Negative vibes surround USMNT, as Jurgen Klinsmann’s side hammered by Brazil

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Make no mistake about it, this was only a friendly, but in terms of the performance and the manner of the defeat, it said a lot about where Jurgen Klinsmann’s side is at right now.

Things are not looking good.

[ MORE: Player ratings for USMNT vs. Brazil ]

Yes, Brazil is loaded with talented players but they way the U.S. collapsed in the second half was a shock and the Selecao could have easily scored more as they ran riot in their 4-1 win. It was the worst defeat for the U.S. on home soil since Brazil inflicted the same margin of victory three years ago and with the huge CONCACAF Confederations Cup playoff against Mexico coming up at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 10, this was hardly the type of result or performance Klinsmann would have wanted in his final game before that match.

[ RECAP: USMNT 1-4 Brazil ]

In his post-game press conference, here’s what Klinsmann had to say about Brazil’s dominant display as he urged his team to learn from this humbling defeat.

“Their tempo, their speed of play, speed of thought and speed of execution, all those elements were very impressive,” Klinsmann said. “For us, it was a huge learning curve. It was a completely different tempo they set, and we couldn’t go that tempo. It’s a tempo that is played in the [UEFA] Champions League. They’re always two thoughts ahead. That’s a level we’re trying to catch as fast as we can.”

Speaking after the match, U.S. national team captain Michael Bradley was trying to stay positive.

“We didn’t think we were the best team in world when we beat Netherlands and Germany in the friendlies in June, and we don’t think we’re the worst team in the world right now,” Bradley told reporters after the game. “We just have to maintain a level head and be able to look at things in a reasonable way. At the end of the day, this game is not the be-all, end-all for us this year.”

It’s true that a bad 90 minutes at Gillette Stadium — described as somewhat of a “debacle” by PST’s Nick Mendola here — will not be too decisive in the grand scheme of things, but after floundering to fourth place in the 2015 Gold Cup over the summer and plenty of question marks still surrounding Klinsmann’s personnel choices, the philosophy of the team and if things have improved since he arrived in 2011, you get the feeling things are unraveling.

[ VIDEO: Williams scores stunner in U.S. defeat ]

Rumors of a big divide among the players were thrown up by Fox Sports analyst and former U.S. national team forward Eric Wynalda, as a mishmash of players come together from the mostly German speaking German-American players who play in the Bundesliga, to young guys in MLS and veterans playing in the Premier League, plus even young college kids like Jordan Morris all in the same group. The identity of this team is the most puzzling thing. With so many players used by Klinsmann over the past four years (enforced due to MLS not playing to a FIFA calendar and various other issues with summer tournaments and player availability) and so many systems picked up and then chucked away, is there a clear direction? The U.S. put in a spirited second half display last Friday against Peru after a slow start at RFK Stadium, but if Klinsmann and his squad truly want to reach the next level and reach his oft stated goal of reaching the semifinals of the World Cup at Russia 2018, they have a long, long way to go.

Some of that is the players’ fault, some of it is Klinsmann’s and collectively there are plenty of issues throughout the team.

In defense things are especially all over the place, without first choice full backs for these two friendlies, both Tim Ream and Geoff Cameron were asked to play out of position at full back while their best positions are at center back. Those asked to play at center back — Omar Gonzalez, John Brooks, Ventura Alvarado and Michael Orozco — have proved on plenty of occasions that they are either not quite good enough for the international stage or are too young to make the step up. Klinsmann’s persistence with some of these players is perplexing.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from USA’s win vs. Peru ]

Earlier this week Klinsmann also raised concern about the development of U.S. youngsters in the striking department and with Jozy Altidore looking sharp in the second half vs. Peru but struggling for the rest of the two matches, who else does Klinsmann have to lean on in attack? The likes of Aron Johannsson, Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris have all yet to fully take the chances Klinsmann has handed them.

