The Netherlands’ adventure in Brazil has come to an end, with the Dutch triumphantly sealing third-place — a much higher World Cup finish than most predicted prior to the start of the tournament.
For Manchester United fans, Holland’s trip has been bittersweet. On one hand, they saw plenty to be excited about in their new manager. Louis van Gaal showed a willingness to adapt tactically, spoke frankly to the press and played a little mind game by bringing in Tim Krul just before the penalty shootout with Costa Rica. On the other hand, the Dutch foray deep into the tournament meant a delay in van Gaal arriving in Manchester.
Not that it’s seemed to hurt United’s dealings in the transfer market. They’ve already snapped up Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw, and are hoping to add Arturo Vidal, Ángel di María and Mats Hummels. Even with Arjen Robben announcing he won’t be following van Gaal to Manchester, the new manager does not seem concerned about bringing in new quality signings.
Instead, van Gaal is focused on the idea of the team, rather than the high-profile player. He wants his United squad to emulate his Dutch one, at least in terms of unity.
“I hope the group in Manchester will become like this one,” said van Gaal. “We have to sing from the same hymn sheet.”
In Euro 2012, Netherlands crashed out in the group stages, a crushing disappointment for a side that, two years earlier, had made it to the World Cup final. In much the same manner, Manchester United finished seventh in the Premier League last season, after winning the title in 2012-2013. Obviously van Gaal hopes he can have the same sort of success at Old Trafford:
“I hope at Manchester United I can do my best,” he said. “I will do my best. Whether that’s enough for the fans I will wait and see, but I genuinely hope that will be the case.”
Sixteen teams remain in the battle to clinch the Premier League’s first European place of next season’s tournament, and we have some tremendous battles on tap for Tuesday and Wednesday in the EFL Cup (formerly the League Cup).
Today we focus on the 24 hours ahead of us, focusing on Tuesday’s five matches and allowing the Manchester Derby, West Ham-Chelsea, and Southampton-Sunderland to percolate a bit.
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That’s not to say we don’t have a pair of giants dueling on Tuesday. Liverpool is three wins away from a return to the final, where the Reds fell in penalties last season. Standing in their way is Tottenham Hotspur, a deep squad which won’t have to worry much about a quick turnaround from Saturday.
That said, the Reds didn’t have to play at all last week, while this will be Spurs third match in a week. Spurs have been to the EFL Cup final thrice since 2008, and one of two teams (Chelsea) to make three finals this decade. Liverpool will start Simon Mignolet between the sticks.
The remaining four EFL Cup matches include at least one team outside the Premier League.
— Arsenal will host USMNT midfielder Danny Williams and Reading.
— Hull City is off to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City.
— Newcastle United is leading the Championship, and will get a visit from Preston North End in the first of two matches between the two sides this week.
— Norwich City will pay a visit to Elland Road and Garry Monk‘s Leeds United.
FC Dallas has two jewels of its triple crown all set, having claimed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield.
One of the key reasons the club was able to sustain its pace this season was Mauro Diaz, 25, who shone even as Fabian Castillo shockingly left the club before the stretch run.
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A River Plate product, Diaz gave FCD seven goals and 15 assists over 32 appearances before tearing an achilles tendon last week.
Diaz underwent season-ending surgery, but his teammates made sure he was a part of the champagne celebration by heading to his very nice-looking house for an early morning visit.
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There was some eye-popping moments in the Premier League this weekend, yet still very little debate who shone brightest.
Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri scored a pair of Goal of the Month competitors in the same day in the Potters’ 2-0 win at Hull City on Monday.
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The first was a curling wonder from distance, while the second came from a bit closer as the big-calfed Swiss attacker bamboozled the Hull wall and goalkeeper.
The Potters are up to 16th in the Premier League table with nine points.
HELSINKI (AP) Fans of IFK Mariehamn have gathered in the main square of the remote Finnish town to celebrate their team’s surprise league title.
“I feel very proud,” the club’s managing director, Peter Mattsson, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview on Monday, adding that “thousands” were expected to turn up for the party.
Watched by more than 4,000, Mariehamn clinched the Finnish title on Sunday with a 2-1 home victory over Ilves, from the industrial city of Tampere.
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Mariehamn held off 11 other teams, including the traditionally strong Helsinki club, HJK, and defending champion SJK from western Finland. It ended three points clear of second-placed HJK for its first league title.
Local media dubbed the team “Leicester” after the surprise English Premier League champions last season.
Mariehamn, which has a population of 11,500, is the capital of the Aland islands off the southwestern Finnish coast