World Cup team preview: Japan

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Getting to know…Japan: Owners of five consecutive World Cup berths, Japan is loaded with attacking talent but seems to come up short too many times when the bright lights are on.  They’ve never made it past the Round of 16, but have slowly progressed with each passing World Cup.

Since Japan began seriously competing on the international stage in 1988, they’ve won a record five Asian Cups and thusly made five appearances in the Confederations Cup.  Unfortunately, it seems that – again – the big stage is their nemesis.

The team most recently faltered in last year’s Confederations Cup, losing all three matches against Brazil, Italy, and Mexico – a scary harbinger of what could come of this World Cup if the team isn’t ready.  However, their group stage draw is favorable, and they remain Asia’s best hope for a good showing in Brazil.

Record in qualifying: Japan finished a disappointing second in their first group stage of Asian qualifying behind Uzbekistan, but it was enough to advance them to the final round, where they qualified automatically by topping their group ahead of Australia and Jordan. Over the course of qualifying, they picked up eight wins, three draws, and three losses.

A look at Group C: Japan has an uphill battle ahead, but advancement isn’t completely out of the question with the group they were given.  They just need to beat out Greece and Ivory Coast, both of which have clear weaknesses which could potentially lead to underperformances.

Colombia is the group favorite, but even they are prone to defensive mistakes, and Group C could be one of the more intriguing storylines to watch early in the World Cup for sure.  If the Japanese can come together as a unit and play to every player’s potential, it’s possible they could find themselves in the knockout round.

Game Schedule:

14 June, 21:00 ET, Recife: Ivory Coast vs. Japan
19 June, 18:00 ET, Natal: Japan vs. Greece
24 June, 16:00 ET, Cuiaba: Japan vs. Colombia

source: Getty Images
Keisuke Honda, paired with Shinji Kagawa up front, can help the Japanese attack carry the team.

Star player: Keisuke Honda

Sure, Shinji Kagawa plays for Manchester United, but without Keisuke Honda, Japan would be utterly doomed. A recent addition at AC Milan, the 27-year-old attacking midfielder has become the most important player for his national team.

His style is perfect for Serie A, and while he still needs time to settle in after his mid-season switch, he can now play his usual role for the national team, which is not only chance creator but chance finisher.

With 53 caps and 20 goals to his name for Japan, Honda is in his prime and ready to lead the way for the Japanese to a surprise finish.

Manager: Alberto Zaccheroni

The sixth foreign manager in Japan’s history, the Italian won Serie A with AC Milan in 1999 and is known for his propensity for a 3-4-3 formation.    However, it wouldn’t appear that we will see his trademark this summer, having left out the proper players for the system, including wing-back Tsukasa Shiotani.

After a troubling finish to his Milan tenure, plus very short stops at Juventus, Lazio, Torino, and Inter, Zaccheroni signed on for the Japanese squad in 2010, leading them to an Asian Cup win in 2011.  Japan then became the first nation to officially qualify for Brazil, back in June of 2013.

Zaccheroni is known as a tactical genius, but is often unwilling to modify his techniques to fit his players. It will be interesting to see how he lines the team up in the World Cup knowing his favorite formation is likely a no-show.

Secret Weapon: Passing and creativity

It’s not exactly a secret, but with Kagawa and Honda together in the midfield, and Yasuhito Endo there as well, the midfield is gushing with creativity. Unfortunately, that leads to a bit of a leakage at the back, with an inexperienced back line and little help from the midfielders.

But with that trio of talent leading the way, striker Yoshito Okubo and young attacker Yoichiro Kakitani should have plenty of chances on goal.  Kick TV’s preview video described Japan’s style as “cracked out tiki-taka” and their fast pace can often catch teams off guard. Just try not to cringe when things go wrong at the back.

Prediction: The key for Japan will be trying to outscore the opponent, and a lot hinges on their defense being not terrible.  If Southampton’s Maya Yoshido, Inter’s Yuto Nagatomo, and Schalke’s Atsudo Uchida can hold things together, Japan could surprise the Ivory Coast and Greece. However, it appears they may need some help as well, including a string of bad results for both of the aforementioned countries, other Japan may have too big of a challenge ahead.

U20 World Cup schedule: How to watch live, groups, calendar, dates, times, fixtures

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The U20 World Cup takes place in Argentina from May 20 until June 11 as 24 teams full of the best young players on the planet go head-to-head to be crowned World champs.

[ LIVE: Watch the U20 World Cup en Espanol ]

The USA have plenty of talented youngsters and Mikey Varas’ talented squad made a run to the quarterfinals before bowing out to Uruguay. That’s the same stage they exited their previous four U20 tournaments (2015, 2017, 2019 and once again in 2023).

