Shipped from Abroad, Euro 2012: Looking forward from Group C, after Day 3

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Group C “Power” Rankings (after one round)

1. Spain – Italy gave the type of defensive performance Spain’s unlikely to see from Germany, the Netherlands, or any other contender. Any team and sit deep can wait, but Italy’s willingness to consistently throw Thiago Motta and Claudio Marchisio forward out of midfield is something Spain rarely sees. La Roja will be happy to be done with them.

2. Italy – Which team in this tournament beats the Italy we saw today? More readily, which team consistently beats them? Maybe Spain, though that’s hard to say after today’s performance. Germany, after they couldn’t break down Portugal? I’m not seeing it. The Netherlands?

Maybe we’re asking the wrong question. Perhaps we should be asking how likely Italy is to replicate this performance.

3. Croatia – The attack may have matched the quality Russia showed on Friday, but the defending was horrible. Ireland made them look better than they are. Slaven Bilic has a long three days ahead of him if he’s going to have his team ready for Italy.

4. Ireland – Giovanni Trapattoni has to wonder what happened to his defense. Facing Spain and Italy after taking nothing from Croatia, Irish fans would be forgiven for wondering if their tournament is over.

Crystal Ball – What Needs to Happen Next Round

Group C resumes play next Thursday.

Italy vs. Croatia

Did Italy play up to Spain’s level, or is this how they’ll play going forward? The question’s particularly pertinent against Croatia, who Italy’s never defeated. How can that be? Croatia’s been playing as an independent nation for nearly 20 years, yet the four-time world champions still haven’t beaten them? Have they consistently played down to their level? And if so, will it happen again?

If Croatia’s defense as poor as it was against Ireland, Antonio Cassano will tear them apart, especially given there isn’t a clear plan for cutting off the supply from Andrea Pirlo (except “get him, Luka”). Croatia will need a big day from defensive midfielder Ognjen Vukojević.

And, of course, Luka Modric will be a major consideration for Italy. As important as Modric is to Croatia’s game, Italy should send one of Thiago Motta or Claudio Marchisio from midfield to deal with him. Against Spain, those two (along with Pirlo) sat deep. We’ll see if that was how they play Spain or their general approach.

Spain vs. Ireland

If the weaknesses Ireland showed against Croatia aren’t fixed by Thursday, it might not matter. Unless Vicente Del Bosque is ready to start Fernando Llorente, he has nobody whose going to take advantage of Ireland’s central defense in the air. Spain’s not even set up to play that way.

Spain’s going to have to pass their way through Ireland’s defense, which shouldn’t be much of a problem. It just makes life harder than it need be.

For Ireland, they’re going to have to rely on hitting Spain in transition, perhaps forcing some set piece opportunities. It might help of Trapattoni brought Darron Gibson into the team, went 4-5-1, and used Gibson to try to play long to his striker.

PST’s Euro 2012 “More Powerful” Rankings

1. Germany (–) – They barely hold on to the top spot. Though Spain drew, you could make the case they showed more quality than Germany did Saturday.
2. Spain (–) – You can roll out the old tropes about Spain not being able to finish the deal, and they’ll be well-timed. For one day (at least), I’m going to give Italy the credit.
3. Italy (NR) – As alluded to above, that was a performance that could take the Italians deep in the tournament. The only question is whether they can replicate it.
4. Russia (-1) – Now that we’ve seen three-fourths of the draw, the Czech Republic look like an especially weak opponent.

5. France (-) – They get their showcase tomorrow against England.
6. Croatia (-2) – The attack was impressive. The defending was atrocious.
7. Denmark (-1)
8. Netherlands (-1) – They’ll likely be dropped from this list after Monday’s results.

… and PST’s Player of the Tournament Wunderlist

1. Alan Dzagoev, Russia
2. Mario Mandzukic, Croatia
3. Andrei Arshavin, Russia
4. Andres Iniesta, Spain
5. Daniele de Rossi, Italy
6. Andrea Pirlo, Italy
7. Simon Poulsen, Poland
8. Roman Shirokov, Russia
9. Dimitrios Salpingidis, Greece
10. Ivan Perisic, Croatia

ProSoccerTalk is doing its best to keep you up to date on what’s going on in Poland and Ukraine. Check out the site’s Euro 2012 page and look at the site’s previews, predictions, and coverage of all the events defining UEFA’s championship.

