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Barcelona, Napoli to compete for new trophy in USA

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Barcelona and Napoli will play a two-legged final in the U.S. this summer.

The duo will play a friendly double-header in the first edition of the LaLiga-Serie A Cup, with the first game in Miami and then three days later they’ll square off in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Barca are the reigning La Liga champs, while Napoli finished runners up in Serie A last season. Juventus, the reigning Serie A champs, are spending their preseason in the Far East, so that’s probably why Napoli have stepped in to play Barca in this two showpiece games.

Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed Barcelona’s delight at heading back to the U.S. for preseason for the third-straight campaign.

“Visiting the United States and being able to get closer to our fans is always a great thing for Barca. On top of that, we will also have the chance to play at two iconic stadiums: at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, where in 2017 we played the La Liga Clasico, and at Michigan Stadium, the largest in the United States. While there, we hope to put on a show and entertain our American fans with our style of play,” Bartomeu said.

Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis added that their first trip to the USA for three decades will be a memorable one.

“Our club has not visited the country for thirty years and the chance to go back to the American market for these two games and against an opponent like Barca is extraordinary for us.”

The Spanish league have been pushing hard to move a regular-season game to Miami but La Liga clubs and players have pushed back at the idea of taking a game overseas.

Earlier this month in Madrid La Liga president Javier Tebas explained to Pro Soccer Talk why it was so important for the Spanish top-flight to try and become more visible in the North American market.

“We want one match, one per season. It is the only place in the world we want to do this,” Tebas said. “Why? Because it is part of our international strategy. The same as the big American competitions play a match outside their country. That is bring to bring the game closer to their fans abroad. One match out of the 380 matches that are played. We thought it was interesting because it is a global phenomenon. Everybody has found out about it. It would really help us to increase our brand value in the United States.”

Barcelona and Napoli will be bringing their brands to the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida on Aug. 7 and Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor on Aug. 10

Mauricio Pochettino fired at Tottenham Hotspur

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In a shocking turn of events during the international break, Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked as Tottenham Hotspur manager.

The club sits 14th in the Premier League table, without a win in its last five league games.

“We were extremely reluctant to make this change and it is not a decision the Board has taken lightly, nor in haste,” the club said in its official statement. Regrettably domestic results at the end of last season and beginning of this season have been extremely disappointing.

“It falls to the Board to make the difficult decisions – this one made more so given the many memorable moments we have had with Mauricio and his coaching staff – but we do so in the Club’s best interests. Mauricio and his coaching staff will always be part of our history. I have the utmost admiration for the manner in which he dealt with the difficult times away from a home ground whilst we built the new stadium and for the warmth and positivity he brought to us. I should like to thank him and his coaching staff for all they have contributed. They will always be welcome here. We have a talented squad. We need to re-energize and look to deliver a positive season for our supporters.”

Reports had suggested over the past few days that his position was becoming more and more untenable, but there was no indication that a change was this imminent. The Telegraph reported Monday that Pochettino was set to meet with Daniel Levy during the international break about the direction of the club, and they suggested the game against West Ham United this weekend could be “make or break” for the Argentine.

Pochettino had been with the club since joining in 2014. They reached the Champions League final last season, losing to Liverpool.

Who are the favorites to replace Pochettino at Tottenham?

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Mauricio Pochettino was fired by Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday in a shock move by Spurs chairman Daniel Levy.

Who’s next?

[ MORE: Social media reacts to Poch exit ]

Spurs host West Ham United in a massive London derby this Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and it will be intriguing to see if the new man in charge will be in the dugout.

Tottenham must already have someone lined up, or at least someone in mind, to pull the plug on Pochettino after his five year spell in charge of the north London club totally transformed their fortunes.

