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Carlo Ancelotti Has Confirmed Eden Hazard Will Be Starting In Los Blancos’ La Liga Clash Against Cadiz On Sunday

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However, he clarified that the Belgian is getting a rare starting position not just because of a shortage of players that are currently healthy and available for selection.

Ancelotti spoke in a pre-match press conference just as the club battles an internal Covid-19 crisis. However, he said about Hazard: “Tomorrow he will be a starter. He will play because he has trained well and deserves to. Not because of the absentees.”

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Hazard vowed at the start of the season that he will do his best to prove to the club and its supporters that he deserves to be a Real Madrid player. However, things have not gone well so far, with the Belgian falling behind youngsters Vinicius Junior, Marco Asensio and Rodrygo Goes in the pecking order. Even Luka Jovic has done better than Hazard, having already had his moments of brilliance this season, despite previously languishing in the bench alongside the Belgian.

Ancelotti only has good words to say about the former Chelsea star. “He has been working very well. He hasn’t changed mentally. His problem is that he hasn’t always been able to train at 100 percent, as he is now.”

The manager admitted that the strong performances of Vinicius Jr. have meant that the left flank is always covered, leaving Hazard out of his preferred position. “He is ready because of what he has shown in training. He wasn’t used to playing on the right and I preferred Rodrygo and Asensio there,” said Ancelotti.

With Vini firmly on the left, the manager is taking the opportunity to bring Hazard in on the right. Both Rodrygo and Marco Asensio have returned positive Covid-19 test results and will be unavailable to play on Sunday. The two players are part of an outbreak that also includes Gareth Bale, Andriy Lunin, Luka Modric, Marcelo and assistant coach Davide Ancelotti.

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“He has what it takes to have a very good second half of the season and be useful for the team,” said the manager, still refusing to state that the Covid situation is a major contributing factor to Hazard’s start.

Nevertheless, Ancelotti is not overly bothered by the health crisis. “We have to live with this, both us and society. We never thought of postponing the match. We have to continue to live with this virus, which is now less strong. We have to be careful and cautious,” he added.

In any case, La Liga regulations would still require the match to go ahead, as long as at least five players from the regular first team squad are available, and the club can come up with another eight players from the reserves and the youth team.

There are only two more matchdays before a short Christmas break allows the stricken players to recover. Ancelotti will be hoping that the holiday festivities won’t result in more infections, and that the club can hold on to their five-point lead ahead of Sevilla even as players become unavailable.

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Ralf Rangnick Has No Concerns About Selecting Paul Pogba During The Final Months Of His Manchester United Contract

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Pogba has entered the final six month of his current Old Trafford terms, with little progress made in discussions over a renewal and a departure on a free transfer in the summer considered likely.

The 28-year-old is yet to make an appearance under interim manager Rangnick after suffering a thigh injury while on international duty in November, though returned to full training on Monday.

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Rangnick expects Pogba to be available for selection ahead of the FA Cup fourth round tie with Middlesbrough after the January international break, and is ready to call on United’s record signing.

The United interim manager said that Pogba wants to show the fans, board and “the whole world” what kind of player he can be, but added that he will be “highly motivated” even if he is only playing to put himself in the shop window.

When asked if there is much point playing Pogba given the likelihood of him leaving, Rangnick said: “Yes, of course.

“By the way, my contract as a manager is also expiring in the summer. For us we have the same goal. We have the same ambition to be as successful as we can possibly be in the next three or four months.

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“For me, it’s not a question if a player has an expiring contract. The question is how much does he still want to be a part of this group? How much does he still feel emotionally and physically on board?

“As long as this is the case, why shouldn’t Paul Pogba [play] now after two and half months of injury, fully fit again now?

“And he also wants to show up, he wants to show the fans of Manchester United, the board, the whole world what kind of player he can be. And even if it’s only to show enough for a new contract elsewhere, he will be highly motivated to do that and why should I then not play him?

“As I said, there is a difference in how players deal with their current situation. How do they handle that? If they handle that in a professional way, an ambitious way, of course I will play players although they have a contract expiring in the summer.”

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Pogba will be one of the most sought-after free agents in world football if his contract expires before reaching a new agreement with United, as appears likely.

Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus are among the possible destinations for a player who broke the world transfer record when joining United in a €105m (£89m) fee in 2016. Pogba has not signed another

Rangnick also revealed that he was impressed with what he saw from Pogba in his first training session back since his recovery.

“Paul Pogba had his first day of training with the whole group and he showed what an extraordinary player he could be,” Rangnick said. “He won’t be available for the two games this week but after the international break against Middlesbrough and Burnley he could be.”

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Juventus Cruise To A 4-1 Win Over Sampdoria In The Coppa Italia On Tuesday Night

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The home side were rather comfortable throughout the 90 minutes, with their opponents Samp looking completely out of their depth at the Allianz Stadium.

As you’d expect, it was all Juventus from the first whistle to the last, as the home side dominated possession while Sampdoria could barely string two passes together. Juan Cuadrado caused the visitors particular problems with his movement in and around the penalty area – forcing Wladimiro Falcone into a smart save at his near post in the 15th minute.

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Cuadrado got his just rewards for a great first-half performance ten minutes later, as the Colombian drilled a free-kick from just outside the box under the Samp wall, and through the fairly hapless Falcone (it was pretty bad goalkeeping to be honest).

Seconds later, Cuadrado proved to be the catalyst for what Juve thought was their second goal of the evening. The winger squared the ball to Alvaro Morata, who duly converted from inside the penalty with a sweeping shot. However, the goal was disallowed due to a foul from Adrien Rabiot in the build-up.

Falcone went some way to making amends for his earlier mistake by denying Rugani and Morata. The Samp goalkeeper reacted quickly to save an effort on goal from just inside the six-yard box from Rugani, before denying Morata with similar heroics on the stroke of half-time.

The second half was much the same as the first, with Sampdoria being absolutely terrible and Juventus being fairly competent.

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Juve deservedly bagged the second goal of the evening on the 50th minute mark, with Rugani rising highest from an Arthur cross to score his first ever Coppa Italia goal.

Despite the home side dominating proceedings, out of absolutely nowhere, Samp pulled a goal back on the hour. The goal came from former Milan man Andrea Conti, who drilled a great volley from the edge of the penalty area past Mattia Perin.

The momentary panic caused by Conti’s goal was arrested pretty much immediately by subsitute Paulo Dybala. After Manuel Locatelli stole possession on the edge of Samp’s box, the Juve number ten confidently curled the ball into the bottom right corner.

It was 4-1 in the 75th minute, when Dybala converted a penalty kick won by debutant Marley Ake.

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