Three-star Georgia quarterback/athlete James Graham dropped his list of top 10 schools on Friday. Oklahoma State made the cut, along with Michigan, Alabama, Miami, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, Auburn Georgia Tech and Georgia.Graham, who plays quarterback for Fitzgerald High School in southern Georgia, held 18 offers as of Friday. But he whittled down his list to a manageable 10, eliminating Arkansas, Appalachian State, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Maryland, Tulane, UCF and Georgia Southern. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. OSU could have a backdoor into Graham’s recruitment that only Virginia Tech can boast, as two teammates from last year’s team signed at Division I schools (running back J.D. King signed with OSU, tight end Lecitus Smith signed with the Hokies.)Graham is a star dual-threat quarterback, but is being pursued by the Pokes as a running back to play alongside his former high school teammate in the same backfield.As a junior last season, Graham threw for 950 yards in seven games and rushed for 330 on just 54 carries.
Davide Astori O captain, my captain – Fiorentina’s Saponara in emotional Astori tribute Ryan Benson 02:08 6/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Serie A Udinese v Fiorentina Fiorentina Tributes have poured in following the death of Davide Astori, and his Fiorentina team-mate Riccardo Saponara has written a moving message. Fiorentina midfielder Riccardo Saponara produced an emotional tribute to Davide Astori after the death of La Viola’s captain.Astori, 31, was found dead in his hotel room prior to Sunday’s match against Udinese.Results of an autopsy are yet to be revealed, though Udine’s public prosecutor Antonio De Nicolo said on Sunday it was likely Astori “died of cardiac arrest by natural causes.” Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Tributes have poured in from across world football following the centre-back’s passing and Saponara, a team-mate of Astori’s since the start of the season, penned a particularly moving message.Using his official Instagram account, Saponara wrote: “O captain, my captain. Why did you not come down to have breakfast with us all? Why did you not pick up your shoes from outside of Marco [Sportiello]’s room and then drink your orange juice, as usual?”Now they’ll tell us that life goes on, that we must look forward and pick ourselves up, but what will your absence feel like? Who will arrive every morning in the cafeteria, warming up everyone with his smile?”Who will ask us about what we did the previous night and have a laugh about it? Who will nurture the youngsters and give a sense of responsibility to the veterans? Who will form the circle to work on our ‘two-touch play’ and who will demolish Marco on the PlayStation?”With whom will we debate about Masterchef, Florence’s restaurants, TV series or games played? Who will I lean on at lunch after a tiring training session? Come on, come back. You still need to finish watching LaLaLand to analyse like you did with all new movies.”Come back to Florence, they’re waiting for you to renew your contract and acknowledge all the good and the positivity that you bring to us on a daily basis. Get out of that damn room, we’ll be waiting for you tomorrow at training”In life there are people you’ve known forever but have never bonded with, and then there are the ‘Davides’, who warm to you immediately with a simple ‘welcome to Florence, Ricky’.”Wherever you are now, keep on defending our goal and enlighten the right path for us from the backline.”Oh captain, my captain. Forever, my captain.”
Manchester United 1 Sevilla 2 (1-2 agg): Ben Yedder brace dumps Mourinho’s men out Jamie Smith Last updated 1 year ago 05:37 14/3/2018 Getty Images Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League after Sevilla won 2-1 at Old Trafford thanks to Wissam Ben Yedder. Wissam Ben Yedder came off the bench to score the decisive goals as Sevilla moved into the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a stunning 2-1 away win at Manchester United.At a restless Old Trafford, United never got out of first gear and Sevilla, having dominated the opening leg at home without finding a way to beat David de Gea in a goalless draw, deservedly progressed.When Ben Yedder came off the bench with less than 20 minutes to play, the game was finely balanced with both sides aware the first goal would be decisive. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp And it proved to be the case as Ben Yedder made an immediate impact, collecting a pass from Ever Banega to smash in a low finish.With United reeling, Ben Yedder soon added his eighth goal of this season’s Champions League, De Gea unable to claw out the striker’s looping header.Jose Mourinho had already played his trump card, bringing on Paul Pogba, who was only fit enough for the bench, and United stumbled to a shock home defeat despite Romelu Lukaku sparking a grandstand finish.FT: @ManUtd 1-2 #SevillaFCDREAMS COME TRUE IN MANCHESTER!!! AFTER 60 YEARS WE ARE IN THE QUARTER-FINALS OF THE @ChampionsLeague #vamosmisevilla #UCL pic.twitter.com/jdQ1TjCra9— Sevilla FC (@SevillaFC_ENG) March 13, 2018Lukaku blazed wide in the second minute after a smart one-two with Jesse Lingard created an early opportunity for United.Joaquin Correa flashed a near-post header narrowly over the crossbar from Banega’s left-wing corner, with Luis Muriel then wasteful after Eric Bailly’s sloppy pass played Sevilla in.Muriel dragged another decent opening wide of the far post after Pablo Sarabia sent the winger through on goal, with Sevilla dominating the opening half-hour.United finally worked a clear opening in the 38th minute, a powerful drive from Marouane Fellaini beaten away by Sergio Rico after Alexis Sanchez turned a one-two into the path of the Belgium international, who was making his first start of 2018.49 – Ever Banega completed 49 of his 52 passes in the first half, at least 21 more than any Manchester United player. Dreamer. pic.twitter.com/CDViEmCTVl— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 13, 2018Bailly’s superbly-timed challenge denied Correa in the box, then Rico had to make a smart save down to his right to turn a snapshot from Jesse Lingard around the post.With United lacking tempo on the ball and invention in midfield, Mourinho turned to Pogba on the hour-mark, the midfielder replacing Fellaini.United continued to be sloppy on the ball, Pogba curling a 72nd-minute effort narrowly wide, but it was a Sevilla substitute who came up with the opener.Ben Yedder had been on the pitch just 87 seconds when he controlled a smart pass from Banega, took a touch to steady himself and drilled a fine finish inside De Gea’s left-hand post.Before United could respond it was 2-0 and game over, chaotic defending allowing Ben Yedder to divert a goalbound header that a desperate De Gea was unable to stop crossing the line.19 – Wissam Ben Yedder has scored 19 goals in all comps this season, only Fekir & Griezmann (21) have scored more among the French players of the Top 5 European Leagues. Timely.