U.S.A vs. Portugal is fast approaching, and supporters are likely experiencing a mix of equal parts nerves and excitement. A win, preferably a comfortable one, is obviously the desired result, as it will put the USMNT into the knockout stages for the second straight World Cup.
Despite Portugal’s capitulation against Germany, with Pepe’s sending off leading to an eventual 4-0 loss, any side possessing arguably the world’s best player is going to be tough to beat. Cristiano Ronaldo had 31 goals in 31 La Liga games this summer, and although he’s still carrying a knock, the Real Madrid forward remains dangerous.
But Jürgen Klinsmann remains confident that his side will be able to seize the moment, using the match against Portugal as a chance to really showcase U.S. soccer.
“This is now the moment where you can prove yourself,” Klinsmann said. “This is now the moment that you can step up and play those guys and put them in place. We want to put Cristiano [Ronaldo] and his team in place.”
However, while fans may be dwelling on Sunday’s match, pouring over articles on tactics and arguing on social media over the starting lineup, Klinsmann and his players will be spending the day trying not to over-analyze their opponents. Instead, they will be focusing inward, on the team’s own talents and capabilities.
Tim Howard said that, after Saturday morning, Klinsmann would be refusing to talk about Portugal any more. The goalkeeper said, “That gives us a long time to really just focus on ourselves. All of today with training, all of tomorrow, we won’t speak about Portugal or look at video anymore. It’s done.”
Pro Soccer Talk examines some of Thursday’s top transfer stories, including a Premier League giant looking to add to its midfield.
[ MORE: Uruguay reaches Round of 16 courtesy of Luis Suarez ]
Chelsea could be set to join Barcelona in the race for Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic, according to the Daily Mail.
The Blues and new manager Maurizio Sarri are said to be open to looking to Serie A to solve some of the team’s troubled areas, including in the center of the park to join France international N'Golo Kante.
Sarri is already said to be keen on signing Napoli star Dries Mertens, whom he has coached for several years at the Stadio San Paolo
Meanwhile, Juve has interest in a World Cup star, with Mexico’s Hirving Lozano attracting significant looks from around the world.
Lozano scored for El Tri in their 1-0 victory over Germany to open their 2018 World Cup campaign, and has become an instant star in the Dutch Eredivisie with PSV Eindhoven.
PSV would reportedly be willing to complete a deal if the Serie A champions shell out over $40 million.
Sticking with Juve, Emre Can‘s move to the Turin side appears to be close to finalization.
Can is set to have a medical in Italy on Thursday, as the 24-year-old anticipates completing a five-year contract with the Serie A giants.
Finally, West Ham United is looking to add to its attacking options next season, and the club could be nearing a record move.
Lazio winger Felipe Anderson is reportedly set to come to the London Stadium in 2018/19 as the Hammers prepare a $46 million deal.
Anderson tallied four goals in 21 Serie A matches last season for the Biancocelesti.
The 30-year-old has spent two seasons managing Hoffenheim, guiding the club to back-to-back top-four finishes in the Bundesliga.
Leipzig is currently without a manager ahead of the next season, so it remains unclear who will take over until Nagelsmann assumes his role in 2019.
Peru’s loss was France’s gain on Thursday, as Les Bleus reached the Round of 16 with one match remaining in Group C play.
The French knocked off Peru, 1-0, as Didier Deschamps and his side eliminated their South American foe from the 2018 World Cup.
[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]
Both Denmark and Australia — who drew 1-1 earlier on Thursday — are still alive in their efforts of advancing to the knockout rounds.
He looked to be one of the best players on the pitch once again, and Kylian Mbappe rightfully scored a tap in to give France the lead beyond the half-hour mark following a deflected cross from Olivier Giroud.
Paul Pogba was at the center of the goal as well, after nicking the ball away from Peru’s Paolo Guerrero inside the South American side’s half of the field.
Gallese made his first crucial stop in the 16th minute, when a link-up between Giroud and Antoine Griezmann forced a kick save from the Peru goalkeeper.
The Peruvians began to use their pace as the first half wore on, and Guerrero nearly scored his first goal of the tournament in the 31st minute, but Hugo Lloris was positioned well to make a save.
Paul Pogba came right back the other way just two minutes later though, and played a brilliant lofted ball into Mbappe, who couldn’t flick it past Gallese.
The Peruvians didn’t waste any time in the second stanza, and nearly came out to a flying start as Pedro Aquino struck woodwork with a brilliant outside-the-foot technique from distance.
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France closes out Group C play with a meeting against Denmark, while Peru hopes to spoil Australia’s chances of qualifying for the knockout phase.
The match is really opening up now, and France has begun to assert itself with an opener just beyond the half-hour mark.
[ MORE: Denmark, Australia draw, leaving Group C wide open ]
Kylian Mbappe has given Les Bleus a 1-0 lead over Peru after a deflected Olivier Giroud cross found the Monaco attacker just in front of goal for a tap-in finish.
The sequence began after Paul Pogba dispossessed Peru deep in their own half, before dishing the ball off to Giroud.
The goal for Mbappe is his first at a World Cup, as the 19-year-old continues to impress for both club and country.