Carlo Ancelotti acknowledges Karim Benzema is "a bit tired" following his return from injury, but has refused to rule out using the striker when Real Madrid face Getafe on Saturday.

Benzema missed three weeks after sustaining a thigh injury in the Champions League win over Celtic last month, returning to Los Blancos' side for last week's 1-1 draw with Osasuna.

The France striker crashed a late penalty against the crossbar in that match as Madrid dropped points for the first time this season in LaLiga, and also failed to impress in Wednesday's 2-1 Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk.

Benzema failed to score despite recording eight shots totalling 0.93 expected goals (xG) in that contest, and Spanish media reports had suggested he was doubtful for the trip to Getafe.

However, Ancelotti insists Benzema has not been ruled out of Saturday's game, saying: "Benzema has played two full games after being out for a month, he's a bit tired. 

"He's not ruled out. If he's fine tomorrow, he can play. I see the usual Karim, we don't have to worry. 

"It may be that he rests in Getafe, we'll see, we don't want to force anything."

Ancelotti revealed only two players had asked him for a rest during his long coaching career, adding: "The players are not so honest when they are tired. 

"I prefer that they tell me that they are loaded and avoid injuries, but it has only happened to me twice in 30 years: Pepe and [Clarence] Seedorf." 

If Benzema does feature on Saturday, he will look to extend a fine run of form on the road. The Ballon d'Or favourite has scored nine away goals in LaLiga in 2022, more than any other player, finding the net in six of his last nine away appearances.

Ancelotti offered a positive update on the fitness of Thibaut Courtois, who has missed Madrid's last two games due to a hernia issue, confirming he should be available for next week's Clasico meeting with Barcelona.

"Courtois is improving from his inflammation, it's getting better," he said. "We'll see if he gets to Warsaw [to face Shakhtar on Tuesday], but he'll be safe in the Clasico."

Ancelotti was also asked about the future of midfielder Toni Kroos, who is yet to sign an extension to his Madrid contract, which expires next year.

The Italian coach is relaxed about the situation, though, adding: "Kroos never gets angry, he never feels the pressure. Sometimes I ask him if he's nervous, and he always says no. 

"The renewal is in his hands, if he wants to renew, Real Madrid will be very happy."

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri urged his under-fire team to manage their nerves ahead of Saturday's trip to Serie A champions Milan.

Juve have only won three of their eight Serie A matches this season, and Allegri has faced severe criticism with the Bianconeri already seven points behind leaders Napoli.

While Allegri's team boosted their Champions League hopes by beating Maccabi Haifa on Wednesday, they go to San Siro having failed to win any of their three away league games this term.

Should they fail to beat the Rossoneri, it will be just the second time they have started a Serie A season with a four-match winless run on the road, having done so in 1993-94.

Allegri believes his team's problems are primarily psychological, saying: "The other day I was reflecting, we made a mistake with Salernitana [in a 2-2 draw last month], regardless of what happened at the end.

"We got too nervous and it doesn't have to happen any more, because the championship is long. 

"We wasted a lot of energy and we arrived at Monza not in the ideal conditions to get the three points that would have changed the standings.

"The most important thing is to give continuity, tomorrow is a great game and we have to play it. We need a high level of performance. 

"However, they have a strong team, with technical and very fast players. They have [Rafael] Leao who can shift the balance, then they play in front of their fans and San Siro pushes them when full.

"You need personality and clarity. It will be a good test.

"It is Milan-Juventus, we play against the Italian champions and it will be more difficult than usual because they come from a bad defeat [3-0 to Chelsea], and they will want to make up for it."

Allegri led Milan to the Scudetto in the 2010-11 season, but Stefano Pioli ended the Rossoneri's 11-year wait to replicate that triumph in May.

The Juventus boss heaped praise on his counterpart as he added: "He is doing better [than myself], because they have four points more than us. 

"I can only congratulate Pioli for the work he is doing, for the championship he won last year, which they haven't won since 2011. The numbers are all on his side."

Milan have avoided defeat in four of their last five Serie A meetings with Juventus (W2 L2), having lost 13 of their previous 14 league games against them (W1).

RB Leipzig technical director Christopher Vivell has been dismissed by the Bundesliga outfit amid reports linking him with a move to Chelsea.

Vivell joined Leipzig in 2020 after performing a similar role at Salzburg, where he worked alongside Christoph Freund as the club unearthed several young prospects, including Erling Haaland.

Both Vivell and Freund have recently been linked with Chelsea, who have been looking to appoint a sporting director since Petr Cech's departure in June.

