Championship hubris, stubborn males, and Spain-Ireland: Thursday’s Euro 2012 B-Side


source: Reuters

Spain’s players performed well in La Roja’s 1-1 Sunday draw with Italy, a final that illustrated the extent to which the world champions are slowly regressing. It wasn’t so long ago that anything but a win was a setback. Now, it’s just a disappointment. The players played fine, but the result didn’t come. Oh well.

At some point, Spain’s coaching staff needs to ask what’s going wrong. The answer is easy. They don’t have enough attackers to make their possession pay off. Why? They’re playing one too many holders. One of Sergio Busquets or Xabi Alonso should be sacrificed for a non-Fernando Torres forward.

Against Ireland, these problems shouldn’t matter. Spain’s far too quick for an Irish defense that will look stoic and impotent if the holders play like they did on Sunday. The idea of Richard Dunne chasing around Andres Iniesta goes from fun to sad in seconds. If Ireland replicates the performance they gave against Croatia, this will be the most lopsided match of the tournament.

The festivities kick off at 2:45 p.m. Eastern. Here is your playlist:

Side 2: Spain vs. Ireland

5. Don’t forget the new guy

When Jesus Navas came on for the final half hour on Sunday, he gave Spain some desperately needed width on the right, width they lost when they had to move Sergio Ramos into central defense. An ancillary benefit: As Spain started playing through the right (and balanced their attack), Jordi Alba found room on the left.

Against an Ireland team that’s likely to play deep and narrow, releasing Alba will provide the width Spain needs without having to inject Navas into the starting XI. Dragging Damien Duff behind right back John O’Shea, Alba can turn Ireland’s defense and take offside out of play, allowing Iniesta, Fabregas and Silva to use their speed to get to onto passes rolled into the area. If the defense collapses, Xabi Alonso can become useful coming onto balls played to the top of the arc.

source:  More broadly, Alba’s an element Spain need to start utilizing. When Joan Capdevila was there, Spain didn’t have the same attacking presence coming from left back. Sergio Ramos was utilized more on the right. Now that Alba is ensconced in the first team, Vicente del Bosque can open up the flank knowing he has somebody to cover that ground.

6. Be careful who you’re touchin’

Ireland scored their goal against Croatia after drawing a foul, Sean St. Ledger heading Ireland even early in the first half. Kevin Doyle’s hard work holding up the ball enticed the whistle. Ireland’s dead ball execution allowed them to turn the innocuous play into a goal.

It’s one of the few ways Ireland have of scoring against Spain. Neither Robbie Keane nor Kevin Doyle can outrun anybody in Spain’s defense. All Spain’s defenders need to do is be patient, keep the play in front of them, and not give up any cheap fouls …

… which is completely out of character for Sergio Ramos.

7. Stubborn as a male

So what does Giovanni Trapattoni do to put a little more danger in Ireland’s side?

He doesn’t care. If he did, this Ireland team would look a lot different. As is, he plays with two banks of four. He doesn’t want his wide midfielders being wingers. He doesn’t want his fullbacks posing as wing backs. Ireland’s success if predicated on discipline, even if that manifests as rigidity.

For six months, Ireland fans have been clamoring for Sunderland’s James McClean to start. A dynamic wide player whose declaration for Ireland was seen as a minor coup (he was born in Northern Ireland), McClean’s only appeared twice for the Republic. There’s no defined use carved out for him in Trapattoni’s plans. He didn’t make it off the bench against Croatia.

Trapattoni’s had a lot of success since taking over Ireland. He’s earned the right to be stubborn. It’s part of the reason he’s so successful, but it’s also the reason why Ireland’s not going to include dynamism for dynamism’s sake.

8. One more man in the middle

Trapattoni has indulged small changes to his formation, provided they’re consistent with his approach. You’re not going to see him deploy a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3, but you could see him sacrifice somebody to bring in another midfielder, going to a 4-5-1.

With Spain likely to be their possession-hogging selves, Ireland will be even more reliant than usual on the counter. Spain’s passing game is likely to pack them deep in their own end, with the Irish will have even more problem connecting midfield to attack.

Inserting Everton’s Darron Gibson could help, but even if he’s able to play long balls toward the center line, who will be there to hold it up? Robbie Keane or Kevin Doyle … and … ?

