Dejan Kulusevski urged evergreen Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic to come out of retirement and play for Sweden at this year's rearranged Euro 2020.

Ibrahimovic has not represented Sweden in more than four years after retiring from international football following Euro 2016.

The 39-year-old forward – Sweden's all-time leading scorer with 62 goals in 116 appearances – has hinted he is ready to end his international retirement ahead of the European Championship as he continues to light up Serie A with Milan.

Sweden international and Juventus attacker Kulusevski talked up an Ibrahimovic comeback following Sunday's 3-1 win over 10-man Sassuolo.

"We write to each other. He is an idol for me, as hardly anyone in the world can do what he does," Kulusevski told Sky Sport Italia of Ibrahimovic, who has scored 10 league goals this season and 11 across all competitions for Serie A-leading Milan.

"When he speaks highly of me, it makes me work even harder the next day in training, because I am so proud.

"I really hope he returns for international duty with Sweden at the Euros. It would be wonderful for me and all of Sweden. Come on, Ibra!"

Juventus recorded their third consecutive league win for the first time since July after overcoming visiting Sassuolo in Turin.

Goals from Danilo, Aaron Ramsey and Cristiano Ronaldo kept fourth-placed Juve in touch with Milan, after Sassuolo's Pedro Obiang was sent off prior to half-time – the defending champions are seven points adrift.

Ronaldo completed the scoring at the death as the five-time Ballon d'Or winner made it 15-plus goals in 15 different seasons in the top five European leagues.

Juve also conceded a goal in a Serie A home game while playing with a numerical advantage for the first time since October 2013 against Milan after Gregoire Defrel cancelled out Danilo's 50th-minute opener 13 minutes into the second half.

Kulusevski came off the bench to replace the injured Paulo Dybala before the interval and he added: "I had just one thing in my mind when I came on, which was to win the game. I could've done much better, but I am glad we got the points.

"I see myself at Juventus for many years. I see myself closer to the goal, where I can do a quick one-two with my team-mates. I enjoyed where I played this evening."

Belgium and reigning champions France head Europe's list of top-seeded teams for World Cup qualifying - and they may have to face a Sweden side featuring Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

World governing body FIFA confirmed the six pots of teams on Friday, based on its new list of world rankings, ahead of the December 7 draw in Zurich.

Belgium are the world's number one team while France sit second in FIFA's rankings, having triumphed at the 2018 World Cup.

The European qualifiers begin with three match days in March, meaning World Cup preliminaries begin before the delayed Euro 2020 finals.

Dangerous teams in Pot Two include the likes of Poland, who boast Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, and Sweden, who could by then have Ibrahimovic back in their ranks.

Ibrahimovic has hinted he wants to come out of international retirement, and coach Janne Andersson this week held a positive meeting with the Milan striker about that possibility.

Should Ibrahimovic come back on board, Andersson would likely want him involved well ahead of Euro 2020, which is due to take place in June and July of next year.

Andersson said on the Swedish FA website: "When Zlatan opened up for games in the national team, it felt natural and important to meet and discuss this as soon as possible. 

"I am glad that we managed to get a meeting so quickly."

Ibrahimovic is Sweden's record goalscorer but the 39-year-old Milan striker last played for his country at Euro 2016.

He is the top scorer in Serie A this season with 10 goals in six appearances.

World Cup pots for Qatar 2022 qualifying draw:

Pot One: Belgium, France, England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands

Pot Two: Switzerland, Wales, Poland, Sweden, Austria, Ukraine, Serbia, Turkey, Slovakia, Romania

Pot Three: Russia, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Czech Republic, Norway, Northern Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, Greece, Finland

Pot Four: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Israel, Belarus, Georgia, Luxembourg

Pot Five: Armenia, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Latvia, Andorra

Pot Six: Malta, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Gibraltar, San Marino

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.'"

Zlatan Ibrahimovic must prove he wants to play for Sweden again before head coach Janne Andersson considers recalling the in-form Milan striker.

The 39-year-old recently hinted he is ready to end his international retirement by posting an image of himself in a Sweden top on social media, captioned: "Long time no see".

However, Andersson was quick to rule out a return earlier this month after leaving Ibrahimovic out of his latest squad and stating that "the matter is closed".

With Ibrahimovic lighting up Serie A once again this term, though, Andersson appears to have paved the way for a sensational return ahead of next year's rearranged Euro 2020.