Chairman Todd Boehly has been performing the role on an interim basis during the first few months of his tenure, but Vivell's Leipzig departure could potentially open the door to a move.

A statement from the German club said: "Christopher Vivell was released from his position as technical director yesterday, Thursday, with immediate effect due to differing views."

Vivell's former colleague Freund confirmed he would not be making the move to Stamford Bridge last month, declaring: "I came to the conclusion that I am in the best place at Salzburg, and a move was out of the question for me."

Chelsea have been linked with several other sporting directors throughout their search, including Sevilla's Monchi and Michael Edwards, formerly of Liverpool

Argentinian football was in shock after a supporter died as clashes between police and fans caused the match between Gimnasia and Boca Juniors to be abandoned.

The game at the Juan Carmelo Zerillo Stadium in La Plata was attended solely by Gimnasia supporters, due to a ban on away fans, and it was widely reported police closed entrances due to concerns about overcrowding.

Tear gas was fired, and this seeped into the stadium. A 57-year-old fan, who was named as Cesar Gustavo Regueiro, died after a suspected heart problem.

Buenos Aires minister of security Sergio Berni was quoted in local media as saying Gimnasia had over-sold tickets for the stadium, which the club denied.

Berni told TyCSports: "No one wants to be responsible for this and that is why everything ends up falling to the police."

Boca Juniors expressed "regret" over the death, appealing for "a profound call for reflection".

Referee Hernan Mastrangelo suspended the match after nine minutes of the first half, with the Liga Profesional de Futbol saying it would be rescheduled to a future date.

Gimnasia stated: "We will demand that what happened be investigated until those responsible for this tragic day are known.

"Our club complied with the protocols established by the security agencies. There was no overselling tickets and the behaviour of our partners and fans was correct."

The club added in a further statement that it "repudiates the excessive actions of the security forces at the entrance and surroundings" of the stadium.

Referee Mastrangelo told TyC Sports: "I spoke with the players in the locker room to find out how they were and several told me that they were very worried about their relatives who were in the stadium.

"At no time did we have the physical integrity to continue the match since the air was unbreathable. This is the first time something similar has happened to me. It is a situation that makes us all very sad."

The Argentinian Football Association said: "The AFA, with president Claudio Tapia at its head, mourns the death of Cesar Gustavo Regueiro, a supporter of the Gimnasia club, and sends its condolences to family and loved ones."

The incident comes less than a week on from well over 100 people dying in a stampede at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Indonesia.

Club Brugge's Ferran Jutgla has put himself on the radar of some Europe's richest clubs after a terrific start to the Champions League, with Arsenal and Atletico Madrid said to be keen.

Jutgla, 23, appeared to be on an upward trajectory after leaving Espanyol last year to join Barcelona, but despite working his way up from the B team and scoring on his first-team starting debut against Elche in December, he was shipped off to Brugge after one season for a modest €5million.

It is looking like a shrewd investment from the Belgian side, with the Spanish forward contributing six goals and three assists in his first 10 league games, but it is in the Champions League where Jutgla has really made his mark.

TOP STORY – BRUGGE BREAKOUT STAR JUTGLA BURSTS ONTO THE WORLD STAGE

Brugge have been arguably the most surprising team from the first three matchdays in the Champions League, collecting three wins and three clean sheets as they defeated Bayer Leverkusen 1-0, FC Porto 4-0 and Atletico 2-0 to sit atop Group B.

Jutgla collected a goal and an assist in both the Porto and Atletico games, and according to Media Foot, the latter liked what they saw.

The report also mentions Arsenal as a team with keen interest, and claims they will keep a close eye on his progress with the aim of making an offer at the end of the season.

ROUND-UP

– According to Turkish outlet Fotomac, Galatasaray are interested in signing Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo in January.

– A Bola is reporting Arsenal have strong interest in 30-year-old Porto forward Mehdi Taremi, who is expected to play a big role for Iran at the World Cup.

Real Madrid are monitoring 18-year-old Benfica defender Antonio Silva, according to Calciomercato.

– Calciomercato is also reporting Milan could look to sign 21-year-old Midtjylland winger Gustav Isaksen in January after sending scouts to see him score in a 2-2 Europa League draw against Feyenoord.

– Jeunes Footeux believes West Ham and Sevilla are both interested in Eintracht Frankfurt centre-back Evan Ndicka, with West Ham hoping to get him for free when his contract expires in June, while Sevilla could make a bid in January.

Neymar declared "I don't think there is a new Neymar" but the in-form Paris Saint-Germain forward feels like he is "a more complete player".

