Pep Guardiola

Guardiola, Torres, Terry and more reaction from Barcelona

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After the game, there wasn’t much rehashing of Tuesday night’s match. Few were talking red cards, style, or missed chances. Instead, the main actors hit on the overarching stories: Chelsea’s improbably win, Barcelona having to accept defeat, and what the future holds for each club.

Here is a sampling of the reactions from Barcelona after Chelsea ousted UEFA Champions League’s holders:

  • “When you lose both centre-halves it’s going to be hard. We all believed, not that many people did believe but we as a group of players did. It was hard to defend in those circumstances but we defended as a team, and got a little lucky maybe. ” – Ashley Cole, via UEFA
  • “First feeling? An immense sadness. Congrats to Chelsea for the great job they did.” – Pep Guardiola, via @Barcastuff
  • “It is one of the finest moments I’ve felt in the Chelsea shirt. What a performance. I know people want to see beautiful football and great play but it can’t always be that way. What spirit we showed out there. ” – Frank Lampard, via UEFA
  • “I’m 24 years old, and I’ve never seen the Camp Nou reacted like this after a defeat. This is a great team, we’ll be back next year.” – Cesc Fabregas, via @BarcaStuff
  • “Three months ago no one thought we had a chance. We would always believe and we knew we were good enough to be here. You can’t beat the fight and desire that we showed out there today. ” – Cole, via UEFA
  • “We’re all ecstatic. We’ve achieved our goal. We had to sacrifice a lot but we were confident before the game. We are on a decent run right now and we’re looking forward to the final. Personally I would prefer to face Real Madrid in the final but we’ll have to see what happens tomorrow. ” – Juan Mata, via UEFA
  • “The second half wasn’t much about tactics, it was about passion, pride, desire to get to the final. We were 45 minutes away and that was what it was about. It is an incredible achievement by this group of players.” – Roberto Di Matteo, via UEFA
  • “All seemed lost with the red card, but we got that goal back from Ramires. It was not beautiful, and we were playing the best team in the world, but Barcelona did not take their chances and, in the end, it worked for us.” – Fernando Torres, via UEFA
  • “I’m delighted for the lads, to play the way they did and get that result. I want to apologise to the lads and the fans [for the sending off]. I feel like I’ve let the lads down. It is a great football club and to get to the final it is what this football club deserves.” – John Terry, via UEFA
  • “It does look bad on the replay. But hopefully teh people out there who know me, know me I am not that type of player.” – Terry, via BBC
  • “That’s football; the best team or the favourites don’t always win. We have so much respect for Barcelona as they are the best team in the world. We didn’t try to take them on at their own game as we knew that wouldn’t work. ” – Torres, via UEFA
  • “We’ve shown that we can win, and now it’s the time to show that we can lose too.” – Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, via @Barcastuff
  • “I continue to think this Barça is the best team in the world. We worked hard and had the luck we needed.” – Di Matteo, via @Barcastuff
  • “It has been a hard blow, but you can only congratulate Chelsea. You should be able to accept defeat.” – Rosell, via @BarcaStuff
  • “A lot of people have written us off but we showed the character these players have. We didn’t expect to play with ten men so it was even more difficult than expected.” – Di Matteo, via UEFA
  • “My future? I’ll make a decision in the coming days.” – Guardiola, via @BarcaStuff

Chelsea’s Courtois says FA Cup or Champions League final a must

Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea FC
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Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is used to big matches, whether at Stamford Bridge, with the Belgian national team or during his loan to Atletico Madrid.

[ SPORTSWORLD: Courtois “standing tall” at Chelsea ]

If he doesn’t get one or two of those contests by the end of this season, a bad season will become an utter failure.

Courtois says it’s a long way to the Top Four, but Chelsea hasn’t given up on that hope. Regardless, he’s targeting wins over Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain in the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, respectively.

From ChelseaFC.com:

“After that we play in the Champions League and FA Cup against two great sides and we have to try to win those games because the only way to save our season is to reach the final in one or both of them.”

Chelsea’s star has fallen this year, but this is still largely the team that won the Premier League last season. Courtois’ goals are not unreasonable.

LIVE – West Ham vs. Liverpool in FA Cup 4th round replay

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 30:  Nathaniel Clyne of Liverpool is watched by Dimitri Payet of West Ham United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield on January 30, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
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Two Premier League teams clash in the FA Cup on Tuesday with a place in the last 16 on the line.

West Ham United welcome Liverpool to Upton Park (Follow live, 2:45 p.m. ET) following the 0-0 draw between the teams at Anfield 10 days ago.

