Didier Deschamps has told his France players to "clear their heads" after Les Bleus' dreadful Nations League title defence was ended by Croatia.

Luka Modric's fifth-minute penalty at the Stade de France earned Zlatko Dalic's side a 1-0 win on Monday, with Croatia gaining a measure of revenge for their 2018 World Cup final defeat.

The loss means France can no longer finish top of Group A1, and as such prevents them from qualifying for the Nations League finals and retaining their crown.

France are not in action again now until September, when their objective will be avoiding a humiliating relegation from the Nations League's top tier.

They certainly have work to do on that front as they sit bottom of the group after four games, having only mustered two draws and a couple of defeats this month.

Deschamps seemed to blame fatigue for France's struggles but also accepted the players of most other teams will have been in a comparable condition physically.

Speaking to TF1 at full-time, Deschamps said: "This month of June was very difficult in terms of results.

"We didn't have enough energy and strength against teams that had more than us. We weren't successful either. It was above all the freshness that was not there.

"There are always lessons to be learned with these results. Each match is rich in lessons.

"The succession of matches was very hard, we lost players from one match to another. No doubt that others nations were affected [by fatigue].

"[The players] will have to clear their heads and go back to their club and start again for this new season."

The defeat represented the first match since November 2020 in which France failed to score (23 games).

Australia qualified for the World Cup after beating Peru 5-4 on penalties following a goalless Intercontinental Play-off in Doha.

Socceroos boss Graham Arnold made the brave decision to substitute goalkeeper and captain Mathew Ryan for Andrew Redmayne ahead of the shoot-out, but was vindicated as the 33-year-old – who danced on his line for the spot-kicks – saved the decisive penalty from Alex Valera.

Peru, 22nd in the FIFA rankings, went in as favourites but started tentatively as Australia made the early running, particularly Martin Boyle who did well to beat two Peru defenders on the right in the 23rd minute before his inviting cross evaded everybody.

Ricardo Gareca's team improved in the second half, but the first shot on target did not arrive until the 81st minute via an Ajdin Hrustic free-kick that never troubled Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, who denied Hrustic two minutes from time with a sweeping shot down to his left from a low Awer Mabil cross.

La Blanquirroja came closest to winning it in extra time as substitute Edison Flores rose to win a header at the far post, but could only hit the woodwork, and so to penalties it went.

Both teams failed with one each from the first five kicks, before Mabil scored and the dancing Redmayne saved from Valera to win it for Australia, who will go into World Cup Group D when they return to Qatar in November to go up against France, Denmark and Tunisia.

France can no longer successfully defend their Nations League crown after Monday's 1-0 home defeat to Croatia left the finals beyond their reach.

Didier Deschamps' side had flattered to deceive in their first three matches this month, losing once and drawing the other two, and they were no better against a stubborn Croatia at the Stade de France.

They proved to be their own worst enemy with a needless early penalty concession that Luka Modric took full advantage of five minutes in.

The hosts' performance was full of bluster but lacked subtlety, with clear-cut chances difficult to come by on another disappointing day for the reigning world champions.

Ibrahima Konate was the guilty party for the penalty as the Liverpool defender clumsily tripped Ante Budimir and, after a long VAR review, Modric just about squeezed his kick past Mike Maignan.

The game became frantic as Les Bleus desperately searched for a leveller, but Ivica Ivusic was not forced into a meaningful save until early in the second half when substitute Aurelien Tchouameni shot straight at the goalkeeper.

It was a sign of renewed purpose, however, and Kylian Mbappe saw a 30-yard strike go agonisingly wide a few moments later.

Yet, Croatia ended up creating the better chances in the closing stages, with Lovro Majer and Nikola Vlasic forcing saves from Maignan as the visitors gained a measure of revenge for their 2018 World Cup final loss.

Erling Haaland will not guarantee more success for Manchester City, according to Liverpool great and television pundit Jamie Carragher.

City confirmed Haaland's arrival on Monday after agreeing personal terms and passing a medical, with the Norway striker signing a five-year contract.

