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France and Netherlands produce Euro 2024’s first stalemate as Mbappe sits out

France and Netherlands produce Euro 2024’s first stalemate as Mbappe sits out

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France and Netherlands produce Euro 2024's first stalemate as Mbappe sits out

France and the Netherlands edged towards the last 16 of Euro 2024 after a 0-0 draw in Leipzig that failed to catch fire in the absence of Kylian Mbappe.

The French captain sat out the whole match from the bench after breaking his nose in France’s opening 1-0 win over Austria just four days ago.

Xavi Simons had a goal controversially ruled out for the Dutch, while Antoine Griezmann wasted two glorious chances for France.

A share of the spoils leaves the sides level on four points at the top of Group D, one ahead of Austria who beat Poland 3-1 earlier on Friday.

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France take on the Poles, while the Netherlands face Austria in the final games of the section on Tuesday.

Les Bleus had won both meetings when these sides met in qualifying but Mbappe scored four of France’s six goals in those games.

Roared on by an orange wall around two-thirds of the Leipzig Stadium, the Dutch nearly pounced on any French uncertainty within a minute.

The explosive pace of Jeremie Frimpong took him clear on goal but the Bayer Leverkusen man could not produce a clean finish and Mike Maignan turned his shot behind.

Aurelien Tchouameni replaced Mbappe in France’s only change as coach Didier Deschamps sought the security of an extra midfielder.

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Without their captain and talisman, the 2022 World Cup finalists turned to Griezmann for inspiration.

The stand-in skipper stung the palms of Bart Verbruggen from distance.

But the Atletico Madrid forward had a moment to forget with the biggest chance to open the scoring before half-time.

An intricate move played in Adrien Rabiot but when he decided to pass rather than shoot, Griezmann failed to connect on his weaker right foot.

At the other end, Maignan had to produce another fine save low to his left to turn Cody Gakpo’s drive behind.

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France had the better chances in the second period.

Marcus Thuram fizzed a shot just wide from the edge of the area before Tchouameni could not keep a header down.

The normally reliable Griezmann was guilty of another big miss when his weak effort was turned behind by Verbruggen with the goal gaping.

But the major talking point of the first goalless draw of the tournament saw the Dutch denied a winner.

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Simons fired in on the rebound after Maignan saved from Memphis Depay 18 minutes from time.

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The goal was ruled out by the officials on the field for offside as Denzel Dumfries was adjudged to be interfering with Maignan’s ability to stop the shot.

After a lengthy VAR check, which has been a welcome rarity at the tournament so far, the offside was confirmed and France handed a reprieve.

Deschamps rejected the chance to risk Mbappe for the closing stages as he instead sent on Olivier Giroud and Kingsley Coman in search of a winner.

But both sides settled for a point that is already likely enough to secure their passage to the knockout rounds thanks to the safety net that sees the four best third-placed finishers advance.

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Rakitic joins Hajduk Split after leaving Al-Shabab

Rakitic joins Hajduk Split after leaving Al-Shabab

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Rakitic joins Hajduk Split after leaving Al-Shabab

Former Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic is joining Hajduk Split after Saudi Pro League club Al-Shabab terminated his contract by mutual consent following a six-month spell.

The 36-year-old scored once in eight games after joining Al-Shabab in January 2024 as they finished eighth on 52 points.

“The club management agreed with the Croatian player Ivan Rakitic to terminate the contractual relationship between the two parties by mutual consent,” the Saudi club posted on the X social media platform.

Hajduk Split on Sunday announced the signing of the former Barcelona and Sevilla midfielder for one season with the option of an extra year in what will be his first campaign in Croatia.

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Rakitic, who was born in Switzerland, played 106 games for Croatia, scoring 15 goals, and helped the country reach the World Cup final in 2018. 

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Croatia’s Vida retires from international football

Croatia’s Vida retires from international football

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Croatia's Vida retires from international football

Croatia defender Domagoj Vida has retired from international soccer after 14 years in the national team, the Croatian Football Federation said on Sunday.

Vida, 35, made his international debut in May 2010 and has played 105 matches for Croatia. He was part of the Croatia side that reached the final of World Cup 2018 and finished third in World Cup 2022.

“It is an honour to wear the most beautiful jersey in the world once in your career,” Vida said in a statement.

“And when you do it 105 times, you play in seven major competitions … then you can just be infinitely grateful for such a privilege.”

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Former Bayer Leverkusen and Besiktas player Vida currently plays for Greek top-flight club AEK Athens. 

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Canada defender Collins to miss Paris 2024 soccer tournament through injury

Canada defender Collins to miss Paris 2024 soccer tournament through injury

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Canada defender Collins to miss Paris 2024 soccer tournament through injury

Canada defender Sydney Collins will miss the Paris 2024 women’s soccer tournament after fracturing her left leg during a training game in her first match back after suffering a similar injury to her right leg earlier this year, Team Canada said on Saturday.

Gabrielle Carle will replace Collins in Canada’s Olympic squad, while Desiree Scott will take Carle’s spot as an alternate for the Tokyo 2020 gold medallists, it said.

Collins sustained the injury on Thursday during a closed-door training match against Nigeria, her first since fracturing her right leg in February.

“Our hearts go out to Sydney during this difficult time. She has worked incredibly hard to return in time for Paris 2024, and while this is a setback, we know she will come back stronger,” said women’s national team head coach Bev Priestman.

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“She will be with us in spirit every step of the way.

“With the depth and resilience of our roster, it’s a next-player-up mentality, and both Gabby and Desiree’s experience will be invaluable to our team’s success.”

Canada will begin the defence of their Olympic title on July 25 against Group A opponents New Zealand. 

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