Low impressed by Sane form

Germany head coach Joachim Low is pleased to see the improvements Leroy Sane has made and has backed the forward to be a major player for his country in the future.

The richly-talented 23-year-old Manchester City ace was a surprise omission from the Germany squad for the World Cup finals last summer, having been a key figure in the success of the Citizens last season.

However, Sane was back in favour for the Nations League programme, while he has scored in each of his last two international appearances – against Russia and the Netherlands.

And Low, who is busy rebuilding his squad after a disastrous showing at the World Cup, is happy to see Sane having taken on board criticism which had come his way.

He told the official DFB website: "His development has been good in both the national team and (for) Manchester City.

"He has put in some great performances, but what is more important to me is that he has taken a big step forward. He has really mastered his jobs on the pitch.

"He has incredible skills and has brought them to the pitch in the last six months. Leroy still has huge potential and can become an extremely important player for the Germany national team."

Germany can now be backed at 8/1 to win the 2020 European Championships, with the Dutch 12/1 and World Cup winners France 4/1.

Die Mannschaft and the Netherlands have been drawn in the same qualifying group and face each other in Amsterdam on Sunday.

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Guardiola: We need everybody

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hopes he does not lose any of his players to injury during this month's international break.

City, who have already won the EFL Cup this term, are currently second in the Premier League table, while they have reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup and last eight of the Champions League.

Guardiola's team are scheduled to play eight fixtures in 29 days after the international break and the City boss wants all of his squad members to play their part in the last two months of the campaign.

"I pray that they come back fit," he said. "They have to go to their national teams… enjoy and play for their country, but I hope they can come back fit like they are now.

"I just want them fit and here… With the fixtures we have in April we need everybody, it's crazy."

Meanwhile, Guardiola said of his injured stars: "Everybody is going to play and Kevin (De Bruyne), Fernandinho, John (Stones), Benjamin (Mendy) – they are all going to be back soon and we need them. Even if some play 10 or 15 minutes here and there.

"We need everybody because we have got to this stage where we are still in with a chance of winning three more trophies because of everybody. Not just 11 players, but everyone."

City's next game is at Fulham on 30th March and they can be backed at 8/1 to win 2-0 at Craven Cottage. They are 10/1 to win the quadruple of Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League and EFL Cup this season.

Allegri: Loss a useful wake-up

Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri reacted calmly to seeing his side lose 2-0 at Genoa, but warned there is plenty of hard work ahead to ensure Scudetto success once again.

The Bianconeri had gone unbeaten in their first 27 games of the Serie A season, but were unable to make that 28 as goals from Stefano Sturaro and Goran Pandev condemned them to defeat at the Luigi Ferraris.

However, Allegri was far from panicked by the reverse, while also believing that the reverse could be just the wake-up call his players need as they aim to secure an eighth successive Italina league title.

He told Sky Sport Italia: "I expected a different Juventus, we did not put in a good performance.

"Inevitably, the effort we put in against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday weighed on us. You can't play every game to the best of your abilities.

"I think, if anything, this defeat can do us good and wake us up. We thought that we'd already won the Scudetto, but that is not the case.

"It's impossible to win every game, I've said that since the start, so no need to make a drama out of it. We've played 28 games, won 24 and drawn three, so it's not that bad."

Juve are still a massive 15 points clear at second-placed Napoli, while they are also through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, having fought back from two goals down to edge out Atletico Madrid 3-2 on aggregate in the last-16.

La Vecchia Signora are 10/3 to win the Champions League this season, with Barcelona priced at 7/2 and Manchester City 2/1.

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Winning is a must Klopp warns

Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp says his side have no option other than to keep on winning if they are to edge out Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title.

The Reds moved two points clear at the top of the table with a hard-fought 2-1 at Fulham on Sunday, with James Milner converting a late penalty to secure a crucial three-point return.

Afterwards, Klopp admitted that his team had not been at their fluent best, but he was keen to stress the importance of continuing to put wins on the board – with the Merseysiders having claimed three victories in the last week in all competitions.

The German told reporters: "I think we fully deserved to win the game. It was an average game, massive result. We want to stay in the title race and that's what we did.

"First is the best position you can be in. City don't look as if they drop a lot of points, so we have to win, to win and to win.

"I am not in any doubt about my players' nerves. It is about intensity. We go for perfection, but it is rare that you get it.

"People will say we need to be more convincing, but we are at the start of a development, not the end."

Next up for Liverpool is another tough fixture, with Tottenham Hotspur the visitors to Anfield on the final day of March.

The Reds are 8/13 to win that game, with the draw priced at 14/5, while Klopp's men are 2/1 to be crowned Premier League champions this season.

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Brighton head to Wembley

Brighton staged a remarkable comeback at The Den to recover from 2-0 down to go on to beat Millwall on penalties.

The Championship side were leading 2-0 heading into the dying minutes only for the Seagulls to score twice late on and take the match into extra-time and then penalties.

The first half was a tight affair though Brighton had arguably the best chance of the half, Anthony Knockaert putting a cross in and Beram Kayal had a free header from which he should have done better and it was comfortably saved.

