Martín Demichelis

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English FA charge Martin Demichelis for betting misconduct

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LONDON (AP) The English Football Association says it has charged Manchester City defender Martin Demichelis for misconduct in relation to betting.

The FA says the 35-year-old Argentine has been accused of “committing 12 breaches concerning football matches between Jan. 22 and Jan. 28, 2016.”

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Demichelis has played 29 times for City in all competitions this season and started for Argentina in the 2-0 win against Bolivia in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

 

What to expect from Nicolas Otamendi, as Manchester City close in on $50 million deal

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With Manchester City reportedly closing in on sealing a $50 million move for Argentine defender Nicolas Otamendi, what can we expect?

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The 27-year-old has experience in both Portugal and Spain with FC Porto and Valencia and over the years he has developed into a powerful center back who is superb in the air for a man who is six foot tall.

Think of someone like Roberto Ayala as a comparison and you are very close to the mark when it comes to Otamendi.

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For Valencia, he was one of the main reasons for their success last season — they conceded just 29 goals in 38 games, the second best record in La Liga — as Otamendi helped them qualify for the UEFA Champions League in his first season in Spain after spending four seasons at Porto up until 2014. His aerial ability is strong, but perhaps his biggest upside is his mentality and willingness to throw himself in where it hurts.

In a video below from Scout Nation, you can see Otamendi dispossessing the likes of Lionel Messi and others La Liga stars numerous times, as he likes to keep a low center of gravity but is not afraid to jump into tackles and step up high to engage the opposition center forward.

After the superb start to the season for City and both Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala forging a superb partnership in central defense, it may be tough for Otamendi to step right in if he moves to the Etihad Stadium in the coming days. However, you do not spend $50 million on a center back if you’re going to sit him on the bench, right?

Otamendi is a left-sided center back and will therefore compliment Kompany perfectly who prefers the right-hand side. However, both players like to step up high and stride out of defense with the ball so there will need to be clear communication for this partnership to work. You would feel a little sorry for Mangala to lose his spot to Otamendi after his bright start to the new season, but with his aggression, ability to play out of the back and supreme aerial ability, the Argentine center back seems a perfect fit for the PL. Plus, with his international teammates Martin Demichelis, Sergio Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta around at the Etihad, he is likely to settle in quickly.

Have a look for yourself, below.

Report: Nicolas Otamendi sold to Manchester City, with Mangala to Valencia on loan

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According to a report by Spanish publication AS, Valencia defender Nicolas Otamendi has completed a transfer to Manchester City and will be unveiled Monday, with Eliaquim Mangala headed the other way on loan.

Mangala has started both league games for City thus far, and word of his departure leaked to the public while he was on the field for City against Chelsea at the Etihad.

They’ve added a hefty amount of attacking options to the squad this summer, and now it seems they’ve bolstered the defense as well.

AS reports Manchester City will pay Valencia a $44 million fee plus the Mangala loan, which seems like a very hefty sum for a player in Otamendi who has demanded to leave. He is under contract with the Spanish club until 2019.

The 27-year-old Argentinian moved to Valencia just last summer from Porto for a reported $13 million, so Valencia is set to bank a large profit after owning him for just one season. He has reportedly asked to be left out of the squad for Valencia’s upcoming Champions League match against Monaco, and missed training Sunday.

Mangala made 25 Premier League appearances last season and often appeared a step behind, but has looked considerably improved this young season, enough to push Martin Demichelis to the bench. It is unclear if there is an option to buy for Valencia on Mangala’s loan.

Sergio Aguero to miss season opener for Manchester City

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Manchester City will be without the Premier League’s top scorer in their opening match against West Bromwich Albion, as Manuel Pellegrini will rest Sergio Aguero.

Aguero, along with Martin Demichelis, Pablo Zabaleta and Fernandinho, all played in the Copa America tournament and will not feature when City takes on the Baggies on August 10.

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Pellegrini said he wants to give his players 30 days of rest after international duty this summer, meaning those four South American players will not be ready for the opening match of the Premier League season.

It’s more difficult for the South American players because Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis, Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho finished later, in the first days of July, so they won’t have 30 days.

