Paulo Sousa has been appointed as the new Poland head coach.

Former Portugal midfielder Sousa replaces Jerzy Brzeczek, who was surprisingly relieved of his duties on Monday.

Brzeczek was sacked despite Poland's qualification for Euro 2020 as Group G winners, having won eight of their 10 qualifying matches.

Sousa has been out of work since leaving his role as Bordeaux boss last August and was linked with the Juventus job before Andrea Pirlo landed the role.

The 50-year-old's appointment on Thursday came less than five months before Poland's first game of the rescheduled European Championship, with Slovakia their opponents in a Group E contest on June 14.

Sousa said: "I am honoured and proud to be the coach of the Polish national team. At the beginning, I would like to thank president [of the Polish Football Association] Zbigniew Boniek and the entire management board for the fact that I can take up such a great challenge.

"Poland is a country of football and I am convinced that your enthusiasm will give us strength, support and faith in the representation. Together, we will be able to fight for victories at the European Championship.

"With the right mentality, discipline, organisation and approach, together with me, my staff, federation employees and the support of the entire nation, we will be strong. I am sure that all of Poland will be proud of its national team."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin could push for the delayed Euro 2020 finals to be staged in just one country, according to Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Any such move would cause a drastic redrawing of plans for the tournament just months out from its start, with 12 cities across Europe preparing to stage games.

The logistical implications would be enormous, with the need to find suitable team bases a major issue, while finding agreement on which country might serve as sole host may not be straightforward.

UEFA took similar steps last season to ensure the Champions League and Europa League campaigns could finish without further delay, but a month-long European Championship is on a different scale to those club competitions.

Yet the COVID-19 crisis could mean there are obstacles to staging the event as originally planned, and that could trigger contingency measures.

Quoted by German publication TZ, Bayern Munich chief executive Rummenigge said: "You shouldn't forget that the idea of ​​this special hosting of the tournament came about when corona did not yet exist.

"At the time, it was an initiative of the EU Commission that wanted to have football shown all over Europe. But I know that the UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin – who is incredibly careful with corona – is thinking about whether it wouldn't make more sense in times of corona to play the tournament in just one country."

UEFA's expansion of the tournament to a 24-team event, starting from Euro 2016, means it is now close in scale to a World Cup, and the opening match is due to take place on June 11, with Italy and Turkey set to play in Rome.

Shifting the quarter-final stages of last season's club competitions to Lisbon and Germany meant they were able to be completed, with barely two months between decisions being taken and the games going ahead.

This is due to be the first time UEFA has held a European Championship in such a spread of venues. Ceferin referred to the Euros in December as "a tournament bridging the entire continent".

UEFA also said in November it intended to proceed with the tournament in its original format, albeit accepting that could change depending on circumstances.

It has since said decisions on how many supporters, if any, will be able to attend games, are set to be taken in March.

The semi-finals and final are scheduled to be held at Wembley Stadium in London, with other games in Baku, Amsterdam, Rome, Bilbao, Bucharest, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Glasgow, Munich and Saint Petersburg.

Things are moving very quickly for Pedri.

This time last year he was 17 years old and preparing for a Copa del Rey clash against Badajoz with Las Palmas, now he is playing for Barcelona and his coach is fielding questions about the possibility of him representing Spain at the delayed Euro 2020.

Calls for him to be considered by Luis Enrique intensified after he produced a fine display in Barca's 3-2 victory over Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday, becoming the youngest player in LaLiga history to score and assist in a single game.

At 18 years and 42 days old he headed home an equaliser after Inaki Williams' opener at San Mames and then produced a lovely backheel that Messi steered home to put the Blaugrana on the path to a 3-2 win.

Asked on Friday if Pedri is deserving of a first call-up to the senior Spain squad, Barca boss Ronald Koeman said: "It's not my decision.

"We can say a lot of positive things about Pedri's career so far. Nobody expected a boy of his age to play almost every game. He deserves it.

"It seems like he's been at the club for years, but young players always have ups and downs, you have to see how he continues to evolve, but I have no doubts that he will continue to improve.

"He has to show this level for a longer time, but you don't have to rush."

But how does Pedri stack up against the other options available to Luis Enrique?

