Roy Hodgson names his squad for 2014 FIFA World Cup

2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup Group C Preview [Honduras, Jamaica, El Salvador, Curaçao]

HONDURAS , via fanolato2

About

Introduction

The current ‘successful’ era of Honduras football can be pinpointed to the 2007 Gold Cup. Reinaldo Rueda’s first tournament in charge saw him beat Mexico in the group stage, with THAT famous kiss. While Honduras did not win, there was hope again after a disastrous 2006 World cup qualifying campaign, where Honduras didn’t even make the final Hexagonal. Honduras then qualified, with Rueda in charge, to South Africa 2010 (Thank you Bornstein) for the first time since 1982, and then with another Colombian in Luis Suarez, they made it back again in 2014 to Brazil. Both performances at the actual World Cup left a lot to be desired. While losing to France is expected, the final group stage match in 2014 vs Switzerland left a sour taste.
For 2018, after a disastrous Hernan Medford UNCAF tournament stint, Honduras turned to Costa Rica’s 2014 miracle worker, Jose Luis Pinto. Pinto then had disappointing showings in the 2015 Gold Cup and qualified to the Hexagonal under a lot of criticism of the team’s play, particularly the defending of crosses. Once in the Hex, despite USA’s destruction of Honduras in San Jose, and despite one defensive mistake after another in late game situations dealing with crosses, Honduras still found themselves in the playoff vs Australia for the 2018 World Cup final spot, by making a spirited comeback vs Mexico in the final hexagonal game, who up to then had not lost in qualifying. The playoff just set the pain back a month though, as Honduras played two very sad games vs Australia, both at home and away, meaning that Honduras would not be the first Central American team to qualify to three World Cups in a row.
Now Honduras looks to another foreigner, Fabian Coito, the Uruguayan who has been a long standing disciple of Oscar Tabarez and manager of the Uruguayan U-20s. With only one friendly under his belt, there is a lot to learn on how his teams will approach this Gold Cup.

Manager and Squad

Manager: Fabián Coito (Uruguay)

FINAL 23 MAN SQUAD

POTENTIAL STARTING XI

 R. Castillo M. Chirinos A. López A. Elis L. Garrido B. Acosta E. Izaguirre M. Figueroa (C) H. Figueroa B. Beckeles L. López 

Players to Watch

Alberth Elis (RW)
The Houston Dynamo winger and forward,has been rumoured with moves to Europe the past couple of years. He is pacy but strong, and is a physical mismatch for many fullbacks. His decision making can be an issue. Very unselfish in the box, often to a fault, he will have to become a more decisive finisher for Honduras to make a leap in this Gold Cup. He will be looking for that move to Europe, and there is no better place than at an international tournament.
Michaell Chirinos (LW)
The small and skillful winger currently playing in Liga MX for Lobos BUAP (Now Bravos de Ciudad Juarez), on Loan from Olimpia. He has 6 goals and 4 assists for a team that is more likely fighting against relegation than for a trophy. The good production and his incisiveness will provide a different kind of weapon than Elis on the opposite wing. As Chirinos is better at keeping the ball close to his feet, and at combining with teammates, Honduras will look to trust often in counters but also when the smaller sides of this tournament attempt to stifle Honduras’ attack with numbers behind the ball.
Henry Figueroa (CB)
The center back, who was heavily criticized during the 2018 WC qualifying campaign, will need to step into leadership for Honduras during this Gold Cup. Maynor Figueroa his likely partner at the back is showing his age, and the Motagua youth product will have to take it upon himself to ensure that defense is quick when balls are played behind them, and strong when defending crosses. Currently a starter at Alajuelense of the Costa Rican league, Henry isn’t great on the ball like Maynor is and has been, but he is a good reader of the game, and is absolutely fearless going into tackles. He can exposed against the most skillful players on 1v1 situations, but he has great recovery speed. He will want to maybe make a jump to MLS or Europe, and this could be the platform that propels him that way.

Points of Discussion

  • Can Coito improve defensive performances?

    In the 2018 qualifiers, Honduras let in late goals at Panama (90th minute by Roman Torres), vs USA (85th Minute Bobby Wood), at Costa Rica (90th + 5 minute by Kendall Waston). All those goals came from crosses that were not dealt with or lack of concentration. It turned out to be the achilles heel of the national team. Can Coito ensure better solidity? He might have to make some changes, which leads to…
  • How long can Maynor Figueroa and Emilio Izaguirre start in defense?

    Figueroa, the former Wigan Athletic and Hull City defender now at MLS, is both the captain of the team and was one of the most scrutinized players for not qualifying. His decline in athleticism has exposed his bad positioning issues, and rivals have taken advantage of this. But as the captain and leader of the national team, it will be a tough decision to bench him. Similar with Izaguirre who is one of the emotional leaders of the team, and has so much European experience with Celtic. But at the Glasgow side, Izaguirre has not been chosen often since he returned from his short time in the Saudi league. Leading to the question on whether he is being chosen on what he can do or what he has done for the national team.
  • Can Honduras finally win a major trophy?

    Honduras has only once won the CONCACAF Championship/Gold Cup, and it was at home in a tournament that doubled as World Cup qualifying. Since 1981, Honduras has not lifted any actual hardware. There have been feel good stories, like in 1991 losing out in the final of the first Gold Cup to the USA in penalties, or the 2001 Copa America third place in what was Honduras’ first and only participation in that tournament. Honduras is thirsty for a trophy, and with key absences in the Mexican side, plus a renewed spirit from the new manager, Honduras might have a reason to hope this summer.

JAMAICA , via kauliflower_

About

  • Nickname(s): Reggae Boyz
  • CONCACAF Gold Cup Appearances: 11
  • Best Finish: Runner Ups (2015, 2017)
  • FIFA Ranking: 53 (5th in CONCACAF)

Introduction

Jamaican Football has not been this exciting since the late 90s when current head coach, then top striker, Theodore "Tappa" Whitmore and Co. lead the nation to a first World Cup appearance at France 98'. After various false revivals this crop of Jamaican footballers is arguably the best in two decades. After being outplayed in two Gold Cup finals in a row the Reggae Boyz will be looking to make it third time the charm with another deep run expected by a team full or experience, talent and youth.
Beating the USA in a recent friendly on the eve of the tournament (albeit a weaker USA starting 11) will surely give a mental boost to the players and management in their hopes to repeat the exploits of 2015 and 2017. Many key players have been retained in all positions from the previous Gold Cup campaign with a few fresh faces, some long overdue.

Manager and Squad

Manager: Theodore Whitmore (Jamaica)

FINAL 23 MAN SQUAD

POTENTIAL STARTING XI

 D. Mattocks B. Brown P. Vassell L. Bailey M. Hector K. Lambert K. Lawrence S. Francis D. Lowe A. Powell A. Blake (C) 

Players to Watch

Andre Blake (GK)
Goalkeeper for the current MLS Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union has been a key players for club and country for the past seasons. After suffering a heartbreaking injury in last tournament's final (NSFW?), he will be hoping to lead the team to another final as captain and custodian.
Peter-Lee Vassell (AM)
Recently drafted by Los Angeles FC in the MLS Draft, Vassel is a creative midfielder not often seen among Jamaican youths. Although struggling for game time at high fliers LA FC, when he puts on the national jersey he shows the potential, vision and creativity that convinced LA FC to acquire the service of the young midfielder. He can use this tournament to convince Bob Bradley he deserves a starting spot at Los Angeles.
Leon Bailey (RW)
The Bayer Leverkusen winger has finally committed to the Reggae Boyz after stand-offs with the Jamaican Football Federation and his management (His Step-father) and himself (situation is too long to explain in this post). His pace and skills on the wing and his eye for goal may be what gives Jamaica an edge in this year's Gold Cup. If he's on his game, he could be a top 5 player in CONCACAF.

Points of Discussion

  • Third time's the charm?

    With the USA seemingly still suffering from demons of that warm night in Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico with a solid but not spectacular team, and Canada and Costa Rice with slightly aging squads, all things are aligning for a first nation to win the Gold Cup since Canada in 2000. Jamaica have their fates in their own hands and should not fear any of the teams in CONCACAF.
  • Leon Bailey

    Leon Patrick Bailey. Where to start. Born in Jamaica, he was taken to Europe by his step-father along with his step-brother with the intent to find European clubs for his then minor children. After arriving in Europe and shocking scouts of various teams (KRC Genk of Belgium a front runner) he and his family had to return to Jamaica but that did not stop the Baileys and after a couple 'not so legal' encounters, a verbal agreement with Ajax FC and a police raid, Leon Bailey eventually signed for AS Trencin as a youth player, eventually moving to KRC Genk as his first professional contract. Bailey won the Belgian Young Player of the Year in his first season at Genk and attracted many clubs, halfway into his second season in Belgium, Bayer Leverkusen came and he signed in Janaury 2017. His time in Germany has had many ups and downs but he has shown his skills and aggressive dribbling in a very up and down Leverkusen team. After failing to be eligible for England and seemingly burying the hatchet after 2 or so years of conflict with the JFF, Bailey is donning the Black, Green and Gold. However, all this turmoil the worst thing that could happen is him not showing up in this tournament, after all this is his performance at the senior international level.