The announcement came just over a month after City initially revealed they had reached an agreement with Borussia Dortmund over a deal reportedly worth £64.2million (€75m).

At Dortmund, Haaland developed into one of the world's most feared strikers, scoring 86 goals in 89 games across all competitions, averaging one every 84 minutes.

Over the same period, only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (123 in 108 matches) boasted a better scoring rate among players from Europe's top five leagues.

City have largely gone without a recognised central striker for the best part of two years, with Sergio Aguero having left in 2021, though he had not been a regular during his final campaign in 2020-21.

Fans of other clubs might fear Haaland's signing takes City another step closer to domination and, while Carragher accepts such concerns are well-founded, he is adamant the 21-year-old's arrival brings no guarantee of greater success.

"It's a worry for the rest of the Premier League," Carragher told Sky Sports. "We are talking about one of the world's greats, even at such a young age, but I don't think anyone should be raising the white flag too early because it's going to be really interesting how he fits into the team.

"Pep Guardiola hasn't really used a central striker in the last couple of years and he's still been very successful. So, it will be really interesting to see how he settles, but from the Premier League's point of view, I think it is fantastic that we've got one of the world's leading players right now joining our league.

 

"That doesn't always happen, certainly at a young age, and a lot of his best years are going to be in the Premier League. So, it'll be really exciting for everyone to watch, but it's obviously going to be a tough proposition trying to stop Manchester City."

Elaborating on his comment regarding how Haaland fits into the team, Carragher suggested the striker will probably not make a huge difference to City's points total in the Premier League.

But in the Champions League, where the margin for error in two-legged ties is much less forgiving, he could be decisive.

"They have so many players now who don't play through the middle. They keep the ball so well and they control the game so well. Maybe they will lose a little bit of that," Carragher continued. "So, I don't think it's a forgone conclusion that means City are going to win everything.

"They have a great team and a great manager, and I actually think Haaland coming in won't make that much of a difference in terms of how many points they get. They always get in the mid-90s for points anyway, which is a remarkable feat.

"He may have been brought in just to make that difference in those games where they just fell short, maybe more in the Champions League than the Premier League, actually.

"He'll change, he'll evolve, he's still a lot to learn, he's a young player. He'll learn off one of the greatest coaches in world football. He'll bring things to his game. But he should also remember not to change too much. He is what he is. Powerful, his pace, the goals he gets.

"That's what I'm intrigued with, how he fits into that Pep Guardiola style which is a bit more slow and technical than the end-to-end type of football you see in the Bundesliga."

Robert Mancini has expressed his excitement at the future after offering opportunities to a number of young players with Italy during the Nations League campaign.

Italy crashed out in the World Cup play-offs to North Macedonia, failing to make Qatar 2022 after missing out on the tournament in Russia four years earlier.

That capped a turbulent period in Italian football after winning Euro 2020, with many questioning Serie A coaches for allowing younger domestic players the chance to develop.

Mancini responded by promising more opportunities for youthful players with Italy, after the 'Finalissima' defeat to Argentina at Wembley Stadium at the start of June's international schedule.

Davide Frattesi, Federico Gatti and Gianluca Scamacca were among that emerging crop to feature in the Nations League campaign, with Italy drawing two games and winning the other.

That has left the Azzurri top of League A Group 3, which includes Germany, England and Hungary, ahead of Tuesday's clash with Hansi Flick's side.

Coach Mancini revealed he is learning a lot as he looks ahead to the future.

"I saw some guys who can have a great future," he said. "The level in the national team is very high. I think the boys need to have the chance to play.

"The first time they made me play was Radice, 1981, in the first team. It wasn't Serie A, it was a New Year's tournament.

"At the first ball they gave me, I lifted my foot and the ball passed, I did not touch it. For a young person, it is not easy, you have to have confidence and let them play even without optimal performance.

"It can be an important thing, it is possible to get to know them more closely. Seeing those guys for three days gave us the opportunity to understand who could be more ready."

