Women’s World Cup — what we learned on Day 16

1 Comment

It was one of the forefathers of women’s soccer, Anson Dorrance, who loved to talk about the importance of 50-50 balls, those times when neither team had possession of the ball and it was all about heart, effort, or whatever cliche you wanted to brandish. In Dorrance’s mind, the team that won more of those 50-50s would have more of the ball and therefore have a much better chance to win, he reasoned.

Dorrance has had his share of detractors over the years, mostly about style of play, but he did coach the United States to its first World Cup title in 1991 and has won 21 NCAA national titles at North Carolina, a record that will never be touched in Division I. Heck, no one will get close to half that number.

[MORE: Complete coverage of 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup]

Coaches don’t talk about 50-50 balls as much these days, it comes off as kind of archaic, but there are still times, even at the highest level, when a big match rides on who comes out of a random scrum in the middle of the field.

And so in the 80th minute of a massive World Cup round-of-16 game, it turned out that the fortunes of two national programs turned on a ball that it looked like Brazil should come away with just inside its own half. There were three yellow jerseys and just one Australian to start, but when they corral it quickly, Kyah Simon sneaked in and poked the ball with her toe.

Then it was teammate Katrina Gorry’s turn. She stuck her 4-foot-whatever body in there, fought through a couple of those yellow shirts, and not only came out with the ball, but drilled an inch-perfect through ball to Lisa De Vanna, who had enough faith in her teammate to start her run before Gorry actually had the ball. De Vanna’s shot was spilled by Luciana, but Simon ran all the way in to be first to the rebound. Australia had a winning goal, and that was it.

From there all the narratives followed. Brazil was outc-oached, they will never be able to win a big tournament, Marta should retire, and all the other hot takes out of a match that Brazil put three times as many shots on target (6-2) as their opponents.

[JOHAL: Canada coach Herdman playing with tactical fire]

Which should take nothing away from Australia, of course. The Matildas matched them stride for stride and had a little extra at the end of the match when they needed it most to make the quarterfinals for the third straight time at a World Cup. And the couple of people that tabbed them as a sleeper to make the final will most certainly grow in numbers before that quarterfinal match.

But Brazil will be left to wonder, maybe for a long time, what would have happened if they just won that darn 50-50 ball in the 80th minute.

What else did we learn Sunday?

1) Brazil was solid, but they probably weren’t a contender in Canada
Marta is five-time World Player of the Year for a reason, and she will always be underrated in my mind because of who she is and where she came from. But she was not a big factor in Canada, and certainly wasn’t today as Brazil failed to generate many chances (although they hit a post and Formiga was inches away from a wonderful goal in the first half). The young defense held up extremely well in front of poor Luciana, who was probably hurt by the fact she had so little to do in the group stages. This game does not mean Brazil were poor, they could have easily won this match and maybe squeezed into the finals on the weaker side of the bracket. But they weren’t as good as Germany, France, or even the United States. And that’s a little concerning hosting the Olympics next year. They are young and that should help.

2) Those gutty, gritty Aussies
I’ll be honest, I thought they might finish last in Group D entering the tournament, but take nothing away from their performance not just in this game, but the entire World Cup. Caitlin Foord has recaptured the form she had four years ago running up and down the wing, youngsters like Sam Kerr and Steph Catley are older and wiser (as De Vanna seems to be as well), and Alen Stajcic has pressed all the right buttons so far in his impressive midfield with Gorry and Elise Kellond-Knight (who just happened to be FIFA’s Woman of the Match on Sunday) really standing out but others contributing as well. They certainly won’t be heavy underdogs in their quarterfinal.

3) Hi there, France
Sports are often riddled with the cliche of needing experience to win titles and you have to lose a couple before you can win one. If you subscribe to that, this is probably France’s time. It’s been four years since France burst onto the scene in Germany, and they certainly didn’t appear flustered by much on Sunday. Outside backs Jessica Houara and Laure Boulleau got forward at will (which is kind of what I think Jill Ellis wants to see, even though it doesn’t come as often for the U.S. as it did Sunday for France) and Korea Republic was done in eight minutes.

[MORE: France rolls past Korea Republic, advances to QFs]

Interestingly, my rudimentary research shows the last time Korea Republic conceded more than twice in a competitive match was Sept. 5, 2011, when it lost 3-2 to North Korea (evidently recovered from those lightning strikes in Germany), some 30 matches ago, so France was impressive. And that France-Germany game should be one for the ages.

4) Tough ending for Ji Soyun
At least people know Marta, this was Ji Soyun’s chance to make a name for herself (even though she is one of the best players in the world). And yet she couldn’t play in the biggest game in her career, apparently because of a hamstring. She’s only 24, so hopefully we’ll see her again four years from now in France.

