Offshore Drilling, Euro 2012: Spain 1, Croatia 0

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Man of the Match

None of the Spanish attackers will remember this as their finest night, although the introductions of Cesc Fabregas and Jesus Navas did alter the look and pace; so they can feel OK about things. But the glue to it all was Xabi Alonso, whose calm passing and positioning was emblematic of Spain’s overall night, one that wasn’t brilliant and dynamic, but one that patiently, reliably got the job done.

NBC Sports: Spain beats Croatia 1-0, advances at Euro

Packaged for take-away

  • Credit to Croatia, which came in with a plan, executed admirably, ran and worked and did cook up some chances after the break. The real man of the match, for those who like to hand the honor to the best performance, win, lose or draw, was Croatian center back Gordon Schildenfeld. His was a master class in defense.
  • Once again, no Fabregas in Spain’s starting lineup, even if the Barca man had two goals in the team’s first pair of matches. Once again, he came on to make a difference, putting two teammates through with his cutesy chipped pass over the Croatian back line.
  • Thank heavens there was no 2-2 draw here, a result that would have seen both teams through – and surely a result that would have sent the conspiracy theorists worldwide into a Code Red tizzy. But, really, how exactly would two teams concoct such a thing? Who would dare to make that approach?  And who would dare pass the word through the locker room? It’s all so silly.
  • After almost 20 minutes, the stats said Spain had 78 percent of the possession, which wasn’t a bit difficult to believe.
  • Croatian playmaker Luka Modric, as you would expect, had his moments and was typically tidy on the ball. He just didn’t see it enough, especially before the break.
  • Croatia’s alleged 4-2-3-1 wasn’t much of one. It worked out as more of a 4-4-1-1. At times, veteran right-side man Darijo Srna (playing the more advanced role in this one) dropped so far back to assist with Andres Iniesta (who was lined up in his usual spot as a nominal left wing) that it almost looked like a five-man Croatian back line.
  • No real mystery to Croatia’s plan for the first half: hit something forward to lone striker Mario Mandžukić and presumably let Modric attempt to catch up. Only it didn’t really work that way because Modric was usually working to help break up the Spanish symphony of midfield passing, so he was usually not connected closely enough with Mandzukic. A little half chance here and there was about all Croatia had in the first half hour. But, really, it’s probably more than Spain had despite all the (very predictable) possession.
  • Going the other way, Croatia’s honored the defensive plan we see so often against Barca and Spain these days: Stay narrow. Very, very narrow. It worked even better than usual because left back Jordi Alba and right back Álvaro Arbeloa were less inclined to burst forward, cozy in the knowledge that a tie would see Spain safely through to the quarters. So, 0-0 at the break was fine for Croatia.
  • Sergio Ramos probably needed a talking to from the Spanish staff about his lunging, ill-advised 27th minute challenge on Mandžukić (which left the Croatian target man on the ground with a knock on his foot). Ramos made a lot of contact with the Croatian forward’s foot, and maybe just a little contact with the ball. What was he thinking?
  • Spanish right-sided forward David Silva started to identify the angles and locate the creases around Croatia’s rock-solid center backs, especially Schildenfeld. The Eintracht Frankfurt man was always astutely positioned and sure in the tackle. Still, Silva was creeping closer and closer to making something happen.
  • The tiki tiki or tiki taka or whatever you call it is always something of a wonder to behold. But since we’ve seen it so often, and since the Spanish side of things was utterly devoid first-half desperation, the opening 45-minute spell was a snoozer.
  • Drama did begin to leak into the night after intermission, however, because one Croatian goal could have turned the tournament on its ears. To wit: things nearly got crazy-interesting in the 59th minute as a wonderful outside-of-the-foot ball from Modric found a streaking Ivan Rakitić at the far post. Spain’s Iker Casillas rose and reacted like the world class keeper he is to deny the Sevilla man’s header from six yards. It was a massive moment, because had that been the game’s only goal, mighty Spain would have tumbled right out of the tournament. Unthinkable, eh?
  • Navas’ introduction for Spain with 30 minutes remaining added something different, a truer wide presence along the right.
  • Fernando Torres? He made something happen here and there with a wide run early. But then after about 15 minutes – meh.
  • In some moments, especially between the 70th and 80th minutes, Spanish attackers needed a little more penalty area gumption, deferring on shooting opportunities, looking for the “final, final, final” pass rather than simply the final pass and the doggone shot.
  • Spain did finally get the 88th minute goal that took the heat out of Monday’s match. Andres Iniesta’s shoulder and perhaps his head may have been a smidge offside, and he may have even used his upper arm to control Fabregas’ delicately chipped pass. Either way, Spain was going through unless Croatia could score.
  • It was decidedly less-than-dominant Monday, but Spain is nonetheless 16-0-1 in its last 17 competitive contests.

