World Cup today: Italy, Uruguay in elimination match, three-way battle in Group C

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It was a stellar Monday at the World Cup as both Groups A and B came to a conclusion.

Hosts Brazil topped Group A by thrashing Cameroon, while the Netherlands scored twice late on to beat Chile and finish atop Group B with a 100 percent record.

Mexico also got in on the act as they beat Croatia to advance to the last 16 for the sixth-straight World Cup. El Tri will now face the Netherlands, while Brazil play Chile in two mouth-watering knockout matches.

[ MORE: How will U.S. lineup vs. Germany ]
[ MORE: Soccerly covers the World Cup ]

Two more group finales are in store on Tuesday, as Italy and Uruguay battle it out for the final Round of 16 spot in Group D, while everything is up for grabs in Group C. Let’s take a look at what’s in store today:

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MATCH 39: Italy vs. Uruguay
Location: Estadio das Dunas, Natal
Time: Noon ET
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Cheater’s Guide
With a win, both teams can advance to the knockout rounds. Their entire World Cup campaigns come down to this match. For Uruguay, it is win in or bust. Simple. As for Italy, a draw would see them through to the last 16 due to their superior goal difference but they have to stop red-hot Luis Suarez.

What they’re saying
Luis Suarez on Uruguay’s respect for Italy: “From last year’s Confederations Cup I know how organised they are. If you leave them just an inch they will make you pay. But they have weaknesses as well as strengths, and we will try to exploit those weaknesses. We expect Italy to be tough opponents, but we know what’s at stake and we are going out there to qualify.”

History
The two nations have played each other nine times, with Uruguay edging out Italy with three wins to two.

Premier League Players
Uruguay: Luis Suárez, Sebastian Coates (both Liverpool), Gastón Ramírez (Southampton)

RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly

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MATCH 40: Costa Rica vs. England
Location: Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
Time: Noon ET
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Cheater’s guide
England are out of the World Cup and have made nine changes to the team which lost to Uruguay. The Three Lions will be hoping to not bow out with a whimper. As for Costa Rica, they know a win will likely see them top the group.

source: AP
England’s manager Roy Hodgson makes nine changes to his side.

What they’re saying
Roy Hodgson on giving the youngsters a chance vs. Costa Rica: “With a very different team and a lot of players who haven’t played in the tournament so far, I wanted everyone to go home from this tournament — or at least as many as possible — having taken part and played in a game, not just training. We’re very conscious of the fact that our fans are as disappointed and devastated as we are, but they are still here supporting us.

History
The two nations have never met.

Premier League players
22 of England’s 23-man squad play in the Premier League.
Costa Rica: Joel Campbell (Arsenal)

MLS players
Costa Rica: Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls), Waylon Francis, Giancarlo Gonzalez (both Columbus Crew)

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MATCH 41: Japan vs. Colombia
Location: Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba
Time: 4pm ET
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Cheater’s Guide
Japan need to win to make it through to the last 16 of the World Cup, while Colombia will rest several key players ahead of the knockout stages. The Samurai Blue will be going for broke in this one.

What they’re saying
Japan star Keisuke Honda believes in miracles: “Of course there is still a possibility of advancing to the next round. We can’t qualify now without relying on external forces, but I believe in miracles and I am focused on us beating Colombia.”

History
These sides have met twice before, with Colombia winning 1-0 in the 2003 Confederations Cup and the two teams drawing 0-0 in a friendly back in ’07.

Premier League Players

Japan: Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United) Maya Yoshida (Southampton)

RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly

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source: Getty Images
Can the Ivory Coast seal their first every berth in the knockout stages?

MATCH 42: Greece vs. Ivory Coast
Location: Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
Time: 4pm ET
SOCCERLY PREVIEW | SOCCERLY MATCHCENTER

Cheater’s guide
Both teams are in with a shout of making the last 16, with Ivory Coast in the driving seat. They know a win will secure a spot in the knockout stages for the first time in history and they come up against a Greek team that has yet to score in the World Cup… but somehow has a chance of making it through.

