Didier Deschamps will continue as head coach of the France national team, the president of the French Football Federation (FFF) has confirmed.

Deschamps oversaw a disappointing Euro 2020 campaign as France were dumped out at the last-16 stage by Switzerland.

However, having led Les Bleus to World Cup glory in 2018 and the final of Euro 2016 two years prior, his stock remains high with the FFF.

And, when asked by Le Figaro whether Deschamps is set to remain in his role, president Noel Le Graet offered an emphatic response, saying: "The answer is yes. 

"I received [the news] on Wednesday at Guingamp. The matter was settled in three minutes. His will is very strong to continue, mine is too. 

"There was no debate on, 'What are we doing? And, 'How are do we do it?'"

France boss since July 2012, Deschamps also led his country to the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup, where they were beaten by eventual champions Germany.

He has triumphed in 76 of his 117 matches with the national team, giving him a 65 per cent win rate. That is the highest ratio for any coach who has had at least 30 games in charge of France.

Arsene Wenger has backed plans for the World Cup to be staged every two years, insisting "it is what the fans want".

The competition is held every four years and is due to be hosted by Qatar at the end of 2022.

However, world football governing body FIFA is carrying out a feasibility study into making the World Cup a biennial event.

That would appease broadcasters but has been opposed by leagues and clubs due to fears over player burnout.

But Wenger, who is now head of global football development at FIFA, has argued a revamp of the international football calendar will help players' wellbeing.

"I always had the feeling that the many shorter breaks were rather unfavourable for the players," he told German outlet Kicker. 

"Those were always moments of uncertainty. How are the players feeling mentally afterwards? Do you come back hurt?"

Wenger cited the example of Robert Lewandowski, who sustained a knee injury while on Poland duty in March and missed six games for Bayern Munich, including both legs of their Champions League quarter-final with Paris Saint-Germain.

"That ruined Bayern's entire Champions League season," Wenger said.

"The national teams can meet in October, play seven qualifying games for a month and then play the finals of a tournament in June.

"We want to reduce the number of games – that's very important because we can see the condition of the players."

Speaking in March, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said he was open to any new ideas for the post-2024 football calendar, including the possibility of reducing the number of international breaks.

Wenger added: "More knockout matches, fewer qualifying games. That's what the fans want.

"Think of it this way: 2026 the World Cup in the USA, Mexico and Canada; 2027 a European Championship and the other continental tournaments; 2028 another World Cup; and so on.

"We guarantee a period of rest after every tournament."

Cristiano Ronaldo became the leading goalscorer at the World Cup and European Championship combined with his penalty against France.

The Portugal star, who scored twice in the 3-0 win over Hungary on matchday one and then once against Germany, is the first player in history to reach 20 goals across both competitions.

The 36-year-old overtook former Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who managed 19 goals over his career at the two tournaments.

Ronaldo this year became the first player to appear at five different European Championships, having made his tournament debut back in 2004.

He is the leading goalscorer at the event with 13, four more than previous record-holder Michel Platini, and he has made the most appearances at the Euros and World Cup (41).

Ronaldo's goal in Budapest also ended his barren run against France. He had never previously scored against Les Bleus in six appearances, making the world champions the international opponents he had faced most often without netting.

 

"The biggest trouble with Celtic is trying to keep hold of Ange. In three or four years, you're going to have the same situation. He has won multiple titles and he will be trying to get a move to England or one of the big leagues. That is his pathway."

Ange Postecoglou is cut from the same cloth as Pep Guardiola and Maurizio Sarri – an emphasis on a high-octane style of attacking football, with an unrelenting belief in their philosophy.

But his appointment as Celtic manager has caused a stir in Scotland. Fans have questioned his ability and credibility to make the step from Asian to European football.

Postecoglou has been tasked with leading an embattled Celtic back to the Scottish summit after the Bhoys were dethroned by bitter rivals Rangers in 2020-21.

There are some parallels to legendary manager Arsene Wenger. Like Postecoglou, the Frenchman had history in Japan, having spent a year with Nagoya Grampus before being brought to the UK by Arsenal in 1996.

Social media was not around at the time of Wenger's Gunners arrival, though it would be safe to assume he would have been subjected to similar criticism from a supporter base desperate to wrestle the trophy back to Celtic Park.