EL SALVADOR via Currul

About

  • Nickname(s): La Selecta, Los Cuscatlecos, La Azul y Blanco
  • CONCACAF Gold Cup Appearances: 11 Times
  • Best Finish: Quarter-finals (2002, 2003, 2011, 2013, 2017)
  • FIFA Ranking: 71 (9th in CONCACAF)

Introduction

El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America, it was the first country from that region to qualify to a World Cup (Mexico 1970). Twelve years later ‘La Selecta’ would qualify for their second (and last to date) World Cup in Spain 1982 where they scored their first goal in a World Cup ik the first game where they lost to Hungary in a historical game that ended 10-1. The Salvadorian National Team has won the gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean games in two occasions (1954 and 2002). El Salvador had some troubles qualifying to the 2019 edition of the World Cup after a shocking lost against Bermuda but they earned their ticket in their last game of the Concacaf Nations League after beating Jamaica 2-0 at the Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador.
Soccer is the most popular sport in the country even though the country have not qualified to the World Cup in 37 years. The Cuscatlecos enter this Gold Cup in great form and in a winning streak of 5 games in a row after beating Haiti twice (1-0), Guatemala (3-1), Jamaica (2-0) and Peru (2-0).

Manager and Squad

Manager: Carlos de los Cobos (Mexico)

FINAL 23 MAN SQUAD

POTENTIAL STARTING XI

 N. Bonilla J. Alas M. Monterrosa D. Cerén Ó. Cerén N. Orellana J. Jiménez R. Domínguez I. Mancía B. Tamacas H. Hernández (C) 

Players to Watch

Óscar Cerén (RM)
The younger of the Ceren brothers, probably the player with most protection in the country at the moment. He was an important part for Alianza in order to reach 6 finals in a row. Rumors had linked him to MLS before so we’ll see if the Gold Cup is the tournament that makes him migrate to another league.
Narciso Orellana (DM)
The best midfielder in the country at the moment, key player in Alianza too, has the quality to migrate to another league and Alianza had received offer from Europe for him but the money wasn’t right for them. The 24 year old will be essential for the midfield in El Salvador for years to come. Because his dimunitive 5'7" (170 cm) stature, he retains the ball easily and his aggressive style of play is something to look out for.
Nelson Bonilla (ST)
Currently the most successful Salvadorian playing in a foreign league after scoring 25 goals in 32 games in 2018 for the Sukhothai in Thailand, Bangkok United paid more than 1 million dollars to sign him. Wirh 14 goals in 40 games, a lot of the hope for goals in El Salvador is on Bonilla’s back.

Points of Discussion

  • Momentum!

    For the first time in a long time Salvadorians are expecting and with hope that the team will perform good in the tournament after showing a good style and game the friendlies played, who knows maybe this year will be the first time that ‘La Selecta’ reaches more than Quarter Finals in the Gold Cup.
  • Lack of goals in the past

    El Salvador has struggled finding a reliable goal scorer for the team after the match fixing ban in 2012 that took out of professional soccer 11 players from the national team and gave temporal bans to a couple more including Rodolfo Zelaya who at that moment was the starting forward and the player with most talent in the team. Can Bonilla, Rugamas or Portillo finally fill the shoes of the great Raul Diaz Arce, Ronald Cerritos and Rudis Corrales who were the last great goal scorers in La Selecta.
  • Can de los Cobos make the match fixing ghost go away?

    Even though is being 7 years after the ban most of the fans have not forgotten about it, Carlos de los Cobos was the coach when the Match Fixing happened and no one really know how much he knew about everything or even if he knew anything a all, that was one of the most painful memories in recent time for Salvadorian fans as the team were in a good route to qualify to the 2010 World Cup but made some questionable mistakes in key games that later on were found as fixed. We’ll see if this generation is the one that finally is going to throw away that bad memory for Salvadorian fans.

CURAÇAO , via ArawakFC

About

  • Nickname(s): n/a
  • CONCACAF Gold Cup Appearances: 2
  • Best Finish: Group Stage (2017)
  • FIFA Ranking: 82 (15th in CONCACAF)

Introduction

Curaçao used to play as the Netherlands Antilles up until 2010. The only notable achievements being two 3rd place finishes in 1963 and ’69 in the old CONCACAF championship(1963-1989), which was the predecessor to the Gold Cup.
In 2010 that all changed as they gained their constituent country status. The “Curaçao Football Federation” was established in 2011, making it the youngest football federation in the world. In June 2015, Patrick Kluivert, who’s mother is from Curaçao, was brought in to coach the team and he started to raise the bar for the then mostly amateur team. With Kluivert’s pedigree, it was now possible to recruit professional players, playing in the Eredivisie, lower levels of the Dutch footballing pyramid and across other European leagues. The most notable players recruited at that time were Eloy Room(GK) and Leandro Bacuna(MF). In just one year, Kluivert managed to equal the amount of wins(6) the team managed from 2011-2014.
With much of the groundwork laid out by Kluivert, his successor, assistant coach Remco Becentini led the team to their first ever title in 2017, beating Jamaica to take the Caribbean Cup. The key player though in the final wasn’t any of the players born in the Netherlands, but it was Willemstad born and raised Elson Hooi, who netted a brace to secure Curaçao’s first triumph in its history as an autonomous nation. To give everyone an idea of the scale of the achievement, Curaçao went from being 183rd (lower than Aruba) in the FIFA rankings to 68th in a period of just 3 years.
The Gold Cup in 2017 wasn’t a success, having lost all 3 of their group stage matches to Jamaica, Mexico and El Salvador. However, the experience playing at such a tournament for the first time would prove to be invaluable for a team aspiring to become the smallest nation to reach the FIFA world cup.
Recently, the team participated in the CONCACAF nations league qualifiers which also doubled as qualifiers for the Gold Cup. Curaçao showed that they now belong in the upper tiers of CONCACAF, having seemingly outgrown most of the other Caribbean island nations.

Manager and Squad

Manager: Remko Bicentini (Netherlands)

FINAL 23 MAN SQUAD

POTENTIAL STARTING XI

 J. Arias E. Hooi R. Bonevacia G. Nepomuceno L. Bacuna M. Maria J. Carolina D. Lachman C. Martina (C) J. Gaari E. Room 

Players to Watch

Cuco Martina (RB/CB)
One of the most experienced players in the squad, having played in the Premier League and Eredivisie, he will be critical for organizing the team in defense and for overall motivation and moral. Together with Room, they have the Captain duties within the squad. While normally a right back, Becentini has used him in central defense as well.
Leandro Bacuna (CM)
Another experienced player in the Championship and Premier League, his presence and quality on the ball, but also his physicality will be needed in midfield. His skill and ability on the ball is miles ahead of most teams in the Caribbean region. His verstatility will also be of use, capable of playing quite literally anywhere in midfield and fullback if absolutely needed
Elson Hooi (LW)
Small, quick and versatile at 5'6" (67 cm). Was a key player for them in the Caribbean cup. If Hooi starts firing again, he is an incredible joy to watch and dangerous in attack.
And when I say quick, I mean QUICKKKK, can be a bit selfish with the ball at times but can skin defenders. Think of him as a shorter, less bulky Adama Traore

Points of Discussion

  • "Total Football" principles introduced by Patrick Kluivert

    Curaçao plays a possession game, building out from the back with ever present “triangles”. They need to take care of their defense, because it is not the most sound with only Martina having top level experience. Which is why Cuco Martina is selected to play center back at times. What they need to avoid at all cost, is an injury to goalkeeper and captain Eloy Room. The keeper position is the one with the least depth and if Room is out, they are left with one EFL League Two keeper and an amateur keeper from Curaçao’s own Vesta.
  • To close....

    Curaçao went from a mostly amateur side, to almost a full professional side in under a decade. They did this by hiring Kluivert and supporting him in trying to get Dutch born players with roots in Curaçao to choose to play for the national team. Players like Kuwas (who elected to not play this Gold Cup), Bacuna and Room all played for the Dutch youth sides. Looking at the future, there are also plenty of Curaçao born and Dutch born players of Curaçaoan descent currently playing for various youth sides in Europe. With proper coaching and infrastructure and the willingness to improve, I can’t bet against this side advancing passed the group stage of the Gold Cup and I can’t help but imagine if they can make the World Cup given that CONCACAF have two extra spots this time around from 2026 onward.
Tune in tomorrow when sardar_star will be posting Group D!

Don't forget to participate in the Predictions Game in the comments below!

PREVIOUS REVIEWS

GROUP A: Mexico, Canada, Martinique, Cuba

GROUP B: Costa Rica, Haiti, Nicaragua, Bermuda

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The Hater’s Guide to the 2018 FIFA World Cup (Part 2)

I know I'm ahead of the promised Friday release of this article, but between work and personal obligations tomorrow, I likely wouldn't have the time and/or energy to post this at the promised time. So here it is a bit early! I've been blown away by the response to the first part of this Hater's Guide, so I hope you enjoy this 2nd part!
TEST CARD
As we all know, USA didn’t make the World Cup because of recent brain donor Bruce Arena and his band of lolcows. This means a shorter MLS break than usual because the CONCACAF sides are usually the ones that go out early. Soccer-loving Millennials and MLS fans alike need to get their fix without breaking the bank, and can do so quicker than in World Cups past. Enter the power of SeatGeek. It’s a ticket aggregator that sorts all available tickets on a 1 to 100 scale in terms of value. It even organizes these tickets from red to green to show you how good of a deal it is. If it’s red, it’s as bad as Radamel Falcao at Manchester United. Avoid at all costs. If it’s green, we’re talking Sebastian Giovinco levels of value, so snap that shit up.
Need to save a couple bucks to get your favorite player’s kit? Be sure to enter the code word “TREE” during checkout and you’ll get $20 off your first order. TREE = Not missing an open net like Chris Wondolowski
If you want to be able to watch soccer games in person and not have to stay up at all hours for most of them, then SeatGeek is the site for you. Allez, Allez, Allez.
And now, our feature presentation.
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As promised, here’s the second half of my picks for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. We’ve only covered the first 16 teams in Groups A through D so far, so let’s take a gander at the other 16 contestants.
KNOCKOUT ROUND PICKS SO FAR: Uruguay, Egypt, Portugal, Spain, France, Peru, Argentina, Iceland
Group E: Group of Death? Brazil Always a favorite to make noise, if not win the whole thing, the Seleçao seem to have mentally recovered from the thrashing the Germans gave them four years ago. Some of the flotsam from that team has been cleared away (David Luiz, anyone?), leaving gobs of attacking talent, but also a more cohesive defensive unit.
However, despite their newfound defensive shape, they’re still a bit suspect in that department, I think. When questions are asked of this back line, how will the Brazilians respond? And how will Thiago Silva’s legs hold up?
One thing you can bet your bottom dollar on is that this team will score. They will score in bunches. How can you not with attacking talent like Neymar, Coutinho, Willian, and Bobby Firmino? Brazil could sleepwalk through the group and top it.
Costa Rica This might’ve been the spot reserved for USA since they always get fucked by FIFA in World Cup draws. But this time around, it’s Los Ticos that have to contend with the consensus Group of Death in this tourney.
The Costa Ricans are solid and experienced defensively, but they haven’t dealt with the firepower of Brazil too often. And where the fuck are all the goals?! Literally nobody selected for the World Cup has more than four—FUCKING FOUR—goals in their international career. The midfield and striking corps are very young as well, so this will be crucial big game experience for them. The Costa Ricans are not in “win now” mode. However, given Switzerland’s penchant for disappointment and the age of their squad as well, I think the second spot is Los Ticos’ for the taking. Why couldn’t USA beat these guys again?
Serbia Ho-ho, you guys are FUCKED. You got the benefit of a comically weak group in UEFA qualifying and your squad was formed shortly after the Cambrian Explosion. Now you’re facing quality, some of it from your own confederation. There’s no hope for you.
The Serbs have an odd mix of veterans and youth. As the American World War II song went, “they’re either too young or too old.” Defensively disciplined, but lacking in offense (like so many teams, as we’re seeing), only a sinkhole opening up beneath the hotels of the other sides in this group will allow you to advance.
Switzerland World Cup disappointment is nothing new to the Swiss. Brazil looked like their best chance to date to get out of the Round of 16. They did not. Now most of the squad is four years older, and the offense is still limited.
The offense runs through and only through Xherdan Shaquiri and Haris Seferovic. Stephan Lichsteiner still captains the squad and runs the defense, but this will be his last tango at the World Cup. Given how he and the rest of the team are chronic underachievers in this competition, I expect them to capitulate as usual.
Group F: Minefield Germany Here’s a horror story. Germany tea bagged Brazil 7-1 on their home turf in the semifinals in 2014.
I’m not done.
Most of that team is back.
All of the key players are still in their prime, with such players as Mesut Özil, Marco Reus, Thomas Müeller, Mats Hummels, and Jerome Boateng (if he’s healthy), and they still have one of the best keepers in the world in Manuel Neuer. Even their younger players have experience on the big stage because Germany has returned to being a footballing factory. Pretty much the only one that was lost was Miroslav Klose, and he was 38 in Brazil to start with.
The prohibitive favorite to repeat for a reason, these guys are ruthless. They do not know pain, they do not know fear. They are as intimidating as the Uruk-Hai that took Helm’s Deep.
South Korea I had the unique opportunity to see this team live late last year, and even though it was a friendly against Serbia, this team handily beat them and shockingly defeated Colombia to the country’s delight. These guys are fighters. They will not be the warm and fuzzy story (aided by ample home cooking) that the 2002 squad was, playing in front of the home fans.
This team is more than just Son Hyung-min. Ki Sung-yueng and Lee Jae-sun are the leaders on this team, and are creative lads on their own. Make no mistake: Son will carry this squad on offense. But the Taeguk Warriors will have plenty of moments where they simply outwork the other sides they play against. And I think they’ve got a good shot at that second spot. In fact, I think they’ll take it.
Mexico As a supporter of a confederation rival, fuck these guys. Fuck their diving, fuck their whining, fuck their ref-working, and fuck their supporters’ “our shit don’t stink” attitude. Arjen Robben’s dive and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s subsequent penalty conversion four years ago was karmic fucking justice.
That being said, this side—which arrogantly thinks their primary competition are sides in Europe, by the way—are old and have a penchant for a disappearing act. Players who were supposed to terrorize their CONCACAF brethren and give opposing teams fits for years have somehow turned into big balls of nothing. Giovanni dos Santos? Carlos Vela? Oribe Peralta? All guys that only show up when they feel like it. Also, what about that Great Wall of Guillermo (Ochoa)? Oh yeah, he similarly has disappeared since the 2014 World Cup. Manager Juan Carlos Osorio is also experimenting a bit too much with the squad ahead of a major tournament. Now where have I heard that before?
Even if you do make it to the Round of 16, I can’t see this team going much of anywhere beyond that. You’re fucked. P.S. Why the fuck is geriatric Rafa Marquez still on this squad?
Sweden Well, well, well. NOW you return to the World Cup after you totally waste the career of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the single best player you’ve ever had. He might’ve been able to help you at this point because this squad can’t seem to score. Four goals total in your last seven games? Good god, you’re making the entire sport look like a slog again!
I have no expectations for the Tre Kronor. As a matter of fact, I think they’re gonna pull a USA ’98 and score only one goal in group stage. It’ll be a miracle if they even get a draw out of this group.
That said, please embarrass Mexico, guys.
Group G: How Will England Blow It This Time? Belgium I’d have more faith in this squad, but there’s one reason I can’t get excited: Roberto Martinez. This guy took a dream situation at Everton and turned it into a goddamn nightmare. Expect his inept managing to squander even more of this golden generation that the Belgians are currently enjoying.
There’s plenty of great talent here, from Marouane Fellatio—I mean—Fellaini, Nacer Chadli, Kevin DeBruyne, Romelu Lukaku, and Christian Benteke. But the World Cup is where tactics and managing can win or lose games, and every decision is amplified even further.
You guys have put Belgium back on the map and given it levels of popularity not seen since Jean-Claude Van Damme, and you’re gonna crash out in the Round of 16 again—if you make it that far—because of your lolcow manager. You don’t have a USA squad to pick on this time. You’re gonna continue to waste this golden generation, and you make me fucking sick for doing so. You’re pathetic.
England Sam Allardyce getting caught in that scandal was the best thing to ever happen to the Three Lions. Gareth Southgate has restored some measure of belief to the English supporter’s groups due to his fixation on youth and a desire to start somewhat fresh after they and living corpse Roy Hodgson were pantsed in front of an international television audience—AGAIN—at Euro 2016.
World class lolcow and known Wold Cup boat anchor Wayne Rooney is gone, and the team is lean and mean in his place. There’s gobs of talent here, but can they play as a cohesive unit, which has been their Achilles’ heel for so long? Don’t be surprised if we see Southgate not even start his most-capped defender in Gary Cahill, maybe in favor of the uncapped Trent Alexander-Arnold? Also, Harry Kane is pretty good at soccer. Thought that was worth mentioning.
With how weak this group is, anything other than tops will be a bit of a shock. But remember: this is England we’re talking about. You specialize in finding new ways to kick your fans in the dick at every tournament. Two years ago, it was Iceland who administered podiatric trauma to the English groin region. The suspense is killing me as to how it’ll happen this time. I’ll have popcorn at the ready.
Panama The Soccer United Marketing inmates were running the USMNT asylum, and Panama benefited from this with their first-ever World Cup appearance.
If Serbia’s team was founded just after the Cambrian Explosion, then the Panamanian squad was formed shortly after the Earth cooled. As such, there’s a lot of international experience. But that is mostly against fellow CONCACAF rivals, which means they don’t have the big-game experience against European and African sides needed to go anywhere in this tournament. Possibly in a taste of what’s to come, they got ass-blasted in a friendly against Switzerland 6-0 in Lucerne.
Four key players: Jaime Penedo, Gabriel Gomez, Blas Perez, and Luis Tejeda are all 34 or older. These are the guys that run the show for Los Canaleros. Heavy legs will be one problem in this tournament, and a lack of quality will be the other. Don’t expect anything, Panama. Just enjoy the ride.
Tunisia In making their first World Cup since 2006, the Tunisians would have been my pick for the African Cinderella story. Then the World Cup draw happened. I think there’s still hope for the Tunisians, though. They’ve been performing in their friendlies against other World Cup sides like Portugal, Iran and Costa Rica. What makes this team potentially surprising is that not only are so many of their players in their prime, they’re playing with belief, and they’re playing for each other. If they were in a weaker group like, say, Group A or even Group H, I think they’d have a shot at the Round of 16.
But not in this group. They’ll give sides trouble, and they might even beat England, who always seem to play down to African sides. Colonial habits die hard, I guess. Good luck, Tunisia. You’re gonna need it.
Group H: Coffee, Sushi, Paczki, and Thiéboudienne Colombia A side that is fun to watch, and simultaneously infuriating. James Rodriguez has fallen off a cliff since his first season at Real Madrid, and Radamel Falcao hasn’t been himself since he first left Monaco and suffered a knee injury shortly thereafter.
This is likely Los Cafeteros last shot with their current core, but it’s unlikely they’ll make much noise in this tournament. Their best shot was four years ago in Brazil, when they were undone by home cooking and a lack of physical restraint against the hosts. Because this group is so weak, they’ll get into the knockout rounds. It’s anyone’s guess from there.
Japan Samurai Blue puzzles me. They either look like world-beaters, the class of Asia, or they’re completely punchless. The Japanese are possibly the oldest team in the tournament, and this could be our last chance to enjoy the company of guys like Shinji Okazaki, Keisuke Honda, and Makoto Hasebe.
Only five players on this team are under the age of 25, which means heavy legs will be a problem, and fast. Also, unlike their rivals in South Korea, they haven’t had any hot young talent come up in a while, so this might be the last time we see Japan on the international stage for a little bit.
If this team plays inspired soccer like they are known to at times, they will be dangerous. If they don’t and play soccer as staid and organized as their social hierarchy, this team will finish at or near the cellar. I’m picking the latter.
Senegal I’ve learned my lesson. Every time I pick Senegal to make some noise in the World Cup like they did in 2002, I get set up for disappointment. Not this time, guys.
They may have a world-class striker in Sadio Mane, but their smattering of talent that plays in some pretty competitive leagues all over Europe is usually not enough when they are put together as a whole. And that’s what makes me sad about Senegal: clearly, they have talent. They have quality. But they can’t do it all at once for the national team, for one reason or another.
And that, my friends, is how I lost my faith in Senegal. You guys make me sick.
That said, watch them make a miracle run to the quarterfinals. Book it, Vince.
Poland You guys lost to Nigeria in a friendly in March? AND Mexico? What the fuck is the matter with you? Way to make that 5th-place finish in Euro 2016 look like a fluke, you assholes. That’s what I get for getting my hopes up again.
There’s a lot to like about the Poles, and Robert Lewandowski is easily the best striker they’ve ever had. But with those pre-World Cup friendlies being the disasters they were, I can’t see this team doing anything in an admittedly weak group. They have no excuse to not get into the knockout rounds.
Television Snow
You want predictions? Bitch, this entire Reddit is where predictions go to die. I’ll make them anyway, though. The following are my 16 teams (with group positions) that will make it to the knockout rounds.
Uruguay (A1), Egypt (A2), Spain (B1), Portugal (B2), France (C1), Peru (C2), Argentina (D1), Iceland (D2), Brazil (E1), Costa Rica (E2), Germany (F1), South Korea (F2), England (G1), Belgium (G2), Senegal (H1), Colombia (H2).
I don’t see the same level of quality in this tournament that I did four years ago. We had generational talents at or in their prime seemingly all across the spectrum in Brazil, but very few teams seem to be organized or willing enough to make the needed youth movements. Squads like Spain, Japan, Colombia, and Mexico come to mind.
That’s where the Germans come in. I had them winning in 2014 simply because I felt they were the best-balanced team, but little did I know how ruthless they would be. Their team setup is perfect. The project the German football federation enacted ahead of the 2006 World Cup has borne the best possible fruit: a team of efficient professionals that have a mean streak and a killer instinct.
With most of the world champion squad returning from Brazil, an eagerness to avenge their semifinal exit in the European Championships two years ago, and with just how ruthlessly efficient and focused this team always seems to be, expect Operation Barbarossa: Fußball Edition to succeed.
They’ll defeat Brazil to do it. The national trauma will intensify as Brazil fails to gain revenge for the Maracana Massacre. Cachaça shortages will abound as Die Nationalmannschaft salt the earth, slaughter everyone, and turn the livestock into bratwurst. They’ll do to you what you’re doing to the Amazon rainforest.
Have a nice day.
TELEVISION SNOW
Thanks for reading! Check out my other soccer articles here! And here! Also here!
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Pre Match Thread: UEFA Champions League (Group Stage) - Chelsea FC vs. FC Schalke 04

