Copa America Group A preview: Hosts Chile favorites vs. Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia

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With just a few days to go until the 2015 Copa America kicks off in Chile, we will be looking at all three groups as 12 teams do battle on the west coast of South America to be crowned Champions of CONMEBOL.

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Will defending champs Uruguay defend their trophy, or can Argentina, Brazil or Colombia wrestle the crown away from Edinson Cavani and Co.?

First up, here’s a look at Group A as host nation Chile meet Ecuador and Bolivia plus guest from CONCACAF, Mexico, for a place in the knockout stages.


The six previous times Chile have hosted the Copa America they have finished third four times, runners up in 1955 and came fourth in 1920. So, seventh time luck… Seriously though, Chile has a real chance of at least making the semifinals on home soil as Alexis Sanchez will lead the charge and Arturo Vidal, Matias Fernandez and Jorge Valdivia will run the midfield. With experience throughout and a great run to the quarterfinal of the World Cup last summer, Chile is on the verge of breaking into the world’s elite. Has the time to win their first-ever Copa America arrived? They should waltz through Group A and then… anything is possible.

Best Copa America finish: Runners up – 1955, 1956, 1979, 1987
Manager: Jorge Sampaoli  – In charge since 2012 and a lover of high-pressing. A real players coach who loves to spend the game on the edge of his technical box.
Star man: Alexis Sanchez – The fourth-highest scorer in Chile’s history is coming off the back of a wondrous first season in the PL for Arsenal. After scoring 28 goals and relentlessly battering opposition defenses all season, the hosts will hope he’s not burned out.


Despite qualifying for three of the last four World Cups, La Tricolor have struggled to compete in recent Copa America’s. They have failed to make the knockout rounds since 1997 and only have one win in their last four tournaments. Surely that terrible run has to turn around this year as they possess a squad packed with experience in Europe’s top leagues?

Best Copa America finish: Fourth place – 1959, 1993
Manager: Gustavo Quinteros – Appointed as boss earlier this year, Quinteros left Emelec after guiding them to two Ecuadorian championships in the past three seasons. Let’s see how he does.
Star man: Enner Valencia – West Ham’s striker burst onto the scene for the Hammers when he arrived last summer but has struggled to perform consistently in the PL. After scoring 11 goals in 19 games for Ecudaor, the pacey forward will look to make a name for himself this summer just like he did in Brazil in 2014.

source: AP
We will see some more epic celebrations from Herrera this summer?


One of two CONCACAF nations competing in this tournament, Mexico have a decent recent history in the Copa America as they finished runners up in 1993 and 2001. Winning the cup won’t be a realistic aim this time around as Miguel Herrera has picked a youthful squad with one eye on the 2015 Gold Cup in July in the U.S. Expect El Tri to battle Ecuador for second spot in Group A.

Best Copa America finish: Runners up – 1993, 2001
Manager: Miguel Herrera – Expect plenty of passionate antics from Piojo in South America. He won the hearts of the soccer world last summer in Brazil. Can he win some silverware this summer against all the odds?
Star man: Rafael Marquez – At the age of 36 the Hellas Verona center back will skipper this young Mexican side and they will need all his experience to make the knockout stages,


The lowest-ranked team in the competition, not much is expected from El Verde. They last qualified for a World Cup in 1994 and although they’ve failed to make it out of the group stage of the last five Copa America tournaments they did stun everyone and finish as runners up in 1997 when they hosted the tournament. Using players mostly from their domestic league, Marcelo Moreno is their best hope of unlocking opposition defenses as the striker who plays his club soccer in China has 12 goals in 50 outings.

Best Copa America finish: Runners up – 1997
Manager: Mauricio Soria – A former goalkeeper for the Bolivian national team, Soria was in temporary charge in 2014 and has now taken the reins permanently.
Star man: Marcelo Moreno – Currently playing in China for Changchun Yata, Moreno has played for Shakhtar Donetsk, Wigan Athletic, Gremio and Werder Bremen among others during his nomadic career. The only man in Bolivia’s squad to boast more than three goals for his country, Moreno being in top form is key if they have any chance of advancing to the quarterfinals.


June 11: Chile vs. Ecuador – Estadio Nacional, Santiago
June 12: Mexico vs. Bolivia – Estadio Sausalito, Vina del Mar
June 15: Ecuador vs. Bolivia – Estadio Elias Figueroa – Valparaiso
June 15: Chile vs. Mexico – Estadio Nacional, Santiago
June 19: Mexico vs. Ecuador – Estadio El Tienente, Rancagua
June 19: Chile vs. Bolivia –  Estadio Nacional, Santiago


1st – Chile
2nd – Ecuador
3rd – Mexico
4th – Bolivia

Five Premier League teams listed among most valuable sports franchises

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The rich are getting richer. Literally.

