Pochettino slams Tottenham after defeat at Saints

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Mauricio Pochettino was not a happy man as he saw his Tottenham side throw away a lead to lose at Southampton on Saturday and seriously dent their chances of finishing in the top four this season.

Pochettino was sat up in the stands at St Mary’s as he served the first match of his two-game touchline ban. In the first half it was all going to plan as Harry Kane scored and Spurs were superb.

Somehow they only went in 1-0 up at half time and then all hell broke loose in the second half as Southampton fought back to win 2-1 with goals from Yan Valery and James Ward-Prowse.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Pochettino didn’t hold back from hammering his players for a tepid second half display.

“We didn’t take the second half seriously,” Pochettino said. “I don’t want to be too critical because overall I think we were better. But when you lose a game that after 45 minutes was under control, creating so many chances, and you lose the game 2-1 it is so difficult to accept.”

Pochettino added that it was “like the game was over before it had finished” and his players took too many unnecessary risks.

“It is difficult to understand the second half. We stopped to fight, to be aggressive, and gave belief to the opponent. In the second half, it is difficult to understand why we changed a lot,” Pochettino said. “In the way we started to play in the second half, it was like we didn’t expect too much from the opponent. In football you must respect the opponent.”

Consider that the nail hit firmly on the head.

Spurs thought they had won the game at half time. They battered Southampton in the first half and hit the woodwork twice as well as Harry Kane scoring. But they lost, and now, with trips to Liverpool and Man City to come in their final eight games of the season, they are up against it to finish in the top four.

Pochettino knows it, as his side have now lost three of their last four games and sit in third place, just five points above sixth-place Chelsea who have two games in hand.

“It is good because a lot of people now are going to realize our real level,” Pochettino said, before adding. “We are fighting against big sides (for the top four). We had a big gap, that maybe wasn’t real, now welcome to the reality. We are under going to be under pressure to win games. It is a massive challenge for us to keep our position.”

Spurs now have three weeks off to mull over this result, as their next game is at Liverpool on Mar. 31.

With Dele Alli back fit, a place in the Champions League last eight and their new stadium finally having an opening date, there was a lot of positivity around Tottenham going into this clash. Not anymore. And now Pochettino, once again from the stands, must make sure his team can focus for 90 minutes when they play Liverpool at Anfield at the end of March.

They are now without a win in their last four Premier League games, so is this a reality check for Spurs?

“Maybe that is our reality? People talk about perception but maybe we need to realize that in the Premier League, if we do not fight with the same intensity to the Champions League, you can struggle. That is a good point,” Pochettino said. “The reality is you can’t only fight for 45 minutes and you think it is going to be easy because we are a team in the Champions League quarterfinals. That is so dangerous.”

Follow Live: Jamaica hosts Honduras in first Gold Cup match in Kingston

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With Curacao v. El Salvador as the undercard, host Jamaica will make history on Monday evening ahead of its match v. Honduras in Kingston.

The evening at the National Stadium at Independence Park represents the first time that Gold Cup will be held in the Caribbean, an historic achievement as CONCACAF looks for ways to continue growing the game across the entire region.

[ LIVE: Latest Gold Cup scores ]

Although it struggled in World Cup qualifying, Jamaica seems like it has turned a new leaf and after a 2-0 win over the U.S. Men’s National Team in Washington D.C. earlier this month, the Caribbean nation is riding plenty of confidence and is looking to make yet another deep run at the Gold Cup. Standing in its way is plucky Honduras, who always seems to come up with goals when it’s least expected and manages to put together a strong defense to make things difficult for opponents.

It should be a fun opener in front of a partisan, but decidedly local crowd in Jamaica.

Report: Barcelona in negotiations with PSG to sign Neymar

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In a stunning development, Neymar could be returning to the Camp Nou as early as this summer.

Brazilian media giant Globo Esporte reported Monday afternoon that Barcelona is currently negotiating with Paris Saint-Germain over the signing of Neymar. According to the report, the deal could include a payment of around $112 million along with one or more players moving to Paris, including Ivan Rakitic, Ousmane Dembele and Samuel Umtiti.