The Brazil international has made a great start to the season, scoring 11 goals in 13 games for PSG.

Neymar has also provided nine assists for the Ligue 1 champions, who are reaping the rewards of having the former Barcelona man fully fit after he spent a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to injury last season.

The 30-year-old's impressive performances bode well for Brazil ahead of the World Cup in Qatar and he thinks his all-round game is better than it has ever been.

He told PSG TV: "I don't think there is a new Neymar. I think just that things have dropped into place. I'm having a very good start to the season, like when I came here and in my first two or three years.

"I feel a more complete player now, because I can defend, attack or score goals, make assists, whatever you like. I think I'm now more complete than before.

"I think everyone helps. Of course, I know I'm not an extraordinary defender, but I at least try to help my team-mates however I can."

Neymar is dreaming of a World Cup and Champions League double.

He said: "I'm very happy to have started my season well, whether it be with Paris Saint-Germain or the Brazil national team.

"The aim this year is to win with both teams, to win everything with Paris and Brazil. We have a World Cup coming up and we know just how difficult that competition is.

"But I have a dream of winning it, just like the Champions League will be soon in Paris, I'm sure of that."

Lothar Matthaus has urged England to start Jude Bellingham in every match at the World Cup in Qatar.

The Three Lions head to the tournament in poor form, failing to win any of their past six competitive matches, their worst sequence of results ever before a major tournament.

Questions regarding Gareth Southgate's first-choice XI remain, with the manager staying loyal to those who performed well in the 2018 World Cup and last year's European Championship.

However, Borussia Dortmund star Bellingham has worked his way into the side and started England's last three matches, with Bayern Munich and West Germany great Matthaus believing that streak should continue in the upcoming tournament.

"He's someone English football fans need to be hugely excited about," the 61-year-old Bundesliga television pundit told FourFourTwo.

"With his mentality, he's not somebody that needs to be treated as a young player who hopes for a few minutes here and there, he's a player who should be starting every match.

"He's becoming an important part of the national team and, in my opinion, he has the potential to be one of the best midfielders England have ever produced.

"I played against some pretty good ones myself and I see those qualities in him."

England begin their group stage campaign against Iran on November 21, then tackling the United States and Wales in Group B.

Megan Rapinoe and her United States team-mates are "angry and exhausted" after a report detailed widespread misconduct in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL).

Former US Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates released a report on Monday concluding abuse and sexual misconduct spanned multiple teams and coaches, while the NWSL and US Soccer failed to put in "basic measures" to safeguard players or "respond appropriately when confronted with player reports and evidence of abuse".

The report's findings have cast a dark shadow on women's football ahead of the United States' friendly with England at Wembley Stadium on Friday.

Rapinoe is grateful the United States' squad were able to support each other at a difficult time.

"I mean it's horrifying," Rapinoe told reporters at a pre-match press conference. "Obviously, I'm sure everybody read the report, and have read all the reporting that's been going on the last year. Even when you know it, it's just horrifying over and over to read.

"It's been difficult for the players, some of those players play in those clubs, have been coached by those coaches, and likely have been abused in one form or another.

"It could definitely be re-triggering or re-traumatising, just to have to deal with that on such an incredible occasion. To be here at Wembley, and be able to participate in this game that is so exciting, the juxtaposition is just kind of ridiculous.

"We're angry and exhausted, and together and unified. It's nice to be here together as a team, I feel like it's really powerful for us all to be together as a national team and be able to speak on behalf of all this. It has been very difficult, I can't even imagine for the players most affected.

"In a way, I mean it's really sad to say, but we're used to having to deal with one thing or another. It seems to bring us closer and definitely unify the team and it's just one of those intimate environments that we're in."

Since the findings were released, Portland Thorns owner Merritt Paulson and Chicago Red Stars owner Arnim Whisler, both of whom were cited in the report, have announced their intentions to step aside.

Rapinoe has little sympathy.

"I don't think Merritt Paulson is fit to be the owner in Portland. I don't think Arnim is fit to be the owner in Chicago," she said.

Rapinoe also demanded more action from football's governing bodies, including FIFA.

"Obviously, that's a monumental task and a lot of these federations that are funded really well only get together a couple of times a year. I know that can be difficult," she added.

"But from FIFA's standpoint, as the stewards of the game, they have a responsibility to do everything in their power to ensure that every player is in a safe environment."

Rapinoe also believes the NSWL and US Soccer must take responsibility.