[ LIVE: Follow West Ham-Liverpool here

Slaven Bilic‘s side will fancy their chances of getting past an injury-hit Liverpool squad and creating another famous FA Cup memory in their final season at the Boleyn Ground. With Dimitri Payet in contract negotiations about extending his stay at the Hammers, can the French playmaker lead them to a big win?

After missing Liverpool’s late collapse on Saturday during the 2-2 draw with Sunderland due to a bout of suspected appendicitis, manager Jurgen Klopp will return to the dugout. The German coach has already guided the Reds to one Wembley final during his debut season in charge as they face Manchester City in the League Cup final in less than three weeks time.

The winner of this clash will travel to second-tier Blackburn Rovers and they’ll be heavy favorites to reach the FA Cup quarterfinals.

Click on the link above to follow the game live, plus we will have a recap, reaction and analysis following the encounter in east London.

State of the USMNT: What is Klinsmann’s best XI for World Cup qualifiers?

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With the U.S. men’s national team ending their January camp with two narrow friendly wins over Iceland and Canada, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and his staff will now be sitting back and thinking: “What did we learn? Who impressed? Who struggled?”

Or something like that.

[ MORE: American takeover at Everton update

Each year the January camp provides domestic based players — mostly from Major League Soccer but a sprinkling of other guys too — with the chance to impress Klinsmann and his staff in close quarters for multiple weeks in California. Many current U.S. regulars earned their stripes in January’s gone by and have established themselves ever since.

This January was no different as the experienced core of players — Michael Bradley, Matt Besler and Jozy Altidore among them — showed their class and several promising players worked hard to get minutes in the friendlies.

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However, despite some glimmers of hope from youngsters such as Jordan Morris and Jerome Kiesewetter, what we learned about the USMNT heading into the two CONCACAF 2018 World Cup qualifiers in March is that the established players remain the best hope for success. Sure, the likes of John Brooks is impressing in the Bundesliga, Matt Miazga sealed a move to Chelsea and Lee Nguyen took his chance in January camp, but the old guard should remain in place through this next batch of World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala home and away on Mar. 25 and 29 and the Copa America Centenario this summer.

Question marks remain regarding some veterans, which could keep the situation a little more fluid than it should be.

One of those is Tim Howard with speculation of him moving away from Everton mounting plus a straight-up battle between Howard and Brad Guzan for the starting spot, while Clint Dempsey‘s status with the national team still seems to be somewhat clouded. Overall, though, the settled core of players who played together at the World Cup — plus or minus a few who have performed consistently over the last 18 months — should be kept together by Klinsmann. During last summer’s Gold Cup disappointment there was plenty of experimenting, especially in defense, but now is the time to settle things down and realize the following guys are the players you should count on going forward.

Below is my selection — feel free to select your own in the comments section — for the best XI available to Klinsmann, plus seven subs, assuming everyone is fit and available.

USMNT’s Best XI as of Feb. 9, 2016

—– Howard —–

— F. Johnson — Cameron — Besler — Ream —

—- Bradley —- Williams —-

—- Bedoya —- Dempsey —- Zardes —-

—– Altidore —–

Subs: Guzan, Brooks, Jones, Yedlin, Nagbe, Morris, Johannsson

Ahead of huge title clash, influential Leicester scout transfers to Arsenal

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06:  Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on February 6, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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Ben Wrigglesworth might not be a man you’ve heard a lot about, but he has been influential in helping Leicester City’s unlikely charge to the top of the Premier League.

Now, he’s been poached by Leicester’s main title rivals: Arsenal.

[ MORE: Spurs, Arsenal to battle for title?

Ahead of the monster clash between the Foxes and Gunners at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday (Watch live, 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) the man who unearthed the likes of Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante has transferred to Arsenal and is now their First Team Video Scout.

Wrigglesworth, Leicester’s former Head of Technical Scouting, announced he would be leaving the Foxes via his Twitter page (see below) and he has now accepted a new role as part of Steve Rowley’s team at Arsenal.

It is believed he will not only help with the scouting of players but will also analyze Arsenal’s first team and the opposition.

[ MORE: Recapping Week 25 in the PL ]

Arsenal will unveil a new player performance center at their training HQ this summer and have recently purchased a soccer data company based in America, statDNA, to help them with scouting and player analysis.

With several Premier League teams now having huge player databases monitored by a team of talented individuals — often, like Wrigglesworth, with no pro playing experience — scouring the globe for the next bargain, the Moneyball vibe is strong.