No pressure to match Salah's hot streak: Firmino

(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Liverpool forwards are focused on the club's progress and under no pressure to match playmaker Mohamed Salah's goal-scoring exploits this season, striker Roberto Firmino has said. Egyptian Salah leads the race for the European Golden Shoe award, ahead of Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, after notching an impressive 36 goals and 12 assists in 41 appearances across all competitions in his debut season at Liverpool.
'No way! We have very good chemistry here at Liverpool, Firmino said when asked if he felt any burden of expectations to equal his team mate's goal-scoring run.
'Many speak of the strength of our attack, which also has (Sadio) Mane, but we have a team full of great quality that is effective in attack. We have to think collectively. The more players score, the better. Liverpool are the ones who win in this situation.
Firmino has scored 23 goals this season while Mane netted 14 as Liverpool lead the Champions League goal-scoring charts with 28 so far and their tally of 73 goals in the Premier League is second only to that of leaders Manchester City.
The high-scoring Merseyside club, who are third in the league, will meet rivals City in a mouth-watering Champions League quarter-final tie next month. Firmino also said that compatriot Philippe Coutinho's move to Barcelona in January had changed the way Liverpool play and made them more unpredictable.
Liverpool travel to Crystal Palace in the league on March 31.

France coach Deschamps todiscuss Pogba's form at United
France's struggling Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba cannot be happy with his situation at the Premier League club, national team coach Didier Deschamps said on Monday.
The 25-year-old Pogba, who is preparing for friendlies against Colombia on Friday and World Cup hosts Russia next Monday, has been out of form under Jose Mourinho this season. He has not started in United's last three games.
He missed the match against Liverpool through injury, came on as a substitute in the 2-1 defeat by Sevilla in the Champions League and was left on the bench in their FA Cup quarter-final win over Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
Asked if he would try to restore Pogba's confidence during his time with the squad, Deschamps told a news conference: 'It's not just Paul. This happens... that a player undergoes a specific situation in a club. It may be Paul, others at another time, and I will do as always, I will speak with them, to understand, because I do not have all the information.
'(Regarding Pogba)... I do not know why and how for now but obviously, this is a situation he won't appreciate in relation to everything he's done. The reasons can be many and varied. He can't be happy with what he's going through with his club.
Pogba started his career at United and returned to the club from Juventus for 89mn pounds ($124.80mn) in 2016.
Manchester United extend Young's deal by a year
Manchester United have extended Ashley Young's deal for an extra year by triggering a one-year option in the versatile England wing back's contract, British media said on Monday. The 32-year-old Young, who is in Gareth Southgate's England squad for their next two friendlies, has been in fine form for United, keeping left-back Luke Shaw out of the side.
The former Aston Villa winger's deal at Old Trafford was due to finish this season but his performances under Jose Mourinho saw him recalled to the national team squad in November.
Young was on the bench for Saturday's 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final win at home to Brighton & Hove Albion but was brought on at halftime for Shaw, whose future at United appears uncertain.
Shaw has played just 15 games for United this season, and only seven times in the Premier League, with Young, who joined the club from Villa in 2011, preferred in a wing back role. England visit the Netherlands on Friday and host Italy on Tuesday in their build-up to the World Cup in Russia in June.

Fiorentina to rename training ground after Astori
Italian club Fiorentina are to rename their training ground the 'Centro Sportivo Davide Astori in honour of their former captain, who died suddenly at the age of 31 earlier this month. Astori, who played 289 Serie A matches over 10 seasons and won 14 caps for Italy, died of what authorities said was cardiac arrest in his hotel room ahead of a league game against Udinese.
'We've made this decision because that was his home, Fiorentina president Mario Cognigni told Italian media outlet Mediaset. 'He went there every day for training and used to spend time there with his family too.
'We believe that honouring him in this way is the right thing to do so the training ground will now be called Centro Sportivo Davide Astori. We will do it as soon as possible.
The defender's death left Italian football in shock and thousands of fans turned out along with players and coaches at his funeral on March 8.

Space mission for World Cup opening game ball
The football being used in the opening match of the World Cup in Russia is taking a trip to space on an international mission. 'We are taking the ball that will be used in the first game, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev said yesterday at the Baikonur cosmodrone in Kazakhstan.
Artemyev and two US astronauts begin a mission to the International Space Station ISS about 400 kilometres above the earth on today evening. In May, his Russian colleague Anton Shkaplerov will return the ball to earth, Artemyev told Interfax news agency.
The Russian national team opens the World Cup on June 14 against Saudi Arabia in Moscow. The World Cup is being held in 11 Russian cities until July 15.


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