Paris Saint-Germain have hit out at "immature" criticism of Marquinhos after they allowed him to miss Saturday's match at Montpellier for the birth of his second child.

A discussion on programme L'Equipe du Soir involving host Olivier Menard and former Auxerre boss Guy Roux questioned why the Brazil international should miss the Ligue 1 game.

In one exchange, Roux, 81, said: "Are the men giving birth now? Is there is no doctor in Paris for this lady to give birth?"

Marquinhos, meanwhile, posted on social media to confirm Enrico had been born on Friday, describing his birth as a "blessing" while calling his wife Carol Cabrino "a warrior".

L'Equipe du Soir issued an apology on Saturday on behalf of Menard and his panellists, some of whom had laughed and joined in with the discussion, adding their congratulations to the player.

But that did not stop PSG from making clear their displeasure with the situation.

"His wife was in the hospital for two days waiting to give birth, the club decided that Marqui stays with her," PSG's statement on Saturday read.

"The club also conveys all its congratulations and wishes of happiness to Marqui and his wife, who gave birth yesterday afternoon to their second child.

"It is with dismay that we heard the immature and hurtful remarks made yesterday in L'Equipe du Soir. 

"Coming from people who give us year-round lessons on the values of sport and life, we are surprised by the mediocrity of these remarks."

PSG added: "Very happy for you Marquinhos, as well as for the mother. Enjoy this new moment of happiness with your family."

Marquinhos, 25, also has a two-year-old daughter named Maria.

He has played in 13 of PSG's 15 league games this season, including Wednesday's 2-0 home win over Nantes.

Out-of-sorts striker Krzysztof Piatek is not the root of Milan's problems, according to head coach Stefano Pioli.

Piatek joined Milan 11 months ago from Genoa and made an instant impression, scoring seven times in his first six games.

The Polish star finished the 2018-19 campaign with 22 Serie A goals, but he has struggled to hit those heights this season, finding the net just three times and failing to score in six successive matches.

Milan, down in 11th in the table, have struggled as a result, but Pioli feels their issues are collective, rather than individual.

"There is no Piatek problem," he said at a news conference to preview Sunday's game against Bologna.

"There is a Milan that is playing well, that is working hard to climb out of this slump, a team that knows we need to do more."

Pioli feels he has no like-for-like replacements for Piatek in his squad as he considers talented 20-year-old Rafael Leao a different type of forward.

"If Piatek plays tomorrow that is because I've decided he is important for our team," Pioli added.

"If he plays like he did against Parma [in last week's 1-0 away win], it means he will have had a good game, like the rest of the team.

"Each player brings their own characteristics; Piatek is a striker, a poacher, Leao is a movement striker. There are many ways to play but the important thing is the characteristics on the field match up.

"The individual isn't important; we don't have anyone like [Lionel] Messi or [Cristiano] Ronaldo - that means we have to work as a team."

With Piatek unable to replicate last season's form, Milan have been linked with a reunion with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is available on a free as he leaves MLS side LA Galaxy.

Asked if he wanted Ibrahimovic to sign as an early Christmas present, Pioli replied: "Christmas comes on December 25 but you've been talking about these things from November.

"If I was to think about a present for now, I'd want the three points for tomorrow."

Real Madrid extended their unbeaten run to nine games in all competitions with a straightforward 2-0 win over struggling Espanyol on Saturday.

Raphael Varane opened his season account and sent Los Blancos on their way to a fourth consecutive LaLiga victory with a left-footed finish in the 37th minute.

Karim Benzema made the points safe when he swept home Federico Valverde's pass 11 minutes from full-time, making Ferland Mendy's late sending off for a needless second booking the only blight on an otherwise unfussy showing.

Madrid's win momentarily edges them three points ahead of title rivals Barcelona, who host Mallorca later on Saturday.

Vinicius Junior started for the first time since October and registered two attempts on target inside the opening 30 minutes.

Thibaut Courtois clawed away Esteban Granero's header between those chances before Varane made the breakthrough.

The defender stayed forward following a corner and finished with impressive poise after Benzema created space through neat footwork.

Vinicius escaped a potential second yellow for an ungainly collision with David Lopez, then forced goalkeeper Diego Lopez into a near-post save.

Espanyol's number one prevented Benzema from doubling the margin when the French striker broke through on goal after the interval.

Benzema squandered another good chance to put the result beyond doubt 20 minutes from full-time, turning wide from Rodrygo's cut-back.

