Manuel Pellegrini to change Man City’s style, how can “The Engineer” fix it?

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During his first official appearance as Manchester City’s manager, Manuel Pellegrini made his plans for the team crystal clear.

Manchester City fans should expect attractive soccer this season at the Etihad.

Pellegrini, 59, stated that one of the main reasons City brought him in from Malaga was to try and create an attractive playing style. With the experienced coach promising a more attacking outlook will prevail as City aim to succeed on both the domestic and European front.

“One of the reasons I am here is for the way we play. Man City fans will see a different way of playing than they have seen in other years. I’m sure we will play an attractive team. We will try to be an attractive team.”

And when asked about which title the Chilean was targeting this season, the EPL or the Champions League, a coy yet firm response came from Pellegrini.

Success on all fronts is expected. Nothing more. Nothing less.

We don’t prioritize one more than the other. Man City need to improve on how they’ve performed in the Champions League, while the Premier League is very important. Here in the Premier League we have Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham – five or six teams who are trying to win the league. The league is so important. We will try to repeat the win of the Premier League of a couple of seasons ago.

It is one thing to make these grand statements. But to deliver attractive soccer when under pressure to get instant success is not the easiest thing to do. That’s an understatement. The man know as “The Engineer” for his thoughtful and methodical approach to soccer tactics will have to have a long hard think about how he can alter City’s ultra-defensive tactics deployed in the 2012-13 season.

(MORE: Is Pellegrini the right man for Manchester City?)

But one thing for certain is that Pellegrini will have all the tools to succeed at his disposal. The players City possess should blow most Premier League teams out of the water by the end of the first half. But they lost that swagger and attacking panache last season. Roberto Mancini failed to trigger the attacking impetus that City had when they won the EPL title in the 2011-12 season.

Last season City scored just 66 goals, the joint-fifth best in the EPL. When they won the title two season ago, City scored an incredibly 93 goals. Somewhere along the line they lost almost 30 goals from their offense.

So Pellegrini is right to target that as the area to improve. City’s defense is fine. But with Carlos Tevez leaving for Juventus, the new attack minded approach will have to be implemented from wide areas. Spanish winger Jesus Navas looks a real threat, and after joining from Sevilla the tricky attacker will look to create and run past defenders from out wide. David Silva and Samir Nasri are also key, as City’s new mantra of attacking soccer will need to flow through these diminutive, yet supremely skillful, figures.

City will surely bring in a new striker, with only Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero currently on the books. Pellegrini spoke about potentially bringing in a new forward but the Chilean played his cards close to his chest.

“We have two strikers and we need another one. We need a very good squad. Next week we will see about different players (in the current squad). We will try to bring with the best players from all parts of the world.”

Scour the world for top talent Manuel… just make sure they can score goals.

The halted World Cup flip-throw heard around the world (video)

AP Photo/Sergei Grits
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Milad Mohammadi knew the time was right for something special, but special isn’t always good.

And good is a subjective term. Cause to us this is very good, Milad.

The Iranian national team defender failed with a flip-throw bid in the final moments of a 1-0 loss to Spain on Wednesday at the World Cup in Russia.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

And this wasn’t like he illegally flipped or broke some other rule. No, like a kid trying an audacious jump into the deep end, Akhmat Grozny star Mohammadi just bailed and climbed in from the side (so to speak).

The kiss, the look skyward, the headbutt… all integral parts of a wonderful World Cup moment.

Renard, Morocco “very proud” of its unlucky national team

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If you would’ve told Morocco fans or their manager, Herve Renard, that they’d outshoot and outpossess both Iran and Portugal at World Cup, their next question would probably be, “So do we need to do against Spain to win Group B?”

Alas, Morocco lost a pair of 1-0 decisions to become the first team knocked out of the 2018 World Cup.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The Lions of Atlas fell to Iran in their opener on a stoppage time own goal after carrying 64 percent possession and a 13-8 advantage in shot attempts, then lost to a Cristiano Ronaldo fourth minute goal on Wednesday despite a 16-10 shot advantage and 53 percent of the ball.