5) Canada’s time?
They have plenty of flaws, but in a fairly even side of the bracket, they have an in-form Erin McLeod and Kadeisha Buchanan, which are two things that none of the other teams have. Buchanan may be battling an injury, and goals may be hard to come by, but you’re telling me Canada would be a huge underdog – at home – against Norway (or England)? And by the semifinals, the whole nation (if they weren’t already) will be behind them. So I say Canada to the finals. Just don’t ask me how right now.

Europa League: How to watch, odds, start time, predictions

Europa League
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The UEFA Champions League and Europa League resume this week and I’m going to reveal my predictions for this next round as well as the latest odds for Europe’s top two continental tournaments.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

With Manchester City and Chelsea still in the Champions League and Manchester United and Wolves among the favorites to win the Europa League, there is a lot on the line for Premier League clubs in the coming weeks.

Just because the Premier League season is over, that doesn’t mean the action is over. Far from it.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

In the next few days the Europa League and Champions League Round of 16 second legs will take place before mini tournaments begin.

Man City lead Real Madrid 2-1 from their first leg in Spain, while Chelsea trail Bayern 3-0 as they head to Germany for the return game. Man United are all but in the quarterfinals, while Wolves are favored to make the Europa quarters too.

Lisbon, Portugal will host the Champions League games from the quarterfinal stage onwards, while the Europa League games will be hosted around Germany.

Below is a look at my predictions, the odds for the games this week and how to watch and follow all of the fixtures in the USA.


How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Round of 16 at home venues; Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon/Germany
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: UCL here at NBCSports.com & Europa League here at NBCSports.com


 

JPW’s Champions League predictions


Round of 16 (August 7-8)
Friday, August 7: Manchester City 1-1 Real Madrid (2-1)
Friday, August 7: Juventus 2-1 Lyon (0-1)
Saturday, August 8: Barcelona 3-1 Napoli (1-1)
Saturday, August 8: Bayern Munich 2-1 Chelsea (3-0)

JPW’s Europa League predictions

Round of 16 (August 5-6)
Copenhagen 1-2 Istanbul Basaksehir
Wolves 2-0 Olympiakos
Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Rangers
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-3 Wolfsburg
Basel 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
Manchester United 3-1 LASK
Inter Milan 3-0 Getafe
Sevilla 1-3 Roma


Champions League betting odds

Round of 16 (August 7-8)
(-139) Manchester City v. Real Madrid (+320). Tie: +340
(-230) Juventus v. Lyon (+650). Tie: +340
(-150) Barcelona v. Napoli (+400). Tie: +300
(-250) Bayern Munich v. Chelsea (+650). Tie: +410

Quarterfinals (August 12-13)
(+200) Atalanta v. Paris Saint-Germain (+120). Tie: +285
(+225) RB Leipzig v. Atletico Madrid (+133). Tie: 220

Outright winner
Manchester City (+350)
Bayern Munich (+365)
Paris Saint-Germain (+450)
Atletico Madrid (+700)
Atalanta (+950)
Barcelona (+1100)
RB Leipzig (+1500)
Juventus (+1700)


Europa League betting odds

Round of 16 (August 5-6)
(+155) Copenhagen v. Istanbul Basaksehir (+180). Tie: +235
(-134) Wolves v. Olympiakos (+390). Tie: +260
(-162) Bayer Leverkusen v. Rangers (+410). Tie: +310
(+135) Shakhtar Donetsk v. Wolfsburg (+185). Tie: +265
(+155) Basel v. Eintracht Frankfurt (+155). Tie: +275
(-455) Manchester United v. LASK (+1200). Tie: +550
(-143) Inter Milan v. Getafe (+385). Tie: +285
(+110) Sevilla v. Roma (+270). Tie: +230

Outright winner
Manchester United (+160)
Inter Milan (+500)
Bayer Leverkusen (+700)
Wolves (+800)
Sevilla (+900)

Man City v. Real Madrid preview: Team news, start time, odds prediction

Manchester City - Real Madrid
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester City – Real Madrid should be an absolute classic in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg on Friday (start time, 3pm ET) at the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola and Man City have a 2-1 lead from the first leg in Madrid back in late February before the coronavirus pandemic paused play, as Kevin de Bruyne put in a masterful display in the Santiago Bernabeu to give City the edge. Since then Man City have had their Champions League ban overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and Real have won La Liga as Zinedine Zidane’s side were in imperious form after the restart.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

With midfield and attacking stars set to dazzle on both teams, this is not a game you want to miss as the quarterfinal stage onwards will be held in Lisbon, Portugal. Man City are favorites to win the Champions League, their holy grail, but the most successful team in the history of the competition stands in their way.

Check out the latest Manchester City – Real Madrid team news, betting odds, how to watch and stream, score prediction and more below.


