Cristiano Ronaldo, wing commanders, and Czech Republic-Portugal: Thursday’s Euro 2012 playlist

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source: Getty Images

Two weeks ago Portugal looked like a good bet to finish last in Group B. Now they’re favorites to advance from Euro 2012’s quarterfinals. How did this happen? They walked into the Group of Death with most seeing them well behind Germany and the Netherlands. The quartet’s other team was Denmark, a nation that’s bested Portugal in the last two qualifying cycles. Now, they’re bonafide dark horses – as good a bet as any to win this, beyond Germany and Spain.

The biggest difference has been goals. Between their playoff win over Bosnia and Herzegonvina and the start of Euro 2012, the Seleccao scored one goal in 270 minutes. It wasn’t exactly a shock. Portugal’s established quite a reputation for squandering their attacking talent. Blame the lack of a number nine, or blame former coach Carlos Quieroz. No matter, the scoring drought extended into Group B play, where Portugal was shut out by Germany in their opening match.

Then came a relative explosion. Three goals against Denmark served as revenge. Wrapping up group play, Portugal scored twice against the Netherlands, both goals coming from their dormant giant: Cristiano Ronaldo. If he finally starts bringing his club-world quality to international soccer, Portugal may be more than mere dark horses.

Their Thursday opponents, the Czech Republic, can do for some awakenings of their own. While people debate whether Milan Baros should persist as the team’s starting striker, the leading scorer at Euro 2004 has gone silent. He went the competition’s first 250 minutes without registering a shot on goal. Suffice to say, he remains scoreless.

Combined with the health concerns surrounding captain Tomas Rosicky, and the Czechs may be left relying on their wingers to carry them. To this point, that’s where all their firepower’s come from, with left wing Vaclav Pilar and opposite Petr Jiracek getting help from right back Theodor Gebre Selassie. With Tomas Hubschmann holding down the middle, it’s been enough, albeit against a weak group.

The easy ride stops at 2:45 p.m. Eastern as Euro 2012 starts its quarterfinal round. Here’s your playlist:

1. New pattern

A howler in each of the Czech Republic’s first two games had goalkeeper Petr Cech looking more like his 2008 self than the man who helped carry Chelsea to the Champions League title. Against Poland, however, he made it 90 minutes without an issue, and while that was mostly because of the control the Czechs exerted over the match’s final 60 minutes, results are results. The scoresheet alone really doesn’t provide much context.

On Thursday, Cech’s going to be tested far more often. Cristiano Ronaldo is hitting a run of form, and if that doesn’t translate into questions for Cech, it’s going to at least force some corners. On the other side, Nani has been one of the tournament’s best wingers. His crossing will test Cech’s decision making.

After Robert Lewandowski was taken out of Saturday’s game, Poland didn’t have much to offer. Portugal won’t be so easily dissuaded.

2. Wide view

Portugal’s wingers can cause nightmares, but given how the Czech Republic’s threatened from wide, Paulo Bento and his staff might have had a moment’s pause before falling asleep on Wednesday. Vaclav Pilar could still prove the tournament’s breakout player. Petr Jiracek’s make an impact on each of the two matches he’s started on the right. Theodor Gebre Selassie’s been the competition’s biggest threat from the back.

Bento, however, shouldn’t lose any sleep over the problem. Fullbacks Fabio Coentrao (left) and Joao Periera (right) have given all-tournament performances, and for as good as Nani has been going forward, he has also exhibited years of work drilled into him by Alex Ferguson and Manchester United. While Gebre Selassie is set to start on Cristiano Ronaldo’s side, there’s no reason Portugal’s wingers can’t be flipped. Ronaldo has shown an aversion to starting as a nine, but for one game, he should be willing to move to his less-favored right wing.

3. Remember Holland

Portugal may slowly be leaving the Caros Quieroz era behind, but in their decisive group match against the Netherlands, they reverted to their shell. It was only after the Netherlands took the lead that Portugal woke up. From there forward, they controlled the match. Who would have known the Dutch can’t defend? (Answer: Everybody except Portugal, seemingly.)

Will Bento learn from the Holland match? There’s no reason for them to come out in their shell except reflexive conservatism. Against the Czech Republic, they can do as they did against Germany and Holland, start their midfield deep, and hope the Czechs expose themselves like they did against Russia. Or, they can control the match from the opening kickoff like the better team they are.

4. Time for answers

It seems Michal Bilek has been putting off his team’s attacking issues. I say “seems” because he doesn’t have a lot of options. If Tomas Necid, their 22-year-old forward protege, isn’t going to be used, there aren’t many alternatives to Milan Baros. There were fitness issues surrounding Necid, but if he isn’t healthy, why is he in the squad?

Baros isn’t the only issue. Tomas Rosicky’s recovering from an Achilles injury that kept him out of the Poland match. That’s one problem. Another is his productivity. Rosicky failed to make an impact in the two games he’s played. It might be best to give Daniel Kolar a second start and leave Rosicky as an as-needed option.

Regardless, Bilek can’t wait any longer. Portugal’s the best team the Czechs have faced since opening against Russia, a game they lost 4-1. He either addresses the attack or leaves the tournament with some “what ifs”.
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.

Premier League transfer news live, today! Latest updates on the summer window

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We are all set for a very summer transfer window, as the latest transfer news keeps flooding in and plenty of big names are expected to be on the move.

[ VIDEO: Premier League analysis ]

The 2023 summer transfer window opens on June 14, 2023 for Premier League clubs and it will close at 6pm ET on September 1, 2023.

From superstars like Declan Rice, Harry Kane and Jude Bellingham in-demand, to speculation around the future of Lionel Messi and plenty of money set to be spent by the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, this will be a fun summer.

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

Below we roundup the latest transfer news, done deals, reports and rumors and give our analysis on what’s going on as Joe Prince-Wright (JPW), Nicholas Mendola (NM) and Andy Edwards (AE) will guide you through a hectic last few weeks of the window.


Transfer news live today! Latest from the summer window, so far…

June 3 – In-demand $40M back name checks Liverpool

Wolfsburg defender Micky van de Ven has had a dream to play at Anfield since attending a game there as a youngster. An excellent ball progressor, Van de Ven is viewed as a $40 million target and reports have said Jurgen Klopp is an admirer. So it’s a mutual appreciation society.

“I once went to the Liverpool stadium with my dad,” he told AZ WAZ. “That was over Christmas on Boxing Day. Liverpool vs Arsenal. That was madness. Then when ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ comes [on] – that’s a goose bump moment, that was very cool. It’s a dream to play there.”

The 6-foot-4 Van de ven turned 22 in April and has served as the captain of the Dutch U-21 national team. He moved from Volendam to Wolfsburg in the summer of 2021 and became a full-time starter in his second season, occasionally swinging to left back. (NM)


June 2 – Man United in ‘detailed talks’ for young forwards

According to The Athletic, Manchester United have been in ‘detailed talks’ over the signing of Randal Kolo Muani and Rasmus Hojlund. The young forward duo are both being chased by the Red Devils as Erik ten Hag wants to add one of them and a more experienced striker. Per the report, John Murtaugh has spoken to both Eintracht Frankfurt and Atalanta multiple times about Kolo Muani and Hojlund respectively and United are hoping to move on with chasing summer targets despite uncertainty surrounding their ownership status as the Glazer Family continue to explore the option of a full or partial sale of the Premier League giants. Kolo Muani and Hojlund both fit the mould for the type of player Erik ten Hag wants and if United can land one of them and somehow pull off an unlikely move for Harry Kane (unlikely due to Daniel Levy’s unwillingness to do business) then it will be a heck of a summer for the Red Devils. (JPW)


June 2 – Gvardiol wanted by Manchester City

According to a report from The Times, Josko Gvardiol is at the top of Pep Guardiola’s wish-list this summer. The Croatian defender, 21, is thought to be valued at $108 million by RB Leipzig and although the German giants don’t want to sell, it is believed Gvardiol is keen on a move to City. The report says that City plan on moving on at least one of their center backs and all of John Stones, Ruben Dias, Manuel Akanji and Nathan Ake seem certain to stay with Aymeric Laporte perhaps the most likely to move on. Gvardiol has long been linked with a Premier League move and his power in the air as well as his pace and ability on the ball is a perfect fit for the Premier League and City. Josko Gvardiol also got a good look at City this season as Leipzig were hammered by Erling Haaland and Co. in the UEFA Champions League. We’ve seen this season how Guardiola’s side dominated the final months of the season not only due to their incredible goalscoring exploits but largely thanks to a solid defensive unit. Having mobile center backs who can slot in at full back and step into midfield is key to the way they play. Gvardiol can do that. (JPW)


June 1 – Manchester United move to front of queue for Mason Mount

A report from ESPN says that Manchester United have moved to the front of the queue when it comes to signing Mason Mount this summer. Mount, 24, has just one year left on his contract at Chelsea and is expected to move on this summer. Mount has been linked with moves to United and Liverpool but the report says that Mount is keen on heading to United although the Red Devils have some reservations over the $75 million transfer fee Chelsea are asking for. Per the report, clubs are waiting for later in the summer to try and buy Mount as they known Chelsea will have to move players on due to the enormous squad Mauricio Pochettino has inherited and will have to trim. Does Mount to United make sense? It does. He can slot in anywhere in Erik ten Hag’s midfield and is the perfect kind of player to add depth to their squad and be a great 12th man or step in when key midfielders are injured or need a rest. His time at Chelsea is clearly coming to an end and even though Mount has struggled this season at Chelsea, his quality is proven in the Premier League in recent years and on the international stage with England. (JPW)


May 31 – Liverpool eye Bundesliga midfielder

Bild says that the Reds are turning to the Bundesliga to address their midfield. Jurgen Klopp will turn to Borussia Monchengladbach’s Kouadio “Manu” Kone this summer, as Liverpool has reportedly told the player that it will be approaching Gladbach. Kone, 22, has been linked with several big clubs including a late March report regarding Manchester United interest. A ball progressor who reads the game very well, Kone is said to carry a price tag of more than $40 million. (NM)


May 30 – Chelsea all-in on Ugarte

Chelsea are in talks to sign Manuel Ugarte, according to Fabrizio Romano. The Uruguayan and Sporting Lisbon holding midfielder is admired by new Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino. Romano says PSG are in the race for Ugarte too. Ugarte, 22, is exactly the kind of player Pochettino loves as he will dig in, win the ball and get it to others to create. Alongside Enzo Fernandez, Ugarte will add extra defensive stability to Chelsea’s midfield and improve the balance of their squad. Our partners in the UK at Sky Sports says that Ugarte has a $65 million release clause in his contract. (JPW)


May 30 – Declan Rice linked with Bayern Munich

Our partners at Sky Germany say that Bayern Munich are very interested in signing Declan Rice from West Ham. Bayern, who won their 11-straight Bundesliga title on the final day of the season, have made Rice, 24, their top target as Thomas Tuchel is a huge fan of the England international.

Here is more from Sky Germany reporter Uli Kohler: “Tuchel had a phone call with Rice. I don’t know what they were talking about – maybe money, maybe about what he can expect here [in Munich]. Bayern is keen on him. They need a strong defensive midfielder but everybody knows there are a lot of other clubs interested in him. Bayern could afford it. They would like to keep it below €100m [£86.4m]. They have to look at their accounts very closely but I think they can afford it.”

Rice has long been linked with a move to Arsenal or Manchester United but it is believed that West Ham’s asking price for their captain and central midfielder (who is out of contract next summer) is putting up Premier League clubs. Bayern appear to be ready to pay close to the $120 million West Ham want for Rice. Is he worth it? He is. There is perhaps no better two-way central midfielder under the age of 25 in Europe and Rice’s ceiling is extremely high. (JPW)


May 25 – Harry Kane, Declan Rice, Mason Mount are summer targets for Man United

A report from our partners in the UK at Sky Sports says that Manchester United are trying to sign a trio of England internationals: Harry Kane, Mason Mount and Declan Rice.

“Manchester United will try to sign Harry Kane, Declan Rice and Mason Mount this summer. Their No. 1 target is Kane. He is the player Erik ten Hag wants most. It is unlikely they will sign all three players and everything depends on what happens with the takeover. Kane, Rice and Mount are exactly the kind of characters Ten Hag wants in his dressing room.”

It is clear Kane will be the top target for United as Erik ten Hag has spoken about signing a new striker and that is their main transfer need. It is tough to see Tottenham selling Kane to a direct top four rival in Manchester United for anything less than $130 million, even with Kane’s contract winding down. That said, do you take that money this summer and use it to rebuild? Or let him go for free in the summer of 2024?

Next up, Declan Rice will surely be their next main target, as all three of these players have just one year left on their contract. Rice, 24, is just the type of player United need alongside Casemiro in central midfield and the England international has become one of the best two-way central midfielders in Europe under the age of 25. Rice’s close friend is Mason Mount and the latter clearly doesn’t want to sign a new contract at Chelsea, so he could be the cheaper option of the three. All of this hinges on Manchester United’s takeover but if, as expected, they qualify for the Champions League, then signing two of these three players would be a huge upgrade on their current options and gives them quality, depth and experience in midfield and attack. First choice would be Kane and Rice but Kane and Mount would still be pretty decent. (JPW)


Barcelona wins Women’s Champions League with stunning comeback

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Midfielder Patricia Guijarro ignited a stunning second-half comeback as Barcelona overturned a 2-0 deficit to beat Wolfsburg 3-2 and win its second Women’s Champions League title on Saturday.

