Offshore drilling, Euro 2012: Germany 2, Netherlands 1

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Man of the Match: Dirk Kuyt was one touch away from a chance at an equalizer, but 23 yards from goal, he made the mistake of giving Bastian Schweinsteiger a finally stab at the ball. The 90th minute look was the Netherlands’ venture toward goal, making it apropos Schweinsteiger was allowed to snuff it out.

It takes a special performance to take a Man of the Match from somebody who scored twice, but culminating with his tackle on Huntelaar, Schweinsteiger gave it. His two assists were perfect if unspectacular – playing direct, 10-12 yard passes to Mario Gomez – but his awareness stood out. He not only knew where Gomez was, but he knew to get it to him with one touch.

After Germany had their two goal lead, he teamed with Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil to keep the game under German control. The Netherlands may have had more of the ball, but Germany’s midfield was dictating the game. At the end, Schweinsteiger was the man winning back possession, allowing to bleed out the clock.

NBC Sports: Gomez scores 2 to give Germany 2-1 win over Dutch

Packaged for takeaway:

  • The match was practically cliché. Germany imposes themselves in these types of matches, they say. Today, the Germans showed why. The execution on their two goals was simple, targeted and clinical:
    • Simple: The first goal saw basic passes go from Mats Hummels to Thomas Muller to Schweinsteiger to Mario Gomez. The second was Manuel Neuer to Gomez to Mesut Ozil to Schweinsteiger and back to Gomez. Each sequence was a long pass played back and then middle before finding the striker between defenders. None of the passes were anything you or I couldn’t execute.
    • Targeted: The Netherlands’ left side of defense was a problem. Germany was ruthless about going after it. Both goals were built though that side.
    • Clinical: Mario Gomez’s finishing was very great. The touch he took to turn onto the first goal was more graceful than we’ve come to expect from the Bayern target man, with the second goal barely nestling inside Maarten Stekelenburg’s right post.
  • The easy with which the Germans took apart the Dutch was in part Bert van Marwijk’s doing. There was no pressure in Germany’s half, so Mats Hummels had no trouble picking out Thomas Müller in the build up to the first goal. In the second half, Hummels was at one time allowed to dribble through the Dutch defense and force a save from Stekelenburg.
  • The Dutch had their plan, too. They seemed intent on targeting Jerome Boateng, with many of their attempts to connect with Robin van Persie going into the left channel or wider. Their goal came from that side, though it was Mats Hummels, losing van Persie as the striker turned in, that was culpable.
  • It was another mixed day for van Persie, His finish on the goal was great, but a blown chance in the sixth minute got his day off to a bad start. After redirecting that a chipped over the defense directly to Manuel Neuer, van Persie seemed to rush some chances. In the second half, with Klass-Jan Huntelaar on, he looked better, but this has still been a trying tournament for a man of whom so much was expected.
  • The Ozil-Sami Khedira-Schweinsteiger trio dominated play when they wanted, calmly absorbed pressure when they didn’t. The Netherlands’ starting midfield duo, Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong, were AWOL. Each goal was the type you try to guard against by playing an extra man in front of the defense. “These two will prevent those easy passes from being played through our line.” Turns out, they won’t.
  • How can a team aspiring to win this tournament come into the competition with that left side of defense? Jetro Willems, the 18-year-old from PSV with barely a season’s experience at club level, is starting for the Dutch, while Joris Mathijsen, in today for Ron Vlaar, is coming off a terrible season at Malaga. Willems is an injury replacement, but there are really no better left backs in the Netherlands? One year as an 18-year-old in the Dutch league said “we should be comfortable with him for six games in Europe’s biggest national tournament”?
  • Smart pundits noted this might be a problem, but not me. I assumed that the defense wouldn’t be much worse than the team that made the finals in South Africa. Clearly, I was wrong. And now, I’m bitter.
  • Arjen Robben had a difficult first half, but in the second, but he and Wesley Sneijder started to have an impact from wide positions. That’s why it was so curious that, with his last substitution, Bert van Marwijk elected to take Robben off for Dirk Kuyt. It’s not like the Dutch needed a goal or anything, right?
  • Robben must have felt the same way, because instead of going to meet Kuyt to complete a traditional substitution, he stepped off the pitch at the far side and slowly walked around to the Dutch bench, applauding to the supporters periodically as he strolled. When he got to the bench, he ripped off his kit and sat outside the dugout.
  • To me, the craziest thing about this day is the Dutch not only still have a chance to advance, but it’s not a remote one. Thanks to Portugal’s third goal, the Netherlands are still alive, and if they post a lopsided result in the third group game (two-or-more goal victory), they will get through, provided Germany beats Denmark.
  • That’s obviously not a given. Germany wins the group with a draw, though a loss opens the door to them finishing third. There have been so many times we’ve seen this scenario end in a draw, but it goes without saying that anything can happen.

