Guardiola defends not starting healthy De Bruyne

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There are a few manners of losing for a manager, and one is when an in-form and up-for-it squad completely overruns yours.

For a managerial wizard like Pep Guardiola, that kind of loss is probably easier to take than Man City’s 1-0 loss to Spurs in Tuesday’s first leg of a UEFA Champions League quarterfinal.

[ MORE: Match recap | Kane hurt | 3 things ]

That’s because Guardiola’s lineups and tactical decisions backfired against a stingy and determined Spurs back line and midfield.

Riyad Mahrez started in place of injured Bernardo and over Leroy Sane . The former Leicester City maestro was poor. Kevin De Bruyne was left out of the XI and Guardiola stubbornly waited until the 89th minute to introduce the Belgian (and Sane).

By that time, with Harry Kane injured and Spurs still finding an opener, the plot was lost.

And with City in a left back injury crisis, Fabian Delph was unable to replicate his left back form of last season, coming in from the cold and looking like it. From The Manchester Evening News:

“I saw him really well in the last few days,” Guardiola said. “After four or five months being injured, two games in four days for Mendy was too much. Bernardo could not play so we played Riyad and he played good especially in the second half when he had someone close to him because in the first half it was not easy for him.”

Guardiola explained the choice to not use De Bruyne, one of the best playmakers in the world, by insisting the player is healthy.

“I decided to play with two holding midfielders in that position, Gundogan and Fernandinho, to be a bit more solid. It’s not the issue. I know it’s tough for him but we have the second leg. We spoke about that. It’s 180 minutes.”

To be fair to Guardiola, a good tactical idea can fail if the players don’t perform well. Maybe Gundogan and Mahrez on their average day meet Aguero converting his penalty and Man City wins 3-1. It’s not like they were completely played out of the stadium.

Guardiola didn’t seem too bothered by the performance, though we have to imagine the room will hear another story. Whether you believe in motivation or momentum or whatever at this stage, there was something about this match that made loose balls and tackles appeal a bit more to Spurs than City. The Tottenham men took their bodies to Man City and the reigning Premier League champions couldn’t adjust to the demands in time to score an away goal.

And like that, Man City is 90 minutes away from looking a lot like Paris Saint-Germain: League monsters — albeit in a better league — that find a way to fail in the latter stages of the one trophy it wants more than the others.

Expected Transfer Value of USMNT squad revealed


The Expected Transfer Value (xTV) of the USMNT squad at the World Cup has been revealed and there are some eyebrow-raising numbers.

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From the star players to the veterans and some incredible values for youngsters, it is clear this USMNT is heading in the right direction.

The one takeaway from this list provided by the TransferRoom is that the future is bright for the USA.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Their displays against Wales and England will have seen their transfer values soar further too.

What is Expected Transfer Value?

Simply put, it is defined as ‘a prediction of what it would cost to sign the player permanently, expressed as a range’ with these factors below playing a part in the xTV:

1. Assessment of economic value, based on factors in addition to playing ability;
2. Benchmarking against the transfers of relevantly similar players;
3. Use of data unique to provide a picture of current market conditions.

This data from TransferRoom is used by many clubs across European soccer to calculate how much they should spend on new signings and help them find players who have been bought and sold for comparable transfer fees.

Below is analysis on the expected transfer value of this USA squad and the full list provided by the TransferRoom.

Expected Transfer Value of USA squad analyzed

The total xTV of the USMNT squad is $387.6 million, which ranks as the 12th highest out of all 32 nations at the World Cup.

Giovanni Reyna, who has played a grand total of seven minutes across two games at the World Cup so far, is the USA’s highest valued player ($61 million) with the Borussia Dortmund teenager the 12th most expensive player 21 years old or younger at the tournament.

The value of Christian Pulisic is impacted by his contract at Chelsea having just over 18 months left on it, while the value of 19-year-old Yunus Musah and 22-year-old Brenden Aaronson is probably higher than we expected but represents their potential.

Tim Weah and Antonee Robinson look like they could be ‘bargain buys’ for teams following their performances for the USMNT at the World Cup.

USA squad – Expected Transfer Value (xTV)


Belgium vs Morocco, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream, videos


Belgium will look to get back to their best and make it two wins from two in the group stage but Morocco will make it extremely tough for Kevin de Bruyne and Co.


Roberto Martinez saw his side totally dominated by Canada in their Group F opener but they took their one big chance and won the game, largely thanks to poor finishing from Canada and Thibaut Courtois saving a penalty kick. The No. 2 ranked team in the world has to improve. Fast.

Morocco caused Croatia plenty of problems in their opening game and a draw was a fair result as their high-pressing caused Croatia a lot of problems. They will look to do exactly the same against Belgium and could have plenty of joy if Hakim Ziyech is found in dangerous areas in the final third.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

Here is everything you need for Belgium vs Morocco. 

How to watch Belgium vs Morocco live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 8am ET – Sunday, November 27
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor 
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Key storylines, players to watch closely

Kevin de Bruyne was almost apologetic after being named man of the match against Canada as he said he and his teammates really struggled in their World Cup opener. Belgium have to give their back three more protection as they are really susceptible to speedy wide players cutting in wide and teams playing direct and cutting out their midfield playmakers. Roberto Martinez starts Meunier and Onana in this game to try and give Belgium a little more control and solidity. Michy Batshuayi continues to fill in for the injured Romelu Lukaku once again.

