World Cup Today: Who will join Germany, Brazil?

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WORLD CUP TODAY: SATURDAY, JULY 5

Let’s hope that today’s World Cup quarterfinals don’t cause quite as much heartbreak as Friday’s.

In the first match, Mats Hummels scored early, but France could never quite get themselves back into the game. In the end, it was rather easy for Germany to run out 1-0 winners.

As for the second match, well…the referee lost control of the game early on, refusing to pull out his cards despite numerous fouls. A frustrated Colombia eventually snapped. Juan Zúñiga put his boot in Neymar’s back, breaking the Brazilian’s vertebrae, and ruling him out of the rest of the tournament.

Brazil advanced with a 2-1 win, and with rather heavy hearts.


MATCH 59: ARGENTINA VS. BELGIUM

Location: Estádio Nacional de Brasilia, Brasília
Time: 12 noon ET
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Cheater’s guide
Argentina may have won three of their first four matches, but really, they’ve yet to truly impress at this World Cup. Lionel Messi is still able to dazzle, of course, but most of the time, the albiceleste appear unconvincing. It took 118 minutes for them to score against Switzerland, but Ángel di María’s goal was enough to put them through.

Belgium, too, have disappointed. They squeaked out wins in each of their group stage games, but never really looked dominant until coming up against the United States. An impressive performance from Tim Howard tempered the Red Devils, but they eventually advanced from added extra time with a 2-1 win.

What they’re saying
Argentina might be the favorites, but Alejandro Sabella is still wary of Belgium’s threat: They’re a powerful team. We’ll have to be careful when we don’t have the ball and try to make things happen when we do. They’re a team made up of great individuals who work very well as a team.

History
Argentina have won three times, Belgium once in their four meetings. Will the dark horses be able to cause an upset once more?

Premier League players
Argentina: Manchester City love an Argentine, with Sergio Agüero, Martín Demichelis, and Pablo Zabaleta all on their payroll.
Belgium: Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal); Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea); Kevin Mirallas (Everton); Simon Mignolet (Liverpool); Vincent Kompany (Manchester City); Marouane Fellaini, Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United); Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembélé, and Nacer Chadli (Tottenham)

RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly

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MATCH 60: NETHERLANDS VS. COSTA RICA
Location: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Time: 4 p.m. ET
SOCCERLY PREVIEW | SOCCERLY MATCHCENTER

Cheater’s Guide
Netherlands remain perfect: they won each of their group stage games to come out on top, setting up a meeting with Mexico. Thanks to a last-minute, rather contentious penalty awarded to Arjen Robben, the oranje even managed to avoid the fate of extra time suffered by so many in the Round of 16. 2-1 win, and they were on to the quarterfinals.

Costa Rica are the last minnow remaining in the tournament. They found their way to the quarterfinals for the first time by beating both Uruguay and Italy, then drawing with England in a rather pointless match. The group winners then faced off against Greece, who cheekily got another last-minute goal to force extra time – and penalties. The ticos won the shootout 5-4.

What they’re saying
Jorge Luis Pinto is wants the referees to closely monitor Robben: I think he is one of the three or four best players in the world. He is a great player but on the other hand we have to say there have been refereeing mistakes. We’re really worried about Robben’s diving. And he admitted it. I hope the referee watches him very closely tomorrow.
(READ MORE HERE)

History
Watch closely. They’re about to write it.

Premier League Players
Netherlands:
 Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa); Robin van Persie (Manchester United); Tim Krul (Newcastle); Jonathan de Guzmán, Michel Vorm (Swansea)
Costa Rica: Joel Cambell (Arsenal)

MLS Players
Costa Rica: 
Giancarlo González, Waylon Francis (Columbus Crew); Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls)

 

De Gea limps off for Spain ahead of Man Utd-Liverpool tilt

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Here’s the good news for Manchester United supporters: David De Gea played incredibly well for Spain in its EURO qualifier on Tuesday as La Furia Roja clinched a place in EURO 2020.

The bad news? The performance was truncated, with De Gea limping off the pitch and replaced by Chelsea’s Kepa Arrizabalaga in the 60th minute.

[ MORE: EURO qualifying wrap ]

De Gea appeared to injure himself while attempting a goal kick of all things, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be wondering what fresh hell awaits him next.

Perhaps that’s simply the fact that Liverpool visits Old Trafford on Sunday in a match that Solskjaer previously said was perhaps ideal for his reeling Red Devils.

Solskjaer would turn to Sergio Romero should De Gea been unable to play at the weekend. Lee Grant is United’s third goalkeeper with Dean Henderson on loan to Sheffield United.

United was already going to need a lot of help to beat back the unbeaten Reds.

EURO qualifying wrap: Spain earns place in stoppage time

Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images
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Spain clinched a spot in EURO 2020 via a last-minute equalizer, but the rest of the picture only got murkier thanks to dramatics in Romania and Switzerland.)

[ MORE: How should USMNT line up? ]


Sweden 1-1 Spain

A Marcus Berg header had Sweden on the verge of a significant home win against nearly unbeatable David De Gea and Spain, but Valencia forward Rodrigo delivered a stoppage time goal to give Robert Moreno’s men a place in EURO 2020. But Sweden can breathe a little easier thanks to a stoppage time goal across the continent.