UEFA Champions League (Group Stage) - Chelsea FC vs. FC Schalke 04 17/9/14

19:45 BST / 11:45 PDT / 13:45 CDT / 14:45 EDT / 04:45 September 18th AEST

Stadium: Stamford Bridge

Location: Fulham, London, SW6 1HS Capacity: 41,798 Weather: 20°c (68°f) - Cloudy - BBC

Match Officials:

Referee: Ivan Bebek Sideline Assistants: Tomislav Petrović, Miro Grgić 4th Official: Dalibor Conjar Official's Country: Croatia

Match Odds:

Chelsea Win: 30/100 Draw: 4/1 Schalke Win: 9/1 Source: SkyBet
  • Didier Drogba could feature for Chelsea in Wednesday's Champions League Group G opener against Schalke at Stamford Bridge after recovering from injury.
  • Petr Cech is expected to start in goal over Thibaut Courtois
  • Mourinho is aiming to become the first manager to win the competition with three different clubs, having triumphed with Porto in 2004 and then with Inter Milan in 2010
  • Troubled times at Schalke have resulted in a crisis of confidence with senior players vocal in their dissatisfaction as they prepare to open their Champions League campaign at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea FC

Manager: José Mourinho
Chelsea XI (4-2-3-1) from: Cech, Courtois, Schwarzer; Ake, Azpilicueta, Cahill, Christensen, Filipe Luis, Ivanovic, Terry, Zouma; Fabregas, Hazard, Matic, Mikel, Oscar, Ramires, Salah, Willian, Schurrle; Costa, Drogba, Remy.

Facts:

  • With one eye on the trip to Manchester City on Sunday, Mourinho will have some tough decisions to make about his starting XI to face Schalke.
  • Chelsea have scored 11 goals in just three league games this season. Last season it took them until their eighth league game to score their 11th goal.
  • Diego Costa has scored seven goals in four Premier League matches; Fernando Torres took 43 games to reach this figure for Chelsea.
  • Filipe Luis could also be handed his first start of the season at left-back to give Cesar Azpilicueta a rest.
  • Nemanja Matic was cup-tied for Chelsea’s campaign in the Champions League last season after joining from Benfica in January. Now available, he should start alongside Cesc Fabregas in the holding role on Wednesday.
  • Chelsea have won four out of four in the Premier League this season, scoring 15 goals in the process – their most prolific start to a season since 2010/11.
  • Chelsea have lost just one of their last 30 home league games, dating back to January 2013. That came with April's 2-1 defeat by Sunderland AFC.
  • Diego Costa passed a late fitness test on Saturday on the hamstring problem that forced him to pull out of the Spain squad to start against Swansea City AFC. He scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 win, making it seven goals in four Chelsea appearances since his summer move from Club Atlético de Madrid.
  • Costa is only the second player to score in each of his first four Premier League games after Micky Quinn, who achieved the feat for Coventry City FC in 1992.
  • Nemanja Matić's goal in the 6-3 victory at Everton FC on 30 August was his first for the club. It took him 22 appearances to get off the mark.
  • César Azpilicueta and Thibaut Courtois have both signed new five-year deals this month.
  • Gary Cahill has been named England vice-captain and took the armband when Wayne Rooney was substituted during England's friendly draw against Norway and the 2-0 UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying win in Switzerland earlier this month.
  • Twenty-six players left Chelsea on loan this summer.
  • Mourinho has never lost a home game against German opposition (W5 D2).
Form vs. FC Schalke 04: 3W 1D 0L

FC Schalke 04

Manager: Jens Keller
Schalke XI (4-4-2) from: Ralf Fährmann, Christian Wetklo, Timon Wellenreuther; Marvin Friedrich, Benedikt Höwedes, Dennis Aogo, Atsuto Uchida, Christian Fuchs, Pascal Itter; Kevin-Prince Boateng, Christian Clemens, Marco Höger, Sidney Sam, Tranquillo Barnetta, Roman Neustädter; Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Chinedu Obasi, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Facts:

  • The Royal Blues’ goalkeeper had been one of the few visiting players to offer up a vaguely presentable performance as they gave in meekly to Mönchengladbach, their Bundesliga campaign having already adopted an air of farce.
  • Their first three league games have yielded a solitary point, fortunately if inappropriately enough earned against Bayern Munich, to cast them into the relegation zone of the fledgling table.
  • Confidence is drained, senior players increasingly vocal in their dissatisfaction at the team’s lack of progress, and now they must visit Chelsea: Premier League leaders, scorers of 15 goals in four games to date. Jens Keller and his team arrived in London on Tuesday with a sense of dread of what might await.
  • This is a club in a state of shock, memories of the relatively productive run-in to last season fading by the week.
  • At Mönchengladbach on Saturday Keller found himself without eight senior players
  • For the first time in 46 years, Schalke have failed to win any of their first four competitive games of a new season.
  • Schalke were dumped out of the German Cup by third-tier SG Dynamo Dresden in their season curtain-raiser on 18 August, the visitors losing 2-1.
  • The Royal Blues kicked off their league campaign with another 2-1 defeat – this time at Hannover 96 – before a 1-1 draw with champions FC Bayern München that ended a run of seven successive league losses to the Bavarians.
  • Schalke managed a solitary point from their opening three league games in 2013/14 before recovering to record their third top-three finish in five seasons.
  • Joel Matip picked up a problem with adductors in training on Wednesday and is sidelined along with Jan Kirchhoff, who suffered a knee injury against Bayern.
  • Fabian Giefer (adductors), Sead Kolašinac (knee), Felipe Santana (adductors), Leon Goretzka (hamstring) and Jefferson Farfán (knee) are all long-term absentees.
  • Atsuto Uchida, who suffered a patella tendon injury at the FIFA World Cup, played 45 minutes on 4 September as Schalke won 6-0 in a friendly against a composite XI made up of players from TSV Steinbach and SSV Langenaubach.
  • Benedikt Höwedes, utilised as a makeshift left-back, played every minute of Germany's victorious FIFA World Cup campaign in Brazil. Julian Draxler was also in the squad, making a 15-minute cameo in the 7-1 semi-final win against the hosts.
Form vs. Chelsea: 0W 1D 3L
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Daily Transfer News Thread - 07/18/2018

Auto-Refreshing Transfer News Thread from Sky Sports
Auto-refreshing reddit comments link
21:59

FULL TIME

That's all for tonight from the Sky Sports Transfer Centre. We'll be back tomorrow at 7am with all the latest transfer news and rumours from around the world of football. Join us then!
21:10

BREAKING NEWS

Chelsea have confirmed the appointment of former player Gianfranco Zola as assistant first team coach.
https://twitter.com/ChelseaFC/status/1019688954436767745
21:05

WATCH: WOLVES PROJECT EXCITES PATRICIO

20:23

SUMMER TRANSFER DEALINGS RANKED

We look at the top five Premier League additions of the summer so far, according to their Sky Sports Fantasy Football values.
READ HERE
20:15

BREAKING NEWS

Roma goalkeeper Alisson has arrived in England ahead of a medical with Liverpool.
20:09

LISTEN: TRANSFER TALK

https://twitter.com/SkySportsNews/status/1019658675995185152
19:54

KLOPP 'HAD TO GET' KARIUS REPLACEMENT

The memory of the Champions League final meant Liverpool were forced into finding Loris Karius' replacement, says Graeme Souness.
The Reds' current No 1 made two costly errors as Liverpool lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in May, although Karius was later found to be suffering from concussion after taking a knock from Sergio Ramos shortly before the opening goal.
Regardless, Souness told Sky Sports News those errors would come back to haunt the German had he started 2018/19 as first-choice and made another mistake.
Liverpool are on the verge of signing Roma goalkeeper Alisson after a £67m bid was accepted, with the Brazilian flying to England on Wednesday evening to undergo a medical in the next few days, according to Sky in Italy.
"I think as much as Jurgen would have wanted to be loyal and do right by the goalkeeper, he's got to go out and get another one," he said. "That's simply because if Karius was to make the same mistake, or a mistake in a big game, it'd be down to the manager not correcting that situation. It's obvious to everyone - look at what happened in the Champions League final. So if Klopp is out to get Alisson or another top goalkeeper, he's doing the right thing."
19:47

BALL SIGNS FOR ABERDEEN

Aberdeen have confirmed the signing of defender Dominic Ball on a season-long loan deal from Rotherham.
19:27

WATCH: TRANSFER CENTRE

The Transfer Centre rounds up of all the latest summer transfer stories from Sky Sports News.
19:26

NWAKALI JOINS PORTO

Porto have confirmed the signing of Kelechi Nwakali from Arsenal on a season-long loan deal.
19:09

DONE DEAL

https://twitter.com/Official_STFC/status/1019657198648119296
18:54

JOSE: DALOT OUT UNTIL SEPTEMBER

Jose Mourinho has confirmed new Manchester United signing Diogo Dalot will be out until September with a knee injury.
The 19-year-old defender joined United on a five-year deal from Porto last month for a fee of around £19m. Dalot injured his knee late last season for Porto and was pictured on crutches in Manchester.
He travelled on United's pre-season tour of the USA despite not being cleared to return to training but Mourinho is happy with how his recovery is progressing.
Mourinho said: "Dalot is injured; we knew that but we didn't want to lose him because of that. He is recovering really well. We think he can start training with the team when we go back to England. He will not be ready for the start of the season but we think he'll be ready for September."
18:34

WATCH: WILSHERE TARGETS ENGLAND RETURN

Jack Wilshere hopes a move to West Ham will revive his England chances.
18:29

‘THERE WILL BE RIVALS FOR GOLOVIN’

CSKA Moscow's president Evgeniy Giner has warned Chelsea that rival clubs will be looking to sign Aleksandr Golovin.
Chelsea have been linked with Golovin over the summer and in his introductory press conference, new manager Maurizio Sarri said he may be interested in adding some midfield quality to the squad.
In an interview with Russian site sport24, Giner said there is no deal between the clubs but it is likely Golovin will be with a new club soon.
"I believe that [he] can grow into a big star," he said. "I'm not sure that this can happen in the Russian championship. The level of the English Premier League or the championship of Spain is much higher.
"In order not to ruin [him], we must let him go. But we have no solution for today. When we receive an offer, we always try to negotiate openly. Indeed, we were visited by the vice-president of Monaco [Vadim Vasilyev] and he made a proposal for Golovin. If we talk about Chelsea, then there is no closed agreement with them. But the question of his transition will be decided, I think, in the next couple of days."
18:23

DONE DEAL

Portsmouth have announced the signing of Anton Walkes from Tottenham.
https://twitter.com/SpursOfficial/status/1019635411751178240
18:15

EVENING WHISPERS

Here are latest rumours from our friends at Football Whispers...
https://storify.com/services/proxy/2/SinJWy8VwFTAVp_jdOAYSw/https/d2kmm3vx031a1h.cloudfront.net/n3p3nurBRMueF9MBJJcQ_2018-07-18-19-12-27-sky-top-10-graphic.png
17:56

DONE DEAL

Former Gillingham defender Ben Nugent completed a move to Stevenage.
17:34

WATCH: ALISSON SETS OFF FOR ENGLAND

Alisson has boarded a private jet from Rome to England to undergo a medical with Liverpool.
17:28

DONE DEAL

https://twitter.com/TranmereRovers/status/1019622943280812033
17:28

NEW DEAL AT MOLYNEUX

Luke Molyneux has signed a new deal at Sunderland until the end of the 2018-19 season.
17:13

BREAKING NEWS

https://twitter.com/SkySportsNews/status/1019630147496968193
17:12

MAURIZIO SARRI: WHAT DID WE LEARN?

How did new Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri get on in his first public appearance?
Sky Sports News' Ian Bolton looks back at the Italian's unveiling...
READ HERE
17:05

WATCH: SARRI WANTS TO KEEP TOP PLAYERS

New Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri is aiming to help the current crop of players develop...
16:59

WATCH: TRANSFER CENTRE

The Transfer Centre rounds up of all the latest summer transfer stories from Sky Sports News.
16:48

SILVA JOINS HEARTS

Hearts have completed their 12th signing of the summer after handing goalkeeper Kevin Silva a two-year deal.
The American shot-stopper has spent the last month on trial with Craig Levein's squad and has impressed enough to win himself a contract. He has already featured for the Jambos during their pre-season clashes with Arbroath, Partick Thistle, Queen of the South and Forfar.
Now he will go straight into Levein's squad for Wednesday night's Betfred Cup match against Cove Rangers.
16:37

FORRESTER LEAVES RANGERS

Harry Forrester has left Rangers by mutual consent after two-and-a-half seasons with the Scottish Premiership club.
The 27-year-old joined Rangers in January 2016 from Doncaster Rovers before he was sent out on loan to AFC Wimbledon for the 2017/18 season. He made 44 appearances overall for the Glasgow side, scoring seven league goals and one in the Scottish Cup.
A club statement said: "Rangers can today confirm the club has terminated the contract of Harry Forrester by mutual consent. The 27-year-old made 44 appearances for the Gers, over two seasons, after signing in January 2016. He scored eight times for the Light Blues. Forrester was part of the squad won the 2015/16 Championship title and lifted the Petrofac Cup. The attacker spent last season on loan at AFC Wimbledon in EFL League One. He played 43 times scoring three goals in the process. Harry leaves with the best wishes of everyone at the club for his future career."
16:26

DONE DEAL

Oxford United have confirmed the signing of Jamie Mackie on a two-year deal.
15:49

‘REAL MOVE DREAM COME TRUE’

Real Madrid's new signing Alvaro Odriozola said his dream had come true after being unveiled by the club at the Bernabeu Stadium.
Spain defender Odriozola completed a move to the European champions from Real Sociedad earlier this month.
"It is an honour for me to be here and fulfil the dream of every football player to sign for Real Madrid," Odriozola told a media conference. "I know the responsibility that comes with wearing this shirt and the only thing I can promise is that I will give everything, humility and sacrifice so that our future is successful.
"The last year and a half has been like a movie and I'm now fulfilling the dream of wearing the shirt of the biggest club in the world, that of Real Madrid. It's a day I'll never forget and I'll not let this opportunity pass me by. Hala Madrid!"
15:42

TRANSFER HEADLINES

15:33

GOLOVIN TO CHELSEA?