"First, it is necessary that he himself wants to be involved in the national team project," Andersson told Aftonbladet. "In 2016 he told me clearly he no longer wants to be part of it.

"I respected his choice then and over the years since. He has to be the one who says he wants to come back. If that is the case, it will then be up to me to decide."

Ibrahimovic is Sweden's all-time leading scorer with 62 goals in 116 matches but has not played for the Nordic nation since a 1-0 defeat to Belgium at Euro 2016.

And Andersson questioned whether the former Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United star is serious about reversing his international hiatus.

"We haven't seen each other for a while," Andersson said. "I don't follow him on social media, but in any case I don't care what he says on there or how he says it.

"I know what he told me and what we agreed when he left the national team. Since then, nothing has changed from my perspective."

After two years in MLS with Los Angeles Galaxy, Ibrahimovic returned to European football with Milan in January on an initial six-month deal that has been extended until the end of 2020-21.

He has been in phenomenal form in his second spell with the Italian giants, scoring 20 times in 24 Serie A outings this calendar year - only Ciro Immobile (23 in 27) and Cristiano Ronaldo (29 in 24) have managed more.

The evergreen striker scored twice in Milan's 3-1 win over Napoli on Sunday before limping off with a hamstring injury, becoming the oldest player to net at least 10 goals in the first eight Serie A matchdays.

His brace also saw him match Gunnar Nordahl for the second-most Serie A goals from the first eight games played of a season, only adrift of Marco Van Basten (12 in 1992-93).

"I can't say I'm so surprised," Andersson said. "If I were, it would mean I didn't believe in his potential. I'm very impressed Zlatan can continue to have this hunger and drive.

"He is really impressive, a great athlete, and by far Sweden's greatest player of all time. It is amazing what he is accomplishing, so hat off and congratulations to him."

France head coach Didier Deschamps hopes Paul Pogba's form during the international break can help him at Manchester United.

Amid his struggles with the Premier League giants, Pogba played 90 minutes in France's 4-2 Nations League win over Sweden on Tuesday.

Pogba had the most interceptions (four) of any player on the pitch, and his eight possessions gained were the equal most.

Deschamps lauded Pogba and hopes the midfielder can take a boost from his international form when he returns to United.  

"I don't want to criticise anyone... but I know him, I know how he is. He has pride, but even more importantly, he has talent," he told a news conference.

"When he has to defend, he is able to defend. He can make assists. Paul is a top player. I hope his recent time with us will help him."

Pogba is yet to register a goal or an assist in seven Premier League games this season, while his 57.7 passes and 46.1 successful passes per 90 minutes are his lowest since his return to United in 2016.

France had already clinched a place in the Nations League Finals, and the win over Sweden saw them to a fifth victory in six Group A3 games.

Kylian Mbappe made his return from injury off the bench and set up Olivier Giroud's second goal, and Deschamps was pleased to have the Paris Saint-Germain star back.

"He was good, he had good sensations. He was coming back and he made an assist. He enjoyed being on the pitch again," he said.

"Now, he will go back to his club. I think they have a game very soon [on Friday against Monaco] like other players. He wanted to play.

"First, it was not possible [against Portugal]. Our medical staff made an incredible job for him to be fit and on the pitch. And he will be available for his club from [Wednesday]."

Olivier Giroud scored a double as France beat Sweden in the Nations League but was not spurred on by recent criticism because he is "used to being heckled".

In a surprise 2-0 loss in a friendly with Finland last week, Giroud only completed three more passes than goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, who was the only France player to have fewer touches than the Chelsea striker.

Giroud was dropped for Saturday's 1-0 victory over Portugal but struck twice in a 4-2 win over Sweden on Tuesday, taking his tally for Les Bleus to 44 – seven shy of Thierry Henry's all-time record.

The 34-year-old tucked home a cutback from Marcus Thuram after Viktor Claesson's opener and scored an excellent diving header following Benjamin Pavard's volley to turn the game around.

Robin Quaison pulled one back for Sweden in the 88th minute but, after they pushed goalkeeper Robin Olsen up for a free-kick in the hope of snatching a point to retain their League A status, Kingsley Coman hit them on the break to consign them to relegation.

"We had a lot of regrets and frustration, also on an individual level, against Finland. We wanted to learn from that match, and we were able to react against Portugal by dominating and deserving the victory," Giroud told M6.

"This gathering is positive after this last match. Even if everything is not perfect, there is still a feeling of satisfaction.

