UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League - Semi Finals Draw

Champions League rights shift hands in Britain, triple in value

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Sky Sports is out of the Champions League game in Britain come 2015-16, but the big question is how will affect your soccer. In North American, we get neither Sky Sports (England’s current rights holders), ITV (part of the current, shared package), or BT Sport, where the contract will be rest until the 2017-18 tournament. Yet with the telecom giant playing over $1.4 billion dollars for the rights to broadcast Champions and Europe League in Britain, this is bound to have some influence on what you watch.

Consider what Sky had paid for the right to the tournament through 2014-15 – a three-year deal worth £400 million (or, $640 million). BT (British Telecom) Sport’s willingness to most-than double the previous price means a lot of money will trick down throughout Europe, with UEFA’s distributions to Champions League clubs likely to climb as a result of the sharp increase in the price of England’s rights. For those wary of the increasing divide between haves and have-nots, this isn’t good news.

More money will end up on the “in” side of the Champions League divide, those clubs who are habitual qualifiers able to calcify their spots among Europe’s elites. That’s already happening now, but as new deals like BT’s come into effect, the speed of that transition should increase.

Likewise, those on the inner circle — the clubs that make the knockout round every season, will see even more money. Each knockout round participant received between $4.7 million (Round of 16 exits) and $31.8 million extra (champions Bayern Munich). With BT’s huge outlay, there’ll be more money to go around.

In the long run, that means more money for the big boys to spend, a greater consolidation of talent, and the increased stature of Champions League as competition for the world’s elite talent.

At the same time, it’s senseless to lament the such mundane changes in the soccer landscape, especially when they represent that logical course of events. The Champions League is quickly becoming the soccer world’s premier commercial product, it’s annual footprint putting it in-league with the World Cup’s once very four years, cash-in all at once approach. As such, increased broadcast rights are inevitable. For a company like BT Sport looking to undermine Sky’s decades-long hegemony, over paying for Champions League is seems natural.

“We bid with a clear view of what the rights are worth to us. It seems BT chose to pay far in excess of our valuation,” a Sky spokesman said, via The Guardian. “We take a disciplined approach and there is always a level at which we will choose to focus on something else. If we thought it was worth more, we’d have paid more.”

“They would say that, wouldn’t they?” BT Retail Chief Executive John Petter said. “Secretly, I’d expect them to be kicking themselves and full of regrets this morning.”

The practical implications are what should be more worrisome than the price. With this deal, UEFA competitions are going to take a big shift away from terrestrial (read: free) broadcast in England, with ITV being cut out of the loop.

UEFA has reportedly insisted the finals of both competitions remain free-to-air, and BT has said every British team will be available free at least once per year, but with the new rights deal, it appears British fans will join their American peers, being dependent on some kind of pay service.

With us viewers in the States needing cable television (and sometimes, premium packages) to get all our soccer, we know: It’s not that bad. But for people in Britain, it could be a subtle, meaningful change.

Skrtel’s agent “90-percent sure” center-back will leave Liverpool

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17:  Martin Skrtel of Liverpool FC points during the international friendly match between Brisbane Roar and Liverpool FC at Suncorp Stadium on July 17, 2015 in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
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Martin Skrtel seems to have played his last match at Liverpool as the player’s agent said he is “90-percent sure” that the center-back will move away from Anfield this summer.

Skrtel, who joined Liverpool in 2008, has made more than 300 appearances for the club, the most of any player on the current roster.

[ MORE: Delph to miss EURO 2016 ]

After a strong campaign in 2014-15, Skrtel’s play dropped off quite a bit this year, with the 31-year-old also missing three months with a torn hamstring. He managed just 22 appearances in the Premier League, his lowest total since the 2009-10 season.

Speaking to TV Markiza in Slovakia, Skrtel’s agent Karol Csonto said a move is likely to happen, with Turkish side Besiktas interested in the center-back.

Besiktas is one of those interested in Martin but we’re haven’t reached a point where I can confirm Martin is going there, or anywhere else.

But I can say that it is 90 per cent sure Martin will leave Liverpool, but it is far from closed.

Skrtel fell out of favor at Anfield when Jurgen Klopp took over the side, and the veteran defender never seemed to be in the new manager’s plans. He’s been a constant presence in the Reds’ back-line for years now, and it will be strange sight to see a Liverpool defense without a screaming Skrtel keeping things organized.