Those questioning Postecoglou's pedigree should look no further than his CV – the most decorated coach in Australian football history, having also transcended and changed the landscape of the sport Down Under.

From South Melbourne to Australia and Japan, Postecoglou has won it all – a pair of National Soccer League championships, back-to-back A-League titles, a record 36-match unbeaten streak at Brisbane Roar, plus a ground-breaking 2015 Asian Cup triumph with the Socceroos and a J1 League crown with Yokohama F.Marinos, while silencing his doubters.

A former Australia international, Postecoglou – who delivered two NSL trophies within three years of his tenure in charge of boyhood club South Melbourne – truly announced himself at the helm of 'Roarcelona'.

After a brief and unsuccessful stint in Greece in 2008, followed by a short spell in the semi-professional state league in Victoria which resulted in relegation, Postecoglou landed in Brisbane the following year.

Postecoglou oversaw a rebuild and after asking to be judged a year from the time he replaced ex-Socceroos boss Frank Farina, his project culminated in the development of arguably the greatest footballing side in the history of Australian football.

Playing an entertaining and possession-based brand of football, the Roar won the championship in 2010-11 and successfully defended their trophy the following season amid a 36-game unbeaten streak – an all-time Australian football code record for the longest undefeated run, surpassing rugby league outfit Eastern Suburbs' record set 74 years prior.

Postecoglou also coached Melbourne Victory before his Australia appointment in 2013. In the A-League, his teams scored 1.7 goals per game; only one head coach (minimum 30 games) has a higher average in the competition's history (Graham Arnold - 1.8).

The Greek-born boss left Australia's domestic competition with a 51 per cent win percentage as head coach – the joint-fifth best of any manager in the competition's history.

Erik Paartalu was one of Postecoglou's first signings as Roar coach and the ex-Australia international told Stats Perform: "He will be absolutely buzzing. He isn't the type to take a job on lightly. He would've researched beforehand. I'm sure he's probably been offered jobs of this calibre before but wasn't ready.

"Ange has always been ambitious. This guy just doesn't stop. Any other Australian coach that would've won the J.League would've just stopped there and chilled out in Asia. The guy is in his mid-50s. He would've researched this whole situation at Celtic, who is leaving and who is coming, who can I get in? I know he's already thought about his next step from here."

"With Ange, it was the tactical side of it where he explained and broke things down so easily on the pitch, whether that be playing 11-v-seven, so you would have a huge overload and confidence in possession. Or if it was in a video session, always pointing out the good things about people," said Paartalu as he reflected on his Roar days. "He always pumped up the smaller details of the team. His way to getting us to feel, you just felt so confident."

Postecoglou, like Manchester City's Guardiola and former Chelsea and Juventus boss Sarri, pushes the boundaries. Firmly set in his belief of how football should be played, Postecoglou's approach never waivers and success follows the 55-year-old in his pursuit of excellence.

"That's what we loved about him," Postecoglou said. "We went on that unbeaten streak and then lost five in a row. Never even mentioned getting close to the record. It was just like 'if we play the way we play, we'll wipe this team off the park'.

"In the first grand final [2011 against Central Coast Mariners], the goal I scored in the last couple of seconds [of extra time, 120th minute to force penalties after 2-2 draw], it was the build-up before that showed everything that we're about. [Michael] Theo had the ball and could've gone long, but he throws it to [Massimo] Murdocca and we build up from the back and get a corner. That was so typical of the way he wanted us to play. Even in training, it was like, 'don't put the ball above waist height or in the air'. If you did that, you had to give the ball to the other team. So we were drilled into knowing short passes, through lines, everyone in the right position, movement off the ball, entry points on the edge of the box, guys overlapping, 4-3-3 and don't cross the ball in if you're not sure. That was his blueprint. We were going to play his way all the way to the death. When we lost five in a row, he never got angry. He was so clear, saying keep doing it, be confident, keeping passing the ball.

"He definitely improves players' game intelligence when they work under him. You feel 10-feet tall and just know your job inside and out because of the way he prepares you."

Handpicked to introduce style and substance to the Socceroos in 2013, Postecoglou led Australia at the 2014 World Cup. Undaunted by the 'Group of Death', Australia left Brazil emptyhanded, but took it to Chile, the Netherlands and holders Spain in stunning fashion.

