Fernando Torres wins Euro 2012 Golden Boot | Goal.com

Wilshere to captain England to world cup 2018 victory, Bebe to become 2012 premier league top scorer and Belgium to reach Euro 2012 semi finals / whats your best longshot football bet?

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[OC] What if every world cup team had the same population? - Group G

Afternoon all, welcome back to the series that Gary Neville described as ‘How did you get this number, no I don’t know what you’re on about, piss off’. So far I’ve brought to life the teams of 24 hypothetical regions, that’s an entire Euro 2020’s worth! hmm that gives me an idea...
Before I begin separating the counties of Estonia, let’s stay focused and remind ourselves of how we got this far.
Group A, Group B, Group C, Group D, Group E, Group F,
Today’s post details the squads of the tournament’s penultimate group. Whilst this pool of players isn’t the greatest, they will be playing in front of the most participant sets of fans. Mexican waves meet Vuvuzelas in the battle for top spot while the other two’s wavin flags will look like this.
Southern Africa
South Africa, Lesotho, Eswantini, Mauritius, Reuinion, Comoros, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Angola, Tanzania
Population (millions): 255.34
The part of the world that brought us the only African world cup to date (and some other less wholesome moments in history), this southern hemispheric subcontinent has underachieved in modern memory.
The region is a mix of engrossed and apathetic when it comes to footballing subscription in the public consciousness, with four of the top seven African GDP’s per capita, their resources should theoretically be better than anyones. Just four World Cup qualifications (one of those by default) makes this the second least punctual region of the continent.
Lusophone’s Angola are the exception to an otherwise South African sweep of appearances. The ‘Giant sable antelopes’ (I’m sure it sounds better in portuguese) shocked the CAF by toppling Nigeria by the narrowest of margins to reach the 2006 finals; the nation’s top scorer and Barbie Girl singing eurodance group Akwá was the protagonist in a 1-0 win against the Super Eagles, this retrospectively acted as a tie-breaker when David & Goliath finished with the same points in their qualifying group. Their time in Germany was short yet respectable, conceding just two goals in three games and almost holding their colonisers Portugal to a bore draw, revenge is sweet.
A rugby nation by trade, South Africa were crowned World Cup champions just last year, unfortunately for soccer fans they have flattered to deceive in the world’s most beloved game. A ‘golden generation’ in 2002 featured the coloured careers of Steven Pienaar, Benni McCarthy, Lucas Radebe and Quinton Fortune; failing to escape an easy group, a huge opportunity missed. 18 years on Bafana Bafana’s only big names are of a literal sense.
Contrary to what I would have guessed, South Africa is not the regions most populous nation; Tanzania’s 56 million inhabitants puts them level with England, and the nation seem to identify as footyholics as much as their historic oppressors, unfortunately they haven’t got their money's worth for their sporting subscription.
The tiny island of reunion has produced the likes of Dimitri Payet and Laurent Robert, but since still being a French territory, anyone worth their salt gets a plane to Paris.
Botswana fail to feature in the squad, but with top clubs called ‘Meat Commision’ and ‘Miscellaneous’, it might be safe to say the nation isn’t taking the game as seriously as others.
Goalkeepers Birthplace FM20 Value Age
Itumeleng Khune RSA Kaiser Chiefs GK Ventersdorp 67 €0.47 32
Darren Keet RSA OH Leuven GK Cape Town 58 €0.80 30
Bastos ANG Lazio CB Luanda 70 €12.70 28
Mexer MOZ Bordeaux CB Maputo 65 €4.50 32
Clinton Mata ANG Club Brugge CB Verviers 63 €7.70 28
Jeremy Morel MAD Rennais CB Lorient, France 63 €0.30 35
Bruno Gaspar ANG Olympiakos RB Evora, Portugal 60 €1.70 26
Romain Metanire MAD Minnesota RB Metz, France 60 €3.30 30
Reinildo MOZ Lille LB Beira 54 €0.75 26
Nurio ANG Charleroi LB Luanda 60 €3.60 25
Wilson Eduardo ANG Braga RW Pedras Rubras 66 €5.90 30
Percy Tau RSA Club Brugge RW Witbank 65 €17.60 25
Marvelous Nakamba ZIM Aston Villa CDM Hwange 64 €14.00 26
Khama Billiat ZIM Kaiser Chiefs RW Harare 66 €0.50 30
Thulani Serero RSA Al Jazira CDM Soweto 61 €4.90 30
Keagan Dolly RSA Montpellier CAM Johannesburg 62 €3.70 27
Bongani Zungu RSA Amiens CM Duduza 64 €4.80 27
Djalma ANG Alanyaspor LM Luanda 60 €1.10 32
Mbwana Ally Samatta TAN Aston Villa ST Dar Es Salaam 66 €19.90 27
Patson Daka ZAM RB Salzburg ST Chingola 64 €2.60 21
Lebo Mothiba RSA Strasbourg ST Johannesburg 62 €3.70 24
Tinotenda Kadewere ZIM Lyon ST Harare 62 €3.70 24
Averages/Totals 63 €118.22 28
On paper the team shouldn’t need to rely on talismanic powers as the middling quality runs true throughout this team. Aston Villa surely have a scout in this part of the world as they are blessed with the services of key players Marvellous Nakamba and Mbwana Samatta.
Samatta became the Premier League’s first Tanzanian in January and will hopefully have a chance to add to his three appearances sooner rather than later. The imposing frontman scored 23 goals in the Belgian league in 2018-19 which makes him almost over qualified to lead the line in this XI.
Patson Daka was 13 and playing for locals Nchanga Rangers when Zambia sensationally shocked the world to lift the 2012 AFCON; the goldenboy of a generation determined to sequel the Copper Bullets’ success. The speedy Salzburg striker already has 24 caps for his country, time will tell if he is to follow Haaland and Minamino out of Austria to a European giant.
Mononymous Angolan Bastos will command the defence as best he can. Although recently struggling to make the squad, Bastos has served Lazio well with his protective prowess.
A plethora of pacey playmakers completes the assembly that will most likely finish runners up in this group. An exit in the round of 16 is on the cards as by process of elimination lots of you have already worked out Group H’s heavyweights are North & Central Europe.
West India
3 Indian States (Maharashtra, Gujurat, Madhya Pradesh)
Population (millions)
All the way back to the simpler time of Group A I hastily declared Uttar Pradesh as the worst region in the world, I’d like to publicly apologize for that remark as it’s become clear to me that West India is the bottom of a very deep barrell.
The region that provides the setting for Slumdog Millionaire has plenty to answer for as finding 22 players in this part of the world was harder than a where's wally of Manish market.
Goalkeepers Birthplace FM20 Value Age
Kunal Sawant IND Mumbai City GK Maharashtra 16 €0.01 28
Sukhdev Patil IND Churchill Brothers GK Maharashtra 14 €0.00 21
Rahul Bheke IND Bengaluru RB Maharashtra 33 €0.03 29
Ashutosh Mehta IND Mohun Bagan RB Gujurat 22 €0.02 28
Raju Galkwad IND Kerala Blasters CB Maharashtra 21 €0.01 29
Jayesh Rane IND ATK RB Maharashtra 21 €0.01 27
Abhishek Ambekar IND East Bengal LB Maharashtra 20 €0.01 28
Rohan Adnaik IND DSK Shivajians CB Maharashtra 13 €0.00 28
Karan Amin IND Jamshedpur LB Maharashtra 13 €0.01 30
Pratik Chaudhuri IND Mumbai City CB Maharashtra 18 €0.01 30
Raynier Fernandes IND Mumbai City CDM Maharashtra 26 €0.02 24
Farukh Choudhary IND Jamshedpur CAM Maharashtra 25 €0.02 23
Kean Lewis IND Bengaluru LM Maharashtra 21 €0.01 27
Alwyn George IND Minerva Punjab CM Maharashtra 20 €0.01 28
Shilton D'Silva IND Mohun Bagun CM Maharashtra 19 €0.01 27
Aditya Ashok Jha IND ARA fc LW Gujarat 11 €0.01 20
Nikhil Kadam IND Northeast United RW Maharashtra 17 €0.01 25
Darren Caldeira IND Kerala Blasters CM Maharashtra 17 €0.01 32
Aniket Jadhav IND Jamshedpur CF Maharashtra 16 €0.01 19
Arif Shaikh IND Gokulam ST Maharashtra 13 €0.01 26
Bipin Singh IND Mumbai ST Maharashtra 17 €0.01 25
Girik Khosla IND Minerva Punjab ST Maharashtra 17 €0.01 25
Averages/Totals 19 0.25
With 8 caps for the national team, Rahul Bheke is made to look like prime Cafu alongside his defensive compatriots. The Bengaluru full back plays a leading role in a one-star Bollywood show.
Aniket Jadnav is maybe the one to keep an eye on, the wide forward failed trials at Blackburn late last year, but the fact that they even asked him makes this teenage talent the side’s crappy Mbappe.
A Bombay mix of unknowns will be thankful they haven’t drawn against the real heavyweights of the competition, or they could be on the end of a cricket score.
Mexico & Central US
Mexico, 16 US States (Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois)
Population (millions): 244.75
The big wall will have to wait as this side leaves rednecks turning in their trailers. The region has fathered two point three tournaments with one on the way, but the main feature of this team always seems to leave the party early when it’s not at their house.
Mexico have been excruciatingly expelled in the second round an eye-watering SEVEN times running, the sombrero wearing soccer obsessed Senior’s are so frequently the bridesmaid it’s no exaggeration to call them football’s spinsters.
The US’s largest state, Texas, is the birthplace of one of America’s greatest players and worst rappers, Clint Dempsey. His impressive club career was an MLS sandwich with a London filling, the posterboy of a Fulham team that miraculously reached the Europa league final. Romantically tied with fellow yank legend Landon Donovan, Dempsey retired joint top scorer for USMNT, including four goals in three seperate world cups.
Mexican legends of the game include Hugo Sanchez, who scored over 200 goals for Real Madrid, and Barcelona treble winner Rafael Marquez who incredibly played 19 games across five World Cups, considering they never manage more than four, that’s almost as good as it gets.
Today El Tri are seemingly at the beginning of a promising Mexican generation that coincides with some notable late bloomers.
Goalkeepers Birthplace FM20 Value Age
Guillermo Ochoa MEX America GK Guadalajara 71 €4.20 34
Jonathan Orozco MEX Santos Laguna GK Monterry 68 €2.90 33
Jesus Corona MEX Porto RB Sonora 72 €23.00 26
John Brooks USA Wolfsburg CB Berlin 67 €7.10 26
Hector Moreno MEX Al Gharafa CB Sinaloa 68 €6.10 31
Carlos Salcedo MEX Tigres CB Guadalajara 68 €5.70 25
Nestor Aruajo MEX Celta Vigo CB Guadalajara 70 €15.80 26
Hugo Ayala MEX Tigres CB Michoacan 68 €2.70 32
Miguel Layun MEX Monterrey RB Veracruz 66 €3.80 31
Jorge Sanchez MEX America LB Coahuila 63 €2.30 21
Isaac Brizuela MEX Chivas RM California 64 €4.40 29
Hector Herrera MEX Atleti CM Tijuana 75 €33.40 29
Hirving Lozano MEX Napoli RW Mexico City 75 €27.70 24
Victor Guzman MEX Pachua CM Guadalajara 66 €4.20 24
Andres Guardado MEX Real Betis CM Guadalajara 71 €9.20 32
Jonathan Dos Santos MEX LA Galaxy CM Monterry 70 €5.60 29
Rodolfo Pizarro MEX Miami FC CAM Tamulipas 72 €4.40 25
Edson Alvarez MEX Ajax CDM State of Mexico 70 €8.10 21
Raul Jimenez MEX Wolves ST Hidalgo 74 €39.00 28
Javier Hernandez MEX LA Galaxy ST Guadalajara 66 €4.10 31
Gio Dos Santos MEX America CF Monterry 64 €2.20 30
Carlos Vela MEX LAFC LF Quintana Roo 75 €6.30 30
Averages/Totals 69 €222.20 28.04545455
One of the more mundane concoctions, it’s plain to see that Johnathan Brooks is the only ‘American’ to dare cross the border. The centre back scored a winner against Ghana in 2014 avenging the defeat of 2010.
After struggling badly at Atleti and then Benfica, it’s an unlikely story that aged 27 Raul signed for Wolves and has since become one of the Premier Leagues most feared strikers. The nation is hoping to harness whatever time he’ll be able to stay at this level, having scored five goals in a winning Gold Cup campaign.
Eredivisie fans will be familiar with Guardado and Alvarez, the bookends of a variety of age groups in the middle of the park.
‘Chucky’ Lozano is the posterboy, the Napoli winger scored the only goal in an historic victory over 2014 champions Germany. At just 24, it shouldn’t be of too much concern that he is competing to become a regular amongst fierce Neopolitan competition.
As usual, perhaps North-America’s best bet for success. They should win this group, but with the second round curse yet to be broken, maybe another John Brooks goal is needed to make the quarters.
Greater Beijing
7 Chinese provinces (Beijing, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, Jilin, Liaoning, Tianjin)
Population (millions): 246.63
The capital with plenty of capital, Beijing is the focal point of a Chinese region that stands the best chance of all it’s countryfolk. The region boasts half of the national team’s top ten appearance makers.
Liaoning is the most vibrant reserve of Chinese talent, defender Sun Jihai is often revered as the country's greatest player with 127 premier league appearances for Man City, after years of battling relegation his departure came just one month before the Abu Dhabi group took over, a cautious tale of what happens when you let cookies decide your fortune.
Domestic football is rife in the region with six of 16 CSL teams, including Beijing Guoan, who pay for the services of Cedric Bakambu and Renato Augusto.
Goalkeepers Birthplace FM20 Value Age
Liu Dianzuo CHN Guangzhou E GK Liaoning 47 €1.90 29
Wang Dalei CHN Shandong Luneng GK Liaoning 53 €3.70 31
Nico Yennaris CHN Beijing Guoan RB London 59 €10.40 26
Li Xuepeng CHN Guangzhou E LB Liaoning 51 €3.40 32
Wang Tong CHN Shandong Luneng RB Liaoning 50 €3.20 27
Liu Yiming CHN Guangzhou E CB Liaoning 49 €3.40 25
Dai Lin CHN Shandong Luneng CB Liaoning 49 €2.00 32
Feng Xiaoting CHN Guangzhou E CB Liaoning 48 €1.10 35
Gao Zhunyi CHN Guangzhou E CB Jilin 48 €3.50 25
Ren Hang CHN Hebei C Fortune CB Liaoning 48 €2.40 31
Wu Xi CHN Jiangsu Suning CDM Hebei 53 €4.40 31
Yu Hanchao CHN Free Agent RM Liaoning 53 €2.50 33
Chi Zhongguo CHN Beijing Guoan CDM Jilin 52 €4.60 30
Zheng Zhi CHN Guangzhou E CM Liaoning 52 €0.48 40
Zhang Chengdong CHN Hebei C Fortune RM Hebei 50 €3.20 31
Jin Jingdao CHN Shandong Luneng CM Jilin 47 €2.60 28
Piao Cheng CHN Beijing Guoan CM Jilin 47 €3.20 31
Yin Hongbo CHN Hebei C Fortune CAM Jilin 47 €2.70 30
Dong Xuesheng CHN Hebei C Fortune ST Liaoning 49 €3.50 31
Yang Xu CHN Tianjin ST Liaoning 47 €3.00 32
Tan Long CHN Changchun Yatai ST Liaoning 47 €3.00 32
Wu Xinghan CHN Shandong Luneng ST Liaoning 46 €2.40 32
Average/Totals 50 €70.58 30.81818182
Ex-Celtic and Charlton midfielder Zheng Zhi has 108 national caps and counting, still wearing the arm-band at 39 years old. An industrious and efficient playstyle combined with terrific passing range lends itself to still being able to compete at such a late age, although he will require the leg work of fellow 30-somethings Wu Xi and Chi Zhonguo if moves can be made.
Born in London, Nico Yennaris or ‘Li Ke’ was the first ever naturalised Chinese player, the former Arsenal youth and Brentford stalwart is hoping to become a trailblazer to the development of Asian football.
It isn’t an absolute certainty that this team will come third, but beating Southern Africa will be key, in a group of subjectively low quality, China’s best team is maybe their only hope.
Emotional times as tomorrow brings the final group, by this point it should be obvious who’s left.
See you all in the comments to discover what I’ve got wrong today (I will comb through the whole thing with your suggestions once this is done).
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Countdown to Kickoff 2020: Sporting Kansas City