A FINE PLAYMAKER

Among Spanish midfielders and attackers playing in the top five European leagues to have featured in at least 10 games in all competitions this season, Pedri ranks sixth in terms of chances created with 26 – 11 shy of Iago Aspas at the top of the list.

Only Isco (31.4) and Cesc Fabregas (30.9) have attempted more passes ending in the final third per 90 minutes than Pedri (30.6), though the Barca star averages more successful ones (24.6) than Fabregas (21.2). Isco leads the way with 25.6 successful passes ending in the final third each game.

AT THE HEART OF THINGS

When looking at the performances of Spanish midfielders in the top five European leagues, only Napoli's Fabian Ruiz (93) has been involved in more unique open play sequences ending with a shot than Pedri (79). Nine of the sequences featuring Pedri have ended in a goal, a tally that only Denis Suarez (10) and Marcos Llorente (13) can better.

The overall expected goals value of the open play sequences ending with a shot or goal that Pedri has been involved in is 10.5, putting him top of the list. It means that not only is the 18-year-old involved in a many passages of play compared to his contemporaries, he is involved in dangerous ones.

Pedri has initiated 16 open play sequences that ended with a shot this season, enough for joint-fourth alongside Dani Parejo. Rodri is top on 22 but his role at Manchester City means he is relied upon to regain possession and start moves from there. Barca would not expect breaking up the opposition's play to be a huge part of Pedri's game, but he is still able to get them moving forward.

Of the shot-ending sequences in open play that Pedri has been involved in, he created the chance and was also involved in the build-up on eight occasions. Luis Alberto (9) of Lazio is the only player with more multi chance involvements.

VERDICT

Spain have an abundance of attacking midfield options, but Pedri is already showing a level of involvement in Barca's build-up play that must surely put him in Luis Enrique's thinking. He has also proved versatile, with Koeman using him out wide, behind the striker and also in a deeper midfield role at times this season. Regardless of where he plays, Pedri is regularly involved in sequences that lead to goalscoring opportunities and looks set to continue doing so for years to come.

Virgil van Dijk is on track to be fit for the European Championship later this year, according to Netherlands head coach Frank de Boer.

Liverpool centre-back Van Dijk has been out since a 2-2 draw with Everton in October, when he sustained a serious knee ligament injury following a heavy challenge from Jordan Pickford.

Van Dijk's influence has since been notable in its absence for the Reds, for whom he played an integral role in ending their 30-year wait to win the English top-flight title in 2019-20.

Last season Van Dijk attempted more passes (3,255) than any other defender in the Premier League, while only two other defenders with more than 1,500 had a better completion rate than him (89.2 per cent).

On top of that, Trent Alexander-Arnold (3,664) was the sole defender to have more touches of the ball than Van Dijk (3,624), his 239 duels won was the fifth best among rearguard players and his 191 aerial wins was bettered by only James Tarkowski (199).

Van Dijk has posted a series of videos on social media recently, including one in Dubai where former Netherlands midfielder Clarence Seedorf assisted the defender with his rehabilitation.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp recently said Van Dijk still "has a long way to go" and it is uncertain if he will play for the defending champions in the rest of this campaign.

But De Boer has optimistically claimed the 29-year-old, who captains the Dutch national team, should be contention to play in the delayed Euro 2020 tournament provided he does not suffer any setbacks.

De Boer told De Telegraaf: "If Virgil doesn't get a kick-back and things go a little faster than expected, he should be able to make it for the opening European Championship match on June 13 against Ukraine.

"He is busy with so much energy. If you see what he's doing…In my time you were only allowed to kick in the swimming pool.

"He is very important for our team, on and off the field."

Van Dijk has won 38 caps for the Netherlands since he made his debut in October 2015.

Lothar Matthaus has declared Joachim Low must "pack his suitcase" and leave his post if Germany fail at the delayed Euro 2020 finals.

Long-serving national coach Low has faced criticism in the wake of the 6-0 defeat to Spain in the Nations League.

Results and performances had been sketchy in the months leading up to November's humiliation in Seville which brought the team's form into sharp focus.

