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Monday Musings

World Cup ref chief Pierluigi Collina dishes on VAR impact at Russia 2018

Tue, 14 Aug 2018 11:00:00 PDT

http://coversbykaren.com/?feed=rss2 Former Premier League referee Peter Walton explains why the use of VAR in Russia exceeded his expectations. FIFA president Gianni Infantino breaks down VAR's usage at the 2018 World Cup and how pleased he is with its implementation. Various ESPN FC correspondents and fans weigh in on VAR and its impact at the World Cup in the latest episode of Project Russia. A month has passed since the end of the World Cup in Russia, hailed by many as one of the best ever. Gab Marcotti caught up with Pierluigi Collina, chairman of FIFA's referees committee and the man in the middle for the 2002 final between Brazil and Germany, to talk about officiating, video assistant referees (VAR) and the future. When you look back at 2018 and the fact that relative to previous World Cups, it had perhaps the least amount of refereeing controversy, to what do you attribute it? Could...

Man City impress at work-in-progress Arsenal; Madrid keepers; Pogba vs. Mourinho

Mon, 13 Aug 2018 07:34:00 PDT

http://gaineyhomeinspection.com/wp-json/oembed/1.0/embed?url=http://gaineyhomeinspection.com/testimonial-view/testimonial-2/ Manchester City picked up where they left off last season with a dominant performance to win 2-0 at Arsenal. It is worth noting that the defending Premier League champions unpicked the opposition on Unai Emery's debut without Gabriel Jesus, Fabian Delph, Leroy Sane, David Silva, Nicolas Otamendi and Kevin De Bruyne in the starting lineup. In other words, six of their 11 most frequently used players from last season were missing, when they set a new Premier League points total with 100. The scary...

FIFA's World Cup legacy in Russia should be measured by the people, not the politics

Tue, 17 Jul 2018 06:57:00 PDT

http://readyforlife.ca/news-and-events/?newseventscategory=all ESPN investigative reporter T.J. Quinn reflects on how Vladimir Putin used the World Cup as part of his geopolitical strategy. MOSCOW -- In this line of work, you're taught to be cynical and contrarian. So when Gianni Infantino, the FIFA President, says "Today I am a happy man ... as far as I am concerned, we all fell in love with Russia," you want to blow holes in it. It's very easy to do. From the way the World Cup even got to Russia (remember the "destroyed" computers?), to the state-sponsored doping program that gutted the country's Olympic medal count and led to a lifetime ban for the minister of sport and former head...

Maurizio Sarri's charisma, poetic football an intriguing move for Chelsea

Sat, 14 Jul 2018 01:30:00 PDT

With Maurizio Sarri's appointment at Chelsea now official, Gab Marcotti explains what the former Napoli manager brings to Stamford Bridge. After Antonio Conte and Chelsea parted ways, ESPN takes a look at the managers to have fallen during the Roman Abramovich era. With Antonio Conte on his way out at Chelsea, ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti reflects on the Italian's tenure and what led to his undoing. Maurizio Sarri might be Italian, like his predecessor at Chelsea, but there are few other similarities between him and Antonio Conte. The brand of football Sarri deployed in his three seasons at Napoli (and, before that, at little Empoli) is starkly different. Conte meanwhile lived every game as if it was some sort of medieval epic, filled with gritted teeth, suffering and wild-eyed intensity. Even when he won -- and, lest we forget, he picked up a Premier League title and an FA Cup in two seasons...

The inside story of Cristiano Ronaldo's move from Real Madrid to Juventus

Tue, 10 Jul 2018 09:15:00 PDT

This time, it's real. This time, he's gone. Gone after nine seasons, 450 goals, four Champions League titles and four Ballon d'Or awards. Cristiano Ronaldo's move from Real Madrid to Juventus isn't just the second-biggest transfer in history -- the deal, once you factor in wages, transfer fee and commissions, will be comfortably north of $350 million, surpassed only by Neymar -- it's also an enormous gamble for everyone involved. Real Madrid lose their talisman, their alpha and omega, capable of...

Cristiano Ronaldo swapping Real Madrid for Juventus? Not so fast

Wed, 4 Jul 2018 12:48:00 PDT

ESPN FC's Raphael Honigstein explains how both Juventus and Real Madrid are benefitting from having Cristiano Ronaldo linked with a move to Turin. Cristiano Ronaldo flew home from Russia and the World Cup on Monday, but he didn't stay out of the headlines for long, as evidenced by the massive headlines Tuesday linking him with a move to Juventus. As with all things involving Cristiano and Real Madrid, nothing is quite straightforward. Here's an attempt to make sense of it. Q: So Juventus have made an offer, have they? A: Easy there. Juventus haven't confirmed anything, and it's worth noting who pushed this story initially: Marca, the...

Think it's easy to build Portugal around Cristiano Ronaldo? Think again

Tue, 19 Jun 2018 09:34:00 PDT

After two very different opening World Cup matches, the FC guys talk about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's differing roles for their national teams. MOSCOW -- The coach as chef-assembling-ingredients metaphor is about as old as the game itself, but it remains hugely apt, particularly at World Cups. Bigger nations, naturally, have more depth and high-quality options to choose from: Germany's Jogi Low and Brazil's Tite shop at Whole Foods (or whatever local, high-end market with the individually wrapped clementines applies to you), whereas Panama coach Hernan Gomez makes do at the corner bodega, where selection is more limited. Portugal boss Fernando...