Welcome to the /MLS Sporting Kansas City Countdown to Kickoff!

If you fancy a trip back in time, here are 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015.
Many thanks to dd12939 for allowing me to steal this template.
Now on with the show!
Team Name: Sporting Kansas City Head Coach: Peter Vermes Technical Director: Brian Bliss Captain: Matt Besler Stadium: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, KS Ownership: Sporting Club Mascot: Blue the Dog Kits: Primary, Secondary Supporters Groups: The Cauldron and South Stand SC Subreddit: /SportingKC USL Championship Affiliate: Swope Park Rangers Sporting KC II News and Commentary: The Blue Testament, The Full 90, Talkin' Touches Podcast, No Other Pod Twitter Follows: Andy Edwards, Chad Smith, Mike
History: • MLS Cup: 2000, 2013 • Supporters’ Shield: 2000 • US Open Cup: 2004, 2012, 2015, 2017 Coaches: • Ron Newman (1996-1999) • Bob Gansler (1999-2006) • Curt Onalfo (2006-2009) • Peter Vermes (2009-Present)
Sporting Legends: • Winger Predrag “Preki” Radosavljevic (1996-2000/2002-2005) • GK Tony Meola (1999-2004) • Coach Bob Gansler (1999-2006) • Defender Jimmy Conrad (2003-2010) • DefendeCoach Peter Vermes (2000-2002/2009-Present) • Owner Lamar Hunt (1995-2006) • Midfielder Chris Klein (1998-2005) • MidfieldeAssistant Coach Kerry Zavagnin (2000-2008/2009-Present) • Forward Mo Johnston (1996-2001)
Forward Josh Wolff (2003-2006, 2008-2010)
2020 Season Opener: Saturday, February 29 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC
2020 Home Opener: Saturday, March 7th vs. Houston Dynamo
Preseason Roster
Predicted Preferred Gameday 18: 4-3-3
-------------------Pulido------------------- --Salloi---------------------------Russell-- ------------Felipe-------Espinoza----------- --------------------Ilie-------------------- -Martins-----Besler-----Puncec-----Zusi- -------------------Melia-------------------- 
Subs: Sanchez, Barath, Dia, Kinda, Busio, Gerso, Shelton
Note: It is entirely possible Gerso starts over Salloi. That’s the only real positional battle for the opener, though.

2019 Overview

Western Conference Table
Pos. Team GP W L T GF GA GD Pts.
10 Houston Dynamo 34 12 18 4 49 59 -10 40
11 Sporting Kansas City 34 10 16 8 49 67 -18 38
12 Vancouver Whitecaps FC 34 8 16 10 37 59 -22 34
Offensive Leaders
Player Minutes Goals Assists
Felipe Gutierrez 2722 12 3
Johnny Russell 2115 9 9
Krisztian Nemeth 1559 8 2
Yohan Croizet 1091 3 2
Gianluca Busio 923 3 1
Gerso Fernandes 1749 2 6
Ilie Sanchez 2509 2 5

Season Review

Heading into 2019, expectations were sky-high for SKC fans. Fresh off of securing the top spot in the Western conference and being one half away from going to the final game of MLS Cup, Sporting returned a bunch of veterans and brought in some new players to replace and improve upon the departures. We’ll talk about the players later, but suffice to say: they didn’t. Even the most pessimistic SKC fan wouldn’t have predicted the bottom falling out quite as hard as it did in 2019, causing SKC to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2010. It seems that everything that could go wrong, did. The fact that the season started off as well as it did made the collapse all the more painful.
We began our season in CONCACAF Champions League, beginning with the toughest draw of any MLS team: Toluca. Since SKC was the lower seed, we started our campaign at home, with the second leg of the contest being at Toluca. The result? 3-0, SKC. Goals from Nemeth, Gerso, and Ilie. Nemeth looked like the goalscorer we needed at the striker position, Gerso looked like he was going to put it all together with a goal and an assist, and Ilie did this. It was as great of a result as we could have imagined, heading down to Mexico with a commanding lead and no away goals conceded. Everyone expected a cagy, defensive match where we held on for dear life and advanced. Instead, Sporting KC scored in the 8th minute and never looked back, ending the game with a 2-0 victory and heading on to the next round 5-0 on aggregate. At one point, Toluca’s own fans were mocking their team, shouting “Ole!” every time SKC completed another pass. It was hailed around the league, with articles written about the historic win and pundits calling Sporting KC potentially the best pure possession team in MLS history. It’s safe to say that the hype was very real. Next up: MLS play.
We opened our MLS campaign against LAFC, who finished third in the West in their expansion year and were widely considered to be a real contender in 2019 (and for good reason). The game took place three days after the victory in Toluca, and three days before we were scheduled to travel to Panama to take on Independiente in the next round of CCL. Peter Vermes opted to play his full first choice XI in California, wanting to fight for as many points as possible to avoid digging a hole early. It would have worked, too, if it wasn’t for a meddling Diomande, who broke the 1-1 tie in the 90+4 minute to give LAFC 3 points. It was a disappointing result, but not cause for any panic. LAFC was good, SKC was tired, all was fine. Fontas suffered a hip pointer and was subbed out, but that’s no big deal. Oh, how naive we were. We didn’t know what was coming. Next up: Independiente. We traveled down to Panama and brought a 2-1 deficit, as well as an injured Salloi, home. SKC beat Philadelphia 2-0 in the home opener, calming concerns that things were going wrong. The home leg of the Independiente contest had SKC cruise to a 3-0 win, 4-2 on aggregate, and backup striker Hurtado was hurt, undergoing knee surgery and given a 2-3 month timetable for return.
The next two games were MLS play: a 1-1 tie with Colorado made notable by former SKC striker Diego Rubio scoring the opener before Russell’s incredible free kick salvaged a draw for SKC. There was also the 7-1 home victory over Montreal. Nemeth hat trick, Busio goal, tons of fun. Unfortunately for SKC fans, that was just about the last bit of fun for a long while. Their next win wouldn’t come until the end of May against Seattle. The next CCL matchup was against Monterrey, who completely obliterated SKC to the tune of 5 goals to nil. In the first leg. The second leg wasn’t much better, with Monterrey beating SKC in KC 5-2, for an aggregate score of 10-2.
The rest of the season was very bad and I won’t spend much time on it. Two wins against Seattle was certainly nice, but there were way too many embarrassing scorelines. 1-4 against SJ, 0-3 against Atlanta, 1-5 against LAFC, 2-7 against LAG, and 0-6 against FC Dallas all stand out. I’ll get into the players, but it’s safe to say that injuries completely and utterly destroyed SKC’s season. At one point, there were 6 players healthy enough to practice. SKC earned 1 point from the 6 games they played after August to close out the season.


Check out The Blue Testament’s Year in review for every player, located here!
Shoutout to major_winters_506 for their offseason roster thread here

Transfers Out

Date Player Position Action
11/19 Medranda Midfielder Removed: Picked in Expansion Draft
11/19 Zendejas GK Removed: Traded to Nashville SC
11/21 Sinovic Defender Removed: Contract Option Declined
11/21 Feilhaber Midfielder Removed: Contract Option Declined
11/21 Zelalem Midfielder Removed: Contract Option Declined
11/21 Nemeth Forward Removed: Contract Expired
11/21 Hasler Defender Removed: Contract Expired
11/21 Wallace Defender Removed: Contract Expired
Jimmy Medranda: Sporting loses another fan favorite in the expansion draft, as part of a deal including leaving Jimmy exposed and trading Zendejas to Nashville SC. Jimmy was always the heir apparent to Seth Sinovic, while also being able to fill in pretty much anywhere on the pitch. His 1v1 ability will not be forgotten, nor will his incredible goals. Unfortunately, injury really robbed him of a lot of time.
Adrian Zendejas: The three-year backup to Melia moved on in a trade with Nashville SC. He only made one appearance with the senior team, starting the 1-1 tie with FC Cincinnati.
Seth Sinovic: Seth was acquired by SKC in 2011 from the New England Revolution. Since then, he’s made 210 appearances for us before having his option declined this offseason. He was signed in free agency by the Revs. I think every SKC fan still believes that at some point before the end of the season, we’ll see Seth back on the team and winning the starting left back position. After featuring there for so long, and fighting off so many challengers, it just makes sense.
Benny Feilhaber: Another long-time SKC veteran, Benny returned this season from his stint with the Colorado Rapids while SKC was in the midst of its horrible injury crisis. He started 13 games, and gave us some life when we needed it most. Benny had his option declined and remains a free agent.
Gedion Zelalem: The extremely talented midfielder never found his footing under Vermes, only managing 5 starts for the injury-riddled SKC. His reportedly very expensive option was declined, and he was picked up by NYCFC.
Krisztian Nemeth: Oh, what could have been. Nemeth had a promising start to his second stint with SKC, scoring 7 goals in his first 11 regular season games in 2019, and 4 in CCL. Unfortunately, he would only score once the rest of the way en route to Vermes choosing to not renew his contract. Nemeth is currently without a team.
Nicolas Hasler: Hasler was signed for one year to be defensive/midfield depth, and he did just that in 2019, making 9 appearances for SKC. Hasley now plays for FC Thun of the Swiss Super League.
Rodney Wallace: Rodney Wallace was signed as wing/left back depth for 2019. He had one start, playing 27 minutes before suffering a season-ending injury. Wallace is currently without a team.