Matthaus, who captained West Germany to 1990 World Cup glory, is now among Germany's leading football pundits and believes Low should not be the only figure to pay the price if Die Mannschaft fail at the European Championship.

Speaking to the Suddeutsche Zeitung, Matthaus said: "If the European Championship does not go as we would like and as we can expect in view of the players, then not only Low would have to pack his suitcase but everyone who decided that he should stay.

"They too have to bear the consequences."

That would mean the senior figures at the German Football Association (DFB) who have thrown their support behind Low, stating after the Spain debacle that one match should not be used as "the benchmark" for the team's overall performance.

Matthaus, 59, contends that 60-year-old Low can no longer get across his message with the same clarity he managed earlier in his tenure.

Low led Germany to World Cup glory in 2014 but his team were eliminated in the group stage at Russia 2018, after which there was a purge of senior players, with Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels discarded. Suggestions they could be recalled have yet to come to fruition.

Matthaus said of Low: "His answers sound a bit like, 'Just let me do it - the rest of you have no idea!'. And then this indifference on the bench, especially against Spain!"

Although Low has helped to create great moments in German sport, Matthaus feels the public have had enough, saying that "the faith of the fans has been lost, and I think the DFB underestimates that".

Gareth Southgate will not set strict boundaries when it comes to team discipline but the England boss expects his players to be "reliable" and "good ambassadors".

Harry Maguire, Phil Foden and Mason Greenwood have all been involved in high-profile incidents in recent months that led to them being dropped from Three Lions duty. 

A breach of coronavirus isolation rules while in Iceland proved costly for Manchester City playmaker Foden and Manchester United forward Greenwood in September. 

The pair appeared to be shown in a Snapchat video posted by one of the women they were said to be socialising with at England's team hotel in Iceland, a meeting then forbidden under the country's strict rules in response to COVID-19.

Both were sent home and missed a subsequent game against Denmark, although Foden was recalled for England's matches against Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Iceland last month. 

Maguire was also in the headlines for the wrong reasons in August after he was arrested while on holiday on the Greek island of Mykonos.

The 27-year-old – who was originally selected, then dropped from the October internationals – is appealing a suspended prison sentence after he was found guilty of aggravated assault, resisting arrest and attempted bribery.

While Southgate is not prepared to lay down strict rules for his players, he does expect them to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times. 

"I would think every club is going to want to minimise the issues," he told a media conference. 

"On a broader level, I mentioned the responsibilities of being an England player. That shows the change of landscape for any players involved with us. 

"We want the country to connect with the team, be proud of the team and that they are good ambassadors for everything we are trying to do. 

"Reliability is part of our criteria. I'm not going to say this is the line, and anyone who crosses it we don't consider, but we're always observing how professional they are and how they will be if they are away with us for 35-40 days. All of that has to come into our thinking."

Southgate was speaking after England were drawn against Poland, Hungary, Albania, Andorra and San Marino in Group I for 2022 World Cup qualifying. 

That means a meeting with Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who has started the season in scintillating form for Bayern Munich.

After 55 goals across all competitions last term for the Bundesliga and Champions League winners, Lewandowski has already plundered 15 goals this campaign. 

Southgate is an admirer of the 32-year-old and says his defenders will relish the opportunity to try and shackle one of the world's best strikers. 

"He's an incredible finisher," Southgate added. "I love the way he plays. He's got an excellent all-round game, protecting the ball, bringing others into play. All different types of finishes. 

"He's a huge talisman for Poland. It's a great challenge for our defenders to come up against centre-forwards like that.

"In the modern game, there are not so many number nines, but Lewandowski is absolutely in that mould."

Gareth Southgate fears England's top stars will be burnt out by the time the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament comes around next year.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has been critical of the Premier League for their refusal to follow other European leagues and sanction the use of five substitutes.

This season's matches have been squeezed into a shorter timeframe due to the impact of the coronavirus, which delayed the completion of the 2019-20 season.

Speaking at a media conference following the draw for the World Cup qualifying groups for Qatar 2022, the England manager joined Klopp in expressing his fears over the workload placed on some players.

"I think all coaches are concerned about the number of matches," Southgate said.

"It's not one area in particular, it’s the overall volume. We're in a shortened season. No winter break, which was deemed to be a good idea last year.