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.

Liverpool – Arsenal: How to watch, start time, odds, predicted lineup

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Liverpool – Arsenal: Two heavyweights clash at Anfield on Monday (Watch live at 3pm ET online via Peacock) as both team have a perfect record with two wins from two so far.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Reigning champions Liverpool have perhaps been more impressive as they’ve beaten upstarts Leeds United and then Chelsea, while Arsenal eased past Fulham but struggled past West Ham.

[ MORE: ProSoccerTalk unfiltered, Week 2 ]

When it comes to Jurgen Klopp and Mikel Arteta, their playing philosophy as managers could not be more different as Arsenal beat Liverpool on penalties at Wembley to win the Community Shield last month.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of a massive early-season clash as Arsenal look to put down a marker.


Team news: Liverpool – Arsenal (INJURY REPORT)

Liverpool will be hoping center back Joe Gomez will be fit after he missed the win at Chelsea last weekend, while this game will come too soon for fellow defender Joel Matip. Judging by the early reports, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson should also be fit to start.

Arsenal could have Kieran Tierney back fit for this game, which would be a big boost. Pablo Mari, Calum Chamberls, Gabriel Martinelli and Shkodran Mustafi all remain out injured.


Predicted lineup

Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Thiago, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Arsenal (3-4-3): Leno; Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang


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

Understandably Liverpool are the heavy favorites (-210) given their long unbeaten home record at Anfield. That said Arsenal (+520) do seem a high price after they beat Liverpool during ‘Project Restart’ and also in the Community Shield final. The draw at +360 is intriguing and the value perhaps lies there.

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


Liverpool – Arsenal prediction

Arsenal have a lot more grit under Arteta and they ware capable of bending but not breaking. This is a huge test for them, though, and Gabriel against the fluid front three of Salah, Firmino and Mane will be his biggest test yet. Arsenal have the attackers to make the most of any more slack defending from Liverpool but I expect Klopp’s side to have just too much in midfield and attack. Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal.


How to watch Liverpool – Arsenal stream and start time

Kickoff: 3pm ET Monday
TV Channel: Peacock
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Fulham – Aston Villa: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

Fulham - Aston Villa
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Fulham – Aston Villa: How early is too early to call a game “must-win” in the Premier League? Perhaps we will find out on Monday (Watch live at 12:45 pm ET, online via Peacock), when bottom-of-the-table Fulham host Aston Villa at Craven Cottage.

FULHAM – ASTON VILLA STREAM LIVE

Scott Parker’s side has had a torrid start to life back in the PL — not at all dissimilar to the way their last stint ended — and find themselves with zero points and seven goals conceded after their first two games. Losing 3-0 to Arsenal on the opening day of the season wasn’t altogether surprising, but following that defeat with four more goals conceded to Leeds United last weekend will undoubtedly have done a number on the Cottagers’ confidence.

Villa, on the other hand, have played just once and secured a 1-0 victory over Sheffield United earlier this week. A win on Monday would see Dean Smith’s side start the season with back-to-back PL victories for the first time since the 1999-2000 season.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Fulham – Aston Villa this Monday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Fulham – Aston Villa (INJURY REPORT)

Fulham – No injuries or suspensions

Aston Villa – OUT: Bjorn Engels (thigh), Tom Heaton (knee), Wesley (knee), Ahmed Elmohamady (thigh)


What they’re saying: Fulham – Aston Villa

Scott Parker, on a “must-win” game: “I don’t see it as drastic as a must-win. We want to win. I know it’s either high or low in a drastic world, but we need to stay level and take realism of where we are in the campaign and where we are as a team. We will try everything we can to take some points and be up to the challenge. I don’t think we’re the only team at this present moment in time who have let in some goals in the first two games. It’s not ideal, of course not. Villa at home on Monday is a game we’re going to try to get three points.”

Dean Smith, on needing another signing: “We’re always looking in the market, we’re probably one short in the squad at the moment so we’ll keep looking at that. I think there’s seven days left until the window shuts internationally, another seven days domestically. Our sporting director at the moment has got his finger on the pulse, hopefully we might get one more in and maybe a couple more out.”


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

This one is just about a coin flip with Fulham (+185) ever so slight underdogs to Villa (+150). In a game that could go either way like this one, the draw (+225) might just be the safe middle ground.

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


Prediction: Fulham – Aston Villa

There’s not much to separate these two sides right now, and there likely won’t be much ground between them come the season’s final table. There should be a few goals, but that’ll be more down to poor defending than excellent attacking quality from either side. Fulham 2-2 Villa.