"Those people are in positions that have responsibility, and they didn't fulfil those responsibilities and they didn't protect players at all," Rapinoe said.

"It's year after year after year, it’s impossible to overstate that every single year someone said something about multiple coaches in the league, about multiple different environments so if, year after year after year, you cannot perform your duties - I know I wouldn't be in my position if I couldn't perform my duties year after year."

Argentina captain Lionel Messi has confirmed Qatar 2022 will be his last World Cup.

The mercurial Paris Saint-Germain forward will attempt to lift the trophy for the first time after helping his country win the Copa America last year.

Messi, 35, says he will not play in another World Cup following the showpiece in Qatar, which starts on November 20.

He told Star+: "This is my last World Cup, surely, yes."

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner does not believe Argentina go into the tournament as the favourites to be crowned champions.

He added: "We are not the top favourites. I think there are other teams that are above us today.

"We arrived at a good moment because of how things turned out and with a very strong group. Afterwards, in a World Cup anything can happen, it's very difficult. The favourites are not always the ones who end up winning.

"I see similar things from the group with the one from 2014. We can't wait to get together."

The 2014 World Cup was the closest Messi has come to winning the tournament, with Argentina beaten by Germany in the final.

Lionel Messi could return to Barcelona, claims vice-president Eduard Romeu, stating the club knows "how to perform miracles" after they announced a profit.

The forward left last year when Barcelona were prevented from re-signing him after his contract expired because their financial struggles led to a massively reduced salary limit in LaLiga.

He then signed a two-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain, though the relatively short-term nature of that deal meant speculation has frequently linked the veteran Argentinian with a homecoming at Camp Nou.

Romeu suggested any decision to bring Messi back to the club is a matter for the sporting side of Barcelona, but he hinted they could make any move work financially.

"He is an asset to the club and our doors are open," he said. "We have shown that we know how to perform miracles."

His comments came as Barca posted a €98million profit after tax for the 2021-22 financial year, following several seasons of serious economic woe.

President Joan Laporta's activated what he called financial "levers" during the off-season to help ease their strife in the short-term. His measures included selling off 25 per cent of their LaLiga TV rights for the next 25 years.

While critics accused Laporta of mortgaging the club's future, they were able to build a squad that is expected to be competing for the biggest prizes in football once again, with the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha arriving at Camp Nou.

Laporta's gamble is also reflected in the club's latest statement of profit, though whether they have enough manoeuvrability to put together a package for Messi's return remains theoretical.

Former Inter and Lazio midfielder Dejan Stankovic has been appointed head coach of Sampdoria, the Serie A club announced on Thursday.

The 44-year-old Serbian succeeds Marco Giampaolo who was sacked on Sunday following a poor start to the season, with Sampdoria bottom of Serie A after picking up just two points from their opening eight matches.

Sampdoria announced Stankovic has signed a contract running until June 2023, with an option to extend the deal for another season.

Capped over 100 times by Yugoslavia and Serbia, Stankovic won Serie A with Lazio in 1999-2000 as well as the European Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Super Cup in 1999 during a six-year stint with the club.

He enjoyed further success with Inter where he won five Serie A titles, as well as the Champions League in 2009-10, before retiring in 2013.

Stankovic began his managerial career with Red Star Belgrade, guiding the club to three league titles and two triumphs in the Serbian Cup before resigning in August following a Champions League qualifying defeat to Maccabi Haifa.

Jorge Sampaoli has been appointed as Sevilla coach for the second time, with the former Argentina boss succeeding Julen Lopetegui.

The 62-year-old, who was in charge of Marseille last season, was originally handed the top job at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in June 2016, succeeding Unai Emery.

During his lone year at the club, he took them to a fourth-place finish in LaLiga, and the round of 16 in the Champions League.

Now, he returns following Lopetegui's exit amid a dismal start to the 2022-23 season for Sevilla, with the club 17th in LaLiga and similarly adrift in Europe following a 4-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

Sampaoli's immediate remit will be ensuring a swift turnaround in fortunes for the club, starting with this weekend's clash with Athletic Club. He has signed a deal running until the end of June 2024.

A return trip to Dortmund will present an opportunity for Sevilla to potentially turn around their flagging fortunes in the Champions League.

Brazil will be the number one side in the world when the Qatar 2022 World Cup starts next month, after strengthening their lead in the FIFA rankings.

The Selecao head into this year's tournament looking to break a two-decade hold by European nations on the sport's top prize, having been the last country from outside the continent to triumph at the South Korea and Japan 2002 finals.

