Getty Images

Europa League roundup: Spurs cruise to win group, Dortmund stumbles

Leave a comment

The Europa League knockout round is set with the finality of the group stage. Both Liverpool and Tottenham won their groups and will be seeded in the knockout stage, while Borussia Dortmund stumbled on the final day and fell to second, finding itself unseeded despite progressing.

Monaco and Ajax were the biggest names to find themselves eliminated from the competition, as none of them were able to find victory on the final day.

Tottenham 4-1 Monaco

Erik Lamela scored a hat-trick in 35 minutes – one more goal than he has in the entire Premier League season thus far – and Spurs cruised over the French side easily in the North London rain. Heung-Min Son was outstanding in attack for the Premier League side, and Mauricio Pochettino‘s gang won Group J with four wins in six.

Sion 0-0 Liverpool

There was little excitement in Liverpool’s visit to Switzerland, but it was enough for the Reds to top Group B as both these teams progressed into the group stage. Australian left-back Bradley Smith was impressive on his debut as Liverpool faced just one shot on target all match, while Divock Origi was bright in the attack, but could not convert a few half-chances.

Borussia Dortmund 0-1 PAOK

Adnan Januzaj was kept quiet on the wing and Borussia Dortmund fell at home, still progressing to the knockout round but unable to top Group C as they miss out on the head-to-head tiebreaker with Kuban Krasnodar. Robert Mak was the match’s lone goalscorer just past the half-hour mark as the Greeks earn their first and only win of the group stage.

Slovan Liberec 2-4 Marseille

Undeterred by a miserable start to the year, Olympique Marseille has improved its fortunes both home and abroad. Amid four unbeaten in Ligue 1 play to push them back into the top half of the table, and they won three straight to finish group stage play and salvage a place in the knockout round, completed with today’s storming win in the Czech Republic. Four goals from four different scorers put them through, led by Moroccan international Abdelaziz Barrada who put one home and assisted two more.

FC Midtjylland 1-1 Club Brugge

Having embarrassed Southampton in the playoff stages to make it this far, Danish side FC Midtjylland has surprisingly advanced to the knockout rounds ahead of their Belgian opponents who needed a win today to progress. They were led by this insane goal from 20-year-old Danish international Pione Sisto.

Napoli 5-2 Legia Warsaw

The Italians had already wrapped up the top spot in Group D weeks ago, but they completed the perfect six wins in six by rolling Legia Warsaw. Chelsea loanee Nathaniel Chalobah opened the scoring 30 minutes in, while Dries Mertens bagged a pair and Jose Callejon got on the scoresheet as well. Napoli finished with a perfect 18 points in group stage play.

Ajax 1-1 Molde

This scoreline completed a pair of surprising finishes in Group A: Norwegian club FC Molde topped the bunch to ensure a seeded position in the knockout round, while the Dutch giants are out of the competition. Ajax needed a win to catch Fenerbahce, but could not procure all three points, while Molde finished as the only team in the group with three wins.

Schalke 4-0 Asteras Tripoli

The Germans stormed their way towards victory in Group K as they finished all six matches without a loss. Franco Di Santo had a first-half hat-trick and Kaas Jan Huntelaar added a fourth as the Germans secured a two-point margin atop the group.

Rapid Wien 2-0 Dinamo Minsk

35-year-old Stephen Hoffman scored the winner 54 minutes in and Rapid Wien topped Group E ahead of Villareal with 15 points.

Bologna draws 3-3 at Lazio to secure Serie A safety

Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ROME (AP) Bologna secured Serie A football for another season after drawing at Lazio 3-3 in a thriller on Monday.

Bologna moved four points clear of the relegation zone with one match remaining.

Lazio was still celebrating winning the Italian Cup midweek and Joaquin Correa fired the capital side in front in the 13th minute.

[ MORE: Players to watch at U-20 World Cup ]

However, two goals in the space of a minute from Andrea Poli and Mattia Destro saw Bologna take the lead early in the second half.

Bastos curled in a stunning effort to level for Lazio in the 59th but Riccardo Orsolini restored Bologna’s lead shortly after.

Substitute Sergej Milinkovic-Savic secured a draw for Lazio with a sensational free kick 10 minutes from time.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Choosing a USMNT XI for the Gold Cup

AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Leave a comment

Noting that most positions on the international stage are up for grabs based on form, there are special opportunities on the wing, right back, and center back when it comes to the USMNT at the Gold Cup this summer.

That’s because of two related things, one fact and one close to it:

[ MORE: Players to watch at U-20 World Cup ]

  1. DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks are missing from the lineup due to injury. Brooks is easily the Yanks’ No. 1 center back, and Yedlin is a right back when Tyler Adams is unavailable and good enough that Gregg Berhalter tries to shoehorn him in at right wing when Adams is manning that spot.
  2. Mexico’s the overwhelming favorite to win the tournament with more in-form club players in Europe than the U.S., including would-be Premier League Best XI forward Raul Jimenez of Wolves. And who’s going to have to deal with Raul? You guessed it, the big American center backs.

Presuming Berhalter is still wed to Adams as the part-fullback, part distributing midfielder role, that has our lineup for important Gold Cup matches with few sure things.

