At halftime: Kolasinic own goal hands Argentina early 1-0 lead – FOLLOW LIVE

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Story of the half: A third minute own goal by Sead Kolasinic gave Argentina the 1-0 lead but Bosnia & Herzegovina then settled in, controlling large portions of the match.

With a five man back line, Argentina should be getting more action from their wing backs but Marcos Rojo and Pablo Zabaleta have found their attacks foiled by strong defensive displays by Bosnia & Herzegovina. In fact, the better offensive displays have come from the wing play of B&H, who managed 12 first half crosses through the impressive Senad Lulic and Miralem Pjanic.

Lionel Messi & Co. have been stifled through the middle where B&H’s holding pair of Muhamed Besic and Izet Hajrovic have been strong, laying some thumping tackles. If the Barcelona man is to leave his mark on this game his second half approach will have to differ, meaning we could see him n more advanced positions and floating out on he wings.

Make no mistake about it though, B&H is still very much into this match. Could we see a second half double for the Dragons to do the impossible?

FOLLOW LIVE: Soccerly’s real-time match center

Goals:

3′ – After Mensur Mujdza flew in on Sergio Aguero, fouling the Manchester City striker on the left side of the pitch, Lionel Messi stepped to the free kick from 30 yards out, sending in a lovely left-footed curling effort into the 6 yard box. Marcos Rojo rose above Emir Spahic to nick on to the far post, paralyzing Sead Kolasinic who’s left knee knocked the ball into his own net. Own goal.

Other key moments:

13′ – Zvjezdan Misimovic cutting up the middle of the pitch, skips by Javier Mascherano and provides a sensational ball over the top to Izet Hajrovic, who was unable to get by Argentine goalkeeper, Sergio Romero.

14′ – Misimovic again on the ball and working Mascherano, gets fouled for a free-kick from 25 yards out that Miralem Pjanic fires into the wall.

20′ – Pablo Zabaleta barrels down the right wing but it’s B&H left-back, Sead Kolasinac, flying in with a brilliant slide tackle the rips the ball of Zabaleta.

21′ – Messi skips through the midfield and into the box but Kolasinac isn’t fooled, laying a thumping tackle that gets all ball leaving the Barcelona man looking flustered.

32′ – Mascherano rips a right-footed shot from 25 yards out but it’s right at Asmir Begovic, who bats it down and out of the way.

33′ – Edin Dzeko gets his first touches on the ball but it’s a quick turn shot from 22 yards out that flies well over the bar.

41′ – Senad Lulic loses his man to win the corner and his near post header is sublimely saved by Romero, who tips the shot just wide of the post.

LINEUPS:

Argentina – Romero; Rojo, Garay, F. Fernandez, Campagnaro, Zabaleta; Di Maria, Mascherano, Rodriguez; Messi (c), Aguero.

Goals – Kolasinic (OG) 3′

Bosnia & Herzegovina – Begovic; Kolasinac, Spahic (c), Bicakcic, Mujdza; Besic, Hajrovic; Lulic, Misimovic, Pjanic; Dzeko.

Key players:

  • Zvjezdan Misimovic – The playmaker for B&H, he cut open Javier Mascherano on at least two occasions, playing lovely through balls to Izet Hajrovic and drawing fouls.
  • Sead Kolasinac – The 20-year-old left-back, who represented Germany youth level before rejecting a senior international career with Joachim Low’s side in order to accept a call-up from Bosnia-Herzegovin, conceded the own-goal but played well besides that, proving himself to be a no-nonsense, hard tackling defender, who shows little fear of Messi and Aguero.
  • Pablo Zabaleta – In Argentina’s 5-3-2 formation, Zabaleta is effectively playing as a right wing and while he’s getting forward the left side of B&H’s defense is proving difficult to unlock.
  • Lionel Messi – Having a lot of trouble through the center of the park with Kolasinac and holding midfielder Besic working hard to double up on him with every touch.

Numbers to know:

90% – Pass completion rate of Argentina, compared to 77% by Bosnia and Herzegovina.
243 – Number of total passes completed by Argentina
12 – Number of crosses by Bosnia and Herzegovina, compared to Argentina’s two.
3 – Minutes it took for Argentina to score the nation’s third quickest World Cup goal ever.

Questions for the second half:

  • Can Messi step up to the pressure? Messi has been unimpressive so far, struggling to create through the middle and finding himself in some tough tackles around the outside of the box. In the second half, he’ll need to find more space and create off the diagonals.
  • Can Bosnia and Herzegovina take their chances? The Dragons are not going to get in often on Argentina so when they do, they must take their chances. So far Hajrovic, Pjanic, Dzeko and Lulic have all had glimpses but only the latter really forced Romero to prove himself up to the task.

Sam Allardyce: I’d give myself 11 out of 10 on survey

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Sam Allardyce has responded to Everton sending out an email survey to fans asking to rate his performance.

Yep, that actually happened earlier this week as fans were asked to rate, out of 10, if they “have a high level of trust in the current manager and coaching staff of Everton e.g. in making the right decision to get the best out of the team.”

Speaking to the media on Thursday ahead of Everton’s clash with Newcastle on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Allardyce replied “P*** Off. Eleven” when asked what he would give himself out of 10.

He then went into more depth about what happened and confirmed he had received an apology from majority owner and chairman Farhad Moshiri.