Postecoglou delivered a first Asian Cup to Australia in 2015, while he secured qualification for the 2018 World Cup before stepping down prior to the Russian showpiece.

The Socceroos scored 86 goals in A-Internationals under Postecoglou – the second most they have scored under any manager since the beginning of 1965 (Frank Farina - 197). Australia won 22 games during his tenure; only two managers have won more since the beginning of 1965 (Frank Farina - 34 and Holger Osieck - 23).

Postecoglou eventually landed at F.Marinos – part of the City Football Group – in 2018.

Physical performance coach Gregory King was part of the team Postecoglou put together to accompany him on his journey in Japan, where he ended F.Marinos' 15-year wait for league glory in 2019.

Postecoglou left F.Marinos with the highest winning percentage (49.2 – 58 victories in 118 games) in the history of the club. Since joining the Yokohama club, only two managers have a better winning percentage than Postecoglou; Toru Oniki (65) and Go Oiwa (50) from a minimum of 10 games.

Despite the language barrier, F.Marinos bought into the Postecoglou way. Since 2018, the team ranked first for passing accuracy (86.5) and possession (63.2), while they were second for goals per game (1.9), expected goals per game (1.8), shots per game (15.2), shots on target per game (5.3), shot conversion rate (12.6), shooting accuracy (47.2), chances created per game (11.4), passes per game (619.4), passing accuracy in opposition half (82.4), big chance total per game (2.4), big chance created per game (1.8) and big chance scored per game (1.1).

"He definitely has a really good understanding from conditioning, strength and sport-science point of view," King told Stats Perform. "His attention to detail is optimal. You know you can't pull the wool over his eyes. He knows everything going on within his team but he lets you run your own department. He gives you a license to achieve the objectives of the team in your own way."

During F.Marinos' triumphant season in 2019, Postecoglou's men covered the greatest distance in the J1 League (116.48), ahead of Oita Trinita (114.79km). They also tallied the most total sprints with 191, more than FC Tokyo (174).

As Postecoglou prepares to take pre-season training with Celtic, King said: "They're definitely in for a lot of hard work. Really quality football sessions based around the principles of how he wants to play. But, there's no holding back in terms of intensity.

"I think they will enjoy the sessions, however they will be pushed physically. The football we played in Yokohama was extremely high intensity. The physical qualities have to be at their peak. We expected our best players to play regularly, so to be able to do that, the players have to have a lot of good hard work behind them and to be able to cope with it."

"I'd be very surprised if he wasn't looking closely at injury history, how many games they've been able to play over the past seasons in terms of durability. Speed is obviously a massive factor from the forwards and also the centre-backs being able to play really aggressive and a high line. You can only do so much when you have them. We feel we can improve them all physically but from a conditioning point of view, you have to recruit players strong in those areas already to be able to play the way we did."

Roberto Mancini has been given a significant vote of confidence by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) after signing a new contract that will keep him in charge of Italy until after the 2026 World Cup.

Mancini was appointed in May 2018, taking over from caretaker manager Luigi Di Biagio after he had replaced Gian Piero Ventura the previous November.

Ventura had failed to guide Italy to the 2018 World Cup, the Azzurri losing out to Sweden in a play-off.

It was the first World Cup Italy had missed since 1958 and forced the FIGC into a serious rethink before turning to Mancini, one of the nation's most-respected coaches.

He was initially appointed only until 2020, with an automatic extension to be granted upon qualification for Euro 2020, which Italy duly achieved with three matches to spare.

That triggered a two-year extension to run until after the 2022 World Cup, but the FIGC is seemingly so impressed with Mancini that they have deemed him worthy of a long-term deal.

Speaking at the end of the FIGC's federal council meeting, president Gabriele Gravina is quoted by ANSA as saying: "It is an investment of the federation for the future, and one that we owed to the fans.

"I am very happy, because as Roberto knows, it was an objective of the federation to continue this job and give it continuity in the future."

Mancini, who was also in attendance, added: "I am very happy, I thank the Federation and I thank the president.

"We have extended the contract, there will be many events and as the president said it is not easy to win, but we are trying to carry out a job that was started three years ago, which up to now has given good results.