Transfers In

Date Player Position Action
11/26 Sanchez GK Added: Selected in Re-Entry Draft
12/4 Puncec Defender Added: Signed through 2021
12/9 Shelton Forward Added: Signed through 2022
12/10 Pulido Forward Added: Signed through 2023
1/10 Dia Defender Added: Signed for 2020 with options through 2022
1/13 Townsend Midfielder Added: 2020 MLS Super Draft
1/13 Kasak Defender Added: 2020 MLS Super Draft
1/23 Kinda Midfielder Added: One-Year Loan
2/4 Dick GK Loaned to USL Championship side Phoenix Rising FC for the 2020
2/14 Reid Defender Added: On loan from West Ham
Richard Sanchez: Sanchez was acquired via the re-entry draft from the Chicago Fire after making no appearances in 2019 for them. He will serve as backup to Tim Melia while Dick gets experience on loan and Pulskamp starts for SKCII.
Roberto Puncec: Puncec was out of contract after playing for HNK Rijelca in the Croatian league. He appears to be the starting right center back next to Matt Besler, starting there in every preseason match so far. Puncec has played extensively in Europe between Israel, Croatia, and the 2. Bundesliga.
Khiry Shelton: Shelton returns after a short stint with SC Paderborn, during which he rarely featured and never scored for the senior team, while suffering an injury which caused him to miss substantial time. While Shelton was injured, Paderborn earned promotion to the Bundesliga, which seems to have proved too high of a level for Shelton. Nonetheless, he’s back in KC and appears to be much improved technically, and figures to be the backup striker and potentially a feature on the wing.
Alan Pulido: The Striker that was Promised. He’s here. Sporting KC ownership finally opened their pocketbooks, spending a rumored $9.5m on the Mexican striker who won the golden boot in Liga MX’s 2019 Apertura. Pulido appears to be the perfect striker for what Vermes wants, with a high defensive workrate, combination ability, positional flexibility, and a deadly finish. Expectations are sky-high for the player who more than doubled SKC’s historical net spend.
Amadou Dia: Dia returns to SKC after a three year stint in the USL with Phoenix. He will be the backup left back behind Luis Martins.
Jaret Townsend: Hey look a draft pick!
James Kasak: Hey look another draft pick!
Gadi Kinda: I Gadi say, this guys’ name seems Kinda great for puns. Kinda was acquired on loan from Israeli club Beitar Jerusalem. He had enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, scoring 7 goals and 4 assists from midfield in 16 appearances. The Ethiopian has yet to feature for the senior Israeli national team, despite appearing for their youth teams. He was called up for EURO 2020 qualifying. Kinda appears to be midfield depth, but is sure to push for a starting spot this season. He has impressed in preseason with his runs, footwork, and work rate.
Winston Reid: The 31 year old New Zealand center back is on loan from West Ham, who he’s made 222 competitive appearances for. Reid hasn’t made a senior competitive appearance since March 2018 due to injury. With almost two years off injured, this move appears to be a gamble that he can regain his form and once again become a top defender. If he does, he will undoubtedly be cemented in the SKC backline.

Returning Players

The Vets

Roger Espinoza: A bulldog in the central midfield, Honduran international Roger Espinoza was drafted by Sporting KC in 2008. Apart from two seasons he spent in England with Wigan, Espinoza has been a mainstay in the middle of the field, playing as a box-to-box destroyer. Roger lost a chunk of 2019 to injury, and another chunk to red cards (three, tying his personal “best” and moving into the league lead for total). He also proved just how much he means to this team, as SKC went on a terrible run when he was out. As Peter Vermes continues to search for a replacement for the 33 year old, expect Roger to continue to get plenty of minutes.
Matt Besler: Drafted in 2009 by the then-Kansas City Wizards, hometown hero Matt Besler has long been a stalwart in Peter Vermes’ defense. Apart from a down year in 2016, Besler has been one of the most consistent players in recent memory, but he’s 33 years old and his contract expires at the end of the year. Could this be the last year we see Besler in an SKC uniform? He looks to be entrenched as a starter and our captain, but it’s uncertain how much longer that will last with a potentially deep CB room behind him.
Graham Zusi: Zusi has been a near-constant presence on the wing for Sporting since he was drafted in 2009, though since the beginning of 2017 he has become Peter Vermes’ go-to right back. 2019 saw him named an MLS All Star, although most believe that honor was a year too late and not quite deserved this year. Regardless, how they told him was one of the highlights of the season. Graham looks to be the starter at right back yet again, but Lindsey is gunning for his position and Zusi may not be able to hold him off for much longer. Zusi’s contract runs through 2021.
Tim Melia: The 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year should need little introduction at this point, nor should his storied career move from Rochester Rhinos’ backup to MLS pool goalkeeper to his current tenure with Sporting Kansas City. While Melia, along with the rest of the backline, performed not very well in 2019, he will look to regain his top form as the starter between the sticks.

The New Core

Johnny Russell: Scottish winger Johnny Russell returns for his third year in Kansas City having made himself a favorite both on and off the field. Most often deployed as an inverted right winger, his strength and skill terrorized defenses as he contributed 9 goals and 9 assists in 28 games last season. Look for him and his pet turtle to continue to put the fear of god in defenders from the right side of the field.
Ilie: The 29-year-old Spanish midfielder is a product of the Barcelona academy and played for Barcelona B for five seasons before a short stint in 2. Bundesliga with 1860 Munich. After joining SKC in 2017, he locked down the starting defensive midfield spot, starting 67 of 68 league games over two years and becoming an essential part of the team’s midfield structure. 2019 saw Ilie start 27 games, and when he was on the field he seemed much less effective than in years past. An All-Star in 2018, Ilie will look to regain that form this year.
Felipe Gutiérrez: Chilean midfielder Felipe Gutierrez was probably the MVP of the team in 2019, scoring 12 and assisting 3. Guti was behind only Melia in minutes played, and could be found at all three midfield positions throughout the year, although Vermes obviously prefers him at the attacking midfield spot. His ability and versatility means that it’s a safe bet Guti Gang will be in contention for the most starts on the team, as well as team MVP.

Something to Prove

Andreu Fontas: Fontas, uh, didn’t exactly work out in his first year. His $1m salary was part of the reason why Ike left, and then Fontas only started 10 games, a number of which were very bad, before getting injured for several months. Once he was healthy, Vermes declined to include him in the 18, and Fontas had surgery as soon as the season was over, which will keep him out for roughly the first month of this season. It’s widely speculated that the front office plans to buy out Fontas’s contract, considering the additions of Puncec and Reid and the fact that Fontas doesn’t appear to be in Vermes’s plans even when healthy. The biggest stumbling block for that is his contract: guaranteed at $1m through 2022, it would cost $3m to buy him out and get the cap space that he takes up back. The fans want him gone, so we’ll see if the ownership continues the “injection of capital” and buys out his contract.
Botond Barath: The Hungarian center back entered 2019 as the third center back on the depth chart, but ended up starting 20 games, behind only Matt Besler. Barath wasn’t a disaster, but he certainly didn’t distinguish himself as part of Sporting’s backline. Heading into 2020 it appears that he will go back to being a third or fourth option on the depth chart, capable of stepping up when needed but unlikely to be a difference maker.
Graham Smith: The 24 year old draft pick has yet to impress for the senior team, starting 10 games and giving up 20 goals last year (including 7 to Zlatan and the Galaxy). Barring another injury disaster, Smith will likely find himself playing the whole season with SKCII, as the fifth center back on the depth chart.
Luis Martins: Brought in to replace Seth, Martins appears to have done what nobody has done before: actually replace Seth. Starting the final 9 games of the season, Martins flashed his potential on offense and appeared capable on defense. Martins will start at left back this season and will hope to provide that spark of offense on the left side that Vermes has been searching for, while improving upon 2019’s truly terrible defense.
Daniel Salloi: After leading the team in goals in 2018, Salloi suffered a pretty severe decline in production, only managing to find the back of the net once, in the second to last game of the season. By the way the team celebrated, you’d think we had just won the cup. Salloi was another player who lost time due to injury, getting hurt in CCL against Independiente. Daniel will surely look to rediscover his form this season, which should see him draw plenty of starts at left wing.
Gerso Fernandes: Gerso was another player hampered by injuries, breaking his left wrist in a game against New England. He had seized the starting role at left wing from Salloi after Daniel’s run of poor form, but wasn’t a clear-cut starter when he returned from injury. Gerso possesses speed that nobody else on the roster has, so he will definitely have a role to play. The battle between him and Salloi for the left wing remains open, and both will surely see plenty of minutes.
Eric Hurtado: Guess what happened to Hurtado in 2019? You’re right, he was injured. Sporting’s backup striker lost most of the season to injury, starting only 8 games, all after the season was pretty much over. It appears that the 29 year old will fall to third on the center forward depth chart.

The Kids

Jaylin Lindsey: After starting 6 games in 2018, Lindsey only started once for SKC in 2019. The reason? You guessed it - he got injured. Turning 20 this year, Lindsey will look to unseat Graham Zusi at right back, something that should be easy if Zusi plays as poorly as he did in 2019. Sporting a ton of personality, Lindsey is a fan-favorite and should at least get minutes rotationally, assuming he stays healthy.
Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal: Long-touted as the future of SKC’s defensive midfield, Kuzain missed his chance to get minutes with the first team by getting injured right when SKC needed players the most. Instead, he spent the entire season with SPR, often playing further ahead in the midfield than his preferred position. His passing accuracy of 88.4% shows his skill with the ball, and the 21 year old homegrown will look to have a breakout year with SKC II and potentially get minutes in the senior team’s crowded midfield.
Gianluca Busio: Sporting KC’s most promising prospect, 17-year-old Homegrown player Gianluca Busio, was the second-youngest player to ever sign an MLS contract, and is the second-youngest goal scorer in MLS history (thanks a lot, Freddy Adu). In his second full year as a professional, Busio took advantage of SKC’s injury situation by staying healthy, increasing his minutes from 153 in 2018 to 923 in 2019. While Busio occasionally looked lost, he more often did not look out of place playing with men significantly older than him. While he didn’t lock down a starting spot, Busio will look to improve on his minutes for the second consecutive year as part of a very crowded midfield.
Cameron Duke: The 11th homegrown player in SKC history, the 19 year old midfielder has been in the Sporting Academy since 2012, and has been part of the US youth national team at the U-14, U-15, U-16, and U-18 levels. Duke will almost certainly spend the entire year with SKC II.
Felipe Hernandez: Felipe Hernandez is the first player to go from a SKC Academy affiliate, to the SKC Academy, to the Swope Park Rangers and then to the first team. He’s been touted as the heir apparent to Roger Espinoza, and often looked the part while drawing tons of starts with SPR. He scored eight goals for the USL team, second only to the center forward. Hernandez has the potential to see some midfield time with the senior team, but look to see him spend the bulk of his time with SKC II
Tyler Freeman: The youngest player signed to the first team, Freeman spent the whole season fighting for minutes on a poor SPR team, starting only 12 games. The 17 year old forward will look to improve his minutes and production with SKC II this year.

2020 Preview

Things to Watch

WE GOT A STRIKER Mission accomplished. After spending years and years waiting for the ownership to open up their wallets and pay for a big-time number 9, they finally did it. And boy, did they do it. Sporting’s net spend on transfer fees heading into this offseason was approximately $4m. Alan Pulido reportedly cost $9.5m, or more than double that. If he can live up to his price tag and capitalize on the opportunities SKC regularly produces, Pulido will score a ton of goals.
What’s a defense? Unfortunately, all the goals in the world don’t mean much without a competent defense to back them up. 2019 was a horrible year for SKC’s usually stellar defense. They let in 67 goals, a mark only beaten by FC Cincinnati. Vermes has responded by bringing in two new center backs, Puncec and Reid, keeping Martins around after he started the last run of games last year, and letting everyone else get healthy over the long, long offseason. If SKC wants to be back in the postseason, the defense will have to massively, massively improve.
The HashtagPlayYourKids movement had its ups and downs with SKC in 2019. A couple of kids missed out on opportunities due to injury, most notably Jaylin Lindsey and Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal. Busio managed to improve his MLS minutes substantially, however, and SKC fended off a couple of suitors to hold on to the extremely promising midfielder. If Vermes wants to boast one of the best academies in MLS, and he does, then he’ll have to give the kids some more time with the senior team, something he’s been criticized for not doing in the past. The players with the clearest path to minutes are Busio in the midfield and Lindsey at right back, along with Salloi at left wing, so expect to see those three to get a solid amount of time. There are seven total homegrowns on the roster, including Busio, Lindsey, Kuzain, Cameron Duke, Tyler Freeman, Felipe Hernandez, and Daniel Salloi.
Do the vets still have it? As the corollary to #PlayYourKids, SKC still has a number of older players on the team. The biggest question of this year might be “Was 2019 an aberration due to injury, or a sign of things to come for Besler, Roger, and Zusi?” While Vermes seems to be betting, at least initially, that the older guys still have what it takes, there are capable and hungry replacements waiting in the wings for them to slip up. This is likely the last window for trophies for those three all together, so they will have a strong desire to work hard and prove that they’re not completely over the hill yet.