The first goal came on 70 minutes from a corner kick with Alex Pearce unmarked at the far post guiding his header into the back of the net.

The Lions doubled their lead just before the 80-minute mark, Jed Wallace doing well down the wing and sending in a low cross which Aiden O'Brien was able to tap in despite the efforts of the Brighton defence.

The Seagulls had just 10 minutes to get themselves back into the contest and they pulled a goal back with just two minutes remaining, Jurgen Locadia turning well in the box and firing past David Martin in the Millwall goal.

Time was still against the visitors but the equaliser came just before the end of the four added minutes. They were given a free kick just outside the penalty area and Solly March's kick found the top corner, though Martin should have done much better.

It was a hammer blow to the home side who looked destined for Wembley but they regrouped to play the extra half an hour during which the sides couldn't be separated, though Brighton had a goal disallowed for offside just before the end.

In the resulting penalty shoot-out Glenn Murray missed for Brighton but Mat Ryan saved one from Mahlon Romeo to send it into sudden death and Jake Cooper blazed over the bar for the Lions to send Brighton through to a semi-final where they will play Manchester City. The other semi sees Watford play Wolves.

Brighton are 16/1 to win the FA Cup this season with Manchester City 1/3, Wolves 4/1 and Watford 10/1.

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Guardiola praises Citizens spirit

Pep Guardiola hailed the mentality of his Manchester City side after they hit back to secure a 3-2 victory at Swansea City and reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup.

The Citizens were 2-0 behind at half-time at the Liberty Stadium, before they launched a stirring comeback, with a Bernardo Silva drive and an own goal drawing them level, before Sergio Aguero headed in what proved to be the winner.

And Guardiola was delighted to see such a strong response from his players, with City still in the hunt for a possible quadruple this season.

He told BBC Sport: "Fighting for everything is the most important thing for the club.

"People say we are going to win three or four titles and the day we drop one competition they say it's a big failure for Manchester City.

"The most incredible thing after what we achieved last season, is in this stage we are fighting for everything.

"So, most important for the club – more than winning one title – is having the mentality to be there until the end and fight for the titles in this stage of the season.

"That's important because for the future, for the new players and managers who are coming, they will learn from this group of players, and this group of people – that we never give up and fight for every single game and title until the end.

"That is the best lesson."

The Citizens can be backed at 2/5 to lift the FA Cup this season, while they are 4/11 to retain their Premier League title and 2/1 to triumph in the Champions League for the first time in their history.

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FA Cup: Sergio Breaks the Bravest of Hearts in South Wales

Swansea City 2-3 Manchester City

The quadruple is still alive!

Swansea – and lots of other supporters up and down the country – dreamed about the magic of the FA Cup for nearly 70 minutes.

They had gone toe-to-toe with aristocrats Manchester City to stun everyone from South Wales to Singapore.

What happened in the final 21 minutes was simply heartbreaking for the underdogs, especially with video replays – VAR was not in use in this tie – showing City’s winner was slightly offside and their second goal arose from a penalty kick which was questionably awarded.

But what you can’t deny is the character and class in this expensively assembled City side.

In a tie which produced numerous FA Cup 2019 highlights, it’s the plaudits for Swansea and the prize for City.

Highlights of the game

Swansea City controversially lose to Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals

Swansea City players complain to the referee after a penalty is awarded to Manchester City during their FA Cup clash

After their midweek blitz in Europe, you would have been hard-pushed to find any us fan backing Swansea, let alone FA Cup 2019 betting odds.

Swansea crave a return to the top flight after going down with a whimper last May, and the home team certainly needed their fans with them after recent frustrations.

Two goals in eight mad minutes certainly did that, yet those stunned spectators, not least the Swans’ own faithful.

First, Fabian Delph (who received harsh criticism on social media for his showing) lunged in on Connor Roberts. Matt Grimes made no mistake from the penalty spot.

Then a former City youngster, Bersant Celina, curled a superb first-time shot past a helpless Ederson.

When Roberts cleared off the line to deny David Silva when it looked all ends up a goal, Swansea (looking to reach the FA Cup semi-final for the third time, having done so in 1926 and 1964), may have sensed it was their night.

Kristoffer Nordfeldt had been in fine form from the outset, denying Leroy Sane with a smart save before Riyad Mahrez’s follow-up header drifted wide.

Next, he produced a fine save to prevent Bernardo Silva from opening the scoring.

To a man Swansea gave everything and, while at times it was akin to an attack-vs-defence exercise, they held out until, with 21 minutes remaining, Bernardo Silva pulled one back with a fine finish with the outside of his foot.

It was hard to see the spirited Championship outfit holding out at this stage, but the way they were pegged back was incredibly unfortunate.

It was the unfortunate Nordfeldt who had the final touch after substitute Sergio Aguero’s penalty – awarded for a challenge by Cameron Carter-Vickers on Raheem Sterling – hit the post and bounced over the line off the goalkeeper.

He was not downhearted, producing a superb double save to deny Aguero’s header and then keep out the rebound with his legs.

Kyle Walker went close, but there can be no denying Aguero as the world-class talisman sealed their place in the semi-finals with a diving header from a Bernardo Silva cross.

