Will Jermain Defoe make England’s World Cup squad after move to Toronto?

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New Toronto FC signing Jermain Defoe was unveiled amongst much fanfare on Monday, as Major League Soccer’s newest star has landed in Ontario.

But will Defoe’s multi-year and multi-million dollar prevent him playing for the English national team?

That’s the question many have been asking on both sides of the pond, as England really don’t have anyone else in their squad that possesses the sublime finishing skills that Defoe has. Inevitably the question that is often asked to European players moving to MLS cropped up in Defoe’s first press conference as a Toronto player, as he was asked whether his move to the North American top-flight spelled the end of his England career.

“The most important thing for me is just playing football, scoring and doing well for the team,” Defoe said. “Hopefully, then I can be on a plane [to Brazil].”

But we all know it’s not that simple.

Eurosnobs out there, and there are plenty of you, would argue that Defoe is making a bad decision by leaving behind one of English soccer’s top six teams to join Toronto, a side that’s never made the MLS postseason. However the finances obviously come in to it here, as the England international is 31 and perhaps wanted one big pay day to finish his career. He’s got that. But will he get on the plan to Brazil and persuade Roy Hodgson to take him?

“I have to be honest, I did think about the chances of going to the World Cup,” Defoe said. “It’s always important to play well for your club, and having played in a World Cup before, it’s just the greatest thing in the world. It’s a dream come true. And yes, it did cross my mind, but at the same time I believe the MLS is going to be fantastic for me, and it’s important to be playing.”

(MORE: Where will new Toronto FC man Jermain Defoe fall in the ranking of MLS strikers?)

That’s the puzzler, because would Hodgson have picked Defoe had he stayed at Spurs and was on the bench like he had been for most of this season? Defoe has started just three PL games and made 10 appearances off the bench, so he wasn’t playing regularly but at Toronto he will be a regular starter and would be much sharper and fitter, in theory, to be a threat for England in Brazil.

Defoe doesn’t have to prove himself to anyone, he has scored 19 goals in 55 games for England and with Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Rickie Lambert and Andy Carroll as England’s other options up top, apart from superstar Wayne Rooney who is a shoe-in to start, surely Defoe is in with a shout at playing for the Three Lions this summer?

“At the age of 31, I would like to think that the England manager [Roy Hodgson] and everyone in England knows what I can do, what I bring to the team. If selected I’ll be ready.”

MLS won’t suddenly turn Defoe into a bad player. The Republic of Ireland have persisted with Robbie Keane after his move to the LA Galaxy and he’s been great for club and country. So why can’t England use Defoe if he’s playing for Toronto?

Spartak and Zenit fined in latest Russia fan racism cases

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MOSCOW (AP) Spartak Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg have both been fined for racist chants by their fans, the latest such incident in World Cup host nation Russia.

Spartak’s fans were accused of aiming monkey chants at FC Tosno player Nuno Rocha, who is black, while some Zenit supporters allegedly chanted a Nazi slogan during a league game.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

The clubs must each pay a 100,000-ruble ($1,600) fine, and Spartak has been hit with a partial stadium closure for its next cup game, state news agency RIA Novosti quotes Russian Football Union disciplinary committee head Artur Grigoryants as saying.

The verdict comes after FIFA charged Russia with racist abuse of France players during last month’s friendly.

Zenit has also faced two racism charges from UEFA this season.

Europa League: Arsenal, Marseille host semifinal 1st legs

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Arsenal’s Champions League dreams could be in for a rude awakening against tournament-tested Atletico Madrid.

The Premier League vs. La Liga match-up is one of two Europa League semifinal first legs set to be served up Sunday, with Marseille and Red Bull Salzburg meeting in the other.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

There’s something romantic about Arsene Wenger closing out his time at Arsenal against French opposition in Lyon, but Atleti and Salzburg won’t step aside for poetics.

Both matches kickoff ay 3:05 p.m. ET

Arsenal vs. Atletico Madrid

It’s a bit stunning that this tie has no history considering both club’s statures in their leagues and Europe, but that’s what we’ll se when Arsenal welcomes Atleti for the first leg.

