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Who should be in England’s World Cup starting XI?

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With England’s 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup announced on Wednesday, all of the talk is now about who will start for Gareth Southgate‘s men this summer in Russia.

So, who will start against Tunisia on June 18 in Volgograd?

A few quick notes before we get into the nitty-gritty of selecting a starting lineup.

Only five players from the 23 who represented the Three Lions at the 2014 World Cup last time out have survived (Gary Cahill, Phil Jones, Jordan Henderson, Danny Welbeck and Raheem Sterling) and only Sterling looks like a guaranteed starter at this point.

This is truly a new generation for the Three Lions squad with plenty of youngsters included in the squad and several players set to feature in their first World Cup.

Below is a look at the starting XI I would select if I was Southgate, with a brief explanation for the picks.


JPW’s England starting XI

—– Butland —–

—- Walker —- Stones —- Maguire —-

— Alexander-Arnold — Dier — Alli — Young —

—- Sterling —- Kane —- Rashford —-


Explanation: In goal, I’m going with Jack Butland as I think he takes less risks, is a solid shot-stopper and has been more consistent over the past few seasons, despite injury, for Stoke. Jordan Pickford is better with his feet, which could impact Southgate’s decision, but I’d go with Butland.

In defense, the three-man central defensive system has been working really well for England as they shutout Germany, Brazil and the Netherlands in recent friendlies and only conceded a penalty kick late on against Italy. Kyle Walker looks fabulous as a right-sided center back in a three, while John Stones and Harry Maguire both love to maraud forward with the ball. Maybe Gary Cahill or Phil Jones could come in for Stones to try and bring some balance, but Southgate wants his defenders to possess the ball.

In a 3-4-3 formation both the wide positions are really up for grabs. With Walker slotting inside, Kieran Trippier and Trent Alexander-Arnold will battle it out for the starting spot at right-wing back. Joe Gomez would’ve likely been included ahead of TAA if he wasn’t injured, so too Nathaniel Clyne had he been fully-fit, but the teenager has jumped ahead of his two teammates and should get the nod. At left-wing back it’s between Danny Rose, Ashley Young and Fabian Delph and I’d go with Young, who has been superb for Manchester United all season long and reinvented in that role under Jose Mourinho.

In the two central midfield spots it’s all about how adventurous Southgate will be. I’d seriously consider having Jordan Henderson in central midfield due to his passing ability but I think Eric Dier is the safer bet as he can play as a center back and slot in for Stones, Walker and Maguire when they surge forward. Alongside Dier in a free role would be Dele Alli, with the Tottenham attacker given plenty of freedom to support Harry Kane in attack.

Speaking of the forward line, Kane is likely to be the skipper and he should be flanked by the searing pace of Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford. That trio, on their day, can rip apart any team, while having Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck to jump off the bench late on and make an impact is very useful.

Nguyen, Rossi help LAFC beat the Rapids 2-0

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Lee Nguyen and Diego Rossi each scored in the second half to help Los Angeles FC beat the Colorado Rapids 2-0 on Sunday night.

Nguyen scored the opener for LAFC (12-7-6) in the 49th minute, gathering Jack Price’s attempted clearance back into the area, rolling it back with his right foot to evade a defender and spinning around to create an opening for a left-footed finish.

[READ: Josef Martinez scores 27th goal of season]

In the 80th minute, Diego Rossi took Adama Diomande‘s back-heel flick just past midfield, dribbled it up the right side and finished his eighth goal of the season past goalkeeper Tim Howard.

The Rapids (6-13-6) had their three-game unbeaten streak snapped.

With the win, LAFC moved into a tie for second place in the Western Conference standings with Sporting Kansas City as both teams are on 42 points, just three behind first-place FC Dallas. LAFC also has a four-point gap above RSL in fourth place.

The Rapids meanwhile, averaging less than a point per game, sit in second-to-last place in the standings.

Ronaldo’s Juventus debut ends with goalkeeper in hospital

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MILAN (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo’s Serie A debut was marked not by a goal but by accidentally putting the opposing team’s goalkeeper in hospital.

With the score locked at 2-2 late on in Juventus’ match at Chievo Verona, Ronaldo collided with Stefano Sorrentino in a chaotic penalty area.

[ MORE: Juventus win on Ronaldo’s goal-less debut; Napoli chasing again ]

Sorrentino was knocked out cold briefly and there were an anxious few minutes as he received immediate treatment before being substituted.

The 39-year-old goalkeeper was immediately taken to the hospital and released on Sunday morning with a fractured nose, bruising to his left shoulder and whiplash.

Sorrentino was able to joke about the incident, posting a photo on Twitter with the caption: “Thanks for your messages of support, affection and esteem. We are a fantastic group and yesterday we almost achieved the feat: while CR7 got me in full!”