"We have many young players to focus on, especially in the youth national teams, so our hope is that this work can bear fruit very quickly, we are very positive."

Mancini's Italy broke a longstanding national team record in November 2019 as they won 10 consecutive matches with a 3-0 result against Bosnia-Herzegovina, the streak eventually ending at 11.

They won all of their Euro 2020 qualifiers and their 10 victories in 2019 set a new record for the most wins in a calendar year for the national team.

Italy were drawn into Group A for the Euros, which start next month, meaning they will face Turkey, Wales and Switzerland for the right to reach the knockout phase.

Luis Suarez was determined to prove his doubters wrong after getting the chance to continue playing at the highest level with Atletico Madrid.

Suarez left Barcelona after a 2019-20 season that saw the Spanish giants finish without a trophy. Having lost out to Real Madrid in a tight title race, hopes of Champions League glory were emphatically ended at the quarter-final stage by Bayern Munich.

The Uruguay striker had scored 21 goals in all competitions yet was deemed surplus to requirements at Camp Nou, allowed to leave on the cheap as he remained within LaLiga at Atleti.

Barca have watched on as their former player has scored 19 league goals to help Diego Simeone's squad push to be crowned Spanish champions - they top the table by two points with two games remaining, the first of which is at home to Osasuna on Sunday.

For Suarez, the desire to succeed following his switch to the capital was fuelled by those who had declared him to be in a state of decline.

"You like a challenge. And coming here was a very big challenge for me for many things," he said in an interview for Club del Deportista magazine.

"Last year I received criticism and they said that I was not here to compete for important things, or that at Barcelona I could not compete at a high level.

"That will generate a challenge to an individual, you want to continue to demonstrate that you can do something at the elite level of football, something I've been demonstrating as the kind of player I am for many years.

"I experienced it as a great challenge and with great enthusiasm. I'm not sorry at all, on the contrary, excited and eager to continue demonstrating."

Suarez also revealed his future plans at international level as he intends to finish his Uruguay career after next year's World Cup in Qatar.

The 34-year-old is his country's all-time leading scorer and helped them win the 2011 Copa America, a year after a fourth-place finish at the World Cup in South Africa.

"My wish is to be able to play the World Cup in Qatar and afterwards one must realise that the time has come," the former Ajax and Liverpool forward said.

"First by age and then by the young people who come after, so that they have the possibility. When the time comes I will make the appropriate decision, although assuming that costs a player a lot, but I have been working on it for a long time."

Retied Jamaica international, Fitzroy Simpson, has called for the return of the spirit of togetherness for the Reggae Boyz, expressing the hope that the current squad can go on to match the exploits of his historic 1998 unit.

Up until recently, some members of the Jamaica national team and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) were embroiled in a bitter contractual dispute, which saw several members of the team unavailable for the Caribbean team’s clash against the United States last month.

With the dispute now settled, and the CONCACAF Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers coming later this year, Simpson is urging both parties to come together.

“Unity is so important,” Simpson said in a recent interview with the Irish Mirror.

“The set-up now has to be unified and improvements made on the business side,” he added.

Simpson was one of several English-based players to join the Jamaica national team ahead of their historic qualification for the World Cup in France.  The former Manchester City and Portsmouth player started all three games at the tournament and has fond memories of not just playing at the final itself but also the build-up.

“It was breathtaking.  It was the greatest honour in my playing career to lead Jamaica to history,” Simpson said.

“I remember my mother, my brother, and my uncle in the stadium when we qualified.  I looked at them and couldn't believe what we had achieved because Jamaica wasn't recognised as a footballing nation.  The whole country really drove us on, the support was incredible.”

 

 

Spain coach Luis Enrique has defended his rotation policy following their slow start to 2022 World Cup qualifying.

La Roja needed a 92nd-minute Dani Olmo strike to edge Georgia 2-1 following their opening 1-1 home draw with Greece, with Luis Enrique rotating his starting XI for both matches.

The situation led to criticism of Luis Enrique, who pointed out only months ago Spain defeated Germany 6-0 in the Nations League.

Spain take on Kosovo on Wednesday and Luis Enrique insisted his approach would not change.