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) March 13, 2018Lukaku sparked a late fightback by turning in a Marcus Rashford corner but United could not match Sevilla’s clinical edge in front of goal.De Gea denied Ben Yedder his hat-trick in added time, but it mattered little as Vincenzo Montella celebrated having masterminded a famous victory for his side. Key Opta Facts:- Including the 2011 final, Manchester United have only won one of their last nine Champions League knockout games (D3 L5).- After progressing from the last 16 in five successive seasons – United have now been eliminated at this stage in two of their last three Champions League campaigns (2012-13 and 2017-18).- This was the first defeat of a Premier League club by a La Liga club in the Champions League in 2017-18, at the ninth attempt (two wins for PL clubs, six draws).- Sevilla are just the third side to score 2+ goals at Old Trafford against United under Jose Mourinho (Manchester City, twice and Burnley).- Sevilla attempted 21 shots in this match – the most that Manchester United have allowed an opposition side at Old Trafford in a competitive match since Real Madrid attempted 22 in March 2013 (Champions League).- In fact, Manchester City are the only other side to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in Mourinho’s tenure at the club (1-2 in September 2016 and 1-2 in December 2017).- David de Gea has conceded more goals in this match (2) than in his previous five Champions League games this season (1).- Wissam Ben Yedder’s first goal was the fastest scored by a substitute in the Champions League this season (87 seconds). read more
Besiktas 1 Bayern Munich 3 (1-8 agg): Heynckes’ men cruise into quarter-finals Jamie Smith Last updated 1 year ago 02:47 15/3/2018 Twitter/@FCBayern Bayern Munich remain on track for another treble under Jupp Heynckes after easily coming through a Champions League tie with Besiktas. Thiago Alcantara scored but was substituted due to injury as Bayern Munich won 3-1 at Besiktas to cruise into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.A 5-0 victory in last month’s first leg in Munich had put Bayern in a commanding position and there was never any sign of a miraculous comeback in Istanbul on Wednesday.Thiago finished from a Thomas Muller cross to extend Bayern’s advantage and score their 100th goal of the season, but the Spain international was withdrawn before the break, coach Jupp Heynckes perhaps wishing he had rested more key names after picking a strong side. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Gokhan Gonul’s own goal in the first minute of the second half appeared to settle the tie for good, before Vagner Love scrambled home his first Champions League strike since 2011 to spark Besiktas’ best period of the tie.Sandro Wagner, though, restored Bayern’s two-goal cushion with his first strike in the competition in the 84th minute.Heynckes’ men could claim the Bundesliga title at the weekend if results go their way and they remain on track for another treble, the veteran coach having won the Champions League among three trophies before departing Bayern at the end of his third spell in 2013.Bayern, who have reached the Champions League semi-finals in six of the last eight seasons, will find out their quarter-final opponents in Friday’s draw.Despite their massive first-leg lead Bayern made a bright start, Arturo Vidal heading wide.Thomas Muller scored twice in last month’s game and he should have opened the scoring in the 10th minute, blasting over the rebound after Tolga Zengin parried David Alaba’s free-kick.@Thiago6 celebrates @FCBayern’s 100th goal of the season in all comps. #UCL pic.twitter.com/MxjzHrZYRz— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 14, 2018But Muller created a fine goal for Thiago to get Bayern up and running, the midfielder timing his run into the box perfectly to tuck away a first-time finish from a pinpoint right-wing cross.Thiago limped off before half-time, giving Bayern an injury concern for the rest of the season.Besiktas had played reasonably well in the first period but the Turkish champions gifted Bayern their second moments after the restart.An innocuous right-wing cross from Rafinha should have been easy to clear, but Gonul poked the ball past Zengin under no pressure whatsoever.Referee Michael Oliver then had to briefly pause the game as a cat invaded the pitch.Miau. Miau. #BJKFCB pic.twitter.com/yPqg6Hzu89— FC Bayern München (@FCBayern) March 14, 2018Besiktas gave their fans something to cheer in the 59th minute, Alaba losing the ball in his own half, with Gonul setting up Love to squeeze the ball past Jerome Boateng on the line.Mustafa Pektemek forced a save from Sven Ulreich as Besiktas tried to level the game on the night, Bayern understandably lacking energy given their comfortable position.Bayern made sure of their win, though, substitute Wagner chesting home from close range with six minutes to go after Alaba’s cross deflected up perfectly for him. Key Opta Facts:- Bayern Munich have now reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the seventh successive season.- Jupp Heynckes is the first manager in Champions League history to win 11 consecutive games.- Bayern have now won six Champions League matches in a row, their best-ever run in a single campaign in the competition.- The last time Bayern won at least six consecutive games in a single European campaign was back in the 1995-96 UEFA Cup, when they won seven on the bounce on the way to lifting the trophy. – The German side are responsible for four of the seven biggest aggregate victories in Champions League knockout stage history (12-1 vs Sporting Lisbon 2008-09, 10-2 vs Arsenal 2016-17, 7-0 vs Shakhtar Donetsk 2014-15 and 8-1 vs Besiktas 2017-18).- All seven of Bayern Munich’s away goals in this season’s Champions League have been scored by different players (Lewandowski, Martinez, Coman, Tolisso, Thiago, Wagner and a Gokhan Gonul own goal).- Besiktas have now lost all four of their Champions League matches against Bayern, losing by an aggregate score of 1-12. read more
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. When I chatted with Oklahoma State cornerbacks coach Tim Duffie on Monday, he brought up some interesting points about recruiting. Despite all the movement of signing dates and when you can talk to players (and when you can’t) and everything else that goes into recruiting at the Power 5 level, one thing has remained constant.Players are some of the most important recruiters you have, if not the most important.“It’s no different from any other job,” said Duffie. “If the guys you’re coaching don’t like it, it’s going to be hard to get guys in. Really create a culture — which I think we have here — where the players like it and bring guys in that are built on toughness and discipline — all the things they’re going to need in life.”I mentioned this on Wednesday, but while it’s easy to 🙄 at any mention of Cowboy Culture, it does matter when so many people can coalesce around anything, even more so a set of values that they all at least somewhat buy into.Culture matters in businesses. I don’t know why we act like football teams or sports organizations in general would be all that different. Or maybe it’s unfair to say *we* there … maybe I’m the only one who forgets that the 11-player units we watch on Saturdays are simply the end product of 200 people pulling in the same direction.“The one rule we have is not making a mistake to bring in somebody who doesn’t fit into the room,” said Duffie. “[The other players] do a good job telling me if they believe a guy wouldn’t be our cup of tea.”Duffie has scored some good ones over the last few years with the help of the ones he recruited before them. From A.J. Green and Rodarius Williams to Tanner McCalister and Jayveon Cardwell to two guys I heard being raved about on Monday in Xavier Player and Demarco Jones. Duffie might not get the biggest stars, but his guys develop and play. And help get more guys who develop and play.Here’s what Cardwell said about Duffie and his teammates before heading to OSU back in 2017.“All the coaching staff has a laid-back personality. I really enjoyed talking to Coach Duffie. I felt like I could trust him. He’s very respectful. He valued me as a player and treated me differently than I’ve been treated by other coaches. I just really enjoyed that, it was great.”“I’m in a group message with the Oklahoma State commits. We talk almost daily just about us being a dominant force for our school. I’m excited to get back up there and meet the new people.” [PFB]I asked Duffie on Monday who the best recruiter of his current crop of CBs is, and he sank into a bit of coach speak that I also actually believe based on what I know about the guys in his CB room.“I don’t have a bad one.”
Here’s to hoping you got a good night’s rest and brought an extra K-Cup to work to hold you over throughout the day. You’re probably going to need it.Oklahoma State kicks its season off in Corvallis, Oregon this evening, and it’s going to be a late one. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. on the west coast, which means us Okies are stuck with a 9:30 p.m. central time start. Based off recent game-length studies, we could be still up and kicking until 1:00 a.m. local time.So yeah — treat yourself to an extra shot of espresso with that Pumpkin Spice Latte!Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the game.Viewing Information• Kick time: Friday, 9:30 p.m. CT• TV: FS1• Streaming: Fox Sports Go• Odds: Oklahoma State -14• Radio: Cowboy Radio Network or TuneInBroadcast informationOn the call for FS1 will be Justin Kutcher, Petros Papadakis and Shane Vereen. On radio, Dave Hunziker will handle play-by-play, John Holcomb will provide analysis, and Robert Allen will do reporting from the sideline.Oregon State preview• PFB podcast with Kyle Porter and Carson Cunningham• PFB predictions for OSU-OSU• Feature story on OSU corner A.J. Green, his rise to prominence, and how a horrendous game helped him reach a new level• Kyle Porter: Ranking the 20 most important figures to OSU football’s 2019 seasonPFB CoverageWe’ll have a gameday forum (BY THE WAY, YES, WE HAVE FORUMS!) cranking all day and throughout the game. All the Kyles will be there, and Marshall will surely make an appearance too. As for other content you can expect, here’s just a sample:• Live blog (PFB+)• 10 Thoughts from Kyle Porter• Game story• Notebook While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
6LSU1,349 RankTeamPoints 11Penn State978 21Texas A&M251 10Notre Dame987 4Oklahoma1,373 8Florida1,100 15Boise State621 23Memphis167 5Ohio State1,362 13Oregon813 3Georgia1,446 1Alabama1,562 25Oklahoma State158 7Auburn1,198 Following its 26-13 win over then-No. 22 Kansas State, Oklahoma State has taken the Wildcats’ place in this week’s Amway Coaches poll sneaking in at No. 25. This is OSU’s first appearance in the poll this season.Week 6 Coaches Poll 14Iowa790 18Michigan417 16Washington608 20Wake Forest279 19Central Florida308 While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Oklahoma State joins Oklahoma and Texas as the third Big 12 school represented in the coaches Top 25. The Sooners remained at No. 4 after a blowout win over Texas Tech and the Longhorns remained at 12th following a bye week. Kansas State fell to 37th in votes after its loss. OSU moved up five spots from 30th (51 points) the week before. 23Michigan State167 17Utah532 2Clemson1,526 12Texas912 9Wisconsin1,097 22Virginia202
