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Premier League to test VAR with this weekend’s matches

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The Premier League took some flak when it announced this past summer the league would not implement Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) this coming season, instead deciding to “continue testing” the technology.

That testing will progress this coming weekend, with the league implementing VAR in a number of matches. This testing will not actually affect the play on the field, but VAR booths and referees will act as if they are part of the crew, making calls and using booth replay without any actual contact to the refereeing crew on the field.

The games to be used for testing are Cardiff City’s trip to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Arsenal’s visit to Newcastle United, Manchester City against Fulham at the Etihad, and Crystal Palace’s road test at Huddersfield Town.

The Telegraph was the first to report the new phase of testing, and their report states the main focus of the multi-match testing is to make sure the VAR hub – located at Stockley Park just north of Heathrow Airport – can handle a number of matches at the same time.

UEFA is also in the same boat, hoping to implement VAR in next year’s Champions League. “For me, VAR is not completely clear, but we also know that there’s no way back anymore,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin last week. “Technology will come sooner or later. The plan for now is to use it from the next season.”

It will always take some time for referees to gain experience using the technology and how best to make use of it during live matchday situations, that has been true for every sport that has implemented some form of replay in recent years. In addition, expecting it to completely eliminate controversy from the game is simply unrealistic. However, this testing will only lessen the learning curve necessary for officials to being use next season, and it’s a positive development to see it used in mock situations in preparation for the real thing.

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.

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).