But the 31-year-old was not to be denied, his unerring low finish after Valverde's fine build-play ensuring the late loss of Mendy for a silly foul on Victor Gomez counted for little.
 

What does it mean? Madrid building towards El Clasico

The rescheduled first Clasico of the season is fast approaching and Madrid look set to take a good deal of confidence to Camp Nou on December 18.

Zinedine Zidane's men have two games to negotiate before that big test but the head coach will be pleased with how his side has moved on from a middling start to the season.


Vinicius excites in Madrid sunshine

Vinicius has struggled for minutes this season but here it was simple to see why Zidane has ruled out a loan move.

The winger was vibrant and incisive on the left flank, with a sense of over-eagerness perhaps the only area for improvement.


Marching orders for Mendy

The absence of Marcelo due to a calf strain offered an opportunity to France defender Mendy and he had been perfectly serviceable for over 80 minutes.

That will have made it all the more frustrating for Zidane when his second-choice left-back left a foot in on Victor Gomez for the second time in the space of 20 second-half minutes, earning him a red card and forcing him out of the next match against Valencia.


What's next?

Madrid conclude their Champions League group stage commitments with a midweek trip to Club Brugge, then visit Valencia on Sunday.

Espanyol have a Europa League game at home to CSKA Moscow before next weekend's date with Real Betis.

Liverpool's two Club World Cup matches have been moved from Al Rayyan to Doha after FIFA was forced to switch the venue for the final.

The new Education City Stadium was scheduled to host the European champions in a semi-final on December 18, in addition to the final and third-place play-off on December 21.

But the official opening of the 40,000-seat venue has been delayed until 2020 after FIFA failed to complete the relevant test events on time.

The matches have been moved to the Khalifa International Stadium, which will now host five games in total.

"Construction at Education City Stadium is complete and the venue is now operational," read a FIFA statement.

"However, the necessary certification process took longer than expected and therefore the stadium was unable to host the required test events prior to the semi-final and final of the FIFA Club World Cup at full capacity.

"The priority is to ensure an enjoyable experience for all fans so it was decided to open the stadium at a later date."

Liverpool said club officials would visit Qatar in the coming days to inspect Khalifa International Stadium, "as per our protocols".

The tournament is due to begin on December 11, when Xavi's Al Sadd take on OFC Champions League winners Hienghene Sport at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha.

Italy international Fabio Quagliarella has signed a new contract with Sampdoria, the Serie A club have announced.

The veteran's deal runs until June 2021, by which point Quagliarella will be 38.

He joined Samp for a second spell in 2016 and has made a combined 184 appearances for the club across the two stints, scoring 78 times.

Former Torino, Napoli and Juventus striker Quagliarella was top scorer in Serie A last year for the first time in his career, beating Duvan Zapata, Krzysztof Piatek and Cristiano Ronaldo with his 26 goals.

That form led to him winning a recall to the Italy team in March, when he won his first cap in nine years.

He became Italy's oldest scorer later that month when he netted against Liechtenstein at the age of 36 years and 54 days.

Lionel Messi's inevitable retirement is a worrying thought but the record-breaker deserves to determine his own fate, according to Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Messi, 32, suggested the end of his career was "approaching" after winning an unprecedented sixth Ballon d'Or on Monday.

Ernesto Valverde insisted it was a natural line of thinking and nothing to be concerned about but Bartomeu told Catalunya Radio: "I worry about the day Messi goes."

He does not expect that day to come soon and outlined plans to agree a contract extension with Messi before his own term as president ends in 2021, which coincides with the expiry of the Argentine's deal.

"I would like to sign one more contract with Messi," Bartomeu said.

"He has a lot left. We have talked many times and he has no problem continuing at Barca. I have no doubt that he will play here until he retires, it is a commitment from him.

"It will end when he wants because Leo, for being the best, for giving what he has given, it will be up to him to say when he stops.

"He will set the terms. He has the right to decide how and when he wants to finish. He will never leave, this is his club, the club of his life."

Head coach Valverde is also due to become a free agent in 2021 but, unlike Messi, there looks to be a realistic chance of him leaving then or earlier.

The former Athletic Bilbao boss will hope to secure a third successive LaLiga title before decisions are made over his future.

Bartomeu said: "Valverde has a contract until the end of my term. He or Barcelona will decide. To continue with a coach depends on many variables.

"In Barcelona we have seen very short periods of coaches lately. Three [seasons] may be enough, but it is a decision that he must make.

"It depends on exhaustion, fatigue, although I see Valverde is excited, wants to do well, wants success and wants to combine these players who have won everything with the new generation."