WATCH: Hartford Athletic scores wild 90th-minute winner

Hartford Athletic goal
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It’s very rare in this age full of soccer on our screens that we catch a goal of unique ingenuity.

The USL Championship delivered the goods on Wednesday.

Hartford Athletic had blown a two-goal lead to Philadelphia Union II on Wednesday and was staring down a 2-2 draw when Danny Barrera swung into action.

[ REPORT: Spurs land Mourinho’s “top target” ]

Well, perhaps he lunged into action. Or flailed. On third thought, swung is good.

Heck, you pick the verb.

Barrera, 30, turned Philadelphia goalkeeper Mitchell Budler into a gift horse, reacting quickly to flick his back boot into the path of the keeper’s attempted outlet throw in the 90th minute.

The 81st-minute sub became the match-winning goalscorer off the play, which gives him two goals and seven assists on the season.

Hartford has 32 points and is a point off table-leading Tampa Bay Rowdies with one match to play. Second-place Louisville City is also on 32 points and Pittsburgh Riverhounds have 31.

Hartford may be able to look back at Barrera’s goal as the surprise three points that swung a title race in its favor.

Leeds – Manchester City: How to watch, start time, prediction, odds

Leeds - Manchester City
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Leeds – Manchester City: It’s been so far, so good for Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds in their return to the Premier League, but a visit from Man City to Elland Road is a stiffer test (Watch live at 12:30 pm ET Saturday on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Leeds fell 4-3 to Liverpool on Opening Day but has since beaten Fulham and Sheffield United to sit top half of the table in this very young Premier League season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Man City fell 5-2 to Leicester City at home last weekend after beating Wolves to start their PL season. A midweek clean sheet of Burnley shows that Pep Guardiola’s men aren’t dead, and the Catalan mastermind will relish the chance to match wits with a man he hails as a role model in Bielsa.

Guardiola once called Bielsa the best manager in the world.

“Winning titles helps to have a job next season but at the end of your life, what you remember is not the titles you have won, what you remember is the memories you have and whether the manager taught you a lot,” Guardiola once said when asked about Bielsa. “What we remember are the experiences and the memories, the players you have had, the managers you have had. Marcelo is at the top of the list. Absolutely at the top of the list.”


Team news for Leeds – Manchester City (INJURY REPORT)

Leeds will not have emerging star winger Jack Harrison, who is in his second season on loan to the club from Man City and ineligible to play against his parent club. Gaetano Berardi (knee), Adam Forshaw (groin), Pablo Hernandez (groin) are on the injured list.

Things are getting better for Manchester City, who got Aymeric Laporte and Bernardo Silva back in a midweek League Cup win over Burnley. Still out are Gabriel Jesus (undisclosed), Sergio Aguero (knee), Joao Cancelo (foot), Ilkay Gundogan (COVID-19), and Oleksandr Zinchenko (undisclosed).


What they’re saying

Leeds’ young goalkeeper Illan Meslier on keeping a clean sheet: “I’m happy because in the last game against Fulham I felt I could have saved the last two goals, but against Sheffield I saved two important chances and we arrived at half time at 0-0 which was important. It is just one game though, and we are focused on the next game now and then the one after that. For the spectators I think 4-3 games are better, but for the team and me it is better one-nil. We managed to do that on Sunday and win the game so it is all good.”

Man City boss Guardiola on new signing Ruben Dias: “We know Ruben Dias’s personality and I am sure he will be an incredible player for the next six or seven years. We’re very happy to have him. Our back four are now a young team. We start training tomorrow and get going as quick as possible.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

This line has probably become a lot tighter than it would’ve been in August since Leeds has burst onto the scene while Man City has been up-and-down (relatively speaking). Leeds is +675 to win at home and +440 to draw, while City is -290 to collect all three points.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Leeds – Manchester City prediction

Leeds is a talented side and only getting better and deeper in terms of talent and experience. And Bielsa can plan for any opposition. But injured or not, City still has Kevin De Bruyne, Rodri, Raheem Sterling, and more. Man City 3-1.