"There was no feeling of revenge for me. I'm used to being heckled, it's the story of my career. It gives me more strength. I have no problem with that."

Didier Deschamps reiterated his suggestion that Giroud should look to leave Chelsea, where he has just started one game this season, to get more regular football in the build-up to next year's European Championship.

With his double at the Stade de France, Giroud ensured he will end 2020 as Les Bleus' highest scoring player for the fifth time in the past six years.

"The situation in March may not be the same as it is today. But, between the young players who came and who we were able to see – and it is important that they have playing time – and the old ones who are still there, some may be in difficulty like Olivier Giroud," said Deschamps.

"Of course, he has to deal with his situation, psychologically and physically, but today he's still there and he's scored two more.

"You are going to tell me that he won points and Anthony Martial lost some, but no, it's the France team that wins points. Some are starting, and others came as substitutes. I have different options. I have top-level players and in terms of the mood that's perfect."

Kingsley Coman wrapped up a 4-2 win for France in the Nations League on Tuesday as he punished a Sweden side who were chasing an equaliser to retain League A status.

Sweden sent goalkeeper Robin Olsen up for a late free-kick as they tried to salvage a draw that would have relegated Croatia, who lost 3-2 to Portugal, but Dejan Kulusevski's delivery was cleared and Coman slotted into the empty net on the break.

Viktor Claesson had put the visitors in front at the Stade de France inside four minutes, but Olivier Giroud equalised before Benjamin Pavard turned the game around in the 36th minute.

Substitute Kylian Mbappe teed up another for Giroud just 70 seconds into his return from injury, before Coman killed the game with the final kick after Robin Quaison's 88th-minute strike gave Sweden hope.

Kylian Mbappe is fit to feature in France's Nations League clash with Sweden on Tuesday but Anthony Martial is an injury doubt. 

Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe sat out Saturday's 1-0 win over Portugal, as well as last week's 2-0 friendly loss to Finland, because of a hamstring issue. 

However, he took part in full training on Sunday and is now in contention to play a part in the meeting with Sweden at the Stade de France. 

"Kylian is fine - he took part in the collective training session yesterday," France boss Didier Deschamps said at Monday's pre-match news conference. "He will also take part in the session today. 

"I will then take the time to discuss with him to see if he starts or if he comes into play from the bench. These are the two options with their advantages and disadvantages.  

"I will decide on what is best for the team and for him. He had two weeks without playing, but he really wants it. He wants to be there tomorrow, and if all goes well, he will be." 

Martial, however, may not be fit for the visit of Sweden, with Deschamps confirming the Manchester United forward trained separately from the group due to a back problem.

The 24-year-old started against Portugal and had more shots than any France player, though he failed to beat goalkeeper Rui Patricio with any of his three on-target attempts. 

He has now failed to score with each of his last 22 shots for France but captain Hugo Lloris insisted his team-mate offers a lot more to the side than just goals. 

"If he is here with us it is because the coach shows confidence in him," Lloris said. "He has adapted very well to the team thanks to his personality and his qualities as a player.  

"The coach has given him confidence. He made the defensive efforts, coming to help [Benjamin] Pavard down the right-hand side, so that means he has the right frame of mind." 

Mbappe and Martial's lack of fitness could see Olivier Giroud start, despite Deschamps recently raising concerns over the striker's lack of playing time at club level. 

Giroud has made just three appearances for Chelsea in the Premier League this term, all of them from the bench, and his national team boss has raised the prospect of the country's second-leading scorer finding a new club in the January transfer window. 

"The situation is not good for him. It is for him to sort - he will decide," Deschamps said. "But compared to the France team, psychologically and physically for him too, he has every interest in having playing time.  

"I hope that by January he will have more playing time. After that, he will stay or not. He knows what I think about it - I've told him, although I don't forget what he has done for us and might still do." 

France have already made certain of top spot in Group A3 ahead of their concluding fixture against Sweden, who are level on points with Croatia in the battle to avoid relegation.

Didier Deschamps confirmed Kylian Mbappe would be fit for France's clash against Sweden after they reached the Nations League Finals.

Mbappe missed Saturday's 1-0 win over Portugal in Lisbon, having also been sidelined for the friendly defeat to Finland due to a hamstring injury.

However, while France have booked their spot in the Nations League Finals, Mbappe is set to be available to face Sweden on Tuesday.

"He will be there, he is keen and he is ready," Deschamps said.

France have played two of their nine Nations League games without Mbappe, winning both while scoring five times.