"We've got the issue over the substitutions. We've known that. When the debate comes up, we were on to how difficult September would be as soon as the leagues restarted again.

"Everyone else came to that decision, a bit later. Jurgen will be like me, looking at what will March be like.

"For the top players in particular, they are the ones that play European, International and league football.

"What we’ve tried to affect, we lobbied UEFA for five substitutes. I know there are talks about the FA Cup going that route.

"I would think Jurgen would be frustrated because in Germany, they work so closely together. I see the logic in what they're saying.

"A compact season like this is always a concern, with what you will get at the end of it."

Southgate admitted it was challenge of his job to have a constructive dialogue with Premier League managers, who he acknowledged are under intense pressure, over the handling of players.

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho recently questioned whether Southgate bowed to pressure from Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola when Raheem Sterling pulled out of England squad through injury.

Sterling then appeared in City's next match against Tottenham while Spurs had three players who all featured in games for England.

Southgate added: "We have the most intense competition at the top of our league.

"We have some very successful managers who have huge motivation, all of our clubs with huge motivation and responsibilities.

"Nearly all of our squad are playing in England, and our league is very different. It’s one of the additional situations as England manager you have to deal with.

"It's always important to have respectful relationships, but the reality is our objectives are different. They are the clubs' players, we have to respect that."

Joachim Low will do what he feels is best for Germany's hopes of Euro 2020 success when it comes to making a decision on the futures of Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels.

All three players were banished into the international wilderness by Low in March 2019 as he looked to build towards the future after Germany flopped at the 2018 World Cup, exiting in the group stage for the first time since 1938.

Attacking midfielder Muller (100 caps), plus defenders Boateng (76 caps) and Hummels (70 caps), boast 246 international caps between them and were all in the team that won the World Cup in 2014, but are now each 30 years of age.

Low reiterated last month that he would stand by his choice not to recall any of the trio, saying "nothing has changed" his opinion despite Muller enjoying a resurgence for Bayern Munich since being cast aside.

However, Low's decision has been under intense scrutiny following last month's 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Spain - Germany's heaviest defeat since losing to Austria in a friendly in 1931 by the same scoreline.

The 60-year-old was last week publicly backed by the German Football Association (DFB) to stay on until at least next year's rescheduled Euro 2020 finals and, speaking at a news conference on Monday, he backtracked on his previous comments.

"After 2018 we saw that it was a very unsuccessful year, we said we were making a change," he said. "It is important to give young players time and the opportunity to develop during a transition. 

"Like the 2010 tournament, something where the team developed. And because of the experience they have gained there, we are world champions in 2014. That was our requirement this time too. 

"A trainer is always the first to be held responsible for success. I've always said when I see before the nomination [of the squad] that this team needs this or that - then we will do that. At the moment I don't see any reason, even if we lost a game. 

"But next year we'll have to make a decision and I'll be the first to do that. It's not just sporting reasons that decide what does the best team look like, what is the energy of the team.

"But when I have the feeling, then I will do everything I can to achieve success. I have no idea what the situation will be like in March. I hope all players get through the winter well and stay healthy.

"We had a lot of injury problems. I hope that doesn't happen again. Let's think again about everything and turn every stone over. We then decide what is best for success."

Asked if he has already reached out to Bayern duo Muller and Boateng, or Borussia Dortmund centre-back Hummels, Low replied: "No, I have not."

Low has been criticised in Germany for failing to watch players up close in Bundesliga matches, but he has put his prolonged absence from grounds down to coronavirus-related protocols.

"We'd love to walk to every stadium if we could do that," he said. "It was the clear instruction to us, also from the doctors in the national team, not to go to the stadiums. On the one hand, we have international matches and we have to be in the bubble. 

"We don't want to endanger anyone and we don't want to be endangered either. It would be bad if we coaches were absent. It was clear that we were in the bubble with the national team. 

"That was also true until the end of the season, because from above - politicians also said to avoid contacts. It is a dangerous situation that, unfortunately, is not ebbing right now. We said we had a certain role model function. 

"Believe me, I know the Bundesliga like the back of my hand. We have a great team, trainers and scouts. We watch all games. We know the strengths and weaknesses of all of our players. 