Some huge managers are the early frontrunners for the now vacant position with Pochettino’s close friend, Jose Mourinho, the overwhelming favorite to take charge of Tottenham. Eddie Howe and Brendan Rodgers have both been linked with the position as they continue to work wonders at Bournemouth and Leicester City respectively, although it would be tough to imagine Rodgers would leave Leicester given their incredible start to the season. Wolves’ Nuno Espirito Santo is also a contender, but given the financial backing he has received he may stay at Molineux for the time being.

Looking to Europe, Ajax coach Erik ten Hag is a name which keeps cropping up, while Max Allegri is out of work and he ran a tight ship at Juventus, plus he has not been hiding his desire to work in the Premier League. Julian Nagelsmann has only just taken charge of RB Leipzig so it would be strange for him to bail out on that new project, while Rafael Benitez could certainly be lured to return from the Chinese Super League but that would be a left-field choice.

All signs point to Mourinho or Allegri…

Below is a look at the current bookmakers favorites to replace Pochettino at Spurs, listed in the order of who is favorite.

  • Jose Mourinho – Red-hot favorite. Knows how to win trophies and is the short-term solution. Is he the right man to take Spurs to the ‘next level’ whatever that is?
  • Massimiliano Allegri – Did a wonderful job at both AC Milan and Juventus and is capable of building strong defensive teams which also have attacking flair. Currently out of work and is keen to work in England. If it’s not Mourinho, has to be him.
  • Eddie Howe – Out of the contenders currently in the PL, Howe seems the most likely. He may have taken Bournemouth as far as he can and this would be a natural progression. Tough to see it happening though.
  • Brendan Rodgers – If Leicester weren’t second in the PL table he’d be the leading contender. But with the Foxes flying, tough to see Rodgers leaving them on the cusp of a historic season.
  • Erik Ten Hag – Has said he wants to stay at Ajax until the end of the current season and Bayern Munich are chasing him hard. An outsider.
  • Julian Nagelsmann – As we mentioned, just arrived at RB Leipzig and the young coach is ambitious but seems keen to remain in Germany. For now.
  • Rafael Benitez – This would make sense for a short-term appointment to steady the ship as Benitez has so much experience and he’s won trophies. Spurs would have to pay him a ton to leave China and this just doesn’t seem like the right time in his career or the right move for Spurs.
  • Nuno Espirito Santo – An interesting outsider as Wolves have been superb over the past three seasons since he arrived in England. Like Pochettino when he arrived from Southampton, Santo is a manager on an upward curve. That worked out pretty well for Spurs last time…

Social media reacts to Pochettino’s shock firing

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Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked by Tottenham Hotspur after he spent over five years in charge.

The Argentine coach has seen his Spurs side slump in recent months as they stumbled through the latter months of last season despite a miraculous run to the UEFA Champions League final as they lost to Liverpool in Madrid.

Pochettino’s side currently sit 14th in the Premier League table after three wins from their opening 12 games of the season and with so many players seemingly ready to leave this summer (Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose to name a few) all was not well behind-the-scenes.

But nobody expected this so early in the season and so soon after Tottenham moved into their new home and big spending was promised.

Here’s a look at some of the reaction on social media to the shock firing of Pochettino.


Maradona resigns as manager of Gimnasia

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Diego Maradona has resigned as boss of top-flight Argentine club Gimnasia, the club president told domestic media on Tuesday.

According to Argentine journalist Juan Pablo Varsky, Gimnasia president Gabriel Pellegrino told Radio La Red on Tuesday that Maradona had stepped down as boss with just three matches to go in the league season. The 59-year-old has reportedly been disillusioned that Pellegrino will not be running for another term as club president and has thus decided to end his tenure early.

Maradona’s contract was set to run through the end of the league season, which concludes December 8. The election for club president takes place this coming Saturday.

Maradona has only been in charge of the club since early September, and while he lost his first three matches in charge, he has since won three of the last five. The club sits 22nd in the 24-team league table.

 

Pellegrino has been in charge of the club since 2016, with elections taking place every three years.

The legendary former player has previously managed Liga MX side Dorados de Sinaloa, UAE club Fujairah, and the Argentina national team.