Arsenal boasts two of the top 10 performers in the UEL this season — it would be three had the Gunners not sold Theo Walcott — and are paced by Aaron Ramsey, who has four goals and an assist. Mesut Ozil, who’s ready to return to the pitch, has the reverse with a goal and four helpers.

The Gunners have outscored UEL opposition 29-10 this season.

It’s no surprise that Antoine Griezmann has been Atleti’s best attacker since the Madrid side dropped out of the UCL to run rampant through the UEL knockout rounds. Atleti beat Copenhagen 5-1, Lokomotiv Moscow 8-1, and Sporting Lisbon 2-1 for an aggregate score line of 15-3.

Marseille vs. Red Bull Salzburg

Don’t expect this to be a simple case of Ligue 1 bossing inferior opposition: This pair met in the group stage, with the Austrian side winning at home and drawing 0-0 in France.

Salzburg has shown its mettle in various ways during the UEL. After allowing just one goal in an unbeaten group stage, they’ve won 4-3 over Real Sociedad, 2-1 against Borussia Dortmund, and 6-5 versus Lazio. That’s no easy road, and Marseille represents another big challenge.

Marseille is bidding to make its first European final since 2004, and has been led by Dimitri Payet‘s three goals and four assists, and Lucas Ocampos’ four goals and one assist. Marseille has knocked off RB Leipzig, Athletic Bilbao, and Braga after the group stage.

Names you’ll need to know from Salzburg: defenders Stefan Lainer and Paulo Miranda have been spectacular, and Munas Dabbur and Valon Berisha have each scored five times in the tournament.

Mourinho on longtime nemesis Wenger: ‘We can be friends in future’

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Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger have had a poor relationship, but the former thinks he’s soon to get along with the latter.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

Manchester United boss Mourinho, 55, heaped praise on the departing Arsenal manager ahead of the two sides’ Sunday meeting at Old Trafford (Watch live at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), saying the Frenchman has earned much respect.

Branding Wenger “iconic,” Mourinho says his fiery rivalry with Wenger stemmed from Arsenal’s stature in the Premier League when the Portuguese took over Chelsea.

“If he respects me even 50 percent of what I respect him we can even be friends in the future,” Mourinho told Sky Sports News. “I have lots of respect for him. But the reality is that he was at Arsenal, he was the champion and I came to the country in 2004 and wanted to steal his title. That’s football.”

Mourinho said he’s tried to show his respect for Wenger, 68, over the past few seasons. It may become a passable relationship, but we find it hard to believe the pair will be dining together on a regular basis as the sun sets on their managerial careers (Mou has a while to go, we think).

Real’s Modric on Bayern feeling unlucky: “That’s their problem”

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Bayern Munich produced far more chances than visiting Real Madrid in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg in Germany, but lost 2-1 at the Allianz Arena.

Franck Ribery butchered an open shot at goal, Robert Lewandowski beat Keylor Navas but didn’t score late, and Thomas Mueller missed getting contact on a shot inside the six.

[ MORE: Bayern 1-2 Real Madrid ]

It was that kind of day, and Mueller is baffled that his team did not finish more than Joshua Kimmich’s opener.

“Everybody is wondering why this game is 1-2 for Madrid,” Mueller reportedly said. “We still cannot believe it.”

The quote comes from BeIN Sport’s Tancredi Palmeri, who has a stinging rebuke from Real Madrid maestro Luka Modric.

Real wasn’t great on Wednesday, but also limited their big mistakes to one: Marcelo’s lapse of judgment which helped Kimmich to open the scoring for Bayern Munich.

The hosts had a huge giveaway from Rafinha on the match-winner, and backup backstop Sven Ulreich didn’t have a phenomenal day on either goal. Throw in Arjen Robben’s injury requiring an 8th minute substitution, and Bayern did not have much good fortune on the day.

This one, though, doesn’t seem over, even with the tie moving to the Bernabeu.