Morocco will try and do exactly what Canada did to Belgium and they have the players to do it. Ziyech and Boufal will cause problems out wide and Morocco looked solid defensively against Croatia. There is a real whiff of an upset in the air around this one as Morocco will be roared on by their large group of supporters in Qatar.

Belgium quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 2
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 14
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Roberto Martinez
Key players: Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard

Morocco Rica quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 22
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 6
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CAF
Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic
Key players: Achraf Hakimi, Yassine Bounou, Youssef En-Nesyri, Romain Saiss

Costa Rica stuns Japan to blow Group E wide open


Costa Rica scored a late winner to stun Japan and blow Group E wide open as the Samurai Blue will be kicking themselves.


Keysher Fuller scored a chipped effort in the final 10 minutes to grab Costa Rica and an unexpected win as Japan dominated the game but couldn’t create clear-cut chances and they were made to pay.

After beating Germany in their group stage opener, Japan knew a win in this game would basically send them in to the last 16. Now they face Spain in their final Group E game needing to dig deep.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Following their 7-0 defeat to Spain in their World Cup opener, Costa Rica dug deep and have given themselves a chance of getting out of the group as they face Germany in their final game and are level on points with Japan.

Los Ticos put in perfect underdog display

After being battered by Spain this was a heroic display from Costa Rica. They let Japan have most of the ball and play but late on took their one big chance (it was their only shot on goal) and that was all they needed. This was almost like watching a lower league team play against a Premier League opponent in an FA Cup game. Costa Rica were solid defensively in a back five and snapped into challenges and did whatever they could to put off a very talented and technical Japan side. Yes, Japan had an off day and just never looked comfortable on the ball but don’t underestimate the incredible work Costa Rica did off the ball to unsettle their opponents. Los Ticos have restored pride in their team and they now face a showdown with Germany knowing they have to put in exactly the same kind of display.

Stars of the show

Japan vs Costa Rica
Graphic via

Kendall Waston: Came into the team and delivered a brilliant defensive display. The veteran led by example and cleared everything.

Maya Yoshida: Japan’s captain did everything to hold off Costa Rica and tried to drive his team on from the back.

Keylor Navas: The legendary Costa Rican goalkeeper made a key save late on and rolled back the years to inspire a great defensive display.

How to watch Japan vs Costa Rica live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 5am ET – Sunday, November 27
Stadium: Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Key storylines, players to watch closely

Japan will now look to build on their first-ever win against Germany and they will be full of confidence after a resolute team display. Manager Hajime Moriyasu makes five changes to the team which beat Germany as the the strength of his squad is incredible and he will once again look to the bench and aim to blow opponents away in the final 30 minutes. It is all about the team first and his players totally buy into that model.

As for Costa Rica, they have to forget the hammering to Spain. That can happen when you play Spain who have so many great attacking players and when it clicks, they can pummel teams. They simply have to win this game and Kendall Waston and Gerson Torres are the only two changes from the defeat to Spain.

Japan quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 24
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 7
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC
Coach: Hajime Moriyasu
Key players: Maya Yoshida, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Takumi Minamino, Daichi Kamada

Costa Rica quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 31
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified from CONCACAF via interconfederation playoffs
Coach: Luis Fernando Suarez
Key players: Keylor Navas, Joel Campbell, Celso Borges, Bryan Ruiz

Australia vs Denmark: How to watch live, stream link, team news


This will be an epic battle in Group D as Australia and Denmark can both reach the last 16 of the World Cup heading into their final group game.


After their superb win against Tunisia last time out, Australia know a win against Denmark puts them in the last 16 of the World Cup for just the second time in their history. Graham Arnold has had plenty of criticism for the way his team play but they were totally committed against Tunisia and always carried a threat on the counter. They will have to put in a very similar display against the talented Danes but a point could well be enough as Tunisia would have to beat France in the other game in Group D to complicate matters further for Australia and Denmark.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

As for Denmark, they have had a very poor tournament so far. They were woeful in attack against Tunisia in an opening game stalemate, while they were beaten by France last time out and Kasper Hjulmand has failed to get his team going in attack. Christian Eriksen and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg are trying to drive Denmark on from midfield but they just haven’t look dangerous going forward. They have to win against Australia and then hope Tunisia doesn’t beat France and it goes down to goal difference. 

[ MORE: Group D standings, schedule, scores ]

Here is everything you need for Australia vs Denmark.

How to watch Australia vs Denmark live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET – Wednesday, November 30
Stadium: Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Key storylines, players to watch closely

Australia will set up exactly the same as they did against Tunisia as they will whip in balls to Mitchell Duke who was the hero with his superb flicked header. Both Duke and Arnold pointed to the ‘Aussie Spirit’ getting them the win against Tunisia and there is a real grit and determination about this team.

Denmark know they have to win, so they will go for a more attack-minded lineup and they have the quality to beat Australia. They will likely start Braithwaite and Dolberg as they try to get something going in attack and this is basically a knockout game in the group stage.

Australia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 38
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified from AFC via the intercontinental playoffs
Coach: Graham Arnold
Key players: Mathew Ryan, Aaron Mooy, Mathew Leckie

Denmark quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 10
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group F)
Coach: Kasper Hjulmand
Key players: Kasper Schmeichel, Simon Kjaer, Christian Eriksen