Andre Villas-Boas eyes Barcelona and Real Madrid jobs, should he get the chance?

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Andre Villas-Boas has been out of a job for a while now.

But if you believe some reports, he could be heading to one of the world’s biggest teams in the not so distant future. Villas-Boas, who was fired as Tottenham Hotspur manager in December after things unraveled pretty rapidly at White Hart Lane, has been linked as a candidate to take over at FC Barcelona as Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino comes under more scrutiny.

In his first season in charge at the Nou Camp rgentine boss Martino has guided his side to the Spanish Cup final, looks set for a berth in the last eight of the Champions League and Barca sit just three points off top spot in La Liga. But fans and pundits have criticized Blaugrana heavily this campaign.

If Martino is shown the door this summer, many suggest AVB would be on Barca’s shortlist and the 36-year-old would be one of the favorites to take charge. Conveniently, Villas-Boas has been chatting with Spanish outlet Marca about his plans to manage abroad next season and to one day return to the Premier League as coach.

This is what AVB has to say about one day managing Real or Barcelona.

“Barcelona and Real Madrid are two of the best teams in the world. I am a young coach and it would be a dream to train either Madrid or Barcelona,” Villas-Boas said. “I would like to get to know other leagues and I have had offers from various teams. From around next June I am sure I will be managing again. I am a young manager, but of course I would like to coach the Portuguese national team one day too.”

Is all this chat a bit ‘pie in the sky’ for a manger who has been sacked by Chelsea and Tottenham in the Premier League?

After leaving Spurs, AVB suggested he was undervalued at White Hart Lane and the young manager certainly has a high opinion of himself. But as a young buck amongst the wise old heads of Europe’s elite managers, that was how AVB had to act. With his coaching methods pruned across many years as an understudy to Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, and then taking FC Porto to an incredible season in 2010-11 when they won three trophies and were undefeated in the Portuguese league, Villas-Boas clearly knows what he’s doing.

But Tottenham and Chelsea’s fans will tell you otherwise, as the young manager certainly got plenty of things wrong during his time in charge of both London clubs. Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League and languished towards midtable with hi in charge, while Spurs finished fifth last season thanks to the superhero efforts of Gareth Bale… then AVB blew the $132 million Spurs got for him (along with Franco Baldini) on less than impressive foreign imports.

Should he get the chance to manage Real or Barca in the near future? Or should AVB re-establish himself as one of Europe’s brightest managerial talents with a smaller club on the European continent first? I’d say the latter, but the way this guys career has gone, seeing him roaming around the technical area at the Nou Camp isn’t too far fetched.

Sampaoli defends Messi, blasts Argentina squad

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Jorge Sampaoli is lambasting his team after a 3-0 loss put Argentina on the edge of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup’s knockout rounds.

“The reality of the Argentina squad clouds Lionel Messi’s brilliance,” Sampaoli said. “The team doesn’t gel as well as it should.”

[ MORE: Modric urges humility ]

Sampaoli said his players could not find a way to get the ball to Messi, and that the introduction of Boca Juniors youngster Cristian Pavón was aimed at opening up the field a little bit.

And Sampaoli is not shying away from the long-discussed comparison between Messi and Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo. From the BBC:

“Cristiano is a great player and he has achieved a lot with club and country. Right now it is hard to compare these two players because of the ability in the Argentinian squad clouds the judgment. Leo is in a difficult position because the squad doesn’t gel with him. As coach I have to accept that. I don’t feel shame but I definitely feel pain. It has been a long time since I have gone through this experience as a coach and obviously it is more painful when I’m wearing the colours of my country.

“We have no alternative but to give it our all in the final match. We have not performed at the level the country expects. We were ambitious ahead of the game but now it is harder for us as a group. We did think this would be the match we can take off as a team, but it wasn’t in the end. I think this is an excellent squad but we didn’t gel or come together. We need to take advantage of the next match, when the pressure will be on, and hope to progress.”

Now, of course Sampaoli is going to defend Messi, but Argentina’s team is not chopped liver. The side certainly isn’t as deep or solid as Croatia, but 1-1 with Iceland preceded this one.

That said, Argentina’s performance once Croatia essentially decided to surround Messi was unacceptable. If favored Nigeria doesn’t handle its business against Iceland, the World Cup finalists won’t have a prayer of going back.

Modric urges humility after big win, stunning goal (video)

AP Photo / Ricardo Mazalan
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There are few teams who’ve looked as strong as Croatia at the World Cup in Russia.

[ RECAP: Argentina 0-3 Croatia ]

Zlatko Dalic’s men now have a pair of shutout wins against decent competition, topping Nigeria 2-0 over the weekend before hammering Argentina 3-0 on Thursday.

The nature of those performances will have many, us included, debating just how far Croatia can run in this tournament. Veteran midfielder Luka Modric is hoping his team doesn’t do the same.

Let’s not be euphoric or get ahead of ourselves,” Modric said. “Of course this win will boost our confidence for the next game, and we have shown we can create opportunities, but let’s keep our feet firmly on the ground.”

Modric noted that Willy Caballero‘s howler “was a shot in the arm,” but added that they had played a “perfect game.”

That’s true. And while so much focus will be on Messi’s struggles, don’t sleep on the terrific performance of Vatreni. 

Modric also seemed to bristle when asked about shutting down Messi.

“I don’t want to talk about other players. We are happy with our own performance. We wanted to cut out Messi receiving the ball because he is the most dangerous player.”

Croatia smashes disheveled Argentina

AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan
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Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, and Ivan Rakitic have Croatia in the knockout rounds and Argentina on the verge of World Cup disaster.

Croatia scored a trio of second half goals, one aided by a Willy Caballero howler, in a 3-0 win in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday.

Argentina will enter its final match against Nigeria on the outskirts of the knockout rounds regardless of how Nigeria-Iceland ends on Friday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Ivan Perisic forced a big save out of Wily Caballero for an early Croatia corner kick that came to nothing.

Messi had a chance stopped inside of 10 minutes, then started a play that Dejan Lovren blocked for a corner in the 13th.

Enzo Perez missed an open goal off a poor Croatia giveaway in the 30th minute.

There were a pair of fouls not out of place on a red card lowlight reel, one for each team, but neither resulting in a sending off.

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Croatia took the lead through Caballero’s gaffe and Rebic’s smash in the 54th.

Argentina nearly answered moments later. After a mazy Messi dribble, Argentina regained possession in the 64th minute, spearheaded by a Gonzalo Higuain run that led to a corner.

Croatia came close to making it 2-0, as Mario Mandzukic couldn’t turn a flick on frame and instead saw it glide into the outside of the goal.

Then Modric put the match to bed as the clock hit 80, an absolute beauty. Another huge defensive mistake allowed Mateo Kovacic to cue up Rakitic for the third.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

WATCH: Caballero blunder punished as Rebic rip puts Argentina on ropes

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Willy Caballero has made one of the bigger blunders in recent World Cup history.

His Argentina side needs at least a point from Thursday’s match-up with Croatia, and the match remained scoreless into halftime.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

But 10 minutes after the break, Caballero flubbed a clearance in a big way.

The Argentina goalkeeper then could only watch as Ante Rebic kept his composure to blast a side volley into the goal.

It was a fine finish, to be sure, but not possible without such a terrible gaffe.