With the Paris Saint-Germain star, they have won four of seven while netting at just one goal per game.

N'Golo Kante's 53rd-minute winner against Portugal sealed top spot in Group A3 for world champions France.

Deschamps was pleased with his side's performance, saying they proved they were still among the best.

"It's one of the great games that we played. We can say that, thanks to the quality of the team opposite," he said.

"This proves the quality of the French national team, the ability to respond present in big games with great control, facing such an opponent.

"It's a great pride for me to see the players like that. It was not easy for some of them in the preparation.

"We had to be present. They did it. It’s a great satisfaction."

Kylian Mbappe will not feature against Portugal on Saturday after he was left out of France's 23-man squad list for the Nations League fixture. 

The Paris Saint-Germain forward suffered a hamstring problem against Nantes on October 31 and has not recovered in time to feature for his country in Lisbon. 

Mbappe had already missed the friendly defeat to Finland earlier in the week, while it remains unclear if he will be ready for the upcoming Nations League clash with Sweden on Tuesday. 

France boss Didier Deschamps had named the 21-year-old in his initial squad despite doubts over his fitness, though insisted at the time there was no conflict between club and country. 

PSG had announced on Friday that Neymar will return from the Brazil squad to continue his recovery from a groin injury. Moise Kean is also back at the Ligue 1 club after being released from duty with Italy. 

Thomas Tuchel's side are next in action on November 20, taking on Monaco, then host RB Leipzig four days later in the Champions League.

 

 

Wissam Ben Yedder has withdrawn from the France squad ahead of their final Nations League group games after testing positive for coronavirus.

After being informed of a positive COVID-19 result on Thursday, Monaco attacker Ben Yedder did not participate in training and began his period of isolation.

France have not called up a replacement ahead of their meeting with Portugal in Lisbon on Saturday and home game against Sweden on Tuesday.

Ben Yedder posted on Twitter: "Thank you for your messages… a lot of disappointment of course but I trust the team to do the job. Above all, protect yourself and pay attention to yourself."

Les Bleus are level on points with Portugal in Nations League Group A3 but sit second due to an inferior goal difference.

Didier Deschamps will be hoping his side can bounce back from a shock 2-0 loss to Finland on Wednesday when they take on European champions Portugal.

Ben Yedder played 57 minutes from the start in that match but failed to register a single shot on target or create a chance for a team-mate.

Monaco are due to face Ligue 1 leaders and defending champions Paris Saint-Germain at the Stade Louis II next Friday.

Only Kylian Mbappe (seven) and Boulaye Dia (eight) have scored more in Ligue 1 this season than Ben Yedder's six goals.

Ben Yedder has had a hand in 29 goals (24 scored, five assisted) since the start of the previous top-flight season; only Mbappe has been involved in more goals (25 scored, nine assisted).

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's rumoured return to the Sweden national team has been ruled out by head coach Janne Andersson.

The Milan striker hinted earlier this week he is ready to come out of international retirement, more than four years on from last appearing for his country.

A day after scoring his eighth goal of the campaign - a brilliant overhead kick in Milan's win over Udinese - he posted an image on social media of himself in a Sweden top.

Ibrahimovic captioned the picture: "Long time no see".

However, the 39-year-old was left out of Sweden's latest squad on Thursday and Andersson has confirmed the door is shut for any possible comeback.

"Some people have said there was a plan behind that photo," Andersson told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. "But I don't understand what it means. I don't want to put too much energy into it.

"It's been four and a half years since he said he had finished his career in the national team. We talked about it after the European Championship.

"I have the utmost respect for him, just like those of many other players who have made the same decision. So, the question is closed for me."

After two seasons in MLS with Los Angeles Galaxy, Ibrahimovic returned to European football with Milan in January on an initial six-month deal that has been extended until the end of 2020-21.

Ibrahimovic has been in phenomenal form in his second spell with Milan, scoring 17 times and assisting six more in 22 Serie A outings - only Ciro Immobile (26) and Cristiano Ronaldo (31) have a better combined tally.

He scored 62 goals in 116 games for Sweden, meanwhile, making him his country's all-time leading goalscorer.

Diogo Jota felt under no added pressure to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo after starring for Portugal in Wednesday's 3-0 Nations League victory over Sweden.

The Liverpool winger scored twice in the Group A3 clash at the Estadio Jose Alvalade after laying on an assist for Bernardo Silva's opening strike.

