Five things to know ahead of EURO 2020 semifinal round

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EURO 2020’s amazing run through our imaginations has left four teams vying for the trophy of European champions.

Two teams might’ve expected to be here, another would’ve hoped it could reach this point, while a fourth may well be stunned to have made it this far after a near-tragic start to EURO.

[ MORE: Kane opens up about EURO, Tottenham ]

Denmark’s players have stayed out of the headlines but are now being monitored by several big name clubs with the transfer window open in Europe.

And statistically, having the ball has been key and shooting very important… unless, of course, you’re the team trying to make sure it comes home to England.

Christian Eriksen update

With Denmark in the final four despite the absence of star midfielder Christian Eriksen, it’s worth updating the status of the former Tottenham and current Inter Milan playmaker following a scary on-pitch cardiac arrest in the Danes’ tournament opener.

Eriksen was spotted in public for the first time since surgery to implant a cardioverter defibrillator when he was photographed with a young fan at the beach this weekend.

Possession’s not dead

Pep Guardiola’s gonna love this stat: Three of the four semifinalists rank 1, 3, and 4 in possession through five matches of EURO 2020.

So counterattackers beware at Spain’s absurd 67.5% possession record at this tournament, as well as third-place Italy’s 56.1% and fourth-place Denmark’s 54.1%.

England is ninth, but at 52.3% is closer to fourth than dropping out of the top 10, so having the ball has most certainly mattered in this tournament.

And perhaps it follows, though doesn’t surprise, that Italy, Spain, and Denmark are 1-2-3 in shot attempts per game. England’s 7.4 is 22nd (!!) and the Three Lions are behind all three in shots conceded per game.

It’s not definitely coming home, but England has

England’s quick trip to Rome for a 4-0 demolition wasn’t just its best performance of the tournament.

The Three Lions are back in London for the semifinal and final (if necessary), having a distinct home-field advantage against Denmark and (again, if necessary, Italy and Spain).

Despite the statistics above, England is likely considered the bettor’s favorite to win not only to encourage betting but not also because Italy and Spain will be expected to bear the marks of a brutal top-half of the bracket (although either Italy or Spain will have an extra day’s rest on their final opponent).

Spain v Italy history; Mancini, Enrique seek legacy

Italy and Spain have staged some beauties on big stages, with the Italians responsible for a 2-0 Spanish ouster at EURO 2016.

That Round of 16 match saw goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pelle, but Chiellini is one of few players who will be in the fold again come Tuesday.

Seven of Spain’s starters from that day are not in the squad at EURO 2020, while only three Italian starters remain in the team for this tournament.

Antonio Conte and Vicente Del Bosque are also gone, of course, and Roberto Mancini and Luis Enrique can join elite company by adding to their club trophies. The 51-year-old Enrique won a bunch of trophies leading Barcelona, while Mancini has spearheaded silverware grabs for Man City, Inter Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, and Galatasaray.

Transfer targets in focus

Jadon Sancho’s already moved and Harry Kane’s demand was going to be high regardless of this tournament, but some semifinalists have driven their value sky-high.

Joakim Maehle (Atalanta) has been a bonafide star with Eriksen out for Denmark, while Sassuolo’s Manuel Locatelli has certainly buttressed his value with dominant displays for Italy.

Matteo Pessina (Atalanta) is another Italian who will be attracting attention, and Dani Olmo (Spain, RB Leipzig), Mikkel Damsgaard (Denmark, Sampdoria), and Declan Rice (England, West Ham) also fit the bill.

Man City vs Man United: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Manchester City vs Manchester United: Erling Haaland is set for his Manchester derby debut when the two-time defending champions host the rapidly improving Red Devils at Etihad Stadium on Sunday (watch live, 9 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE MAN CITY vs MAN UNITED

Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm with an absurd 11 goals scored in his first seven games after (ostensibly) choosing Man City over Man United before leaving Borussia Dortmund this summer.

Six weeks ago, Manchester United had not a single point from their first two games, including a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of tiny Brentford, but Erik ten Hag has since switched tactical course en route to four straight wins, including a 3-1 victory over PL leaders Arsenal last time out, to set up this hugely intriguing showdown on Sunday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Man City vs Man United

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Manchester City vs Manchester United live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Despite a pair of disappointing draws (Newcastle and Aston Villa), it’s been an unbeaten start to the 2022-23 season for Man City, who still lead the PL in possession (66.4 percent per game) while also becoming an unstoppable offensive force from last season (14 goals in their first seven games) to this season (23). That’s not to say it’s been easy as Manchester City go through a tactical shift of their own to better appeal to the big Norwegian’s poaching abilities. Though they have been forced to grind out results a few times already this season, it’s highlighted a newfound spontaneity for a side that’s been as regimented as any in the world. Will that freedom be what ultimately lands Pep Guardiola his first Champions League trophy since 2011, and perhaps a third straight PL title (and a fifth in six years) to boot?