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.

Fulham fire Jokanovic, hire Ranieri as new manager

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Bottom of the Premier League table and leaking goals galore, something had to change at Fulham.

It was the manager.

Slavisa Jokanovic became the first Premier League manager fired in the 2018-19 season and the Cottagers sprung quite a surprise by hiring former Chelsea and Leicester City boss Claudio Ranieri as his replacement. In a strange coincidence, Jokanovic was actually Ranieri’s first signing as Chelsea manager back in 2000.

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Ranieri last coached in England with Leicester as he led them to an incredible Premier League title win in his only full season in charge in 2015-16.

The following season he was fired in February 2017 with the Foxes in danger of being dragged into a relegation battle, and since then Ranieri coached at Nantes in France for the 2017-18 Ligue 1 campaign.

Ranieri, who coached Fulham’s west London rivals Chelsea in 2003-05, has been without a job for the past few months, but the well-traveled manager — formerly of AS Monaco, Roma, Inter Milan, Juventus and Greece among many others — is now back in the thick of things as he aims to lead American-owned club out of relegation trouble.

Speaking about his arrival at Fulham, the lovable Italian coach is eager to work with his squad over the international break to plan for his first game in charge against Southampton on Nov. 24.

“It is an honor to accept Mr. Khan’s invitation and opportunity to lead Fulham, a fantastic club with tradition and history,” Ranieri said. “The objective at Fulham should never be to merely survive in the Premier League. We must at all times be a difficult opponent and should expect to succeed. This Fulham squad has exceptional talent that is contrary to its position in the table. I know this team is very capable of better performances, which we will work on straight away as we prepare for Southampton at the Cottage.”

Fulham went on to say that Tony Khan, Vice Chairman and Director of Football Operations, “considered and spoke with a number of potential candidates within the past week” and that Ranieri was the “mutual and obvious choice.”

The club added that Tony Khan “will continue to oversee first team player recruitment and contractual agreements” and Ranieri will work closely with him on that.

What does Ranieri have to sort out at Fulham? In short, a lot.

Jokanovic led Fulham to promotion via the playoffs last season (after they reached the playoffs the season before too) and over the summer the club spent big, splashing out over $130 million on new players as Khan aimed to solidify the club in the Premier League.

Things didn’t go as planned over the opening months of the season with Fulham’s defense the leakiest in the PL and Jokanovic chopping and changing his team, especially his defense, most weeks. Over recent weeks Khan backed Jokanovic to turn things around, but they’ve acted swiftly with Fulham at risk of being cut adrift at the bottom of the table.

Ranieri will first do what he does best, make Fulham difficult to beat, but there’s no denying that his defensive philosophy is totally different to the free-flowing play Jokanovic preferred.

That attractive, attacking style of play led to the recruitment of most of the current squad under Khan and Jokanovic, so asking them to play in a solid 4-4-2 and to take no risks at the back will be a total culture shift for Fulham’s players.

This will be very interesting, and Ranieri will face his two former clubs in his first three games in charge. After hosting Saints, Fulham head to Chelsea for a west London derby on Dec. 2, then host Leicester on Dec. 5.

Fulham have acted quicker than they did in 2013-14 when they were last in the Premier League and were ultimately relegated after having Martin Jol in charge until December, then ene Meulensteen and Felix Magath were in charge later that season.

West Ham playmaker Arnautovic admits he’s playing hurt

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West Ham playmaker Marko Arnautovic is in his second season with the Hammers, and while leading West Ham with five goals on the season, he’s definitely not 100%. Still, his team needs him – both club and country – and so he’ll keep suiting up even through the pain.

Arnautovic, on international duty with Austria, admitted to hometown media that he needs regular medical treatment to stay on the pitch this season.