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.

Reports: Tottenham Hotspur to hire Celtic’s Ange Postecoglou as next manager


Multiple reports say that Ange Postecoglou will be leaving Celtic to become the next manager of Tottenham Hotspur.

Celtic had reportedly granted permission for Spurs to speak with their trophy-collecting boss, and things apparently progressed quickly as the 57-year-old looks set to oversee the club’s big rebuild.

[ MORE: Recalling Zlatan’s “unicorn” career ]

Spurs suffered through an inconsistent 2022-23 season with Antonio Conte at the helm, followed by Cristian Stellini and Ryan Mason in interim stints.

Tottenham will not have European football this season and is at risk of losing legendary center forward Harry Kane. The club has eight players including Kane going into the final year of their contracts, including Ivan Perisic, Davinson Sanchez, Eric Dier, and Hugo Lloris.

Spurs finished eighth last season, 15 points off the top four despite spending much of the season inside of it. The club’s finished fourth just once in the past four seasons despite qualifying for the Champions League the previous four seasons.

Ironically, Celtic is being linked with pursuit of Brendan Rodgers and Jesse Marsch if Postecoglou departs this week.

Who is Ange Postecoglou?

Postecoglou, 57, was born in Greece and moved to Australia at a young age, starring for South Melbourne as a player and earning for caps for the Socceroos.

He is coming off a domestic treble with Celtic and won five of six trophies available to him in his two seasons with the Bhoys.

At Celtic, Postecoglou played with a 4-3-3 for much of the first half of his tenure but played a lot of this campaign in a 4-2-3-1.

Postecoglou won trophies as a manager with South Melbourne, Brisbane Roar, and Yokohama F. Marinos, claiming the Asian Cup during his stint as Australia national team coach.

He said he expects tricky early times wherever he goes.

“Wherever I’ve been, the initial part is always rocky, because my ideas are… well they’re not extreme to me but I can see how they can be seen as extreme from the outside. It takes a while. Usually it can take me six months, it can take me a year to really bed them in, depending on how many opportunities I have to change the playing squad and the staff and all those kinds of things.”

Five players to watch in the Premier League’s summer transfer window


There’s going to be turnover in the Premier League this offseason, and it seems likely the big boys will again be looking to the top young talents in other leagues to get in when the getting is good.

There will be big price tags attached to some players this summer, but in the case of the players below we may be talking about players just a window away from having unattainably high price tags for most clubs.

[ TRANSFER NEWS: Arsenal | Liverpool | Chelsea | Tottenham | Man City | Man United ] 

Most of these names have danced through ProSoccerTalk‘s transfer rumor mill at least once during the past season or two, and in one case have been on the radar for a half-decade or so.

Here’s a look at five players who may well find their way to the Premier League in the very near future, and could move somewhere this summer.

Xavi Simons, PSV Eindhoven

At times the teen hype around Xavi Simons coming out of Barcelona’s academy was akin to the recruitment of Martin Odegaard out of Norway so many years ago. But Simons couldn’t break through at Barca and his move to Paris Saint-Germain didn’t take off as expected. So Simons, who just turned 20 in April, landed at PSV Eindhoven. All he did was lead the Eredivisie in goals. PSG has a buyback clause but Simons would have to want to go there… and there are plenty of rumored suitors for the playmaker. Simons chipped in eight assists and was Fotmob’s highest-rated Eredivisie player.

Possible fits: Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool

Jurrien Timber, Ajax

Still 21 for a couple more weeks, Timber got Mancunian tongues wagging when he attended the FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Manchester City. The star center back played under United boss Erik ten Hag at Ajax and now has 15 caps for the Netherlands senior team. He has a ridiculous passing and ball progression profile for his position, and has showed enough attacking acumen to get any team excited about him.

Possible fits: Manchester United, Manchester City

Randal Kolo Muani, Eintracht Frankfurt

The 24-year-old has acknowledged dreams of playing in the Premier League following a blockbuster first season at Eintracht, where he scored 23 goals with 17 assists amongst all competitions. Moving to a new country did not slow him at all after his time at Nantes, and he was linked with a number of PL sides even before he admitted his interest in the league.

