Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp used his biggest platform in some time not just to revel in his team’s fine performance, but to throw some shade toward the Premier League.
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Klopp said Saturday’s Merseyside Derby at Everton could look like Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg between his Reds and Manchester City, with two thrilling but very different halves combining to give Liverpool a 3-0 advantage, if only the league would give teams a break. From the BBC:
“If we want to see games like this them the Premier League have to think about the fixtures. (Saturday’s Merseyside Derby) should be something good and not cause problems. We have to find players now for what a lot of people say is the biggest game of the season. I do not feel good about this right now. If I don’t play my best XI against Everton then we know what happens.”
As for the win over Man City, Klopp said it was ideal in every way, but admitted he didn’t appreciate how much defending his side had to do in the second half after a buccaneering first 45 minutes saw the Reds score all three of their goals.
“First half was brilliant. It was how football should look. We knew about the quality of City but also about our quality as well. If we could control the game better against a team like Man City and not give the ball away we would be closer to them in the league.
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“We defended the passes really good. But I wanted us to play more football. But I am not angry it is all good.”
The Reds are now heavy favorites to join fellow first leg stars Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, and Barcelona in the semifinals, though few are completely ruling out Pep Guardiola‘s City ahead of Tuesday’s second leg.
ZURICH (AP) Clubs from Russia and Qatar are among six fined by FIFA and warned they risk one-year transfer bans for failing to settle debts to players.
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FIFA says the clubs also face deductions of six league points if they fail to pay the debts in 30 to 90 days.
The clubs are: Kuban of Russia; Al Arabi and Al Kharaitiyat of Qatar; Zamalek of Egypt; Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates; and Mersin Idman Yurdu of Turkey.
FIFA says all failed to comply with rulings by FIFA or the Court of Arbitration for Sport “to pay significant overdue amounts of money to players.”
They were fined between 15,000 and 30,000 Swiss francs ($15,000 and $30,000).
FIFA says national soccer federations face disciplinary cases if they fail to enforce the verdicts.
The Premier League is three weeks and one day from opening its 2018-19 slate, when Leicester City will visit Old Trafford for a Friday afternoon match with Manchester United.
The end of the World Cup has eyeballs trained on friendlies, with 19 Premier League teams doing work over the weekend.
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The International Champions Cup has a pair of matches on the docket.
Friday sees Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, sans many of their World Cup stars, mixing it up with Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund in Chicago.
Then Sunday will see Borussia Dortmund switching gears and time zones, tangling with Liverpool in North Carolina as Pulisic renews acquaintances with old pal Jurgen Klopp.
Manchester United takes on San Jose on Sunday, two days after facing Club America.
Other marquee friendlies of the weekend include Bournemouth facing American back Shaq Moore and Levante on Friday, with Fulham hosting Lyon on Saturday, and Everton meeting Lille and Porto on consecutive Portuguese days Saturday and Sunday.
Bournemouth vs. Levante
Burnley vs. Macclesfield Town
Burnley vs. Curzon Ashton
Cardiff City vs Torquay
Manchester City vs. Borussia Dortmund (in Chicago)
Brighton and Hove Albion vs. AFC Wimbledon
Crystal Palace vs. Oxford United
Everton vs. Lille
Fulham vs. Lyon
Huddersfield Town vs. Real Betis
Huddersfield Town vs. Roy-Weiss Essen or Werder Bremen
Leicester City vs. Notts County
Southampton vs. Derby County
Watford vs. Fortuna Dusseldorf
West Ham United vs. Preston North End
Everton vs. Porto
Huddersfield Town vs. Darmstadt
Liverpool vs. Borussia Dortmund (in North Carolina)
Manchester United vs. San Jose Earthquakes (in Santa Clara)
Wolverhampton vs. TBD
Percy Tau’s name isn’t yet widely known outside of South Africa, what with Bafana Bafana absent from the World Cup.
But the 24-year-old Mamelodi Sundowns winger may soon get to test his skills on a much bigger stage.
[ USMNT: More accolades for Pulisic ]
Tau, who has five goals in 12 caps, will reportedly join Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League if a medical goes well, with Sky Sports saying it’ll will be the biggest transfer fee yet for a South African Premier League player.
Yoshinori Muto could be bringing his 25 caps to the Premier League.
The 26-year-old striker made just one appearance at the World Cup, but has had a nice run with Mainz since joining from FC Tokyo. He’s bagged 23 goals in 71 appearances.
A Bild report says there have been no formal offers for Muto, but that Newcastle United and West Ham are interested in the striker. Newcastle badly needs a striker, but West Ham has been spending money and Magpies owner Mike Ashley hasn’t green lit much in recent seasons.
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup draw is not going as planned, as the Portland Timbers protest the roster of victorious LAFC.
[ RECAP: Four USOC semifinalists minted ]
Philadelphia, Chicago, and Houston were the other sides to get a place in the final four teams.
LAFC’s victory had already been marred by Adama Diomande‘s claims of a racial slur hurled his way, and now their victory may be in question altogether as U.S. Soccer issued a press release saying Thursday’s scheduled draw was postponed.
From a U.S. Soccer press release:
The decision comes as a result of a protest filed by the Portland Timbers in relation to the number of foreign players fielded by Los Angeles Football Club during Wednesday night’s Quarterfinal at Banc of America Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif.
The rule says a maximum five players without green cards can be in the 18. Portland started only two Americans, Jeff Attinella and Zarek Valentin, but have green cards for many others and rules are rules.
Will the Timbers take a semifinal berth via protest?