Forbes has released its latest list of the top 50 most valuable sports teams on the planet, with eight soccer teams in the top 50 as 52 teams are worth at least $2 billion.

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Five Premier League teams make it, with Manchester United in sixth with a value of $3.81 billion, Man City in 25th at $2.69 billion, Chelsea 32nd at $2.58 billion, Arsenal in 42nd at $2.27 billion and Liverpool in 45th at $2.18 billion.

Real Madrid and Barcelona lead the charge of most valuable soccer teams, sitting in third and fourth respectively with values of just over $4 billion, while Bayern Munich are in 17th with a valuation of $3.02 billion.

In previous years Man United topped Forbes’ list and they were the only team in the world to be worth over $2 billion back in 2012.

Real Madrid were the last soccer team atop Forbes’ list but the Dallas Cowboys have now been in top spot since 2016 with the NFL dominating this list.

26 of the top 50 most valuable teams are from the NFL, with eight soccer clubs, nine MLB franchises and seven NBA teams making up the rest.

Below is the list of the value of the top 10 sports franchises on the planet.

1. Dallas Cowboys – $5 billion
2. New York Yankees – $4.6 billion
3. Real Madrid – $4.2 billion
4. Barcelona – $4.02 billion
5. New York Knicks – $4 billion
6. Manchester United – $3.81 billion
7. New England Patriots – $3.8 billion
8. Los Angeles Lakers – $3.7 billion
9. Golden State Warriors – $3.5 billion
10=. New York Giants – $3.3 billion
10=. Los Angeles Dodgers – $3.3 billion

Newcastle close to $50 million Joelinton signing

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Newcastle United’s fans are about to have a new hero.

Brazilian forward Joelinton is on Tyneside and is undergoing a medical ahead of a club-record $50 million transfer from Bundesliga side Hoffenheim.

According to our partners Sky Sports, Joelinton, 22, is finalizing his move to St James’ Park and will become Steve Bruce‘s first signings as Magpies boss.

Much-maligned owner Mike Ashley has promised to reinvest the money Newcastle bring in via transfer fees back into the playing squad, and this move would not only prove that but also suggests he could stick around as a potential sale of the club continues to drag on.

Newcastle’s need for a new striker is clear for all to see as they’ve lost top goalscorer from last season, Salomon Rondon, who returned to parent club West Brom after his loan and has since joined former Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez at Dalian Yifang in China.

With Ayoze Perez sold to Leicester City for $40 million, Bruce badly needed attacking reinforcements and Joelinton’s impending arrival is a huge deal, as the previous club-record transfer was the $27 million they paid for Miguel Almiron in January.

Maybe this will lift some of the gloom which has hung over Newcastle this offseason…

Does Joelinton fit the bill? He scored 11 goals in 33 outings for Hoffenheim last season and is a Brazilian youth international. The last Brazilian striker to leave Hoffenheim for the Premier League has had a pretty good impact (sarcasm alert) as Roberto Firmino arrived for $40 million in the summer of 2015.

But Joelinton is a much different striker to Firmino. In many ways he is the perfect replacement for Rondon, as he is strong in the air, a powerful runner on the break and has a calmness in front of goal to finish off mazy runs or speedy counters.

That will be music to the ears of Newcastle’s fans, as the likes of Almiron and Matt Ritchie will whip in plenty of crosses for him to attack next season. His figures in Germany haven’t been prolific but Joelinton is still young and all of his attributes align with the direct style of play Newcastle had under Benitez and that’s how they will likely play under Bruce.

Take a look at the video above to see Joelinton in all his glory for Hoffenheim last season.

We’re not saying he’s going to be the next Alan Shearer, but he has the potential to be exactly what Newcastle need as they aim to cement their place in the Premier League.

Man United next? Deals for Fernandes, Pepe developing

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Manchester United could be looking a lot different by the time the summer transfer window closes on Aug. 8.

After already signing pacy youngsters Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka for a combined $83 million, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be enthused to hear about the latest developments regarding two of his other targets.

With Man United on their preseason tour of Australia and the Far East, Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has remained in England to sort out transfer deals and there have been updates on their pursuit of winger Nicolas Pepe and attacking midfielder Bruno Fernandes, with both players consistently linked with a move to Old Trafford this summer.

Pepe, 24, lit up Ligue 1 last season as Lille finished second in the table and qualified for the UEFA Champions League. The Ivory Coast winger has just returned from the Africa Cup of Nations and here’s  what Lille club president Gerard Lopez had to say about his future at the club.

