Chile & Germany reach Confederations Cup semi-finals

Posted by Warren Fyfe on June 25, 2017 with No Comments
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Alexis Sanchez

Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez (right) became Chile’s all-time top scorer with his 38th international goal earlier in the tournament

Chile qualified behind Germany from Group B to reach the Confederations Cup semi-finals. after drawing 1-1 wiith Australia in their final group game.

Euro 2016 winners Portugal will now face Chile in the last four on Wednesday (19:00 BST).

Australia went ahead through winger James Troisi, before substitute Martin Rodriguez levelled from close range.

World champions Germany moved above Chile with a 3-1 win over Cameroon and will play Mexico on Thursday (19:00).

RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner scored twice, with Hoffenheim midfielder Kerem Demirbay also on target for the experimental German squad competing in Russia.

Porto forward Vincent Aboubakar netted for Cameroon, who finished bottom of the group, with a draw from their match against Australia their only point.

Group A:

  • Portugal, Euro 2016 winners
  • Mexico, 2015 Concacaf Cup winners
  • New Zealand, 2016 OFC Nations Cup winners
  • Russia, qualify as 2018 World Cup hosts

Group B:

  • Cameroon, 2017 Africa Cup of Nations winners
  • Chile, 2015 Copa America winners
  • Australia, 2015 Asian Cup winners
  • Germany, 2014 World Cup winners

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‘No better time to be an English player’ as U21s prepare for Euro semi

Posted by Warren Fyfe on June 25, 2017 with No Comments
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England team at Under-21 European Championship

England won two and drew one of their three group games

England Under-21s defender Calum Chambers says “there has been no better time” to be an English player as they aim to become the fourth England youth side to reach a final in two months.

England won the U20 World Cup and the Toulon Tournament in June, after the U17s lost the Euro 2017 final in May.

The U21s face Germany in the Euro 2017 semi-finals on Tuesday in Poland.

“There is a great future. They’re winning things; we’d love to do the same,” Chambers told BBC Radio 5 live.

“There is the senior first team as well. They have lots of good young players already.”

England beat Poland 3-0 on Thursday to qualify for the last four as Group A winners.

It is the first time they have reached the semi-finals since 2009, when Stuart Pearce’s side beat Sweden on penalties before losing the final 4-0 to a Germany team that featured Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Mesut Ozil.

“The competition here between the teams is very high, but we’ve dealt with the pressure well,” added 22-year-old Chambers, who spent last season on loan from Arsenal at Middlesbrough.

“That’s due to the experience we have from playing at tournaments together in the past – like when we won at Toulon last summer. That has helped us get the results we needed.

“There is a good vibe; the boys are confident. Everyone is happy we’ve made it through the group stages and we are looking forward to the match.

“We’ve practised penalties, too, so if it comes to that, we’ll be ready.”

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Not as much pressure now – Baker

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Fifa looking into Russia football doping claims from McLaren report

Posted by Warren Fyfe on June 25, 2017 with No Comments
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Russia pose for a team photo before their 2014 group game against Algeria

Fifa says no Russia player from the 2014 World Cup returned a positive drugs test

Fifa says “it is still investigating allegations” that footballers were involved in a state-sponsored doping programme in Russia.

At least 30 sports, including football, covered up samples involving more than 1,000 athletes between 2011 and 2015, according to the McLaren report.

The Mail on Sunday has said Fifa was investigating if Russia’s 2014 World Cup squad were part of the programme.

However Fifa says no players from the competition returned a positive test.

“Fifa has simply confirmed that, in close collaboration with Wada [World Anti-Doping Agency], it is still investigating the allegations involving football players in the so-called McLaren report,” said a spokesman from world football’s governing body.

“However, Fifa did not refer to any particular players, since it cannot comment on the status of ongoing investigations.”

The second of two McLaren reports, led by Canadian law professor and sports lawyer Dr Richard McLaren, was published in December 2016.

It alleged that Russian authorities assisted athletes taking banned drugs by swapping their positive samples for clean ones.

