0′- Chelsea comes out in a 4-3-3: Any illusions that José Mourinho might pursue an away goal and open up in leg one were deflated at the opening whistle, though Chelsea’s team sheet had already hinted at what was to come. The team was going to switch away from what has become a customary 4-2-3-1, instead going with a “true” midfield three of David Luiz, John Obi Mikel, and Frank Lampard. With Ramires among the front three, this was as defensive as Chelsea could set up, an approach that saw the Blues retain only 38 percent of the ball.
17′ – Collision separates Petr Cech’s shoulder: We didn’t know it at the time, but after 17 minutes of today’s match, Petr Cech’s Champions League season was done. Pushed toward goal, Atlético forward/midfielder Raúl García undercut the Chelsea keeper, sending him to ground inside his own net. Walking off cradling his right arm, Cech was replaced by Mark Schwarzer, who will presumably start the second leg in London.
45′ – Diego breaks new ground, puts a shot on target: Atlético would go into halftime with nearly 70 percent of the match’s possession and a 9-2 edge in shots, but it wasn’t until the first half’s final moments that the home side actually put an attempt on target. Brazilian midfielder Diego, a somewhat surprising inclusion in the starting XI, tested Schwarzer just before halftime with a benign shot, leaving the sides to go into the dressing rooms as they started.
65′ – Frank Lampard excused from leg two: Arda Turan had been on for less than five minutes when Frank Lampard slid through him with a challenge. Jonas Eriksson issued the Chelsea great a yellow card, a caution that will force the midfielder out of the second leg. Suspended for yellow card accumulation, Lampard will be sidelined while a likely midfield of Ramires and David Luiz tries to get the Blues to Lisbon.
73 – John Terry bows out, too: With Petr Cech and Frank Lampard already out of leg two, John Terry limped off late, forcing David Luiz back into central defense while André Schürrle came on. Terry now has eight days to recover from his apparent ankle injury. If he can’t, three of the players who’ve served as faces for this era of Chelsea soccer will miss out on Wednesday’s match at Stamford Bridge.
All signs seemed to point toward an all-too-familiar outcome for the David Beckham-led investment group hoping to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to the city of Miami: another failed plan in their bid to build a brand new stadium.
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Earlier this month, newly-joined all-world sports executive Tim Leiweke warned that groups or individuals currently owning the various parcels of land surrounding the Miami Marlins’ baseball stadium, the latest site Miami Beckham United (MBU) had chosen, were making “unrealistic” demands and threatened to derail the project at that location.
Today, it’s been reported across South Florida that the group has altogether abandoned plans to build their stadium at that particular site. Miami city commissioner Francis Suarez confirmed that MBU were “moving in a different direction” — quotes from Local 10 News:
“It’s going to be withdrawn from the next agenda because the Beckham group has not acquired the private properties that are needed to construct the stadium on that site.”
“The residents expect us to hold these teams to the fire,” Suarez said. “A lot of times they’re financed by wealthy people and they want some sort of a public subsidy, which is very controversial as well, which is why we were going to take it to referendum.”
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On Sunday, during halftime of the league’s Western Conference final, MLS commissioner Don Garber was asked about the Miami stadium situation, to which he responded, “We think Miami will be a great market. We found a reasonably good site. I’m confident that we’ll get something done there.”
MBU is reportedly being held to something of a deadline by the MLS board of governors, which meets every year ahead of MLS Cup, with this weekend’s sit-down thought of as a target date to have something concrete going forward. Meanwhile, Sacramento Republic FC, an MLS expansion hopeful currently playing in the USL (third division), announced last week they would be moving forward with building their brand new MLS-sized stadium, expansion bid or not.
There are certainly already some comparisons between new Premier League record holder Jamie Vardy and fictional Santiago Munez from the “Goal!” movies.
But that isn’t going to stop “Goal” screenwriter Adrian Butchart from heading to Tinseltown and pitching the Vardy story as a basis for a new film, according to The Sun.
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And he’s got a who’s who of young actors in mind for the role of Vardy.
From The Sun:
Butchart believes Hollywood A-listers Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield and Zac Efron all have potential to fill Vardy’s boots in a film version of his life.
Unfortunately, they don’t ask Butchart who should play Claudio Ranieri, or Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Fortunately, we’re here with our cast (The first one is easy):
Aaron Paul as Vardy.
Robert Downey, Jr. as Van Nistelrooy.
James Franco as Riyad Mahrez.
Tommy Lee Jones as Ranieri.
Ryan Gosling as Kaspar Schmeichel.
Liam Neeson as Nigel Pearson.
And Danny Drinkwater as himself.
The Eastern Conference’s second-stingiest team is looking to enhance its already-strong back line.
Joining MLS Best XI defender Laurent Ciman could be Siaka Tiene, a longtime international teammate of Didier Drogba on the Ivory Coast squad.
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The 96-times capped Tiene will be 34 when next season starts, but will have fresh legs having not played since last season ended for Montpellier.
MLSSoccer.com does the translation work for us:
A report from RDS.ca states that the Impact have signed 33-year-old left back Siaka Tiéné, an Ivory Coast international who boasts World Cup and African Cup of Nations experience.
Aside from Ciman, Ambroise Oyongo is the only Impact back currently under contract.
Tiene played relatively well last season, but was limited to just 17 appearances in Ligue 1.
Phil Neville is one stroke of the pen from opening his full managerial career at a vaunted La Liga stop, with a club in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.
Nuno Espirito Santo stepped down from his manager’s role at Valencia on Sunday, with the Bats in ninth place, five points outside the Top Four.
[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup | Bundesliga wrap ]
In his place in former Manchester United and Everton legend Neville, who will take charge of the team in the interim.
As weird as it would be to give the job to a man who has only led Salford City — a club he co-owns — on a caretaker basis, the hire would be no weirder than Tim Sherwood being allowed to run Tottenham Hotspur.
Would it be a surprise, given the time of season, if Neville was at least given through the end of the year?
And consider, from the BBC:
The club’s Singaporean owner, Peter Lim, has a stake in Salford City, the non-league club co-owned by Neville with his former Manchester United team-mates Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes.
Valencia needs to beat Lyon in its final UCL Group H game, and hope Gent draws or loses at home to first-place Zenit Saint-Petersburg. Otherwise, it’s on to the Europa League.