The USA won Group B with three wins from three and hammered New Zealand in the last 16. The Baby Yanks fell to Uruguay on Sunday at the Estadio Único Madre de Ciudades in Santiago del Estero.

England and hosts Argentina were among the favorites to win the tournament but were knocked out, with Brazil and Italy both impressing and in the last eight, plus Nigeria and Uruguay have also looked very good.

Argentina stood in at the last minute to host the event after the tournament was moved from Indonesia.

Below is everything you need for the U20 World Cup.


2023 U20 World Cup schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: May 20 to June 11
  • Group stage kick-off times: 2pm ET, 5pm ET
  • Location: Argentina
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo
  • Streaming en Español: Telemundo, Online via NBC.com

2023 U20 World Cup schedule

All kicks off times ET

Quarterfinals

Match 46: Saturday, June 3: Israel 3-2 Brazil
Match 47: Saturday, June 3: Colombia 1-3 Italy
Match 48: Sunday, June 4: South Korea 1-0 Nigeria
Match 45: Sunday, June 4: USA 0-2 Uruguay

Semifinals

Match 49: Thursday, June 8: Uruguay vs Israel – 1:30pm
Match 50: Thursday, June 8: Italy vs South Korea – 5pm


Third-place game

Match 51: Sunday, June 11: Loser Match 49 vs Loser match 50 – 1:30pm


Final

Match 52: Sunday, June 11: Winner Match 49 vs Winner mtahc 50 – 5pm


Round of 16 results

Match 38: Tuesday, May 30: USA 4-0 New Zealand
Match 37: Tuesday, May 30: Uzbekistan 0-1 Israel
Match 40: Wednesday, May 31: Brazil 4-1 Tunisia
Match 42: Wednesday, May 31: Colombia 5-1 Slovakia
Match 39: Wednesday, May 31: England 1-2 Italy
Match 41: Wednesday, May 31: Argentina 0-2 Nigeria
Match 44: Thursday, June 1:  Gambia 0-1 Uruguay
Match 43: Thursday, June 1: Ecuador 2-3 South Korea

Group stage results

Group A

 

Saturday, May 20: Guatemala 0-1 New Zealand – 2pm
Saturday, May 20: Argentina 2-1 Uzbekistan – 5pm
Tuesday, May 23: Uzbekistan 2-2 New Zealand – 2pm
Tuesday, May 23: Argentina 3-0 Guatemala – 5pm
Friday, May 26: New Zealand 0-5 Argentina – 5pm
Friday, May 26: Uzbekistan 2-0 Guatemala – 5pm


Group B

Saturday, May 20: USA 1-0 Ecuador – 2pm (92nd minute winner from Jonathan Gomez)
Saturday, May 20: Fiji 0-4 Slovakia – 5pm
Tuesday, May 23: USA 3-0 Fiji – 2pm
Tuesday, May 23: Ecuador 2-1 Slovakia – 5pm
Friday, May 26: Slovakia 0-2 USA – 2pm
Friday, May 26: Ecuador 9-0 Fiji – 2pm


Group C

Sunday, May 21: Israel 1-2 Colombia – 2pm
Sunday, May 21: Senegal 0-1 Japan – 5pm
Wednesday, May 24: Senegal 1-1 Israel – 2pm
Wednesday, May 24: Japan 1-2 Colombia – 5pm
Saturday, May 27: Japan 1-2 Israel – 5pm
Saturday, May 27: Colombia 1-1 Senegal – 5pm


Group D

Sunday, May 21: Nigeria 2-1 Dominican Republic – 2pm
Sunday, May 21: Italy 3-2 Brazil – 5pm
Wednesday, May 24: Italy 0-2 Nigeria – 2pm
Wednesday, May 24: Brazil 6-0 Dominican Republic – 5pm
Saturday, May 27: Brazil 2-0 Nigeria – 2pm
Saturday, May 27: Dominican Republic 0-3 Italy – 2pm


Group E

Monday, May 22: England 1-0 Tunisia – 2pm
Monday, May 22: Uruguay 4-0 Iraq – 5pm
Thursday, May 25: Uruguay 2-3 England – 2pm
Thursday, May 25: Iraq 0-3 Tunisia – 5pm
Sunday, May 28: Iraq 0-0 England – 2pm
Sunday, May 28: Tunisia 0-1 Uruguay – 2pm


Group F

Monday, May 22: France 1-2 South Korea – 2pm
Monday, May 22: Gambia 2-1 Honduras – 5pm
Thursday, May 25: France 1-2 Gambia – 2pm
Thursday, May 25: South Korea 2-2 Honduras – 5pm
Sunday, May 28: South Korea 0-0 Gambia – 5pm
Sunday, May 28: Honduras 1-3 France – 5pm


The Soccer Tournament to air across NBC platforms in summer 2023

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27 games from the The Soccer Tournament (TST) will be aired across NBC Sports’ platforms in the summer of 2023 as some of the biggest clubs in the world will be represented as teams square off to try and win the $1 million grand prize.