I think when we return to Manchester they will start their pre-season.

Maybe they will not be involved in the first game but I am sure they will work hard and will be involved as soon as they can.

I think in football it’s so important to work hard but also resting has the same importance. You have so many games throughout the year, that if you don’t give them 30 days after they’ve finished their internationals, it’s very difficult for them to work hard.

While City fans would surely like to see Sergio Aguero feature at the Hawthorns in their opening match, having him fully rested and healthy for the long-run is much more important.

Pellegrini said the group of South American players is a week behind the rest of the squad, but did not give an exact date when they will be available for the Premier League. However, with a massive clash on matchday two against Chelsea, I wouldn’t expect them to miss more than the game against West Brom.

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Chile vs. Argentina – Three key battles that will decide the Copa America final

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The 2015 Copa America final promises to be a belter in Santiago.

Host nation Chile face Argentina in the final, as Lionel Messi aims to win his first piece of major silverware with La Albiceleste.

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Chile has never won the Copa America before and its been 22 years since Argentina last prevailed. So, whoever succeeds on Saturday will be entitled to quite the celebration.

Below is a look at three key battles to watch out for. You can follow the Copa America final follow live here, and we will have updates, a recap and analysis from the game that will crown the champions of CONMEBOL.

Lionel Messi vs. Gary Medel

The genius vs. the Pitbull. Lionel Messi has been magisterial for most of Argentina’s Copa America tournament. He set up three goals in their 6-1 semifinal drubbing of Paraguay and embarrassed more Paraguay defenders with this audacious run. The man tasked with stop messing is certainly up for a scrap. Gary Medel plays in a holding midfield role for Inter Milan but the reverse Javier Mascherano (more on him, shortly) excels for Chile at center back. His ability to read plays, step out of the back four with the ball and extinguish fires before they’ve even begun to smolder make him perfect for the oft languid pace of international soccer in South America. Messi explodes into life without warning and Medel will have to be at his best to keep Barcelona’s superstar at bay.

Plus, you know, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain will be floating around too. All three have looked razor-sharp in this tournament with seven goals between them. Messi is desperate to win a first Copa America medal but he will have to get the better of Medel to lead Argentina to glory.

Javier Mascherano vs. Arturo Vidal

Before this game, Barcelona’s Javier Mascherano has tried to play down the intense battle which will likely play out in the Chilean capital.

“I hope that people can understand that football is a sport, not war,” Mascherano said. “The past is the past. We must not put sport in the middle of politics. Chile and Argentina are brother countries, we have to show mutual respect. If we stoop to aggression and violence, we lose that message of respect. Sport is about trying to be healthy and having fun, not a war.”

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Manchester City v Arsenal – Premier LeagueDavid Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Well, expect the midfield area to be a war-zone on Saturday. It will be home to a pivotal battle in determining the winner as Arturo Vidal and Mascherano square off. Vidal has redemption on his mind, as his DUI car crash scandal during the group stages shocked the world but Chile stood by him. Oh how Vidal would love to repay the faith shown in him and led his nation to glory.

He also has a bone to pick with Mascherano as the Barca man beat Vidal’s Juventus in the UEFA Champions League final less than a month ago. Mascherano operates as a center back for Barca but in his usual holding midfield role for Argentina he is a machine. Vidal may start on the right-hand side of a diamond formation for Chile but expect him to drift inside to try and link up with Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas up top. If Mascherano can cut that supply line to Sanchez and Vargas off, Argentina’s chances of glory will increase exponentially.

Martin Demichelis vs. Alexis Sanchez

If Chile keep things tight then this is the one matchup you really fancy them to come out on top. Sanchez’s pace and direct play saw him give Demichelis all kinds of problems when Arsenal faced Manchester City this season in the Premier League. The veteran Argentine defender, 34, has superb positioning but Sanchez’s sheer persistence and pace could be too much for him to handle. If Chile can get the ball up to Sanchez frequently, expect Demichelis and other Argentine defenders to be drawn to the Arsenal forward. If that happens, the so-far lethal Vargas (he leads the tournament in goals with four) could have a field day. Sanchez has only scored once so far this summer, but expect the shackles to be well and truly off on Saturday.