Time to rebuild for Spain after another early elimination

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SAINT-DENIS, France (AP) At least Spain leaves the European Championship knowing exactly what it needs to do.

Rebuild a team that’s beginning to look frayed at the edges.

After two consecutive European Championship titles in 2008 and 2012 and an intervening World Cup, Spain was dumped out of Euro 2016 at the round of 16-stage by a resilient and well-drilled Italy.

[ MORE: Iceland “shocked the world” ]

The 2-0 score-line did not in any way flatter the Italians, who pressed from the get-go and denied the Spaniards the opportunity to impose their passing dominance on the game.

It’s the second straight major tournament that Spain has failed to reach its previous heights. At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, La Roja failed to even get out of its group in what ranks as one of the least impressive title defenses.

The latest failure clearly highlights Spain’s need to replace a successful – but aging – generation of players. For starters, Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta and David Silva are all more than 30 years of age.

“We are not favorites anymore,” Spain defender Gerard Pique said. “We are a team that can win matches, because of our name and our past, but we are not the best team. We showed against Italy, and also against Croatia (in the group stage), that we are a team with very good players but we are not in position to win tournaments right now.”

The 29-year-old Pique, who was an integral part of the teams that won the 2010 World Cup as well as Euro 2012, said Spain must have a big rethink.

“It’s not only about the level of the players,” he said. “The style of game, even though we want to keep playing the same way, has not been effective. It’s a little bit of everything. We all need to reflect about our style and our level to try to qualify (for the World Cup) in these next two years. If we really want to win major tournaments again we will have to reach another level.”

The revamping may have to start at the very top, as coach Vicente Del Bosque is not likely to remain in charge after Euro 2016. Del Bosque had hinted before the tournament that it could be his last competition with the national team, and after Monday’s loss he said his future would be decided in upcoming talks with the Spanish federation.

Back in Spain there were calls for Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone to replace Del Bosque, who many criticized for not bringing in more youngsters to facilitate the transition between generations. Del Bosque only brought five players younger than 25 to Euro 2016, and only striker Alvaro Morata got to start. He didn’t even give the youngsters a chance in Spain’s final group match even though the team had already qualified.

[ MORE: Marseille accept $42 million Batshuayi bid from Crystal Palace ]

Del Bosque said he doesn’t expect Spain to struggle in the near future even if its veteran stars begin leaving the national team.

“Our football is well structured, we have good youth squads and good young players,” said Del Bosque, who took charge of Spain’s national team after Euro 2008.

Names tipped for the future include Lucas Vazquez, Marc Bartra, Hector Bellerin and Saul Niguez, all of whom have impressed at their clubs for some time.

With or without Del Bosque, Spain must now focus on trying to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia from a group that also includes Italy. The first qualifying game will be in September.

“We had a great run in the last few years, winning the two European Championships and the World Cup,” Ramos said. “We weren’t used to the possibility of losing. But you play against great teams and great players who make you value what you won in the past. We trust this group and the new generation of players that we have.”

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni

Indonesia football disaster: At least 174 dead after riot, stampede

Indonesia soccer riot
Photo by AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

At least 174 people are dead following a riot at a Liga1 match between Arema and Persebaya Surabaya in Indonesia.

Home side Arema lost 3-2 to Persebaya, its first home derby loss in over two decades. The intensity of the rivalry had already led to away fans being banned from attending the derby in Malang, East Java.

Reports say the majority of the fans were trampled to death after police fired tear gas as some fans fired bottles and other items at players and officials.

FIFA does not allow the use of tear gas at football matches. According to Sky Sports:

Hooliganism is rife in football-obsessed Indonesia where fanaticism often ends in violence, highlighted by the 2018 death of a Persija Jakarta supporter who was killed by a mob of hardcore fans from rival club Persib Bandung.

More on this story as it develops.

Man City vs Man United live! Score, how to watch, stream link, lineups


Manchester City vs Manchester United: Erling Haaland is set for his Manchester derby debut when the two-time defending champions host the rapidly improving Red Devils at Etihad Stadium on Sunday (watch live, 9 am ET on Peacock Premium). 


Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm with an absurd 11 goals scored in his first seven games after (ostensibly) choosing Man City over Man United before leaving Borussia Dortmund this summer.