How to watch Fulham – Aston Villa stream and start time

Kickoff: 12:45 pm ET Monday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Serie A: Lozano scores twice for Napoli; 10-man Juve drop points to Roma

Cristiano Ronaldo - Juventus
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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Serie A, where Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to save a point for Juventus and Hirving Lozano also scored twice in Napoli’s 6-0 victory…

[ MORE: Suarez plays just 20 minutes, scores two goals in Atleti debut (video) ]

Roma 2-2 Juventus

Juventus overturned a pair of deficits to salvage a point from their trip to Rome, but Andrea Pirlo might just feel his side should have taken more from the game if not for Adrien Rabiot’s red card in the 62nd minute.

Jordan Veretout fired Roma ahead from the penalty spot in the 31st minute, but Cristiano Ronaldo matched him with a spot kick of his own in the 44th. Veretout made it 2-1 less than a minute into the second half, with thanks to an assist from Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Rabiot got his second yellow card of the game 15 minutes later, but it didn’t stop Ronalado from scoring his second equalizer in the 69th minute.

Regardless of the country, league or club, we’re seeing some of Europe’s greatest powerhouses struggle through uncharacteristically slow starts to the 2020-21 season. The safe assumption is that the cream will inevitably rise to the top after working out the early kinks, but it might just open the door for an unlikely title challenger or two as well.

[ MORE: Saturday in Serie A: Inter win 7-goal thriller in 89th minute ]

Napoli 6-0 Genoa

Napoli went top of the table (after two games) by way of Sunday’s beatdown of Genoa.

Mexican superstar Hirving Lozano opened the scoring in the 10th minute and added his second goal on the game in the 65th. In between his two tallies, Piota Zielinski (46th) and Dries Mertens (57th) also scored.

Eljif Elmas (69th) and Matteo Politano (72nd) each scored not much later to complete the scoring and the rout.

Crotone 0-2 AC Milan

Franck Kessie converted from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time and Brahim Diaz added an insurance goal five minutes into the second half to give AC Milan their second 2-0 victory in a row to start the season. All appears to be going too well for the Rossoneri right now.

Other Serie A results

Spezia 1-4 Sassuolo
Hellas Verona 1-0 Udinese

Transfer news: Arsenal’s latest Aouar bid; mystery Fati bid for $175 million

Ansu Fati transfer
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Today’s Premier League transfer news includes Arsenal’s latest bid for Houssem Aouar, Barcelona rejected an astronomical bid for 17-year-old Ansu Fati, and Antonio Rudiger moving across London to West Ham for the season…

[ MORE: Transfer news: Rice in, Jorginho out at Chelsea; Skriniar to Spurs ]

Arsenal increase bid for Aouar, but is it enough?

Arsenal are reportedly prepared to increase their bid for Aouar, but only to $57 million, which remains $12 million short of Lyon’s valuation for the 22-year-old midfielder. The Gunners’ latest offer is said to include more than $11 million in add-ons, but Lyon are likely to reject that bid as well as they seek the full amount paid in full.

Barcelona reject mystery $175-million Ansu Fati transfer bid

First things first, let’s start the plainly obvious: $175 million is a lot of money for any player, let alone a 17-year-old who still has so much development left to come. Even Fati, who has been nothing short of a revelation thus far, can still fall short of expectations. With Lionel Messi seemingly headed for the exit door (for free) next summer, how exactly do Barca plan to rebuild their first-team squad? Sure, they’d enjoy themselves a great deal if a La Masia product like Fati is the focal point of their rebirth, but they still desperately need to put a competent team around him. Automatically rejecting a (reported) bid of $175 million seems a bit crazy, but so is everything else at Barcelona these days. According to some reports, Man United are said to be the club which made the mega-bid for Fati.

[ MORE: Suarez plays just 20 minutes, scores two goals in Atleti debut (video) ]

Rudiger to West Ham on loan

Antonio Rudiger might be a first-choice option at center back for Chelsea boss Frank Lampard, and he might not be as well. West Ham are taking the approach that the 27-year-old German won’t be getting the first-team action he requires, thus they wish to work out a loan deal for the 2020-21 season.

Torreira in limbo at Arsenal

Lucas Torreira’s time at Arsenal is (logically speaking) finished, but the Gunners are reportedly having a hard time finding a landing spot for the 24-year-old Uruguayan midfielder. Torino were interested for a time, but they no longer see Torreira as a viable option. Atletico Madrid are interested in a loan deal, but Arsenal don’t want to do that. Perhaps Torreria, plus cash, might tempt the La Liga side to finally part ways with Thomas Partey.