Drilling down on: at Colorado 1, Real Salt Lake 0

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Man of the Match: For most of the season, Joseph Nane has been the guy who’s not Pablo Mastroeni, the Rapids’ captain out while dealing with concussion-related issues. Tonight, Nane threatened early, rattling the crossbar after ghosting onto a ball coming out of the box. In the 39th minute, he tried the trick again, this scoring as the ball bounced in off the bottom of the bar.

Perhaps only slightly less important than the goal, Nane was part of a deep midfield pair that kept Real Salt Lake playmaker Javi Morales in check all night. With Jeff Larentowicz on one side and Nane on the other, Morales had one of his least effective matches since regaining most of his pre-injury form.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • Nane had to leave in the 70th minute with a right leg injury, the Rapids’ trainer almost immediately motioning for a substitute after some cursory examinations of Nane’s ankle-area.
  • It was Nane’s first career MLS goal, the former Toronto FC player becoming the 14th Colorado Rapid to score this season (an MLS high, h/t to the Rapids’ broadcast team for the factoids).
  • It was one of the more flat performances RSL’s given all season. Is this an early symptom of CONCACAF Champions League fatigue, with Jason Kreis’s team playing mid-week in Costa Rica? The only serious threat RSL mustered all night was a first half header by Justin Braun off a Jonny Steele cross.
  • Braun got the start in place of Fabian Espindola. RSL missed the Argentine’s energy, his constant pursuit of opposing defenders one of RSL’s strengths in July.
  • Braun had a so-so night, looking like a man who’s yet to sync up with his new teammates. He came off just after the hour mark, Jason Kreis introducing Emiliano Bonfigli (Espindola had come on for Alvaro Saborio at halftime).
  • Go through RSL’s team and you see only two players who had above-average nights: Nat Borchers and (perhaps) Nick Rimando. Everybody else played like they were having a hard time getting up for their third match in a week, one pplayed against a team near the bottom of the West. The Rapids are rivals, but the Rocky Mountain Cup had already been won.
  • Colorado had the right team in place to take advantage of scoring the first goal. In addition to their strong, deep midfield, the Rapids got good nights from Marvell Wynne and Drew Moor (at right back) in defense. Brian Mullan and Jaime Castrillon put forth good efforts wide, while Omar Cummings had a strong night holding up play up top.
  • But this wasn’t a performance that usually beats RSL. Colorado played well, but they didn’t do anything remarkable. They didn’t take the game as much as it fell to them, RSL offering little opposition.
  • Style points aside, it’s a huge win for Colorado. They may have wanted full points, but against a team they’d lost to twice to this season, they shouldn’t have expected a win. But with the victory, they move within five points of LA for fifth place. While the Galaxy still have a match in hand, the Rapids are moving into position to take advantage of any LA downturns.
  • For RSL, each point dropped hurts when the Supporters’ Shield means so much, especially when you’re not forcing your opponents to give their best performance to beat you. Colorado’s announcers lauded the team’s effort, but RSL’s beaten teams that gave better performances. Tonight, RSL just didn’t play as well as they could.

Klopp talks politics: “Brexit makes no sense”

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Jurgen Klopp isn’t a fan of Brexit and he doesn’t care who knows it.

Liverpool’s German manager has spoken in the past about his disdain towards the vote by British citizens to leave the European Union, with Brexit officially planned for March 2019.

Klopp sat down with the Guardian to chat about a whole host of topics but it was his political views which will get the headlines ahead of Liverpool’s huge UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg against AS Roma at Anfield on Tuesday.

The man who has Liverpool on the cusp of reaching a major European final and comfortably in the top four of the Premier League also admitted that he has a “helping syndrome” and wants to help out everyone and he cares about them greatly.

It is worth letting the words speak for themselves when it comes to Klopp’s comments on Brexit as it is clearly something else he cares a lot about.

Take it away, Jurgen…

“When Mr [David] Cameron had the idea [of a referendum] you thought: ‘This is not something people should decide in a moment.’ We are all influenced by the way only some of the argument is given, and once the decision is taken nobody gives you a real opportunity to change it again. The choice was either you stay in Europe, which is not perfect, or you go out into something nobody has any idea how it will work.

