Paris Saint-Germain ended strong speculation about Jonathan Ikone joining Juventus when finally securing him to a professional contract in 2016. At the time, it was seen as a potential turning point for PSG's academy.

The attacker, who grew up in the same area of Paris as Kylian Mbappe, had long attracted admiring glances from some of Europe's biggest clubs, so PSG were eager to not let another get away.

Two years earlier, Kingsley Coman left for Juve when it became clear a route into the starting XI – and the France squad – was more straightforward in Turin than in Paris and, although injuries have since disrupted his career, there's little doubt PSG have been made to rue their ineptitude on that front.

Ikone's emergence was supposed to redeem PSG. For much of the QSI era, their use of homegrown young players has been heavily scrutinised.

"Jonathan is a midfielder with a big future," club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said after the contract was announced. "His signature is another example of the importance the youth academy holds for the club and just how much the club is counting on these young academy graduates."

But in 2018, PSG sold Ikone to Lille for a relatively insignificant fee – and the player has blossomed since his departure. 

False hope and new beginnings

After helping PSG to the UEFA Youth League final in 2015-16, Ikone's new contract was followed by promotion to the first team. He made a smattering of appearances before being allowed to join Montpellier on loan in January 2017.

This spell provided Ikone with his first genuine exposure to first-team football, playing 14 times in the second half of the 2016-17 Ligue 1 season.

He returned to Montpellier for the following campaign and, while it was not quite as fruitful as his first stint at the club, he did enough to earn a reported €5million switch to Lille, whose applaudable transfer policy in recent years has seen them snap up a host of well-regarded young players.

"We can say that PSG train young players very well, but actually playing there is complicated," Ikone told L'Equipe last year. "But the training you get in Paris, it's the best. Really, I enjoyed my time at PSG. I have no regrets. Getting playing time there is difficult, there are really great players there. So, I decided to show my talent at another club."

The transfer again raised doubts from some with respect to PSG's handling of their academy, while others suggested Ikone had not done enough to earn fresh terms, with the chance to earn a reasonable fee too good to turn down for PSG given his deal was due to expire in 2019.

Lille are reaping the rewards and will likely earn a significant fee when – if – he eventually leaves, with the latest reports suggesting he could be bound for the Premier League and Everton. At least PSG managed to secure a sell-on fee, which could amount to as much as 40 per cent of €70m, Les Dogues' apparent asking price.

Establishing himself

Although his skill set makes him a versatile option in attack, Ikone is at his most threatening when deployed as a no.10, behind the main striker.

The inside-right channel is where he operates most often, coming inside on to his left foot, allowing him a greater range of options whether he's dribbling, looking for a disguised pass or simply feeding Victor Osimhen into the space beyond defences.

Having been a regular option throughout the French youth setup, Ikone earned his first call-up to the senior side in September and netted on his debut, becoming the first player to do so for Les Bleus since Younes Kaboul and Marvin Martin in June 2011.

Skilful and inventive on the ball, there is a lot to like about Ikone, but he will not need anyone to tell him that staying in contention is not going to be an easy job.

France are blessed with a host of options in attack, many of whom boast similar strengths to Ikone.

Menacing but not in it for the long haul

Having scored three and set up nine goals in Ligue 1 last term, Ikone cannot be accused of a lack of consistency or taking a drastic backwards step. With a chunk of the season still remaining, he has the same amount of goals and six assists.

Ikone is averaging a goal involvement every 230 minutes, five less than last term, and appears to be playing with even greater confidence.

After averaging 3.6 dribbles per game in 2018-19, that's increased to just under five in 2019-20, while his completion rate has remained almost identical at 55 per cent. By comparison, Neymar's is 56 per cent.

Nevertheless, Ikone's productivity in the final third has significant room for improvement.

With 31 key passes, he is way behind the likes of Dimitri Payet (87), Angel Di Maria (77) and Zinedine Ferhat (52).

There are also doubts about his endurance. Since the start of last season, Ikone has been taken off 43 times in Ligue 1 alone.

But, at 21, he is developing impressively. While €70m may look a little steep at the moment, any potential buyer will hope there is still plenty more to come.

