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Three things learned: USWNT v. Thailand

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The U.S. Women’s National Team couldn’t have picked a better way to open their World Cup account, smashing Thailand on its way to a 13-0 victory.

[READ: How it happened: USWNT beats Thailand, 13-0]

While it might seem like there’s not a ton to take away from a game that got out of hand early, here’s three important facets we learned from Tuesday’s blowout win.


Underrate the USWNT at your own peril

Unlike in previous World Cups, the USWNT was literally one of the last two teams to take the field for the first time in the tournament. All that pent-up energy and time waiting and watching the other teams play could have led to this result, in which the U.S. was in all-out attack mode from the opening whistle.

Remember when France’s 4-0 win over South Korea was the bar for a comprehensive victory? Now, the USWNT has blown that out of the water. Yes, South Korea is at a higher level than Thailand, but the result is the same. The U.S. could have easily just completed 200-consecutive passes and waited for the clock to run out, but by building up their goal differential – the first tiebreaker in the group stage, the USWNT ensured it has an advantage in that department moving forward.

This USWNT squad, despite the up-and-down form heading into the World Cup, is clearly one not to be underrated, lest you want to end up on the end of a smashing.


Anyone can score

Again, a disclaimer – yes, it was just Thailand. However, the way the USWNT played, it showed that there’s goals in almost everyone on the field. Seven different players scored, including two off the bench, and of course, star striker Alex Morgan now has five goals to her name this World Cup. If Sweden was hoping for a USWNT that’s not confident in front of goal, all they have to do is watch the highlights from this one to see that they’ll be able to pass, dribble and shoot its way through anyone.

But again, it’s not just that Morgan scored five goals. All three starting central midfielders scored – Lindsey Horan, Samantha Mewis, and Rose Lavelle (both braces). Mal Pugh, who started against Sweden in the infamous defeat on penalty kicks as an 18-year-old at the 2016 Olympics, is now coming off the bench as a 21-year-old when for any other nation, she’d be the top target forward up top.

And who can forget Carli Lloyd. Maybe one of Jill Ellis’ biggest celebrations of the evening came when Lloyd scored her delightful outside-of-the-boot goal, giving the 36-year-old yet another World Cup goal for her stat book. The goal likely calms down some issues in the locker room between Lloyd and the starters, but also proves to Ellis that if she needs a goal in a pinch, Lloyd’s the first player she should look to.


Ertz is the backup centerback

It’s a small point, but with Becky Sauerbrunn out with a minor injury, instead of turning to someone on the bench, Ellis went with Ertz, who formerly partnered with Sauerbrunn in the last two major tournaments as a centerback, even though she’s now the team’s rock as a holding midfielder.

With Ertz as the backup centerback – most of the rest of the other defensive options, other than the other starting centerback Abby Dahlkemper, are outside backs – the USWNT keeps the ability to take more midfielders on the team, and it has a centerback in-waiting that has a great passing ability and the calm and poise on the ball to start up attacks. That can be both from the edge of the USWNT’s own box to the midway line, or farther.

Obviously, centerback depth, if you’re only going to carry three, and no clear backup for the No. 6, can be dangerous if injuries or suspensions are more serious. But ultimately, the way the USWNT are playing right now, they may not need a real No. 6 except against Sweden and possibly in the second round and later of the knockout stage.

Nuno ‘proud of the boys’ after Wolves’ magical UEL run ends

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Nuno proud, but frustrated: Wolves’ 2019-20 campaign kicked off 383 days ago, on July 25, and finally ended on Tuesday in a late, heartbreaking defeat to Sevilla in the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

[ MORE: Lille sign $35-million Canadian star Jonathan David ]

From those early-round UEL qualifiers, to another fine season in the Premier League (finishing 7th), to reaching the quarterfinals, it’s been an incredible, dramatic, exhausting road for Nuno Espirito Santo and his players.

Speaking after the game, Espirito Santo revealed he was experiencing equal part pride and frustration at the way their season had just ended. Pride for meeting the challenges they faced along the way, and frustration for the missed opportunity — quotes from the BBC:

“We have frustration, in the last minutes it is something that has happened to us many times. We required focus on a set piece. I am proud of the boys, we played a tough team and we had moments, small details, small margins.

“That happens in football. We came this far and now it’s over. Let’s rest and look to the future. We need more players to help us, it’s a small squad.

“Sevilla made us run, we made a big effort to control it but of course there were players who gave everything and the legs and brain doesn’t work so good. We must be proud of ourselves, admit we made mistakes during the season that we need to rectify to compete at a high level. We must work harder and become stronger.

“We are here because we did things good the previous season. European football is something that we chase because we want to improve and compete agianst the best. The Premier League is challenging enough, it’s like playing the Champions League every week.”

The Wolves players will now have the next week or two off before reporting for the first day of 2020-21 preseason later this month. The 2020-21 Premier League season is currently scheduled for Sept. 12.

Europa League: Wolves knocked out by late Sevilla winner

Europa League Wolves
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Europa League: Wolves’ magical run through the Europa League came to an end on Tuesday, as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side was knocked out in the quarterfinals by UEL specialists Sevilla.