Bad news for Manchester United, though, as De Gea’s strong day ended early due to injury.

Romania 1-1 Norway

New York City FC’s Alexandru Mitrita added another beauty to his collection in scoring for the second successive qualifier, but it wouldn’t stand up thanks to former Crystal Palace striker Alexander Sorloth‘s stoppage time equalizer.

Switzerland 2-0 Republic of Ireland

Terrible from the Irish, who trailed after 16 minutes and then went down to 10 men when Seamus Coleman was shown a red card in the 76th minute. Former West Ham man Edimilson Fernandes put it to bed in stoppage time as the Swiss out-attempted Ireland 20-9.

The Irish are tied for the lead in the group with 12 points but that’s about where the good news ends. They do not have an automatic spot in the playoffs while Denmark does and has 12 points. Switzerland has 11 and has also played one fewer match.

Ireland will need to beat Denmark next month and hope for help on the out-of-town scoreboard when Switzerland meets Gibraltar and Georgia.

Finland 3-0 Armenia

Norwich City striker Teemu Pukki continued his fine year with a pair of goals after Fredrik Jensen staked the Finnish side to a lead in Turku. Group J second place side Finland has a five-point lead on chasing Armenia and BNH.

Elsewhere

Faroe Islands 1-0 Malta
Gibraltar 2-3 Georgia
Greece 2-1 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Liechtenstein 0-5 Italy
Israel 3-1 Latvia

Lloyd: Coming off bench at World Cup “rock bottom of my entire career”

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The upper echelon of the USWNT player pool, especially the veteran generation, just swims in a different competitive gene pool.

Comments from a recent podcast featuring Carli Lloyd are the latest evidence of this, as the USWNT legend calls not starting regularly at this summer’s World Cup “the worst time of my life.”

[ MORE: How should USMNT line up? ]

She says she was happy to be a part of it and happy for her teammates but doesn’t back down from the “worst” diagnosis. Yeah, you read that right.

“I’m not going to lie and sugarcoat it,” Lloyd said on Julie Foudy’s Laughter Permitted podcast. “It was absolutely the worst time of my life. It affected my relationship with my husband, with friends. It really was rock bottom of my entire career. But somehow, you see light at the end of the tunnel, and I can honestly say I’m having more fun now playing than I ever have in my career. I think I just learned a lot throughout it.”

To be fair, Lloyd hasn’t backed up anyone in almost a decade and has since won a Ballon d’Or. Not many elite athletes get used to being second (or fourth) fiddle, especially on a major stage like that.

The personalities on this team are as big as any produced by Ronaldo’s Brazil or Zidane’s France. Some may laugh at this, but it shows what a tremendous job Jill Ellis did in marshaling the team to two-straight World Cups, the first with Abby Wambach in a sub’s role and the second with Lloyd.

It also shows the marvelous competitive nature of Lloyd and the resilience of players who know they’d start for any number of teams in the world. Lloyd says in the podcast that she believed she was playing at near her best level despite being moved from midfielder to forward.

Obviously no player prefers a sub’s role to starting, but — wow — if it isn’t bewildering to hear Lloyd talk about her supporting role at age 37 being the worst time of her life. Different types.

Liverpool’s Alisson, Matip return to training

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Premier League leaders Liverpool have been handed a huge boost ahead of their massive clash at bitter rivals Manchester United on Sunday (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Remember: Liverpool are eight points clear atop the table and United sit in 12th, so Jurgen Klopp‘s men are keen to rub salt further into the wounds of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s Red Devils.

Alisson and Joel Matip both returned to training at Melwood, with Alisson recovering from a calf injury which he suffered on the opening day of the season.

The Brazilian goalkeeper has been missing after limping out of the 4-1 win against Norwich City on Aug. 9, and his return to full fitness will bolster this already stingy Liverpool defense. Adrian has performed admirably, albeit with a few errors, in Alisson’s absence but it is now time for the superstar goalkeeper to return to action.

As for Matip, the towering center back suffered an injury against Sheffield United and missed Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League win against Red Bull Salzburg and their narrow Premier League victory against Leicester City.

Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren have both come in for Matip but neither have been solid enough and the former Schalke star will slot straight back in alongside Virgil Van Dijk and bring a steadying influence to the entire defensive line. Matip has been sensational this season, just as everyone expected Gomez to take his starting spot.

Another situation to keep an eye on is the fitness of Mohamed Salah, as he trained on his own at Melwood. Salah was caught with a rash challenge by Hamza Choudhury at the end of Liverpool’s win over Leicester and suffered an ankle injury.

Klopp was incandescent with rage about the foul on Salah and it appears the Egyptian winger is in a race against time to be fit for the clash against Man United, although he is reportedly looking good to play at Old Trafford on Sunday.

With the fitness of Paul Pogba, Luke Shaw Anthony Martial, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and others a constant struggle for United in recent weeks, Solskjaer hasn’t had much help in that department.

Having Alisson and Matip back is great news for Liverpool and Klopp.