Thigh injury to sideline Cristiano Ronaldo an additional two weeks

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Real Madrid attacker Cristiano Ronaldo may have downplayed his injury’s significance after Saturday’s game against Almería, but now that he’s set to be sidelined for another two weeks, what was considered a minor problem has become a full-blown injury. His early second half substitution may have only been precautionary, but having already missed a Champions League match against Galatasaray, that precautions done. Ronaldo’s leg problem is a full-blown injury, and anytime a star of his talent is hurt, it’s an outright concern.

That concern will keep the Ballon d’Or candidate out for Saturday’s match against Real Valladolid. If the two-week timeline holds up, Ronaldo will also miss a Copa del Rey match with Olímpic de Xàtiva and El Real’s Champions League group stage finale against Copenhagen.

If all goes well, Ronaldo will be back by Real Madrid’s Dec. 14 visit to Osasuna, though their next true challenge may not happen until Dec. 22’s visit to Valencia. The Merengues can afford to be cautious, and with Ronaldo clearly not 100 percent (according to his coach), caution becomes common sense.

From Reuters:

“No, Cristiano won’t play [against Valladolid] because he is not comfortable and doesn’t feel good,” the [Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti] said.

“We did a scan this morning and while the muscle is completely healed he is not comfortable and hasn’t trained much, so we are not going to take the risk. He has 15 days to work and prepare well for the next league match [at Osasuna on 14 December].”

All of a sudden worries Ángel Di María won’t get enough playing time can be squelched. Granted, most of those worries are mine (the guy may be the most under-appreciated player in the game today), but with with one of their attackers sidelined, Real Madrid has enough room for their Argentine winger. Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale will still be there to supply goals. Isco will pull the strings. Jesé, Álvaro Morata, and Luka Modric will get their time. Real Madrid have enough to cover to survive without Ronaldo, especially with a guy like Di María.

But Ronaldo’s is yet another name added to the list of players worn down by the World Cup cycle. Lionel Messi had a reoccurrence of his hamstring injury, while Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger are both sidelined for Bayern Munich. Borussia Dortmund have been decimated in defense, while Vincent Kompany can’t get right for Manchester City. Not everything comes down to wear-and-tear, but the now that qualifying’s done, these players (and others) will have a chance to get healthy for the season’s second half.

 

Follow Live: Mexico looks to hold off Honduras

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Mexico is looking to begin its Gold Cup title defense in earnest as El Tri takes on Honduras at 10:30 p.m. ET in Glendale, AZ in the 2017 Gold Cup quarterfinals.

With Jamaica already through with a 2-1 win over Canada, the winner of this match will take on the Reggae Boyz in the semifinal opposite the United States and Costa Rica.

[ LIVE: Gold Cup scoreboard ]

Honduras has yet to score a single goal in Gold Cup 2017 competition, but their defensive prowess kept them around to the knockout stage thanks to their forfeit win over French Guyana (technically a 3-0 victory) and a 0-0 draw against Canada.

Mexico, meanwhile, won Group C handily, conceding just once throughout the group stage. However, El Tri has brought a youth squad, and they showed weaknesses in the group stage despite the solid record on paper. They have spread out the scoring among five different goalscorers, but lean on Elias Hernandez for much of the creative duties.

LINEUPS

Mexico: Corona, Pereira, Ayala, Molina, Alvarez, Pineda, E. Hernandez, Pizarro, Gallardo, Sepulveda, Duenas.

Honduras: Lopez, Crisanto, M. Figueroa, H. Figueroa, Alvarado, Acosta, Mejia, Quioto, Lanza, Elis, Sanchez.

Jamaica 2-1 Canada: Reggae Boyz reach 2nd straight Gold Cup semifinals

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Two years after their stunning finals appearance, Jamaica is back into the Gold Cup semifinals after holding off Junior Hoilett and Canada 2-1.

Shaun Francis put Jamaica in front just five minutes into the match, as Darren Mattocks expertly cut back to the far side of the box where Francis was trailing the play, and the Montreal Impact full-back put the Reggae Boyz in front.

There was no more action until past the halftime break. Jamaica doubled its lead thanks to a superb strike by Romario Williams, who leaned back and rifled one off the hands of goalkeeper Milan Borjan and into the top corner.

Darren Mattocks got his second assist of the game on the goal with his little nudge backwards to Williams at the top of the box.

The two-goal cushion wouldn’t last long, however, as the fireworks show continued. Now, it was Canada’s turn to put on a show as Junior Hoilett stunned the crowd with a long-distance curler from even further outside the box than Williams’ just 11 minutes earlier.

That would do it for the scoring, although the show wasn’t completely over. With just 15 minutes left, Hoilett unleashed another would-be stunner, but Andre Blake matched the shot with a spectacular save, getting his fingertips to the shot to keep it out.

Blake was critical down the stretch to squelch any chances Canada had late as they pushed for an equalizer. The Reggae Boyz held on to reach the semifinal, where they will take on either Mexico or Honduras.

Report: Morata sale allows Madrid to pursue Mbappe

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For months rumors have claimed that Real Madrid had been priced out of a move for Kylian Mbappe.

Now, they may have the cash, and a way throught.

After selling Alvaro Morata to Chelsea for $75 million, the club may have the funds – and enough offsetting cashflow to appease Financial Fair Play – to make a serious play for the 18-year-old superstar. In addition, the club has almost completed the slale of Danilo to Manchester City for $35 million, and James Rodriguez to Bayern Munich, although they see little return from that immediately, as the deal is a two-year loan with an obligation to buy at the end.

[ MORE: Man City bid for Mendy rejected ]

According to a Goal.com report, Mbappe is now Madrid’s top transfer target, although it seems there is little chance of prying him away from Monaco this late. According to the same report, Mbappe has been advised by unnamed parties that staying at Monaco gives him the highest likelihood of making the French squad for the 2018 World Cup.

“Mbappe is very good,” said Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane. “He’s a very good player and he has shown that all year, but he is not my player. I can’t say anything else.”

PSG is also reportedly in for Mbappe, but it’s understandable that Monaco would be hesitant to sell to a chief league rival.

Follow Live: Jamaica and Canada battle for semifinal spot

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Jamaica and Canada are looking ahead to a possible semifinal spot as they match up at 7:30 p.m. ET in Glendale to mark their beginning of the 2017 Gold Cup knockout round.

Both clubs make up the majority of their rosters from MLS clubs, with Cyle Larin heading the line for Canada and Andre Blake manning the backstop for Jamaica. Nonetheless, it’s Larin’s fellow attacker Alphonso Davies who’s picked up three of Canada’s five goals thus far.

[ LIVE: Gold Cup scoreboard ]

Both teams are putting heavy importance on this match with each already eliminated from World Cup contention.

Jamaica has only allowed one goal all tournament, shutting out both Mexico and Curacao. The Reggae Boyz made the final last time around, but will find that same result much more difficult this time around.

LINEUPS

Jamaica: Blake, Taylor, Lowe, Lawrence, Powell, Watson, Lambert, Francis, Gordon, Mattocks, Williams.

Canada: Borjan, Vitoria, Jakovic, Davies, Petrasso, Piette, Tiebert, Arfield, Larin, De Jong, Hoilett.