In midfield, especially against Brazil where Alejandro Bedoya was hooked off in the first half as he struggled to contain Willian, the U.S. was overrun and although that was the case, long-term it seems like starting in a 4-4-2 system with Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones in the middle, plus Gyasi Zardes and DeAndre Yedlin using their speed down the flanks is the way to go.

[ EXCLUSIVE: Herzog readying U.S. U-23 side for Olympic qualifying ]

We have learned a lot about the U.S. over the past two games, must of which confirmed our worst fears and exposed glaring weaknesses as the hangover from a poor Gold Cup display has yet to dissipate. Klinsmann has already said it’s highly likely the vast majority of these players who turned out against Brazil will line up vs. Mexico in just over a month in Pasadena.

That will give Klinsmann’s staff, and many fans of the U.S. national team, plenty of sleepless nights as the German prepares for one of the biggest matches in his tenure as the USA’s head coach.

Championship playoff final: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

Fulham - Brentford
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Fulham – Brentford: Which West London Derby combatant will lay claim to a place in the Premier League at the end of Tuesday’s Football League Championship promotion playoff final at Wembley Stadium?

We can hardly wait to find out, as the 20th berth in the 2020-21 Premier League season and 22nd spot in the Championship will be decided after the richest game on earth.

[ MORE: Predictions, Odds for Europe ]

Kickoff is at 2:45 pm ET Tuesday at Wembley Stadium.


Key players

Fulham leading scorer Aleksandar Mitrovic’s 26 goals were the joint-most in the Championship and more than three times as many as Tom Cairney, second amongst the Cottagers. He’s healthy for the first time after missing the semis with a hamstring injury.

Brentford’s Ollie Watkins scored the same amount of goals as Mitrovic, tying for the league lead, and he’s joined by Said Benrahma’s 17 goals (fifth in the league) and Bryan Mbeumo (eighth). The latter have combined for 16 assists, too. The Bees can sting.

Their seasons

Brentford won a even-straight league games to surge into the mix for automatic promotion but lost their last two, meeting Fulham on 81 points.

As for the Cottagers, Fulham finished the season on a seven-match unbeaten run which included five wins

Their playoffs

Brentford overcame a 1-0 first-leg deficit to oust Swansea City in the semifinal, while Fulham’s first leg win was enough to outlast Cardiff City’s strong second leg in their semi.

Odds and ends

Brentford beat Fulham twice, 1-0 at Griffin Park and 2-0 at Craven Cottage.

The Bees are favored to win the match at +108 odds, while Fulham carries +265 odds of a win.

Prediction

Mitrovic’s availability is huge for a Fulham side hoping to break down the league’s second-stingiest defense. Brentford feels like it’s the superior side but Fulham has been here and Cairney even scored the goal to beat Aston Villa in the 2017-18 playoff final. That experience is an X-factor, but we’ll still call Brentford 2-1 winners.

How to watch Fulham – Brentford

Kickoff: 2:45 pm ET Tuesday
Stream: ESPN+

How will Premier League clubs fare in Europe this month?

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Nearly five months is a long time to wait between rounds of a tournament, let alone legs.

Welcome to the 2019-20 UEFA Champions and Europa Leagues, where the competition continues this week after a long, pandemic-inspired delay.

[ MORE: Predictions, Odds for Europa ]

Who is best set up, aligned, prepared, and built for success?

There are certainly different questions to all parts of that question. Let’s dive into it.


Chelsea

Status: Down 3-0 to Bayern Munich after first leg at home
Next match: 3 pm ET Saturday at Allianz Arena

It’s not happening. We don’t like sounding definitive, especially with Christian Pulisic involved, but Bayern Munich conceding four times in a 3-goal loss at home seems bonkers even after a couple of weeks without game action.

The Blues are capable of scoring against anyone, yes, but this would be a bigger turnaround than even Liverpool versus Barcelona.

Longest of long shots.


Wolves

Status: Level 1-1 with Olympiacos after first leg away
Next match: 3 pm ET Thursday at the Molineux

Should Wolves get past Greek powers Olympiacos, they’ll face either Sevilla or Roma in a real scrap to meet the semifinals.

