Zabaleta details challenges of lockdown in Spain

Pablo Zabaleta
(Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images
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West Ham United defender Pablo Zabaleta’s coronavirus experience shows the wild challenges provided to players in our international game.

The Argentine and his family live in Spain, but he obviously spends his workweeks in London. So when lockdown hit, West Ham gave him permission to head back to Spain to join his wife and kids. His parents are in Argentina, and many of his teammates in England.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Zabaleta is allowed to leave the house for a half-hour a day, which is an upgrade on his previous experience of 24-hour lockdown with a spin bike as his only exercise option.

To top it off, he’s got his family under nearly 24-hour lockdown plus concerns with his parents, who are thousands of miles away. And his in-laws cannot come visit despite being just around the corner, relatively speaking.

From WHUFC.com:

“I have family in Argentina – my Dad is nearly 70 and of course we all are worried about this virus because my Dad is in a situation where he had a car crash seven years ago, he’s been in intensive care for maybe two months with pneumonia, so he knows and we all know that he has to stay away from people,” the defender revealed. “And the same with my parents-in-law. They are the only people that can probably help us with something [in Barcelona], but we cannot bring them into the apartment and we cannot go to see them with the kids, because of this, so this is what I’m saying.”

Zabaleta also spoke of the sporting side to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This season is set to be his last in the Premier League, but looks unlikely to end with a final match in front of the home fans at the London Stadium or, well, fans anywhere.

And if Zabaleta returns to boyhood club San Lorenzo, there’s unlikely to be another meeting with a club in England (testimonials excluded).

“Realistically, it’s not going to be the same, The Premier League and all the countries I’m sure will try to restart the league, but nothing will be the same,” he said. “Obviously I wanted to finish that season in a different way, playing in front of the fans, having those emotions and that adrenaline you always feel you need for the games. I know this but I will find myself maybe playing in front of empty stadiums with no fans and with different emotions, but that is something I cannot manage myself.”

Christian Pulisic on USMNT’s exit from World Cup: ‘We’re sorry. We wanted it so bad’

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The United States men’s national team is going to need some time to digest their run at the 2022 World Cup, which ended Saturday with a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands in the Round of 167

The side had an open mission to “change the way the world views American soccer.” The jury’s out on whether they proved anything they hadn’t in the past, but a place in the knockout rounds after failing to qualify for 2018 in Russia is certainly a good advertisement for the country.

[ MORE: Netherlands eliminates USA 3-1 ]

And Christian Pulisic, who had a solid tournament and was involved in all three goals the USMNT scored at the tournament, is even going so far as to apologize to fans back home.

“We’re sorry,” said Pulisic, who came back days after being hospitalized for a pelvic contusion suffered while scoring against Iran. “We wanted it so bad and I hope that we gave you some kind of excitement and showed you a little bit of what this team is about, and thank you guys.”

“I’m really proud of this team, how far we’ve come. I hope we showed people what we can do. It really is a shame. We deserved more at this tournament.”

Pulisic was sensational for large parts of the World Cup and was fouled a remarkable 11 times in 315 minutes. He had a goal and set up the markers scored by Timothy Weah and Haji Wright.

Yes, he’ll lament having a third-minute shot saved in the Netherlands contest, but there’s much to like about Pulisic and his young teammates in Qatar. That’s especially true since they’ll be one of three nations with homefield advantage when the tournament comes to the U.S., Canada, and Mexico in 2026.

“It hurts a lot right now,” Pulisic said on FOX after the game. “We thought we could advance and do a lot more this time around but I love these guys and we did a lot.

“It was an incredible experience, one I’ll always remember. It hurts right now but give it a couple of days and we can look back and be proud.”

When and where is the 2026 World Cup?

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The 2022 World Cup officially begins on Sunday, November 20, and runs through Sunday, December 18 in Qatar featuring 64 matches contested by 32 nations in 8 stadiums over the course of 29 days.

This year marks the very first time that the World Cup is taking place in the Middle East. Qatar, which is the smallest nation to ever host the event, has average high temperatures in June and July of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is why FIFA made the decision to host the 22nd edition of the World Cup in the Fall. As always, this year’s World Cup marks four years until the next edition of the tournament, which will make history with three different nations hosting matches.  See below for location information for both the 2022 and 2026 World Cups.

RELATED: World Cup 2022 odds: Favorites, underdogs, group stage winners

2022 World Cup Venues:

The 2022 World Cup will take place in the following venues:

  • Al Bayt Stadium – 22 miles from central Doha
  • Lusail Stadium – 12 miles from central Doha
  • Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium – 12 miles from central Doha
  • Al Janoub Stadium – 14 miles from central Doha
  • Al Thumama Stadium – 8 miles from central Doha
  • Education City Stadium – 8 miles from central Doha
  • Khalifa International Stadium – 3 miles from central Doha
  • Stadium 974 – 6 miles from central Doha

Where will the 2026 World Cup take place?

The 2026 World Cup will take place in three North American countries: the United States, Mexico, and Canada. This will be the first time that the tournament is hosted by three different nations and it will be the very first time that the event will be contested in Canada. There will be a total of 16 venues used as host cities for the 2026 World Cup. The U.S. will have 11, Canada will have 2, and Mexico will have 3.

Additionally, the 2026 World Cup will debut an expanded format featuring 48 teams–as opposed to 32–split into 16 groups of 3.

RELATED: 2026 World Cup venues selected: Which cities will host in USA, Canada, Mexico?