It was marginally offside, and the fact VAR was not in use – as it is only in place at Premier League grounds – was little comfort the hosts. It should be used in this competition in every tie or not at all.

Not that it was City’s fault.

The result meant their unlikely quadruple bid – the chase to win all four trophies – remains a possibility.

Swansea were gutted, City ecstatic.

Cruel, class, character, controversial – so many words. Pick any of them. This was a classic cup tie.

Juventus Asian Handicap -1.75 @ 1.92 Over 3.00 @ 1.98 1X2 Juventus @ 1.22CLICK HEREDisclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.Serie A

Key statistics

City have won 11 of their last 12 meetings in all competitions.

They won the two league encounters with Swansea last season by an aggregate score of 9-0.

This is the first-ever FA Cup meeting between Swansea and Manchester City.

Since reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals, Swansea have lost three of their four games, although they had been unbeaten at home since Boxing Day until tonight.

The Swans have been eliminated in seven of their last eight FA Cup ties against Premier League opponents. The exception to that was a 2014 success at Old Trafford against Manchester United.

City have lost just once since Boxing Day.

What’s next?

It’s international break time now and then the relentless period which will shape City’s season begins.

They resume action at Fulham a fortnight today (March 30) before a spell of seven games in just 22 days in all competitions (Premier League, FA Cup semi-final and Champions League) including three matches against Spurs in under a fortnight.

Swansea, 15th in the table, have a similar spell in Championship fixtures, beginning at Nottingham Forest two weeks today.

 

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Potter urges Swans to believe

Swansea City boss Graham Potter is hoping his side can spring a major shock in their 'one-off' clash with Manchester City in the sixth round of the FA Cup.

The Swans play host to the reigning Premier League champions at teatime on Saturday, with Potter well aware of the gulf in class which exists between the two teams.

However, he is hoping to see his players rise to the occasion at the Liberty Stadium, with the hosts currently down in 15th place in the Championship standings.

Potter said: "Clearly they are the best team in the UK, they are one of the best teams in the world. So we face a huge challenge, a brilliant challenge for the players, because you get to test yourself against the best.

"In a one-off match anything can happen and we will try to manufacture something from that. We have a chance to get to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, which is exciting.

"You have to go into the game thinking you can win, otherwise there is no point.

"You respect how good the opposition are and the odds are stacked against us, but it's a one-off game – you have to believe you can win."

Last season the Citizens won 4-0 in the Premier League meeting of the two sides in South Wales, while the encounter at the Etihad Stadium finished 5-0 to the hosts.

The men from Manchester are 1/8 to win the game on Saturday in normal time and are 11/2 to do so by a 3-0 scoreline.

Meanwhile the Citizens can be backed at 4/5 to lift the FA Cup this season and win the trophy for the sixth time in their history.

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Spurs and City face Euro showdown

Tottenham and Manchester City have been drawn against each other in an all-Premier League affair in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola will go head-to-head to see who will progress through to the semi-final stages of the prestigious European competition.

Meanwhile, last season's finalists Liverpool have been drawn against Porto, while Manchester United have another tough tie after being drawn out against La Liga frontrunners Barcelona.

The other quarter-final will see Ajax, who knocked out Real Madrid in the last round, face Serie A champions Juventus.

The quarter-final first legs take place on 9th April and 10th April, while the semi-finals start on 30th April and 1st May.

This season's final will be played on 1st June at Madrid's 68,000-capacity Wanda Metropolitano.

Tottenham are 25/1 to win the Champions League this season, while City are 2/1 to claim the title.

Liverpool are 4/1 to go that step closer and claim European glory this term, with Manchester United at 20/1 to lift the trophy in Madrid.

Champions League Quarter-Finals:
Ajax v Juventus
Liverpool v Porto
Tottenham v Manchester City
Barcelona v Manchester United

Champions League Semi-Finals:
Tottenham/Manchester City v Ajax/Juventus 
Barcelona/Manchester United v Liverpool/Porto

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Spurs and City set for Euro showdown

Tottenham and Manchester City have been drawn against each other in an all-Premier League affair in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola will go head-to-head to see who will progress through to the semi-final stages of the prestigious European competition.

Meanwhile, last season's finalists Liverpool have been drawn against Porto, while Manchester United have another tough tie after being drawn out against La Liga frontrunners Barcelona.

The other quarter-final will see Ajax, who knocked out Real Madrid in the last round, face Serie A champions Juventus.

The quarter-final first legs take place on 9th April and 10th April, while the semi-finals start on 30th April and 1st May.

This season's final will be played on 1st June at Madrid's 68,000-capacity Wanda Metropolitano.

Tottenham are 25/1 to win the Champions League this season, while City are 2/1 to claim the title.

Liverpool are 4/1 to go that step closer and claim European glory this term, with Manchester United at 20/1 to lift the trophy in Madrid.

Champions League Quarter-Finals:
Ajax v Juventus
Liverpool v Porto
Tottenham v Manchester City
Barcelona v Manchester United

Champions League Semi-Finals:
Tottenham/Manchester City v Ajax/Juventus 
Barcelona/Manchester United v Liverpool/Porto

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