Kylian Mbappe has made a generous donation to the Paris-based charity Abbe Pierre Foundation as France continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Ligue 1, along with the vast majority of other sporting competitions, has been put on hold amid the crisis, with over 27,000 confirmed deaths worldwide.

France has 32,964 confirmed cases of the illness and, in a bid to assist the work of the Abbe Pierre Foundation, Paris Saint-Germain and France star Mbappe has donated a large sum to the charity.

"Concerned about the consequences of the serious health crisis which strikes our country, but also of all the consequences which it can generate on the most fragile people, Kylian Mbappe has just made a very large donation to support the work of the Abbe Pierre Foundation," the charity said in a statement.

"His generosity will make it possible in particular to implement first aid actions: access to water and hygiene for people in very precarious situations, access to food and shelter for homeless people.

"The Foundation sends its most sincere thanks to Kylian Mbappe for his generosity and his attention towards people in great precariousness."

The charity did not confirm how much Mbappe had donated.

Earlier this week, it was reported Cristiano Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes had donated a large sum to three intensive care units for coronavirus patients at hospitals in Portugal, while a hospital in Barcelona announced Lionel Messi had pledged money to support them during the crisis.

Tributes flowed on Thursday following news that former France coach Michel Hidalgo had died of natural causes, aged 87.

Hidalgo led France between 1976 to 1984 – hauling Les Bleus out of the international wilderness and to the glory of a maiden major honour at the 1984 European Championship.

France's run to the semi-finals of the 1982 World Cup established Hidalgo's swashbuckling side as a favourite of many neutrals, but he still needed a couple of tweaks to get the balance just right before expectant support on home soil two years later.

Ultimately he did just that, with a midfield quartet of Michel Platini, Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Luis Fernandez sweeping all before them.

Here, we take a closer look at the Hidalgo's foursome that is affectionately remembered as France's Carre Magique – Magic Square.

LUIS FERNANDEZ

The final piece in the puzzle and an invaluable presence at the base of Hidalgo's sparkling midfield diamond, Spanish-born Fernandez did not make his France debut until after the 1982 World Cup run. After that, he only lined up as part of the famous quartet when England visited Paris for a friendly in February 1984. A Platini brace saw off Bobby Robson's men and Fernandez' superb positional sense and tough tackling instantly laid a foundation for flourishes such as Giresse's mazy run to set up the opening goal.

The Paris Saint-Germain maestro also passed with smooth precision, not to be outdone by the more celebrated creatives before him. The youngest corner of the square, Fernandez was 24 at the European Championship and is perhaps best remembered for dispatching the decisive penalty two years later that saw France progress to the World Cup semi-finals once more at Brazil's expense.

He was also around for the denouement and the ignominy of failing to qualify for major tournaments in 1988 and 1990, before being granted a swansong of sorts as part of the Platini-coached France squad at Euro 92.

ALAIN GIRESSE

By contrast to Fernandez, Giresse was an international veteran of 12 years when France's moment of truth arrived. A diminutive gem of a footballer, his goal had France on the brink of semi-final glory against West Germany in 1982 – establishing a 3-1 lead in extra-time before a heart-breaking collapse to penalty shoot-out defeat.

Giresse arrived at the European Championships in prime form, having just collected a Ligue 1 crown with Bordeaux that was retained the following season. He made 592 appearances for the Girondins before joining Marseille in 1986.

Platini's relentless foil, living up to his nickname of 'Moteur', Giresse got on the scoresheet alongside Fernandez in the 5-0 group-stage hammering of Belgium – with Platini netting a hat-trick.

In retirement, a nomadic coaching career has seen Giresse lead the national teams of Georgia, Gabon, Mali, Senegal and Tunisia.

JEAN TIGANA

Giresse was not alone in underpinning lavish talent with a phenomenal work-rate. Any opponent of Tigana knew they had been in a game – not least the bedraggled Portugal backline as his slaloming run set up Platini's last-gasp winner in extra time of the semi-final. The goal stands as arguably the defining moment of France's victory march.

