Three things we learned from the USA’s late defeat vs. Denmark

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On Wednesday the U.S. suffered a late loss in Aarhus against Denmark after yet another second half collapse.

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Jurgen Klinsmann’s side went down 3-2, despite leading with less than 10 minutes to go, and after giving plenty of youngsters a chance to impress, the USMNT are very much still a work in progress as Niklas Bendtner bagged a hat trick.

[ RELATED: Recap – Denmark 3-2 USA ]

Here’s three things we learned as Klinsmann’s men continue to fine tune things before the Gold Cup this summer.

Another friendly, another second half collapse

Okay, so this trend is getting very worrying now. Since the 2014 World Cup, the U.S. has been outscored 11-1 in the second half of games and are failing to shut games out time and time again with. 10 of the 14 goals the U.S. has conceded since the World Cup have come in the 60th minute or later of games and on Wednesday a new set of defenders, albeit it largely inexperienced at the international level, failed to close out a Danish side largely going through the motions ahead of their Euro 2016 qualifier next week, but still able to dominate play.

Michael Orozco did okay at center back, but he was the pick of the bunch as Timmy Chandler and Greg Garza had days to forget at full back, while John Brooks put in a shaky display at center back as Denmark’s hat trick hero Niklas Bendtner gave him the runaround. Sure, these guys need experience, but the fact the the U.S. could not see out a 2-1 lead in the final 10 minutes is distressing. Klinsmann, as you can see in the Tweet above, believes his side is defending well. Many would argue that the U.S. has not defended well since before the World Cup as the sit back, contain and then counter approach just isn’t working. Defensively, the likes of Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez must be feeling pretty safe with their place in the upcoming squads. But the bigger issue here is that the U.S. failed to possess the ball sufficiently and the only time they really put pressure on Denmark was a five minute spell before and after they went 2-1 up in the 70th minute.

In past friendlies in October and November, a hangover from the World Cup was blamed. In February, Klinsmann blamed fitness issues for the USA’s recent downturn. Surely fitness levels aren’t to blame this time, as the mentality of the U.S. side will be called into question after another late collapse.

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The U.S. were run ragged by Denmark’s three-man central midfield.

4-4-2 fails as Danes outnumber U.S. in midfield

The U.S. got dominated in midfield in Aarhus, as Michael Bradley and Alejandro Bedoya barely got on the ball in the first half. Bradley buzzed around and tried to get the U.S. going, but the Danes had Kvist, Eriksen and Poulsen who are all comfortable on the ball and dictated the tempo.

Klinsmann refrained from switching to a 4-3-3 or a diamond in midfield but brought in Alfredo Morales for Bedoya at half time. Morales had a bit of a nightmare, giving the ball away three times within his first five minutes on the pitch and although his energy allowed Bradley to push up and pressure the Danish midfield high for moments in the second half, it was all too fleeting. With so much chopping and changing in friendly matches before the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying cycles, we will likely see an entirely different midfield against Switzerland next Tuesday. Danny Williams could start in the holding role, as there’s a spot up for grabs in the center following Klinsmann’s decision to push Jermaine Jones back into defense. If the personnel isn’t sorted, one thing needs to be: what formation is best for the USA? Right now, 4-4-2 doesn’t seem to fit the needs of the players at JK’s disposal and a 4-3-3 system would be advisable moving forward. But, this is the perfect time for Klinsmann and his staff to experiment before this summer.

Altidore’s rich vein of form continues

Despite all of the distress around youngsters struggling in defense and mental lapses late in games, Jozy Altidore is continuing his rich vein of form for the U.S. Against Denmark he lashed home the opening goal at the back post in the 19th minute and set up Aron Johannsson to put the USA ahead after an intelligent run following Michael Bradley’s (who, by the way, looked so much better in a deep-lying role in central midfield) delightful chipped pass.

Altidore now has 27 goals in 78 games for the USA, but he is becoming a forlorn figure up top. The only saving grace is that his teammate at Toronto FC, Bradley, now appears to be playing in his preferred role for the USMNT and can provide him chances to score on a plate. For the last 18 months at Sunderland, Altidore hasn’t had that. His form for the U.S. national team (four goals in his last six matches) was one of the only bright spots to take from a drab display in the rain in Denmark.

Guardiola: ‘We’re here to win the Champions League’

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Pep Guardiola has put down a marker as Manchester City beat Real Madrid to reach the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.

