World Cup Today: Who will join Germany, Brazil?

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WORLD CUP TODAY: SATURDAY, JULY 5

Let’s hope that today’s World Cup quarterfinals don’t cause quite as much heartbreak as Friday’s.

In the first match, Mats Hummels scored early, but France could never quite get themselves back into the game. In the end, it was rather easy for Germany to run out 1-0 winners.

As for the second match, well…the referee lost control of the game early on, refusing to pull out his cards despite numerous fouls. A frustrated Colombia eventually snapped. Juan Zúñiga put his boot in Neymar’s back, breaking the Brazilian’s vertebrae, and ruling him out of the rest of the tournament.

Brazil advanced with a 2-1 win, and with rather heavy hearts.


MATCH 59: ARGENTINA VS. BELGIUM

Location: Estádio Nacional de Brasilia, Brasília
Time: 12 noon ET
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Cheater’s guide
Argentina may have won three of their first four matches, but really, they’ve yet to truly impress at this World Cup. Lionel Messi is still able to dazzle, of course, but most of the time, the albiceleste appear unconvincing. It took 118 minutes for them to score against Switzerland, but Ángel di María’s goal was enough to put them through.

Belgium, too, have disappointed. They squeaked out wins in each of their group stage games, but never really looked dominant until coming up against the United States. An impressive performance from Tim Howard tempered the Red Devils, but they eventually advanced from added extra time with a 2-1 win.

What they’re saying
Argentina might be the favorites, but Alejandro Sabella is still wary of Belgium’s threat: They’re a powerful team. We’ll have to be careful when we don’t have the ball and try to make things happen when we do. They’re a team made up of great individuals who work very well as a team.

History
Argentina have won three times, Belgium once in their four meetings. Will the dark horses be able to cause an upset once more?

Premier League players
Argentina: Manchester City love an Argentine, with Sergio Agüero, Martín Demichelis, and Pablo Zabaleta all on their payroll.
Belgium: Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal); Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea); Kevin Mirallas (Everton); Simon Mignolet (Liverpool); Vincent Kompany (Manchester City); Marouane Fellaini, Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United); Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembélé, and Nacer Chadli (Tottenham)

RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly

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MATCH 60: NETHERLANDS VS. COSTA RICA
Location: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Time: 4 p.m. ET
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Cheater’s Guide
Netherlands remain perfect: they won each of their group stage games to come out on top, setting up a meeting with Mexico. Thanks to a last-minute, rather contentious penalty awarded to Arjen Robben, the oranje even managed to avoid the fate of extra time suffered by so many in the Round of 16. 2-1 win, and they were on to the quarterfinals.

Costa Rica are the last minnow remaining in the tournament. They found their way to the quarterfinals for the first time by beating both Uruguay and Italy, then drawing with England in a rather pointless match. The group winners then faced off against Greece, who cheekily got another last-minute goal to force extra time – and penalties. The ticos won the shootout 5-4.

What they’re saying
Jorge Luis Pinto is wants the referees to closely monitor Robben: I think he is one of the three or four best players in the world. He is a great player but on the other hand we have to say there have been refereeing mistakes. We’re really worried about Robben’s diving. And he admitted it. I hope the referee watches him very closely tomorrow.
(READ MORE HERE)

History
Watch closely. They’re about to write it.

Premier League Players
Netherlands:
 Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa); Robin van Persie (Manchester United); Tim Krul (Newcastle); Jonathan de Guzmán, Michel Vorm (Swansea)
Costa Rica: Joel Cambell (Arsenal)

MLS Players
Costa Rica: 
Giancarlo González, Waylon Francis (Columbus Crew); Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls)

 

Could Iniesta succeed at Manchester City

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It appears more likely with each passing day that Andres Iniesta will leave Barcelona at the end of the season.

The general feeling around Iniesta’s future is that he’ll either follow former teammate Xavi Hernandez to a club in Qatar or the United Arab Emirates, or follow Javier Mascherano to a club in China.

But according to reports in Spain, Iniesta has received a request from a manager who is inextricably linked with his career.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Per Diario AS, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has reached out to Iniesta to try and gauge the 33-year old’s interest in coming to England. It’s a surprising move, considering Iniesta has appeared to have lost a step, and while his skill on the ball is still world class, he hasn’t played as big of a role for Barcelona this season as in years past.

But the big question for Iniesta – as hard as it is to believe we’re asking this – is where he’d fit into the side, and who he’d push out.

If Guardiola sees Iniesta as part of his best XI, and Iniesta played his usual position on the left side of a midfield trio or at left wing, that would see either David Silva or Leroy Sane losing their spot in the team. That’s hard to see, considering how big of an impact those players had.