“For Nico, it is almost done and he could have left last summer,” Lopez said. “It is true that there are big offers and big clubs in for him, so I think [he will leave].”

As for Fernandes, he has spoken to the media ahead of Sporting Lisbon’s trip to New York City to play a friendly against Liverpool on Wednesday and admitted he wants to move to the Premier League.

“I don’t care about the market, I’ve talked about this many times. The only thing I can do now is that I need to catch the plane so I don’t miss it,” Fernandes said. “‘Will this be the last match for Sporting?’ I don’t know, it’s the coach who decides. I told you I’d like to play in England, but that’s not what interests me. It may be when the club decides.”

Sporting’s president Frederico Varandas has said earlier this week that Fernandes will not leave for anything less than $65 million, even though Fernandes has a much smaller release clause in his contract.

There is a clause which Sporting have in his contract which says they can pay Fernandes $6 million direct if they reject any offer over his release clause. So, yeah, that deal is a little more complicated.

As for Pepe, it is believed Lille want around $75 million for the clinical winger and although both Bayern Munich and Liverpool have been linked with a move for him, Man United are now the new favorites to sign him.

Even though United should spend more money on their defensive unit, both of these players bring one main thing: Goals. And plenty of them.

Pepe scored 22 in France’s top-flight last season, while Fernandes, 24, scored 31 times for Sporting Lisbon in all competitions as the Portuguese midfielder had a breakout year.

With a $100 million move for Leicester’s Harry Maguire lined up, plus Newcastle’s Sean Longstaff still courted, Solskjaer is focusing on bringing in players 26 years old or younger.

That is the correct approach as United want to match the intensity of the way Liverpool and Man City play to push themselves back into the top four and return to being perennial title challengers.

As for the rest of their squad, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku, for now, are still around, while David De Gea is set to sign a new contract with the Red Devils in the coming days. If Lukaku leaves, which looks likely, then Mason Greenwood seems ready to step in and give Solskjaer yet another attacking option.

Taking into account these possible moves and the signings United have already made, here’s what their matchday squad could look like this season.

Not bad, eh?

Possible Man United matchday squad, 2019-20

—– De Gea —–

— Wan-Bissaka — Lindelof — Maguire — Shaw —

—– Matic —– 

— Pepe — Pogba — Fernandes — Martial —

—– Rashford —- 

Romero (GK)

Pulisic dazzles as Chelsea beat Barcelona

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Christian Pulisic‘s first start for Chelsea saw him put on a show as the Premier League side beat Barcelona 2-1 in Saitama, Japan on Tuesday.

The USMNT star made his first start of preseason for the Blues and his pace off the left flank tore Barca apart on numerous occasions.

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His early shot was parried by Marc Andre ter Stegen and Tammy Abraham should have finished off the rebound but blazed over the bar. Abraham did grab the winner though, as Jorginho intercepted the ball in a key area which led to Abraham showing quick feet to finish in the first half. Ross Barkley then came on in the second and scored a beauty for Chelsea’s second, and although Ivan Rakitic pulled one back in stoppage time, Frank Lampard grabbed his second preseason win as Chelsea’s new boss.

As for Pulisic, he played the first 60 minutes and again wore the No.24 shirt for the Blues. His squad number for this season is yet to be confirmed (USMNT fans everywhere are still waiting with bated breath to buy their Chelsea shirts) but the Pennsylvania native is unlikely to get Eden Hazard‘s No.10 jersey as Willian has confirmed to Brazilian media he will wear that next season.

The 20-year-old impressed Lampard by cutting short his summer break after playing for the U.S. at the Gold Cup. Pulisic is quite fresh after being in and out of the Borussia Dortmund team last season due to injuries and the emergence of Jadon Sancho, but the fact he wanted to hit the ground running with Chelsea as soon as possible certainly starts his Blues career off in the correct manner.

Putting in an impressive display against Barcelona in a preseason friendly will no doubt help his chances of being a key player for Lampard as he battles with Pedro, Willian and other to start in one of the wide positions early in the season.

A fairly strong Barcelona side (missing Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez as they rest after the Copa America) did see Antoine Griezmann play his first game for Blaugrana as they will Vissel Kobe, Arsenal and Napoli in Japan, Spain and the USA as their mammoth preseason tour continues.

Chelsea will now return to England to play against Reading, then travel to Red Bull Salzburg in Austria and Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany before their opening game of the Premier League season against Manchester United on Aug. 11 (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via

Pulisic is certainly pushing to be in the Blues’ starting lineup at Old Trafford on the opening day.