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He now wants his Manchester City side to go on and reach the holy grail and win the Champions League, the trophy their Abu Dhabi owners crave above all others.

Man City beat Real Madrid 2-1 in their Round of 16 second leg, and 4-2 on aggregate, as Guradiola outwitted Zinedine Zidane over two legs to set up a winnable quarterfinal against Lyon in Lisbon, Portugal next Saturday.

Asked by BT Sport after the game what this win against Real Madrid means for Man City and their mentality, Guardiola did not play down their chances.

“For us, it is of course important, we beat them twice. Zizou never lost one knockout game. You see the calm and personality they play with, they are good,” Guardiola said. “But we are here to try and win the Champions League. It is just one step. If we think that is enough, we will show how small of a team we are. To win the Champions League you have to beat the big clubs.”

Man City will face one of those big clubs, likely Bayern Munich or Barcelona, in the semifinal stage of the Champions League but first they have to get past underdogs Lyon, who stunned Juventus as Memphis Depay has led the Ligue 1 side to the last eight.

“I spoke to the scouting department and they told me ‘be alert’ and we have eight days, we will enjoy this tonight and tomorrow, then we will start to think about Lyon,” Guardiola said when asked about their quarterfinal opponents.

Man City are the heavy favorites to beat Lyon and they are the bookies’ favorites to win the Champions League overall.

Pep Guardiola has now piled the pressure on his team to prove just how good they are and even without the injured Sergio Aguero, and with Fernandinho playing at center back, they eased past Real Madrid.

Manchester City have fallen at the quarterfinal stage when favorites in each of the last two seasons and Guardiola knows this is their best chance to win their first-ever Champions League trophy as Bayern Munich or Barcelona are very good, but not unbeatable, if they get past Lyon.

Guardiola looks hungry and he badly wants to win the Champions League for the first time since 2011 as he failed to win the trophy at Bayern Munich and in his first three seasons at Man City.

The stars are aligning for Man City to deliver the one trophy Guardiola hasn’t won since he arrived in Manchester in 2016 and the one trophy the club hasn’t won since their Abu Dhabi owners took over in 2008.

In this year, just a month after they overturned UEFA’s decision to ban them from the Champions League for two seasons, success would surely taste even sweeter for everyone connected with Man City.

Lyon shock Juventus, reach Champions League quarterfinal

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Juventus – Lyon was mean to be a straightforward comeback win for the home side to reach yet another UEFA Champions League quarterfinal.

It was anything but as Lyon shocked Juventus to dump Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. out of Europe as Maurizio Sarri’s side continued their poor form since the restart.

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Juventus won 2-1 on the night, as Ronaldo scored twice but Juve came up one goal short and for the second season running Ronaldo has failed in his quest to lead the Italian giants to the Champions League title.

As for Lyon, who haven’t played in over 5 months as the French league was cancelled in April due to the coronavirus pandemic, they put in a heroic display as they now face Manchester City in Lisbon, Portugal in the last eight on Aug. 15.

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Lyon got off to the perfect start in Turin, but it was fortunate, as Houssem Aouar won a very dubious penalty kick as VAR checked the decision but somehow it stood.

Memphis clipped home a delicious panenka to put Lyon 1-0 up and leave Juventus needing to score three goals on the night to advance.

Federico Bernardeschi went close and Anthony Lopes saved well from Ronaldo’s free kick as Lyon sat back and soaked up pressure.

Juventus won a penalty kick before half time, as Memphis handled Miralem Pjanic’s free kick but it look harsh as his arm wasn’t in an unnatural position.

Ronaldo slotted home the spot kick to make it 1-1. Game on.

At the start of the second half Ronaldo smashed home a beauty to make it 2-1 as Juve needed one more goal to advance to the last eight.

Ronaldo was everywhere and he then set up Gonzalo Higuain to head home, but his effort was off target from close range.

And Juve couldn’t find one more goal to send them through as Lyon advanced on the away goals rule and shocked everyone by dumping the Italian champions out of Europe.

3 things learned: Man City v. Real Madrid

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Manchester City – Real Madrid was a fairly straightforward win for the hosts, as they reached the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals by beating the 13-time European champions 2-1 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate.

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Raheem Sterling opened the scoring for Man City after a bad mistake from Raphael Varane was ruthlessly punished. Real’s Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema combined well at times and although Ederson denied them early on, Benzema pulled one back in the first half as Rodrygo’s cross was nodded home by the French striker.

