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Giovanni Trapattoni about to start his last match with Ireland?

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Most figured Giovanni Trapattoni wasn’t long for Ireland after Friday’s 6-1 home loss Germany, but if there was any doubt, news that the 73-year-old Italian will skip tomorrow’s post-break press conference leaves little doubt:

source:

 

At the end of the tweet, Palmeri, an Italy-based soccer journalist, alludes to today’s World Cup Qualifier at the Faroe Islands, a match that’s shaping up to be Trapattoni’s last. Though the former Juventus icon has restored some glory to Irish soccer during his five-year reign (qualifying the team for Euro 2012), he’s also been criticized for his stoic tactics. A conservative style helped stabilize the team in the years after his hire, but with the Irish looking more and more like sitting ducks against Europe’s best, there’s concern the team is no longer moving forward.

After a disappointing showing at Euro 2012, there were calls for Ireland to move on from Trapattoni, calls resisted by the FAI. After Friday’s embarrassment, there’s little support for retaining their boss beyond an expected victory at the Faroes.

That match (kicking off at 2:00 p.m. Eastern) is crucial to Ireland’s hopes of making Brazil 2014. As Friday showed, there’s little hope of besting Germany for the group’s automatic qualifying spot, but Ireland can still beat Sweden for second place, a slot that could send them into UEFA’s playoffs.

Even after losing to Germany, Ireland hasn’t lost much ground on the Sweded. The group’s playoff spot will likely be decided by the team’s two head-to-head meetings, giving the FAI incentive to solve their coaching problems as soon as possible.

Early, two candidates have emerged. As is required with any high profile job in the region, Harry Redknapp has been linked. While that would be a good move for Ireland, it’s unclear it would be a wise one for Redknapp, who still has reasonable expectations of slotting into the next big Premier League opening.

Then there’s the turnback the block candidate, Mick McCarthy, who coached the Irish from 1996 to 2002. More recently, McCarthy had a very successful run at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Though he was dismissed last season after a lopsided derby loss to West Bromwich Albion, Wolves’ subsequent collapse (from their already poor state) provided McCarty with some vindication.

McCarthy’s obviously the more realistic candidate, though if he were to replace Trapattoni, the appointment would re-start a cycle the Irish began five years ago. McCarthy’s presence would be stabilizing, his conservative approach providing some brief assurance after Friday’s demoralizing loss. But five, six years from now, will Irish soccer again lament their program isn’t something more? That’s what happened to McCarthy 10 years ago, and ignited by the Germany loss, that’s what’s happening to Trapattoni now.

If Trapattoni is replaced, Ireland needs to go in a different direction. McCarthy is not it. While it’s unclear the Irish are capable of playing a different way, they need to try. Else, might as well stick with Trapattoni.

Bayern’s Vidal says “ugly” Atletico not deserved UCL finalists

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27: Juanfran of Atletico Madrid and Arturo Vidal of Bayern Munich argue during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Bayern Muenchen at Vincente Calderon on April 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.

Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]

However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.

Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.

They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.

The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.

Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.

[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]

Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.

Europa League preview: Liverpool, Shakhtar look to overcome Spanish foes

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - APRIL 28:  Cedric Bakambu of Villarreal is watched by the Liverpool defence during the UEFA Europa League semi final first leg match between Villarreal CF and Liverpool at Estadio El Madrigal on April 28, 2016 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]

Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0

Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.

[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]

Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw 

Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

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In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.

[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]

Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.

Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.

Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.