His long-time alliance with Giresse at Bordeaux was a gift to Hidalgo in plotting his celebrated configuration and Tigana would make the same move to Marseille in 1989, adding two more Ligue 1 titles to the three he collected on the Garonne River.

A future coach of Monaco and Fulham, Tigana was indisputably among the best in the world and finished second in the 1984 Ballon d'Or voting. There was, of course, only one winner.

MICHEL PLATINI

The true beauty of the Carre Magique was how the winning blend of technique and tenacity allowed Platini to enjoy the fullest realisation of his incredible talents. Few players have stamped their mark so irresistibly over a major tournament as France's main man did in 1984, making light of with weightiest expectations.

His preposterous final numbers read nine goals in five appearances, after scoring in each game of the competition. Having settled opening nerves 12 minutes from time in a 1-0 win over Denmark, the Juventus superstar made merry by claiming the matchball in consecutive outings against Belgium and Yugoslavia. He stood tallest in his country's moment of need in the semi-final before an error from Luis Arconada allowed his free-kick to squirm home in the showpiece.

From poached efforts, to delicate chips, via thumping drives and diving headers, no type of goal was beyond Platini, who won three consecutive Ballons d'Or between 1983 and 1985. He was a phenomenon, rightly celebrated and deserving of icon status now somewhat at odds with his discredited post-career in football administration chicanery.

Michel Hidalgo, France's Euro 1984-winning coach, has died aged 87.

Hidalgo spent eight years in charge of Les Bleus after previously working as assistant, and he presided over their first ever major title success before stepping aside for Henri Michel.

Following Hidalgo's death, which was confirmed to France Info by his family, a post from the official Twitter account of the FIFA World Cup read: "France has lost one of its greatest figures.

"Michel Hidalgo was the brains behind the exhilarating side that reached the WorldCup semi-finals in 1982 and won Euro 1984. RIP and 'merci' for the memories, Michel."

France hosted Euro 1984, sailing through their group thanks to wins over Denmark, Belgium and Yugoslavia, before then seeing off Portugal in the semi-finals.

Second-half goals from Michel Platini and Bruno Bellone secured France a 2-0 win over Spain at the Parc des Princes in the final, as Les Bleus lifted a major international trophy for the first time.

Two years prior to that success, Hidalgo took France to the semi-finals of the World Cup, where they were beaten on penalties by West Germany after a 3-3 draw.

As a player Hidalgo represented Le Havre, Reims and Monaco, where he featured for nine years and also spent the early part of his coaching career.

Hidalgo's most recent job in top-level football was with Marseille, where he was a popular director of football for five years until 1991, going on to work as a pundit.

March 22 is probably not a date that is circled in the calendars for South Africa cricket fans and Steven Gerrard.

Those of a Proteas persuasion will remember it as the day their rotten luck at Cricket World Cups began.

Whereas for Liverpool legend Gerrard it was the afternoon the red mist descended in one of the biggest club rivalries.

We take a look at the major events that happened on this day in sport.

 

1906 - The first rugby union international between France and England

The Parc des Prince hosted the inaugural Le Crunch as England defeated France 35-8, beginning a 16-game winless run in the fixture for Les Bleus.

A 24-17 victory for France in the Six Nations last month gave them their 41st win in the 106 meetings between the two nations.

England have beaten Les Bleus on 58 occasions, including in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals in 2003 and 2007. 

1992 - Proteas eliminated from Cricket World Cup in farcical fashion

No one does Cricket World Cup semi-final heartache quite like South Africa.

There was the dramatic 1999 tie against Australia that resulted in the Proteas being eliminated due to an inferior net run rate at the Super Six stage. Then, six years ago, Grant Elliott's heroics helped New Zealand reach the final.

But perhaps nothing compares to the farce of 1992, when South Africa fell foul of new rain rules.

When the heavens opened and play was stopped, South Africa needed 22 runs from 13 balls to beat England.

However, when they returned, the implementation of some bizarre rules meant they required an insurmountable 21 off one delivery. The rules were soon scrapped, but that was no shred of comfort to South Africa.