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. It was an eventful Week 5 for former Cowboys in the NFL, from a rash of injuries to a couple Pokes earning a little redemption.We’re going to change things up with our NFL Update by focusing on the top five (or so) talking points regarding former OSU players each week. Let’s get started with the one of the biggest stories around all of football this past weekend.Rudolph in Concussion ProtocolMason Rudolph suffered a scary injury on Sunday that took him out for the remainder of Pittsburgh’s 26-23 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Before his injury, Rudolph was shaping up to have a solid game for consecutive weeks. He finished 13-of-20 with 131 yards and touchdown.On the play that ended his day, the Steelers faced third-and-11 from deep in their own territory. Rudolph scrambled, evading several tacklers, before finding James Washington for a big first down just before taking the hit that knocked him out.Despite some talk about his and the Steelers’ heavy use of short passes, Rudolph is still showing he can go deep so far this year.Per ESPN stats and info: Mason Rudolph’s TD to JuJu was his 4th TD pass of 35+ yds. He’s now second in the league for 35+ yard TD passes behind Patrick Mahomes (6). Jimmy G is second with 3.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) October 6, 2019And he’s showing plenty of improvement just four games into his tenure as Pittsburgh’s QB1.Mason Rudolph started the Ravens game 9 for 9 for 89 yards. That means he had completed 33 of his past 37 passes for 318 yards and 3 TDs with no interceptions in less than six quarters, going back to Bengals game. That’s a 129.5 passer rating.— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) October 7, 2019Rudolph is all among the top 10 in the NFL in passer rating (9th), long passes (4th), passing TD percentage (2nd), and sack percentage (2nd).Fortunately Rudolph went home from the hospital on Sunday night and even showed up to the facility on Monday.Mason Rudolph came into the locker room smiling during the team’s availability today. Definitely good to see him up and walking around.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) October 7, 2019He remains in the league-mandated concussion protocol. Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin is expected to address Rudolph’s injury status in his weekly press conference on Tuesday.Rudolph wasn’t the only familiar name to go down in the Steelers and Colts game. The intradivisional tilt become a Bedlam MASH unit of sorts. Rudolph was lost with the concussion. James Washington went out with a shoulder injury after hauling in three of his six targets for 52 yards. Washington’s status for next week is unknown.On the Sooners side, Baltimore safety Tony Jefferson suffered a season-ending knee injury. Ravens receiver Marquise Brown (ankle) and tight end Mark Andrews (undisclosed) left the game with injury, but both returned to the game.Chris Carson Rebounding NicelyAfter losing three fumbles in the first three weeks, and averaging just under 53 yards per game, Carson returned to 2018 form averaging 111 yards per game and 4.5 per carry over the last two weeks.On Thursday night, he turned in a season-high 118 yards on the ground plus this touchdown catch.Chris Carson with the bobble catch.Meanwhile, Russ is putting on a SHOW!#LARvsSEA | #Seahawks pic.twitter.com/G5I8EM6Cff— FOX Sports Radio (@FoxSportsRadio) October 4, 2019Dan Bailey Perfect in WinDon’t look now but the former OSU record-holder is 7-of-8 on field goals so far this season after a 4-for-4, 14-point outing during the Vikings’ 28-10 win over the Giants. Bailey’s 87.5 percent field goal rate is ninth in the league currently.What’s more, the Dallas Cowboys — who cut Bailey last season for CFL journeyman Brett Maher — lost to by 10 to the Packers in a game in which Maher went 1-for-3 including missing a 33-yard kick that would have cut the lead to 7 with two minutes remaining.This, of course, set Cowboys Twitter ablaze.What is Dan Bailey doing?— Cameron Magruder (@ScooterMagruder) October 6, 2019 Dan Bailey. That is all. #GoPackGo— Marshall Scott (@Marshall_Once) October 6, 2019Marcell Ateman Called UpAfter spending the first four weeks on Oakland’s practice squad, second-year wideout Marcell Ateman was promoted to the Raiders’ active roster. This seemed like a matter of time after the team and Pro Bowl wideout Antonio Brown parted ways earlier this season. It looks like the injury of offensive lineman Jordan Devey cleared the way.He saw the field for just 28 snaps during the Raiders’ win over the Bears and did not draw a target, but there should be opportunities to be had. Ateman was promoted from the practice squad midway through his rookie season and started six games, recording 15 catches, 154 yards and a touchdown.
This is hands-down the best viral video I’ve seen for marketing to Moms, courtesy of my friend Katita. It’s enough to make you want to drink a Zima. It is a very clever attempt at rebranding for my demographic.
Croatia ‘Little sh*t’! Why some Croatia fans have turned on Real Madrid idol Luka Modric Ante Buskulic & Ronan Murphy Last updated 1 year ago 15:23 6/16/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(3) Goran Stanzl/Pixsell Croatia Croatia v Nigeria Nigeria World Cup The midfielder is popular with his club’s fans, but a recent trial in his homeland has turned him into a villain for the national team Luka Modric should be the star of the show for Croatia at the 2018 World Cup. The midfielder enters the tournament having won the Champions League for the third year in a row with Real Madrid. He’s a hugely popular figure in Spain, but fans of his national team do not hold the 32-year-old in the same high esteem.As a child during the Croatian War of Independence, Modric was forced to leave his home of Modrici, with his grandfather killed by Serbs who occupied the area. He was forced to live in a hotel in Zadar with other refugees, with his only comfort coming from playing football.A trial at Hajduk Split did not go well for the youngster, who was told he was too small and weak, forcing him to move once more, joining Dinamo Zagreb as a 16-year-old. A modest and humble player, he was initially greatly admired by peers, but Croatian supporters took their time to warm to him as they criticised him for not being attacking enough, preferring to pass the ball to the nearest team-mate or else backwards in order to keep possession. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar This was magnified when he lined out for Croatia, with fans expecting him to replicate his performances from Tottenham and then Real Madrid for the national side. It was not until 2015 or 2016 that he finally began to convince supporters, helping raise his own game and that of his team-mates in the trademark red and white shirt.However, in recent times Modric has again become unpopular with many fans in Croatia. The reason for this is the midfielder’s association with the controversial agent Zdravko Mamic – a man labelled by his critics as the ‘godfather of Croatian football’ due to his widespread power and influence throughout the game in the country.Even as a teenager, Modric was associated with Mamic, who owned the Mamic Soccer Agency (MSA). Mamic helped orchestrate Modric’s move to Dinamo, and sought to help the young players who had signed civil contracts with him by helping them financially in return for a percentage of their salaries if they had successful football careers.It was speculated that Modric, Eduardo da Silva, Dejan Lovren and many others had signed these contracts with MSA, but Mamic insists that he was risking his future because these players may never have become successful.”It was a business risk I took! You always speak about Modric and Eduardo, but what about those players I invested in and never got anything in return because they failed to make a career?” Mamic explained several years ago.Despite Mamic’s claims that he was acting in his clients’ interests, the whole story went public when Eduardo sued Mamic, claiming that the deal was like an owner-slave relationship if he was forced to give Mamic a percentage of his salary until the end of his career.Eduardo argued that he did not understand what he was agreeing to when he signed the contract as he did not understand Croatian fluently. He had arrived in Zagreb as a 15-year-old, with Mamic paying for his surgery and buying a house for the player and his family which later allowed Eduardo to qualify for Croatia through residency.The court favoured Mamic over Eduardo in the case, but the agent was forced to close down MSA after becoming director and executive president at Dinamo. He insisted that his son Mario Mamic would also return his agent’s license to FIFA and not become involved in the transfer of Dinamo players, but it later emerged that no such thing had happened.Mamic’s influence also spread to the Croatian FA, where he had an impact on the selection of national team coaches and the association’s presidential elections. However, it was his relationship with Dinamo and his involvement in their player sales that was ultimately called into question, with Mamic brought to trial to assess whether he made illegal personal profits.Many big-name players were called as witnesses for Mamic’s trial, including Modric, and were asked to explain their relationship with Dinamo and Mamic. The judge ruled that, alongside the contract Dinamo had with players, they would also sign a deal that would regulate how transfer money would be split between the club and player, with the percentage assigned to the player eventually ending up in Mamic’s pocket.At the time of his sale in 2008, Modric was the biggest transfer in Dinamo’s history when he was sold for €21 million to Tottenham. As part of his agreement, Modric agreed to hand his percentage to Mamic, but during the trial, the prosecution proved that the additional deal regarding the split of player/club income was signed after Modric’s transfer to Tottenham, rather than before.During his testimony, Modric changed some of his initial statements, saying “I don’t remember” when asked when the contracts were signed and, when he received money from the deal, as well as confusing the date he made his international debut. Modric claimed the authorities dragged him from the national team camp and questioned him for several hours in the night, leaving him too tired to properly understand the statement he had signed for them. During the trial, the changes from his statement benefited Mamic.This alteration in his statement to try to help Mamic was not well-received by football fans in Croatia. He was the target of some offensive graffiti in Zadar, Zagreb and Split, while fans sang “Luka Modric, little sh*t” during Croatian league matches.At the end of the trial in March of this year, Mamic was found guilty and sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison, while Modric and Lovren face charges for perjury. Mamic escaped to Bosnia and Herzegovina the night before the verdict was given, claiming he will appeal.The trial has stained Modric’s reputation among supporters, with Hajduk Split supporters even cheering against Croatia due to Modric’s involvement. Other club fans still want the nation to do well at the World Cup, but now Modric will never be their hero, no matter what he achieves on the field.
Brazil 1 Switzerland 1: Zuber pegs back below-par Selecao Stephen Creek Last updated 1 year ago 04:00 6/18/18 Getty Images Philippe Coutinho’s curling strike was cancelled out by Steven Zuber’s second-half header as Brazil were held to a draw by Switzerland. Brazil continued the trend of tournament favourites underperforming as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Switzerland in their World Cup Group E opener in Rostov.Having bowed out of their home tournament four years ago with a 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany, Brazil initially started their mission to put that humiliation behind them in stunning fashion when Philippe Coutinho struck a sublime goal to open the scoring.Despite dictating the pace of the game, Brazil were never completely dominant and had Switzerland’s rather toothless attack to thank for not taking advantage of the possession and space the underdogs were afforded. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar The five-time winners failed to extend their lead and were punished early in the second half when Steven Zuber lost his marker at a corner and equalised – a goal that might have opened the game up had Brazil been at their best.But Tite’s side remained somewhat subdued by their own high standards, with Neymar a shadow of his usual talismanic self having only recently recovered from a fractured foot, and their remaining group games with Costa Rica and Serbia now come with more pressure than would have previously been anticipated.Switzerland can reflect on an excellent start to their campaign, having claimed a point from the most difficult of their group matches and improved their chances of reaching the knockout stages for the second consecutive tournament.