Wolves feel capable of beating anyone in the field, but this path is far from easy. Still, both Wolves and Manchester United can feel grateful to be in the top half of the bracket, with Inter Milan, Wolfsburg, and Shakhtar Donetsk in a dangerous bottom half.

On a round-to-round basis you wouldn’t vote against Wolves. Over a month, though, they feel less likely than the Manchester sides.


[ MORE: Big moves for Arsenal? ]

 

Wolves news
PIRAEUS, GREECE – MARCH 12: Mady Camara of Olympiacos FC is challenged by Joao Moutinho of Wolverhampton Wanderers (Photo by UEFA – Handout/UEFA via Getty Images)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Manchester City

Status: Leads 2-1 over Real Madrid after first leg away
Next match: 3 pm ET Friday at the Etihad Stadium

We know Pep Guardiola and his array of weapons are capable of beating anyone in the world, and Sergio Ramos’ suspension from the first leg is wonderful for City. Ramos is having one of those “Ballon d’Or if defenders could win it” seasons.

Having two away goals from the Bernabeu is even better. The bottom half of the UCL bracket, however, is a gauntlet and nothing like the top half. City would love to see Lyon hold off Juventus, but a win over either brings either Napoli, Barcelona, Bayern or — miraculously — Chelsea in the semifinals.

It’s a huge ask but this is a huge team.


Manchester United

Status: Leads 5-0 over LASK Linz after first leg away
Next match: 3 pm ET Wednesday at Old Trafford

United would have to self-destruct in order to miss out on the Europa League quarterfinals, where they’ll be favored whether they meet either Istanbul Basaksehir or Copenhagen. The semifinals will be even tougher, as Olympiacos, Wolves, Sevilla, or Roma.

The question here is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has shown some tactical acumen but also failed the Red Devils in the FA Cup semi against Chelsea. United really should be able to out-perform anyone left, even Inter Milan, but will Solskjaer outduel Antonio Conte or even Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui?

Predictions, odds for Champions League, Europa League knockouts

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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 all of the fixtures in the USA.


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)


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: Here at NBCSports.com

Reports: Arsenal offers huge deal to Aubameyang, chases Partey, Coutinho

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Thinking about the resurgence of several big name Premier League sides makes the 2020-21 season tantalizing idea. Could Arsenal become a title fighter?

Manchester City, statistically-speaking, was already the most productive team in the league and Liverpool’s team an absolute monster of intensity that seemed to will good fortune on their rare bad days.

Manchester United was second only to City in Project Restart while Chelsea produced as many chances as any team now named City and now has better finishers. Tottenham improved as well — health can be a tactic in that it helps as much as any manager.

[ MORE: Predictions, Odds for Europa ]

What about Arsenal, though?

The Gunners now have a shiny trophy for Mikel Arteta’s resume after the former midfielder led the club to a record 14th FA Cup.

Arsenal is said to be offering Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang a contract that pays nearly $327,000 per week in a bid to convince the superstar that another year of the Europa League is fine.

A report from Football.London says that Arteta believes Aubameyang and a trio of other moves could help him replicate the 4-3-3 often implemented by former club Man City.

The report says that Arsenal is ready to recruit Willian, Thomas Partey, and Philippe Coutinho to supplement what’s already at the Emirates.

Arsenal is in a tricky situation because of how much promising young talent there is, but Arteta will have learned a thing or too from how Pep Guardiola convinced Phil Foden to buy into a longer development. And winning cures plenty.

Who would fit in the 4-3-3? Arsenal has a tremendous 1-2 punch in goal between Bernd Leno and Emiliano Martinez, and piles of questions at the back. William Saliba finally arrives from Saint-Etienne and Pablo Mari will return, too, while Arteta used Shkrodan Mustafi, David Luiz, Kieran Tierney, Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sead Kolasinac, Calum Chambers, and Cedric Soares this season.

The middle part becomes a lot easier with Partey joining Granit Xhaka and Co.