How to watch Leeds – Manchester City stream and start time

Kickoff: 12:30 pm ET Saturday
TV Channel: NBC
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Manchester United – Tottenham: How to watch, start time, prediction, odds

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Manchester United – Tottenham: Jose Mourinho’s latest Premier League project waltzes into his previous stop when Tottenham Hotspur visits Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30 am ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Both clubs boast midweek wins in the League Cup, though Tottenham’s Thursday visit from Europa League foes Maccabi Haifa have complicated Mourinho’s planning for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Tottenham may have a new striker in the fold, with reports claiming the North Londoners have loaned Mourinho’s No. 1 target, Carlos Vinicius, from Benfica.

Meanwhile, Solskjaer has grown frustrated of answering questions on United’s transfer activity with days to go in the window.


Team news for Manchester United – Tottenham (INJURY REPORT)

Same old, same old for United, which is still dealing with long-term injuries to Axel Tuanzebe (ankle) and Phil Jones (knee).

Tottenham is still waiting for Gareth Bale to regain full fitness after a knee injury, while Heung-min Son is unlikely to play Sunday but manager Jose Mourinho was unwilling to completely rule the South Korean out.


What they’re saying

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Man Utd’s transfer activity“I can’t give you any news. We are working with what we have got. We have a big squad. If there is any update, we will let you know. I don’t comment on other teams’ players. I can’t concern myself with other clubs. I know the club is working well and hard to have a strong squad as possible. Sometimes speculation is there and we can’t control that.”

Spurs’ boss Mourinho on midweek League Cup win over Chelsea“We were ready to fight, I told you. I told the players before the penalties that they were magnificent in the second half, we made Chelsea look ordinary. The team waited for the right moment…. I have to think about three games at the same time but the players only thought about this game, they were phenomenal. Phenomenal.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Man United is -108 to win while visiting Spurs register a +290 odds to get all three points against Jose Mourinho’s former club. A draw nets the bettor +260.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Manchester United – Tottenham prediction

Tottenham’s looked the superior team in all competitions so far, though United’s stars have yet to really fire on all cylinders aside from Bruno Fernandes. The variables for this weekend, however, favor United. Spurs will have played Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday while United played Saturday-Tuesday. If Old Trafford was full of screaming fans we might expect a little more advantage for a home side, too. Son’s absence looms large, though, and that will tilt the scales from a 2-2 draw to a 2-1 Man United win.


How to watch Manchester United – Tottenham stream and start time

Kickoff: 11:30 am ET Sunday
TV Channel: NBCSN
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Report: Tottenham lands Mourinho’s No. 1 striker target from Benfica

Carlos Vinicius to Tottenham
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If Gareth Bale doesn’t have “it” anymore, then Jose Mourinho’s gonna have other options.

Heck, even if he does.

Tottenham will soon announce the signing of Benfica striker Carlos Vinicius on a one-year loan and $50 million-plus option-to-buy after the season.

[ MORE: Champions League draw preview ]

Not to be confused with Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior, Carlos Vinicius is a 25-year-old Brazilian striker coming off a career-year in Portugal.

Vinicius scored 23 times with 13 assists in a breakout 2019-20 season, his 18 league goals tied for the Portuguese top flight lead with teammate Pizzi and Rio Ave’s Mehdi Taremi.

He’s also comfortable coming off the bench, scoring those six of his 18 league goals in substitute performances.

[ MORE: Mourinho on League Cup defeat of Chelsea ]

Football.London reporter Alasdair Gold says Vinicius was Jose Mourinho’s No. 1 summer target but the price tag was too high earlier in the window.

Vinicius used to belong to Napoli but twice went out on loan, one of those a 16-appearance, 2-goal campaign for Monaco in Ligue 1.

The player shares an agency with Cristiano Ronaldo, Ederson, Ruben Neves, Ruben Dias, and Matt Doherty.