#HoppSchwiiz #HopSuisse #ForzaSvizzera #HopSvizra #BRASUI #WM2018 #CM2018 pic.twitter.com/GNcoG4HMuE— nationalteams_SFVASF (@SFV_ASF) June 17, 2018Vladimir Petkovic’s side began on the front foot, Xherdan Shaqiri sending a bouncing cross towards Blerim Dzemaili that the Bologna midfielder fired over the crossbar with a shot on the turn.Their promising start could not last and soon Switzerland were sitting back as Brazil passed the ball crisply around the pitch, almost finding a breakthrough when Paulinho dragged a shot across the face of goal and wide of the far post with 10 minutes played.Just 10 minutes later, Switzerland were reeling from a piece of sublime, quintessentially Brazilian skill.Marcelo’s cross from the left bounced back out of the box to the feet of Coutinho, who took a touch to control it before unleashing a shot that curled spectacularly around helpless goalkeeper Yann Sommer and in off the post.VOLTAMOS AO JOGO!1-0 | #BRAxSUI pic.twitter.com/IvN6vskWFX— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) June 17, 2018Having taken the lead, Brazil slowed the pace of the game down and frustrated Switzerland, whose only subsequent attacking foray before half-time ended disappointingly with Zuber firing a shot straight into Thiago Silva, who headed narrowly over the crossbar at the other end just before the interval.Switzerland drew level only four minutes into the second half when a corner from Shaqiri found Zuber unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box and he had the simple task of heading the ball beyond Alisson and high into the centre of the goal.Neymar fired into the side-netting from inside the penalty area and Fernandinho hit a speculative long-range shot wide to the left of the target as Brazil probed for a goal to restore their lead, but their attacks lacked the necessary urgency.Coutinho had another chance to score with 20 minutes left but his neat control was followed by a wayward drive, and Gabriel Jesus saw a penalty appeal waved away when he was challenged by Manuel Akanji in the box.Two late chances fell to Brazil substitute Roberto Firmino, but the Liverpool forward lashed the ball over before drawing a reaction save from Sommer with a close-range header, and Miranda almost made amends for his failure to mark Zuber earlier but fired wide from 18 yards as Switzerland held on for a deserved point that was secured when a Fabian Schar block prevented Coutinho from having the final say.Key Opta stats:- Brazil failed to win their opening match at the World Cup for the first time since 1978, when they drew 1-1 with Sweden; they had won nine in a row between 1982 and 2014.- Switzerland have lost only one of their last 23 matches (W16 D6), a 2-0 defeat to Portugal in October 2017.- Brazil have failed to win any of their last three World Cup matches (D1 L2), their worst winless run since June 1978, when they went four games without a win.- Switzerland haven’t lost their opening World Cup match in any of their last five tournaments (W2 D3).- Valon Behrami became the first Swiss player to appear in four different World Cup finals – he also appeared in 2006, 2010 and 2014.- Brazil have won only one of their last seven World Cup matches against European opposition (D2 L4), a 3-1 win over Croatia in the opening match of the 2014 World Cup. read more
World Cup Switzerland give Neymar the rough treatment to frustrate Brazil Stefan Coerts Rostov on Don Last updated 1 year ago 03:55 6/18/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(19) Getty World Cup Brazil Neymar Philippe Coutinho Brazil v Switzerland Switzerland The PSG attacker was unable to make much of an impact as he got little space to create something at the Rostov Arena The name on everybody’s lips heading into Brazil’s World Cup opener against Switzerland on Sunday was an unsurprising one: Neymar.The Paris Saint-Germain star was a doubt for the tournament in Russia not too long ago after fracturing his metatarsal in the Ligue 1 encounter with Marseille back in February and only recently returned to full training.Neymar’s injury problems did not stop him from scoring both in his return to action against Croatia as well as against Austria, but Brazil boss Tite admitted during his pre-match news conference that the 26-year-old was not in peak condition yet. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar “Neymar is not 100 per cent,” he stated at the Rostov Arena. “But he is very privileged physically, his sprinting capacity and his speed is really impressive, he hasn’t lost that. He’s not 100 per cent yet, but he’s good enough to play very well.”Both parts of Tite’s message had clearly registered with the Swiss as they did everything within their power to keep the PSG man quiet.Valon Behrami needed a mere four minutes for his first foul on Neymar, only to repeat the trick 10 minutes later, much to the annoyance of the Brazil No.10.Referee Cesar Ramos took action at the half-hour mark when Stephan Lichtsteiner brought down Neymar on the edge of the box, but Switzerland continued to bully the former Barcelona man at every opportunity, with Fabian Schar and Behrami both going into the match official’s book too.Vladimir Petkovic’s men’s focus on Neymar – who was fouled 10 times across 96 minutes – allowed his team-mates a bit of extra space and Philippe Coutinho took the opportunity to show what he is capable of in what was his World Cup debut.The ex-Liverpool man was involved in Brazil’s first moment of danger when he set up Neymar down the left, with Paulinho eventually scuffing a shot wide from a close range.Coutinho then decided to take matters into his own hand midway through the first half. The 26-year-old picked up a loose ball 25 yards out and beat goalkeeper Yann Sommer with a stunning curler into the top corner.10 – The last player to be fouled more in a #WorldCup game than Neymar v Switzerland (10) was Alan Shearer in 1998 (11 v Tunesia). Down. pic.twitter.com/5uE51q1Irx— OptaJohan (@OptaJohan) June 17, 2018His attacking influence was not Coutinho’s only contribution on the evening, however, as he happily tracked back when needed, often finding himself in a deeper position than Barcelona team-mate Paulinho. But the 26-year-old’s strike eventually was not enough as some unconvincing defending from Miranda allowed Steven Zuber to level the scoring early in the second half after a Ricardo Rodriguez corner.Coutinho came close to restoring Brazil’s lead when he chested down a long ball from the left before blasting a volley toward the far post, but he was unfortunate to see his attempt sail wide.Brazil thus had to settle for a 1-1 draw in their opening game, with Sommer pulling off a superb save late on to save Switzerland, as they got their campaign off to an underwhelming start, much like fellow favourites Spain, Argentina and Germany.Costa Rica now await on matchday two, before they lock horns with Serbia in their final game of the group stages on June 27 as they continue the chase for their sixth-ever world title.
