Better Deal: Sigurdsson and cash or Vorm and Davies?

2 Comments

Earlier today Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City confirmed a deal that saw Gylfi Sigurdsson and an undisclosed fee head to the Liberty Stadium in exchange for Michel Vorm and Ben Davies.

The swap is a rare and interesting play that’s seldom seen in the world of soccer because it’s so difficult to measure the impact and value of one player with that of another. The number of factors that enter into the formula for a player’s value is infinite and when trying to do that for three players seems like an exercise of impossibility.

And yet somehow, Tottenham and Swansea have seemingly carved out a mutually beneficial deal.

But how so? Surely one of these clubs enjoyed the sweeter side of this deal and here we set out to see who it was.

Spurs addressed two major needs with the move — finding a sure-fire starter at left-back and a backup goalkeeper who will push Hugo Lloris. Ask a Tottenham fan what went wrong last year and he’ll politely hand you a novel of quips with chapter one reading: Our need for a top left-back.

Jan Vertonghen, a better center-back than left-back, made himself dangerous in that position early last season before a midseason injury derailed that option. With Danny Rose in the Belgian’s place things were decent but hardly on lock-down status as Rose struggled with inconsistency and fitness issues, which then left Spurs with Kyle Naughton as the most viable option. Not good predicament to be in.

The 25-year-old Naughton, who can play either left or right back, struggled to fit in and became a target for opposing team’s to attack. Things grew so dire, in fact, that 21-year-old Ezequiel Fryers was given a go before he, too, imploded. That, in turn, led to rampant and unbridled exposure on the left side of the pitch, much to the delight of opposing clubs.

Now, with the highly-sought-after Davies in place, Spurs believe they’ve found their cure. Inserted into Swansea’s side two years ago at the tender age of 19, the skillful and aware Welshman performed brilliantly, locking down the left-side while proving himself dangerous on the counter. He’s one of the many great Welsh talents on the rise and now, under new Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, many feel the sky is the limit. Time will only tell but Spurs were in desperate need of a left-back and have fought off the likes of Liverpool to address the issue. A fantastic pull.

Vorm’s decision to move to North London is an interesting for a variety of reasons, not the least because it means that American Brad Friedel will now become the third-choice goalkeeper. Friedel was brilliant in the back-up roll last season, giving Lloris a rest during matches outside the Premier League but never really threatening to take the Frenchman’s spot. In Vorm, Spurs have found a goalkeeper who will not only fill in during Europa League, League Cup and FA Cup matches when needed but could foreseeably challenge Lloris for the starting role in league matches. Which is exactly what manager Mauricio Pochettino wanted in a backup. And what Vorm lacks in size he makes up for in superlative cat-like reflexes. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better starter/backup goalkeeper duo in the Premier League.

Pochettino won’t love that he had to deal Sigurdsson but giving up a substitute for a starting left-back and a stellar back-up goalkeeper was worth it. In two seasons with Spurs, Sigurdsson scored eight goals in 58 top-flight appearances, many of which proved to be match-winners off the bench. But a plethora of midfielders meant that Sigurdsson’s main role at Spurs was as a super-sub, one that some people will feel he deserved better than.

At Swansea, he’ll have the chance of becoming an everyday starter. Capable of playing anywhere across the attacking three, Sigurdsson will need to prove himself if he’s to get the starting nod amidst the likes of Nathan Dyer, Ki Sung-Yeung, Jonjo Shelvey, Pablo and Wayne Routledge. Of course, it was only three years ago when Sigurdsson enjoyed his breakout in the Premier League, scoring seven goals in 18 matches while on loan with the Swans so finding top form shouldn’t take long.

But was Swansea in desperate need of another attacking midfielder?

Not really. More pressing was the call for a striker when either Wilfried Bony or Michu (or both) end up leaving this summer for greener pastures. Bold move for manager Garry Monk.

And what about that fee? Most sources are labeling it “undisclosed” but the Daily Mail claim Swansea pocketed $6 million in addition to the swap. Not a bad bit of business for the Swans but does that extra cash make up for the fact that they parted with two key players to obtain an attacking midfielder who wasn’t really needed?

Hard to say Spurs didn’t come out on top in this deal.

Sweden players, coaches left fuming after last-minute loss

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
2 Comments

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — A last-minute goal. A non-called penalty. A disrespectful celebration.

Sweden had a lot to be upset about when the final whistle blew on Saturday.

[ MORE: Low: Germany survived “a thriller full of emotion” ]

The Swedes were within seconds of holding defending champion Germany to a draw, and moving into good position to advance to the round of 16 at the World Cup, when Toni Kroos scored deep into stoppage time to give Germany a 2-1 come-from-behind victory.

“I’m sorry that we didn’t get at least one point,” Sweden coach Janne Andersson said. “But I’m not blaming anyone tactically or analyzing too much right now, there are so many emotions going around. This is probably the heaviest conclusion that I’ve experienced in my career.”

Kroos’ goal from a set piece came in the fifth and final minute of injury time. The draw would have kept Sweden ahead of Germany in Group F and needing only a draw against Mexico in the last match.