Sane has scored nine goals and dished out 12 assists in the Premier League while Silva has a nearly-identical stat line, with nine goals and 11 assists in league play.

However, if Guardiola, who played a very small squad this season, wants to have a world-class player to bring off the bench some games or spot start in the UEFA Champions League, he couldn’t do much better than signing Iniesta.

After being given time to adjust to the physicality of the Premier League, there’s no reason why, even at his advanced age, Iniesta can’t make a big impact in 25-30 games for Man City in the future. You can imagine the Spanish maestro setting up 10 to 15 goals and scoring a few himself as he plays for another title-winning side.

Of course, Iniesta likely won’t earn as much money with Man City as he would in the Arab world or in China, so he has a big decision to make coming up.

Iniesta won three La Liga titles, two Copas Del Rey, two UEFA Champions League and two FIFA Club World Cup titles under Guardiola as Barcelona shined as the best club in the world during that era. Iniesta also made UEFA’s Team of the Year all four years.

Perhaps reuniting with Guardiola can bring the best out of Iniesta once again.

Report: Man United to target Rose, other full backs this summer

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Jose Mourinho has identified perhaps the most underrated position on the pitch as a place he needs to upgrade his squad this summer.

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According to a report from The Guardian, the Manchester United manager is looking to sign Tottenham wing back Danny Rose and potentially another full back in the summer transfer window. With Luke Shaw likely to leave the club, Mourinho is left with incumbents left back Ashley Young and right back Antonio Valencia, both on the wrong side of 30-years old and both converted wingers playing out-of-position.

Mourinho last December decried crosstown rivals Man City for spending more than $140 million to sign wing backs Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker last summer. Though Mendy missed most of the season with a torn ACL, Walker and fellow outside back Danilo helped give Man City’s attack another dimension out wide, as the wing backs in the 3-4-3 or Man City’s 4-1-4-1 with Fernandinho dropping back into the centerback pairing become ever more important.

Rose has had a contentious last 18-months or so at Tottenham and could be looking to leave this summer. But it will likely take a bid north of $75 million, around what it cost Man City to sign Walker last summer, to buy Rose out of his Tottenham contract.

Matteo Darmian meanwhile, another potential outside back for Man United, could also be departing the club this summer, as Man United looks to replenish its side.

Errors down, penalty kicks up after introduction of VAR in Italy

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The implementation of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in Italy has been controversial, but according to a look at the statistics, it has for the most part done its job to fix clear and obvious errors.

Italian sports paper Gazzetta Dello Sport compiled all the times VAR has been used through 346 matches, 330 in Serie A and 16 in the Coppa Italia. There were 1,736 checks (916 goals, 464 penalties and 356 red cards) with 105 corrections and just 17 errors where the referee and assistant made the wrong decision. Eight of those errors did affect the result, which is an issue that will surely be addressed by the Italian officiating organization.

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But overall, Gazzetta found that in the VAR era, referee errors only amounted to 0.98 percent during a match, as opposed to 6.03 percent in the past. In addition, fouls are down 8.8 percent, red cards are down 6.4 percent, and yellow cards are down 14.7 percent. On the flip side, penalty kicks are called 4.3 more percent of the time.

The Premier League voted recently not to add VAR to its league matches next season, while top leagues in Germany, Italy and in Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League continue to use it.

Report: New Arsenal manager will have small budget to re-shape squad

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Whoever takes the helm as Arsenal’s next manager will have to do some math gymnastics this summer to stretch every penny available.

According to a report from The Telegraph, Arsenal is giving Arsene Wenger‘s successor a little less than $70 million to work with in this summer’s transfer market, citing back-to-back transfer windows with club-record signings (Alexandre Lacazette last summer and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January) and three raises given to players. Arsenal paid around $78 million alone to sign Aubameyang and around $65 million for Lacazette.

[READ: UCL Preview: Liverpool vs. Roma]

That means whoever comes in next to lead Arsenal will likely have to sell one or two players this summer to raise additional money for world-class signings.

For the last decade, Arsenal has been crying out for a new pair of centerbacks and a holding midfielder in the mould of Patrick Vieira. In addition, with Petr Cech getting older, the prospect of needing a new goalkeeper is also on the horizon.

Luckily for Arsenal, they seem to be just fine up front. From Aubameyang and Lacazette to Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey, the club has the talent to challenge for a title next season in that department.

A dozen different names have been bandied about as to who will be Arsenal’s next manager, with out-of-contract and former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique reportedly on the shortlist. Vieira, former Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta, Germany National Team coach Joachim Low, Juventus boss Max Allegri and Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsman have all also been linked with the job.