"Why don't we have a first-choice starting XI? Well, that's right. I have to make my decisions," Enrique said.

"What I am not going to do as the national team manager is – and if people don't agree I don't care – to make my decision according to what Pepe, Manolo or Lucas want.

"I'm a professional coach with an extensive CV that proves what I achieved as a football manager, so that is why the Spanish FA hired me.

"I won't change my way of doing things. I have a 24-player squad right now and any of them could play tomorrow, which is much better than having just 11 key players."

The former Barcelona coach added that there were benefits to giving his players more experience in the starting line-up with a view to this year's European Championship.

"In that case, if three players suddenly get injured, then I would have to use some players at the Euros who would be lacking in confidence," he said.

"I don't believe in doing that. I had a successful career, so why should I change now? I respect every opinion but I am the manager and my experience proves that.

"And in the Euros that is how I will do it, it's the same for the World Cup when my contract will expire."

The former Spain international added he respected Kosovo and their style ahead of Wednesday's game in Seville.

"I have watched them in some games where they press high up the field intensely, a daring and brave side that try to play the ball from the back," Luis Enrique said.

"I like their team, given that they take risks. They will make it hard for us in some stages of the game. They have good attacking players with a good striker and then [Valon] Berisha and some other good creative midfielders."

Germany head coach Joachim Low has batted away talk of "world-class" Toni Kroos retiring from international football after this year's European Championship.

Real Madrid midfielder Kroos withdrew from the Germany squad at the start of last week, ahead of their opening World Cup qualifying fixtures.

Low's side claimed maximum points from their first two Group J games against Iceland and Romania and will expect to make it a hat-trick of triumphs when North Macedonia visit Duisburg on Wednesday.

Kroos is Die Mannschaft's most-capped active player – and joint 10th overall – having featured 101 times since his Germany debut in 2010.

His last appearance was in November's humiliating 6-0 Nations League defeat to Spain, although he did emerge with some credit.

Kroos enjoyed a pass completion rate of 97.7 per cent – the highest of any starting player across both sides – while no German starter lost possession fewer times than him (four).

Reports have circulated recently that 31-year-old Kroos is ready to call time on his international career after the rearranged Euro 2020 finals, but Low is not ready to write off the midfielder just yet.

"It's a media issue," Low told a media conference. "Toni is a world-class player with an enormous wealth of experience. We won't start to doubt his quality now."

Low also hailed the "step forward" made by Leroy Sane over the past week.

The Bayern Munich forward made three key passes against Romania – matched only by Serge Gnabry for Germany – and won 11 of his 12 duels.

Low was particularly impressed with the 25-year-old's defensive contributions.

"In the last two games Leroy had extremely good moments in defence," Low said. "He won four or five balls against Romania and some against Iceland.

"You haven't seen that before. He made a clear step forward."

Germany are red-hot favourites to progress to Qatar 2022 as Group J winners, but Low has warned his players against complacency when they host North Macedonia.

"I have the feeling that North Macedonia have rolled up their sleeves", said Low, who will step down from his position at the end of Euro 2020. "They are no worse than Romania. It will be a real show of strength.

"We're not taking anything for granted. North Macedonia are shrewd opponents. It will be another tricky task to come away with all three points."

Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe has revealed he was criticised in the early stages of his career for "not scoring enough goals and showing off".

The 22-year-old leads the Ligue 1 scoring charts with 20 goals in 25 appearances this term and has netted a further 10 in other competitions.

Mbappe has scored 120 goals in 160 outings for PSG overall since joining in August 2017 from Monaco, where he first made a name for himself at the age of 16.

But the French World Cup winner, who started his youth career with AS Bondy before moving on to Monaco, has admitted he was not always so prolific in front of goal.

"For a long time, in the youth teams, I was criticised for not scoring enough goals and showing off," he told UEFA. 

"In today's football, you have to score. And to score, you have to practice and work hard in training."

Mbappe has taken the advice on board and is now one of the most sought-after names in world football, regularly earning links to the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

"When you're in the rough, no one else can make you get up," he said. "You have to be mentally strong and do everything to understand that you can climb mountains. 

"When I go out on the pitch, I tell myself that I have to give my best to be the best possible.