But Fifa said that samples taken from players at the 2014 World Cup, including the full Russian squad, were sent to a Wada-accredited laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland.

It added that the same procedure is being applied for this year’s Confederations Cup, which is being held in Russia as a dress rehearsal for the 2018 World Cup.

“As far as the Fifa Confederations Cup is concerned, every participating player has been tested through blood and urine in unannounced controls,” added Fifa.

“Both the results of the unannounced and the post-match tests have been negative so far.”

Russia went out at the group stage of the 2014 World Cup after two draws and a defeat.

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World Cup 2014: Algeria 1-1 Russia highlights

Professor McLaren confirmed that 33 football players, including some foreigners, were listed in his report, although no other details were revealed with information passed on to federations and regulatory bodies.

“There have never been and will never be any problems with doping in our football – our team are permanently being tested, they undergo doping tests after every match,” Russia’s deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS news agency.

The McLaren reports looked into allegations made by Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, a director of the anti-doping laboratory at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

The first McLaren report said positive drug tests were secreted through “mouse holes” and swapped for clean negative ones.

Wada recommended all Russian competitors be banned from Rio 2016, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) left it up to individual sports’ governing bodies to decide.

Only the International Association of Athletics Federations enforced a blanket ban, which is still in force for this summer’s World Athletics Championships in London.

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Community Shield proceeds to be given to Grenfell Tower victims

Posted by Warren Fyfe on June 24, 2017 with No Comments
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Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium will host the FA Community Shield on 6 August

Proceeds from the 2017 FA Community Shield will be donated to support those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

Arsenal will play Chelsea on 6 August at Wembley Stadium, and £1.25m could be raised from the match.

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke said: “We hope that in some small way through the Community Shield we can help.

“Football is for all, and we hope it can in its own way give something back to those who are most in need.”

The EFL said it would also be donating £175,000, with member clubs contributing their share of proceeds from the match.

Chief executive Shaun Harvey said football was “coming together to make a significant commitment to the cause”.

Premier League clubs have agreed to contribute a total of £250,000.

“The thoughts of everyone at the league and our clubs are with the people affected by this terrible event,” a statement read.

Seventy-nine people are missing or presumed dead after the blaze destroyed 150 homes in the Kensington tower block on 14 June.

Survivors, the families of the victims and emergency services personnel will be invited to the game as guests.

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Huddersfield sign striker Depoitre for club-record fee

Posted by Warren Fyfe on June 24, 2017 with No Comments
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Laurent Depoitre

Depoitre played 13 times for FC Porto in all competitions last season, scoring twice

Huddersfield have completed the signing of striker Laurent Depoitre from FC Porto for an undisclosed club-record fee.

The 28-year-old, who has played once for Belgium, joins on a two-year deal with an option for a further season.

Depoitre, who joined Porto from Belgian side Gent in 2016, is the club’s first signing since winning promotion to the Premier League last season.

Manager David Wagner described Depoitre as “a proper striker”.

He added: “He scores goals and is a real worker too, so he will fit the ‘Terriers Identity’ very well.

“I am very happy that we have made Laurent our first signing of this summer window.”

Depoitre played 13 times for Porto in all competitions last season – including one appearance in the Champions League – scoring twice and providing one assist.

During his time at Gent, with whom he won the Belgian league in 2015, he scored 30 goals in 90 matches and was part of the side that reached the Champions League last 16 in 2016.

Huddersfield, who secured their place in next season’s top flight with victory over Reading in the Championship play-off final, have already agreed a £10m deal with Manchester City to sign 26-year-old Australia midfielder Aaron Mooy.

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Mauricio Pellegrino: Southampton appoint former Alaves boss as manager

Posted by Warren Fyfe on June 24, 2017 with No Comments
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Mauricio Pellegrino

Pellegrino (right) was appointed Alaves boss in June 2016, after the club were promoted to La Liga

Southampton have appointed Mauricio Pellegrino as their new manager.

The 45-year-old Argentine replaces Claude Puel, who was sacked earlier this month after one season in charge.

