Offshore drilling, Copa del Rey final: Barcelona 3, Athletic Bilbao 0

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Man of the Match: It’s nice to see Pedro Rodríguez healthy. Hampered by injuries through most of 2012, Pedro returned and scored twice for Barcelona, undoubtedly opening the eyes of Spain national team bas Vicente del Bosque. Despite making Spain’s team for South Africa, the Barça attacker is on the borderline for Euro 2012: Will he make it or not? Today’s performance won’t hurt.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • As I type, it occurs to me this may be the shortest offshore drilling in this segment’s history. This match taught us nothing new and unfolded in a very predictable way.
  • Barcelona came out quick, scored in the third minute (through Pedro) and looked like a team refreshed. Within half an hour, they were up three and seemed to let up, as if the were told by pre-match by Pep Guardiola that if they worked hard for 30 minutes, they’d undoubtedly have control of the match.
  • As a result, the last hour was worthless.
  • Not a bad way to go out for Guardiola. His team was clearly well prepared.
  • Athletic didn’t look as tired as they did earlier this spring, when they were juggling Europa League with fading league prospects. Their energy almost played into Barcelona’s hands, though. At the beginning, they were willing to run with Barça, allowing them to be picked apart.
  • The second goal was a thing of beauty. A knifing ball from Andres Iniesta put Lionel Messi behind the defense, but a little heavy, the pass was speeding out fora goal kick. Messi burst, got to it just in time, and although Gorka Iraizoz gave him little to shoot at, Messi found the upper right hand corner from six yards out.
  • Five minutes later, Pedro completed his double, after which the match was basically over. Athletic played like a team scared of making things worse. Barcelona played like a team that’d spent their season’s last piece of motivation.
  • For Barça, the win is the team’s first major trophy of the season, something the history books will look upon kindly. It would have been strange to look back at 2011-12 and think “wow, Barcelona didn’t win anything.” Copa del Rey and close calls in league and Europe? That sounds about right.
  • Athletic, for the second time in three years, finishes second to Barça in Copa. They also lost in the final of Europa League. Are they the Spanish Bayern Munich, 2012’s bridesmaids that should have been brides? Not quite.
  • Marcelo Bielsa’s team finished the season as they started it: Unimpressively. After getting used to their new boss, Athletic was one of the top 10-or-so teams in Europe. But that was the middle of the year. At the end, they alternated between spent and underwhelming. Today, they were the latter.

Report: Minnesota United chasing Ecuadorian national teamer

Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images
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Minnesota United may be hoping another Ibarra can cure what ails its attack.

Romario Ibarra, 23, is on the Loons’ radar according to The Athletic‘s Kristian Dyer and Jeff Rueter, who say Minnesota would like to land the Ecuadorian when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

[ MORE: Modric urges humility ]

Ibarra was limited to eight matches for Universidad Católica this season as he battled through a lingering metatarsal fracture. But he’s scored against Argentina and Chile in each of his appearances for the national team, both World Cup qualifiers.

From The Athletic:

Sources say that Ibarra’s contract is unlikely to make him a designated player, leaving Quintero as the club’s sole DP. (It could depend, in part, on the size of the transfer fee.) Based on league standards, his salary will likely be drawn from Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) contract seems likely.

Ibarra’s older brother Renato plays for Club America, and has 36 caps.

Minnesota is six points outside the West’s final playoff spot, and has scored just 17 goals in 14 matches.

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal field set

Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP
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The 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is down to one non-MLS entrant after LAFC fought past Sacramento Republic’s dogged effort to make it two, twice equalizing en route to a 3-2 win.

[ MORE: TFC extends Bono ]

Louisville City won a battle of USL sides in Wednesday’s final day of fifth round action, knocking off Nashville SC by a 2-1 score.

Now attention turns to the quarterfinals, where USL champions Louisville City will face the Chicago Fire on July 18.

All four quarterfinals will be staged on that day, and the winner of Louisville-Chicago will face the winner of the duel between Philadelphia Union and Orlando City.

The other side of the bracket shows Houston Dynamo against Sporting KC, and LAFC against the Portland Timbers.

Chicago and KC have won the cup an MLS-best four times each, while Philadelphia has finished second twice.

The remaining quarterfinalists have not advanced to a USOC final.

Sprawling translated Emery interview talks PSG, Guardiola, more

AP Photo/Thibault Camus
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Arsenal manager Unai Emery has given a sprawling interview, translated by France Football News, in which he discusses his history and his philosophies.

The interview was conducted after Emery was dismissed by Paris Saint-Germain but before he was hired by the Gunners.

[ MORE: Sampaoli defends Messi ]

It’s a fascinating read, with Emery going deep into his relationship with Neymar, the need for PSG to get an “A-ha” goal for its history books, and much, much more.

The interview is with Marti Perarnau, the author of “Pep Confidential,” and there are plenty of good nuggets regarding the Manchester City boss, as well as Rafa Benitez, Zinedine Zidane, PSG, Real Madrid, and Barcelona.

It’s fairly clear that Emery figured he’d be going to a new league, and he certainly seems like a guy fit for a project like succeeding Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. For one thing, he’s proud of his team’s style.

That’s something valued by the North London set, and Emery pointed out that Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid and Pep Guardiola at Man City had to fail before they succeeded.

Let me say this: PSG played well and won. Many people don’t value that enough and believe that it is easy. But what happened to us? We lacked competitiveness in important moments. Why? Because this team is not confronted with enough moments of adversity in the league. Being competitive also means being faced with adversity. One has to suffer like Simeone’s team to win. One has to suffer like Pep’s team to win in England.

My team had two basic principles: having possession and pressing. That was the basis. Having the ball, and winning it back as fast as possible. I should add a little nuance. I’m talking about having possession and not positioning because there are moments where you can win the ball through positioning, and others where moving out of position can surprise the opponent. And like Guardiola says, if you have to win with a long ball from the goalkeeper towards the striker and that the forward scores with his ass, then so be it! We work like that as well.

And here’s just a quick nugget on the importance of playmaking, and how good players make a coach look better.

During his first match against Toulouse at the Parc des Princes, we get corner. Neymar takes it quickly and Kurzawa scores. We hadn’t worked that at all with him. Afterwards, I told Neymar, “My work is limited to your strokes of genius.”

Love it. Arsenal seems like it’s in good hands. Read the full interview here.

Khedira laughs off Swedish reporter’s offer of tickets home

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
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Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira brushed off a gesture from a Swedish reporter, trading a bit of banter ahead of Germany’s big World Cup match against Sweden on Saturday.

Germany fell 1-0 to Mexico in its opener while Sweden beat South Korea, leading a playful Swede to hand Khedira boarding passes for a flight home to Germany.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Khedira’s reply? He joked that Sweden won’t be a problem and he’ll use the tickets after the World Cup Final.

From Goal.com:

“After this bad start, we know that it’s super difficult, but we know that we are a strong team. We analysed the game, we saw Sweden play and we are sure that we are winning this game.

“I think we’ll need them [plane tickets] on the 16th of July.”