[ LIVE: Watch The Soccer Tournament on Peacock ]

Games will be aired on Peacock and CNBC, as the inaugural 7-a-side tournament takes place in Cary, North Carolina and the likes of West Ham United, Wolves, Borussia Dortmund, Wrexham and various teams from around the world including former USMNT and USWNT players will compete.

“On June 4th, two teams will face off in our championship game for a million dollars. The second place team will get nothing. We are excited to showcase the drama of that moment and 26 additional high-stakes matches through this partnership with NBC Sports, home of the Premier League in the United States,” said TST founder and CEO Jon Mugar.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA


What is The Soccer Tournament?

Here are more details on what to expect from The Soccer Tournament this summer:

“A first-of-its-kind soccer event, TST will feature 32 teams from eight different countries competing in a World Cup-like group stage. Sixteen teams will advance to the knockout stage, where they will compete in single elimination games for a $1 million grand prize.

“Teams competing in the event include 7-a-side teams from notable European clubs such as Borussia Dortmund, West Ham, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wrexham, Como 1907, Israeli club Hapoel Tel Aviv, MLS club Charlotte FC, Liga MX’s Club Necaxa, Clint Dempsey’s Team Dempsey, and US Women, a team of former US women’s national team players organized by Heather O’Reilly and coached by Mia Hamm.

“Notable players include legendary Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas (Como 1907), NFL wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (Nati SC), social media influencer and former MLS Academy product Noah Beck (Borussia Dortmund), among others. TST’s field will also include 23 former U.S. senior national team players on both the men’s and women’s side with nearly 1,400 matches of experience combined.”

Below is the full TST game schedule and tickets for all TST games are on sale now at thetournament.com/tst-tickets.


The Soccer Tournament schedule, how to watch live, start times, dates


June 1, 2023

Borussia Dortmund 2-5 Hoosiers Army (Indiana Alumni) – June 1, 9am ET

West Ham United 2-4 Far East United – June 1, 10:30am ET

US Women 0-5 Say Word FC – June 1, 12pm ET

Wrexham Red Dragons 3-2 Como 1907 – June 1, 1:30pm ET

Wolverhampton 3-4 Blade & Grass – June 1, 5pm ET

 

Club Necaxa 2-3 Hapoel Tel Aviv – June 1, 6:30pm ET

 

Wrexham Red Dragons 12-0 US Women – June 1, 8pm ET

Team Dempsey 0-3 Sneaky Fox – June 1, 9:30pm ET


June 2, 2023

Borussia Dortmund 1-7 Kingdom FC – June 2, 9am ET

West Ham United 4-3 Culture by Mo Ali FC – June 2, 10:30am ET

Wrexham Red Dragons 8-1 Say Word FC – June 2, 12pm ET

Team Dempsey vs. Zala FFF – June 2, 1:30pm ET


Quarterfinals (4 games) – June 2, 12 pm – 4:45pm ET

Como 1907 3-4 Zala FFF

Conrad and Beasley United 1-2 Sneaky Fox


June 3, 2023

Semifinals (2 games) – June 3, 7 pm and 9:30pm ET

SLC FC 1-0 Zala FFF

Newtown Pride 4-1 Sneaky Fox


June 4, 2023

TST $1M Championship Game (Live) – SLC FC vs Newtown Pride — June 4, 3pm ET CNBC – Encore to air on June 10, 2pm ET (NBC)


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.

Manchester City beat Man United in FA Cup, one win from treble

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Manchester City won its seventh FA Cup and moved with a Champions League win of the very rare treble with a 2-1 win over Manchester United on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.

Ilkay Gundogan scored a goal after just 13 seconds — an FA Cup Final record — and volleyed home off a corner kick in the second half after a Bruno Fernandes penalty had drawn United level before halftime.

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

The Manchester derby nature of this FA Cup Final, the first final match-up between the heated rivals in tournament history, will make City’s win even sweeter, and the cherry on top is that United was unable to stop City’s quest to match its 1998-99 team.