Sydney FC surged five points clear atop the A-League as Adam Le Fondre spearheaded a 5-1 thumping of Brisbane Roar on Saturday.

Le Fondre notched twice inside the opening 45 minutes and completed his hat-trick near the end to help the champions increase the gap to second-placed Melbourne City.

Milos Ninkovic scored in between the striker's first-half double and substitute Trent Buhagiar made it four a minute after his 85th-minute introduction.

The fleet-footed forward set up Le Fondre's third moments later and only a stoppage-time Roy O'Donovan penalty prevented Brisbane from suffering complete humiliation.

Robbie Fowler's men have lost four of eight games this term to sit second from bottom.

Wellington Phoenix earlier snatched a late 2-1 win over Western Sydney Wanderers to pile the pressure on Fowler's former Liverpool team-mate Markus Babbel.

Babbel had been under pressure ahead of the trip to Westpac Stadium and his job appears to be in danger following a fourth successive defeat.

Ulises Davila converted Wellington's winner from the spot in the 89th minute after his shot struck Pirmin Schwegler in the arm, which led to a penalty following a VAR review.

Jaushua Sotirio had opened the scoring against his former club shortly after the interval, before Nicolai Muller dragged the Wanderers level in the 64th minute.

But the visitors were unable to hang on for a point and find themselves behind fourth-placed Wellington on goal difference.

Arsenal appear to be spiralling into a deeper mess as the days pass.

Just over a week on from sacking Unai Emery, the Gunners now reportedly have doubts over how long Freddie Ljungberg should be left in charge.

Misjudging the situation could have serious ramifications for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's future.

 

TOP STORY – DOUBTS EMERGE OVER LJUNGBERG

Arsenal fear interim boss Ljungberg's lack of managerial experience will force them to make a full-time appointment before the end of the season, reports The Mirror.

Gunners chiefs seemed set to back the Swede when Emery was moved aside but a draw with Norwich City at Carrow Road and the 2-1 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion in midweek have cast doubt over his capabilities.

Action could be taken sooner rather than later as the club mull over a list of potential targets, particularly as there are "growing concerns" about star striker Aubameyang .

The 30-year-old has reportedly stalled on contract talks and the lack of clarity over the head coaching position could end with Arsenal being forced to sell one of their strongest assets.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea have Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha and Leicester City left-back Ben Chilwell in their sights after their transfer ban was reduced on Friday, reports The Athletic.

- Juventus are considering a move for either Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic or Leandro Paredes of Paris Saint-Germain, claims Corriere Torino.

- Inter's interest in Arturo Vidal could aid Barca's bid to sign Lautaro Martinez from the Serie A side, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- Steven Gerrard is on the verge of agreeing a new deal with Rangers that will see him remain as manager until 2024, says The Sun.

- Two Eredivisie stars could be headed for Portugal, reports A Bola. Belgian forward Cyriel Dessers of Heracles Almelo and exciting AZ prospect Myron Boadu are said to be in the sights of Primeira Liga heavyweights Sporting CP .

Ange Postecoglou ended Yokohama F.Marinos' wait for J.League silverware by leading the Japanese club to their first title since 2004.

F.Marinos – linked to Manchester City as part of the City Football Group, which owns a 20 per cent share in the club – had gone 15 years without a league crown.

But after narrowly avoiding relegation in his first season in 2018, former Australia head coach Postecoglou ended F.Marinos' wait following Saturday's 3-0 defeat of FC Tokyo.

In front of a sell-out crowd of 63,854 fans at Nissan Stadium in Yokohama, 10-man F.Marinos emphatically sealed a fourth J.League trophy thanks to goals from Theerathon Bunmathan, Erik and Keita Endo.

F.Marinos – riding a 10-game unbeaten run and six-game winning streak – entered the final-day showdown three points clear of Tokyo, with Postecoglou's men needing to lose by four goals to be denied the title.

For Postecoglou, surrounded by countrymen Peter Cklamovski and Arthur Papas, it is reward for the Australian's hard work and unrelenting belief in his philosophy following last season's 12th-place finish.

Winner of two National Soccer League championships, back-to-back A-League titles and a record 36-match unbeaten streak at Brisbane Roar, plus a ground-breaking 2015 Asian Cup triumph with the Socceroos – Postecoglou turned F.Marinos on their head in 2018.

While there were initial struggles, the squad came to grips with Postecoglou's demands this season, though the 54-year-old never had any doubts as he wanted to leave his mark on Japanese football.