[ MORE: Lille sign $35-million Canadian star Jonathan David ]

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-1 Sevilla

Sevilla were quite comfortably the better side on the night, the side with the vast majority of the scoring chances, and thoroughly deserving semifinalists. Julen Lopetegui’s side will face Manchester United in the semis on Sunday.

It didn’t come easily for Sevilla, though. The game remained level at 0-0 for 87 minutes, until Lucas Ocampos rose above the crowd to head home his 16th goal of the season in the 88th minute.

Wolves had the game’s first — and virtually their only — chance to go ahead inside the first quarter-hour, but Raul Jimenez was denied from the penalty spot in the 12th minute. The real story here, however, is the ease with which Adama Traore left the pack behind and dribbled the ball 81 yards before Diego Carlos cut him down from behind.

Jimenez’s blunder from the spot was one of just two shots on target — both by Jimenez — that Wolves could muster in the game.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Havertz to Chelsea; Ramsey available ]

Sevilla began to ramp up the pressure after halftime and went dangerously close to breaking the deadlock just after the hour mark, as Youssef En-Nesyri weaved his way through traffic inside the penalty area before firing a low strike on goal. Fortunately for Wolves, Rui Patricio was all over and denied En-Nesyri his wondergoal.

Ever Banega forced Patricio to make a vital save of his curling free kick in the 77th minute, but again the Portuguese was up to the challenge. He scrambled across goal and rose high to get a hand on the ball and push it over the crossbar.

Shakhtar Donetsk thrashed Basel 4-1 in Tuesday’s other quarterfinal. They will face Inter Milan in the second semifinal next Monday.

Other Europa League scores

Shakhtar Donetsk 4-1 Basel
Man United 1-0 Copenhagen (Monday)
Inter Milan 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen (Monday)

Lille sign $35-million Canadian star Jonathan David

Lille sign Jonathan David
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Lille sign Jonathan David: Lille announced on Tuesday their signing of Canadian star Jonathan David from Belgian side Gent for a reported transfer fee of $35 million.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Havertz to Chelsea; Ramsey available ]

The fee paid is a record not only for a Canadian player, but also makes David Lille’s club-record signing and the most expensive player ever sold by a Belgian club.

David had been linked with a move to dozens of clubs across Europe, including a handful of Premier League sides, in recent weeks but it would appear that Lille’s recent success with young players starring in the first team, before selling them to those bigger European sides for massive profits, was an important factor in David’s decision to move to Ligue 1.

[ MORE: Spurs sign Hojbjerg from Southampton; Walker-Peters to Saints ]

The 20-year-old operates predominantly as a center forward but has, on rare occasions, played as a second striker underneath the main man. David racked up 48 goals and 20 assists in his two seasons at Gent, including a number of standout performances in the Europa League.

Wolves – Sevilla: How to watch, start time, prediction

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Wolves – Sevilla should be an epic UEFA Europa League quarterfinal on Tuesday (start time, 3pm ET) in Duisburg, Germany as both teams will fancy their chances of winning the trophy if they advance.

Remember: these ties are one-legged encounters so the winner on the night will advance to the semifinal.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

Nuno Espirito Santo and Wolves have come through the qualifying rounds to get this far as the Premier League side have been in the 2019-20 Europa League for over a year, while Sevilla are the unofficial top dogs in the competition having won it more times than any team in history.

The La Liga side finished fourth this season in Spain under Julen Lopetegui, while Wolves finished seventh in the Premier League and know the only way they will be playing in Europe next season is if they win this competition and there qualify for the Champions League.

Ahead of a huge night for Wolves, below is a look at how to watch Wolves – Sevilla in the USA, the betting odds, prediction and much more.


Team news

What they’re saying

Nuno Espirito Santo praised Sevilla and knows his team have a big challenge ahead, while he backed his team to take the next step on their three-year journey together:

“It’s been a long journey, not only this season. A long journey that started three seasons ago in the Championship. It’s basically the same group of players. It was about trying to build a team, creating an identity, and we look forward to tomorrow to compete well and play a good game. We’ve been able to create an identity. It’s one of the most precious things in football – having an identity, based on a style of play and how we deal and socialize with our rules and tasks, how we deal with problems that happen. Trying to create a team, recruiting players, some take time, some not, but this is what it’s all about. We have to manage the result and I’m very proud of how we’ve done things and now I can say we have our own identity. It’s based on strong foundations of respect and hard work, and this is what we want to show tomorrow – a good team, with an identity, committed to the challenge.”

Sevilla star Lucas Ocamps on the threat Wolves possess: “Anyone who watches a little football has already seen them play. I feel like they are very competitive and physical. They have great players and they come here hungry for glory to beat us. I think it will be evenly matched because we’ll have the same desire and it’s going to be tough.”


Odds for Wolves – Sevilla – Full Europa League, Champions League odds

Wolves are the underdogs (pardon the pun) as they are +235 to beat Sevilla who are +120, but the tie at +230 is interesting. We can see this going to extra time and maybe even penalty kicks.


Prediction for Wolves – Sevilla

Wolves love upsetting the odds and Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore will be looking to exploit Sevilla on the counter, but Sevilla are a savvy team and are third favorites to win the Europa League yet again. Wolves are dangerous but I’m going for a Sevilla win after extra time. 2-1.


How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon/Germany
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: UCL here at NBCSports.com & Europa League here at NBCSports.com