While Mancini has started to utilise younger players, he remains unsure how Lorenzo Insigne will progress playing in MLS for Toronto FC.

"He will depend on how he will be and what will happen there. He has given so much to us, he is a great player, it depends on what happens in MLS," he added.

Bayern Munich have completed the signing of Netherlands midfielder Ryan Gravenberch from Ajax.

The 20-year-old has joined the Bundesliga champions for a reported fee of €19million plus a further €6m in add-ons, signing a five-year deal.

He becomes the second Ajax player to sign for Bayern in recent weeks, with Moroccan full-back Noussair Mazraoui also moving to the Allianz Arena.

Gravenberch made 103 appearances in all competitions for Ajax, scoring 12 goals, having come through the club's world-famous youth system.

He also played in all eight of Ajax's Champions League games this season, making 376 passes at a completion rate of 88.8 per cent.

Gravenberch also took more shots at goal (four) than all but two of his team-mates, with only Antony (eight) and Mazraoui (five) attempting more.

Speaking to Bayern's website after his signing was confirmed, Gravenberch said: "When the offer came from FC Bayern, I didn't have to think about it for long. FC Bayern are one of the biggest clubs around; players from all over the world want to play for this club.

"I'm coming to Munich to win lots of titles - and FC Bayern are used to winning lots of titles.

"Anything is possible with this club, including winning the Champions League. The togetherness in this team is very strong, which I like."

Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn added: "Ryan Gravenberch is a young, highly interesting player who lots of Europe's top clubs would've liked to have signed.

"He's chosen FC Bayern because he can develop at the highest level here. Players with his qualities are important for Bayern's future path."

Harry Kane says the arrivals of Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez in the Premier League will drive him to improve in an enticing Golden Boot race.

Kane has won three Golden Boot awards in the English top flight – in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2020-21 – and managed 17 goals this season as Tottenham qualified for the Champions League.

Spurs team-mate Son Heung-min shared the accolade for the most Premier League goals with Liverpool's Mohamed Salah this season, the pair scoring 23 goals each.

Jurgen Klopp looks set to add more firepower to his attack at Anfield, with Nunez close to joining Liverpool for an initial fee of £64million (€75m) from Benfica.

Nunez has scored 48 goals in 85 games for Benfica in all competitions and averaged 1.2 goals every 90 minutes in the Portuguese Primeira Liga last season.

Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola bolstered his own wealth of attacking options with the Premier League champions Manchester City by triggering Haaland's release clause at Borussia Dortmund.

The Norway international scored 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund since joining from Salzburg in January 2020, averaging a goal every 84 minutes across all competitions.

Kane cannot wait to compete with the duo next season as the Premier League adds more talismanic talent to their ranks.

 

"Look, I think the battle for the Golden Boot is always tough," Kane said at a pre-match news conference while on Nations League duty with England on Monday. 

"The Premier League has produced some top strikers around the world for a number of years now.

"I think every season I've been playing it's always been a tough battle to win that Golden Boot and it's no different.

"You expect the top strikers to want to play in the Premier League and with those two new signings, that's gonna be the case.

"I think it helps me as a player to have good competition, it drives me to improve and get better. I look forward to the challenge."

The build-up to Kane's 2021-22 campaign was filled with distraction as City tried and failed to secure the services of the England striker, attempting to replace the void left by Sergio Aguero at the Etihad Stadium.

Kane will likely have a smoother pre-season this time around and will look to utilise that to prepare for another campaign under Spurs head coach Antonio Conte.

 

"I try and focus on myself to begin with. Going into any season I have things I want to achieve and goals I want to reach," he added.

"I try not to focus too much on other players in that aspect, I can't control what they do.

"But what I will do is continue to work hard and improve and after this game have a nice break but then look forward to what will be a tough pre-season.

"And then I'll get ready for the new season as I have done for the last seven, eight years now."

Giorgio Chiellini has confirmed he will join MLS side Los Angeles FC on a free transfer.

The Juventus great revealed his intentions to leave Turin at the end of the season, ending a 17-year spell with the Bianconeri in which he made 425 Serie A appearances.

