Brazil Soccer WCup Spain Chile

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.

Mourinho’s agent: Coach paid $27 million in taxes in Spain

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  Jose Mourinho manager of Manchester United stands alongside his substitute Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on December 4, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
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MADRID (AP) Jose Mourinho’s agent says the Manchester United manager paid more than 26 million euros ($27 million) in taxes when he lived in Spain from 2010-13.

The information was made public on Tuesday by Gestifute, a company run by Mourinho’s agent, Jorge Mendes.

[ MORE: Pulisic wanted by Arsenal, Spurs ]

The Portuguese company has been releasing details about its clients’ tax declarations after European media outlets published what they claimed were details of apparent tax arrangements made by top soccer players and coaches, including Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil.

Gestifute, which also has Ronaldo as a client, has already published documents allegedly showing that Spanish fiscal authorities have certified that Mourinho and Real Madrid star Ronaldo are “up to date on … obligations.”

Mourinho coached Real Madrid from 2010-13 and took charge of United this season.

Staying in Dallas: New contract for MLS Defender of the Year Hedges

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 12:  Giles Barnes #10 of the Houston Dynamo battles for the ball with Matt Hedges #24 of FC Dallas during their game at BBVA Compass Stadium on March 12, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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This is going to turn out to be one of the most exciting years of Matt Hedges’ life.

The FC Dallas man lead one of the best back lines in Major League Soccer to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield.

[ MORE: PST talks with Hedges, Zimmerman ]

He’s also likely set for a chance to return to the USMNT fold under new coach Bruce Arena, as Hedges is one of the best players to be largely ignored by Jurgen Klinsmann.

Hedges, 26, was named the MLS Defender of the Year and made the Best XI, and now he’s inked a new long-term deal with FC Dallas.

The four-year deal will keep Hedges in Dallas through his 30th birthday. Capped once, Hedges has 159 appearances with 11 goals for FCD.

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Two more Pulisic suitors in North London? USMNT teen in demand

Dortmund's Emre Mor, left, celebrates with Dortmund's Felix Passlack and Dortmund's Christian Pulisic, right, after scoring during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and SV Darmstadt in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Dortmund defeated Darmstadt with 6-0. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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Christian Pulisic is one of the most exciting young prospects in the world.

It’s a statement that isn’t often said without hyperbole when it comes to American standouts, but the 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund man has seen his names in the gossip pages a few times this year.

While Liverpool has often been the destination, Italian site Calcio Mercato says Premier League interest is wider than Merseyside. The clubs? Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.

[ VOTE: Who should win USMNT player of year? ]

Dortmund doesn’t want to sell the youngster, who is locked up through 2019. The whispered price has been $31 million at a minimum, but perhaps BVB would be tempted given their wealth of young attacking options.

Pulisic has made 27 appearances for Borussia Dortmund, nabbing four goals and six assists. He has 11 caps and three goals for the USMNT as well.

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Real Madrid asks for “utmost respect” to Ronaldo following tax drama

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 03:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid reacts after missing a chance during the La Liga  match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at Camp Nou on December 3, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Cristiano Ronaldo had been linked with massive tax evasion, but Real Madrid would ask you to kindly go back to treating him like a king now that he’s proven his innocence.

In a move usually reserved for politicians aiming for high office, Ronaldo’s agent released some of his tax documents to prove everything’s above board.

It all looks good, unlike what befell Neymar and Lionel Messi, so back off, huh?

[ MORE: Wednesday’s Champions League preview ]

From Real Madrid:

In view of the stories published over recent days and in consideration of the certificate issued by the Spanish Tax Agency which confirms that our player Cristiano Ronaldo is up to date with all of his tax obligations, Real Madrid C. F. call for the utmost respect to be shown towards Cristiano Ronaldo, whose conduct has been absolutely exemplary throughout all of his time at our club.

Only the utmost for CR7.

Real Madrid hosts Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday in a match which will decide Group F of the UEFA Champions League.

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