 

2015 - Steven Gerrard sent off 38 seconds after coming on against Manchester United

It was a case of 'Gone in 38 seconds' for Liverpool captain Gerrard five years ago as he made an unforgettable immediate impact.

Shortly after coming on as a half-time substitute in the Premier League match at Anfield, Gerrard stamped on Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera, prompting referee Martin Atkinson to send him off the field moments after he had arrived.

"I need to accept it; the decision was right," Gerrard told Sky Sports after. "I've let down my team-mates and the fans."

United, who were leading 1-0 at the time, claimed a 2-1 victory thanks to Juan Mata's brace.

For Eduardo Camavinga, Ansu Fati, Phil Foden, Joshua Zirkzee and Youssoufa Moukoko, a delayed European Championship may actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

It was confirmed this week that the 24-team tournament, which will be staged across the continent in a dozen countries, will be postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The likelihood is that several nations will have different starting line-ups in 2021 as new stars emerge.

We take a look at those uncapped youngsters who could now break into their country's team for the Euros.

 

EDUARDO CAMAVINGA

The central-midfield axis of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante was well established during France's run to glory at World Cup 2018, though, due to injury, neither man featured regularly in the Euro qualifiers as Didier Deschamps utilised Corentin Tolisso, a bit-part player for Bayern Munich, and Moussa Sissoko, who is about to turn 31.

Teenager Camavinga shot to prominence by dominating in a win over Paris Saint-Germain as a 16-year-old in August and he has been a regular for a Rennes side riding high in third in Ligue 1.

Already a France Under-21 international, Camavinga has been linked with a move to Real Madrid and, based on his current trajectory, it is easy to see him muscling his way into Deschamps' plans.

 

ANSU FATI

The youngest goalscorer in the history of the Champions League was granted Spanish citizenship in September and it appears only a matter of time before Fati is a senior La Roja international.

There were reports that the Barcelona forward, who was born in Guinea-Bissau, would have been included in the preliminary Spain squad for these March friendlies had they taken place.

However, there were no teenagers in the most recent Spain squad so, at 17, Fati can use the extra time to convince Luis Enrique he is a special case worthy of a regular spot in his XI.

PHIL FODEN

You have to be pretty decent if Pep Guardiola has called you "the most talented player" he has ever coached.

Despite that claim, there have been only fleeting glimpses of Foden in a Manchester City shirt, though regular playing time will surely be less of an issue for the 19-year-old once David Silva departs after the 2019-20 season.

His heir apparent Foden has already caught the eye for England Under-21s, and might have made the cut for Gareth Southgate's squad in 2020 anyway, but both club and country will have earmarked the classy midfielder for a breakthrough campaign next year.

JOSHUA ZIRKZEE

This enforced break could be considered both a blessing and a curse for Bayern Munich's young Dutch striker Zirkzee.

An injury to Robert Lewandowski had resulted in the 18-year-old starting Bayern's previous two Bundesliga games before the suspension and, having scored three times in 170 minutes already, he could have enhanced his reputation further in the coming weeks.

However, having only represented Netherlands at Under-19 level so far, Zirkzee still has a way to go to force his way into Ronald Koeman's senior XI for competitive fixtures. Another year of development will surely aid his case, particularly at a footballing behemoth like Bayern. 

YOUSSOUFA MOUKOKO

A name that may be unfamiliar to many outside of Germany, though perhaps not for much longer given the ridiculous goalscoring record Borussia Dortmund's 15-year-old prodigy has.

Moukoko netted for the 34th time in his 20th Under-19 Bundesliga game earlier this month, setting a new record for the competition, having scored 50 in 28 appearances at U17 level last season.

An on-time Euros would have definitely come too soon for Moukoko but Lucien Favre wants the Germany youth international training with his first team soon. By this time next year, a man already on Joachim Low's radar may just be a long shot for Die Mannschaft's senior team too.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, chances are you need to look back over the archives if you want to get your daily sporting fix.

Well, we've got you covered for Friday.

March 20 boasts a few notable events throughout sporting history, including a number of Grand Nationals, a heavyweight title fight and the retiring of one of basketball's most famous jerseys.