[READ: USWNT: We have the best, and second best team]

There’s so many layers to this deal, so let’s break it down.

The news that Neymar could return to Barcelona comes on the heels of an interview by PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and France Football, in which he called out Neymar, stating “nobody forced him to sign here,” and that Al-Khelaifi said earlier in the interview he didn’t want “to see stars anymore.”

“I want players willing to give everything to defend the honor of the jersey and to join the club project,” Al-Khelaifi told France Football. “Those who do not want, or do not understand, we see each other and we talk to each other. There are of course contracts to be respected, but the priority now is total membership of our project…nobody forced him to sign here. Nobody pushed him. He came knowingly to join a project.”

Meanwhile, Neymar has plenty of time now to think of his future. Ever since moving to PSG, it feels like he’s been stricken by the injury bug. While he’ll probably go down as a Brazil legend when he retires, he’s on the precipice of being a what if player, as in, what if he wasn’t injured for parts of the last two World Cups, and for picking up an ankle injury that’s kept him out of the 2019 Copa America.

It’s been ankle injuries as well in February of each of the last two seasons at PSG that has effectively ended his season just as it was reaching the important stages, the start of the UEFA Champions League knockout stage.

Remember, Neymar decided to force his way out of Barcelona and move to PSG in an effort to break the hegemony of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Ballon d’Or and truly write his name in the history books. Instead, his time in Paris will be remembered abroad more for his antics, injuries, and of course, the incident with the fan at the Coupe de la Ligue final.

Of course, that’s not to say Neymar didn’t have success in France. He’s scored an incredible 49 goals in 55 games in all competitions, including in both Ligue 1 and the UEFA Champions League. But ultimately, Neymar wasn’t able to score goals when it mattered, like in the Champions League knockout stages or in high-pressure games.

At Barcelona, Neymar achieved some of his biggest club success and took his game to new heights after being a raw diamond needing polishing at Santos in Brazil. Perhaps Neymar has realized that it’s better to play in Messi’s shadow, and potentially win the UEFA Champions League again, than try and stake it out on his own. Neymar has a good relationship with Messi and Luis Suarez, among other South Americans on the team, and on paper he’d clearly be a big upgrade at left wing over the duo of Ousmane Dembele and Neymar’s Brazil teammate, Philippe Coutinho.

The deal makes sense for both sides, but will it get done? That’s the big question this summer, and it will remain unanswered until the second of September, the close of the Spanish transfer window.

Watch Live: Copa America — Japan v. Chile

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It may be hard to remember, since it didn’t qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but Chile is actually the twice-defending Copa America champions.

[ LIVE: Watch every single Copa America game ]

La Roja look to defend their title with the final opening game of the tournament, facing Copa America invitee Japan at the Estadio Morumbi in Sao Paulo. After both Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal announced they were leaving the national team following the failure to qualify for the last World Cup, both veterans are back and starting as Chile looks to find its 2015 and 2016 form under new manager Reinaldo Rueda, the former Colombia, Honduras and Ecuador coach.

Chile will face an interesting test in Japan, as the Samurai Blue have taken mainly an Under-23 side as it prepares for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and potentially making a deep run. Many of the starters are making their first senior international caps for Japan, as it looks to gain crucial international experience against a strong side.

Hit the link above (or click HERE) to watch Monday’s primetime fixture (in Spanish) and check back on PST for a full roundup of the day’s action down in South America.

You can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App. All you have to do is click on the links below.

How Twitter reacted to VAR decisions in France v. Nigeria

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The introduction of Video Assistant Referees to top level soccer has been criticized at times, but more often than not has been given the benefit of the doubt.

That seemed to change on Monday, as France was aided by two controversial VAR decisions, which helped the European nation defeat Nigeria, 1-0, in the final group stage game for both countries at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Both VAR decisions, the first to award a penalty and especially the second, to award a retake, were planned by both journalists, fans, and even former players on social media in real time.

Here’s some reaction below to the big controversy from this afternoon’s match.