That’s the only time in English history we’ve seen a treble that included the European Cup. Man City meets Inter Milan next week in the Champions League Final. A win means the treble.

Erik ten Hag is denied a domestic cup double in his first season as United boss. The FA Cup has been played since 1871, and Man United’s 12 tournament wins trail only Arsenal’s 12. United last won in 2016.


Treble-chasing Man City didn’t need its best, shows rivals distance to climb

This could’ve been a clean sheet win for City on another day, who had to deal with a 1-1 deadlock because of a legal but unsavory handball call against Jack Grealish that sent Bruno Fernandes to the spot.

Yes, United will point to the fact that it had to rebound from Ilkay Gundogan’s super quick opener, but City’s train barely left the station in this game and it was still a comfortable-enough win.

City let United hang around but there was always a feeling of inevitability: A moment of class was coming from one of the best teams ever assembled in world football.

Erling Haaland didn’t score and City misfired on a number of opportunities that it generally puts home. Is that a bad sign for next week’s Champions League Final?

That remains to be seen and debated, but there’s no question that City showed United how much more there is to be done to catch up to the champs. Why? Because City’s B-game was more than enough to collect another trophy.


Manchester City vs Manchester United player ratings: Stars of the Show

Ilkay Gundogan

Kevin De Bruyne

Bruno Fernandes

Kyle Walker

Manchester City vs Manchester United player ratings


Manchester City vs Manchester United as it happened

First half

THE FASTEST GOOOOOAAAALLL IN FA CUP FINAL HISTORY! It’s Man City taking the lead as a long ball is headed down by Erling Haaland and Ilkay Gundogan’s first touch is a stunning strike from outside the box. Man City, 1-0!

That’s certainly put the game on its head, and City has another chance go very close before United can get their hands anywhere near the game.

City’s had three of the match’s four shot attempts and about 67 percent of the ball at the quarter-hour mark but United’s press is keeping things interesting and there’s been a little drama in the United third.

Fine margins… could’ve been 2-0! Erling Haaland is an absolute full stretch to poke a Bernardo Silva pass toward goal, but he can barely get to it and De Gea corrals the ball with ease. 17′

CLOSE! Kevin De Bruyne drills a left-footed shot that spins just wide of the post as City is starting to collect near-misses. That’s both asserting control but keeping the Red Devils in the match. 29′

VAR CHECK. Could there be a penalty for Man United? Aaron Wan-Bissaka heads a cross off Jack Grealish’s arm, and the video review is putting Man United on the spot! PENALTY…

GOAL! Bruno Fernandes bests Stefan Ortega with a stuttering run-up, rolling the ball the other way to make it 1-1.

Looks like this one’s going to the break at 1-1, and Erik ten Hag has to be thrilled about that. Neutrals will be happy, too, as we’ve got a tense derby finale in the balance. City’s taken six of the 10 shots in this one and had 60 percent of the ball but United’s got the xG lead 1.00-0.61.

Second half

GOAL! City on the front foot again, with no changes to start the second half, and a 51st-minute corner free kick sees Ilkay Gundogan etching his name further in Man City lore when he waits out De Bruyne’s lofted free kick and grounds the ball inside the near post. Man City, 2-1.

SAVE! David De Gea reacts to make an in-tight leg save on De Bruyne.

OFFSIDE GOAL: Gundogan is point blank to tap in a loose ball but is offside. It would’ve been a hat trick.

CLOSE! At the other end, United sub Alejandro Garnacho drags a shot just wide of the far post. Those fine margins remain part of this one!

It’s desperation time for Manchester United, who only had seven minutes and stoppage to get in the way of City’s second jewel in its treble crown.

Gundogan’s close to his hat trick again but this time Luke Shaw intervenes to force a corner kick.

WOAH! Very close to a stoppage-time equalizer as Scott McTominay makes chaos in Stefan Ortega’s box, leading to a corner kick. Cleared by Kyle Walker for the moment. Less than two minutes left now…


Ilkay Gundogan goal video: 13 seconds in!

Bruno Fernandes goal video: Penalty makes it 1-1


Ilkay Gundogan goal video: Patient, precise, pretty


How to watch Manchester City vs Manchester United live, FA Cup Final stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
Where: Wembley Stadium, London
Online: Stream via ESPN+
Updates: Stats, commentary on NBCSports.com


FA Cup 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 (-200) vs Manchester United (+525) | Draw over 120 mins (+375)


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: None.

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Lisandro Martinez, Marcel Sabitzer, Donny van de Beek, Anthony Martial, Antony.