WATCH LIVE: Women’s World Cup – Day 11

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The United States faces Nigeria on Tuesday evening in front of what is expected to be a packed house at BC Place.  A win will assure the top position in Group D.

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That will rightly be where the focus of most American soccer fans will be for the day, but the final day of play in Group C as well as D features two very intriguing matches, both of which are likely to decide second place.

Group C – Ecuador (0-2-0) vs Japan (2-0-0)
Tuesday, 5 p.m. EDT
Winnipeg Stadium, Winnipeg
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Japan are already through and need only a draw to win the group.  That should not be a problem as Ecuador have been outscored 16-1 by two teams Japan already beat.  It would not be a surprise to see Japan struggle for motivation as it appeared Germany and Norway did on Monday but the final result figures to be routine.  And when it’s over Ecuador will be going home.

Group C – Switzerland (1-1-0) vs Cameroon (1-1-0)
Tuesday, 5 p.m. EDT
Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton
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A pair of impressive debut sides will square off with either team guaranteed to go through if they win, and both guaranteed to go through if they draw.  Will the second point make it a dull affair or will both press for the three points?  No fewer than three players from these teams have hat tricks in the tournament.  Gaelle Enganamouit for Cameroon plus Fabienne Humm and Ramona Bachmann for Switzerland have all done it, all against Ecuador.  Despite both obliterating Ecuador, both sides can probably hang their hats more on keeping Japan close.  The winner—Switzerland gets through second with a draw—gets China in the Round of 16.  Both have to view that as a winnable match.

Group D – Nigeria (0-1-1) vs United States (1-0-1)
Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. EDT
BC Place, Vancouver, British Columbia
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The United States has not been great yet but here they are with a chance to win the group and secure a soft path to the semifinals.  They did not score against Sweden but in Nigeria they will find a defensively disorganized team that will be playing desperate to win.  The scoreless draw prompted Abby Wambach to suggest the team would be scoring more of the games were on grass which in turn led to the notion the team is looking for excuses.

Nigeria is not short on technical skill as they showed against Sweden but are also apt to get frustrated as they showed against Australia.  Ugo Njoku, a second half sub against Australia, will not be available as her three-game ban for elbowing Sam Kerr begins.

Group D – Australia (1-1-0) vs Sweden (0-0-2)
Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. EDT
Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton
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A peach of a match that should be what this tournament should hope to replicate in a majority of its groups going forward.  If either team wins it means advancement while a loss will eliminate Sweden and a draw will put Australia through unless Nigeria beats the United States by exactly two goals, and even then the Matildas could advance.

Even though Australia lost to the United States, an argument can be made that they have looked best in this group, at least for 150 of the 180 minutes they have played.  Defensively they did a fine job neutralizing Nigeria’s speed.  Sweden has less pace than Nigeria so they will need a strong day in midfield.  And the much heralded Lotta Schelin has yet to be a factor for Sweden.

Other advancement scenarios:

— If Cameroon and Switzerland do not draw, that would mean at least two groups will have their third-place team finish on three points.  That will put all of the teams on four points through – Netherlands, United States, and Colombia.

— If Cameroon and Switzerland do draw, and Nigeria does not beat the United States at exactly two goals then the Netherlands are through.

— If Sweden win or draw, Thailand are eliminated barring the unlikely scenario that Cameroon, Switzerland, Australia, England, or France lose by enough goals to fall behind Thailand’s minus-7.

Social media reacts to Pochettino’s shock firing

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Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked by Tottenham Hotspur after he spent over five years in charge.

The Argentine coach has seen his Spurs side slump in recent months as they stumbled through the latter months of last season despite a miraculous run to the UEFA Champions League final as they lost to Liverpool in Madrid.

Pochettino’s side currently sit 14th in the Premier League table after three wins from their opening 12 games of the season and with so many players seemingly ready to leave this summer (Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose to name a few) all was not well behind-the-scenes.

But nobody expected this so early in the season and so soon after Tottenham moved into their new home and big spending was promised.

Here’s a look at some of the reaction on social media to the shock firing of Pochettino.


Mauricio Pochettino fired at Tottenham Hotspur

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In a shocking turn of events during the international break, Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked as Tottenham Hotspur manager.

The club sits 14th in the Premier League table, without a win in its last five league games.

“We were extremely reluctant to make this change and it is not a decision the Board has taken lightly, nor in haste,” the club said in its official statement. Regrettably domestic results at the end of last season and beginning of this season have been extremely disappointing.

“It falls to the Board to make the difficult decisions – this one made more so given the many memorable moments we have had with Mauricio and his coaching staff – but we do so in the Club’s best interests. Mauricio and his coaching staff will always be part of our history. I have the utmost admiration for the manner in which he dealt with the difficult times away from a home ground whilst we built the new stadium and for the warmth and positivity he brought to us. I should like to thank him and his coaching staff for all they have contributed. They will always be welcome here. We have a talented squad. We need to re-energize and look to deliver a positive season for our supporters.”

Reports had suggested over the past few days that his position was becoming more and more untenable, but there was no indication that a change was this imminent. The Telegraph reported Monday that Pochettino was set to meet with Daniel Levy during the international break about the direction of the club, and they suggested the game against West Ham United this weekend could be “make or break” for the Argentine.

Pochettino had been with the club since joining in 2014. They reached the Champions League final last season, losing to Liverpool.

Maradona resigns as manager of Gimnasia

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Diego Maradona has resigned as boss of top-flight Argentine club Gimnasia, the club president told domestic media on Tuesday.

According to Argentine journalist Juan Pablo Varsky, Gimnasia president Gabriel Pellegrino told Radio La Red on Tuesday that Maradona had stepped down as boss with just three matches to go in the league season. The 59-year-old has reportedly been disillusioned that Pellegrino will not be running for another term as club president and has thus decided to end his tenure early.

Maradona’s contract was set to run through the end of the league season, which concludes December 8. The election for club president takes place this coming Saturday.

Maradona has only been in charge of the club since early September, and while he lost his first three matches in charge, he has since won three of the last five. The club sits 22nd in the 24-team league table.

 

Pellegrino has been in charge of the club since 2016, with elections taking place every three years.

The legendary former player has previously managed Liga MX side Dorados de Sinaloa, UAE club Fujairah, and the Argentina national team.

LA Galaxy extend Pavon loan another year

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The LA Galaxy announced on Monday that star attacker Cristian Pavon will remain with the club next season, extending his loan through the 2020 MLS campaign after agreeing to a deal with his parent club Boca Juniors.

The 23-year-old Argentinian made a splash when arriving to the Galaxy in early August, helping push the club to an appearance in the quarterfinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs. He scored three goals and assisted eight more in 11 regular season matches, plus another goal in the playoffs.

Pavon’s arrival was of the utmost importance for the Galaxy as they looked to make up for a sub-par defense that conceded goals in waves. His presence will be even more critical next season as the Galaxy are without goal hawk Zlatan Ibrahimovic who left the club this offseason.

Terms of the extension were not released, but it was confirmed that Pavon will occupy a Designated Player slot for the upcoming season, alongside fellow DP Jonathan dos Santos. Romain Alessandrini was the third DP on the club, but his contract expires this offseason and no resolution to that has yet been announced.

Pavon was a regular for Argentina during the 2018 World Cup but has not been a regular since, missing from the 2019 Copa America squad and not among the players for the current international break. He has 11 international caps in total, yet to score a goal.