In an interview with Omnisport in April, Postecoglou said: "While it's not going to be perfect, particularly in the beginning, it's going to be a hell of a ride."

"It was always going to take a bit of time," Postecoglou added. "But it's consistent with what I've done before. I knew coming into it, the way I wanted to play was going to challenge everyone in the club. We had some really good moments and some poor moments. There was a massive difference in our best and worst, that was reflected in the results. We still made the cup final. At times, we played some good stuff.

"This year, we've changed the squad a fair bit. The main thing for me is we have players here who have the characteristics in what I need and I also think the club now understands sort of what we're trying to achieve. Everyone is fully supportive of it. The start of the season is promising. We are certainly more consistent than the last year but it's a tough league. Every week is a challenge, every week the opposition has outstanding players."

"Wherever I've coached, I want to win things," continued Postecoglou, who led Australia to qualification for the 2018 World Cup before stepping down. "There's no shying away from that, as much as I want my team playing a certain way because I believe you can be successful doing it that way. What success looks like, I've never really thought that way. When I get a team to play the way I want to, success follows. That's the first challenge. We will see where that takes us. Hopefully we can win some silverware for the club and more importantly, win silverware playing a certain way. It will be exciting for the fans and hopefully make a difference to football."

Patrick Vieira dismissed talk about the Arsenal vacancy as the Nice head coach insisted he is "300 per cent" focused on the Ligue 1 side.

Former Arsenal captain Vieira has emerged as a candidate to replace Unai Emery, who was sacked by the struggling Premier League club last week.

But Vieira – a three-time Premier League champion with Arsenal – played down the speculation ahead of Nice's Ligue 1 clash against Metz on Saturday.

"I don't have any comments," Vieira told reporters. "Sincerely. It's a question I don't have to answer.

"Sincerely, I am 100 per cent focused on what I have to do here. And I think I have a lot of things to do here. And I don't want to spread myself over anything.

"I am 300 per cent focused on how I can try to find solutions to be more constant, to win more games. Find solutions to get the best of my players. I want to put my energy and my concentration only on that."

Nice are 14th in Ligue 1 this season, five points above the relegation play-off spot following just one win in four matches.

Vieira said: "I communicate a lot with Julien [Fournier, football director], with the president [Jean-Pierre Rivere] and with Mr. Ratcliffe [owner]. I have their support. 

"We talk, we discuss. The goal is to find solutions, to improve. I have never felt the slightest doubt about their attitude to my work. It's reassuring."

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde opened the door for Arturo Vidal's departure in January, acknowledging the LaLiga champions have a lot of midfielders.

Vidal has been linked with a move to Serie A outfit Inter as the Barcelona midfielder struggles for regular game time at Camp Nou.

The 32-year-old Chilean has made 14 appearances across all competitions this season, though only four have been starts.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's match against Real Mallorca, Valverde told reporters: "Vidal is our player. We are happy with him. There are so many rumours. We will see tomorrow if he plays or not.

"And when the January transfer window arrives, we will see what happens."

"There's a lot of things going on in January but it's true that we have a lot of midfielders," Valverde said. "Some have played more than others but all of them are needed."

Ivan Rakitic is another midfielder, whose future with Barcelona is up in the air as the Croatia international eyes regular football.

Rakitic – a reported target for Inter and former club Sevilla – has only made two LaLiga starts this term.

"He's a reliable player in a lot of ways," Valverde added. "In the same way that there have been moments when he has not featured, he has continued training [with the same intensity] to seize his opportunity.

"He's played at a good level [in the last two games] and we're happy with that. We'll see what happens in the next few games. He has emerged in a difficult period."

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone said anxiety prevented his team from scoring in their goalless draw at Villarreal.

Simeone's Atletico failed to win for the third consecutive LaLiga match following Friday's stalemate away to Villarreal.

It was another toothless showing by sixth-placed Atletico, who have only scored 16 goals through as many league games this season.

"It is normal that when you generate so many chances and do not convert, anxiety appears," Simeone told reporters. "And more anxiety, less precision. 

"When anxiety disappears, tranquillity and precision will come from the players we have. Today we had clear occasions, Joao Felix and [Renan] Lodi's, but we did not define them correctly."

Atletico could end the weekend seven points adrift of third-placed Sevilla and eight behind leaders Barcelona.

"At the moment, what worries me is to win a game and everything will be looked after in a different way," Simeone said.

Atletico captain Koke added: "In front of goal we have no fortune, precision or I do not know what is missing. To win you have to score goals.