Possible fits: Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United

Sepe Elye Wahi, Montpellier

The 20-year-old nearly scored as many goals as his age in his third season with Montpellier’s first team, and has attracted interest from Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, and Chelsea amongst others. Wahi is still very raw when it comes to passing the ball but part of his statistical deficiencies could have to do with his club’s relative struggles. A eager presser, his best traits are finishing and that’s the stat that drives the bus for him.

Possible fits: Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal

Gabriel Veiga, Celta Vigo

Here’s another playmaker linked with Arsenal, but you can see why he could fit in Mikel Arteta’s system. His 11 goals were 13th in La Liga this season and his four assists means he had a goal contribution on 15 of Celta’s 43 league goals. An eager dribbler, he delivered 80 shot creating actions this season and ranked in the 99th percentile for midfielders when it came to non-penalty goals.

Possible fits: Newcastle, Arsenal, Man CIty

How many times has a team won the treble? Man City goes for history


There’s been a lot of treble talk these days, talk that’s found a new level of buzz since Manchester City moved within one win of joining the club.

It’s an elite club, by the way, of teams that have won their domestic league, top domestic cup, and the European Cup.

Nine times in history has a team won the treble, and only once has it been done by a Premier League club.

[ MORE: Recalling Zlatan’s “unicorn” career ]

That’s why Man City’s defeat of Manchester United earlier this month in the FA Cup Final rings so true for the Citizens; The blue side of Manchester would join the red side as treble supporters, as United won the treble in 1998-99.

Man City goes for the third jewel of its treble crown on Saturday versus Inter Milan in Istanbul when it kicks off the UEFA Champions League Final.

For more treble trivia, head below the jump.

How many times has the treble been won?

Bayern Munich and Barcelona have each done it twice, with Bayern doing it in 2012-13 and 2019-20 and Barca pulling it off in 2008-09 and 2014-15.

Celtic was the first to win a treble, doing it in 1966-67, while Ajax was the next in 1971-72.

PSV Eindhoven then won it in 1987-88 before Man United made it happen 11 years later. Inter Milan is the only Italian team to pull it off, winning in 2009-10.


Manchester City vs Inter Milan: How to watch Champions League Final, odds, predictions


Manchester City is on the chase for a historic treble and standing in the way is Inter Milan, one of Europe’s precious few clubs to claim such an honor.

[ LIVE: Manchester City vs Inter Milan ]

The Premier League winners three times running have an FA Cup under their belt after beating Manchester United on June 3 and the final jewel in their treble crown awaits with a win in Istanbul on June 10.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Pep Guardiola could lead a second club to a treble after he did it with Barcelona in 2008-09, and they would give heated rivals United domestic company on the treble stage right down the road.

Guardiola says it’s now okay to talk about the treble. We agree, and we’ve laid out why the achievement is so special after the jump.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Manchester City vs Inter Milan.

How to watch Manchester City vs Inter Milan live, stream link and start time

Dates: 3pm ET June 10, 2023
Online: Live updates via
How to watch: TUDN, Paramount+

What Premier League clubs have won the treble?

Manchester United won the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League in 1998-99.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils are the lone Premier League club to win it.

That’s it. For now.

How many times has the treble been won?

Nine times in history has a team won its domestic league, top domestic cup, and the European Cup.

Bayern Munich and Barcelona have each done it twice, with Bayern doing it in 2012-13 and 2019-20 and Barca pulling it off in 2008-09 and 2014-15.

Celtic was the first to win a treble, doing it in 1966-67, while Ajax was the next in 1971-72.

PSV Eindhoven then won it in 1987-88 before Man United made it happen 11 years later. Inter Milan is the only Italian team to pull it off, winning in 2009-10.


Champions League Final odds (Betting odds provided by our partner, BetMGM )

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

Man City (-250) vs Inter Milan (+625) | Draw over 120 mins (+380)

Over 2.5 goals (-160). Under 2.5 goals (+110)

Champions League Final predictions

Joe Prince-Wright: Man City 2-1 Inter Milan
Andy Edwards: Man City 3-1 Inter Milan
Nick Mendola: Man City 2-0 Inter Milan

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options


Inter Milan team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Joaquin Correa. OUT: Dalbert.