Pellegrino stood down as Alaves manager in late May, after losing the Spanish Cup final to Barcelona and finishing ninth in La Liga with a club that had been promoted the season before.

“My philosophy and the culture of the club will work well,” said Pellegrino, who has signed a three-year deal.

“I want to win matches, be successful and develop a team spirit where everyone gives 100% and supports each other.

“I am excited and passionate about what the future holds.”

Southampton vice-chairman Les Reed said former Liverpool defender Pellegrino “impressed us with his depth of knowledge, motivation and ability”, adding he “quickly became our first choice”.

“While he had other options, we are delighted he feels that St Mary’s is the right place for him,” he added.

Saints finished eighth in the Premier League last season, losing 16 games, and also reached the EFL Cup final, their first major final since 2003.

Puel was the third manager to leave in the past three years, following Mauricio Pochettino’s departure for Tottenham and Ronald Koeman’s move to Everton.

His side were beaten 3-2 by Manchester United in the EFL Cup final in February, and they ended the season with just one win from their final eight league matches.

Who is Mauricio Pellegrino?

Pellegrino previously worked at Independiente and Estudiantes in Argentina, joining the latter after he was sacked by Valencia – his first job in management – following seven months in charge.

Prior to his appointment by the Spanish club in May 2012, Pellegrino worked as a coach under Rafael Benitez at Liverpool (2008-2010) and Inter Milan (2010).

As a player, he made 13 appearances for Liverpool in 2005 after being signed by Benitez, who he also played for during six years at Valencia from 1999.

He had arrived at Valencia from Velez Sarsfield, following a loan spell at Barcelona the year before.

He made three appearances for Argentina over the course of a 16-year career as a central defender that ended at Alaves in 2006.

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Juventus to release Man City target Alves from contract

Posted by Warren Fyfe on June 22, 2017 with No Comments
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Dani Alves

Dani Alves joined Juventus from Barcelona in 2016

Juventus have confirmed they will release right-back Dani Alves from the final year of his contract.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is known to be interested in the 34-year-old, whom he knows from their time together at Barcelona.

Speaking to Italian media on Wednesday, Juventus chief executive Beppe Marotta said that Alves had “expressed a desire to try a new experience”.

Marotta said Juventus hoped to reach a “mutual termination” with Alves.

He wished the Brazilian good luck for the future.

Alves has only been with Juve for a year, winning Serie A and reaching the Champions League final.

Prior to that, he had spent eight seasons at Barcelona. The first four of those were under Guardiola, a period when the pair shared in two Champions League triumphs and won La Liga on three occasions.

City do not have an experienced right-back after releasing out-of-contract duo Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna.

Guardiola has been linked with Tottenham’s Kyle Walker as well as Alves, who he bought for Barcelona from Sevilla for £23m in 2008.

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Everton close in on Malaga striker Ramirez

Posted by Warren Fyfe on June 22, 2017 with No Comments
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Sandro Ramirez

Sandro (left) joined Barcelona as a 14-year-old before leaving the Nou Camp last summer

Everton are set to complete the signing of Malaga striker Sandro Ramirez after meeting his £5.2m buy-out clause.

The 21-year-old scored 14 goals in La Liga last season, having joined Malaga from Barcelona in July 2016.

He is currently playing for Spain Under-21s at the European Championship in Poland.

Sandro had a medical on Merseyside before the Euros, and Everton are now understood to have completed the formalities.

Everton have signed Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford for £25m and Ajax midfielder Davy Klaassen for £23.6m since the end of the seaosn.

Manager Ronald Koeman is also expected to pursue his interest in Burnley’s England defender Michael Keane and Swansea City midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson.

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Frank de Boer: Crystal Palace set to appoint Dutchman as manager

Posted by Warren Fyfe on June 22, 2017 with No Comments
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Frank de Boer

De Boer, 47, was Netherlands assistant manager from 2008 to 2010

Crystal Palace are close to appointing Frank de Boer as manager.

The former Netherlands international, 47, has been offered the job and negotiations are at an advanced stage.

