At halftime: Chile are calm, collected and winning 2-0 over erratic Spain

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Story of the half: The 5-1 loss to the Netherlands is looking less and less like a one-off.

Like the opener, Spain look sluggish, old and devoid of ideas. Yes, Diego Costa has found some holes on occasion but he hasn’t come close to scoring. La Furia Roja are in need of a spark if they’re to avoid an early trip home.

Chile, on the other hand, look very comfortable. In defense, they are pressing high and giving Spain fits. When they have had chances, they’ve taken them.

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Goals:

20′ – After Claudio Bravo’s long ball to midfield, Xabi Alonso collected and looked to pass back but Alexis Sanchez was there to intercept. Sanchez quickly found Arturo Vidal on the one-two pass and then brilliantly split the Spain defense to find Charles Aranzguiz, who cut a pass to the back post for Eduardo Vargas. Iker Casillas challenged, Vargas pivoted to the right and dispatched low to score from 6 yards out.

43′ – Sanchez’ free-kick from 25 yards out was punched by Casillas into the middle of the box where Aranzguiz hit a one-time, outside-of-the-foot stab into the corner. Horrible goalkeeping by Casillas, who should have done better.

Other key moments: 15′ – Diego Costa with a smooth-dribbling 35 yard run into the box, mis-hit his shot low and wide of the far post where Andres Iniesta collected it and served it into a sea of players only for Xabi Alonso to emerge with the ball unmarked but his point-blank shot was well saved by Claudio Bravo. 27′ – A Pedro floater from the left was skimmed on by David Silva and found the on-rushing Costa, who’s left-footed shot was off-the-mark, largely due to the stellar shut-down defending of Gonzalo Jara. Some of the crowd thought it was in. In reality, simply a bad mis-hit by Costa.

LINEUPS:

Spain – Casillas; Azpilicueta, Ramos, Javi Martínez, Alba; Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta; Silva, Costa, Pedro

Chile -Bravo; Jara, Silva, Medel; Mena, Aránguiz, Díaz, Isla; Vargas, Vidal, Sánchez Goals: 20′ Vargas; 43′ Aranzguiz

Key Players:

  • Alexis Sanchez – Always dangerous, Sanchez seems particularly up for this match going against a number of Barcelona teammates.
  • Diego Costa – Has gotten through Chile’s defense twice only to spurn his efforts. Must be more clinical around goal if Spain are to have a chance.
  • Claudio Bravo – Did well to deny Costa on a few occasions but may need to be flawless if Chile are to collect all three points.
  • Charles Aranzguiz – A goal and an assist today, looking sharp and to make a name for himself.

Numbers to know:

  • 50 – Lost balls by Spain, compared to 45 by Chile
  • 9 – Fouls committed by each side
  • 247 – Total passes by Spain, compared to 178 by Chile

Questions for the second half:

  • Is the high press the death of Spain’s tiki-taka? For a six year period of time after Euro 2008, no one could keep up with Spain. But over the last two years and particularly now, Spain has struggled against the high press. Today, Chile is employing it brilliantly making Spain look slow. Don’t expect a style change mid-match or even mid-tournament, but La Furia Roja need a spark if they’re to avoid an early exit. Time to give some younger players a look?
  • How good is Chile? If they pull this one out those calls of ‘dark horse’ will grow louder and louder.

Antonio Conte admits he misses Italy, plans to return home

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This is not exactly what Chelsea’s fans will want to hear on a Monday morning after a resounding 4-0 win at Stoke as the Blues moved up to third in the Premier League table.

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Antonio Conte, who delivered the Premier League title in his first season in charge of the Blues, and his first season in England, in 2016-17, has been speaking of his desire to return to his homeland.

Conte, 48, spoke to Italian radio station RadioUno about his experience in the Premier League and left the door wide-open for a return to Serie A in the coming months as he admitted he misses Italy.

“I miss it, that’s beyond doubt,” Conte said. “Italy is my homeland, so once I have had some good experiences, formative experiences, important and life-changing experiences, I’ll be back. I don’t know when but that’s the aim.

