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Allegri’s coaching stock should take a hit after Champions League dud


Coming into Saturday’s Champions League final, Massimiliano Allegri had one of the fastest-rising coaching stocks in European soccer.

Following the 4-1 Real Madrid win, Allegri still remains one of the top coaches in Europe, but after being thoroughly out-coached by Zinedine Zidane in the second half, other top teams will most certainly take note.

With the score tied at 1-1 at halftime, Zidane – no stranger to taking obscene risks in important games – looked to spark his lethargic Real Madrid all-star squad by bombing both full-backs Marcelo and Dani Carvajal as far forward as possible. The two had 46 touches in the Juventus half through the 45 minutes; they racked up over half that in the 15 minutes after halftime alone.

The strategy worked, and immediately Juventus found itself pinned back in its own half – of the 5 chances created between those two players, four came between the 45th and 65th minute (only Carvajal’s assist on the first Madrid goal came outside that span).

With his team suddenly under siege, Allegri made no changes, tactically or otherwise. Likely, he hoped to take advantage of the counter opportunities presented by a suddenly relentless Madrid, but those opportunities never presented themselves. Juventus had a full 15 minutes to change tactics before the Spanish giants scored its quickfire double to put the game out of reach.

After a first half in which Juventus saw itself the better side, Madrid’s time was clearly coming, and Allegri most certainly had to be prepared for the eventual onslaught his team would face. Yet when it came to fruition, he had no response until it was too late, bringing on Juan Cuadrado with the scoreline now 3-1 and the game all but lost.

This is not to take away any credit from Real Madrid, who deserved to win the crown. Their squad is utterly loaded, potentially one of the best teams ever, and stopping them would be a tall task. Yet for a Juventus club that had conceded all of three goals the entire Champions League tournament, they were the most equipped of anyone to halt the Madrid machine, and they showed that through the first 45 minutes. Allegri froze when his team desperately needed some type of reaction. He quite simply came up small in the season’s biggest moment.

To make matters worse, after the match he criticized the squad for slumping mentally after Madrid’s second goal.

“We conceded that goal with a deflection and then let go psychologically,” Allegri said. “We should’ve reacted and defended with nails and teeth, but this is another step we have to take in [the] future to learn from this and mature. Even if Real Madrid had a very good second half and have excellent players who can change the game at any moment, that second goal knocked the wind out of our sails.” That’s a weak response from a man who should have shouldered much of the blame.

Max Allegri has no doubt guided Juventus through a fabulous campaign, and has proven a man who has squeezed the most out of this squad on numerous occasions. He should still remain a top coach among the European landscape as it stands. However, when prospective clubs down the road inspect his full body of work, this blemish should be one they inquire about. In a match that Juventus appeared up to the task, their manager went missing when they needed him the most.

Adidas reveals away kits for Mexico, Argentina, 7 other World Cup squads

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Fans of El Tri, La Albiceleste, Die Mannschaft and more can now get their hands on another set of 2018 World Cup jerseys.

Adidas unveiled the latest designs for the away kits of nine World Cup squads, including Mexico, Argentina and the defending champions Germany, with some of the team’s star players modeling the kits. Carlos Vela, Lionel Messi and Toni Kroos are all pictured in Adidas’ photo shoots with the new kits, and the uniforms are inspired by the kits worn at previous World Cups.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sweden, Colombia, Japan, Belgium and the host nation Russia are also included.

β€œFor adidas, the World Cup has always been the stage to showcase some of our most iconic products, innovations and designs,” Juergen Rank, Senior Design Director said in a statement. “Many of these classic designs remain hugely popular with fans, and we want to continue to celebrate them while introducing new innovations, combining authenticity with progression.

β€œThe new official World Cup away kits feature both the latest product technologies to ensure peak performance on the pitch and easily identifiable classic looks, making them perfectly suited to both the stadium and the street.”

Check out the latest kit release from Adidas below.

Ronaldo: “I always believe I am the best”

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You’ve got to appreciate the over-sized ego of Cristiano Ronaldo, even if it is deserved.

The 33-year-old Real Madrid striker was bestowed the 2017 Player of the Year award from the Portugal FA, earning 65 percent of the vote. But more than winning yet another trophy to add to his burgeoning case was what he told the media after accepting the award.

“We have to defend what is ours because there is always a Portuguese in the fight (for the top awards),” Ronaldo said, via AS. “I always believe and say that I am the best, whatever they say, and then I show it in the field. We are in the fight year after year.”

Ronaldo did score 42 goals last year for Real Madrid and has scored 18 goals in 2018 alone already for Los Blancos as the club look to go back-to-back-to-back in the UEFA Champions League.

Miazga: “We’re all ready to make an impression” with USMNT

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Last October, for reasons unknown, Matt Miazga didn’t make the U.S. Men’s National Team squad for its final two World Cup qualifiers.

Five months later, he’s risen to the top of the centerback depth chart.

[MORE: Digging into the USMNT roster]

The hulking centerback spoke on Tuesday as the USMNT started off its training camp in Cary, N.C., noting that the youth-laden squad wanted to make an impression to stay in the picture moving forward. With four years until the next World Cup and still more than a year until competitive matches, there is still plenty of shuffling and expanding of the player pool to do before then.

Have a listen to Miazga and enjoy the sights and sounds of the USMNT training camp ahead of its friendly match against Paraguay.


Banker Gaetano Micciche elected Serie A president

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MILAN (AP) Bank boss Gaetano Micciche has been elected president of Serie A.

Micciche, the president of Banca IMI, was chosen unanimously on Monday by the Italian league’s 20 clubs.

He succeeds Maurizio Beretta, who left the position nearly a year ago.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

The league has been under emergency leadership, first by former Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio then by Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago.

Malago recommended Micciche for the position.

The federation remains under emergency leadership following Tavecchio’s resignation in the wake of Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup.