Shipped from Abroad, Europe: Favorites start down paved World Cup qualifying paths


For many of Europe’s giants, the world’s easiest qualifying path to Brazil 2014 began on Friday. Only in UEFA will you see road teams win qualifiers 8-1 and 5-0 in the tournament’s final phase. In other regions, those results would be left in the preliminary rounds.

But in Europe, a huge number of teams (53) are spread thin over an exhausting number of groups (nine) to compete for too many World Cup spots (13). The result is a primrose path of some of the top seed, the beneficiaries of a watered down qualifying processes more useful as a display of teams’ quality while they pile up FIFA rankings points.

The Statements

  • [GROUP E] Two goals within a minute of each other just after halftime gave Switzerland a 2-0 victory over 2010 World Cup-qualifiers Slovenia. Nineteen-year-old Granit Xhaka got the opener, potentially a sign Swtzerland’s youth are ready to make an impact this cycle.
  • [GROUP F] The Fabio Capello era of Russian soccer got off to a very Capello start. Goal in the first half. Goal in the second. Russia opens with a 2-0 home win over Northern Ireland.
  • [GROUP G] Bosnia and Herzegovina romped through Liechtenstein, 8-1. Vedad Ibisevic and Edin Dzeko each had hat tricks for a team which, drawn into Greece’s group, will have designs on finishing first.
  • [GROUP H] England pasted Moldova 5-0 while their Tuesday opponent, Ukraine, had the day off. Already without the services of Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll, England will be without John Terry in London on Tuesday, the Chelsea captain having picked up an ankle injury.

The Upsets

  • [GROUP B] Despite two goals from Pablo Osvaldo, Italy was drawn in Bulgaria. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal, but with Denmark and the Czech Republic in their group, the Azzurri has one of the more pothole-ridden paths to Brazil.
  • [GROUP E] Iceland winning 2-0 at home over Norway isn’t an earth-shattering result, but Norway was the top-seeded team in one of the weakest UEFA groups I can remember. Iceland was ranked sixth.
  • [GROUP F] Israel’s already losing their chance to take advantage of any Portugal or Russia slips, disappointing with a 1-1 draw at Azerbaijan.

The Questions

  • [GROUP B] The Czechs got a very valuable draw in Denmark. In all likelihood, those two teams will be competing for second in Italy’s group. Now, if the Czech Republic can get a win on Mar. 23 in Prague’s return leg, they’ll be in the drivers seat for a playoff spot.
  • [GROUP C] Germany won 3-0 at home to the Faroe Islands, but against one of the worst teams in the confederation, the group favorites disappointed, being up only 1-0 at halftime. Joachim Löw wants his team to play with more intensity without the ball. It appears the new style will be a process.
  • [GROUP C] In the same group, Ireland needed 89th minute and stoppage time goals to win at Kazakhstan, a result that has to make Austria and Sweden feel better about their chances to snag second place.
  • [GROUP D] The Netherlands did not look good against Turkey, the match providing a good example of how easy some of these groups can be for the top teams. The Dutch replicated their Euro 2012 form but still posted a 2-0 victory over the group’s second-best team. Ho hum.
  • [GROUP F] Portugal gave up the first goal to Luxembourg on their way to a 2-1 victory. It’s almost as if they’re shooting for the playoffs.
  • [GROUP I] Didier Deschamps would have probably liked a more resounding victory to open qualifying, but Abou Diaby’s 20th minute goal was all he got in his competitive debut with France, downing Finland 1-0 in Helsinki.

The Results

  • Group A: Croatia 1-0 Macedonia; Wales 0-2 Belgium; Scotland 0-0 Serbia
  • Group B: Malta 0-1 Armenia; Bulgaria 2-2 Italy; Denmark 0-0 Czech Republic
  • Group C: Kazakhstan 1-2 Ireland; Germany 3-0 Faroe Islands
  • Group D: Estonia 0-2 Romania; Andorra 0-5 Hungary; Netherlands 2-0 Turkey
  • Group E: Albania 3-1 Cyprus; Slovenia 0-2 Switzerland; Iceland 2-0 Norway
  • Group F: Luxembourg 1-2 Portugal; Russia 2-0 Northern Ireland; Azerbaijan 1-1 Israel
  • Group G: Liechtenstein 1-8 Bosnia and Herzegovina; Lithuania 1-1 Slovakia; Latvia 1-2 Greece
  • Group H: Montenegro 2-2 Poland; Moldova 0-5 England
  • Group I: Finland 0-1 France; Georgia 1-0 Belarus

The Standings

First place qualifies for Brazil 2014. The top eight second place teams do into playoffs to determine the four remaining qualifiers. Records are list games played, points, goal difference (GP/Pts/GD).