What they’re saying
Greece’s manager Fernando Santos on their offensive struggles: “We have to score goals. I don’t care who does it. If it is (goalkeeper Orestis) Karnezis, that’ll be fine with me. We have to show the qualities that got us here. The Ivory Coast is a strong team with good players. But we are strong too and we got here on merit … talk of anything else is just a distraction.”

History

The two nations have never met.

Premier League players

Greece: None.
Ivory Coast: Wilfried Bony (Swansea City), Cheick Tioté (Newcastle), Kolo Touré (Liverpool), Yaya Touré (Manchester City)

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Manchester City season restart preview

Manchester City season restart
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Manchester City is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things City when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: City’s two-year spell as defending champions will end very soon, but Pep Guardiola has reason to believe three pieces of silverware could again arrive at the Etihad Stadium. Leroy Sane is now available again, making a Sane-Aguero-Sterling front line a tantalizing possibility, while Aymeric Laporte is healthy, too. That’s an even bigger deal as City is unbeaten in the seven PL appearances Laporte has made this season (6W-1D).

That’s good news considering City is about to miss out on European competition for two seasons pending an appeal next week.

[ MORE: Ranking every Brighton player in 2019-20 ]


Tactical analysis: It’s Pep Guardiola, so it’s all about the ball. Man City’s league-leading 66 percent possession rate sees it having made the most passes (18,927) and the most successful passes (16,817) in the PL. Since Guardiola took charge, Manchester City have averaged 68 percent possession, the highest rate in the PL. How good is that? Second-place Liverpool is six percent behind.


Possible XI (4-3-3) 

—– Ederson —–

— Walker — Laporte — Fernandinho — Zinchenko —

—– Gundogan —– Rodri — De Bruyne —

 —–  Sterling—– Aguero —– Sane —–

There’s been a lot of 4-3-3 in City’s 2020 and their forward trident is going to be as venomous as ever. Consider that Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus are having sensational years but will rotate into an attack with Sterling, Aguero, and Sane expected to feature plenty. Rodri may be the straw that stirs the drink, but Kevin De Bruyne’s status as the probably PFA Player of the Year will be one to watch as he approaches the PL single season assist record.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Man City’s chances ]


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Arsenal, Burnley, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bournemouth, Norwich City
Away: Chelsea, Southampton, Brighton, Watford

Predicted finish: Second with a bullet. City has six of its remaining 10 matches at home, including intriguing matches with old pal Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal and a rematch with soon-to-be champions Liverpool. Don’t be surprised if Pep prioritizes the FA Cup and preparing his team for a (probable) August return of the UEFA Champions League. City leads Real Madrid after one leg of the Round of 16.

USL Championship announces provisional July 11 return

USL Championship return
Photo by Joe Hicks/Getty Images
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The USL Championship intends to return to matches with a provisional restart date of July 11, the league announced Thursday.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

The league began its season in March, though three of 35 teams did not play a match while Tacoma and San Diego played two.

There is no indication that the league intends to play at a single location, as MLS reportedly intends with an Orlando restart.

USL Championship sides have been allowed to train in small groups from May 11. USL had previously canceled its League Two season.

Here is the league’s full statement, from USLChampionship.com:

While additional information on competition format, scheduling, broadcast and other important details will be made available in the coming weeks, it’s important to note that the league’s return to play will be conducted in strict alignment with all local and state public health guidelines. USL HQ also remains in regular dialogue with the USL Players Association on all matters concerning player health and wellness protocols and looks forward to continuing those discussions.

To USL supporters across the country, we are grateful for your support throughout this process and look forward to being back in action with you all soon.

 

Manchester United season restart preview

Manchester United season restart
Photo by Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Manchester United is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Red Devils when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: Very, very good. While United supporters will feel aggrieved to know their club cannot. catch their two biggest rivals, you wouldn’t laugh off the idea of them finishing as high as third given a wildly straight-forward fixture list and the fact that we are about to see Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, and Marcus Rashford together for the first time. Perhaps those players will have some growing pains, but the club has the depth to finish in the Premier League’s top four, challenge for the FA Cup, and win the Europa League.

