Talking points from European soccer

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ITALY

ROMA MISS DYBALA

AS Roma are ninth in the table after their 3-1 loss to AC Milan, and have suffered from having several key players missing through injury, including striker Paulo Dybala.

The Argentine did not play in the match against Milan, and coach Jose Mourinho, clearly missing the player, highlighted his importance ahead of the game.

“Finding a solution to play without Dybala is not the same as finding a solution to play without (Erling) Haaland for (Manchester City manager Pep) Guardiola, because he has (Julian) Alvarez,” Mourinho said.

It is not clear how long Dybala will be out, but Roma will be hoping for a speedy return.

FRANCE

NICE SLIP UP IN TITLE RACE

Nice kicked off the Ligue 1 season with an impressive 13-match unbeaten run to put themselves in title contention but Francesco Farioli’s side have looked less dominant since Nantes handed them their first loss of the season in December.

They have now suffered three defeats in five league matches, all away.

“Our approach remains the same for both home and away games,” said Farioli on Saturday after their 2-0 defeat to Rennes. “We have some regrets because, with a bit more spirit, we could have come away with something.”

While Nice are still clinging to second place, Paris St Germain have extended their lead at the top of the standings to eight points.

Without key players like Terem Moffi, who is with Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations, Nice will turn their attention to the French Cup where they visit Bordeaux in the last 32 on Saturday.

SPAIN

UPSTARTS GIRONA MOVE TOP DESPITE DROPPING POINTS

Girona are enjoying a stunning run in LaLiga and have climbed back to the top of the standings with 49 points but with a bittersweet taste after they were left frustrated after being held to a goalless draw by bottom side Almeria on Sunday.

It was their second draw in the last three games as the surprise package of the Spanish season again wasted a golden opportunity to tighten their grip on top spot, with second-placed Real Madrid away in Saudi Arabia, where they humiliated bitter rivals Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup final on Sunday.

Girona are one point ahead Real and eight clear Athletic Bilbao and Barca in third and fourth, but with a game in hand, Real could retake the lead.

Girona now will turn their attention to the Copa del Rey last-16 where they will host Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday, before hosting struggling Sevilla in LaLiga next weekend.

GERMANY

BAYERN TRIP

Bayern Munich on Sunday started a four-day training camp in Portugal to prepare for the second half of the season in the Bundesliga and the Champions League.

The Bavarians swapped the icy sub-zero Munich temperatures for the Algarve sunshine two days after Friday’s 3-0 win over Hoffenheim following the restart of the league after the winter break, and will stay there until Thursday.

“We have better weather conditions there so we can train a bit longer and make tactical corrections without players immediately cooling off,” coach Thomas Tuchel said. “That will help us.”

Bayern face Italy’s Lazio in the Champions League Round of 16 next month.

Source: Reuters

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