Here are five of the biggest things to happen in sport on this day...

 

1948 - 50/1 shot mare wins Grand National to end 

The 102nd edition of one of the world's most famous horse races saw Sheila's Cottage, ridden by Arthur Thompson, defy odds of 50/1 to win. She was also the first mare to triumph at Aintree in 46 years and only the 12th in the long and storied history of the steeplechase. Thompson and trainer Neville Trump would record a second win together four years later.

1988 - Mike Tyson knocks out Tyrell Biggs

In Atlantic City, Tyson took on 1984 Olympic gold medallist Tyrell Biggs, who was 15-0 since turning professional and was literally head and shoulders above his opponent, standing at 6 foot 5 compared to Tyson at 5 foot 10.

Still, he was no match for the defending WBA, WBC and IBF champion, who left Biggs bloodied and bruised before sending him crashing to the canvas in round seven. The fight continued but Biggs was knocked down again, leading the referee to halt proceedings and ensure Tyson stretched his record to 32 wins from 32.

1990 - Lakers retire Abdul-Jabbar's jersey

Thirty years ago, the LA Lakers retired the number 33 jersey of Karim Abdul-Jabbar, the man still considered by some to be basketball's greatest.

A six-time NBA champion with the Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks, a winner of six MVP and two Finals MVP awards and 19 times on the All-Star roster, nobody has worn his number 33 for the Lakers since 1990.

2010 - France clinch grand slam

France won their 17th Five/Six Nations title and completed a ninth grand slam after battling to victory over England in Paris.

Les Bleus had powered through the earlier rounds but were made to work hard by England, who dominated the second half after ending the first 12-7 down but could only earn three more points via the boot of Jonny Wilkinson.

They have not won the championship since.

French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet has lauded UEFA's "wise and pragmatic" decision to postpone Euro 2020 by 12 months amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Following a video conference including all 55 member associations on Tuesday, UEFA confirmed its decision to suspend the upcoming Euros and set a new start date of June 11, 2021.

The postponement allows extra time for Europe's domestic seasons to conclude – if possible – after almost all leagues were put on hiatus to combat the spread of COVID-19.

In an FFF statement, Le Graet said: "The French Football Federation fully supports UEFA's decision to postpone Euro 2020 to 11 June 2021 and to adapt the formats for European competitions accordingly.

"The international matches planned for March, including the two matches of the French team from March 27 and 31 at the Stade de France, would therefore logically be postponed to June.

"This wise and pragmatic decision by UEFA makes it possible to fully register in the urgency and the priority of collective action to fight against the coronavirus, while allowing to consider ending the national professional and amateur championships which could be prolonged until June.

"All options will be studied in order to be reactive when resumption of activities is possible. The only concern of the FFF is to make the best decisions, by bringing together all the players in football, to best respect sports equity and limit the impact of this crisis.

"The world of football must be united, responsible and exemplary."

French football is suspended until further notice, with the Coupe de la Ligue – which was initially scheduled for April 4 – among the matches postponed.

COVID-19 was declared pandemic last week and has infected almost 189,000 people since its emergence in China late last year.

France has 6,633 confirmed cases of the virus.

The French Rugby Federation (FFR) has cancelled all matches, gatherings and training sessions at every level of the sport amid the coronavirus outbreak.

President Bernard Laporte said the FFR had called for a stop to all rugby union for an indefinite period as an "essential act of solidarity" with the rest of France.

The France men's national team's Six Nations match against Ireland, which had been due to take place this weekend at the Stade de France, had already been postponed.

France's top professional league, the Top 14, had intended to play matches behind closed doors, but the FFR ruling ends that immediate prospect.

Former national team coach Laporte said: "The French Rugby Federation, a delegate of public service and depositary of the values ​​on which our society is founded, contributes to the national solidarity to fight against the spread of the virus which is currently hitting our country.

"It is our responsibility to take the necessary decisions in line with the announcements developed by the president of the republic.

"Consequently, the FFR suspends from today all its competitions, gatherings and training, as well as those of its leagues, departments and clubs, until the sanitary conditions allow their resumption.