[ MORE: Ranking every Man Utd player’s 2019-20 PL season ]


Tactical analysis: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s favorite formation this year has been a 4-2-3-1, though he turned to a 3-4-1-2 in memorable wins over Chelsea and Man City just before the coronavirus pause.

We don’t know his plans to produce an attack with Bruno Fernandes, Paul Pogba, and Marcus Rashford together, but the best possible XI is going to leave out some very good players. Playing Scott McTominay and Fred, both revelations, leaves out either wide players or puts Pogba or Fernades out of position (unless he opts for a 4-4-2 which will ask a lot of Rashford and Anthony Martial).

Since making his Manchester United debut on February 1, Fernandes leads the club in all competitions in shots (33), shots on target (12), assists (4) and chances created (24), and ranks third in goals (3).


Possible XI (4-3-1-2) 

—– De Gea —–

— Wan-Bissaka — Lindelof — Maguire — B. Williams —

—– Fred — Pogba — McTominay —–

—– Fernandes —–

—– Rashford —– Martial —–

This lineup excludes Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic, Juan Mata, Daniel James, Odion Ighalo, Marcus Greenwood, and Eric Bailly. That’s a very decent bench. Solskjaer could also put a lot of responsibility on Fred or McTominay by putting Fernandes and Pogba in the center of the pitch with him and using a three-man forward line of Rashford, Martial, and another.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Man Utd’s chances ]


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Sheffield United, Bournemouth, Southampton, West Ham
Away: Spurs, Brighton, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Leicester City

Predicted finish: Depending on your faith in Leicester City, United will probably be favorites if not heavy favorites in seven or eight of their nine matches. Their home matches feature sides both surprising and desperate but it’ll be stunning if a side that found its groove to the tune of a five-match unbeaten run before the coronavirus pause and returns Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford fails to finish in the top four.

Newcastle’s Saint-Maximin, Liverpool’s Lovren speak against racism

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Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin and Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren are speaking out on their squad photos that showed both Magpies and Reds taking a knee against racism at the center circle of pitches earlier this week.

All 20 Premier League clubs and a large number of players and coaches spoke out against racism earlier this week, and players have continued momentum. The gestures were born from the May 25 killing of American black man George Floyd, who died in handcuffs after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes even after he stopped moving and pleaded for air in Minnesota.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Saint-Maximin said he was inspired in part by his French youth national teammate Marcus Thuram, who took a knee last weekend after scoring for Borussia Monchengladbach.

“I have one big friend of mine who scored a goal, Marcus Thuram, and he did a great celebration,” Saint-Maximin said, via NUFC.co.uk. “It’s important that everyone knows this is not a joke. You have to claim that this is important. Everybody has to know this doesn’t have to happen again. It’s a difficult time for everyone. Even if it’s not you, or it’s not your brother or sister, you cannot know if this will happen again.”

Saint-Maximin said he experienced racial problems especially in his youth, and admitted that it meant a lot for his teammates to kneel together and make a statement as one.

“Everyone wanted to stay together because we all humans,” he said. “For me, everybody is the same. I have some things I can’t understand and some I don’t want to understand, too.”

As for Lovren, the Liverpool center back has never been shy around microphones.

His words to Sky Sports on Thursday echo Saint-Maximin and many of their peers.

Sky asked him why the Liverpool players took a knee as a team earlier this week.

“I felt we needed to do it. What happened in America is unacceptable. We are all equal and we wanted to share it to the world. We did it and it’s unbelievably great that people are getting this message. Everyone should be treated equally.”

Lovren, whose family became refugees from Yugoslavia when he was young, also stressed the import of footballers using their public platform for good, saying, “I want to be recognized also as a man who is spreading love and positivity. I’m looking at myself and it’s like I have a duty.”