“We didn’t make it easy for ourselves,” Barcelona and England defender Lucy Bronze said in a pitchside interview after securing her fourth Champions League crown. She won it three years in a row with Lyon.

[ MORE: Man City beats Manchester United in FA Cup Final ]

Fridolina Rolfö capped the fightback by calmly firing the winner into the far corner of the net after a mix-up in the Wolfsburg defense in the 70th minute.

Guijarro is one of 15 Spanish players, including Bonmati and four other Barcelona teammates, who renounced playing for Spain last year, citing differences with their coach. They have not played since and their participation in this summer’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is in serious doubt.

Wolfsburg led 2-0 at the break thanks to goals from Ewa Pajor and Alexandra Popp.

But Barcelona kept believing it could win.

“We were never worried about scoring three goals,” Bronze added.

Barcelona earned its second league crown – the first was in 2021 – from its fourth final since 2019 in front of 33,147 fans at PSV Stadium, a record crowd for a women’s game in the Netherlands.

Guijarro’s double in the 48th and 50th minutes swiftly overturned a first half in which Wolfsburg’s pressing play and clinical counterattacking earned two goals.

First, the Barcelona midfielder slammed the ball into the roof of the net in the 48th. Aitana Bonmatí then made room for herself on the right before crossing for Guijarro to head past Merle Frohms for the equalizer. Guijarro was named player of the match.

It was a remarkable turnaround for coach Jonatan Giráldez’s Barcelona Wolfsburg took the lead inside three minutes when tournament top scorer Ewa Pajor robbed Bronze of the ball close to the Barcelona penalty area and fired a powerful shot that goalkeeper Sandra Paños touched but could not stop from flying in. The goal improved Pajor’s tally in the competition to nine.

It was a rocky start for Bronze, who returned to the Barcelona lineup for the first time since she was injured in the semifinal first leg against Chelsea and underwent knee surgery.

[ MORE: Pep Guardiola reaction – Okay to talk treble now ]

Irene Paredes clasped her hands to her face when she squandered a great chance to equalize 10 minutes later, heading wide at the far post a corner from the right by María Pilar León.

Wolfsburg doubled its lead when veteran forward Alexandra Popp ran into space between two defenders and headed a cross from the left by Pajor past Paños from close range in the 37th. Popp equaled Ada Hegerberg’s record of scoring in four finals.

Wolfsburg goalkeeper Merle Frohms made sure her team went into the break without conceding by racing off her line in stoppage time to smother an effort by Salma Paralluelo.

But she couldn’t stop Barcelona’s onslaught after the break.

With Barcelona leading and the minutes ticking down, Giráldez brought on two-time Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, who has recently recovered from an ACL injury. Barcelona’s vocal fans in Eindhoven roared as Putellas replaced Bonmatí.

It was Putellas who accepted the trophy from England coach Sarina Wiegman after Wolfsburg players formed a guard of honor for their opponents as they walked up to collect their medals.

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

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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 NBCSports.com
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.

(UEFA.com)


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

QUESTIONABLE: None

Inter Milan team news, injuries, lineup options

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

Pep Guardiola after FA Cup win: Man City ‘can now talk about the treble’

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Pep Guardiola is giving Manchester City’s players a couple of days to celebrate their FA Cup Final, but now they can admit there’s something even bigger than the Champions League final at play.

“We can now talk about the treble,” Guardiola acknowledged after Man City topped Manchester derby rivals Man United on Saturday at Wembley Stadium. “It is one game away.”

[ MORE: Man City vs Inter Milan preview ]

Nine times in history has a team won its domestic league, top domestic cup, and the European Cup, and only once has it happened for an English team: The 1998-99 Manchester United team.

“What a privilege we are one game away.  I said to the players you have to put the pressure on yourself to be recognized as something good you have to win Europe.”

Guardiola said Erik ten Hag’s set-up surprised City, as a narrow formation forced the Citizens to find different routes to goal.

And he was asked about his post-game tears of joy, spotting by cameras on the pitch.

“It was so important for us today,” Guardiola said. “The FA Cup is so nice. I’m a Barcelona fan but I will love this club for the rest of my life. I know today we gave our fans a good gift to enjoy against our neighbors.”