[ MORE: Germany snatches late win over Sweden to avoid elimination ]

“It was just bad luck,” Sweden forward John Guidetti said. “Now we need to try to find a way to win the last match. In a few days we play again and we have to win it. It’s simple.”

Germany, which is tied with Sweden on points and goal difference, will play against South Korea in the final round.

“We still have an excellent opportunity to qualify,” Andersson said. “Now we have to clean up, tidy up after this game. We’re going to do that.”

The Swedes were leading Germany at halftime thanks to Ola Toivonen’s goal in the 32nd minute at Fisht Stadium. They felt they could have been ahead even earlier if the referee had called a penalty when Marcus Berg appeared to be fouled inside the area with a clear chance to score. There was no formal video review called for.

“If we have the (VAR) system, it’s very unfortunate that he (the referee) can feel so secure in the moment that he doesn’t go and have a look at the situation,” Andersson said.

He and the Swedish players said they also couldn’t understand why Germany decided to celebrate near their bench.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

“You shouldn’t celebrate in front of our bench the way they did, that’s disrespectful,” Guidetti said. “You can celebrate with your own fans. Don’t celebrate in front of our bench like that. That’s why they apologized, because they knew they did something wrong.”

Andersson said he was “very annoyed” by seeing the Germany team “running in our direction and rubbing it in our faces by making gestures.”

“We fought hard for 95 minutes,” he said. “And when the final whistle blows, you shake hands.”

WATCH: World Cup, Day 11 — England, Colombia back in action

Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
1 Comment

Day 11 of the 2018 World Cup is up next, on Sunday, with England back in action and in need of three points — and a resounding win — to keep pace with Belgium in Group G.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Following Belgium’s 5-2 thrashing of Tunisia — the same side that England beat in stoppage time earlier in the week — on Saturday, the Red Devils have positioned themselves perfectly to win the group with a draw against the Three Lions on Thursday. England need a five-goal victory at 6-1 or higher to the finish top of the group following a draw on the final day.

Then, it’s a pair of Group H fixtures, kicked off with Japan (1st) versus Senegal (2nd) — both of whom won their first game — followed by Poland (3rd) versus Colombia (4th).

Below is Sunday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Sunday, June 24

Group G
England vs. Panama: Nizhny Novgorod, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group H
Japan vs. Senegal: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Poland vs. Colombia: Kazan, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

FIFA opens case against Xhaka, Shaqiri for celebrations

Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP
2 Comments

FIFA’s disciplinary committee opened disciplinary proceedings against Swiss players Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri for politically charged goal celebrations during their 2-1 World Cup win over Serbia in Kaliningrad.

[ MORE: The meaning behind Xhaka, Shaqiri’s eagle celebration ]

FIFA also said Saturday it has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Serbian Football Association for crowd disturbance and the display of political and offensive messages by Serbian fans. FIFA also is reviewing statements that Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic made after the match.

Xhaka and Shaqiri celebrated their goals by making a nationalist symbol of their ethnic Albanian heritage. Both of their families come from Kosovo, the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. Serbia doesn’t recognize Kosovo’s independence and relations between the two countries remain tense.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

The Polish Football Association was fined $10,100 and given a warning by FIFA’s disciplinary committee for a banner that the governing body deemed political and offensive. The banner was displayed during Senegal’s 2-1 win over Poland on Tuesday in Moscow.

The committee also opened disciplinary proceedings against the federations of Argentina and Croatia for crowd disturbances during Croatia’s 3-0 win Thursday at Nizhny Novgorod.

Low: Germany survived “a thriller full of emotion”

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Leave a comment

At 1-0 down, they were headed for elimination in the group stage (with a game still to play); once level at 1-1, they faced yet a steep hill to climb on the final day of the group stage; after Toni Kroos scored his stunning 94th-minute winner, Joachim Low could finally exhale and imagine himself managing the German national team for another day.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Sweden at the 2018 World Cup was, for most intents and purposes, a worrying performance for the defending world champions. Fortunately for Low and Co., the one place in which their comeback dramatic victory was a raging success is the only one that matters: the Group F table, where Die Mannschaft currently (somehow) sit second and control their own destiny — quotes from the BBC:

“This was a thriller, full of emotion, right up until the final whistle. Brandt hit the goal post just three minutes before the end too. We took out a defensive player and brought on an attacking player because we knew had to bring on everything we had to turn it round.

“We had a couple of great chances — Mario Gomez’s header being one of them. The last couple of minutes were full of drama but those matches exist in football. We’ve had these situations in other tournaments as well. For the viewers that’s part of the attractiveness of football.”

“Something I did appreciate today was that we didn’t lose our nerve, we didn’t panic after going a goal down. We kept a level head and said we needed to make quick passes and tire the Swedes out to open up spaces.

“We didn’t score a couple of good chances but we never lost hope we could win the match and I think the goal scored in stoppage time had a bit of luck involved but it did show the belief we had in ourselves.”

There’s still plenty of work to do for one of the most popular pre-tournament favorites — there’s a little matter of needing to beat, or at the very least, match Sweden’s result against Mexico — but that can wait until tomorrow, because Saturday unexpectedly became all about survival.