Tite's side have slightly stretched their points advantage above second-placed Belgium, whom they displaced atop the list in March.

Brazil and Belgium head up an unchanged top five, with Argentina remaining at number three, World Cup holders France at four and England – who have endured a dismal 2022 – in fifth place.

The Three Lions will top the strongest group at Qatar 2022, Group B, when taken on points, with fellow nations the United States, Wales and Iran all ranked inside the top 20.

Italy, who are the highest-ranked nation not qualified for the World Cup, have forced the only move inside the FIFA top 10 as they head to sixth from seventh in a straight swap with Spain.

The Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark round out the top 10, with Germany just beyond them at number 11, ahead of 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia.

The lowest-ranked side at this year's tournament will be Ghana, who sit at 61st on the FIFA list, while hosts Qatar are in 50th place.

Xabi Alonso accepts he is taking a "risk" after being appointed as Bayer Leverkusen head coach, but felt the time was right to make the move into senior management.

The 40-year-old former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich midfielder was announced as Gerardo Seoane's replacement on Wednesday.

Alonso coached Real Sociedad B for three years before departing in May and previously spent time working in Madrid's youth system.

The Leverkusen job presents a new challenge for Alonso, who inherits a side sitting 17th in the Bundesliga and third in their Champions League group after three games.

"There is of course always a risk," Alonso said at his unveiling press conference on Thursday ahead of this weekend's visit of Schalke.

"But you have to always improve and take steps forward. I firmly believe that it will work out here and I am fully motivated.

"Even as a player, I always wanted to take the right steps. I had the chance to coach good teams. But I felt I needed more time. Now I've realised that I'm ready."

Alonso confirmed "there have been inquiries" from teams in Spain but he was eager to return to Germany, where he won three Bundesliga titles in three seasons with Bayern.

"For me, things stay in my head that I feel good about from my time at Bayern," he said. "I already know about the German mentality, so that will help.

"Being here is very important for me. It's a great honour. After five years I must have forgotten some German, but I'll try my best to remember." 

Leverkusen parted company with Seoane on the back of Tuesday's 2-0 loss to Porto, which followed a 4-0 league defeat to Bayern.

They have finished in the top six in each of the past five seasons but are inside the relegation zone with eight games played this term.

"These players have shown great quality in recent years. They should start to enjoy playing again and that way the fans will too," Alonso said.

"I've kept following the Bundesliga and the teams have gotten better. That means I had to feel even more ready. There are a lot of good coaches in this division.

"I'm hoping I can mix up the play. As a former midfielder, I like control. I want to create a winning mentality here."

Real Madrid are keen on Jude Bellingham, and so too are Premier League giants Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool.

Given the hot pursuit, some are said to be considering alternative targets, particularly Liverpool who had a quiet off-season in the transfer market.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds added Darwin Nunez, with Sadio Mane exiting, but they did not make a major midfield signing in the off-season.

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL EYE MUSIALA AS BELLINGHAM ALTERNATIVE

Liverpool are among the clubs circling for Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham. Should they miss out, they will turn to Bayern Munich's Jamal Musiala, according to the Mirror.

Germany international Musiala spent time with Southampton and Chelsea in his youth and was capped by England at age-group level.

Sky Germany reports Liverpool are among several top clubs keeping tabs on the 19-year-old, although it is believed he has no plans to exit the Allianz Arena anytime soon.

ROUND-UP

– Tottenham are the latest club to join the race to sign Milan's Portuguese forward Rafael Leao, reports Calciomercato. Chelsea and Manchester City have been linked with Leao who is set to receive a fresh contract offer from Milan.

– Calciomercato claims Real Madrid will rival Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, who are both keen on Inter defender Milan Skriniar. The Slovakian's contract ends in mid-2023, prompting interest, although Inter are trying to renew his deal.

– Marca claims Barcelona have reached an agreement to permanently sell Antoine Griezmann to Atletico Madrid for half of the €40m asking price. Griezmann is in the second season of a two-year loan deal, but Atletico have been playing him in on reduced minutes to avoid triggering a clause in his contract.

– Football Insider reports Arsenal are monitoring Marcus Rashford's situation at Manchester United, with the forward's contract to expire at the end of this season.

– Southampton are on the brink of sacking manager Ralph Hasenhuttl after managing only seven points from eight games to start this Premier League, according to the Telegraph. Hasenhuttl has been at the Saints helm since 2018.

– There is a manager merry-go-around with Nottingham Forest's under-pressure boss Steve Cooper in contention to replace Hasenhuttl at Southampton, claims the Daily Mail.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.