Team news

Man City have no fresh injury concerns, as Sergio Aguero remains their main absentee up top after undergoing knee surgery in June. Guardiola is hoping his star striker is fit enough to play later this month if Man City reach the semifinals and final in Portugal. Benjamin Mendy is suspended, so Joao Cancelo is likely to start at left back.

Real Madrid have named their 24-man squad and Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez have been both left at home by Zidane. Captain and legendary center back Sergio Ramos is suspended from the first leg but will travel with the team to Manchester. Mariano Diaz will not feature after testing positive for coronavirus.


What they’re saying

Man City midfielder Rodri is full of confidence ahead of facing Real: “I am really confident. They are a great team and they can beat you, because they are Real Madrid, but we have to show them we are a better team. We showed them at their home, but we need to be ready because you never know what is going to happen. We have to be focused. They are the greatest team in La Liga and they have shown that this year. We need to do our best to get to the next round.”

Raphael Varane on Real’s big-game experience being key: “We’re aware of the excellent work we’ve done over the past few years. It doesn’t happen often. We try to remember those days to keep working hard and try to take something out of that experience. We know that little things can make a difference in games like this. We’ve got a lot of experience in these big matches, so we can feel confident. We’re just as determined as before. Our goal is to win, and that’s partly due to the DNA of this club. We always want to put the past aside, move on and win.”


Odds and ends (full Champions League odds)

The bookies believe hosts Manchester City (-139) are the favorites but beware of a Real Madrid side (+320) with nothing to lose and everything to gain, especially with Hazard, Benzema and Rodrygo looking so good in recent weeks. The tie at +340 looks like the best bet here.


Prediction

This is a really tough one to call. Man City were superb after the restart in the Premier League but lost to Southampton and Chelsea, plus lost to Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal. Defensive issues remain the key problem for Guardiola and Real’s star attacking lineup could expose that weakness. Real Madrid have been better defensively and ground out wins galore on their way to winning La Liga, but Zidane’s boys have to go for this and that will leave plenty of gaps at the back, especially without Ramos. I’m going to go for a 2-2 draw which will just see Man City squeeze through.


How to watch, stream Manchester City – Real Madrid

Date: August 7
Location: Etihad Stadium, Manchester – Round of 16 second leg (Man City lead 2-1 from first leg)
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: Here at NBCSports.com

Premier League transfers: Every deal from all 20 clubs

Premier League transfers
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Premier League transfers will ramp up throughout the summer months and here you will find every deal from all 20 Premier League clubs ahead of the 2020-21 season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Premier League transfer window runs from July 27 to Oct. 5 in the summer, as the shortened offseason means there’s a flurry of action already happening and most clubs will want their squads sorted before the 2020-21 season kicks off on Sept. 12.

Given the fact that clubs have less than 40 days before the new season starts, you’d think that chairman, sporting directors and managers would all be pretty busy right now as they try and get their business done early. But we all know that when it comes to Premier League transfers, clubs can’t stay away from a deadline day.

[ MORE: Predicting the 2020-21 Premier League standings ]

Even during the coronavirus pandemic amid huge financial implications, huge sums of money are still being talked about when it comes to potential transfers.

Below are the lists of deals for each club, as we will update this page as and when deals happen from now until Oct. 5 when the summer window shuts.


Arsenal

Out
Tobi Omole (Released)
Dinos Mavropanos (Stuttgart) Loan

Aston Villa

Out
Ross McCormack (Released)
Callum O’Hare (Released)
Jack Birch (Released)
Anton Hooper (Released)
Colin Odutayo (Released)
Dimitri Sea (Released)
Jamie Searle (Released)
Matija Sarkic (Wolves) Free

Brighton and Hove Albion

In
Jensen Weir (Wigan)
Adam Lallana (Liverpool) Free
Joel Veltman (Ajax)

Out
Leon Balogun (Wigan) Loan
Archie Davies (Released)
Lewis Freestone (Released)
George Cox (Fortuna Sittard)
Anthony Knockaert (Fulham)
Beram Kayal (Released)

Burnley

Out
Joe Hart (Released)
Jeff Hendrick (Released)
Adam Legzdins (Released)
Aaron Lennon (Released)
Oliver Younger (Released)
Scott Wilson (Released)
Joel Senior (Released)

Chelsea

In
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) More info
Hakim Ziyech (Ajax) More info

Out
Josh Grant (Released)
Marcel Lavinier (Released)
Richard Nartey (Released)

Crystal Palace

In
Nathan Ferguson (West Brom) Free
Jake Giddings (Free)

Out
Kian Flanagan (Released)
Dion-Curtis Henry (Released)
Daniel Tupper (Released)