"We look at the games, enter the data in our database and evaluate them. Then we also target the training in a targeted manner. But we will be role models until the end of the year and will not go to the stadiums."

Joachim Low is "immensely disappointed" at the way stories regarding his future were leaked to the press but is convinced he remains the right person to manage Germany.

World Cup-winning boss Low has been under huge pressure following last month's 6-0 Nations League humbling at the hands of Spain.

It was Germany's heaviest defeat since losing to Austria in a friendly in 1931 by the same scoreline and led to rumours that Low, in charge since 2006, was on his way out.

German Football Association (DFB) president Fritz Keller offered his backing to Low in the days after the loss and the governing body last week confirmed he will stay in charge.

However, reports in Germany have suggested Keller tried to convince Low to cut short his contract by a year so that a new coach could be brought in after next year's rescheduled Euro 2020.

Low broke his silence at a news conference on Monday and, while disappointed at what has been said and reported in the past few weeks, he is hopeful of now moving on.

"I would like to put one thing in the right light: I am always open to constructive criticism," he said. "So I was amazed to read and hear certain stuff after the Spain defeat.

"We were all disappointed and angry that we let the fans down in the final game of 2020. The anger is still seething inside me. We don't have the chance to correct the result. 

"As always, we immediately started looking ahead. There were also some discussions with the DFB last Monday - it wasn't possible earlier. 

"I grew up with the fact that things that are discussed internally remain internal. It has to do with trust and credibility. You can also openly express your opinion. 

"But I was very annoyed that a lot of things leaked out after the first press release - by whoever. That disappointed me immensely. 

"I also said at the meeting that there were things that had happened that disappointed me. I made it clear to Fritz Keller once again on the phone what I heard about the matter.

"There is nothing more to say about it. But that stays with me. We have spoken out and that is the end of the matter for me."

Speaking at the weekend, meanwhile, Germany team director Oliver Bierhoff revealed he held talks with Ralf Rangnick over succeeding Low as head coach.

"I'm not sure whether he actually said that or hinted at it," Low said. "He didn't speak to me personally about it. But of course it's part of his job to think about it fundamentally.

"What happens if...? What are the next steps...? That's why he doesn't have to talk to me about it. That's not a problem for me. I think that's a manager's job. 

"As Oliver always said: After the next tournament, a balance will be drawn. Then the association and also the coach have to decide whether the goals have been achieved or not. 

"So it is completely normal to take care of things that can happen in good time. This is completely understandable for me."

The DFB released a statement a week after the Spain debacle stating Low would be given "time and emotional distance" before a decision would be made on his future.

Again, though, Low was unhappy with the wording of the statement.

"There was a press release that I needed an emotional distance. That was incomprehensible to me. I've been there for a long time and have seen a lot of things. 

"I said give me a day and then I'll be available for anything. I was disappointed with that, with some things that got public. Which partly did not correspond to the truth. 

"I have once again made it very clear internally that I want unity and trust in things that are discussed internally. I made that clear."

Germany's defeat to Spain brought an end to a 12-match unbeaten run and saw them finish second in Nations League Group A4. 

But with preparations now underway for Euro 2020, and with the World Cup 2022 qualifying draw taking place on Monday, Low is readying himself for a busy period.

"I went into last week's meeting knowing the outcome could go either way - yes or no that I'd stay on. If it was to be yes, I wanted it to be with conviction. That was important.

"The defeat still hurts but as a coach you have to ask yourself 'is everything still on the right path?' For me the players want to follow this path. That is the most important thing.

"We have always experienced difficult situations. You learn to deal with it. In any case, we were very disappointed and angry after the 6-0 loss. 

"We started to initiate a change in 2019 and are absolutely convinced that we will embark on this path. We knew there would be setbacks and that was factored in from the start. 

"There is absolute trust in the players and their performance. Overall, we had a very good year in 2019. We have developed very well. In 2020 the development stopped a little. 

"We need players next year that are totally fresh, then we have great potential. If you disregard the Spain game, we are on the right track, which we are convinced of. 

"Of course we have to correct things, we also check ourselves. But we are convinced of the red line or the path we are going."