There are a lot of open questions for this Sporting KC team, which means the range of outcomes is going to be wide.
Realistic Best Case Scenario Turns out, 2019 was entirely the fault of historic levels of injury! Sporting looks like the 2018 and early 2019 team, dominating with the ball, snuffing out counter-attacks, and scoring at will by committee. The team returns to the top of the Western Conference and is competitive throughout the playoffs, although not quite doing enough to win the whole thing - the roster construction isn’t quite there. The team does bring home a trophy, though, winning the USOC in a thrilling game.
Realistic Worst Case Scenario The veterans really are past it, the kids aren’t quite ready, and injuries do not stay away. The back line remains mediocre and Pulido can’t put the offense on his back. SKC misses the playoffs for the second year in a row, and calls for Peter’s job get much, much louder.
Realistic More Probable Scenario Injuries hurt in 2019, but they clearly weren’t the only problem. The defense improves from last year, but is just league average. The midfield is much better than last year, and 5 players play more than 1000 minutes, keeping everyone fresh and competitive. The front three really improves with the addition of Pulido, and SKC scores a ton of goals and is generally fun to watch. It’s enough to put SKC back in the playoffs, and even win a playoff game! Unfortunately, that’s where things end, as Sporting falls in the second round of the playoffs in a competitive game. They make a USOC run, but don’t win that either.
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Euro 2021 analysis/prediction. Ranking each team, Predicting each playoff

As I’m sure all of you reading this know Euro 2020 has been postponed to 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic that’s occurring. The tournament was supposed to start in about a week so I thought it’d be as good a time as any to share my thoughts about each team in the tournament and who I think realistically has a chance to win it.
I’ll divide the teams into 5 categories based on their chances of winning it and say a little bit about each one: Just happy to be here, Nothings impossible, Dark horse, Wouldn’t be surprised, and Serious contenders.
Note: these are my opinions based on current abilities of each team and I know a lot can change in a year. I will also be adding who I think will win each playoff bracket at the end and assign them a category then.
Category 1)
Just happy to be here:
Finland- Although Teemu Pukki has been pretty good for Norwich this season but I can’t see how they don’t finish bottom of their group.
Wales- Their run to the semi finals in 2016 was something special. But their talisman Gareth Bale will be 5 years older and some of the players that helped them do well in 2016 have also either aged poorly or retired might be able to snag a 3rd place spot in their group but I think it’s unlikely.
Czech Republic- Long gone are the high flying Czechs from Euro 2004 where they finished the top scoring team of the tournament. This competition they are in a pretty solid group where they would be lucky to finish 3rd.
Category 2)
Nothing is Impossible:
Turkey: This team is decent. They have a couple young players that are making a name for themselves at big European clubs. But barring a small miracle they probably peak at a First round exit.
Denmark: Led by their main man Cristian Eriksen they have a fairly strong team with good players in key areas. However if I’m honest I think they have a good shot at a second round or just maybe a Semi finals appearance if the draw is good to them but nothing more.
Austria: They have a few good players plying their trade in the Bundesliga and they are very solid defensively. However they are over reliant on David Alaba and I can’t see them getting past the second round.
Sweden: We saw them play their best football in a long time at World Cup 2018, seemingly they are better without the egocentric Zlatan. That said they have a few key players that could see them into the Semis at absolute best.
Switzerland: I was definitely debating whether to put them in this category or the next. I chose this one simply because there are too many teams that I think would be able to take care of them without serious issue. That said I do think they are a borderline dark horse and they might go farther than most think come 2021
Category 3)
Dark horse:
Russia: World Cup 2018 saw them at their best in a long time, narrowing losing to eventual finalists Croatia on penalties. With players Like Cheryshev and Golovin a few years more experienced with the same core as 2018 they could do some damage
Ukraine: This team topped their qualifying group that contained Portugal and Serbia, they are a team with a good mix of some decent young and a few savvy veterans. Definitely a team to watch out for.
Poland: Whipping boys of their group in 2018 and a quarter finals exit against Portugal in 2016, their last two major tournaments haven’t been great. That said with Lewandowski up top seemingly in the form of his life I wouldn’t write them off.
Category 4)
Wouldn’t be surprised:
Italy: A team that would usually be considered serious contenders their quality has dropped off slightly and the core of their team is in their mid-late 30s. They do have great players in midfield and their front line so I wouldn’t be surprised if they manage to take home the trophy but I also wouldn’t bet on it.
Croatia: Fresh off a World Cup final, albeit against possibly the easiest bracket in World Cup history. I think they have the talent to do some damage in this competition. That said their main men from 2018 are all in their 30s so I also wouldn’t be too surprised if they crash and burn earlier than expected.
Netherlands: Their defence is arguably the best in world football and their midfield is absolutely class as well. However they are seriously lacking a goal scoring threat in attack. It definitely wouldn’t be beyond them to beat teams 1-0 all tournament. I just don’t think they will be capable of beating teams that can score consistently without an out and out striker.
England: World Cup 2018 4th place finishers, they do have young players with plenty of talent as well as arguably the best finisher in world football in Harry Kane. They are seriously lacking in defence which is why I don’t consider them serious contenders. However I wouldn’t be surprised if they somehow someway manage to get it done.
Spain: Speaking of somehow getting it done. This team is far from it’s glory days of 2008-2012 but it’s still a great team with great talent. They have probably the best midfield if world football with a solid defence and a couple decent goal scorers up top. It’s not beyond them to win the whole thing but it’s also not exactly expected.
Germany: This is a team that 6 years ago won the World Cup. This is also a team that failed to beat Mexico and South Korea in the most recent tournament. With young stars like Kai Havertz and Leroy Sane I think their future is in great hands. That said I do think they will compete with the big teams this tournament but not quite be favourites.
Category 5)
Serious Contenders
Belgium: One goal away from a World Cup final, and probably trophy. I personally think that this team is the best man for man squad on the planet. Lukaku has found his form again at Inter, Kevin De Bruyne is still the best midfielder in the world, and although his form at Real Madrid hasn’t been excellent Eden Hazard is definitely still a world class player. This should be thinking title or bust with a squad that good.
Portugal: 2016 European champs, as well as inaugural UEFA Nations League Champs. This team is at the best it’s been since 2006. A shaky match against Uruguay in the World Cup saw them knocked out earlier than expected but they have the talent in midfield and attack to rival anyone in the world. Their defence is a minor issue but they have the likes of Ruben Dias coming up the ranks with an overload of talented fullbacks they should manage fine. A repeat is definitely on the cards and with Ronaldo still banging them in for fun they’re going to be difficult to stop.
France: What a surprise, this team is ridiculously good. Centre halves galore, a plethora of goal scoring up top and a relentless midfield, the only weak part of their team are their fullbacks and even then it wasn’t a serious issue in 2018 I doubt it’ll be an issue this time around. Like Belgium I think it’s Title or bust.
Playoff winners:
Path A) Bulgaria, Hungary, Iceland, Romania.
Winner: Iceland Category: Happy to be here.
Path B) Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, Republic of Ireland
Winner: Republic of Ireland Category: Happy to be here
Path C) Norway, Serbia, Scotland, Israel
Winner: Serbia Category: Nothing is Impossible
Path D) Georgia, Belarus, Macedonia, Kosovo
Winner: Kosovo Category: Happy to be here
Final prediction: Winner: Portugal
Biggest Surprise: Switzerland
Biggest Flop: Croatia
Top scorer: Lewandowski
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120 years of AC Milan - a history of red and black football: one last spark, the end of the Berlusconi era and the provincialization (2009-2019) - part 1