Benzema and Jesus both went close for either team in the second half and the latter made the most of another big mistake from Varane to make it 2-1 and seal Man City’s spot in the quarterfinals for the third-straight season with relative ease.

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Here’s a look at what we learned from the Etihad, as Manchester City – Real Madrid was an open affair but the hosts always looked in control.


CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DREAM ALIVE FOR MAN CITY

Pep Guardiola is like Indiana Jones entering the desert on his way to reaching the holy grail. Lisbon is now his ‘Canyon of the Crescent Moon’ as Man City have a quarterfinal, semifinal and final between them and footballing immortality. Man City have longed for Champions League glory and given their successful appeal against their two-season UEFA ban, they will now stride into Lisbon, Portugal as the favorites to be crowned champions of Europe. They strolled past Real Madrid and even without the injured Sergio Aguero, you’d fancy them to sweep all before them to reach the promised land. Man City have always found a way to mess things up in the Champions League but this season feels different. They gave up their Premier League trophy easily to Liverpool but it seemed like the Champions League was always the main focus this season. They now face Lyon in the quarterfinals and then their toughest test, likely either Barcelona or Napoli in the semifinals. Guardiola knows the holy grail is within reach as he is closer than ever to finally delivering the trophy Man City’s Abu Dhabi owners have built this whole project to win.


SLOPPY REAL MADRID EXIT WITH A WHIMPER

Missing captain and legendary Sergio Ramos through suspension from the first leg, Real Madrid needed young defender Edgar Militao to step up in is place. They did not need silky smooth defender Raphael Varane to give the ball away early on to give up a cheap and avoidable goal. Although Real recovered from that early error, they failed to get Luka Modric on the ball as much as they wanted to and Eden Hazard and Benzema only showed flashes of promise. Just when it seemed like Real would push hard for a second goal which would have taken the game to extra time, Varane made another big mistake. And that was that. After impressing in La Liga since the restart and winning the Spanish title, Real Madrid looked remarkably subdued as perhaps a few weeks off before this game impacted them. The Kings of Europe will have to wait another year to add another crown to their collection. Manchester City – Real Madrid was historic, as it marked the first time Zinedine Zidane has ever lost a Champions League game in the knockout rounds. The way his team limped out of Europe was surprising and disappointing for Real Madrid.


PEP BEATS ZIZOU, BUT FALSE NINE FAILS

It was a surprise to see Phil Foden start ahead of David Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva in a game of this magnitude but there’s always a method to Pep’s madness. And it isn’t madness, is it? It’s genius. Just like he did in the first leg at Real Madrid, Pep raised eyebrows as he started a central midfielder (Foden this time, Kevin de Bruyne in the first leg) as a false nine. Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling were rampant from each flank early on, putting defenders under pressure in their own box, and that was how they opened the scoring. But Man City then failed to build on that lead and let Real back into the game. Pep changed things around at half time and Jesus looked more comfortable centrally and so too did Foden. It was a small tweak but it got Man City back on track and Guardiola’s tactical nous made the difference, even though Man City were handed the win on a platter thanks to Real Madrid’s shaky defensive display.

VIDEO: Cristiano Ronaldo scores stunning goal for Juventus v. Lyon

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Cristiano Ronaldo amazing goal video? Cristiano Ronaldo amazing goal video.

Yep, we’ve all been here before.

Ronaldo, 35, smashed home an unstoppable shot to put Juventus ahead on the night and level on aggregate against Lyon ini the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg, as the Portuguese superstar scored his second of the game in style.

Season after season, Ronaldo does this time and time again as he’s now scored 37 goals in all competitions for Juventus this season. He’s 35. This just isn’t normal and all of those who doubted Ronaldo’s move to Juventus should watch him deliver week in, week out and be made to eat their words.

As for this game, he turned it on its head as things did not start well for Juventus at all.

After Memphis Depay scored an early penalty kick to put Lyon ahead in Turin, that meant Juventus had to win at least 3-1 on the night to reach the Champions League quarterfinals.

Ronaldo scored a penalty just before half time to make it 1-1 and the comeback was on, then this stunning strike made it 2-1 on the night to Juventus and set up a grand finale.

Watch on in awe as Ronaldo cut in from the right and smashed home with his ‘weaker’ left foot. Safe to say that Ronaldo will have a sore back after carrying Juventus.