Our colleagues at Sky in Italy claim a deal is close between Chelsea and CSKA Moscow midfielder Aleksandr Golovin.
New Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri tried to sign Golovin when he was in charge at Napoli.
15:29

LIVERPOOL COMPLETE ALISSON DEAL

Liverpool have completed a €75m (£67m) deal for Alisson Becker subject to the Roma goalkeeper passing a medical, according to Sky in Italy.
The 25-year-old is scheduled to depart Rome within the next hour and will undergo a medical at Liverpool in the next few days.
Sky in Italy understand the Brazilian has already agreed personal terms with the Reds and will sign a five-year deal at Anfield.
Alisson is set to become the most expensive goalkeeper in history, surpassing the £34.7m fee Manchester City paid to sign Ederson from Benfica in 2017.
FULL STORY
15:08

WATCH: ALISSON'S 17/18 STATS

We take a look at Brazillian goalkeeper Alisson Becker's stats from his 2017/18 season with Serie A side Roma...
15:03

BREAKING NEWS

Sky in Italy are reporting that Liverpool have completed a £67m deal to sign Roma's Alisson, subject to the goalkeeper passing a medical.
Our colleagues are reporting that the 25-year-old has agreed personal terms on a five-year deal.
The goalkeeper is set to arrive in the UK this evening and will complete his medical in the next few days.
the transfer fee would be a world record for a goalkeeper.
14:51

WATCH: MOST SEARCHED TRANSFER RUMOURS

The World Cup is a great opportunity for players to showcase themselves ahead of the summer transfer window. But who caught your eye at Russia 2018?
14:36

STOKE WANT INCE

Sky sources understand Stoke are interested in signing Huddersfield’s Tom Ince.
We understand Ince, who played under Stoke boss Gary Rowett at Derby, remains with the Huddersfield squad in Frankfurt for pre-season.
Any potential deal could have implications on any potential move for Matt Ritchie.
We reported last Friday that talks between Stoke and Newcastle over Ritchie were continuing, with Stoke prepared to pay £11.5m – though Newcastle want around £15m.
14:28

CITY MONITOR UNDER

Man City are reportedly monitoring a move for Roma youngster Cengiz Under, according to the Manchester Evening News.
14:15

STOKE'S CHIRICHES BID REJECTED

Napoli have rejected a bid in region of £13m from Stoke for former Tottenham defender Vlad Chiriches.
13:57

WATCH: 'BEST ARSENAL SIGNING IS EMERY'

Robert Pires believes Arsenal's best bit of business this summer has been bringing in head coach Unai Emery.
13:47

SARRI TARGETS MIDFIELDERS

Maurizio Sarri has told Chelsea he would like to improve the team's midfield, saying: "I cannot name any names because I don’t know who these people are. I spoke with the club and I said ideally a pinch of quality is lacking in our central midfield for a certain kind of play.
"At the end of the transfers it will be up to me to decide what the most suitable play for our squad is. I must adapt to Chelsea and the available players."
13:40

BRADFORD IN TALKS FOR SCANNELL

Sky sources understand Bradford are in talks with Huddersfield over the permanent signing of winger Sean Scannell.
The 27-year old spent the first half of last season on loan at Burton Albion. Scannell has made 172 appearances for Huddersfield since joining in 2012
13:37

ODRIOZOLA PRESENTED BY REAL

It's not just Chelsea who are unveiling people today, Real Madrid have presented their new defender Alvaro Odriozola.
The 22-year-old agreed to join the club from Real Soceidad around two weeks ago and will sign a six-year deal.
https://twitter.com/realmadriden/status/1019553120702160898
13:27

'THE TRANSFER MARKET BORES ME'

New Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri was rather forthright when asked about the future of key players.
He said: "Clearly we would like to keep the strongest players. This is what any manager and club wants to do. But we will have to see how the transfer market will go over the next few days.
"I am much more of a pitch manager than a general manager. I am one of the few managers who is bored by the transfer market.
"I don’t want to talk about the transfer market and I’m not that interested in it. Our task as managers is growing the players that we have."
13:22

LONG JOINS HULL

Hull City have completed a sixth signing of the summer with goalkeeper George Long joining from Sheffield United for an undisclosed fee.
The 24-year-old has signed a three-year deal, with an additional one-year option held by the club, and previously played under Nigel Adkins before during his time with the Blades.
https://twitter.com/HullCity/status/1019567491595538432
13:08

SARRI CONFERENCE LIVE!

New Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri is being presented to the media this afternoon.
Head here to follow the latest from his press conference...
12:53

MINA, VERMAELEN TO DEPART

Barcelona are expected to sell Yerry Mina or Thomas Vermaelen this summer, reports Marca.
The La Liga champions recently strengthened their centre-back options when they brought in Clement Lenglet from Sevilla and coach Ernesto Valverde wants to get rid of one central defender, with Mina and Vermaelen among those who could leave the club.
Mina is more likely to leave and Barca expect to receive offers in excess of €20m for the 24-year-old following his impressive performances for Colombia at the World Cup.
12:36

KONGOLO MOVE CONFIRMED

Heerenveen have confirmed the permanent signing of Rodney Kongolo from Man City.
https://twitter.com/scHeerenveen/status/1019526395129729024
12:18

GOLOVIN FUTURE DECIDED SOON

CSKA Moscow president Evgeniy Giner has been speaking about the future of Alexsandr Golovin with Sky in Italy claiming a deal with Chelsea is close.
Monaco had also made a bid and the Russian is a player Maurizio Sarri tried to sign when he was in charge of Napoli.
Speaking to Sport24, Giner said: "In order not to ruin [Golovin] we must let him go. But we have no solution for today. Chelsea? There is no closed arrangement with them. But the question of his move to another club will be decided, I think, in the next couple of days."
12:08

BEES ACCEPT JOZEFZOON BID

Brentford boss Dean Smith confirmed last night that they had accepted a bid from an unnamed club for Florian Jozefzoon.
Sky Sports News understands the bid is from Derby County. It is also understood that other clubs have made offers for Jozefzoon but they have failed to meet the Bees’ valuation.
12:03

PEKALSKI ON LOAN

https://twitter.com/OUFCOfficial/status/1019551028361023489
11:53

ARSENAL EYE COMAN

Arsenal are interested in prising Kingsley Coman away from Bayern Munich this summer, BeIn Sports reports.
They suggest a £44m (€50m) deal could be struck with the Gunners continuing to overhaul their squad for the new season.
11:40

RONALDO OFF ON TOUR

Cristiano Ronaldo was all smiles as he prepared to jet off for a personal tour of China following his £99.2m move to Juventus from Real Madrid.
Before linking up with his new team-mates ahead of the new campaign, the Juventus forward has headed to China to fulfil sponsorship arrangements as part of his 'CR7 Tour'.
Juventus are set to head to the USA for the International Champions Cup, which features matches against Bayern Munich, Benfica and Real Madrid. It remains to be seen whether Ronaldo will be involved in any of those fixtures.
11:28

PORTO TARGET MBEMBA

Newcastle defender Chancel Mbemba is a target for Portuguese champions Porto, A Bola reports.
The Champions League club have shown interest in the 23-year-old but are eager to get him for less than the £8m asking price.
11:18

SEMENYO JOINS NEWPORT

https://twitter.com/NewportCounty/status/1019539624459415552
11:08

CITY TARGET PJANIC

Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic is a Manchester City transfer target, according to Tuttosport.
However, they would need to fork out a hefty fee for the Juventus midfielder with Barcelona also said to be interested.
10:58

REDS CONFIDENT OF ALISSON DEAL

Liverpool have made a fresh £66.8m bid for Alisson and are confident of agreeing a deal with Rome, Sky in Italy report.
They are also reporting that Alisson won’t travel with Roma for their International Champions Cup fixtures.
Sky sources understand Liverpool are still not commenting on the potential deal.
10:55

OSPINA OFFERED TO NAPOLI

Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina has been offered to Napoli, reports Calciomercato.com.
The Colombia international, who is believed to have fallen further down the goalkeeping pecking order at Arsenal after the arrival of Bernd Leno, is on Napoli’s shortlist of options to replace Pepe Reina.
Ospina has also been linked with Argentine giants Boca Juniors.
10:46

WATCH: TRANSFER CENTRE

Get the latest transfer headlines and rumours from Sky Sports News.
10:38

LEIPZIG WANT LOOKMAN

RB Leipzig are interested in signing Everton's Ademola Lookman on a permanent deal after the English youngster spent last season on loan at the Bundesliga club, according to Bild.
They are being put off by the current £18m asking price, which Everton are unlikely to lower as they look to keep hold of the 20-year-old.
10:26

ZIDANE TO JUVE?