He also later revealed on the social media site that Ronaldo had been in touch: “I received a message of support and wishing me a speedy recovery from Cristiano Ronaldo. Thanks legend!”

[ MORE: Edin Dzeko starts Roma off right with stunning winner ]

Sorrentino pulled off several fine saves to deny Ronaldo and his Juventus teammates – although Chievo went on to lose the match 3-2 following Federico Bernardeschi’s stoppage-time winner.

“Before coming onto the pitch I told myself I would have to try to stop him in every way possible,” Sorrentino said on Italian television. “I did that in the real sense of the word.”

During the commotion Juventus was awarded a goal using goal-line technology, then it was disallowed a few minutes later on video review.

[ MORE: Lazio ultras want to ban women from “sacred space” in stadium ]

Paulo Dybala and Giorgio Chiellini celebrated when the goal was given, causing widespread outrage as Sorrentino was still receiving urgent treatment.

“Paulo wrote to me, apologizing because he hadn’t realized the seriousness of the situation and he was celebrating for a goal that I didn’t even know I had conceded,” Sorrentino said.

DCU win again, look like genuine playoff contenders

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The game in 200 words (or less): No individual — other than Ben Olsen, perhaps — has benefitted from the arrival of Wayne Rooney at D.C. United more so than Luciano Acosta. Through his first 82 games in MLS, Acosta managed to rack up nine goals and 23 assists — a healthy enough haul considering the lack of quality around him since day one in 2016. Still, the frustration and unhappiness were plain to see, every time the Argentine playmaker’s teammates weren’t able to link up or finish one of his brilliant through balls. In United’s last five games (Acosta has played 438 of 450 minutes), including Sunday’s 2-0 win over the 10-man New England Revolution: four goals and three assists. Of course, United, as a whole, have benefitted greatly, too. Their record in Rooney’s eight games: 5W-1D-2L (prior to his debut, the Black and Red won just two of 14 games). Olsen and Co., have risen from last place in the Eastern Conference and reach the dizzying heights of eighth place, where they are now just six points back of fifth and sixth place — a de facto impossibility just a month ago, when they had just 10 points to their name and were 13 off the pace of sixth.

[ MORE: Josef Martinez ties MLS record with 27th goal in 2018 ]

Three moments that mattered

13′ — Acosta finishes with aplomb at the back post — The three Revs defenders, who let the ball run across the face of goal without making any attempt to play or clear it, could have done just about anything else and it would have been preferable to what they did.

73′ — Caldwell gets a second yellow, Revs down to 10 — Scott Caldwell didn’t need to run into Junior Moreno a full second or two after the ball was away, but he did so anyway. No advantage to gain from the “challenge,” and Caldwell’s teammates had to finish the game a man short.

89′ — Stieber gets in behind, makes it 2-0 — Rooney had skied a nearly identical chance just seconds earlier, leaving it up to Zoltan Stieber to put the game to bed.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Luciano Acosta

Goalscorers: Acosta (13′), Stieber (89′)

Lazio ultras want to ban women from “sacred space” in stadium

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ROME (AP) Lazio’s “ultra” fans have caused outrage by telling women to avoid their “sacred space” in the club’s Stadio Olimpico.

The die-hard supporters distributed flyers ahead of their team’s Serie A opener at home to Napoli.

[ MORE: Juventus win on Ronaldo’s goal-less debut; Napoli chasing again ]

“The Curva Nord represents for us a sacred space, an environment with an unwritten code to be respected,” read the flyer. “The first few rows, as always, have been experienced like the trenches. In the trenches, we do not allow women, wives and girlfriends, so we invite them to position themselves from the 10th row back.

“Those who choose the stadium as an alternative to a carefree and romantic day in (Rome’s) Villa Borghese (gardens), should go to other sections.”

Lazio spokesman Arturo Diaconale told Italian news agency Ansa on Sunday that “it is not the position of the club, we are against any discrimination.”

He added: “Moreover, there is an enormous number of Lazio fans, this instead is an initiative from a few fans. We can’t always intervene to avoid politically incorrect displays like this.”

[ MORE: Edin Dzeko starts Roma off right with stunning winner ]

Some Lazio fans caused outrage last season when they littered the Stadio Olimpico in Rome with images of Anne Frank — the young diarist who died in the Holocaust — wearing a jersey of city rival Roma. Lazio was fined $63,000 by the Italian soccer federation because of the anti-Semitism displayed by the team’s fans.

It was the latest in a series of racist and anti-Semitic incidents, with Lazio previously having its stadium fully or partly closed for European and domestic matches as punishment.