USA v Germany: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

Jurgen Klinsmann: Nobody gave US a chance, this is a huge step

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When the U.S. were drawn into Group G at the 2014 World Cup, nobody gave them a chance of qualifying.

Now, with the group stage done and dusted, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and the USA’s arch-nemesis Ghana are heading home.

The U.S. are heading into the last 16 alongside Germany.

Hold that thought for a second… Yeah, it’s an incredible achievement from the Jurgen Klinsmann’s side.

[ RECAP – USA 0-1 Germany

[ RELATED – U.S. player ratings vs. Germany ]

The German legend always believed the U.S. could shake things up in South America and they have stunned everyone by making it through to the knockout rounds.

Speaking to ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap on the rain-soaked pitch in Recife after the game, Klinsmann was defiant after his side’s 1-0 defeat to Germany proved redundant following Portugal’s 2-1 win over Ghana to send the U.S. through.

“It is huge for us getting out of this group,” Klinsmann said. “Everyone said we had no chance. We took that chance and now we really want to move on. This is a huge, huge step and we can’t wait to get to the Round of 16… It was a big game. Although we gave them too much respect to start with. We should have created more chances.”

That being said the U.S. defended well despite Thomas Muller’s 55th minute game-winner and the star at the back, as he is so often, was veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard.

“Tim Howard is one of our stars. He is one of our leaders,” Klinsmann said. “In the World Cup if you want to go far, you need one of the best goalkeepers in the world. We have that.”

The U.S. also has a spot in the last 16 of the World Cup.

Klinsmann is looking forward to the challenge which now lies ahead for the USA, as they will likely face Belgium in Salvador on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.

“We are growing, we are learning in every game,” Klinsmann said. “Now we go into the Round of 16. We will analyze this game, say what we did wrong and take some of the good things we did. Whoever we face now, we are going to take it to them. For all the players it is a tremendous achievement. We will put the entire group stage behind us. Now that the group stage is done, another tournament starts and anything can happen in the knockout stage.”

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.