"All championships, of all categories without exception, are suspended, as well as all activities of rugby schools, in order to effectively combat the spread of COVID-19.

"We ask our entire network to scrupulously respect these instructions, which are of very high national interest."

Laporte added: "The contribution of French rugby will be flawless."

UEFA has not received a single request to postpone Euro 2020 amid concerns about coronavirus, despite claims to the contrary.

COVID-19 is starting to cause widespread disruption to sport across Europe, particularly in Italy, Germany, France and Spain.

Italy is the most-affected European nation, with 9,172 cases of infection reported as of Tuesday, and that has led to all sporting activities being postponed until April 3.

In Spain, fans have been prohibited from attending games at all levels over the next two matchdays, though that could change after the Spanish Footballers' Association (AFE) requested all action be postponed instead.

Euro 2020, which will be played across 12 European nations, is set to begin in Rome on June 12 – though reports on Tuesday suggested some federations have asked for the tournament be delayed until 2021.

UEFA insists no such requests have been received, however.

A spokesperson told Stats Perform: "We did not receive a single request from national associations to postpone the tournament."

Along with Italy, Euro 2020 is scheduled to be hosted in Azerbaijan, Denmark, England, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Russia, Scotland and Spain.

The coronavirus continues to have a huge impact on the sporting calendar. 

Further measures to prevent the spread of the virus were taken on Tuesday, affecting a plethora of sports and leagues.

More events were subject to postponements, while games taking place in empty arenas will become a regular sight in the coming weeks.

Here we look at the sporting decisions announced as the world attempts to tackle the outbreak.

 

Catalans Dragons have confirmed their match against Leeds Rhinos on Saturday will be played behind closed doors at the Gilbert Brutus stadium. 

The French side wanted to move the fixture to Leeds or play on an alternative date later in the year, but their request was rejected after a meeting involving the RFL, Super League and both teams.

Catalans released a statement expressing their disappointment at a decision they explained would "hugely impact the finances of the club", with revenues from the upcoming match having already been factored into their budget.

All professional football matches in Portugal will take place behind closed doors this weekend, with the possibility of that being extended for an indefinite period.

President of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet, has said France's two matches against Ukraine and Finland this month will be played without spectators present at the Stade de France.

The Finland match was initially scheduled to be played at Lyon's Groupama Stadium but Le Graet felt playing at a different venue to their regular home in Paris would no longer make sense.

Scottish champions Celtic are asking players to "limit their appearances at events outwith training and playing duties", while avoiding interactions with fans such as taking selfies or signing autographs.

The DEL, Germany's top Ice Hockey league, has ended its ongoing 2019-20 season with immediate effect. They will not hold end-of-season play-offs nor will a champion be crowned.

With March Madness now a week away, NCAA president Mark Emmert has insisted neither health experts nor the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control have advised against sporting events being held.

The update came after the Ivy League announced its postseason tournament was cancelled. Yale have been declared Ivy League champions and will represent it in March Madness.

Barcelona have released the latest steps they are taking relating to the COVID-19 outbreak. All their games at professional, amateur and youth levels will be played behind closed doors, with all ticket holders to be refunded by the club.

Barca academy activities in China, Japan, Jordan, Dubai and Kuwait have all been suspended, and their Academy World Cup tournament has been cancelled. The youth team will not take part in any away tournaments or friendlies during the months of March and April.

Northern Irish champions Linfield have confirmed an unnamed player has tested positive for coronavirus and BBC Sport are reporting the club's Windsor Park stadium will be closed for the next two days while a deep clean takes place.

The rearranged Bundesliga match between rivals Borussia Monchengladbach and Cologne, which was originally cancelled due to Storm Ciara, will now be played behind closed doors on Wednesday.

Gladbach CEO Stephan Schippers expressed his concern at a news conference as he explained the club would lose €2m each time this happened.

Germany and Italy's friendly match, set to take place on March 31 in Nuremberg, will now be played behind closed doors, the German Football Association (DFB) confirmed. Additionally, there will be no fans at the Bundesliga game between Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin on March 14.