“So you give people the chance to make this big decision. And then it’s a 51-49 [51.9%-48.1%] vote and you’re thinking: ‘Wow, 49% are not happy with the decision that’s going to change the country.’ For the 51%, I’m sure they realized pretty early after the vote: ‘What have we done?’ The two leaders of the leave campaign then stepped aside. It was a pure sign they were surprised themselves by the vote. OK, that can happen. But then, come on, let’s sit together again. Let’s think about it again and let’s vote again with the right information – not with the information you’ve got around the Brexit campaign. They were obviously not right, not all of them. It makes no sense at all.”

“The EU is not perfect but it was the best idea we had. History has always shown that when we stay together we can sort out problems. When we split then we start fighting. There was not one time in history where division creates success. So, for me, Brexit still makes no sense.”

VIDEO: Napoli fans celebrate Juventus win

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It is safe to say Napoli’s fans were pretty happy with the 1-0 win their team secured at Juventus on Sunday.

Kalidou Koulibaly powered home a header in stoppage as Napoli moved just one point behind Juventus, who sit top of the Serie A table, with four games to go. The title race is well and truly on in Italy.

The scenes across Naples after the game were incredible and when the players arrived back at the airport at around 3 a.m. local time they were greeted by thousands of adoring fans.

Take a look at the video below. Wow.


Preview: Everton v. Newcastle

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  • Everton have won seven of their last eight games v Newcastle
  • Newcastle have won four PL games in a row
  • Wayne Rooney has more goals (15) against Newcastle than any other PL team

Everton host Newcastle United on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Toffees and Magpies both setting pretty in midtable.

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The Toffees sit in ninth, with Newcastle in 10th and just one point behind Everton with a game in hand. Rafael Benitez has been lauded for taking his newly-promoted side into the top 10 with defensive solidity, while Sam Allardyce has been lambasted for a defensive style of play despite getting Everton out of a relegation fight following his appointment back in November.

In team news Everton have Mason Holgate and Gylfi Sigurdsson out injured, while Newcastle will be without Christian Atsu but Islam Slimani could make his first start.


What they’re saying 

Sam Allardyce on the job Rafael Benitez has done at Newcastle: “From a difficult period they have managed to recover and get in the Premier League and they have turned it around. They have put together a run of games and we’ll see a better Newcastle than we saw up there [when Everton won 1-0 in December]. Rafa has progressed very well. He has always expressed his disappointment with not enough funds – we can all say we don’t have enough funds. What he has managed with the funds he has, particularly in the January months, has been excellent.”

Rafael Benitez on his Newcastle future: “I want to win games and I want to win trophies and I want to have the tools to be capable of competing. At the same time. I like to improve players, coach players, follow a business plan, a realistic business plan in modern football. I have no problem with that because I did it in the past.”

Prediction
Two teams who are very similar in terms of their style of play should see a bit of a stalemate take place at Goodison. 1-1 draw, which is a much better result for Newcastle and will pile more pressure on Big Sam.

Paul Pogba: “Transfers are not in my head”

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Paul Pogba has been discussing his future at Manchester United beyond this season.

The Frenchman delivered a stunning assist in United’s 2-1 win against Tottenham in the FA Cup semifinal on Saturday, with the midfielder now named Man of the Match in each of his last two games after plenty of speculation about his future at United in recent months.

Jose Mourinho left Pogba out of his starting lineup on multiple occasions, while Pep Guardiola claims he was offered to buy Pogba in January and speculation about him joining Paris Saint-Germain, going back to Juventus or heading to Real Madrid continue.

Speaking to French outlet Canal Football Club, Pogba had the following to say about his own future.

“Right now, I am at Manchester United and I am honestly only thinking about the present. Transfers are not in my head. We are in the [FA] Cup final and the World Cup is around the corner,” Pogba said.

Pogba also addressed the rumors regarding his relationship with Mourinho with reports stating that the duo do not get along and United’s manager is fed up with the Frenchman’s attitude off the pitch.

“I don’t have a problem with him, and I don’t think he has a problem with me,” Pogba said. “He’s the coach and he has to make choices. I am a player and I accept them. I have to answer on the pitch.”