Confederations Cup Preview: Nigeria vs. Spain, Uruguay vs. Tahiti

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This afternoon sees the last group stage games of the Confederations Cup in Brazil, as Nigeria need a win against Spain to try and seal a place in the semifinals from Group B.

Uruguay has the much simpler task of beating Tahiti, who lost 6-1 to Nigeria in their opener and 10-0 to Spain last time out.

That loss was a Confederations Cup record, as the heaviest defeat in the tournaments history.

But can Tahiti cause a huge upset against the Uruguayans this afternoon? In a word. No.

However the global soccer community will be watching on intently to see how Tahiti respond after that hammering from world champions Spain.

Speaking of the Spanish, they could recall plenty of starters against Nigeria as their ticket to the semifinals is not mathematically booked despite wins against Uruguay and Tahiti. If Nigeria defeat Spain by four goals or more and Uruguay also win, then the Spanish could bow out at the group stage. However that scenario playing out is highly unlikely.

Nigeria meanwhile need to overcome Spain and hope that Tahiti somehow draw or beat Uruguay, if the Super Eagles are going to make the semifinals.

(MORE: Spain defeat Tahiti 10-0 as professionalism rules)

John Obi Mikel will be doing his best to break up the play in midfield but even if the African Cup of Nations champions do pull off a huge shock and beat Spain, their fate is no longer in their own hands. Nigeria haven’t defeated a European side since a 1-0 friendly win over France in 2009.

While Uruguay are buoyant after the vital 2-1 win against Nigeria. Diego Forlan emerged as the hero, with the veteran striker reminding us why he was named player of the tournament during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Uruguay head coach Oscar Tabarez will be missing skipper Diego Lugano through suspension but plenty of squad players will get the chance to shine.

La Celeste will be hoping a large win over Tahiti will be enough to see them through to the semifinals. Meanwhile Tahiti’s global profile has risen dramatically since the tournament began and their head coach Eddy Etaeta has promised to play all three of his goalkeepers at some point during this evening’s game with Uruguay.

A tense and thrilling finale is set up for Group B, with plenty of goals and top action expected as this wonderful Confederations Cup tournament continues.

Both games will start at 3pm ET, and you can watch Spain vs. Nigeria live on ESPN and Uruguay vs. Tahiti on ESPN 2.

Day Four: All the action from the U20 World Cup

Hong Hae-in/Yonhap via AP
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South Korea and Venezuela clinched berths in the knockout rounds of the U-20 World Cup on Tuesday, while Germany and Argentina have surprising work to do after two matches in South Korea.

[ MORE: Allardyce steps down at Palace ]

South Korea 2-1 Argentina

Barcelona B man Lee Seung-woo helped South Korea take a 2-0 lead, then hold on for the win and group lead over England.

England 1-1 Guinea

Chelsea youngster Fikayo Tomori scored a wild long range own goal to cost England the three points, but the Blues are still well-positioned to advance out of the group stage. Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook scored for England, and it was a beaut.

Venezuela 7-0 Vanuatu

Seven different Venezuelans have scored through a pair of shutout wins, with Caracas’ Sergio Cordova the only one to bag a pair.

Mexico 0-0 Germany

Germany has just one point through two matches, thanks largely to Pachuca’s Abraham Romero’s seven saves. Mexico was outshot 12-6.

Porto, Watford, Hull? Marco Silva in demand

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Marco Silva is one of the hottest properties in management, months after eliciting cries of “Who?” following his appointment at Hull City.

While those cries may have been a tiny bit myopic given his time at Sporting CP and Olympiacos, the 39-year-old is now visible to the world despite Hull’s relegation.

[ MORE: Real Madrid nabs $50m teen ]

Silva will be back in England to meet with Hull on Wednesday, but a clause in his contract that said he could leave if the club was relegated gives the Tigers very little hope.

Rumors have him wanted at Watford, and he’s also been linked with a number of other jobs including Southampton (should the club part ways with Claude Puel).

However, the former right back is also reportedly a target of one of the biggest clubs in his home country: Champions League side Porto.

UEFA Europa League Final preview: Manchester United vs. Ajax

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Jose Mourinho’s big European gamble takes center stage on Wednesday in Sweden, when Manchester United attempts to topple young Ajax in the UEFA Europa League Final.

United’s chances for UEFA Champions League qualification, a magnificent opportunity, are overshadowed by the pall cast over Manchester by sinister terrorist attacks at a pop concert that killed and injured many on Monday night.

Alas, there’s soccer to be played, and Mourinho is looking to make it a trio of shiny items in his first year on the job. United beat Leicester City for the Community Shield, then topped Southampton in the EFL Cup Final en route to Sweden.

United’s well-documented dearth of healthy defenders will march out one more time on Wednesday, with Chris Smalling and Phil Jones tasked with manning the center of the back line. Expect Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian out wide.

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 season reviews

Despite the injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mourinho’s attack is going to give Ajax fits. Marcus Rashford has been next level for most of the second half of the season, and United will also likely feature Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba atop Ander Herrera.

If someone is going to break United down, it could be midfield wizards Davy Klaassen and Lasse Schone. The creative middle men have a variety of options to find with the ball, including on-loan Chelsea man Bertrand Traore and Danish teenager Kasper Dolberg.

But how will they deal with United’s attack? Sure Ajax has stopped Lyon, Schalke, Copenhagen, and Legia Warsaw, but United and Mourinho? That’s another challenge for Peter Bosz and his men.

Ajax won the 1992 UEFA Cup, and this is United’s first ever trip to this particular final. The Red Devils are heavy favorites, and we expect United to prevail. Don’t sleep on Juan Mata heroics. Call it 3-1.

Allardyce resigns, opening up intriguing vacancy at Palace

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Sam Allardyce is walking away on top outside the relegation zone.

The veteran Premier League manager, 62, resigned his post as Crystal Palace on Tuesday, weeks after leading another team to safety.

The move ends a tumultuous eight months for Allardyce, who was fired as England manager after an undercover sting exposed unethical dealings with agents.

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 season reviews

It also comes about an hour after somebody wrote that Crystal Palace should move on from Allardyce. What a jerk, that somebody.

Rarely at a loss for words, here’s Big Sam from cpfc.co.uk:

I want to be able to savour life while I’m still relatively young and when I’m still relatively healthy enough to do all the things I want to do, like travel, spend more time with my family and grandchildren without the huge pressure that comes with being a football manager.

This is the right time for me. I have no ambitions to take another job, I simply want to be able to enjoy all the things you cannot really enjoy with the 24/7 demands of managing any football club, let alone one in the Premier League.”

All kidding aside — and I’m far from a Big Sam fan — congrats to the man on walking away to enjoy the finer things in life. He had a heck of a run, and we’ll see how long he can resist being away from the fray. Cheers, Sam.