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Michel Hidalgo
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Michel Hidalgo, who coached France to EURO 1984 glory, dies

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PARIS (AP) Michel Hidalgo, the coach who led France to the 1984 European Championship title and the 1982 World Cup semifinals, died on Thursday. He was 87.

The French Football Federation confirmed the death.

Hidalgo coached the national team from 1976-84 and led host France to its first major title at Euro 1984 with midfielder Michel Platini scoring nine goals.

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Les Bleus reached the World Cup semifinals two years earlier but lost to West Germany in a penalty shootout.

Soccer purists adored the way Hidalgo’s teams were almost fixated on creativity, even at the expense of defending. The midfield, led by Platini, was known as the “Magic Four” and was arguably the best in the world at the time. Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Bernard Genghini were the other three.

“I would like to express all my affection and my support to his wife Monique, to his family and all of those close to him,” Platini said in a statement. “As a coach, Michel lifted France to the summit of its art, with determination choosing the beautiful game and allowing each one of us to express all of our ability and individual talent.”

Hidalgo coached France in 75 games, behind only Raymond Domenech and current coach Didier Deschamps.

FFF president Noel Le Graet spoke of his “immense sadness and deep emotion” upon hearing of Hidalgo’s death.

“The federation, our football, are in grieving,” Le Graet said. “With his style of play, his personality and his exemplary passion, he contributed to our sport shining at international level and its popularity in France.”

During his playing days from 1952-66, Hidalgo was an attacking midfielder who scored regularly for Le Havre, Reims and Monaco.

He won French titles and French Cups as a player, and scored in the European Cup final when Reims lost to Real Madrid 4-3 in 1956. He put his club ahead 3-2 after the Spanish team rallied from a 2-0 deficit.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

What we love about Liverpool

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be detailing what we love about each Premier League club competing in the 2019-20 season and next up it is Liverpool.

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Each day we will release details on why who adore each team in particular as we remind ourselves just how awesome the PL is as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Time to focus on the Reds.


The Anfield Roar: Throughout our series detailing why we love each Premier League club, we will undoubtedly talk about the great atmosphere at their home stadium because that is one of the main reasons the PL is revered around the world. But Liverpool’s home atmosphere at Anfield is on another level. It is perhaps unrivalled on the planet. Under the lights Anfield on a big European or Premier League night, the Kop comes alive and the ferocious chanting and passion spills down from the Liverpool faithful. The Anfield Roar has always been famous but it has regained its gusto in recent seasons since Jurgen Klopp‘s arrival and he often whips the crowd into a frenzy with his constant gesticulating for them to raise the noise levels. Anfield always delivers and that is why it should be on your bucket list. The fact Liverpool haven’t lost a home Premier League game since April 2017 says it all. Anfield is a fortress and the famous roar has been restored. Many teams are beaten before the game even kicks off as ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ is belted out with scarves held high and the roar arrives. It is a sight and sound to behold.

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Jurgen Klopp and heavy metal football: Since he arrived in 2015 Liverpool have come alive and they’ve won the UEFA Champions League, come so close to winning the Premier League title and are on the verge of lifting their first league title in 30 years as they currently sit 25 points clear even though the 2019-20 season is suspended. Klopp has pulled everything together. He has an incredible knack of knowing the right thing to say at the right time, the right way to act in front of the TV cameras and fans and he has created a family among his players and staff. The German coach has done so much to galvanize Liverpool off the pitch with his personality but on it has been his biggest achievement. His personality is extremely likeable and the way he celebrates every goal, corner kick, throw in and tackle fuels the energy behind Liverpool’s high-pressing. His gegenpressing style has taken years to fine tune at Liverpool but his current squad have it down to a tee and his famed heavy metal football is revered around the world. Direct play, high-intensity pressing and incredible work rate is key to his style working and the fans are totally on board. He currently has a better win percentage (61.3 percent) than any manager in their history which showcases his amazing consistency whilst being handed the funds by American owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) to cleverly assemble this team. Klopp will go down as one of the greatest managers the club has ever seen in their incredible history. His smile is a close second.