Jota was recalled by Fernando Santos for only his second start in Portugal colours, with Ronaldo absent after testing positive for coronavirus on Tuesday.

And the 23-year-old, who joined Liverpool from Wolves in a reported £45m deal last month, described the day as his best as a footballer.

"It was an excellent night, and one of my best performances for my country," he said. "We had a great result against a Sweden side that is not easy to play against, so we can be proud. 

"The coach chooses the eleven for each game. I did my best on the field. 

"There was no pressure to replace Ronaldo. We are professionals and, if the boss chooses eleven players to enter the field, these are the ones who have to work."

"I think this is my highest moment. Joining Liverpool was a big step in my career, and today I started again in the national team, I have to keep doing my best."

Portugal have won three and drawn one of their opening four Group A3 matches and lead France - 2-1 winners against Croatia in Zagreb - on goal difference.

On the back of successive 0-0 draws with Spain and France, Santos was satisfied with his side's performance against out-of-form Sweden.

"I think we controlled the game, even though I think Sweden could have scored a goal. It was not a 'top, top, top' display, but it was good.

"The result itself is excellent. As for the game, there were very good aspects and other less good things.

"We had 20 very good minutes when we controlled the match well. But we also had difficulty with Sweden's football, with long balls, aggressive play, putting four men up front."

Marcus Berg hit the post for Sweden at 1-0 and Rui Patricio was called into action three times in the second half.

Sweden boss Janne Andersson was issued a yellow card for protesting a decision that went against his side, meaning he will miss next month's game with Croatia.

"It's not good. You should not be suspended as the leader," he said. "There is nothing I am happy or proud of.

"If the referee shows yellows to the bench today, I think he will have a hard time in the rest of his career when it gets really heated."

Diogo Jota scored two and assisted another as Portugal earned a 3-0 win over Sweden in Cristiano Ronaldo's absence to remain top of the Nations League Group A3 standings.

Juventus forward Ronaldo scored both goals in last month's 2-0 victory in the reverse fixture but was ruled out of this match after testing positive for coronavirus on Tuesday.

Jota, brought back into the line-up for Wednesday's clash in Lisbon, stepped up by playing in Bernardo Silva for the opener and then scoring the second before half-time.

The Liverpool attacker rounded off the scoring 18 minutes from time as the Nations League holders returned to winning ways after successive stalemates with Spain and France over the past week.

Juventus will have to make do without Cristiano Ronaldo for the time being after he tested positive for coronavirus.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner left the Portugal camp on Tuesday to begin a period of self-isolation, though the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) did say he was asymptomatic and "doing well".

It is unclear how many matches Ronaldo will miss, but he will not feature for Portugal against Sweden on Wednesday and could be absent for as many as three Juve games.

The 35-year-old will definitely sit out Saturday's trip to promoted Crotone, while a visit to Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League follows three days later.

Juve then host Hellas Verona on October 25 before welcoming Barcelona and Lionel Messi to Turin three days after – it seems Ronaldo is not expected to miss that showdown, fortunately.

But, given there is a strong possibility he could be sidelined for three matches, we crunched the Opta numbers to see how Juve fare with and without their talisman.

Usually when you compare a team's output and results with and without their star man, you expect to see a significant drop-off in many key areas, but that has not been the case here.

Since Ronaldo joined Juventus, he has played 91 matches across all competitions and missed 14.

Juve's win percentage only drops slightly from 67 per cent with Ronaldo to 64.3 per cent without him, while their points per game record decreases to two from 2.2.

Similarly, they concede slightly more on average without Ronaldo in the team – this goes up to one goal per game from 0.9.

This suggests that, without Ronaldo, other players attempt to overcompensate in attack to make up for his lack of presence, potentially causing them to be marginally more open at the back.

Nevertheless, and here is the most surprising fact, Juve score more on average when Ronaldo is missing.

Their goals-per-game ratio increases slightly from 1.8 to 1.9 when he is not in the team.

One might expect to see that he was rested for a thrashing of an amateur team in the Coppa Italia, but there is no such result skewing the data – their biggest victory in Ronaldo's absence was against top-flight side Udinese 4-0 in the cup in January.

If anything, this proves the strength in depth Juventus have, particularly in their forward options, and how much of a gulf there often is between the Old Lady and the rest in Italy.

With Crotone, Verona and Dynamo unlikely to cause Andrea Pirlo's side too many problems, there is every reason to suggest Juve's record without Ronaldo may improve further in the coming weeks.

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