2026 World Cup host cities

USA (11)

Atlanta – Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Boston – Gillette Stadium
Dallas – AT&T Stadium
Houston – NRG Stadium
Kansas City – Arrowhead Stadium
Los Angeles – SoFi Stadium
Miami – Hard Rock Stadium
New York/New Jersey – MetLife Stadium
Philadelphia – Lincoln Financial Field
San Francisco – Levi’s Stadium
Seattle – Lumen Field

Canada (2)

Toronto – BMO Field
Vancouver – BC Place

Mexico (3)

Guadalajara – Estadio Akron
Mexico City – Estadio Azteca
Monterrey – Estadio BBVA

When is the 2026 World Cup?

The 2026 World Cup is scheduled to take place from June 8 through July 3.


2022 World Cup U.S. Group Stage Schedule:

  • U.S. vs. Wales – Monday, November 21 at 2 PM ET
  • U.S. vs. England – Friday, November 25 at 2 PM ET
  • U.S. vs Iran – Tuesday, November 29 at 2 PM ET

2022 World Cup Mexico Group Stage Schedule:

  • Mexico vs. Poland – Tuesday, November 22 at 11 AM ET
  • Mexico vs Argentina – Saturday, November 26 at 2 PM ET
  • Mexico  vs Saudi Arabia – Wednesday, November 30 at 2 PM ET

RELATED: World Cup 2022 schedule – groups, calendar, match schedule, brackets, dates


How to watch the 2022 World Cup:

*All times are listed as ET

  • When: November 20, 2022 – December 18, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5 am, 8 am, 11 am, and 2 pm
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channel in English: Fox
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock

 Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup!

RELATED: World Cup 2022 Group B: England, USA, Iran, Wales schedule, fixtures, rankings

Gregg Berhalter reacts to USA being knocked out of World Cup: ‘We made some progress’

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Gregg Berhalter has praised his young USA side and although he was ‘bitterly disappointed’ to see them knocked out of the World Cup, he believes progress has been made.

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

The USA lost 3-1 to the Netherlands in their last 16 clash as Christian Pulisic missed a great chance early on and the Dutch made the Americans pay as Memphis Depay, Daley Blind and Denzel Dumfries all scored classy goals.

In the end the Dutch had a bit of extra quality and experience but the young U.S. has impressed to get to the knockout rounds and with one eye on the 2026 World Cup, a huge chunk of this starting lineup will probably start at the next World Cup too.

That’s very positive but it doesn’t mean this defeat doesn’t sting right now.

Pride and progress the key words for Berhalter

“This is a difficult one to handle,” Berhalter said. “It is such a good group of guys, it is such a close group of guys, and we came up short today but not for a lack of trying, not for a lack of effort. The guys poured everything they had into this game and unfortunately we lost it.”

They really did.

The USMNT had plenty of the ball and created chances but they just couldn’t knit all of that promise together in the final third when it mattered most. And that right there was the story of their World Cup.

There is still plenty to be proud of for Berhalter and his young side, as they exceeded expectations.

“Really proud. When you think about how this group and how they’ve come together over the last three-and-a-half years, it’s really special to see. You don’t often get a bond like that between teammates, and staff, and everyone,” Berhalter said. “I’m really proud of this group but bitterly disappointed with the result today.”

What next?

There is plenty of debate about whether or not Gregg Berhalter is the right man to lead this very talented, and very young, USA side into the 2026 World Cup on home soil.

A lot can happen between now and then but it seems the displays at this World Cup probably earned him a couple more years to see how this side develops and if they can get a couple of clinical finishers to stand up and finish off chances.

“We made some progress,” Berhalter said. “When people look at our team, they see a clear identity, they see guys that go out there and fight for each other. They see talent on the field. We made progress but on this particular night we came up short.”

When the dust settles on this defeat to the Dutch, the 2022 World Cup will be looked at positively by fans of the USA.

However, the most important thing is what happens next. If the core of this team can keep their intensity and solidity but add cutting edge in attack and stay true to their principles, they can go far in 2026.


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

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Lionel Messi and Argentina will continue their 2022 World Cup quest when they face Australia, arguably the biggest surprise of the tournament thus far, in the round of 16 on Saturday.

STREAM ARGENTINA vs AUSTRALIA LIVE

Argentina rebounded from their opening defeat to Saudi Arabia with back-to-back 2-0 victories over Mexico and Poland to finish top of Group C and reach the knockout rounds in 14 straight World Cup appearances.

Australia, on the other hand, are in the knockout stage for just the second time ever (2006 – round of 16). The Socceroos were also beaten, and battered, by defending champions France in their opener, but a pair of back-to-back 1-0 wins over Tunisia and Denmark were enough to see them through on a dramatic final day of Group D play.

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

Here is everything you need for Argentina vs Australia. 


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

Kick off: 2pm ET, Saturday (December 3)
Stadium: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Without looking ahead and past Australia, Argentina will know that their half of the bracket is shaping up rather nicely for a run to at least the semifinals, where they could potentially meet bitter rivals Brazil. Messi has been in fine form thus far in Qatar, scoring twice and assisting once more during the group stage, even if he was denied from the penalty spot by Poland’s Wojciech Szczesny in the finale. The main question regarding Lionel Scaloni’s selection revolves around Lautaro Martinez (2 starts in the group stage – 0 goals, 0 assists) and Julian Alvarez (1 start – 1 goal, 0 assists) at center forward.

Australia head into Saturday’s showdown having not conceded a goal in 199 minutes, going back to France’s fourth in the opener. The Socceroos have had success since switching to a 4-4-2 in both of their victories, keeping eight, nine and sometimes 10 men behind the ball while averaging just 36.7 percent of possession over the three games. Australia are one of four sides (Morocco, Poland and Japan being the others) to have held less than 40 percent of possession and make it through to the knockout rounds.


Argentina quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 3
World Cup titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
World Cup appearances: 17
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (2nd place)
Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Key players: Lionel Messi, Angel de Maria, Lautaro Martinez

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

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