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Newcastle preparing for relegation fight: “Our level is our level”

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No one is heading into the second half of the Premier League season with their eyes open wider than Rafa Benitez.

[ MORE: Spurs sail to win at Cardiff City | Arsenal hammer Fulham ]

In fairness, Benitez knew the lay of the land when he took the job as Newcastle United manager in March 2016, when the club was in the Championship following relegation nearly a year earlier.

He knew that transfer and wage funds would be sparse — maybe not this barren — and he knew that expectations would be sky high even after they returned to the Premier League, right or wrongly, due to the size of the club in the city. Now, 33 months later, Benitez is prepared for the impending relegation battle set to unfold over the next five months.

He’s not even trying to sugarcoat the club’s situation — quotes from the Guardian:

“The relationship between my players and myself is quite open and honest. I’m telling them what I think and I’m telling them if we want to stay up we need to work so hard.

“Everyone, players, staff, everyone, has to realize it is so difficult for us. We are competing against the best teams in the world, who are spending massive money and if we think we are better than we are, it is a mistake. The table is tight and it’s not easy. The top teams can punish you. The proof is when we play at home with 52,000 fans, we are not winning as much as we want. Why? It’s the Premier League and our level is our level. I can say the truth to my players and they understand easily what I’m trying to say.”

With 18 games left to play, Newcastle sit 15th in the PL table, three points clear of the relegation zone. They are one of seven teams either currently in the bottom-three of within four points of being so.

Predicting the rest of the Women’s World Cup

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The Women’s World Cup is into the final eight, with seven of the eight teams hailing from Europe.

[ MORE: Women’s World Cup Power Rankings ]

The lone outlier is some team from North America who may or may not have won the last World Cup and can become the first team to win four of the things.

Who thinks they will? Our staff weighs in on the matter below.


Joe Prince-Wright

Quarterfinals
England defeats Norway
France defeats USA
Netherlands defeats Italy
Germany defeats Sweden

Semifinals
England v. France
Netherlands v. Germany 

Final
France defeats Germany
Wendie Renard of France celebrates with teammates (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Nicholas Mendola

Quarterfinals
England defeats Norway
USA defeats France
Italy defeats Netherlands
Germany defeats Sweden

Semifinals
USA defeats England
Germany defeats Italy 

Final
USA defeats Germany

Andy Edwards

Quarterfinals
England
defeats Norway
France defeats USA
Italy defeats Netherlands
Germany defeats Sweden

Semifinals
France
defeats England
Germany defeats Italy

Final
Germany defeats France

Dzsenifer Marozsan of Germany  (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

Dan Karell
Quarterfinals
England defeats Norway
USA defeats France
Netherlands defeats Italy
Germany defeats Sweden
Semifinals
USA defeats England
Netherlands defeats GermanyFinal
USA defeats Netherlands

Kyle Bonn

Quarterfinals
England
defeats Norway
France defeats USA
Netherlands defeats Italy
Germany defeats Sweden

Semifinals
France
defeats England
Germany defeats Italy

Final
France defeats Germany

WATCH: Stoppage time missile earns Curacao draw with Jamaica

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This Gold Cup isn’t short on drama.

A day after Haiti stunned Costa Rica to win Group B, it was Curacao’s turn to up the ante.

Needing a point to stay alive for a knockout round berth, Jurien Gaari ripped a stoppage time rocket into the back of the goal to defy Andre Blake and Jamaica a win and the Group C crown (at least for a couple of hours).

[ MORE: Spurs set to add $82M mid ]

Shamar Nicholson had given the Reggae Boyz a 14th minute lead, but Jamaica couldn’t find a second goal.

If Honduras beats El Salvador in the business end of the doubleheader in Los Angeles, Curacao will finish second in the group and advance to face either the USMNT or Panama.

If El Salvador manages a draw or win, well, at least Curacao will have this wonder from RKC Waalwijk’s right back:

AFCON wrap: Pote’s beauty helps Benin draw Ghana; Cameroon wins

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All 24 teams at the Africa Cup of Nations have a match in the books as of Tuesday, and we’ve got another tournament surprise.

[ MORE: Spurs set to add $82M mid ]

Having already seen Uganda upset the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar draw Guinea, this one came when Ghana met Benin.

It was aided by a red card to Ghana, but the 88th ranked Les Écureuils (Squirrels) of Benin managed a result.


Cameroon 2-0 Guinea-Bissau

Scoreless at halftime, Cameroon saw Yaya Banana and Stephane Bahoken score three minutes apart to give the Indomitable Lions the Group F lead on Day One of group play.

Ghana 2-2 Benin

Mickael Pote scored first and last, giving Benin a valuable point against 10-man Ghana.

The Black Stars went behind in the second minute on Pote’s first, only to get Andre Ayew and Jordan Ayew goals on either side of halftime to build a lead of their own.

But John Boye took a 54th minute red card and Pote potted his second nine minutes later to give Benin an early Group F bonus.

How about this sweep behind the leg?

David Silva will make 10th season his last as Man City

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David Silva says his 10th season at Manchester City will be his last with the Etihad Stadium set.

“It completes the cycle,” he said in a press conference this week. “It’s a nice round figure. I can never see myself playing against City for another team. So 10 years – that’s it.”

Silva turns 34 in January, and posted 10 goals and 14 assists in 50 appearances for Pep Guardiola‘s men last season.

[ MORE: Spurs set to add $82M mid ]

All told, he enters this one-year contract with 396 appearances for City, scoring 71 goals with 129 assists. He’s won the Premier League four times, the FA Cup twice, and the League Cup four times.

He was last capped by Spain at the 2018 World Cup, where he’s scored 37 times in 129 caps. He’s also played with Valencia and Celta Vigo in his native country.

The news comes less than a week after a fellow Spanish legend, Fernando Torres, announced his retirement.

But Silva seems like he’s got a bit more in the tank. Could he be one of the big names matched with Inter Miami for 2020? Or might he follow Xavi’s route to the Middle East?