World Cup England have plenty of leaders and can go far, says Lampard Chris Wheatley Last updated 1 year ago 16:00 6/23/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images World Cup England The former Chelsea midfielder has urged the leaders in the England team to step up and deliver at Russia 2018 Frank Lampard believes England have the potential to go far at the World Cup and has urged the more experienced players to step up and showcase their leadership credentials.Lampard was part of an England side which headed out of the 2014 World Cup and didn’t get past the group stage but he remains hopeful that Gareth Southgate’s side will fare better during the tournament in Russia.The former Chelsea midfielder also thinks that the tournament could provide the perfect platform for England’s more experienced faces to show off their credentials and guide the Three Lions into the latter stages of the tournament. Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar “I am hopeful about England’s chances,” Lampard told Goal at BBC media day.“I think expectancy levels are slightly less and that is probably a good thing for the squad. They have a good team in terms of youth, particularly in attacking areas. England have some good players who are playing very well for their clubs in the Premier League.”I just hope it can come together. Gareth Southgate is working very hard with the squad. We can certainly beat teams on our day. It is about getting momentum at the tournament. I expect us to get through our group and then we will see how far we can go.“The World Cup is the time for new leaders to come out. Henderson is showing leadership at Liverpool in their run to the Champions League final, Kane in his performances and stature in the game is a leader.”So I think there are players who are already leaders and will become leaders. And tournaments like the World Cup are moments when you have to stand up a little bit. I’d like to think England are not short on leaders.”England’s youth teams have had considerable success over the past year, including triumphs at the European Under-17 Championships and 2017 Under-20 World Cup, and Lampard says that the relationships formed at youth level will leave the senior team in good stead going into future tournaments.“Everyone is doing the same now with youth setup and I think England were late to the party. The Spanish, French and Germans have had their academies for years and now England have that as well,” he added.”And you are seeing the benefits with underage teams winning tournaments. But competition remains high across the board and we have talented groups of youngsters coming through in groups, which is great because it allows them to form relationships as they grow up.”And hopefully we can have success again at major tournaments in the next five to 10 years.”Indeed, England beat Tunisia 2-1 in their opening game, and face Panama on Sunday. They will take on Belgium next week.The BBC will provide extensive coverage of World Cup 2018 across TV, radio and online from June 14.
Transfers Seattle Sounders land Peruvian striker Ruidiaz as designated player Goal Last updated 1 year ago 01:26 6/30/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Jeff Zelevansky Transfers Seattle Sounders MLS The Cascadia side will be boosted by the Peru international, who has a prolific scoring record at club level The Seattle Sounders have announced the signing of Peruvian striker Raul Ruidiaz as a designated player from Liga MX side Morelia.As Goal reported earlier this month, Seattle has landed the 27-year-old who boasts a prolific scoring record in Mexico’s top flight.Ruidiaz will join the MLS side directly from Russia, where he made two substitute appearances for Peru in a World Cup campaign that saw the South Americans eliminated at the group stage. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar “We are thrilled to complete the signing of our top designated player target in Raul Ruidíaz,” Sounders FC general manager Garth Lagerwey said in a club release.“Collectively, we were relentless in our pursuit of Raul because he is a proven difference-maker at the highest levels of the game. Wherever he has played, he has made his teams better, scoring well over 100 professional goals in the process.”To make room for Ruidiaz on its roster, Seattle used targeted allocation money to lower the salary budget charge of midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, who will no longer occupy a designated player spot. Ruidiaz, Nicolas Lodeiro and Clint Dempsey are now the Sounders’ three designated players. Ruidiaz has been one of the top scorers in Mexico since joining Morelia in 2016. He was top scorer in both the 2016 Apertura and 2017 Clausura, and his 40 goals in the past two years trail only Tigres striker Andre-Pierre Gignac, who has netted 41. The Peru international will be a welcome addition for a Seattle side that is dead-last in goals scored in MLS with just 11 in 14 matches. Ruidiaz has been capped 31 times by Peru, scoring four goals. At club level, he has also represented Universitario in Peru, Brazilian club Coritiba and Chilean side Universidad de Chile.
World Cup ‘Go to penalties and pray’ – Fabregas ‘speechless’ following Russia’s upset of Spain Goal Last updated 1 year ago 01:15 7/2/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(2) Getty World Cup Russia Spain v Russia Spain The Chelsea star was shocked to see his country bounced from the World Cup by the host nation, who he claims had prayer as part of their gameplan Cesc Fabregas was among the those stunned by Spain’s World Cup exit at the hands of Russia. The 2010 World Cup champions were held to a 1-1 draw through regular time, scoring only from a Russian own goal before being pegged back from the penalty spot. Thirty minutes of extra time couldn’t do anything to separate the sides, and the host nation managed to find their way to the quarter-finals through penalties. Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Fabregas, who at half-time had claimed that Spain’s passing – which set World Cup records against Russia – was pointless , was still stunned by the final outcome. “I am speechless because I expected a different game today,” the 31-year-old said on BBC . “I think Spain is a much better side than Russia.”Russia had a plan which was to go to penalties and pray, and it paid off for them.”The former Barcelona man was also gutted to see Spanish legend Andres Iniesta’s career with the national side come to such a disappointing end. “Andres Iniesta doesn’t deserve to go out like this, in what could be his last game for Spain,” he said. Russia’s progression has taken another favourite out of a World Cup that had already seen 2014 champions Germany, Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal sides bounced. Spain’s exit means one of Russia, Croatia, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, England or Colombia will be playing in the World Cup final. Russia will take on either Croatia or Denmark in the quarter-finals.
