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Report: Messi to skip upcoming Argentina friendlies in U.S.

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Fans of the Argentine National Team will get an early chance to see what life is like “after Messi” in the Albiceleste’s upcoming friendlies next month.

According to a report out of Argentina, Lionel Messi will be left off Argentina’s upcoming squad for a pair of matches in the U.S., and could stay away from the national team through the end of the year, if not until next summer’s Copa America. Argentina will face Guatemala at the Los Angeles Coliseum on September 7 and Colombia on September 11 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

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Argentina has a major rebuild to undertake with the national team after a disappointing World Cup in Russia. The Argentine FA has yet to hire a new coach, with Lionel Scaloni and Pablo Aimar taking charge in the interim as co-coaches, and 15 of the 23 players at the 2018 World Cup are 30-and over, making it likely most won’t feature for Argentina at the next tournament in Qatar.

Argentine newspaper Diario Ole mused about some of the new names we could see in Argentina’s upcoming squad. Some of the younger members of the World Cup squad could stay, including Christian Pavon, Giovani Lo Celso and Paulo Dybala. But we could also see the introductions of Lautaro Martinez,  Gerónimo Rulli and Santiago Ascacíbar in addition to the return of Mauro Icardi, Leandro Paredes and Ramiro Funes Mori.

Argentina will have about 10 months to figure out its identity before the 2019 Copa America in Brazil, whether or not Messi is there. After so many years struggling at the youth level, Argentina is paying for it now with a poor crop of players compared to the national team’s history, and they’ll need to ask hard questions of themselves on how to rebuild.

In a way, it makes sense for Messi to recover and focus on his season at Barcelona before coming back to Argentina in 2019. It does him or the national team no good to have him there over the next nine months, taking the spot of a guy who will need to gain some valuable experience.

Charlton wins promotion to Championship in stoppage time

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Charlton Athletic struck a wildly late blow to clinch the final place in the 2019-20 Football League Championship, defeating Sunderland 2-1 in Sunday’s promotion playoff at Wembley Stadium.

A stoppage time free kick in a cagey affair led to a scrum in the box, with Patrick Bauer sliding to strike a shot off a Sunderland defender and into the goal.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

The goal came at the 3:55 mark of four minutes stoppage time, and was the 26-year-old defender’s first goal of the season.

Ben Purrington had leveled the score line for Charlton after Sunderland went ahead via an early own goal. The Addicks were relegated from the Championship after the 2015-16 season, while Sunderland went down last year.

It had to feel extra special to manager Lee Bowyer, who played with Sunderland local rivals Newcastle United from 2003-06.

Pique: Copa-losing Barca still “really hurting” from UCL exit

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Barcelona was the favorite to win La Liga, the UEFA Champions League, and the Copa del Rey for the majority of the season, but only claimed one.

Liverpool’s amazing comeback to beat Barca in the second leg of the UCL semifinals met Saturday’s loss to Valencia in the Copa del Rey Final to give Barca a league title alone.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

Even with that La Liga advantage being decisive — Barca carried the table by 11 points over Atletico Madrid and finished 19 ahead of Real Madrid — there’s a very dour mood and promised change for the Camp Nou set.

And Gerard Pique says it all traces back to the loss against Liverpool. From The Liverpool Echo:

“I believe that if we had gotten through at Liverpool, we would have won the treble. We would have come here [to the Copa del Rey final] with a different mood, and I’m convinced we would have won the Champions League final, but that is football. We are really, really hurting.”

There are hints of a massive clear-out at Barcelona, with Lionel Messi and Pique two of the only safe bets to stay. When will Barca get over it?

Brazilian team tangles in locker room futmesa (video)

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It was defense versus attack in the Brazil dressing room.

Neymar and Gabriel Jesus squared off with international teammates Filipe Luis and Ederson in a game of futmesa/table soccer this week.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

Neymar and Filipe Luis are used to be on different sides of the field from their time in La Liga, while Jesus and Ederson are teammates at Manchester City.

Brazil is hosting this summer’s Copa America and is the favorite to win its first tournament since 2007, when it claimed its fourth in five tries.

It’s really impressive stuff for us normal to subpar athletes, even if standard for those with such deft talent.

Quite a winner from Man City’s young striker.

Jovic could see himself in Premier League, Serie A

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Maybe Luka Jovic’s presumed move to Real Madrid won’t happen this summer.

Or at all.

[ MORE: Real, Chelsea debate Hazard fee ]

The Eintracht Frankfurt striker has been tipped for a move away from the Bundesliga after another strong campaign, and taking the center forward reins from Karim Benzema at Real Madrid.

Several outlets reported the deal as done, but Jovic isn’t speaking that way (or at least the Serbian is throwing us off the scent.


“In terms of the physique, the Bundesliga is very demanding, but after the games against Chelsea or Inter Milan, I personally had the feeling that I could feel even better [playing] in the Premier League or Serie A. … The way the teams play there suits me better.”

Jovic scored 27 times in 48 appearances for Frankfurt, adding seven assists at the tender age of 21. Ten of those came in the Europa League, and we’re not talking about flooding the nets of minnows; Jovic scored against Chelsea (twice), Marseille (three), Lazio (two), and Inter Milan (once).