"The team defends well, gives everything, but we need to be more precise to all, the strikers, the midfielders, the defenders..."

Antonio Conte urged Inter fans to back his side and was disappointed to hear them whistle Friday's lacklustre 0-0 Serie A draw against Roma.

Inter had moved to the top of the table thanks to last week's 2-1 win over SPAL, while Italian champions Juventus were held 2-2 by Sassuolo.

Their stay at the summit is set to be short-lived after Inter pair Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez endured a rare off-night in front of goal at San Siro.

Juve can return to their familiar position by beating Lazio on Saturday and head coach Conte was keen to remind the Inter faithful that his men are punching above their weight by most reasonable measures.

"The fans must support us and help us, as they are doing, because it is a moment where we must make a virtue of their support," he told Sky Italia.

"I was sorry to hear a few whistles after wrong passages [of play]. This is not good, we need everyone.

"They must support us and they must not whistle at the first mistake. 

"It is not easy to play at the San Siro, many of the boys are young, everyone needs help. 

"I wanted to say this because I always want to protect the group. We must not become presumptuous, these kids must always be supported."

Instead of criticising his all-star forward line, Conte chose instead to credit Roma's stand-in goalkeeper Antonio Mirante.

"Yes [Lukaku and Martinez made mistakes], even if we also have to take into account Mirante's great game, which was the best on the field," he said.

"When we win, we draw and we lose, we do it all together. The midfielders also had the opportunity to score, not just the forwards.

"In the second half there was a good opportunity for Matias Vecino that Mirante deflected for a corner."

Conte added: "We had a good game and we are happy with what we produced. Unfortunately we have not finished, we must be more precise."

Aiden O'Brien equalised deep into second-half stoppage time as Millwall salvaged a 2-2 draw against Nottingham Forest in the Championship on Friday.

Millwall were deservedly ahead at the interval thanks to Shaun Williams' header from a corner in the 15th minute, but their superiority did not last.

Lewis Grabban made a stunning impact from the Forest bench when he scored with his first touch 55 seconds after coming on, nodding in from close range.

He then appeared to have won the game for Forest by tapping in from Sammy Ameobi's ball in the 88th minute.

But O'Brien rescued a point for the Lions near the end, the Republic of Ireland international turning home after Brice Samba could only palm Williams' long-range effort into his path.

Forest remain fourth in the table but could be overtaken by several teams over the weekend. Millwall move up to 11th.

Reggae Girlz assistant coach Lorne Donaldson believes the women’s programme in Jamaica has taken a hit with the departure of World Cup qualifying coach, Hue Menzies.

Menzies, on Tuesday, announced his intention to leave the programme after disputes with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) seemed not to have a resolution in sight.

According to Menzies, the JFF has not paid money due to him in his contract, failed to communicate with him regarding a new contract after his expired in August, and have not reimbursed him for expenses incurred on the job.

Donaldson, himself, has said he would be unwilling to take up the top post, coaching the Girlz, unless there were guarantees that some of the issues Menzies spoke about were addressed.

“Menzies not being around puts a hole in the programme; the staff is really bummed because we did a lot of work within the last five years, some of it is work done behind the scenes that people don't know about, and we scraped and fought with these kids. So Hue not being around is a big setback for this programme,” said Donaldson.

The executive director of coaching at Real Colorado Soccer also believes there is a lot of uncertain surrounding the programme with just a couple of months to go before the Reggae Girlz take on the final round of Olympic Qualification.

“The crucial stage of the Olympic qualifiers is coming up, but we already messed that up because we had a game against the USA and we didn't take the game. We would have played the number one team in the world and we didn't take the game, so all this stuff is a setback for us,” said Donaldson.

“Now we missed the FIFA window; no games and I don't know when we are going to have any friendly games or camps because everything seems to be very difficult. I know Costa Rica wants to play us in January, and that's kind of late, but Costa Rica is still waiting for them to respond, so I don't know,” he said.

Still, Donaldson believes there is much promise in the Reggae Girlz programme and wants to ensure that that promise is fulfilled.

“We are going to concentrate on the players because we actually owe it to them. [Hubert] Busby and I, we made a commitment to some of the parents and players for the U-20s and U-17s,” said Donaldson.

“Again, it is going to be difficult trying to do the U-17s and the U-20s because nobody seems like they are interested on that side. There is interest elsewhere, but we have to find the right people who want to see women's football succeed in Jamaica. Right now it is not happening,” he said.

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