Liverpool and the Netherlands will find it impossible to replace Virgil van Dijk during his injury absence, but that does not mean either must be less competitive, according to Oranje great Clarence Seedorf.

Van Dijk suffered knee ligament damage in last month's Merseyside derby, sustaining the injury as a result of a forceful challenge from Jordan Pickford.

The Dutchman could ultimately miss the rest of the club season and even next year's delayed Euro 2020.

His absence will be most felt by the Reds given how influential he has been since making a big-money move from Southampton – he was particularly colossal last season as Liverpool ended a 30-year wait for a top-flight crown.

Van Dijk attempted more passes (3,255) than any other defender in the Premier League, while only two other defenders with more than 1,500 had a better completion rate than him (89.2 per cent).

On top of that, Trent Alexander-Arnold (3,664) was the sole defender to have more touches of the ball than Van Dijk (3,624), his 239 duels won were the joint-fifth-best among rearguard players and his 191 aerial wins was bettered by only James Tarkowski (199).

Liverpool's situation has not been helped by further injuries to other members of their defence this term and Seedorf accepts that Van Dijk is irreplaceable even in the best of circumstances, but he does not think the centre-back's competitive attitude is unattainable.

Seedorf told Stats Perform News: "I was sad for him that it happened but also, knowing him and his character, when bad things happened, you are sad for a few days then you need to look forward and start fighting your way back.

"That's what he's doing and that's what he did in the first couple of days with statements he made.

"We wish him the best recovery possible so he can get back on the pitch and continue showing his talent and leadership.

"It's the coach's problem to solve it. I don't have the insight to show how they can solve it. Liverpool, especially, have good players.

"You cannot substitute Van Dijk but you can maintain competitiveness. They have a lot of players who are at a good level, which is the same for the Dutch national team."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic only expects to be out for "one or two weeks" with his recently sustained injury and the Milan striker has given another strong indication he wants to make a Sweden comeback.

The in-form Ibrahimovic limped off with a hamstring issue after scoring twice in a 3-1 Serie A win at Napoli on Sunday.

There were concerns the 39-year-old could be sidelined for a month, but he allayed those fears after being named Swedish Player of the Year for a 12th time.

Ibrahimovic told Aftonbladet: "It's nothing serious. Only one or two weeks [out]."

The veteran recently hinted he is ready to end his international retirement by posting an image of himself in a Sweden jersey on social media, captioned: "Long time no see."

Sweden head coach Janne Andersson responded by saying the former Barcelona and Manchester United man must prove he wants to play for his country again before he considers recalling him.

Ibrahimovic again suggested he is keen for a return to the international stage ahead of the delayed Euro 2020 next year, having last represented his country at Euro 2016.

"Yes, I miss the national team. It is no secret," he said.

"I want to be in Friends Arena, I want it to be the Yellow Wall or what we now call it. You come out, you have the yellow shirt and you see that it is full ... Do I miss it? Of course.

"The one who does not miss it - he has already ended his career. And I have not finished my career."

Ibrahimovic says he is not even considering when he might retire, having scored 20 goals in 24 Serie A matches since returning to the club in January.

"I'll keep going as long as I can make a difference, otherwise it's not fun. I have to feel alive. In any case, I will continue as long as possible. As Mino [Raiola, his agent] says, 'squeeze the orange as long as you can.'"

Tanguy Ndombele is refusing to give up on his chances of representing France at the rescheduled Euro 2020 after starting the season in rejuvenated form for Tottenham.

Spurs splashed out a club-record fee, reported to be £64million, to sign the midfielder from Lyon ahead of last season but injuries and poor form contributed to an underwhelming debut Premier League campaign.

Indeed, a lack of game time under Jose Mourinho led to suggestions Spurs may decide to move Ndombele on and Juventus were linked with an interest earlier this year.

But Ndombele has begun the season in impressive fashion for table-topping Spurs, appearing in each of their nine top-flight games and starting seven of those.

He already has a goal and an assist, managing two in each category over the entirety of last season, while he has created seven chances for team-mates (he had only 12 in 2019-20), won 29 duels and completed 23 recoveries.

