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Miazga taunts Mexico as USMNT grow up

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Matt Miazga didn’t endear himself to many in Mexico during the USMNT’s 1-0 win against El Tri in Nashville on Tuesday.

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During the second half of the victory the Chelsea and U.S. men’s national team center back mocked Diego Lainez’s height visibly in a heated exchange which angered many.

What did the center back, currently on loan at Ligue 1 club Nantes, have to say about the incident?

“We talked a little smack. It’s part of the game. It’s mental warfare,” Miazga told reporters. “We got in their heads. They got a red card right after it. It took a toll and we won the game.”

Angel Zaldivar, the man who was sent off shortly after Miazga making fun of Lainez, seemed to have a few words directed his way by Miazga on his way off the pitch too.

“You see what their values are. They don’t know how to win,” Zaldivar said. “They poked fun, tried to play a dirty game that honestly we don’t think is how you should play. That’s their game.”

A lot of USMNT fans do not seem to have a problem with Miazga’s actions and put it down to being part of the game.

Lainez certainly did as he said he “wasn’t offended by Miazga” and that “football players are different sizes and have different skill sets.”

But is there more to this here?

Despite having an average age of 23 years and five days, the USMNT were actually more experienced than their Mexican counterparts on Tuesday and Miazga seemed to be trying to rattle their cages. The U.S. didn’t play well in the first half with Lainez in particular a bright spot for El Tri as he skipped past Wil Trapp effortlessly in one incident to set up a golden chance for the visitors.

Miazga’s actions were gamesmanship and it had the desired impact. That is a sign that this young U.S. team are growing up fast, as they’ve had to under Dave Sarachan’s guidance over the past few months with more huge friendlies on the horizon.

Were Miazga’s actions classless? Let’s keep things into context. He was trying to put one of Mexico’s brightest young talents off his game anyway he could. The New York Red Bulls product probably wouldn’t do that kind of thing to a stranger on the street (one hopes) and this kind of things happen in the heat of the moment of a rivalry battle. He was just targeting Lainez, a small, skilful player who was a headache for the USMNT on Tuesday.

As Lainez himself said: “It’s football.”

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.

From Goal.com:

“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).

Report: Chelsea, Real $38M apart on Hazard

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How much for Hazard?

Real Madrid are willing to pay $127 million, no small fee, to bring Eden Hazard from Chelsea, but that’s well off the Blues’ evaluation according to Sky Sports.

Chelsea sees Hazard’s price as $165 million. Belgian writer Kristof Terreur told Sky that Hazard wants his future sorted by June 4.

[ MORE: Bayern wins double ]

The Blues’ superstar is entering the final year of his contract, and could begin negotiating with other clubs in January and leave on a free transfer.

Hazard turns 29 in January. He recorded 19 goals and 16 assists in 51 matches this season, his best output in a Blues uniform.

The report says Chelsea feels no pressure to sell Hazard, but it would be a surprise if it dug in its heels too deeply considering the state of the Belgian’s contract.

Even for Chelsea, letting over $100 million walk out the door is wild, and for all Hazard’s won with Chelsea there’s also been consternation under several managers and a more than occasional habit of disappointing on the table.