Karim Rekik

Premier League 2015-16 season preview: Manchester City

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How different will Manchester City look at the end of this month than it does right now?

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That’s the multi-million dollar question when it comes to the UEFA Champions League side, who brought in English stars Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph this summer and are heavily-linked with Wolfsburg’s Kevin De Bruyne and even Juventus’ Paul Pogba.

Regardless, Manuel Pellegrini has held onto his job and will lead the pursuit of City’s third title in five years. City boasted the Premier League’s best goal differential last season, but finished second to Chelsea by eight points.

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Best possible XI:

—– Hart

—– Zabaleta —– Kompany —– Mangala —– Clichy

—– Delph —–

—– Sterling — Toure — Silva —–

—– Aguero —– Bony —–

Transfers In: Raheem Sterling ($75 million, Liverpool), Fabian Delph ($12 million, Aston Villa), Enes Unal (undisclosed, Bursaspor), Patrick Roberts (undisclosed, Fulham), David Faupala (Free, Lens)

Transfers Out: James Milner (Free, Liverpool ), Dedryck Boyata ($2.3 million, Celtic), Scott Sinclair (undisclosed, Aston Villa), Karim Rekik ($5.9 million, Marseille),

source: Getty ImagesStar player: Sergio Aguero – With respect to David Silva, Aguero is deadly when healthy. His 32 goals in 40 matches last season include six in 7 UEFA Champions League matches, and the 27-year-old has backed up his club work with 7 goals in 7 appearances for Argentina so far in 2015. He’s the reigning Golden Boot winner in the Premier League, and likely the favorite to do it again in 2015-16.

Last season: 2nd, Champions League Round of 16, FA Cup fourth round, League Cup fourth round — A Spring swoon cost City its hopes at a title, as the Manchester club went through a 2-4 stretch. The losses at Liverpool and Manchester United may be forgiven by some, but losses at Burnley and Crystal Palace are another story. City lost 12 points at home last season, and will hope to make the Etihad Stadium back into a fortress.

Coaches’ Corner: Pellegrini’s status as City boss was a hot topic in the Spring, but he held onto his job, perhaps for good reason. Can he coax a better season out of Yaya Toure, and find the goods to boost Sterling from a promising player to a surefire star? Will he last into the start of the UEFA Champions League, where City put themselves in a notorious position during last year’s group stage before climbing out? Can he spearhead Cup runs that last longer than two rounds? Pellegrini went from a Double in 2013-14 to nothing last year. That won’t do this time around.

PST predicts: City is getting older, and needs a Yaya renaissance to contend for a title. Adding De Bruyne would give them the depth to compete in Europe, but adding Pogba would launch them into the stratosphere of UCL favorites (despite their lack of resume). As is, City is a contender for the Top Four that could finish as low as fifth behind Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Netherlands 23-man World Cup roster finalized

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Louis van Gaal announced on Saturday the 23 men that will be representing Netherlands in Brazil.

There aren’t many surprises from van Gaal. With the exception of Rafael van der Vaart, who misses out with injury, he cut young players from the domestic league. As a result, Holland’s bringing a rather aging side to the 2014 World Cup. Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Klaas-Jan Huntelar, and Robin van Persie will all be 30 when the tournament starts, and Dirk Kuyt is nearly 34. Dutch fans will be hoping these attackers all have some gas left in the tank.

The seven men that will remain at home are goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet (PSV); defenders Patrick van Aanholt (Vitesse) and Karim Rekik (PSV); midfielders  Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg) and Tonny Vilhena (Feyenoord); and forwards Quincy Promes (Twente) and Jean-Paul Boetius (Feyenoord).

Netherlands play their first game on June 13, opening against Spain. Chile and Australia are also included in Group B.

Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Ajax), Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Michel Vorm (Swansea City)
Defenders: Daley Blind (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij, Daryl Janmaat, Terence Kongolo, Bruno Martins Indi (all Feyenoord), Paul Verhaegh (FC Augsburg), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Joel Veltman (Ajax)
Midfielders: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Jonathan de Guzman (Swansea City), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Leroy Fer (Norwich City), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV)
Forwards: Memphis Depay (PSV), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Jeremain Lens (Dynamo Kiev), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)

As friendlies play out and we edge ever closer to the June 2nd deadline, expect to see more information on who’s heading to Brazil – and who’s sad about staying behind.

Louis van Gaal names Netherlands’ 30-man preliminary World Cup squad

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With Louis van Gaal looking increasingly likely to use a five-defender setup in Brazil, the Netherlands has named preliminary World Cup squad rich in defenders from Feyenoord – the Eredivisie club that used its 5-3-2 formation to claim second place in this year’s domestic league. With Daryl Janmaat, Stefan de Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi, and the uncapped Angola-born Terence Kongolo called in, four of the club’s five starting defenders are part of the Dutch’s defense-heavy 30-man squad.

De Stadionclub’s 19-year-old midfielder Tonny Vilhena is another of van Gaal’s uncapped selections ona squad that includes mainstays Robin van Persie (pictured), Arjen Robben, and Wesley Sneijder. Nigel de Jong, Rafael van der Vaart, and Dirk Kuyt also return from the team which lost to Spain in the 2010 World Cup final.

The most notable omission is Paris Saint-Germain’s Gregory van der Weil – a starter on the 2010 team. The right back started 24 league games for PSG yet failed to claim a spot in van Gaal’s 30-man team.

Netherlands, grouped with Australia, Chile, and Spain, opens its World Cup on June 13.

Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Ajax), Michel Vorm (Swansea City), Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Jeroen Zoet (PSV)

Defenders: Paul Verhaegh (Augsburg), Patrick van Aanholt (Vitesse), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Joel Veltman (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Karim Rekik (PSV), Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord), Daley Blind (Ajax)

Midfielders: Leroy Fer (Norwich City), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Jonathan de Guzman (Swansea City), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg), Tonny Vilhena (Feyenoord)

Forwards: Quincy Promes (Twente), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Jean-Paul Boetius (Feyenoord), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Jeremain Lens (Dynamo Kiev), Memphis Depay (PSV)