In January 2009, Milan are third after having lost precious points away at Juventus and Palermo, with a 9 point gap between leaders Inter, but only 3 points behind Juventus. In the UEFA Cup, Milan beat Zurich in the first round (4-1 agg.) and finished first and unbeaten in Group E, against Heerenveen, Portsmouth and Braga.
Moreover, the winter mercato brings a big name signing: David Beckham joins on loan from LA Galaxy. However, this is not enough to prevent the team went into a crisis of results despite the many goals scored by young Alexandre Pato: The double draw with Werder Bremen, the future finalist of the tournament, ousted the Rossoneri from the UEFA Cup already in the last 16 - although unbeaten in the tournament - for the first time in its history, AC Milan were forced out of a European competition after two draws (1-1 in Bremen, 2-2 in Milan), due to the rule of goals away from home. The UEFA Cup thus remains the only official competition in which the club has participated that failed to win. For the fourth time in as many appearances in this tournament under Berlusconi's management, AC Milan was eliminated from the losing finalist club and for the first time in its history was ousted from a European competition for the away goals rule.
In the league, meanwhile, the home draw against Reggina last in the standings and the defeats in the derby against Inter (2-1) and away against Sampdoria push AC Milan, at the beginning of March, to twelve points away from the leaders of the tournament and to lose much of the advantage accumulated over the other contenders in third place, the last valid for direct entry to the Champions League the following year.
The team then recovered and won 23 points out of the 27 available, seven wins and two draws obtained thanks also to Inzaghi's scoring streak, finding itself four rounds away from the end of the championship, second to seven points from Inter (who will win the Scudetto two matchdays later), and four points ahead of Juventus before the home match, which was then tied 1-1. In the following games AC Milan lost 1-2 at Udine, a match that mathematically handed the Scudetto to Inter two matchdays in advance. The 3-2 defeat at home with Roma ended a series of nine consecutive useful results (seven wins and two draws. On the last day, with a victory in the away match in Florence, get their third place in the standings at 74 points (due to the results of the direct clashes with Juventus, which ended on equal points), a victory that allows the Rossoneri to directly access the Champions League 2009-2010 group stage.
Paolo Maldini retires from football after winning the Milan 7 Scudetti, 1 Coppa Italia, 5 Italian Super Cups, 5 Champions League, 5 UEFA Super Cups, 2 Intercontinental Cups and one World Cup for clubs. The match played at Franchi is the last official match of Paolo Maldini, who retires after 25 seasons and 902 appearances (club record), and the last with Ancelotti on the Rossoneri bench after eight years. The match against the Tuscans saw the return to the pitch of the injured Alessandro Nesta, making his debut in the 2008-2009 league. As happened in honour of Franco Baresi in 1997, the number 3 jersey, worn for years by Maldini, was retired. The captain's armband is passed to Massimo Ambrosini, the player with the most seasons in red and black from the entire squad.
In the league, AC Milan can boast the best attack with Inter (70 goals) and the second best defence in the tournament (35 goals conceded), the team's most prolific scorer is Kaká (16 goals), while Pato is the best scorer of the season with 18 goals between Serie A and the UEFA Cup. A.C. Milan is the league's most watched team in its stadium, with an average of 59,731 fans per match.
In the 2009/2010 season, for the succession of Ancelotti the club decided to bet on the former Rossoneri player and manager Leonardo, at the first experience on the bench, while a few days later Kaká, after six seasons with Milan, was sold to Real Madrid for 65 million euros. The sale was made in order to balance the club's balance sheet. This decision aroused widespread disagreement among the fans.
The club decided not to reinvest the sum collected for the sale of Kaká, and allocated it to the heal the books of the club. The Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and the defender Oguchi Onyewu (who, after an injury, will give up on the wage as Redondo did a few years before) and the co-ownership of the full-back Ignazio Abate is solved. Andriy Shevchenko returned to Chelsea after a season in which he scored two goals (in the Coppa Italia and UEFA), while Yoann Gourcuff was sold definitively to Bordeaux.
In the first game of the season, Milan beat Siena 2-1 away but the following week they collapsed against Inter in the Milan derby, losing 0-4 (a defeat margin that hadn't occurred in 35 years). In the following five games, AC Milan only got one win, 3 draws and 2 defeats: as a result, the team was heavily criticised. A.C. Milan then managed to recover thanks in part to the tactical breakthrough that took place on the eighth day of the match against Roma, consisting of a three-foward line-up (Ronaldinho, Borriello, Pato) in front of the trequartista Seedorf. The team was thus able to enter the fight at the top of the championship and, in mid-March, it moved to a point of detachment from Inter, the leader. From that moment on the Rossoneri team, without the injured Nesta, Beckham and Pato, lost ground and missed out on the Nerazzurri at Milan-Napoli (1-1).
The match against Roma was followed by 8 matches without losing, in addition, thanks to the victory over Catania, AC Milan climb above Roma in the standings, coming in 2nd place, behind Inter. On day 16 the Rossoneri were defeated 2-0 at home by Palermo in the last match of 2009. AC Milan then bid farewell to 2010 with an overwhelming 5-2 over Genoa, after which they defeated Juventus 3-0 in Turin. winning for the second time in Turin since the turn of the millennium. The Rossoneri are therefore considered as the most suited opponents to compete against Inter for the Scudetto, but in the second derby of the season the Nerazzurri rivals win 2-0. After 2 draws, with Livorno and Bologna, AC Milan return to victory with Udinese, and in the following 4 games they get 3 wins and a draw, bringing themselves down to -1 from Inter, thus rekindling Scudetto hopes. The draw against Napoli, followed by 3 defeats, 2 victories and 2 draws, also thanks to the good performances of Roma and Inter, however, definitively distances the Rossoneri from the Scudetto dream; AC Milan finish the championship in third place, winning the direct qualification to the Champions League 2010-2011.
Leonardo, at the end of the campaign, decided to leave AC Milan. During the last match of the championship (won 3-0 against Juventus), the fans gave him a warm round of applause. In the following season Leonardo moved on to coach Inter, a situation that hadn't happened since 1984, when Ilario Castagner went to coach the Nerazzurri in the season after he was firedfrom AC Milan.
In the Champions League, the Rossoneri were drawn in group C with Real Madrid, Marseille and Zurich. On their return to the Champions League, AC Milan beat Marseille in France 2-1 with a brace by Filippo Inzaghi, but in the following match they suffered a home defeat by Zurich, who won 1-0 in Milan. Milan then won a historic 3-2 victory over Real Madrid : the Rossoneri had never beaten Real at the Bernabéu. This result was followed by 3 draws, all 1-1.
After passing the group phase (finished 2nd), AC Milan qualified for the eighth finals in which they faced the English champions of Manchester United. The first match, which took place in Milan, closed 3-2 in favour of the English. In the return match in Manchester, after a decent start, the team collapsed and ended up losing 4-0. Milan, who conceded 7 goals in a two-legged match in European competitions, equaled their previous negative record, established in the eighth finals of the 1959-1960 Champions Cup, when they lost 0-2 at home and 1-5 away against Barcelona.
After the third place achieved in the 2009-10 championship, Milan changes coach: to replace the resigning Leonardo, is called the former Cagliari coach Massimiliano Allegri. As far as the squad is concerned, the Rossoneri management is called to face numerous departures: in fact, the forwards Huntelaar and Borriello, the goalkeeper Dida, the defenders Kaladze and Favalli (who announced his retirement) leave the club. To make up for the absences, Amelia, Yepes and Papastathopoulos are brought in. The most important arrivals are concentrated, however, in the market closing: for the midfield Kevin-Prince Boateng is brought while for the offensive department the reinforcements are Zlatan Ibrahimović from Barcelona and Robinho from Manchester City, operations that cost the club 42 million euros in total.
Milan make their league debut with a clear 4-0 victory against Lecce, a match in which Inzaghi scored his 122nd goal for the Rossoneri. On the second matcday,on the field of the newly promoted Cesena, absent in the top tier since 1991, Milan lose 2-0. On their debut in the group stage of the Champions League, a brace by Ibrahimović was worth the victory against Auxerre. Another goal by the Swede means, moreover, the return to winning ways in the league in the match against Genoa: the victory against the Ligurians is followed by another 3 wins, while in Europe the Devil draws against Ajax and is then defeated by Real Madrid. In the return match against Blancos, Allegri's team are behind at half-time but then manage to comeback with two goals by Inzaghi: in extra-time, however, the Spaniards find the final 2-2.
In the next round of the Serie A, AC Milan obtained a success that - in the end - will prove to be fundamental: the 2-3 obtained in Bari coincides with Allegri's tactical innovation that will be a turning point. Moving from the initial 4-3-3 to 4-3-1-2 in which the center line is mainly composed of midfielders: a solid defense and the muscular midfield represent the strengths of the line-up, which also includes a trequartista (Seedorf or Boateng) to support Ibrahimović and Robinho.The team thus finds the right tactical balance, obtaining the solitary command (which will no longer be lost until the end of the tournament) in November. The adoption of this module leads to the progressive exclusion of Ronaldinho, who will be sold out in the winter market.
The Rossoneri therefore pass the group stage of the highest European competition, entering the eighth finals. The calendar year was concluded by a defeat against Roma, caused by the net of the former Borriello. The team from Milan still won the winter title, closing the first leg with a 4 point lead over Napoli. The January window then saw the club make further signings to make up for the numerous injuries that hit the midfield, such as Antonio Cassano, Mark van Bommel or Urby Emanuelson.
The Champions League knockout draw pitted the Devil against Tottenham, who came out on top in the first leg with Crouch's goal. After the final whistle, Gattuso was involved in a physical clash with Joe Jordan (opposing vice coach and, moreover, former Milan player): UEFA severely punished the fact, disqualifying the midfielder for 5 games.
In Serie A, the victory in the direct clash with the Neapolitans was decisive: the 3-0 sent Napoli down to -6. In Europe, however, the team could not overturn the disadvantage: the return match with the Spurs ends 0-0, which caused the elimination from the tournament.
Another false step was recorded on March 19, 2011, when Allegri's men were mocked by Palermo: the defeat with the Sicilians allowed Inter to close the gap. The Madonnina's Derby, played in the following round, gave the decisive turning point: the 3-0 achieved by the Rossoneri brings the margin over their rivals back to 5 points. Another victory, with the same result, at Sampdoria's expense, allows to increase the gap to 8 points; it follows the first leg of the Italian Cup semifinals, in which Milan is forced by Palermo to draw.
The decisive step towards the Scudetto is moved at the beginning of May, with the 0-0 at Roma, assures the first place 2 matchdays before the end of the season. The possibility to win Coppa Italia vanished, after a 4-3 aggregate loss against Palermo. In Serie A, the Rossoneri finish the tournament on 82 points. This is the 18th Scudetto for the club, won 7 years after the last one.
The main operations of the 2012 summer market session concern the recruitment of defenders Philippe Mexès and Taye Taiwo (both at parameter zero), 19-year-old forward Stephan El Shaarawy and midfielders Alberto Aquilani (on loan) and Antonio Nocerino. Among the players leaving AC Milan, in addition to Andrea Pirlo (released), are defenders Marek Jankulovski, Nicola Legrottaglie and Massimo Oddo and midfielder Alexander Merkel. Mattia De Sciglio joined the first team this season.
The Rossoneri won the sixth Italian Super Cup in their history on the following 6 August in Beijing with a 2-1 win against Inter, thanks to goals from Zlatan Ibrahimović and Kevin-Prince Boateng. After this triumph, AC Milan once again became the team to hold the record for success in this competition. The start of the championship, which began with a 2-2 draw at San Siro against Lazio is underpar just like in the previous season, and only at the end of October, despite some direct clashes lost, the team saw the top of the standings again. The Rossoneri won in fact only one of the first five matches, being defeated also in Turin by Juventus, future winner of the tournament. In the meantime in the Champions League AC Milan won the qualification to the round of 16 with two rounds ahead, finishing 2nd in group H behind Barcelona (with whom they lost 3-2 at home and tied 2-2 at Camp Nou) and ahead of Viktoria Plzeň and BATE Borisov both beaten 2-0 at San Siro.
Until the Christmas break, Milan chain 12 consecutive useful results (10 wins and 2 draws) between the 7th and 17th day, including the victory in Lecce where, under three goals in the first half, he manages to overturn the result winning 4-3, and the subsequent recovery of the first round, which enable to reach Juventus at the top of the standings. The stay at the top of the standings in cohabitation with the Turin team lasted only for two days as, in the 18th round played on January 15, 2012, the Rossoneri lost the derby to Inter 0-1 (first defeat of the season at home) while the Bianconeri drew at the Juventus Stadium with Cagliari and separated AC Milan by one point.On the following 22nd January, with a 3-0 win at home against Novara, the Rossoneri finished the first half of the season in 2nd place with 12 wins, 4 draws and 3 defeats, scoring 40 goals and suffering 17. In the winter market the team was strengthened mainly with the grafts of Sulley Muntari, Maxi López and Djamel Mesbah.
On the following 22nd January, with a 3-0 win at home against Novara, the Rossoneri finished in 2nd place in the first half of the season with 12 wins, 4 draws and 3 defeats, scoring 40 goals and suffering 17. In the winter market the team was strengthened mainly with the grafts of Sulley Muntari, Maxi López and Djamel Mesbah.
On February 15, 2012 AC Milan played in San Siro the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 against Arsenal, winning the match 4-0 thanks to Kevin-Prince Boateng's goal, Robinho's one-two and a penalty kick by Zlatan Ibrahimović. In the return match played the following 6 March at Emirates Stadium in London, the Rossoneri were defeated 3-0, but due to the result of the first leg they qualified for the quarter-finals of the competition, where they will meet FC Barcelona. After the 0-0 draw at San Siro, the Rossoneri are defeated 3-1 in Barcelona, resulting in the elimination from the competition.
Meanwhile, in Italy, the long-distance duel with the Old Lady continues. In the second half of the season, the Rossoneri collect 3 victories in 5 games losing against Lazio and drawing against Napoli but thanks to 3 draws made by Juventus, AC Milan arrives on the eve of the direct clash on equal points with them. The direct clash of the 25th day ends 1-1: on 1-0 for the Rossoneri a ghost goal was not validated to the newly-acquired Muntari, for this reason the match will unleash a lot of controversy. Despite the draw in the clash at the top, AC Milan manages to take the lead in the following day and extend to + 4 in the matchday after when the Bianconeri are stopped by two draws.
In a crucial moment of the season, AC Milan lost one of its defensive pillars, Thiago Silva, due to injury, and it suffers its absence also because of the problems that afflict other pillars of the Rossoneri (in particular the continuous muscular problems of Pato and Boateng, Gattuso's optic nerve problems and Cassano's heart disease). A draw with Catania and a defeat with Fiorentina send Juventus back on top. In the following two matchdays the gap between the two teams remains unchanged with Juventus 1 point ahead of AC Milan, thanks to the victories of both teams with Lazio and Cesena and with Chievo and Genoa respectively. The turning point came on 22 April 2012 when, due to the Rossoneri's home draw against Bologna and the Bianconeri's subsequent victory over Roma, the team from Turin took a 3-point lead; the Bianconeri's draw at Juventus Stadium against Lecce was worthless, as the Milanese defeat 4-2 in the derby on the following day mathematically handed the Scudetto to the Bianconeri.
On the 13th of May 2012, on the last day (home win against Novara 2-1) the fans say goodbye to important players of past seasons such as Gattuso, Filippo Inzaghi, Nesta, Seedorf, Zambrotta, van Bommel, the first four after thirteen, eleven and ten (both) years of career in AC Milan, with Inzaghi at the 300th game with the Rossoneri jersey greeting his audience with a decisive goal.
In the league, Milan won 80 points, 2 less than the previous year, thanks to 24 wins (this season's Serie A record), 8 draws and 6 defeats, with 74 goals scored (this season's Serie A record) and 33 conceded, with a total of 30 wins, 13 draws and 10 defeats, with 100 goals scored (the third best season of the Berlusconi era in this respect) and 54 conceded. The Rossoneri Zlatan Ibrahimović also won the title of top scorer in Serie A with 28 goals scored (the first player to win it with two different teams), although for the first time since he was in Italy he failed to celebrate his national title. Behind him, one of the best Rossoneri scorers is Antonio Nocerino with 11 goals.
The main incoming football deals of the 2012 summer are goalkeeper Gabriel, defenders Francesco Acerbi and Cristián Zapata, midfielders Kévin Constant, Nigel de Jong, Riccardo Montolivo and Bakaye Traoré and strikers Bojan Krkić, M'Baye Niang and Giampaolo Pazzini. Genoa also resolved the participation of Stephan El Shaarawy, who became the exclusive property of the Rossoneri club.
Allegri's team, after losing other important players such as Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimović and Antonio Cassano (the first two sold to Paris Saint-Germain for budgetary reasons, which causes bad moods among some fans who come to ask for reimbursement of season tickets already taken out, while the third at Inter), in the start of the season struggled to find useful results, losing in his championship debut at San Siro against Sampdoria 1-0, and drawing 0-0 in the first match of the Champions League group stage against Anderlecht.
AC Milan wins only 7 points in the first 8 games, this is the worst start of the season from 1941-1942 to date and reaches the third last place in the standings. After some swinging results, except for a string of five consecutive useful results (4 wins and 1 draw) between the 13th and 17th day of the season, with a 1-0 win against Juventus in the middle. The Rossoneri finished the first half of the season in 7th place with 30 points (-9 from 3rd place), thanks to 9 wins, 3 draws and 7 defeats, with 36 goals scored and 26 conceded. In this team, strongly revolutionized in terms of roster, it's the young El Shaarawy who leads the league table of Serie A scorers from the first days until the beginning of January, when he is overtaken by Cavani. In the Champions League, Milan managed to pass the round as the 2nd place in their group one round early, also thanks to the external victory in the 5th day on the field of Anderlecht (3-1), placing themselves behind the debutant Málaga with whom they drew and and lost. In the eighth final, the draw balls of Nyon reserves Barcelona for the Devil.
In the January market, Milan sold Pato after 5 seasons, some of which were characterized by continuous injuries. Emanuelson (on loan), Acerbi and Mesbah also left the club: the latter was included in an operation that brought Cristian Zaccardo into the rossonero. Three days after the negotiations closed, from Manchester City, Mario Balotelli arrived and made his debut five days later at the San Siro, scoring two goals against Udinese.
After eliminating Reggina at home, the Milan play against Juventus in the next Coppa Italia round. In the match in Turin, AC Milan lost to the Bianconeri 2-1, after goals from Stephan El Shaarawy and Sebastian Giovinco in the first half and Mirko Vučinić in extra time, leaving the competition.
After the home victory over Parma and the simultaneous defeats of Inter and Lazio, Milan reach the 3rd place in the standings, (since the previous year the third place was granting for the qualification to the preliminary round of the Champions League 2013-2014). Balotelli's contribution is fundamental, scoring 12 times in 13 games.
In the Champions League, after the 2-0 first leg in San Siro against Barcelona, the Rossoneri came out of the competition due to a 4-0 defeat at Camp Nou in the return match. It was the fourth elimination in the Champions League round of 16 in AC Milan's last five appearances, and the fifth time in the last six editions of the European Cups that the Rossoneri were ousted in the first knockout round.
On 21 April 2013, with a 1-0 defeat against Juventus, AC Milan interrupted a series of 14 consecutive results (9 wins and 5 draws, the last defeat on 22 December 2012 against Roma),
On the following 5 May, thanks to a 1-0 home win against Torino on the 35th day, AC Milan went up to +4 on the 4th place occupied by the Viola, defeated at the Franchi against Roma (0-1). In the following two rounds Fiorentina chewed the Rossoneri 2 points, thanks to two victories with Siena and Palermo with AC Milan winning 0-4 against Pescara but drawing 0-0 at home against Roma. The Diavolo managed to maintain the gap on the last day of the season, with AC Milan coming back from the win in Siena against the Bianconeri (1-2) and the Viola in Pescara (1-5). Milan, then, entered the Champions League preliminaries for the 2013/2014 season.
In addition to Ambrosini, the club does not renew the contracts of Yepes and Flamini, sendsTraoré on loan, does not redeem Bojan and exchanges Antonini for the genoan Valter Birsa. In addition, Andrea Poli, Alessandro Matri and Kaká: the Brazilian midfielder returns to AC Milan after four years.
After finishing 3rd in the previous league, the Milanese team is busy in the Champions League play-offs against the Dutch team PSV Eindhoven.The first leg of the match takes place on 20 August 2013 at Philips Stadion and ends with a score of 1-1. In the meantime AC Milan started the league with a defeat, the one arrived on the Hellas Verona field 2-1: Luca Toni, who scored two goals on a header, replied to Andrea Poli. The match is also the 4,000th official match played by the Rossoneri.On August 28th the Milan club qualified for the group stage of the Champions League, beating PSV 3-0 at the San Siro thanks to brace by Kevin-Prince Boateng, who was sold in the last days of the transfer window. In the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, Milan will play against Celtic, Ajax and Barcelona.
On September 1, 2013 comes the first victory in the league, at San Siro against Cagliari 3-1. It is the third time under Allegri that AC Milan lose in the first two matches of this season and it is the first time since the end of the 1930s (1938 and 1939) that they lose the first league match twice in a row.
A.C. Milan, riddled with injuries in the first half of the season, with 9 points (the result of 2 wins, 3 draws and 1 defeat), entered the Champions League round of 16 as runners-up from the group stage. In particular the Rossoneri passed the round thanks to a double victory with Celtic, one draw and one defeat with Barcelona (seventh and eighth match with the Catalans in two years) and two draws with Ajax. The opponents drawn in Nyon on 16 December 2013 for the round of 16 are the Spanish side of Atlético Madrid, a team never previously faced by AC Milan in UEFA club competitions.
On December 19, 2013, the Board of Directors of Milan, which met at the new registered office of the club, located in Via Aldo Rossi, 8 Milan, unanimously approved the new organizational structure of the company, which provides for the division of the company's functions/directions into two areas, the first relating to technical and sporting activities, which continues to answer to Adriano Galliani as vice president and CEO, the second, which includes all company functions/directions not related to the first, which responds to the new vice president and CEO Barbara Berlusconi. This was followed on 31 December by the resignation of sports director Ariedo Braida, who left the club after 28 years. On 6 January against Atalanta, Kaká scored his 100th goal in the Rossoneri jersey, while Allegri celebrated his 100th victory in Serie A. Milan finished their first half of the Serie A season with 22 points, finishing 11th. Because of these results, and in particular the 4-3 defeat on 12 January 2014 against Sassuolo, the club decided to dismiss coach Massimiliano Allegri.
With Tassotti on the bench, on 15 January AC Milan overcame the eighth round of the Coppa Italia, beating La Spezia 3-1 at San Siro.The following day the club announced the name of the new coach, Dutchman Clarence Seedorf, already a Rossoneri player and until that moment, playing for Botafogo. Seedorf's AC Milan made their debut with a league victory over Verona.
The return round continues with alternating results and the team is unable to move up from the lower-middle zones of the standings. Milan were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia at the hands of Udinese, who had eliminated Inter in the previous round, winning at the San Siro 2-1. In the Champions League too, the Rossoneri team did not pass the round (for the fourth time in the last five appearances), being defeated by Atlético Madrid both in the first leg at the San Siro 0-1 and in the return leg at the Calderón 4-1 (goal scored by Kaka). In the next match, lost 4-2 at San Siro against Parma, the team was contested by the fans. Later the club, thanks to 5 consecutive victories between the end of March and April and a derby victory,almost three years after its last success against Inter, ended the championship in eighth place on 57 points, and remained out of UEFA competitions after fifteen consecutive seasons in Europe (record number of consecutive European cup appearances in the club's history). On May 19, "Casa Milan", the new headquarters of the Rossoneri is inaugurated in Via Aldo Rossi.
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2019 Women's World Cup Group F Preview: Sweden, United States, Chile ,Thailand