Having seemingly earned the trust of the notoriously tough-to-please Mourinho, Ndombele is now focused on regaining a spot in France's squad having last earned a call up for Les Bleus a year ago.

"I'm trying to do the best possible. I am still learning. We all want to go to the Euros. We will give ourselves the means to go there," he told beIN SPORTS.  

"I agree with the fact of gaining in [consistency]. There are some very good players in my position. 

"But I do not admit defeat and we will see at the end."

Spurs are on an eight-match unbeaten run in the top flight since losing their opening game to Everton and sit top of the pile on goal difference ahead of Liverpool.

Roberto Mancini praised the young talents emerging through Italy's ranks and acknowledged he faces "a big problem" whittling down his Euro 2020 squad to 23 players.

Head coach Mancini has missed all three of Italy's matches this month after testing positive for coronavirus and being made to self-isolate.

Assistant boss Alberigo Evani has guided the Azzurri to three wins from three without conceding, with Wednesday's 2-0 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina seeing his side book a place in the Nations League finals.

Before that four-team shootout next October, likely to be staged in Italy, Mancini's men will first take part in the rescheduled Euro 2020 finals next June.

Italy have seen a large number of players withdraw from their squad for this month's fixtures, including the likes of Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Marco Verratti, but Mancini is delighted with the way others have stepped up.

"Choosing 23 players for the European Championship is going to be a big problem," Mancini told Rai Sport via webcam.

"It was already going to be difficult before but in the last four months players are coming through and are proving to be excellent. It is always better to have these problems."

Alessandro Bastoni is one of those to have profited from the large number of coronavirus and injury-related drop-outs, the Inter defender having been drafted into the squad to provide some cover.

The 21-year-old impressed on his debut against Estonia and retained his place in the side for the wins over Poland and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

He had more touches than any other player on the field against Bosnia (113) while no player attempted (106) or completed more passes (99) than the youngster.

Mancini has been particularly impressed by Bastoni's displays over the past week and has tipped the centre-back to emulate Italian greats Bonucci and Chiellini.

"Bastoni is a young boy who has played three games in 10 days, playing better and better each time," Mancini said.

"He is very young and can improve a lot and become the new Bonucci or the new Chiellini - a great defender. There are many good players, you just have to let them play."

He added: "We have very good young players. It is clear that at the beginning they may have difficulties. We have many young players - they can do well."

Italy are now unbeaten in 22 matches - their best such run since the year they won the World Cup in 2006 - and will be seeded for the World Cup qualifiers.

Asked to reflect on his two and a half years in charge, Mancini said: "We were in 20th place before and now we are up to sixth in the rankings.

"The players have done a great job because it has not always been easy.

"We have tried to become more offensive with our play. You have to have the right mentality to do so and have a style of play that all the great teams have."

Dominik Szoboszlai's superb strike completed a remarkable late turnaround as Hungary secured their spot at Euro 2020 with a stunning 2-1 win over Iceland.

Having defended brilliantly amid a Hungary onslaught, Iceland looked to be heading to their second European Championship thanks to Gylfi Sigurdsson's 11th-minute opener, which came courtesy of Peter Gulacsi's howler.

Yet after substitute Albert Gudmundsson missed a glorious chance to wrap up the win in the 87th minute, Hungary struck twice to book their place at next year's finals.

Loic Nego had prodded in from close range, before star man Szoboszlai stole victory, thumping in off the upright to thwart Iceland in the most dramatic fashion.

North Macedonia qualified for Euro 2020 with an historic 1-0 victory over Georgia in Thursday's play-off match in Tbilisi.

Both sides were looking to reach the finals for the first time and join Netherlands, Ukraine and Austria in Group C.

It was visiting captain Goran Pandev whose goal settled a tense contest in the Georgian capital, in which there were just four shots on target throughout.

The Genoa forward struck after 56 minutes, prodding in from Ilija Nestorovski's pass after a fine run from Eljif Elmas.

Pandev, who will turn 38 shortly after next year's finals conclude, has scored a record 36 times in 114 games for his country.

Georgia, who had lost just once in 13 previous home games, failed to threaten Stole Dimitrievski's goal thereafter as North Macedonia reached their first major tournament.

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