"I'm someone with ambition - it's a scary term, but I see it more as not wanting to set limits. I try to push the limits as much as possible and I want to see where it can lead me."

Mbappe is currently away on international duty with France and played 77 minutes of Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Ukraine in his side's opening World Cup qualifier.

Despite that disappointing Group D draw, Les Blues are the favourites of many to go all the way in next year's finals in Qatar, four years on from their last triumph.

And Mbappe, who has 16 goals in 40 senior caps, is relishing the opportunity to add another World Cup to his collection in the month he turns 24.

"We want to win a second title," he said. "The World Cup is a culmination of effort, a goal that we work for over a long time. 

"I had the chance to win it at 19 and it's something that helped me progress in my career. There will be other competitions, but my ambition is to win a second World Cup."

Spain head coach Luis Enrique clarified that Sergio Ramos' half-time substitution had nothing to do with injury, instead managing his minutes ahead of two more 2022 World Cup qualifiers as he allayed concerns.

Real Madrid and Spain captain Ramos was replaced at the interval by Inigo Martinez, who gave away the penalty in Spain's surprise 1-1 draw with Greece in Granada on Thursday.

Ramos missed two months of club football with a knee injury, the 34-year-old star defender returning earlier this month for games against Elche and Atalanta before missing Madrid's LaLiga clash with Celta Vigo on Saturday due to a shin issue.

​"Sergio Ramos is perfectly fine," Luis Enrique said post-game. "He didn’t play the last game with his club due to a blow.

"We had already decided in advance that he would only play the first half and he is perfectly fine.

"He is available for the following games."

Ramos, who has a record 179 international caps, is in the mix for Spain's upcoming qualifiers away to Georgia on Sunday and Kosovo on Wednesday.

Alvaro Morata told his Spain team-mates to expect more negative tactics in their next World Cup qualifier against Georgia on Sunday. 

Spain were held to a 1-1 draw by Greece in the country's opening Group B fixture in Granada on Thursday as their opponents set up defensively straight from kick-off.

Morata put Spain ahead with a stylish volley, but visitors Greece equalised with their only shot of the game courtesy of a Anastasios Bakasetas penalty.

Spain monopolised possession with 79.9 per cent and made 920 passes with a successful accuracy of 92.4 per cent.

However, Greece's defence stood firm as they won 42 duels to Spain's 33 with Georgios Tzavellas making the most clearances in the game and Konstantinos Tsimikas the most tackles on either side with five apiece.

Morata predicted Spain's players will face more teams who will try to stifle their play, starting with Georgia at the weekend.

"We'll have lots more games with rivals who try to do this to us," Morata said in a post-match media conference.

"We knew how Greece were going to try and play us this evening. Any international side which knows how to defend can make things difficult for you.

"In fact, Georgia play in a similar style. We need to get used to having complicated moments and trying to get the best from them.

"We have to draw the positives from this match and keep on working hard."

Spain head coach Luis Enrique echoed Morata's sentiments but insisted despite the setback their commitment to play attacking football remains.

"I don't like the result at all, nor have we been inspired," he said.

"I liked the rhythm, but once we pinned Greece back we didn't flow and fashion the chances that would have enabled us to take a clear lead.

"I did like our attitude and the tempo of play that the team tried to produce throughout. Whenever we got near the Greek penalty area, however, we lacked sharpness and efficiency.

"Sunday will be a similar game, with an opponent who uses the same weapons. We'll continue to insist on attacking in the same way.

"This result doesn't change anything for the next two games. [Attacking] is the most difficult phase in football, it depends on the situations you generate. 

"I don't think this result will influence the following ones."

Alvaro Morata told his Spain team-mates to expect more negative tactics in their next World Cup qualifier against Georgia on Sunday. 

Spain were held to a 1-1 draw by Greece in the country's opening Group B fixture in Granada on Thursday as their opponents set up defensively straight from kick-off.

Morata put Spain ahead with a stylish volley, but visitors Greece equalised with their only shot of the game courtesy of a Anastasios Bakasetas penalty.

Spain monopolised possession with 79.9 per cent and made 920 passes with a successful accuracy of 92.4 per cent.

However, Greece's defence stood firm as they won 42 duels to Spain's 33 with Georgios Tzavellas making the most clearances in the game and Konstantinos Tsimikas the most tackles on either side with five apiece.

