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Conte worried about “tired” Chelsea’s lackluster displays

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Chelsea have drawn three games on the spin 0-0 for the first time in club history.

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They are looking solid enough defensively but with so many talented attackers their drought at the other end is concerning Antonio Conte as he said his players are “tired” from their recent run of four games in the last 10 days.

Speaking after the 0-0 draw with 10-man Leicester City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, Conte didn’t want to blame star striker Alvaro Morata who has now gone five games without a goal for Chelsea.

“I don’t think it is only Morata’s problem, also the other players, because we are not scoring goals, we are not conceding, but we are not creating chances,” Conte said.

The Chelsea boss also pointed to many of his team playing in midweek in a tight 0-0 draw against Arsenal in the first leg of their League Cup semifinal.

“I think we played with a lot of top players against Arsenal, and then again today against a very good team. I think a lot of our players were tired,” Conte said. “In the first half Leicester ran more than us, they played better than us. But we knew we were playing against a good opponent, maybe the worst opponent we could have played in this moment. We suffered a lot in the first half.”

Conte’s goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, had to be at his best to keep out Leicester and he admitted that the Foxes were the better team and fatigue played a big factor for Chelsea.

“Obviously we wanted to win the game, and at the end with 10-men we pressed them, but for 70 minutes of the game they were the better team,” Courtois said. “Obviously we all feel a little bit tired, last year we went from week to week, but now we have already played a lot of games. But it’s not excuse, Leicester had more intensity than us and more aggression, they started very offensive and pressed us high up the pitch.”

Chelsea’s poor run of form in front of goal has coincided with Conte’s public spat with Jose Mourinho plus reports regarding his future at the club beyond the end of this season, which seem to be ramping up the pressure on the Italian boss.

This season was always going to be tough for Chelsea after the won the PL in Conte’s debut campaign and didn’t have the distraction of European action.

With Eden Hazard cooling off in recent weeks following his fine recent form, plus Morata’s much talked about cold spell and the big chances he continues to miss, these lackluster displays will do nothing to halt the rumors that Chelsea’s hierarchy are lining up Luis Enrique and Max Allegri to take over in the summer.

Conte failed to totally commit his future to Chelsea when speaking to the media on Friday and the lackadaisical play of his team on Saturday seemed to add to the air of uncertainty around the club. The players being tired has been a go-to answer for Conte this season with Chelsea’s squad stretched to compete in all four competitions.

Let’s get this straight, Chelsea, the reigning champions of England, are in the semifinal of the League Cup, still in the FA Cup and are in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League. Yes, they could fall 18 points behind PL leaders Man City, but their main battle now is all about finishing in the top four.

This seems like a small blip for Conte, but we all know that Chelsea and their owner, Roman Abramovich, act ruthlessly when blips occur.

It’s easy to imagine Conte not being in charge of Chelsea for the third and final year of his current contract.

Liga MX wrap: Xolos beats Chivas as Apertura begins

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Liga MX’s Apertura season is off and running with all 18 clubs partaking in a match this weekend.

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Club Tijuana 2-1 Chivas Guadalajara

Scoreless at the half, the weekend’s marquee match sprang to life in the final 45. Juan Martin Lucero gave TJ a 54th minute lead before Jose Van Rankin knotted it up five minutes later.

Lucero assisted Jose Rivero’s 75th minute winner, which was helped in its status when Michael Perez took a red card in the 80th.

Cruz Azul 3-0 Puebla

Elias Hernandez scored a goal and added an assist, and Milton Caraglio put one of his five shots on goal into the net. Andres Renteria also scored in the win.

Tigres 2-0 Leon

Andre-Pierre Gignac scored, and Lucas Zelarayan marked a goal and an assist in the win.

Elsewhere
Necaxa 2-1 Club America
Toluca 2-0 Morelia
Santos Laguna 2-1 Lobos BUAP
Pachuca 0-1 Monterrey
Veracruz 0-2 Pumas UNAM
Atlas 0-0 Queretaro

Report: Colorado acquires USMNT mid Acosta for Badji

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The West’s first place team is switching it up in a big way.

FC Dallas is sending Homegrown Player and USMNT midfielder Kellyn Acosta to Western foes Colorado Rapids in exchange for striker Dominique Badji, according to a report by The Dallas Morning News.

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Acosta, 22, has 17 caps and a goal for the U.S., and is primarily a defensive midfielder. He’s also played right and left back.

He’s appeared 139 times for Dallas, scoring 13 times with nine assists, but had fallen out with head coach Oscar Pareja. He’s also struggled mightily on the field, according to WhoScored.

Badji, 25, has seven goals and three assists in 16 matches for the Rapids this season, building on an eight-goal, five-assist campaign last season.

FCD has gotten six goals out of forward Maxi Urruti, and there’s been little production from anyone else. Cristian Colman is out with an ankle injury and managed just a pair of goals in 399 minutes.

The risk of trading Acosta is mitigated by the continued speculation that he may test the waters of European soccer. Badji’s a quality player, but Colorado may’ve gotten a bargain in its push to escape the dregs of the West.

Quintero, Loons pick LAFC apart in five-star win (video)

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Minnesota United throttled LAFC on Sunday, using a Christian Ramirez brace to batter the hot expansion team 5-1 in Minnesota.

Darwin Quintero had a goal and two assists for the Loons, who took advantage of LAFC’s decision not to start dominant forward Adama Diomande and center back Walker Zimmerman.

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Quintero ripped off seven shots, putting five on goal. He now has 10 goals and five assists since joining the Loons after scoring two and eight in 29 matches for Club America last year.

Miguel Ibarra recorded a goal and an assist, while Rasmus Schuller also scored. LAFC’s goal came courtesy Benny Feilhaber.

Minnesota’s Bobby Shuttleworth and LA’s Tyler Miller each made six saves in their goals.

LAFC fails in a bid to make up points on Western Conference first seed FC Dallas, while the Loons now can eye a playoff spot in the West.

Already-thin Liverpool center back corps loses Matip to quad injury

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Liverpool’s 3-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund featured an injury to a position with very little depth.

The Reds lost Joel Matip to what Jurgen Klopp said could possibly be a “small tear” in one of his quads.

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If Matip, 26, needs any significant time to heal up, he’ll put a major question mark into Liverpool’s opening day center back pairing.

Virgil Van Dijk, who scored against BVB on Sunday, already won’t have Dejan Lovren as a partner thanks to a post-World Cup vacation.

That leaves Joe Gomez and Ragnar Klavan as options next to Van Dijk.

Matches at Crystal Palace and home to Brighton and Hove Albion follow the Aug. 12 visit from West Ham.