Former Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane will join Juventus as an advisor, Libertad reports.
The Italian giants are desperate for Champions League success, and have acquired the services of Cristiano Ronaldo and Zidane in an attempt to bring the trophy to Italy. The pair were key to Real Madrid's recent back-to-back triumphs in the competition.
10:17

WATCH: THE BEST OF GREALISH

With talks ongoing between Aston Villa and Tottenham over Jack Grealish, we look at some of his best moments from the Sky Bet Championship last season.
10:11

PALACE WANT BABACAR

Crystal Palace are on the brink of bringing Sassuolo striker Khouma Babacar to Selhurst Park, reports the Daily Mirror.
The 25-year-old has only just joined Sassuolo after his loan from parent club Fiorentina was made permanent on July 1 and Crystal Palace Palace have wasted little time in offering the Serie A club a quick profit on the forward.
10:02

ZINCHENKO TO LEAVE CITY?

Sky Sports News understand that Oleksandr Zinchenko is still expected to leave Manchester City this summer – despite travelling to the USA as part of the pre-season tour.
The young full-back played eight Premier League games for Pep Guardiola’s side last season – earning him a winners medal.
Earlier this month, SSN reported that Wolves had made a £16m offer.
09:55

LATEST WHISPERS

Thanks to our friends at Football Whispers, here's the latest news and rumours from the transfer merry-go-round...
https://storify.com/services/proxy/2/qjwMi7DqyEMqsea_fl4iNQ/https/d2kmm3vx031a1h.cloudfront.net/s2rKEAoQQriPuJqSJRix_2018-07-18-10-50-32-sky-top-10-graphic.png
09:47

GREALISH TALKS ONGOING

Sky Sports News understands talks are ongoing over the transfer of Jack Grealish from Aston Villa to Tottenham.
We have previously reported that Grealish is valued between £30m-£40m.
Earlier this month Steve Bruce told SSN selling players was 'inevitable' due to ongoing financial problems at the Midlands club and that the 'obvious one' was Grealish. He predicted it could go to the final day of the window.
09:39

FABIO MAKES NANTES MOVE

A deal has been agreed between Middlesbrough and Ligue 1 club Nantes for the transfer of Brazilian defender Fabio Da Silva.
The former Manchester United defender – a twice capped Brazilian international – heads to France after spending two years with Boro.
https://twitter.com/Ofabio3/status/1019515482670592002
09:34

UTD INTEREST IN ARNAUTOVIC

Manchester United are interested in signing West Ham striker Marko Arnautovic, according to TalkSport.
09:25

KONGOLO TO MAKE MOVE

Young Manchester City midfielder Rodney Kongolo is expected to complete a permanent move to Heerenveen today.
The 20 year-old Dutchman joined from Feyenoord in 2014, and spent last season on loan at Doncaster. SSN understand the fee will be in the region of £750,000
09:20

EVERTON INTERESTED IN WELBECK

Everton are interested in signing Danny Welbeck from Arsenal, according to The Times.
The striker has less than a year to go on his current deal, and has been pushed down the pecking order at the Emirates after the arrivals of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
09:08

ZAHA-SCHURRLE SWAP?

Bild are reporting that Wilfried Zaha is a target for Borussia Dortmund and they're willing to offer Crystal Palace former Chelsea midfielder Andre Schurrle plus cash.
08:56

WATCH: MOST SEARCHED WC RUMOURS

The World Cup is a great opportunity for players to showcase themselves ahead of the summer transfer window. But who caught your eye the most at Russia 2018?
08:41

BOURNEMOUTH KEEN ON RICO

Sky sources understand Bournemouth are still negotiating with La Liga side Leganes over the transfer of left-back Diego Rico.
The Spanish club’s valuation of their player remains somewhat higher than what Bournemouth are prepared to pay, and we understand they are considering other options in that position, including Genoa’s Diego Laxalt, who started for Uruguay at the World Cup.
08:36

CULLEN TO STAY AT WEST HAM

SSN understands Manuel Pellegrini has knocked back interest from a number of Sky Bet EFL clubs for highly-rated midfielder Josh Cullen and plans to use him in the forthcoming season.
Preston and Blackburn and among a number of clubs keen to take the 22-year old on loan.
However, West Ham’s new manager has been impressed with the reigning Republic of Ireland U21 Player of the Year and believes he could be more useful at the London Stadium.
Cullen spent the last two seasons on loan at Bradford and Bolton.
08:31

CAHILL TO UTD?

Manchester United have emerged as favourites with the bookies to sign Chelsea defender Gary Cahill, the Daily Star reports.
The Blues are said to be chasing Juventus defender Daniele Rugani, which means Cahill could become surplus to requirements. He previously worked with Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, with the manager looking to improve his defence.
08:17

GNANDUILLET BACK AT BLACKPOOL

Armand Gnanduillet has returned to Blackpool on an initial one-year deal, plus an option for a further year.
The forward, whose contract expired last month, had initially agreed to join South African side Baroka FC for the new season, though was never registered as a player due to the club exceeding its foreign player quota.
That led to the 26-year-old holding discussions with manager Gary Bowyer and requesting a return to Bloomfield Road.
08:12

LOAN FOR DOWLING

https://twitter.com/BristolCity/status/1019488968147193857
07:55

LERMA TALKS CONTINUE

Sky sources understand Bournemouth remain in talks with Levante over the signing of midfielder Jefferson Lerma.
We are told the discussions over a £17m deal have been positive but there is still some work to do as Lerma would require a work permit.
However, personal terms are not expected to be a problem. Lerma was part of Colombia’s World Cup squad.
07:49

MANDZUKIC TO DORTMUND?

Mario Mandzukic got the winner in the semi-finals for Croatia but fear not he's not being linked with a move to the Premier League.
Bild say Dortmund are in for the striker after giving up on signing Chelsea's Michy Batshuayi on a permanent deal.
07:38

FULHAM RIVALLED FOR MBABU

Fulham face competition from FC Basel for Young Boys’ right back Kevin Mbabu, according to Sky sources.
The Cottagers want to sign the former Newcastle man but they’ve yet to make a formal bid and we understand Young Boys have rejected a £7m bid from Basel for the defender and value him at £10m.
Mbabu signed for the Swiss Champions from Newcastle United last summer and helped Young Boys win the Swiss Super League for the first time in 32 years.
Last year, Mbabu was timed as the second fastest player in the world, behind Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale.
07:19

STURRIDGE TARGETS STARTING ROLE

Daniel Sturridge has vowed to stay at Liverpool for the upcoming season and fight for a starting role under Jurgen Klopp.
"I see myself staying at Liverpool, hopefully being part of the team week in, week out," Sturridge told the Daily Mirror. "Pre-season is going well, so for me it's keeping my head down and building on that. I'm excited about the season ahead and it feels great to be back."
07:03

REAL REACH COURTOIS AGREEMENT

Real Madrid have reached an agreement with Chelsea worth £31m for goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, according to the Daily Star.
The World Cup Golden Glove winner could be set to sign a four-year deal, with the Blues looking to cash in before his contract expires in 2019.
06:51

PARLOUR PRAISES WILSHERE

Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour has praised Jack Wilshere for not taking the easy option of signing a new deal at the club just to sit on the bench.
Parlour said: "Jack Wilshere has made a big decision and it was his to make. He met the manager and realised he might have been third or fourth in the pecking order. As a player who has missed so much football, he needs to play.
"I'm gutted that he's left because I would love to see him still in an Arsenal shirt, but I'm really pleased he's gone to a club to play football because there is nothing worse than training hard all week and then sitting in the stands.
"West Ham have got a very good signing there. We always look at his fitness record, but if he can stay fit we all know how good he is. That is what West Ham have to manage now."
06:32

PAPER TALK

  • Real Madrid have reached an agreement with Chelsea worth £31m for goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. (Daily Star)
  • Manchester United have emerged as favourites with the bookies to sign Chelsea defender Gary Cahill. (Daily Star)
  • Leicester are weighing up a £15m move for Getafe central defender Djene. (The Sun)
  • Zinedine Zidane is set for a sensational return to Juventus after walking away from the Real Madrid job. (The Daily Mirror)
06:22

TRANSFER HEADLINES

06:15

GOOD MORNING!

Rise and shine football fans, the Transfer Centre is revving up its engines for another day and we've got all the latest news, done deals and rumours right here. What will today bring?...
First up, Paper Talk!
Join the discussion on Discord. I am a bot. Found any errors? Contact /Football Mods
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[Table] IAmA: It's Steve Nash - Former Phoenix Sun, Current LA Laker, soccer lover. ASK ME ANYTHING!