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An incredible history: Six UEFA Champions League titles. 18 league titles. Seven FA Cups. Eight League Cups. Three UEFA Leagues. Three UEFA Super Cups. One Club World Cup. The list goes on and on. From Bill Shankly to Bob Paisely and Joe Fagan, Liverpool have dominated English and European soccer for decades at a time and their proud history puts them up their with the greatest teams the world has ever seen. Their incredible history is celebrated each and every day by their fans who laud past teams, legendary players and managers and the Song which became famous over the last few seasons details their dominance perfectly. Allez, Allez, Allez, indeed.

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Giving us so many greats, decade after decade: One thing that Liverpool has always delivered as well as trophies is legendary players and managers. We’ve already mentioned Shankly, Paisley, Fagan and now Klopp as managers who have shaped the game but on the pitch the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Kevin Keegan, Graeme Souness, John Barnes, Robbie Fowler, Steven Gerrard, Luis Suarez and now Mohamed Salah have become global superstars thanks to their heroics on the pitch in the famous red shirt. Liverpool is a club synonymous with success and having the greatest players in history represent them. Liverpool fans treat their legendary players as god-like figures and the vast majority truly belong in soccer’s pantheon.

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What we love about Leicester City

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be detailing what we love about each Premier League club competing in the 2019-20 season and next up it is Leicester City.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Each day we will release details on why who adore each team in particular as we remind ourselves just how awesome the PL is as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Time to focus on the Foxes.


That 2015-16 Premier League title win: How could we not start with this? The 5000-1 shots and favorites for relegation stunned the entire world with possibly the greatest upset in the history of sports. Claudio Ranieri‘s unfancied side won the Premier League by staying tight defensively and allowing N’Golo Kante to run the show in midfield and the duo of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez to rip teams apart on the counter attack. With plenty of heavyweights having a down year, Leicester timed their push for the title to perfection and the glorious scenes on the final home game against Everton saw Andrea Bocelli sing on the pitch as Ranieri and his unlikely heroes hoisted the trophy into the air. Leicester’s title win from 2015-16 will be talked about 100 years from now, and probably longer than that. The entire city of Leicester and the soccer world will never, ever forget it.

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Jamie Vardy: His part in Leicester’s incredible 2015-16 season will see him go down in folklore and his incredible rise to stardom is one of the great rags to riches stories in recent years. Playing in local leagues in England in his early 20s, Vardy made his way up through the leagues and arrived at Leicester from the non-league game in 2012. A few years later he was leading them to the Premier League title, scoring important goals for England and starring in the UEFA Champions League as the Foxes reached the quarterfinals in 2016-17. This season, at the age of 33, Vardy has regained his form and is the leading goalscorer in the Premier League after retiring from the international game. His pace, grit and finishing ability is incredible and Vardy is the kind of player you love to have on your team, even if opponents hate his attitude of never giving up.

Jamie Vardy
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Their current crop of extremely talented youngsters: With the Foxes currently in third place in the Premier League table after an early-season title push, there is a lot to be excited about this young team assembled by Brendan Rodgers and thanks to some very smart planning by those in charge behind-the-scenes at Leicester. Thanks to the building blocks put in place by their late owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and carried on by his son Aiyawatt, affectionately known as Top, Leicester are one of the best run clubs in the Premier League and continue to buy talented youngsters from across Europe and plan for departures and a seamless transition within their squads. After selling Harry Maguire to Man United last summer for $100 million, they already had Caglar Soyuncu waiting in the wings and he’s been one of the stars of 2019-20 at center back. Many would argue this Leicester side are better to watch than the team which won the title in 2015-16 with James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Ayoze Perez buzzing around underneath Vardy, Wilfried Ndidi and Youri Tielemans holding down midfield and full backs Ricardo Pereira and Ben Chilwell bombing on from full back. The future is bright.