It is understood he was the first choice of Palace chairman Steve Parish and informed the south London side they were his preferred option.

De Boer is set to succeed Sam Allardyce, who left after helping Palace avoid relegation from the Premier League last season.

De Boer, who won 112 caps for the Netherlands, has been out of work since he was sacked by Inter Milan in November 2016 after only 85 days in charge.

Between 2010 and 2016 De Boer managed Ajax, winning the Eredivisie four years in a row between 2011 and 2015.

He stepped down days after missing out on a fifth league title to PSV Eindhoven on the final day of the 2015-16 campaign.

De Boer is thought to have impressed the Palace hierarchy with his knowledge of the club and his footballing vision.

It is said the respect and humbleness he showed was striking, especially given how much he achieved as a player.

The ex-Ajax, Barcelona and Rangers defender is understood to have committed to giving players from the existing squad a chance to impress before looking to make new signings.

Palace have invested heavily in recent transfer windows, but will back De Boer and have made him aware of their budget.

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Women’s Sport Week 2017: ‘Shocking’ that Man Utd do not have women’s team

Posted by Warren Fyfe on June 21, 2017 with No Comments
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Rachel Brown-Finnis

I think it is shocking that in 2017 a club the size of Manchester United does not have a women’s team, and what is even worse is they will not properly explain their position.

Look around the world and every other major football club has a women’s team, or plans for one. Two of the biggest, men’s Champions League finalists Real Madrid and Juventus, are about to set up theirs.

Most of those teams are fully integrated with the rest of the club and being backed financially too – a few miles from Old Trafford, for example, Manchester City’s commitment to their women’s side is clear.

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Lloyd praises ‘equal’ status at Man City

Southampton are the only other Premier League side not to have an affiliated women’s team, although they have just announced a new under-21 team for next season, giving a pathway for the young female players in their girls’ sides – something United’s girls do not have.

Locally, nationally or globally, whichever clubs United compare themselves to, they are allowing themselves to be left behind.

I don’t understand why.

When people have talked about this issue in the past, they have focused on how, with the club’s vast resources and worldwide profile, a United team would help develop the women’s game.

That is still true, but it now works the other way too – United are missing out on an easy way of engaging with their huge female fanbase, in Manchester and further afield, and promoting the importance of women in the make-up of their club.

A women’s team would do all of that. The game is growing fast and other clubs have demonstrated they believe it is a big commercial asset, at very little cost.

Why do United think differently?

It’s ‘under review’ – will the situation change?

When the BBC asked United last week about the prospect of them forming a women’s team, the club responded by saying: “It is a matter that is under review and a detailed analysis is currently being undertaken.”

Taken in isolation, that reply gives the impression it is an issue being actively discussed by the club.

The problem for me with just accepting that is the case and leaving them to get on with it is that United have been saying the same thing for several years now, since 2013.

Whoever asks them about a women’s team – and many people from United fans to MPs and national newspapers have done so down the years – United’s stock reply is the matter is “under review”.

Hearing it repeated again and again makes it feel like a brush-off.

The BBC’s request for an interview was turned down but, if I was given the chance to ask United any questions, I would like to know who is actually carrying out this review and analysis.

Who have they been talking to since 2013, what have they found out so far, is there any evidence a review has been happening – and, crucially, when is it likely to end?

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Welcome to Manchester, Carli Lloyd

Why don’t United have a women’s team?

United did have a women’s team until the Glazers scrapped it in 2005, with a spokesman saying “it was not part of their core business”.

I can actually understand why they may have made that decision at the time – United were outside the top two divisions of the old Women’s Premier League and the Glazers might not have considered them a good representative of their brand.

Also, the profile of the women’s game in the UK was a lot smaller then.

But that was 12 years ago and things are very different now – from the level of professionalism at the top level of the women’s game here to the way it is marketed and the commercial opportunities that come with that.

So, if United’s decision-makers are purely concerned with financial matters and still basing their views on women’s football on what was happening when they ditched their women’s team, they are well out of touch.