  • Group A: Belgium (1/3/+2), Croatia (1/3/+1), Serbia (1/1/0), Scotland (1/1/0), Macedonia (1/0/-1), Wales (1/0/-2)
  • Group B: Armenia (1/3/+1), Italy (1/1/0), Czech Republic (1/1/0), Denmark 1/1/0), Bulgaria (1/1/0), Malta (1/0/-1)
  • Group C: Germany (1/3/+3), Ireland (1/3/+1), Austria (0/0/0), Sweden (0/0/0), Kazakhstan (1/0/-1), Faroe Islands (1/0/-3)
  • Group D: Hungary (1/3/+5), Romania (1/3/+2), Netherlands (1/3/+2), Turkey (1/0/-2), Estonia (1/0/-2), Andorra (1/0/-5)
  • Group E: Switzerland (1/3/+2), Iceland (1/3/+2), Albania (1/3/+2), Cyprus (1/0/-2), Norway (1/0/-2), Slovenia (1/0/-2)
  • Group F: Russia (1/3/+2), Portugal (1/3/+1), Azerbaijan (1/1/0), Israel (1/1/0), Luxembourg (1/0/-1), Northern Ireland (1/0/-2)
  • Group G: Bosnia and Herzegovina (1/3/+7), Greece (1/3/+1), Lithuania (1/1/0), Slovakia (1/1/0), Latvia (1/0/-1), Liechtenstein (1/0/-7)
  • Group H: England (1/3/+5), Montenegro (1/1/0), Poland (1/1/0), San Marino (0/0/0), Ukraine (0/0/0), Moldova (1/0/-5)
  • Group I: France (1/3/+1), Georgia (1/3/+1), Spain (0/0/0), Finland (1/0/-1), Belarus (1/0/-1)

The Future

All games to be played on Tuesday.

  • Group A: Serbia vs. Wales, Belgium vs. Croatia, Scotland vs. Macedonia
  • Group B: Bulgaria vs. Armenia, Italy vs. Malta
  • Group C: Austria vs. Germany, Sweden vs. Kazakhstan
  • Group D: Romania vs. Andorra, Turkey vs. Estonia, Hungary vs. Netherlands
  • Group E: Cyprus vs. Iceland, Norway vs. Slovenia, Switzerland vs. Albania
  • Group F: Israel vs. Russia, Northern Ireland vs. Luxembourg, Portugal vs. Azerbaijan
  • Group G: Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Latvia, Slovakia vs. Liechtenstein, Greece vs. Lithuania
  • Group H: England vs. Ukraine, Poland vs. Moldova, San Marino vs. Montenegro
  • Group I: Georgia vs. Spain, France vs. Belarus

The Prognosis

  • Group A: Belgium vs. Croatia is Tuesday’s biggest game. If Belgium wins, they’re group favorites. If Croatia gets a result, they keep that mantle.
  • Group B: Italy are still the favorites, while the Czechs have taken an early lead in the race of the playoff spot.
  • Group C: Joachim Löw’s going to have a chance to see a lot of different players this cycle.
  • Group D: Still on course for Netherlands-Turkey one-two.
  • Group E: Switzerland’s the group favorite, especially after getting three road points Norway may not duplicate.
  • Group F: It’s still too early to tell if Russia or Portugal should be favored to win this group, but three points in Ramat Gan would make a strong case for the Russians.
  • Group G: We’re unlikely to learn more about Bosnia’s prospects to upend Greece or Slovakia’s chance to rekindle their 2012 form. The home teams should all have easy Tuesdays.
  • Group H: England vs. Ukraine will settle any questions as to who’s the group’s best team. Few doubt it’s England, with Ukraine set to battle Poland for second place.
  • Group I: Still Spain’s group to win, but France getting three points at their most dangerous threat leaves little doubt who will take second.