Six weeks ago, Manchester United had not a single point from their first two games, including a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of tiny Brentford, but Erik ten Hag has since switched tactical course en route to four straight wins, including a 3-1 victory over PL leaders Arsenal last time out, to set up this hugely intriguing showdown on Sunday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Man City vs Man United

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

How to watch Manchester City vs Manchester United live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium

Key storylines & star players

Despite a pair of disappointing draws (Newcastle and Aston Villa), it’s been an unbeaten start to the 2022-23 season for Man City, who still lead the PL in possession (66.4 percent per game) while also becoming an unstoppable offensive force from last season (14 goals in their first seven games) to this season (23). That’s not to say it’s been easy as Manchester City go through a tactical shift of their own to better appeal to the big Norwegian’s poaching abilities. Though they have been forced to grind out results a few times already this season, it’s highlighted a newfound spontaneity for a side that’s been as regimented as any in the world. Will that freedom be what ultimately lands Pep Guardiola his first Champions League trophy since 2011, and perhaps a third straight PL title (and a fifth in six years) to boot?

As for Manchester United, the Ten Hag era has been a wild roller-coaster ride already, short as it’s been. The back-to-back defeats were one thing, but the abject performances were the real cause for discontent. While picking up the four straight victories, the Dutchman has also settled on a midfield setup with Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen operating in (effectively) a double pivot with Bruno Fernandes the most advanced of the three. It has brought defensive stability, of course, but more importantly the change has revealed a deadly counter-attacking side. Each of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Fernandes have scored twice during the winning run, with new boy Antony also getting in on the fun on his debut. With space in behind (and the proper service from deep), Ten Hag might just have his first winning formula (albeit quite unlike him).

Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE)

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (thigh), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE), Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

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WATCH: Lionel Messi spins gorgeous free kick goal past Nice’s Schmeichel


Lionel Messi got the better of Kasper Schmeichel with an outstanding free kick as Paris Saint-Germain outlasted Nice 2-1 on Saturday at the Parc des Princes.

The world’s greatest scorer was fouled to set up a free kick just inside the arc. Nice, of course, got into a wall and former Leicester City keeper Kasper Schmeichel arranged it to his liking.

As he does so many times, however, Messi spun a free kick just over the wall. The ball, which came so close to taking a slight turn off a leaping wall member (actually, did it?), tumbled down and right into the side netting to give PSG a 1-0 lead before the match was a half-hour old.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi scores relentless Groningen goal ]

Gaetan Laborde tied the match before halftime, and Nice’s revamped roster looked set to hold tight for a point (The club’s signed familiar Premier League names Schmeichel, Ross Barkley, Aaron Ramsey, and Mario Lemina).

Even that wouldn’t be enough, though, as Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to replace young Hugo Ekitike to finish a Nordi Mukiele assist for a 2-1 win.

PSG has eight wins and a draw this season, good for a two-point lead on second-place Marseille. Messi has five goals and a joint-league-best seven assists, tied with Neymar. Mbappe and Neymar are tied for the league goals lead with eight.

Lionel Messi free kick goal video

USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi defies xG with relentless goal (video)


USMNT forward Ricardo Pepi’s goal while trying to will Groningen back into an eventual 4-1 loss to AZ Alkmaar on Saturday will not be one of the expected variety.

The 19-year-old striker, on loan from Augsburg, ran onto an audacious long pass from 20-year-old defender Neraysho Kasanwirjo but had plenty of work to do with AZ leading 2-0.

[ MORE: Josef Martinez scores audacious overhead goal ]

Pepi sees one defender fall in a race to the ball, then bodies up AZ’s Sam Beukema a little outside the six-yard box.

Hand-to-hand combat sees both players hit the turf, and Pepi probably could won a penalty.

But the World Cup hopeful spins while on the pitch and snaps a shot past charging AZ goalkeeper Hobie Verhulst to make it 2-1.

Video after the jump.

Ricardo Pepi

Ricardo Pepi goal video: Fantastic start to Groningen loan

Pepi now has a goal or an assist in his first three Eredivisie outings, not unlike his fantastic start to life in a USMNT shirt.

His goal contributions have taken a dive since his first two USMNT matches — World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Jamaica — and he only has one assist from the following 10 outings in a U.S. shirt.

Still, Pepi is clearly one of Gregg Berhalter’s favorite options for the upcoming World Cup, and his performances will be measured against Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok, FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira, and others.

In a tournament where every moment matters, his work for this scrappy finish will be well-noted by the USMNT staff.