Copa America 2016: Final 23-man rosters for each team

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 21: Sergio Aguero (L) and Lionel Messi of Argentina react while walking off the field after defeating Iran 1-0 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Argentina and Iran at Estadio Mineirao on June 21, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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With the Copa America Centenario kicking off next Friday, the final 23-man rosters for each team are in.

This tournament is littered with talent, with top players from every major league represented. Of course, one massive name missing from this list is Neymar, who will be playing for Brazil in the Olympics rather than at the Copa.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Copa coverage ]

Group A – Full Preview

United States
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Ethan Horvath (Molde IK)
Defenders: Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)
Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (FC Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
Forwards: Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood(Hamburg SV), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy),

Colombia
Goalkeepers: Cristian Bonilla (Atletico Nacional), David Ospina (Arsenal), Robinson Zapata (Santa Fe)
Defenders: Felipe Aguilar (Atletico Nacional), Santiago Arias (PSV), Farid Diaz (Atletico Nacional), Frank Fabra (Boca Juniors), Stefan Medina (Pachuca), Jeison Murillo (Inter Milan), Oscar Murillo (Pachuca), Cristian Zapata (AC Milan)
Midfielders: Edwin Cardona (Monterrey), Guillermo Celis (Junior), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus), Sebastian Perez (Atletico Nacional), Andres Felipe Roa (Deportivo Cali), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Carlos Sanchez (Aston Villa), Daniel Torres (Independiente Medellin)
Forwards: Carlos Bacca (AC Milan), Roger Martinez (Racing Club), Marlos Moreno (Atletico Nacional), Dayro Moreno (Club Tijuana)

Costa Rica
Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid), Patrick Pemberton (Alajuelense), Esteban Alvarado (Trabzonspor)
Defenders: Cristian Gamboa (West Brom), Jose Salvatierra (Alajuelense), Michael Umana (Persepolis), Johnny Acosta (Alajuelense), Oscar Duarte (Espanyol), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps), Ronald Matarrita (New York City FC), Bryan Oviedo (Everton), Francisco Calvo (Saprissa)
Midfielders: Yeltsen Tejeda (Evian), Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruna), Randall Azofeifa (Herediano), Esteban Granados (Herediano), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Club), Johan Venegas (Montreal Impact), Christian Bolanos (Vancouver Whitecaps), Joel Campbell (Arsenal)
Forwards: Ariel Rodriguez (Alajuelense), Alvaro Saborio (D.C. United), Marcos Urena (Midtjylland)

Paraguay
Goalkeepers: Justo Villar (Colo Colo), Antony Silva (Cerro Porteno), Diego Barreto (Olimpia)
Defenders: Paulo Da Silva (Toluca), Gustavo Gomez (Lanus), Pablo Aguilar (America), Fabian Balbuena (Corinthians), Bruno Valdez (Cerro Porteno), Miguel Samudio (America), Blas Riveros (Olimpia)
Midfielders: Oscar Romero (Racing), Nestor Ortigoza (San Lorenzo), Celso Ortiz (AZ Alkmaar), Rodrigo Rojas (Cerro Porteno), Robert Piris Da Motta (Olimpia), Miguel Almiron (Lanus)
Forwards: Roque Santa Cruz (Malaga), Nelson Valdez (Seattle Sounders), Edgar Benitez (Queretaro), Derlis Gonzalez (Dynamo Kiev), Jorge Benitez (Cruz Azul), Dario Lezcano (Ingolstadt), Juan Iturbe (Bournemouth)


Group B – Full Preview

Brazil
Goalkeepers: Alisson (Internacional), Diego Alves (Valencia), Ederson (Benfica)
Defenders: Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Fabinho (Monaco), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid), Douglas Santos (Atletico Mineiro), Miranda (Inter Milan), Gil (Shandong Luneng), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo)
Midfielders: Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Elias (Corinthians), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Rafinha (Barcelona), Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan), Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool), Lucas Lima (Santos), Willian (Chelsea)
Forwards: Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich), Hulk (Zenit), Ricardo Oliveira (Santos), Gabriel (Santos)