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Brendan Rodgers’ playing philosophy: Given the points above about Leicester’s youngsters starring, there is plenty more to come from them under Rodgers in the coming years. Despite his critics, you can never doubt that Rodgers’ teams play flowing, attractive soccer and we’ve seen that at Swansea, Liverpool, Celtic and now Leicester over the years. Rodgers is a leader who has a clear playing philosophy and that has been taken on very quickly by these Leicester players. The Northern Irishman will no doubt be linked with plenty more Premier League giants and some of Europe’s biggest teams but right now he’s in a great spot at Leicester as he looks certain to lead them to the Champions League. He’s doing all that on top of making Leicester an exciting team to watch.

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2020 NPSL season cancelled

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The 2020 NPSL (National Premier Soccer League) season has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Soccer’s unofficial fourth-tier in the USA has seen all of its games cancelled with immediate effective for 2020 season, as the West region had already begun their regular season and the majority of the conferences were due to begin play in May.

The Chairman of the NPSL board Kenneth Farrell released the following statement on Thursday.

“On March 23, the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) extended its ban on soccer activity until April 30, and the CDC last week has recommended there be no group activities for 8 weeks, which coordinates to May 10. Given these circumstances, the 2020 NPSL summer season, under its current competition structure, has been cancelled.  This decision was made unanimously by our Board of Directors.

“This action was not taken lightly.  Over the past few weeks, the league has spoken to many of its teams and affiliate organizations.  Every situation is different and has its own set of circumstances. The NPSL is balancing the immediate needs of its teams, and ensuring that there is a successful, thriving league for years to come.”

With Major League Soccer suspended until May 10 at the earliest, and the USL following suit, there was a window of opportunity for the NPSL to be the only soccer league in-play in the USA for a few weeks.

The NPSL has 94 teams across 14 conferences across the USA and the semi-professional league is usually full of players from the collegiate game who continue to train and play each summer.

English FA agrees to cancel majority of non-league season

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic the English FA have agreed to end the 2019-20 non-league season immediately with all leagues from the seventh-tier down having their results expunged with no promotion or relegation in the men’s game, while the women’s game will finish from tiers three to seven.

The fate of the fifth and sixth tiers in the men’s game remains up in the air as the board of the National Football League will meet for a second time on Thursday to try and come to a consensus decision.

Here is the the statement the FA released on Thursday confirming their decision.

“The FA and NLS steps three to six have reached a consensus that their 2019-20 season will now be brought to an end, and all results will be expunged. This will mean no promotion or relegation of clubs between NLS steps three to six, and no promotion to NLS step two. These decisions will also apply to the leagues and clubs who play at NLS step seven.

“We will continue to assist and support the National League (NLS steps one and two) to determine the outcome of its 2019-20 season as quickly as possible. The planned implementation of the restructure of the NLS will also now be deferred until the start of the 2021-22 season. Furthermore, we can now confirm that we have decided that all grassroots football is concluded for the 2019-20 season. This will allow the game to move forward and to commence planning for next season. Our County Football Associations (CFAs) will be supporting grassroots leagues over the coming days to determine how they should close out their current competitions.”

In terms of the women’s game, the FA Women’s Super League and Championship will continue but all leagues below that will now end with immediate effect.

“The FA and the leagues within tiers three to seven have reached a consensus to bring the season to an immediate end and all results will be expunged. This will mean no promotion or relegation of clubs between tiers three to seven. Agreement has also been reached to end the Regional Talent Clubs season, which was due to conclude in April 2020. We remain in consultation with the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship Board and clubs regarding the most appropriate way to complete the current season, including for the Barclays FA Women’s Super League Academy.”

In the lengthy statement the FA also announced that it plans to continue the FA Cup, FA Women’s Cup and both the FA Vase and FA Trophy competitions “whenever it is safe and appropriate to do so” as teams are “close to reaching a major final and for those clubs and supporters we will do all we can to keep the Wembley dream alive.”