U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann is just guessing like the rest of us in terms of offensive inclination from Guatemala, although it certainly fits the Guatemalan MO to set up more defensively, doggedly determined to be tough to break down.
They’ll play direct balls into Carlos Ruiz and depend on his hold-up ability to bring others slowly, cautiously into the attack, and to draw fouls that put Marco Pappa into dangerous free kick shooting spots.
But the U.S. coach knows one thing for certain about how Tuesday’s night’s match will unfold. Said Klinsmann at his news conference Monday about Guatemala’s mindset:
“It could be a defensive one. It could be that maybe they come out a little more offensively. No matter what shape they play, they will be very physical. They will run and fight for every ball. It is the game of their lives, really.
“The way they played their [previous World Cup qualifier, last week] with Jamaica, the first 20 minutes they ran out after everything on the field, every ball. So we are prepared for that. We respect them, but I expect, and we expect from ourselves, that we take care of the game. That we control that game, go forward and score, sooner rather than later.”
It’s an important point, because this has been an issue for the team under Klinsmann. Earlier this year Klinsmann admonished his team for not being “nastier” in a 4-1 loss to Brazil. (It was a choice of words the U.S manager most likely regretted.)
Ruiz is one of the most physical, frustrating forwards a defender will ever face. He’s a master of initiating contact first, then hunting for the ball. So, that’s the place to start when dealing with a physical game ahead.
Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.
The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.
The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.
Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.
Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.
As soon as Brendan Rodgers was dismissed by Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s name was tossed around as the likely successor to the then-vacant Liverpool managerial position.
However, according to Klopp’s representatve Marc Kosicke, Liverpool did not make contact with the German until after Rodgers had been officially let go.
“The first call from Liverpool came after the dismissal as coach of Rodgers,” Kosicke told Bild. “Before Liverpool there were naturally quite a few inquiries. But Jurgen always asked me not to take it any further.”
Club management was less committal than Klopp’s rep, but did say they had their eye on the German for some time. “We have learned to keep certain matters confidential. We had a meeting recently with Jurgen that he has talked about and I don’t want to talk too much about these conversations. But we have thought about him for a long time and everyone who knows football knows he is an outstanding manager.”
It’s relatively hard to believe Liverpool would have canned Rodgers without knowing for sure that a top-level target such as Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti were on board to replace him. It also would mean discussions of the contract terms and logistics would have moved at lightning speed, with just four days between the Rodgers dismissal and Klopp’s official unveiling.