SWEDEN , via riskyrofl


Nicknames: Blågult (The Blue and Yellow)
WWC Appearances: 8
Best Finish: Runners-Up (2003)
Fifa Ranking: 9


World Cup regulars Sweden look to challenge the very best this year in France. 4 years on from a disappointing Round of 16 exit, the squad look far more experienced going into this tournament. Results since 2015 have been a mixed bag, eliminating the USA on their way to a Runners-Up finish at the Rio Olympics, losing to subsequent champions Holland at the second round of the Euros, and then having an excellent qualifying campaign that saw them finish 5 points ahead of rivals Denmark.
Sweden should have no problems with Chile and Thailand if everything goes to plan, but it will be the clash against the US that will really test their mettle. Cause another upset for the Americans like they did in Rio and the Swedes will most likely have a much more favourable Round of 16 match up. After that? I wouldn't say a semi-final appearance is impossible. With teams on the continent like England, France, Netherlands and Spain beginning to emerge as serious contenders in the last few years, Sweden will need a strong performance to prove they are still amongst the sport's royalty.

Manager and Squad

Coach: Peter Gerhardsson
Goalkeepers: Hedvig Lindahl, Jennifer Falk (Kopparbergs/Göteborg), Zećira Mušović ( Rosengård)
Defenders: Jonna Andersson (Chelsea), Linda Sembrant (Montpellier), Hanna Glas (Paris Saint-Germain), Nilla Fischer (VfL Wolfsburg), Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea), Amanda Ilestedt (Turbine Potsdam), Nathalie Björn (Rosengård)
Midfielders: Lina Hurtig (Linköping), Kosovare Asllani (Linköping), Julia Roddar (Kopparbergs/Göteborg), Caroline Seger (Rosengård), Anna Anvegård (Växjö DFF), Elin Rubensson (Kopparbergs/Göteborg)
Forwards: Madelen Janogy (Piteå), Sofia Jakobsson (Montpellier), Stina Blackstenius (Linkoping), Julia Zigiotti Olme (Kopparbergs/Göteborg), Fridolina Rolfö (Bayern Munich), Mimmi Larsson (Linköping), Olivia Schough (Djurgårdens IF)

Potetial Starting Eleven

 Lindahl Glas Fischer Sembrant Erikson Rubensson Seger Jakobsson Asslani Schough Blackstenius 

Players to Watch

Sofia Jakobsson
An excellent goalscorer for Montpellier, Jakobsson is quick and creative. In Gerhardsson's system that favours wide play and quick transitions from the back to playmakers into the penalty box, she is an important part of the Swedish machine. Over a 100 caps at 29, she's consistently been an important part of the team, but missed the last Euros with injury.
Caroline Seger
A playmaker with physical prowess and the occasional goal in her, Seger has seen multiple semi-final and runner-up finishes at the World Cup, Euros, and Olympics in her 193-cap international career, and yet no winner's medal. At 34 this is possibly Sweden's captain's last chance at victory. Seger was a part of the stacked team at Lyon before turning to Rosengård, and is still an exceptional player.
Hedvig Lindahl
Sweden have arguably one of the best keepers of the century in Lindahl. After 4 excellent years at Chelsea she remains the top choice for the Blågult, even if there are younger and more athletic options. She excels at organizing her defence and is still a decent shot stopper. 3 years ago she blocked an Alex Morgan penalty, she will no doubt frustrated American strikers here too.

Points of Discussion

Getting the ball into the box won't be the problem, it will be scoring
With players like Jakobsson and Seger, Sweden can be effective at playing forward, finding space out wide or in the penalty box effectively. However it's forwards have been less effective in getting the ball into the net. Jakobsson, Asslani, Blackstenius can't be wasteful, and players like Schough and Rolfö also need to deliver.
Defensive flaws?
A 2-1 defeat to Germany in April highlighted defensive issues with Sweden. Space between their high defensive line is vulnerable, and they may struggle to defend set pieces too.

UNITED STATES , via u/ArmandoPayne


Nicknames: Team USA, USWNT, The Stars And Stripes
Women's World Cup Appearances: 8
Best Result: Champions (1991,1999 and 2015)
FIFA Ranking: 1
FA Logo


The USA Women's Soccer Team are currently defending World Cup champions after destroying Japan 5-2 in the last finals. Dominant and evergreen they are hoping to retain the championship for the first time in their history. They have also never finished lower than third in the entire history of the Women's World Cup so they are a force to be reckoned with. With a straightforward group anything less than 9 points would be seen as a disappointment. They should reach the third place playoff but with either Germany or China alongside the hosts France to deal with and without the usage of Hope Solo they could falter for the first time but I would bet on them reaching the Semis.

Manager and Squad

Manager: Jill Ellis (USA)
Alyssa Naeher (43 Caps, 0 Goals), Ashlyn Harris (21, 0) and Adrianna Franch (1,0)
Becky Sauerbrunn (155, 0), Kelley O'Hara (115, 2), Abby Dahlkemper (37, 0), Ali Krieger (99, 1), Tierna Davidson (19, 1), Crystal Dunn (83, 24) and Emily Sonnett (31, 0)
Sam Mewis (47, 9), Morgan Brian (82, 6), Julie Ertz (79, 18), Lindsey Horan (66, 8), Rose Lavelle (24, 6) and Allie Long (42, 6)
Mallory Pugh (50, 15), Carli Lloyd (271, 107), Alex Morgan (160, 101), Jessica McDonald (7, 2), Megan Rapinoe (150, 44), Tobin Heath (147, 28) and Christian Press (113, 47)


(Taken from their last match against New Zealand)
Naeher; O'Hara, Dahlkemper, Sauerbrunn, Dunn; Lavelle, Ertz, Horan; Heath, Morgan, Rapinoe.

Players to Watch

Carli Lloyd
A legend of the women's game. Will be the main source of goals for the squad.
Lindsey Horan
Can do just about anything when it comes to attacking. Will make the assists and occasionally score some herself.
Tobin Heath
She is also an attacking dynamo for this squad. Will win games and change the tide of the game.

Points of Discussion

Was it wise bringing an old squad with them?
With only 4 members of their squad 24 years or younger with a whopping 11/23 of them 30 years or older will they be able to keep up with the younger generation of footballers playing.
Will they be able to even reach the semi finals?
As previously mentioned if they win their group they will face either Germany or China and then France who are premier sides in the Women's International Games so will they be able to beat France or will they falter for the first time ever in the history of the Women's World Cup?

CHILE , via u/lordvelaryon and u/crusaruis28


WWC Appearances: Debut
Best Finish: Debut

Fifa Ranking: 39


Chile’s women team is young but not that much anymore, created at the beginning of the 90s (the opposite to the men’s, who has existed since the early 1900s). In the almost 30 years since that start, it is only in recent times that it has grown to the point of becoming a known team for the average Chilean. Their first ever participation in a World Cup will surely increase that interest.
Their best participation in the women’s Copa America was both at the very first edition where they participated (1991 in Argentina) and the last one (2018 in Chile), both times getting the second place. At clubs, Chilean women’s football has been more successful. After the creation of the First Division in 2008, Colo Colo, the biggest club, won a Libertadores in 2012 and reached the final in 2011, 2015 and 2017. A lot of strong players have been bought from European and North American clubs, the best of all of them being Christiane Endler, goalkeeper of PSG and captain of the national team.
Chile’s first participation in a World Cup will be a hard task. They will face the United States, Sweden and Thailand. In the Copa America they defeated Argentina, Peru and Uruguay, traditional rivals of the men’s team, with very good performances, but couldn’t do the same with Colombia and lost against Brazil. It is expected that Sweden and the United States will be rivals as strong as the Brazillians, if not more.

Manager and Squad

Coach: Jose Letelier
GOALKEEPERS Christiane Endler - PSG Féminines (FRA) Natalia Campos - Universidad Católica (CHI) Ryan Torrero - Free agent.
DEFENDERS Rocío Soto - Zaragoza CFF (ESP) Su Helen Galaz -Zaragoza CFF (ESP) Camila Sáez - Rayo Vallecano (ESP) Carla Guerrero - Rayo Vallecano (ESP) Javiera Toro - Santiago Morning (CHI) Valentina Díaz - Colo Colo (CHI)
MIDFIELDERS Karen Araya - Sevilla FC (ESP) Claudia Soto - Santos (BRA) Francisca Lara - Sevilla FC (ESP) Ana Gutiérrez - CFF Cáceres (ESP) Yessenia López - Colo Colo (CHI) Elisa Durán - Colo Colo (CHI) Daniela Pardo - Santiago Morning (CHI)
FORWARDS Yanara Aedo - Valencia CF (ESP) Yessenia Huenteo - CFF Cáceres (ESP) María Jose Rojas - Slavia Pragha (CZE) María José Urrutia - Associaçião Esportiva 3B Amazónia (BRA) Rosario Balmaceda - Colo Colo (CHI) Daniela Zamora - Universidad de Chile (CHI) Javiera Grez - Curico Unido (CHI)

Players to Watch

Christiane Endler
The captain and best player of the team. Started in a small club but was quickly scouted by Colo Colo, team with which she became a hero winning the Libertadores final in penalties, where she stopped two. Was bought by Chelsea Ladies but at the end of her first season was diagnosed with a meniscus injury, so she came back to Chile to heal. After another season with Colo Colo she was bought by Valencia, becoming the best keeper of La Liga in her first season. After winning the Zamora Trophy, she was bought by PSG, being again chosen the best keeper of the Ligue 1 in the 18/19 season. With those credentials she comes to the Copa America.
Carla Guerrero
Experienced central defender who served until 2017 in Colo Colo. She is the player with the most titles in Chile, as she won 12 trophies with Colo Colo jersey and one with Everton (the Chilean one). In 2010, she first arrived to Colo Colo and played in that club uninterruptedly until 2018, year when she was transferred to Colombian champion Independiente Santa Fe. It was champion of the Copa Libertadores de América 2012 and also has the second place medals of 2011, 2015 and 2017. Last year she was bought by Rayo Vallecano, playing in La Liga. However, she suffered an ACL injury some months ago, injury that almost forced her to miss the World Cup. But she will play!
Francisca Lara
The 28 years-old is a multifunctional player who can play as a defender, midfielder and forward on the left flank. With 20 goals, she is the Chilean national team's all-time leading scorer. She won the 2012 Libertadores Cup and 10 titles with Colo Colo. Shs played last year as a starter at Sporting Huelva in Spain, before being sold to Sevilla this last season, where she's been known for her goalscoring ability.
María José Rojas
She is the most experienced Chilean when it comes top lay abroad. She’s a very fast forward on the right wing. She is the second highest scorer of the female "Reds", where she participates since the Guadalajara 2011 Pan American Games. She was the first Chilean woman to play in the Frauen Bundesliga, in Herforder SV. Playing for the UTSA Roadrunners, she scored the 2010 Southland Conference title goal in the fourth injury minute of her team's 1-0 win over Louisiana. She is also the first national to play in the Champions League, defending Lithuania's Gintra in 2017. With her move to Japan's Orca Kamogawa FC, she became the first Chilean to play in that country. Last year she played in Czechia’s Slava Praga.