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.

Lionel Messi rejects Saudi Arabia mega-offer, will sign with Inter Miami


Lionel Messi will sign with Inter Miami, opting to move to MLS this summer rather than return to Barcelona or join Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante in Saudi Arabia, according to multiple reports.

[ MORE: UEFA Champions League final, Manchester City vs Inter Milan ]

The deal will reportedly include profit sharing with two of MLS’s biggest commercial partners, Apple and Adidas, alongside his playing contract. According to reports, it could also include an option to purchase a minority stake in the club, which is partially owned (and operated) by David Beckham, who signed a similarly unique deal when he joined MLS in 2007. Beckham’s contract gave him a $25-million option to purchase an expansion franchise, which he exercised in 2018.

Messi’s contract with Paris Saint-Germain is set to expire on June 30 and the Ligue 1 club announced earlier this month that the Argentine superstar — widely considered the greatest player of all time — will leave the club this summer.

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

Perhaps Inter Miami and MLS weren’t Messi’s first-choice option this summer, as his father previously stated his son’s desire to return to Barcelona, where he famously won 21 major trophies before an unceremonious exit amid financial troubles in the summer of 2021, but those issues still linger two years later. The offer from Saudi Arabia would have reportedly paid Messi, 35, $1.6 billion over three years.

Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who previously worked with Lionel Messi at Barcelona (2013-2014) and Argentina (2014-2016), is reportedly the leading candidate to replace the recently departed Phil Neville as head coach.

Inter Miami, who currently sit bottom (15th) of MLS’s Eastern Conference with 15 points from their first 16 games, parted ways with Neville last week. In his two full seasons in charge, Neville guided the club to regular-season finishes of 11th (of 14) and 6th (of 14) in the Eastern Conference and qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2022.

Follow @AndyEdMLS

UEFA Champions League Final: Key battles for Inter Milan vs Manchester City


Manchester City’s quest for the treble hits its final obstacle when Inter Milan goes toe-to-toe with the Premier League and FA Cup champions in Istanbul at Saturday’s UEFA Champions League Final.

Pep Guardiola’s weren’t at their very best against Manchester United in the FA Cup Final and still walked away with its second trophy of the season.

But City’s final two Premier League matches saw dropped points. The stakes were non-existent and the team quite changed by Guardiola, who’s known to fancy a tactical wrinkle. How will things change this weekend?

[ MORE: Man City vs Inter Milan preview, watch info ]

It would be stunning if Inter boss Simone Inzaghi came out in anything but a 3-5-2, which has been his go-to formation for Inter Milan this season regardless of opponent.

But might Inzaghi have something up his sleeve?

Inter’s only losses in the Champions League came in the group stage versus Bayern Munich. Add in their setbacks in Serie A and there’s still been no standard recipe for beating Inter. There isn’t one for Man City, either, of course.

Kevin De Bruyne vs Marcelo Brozovic

If there’s a single player capable of messing with Pep Guardiola’s plan to control the game and get the ball to his creators in dangerous spots, it’s Croatian veteran Marcelo Brozovic. The 30-year-old is a force who can both be the club’s metronome and break up the opposition’s best attacks. There are few players in the world like De Bruyne, but he needs to be found in space and City needs the ball to do that. Brozovic can be a big part of limiting both of those things.

Erling Haaland vs Francesco Acerbi

Maybe the two names need to be switched in order, because Acerbi is going to have his hands full with Haaland. The question is whether the 35-year-old Acerbi, still very good but no longer in his prime, can use his nous and vast experience to limit Haaland’s chances to do the exceptional. Haaland, meanwhile, just has to be himself. Ask yourself who’s being asked more.

Andre Onana vs Man City’s attack

Picking one player, even Haaland or De Bruyne, for this battle is unfair to the exercise because let’s be real. There is no chance that Inter Milan wins this game without a supreme moment or two from its goalkeeper. Andre Onana has played every Champions League match for Inter and has had his fair share of outstanding performances. He’s outperformed expected goals on target by 6.7 goals over the course of the tournament.

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.