As for Manchester United, the Ten Hag era has been a wild roller-coaster ride already, short as it’s been. The back-to-back defeats were one thing, but the abject performances were the real cause for discontent. While picking up the four straight victories, the Dutchman has also settled on a midfield setup with Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen operating in (effectively) a double pivot with Bruno Fernandes the most advanced of the three. It has brought defensive stability, of course, but more importantly the change has revealed a deadly counter-attacking side. Each of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Fernandes have scored twice during the winning run, with new boy Antony also getting in on the fun on his debut. With space in behind (and the proper service from deep), Ten Hag might just have his first winning formula (albeit quite unlike him).


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (thigh), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE, Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

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WATCH: Lionel Messi spins gorgeous free kick goal past Nice’s Schmeichel

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Lionel Messi got the better of Kasper Schmeichel with an outstanding free kick as Paris Saint-Germain outlasted Nice 2-1 on Saturday at the Parc des Princes.

The world’s greatest scorer was fouled to set up a free kick just inside the arc. Nice, of course, got into a wall and former Leicester City keeper Kasper Schmeichel arranged it to his liking.

As he does so many times, however, Messi spun a free kick just over the wall. The ball, which came so close to taking a slight turn off a leaping wall member (actually, did it?), tumbled down and right into the side netting to give PSG a 1-0 lead before the match was a half-hour old.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi scores relentless Groningen goal ]

Gaetan Laborde tied the match before halftime, and Nice’s revamped roster looked set to hold tight for a point (The club’s signed familiar Premier League names Schmeichel, Ross Barkley, Aaron Ramsey, and Mario Lemina).

Even that wouldn’t be enough, though, as Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to replace young Hugo Ekitike to finish a Nordi Mukiele assist for a 2-1 win.

PSG has eight wins and a draw this season, good for a two-point lead on second-place Marseille. Messi has five goals and a joint-league-best seven assists, tied with Neymar. Mbappe and Neymar are tied for the league goals lead with eight.

Lionel Messi free kick goal video

USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi defies xG with relentless goal (video)

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USMNT forward Ricardo Pepi’s goal while trying to will Groningen back into an eventual 4-1 loss to AZ Alkmaar on Saturday will not be one of the expected variety.

The 19-year-old striker, on loan from Augsburg, ran onto an audacious long pass from 20-year-old defender Neraysho Kasanwirjo but had plenty of work to do with AZ leading 2-0.

[ MORE: Josef Martinez scores audacious overhead goal ]

Pepi sees one defender fall in a race to the ball, then bodies up AZ’s Sam Beukema a little outside the six-yard box.

Hand-to-hand combat sees both players hit the turf, and Pepi probably could won a penalty.

But the World Cup hopeful spins while on the pitch and snaps a shot past charging AZ goalkeeper Hobie Verhulst to make it 2-1.

Video after the jump.

Ricardo Pepi
fotmob.com

Ricardo Pepi goal video: Fantastic start to Groningen loan

Pepi now has a goal or an assist in his first three Eredivisie outings, not unlike his fantastic start to life in a USMNT shirt.

His goal contributions have taken a dive since his first two USMNT matches — World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Jamaica — and he only has one assist from the following 10 outings in a U.S. shirt.

Still, Pepi is clearly one of Gregg Berhalter’s favorite options for the upcoming World Cup, and his performances will be measured against Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok, FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira, and others.

In a tournament where every moment matters, his work for this scrappy finish will be well-noted by the USMNT staff.

Josef Martinez scores vicious overhead kick in Atlanta United loss (video)

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If this is the last goal of Josef Martinez’s (likely) final season with Atlanta United, it will be very appropriate.

So for Martinez, even in a losing effort, to go airborne for an overhead kick that is a simply sensational feat of athleticism and power, well, it just feels right.

The 29-year-old Venezuelan forward joined the Five Stripes in 2017 in what seemed a massive capture for the club at the time and now seems downright gargantuan, but he’s fallen out with current manager Gonzalo Pineda and was even suspended for a match last month.

[ MORE: West Ham beats Wolves | Klopp reacts to latest setback ]

Martinez has nine goals and four assists in an injury-abbreviated 25-game season, giving him 111 goals in 156 appearances for ATL UTD. The former Torino and Young Boys striker is still being capped for Venezuela and would leave with an MLS Cup, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and Campeones Cup as well as a boatload of individual honors.

Atlanta lost 2-1 to New England on Saturday and returns home for their season finale next weekend versus New York City FC. The Five Stripes won’t make the playoffs unless at least two teams decide not to field teams, so if the NYCFC game doesn’t go well, let’s pretend this one was his final appearance for the club.