Before a ball has even been kicked the USA’s chances of advancing from Group G were given a huge boost on Thursday.
Head coach Kwasi Appiah has reportedly kicked out two of Ghana’s most talented and experienced players on the eve of their World Cup decider against Portugal.
In a bizarre twist, Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng will not play any part in helping the Black Stars advance by beating Portugal after they were said to have fought against each other in training on Tuesday.
It is then said that Muntari, who was already suspended for the game vs. Portugal after picking up two yellow cards vs. the USA and Germany at the World Cup, slapped committee member Moses Armah on Wednesday and Boateng has had heated rows with head coach Appiah. Reporters following the squad have spoken to both Muntari and Boateng and they have not traveled with the team to play Portugal in Brasilia.
That has resulted in both players being kicked off the squad, even though a win of two goals or more and a U.S. defeat to Germany on Thursday will likely see Ghana advance to the last 16 of the World Cup.
Why are tensions so high in the Ghana camp despite the obvious reasons of a World Cup showdown? Money.
On Wednesday reports of $3 million being flown to Brazil from Ghana, in order to pay their players their bonuses and fees, surfaced and it seems as though further issues have been caused by the lack of payment and players being left in limbo.
All of this madness will hardly have prepared Ghana’s young squad correctly for their crucial match with Portugal which they know they must win in order to have any chance whatsoever of making the knockout stages ahead of the U.S. As for the USA, news of this unrest and upheaval in Ghana’s camp is a huge boost before the face Germany. If Portugal beats Ghana, they have to overturn a much large goal difference to overcome the U.S. and finish second in Group G. Even if the USA lose by two and Portugal win by three, the Americans will go through.
That said, this is all about Ghana and the way they are dramatically unraveling.
Barcelona did not post a magical comeback versus Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup second leg, instead losing 5-1 on aggregate after Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at the Bernabeu.
[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]
But perhaps the celebrated La Liga club has worked some wizardry in the transfer market, with not one but two big targets “close” to the Camp Nou.
Barca general manager Josep “Pep” Segura was on television after the match, and noted Spanish football expert Sid Lowe relays his words: Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele are coming to Barca, “but until it’s closed I can’t say anything.”
Well, you just said something about it, so what gives.
Now before anyone freaks out at Anfield or Westfalenstadion, this is a man speaking after a relatively embarrassing performance for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Segura could simply be treading water for new manager Ernesto Valverde after his club was simply worked over in 120 minutes versus its El Clasico rivals.
This one wasn’t even close, and is going to instantly have many Barcelona fans wondering if the loss of Neymar is going to be too much for Ernesto Valverde to handle.
Real Madrid rode a stunning Marco Asensio strike to a 2-0 first half lead at the Bernabeu on Wednesday en route to a 5-1 aggregate win over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.
It’s Real’s 10th Spanish Super Cup, and first since 2012.
[ MORE: Bacca to Villarreal ]
Karim Benzema also scored in the opening frame, which saw Barca looking out of sorts and rudderless.
As in the first leg in Barcelona, the Blaugranas had their moments but failed to show sharpness and class against the reigning La Liga and UEFA Champions League winners.
Lionel Messi hit the crossbar, Luis Suarez headed off the post. The second half wasn’t producing a magic comeback.
Both teams kick off their La Liga seasons on Sunday, with Barca hosting Real Betis and Real off to Deportivo de la Coruna.
Meanwhile, it seems like PSG spent the afternoon trolling Barca, first posting a shot of ex-Blaugranas stars Dani Alves and Neymar training, and then an incredulous Neymar accompanied by a laughing emoji.
MADRID (AP) Colombia striker Carlos Bacca joined Spanish club Villarreal on loan from AC Milan on Wednesday.
Villarreal said the one-season loan agreement includes the option to buy the player at the end of the season.
Bacca returns to a Spanish league where the 30-year-old forward flourished in two seasons at Sevilla before joining Milan in 2015.
[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]
Bacca has made 39 appearances for Colombia, scoring 13 goals. According to Villarreal, he has scored 165 career goals in 336 matches. He scored 14 goals for Milan last season.
Elsewhere in Spain, Las Palmas announced that Kevin-Prince Boateng was leaving the club after both sides agreed to end his contract two days before its season opener.
Las Palmas said that Boateng was leaving due to “personal reasons of an irreversible nature.” The club thanked the former AC Milan standout for his “professionalism” that he displayed during his single season on the Canary Islands.
Las Palmas opens the Spanish league season on Friday at Valencia.
Could Jonny Evans be the latest player to cross Manchester’s red and blue divide, albeit with a stop in between?
Reports Wednesday say West Bromwich Albion has rejected a $23 million Manchester City bid for the Northern Irish center back.
[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]
$23 million? That’s like 40 percent of a Kyle Walker!
Evans, 29, is the Baggies captain and a key piece of the club’s aims to continue its long stay in the Premier League.
He joined Manchester United’s academy at age 16 and stayed at Old Trafford through 2015, taking loan opportunities at Royal Antwerp and Sunderland on the way.
At United, Evans won three Premier League titles and two League Cups, and also has a Championship win from one of his two stints at Sunderland.
The 61-times capped Belfast native would give City a key component for Premier League play along with a center back corps of Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, and John Stones. Eliaquim Mangala completes their veteran depth, and is certainly City’s weakest position.
Would West Brom sell at any reasonable price? The Baggies are not deep at center back, either — not too many clubs are — and will be in a boatload of trouble without Evans. And given the transfer market, finding a proper replacement at under $30 million is going to be difficult (Reread that sentence. What a summer).
It’s another argument for the transfer window closing before the start of the season.