Points of Discussion

Ball possession
Due to Chile's small size, winning headers and physical game play isn't their strong suit. The coach has them make up for it by playing quick passes and controlling large chunks of possession throughout the game. Being able to control the flow of the game will be important if Chile are to win any games in a group with Sweden and USA, two of the best teams in the world.

THAILAND , via u/crusaruis28


WWC Appearances: 2
Best Finish: Group Stages (2015)
Fifa Ranking: 34


A second berth to the FIFA Women's World Cup was earned after a hard fought semi-finals finish at the AFC Women's Asia Cup. They went down to the wire and lost out to Australia on penalties. Good signs of improvement by the squad since 2015 and could potentially see themselves out of the group if they manage a win versus Chile and a draw versus one of the bigger teams.

Manager and Squad

Coach: Nuengruethai Sathongwien
GK: Waraporn Boonsing, Sukanya Charoenying, Tiffany sornpao
DF: kanajaporn Saengkoon, Natthakarn Chinwong, Duangnape Sritala, Ainon Phancha, warunee phetwiset, Sunisa Srangthaisong, Khwanrudi Saengchan, Pitsamai sornsai, Phornphirun Philawan
MF: Pikul Khueanpet, Silawan intamee, sudarat Chucheun, Rattikan Thongsombut, Orapin Waenngoen, wilaiporn Boothduang, Kanjana Sungngoen
FW: Suchawadee Nildhamrong, Orathai Srimanee, Saowalak Pengngam, Taneekarn Dangda

Players to Watch

Kanjana Sungngoen
Her consistent goal scoring is the reason Thailand have qualified for the last two world cups. She's a key weapon and is both fast and experienced.

Points of Discussion

Same team different World Cup
The Thais are the smallest team in the tournament and may suffer lots of problems against Sweden and USA's size. One thing they have going for them is that the team is essentially the same one that qualified for 2015. Almost a decade of the same players playing together is only a good thing for the Thai ladies.
Realistic aims
Thailand had two losses and a win in their first World Cup in Canada. And once again just being in the tournament is a success for the Thais. Getting past the groups isn't impossible, but improbable. Safe to say it would be miraculous if they get results against either of Sweden or the USA.
submitted by riskyrofl to soccer [link] [comments]

UEFA Golden Boy Winners 2003-2008: Where are they now?

Alright you lot, it's been a while. How've you been?
Yes, I'm back again with a footballing history lesson none of you really asked for. I've split this one into two parts, I would say it's so we can have an in-depth discussion but it's mainly because I'm lazy. Hey, at least I'm honest.
I've done some similar posts to this one before, and the lovely people at 8by8 Magazine asked me to write them with a little more substance. You can see my past articles here:
PFA Young Player of the Season 1990-2000: Where are they now?
PFA Young Player of the Season 2000-2010: Where are they now?
Premier League Manager of the Season: Where are they now?
Club (at time of winning): Ajax
Position: Midfielder
Age: 20 then, 32 now
The winner of the inaugural Golden Boy award was a young Dutch boy from Heemskerk. At the time of winning he’d already been playing regular football for Ajax for three years, making his debut at just 17. Van der Vaart left Ajax in 2005 after a series of incidents that also sparked the sale of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, internet darling and absolute bellend, from Ajax after rumors that Zlatan had intentionally injured Van der Vaart during a Holland v Sweden game. The two were supposedly vying for the striker position at the time. Van der Vaart moved from Ajax to Hamburger SV and then on to Real Madrid for £10 million in 2008.
Van der Vaart’s time at Real Madrid started well with him being nominated for the Ballon d’Or in October 2008, but the next few years were not as kind seeing him reduced to a sub for much of his career, leading him to look elsewhere. So entered Henry James Redknapp into Van der Vaart’s life. In what was actually a fantastic piece of wheeling and dealing that would make Del Boy shed a tear, Redknapp managed to snag Van der Vaart for a mear £8 million after an £18 million deal to Bayern Munich had fallen through. He even got the Premier League to allow Spurs to conduct business after the transfer window had officially closed, presumably on the grounds that it was a top, top piece of business. In his debut season Van der Vaart was both Spurs top scorer and provided the most assists.
Van der Vaart currently plays for Real Betis, with injuries having plagued the later half of his career.
Club (at time of winning): Everton
Position: Striker
Age: 19 then, 29 now
Since the last time I wrote one of these, quite a lot’s happened for Wayne. It would be easy to poke fun at him getting knocked out by Phil Bardsley in his own home, but it happened and really the knowledge alone is enough for me. No the real story is that Rooney is now England’s all-time goalscorer. What makes it more magical is that he did it the right way. You can imagine it now: It’s Liverpool 1992, a young Rooney sits with his family, huddled for warmth around a burning Ford Escort someone at the pub “found”. Wayne looks up from the rat he’d been gnawing on and says “Mam, I’m gonna be England’s top scorer me. And I’m gonna do it by scoring dodgy pennas against San Marino and Switzerland”. Brings a tear to the eye.
Joking aside, the wake of Charlton’s record being broken sparked a desperate attempt by pundits to convince themselves that Rooney was in fact deserving of the record and that no-one had ever spoken ill of him. But the flurry of opinion pieces just served to highlight how sad it is that the media have made Rooney the scapegoat for so many of England’s failings over the years. Yes, he hasn’t lit up a major tournament since he was a teenager, but is it really his fault England have been so poor on the world stage? Should it really be expected that he has to be the one to get England over the line? Or should the blame be more on the FA for only producing one truly world class player in his generation and then pinning all their hopes on him?
  • 565 career appearances, 252 goals (0.45 goals per game)
  • 488 Manchester United appearances, 235 goals
  • 107 England caps, 50 goals
  • Career silverware: 5 Premier League titles, 2 League Cups, 3 Community Shields, 1 Champions League and 1 Club World Cup.
Club (at time of winning): Barcelona
Position: Forward
Age: 18 then, 28 now
I was torn how to approach this little bio of Messi. What can I say? You all know who he is and what he’s about (if you don’t, he’s the third most famous Lionel in the world, behind Richie and Blair). I could talk about how he might worry about how aging will affect his game but unlike other players his age he shows no signs of slowing down. I could spend the whole bio just poking fun at him, but in reality that’s kind of impossible because at the end of the day he’s Lionel Messi. He’s dodged more in tax than I can ever hope to earn, he’s short but annoyingly that just makes him better at football and worse of all he seems like a nice bloke. At least most of the great footballers have the decency to be a bit of a knob to balance it out (Maradona, Pele, looking at you lads).
Undeniably the most deserving winner of the award and a footballer we are all lucky to be witnessing in his prime, Messi will undoubtedly become the impossible standard of all future Golden Boy winners. Perhaps even the anomaly that was too good at football - how many players will be built up to be “the next Messi” only to have expectation and inevitable disappointment tarnish their careers? How many already have been?
  • 525 career appearances, 429 goals all for Barcelona (0.82 goals per game)
  • 105 Argentina caps, 49 goals
  • Career silverware: 7 La Liga titles, 3 Copa del Rey, 6 Supercopa de Espana, 4 Champions Leagues, 3 UEFA Super Cup, 2 Club World Cup, 2008 Olympic Gold Medal, 2014 World Cup Runner-up, 2 Copa America Runner up.
Club (at time of winning): Arsenal
Position: Midfielder
Age: 19 then, 28 now
It’s funny how quickly things change in football. This time last season Fabregas was lighting up the Premier League, his partnership with Costa the personification of Mourinho’s smug ability to seemingly always have one over on Wenger. Fabregas was hailed as one of the signings of the summer, his return to the Premier League in blue a masterstroke from Chelsea and a foolish missed opportunity from Arsenal. But time and football are cruel mistresses and both have taken issue with Cesc. While time is doing her best to turn Fabregas, Costa and Mou into a trio of greasy kebab shop owners, football seems to have forgotten about the three of them altogether. Chelsea currently lie 15th in the table with 8 points from 7 games and Fabregas seems to have lost his magic touch that defined the first half of every season he’s played. Although a more impressive individual display against Newcastle does suggest the skill that earned him this award may still be around it remains to be seen if the malaise that seems to have infected the Chelsea squad is temporary or indicative of a permanent shift in an aging Fabregas’ career.
  • 509 career appearances, 105 goals (0.21 goals per game)
  • 303 appearances for Arsenal, 57 goals.
  • 98 Spain caps, 14 goals.
  • 3 Catalonia caps, 0 goals.
  • Career silverware w/ Arsenal: 1 FA Cup, 1 Community Shield.
  • Career silverware w/ Barcelona: 1 La Liga title, 1 Copa del Rey, 2 Supercopa de Espanas, 1 Super Cup, 1 Club World Cup.
  • Career silverware w/ Chelsea: 1 Premier League title, 1 League Cup.
  •  Also World Cup 2010 Winner, Euro 2008, 2012 Winner 
Club (at time of winning): Atletico Madrid
Position: Striker
Age: 19 then, 27 now
Like a lot of young and talented Argentinians Sergio Aguero, along with the likes of Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez, was lined up to be the “New Maradona”. This would later establish what was undoubtedly the world’s worst father-in-law/son-in-law dynamic after Aguero married Maradona’s youngest daughter in 2009. I’m not saying that’s what caused Aguero to file for divorce in 2013, but can you imagine having to suffer through having Diego Maradona as your father-in-law? I bet he has a scrapbook full of articles about how you’re not as good as him.
Like so many strikers before him Aguero gained a reputation for himself in Europe at Atletico Madrid before making a big money move to the Premier League - joining Manchester City in 2011 for £35 million. In his debut year in the Premier League he quickly established himself as one of the league’s showpiece players, City’s talisman forward and a key part of Sky Sports Premier League advertising. His last minute strike against QPR has become one of the defining moments of the modern Premier League era, which due a planning masterstroke on my part I got to experience through live text updates sat outside a broken toilet on an overcrowded train from Middlesbrough to Sheffield. I’ve heard it was quite a special moment.
What is strange about Aguero is that unlike most other stikers there’s just something inherently likable about him. Even Manchester United fans don’t hate him really. I mean the nickname “Kun” on his shirt is the nickname his grandparents gave him as a kid and he even has a tattoo of it in Elvish on his arm. Come on now, how can you hate a bloke who loves his Nan that much?
  • 463 career appearances, 231 goals (0.50 goals per game)
  • 234 Atletico Madrid appearances, 101 goals
  • 68 Argentina caps, 32 goals
  • Career silverware: 1 Europa League, 1 Intertoto Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup, 2 Premier League titles, 1 League Cup, 1 Community Shield, 1 2008 Olympic Gold Medal, 2014 World Cup Runner-up, 1 Copa America Runner-up.
Club (at time of winning): Manchester United
Position: Midfielder
Age: 20 then, 27 now
So I’m not really sure what happened this year. Maybe the pre-vote party got a bit heavy, maybe the England representative took the other lads out for a Nando’s, things got extra cheeky and they agreed to vote for Anderson “for the bants”. Whatever the events that led to him winning the award it seems Anderson is the only player on the list whose career didn’t quite pan out as planned. Or that’s what you’d think. Believe it or not in terms of silverware, Anderson is the second most successful Golden Boy winner of all time. Just take a moment to think about that.
In a way I’m being hard on Anderson, when he won the award in 2008 he was one of the hottest and most exciting prospects in world football and was rightfully recognised for that. Anderson was fantastic for Brazil U17s; picking up the Golden Ball at the 2005 World Championship and this exceptional form is probably what helped him secure a £20 million move to Manchester United in 2007. Yet somewhere along the way something went wrong. Brought in as replacement for Keane and Scholes, during his time at United Anderson struggled to keep a grip of both the central midfield spot and his waistline. Injury and off the field insubordination left Anderson in the footballing wilderness, with United eventually washing their hands of him, taking a loss as Anderson left for Inter Internacional on a free transfer in January 2015. Sadly there doesn’t seem to be a second coming on the cards for Anderson, on his Internacional debut he missed a penalty and was substituted after only 36 minutes into his second game, uninjured but still requiring an oxygen mask.
  • 261 career appearances, 21 goals (0.08 goals per game)
  • 181 Manchester United appearances, 9 goals
  • 8 Brazil caps, 0 goals.
  • Career silverware: 4 Premier League titles, 2 League Cups, 2 Community Shields, 1 Champions League, 1 Club World Cup, 2 Primeira Liga titles, 1 Taca de Portugal, 1 Supertaca Candido de Oliveira, 1 Campeonato Gaucho, 1 Campeonato Brasileiro Serie B title, 1 2008 Olympics Bronze Medal, 1 Copa America.
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Group State Predictions for the 2018 World Cup