Ecuador
Goalkeepers: Alexander Dominguez (LDU de Quito), Esteban Dreer (C.S. Emelec), Maximo Banguera (Barcelona SC)
Defenders: Juan Carlos Paredes (Watford), Arturo Mina (Independiente del Valle), Gabriel Achilier (C.S. Emelec), Frickson Erazo (Atletico Mineiro), Robert Arboleda (U. Catolica), Walter Ayovi (Monterrey), Cristian Ramirez (Ferencvarosi)
Midfielders: Antonio Valencia (Manchester United), Angel Mena (C.S. Emelec), Christian Noboa (Rostov), Fernando Gaibor (C.S. Emelec), Pedro Larrea (El Nacional), Carlos Gruezo (FC Dallas), Jefferson Montero (Swansea), Michael Arroyo (Club America), Fidel Martinez (Pumas)
Forwards: Enner Valencia (West Ham), Jaime Ayovi (Godoy Cruz), Juan Cazares (Atletico Mineiro), Miller Bolanos (Gremio)

Haiti
Goalkeepers: Steward Ceus (Unattached), Luis Valendi Odelus (Aigle Noir), Johny Placide (Reims)
Defenders: Romain Genevois (Nice), Jerome Mechack (Jacksonville Armada), Judelin Aveska (Atletico Uruguay), Reginal Goreux (Standard Liege), Kim Jaggy (Aarau), Alex Christian (Vila Real), Jean Sony Alcenat (Voluntari), Stephane Lambese (Paris Saint-Germain)
Midfielder: Jean Marc Alexandre (Fort Lauderdale Strikers), Kevin Lafrance (Chrobry Glogow), Soni Mustivar (Sporting Kansas City), Max Hilaire (Cholet), Pascal Millien (Jacksonville Armada), Sony Norde (Mohun Bagan), James Marcelin (Carolina RailHawks)
Forwards: Wilde-Donald Guerrier (Wisla Krakow), Kervens Belfort (1461 Trabzon), Jeff Louis (Caen), Jean-Eudes Maurice (Ha Noi), Duckens Nazon (Laval)

Peru
Goalkeepers: Carlos Caceda (Universitario), Pedro Gallese (Juan Aurich), Diego Penny (Sporting Cristal)
Defenders: Luis Abram (Sporting Cristal), Miguel Araujo (Alianza Lima), Jair Cespedes (Sporting Cristal), Aldo Corzo (Deportivo Municipal), Christian Ramos (Juan Aurich), Alberto Rodriguez (Sporting Cristal), Miguel Trauco (Universitario), Yoshimar Yotun (Malmo)
Midfielders: Armando Alfageme (Deportivo Municipal), Adan Balbin (Universitario), Cristian Benavente (Charleroi), Christian Cueva (Toluca), Luiz da Silva (PSV Eindhoven), Alejandro Hohberg (Universidad Cesar Vallejo), Renato Tapia (Feyenoord), Oscar Vilchez (Alianza Lima)
Forwards: Edison Flores (Universitario), Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo), Andy Polo (Universitario), Raul Ruidiaz (Universitario)


Group C – Full Preview

Mexico
Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (Malaga), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca)
Defenders: Paul Aguilar (Club America), Miguel Layun (Porto), Rafael Marquez (Atlas), Diego Reyes (Real Sociedad), Nestor Araujo (Santos Laguna), Hector Moreno (PSV), Yasser Corona (Queretaro), Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres), Jesus Molina (Santos Laguna)
Midfielders: Jesus Manuel Corona (Porto), Hector Herrera (Porto), Hirving Lozano (Pachuca), Andres Guardado (PSV), Carlos Pena (Chivas), Jurgen Damm (Tigres), Javier Aquino (Tigres), Jesus Duenas (Tigres)
Forwards: Javier Hernandez (Bayer Leverkeusen), Raul Jimenez (Benfica), Oribe Peralta (Club America)

Jamaica
Goalkeepers: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Duwayne Kerr (Stjarnan), Ryan Thompson (Saint Louis FC)
Defenders: Rosario Harriott (Harbour View FC), Michael Hector (Reading), Kemar Lawrence (New York RB), Adrian Mariappa (Crystal Palace), Wes Morgan (Leicester City), Damano Solomon (Portmore United), Jermaine Taylor (Portland Timbers)
Midfielders: Rodolph Austin (Brondby IF), Michael Binns (Portmore United), Chevone Marsh (Cavaler Sports Club), Joel McAnuff (Leyton Orient), Garath McCleary (Reading), Andrew Vanzie (Humble Lion FC), Je-Vaughn Watson (New England Revolution), Lee Williamson (Blackburn Rovers)
Forwards: Giles Barnes (Houston Dynamo), Simon Dawkins (San Jose Earthquakes), Clayton Donaldson (Birmingham City), Allan Ottey (Montego Bay United), Dever Orgill (IFK Marieham)