Verified? (This bot cannot verify AMAs just yet)
Date: 2014-06-04
Link to submission (Has self-text)
Questions Answers
Who is one player, active or retired; you always look forward to matching up against? I don't know. Tough one. Dirk.
Bromance :) Don't knock the bromance.
Who do you have winning the World Cup this year? I'm an England fan, but I'd also like to see Brazil win in Brazil. You a soccer fan?
This was his outfit, how do you think it went? NO comment.
Dear Steve, What is your secret to being able to play with people bigger and faster than you? What helped you figure that out the most growing up? Working on my skills and trying to play with intelligence.
Yo Steve! how many times havee you dunked in game? Never!
So you're saying I have a chance to make it in the NBA? I'm pretty sure I did NOT say that. Ha.
Me too, wow we have so much in common. We should be friends! We could be friends. Enter to win the Prizeo] ([Link to www.prizeo.com trip to our Showdown game in NYC!
Steve, I grew up watching the Suns with you and Shawn Marion and other guys and it was awesome. I want to thank you for introducing me to basketball and I have one question. What's your favorite memory playing for the Suns? My teammates -- we had some really close teams over the years, hanging out, and everyone made it alot of fun.
How did you decide between playing basketball or soccer professionally? I gave up soccer early to play basketball, because all my friends - oops! Beacuse all my friends were playing. But my brother played pro, and my sister played soccer in university and with the Canadian women. Showdown brings it all back together for me.
Hey Steve, I'm currently a student at Santa Clara and I was wondering when we can expect to see you back at the Clara?? The Hut's been waiting! Love to get back! Hopefully soon!
Are there any former teammates of yours that you are still good friends with? If so, who? Lots - Rex, Finley, Dirk, Raja, Leandro Barbosa, Grant Hill -- lots.
So glad to see Bell on there I fucking love that guy. Read that too quickly. Ha. Raja's great - he's been a Showdown] ([Link to www.prizeo.com standout for us a number of times - hope he comes back!
Hello Steve- what made you a Tottenham fan? My dad and grandad are from Tottenham. You?
Steve, I bet you're excited about Andrew Wiggins being a future member of the Canadian national squad, aren't you? Not to mention the GOAT Robert Sacre. Yes to both -
Hey Steve, fellow Canadian here. My question is: As the GM of Team Canada and seeing all this new talent coming out of the North, how far do you see Team Canada going in the 2016 or 2020 Olympics? I think we have a chance to be a very good team - '16 we'll be really young, and it's just a test to qualify, but '20 we could maybe be an elite team with a lot of the guys hitting their prime.
Hey Steve! I'm a big fan of yours. I have always loved to watch you play and you were one of the players I tried modeling my game after because I always was shorter growing up and played PG... and my name is Steve too! My question for you is past or present, who is the first player you would draft if you were starting a team from scratch and why? Andrew Wiggins - most potential.
Hey Steve, you're literally the reason why I'm a Suns fan, so thanks for all the memories. What has it been like seeing Goran's rise to an all-star caliber player? How much of an impact did you play in his career as a mentor? Awesome to see him - great guy, becoming a great player.
If management were to ask your opinion, who would you suggest the organization draft at #7? Are you interested in being a head coach in the future? What do you see for this next season with the Lakers? It seems that it's going to be your final season in the league before retirement. Who would win in a best of 3 games of H.O.R.S.E? You or Dirk? Coaching's not for me, I don't think.
Why do you always have your tongue out when you play? Have you ever bit it before? I've done that tongue thing since I was a baby!
Your first game as an L.A. Laker, you came in with a pink sweater, a manly man purse, and a fantastic bowtie. Was there a reason for it? Should I dare ask what was in the purse? Image for reference: Link to imgur.com. That was a shaving kit! A gift from the Lakers.
How was it working with Grantland and Bill Simmons? It was fun -- always fun to work with Bill, and great to be able to tell my story.
Hey Steve! I'm a huge fan of yours! Who was the best PG defender you played against? Such talent across the league -- that's a really tough one to answer. Not dodging it, just honestly can't pick one.
My mother asks: When you retire will you move back to Arizona, the most wonderful place in the world? I want to know if you've entertained the idea of being Tom Petty for Halloween. For your mom: I'm not sure. What a special place - kids were born there, and I have so many great memories, but my family's all in California now. We love returning to the desert though - my Foundation has our Educare Arizona] ([Link to stevenash.org site there, something I'm really proud of ( Showdown] ([Link to www.prizeo.com actually benefits that, too). For you: no. But maybe now I will.
Hey Nash! What are your thoughts on Derrick Rose? One of the best int he game -- just hope he can get healthy and stay healthy.
Where does the Santa Clara - Arizona game rank amongst your team accomplishments? It was awesome - historical win for the NCAA tourn and for our school, so really special.
Hello Steve, who was your biggest inspiration growing up and why? Terry Fox was one of them.
When/why did you choose Basketball over Soccer? All my friends were playing in Grade 8, so really to just have more time together. But I love soccer. That's really why we do Showdown every year - great cause, but also gets my two sports passions together.
What's your favorite place in LA to get poutine? (No seriously, I live in LA and love poutine and need to know...) Ha. I don't eat it.
Steve, you're a great guy. As a Canadian, I wonder, do you have any interest in closing your career out with the Raptors? Great club here. All the best. One of my all-time favorite cities, but I love the team I'm with.
Now that you are getting towards the end of your career, what are the things you have been thinking about doing the most after it is over? You're a good one, and thanks for the letting us AYA! Thanks! Giving my kids more time, working on my production company, my Foundation] ([Link to stevenash.org) playing soccer with the kids.
Hi Steve, I'm glad you're doing this. First of all, what is it like being one of the greatest Canadian NBA players of all time? Was it harder for you as a Canadian to become a good basketball player? It's not nearly as popular as it is in America. It's great -- inspiring to see how much the game has grown in our country, and be a part of that.
Can I watch World Cup matches with you and your buddies? We're watching the USA v. Germany game in NYC - get tickets for Showdown, and then come out for some pints! On our foundation website: www.stevenash.org/Showdown.
If you werent in the NBA, what would you be doing for a living? Who knows?
What was your favorite moment during an NBA game that you played in? Wow - I don't think I have just one.
How do you think your background playing soccer has helped you play basketball better? Agility and skills, and just the field of vision thing. You'd be surprised how many NBA guys grew up playing soccer - that's what makes Showdown so much fun for all of us. Who's coming this year? www.stevenash.org/Showdown.
Hey Steve! I've been a huge fan for a long time now and I was wondering if you would ever consider visiting Windsor, Ontario sometime? I'd really love for an opportunity to meet you. Also, is there anyway I could apply for a job at your foundation? Thanks! Hope to hear from you! Foundation isn't hiring, but lots of ways to support!
Hey Steve. Huge Lakers fan here but a soccer enthusiast as well. Who are you rooting for in the World Cup? Also, can you tell us your most interesting Kobe story? Always rooting England, but cool story if Brazil wins in Brazil. I've been able to play with 22 soccer players in Showdown] ([Link to www.prizeo.com that have played in a World Cup, so I'm pretty happy just to see great sport happening.
COYS -- Steve, where do you watch spurs games in LA? Watch any with keano? Big spurs supporter and Laker fan in LA, so pulling for you and lamela to both get healthy asap. Mostly at home with the kids -- but we're going to be watching that USA v. Germany match in NYC the day after Showdown, if you want to come! www.stevenash.org/Showdown.
What did you have to do in preparation for lighting the torch at the 2010 Winter Games? Just a rehearsal - but it was with Gretzky - the night before.
You're one of my favorite players in the NBA since I started watching. I loved that Phoenix team and was always my go-to team in NBA 2k. What is one piece of advice/knowledge you've followed throughout your success that you think others should as well? Thanks! Effort. Practicing every day, learning from others -- putting in the effort.
Where is your favorite place to eat Petro's - in LA.
Last updated: 2014-06-08 15:49 UTC
This post was generated by a robot! Send all complaints to epsy.
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The 2014 winners and recent Confederations Cup champs could be the first country since Brazil in 1962 to win back-to-back World Cups. But a young French side, an aging Brazilian squad, and an attack-heavy Argentina stand in their way of a fifth title. World Cup 2014: Cameroon investigates match-fixing claims into the team's poor performance at the World Cup. Senior betting industry sources have told BBC Sport there has been no suspicious Home » Winners Group Betting Odds - World Cup 2014. Holland, and a good Chile squad and winning the group will be key as the second place team will likely face Brazil in the round of 16. The winner of the group still has a tough road to the finals with the winner of the Group of Death in that side of the draw as well as the winner of the FlashScore.com offers World Cup 2014 results, standings and match details. Besides World Cup 2014 scores you can follow 5000+ competitions from more than 30 sports around the world on FlashScore.com. Italy vs England 06/14/2014 Free FIFA World Cup Group D Pick and Preview AUTHOR: Randy Chambers Randy has covered sports betting since 2014 and writes about everything from NFL to WNBA.

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