Morata predicted Spain's players will face more teams who will try to stifle their play, starting with Georgia at the weekend.

"We'll have lots more games with rivals who try to do this to us," Morata said in a post-match media conference.

"We knew how Greece were going to try and play us this evening. Any international side which knows how to defend can make things difficult for you.

"In fact, Georgia play in a similar style. We need to get used to having complicated moments and trying to get the best from them.

"We have to draw the positives from this match and keep on working hard."

Spain head coach Luis Enrique echoed Morata's sentiments but insisted despite the setback their commitment to play attacking football remains.

"I don't like the result at all, nor have we been inspired," he said.

"I liked the rhythm, but once we pinned Greece back we didn't flow and fashion the chances that would have enabled us to take a clear lead.

"I did like our attitude and the tempo of play that the team tried to produce throughout. Whenever we got near the Greek penalty area, however, we lacked sharpness and efficiency.

"Sunday will be a similar game, with an opponent who uses the same weapons. We'll continue to insist on attacking in the same way.

"This result doesn't change anything for the next two games. [Attacking] is the most difficult phase in football, it depends on the situations you generate. 

"I don't think this result will influence the following ones."

An Alvaro Morata strike was not enough for victory as Spain began their World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign with a 1-1 draw against Greece in Granada on Thursday 

Morata's stylish volley put Spain ahead in the first half of a Group B clash they dominated with 79.4 per cent of the possession before the break.

But Greece levelled when Anastasios Bakasetas converted from the penalty spot four minutes before the hour mark after Inigo Martínez fouled Giorgos Masouras inside the area.

And although Luis Enrique's side enjoyed the bulk of the chances in the remainder of the game, they were unable to find a winner in an underwhelming start to the campaign.

After a sluggish start, La Roja sparked into life when Dani Olmo rattled the crossbar with a long-range curling effort and, moments later, they were ahead.

Koke showed his guile to cleverly dink the ball over the Greek defence to Morata, who controlled on his chest before crisply striking a fine volley beyond Odisseas Vlachodimos.

Morata went close again early in the second half when his shot hit the side-netting, but Greece soon equalised.

Martinez caught Masouras after a sliding clearance and Bakasetas smashed the resulting spot-kick high down the middle of the goal.

Spain rallied and Morata got on the end of a Ferran Torres cross but was unable to make his header count, nodding straight into the ground, before Jose Gaya teased a low dangerous cross into the box which Mikel Oyarzabal could not convert.

The hosts continued to pile on the pressure late on but were unable to find a way past the resolute visiting defence, their joy evident at the final whistle.

Norway's players will face no disciplinary action from FIFA for their decision to wear T-shirts with the message 'Human rights on and off the pitch' to show their support for migrant workers in Qatar.

Ahead of Wednesday's 3-0 victory over Gibraltar in the opening game of their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign, Norway's team – including star striker Erling Haaland and playmaker Martin Odegaard, who is also captain – wore the T-shirts during the national anthems.

Odegaard had said before the game that the team were planning to make their feelings clear, with Norwegian clubs having pressurised the country's football association to boycott the upcoming World Cup, which takes place in November and December next year.

These objections followed a report in The Guardian newspaper in February revealing that over 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar since the country was awarded the 2022 World Cup in 2010, seeing off competition from the United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan.

The report also suggested that the actual death toll would be much higher, due to a lack of data from a number of countries such as the Philippines and Kenya, while deaths that occurred late in 2020 were not accounted for.

In response, the Qatar organising committee stated: "We deeply regret all of these tragedies and investigated each incident to ensure lessons were learned. We have always maintained transparency around this issue and dispute inaccurate claims around the number of workers who have died on our projects."

The Qatari government, meanwhile, insisted the mortality rate was "within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population".

In the warm-up, Norway's players wore T-shirts with a different message: 'Respect on and off the pitch'.

FIFA's laws prohibit players from bearing "any political, religious or personal slogans", but in this instance, football's governing body has confirmed Norway will not have a case to answer.

"FIFA believes in the freedom of speech, and in the power of football as a force for good," a statement read.

"No disciplinary proceedings in relation to this matter will be opened by FIFA."

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