Uruguay
Goalkeepers: Martin Campana (Independiente), Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Vasco da Gama)
Defenders: Sebastian Coates (Sporting Lisbon), Jorge Fucile (Nacional), Jose Gimenez (Atletico Madrid), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Alvaro Pereira (Getafe), Maximiliano Pereira (Porto), Mauricio Victorino (Nacional)
Midfielders: Mathias Corujo (Universidad de Chile), Alvaro Gonzalez (Atlas), Nicolas Lodeiro (Boca Juniors), Gaston Ramirez (Middlesbrough), Egidio Arevalo Rios (Atlas), Cristian Rodriguez (Independiente), Carlos Sanchez (Monterrey), Matias Vecino (Fiorentina)
Forwards: Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain), Abel Hernandez (Hull City), Diego Rolan (Bordeaux), Cristhian Stuani (Middlesbrough), Luis Suarez (Barcelona)

Venezuela
Goalkeepers: Jose Contreras (Deportivo Tachira), Wuilker Farinez (Caracas), Dani Hernandez (Tenerife)
Defenders: Wilker Angel (Deportivo Tachira), Rolf Feltscher (Duisburg), Alexander Gonzalez (Huesca), Roberto Rosales (Malaga), Jose Manuel Velazquez (Arouca), Mikel Villanueva (Malaga), Oswaldo Vizcarrondo (Nantes)
Midfielders: Juan Pablo Anor (Malaga), Arquimedes Figuera (La Guaira), Alejandro Guerra (Atletico Nacional), Yangel Herrera (Atletico Venezuela), Romulo Otero (Huachipato), Adalberto Penaranda (Granada), Tomas Rincon (Genoa), Carlos Suarez (Carabobo), Luis Manuel Seijas (Internacional)
Forwards: Yonathan Del Valle (Kasimpasa), Josef Martinez (Torino), Salomon Rondon (West Brom), Christian Santos (NEC)


Group D – Full Preview

Argentina
Goalkeepers: Mariano Andujar (Estudiantes), Nahuel Guzman (UANL), Sergio Romero (Manchester United)
Defenders: Facundo Roncaglia (Fiorentina), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Ramiro Funes Mori (Argentina), Gabriel Mercado (River Plate), Jonathan Maidana (River Plate), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Victor Cuesta (Independiente)
Midfielders: Matias Kranevitter (Atletico Madrid), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Javier Pastore (Paris Saint-Germain), Augusto Fernandez (Atletico Madrid), Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur)
Forwards: Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Hebei China Fortune), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Nicolas Gaitan (Benfica)

Chile
Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo (Barcelona), Johnny Herrera (Universidad de Chile), Cristopher Toselli (Universidad Catolica)
Defenders: Mauricio Isla (Marseille), Jose Pedro Fuenzalida (Universidad Catolica), Gonzalo Jara (Universidad de Chile), Enzo Roco (Espanyol), Gary Medel (Inter), Eugenio Mena (Sao Paulo)
Midfielders: Jean Beausejour (Colo Colo), Marcelo Diaz (Celta Vigo), Francisco Silva (Chiapas), Erick Pulgar (Bologna), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich), Matias Fernandez (Fiorentina), Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen), Pablo Hernandez (Celta Vigo), Edson Puch (LDU Quito).
Forwards: Nicolas Castillo (Universidad Catolica), Fabian Orellana (Celta Vigo), Mauricio Pinilla (Atalanta), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Eduardo Vargas (Hoffenheim)

Panama
Goalkeepers: Jose Calderon (Platense), Jaime Penedo (Saprissa), Alex Rodriguez (San Francisco)
Defenders: Felipe Baloy (Atlas), Harold Cummings (Alajuelense), Eric Davis (FC DAC 1904), Fidel Escobar (Sporting San Miguelito), Luis Henriquez (Tauro), Adolfo Machado (Saprissa), Roderick Miller (San Francisco)
Midfielders: Ricardo Buitrago (Juan Aurich), Armando Cooper (Arabe Unido), Anibal Godoy (San Jose Earthquakes), Gabriel Gomez (Cartagines), Amilcar Henriquez (America), Valentin Pimental (La Equidad), Alberto Quintero (San Jose Earthquakes)
Forwards: Abdiel Arroyo (RNK Split), Ismael Diaz (Porto B), Roberto Nurse (Mineros de Zacatecas), Blas Perez (Vancouver Whitecaps), Luis Tejada (Juan Aurich), Gabriel Torres (Zamora)