“I can not say if I’ll get an injection on Thursday,” Arnautovic said. “In my knee, fluid accumulates again and again. Of course, there are people who say they should rest themselves and do nothing for a week, but it’s just difficult.”

Arnautovic would not elaborate on the type of injection he is receiving, but it’s likely a steroid or other anti-inflammatory injection to keep the swelling in his knee to a minimum. He also may be having his knee drained, a painful process that involves physically removing fluid buildup through a syringe.

The 29-year-old was originally injured in a 3-1 win over Everton in mid-September, the club’s first win of the season. He was withdrawn from that match in the 64th minute after scoring a goal and assisting another, and missed the subsequent Premier League match against Chelsea. He returned to play 83 minutes against Manchester United the next time out, and has missed only one match since, playing the full 90 minutes in the other three.

To keep his knee as healthy as possible, Arnautovic told Sky Sports earlier last month that he was avoiding training too much. “The knee is not the best but I am fit and I can play,” Arnautovic said. “I’m not training a lot at West Ham to try and my knee calm.”

“After a game I need some rest for about two or three days. By the middle of the week I am training normally with the team, training in full. And on the weekend I can play, that is the most important thing. Obviously you can’t do anything on this bone bruise.”

Report: Jadon Sancho to start for England vs United States

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Jadon Sancho and Christian Pulisic are teenage teammates for Borussia Dortmund, a shining light for the growing generation of young internationals. Now, they will face each other on the field as international opponents on Friday as the United States and England clash at Wembley.

According to a report by Sky Sports, Sancho is set for his full international debut as Gareth Southgate will include Sancho in his starting lineup. It will be Sancho’s second cap after earning his first against Croatia in October.

That means it’s likely that the two will both be included from the opening whistle, as Pulisic is as guaranteed a starter as they come on the United States, barring injury.

Sancho has been white hot at the club level this season, scoring four goals and assisting five while earning a starting role with his form. One of his main teammates affected with diminished minutes as a result of Sancho’s form is Pulisic, who has not started in any of the last five Bundesliga matches and has just 64 minutes in that span.

Pulisic started against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on October 24, and eventually saw Sancho replace him in the 79th minute, with the young English international scoring in the 4-0 win. The two then started opposite each other against Atletico in the reverse fixture a week ago in a 2-0 loss.

Sancho will get the opportunity to prove his worth with a critical match against Croatia is on the horizon, as England has the chance to secure a spot in the Nations League semi-finals with a win. This will come alongside Wayne Rooney, who will be included in the squad and get the opportunity to play in a farewell match. Sancho was just two years old when Rooney made his England debut.

2018 MLS awards: Tata wins Coach, Zlatan wins Goal

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Major League Soccer announced a number of its regular season awards on Tuesday, and a pair of the league’s international stars were at the forefront of the achievements.

Outgoing Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino won Coach of the Year, while LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic won the league’s Goal of the Year award for his incredible long-distance strike against rivals LAFC back in late March.

Martino, in his second year in charge as Atlanta United’s first and only manager in franchise history, came just a point from securing the team’s first Supporters’ Shield in just its second year of existence. The club just won its first playoff series in club history as well, beating NYFC over two legs to reach the Eastern Conference finals. The Argentine has announced he will depart the club at the end of the season, with reports pinning him to a job with the Mexican national team.

LAFC manager Bob Bradley finished second in the Coach of the Year award, having led the first-year club to a third-place finish in the Western Conference and a playoff spot before being dumped by Real Salt Lake in the knockout round.

Ibrahimovic won Goal of the Year with his audacious half-volleyed strike from almost 40 yards out that chipped LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller and leveled the score. It was Ibrahimovic’s first MLS goal after moving to the Galaxy in the offseason from Manchester United. He scored again that match, a stoppage-time winner in the brand new derby.

Other awards were handed out during the hour-long awards ceremony on Periscope, including the Save of the Year, which went to Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei for ranging across his net to stop Colorado Rapids forward Shkelzen Gashi.

Skill Play of the Year went to Portland’s Samuel Armenteros for an incredible dink past Colorado defender Danny Wilson just before scoring the game’s first goal. The Celebration of the Year went to Bradley Wright-Phillips for the aftermath of his 100th MLS goal where he proceeded to remove his jersey to reveal another underneath with the number 100.