madrid will be hoping Solari can emulate the success of Zinedine Zidane, who won three Champions League titles in a row after stepping up from Castilla.

"It is different when you talk about lifespans if you are called Zidane compared to Scaloni or Solari," Maradona added.

The Argentina icon is now in charge of Dorados but says he would have relished the chance to lead Madrid.

"I would have loved it," he added. "I have big enough shoulders for it but things didn't work out that way. Now I am at Dorados and I am happy."

Jadon Sancho was a transfer target for Bayern Munich, the Bundesliga champions' sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic confirmed.

Sancho joined Borussia Dortmund from Manchester City in August 2017 and has made a fantastic start to the new season with Lucien Favre's side four points clear at the top of the table after 11 games.

The 18-year-old has recorded a league-high six assists despite often being used as a substitute, while he starred in Saturday's 3-2 Klassiker win over Bayern.

And Salihamidzic has now revealed Bayern also tried to sign Sancho, 18, when he left City in search of more first-team opportunities.

"The truth is that Bayern Munich did want to sign Jadon Sancho and made him an offer which he, unfortunately, refused," Salihamidzic told Sport Bild.

Reports in Germany previously claimed Bayern were offered the chance to sign Sancho but instead rejected a transfer involving the teenager.

Sancho, whose form has earned his maiden England cap, explained he joined Dortmund due to the club's history of promoting young talent.

Other youthful stars that have helped fire Dortmund to the Bundesliga's summit include Christian Pulisic and Jacob Bruun Larsen.

Steven Gerrard says winning as a manager is a "great buzz" but the Rangers boss is targeting titles.

Rangers sit third in the Scottish Premiership table, two points off leaders Celtic in a congested title race, after Sunday's 7-1 demolition of Motherwell.

Gerrard's men have been less consistent in Europe, though, surrendering the lead three times in a 4-3 Europa League loss away to Spartak Moscow last week.

But the Liverpool legend feels silverware is a realistic target for Rangers in his first season at the club - as well as the maiden campaign of his managerial career.

"Winning as a player is fantastic, winning as a manager now is a great buzz," Gerrard said in a Daily Mail interview.

"Losing? There is no difference in the hurt. Winning a trophy as a player? Now that's special, incredible.

"And I would love to be in a position where I experience that as a manager. That is what I want. I want to win a trophy - achieve something special."

Gerrard's hopes of securing the Scottish League Cup disappeared when Rangers were beaten 1-0 by Aberdeen in the semi-finals last month.

But the 38-year-old feels his background has given him a solid foundation for a coaching career that began in Liverpool's academy system.

"There's pressure," Gerrard said. "There's responsibility. But when I stopped playing, there was a void in my life.

"But I didn't see myself just having an easy, comfortable life. There's time for that. While I feel I can help players - and while there are still opportunities to have that buzz - I'm game for a challenge. I'll give it my best shot.

"It smacks you right in the face, the size of the job, when you have 25 fellas staring at you, waiting for every word that is going to come out of your mouth. Away from the cameras, it's candid and raw. I've never had any help in terms of public speaking.

"The only experience I have had is myself, as Liverpool captain, doing it off the cuff. I've never had any advice because I always wanted to be authentic and real.

"I don't want someone to change me into this spokesman with big words and try to kid people on. I'm a Scouser from a council estate. I never want to lose that because it's me.

"It's the reason I've gone on the journey as a player and it's the reason that I have ended up at Rangers."

Page 1 of 377

SportsMax Zone

Latest Tweets

'Taxi' gets his reward for consistent hard work with the Red Bulls. See story here: https://t.co/GXYEyHEeF9 #RBNY… https://t.co/lV6fR6MRml
With two world titles and a world-age-group record under her belt in 2018, can Briana Williams win the prestigious… https://t.co/RKPSGBglpp
Join the discussion! Zone Blitz: Nicholas has always shown promise but does he have a future with the Windies? … https://t.co/gvqGRKaHQD
Follow SportsMax on Twitter
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.