Bolivia
Goalkeepers: Carlos Lampe (Sport Boys), Romel Quinonez (Bolivar), Guillermo Viscarra (Oriente Petrolero)
Defenders: Diego Bejarano (The Strongest), Marvin Bejarano (Oriente Petrolero), Nelson Cabrera (Bolivar), Ronald Eguino (Bolivar), Luis Gutierrez (Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona), Erwin Saavedra (Bolivar), Edward Zenteno (Wilstermann)
Midfielders: Pedro Azogue (Oriente Petrolero), Jhasmani Campos (Kazma SC), Raul Castro (The Strongest), Samuel Galindo (Club Petrolero), Cristhian Machado (Wilstermann), Alejandro Melean (Oriente Petrolero), Fernando Saucedo (Wilstermann), Martin Smedberg-Dalence (IFK Goteborg), Walter Veizaga (The Strongest)
Forwards: Juan Carlos Arce (Bolivar), Yasmani Duk (New York Cosmos), Bruno Miranda (Universidad de Chile), Rodrigo Ramallo (The Strongest)

England’s Fabian Delph to miss out on EURO 2016 through injury

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01: Fabian Delph of Manchester City looks on during the Capital One Cup Quarter Final match between Manchester City and Hull City at Etihad Stadium on December 1, 2015 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
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Fabian Delph will not be playing for England at EURO 2016 after picking up a groin injury in training.

Delph did not travel to Sunderland for England’s friendly against Australia on Friday, with manager Roy Hodgson saying he “probably won’t be in the 23 [final roster spots].”

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s EURO coverage ]

Delph’s inclusion in the provisional 30-man roster was met with some criticism, as the Manchester City midfielder managed just eight Premier League starts this season and made only nine appearances off the bench.

This news will now boost the hopes of Leicester’s Danny Drinkwater and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson, who are also battling to make the final roster in the center of midfield.

In his press conference on Thursday, Hodgson stated that Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge has not trained with the team yet, as his fitness will be closely monitored leading up to EURO 2016. Hodgson also confirmed that Manchester United’s 18-year-old Marcus Rashford will make his international debut against Australia.

Ranking the Copa America Centenario contenders

Copa America trophy — 2015 Copa America
AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo
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Sixteen teams enter next month’s Copa America Centenario tournament, and only one emerges as the champion of North, South and Central America.

Will it be Chile who continues its reign? Will Argentina, Brazil or Uruguay find revenge? Can a CONCACAF side thrive with the tourney in the United States?

[ PREVIEWS: Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D ]

There a varying degrees of likelihood that a country rises above the field to win this year’s competition. In this post, we’ll rank the sides from 16 to 1, unlikeliest to likeliest.

16. Haiti — Happy to be there? Circling the Peru match on its calendar.

15. Venezuela — If Salomon Rondon can make things happen, who knows?

14. Bolivia — Lots of work to be done here.

13. Jamaica — Winfried Schaefer’s team has struggled since its strong Gold Cup.

12. Peru — Inexperience will be a problem.

11. Paraguay — Wins have been hard to come by for Los Guaraníes.

10. Panama — Are they primed for a run, or too old to outlast its group opponents?

9. Ecuador — Dangerous but inconsistent, La Tricolor has an easier group from which to advance than most.

8. Costa Rica — If the USMNT falters under the pressure of hosts, Los Ticos will be most likely to benefit in Group A.

[ USMNT-ECUADOR: Match recap | Player ratings | 3 things ]

7. United States — Hosting is a big deal, and Jurgen Klinsmann seems ready to take a more orthodox approach to his lineups. The Yanks will run more than a few teams ragged, depending on how the chips fall.

6. Uruguay — Navigating the absence of Luis Suarez, which could last the group stage or longer, knocks them down a peg.

(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

5. Mexico — It’s another golden generation for El Tri, and it’s not far-fetched to imagine Mexico makes a run at everything.

4. Colombia — James Rodriguez goes back to being the focal point of an attack, and will remind us just how good he is while under the spotlight.

3. Chile — Repeating is hard, and Chile had a lot of home cooking good fortune in its hosted run to a first title.

2. Brazil — No the side won’t be fully loaded, but Dunga has shown he knows how to run a side with or without Neymar.

  1. Argentina — This could be Lionel Messi’s year to lift hardware for club and country.