Mexico Chicharito & Moreno out, Lainez in: How Mexico must rebuild after another World Cup round of 16 exit Jon Arnold Click here to see more stories from this author Mexico Correspondent Last updated 1 year ago 00:00 7/4/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(4) Getty Images Mexico World Cup Brazil v Mexico After yet another empty quest for the quinto partido, what do El Tri need to do to take the next step in four years? The curse continues with Mexico once again failing to get into the round of 16 at a World Cup.El Tri started the tournament well but ran into Brazil’s buzzsaw and are headed home after a 2-0 loss to the South Americans.So much about the national team’s future is now up in the air. Who will coach Mexico in the future? What will the fixtures look like with CONCACAF set to launch the Nations League? Which young players need to be involved with the system going forward? And who from this team will return to represent Mexico in four years? Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Mexico players who should be droppedIt could be the end for a fantastic generation of players. While you’d love to see some of those players stay at a top level, it’s going to be a challenge for many of them to do so. Rafa Marquez and Oribe Peralta already have announced their international retirements. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez will be 34, as will center back Hector Moreno. Andres Guardado is going to be 35. Even Carlos Vela and the Dos Santos brothers will be on the wrong side of 30 for the tournament set to take place in Qatar.Some of those guys may give it a go, though, and Mexico would benefit from their veteran leadership. Guardado in particular seems intent on staying in Europe for another two years. He could match Marquez with a fifth World Cup should he see action in 2022. With 150 caps to his name already, El Tri’s all-time cap leader Claudio Suarez’s 177 is well within range should Guardado stay healthy.Still, it’s difficult to see Chicharito and Moreno being in the form needed to be part of the next World Cup squad – and if Guardado is there it will likely be in a substitute role. Miguel Layun is a different case as well. His versatility makes him a great option for national team coaches, though whether he can keep his form up for another four years when he will be 34 is hardly a given.Giovani dos Santos, Jonathan dos Santos and Vela also seem to be candidates to call time on their international careers, though the fact that they are playing in MLS where they can generally fly direct to match locations rather than having to fly across the Atlantic Ocean and make stopovers means they could stick around longer than expected.Mexico players who should be called upThere were no big omissions from Juan Carlos Osorio when he named his roster. Rodolfo Pizarro was one of the most notable names. He has moved on to Monterrey and should be entering his prime when 2022 rolls around. Expect the former Chivas attacker to figure into the picture in the future. It’s time for the Diego Lainez era to get started, as well. The 18-year-old turned heads in the Toulon Tournament, helping Mexico to a second-place finish in the prestigious youth event. While Club America wants to hold on to the phenom, a European move could be on the horizon. Lainez on the right and Lozano on the left will be a technically sound pairing that terrifies fullbacks for years to come.While Guillermo Ochoa could still be Mexico’s No. 1 in four years, it’s also time to find the next great Mexican goalkeeper. No young player has impressed more than Gibran Lajud. The 24-year-old already is the regular starter for Club Tijuana. He overcame some early growing pains to become a serious prospect and even earned a call-up from Osorio for the January friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina.That friendly marked the Mexico debut of Jonathan Gonzalez, and the young Rayados midfielder is an excellent option in the middle of the field. Omar Govea also shows potential there but needs to sort out his club situation and continue to improve to make the roster. How will Mexico line up in the 2022 World Cup?There are a few issues about this team. For one, it doesn’t have Diego Reyes in it. He and Cesar Montes are the center backs left out, though both should be part of Mexico’s future and will be the right age to shine in 2022. Yet, Nestor Araujo and Carlos Salcedo, if he returns to the national team, could form such an excellent partnership in the middle that it may be worth sacrificing them or, in Reyes’ case, putting him in a different position. The fullbacks remain Jesus Gallardo and Edson Alvarez, who now have the experience of playing the position at the World Cup. It’s possible neither is playing there for their club teams, but the next manager would be wise to continue to give them minutes in those roles.Up top, Hirving Lozano is the first name on the team sheet. He didn’t look at all out of place in his debut World Cup, scoring a goal against Germany, adding an assist against South Korea and troubling the Brazilian defense. Another potential issue is central forward. Raul Jimenez will be 31, though it’s not clear if he’ll still be with Wolves. Young Eduardo Aguirre looks to be an excellent forward, but he’s even shorter than Chicharito. Playing as a center forward may not suit the quick Santos Laguna man, though we’ll see how he develops in the next few years.All in all, it looks like a talented team – but more players will emerge. After Brazil, who could’ve seen Lozano’s breakout seasons or Gallardo’s successful conversion to left back? Also, don’t expect the older generation to go easily. While it may be time for Chicharito, Miguel Layun and Guardado to take on different roles, they wear their love for Mexico on their sleeves and won’t give up their places without a fight.
Unai Emery has hailed Mesut Ozil for delivering when Arsenal “needed him to” during a Premier League clash with Burnley.The Gunners headed into a home date with the Clarets looking to offer a positive response to back-to-back defeats in league and cup competition.Ozil’s role in their plans had dominated the pre-match build-up, with the German playmaker having seemingly fallen out of favour to see questions asked of his future. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Emery had, however, stated prior to the game that the World Cup winner still had an important role to play and backed up that statement by handing the 30-year-old a starting berth and the captain’s armband.Ozil rewarded that show of faith with a talismanic performance which saw him play a pivotal role in Arsenal’s first and third goals in a 3-1 victory.Emery told BBC Sport afterwards of an eye-catching showing from a man with a point to prove: “It was a big performance today and afterwards I said congratulations for your work.“Every player showed his quality and their characteristics. We needed him to work to help us today and he did.”Ozil was not the only player to deliver for Arsenal, with the Gunners’ defence standing up well to a physical battle with Burnley’s frontmen.Emery was delighted with the collective showing from his side, as they returned to winning ways courtesy of two goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and a late effort from Alex Iwobi.The Spaniard added: “It was a tough match. It was difficult because they pushed a lot with long balls and the second action.“But we played well with our body and our character was good. The victory was deserved and in the table we are closer to Tottenham and Chelsea.“I think we won today not because we played well but because every player had a very big commitment.“We knew Burnley are an organised team and were going to push us but we didn’t lose too many long balls from the goalkeeper.“I think we can controlled the match like we wanted. We had to make an alteration of our game plan but after I think our game plan gave us the victory.“We’re scoring lots of goals but we need more clean sheets and our defeat today was maybe that.”Arsenal remain outside the Premier League’s top four at present, but remain very much within touching distance of the Champions League spots as the games come thick and fast during the festive period. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.