Everton

In
Niels Nkounkou (Marseille) Free

Out
Morgan Feeney (Released)
Alexander Denny (Released)
Matthew Foulds (Released)
Luke Garbutt (Released)
Oumar Niasse (Released)
Morgan Schneiderlin (Nice)
Leighton Baines (Retired)
Maarten Stekelenburg (Released)
Nathangelo Markelo (FC Twente)
Kieran Dowell (Norwich City)

Leeds United

In
Helder Costa (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Illan Meslier (Lorient)

Out
Ryan Edmondson (Aberdeen) Loan

Leicester

Out
Calvin Bassey (Rangers)
Viktor Johansson (Released)
Ryan Loft (Released)
Connor Tee (Released)

Liverpool

Out
Daniel Atherton (Released)
Pedro Chirivella (Nantes) Free
Nathaniel Clyne (Released)
Shamal George (Released)
Jack Walls (Released)
Dejan Lovren (Zenit)
Adam Lallana (Brighton) Free

Manchester City

In
Pablo Moreno (Juventus)
Ferran Torres (Valencia) More info

Out
Ernest Agyiri (Released)
Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich)

Manchester United

In
Odion Ighalo (Shanghai Shenhua) Loan

Out
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Released)
Dion McGee (Released)
Angel Gomes (Released)
Ethan Hamilton (Released)
Michael O’Hara (Released)
Largie Ramazani (Released)
George Tanner (Released)

Newcastle United

In
Mark Gillespie (Motherwell) Free

Out
Luke Charman (Released)
Jack Colback (Released)
Robert Elliott (Released)
Liam Gibson (Released)
Nathan Harker (Released)

Sheffield United

In
Wes Foderingham (Rangers) Free

Out
Mark Duffy (Released)
Keenan Ferguson (Released)
Oliver Greaves (Released)
Jake Eastwood (Kilmarnock) Loan

Southampton

Out
Alexander Cull (Released)
Mohamed Elyounoussi (Celtic) Loan
Maya Yoshida (Released)

Tottenham Hotspur

Out
Jan Vertonghen (Released)
Michel Vorm (Released)
Tariq Hinds (Released)
Rayan Clarke (Released)
Jonathan Dinzeyi (Released)
Phoenix Patterson (Released)
Maxwell Statham (Released)
Maximus Tainio (Released)
Troy Parrott (Millwall) Loan

West Bromwich Albion

Out
Chris Brunt (Released)
Finn Azaz (Cheltenham Town) Loan

West Ham United

In
Tomas Soucek (Slavia Prague)

Out
Sead Haksabanovic (IFK Norrkoping)
Carlos Sanchez (Released)
Pablo Zabaleta (Released)

Wolverhampton Wanderers

In
Matija Sarkic (Aston Villa) Free

Out
Jordan Graham (Released)
Connor Johnson (Released)
Callum Thompson (Released)
Helder Costa (Leeds)
Tsun Dai (Shenzhen)
Ryan Giles (Coventry) Loan
Elliot Watt (Bradford)

Transfer news: Gabriel to Arsenal; Lewis to Liverpool

Gabriel to Arsenal
Getty Images
Leave a comment

In the latest transfer news Gabriel Magalhaes has been linked with a move to Arsenal, while Jamal Lewis to Liverpool is a surprising transfer rumor.

[ MORE: Predicting 2020-21 PL table ]

Starting in north London, Arsenal appear to be kicking on with their pursuit of Brazilian defender Gabriel Magalhaes who has also been linked with Manchester United, Everton and Napoli.

The Lille center back, 22, is certainly a wanted man and Gabriel will cost $35 million. According to France Bleu, Arsenal are now at the front of the queue for Gabriel.

Arsenal want to strengthen their defensive unit and big changes are expected at the back with Pablo Mari, William Saliba and now Gabriel expected to be the new wave of talent at center back. That said, with David Luiz and Rob Holding playing really well in recent weeks, plus Shkodran Mustafi turning things around too and Sokratis and Calum Chambers around, why do Arsenal need so many center backs?

If Mikel Arteta could move on plenty of these defensive players then he should be good to bring in Gabriel. Expect plenty of outs at Arsenal this summer as the north London club continue to battle through the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jamal Lewis to Liverpool
Getty Images

Moving up to Liverpool and a slightly surprising report, as Norwich’s Jamal Lewis to Liverpool is not a move many expected this summer.

Multiple reports claim that Liverpool value Lewis at $13 million but Norwich want closer to $26 million, so there’s some negotiating that needs to happen here.

Lewis, 22, is a rising star at left back but with Andy Robertson around at Liverpool, he will be an understudy for many years to come. The Northern Ireland international had a very solid first season in the Premier League with Norwich as he and Max Aarons stood out as attacking full backs for the Canaries.

Robertson has no cover at left back and when he has been out injured, Jurgen Klopp has used James Milner as an emergency left back and in a pinch Trent Alexander-Arnold can switch over to the left.