ACF Fiorentina v Calcio Catania - Serie A

Rossi misses out on Italy’s World Cup squad again; regrets over US snub?

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Giuseppe Rossi will not be heading to the World Cup this summer, as the American-born Italian international has yet again been left out at the final hurdle.

In 2010 Rossi was cut from the Italian roster by Marcel Lippi after making the initial 30-man squad and lighting has struck twice as the New Jersey native will again be sitting at home watching the biggest soccer tournament on the planet from afar.

Bemused. Bewildered. Disappointed.

Rossi is feeling a little aggrieved to have been left off the final 23-man squad this time around after he battled back from another serious knee injury in January. On Monday he said the following via Twitter after his recovery from injury following his red-hot start to the 2013-14 Serie A season proved to be not quite good enough for head coach Cesare Prandelli.

“Everyone is saying I’m out of shape: ask anyone the results of the tests from last week and from the match,” Rossi said. “You will be surprised. Challenges? Fear? What a laugh.”

Prandelli had been praising Rossi in the build up to their warm up game vs. Ireland at Craven Cottage on Saturday but has opted against taking him in the squad.

Now that 27-year-old forward has missed out on a third-straight major tournament for the Azzuri (he missed Euro 2012 after suffering yet another injury), this is a good time to ask if he should have played for the U.S. national team at international level.

There’s no doubt about it, looking at the strength of the USA’s roster up top right now, you’d have to think that a player who scored 16 goals in Serie A for Fiorentina this season would have made Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad. Rossi has his reasons for selecting the country of his family’s heritage over the country of his birth and the striker from Teaneck, NJ made that decision a long time ago.

However it’s hard not to think of ‘what could of been’ if you imagine Rossi playing for the USMNT. Yes, he moved to Italy at the age of 12 to play in Parma’s youth academy but he still has ties to the U.S. and could have become one of the greatest goalscorers in U.S. history. There is no doubt about that.

Many would argue that getting into the provisional 30-man squad for the Italian national team is harder than breaking into the USA’s final roster but at the end of the day, those 23 players from the U.S. are going to the World Cup. Rossi is not.

As harsh as that sounds, when you become a professional player (or just growing up as a kid playing the game) your dream is to play at the World Cup. If Rossi would’ve selected to play for the USA over Italy, he’d now be heading to this second-straight World Cup.

Instead he will be watching at home on TV, once again.

Bayern’s Vidal says “ugly” Atletico not deserved UCL finalists

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27: Juanfran of Atletico Madrid and Arturo Vidal of Bayern Munich argue during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Bayern Muenchen at Vincente Calderon on April 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.

Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]

However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.

Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.

They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.

The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.

Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.

[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]

Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.

Europa League preview: Liverpool, Shakhtar look to overcome Spanish foes

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - APRIL 28:  Cedric Bakambu of Villarreal is watched by the Liverpool defence during the UEFA Europa League semi final first leg match between Villarreal CF and Liverpool at Estadio El Madrigal on April 28, 2016 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]

Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0

Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.

[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]

Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw 

Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

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In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.

[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]

Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.

Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.

Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.