Zack Steffen (if healthy)

Adams — XXXXX — XXXXX — XXXXX

McKennie — Bradley

XXXXX — Pulisic — XXXXX

Altidore

Now you may not like that I’ve assumed Bradley and Altidore’s places here, but there’s little doubt both are still quite capable against CONCACAF competition and also have the experience in this exact competition and against Mexico. Surely both are motivated for a bit of redemption as well.

Friendlies against Jamaica and Venezuela will give Berhalter a chance to try out players like Tyler Boyd, Marlon Fossey, and Miles Robinson should they impress amongst a 40-player field (although the Jamaica match on June 5 in Washington, D.C. is a day before the final rosters are due for the Gold Cup).

Now what we are trying to solve here is who is the best bet to help the Yanks win the dang thing.

Defenders: Aaron Long, Matt Miazga, and Tim Ream are the favorites to start at the two center back spots and left back, but Daniel Lovitz will try to push Ream after a rough season at Fulham. Both Walker Zimmerman and Omar Gonzalez are in good form, and you can bet Berhalter will give Cameron Carter-Vickers a chance to earn some time. A flat back four role gives Antonee Robinson hope in place of Ream, and if Adams moves into the midfield, Nick Lima did alright in his right back role in January.

Midfielders/Wingers: The spots around Pulisic should be filled by those who can keep the width of the field but also serve somewhat as enforcers for the No. 10. Sebastian Lletget gives them a good shot on one side, and Paul Arriola provides a similar spot. While Joe Gyau, Josh Sargent, Duane Holmes, and Djordje Mihailovic can hope to challenge, the MLS vets with experience outside the country are good bets to get the gigs.

Zack Steffen (if healthy)

Adams — Miazga — Long — Ream

McKennie — Bradley

Arriola — Pulisic — Lletget

Altidore

Does that get the job done against Mexico? Probably not, but it’ll give Tata Martino’s men a hassle.

Report: Man City could use Gabriel Jesus to get Rodri

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
1 Comment

At the root of this report is a question to which we don’t know the answer: How highly does Pep Guardiola rate Gabriel Jesus?

A report from Spanish outlet AS says Guardiola could use his young striker to lure Atletico Madrid into a swap deal, landing Manchester City their stirring defensive midfielder Rodri.

[ MORE: Players to watch at U-20 World Cup ]

Rodri is a nearly year older than 22-year-old Jesus, and is more instrumental to his current club. One of Atletico Madrid’s top talents, his $78 million release clause is an obvious route for City.

If Guardiola doesn’t see Jesus as a huge part of the club’s future, however, the manager may be able to go nearly like-for-like money-wise.

Jesus scored nearly every other game for City in all competitions, nabbing 21 goals in 47 matches, and has 13 goals in 27 caps for Brazil. Those are good numbers, especially with still-electric Sergio Aguero turning 31 this summer.

At his relatively tender age, Jesus has appeared 100 times for Man City and his 45 goals are made more impressive by less than 5600 total minutes in those matches.

Giving up on him to complete his midfield is a tough one. We think it’s more likely Guardiola pays the release clause… unless the manager simply doesn’t rate the player.

Players to watch at the U-20 World Cup

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images
1 Comment

The U-20 World Cup begins this week in Poland, and there are a bevy of future stars to watch, as well as several who will make their names during the tournament.

We’ll focus on the former. While England’s failure to qualify somewhat limits the Premier League starlets on show, there are still plenty from the English top flight.


Tim Weah, United States (PSG) — After a loan at Celtic and time with the full USMNT, how much can he dominate back in his age group?

Alban Lafont, France (Fiorentina) — At age 20, he’s already the starter between the sticks for his Serie A mainstays.

Diego Lainez, Mexico (Real Betis) — Eighteen with 12 league appearances for Real Betis, Lainez is a massive part of El Tri‘s future and carries four caps to his name.

Ruben Vinagre, Portugal (Wolves) — Wolves were promoted, and Vinagre actually made eight more appearances (17) than he made in the Championship.

Ezequiel Barco, Argentina (Atlanta United) — His sophomore season for the Five Stripes has been better than his debut campaign, though that’s not saying a ton given the hype.

Evan N’Dicka, France (Eintracht Frankfurt) — Plenty of playing time in the Bundesliga at the age of 19 for this towering center back.

Paxton Pomykal, United States (FC Dallas) — Looking good in MLS. How much should that translate on this stage?

Andriy Lunin, Ukraine (Real Madrid) — Won’t be wearing the white of Madrid in meaningful action any time soon, but made four appearances on loan for Leganes as a 20-year-old.

Sebastian Soto, United States (Hannover 96) — Not the American-born Bundesliga starlet we expected had we created this list months ago, but Soto has made his Bundesliga debut, so there’s a lot to like while Josh Sargent works with the full USMNT.

Dan Zagadou, France (Borussia Dortmund) — The left- and center back has 25 first team appearances for BVB at 19.

Diogo Dalot, Portugal (Manchester United) — Red Devils supporters know about this fella, who was purchased under the watch of Jose Mourinho last summer.

Mickael Cuisance, France (Borussia Monchengladbach) — Took a step back after his blockbuster ‘Gladbach breakthrough in 2017-18, but will be a key piece for the favorites.

Moussa Sylla, France (Monaco) — The winger is already a factor for AS Monaco, even if they struggled this season.

Bonus: Erling Håland, Denmark (Red Bull Salzburg); Ronald Araujo, Uruguay (Barcelona); Tom Dele-Bashiru, Nigeira (Manchester City).