“I’m very proud of the performance and I am very proud of my players, I’m very proud of this country,” Renard said.

With no hope of advancing to the next round, the manager is finding the experience bittersweet. From RTE:

“What I am sure of at this moment is that the entire Moroccan people is proud of this team. Of course it’s easier to play with a player who has one chance and he puts it away. But we are in Morocco.

“We have quality players. Despite the ups and downs of the game, we should have been more effective. Because, like in the first game, we had plenty of chances. I won’t blame anyone. That’s football. It’s always those who know how to be present in the box, the most gifted players, who make the difference. We took a lot of risks and we didn’t get our reward.”

It’s unlikely Morocco will hold either of those statistical advantages against Spain, especially a Spanish side yet to qualify, but there is plenty to like from the tournament aside from poor finishing quality.

But the performances of 19-year-olds Amine Harit (Schalke) and Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid) — not to mention Hakim Ziyech (25, Ajax) — seem to hint at a promise for 2022. And Renard’s men can still play spoiler for Spain, which is no small shockwave.

Queiroz: Iran has one “match point” left in World Cup group stage

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Iran manager Carlos Queiroz isn’t going to let his tournament be defined by one win or one loss, especially with a massive moment on the horizon.

Iran fell 1-0 to Spain on Wednesday, days after defeating Morocco in its World Cup opener. Team Melli was denied its equalizer despite VAR review thanks to an offside, and failed in several other bids to level the score.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Now Queiroz and his men need a win over Portugal to qualify for the first knockout stage in its five World Cup history.

“We showed that we were ready to suffer and ready to compete. I felt we deserved a better result. There’s no doubt Spain play wonderful, stylish football but I thought we deserved more for the way we played.

“But congratulations to Fernando Hierro and Spain. We will learn a lot from this game. If you think of it like tennis, we had one match point today and we will have another against Portugal. Everything is still open. We are still alive and still dreaming.”

What chance do you give Iran of getting over on Portugal, who only topped a dominant Morocco side via a terrific designed play executed to perfection by Cristiano Ronaldo?

The odds are in Portugal’s favor, if only for its experience in tight games on massive stages. Well, perhaps the better “if only” would be to say if only for Ronaldo. Either way…

Spain gets win after Iran sees equalizer ruled out

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  • Spain goal: Costa (54′)
  • Iranian goal disallowed
  • Next: Spain-Morocco, Portugal-Iran

Iran had an equalizer taken away via Video Assistant Referee and Spain picked up its first win of the 2018 World Cup with a 1-0 win in Kazan on Wednesday.

Diego Costa scored Spain’s goal, as La Furia Roja joined Portugal atop Group B on four points. Iran has three, while eliminated Morocco has yet to get a result.

Team Melli lost their chance to sit atop the group when Saeid Ezatolahi rebound was ruled to have come after an offside touch from a teammate.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Spain certainly had its chances in the first half hour, capped off by an attempted overhead kick from David Silva.

Man City’s 32-year-old attacker had a great deal of chances in the contest, and would see a deflected rip bound wide of the goal during three minutes of first half stoppag time.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

After Gerard Pique missed an in-tight chance to start the second half, Iranian goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand made an outstanding punch save on Isco before punching away the rebound bid.

Iran found its first true chance of the match in the 53rd minute, with Karim Ansarifard lashing into a shot from 15 yards that tore into the outside of the goal.

It was moments later that Spain went ahead, Costa getting a goal when a clearance bounding off his shin and into the net.

Mehdi Taremi flicked a header wide of the goal, and Iran thought it had an equalizer through Saeid Ezatolahi only for VAR to step in and call offside on the previous Iranian to touch the ball.

It was off, but only just.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

Beiranvand was again on the scene for a 70th minute goal mouth scramble following a drawn-up corner kick by Spain.

Taremi pounded a header over the goal after a Vahid Amiri nutmeg of Pique led to a back post cross.