Russia 2018 Group Predictions
Group A: Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, & Saudi Arabia Russia is your average team, nothing special, no amazing stand out players, but overall a decent team. They have an advantage that no other team in the tournament has, being the host country they will have overwhelming support in each group stage match, this is why I believe they will finish second in their group. Uruguay is a lot different, they have a few stand out players and they have the flair of a South American team. The pace they carry will definitely run over Russia and the rest of the group. Strikers like Suarez and Cavani will press the defensive line and will definitely finish the chances they are given, granted if Suarez doesn’t bite another player. They are also defensively stable, with Diego Godin the main man controlling the back line. Uruguay has always performed well in previous world cups, in 2010 they won their group and made it to the quarter finals before losing to the Netherlands. In 2014 they finished second in their group and lost in the Round of 16. Given their team and their opposition they face in the group stage, I am betting that Uruguay will win Group A. Egypt, now this is where most people will be likely to disagree with me. Egypt carries by far the best player of this year, Mohamed Salah. The problem with having one phenomenal player in a team that is not so great, is that they will be consistent with playing balls to him. I don’t care how good someone is but one player against 11 others does not add up. The opposition will easily counter all plays with Salah by just added multiple men to defend him, they can afford to do this because the rest of Egypt’s team is not so great. This is why I believe Egypt will finish 3rd in Group A. There is not much to say about Saudi Arabia other than they have never quite been a footballing nation. They have previously qualified for four World Cups, 1994 - 2006. Their only two wins in FIFA World Cup History was in 1994 when they qualified for the Round of 16, the remained World Cups they were winless. This is why I predict Saudi Arabia to finish last in Russia this year.
Group B: Spain, Portugal, Morocco, & Iran In Group B you really only have two teams that are moving on. The problem is deciding who comes first and who comes second. I'm sure you already know what two teams I am talking about. Team Ronaldo, sorry I always mess that up, I mean Portugal, are coming into the World cup as the 2016 European Champions, granted Portugal had a very debatable run into the finals they still nonetheless won the tournament. The problem with Portugal is similar to Egypt, they have Ronaldo and they constantly play balls to him because he carries the team. Now this might work against teams like Morocco and Iran, but it is unlikely to get them far against bigger teams, like Spain. To show you how Portugal fought its way in the European Championship, they drew all of their group stage games and finished 3rd in their group. They then went on to beat Croatia 1-0 after extra time (Barely winning) in the Round of 16, they then beat Poland in penalties in the quarter finals (penalties are lucky), and then beat Wales 2-0 (How the fuck did Wales get there?), and then somehow managed to beat France in the finals 1-0 after extra time. It is this uncertainty that leads me to believe Portugal will finish second in Group B. Spain goes down in the history books for probably the best National team, after winning back to back European Championships in 2008 & 2012, as well as winning the World Cup in 2010. However, they completely embarrassed themselves in Brazil at the last World Cup. But now I think they have got everything under control again and they are getting back to their level they were in the 2008 - 2012 era. Spain play as a whole team, they don’t have individual standout players, instead they have a standout team, very similar to Germany. In each position they have world class players. De Gea, the best keeper in the world this year, Sergio Ramos and Pique, world class center backs, Jordi Alba, a world class fullback, David Silva, Iniesta, and Busquets controlling the midfield playing the Spanish tikka taka football will destroy any team. This is why I believe Spain will finish First in Group B
Group C: France, Denmark, Peru, & Australia There really isn’t much of a debate on who is going to win this group, but rather who is going to be the runner up. France out beats all three teams in every position in this group. With Mandanda on fire this season and Varane and Mendy keeping the defense clean and organized they will likely concede few goals. Pogba and Kante will run the midfield while Griezmann and possibly Benzema put in the goals combine this with Mbappe, and France will be very dangerous. This is why I believe they will win Group C. Now the true difficult in this group. All three teams are equally deserving of getting runner up, however Denmark and Peru have the upper edge in terms of player quality, experience, and flair. Denmark is the only other European country in this group, that means a lot when the tournament is held in Europe, more fans will come to excite the atmosphere and the players will have much less to get used to in terms of climate and altitude. Denmark is a lot calmer on the ball, they play like many other European teams, calm gentle possession of the ball. Christian Eriksen is great at this is and I believe he will be a main factor helping Denmark achieve its runner up position. Peru plays quick South American style football, but Denmark will be able to counter this with their possession style of play and once they have a goal in, they will be able to play to their own liking knowing that Peru will be exposed with their fast plays. Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, & Nigeria Argentina, the team of all attack and no defense. At least that is how it was before, now they have a pretty solid defense, with Otamendi, Rojo, & Mascherano controlling the backline. However, the concern that Argentina posses is they barely made it through qualifying with the quality of the team they have. Their attack would scare anyone, strikers like Paulo Dybala and Higuain being on the bench show just how much depth this Argentina attack has. Not to mention Di Maria and of course the magician, Lionel Messi captaining the team for probably the last time. Argentina will have to come against big competition in this group, with pacey Nigeria always being a threat on the counter, well balanced Croatia being able to strike at any time, and the underdog Iceland that shocked everyone at the Euro 2016. If Argentina can get their team organized and play like they should then I believe they will win Group D. Nigeria is a dangerous team for anyone, with their pace down the middle and down the wings, they are truly a dangerous side, particularly against teams that play gentle possession like Croatia. Croatia is definitely a strong side when you look at their team. Midfielders like Modric and Rakitic are world class and can split the opposition with a single pass. Kovacic is very deadly on the counter with his pace as well. Their forwards like Mandzukic, Pjaca, and Perisic are very dangerous when near goal. The problem is, they are very vulnerable to pace, as their team plays slowly and their team is slow. To give an example, in the 2014 World Cup, Bosnia & Herzegovina, who play very similarly to Croatia, came across Nigeria who won the game solely because of their pace. This is why I believe Nigeria will advance as runner ups in Group D. As much as I would like to see Iceland make another dark horse run in this tournament, it very unlikely given they are in such a tough group. But who knows they might stun the world again.
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia, & Costa Rica I'm obviously going to mention Brazil losing 7-1 to Germany at the last World Cup because they have come a long way after that hugely embarrassing game. They won their qualifying campaign with a 10 point gap between second place Uruguay. Brazil have improved in about every aspect since that defeat, they are motivated for revenge, and have developed as players. Ederson, one of the best keepers this season will be able to distribute the ball perfectly. Thiago silva, Filipe Luis, and Marcelo who have tons of experience with the national team and previous world cups will be able to keep the defense organized and clean. In the midfield, Douglas costa, Firmino, and Philippe Coutinho will be able to counter quickly and be very creative with their plays. Up front Gabriel Jesus will be a dangerous quick striker who will not miss any of his chances. Oh I almost forgot, Neymar, what else do I have to say other than Brazil will win Group E? Yeah I thought so. Now this is the true group of death, Switzerland is a top 10 team that is deadly and contain a solid team in all aspects with likes of Shaqiri, Lichtsteiner, Embolo, Burki, and Xhaka. Costa Rica shocked everybody at the 2014 World cup by going undefeated in their group stage against the likes of Italy, England, and Uruguay, they then shocked everybody by making it to the quarter finals before losing in penalties against the Netherlands. Costa Rica did fairly well in their qualifying campaign by finishing in second place behind Mexico. They could very much be a dark horse this tournament. Serbia, another Balkan team that is likely to choke like every other former Yugoslavia team. The mentality that teams like Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia posses is that if you score a goal, you basically won and you can stop trying. This mentality is what makes former Yugoslavia teams not perform as they should. Serbia have so much talent everywhere on the pitch, it's the problem of their mentality that makes them lose. Wingers like Lazar Markovic and world class midfielders like Nemanja Matic showcase the talent Serbia have, but just are unable to see how the victory. It is this reason that leads me to believe that despite Serbia having much more talent than Switzerland and Costa Rica they will ultimately choke and not make it to the next round. Instead Switzerland will get second place and move on.
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, & Korea Republic A well oiled German machine, the only way to describe Germany right now. Just like I said about spain, Germany has no single standout players, instead they have a whole standout team. Every single position is held by a world class player. Manuel Neuer, no need to say anything about him because his name is enough. Boateng and Mats Hummels what do I need to say about them? Gundogan, Khedira, Kroos, Ozil, Reus, Muller and Leroy Sane. What else do I need to say about Germany other than they are winning the group and very likely the tournament? Do I even have to explain myself? Mexico is the only other stand out team in this group, with quality players playing in Europe and in South America. They are very quick on the ball and present danger to any team when they are going forward. Sweden and Korea lack much depth in their squads, but Mexico has the quality and play style to beat both of them. This is why I believe Mexico will be runner ups in Group F.
Group G: Belgium, England, Panama, & Tunisia Belgium being such a small country have really been able to grow some fantastic players over the last few years. Kevin De Bruyne has evolved into the world's best attacking midfielders, his work ethic and creativity on the ball is unmatched by another other player. Romelu Lukaku can out muscle any defender and his unmatched with his heading. Eden Hazard is deadly down the wings with his pace his dribbling. Belgium’s defense is rock solid with Vertonghen and Vincent Kompany holding the backline, along with Courtois the brick wall in goal. The only problem with Belgium is that they are very young and very inexperienced in cup competitions like this, this was the main reason they did not get past the quarter finals. I believe they have grown as a national side and are much more experienced now, leading me to believe they will win Group G. “This year is our year.” Every time a World Cup is coming close that is what English supporters say. England has such high hopes each competition but always flops, either in the group stage or in the early knockout rounds. However, I'm going to say the same thing. “This year is their year.” I say this because the English players have really stepped up their game this year. Players like Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Raheem Sterling, Jordan Henderson, Kyle Walker, John Stones and Marcus Rashford have all stepped up in their rolls. England have quality players in all of their positions, it's only a question of if they will flop. I have high hopes for England this year because I truly believe it is their year, that is why I believe they will be runner ups in Group G.
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Columbia, & Japan This is a very tough group with not many huge teams but instead all the teams are well matched. Poland’s Lewandowski was the leading goal scorer during European qualifying and there is no reason to say he won't continue his flying form. Poland has a solid team which includes Lewandowski of course, but also quick Blaszczykowski and Piszczek. Poland’s strong line up and high flying striker will give them the edge against Senegal and Japan for sure, but the real test comes against Columbia. Columbia plays quick on the ball with quick players like Carlos Bacca, and James Rodriguez. James Rodriguez won best young player in 2014, now he has matured and developed even more as a player, I believe James will be difference maker for Columbia this year as he creates plays and gives his opposition a nightmare to mark him. Poland is just outmatched when it comes to Columbia because of their pace and creativity on the ball. That is why I believe Colombia will win Group H and Poland will be runner ups.
This concludes my group stage predictions for the 2018 World Cup. I will be posting weekly articles here so make sure to stay tuned. I also want to hear your thoughts on my predictions and I want to see your predictions as well! Thanks for reading!
Sources: https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/groups/ https://www.thesun.co.uk/world-cup-2018/6286856/world-cup-2018-squads-announced-all-teams-spain-argentina-serbia-france/
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Euro 2012 Interactive Betting Adverts: 11th June 2012 EURO2012 All Goals - English Commentary Fernando Torres - golden boot EURO 2012 Monster Jesé Rodríguez - MVP and top scorer - U19 EURO 2012 - YouTube The 15 best scorers in the UEFA Euro Cup's history

Euro 2012 odds at Ladbrokes.com Estonia vs Northern Ireland: Few goals in crunch Euro 2012 fixture Focus on the under 1.5 goals and under 2.5 goals markets in Tallinn Help: This page serves to display overall, home, away, form and other Soccer tables relating to Euro 2012 which is sorted in Europe category of BetExplorer sports stats service. Apart from Soccer tables, statistics and results, you can see archive odds of previous games in Euro 2012. The tabs on top of page let you see complete results of Euro 2012, fixtures and league stats informing of Here at the Smart Betting Club we have been beavering away on all the best betting angles and Euro 2012 Tips for the upcoming tournament.. One of the most popular but often toughest markets to bet upon is the Euro 2012 Top Scorer, where it can pay to look away from the usual suspects.. In recent major tournaments, this market has triggered some major shocks with winners such as Thomas Muller Top 5 Best Bets for Euro 2012 – Young and Benzema lead the list Russia, Croatia and Group B also feature with Karim Benzema and Ashley Young 5/2 that potential Euro 2012 top scorer joins Man Utd in summer SBR Top-Rated Sportsbooks #1 5Dimes (SBR rating A+) Sports Betting; Soccer Betting; Robert Lewandowski top goalscorer at euro 2012 +2000

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Euro 2012 Interactive Betting Adverts: 11th June 2012

Real Madrid v AC Milan: 2-3 #UCL 2009-2010 Group Stage - (Sky) Fabio Caressa - FULL HD - Duration: 11:06. Bagrat Aristakesian 10,310,176 views They are the best scorers in the UEFA Euro Cup's history Which is your favourite? Music: Canals - Joakim Karud ... TOP 10 WORLD'S HIGHEST PAID ... Mr. Bean Live Performance at the London 2012 ... FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mario-Mandzukic-MM17/165447366832660 PRILOG KOJIM NJEMICI PREDSTAVLJAJU NAŠEG MANDŽU PRIJE EURA We discuss Mason Greenwood's England Euro 2021 odds, the Premier League top scorer and our three tips for Arsenal Leicester Read Anton's betting preview here... Euro 2012 All Goals Euro 2012 All Goals. Euro 2012 All Goals Euro 2012 All Goals. Skip navigation Sign in. Search. Loading... Close. This video is unavailable. Watch Queue Queue.