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Int’l roundup: Netherlands, Ireland run wild in pre-WCQ friendlies

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With the summer set of World Cup qualifying fixtures taking place next week, a roundup of a handful of international friendlies as some of the heavy hitters make final preparations…

[ MORE: Griezmann won’t ditch Atleti during transfer ban this summer ]

Netherlands 5-0 Ivory Coast

Dick Advocaat’s Netherlands (he took over from Danny Blind last month) are in danger of failing to qualify for back-to-back major tournaments — EURO 2016 and World Cup 2018 — as the Oranje currently sit fourth in Group A, three points back of second-place (playoff place) Sweden with five games still to play. Up next: Luxembourg, at home.

Sunday’s friendly against Ivory Coast will leave the Dutch slightly more optimistic than they were immediately following Blind’s dismissal, as three goals in 36 minutes put the result beyond doubt early on. Joel Veltman scored the opener after just 13 minutes, Arjen Robben converted from the penalty spot in the 32 minute, and Veltman made it 3-0 just four minutes later.

Davy Klaassen extended the lead to four in the 69th minute, and and Tottenham Hotspur’s Vincent Jannssen bagged his second goal in as many games this week six minutes later, though the 22-year-old striker yanked an open-net opportunity wide just 20 minutes earlier.

[ MORE: Transfer rumors — De Gea-for-Morata swap? Salah to LFC ]

Ireland 3-1 Uruguay

At the halfway point of qualification in Group D, Ireland are sitting pretty ahead of next week’s visit from Austria. After five of 10 games played, the gap between second-place Ireland and third- and fourth-place Wales and Austria is four points; the gap between Ireland and first-place (automatic qualification) Serbia is zero — the Boys in Green trail only on goal differential (+6 to +4).

On Sunday, Martin O’Neill’s side scored a confidence-boosting victory over (a Luis Suarez-less) Uruguay at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Edinson Cavani lasted just 11 minutes for La Celeste after falling victim to a challenge from debutant Kevin Long. Uruguay, who currently sit third in CONMEBOL’s 10-team, double round-robin qualification competition, resume qualification at the end of August, when fifth-place (playoff place) Argentina invade Montevideo.

Stoke City’s Jonathan Walters put the home side with a well-struck effort just before the half-hour mark, but Atletico Madrid’s Jose Gimenez brought the visitors level just 10 minutes later, courtesy of a blunder by West Ham United’s Darren Randolph. Derby County’s Cyrus Christie fired Ireland back ahead six minutes after halftime, and West Bromwich Albion’s James McClean completed the scoring in the 77th minute.

Elsewhere in international friendlies

Armenia 5-0 St. Kitts and Nevis
Luxembourg 2-1 Albania
Montenegro 1-2 Iran

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.

“For 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.

“The 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.