Chiellini also retired from international football with Italy two weeks ago following the 3-0 'Finalissima' defeat to Argentina in a meeting between the Euro 2020 winners and Copa America champions.

The 37-year-old has expressed his desire to use his vast experience to go into management or a director role, once his playing career is finished.

Los Angeles will likely be his final club that he plays for, after Chiellini took to Twitter on Monday to confirm his move to the Black and Gold on a reported 18-month contract.

"I am ready for a new role on the pitch," he said. "But mentally, I'd also be ready to become a director.

"I'd like to know everything going on around the pitch, inside the offices, but it takes time, patience and desire to sacrifice.

"We'll talk again in a few years and hopefully, I'll have understood the particularities and difficulties of the role.

"My adventure in the USA will prepare me for what will happen next."

Chiellini will hope to bolster the defence of a Los Angeles side that sit four points clear at the Western Conference summit after 14 games.

The experienced defender represents another big-name signing to go to MLS, joining the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to play in America.

Erling Haaland has revealed that Riyad Mahrez told him to sign for Manchester City last year, and the striker is also looking forward to playing with Phil Foden.

The Premier League champions announced on May 10 that an agreement was in place to sign Haaland from Borussia Dortmund after triggering his reported €60million (£51.2m) release clause, and Haaland has now officially put pen to paper on a five-year contract at the Etihad Stadium, with the deal to go through on July 1.

Haaland scored 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund upon joining from Salzburg in January 2020, averaging a goal every 84 minutes across all competitions.

The 21-year-old was pictured with Mahrez while on holiday in Greece in 2021, and Haaland told City's official website that the Algeria international had spoken to him about moving to Manchester at the time.

"He told me to come to City!" he said in the interview published on Monday. "He was right about that. He said some good things about the club."

Haaland also expressed his excitement at the prospect of linking up with another highly-rated young player in Foden.

The England international recorded 11 assists in 45 games in all competitions for City last season, while creating 63 chances overall and 18 big chances, which is an opportunity from which a goal would normally be expected.

 

"I have been watching a lot of City games for as long as I can remember. Of course, then I also watched Phil and he is an amazing player," Haaland said.

"He is still a talent because he is still young, but he is an amazing player.

"He still has to develop and then we can really talk."

Gareth Bale has suggested the standard of football he competes at in the build-up to the World Cup does not make "too much of a difference", amid continued speculation over a move to Cardiff City.

The Wales international will end a nine-year spell with Real Madrid and become a free agent at the end of June when his contract expires.

Bale, who helped Wales to their first World Cup qualification since 1958, has been linked with a host of clubs across Europe and the United States.

Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman is said to have flown to the United Kingdom to start discussions with the 32-year-old, attempting to bring the forward back to his hometown club.

Wales coach Rob Page declared a deal with Cardiff would "tick all the right boxes", while the veteran attacker's agent Jonathan Barnett revealed his next move will not be driven by money.

Bale, speaking on Monday before a Nations League clash with the Netherlands, refused to rule out a move to the Championship side as he outlined his plans to discuss his next career move with Page.

"It's something I guess I need to sit down and go through," Bale told reporters at a pre-match news conference.

"Not just with my family, but with the manager here [Page], with the physios here that we use, to see what would give me the best chance of being fit come November and December.

"I don't really know if the standard makes too much of a difference. A football game is a football game.

"I feel like I'll never really lose my quality on the ball. I guess it's a conversation to be had.

"I need time to think what's the best move for me, my family, my kids, and hopefully we'll sort that over the summer. I have options."

 

Bale won 16 trophies during his time with Madrid but rarely featured in the 2021-22 campaign, in which Los Blancos lifted the La Liga title and the Champions League.

He played in seven of Madrid's 56 matches in all competitions – 13 per cent – with just four of those being starts.

But Bale was still on hand to help Wales to the World Cup in Qatar, their 64-year wait the longest gap between qualification for world football's showpiece tournament.

While Bale's deflected free-kick off the head of Andriy Yarmolenko was enough to secure play-off success over Ukraine, he knows he still has to build his fitness.

"Ideally I would have had more games coming in [to camp] so I would have been even fitter and not had to recover as much as I am at the moment," he added.

"I've been available for quite a lot of the games in Spain. Sometimes you just don't get picked so people assume that you're injured.

"[he next step] is going to be massively important. I need to make sure I'm playing games and I'm as fit as possible.

"Sometimes I'm able to get away with it, but ideally I want to go into a World Cup playing games and being as fit for as long as I can on the pitch."

Erling Haaland believes he has joined the right club to fulfil his ambitions after Manchester City officially confirmed the striker's arrival on Monday.

City announced on May 10 that an agreement was in place to sign Haaland from Borussia Dortmund after triggering his reported €75million (£64.2m) release clause.

The Norway international has now officially put pen to paper on a five-year contract at the Etihad Stadium, with that deal to go through on July 1.

Haaland had been one of Europe's most sought-after players and follows in the footsteps of his father Alf-Inge, who played for City between 2000 and 2003.

He scored 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund upon joining from Salzburg in January 2020, averaging a goal every 84 minutes across all competitions.

Indeed, only Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski (123 goals in 108 games) boasts a better scoring rate over that period among players from Europe's top five leagues.

And after making the switch to the Premier League champions, Haaland is hopeful that his goals will lead to trophies under the management of Pep Guardiola.

"This is a proud day for me and my family," he told City's official website. "I have always watched City and have loved doing so in recent seasons. 

"You can't help but admire their style of play, it’s exciting and they create a lot of chances, which is perfect for a player like me. 

"There are so many world-class players in this squad and Pep is one of the greatest managers of all time, so I believe I am in the right place to fulfil my ambitions. 

"I want to score goals, win trophies and improve as a footballer and I am confident I can do that here. This is a great move for me and I can't wait to get started in pre-season."

Haaland won two Austrian Bundesliga titles during his time with Salzburg and the DFB-Pokal in 2020-21 across his two-and-a-half seasons at Dortmund.

The prolific striker struggled with injuries in the 2021-22 season, yet he still managed 29 goals in 30 games in all competitions for BVB, including a strike in his final game.

There has not been a lot of movement among Inter's defensive stocks in recent years, with Milan Skriniar, Stefan De Vrij and Alessandro Bastoni providing continuity in front of Samir Handanovic.

Skriniar appears set to leave this off-season, however, after five years at the club.

The Nerazzurri are reportedly well-prepared in what looks set to be an active transfer window for them.

 

TOP STORY – INTER PLAN FOR SKRINIAR EXIT AS PSG MOVE NEARS

Inter have identified who they would want to replace Skriniar in the event he departs for PSG, according to Tuttosport and Corriere dello Sport.

Gleison Bremer and Nikola Milenkovic are viewed as possible replacements for the 27-year-old Slovakia international, as his move to Ligue 1 appears increasingly likely.

Skriniar's priority is to remain with Inter, where he has been since 2017 after signing from Sampdoria, but would not stand against a move to PSG if it helped Inter financially.

Bremer has reportedly already agreed personal terms with the Nerazzurri, while Milenkovic's agent met with club representatives this week.

ROUND-UP

Roma and Lazio are both keen to sign Napoli forward Dries Mertens, whose contract expires this off-season, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Denzel Dumfries is open to leaving Inter in order to join Erik ten Hag at Manchester United, the Daily Mail reports.

– Meanwhile, the Nerazzurri are set to sign Paulo Dybala on a three-year deal with his contract at Juventus expiring, per Goal.

– Bild claims that Jonjoe Kenny has committed to joining Hertha Berlin on a free transfer from Everton.

Benfica have confirmed they have reached an agreement with Liverpool over the sale of Darwin Nunez.

Releasing a statement on their website early on Monday, Benfica confirmed the Uruguay striker will head to Anfield for a fee of £64million (€75m), with a further £21.4m (€25m) in potential add-ons.