“The survey… the managing director of marketing and communications has clearly slipped up,” Allardyce said. “Even though I believe the survey has been recently passed out before, from my point of view it was a big mistake. I think it has allowed you to write some beautiful headlines on that situation. The actual question was what do you think of the manager, the players and the staff – and obviously our managing director of marketing is clearly not a great understander of football and how football works, because he is into marketing and branding and market research.”

Most of Everton’s fans would give Allardyce less than a five, hence why this is such a big deal, as the former West Ham, Sunderland and Crystal Palace manager is fighting to keep his job with just over 12 months left on his current deal.

The English manager took charge of Everton back in November 2017 after Ronald Koeman was sacked following the Toffees being sucked into a relegation battle. Since then Allardyce has steered Everton into the top half of the table but has been heavily criticized by fans for negative tactics as he was booed at Swansea last weekend in the 1-1 draw.

Allardyce has laughed off suggestions of negative soccer from fans and the fact he has jokingly given himself an 11 out of 10 will only antagonize the large band of Everton fans who want him out this summer.

The brash character then said he would be “disappointed” if he lost his job this summer and is planning to be in charge of Everton next season. Maybe those in charge of the club will now be forced to give Big Sam a little more time after this unfortunate email scenario.

Sweden not keen on Zlatan’s World Cup return

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With Zlatan Ibrahimovic already making his mark in Major League Soccer with three goals in his first three games for the LA Galaxy, the veteran Swedish forward is eyeing a return to international duty for the 2018 World Cup this summer.

“A World Cup without me wouldn’t be a World Cup” said Ibrahimovic, 36, recently as he also confirmed during an appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show that he will be going to Russia but didn’t give specific details if it was as a spectator or a player.

Well, perhaps we won’t be having a World Cup because it appears not all of his former teammates would be on board if Zlatan took a U-turn on his decision to retire from the Swedish national team after EURO 2016.

Back-up goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson had the following to say to outlet Main Oppose.

“We managed to qualify and go through to the World Cup without him, and I think we can manage to play well at the World Cup without him,” Johnsson said. “But it’s up to the coach to see if he wants to bring him – and I am sure if he does join, he will play well. As a team, we play as a collective, all the players together. With Zlatan, as a person, as a player he’s an individualist, and the play goes around him. Instead, now, we play more the team all together.”

Boom.

Zlatan has said multiple times that he is thinking about a return to the Swedish national team squad and with World Cup squads set to be announced in around about one month from now, surely Sweden’s head coach Janne Andersson must now if he will call up Zlatan.

The positives for Sweden are obvious. The can bring in their all-time leading goalscorer to jump off the bench late in tight games to try and get them out of Group F where they face Germany, Mexico and South Korea.

The negatives are centered around what Johnsson said, with Sweden looking like a tighter unit and all pulling together to get to the World Cup after missing out on qualifying for the last two in 2010 and 2014.

Zlatan has actually only played in two World Cups, in 2002 and 2006, scoring just once, and if he does go to the World Cup he will be taking the spot of one of Marcus Berg, John Guidetti, Ola Toivonen and Issac Thelin in the squad. Berg scored eight in qualifying, while Emil Forsberg scored four and the Swedish attacking unit seems to flow a lot better from Zlatan.

Look, Zlatan will probably go to the World Cup. But it appears not everyone will be happy with this decision.

PHOTOS: Tottenham’s stunning new stadium

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Tottenham Hotspur’s new $1 billion stadium is taking shape and it is looking magnificent.

The plan is for Spurs’ new home at White Hart Lane to be ready for the 2018/19 season, with reports stating that Mauricio Pochettino‘s men will play their first couple of games away from home next season in order to squeeze in a few more weeks for construction.

Spurs’ new  home will seat 62,062 fans and will be the second-largest stadium in the Premier League behind Manchester United’s Old Trafford.

Take a look at the photos below in the spring sunshine in London, with the largest single-tier stand in Europe looking sublime as the roof panels are going on and the stadium is really starting to come to life.


Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso handed three-game ban

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After being named in the PFA’s Premier League Team of the Year on Wednesday, it has been a mixed few days for Chelsea’s Marcos Alonso as he has received a three-game ban with immediate effect after being found guilty of violent conduct.

Alsono, 27, stamped on Shane Long‘s calf in Chelsea’s 3-2 comeback win at Southampton last time out but referee Mike Dean missed the incident completely.

Since then Alonso has received a retrospective charge from the English FA and although the Spanish left back appealed the decision and the length of the ban, it was upheld and he will now miss Chelsea’s next three games.

Alonso will miss the clash at Burnley on Thursday, the FA Cup semifinal against Southampton on Sunday and the trip to Swansea City on Apr. 28.

Who will come in for Alonso?

Antonio Conte has already stated that Emerson Palmeri, a January arrival from AS Roma, will start at Burnley on Thursday and if the Brazilian full back impresses then it is highly likely he will stand in for Alonso in the big FA Cup semifinal on Sunday against Saints. Other options would be Davide Zappacosta playing as the left wing-back or even Cesar Azpilicueta out there.

As for Saints, they feel hard done by after Dean didn’t spot Alonso’s foul even though he was standing yards away from the incident and looking straight at it. At the time of the incident they led 1-0 going into half time and their manager Mark Hughes believes it would have made a big difference as Alonso’s cross set up Olivier Giroud to make it 2-1 and the Spaniard made a big difference from left back in the incredible 3-2 comeback victory. Still, at least Saints won’t have to play against Alonso on Sunday with revenge in the air…