In France, Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 games will be played behind closed doors until April 15. France's minister for sport Roxana Maracineanu had on Monday said games could be played with a limit of 1,000 fans, but the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) confirmed on Tuesday that no fans will be permitted. Earlier, Maracineanu called for fans to show "responsibility" and avoid "any damaging impact on public order" when Paris Saint-Germain play Borussia Dortmund behind closed doors in the Champions League on Wednesday.

All sporting activity in Italy is suspended until April 3 by the country's Olympic Committee. In a statement, the committee conceded it does not have jurisdiction over international competitions. Following that, it was confirmed the Champions League clash between Barcelona and Napoli at Camp Nou on March 18 will go ahead behind closed doors. The Italian club insisted reports claiming they wanted the match to be postponed were "fake news".

The PGA of America and PGA Tour have rejected suggestions the US PGA Championship, which is to be held from May 14-17 at TPC Harding Park, could be moved from San Francisco after this week's tennis tournaments in Indian Wells were cancelled. 

"They [PGA of America officials] are fully planning on proceeding with the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco," PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said. "There is no plan at this point in time for the PGA Championship to be held here. It's going to be held at TPC Harding Park."

However, the MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas, which was scheduled for April 3-5 in Austin, is postponed and will instead take place in November.

France's decisive Six Nations encounter with Ireland has been postponed due to the spread of coronavirus.

Les Bleus' hopes of a Grand Slam were ended by a defeat to Scotland on Sunday, and they are now level on points with England on 13 points after four matches.

They can still clinch the title with a victory over Ireland at the Stade de France, but now face a wait to have that fixture played.

France's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu announced on Monday that the game will not take place as scheduled on Saturday.

Maracineanu did not confirm a new date for the game, which is the second Ireland match of the tournament to be postponed.

Their clash with Italy, which had been due to go ahead last Saturday in Dublin, was also called off.

France has 1,116 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the second most in Europe behind Italy (7,375).

Mohamed Haouas collected a costly red card as France's bid for a Six Nations Grand Slam triumph was comprehensively ended in a 28-17 defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield.

After successes against England, Italy and Wales, championship leaders Les Bleus saw their winning run halted after Haouas was dismissed for punching Jamie Ritchie in the face in the 37th minute on Sunday.

France - fast starters in their prior three matches - had recovered from a slow initial spell to score through the fit-again Damian Penaud, but Scotland dominated against 14 men.

Sean Maitland crossed either side of half-time, and Stuart McInally's fortuitous third try secured an ultimately straightforward home victory, despite Charles Ollivon's late reply.

France lacked rhythm for much of the first half and Francois Cros was sent to the sin bin after just five minutes when his tackle led to Grant Gilchrist's awkward landing, before Romain Ntamack was lost to a head injury.

Scotland led when Adam Hastings kept his nerve from the tee, and a sweetly struck second penalty from the same man secured a six-point advantage that lasted until the 33rd minute.

Les Bleus suddenly moved through the gears with the break approaching, as Antoine Dupont's gorgeous cross-field kick found Penaud on the right for the opening try.

However, the fracas involving Haouas and Ritchie took the match away from the visitors, the blow to the Scotland man's head the most serious incident in a clash involving multiple players from both sides.

Hastings' latest kick subsequently restored a Scottish lead, and he wasted little time in carrying his side forward once more, resulting in Maitland's rapid try on the stroke of half-time.

Improvement in the France ranks briefly threatened a resilient second period, only for a speedy break to free Maitland once again on the right wing.

Matthieu Jalibert dispatched a penalty just after the hour mark, but there would be no dramatic fightback as McInally profited on a lucky bounce from his own poor lineout to run clear.

Ollivon battled through to claim reward for a defiant display with four minutes remaining, at least providing encouragement heading into another key clash with Ireland.
 

Ntamack's sloppy start

The France fly-half had contributed 39 points - including two tries - across his first three matches of an outstanding campaign, but this was not his day. Ntamack lasted just eight minutes, in which time he sent a penalty swirling wide and then took a whack to the head, forcing his exit following a fumble that gave Scotland an early foothold.

Haouas hinders title hopes

France had only just belatedly turned up and claimed the lead through a fine try when Haouas undid their hard work. There was pushing and shoving on either side in front of the French posts, but the visiting number three could have no complaints as he was singled out after an awful swing at Ritchie.

Maitland's favoured foes

Scotland still had to put the 14 men to the sword, and Maitland's clinical finishing did the job. This was his third appearance against France at Murrayfield and he has scored on each occasion.

What's next?

France can still recover the Six Nations title. Level on points with England entering the final round, Les Bleus host Ireland next Saturday. Scotland finish their campaign with a trip to Wales earlier in the same day.

France have brought fit-again wing Damian Penaud into their team to face Scotland in the Six Nations in place of Teddy Thomas.

Fabien Galthie's side are at Murrayfield to play Scotland on Sunday after wins over England, Italy and Wales set up a Grand Slam bid few were predicting ahead of the tournament.

Penaud, 23, suffered a calf injury during the captain's run ahead of the opening matchday victory against England and he now replaces Thomas, who has started the first three games.

Thomas scored a try against Italy but has seen the defensive elements of his game come under scrutiny.

Penaud returns to the XV in one of two changes for France, the other being prop Jefferson Poirot coming into the team to replace Cyril Baille, who has a shoulder injury.

Scotland, meanwhile, make three changes – all in their forward pack.

Fraser Brown is back in at hooker to win his 50th Scotland cap, with Edinburgh duo Grant Gilchrist and Nick Haining also brought into the team, as Stuart McInally, Magnus Bradbury and Ben Toolis drop out.

With Finn Russell still not included, Worcester Warriors' Duncan Weir is named on the bench having not played for Scotland since 2017, prior to Gregor Townsend's appointment.

Sam Skinner is back on the bench after injury for the first time in this campaign, with Bradbury another replacement option along with centre Kyle Steyn, who could make his debut.

Townsend said: "This week we face a France team that looks galvanised since the World Cup, with a potential Grand Slam in their sights following impressive wins over England, Italy and Wales.

"We have a lot of respect for their coaching team and the quality of player they possess throughout their squad, many of them just in their early stages of their international careers. 

"We are going to have to deliver our best rugby of the championship in order to beat a team in such good form."

Scotland go in search of another Murrayfield triumph over Grand Slam hopefuls France this weekend, and England will look to put the pressure on the Six Nations leaders with a win over Wales.

The postponement of Ireland's encounter with Italy due to concerns over the coronavirus leaves just two round-four matches to look forward to.

France passed a big test in their bid to be crowned champions for the first time in a decade when they beat Wales last time out, and now Scotland, buoyed by a win over Italy, will be the next side to try and burst Les Bleus' bubble.

England are four points behind Fabien Galthie's side after a defeat of Ireland at Twickenham and will have home advantage again when they take on the defending champions.

With Opta data, we preview the clashes in London on Saturday and Edinburgh.

England v Wales

- England have won five of their last six games against Wales in the Six Nations, the one defeat coming last year.

- The Red Rose have lost just one of their last 20 home games in the competition (against Ireland in 2018 - W18, D1) and their 18 wins in that time have been by an average margin of 17 points.

- Wales have lost back-to-back matches and have not endured a longer run of defeats in the championship since a five-game drought across the 2006 and 2007 campaigns.

- Wales prop Dillon Lewis has hit more rucks (107) than any other player at the 2020 Six Nations. Maro Itoje (103) is second on the list and the England player has also hit more attacking rucks (85) than anyone else.

Scotland v France

-  Scotland have won each of their last two home games against France in the Six Nations, but Les Bleus have won 17 of their last 20 encounters with the Scots in the championship.

- Galthie and Gregor Townsend faced off against each four times in their international playing careers, with the present France head coach coming out on top on each occasion.

- France are the only side to maintain a 100 per cent scrum success rate on their own feed (10/10) in the Six Nations and have the best gain-line success rate of any side (48 per cent).

- Scotland have missed just 46 tackles in the Six Nations this year, the fewest of any side, and subsequently have the best tackle success rate (90 per cent).

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