Nunez signed for Benfica in 2020 from Spanish second tier side Almeria for around €24m and scored 45 goals in 85 games, 61 of those starts, for the Primeira Liga club in all competitions.

The club also notified that finalising the deal will now depend on the agreement of personal terms between Nunez, his representatives and Liverpool.

"It is further informed that the aforementioned agreement is dependent on the signing of the player's employment contract with Liverpool FC," a Benfica statement said.

The 22-year-old enjoyed a prolific 2021-22 season, finding the net 34 times in 41 games in all competitions.

Luis Enrique is in no doubt Spain can compete with the very best in the world after watching his side cruise past the Czech Republic 2-0 in the Nations League on Sunday.

Carlos Soler and Pablo Sarabia were on target in each half as La Roja moved top of Group A2 following Portugal's 1-0 defeat to Switzerland.

The win, which stretched Spain's unbeaten run to eight games, means their progress to the Nations League finals could be sealed before their final group game against Portugal.

Should they beat Switzerland in their penultimate game and Portugal lose to the Czech Republic, Spain will seal their place in the tournament.

Luis Enrique was pleased with his side's display at La Rosaleda in Malaga, yet acknowledged there is room for improvement.

"I am very satisfied, how can I not be?" he said in a media conference.

"The rival has shown how good they are, in all aspects. We have been quite good, although we lacked some things.

"The atmosphere was wonderful, with lots of cheering and respect for the anthem of the rival. I hope it repeats itself and serves as an example.

"We are leaders and we have been good in general. Ask the rivals what they feel when playing with us. Surely we will compete [against anyone]."

Marco Asensio was particularly bright for Spain, teeing up Soler's goal to move level with Jordi Alba as the joint-highest goal creator under Luis Enrique's leadership (seven assists).

He played more key passes (three) than any other player on the pitch, and Luis Enrique says the fact he is not a regular starter at Real Madrid is not an issue.

"I always called him up when I saw him doing well," he said. "Now he has been playing less. We like him and he knows it. There are no doubts with him."

Unai Simon made important saves from Vaclav Cerny and Jan Kuchta before Soler's opener, with Luis Enrique pleased at his goalkeeper's decisiveness. 

"He chose well in decision-making," he added. "He gives us a lot with the ball in aerial aspects. He has been good.

"It gives me a lot of peace of mind, and I am the one who makes decisions. He has saved us and that's what the goalkeeper is for."

Fernando Santos questioned the referee's performance after Portugal suffered the first defeat of their Nations League campaign to Switzerland.

Haris Seferovic opened the scoring after just 55 seconds in Geneva, the fastest goal in Nations League history and earliest Switzerland have scored since 1988.

Referee Fran Jovic awarded a penalty to Switzerland 13 minutes later for a handball against Nuno Mendes, but the VAR overruled the decision.

A clear foul on Andre Silva by Nico Elvedi on the halfway line was the reason, with the Portugal striker requiring brief medical treatment for the ankle injury suffered in the tackle.

Portugal were incensed at the original decision, surrounding Jovic at half-time, and tempers continued to boil over in the second half, with Bruno Fernandes confronting the Swiss bench at one point.

While Santos refused to directly criticise the referee's performance, he admitted his frustrations with Switzerland seemingly slowing down the game en route to a 1-0 victory.

"I'm not going to criticise, but when a penalty is awarded that doesn't happen just like that, when there's a clear foul in midfield... Then just look at the number of fouls and time lost," he told reporters. 

"The fourth official knows very well what happened in the game."

Santos was satisfied with the second-half improvement, even if Swiss goalkeeper Jonas Omlin's heroics left Portugal a point behind group leaders Spain, who defeated Czech Republic on Sunday.

"At half-time, I was just saying that we have to have the ball and play differently and push them back," he added. 

"We started very well, in the first few minutes we wanted to put the ball very quickly on [Goncalo] Guedes. We knew opportunities would arise and many have arisen."

Portugal are not in action again until visiting Czech Republic in the Nations League on September 24.

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