“It’s always difficult to predict the future. Us managers have the most precarious job of all. Today you’re working, tomorrow you’re out. I want to succeed, to finish one project and make the right decision about the next. This experience has given me so much, has improved me so much, but perhaps in the future I won’t be a manager. Perhaps I’ll work as a director of football. I don’t know.”

Conte has been linked with the managers job at Inter Milan and with comments like this, those links will not go away.

Adding further fuel to the fire was his decision to only signed an improved contract over the summer rather than extending his stay at Stamford Bridge. Conte’s current deal is due to expire at the end of the 2018-19 season.

After a tough summer and a tough start to the season which saw a feud with Diego Costa dominate the talk surrounding Chelsea, a loss to Arsenal in the Community Shield, an opening day defeat at home to Burnley, plus some questionable dealings in the transfer market, the pressure was piling on Conte.

His team have responded with five wins in their next six games in all competitions and are right up there with the early pacesetters in the Premier League.

That said, the fact that Conte was under any pressure whatsoever was a joke considering what he had achieved last season when nobody expected Chelsea to seriously challenge for the title. Therein lies why he could want out when his current deal at Chelsea is up, or maybe even sooner than that.

In situations like this I often think about what Eric Cantona did: leave before anybody else expects you to and you’ll go out, and remain, a hero.

Mourinho escapes ban after sending off

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Jose Mourinho will face no further action from the English Football Association after he was sent off at Southampton on Saturday.

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Towards the end of United’s 1-0 win — which keeps them unbeaten and in second-place in the standings — Mourinho encroached slightly onto the pitch (we are talking half a yard here) and referee Craig Pawson sent him to the stands after being called over by fourth official Mike Jones who pulled Mourinho back into his technical area.

Mourinho, in true fashion, then delayed his sending off by shaking the hands of every member of Southampton’s coaching staff before he took his place in the stands for the final few seconds of the game.

After being sent off nine times in his career for various discrepancies over the years, Mourinho is no stranger to having the FA’s rule book thrown at him.

However there is an argument out there, and a credible one, that due to his high profile and history of misdemeanors Mourinho is treated rather differently than most managers.

In his long list of previous incidents where he has stepped out of line, stepping slightly over the touchline at Southampton was incredibly minor.

Common sense has prevailed.

MLS Snapshot: POR carve up 9-man ORL, keep pace with VAN, SKC

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The game in 100 words (or less): All of a sudden, the Western Conference has sprung to life as the 2017 regular season winds down — Vancouver Whitecaps, winners of five of their last seven games (unbeaten); Portland Timbers, winners of four of their last six following Sunday’s 3-0 victory over 10-man nine-man Orlando City SC at Providence Park; Sporting Kansas City, losers of just two of their last 15 games; Seattle Sounders, who had their 13-game unbeaten run snapped on Saturday; and Real Salt Lake, winners of four of their last five. With fewer than a handful of games remaining, Vancouver’s lead on Portland and Sporting KC remains one point after all three sides won this weekend; RSL and Seattle are separated by just three points, three points back of second and third. As for Saturday’s game, Diego Valeri is now a top-two candidate for MVP after scoring two more goals (his 19th and 20th, to go with 9 assists) against 10-man Orlando.

[ MORE: TFC’s Shield celebration delayed | RSL end Seattle’s run at 13 ]

Three moments that mattered

15′ — Valeri extends his streak, makes it 1-0 — The last time Valeri failed to score in a game, the date was July 23.

29′ — Mattocks taps it home after Asprilla’s cross — Huge credit to Diego Chara for the through ball to spring Dairon Asprilla into acres of space. The ball to Mattocks was simple, and he got it right.

59′ — Valeri gets no. 20, makes it 3-0 — Joe Bendik managed to deny Mattocks’ initial effort, but Valeri followed up when everyone in white had already quit on the play.

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Man of the match: Diego Valeri

Goalscorers: Valeri (15′ – PK, 59′), Mattocks (29′)

The 2 Robbies: City Sparkle, Chelsea Shine, Liverpool Hold On

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe take a look at some of the weekend’s biggest storylines, including Liverpool’s thrilling victory over Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur’s frantic win away to West Ham United and Manchester City’s demolition of Crystal Palace.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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