Antonio Conte has a selection headache after Willian scored twice and both Olivier Giroud and Pedro also found the back of the net in an FA Cup thrashing of Hull City on Friday.
[ MORE: American debuts for Chelsea ]
Given the relative struggles of the rest of the team in recent weeks — aside from a 3-0 win against lowly West Brom — that has Conte assessing who’s best suited for a brutal 12-day stretch which sees Chelsea play Barcelona, Manchester United, and Manchester City.
Alvaro Morata is in a prolonged slump, and Giroud has put in a couple of fine performances. Willian has been one of Chelsea’s best players for some time, but with Pedro and Eden Hazard also on song, well, there are a lot of cooks for this particular stew.
‘I’m very happy because before the game against Barcelona I go to my house with many doubts in my mind about what is the best starting XI for the game. Now we must take the right time to make the best decision.
‘The last two wins were very important for our confidence and to prepare in the right way for Barcelona. It’s a massive game. We must be confident to prepare for it in the right way. The game starts at 0-0, and then we have to try to move it in the right direction.
The four-goal Friday first half allowed Conte to pull off Pedro at half and Cesc Fabregas after 62 minutes — handing a senior debut to U.S. prospect Kyle Scott — and that will allay plenty of exhaustion fears.
Willian and Hazard should be given against Barcelona, and Pedro also seems fit for the three men behind the big striker (especially considering his limited Friday duty). In terms of form, Giroud’s the guy. But Morata was brought here for nights like this.
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.
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.
Liverpool has a message for any club looking to sign Mohamed Salah this summer: Not gonna happen.
The Merseyside club has reportedly said it will “not sell Salah under any circumstances this summer” as the Reds look to hold off the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona, according to The Telegraph. Salah’s four-goal tally against Watford on Saturday took his goal total to an incredible 28 in 32 Premier League games, with another seven goals in cup competitions.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Liverpool famously kept Barcelona – and Arsenal – off Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan striker wanted to leave in 2013, but Liverpool was only able to stop Barcelona from signing Philippe Coutinho for six months.
As things stand, Liverpool are qualified for the 2018-2019 UEFA Champions League with the club sitting in a top four Premier League place, and keeping Salah is absolutely vital if the Reds want to make a deep run in the competition and compete for a Premier League title. It remains to be seen though if Salah is happy to stay at Liverpool or if a big-money offer from Spain or France can tempt him otherwise to set himself and his family financially for life.
U.S. Soccer will wait until after the World Cup to decide on a new head coach for the U.S. Men’s National Team.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that U.S. Soccer had extended interim coach Dave Sarachan’s contract through June, after his original deal was set to expire this month. Sarachan has led the U.S. since the resignation of Bruce Arena last October. Sarachan was Arena’s long-time top assistant coach with the LA Galaxy and USMNT before taking the reigns.
[READ: Manneh added to USMNT squad]
Sarachan has led the U.S. to a pair of draws with Portugal and Bosnia and Herzegovina, with two U.S. starting lineups stocked with youngsters as the preparation for the 2022 World Cup gets underway.
Sarachan and the U.S. are currently holding a training camp in Cary, N.C. ahead of a friendly match next Tuesday against Paraguay. Sarachan will also coach the U.S. against Bolivia, Ireland and France before departing.
By extending Sarachan through June, it makes it more likely that U.S. Soccer will either look abroad for its next coach or pick a coach who is currently a free agent – like Caleb Porter – or already within the system – like Tab Ramos. It’s possible, but unlikely, that U.S. Soccer could sway Peter Vermes, Oscar Pareja or Gregg Berhalter to leave their clubs halfway through the season for the national team job, and it’s equally unlikely that U.S. Soccer would hold the position open until the next MLS offseason.