Cristiano Ronaldo's GOAT claim hard to deny as Portugal, Spain play World Cup classic

Fri, 15 Jun 2018 03:14:00 PDT

SOCHI, Russia -- That chin-stroking celebration? It's a reference to a goat. Or, rather a GOAT: greatest of all time. And while some will rightly debate his status in the farmyard, nights like these remind you that his place in the conversation ought not be doubted. Sergio Ramos had said it a little over 24 hours earlier, when asked how he would stop Cristiano Ronaldo. "I don't know ... I just hope he doesn't have one of his best games against us." Ramos' prophecy did not come to pass. This...

Cristiano Ronaldo makes GOAT case with hat-trick as Portugal draw Spain

Fri, 15 Jun 2018 01:05:00 PDT

SOCHI, RUSSIA -- Three points from Portugal and Spain's remarkable 3-3 draw at Fisht Stadium in which Cristiano Ronaldo scored a sublime hat-trick. 1. Ronaldo's three goals earn Portugal a point For a guy whose deeds are so often defined by numbers, whether it's the fact that he has more goals than games for Real Madrid or the fact that nobody has more Ballon d'Or awards stashed away in his trophy cabinet, there was one that seemed out of sync before this World Cup began: three, as in the number...

Portugal are a dangerous underdog vs. Spain that you wouldn't bet against

Thu, 14 Jun 2018 05:43:00 PDT

The PTI guys draw similarities between Spain's managerial change before the World Cup to the coaching change made before Michigan's 1989 title run. SOCHI, RUSSIA -- You can't help but think back to those cheesy heist movies. "Hey Cristiano... let's get the boys together for one last big score." "You sure? But we just nailed the big one, the Euros, two years ago. My first major international trophy and, of course, Portugal's too." "Nah man, we got another one in us, trust me -- we'll be there with you, nobody will see us coming. The old man is on board too, you two are going to lead us one last time..." "Wow -- you really think we can...

Spain, Hierro preach message of calm and continuity after chaotic week

Thu, 14 Jun 2018 11:17:00 PDT

The PTI guys draw similarities between Spain's managerial change before the World Cup to the coaching change made before Michigan's 1989 title run. ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti delves into Julen Lopetegui's sacking as Spain manager just two days out from their World Cup opener against Portugal. SOCHI, RUSSIA -- Spain captain Sergio Ramos and his freshly installed coach, Fernando Hierro, looked like they'd rather have been in the dentist's chair than facing questions ahead of Friday's Group B opener against Portugal. "I think I'd like this to be over now..." joked Ramos at the end. "Come on, it feels like a funeral. It's a World Cup. We're supposed to be happy." Yet there was no escaping the heavy, suffocating mood and not just because they faced the press in an overstuffed room in...

Julen Lopetegui behaved poorly; the Spanish FA was right to fire him

Wed, 13 Jun 2018 11:48:00 PDT

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti delves into Julen Lopetegui's sacking as Spain manager just two days out from their World Cup opener against Portugal. It is easy to be cynical in the modern game. So much so that, when someone makes a stand on principle -- even if you disagree with it -- you stand up and take notice. Perhaps you had not heard of Luis Rubiales before Wednesday. He is the head of the Spanish Football Association, and on Tuesday evening he received a call from his national team coach, Julen Lopetegui. Rubiales listened as Lopetegui told him that, in a few minutes, Real Madrid would announce that he was to be their next manager, replacing...

United bid, Gianni Infantino are big winners from World Cup 2026 vote

Wed, 13 Jun 2018 09:51:00 PDT

USSF president Carlos Cordeiro feels that hosting the 2026 World Cup will have a positive impact that can help the United States team challenge for the World Cup. MLS Commissioner Don Garber talks about the 2026 World Cup coming to North America and what it means for soccer in the United States. FIFA president Gianni Infantino is not worried about political interference from United States president Donald Trump. Former USMNT player Taylor Twellman feels that the game will grow in popularity by hosting the 2026 World Cup in the United States. MOSCOW -- In the end, the vote wasn't close. The United bid of Canada, Mexico and the United States was awarded hosting status for the 2026 World Cup, which will be the first comprising 48 nations and, quite likely, the most lucrative in history. The vote ended up 134 to 66. Why did folks think it would be a tight race? Partly because people often fear the worst and, possibly, because there was some politics going on, especially via the rhetoric of President Trump; the narrative whereby he might...

Brazil are favorites to win 2018 World Cup, but 31 teams stand in their way

Tue, 12 Jun 2018 02:23:00 PDT

ESPN FC's Stewart Robson defends his picks for his 2018 World Cup Ultimate XI. You don't win a World Cup as much as you will a World Cup. The past three finals ended in a draw at full-time. Eight of the past 12 have been decided either by a single goal or in extra-time or penalties. Once you get there, it's as much about nerve and randomness, blades of grass that make a ball bounce just so or specks of dust that make you react that split-second later, as it is about who is objectively better. Bear this in mind when looking at Russia 2018. Because while there are four...

World Cup 2026: Everything you need to know about the Morocco and U.S.-led bids

Tue, 12 Jun 2018 07:31:00 PDT

On Wednesday, the FIFA Congress will vote on the two bids hoping to host the 2026 World Cup: Morocco and the "United bid" which comprises Mexico, the United States and Canada. Here's a Q&A with some background ahead of the vote. Q: It's that time again ... World Cup host bidding! Which can only mean brown paper bags full of cash, investigative hidden camera stings and a whole raft of bans and indictments keeping us busy for the next couple of years. Am I right? A: Hopefully not. Although obviously...

Why the World Cup will never be the same after Russia 2018

Mon, 11 Jun 2018 12:21:00 PDT

MOSCOW -- Here we go again. Welcome to the quadrennial global water-cooler moment known as the World Cup. Indeed, as a sporting and entertainment spectacle, nothing comes close. The World Cup unites us across continents and cultures. It's part of our collective DNA, our heritage, even if we support different nations. You don't need to be of a certain age to have contemporaneously witnessed Carlos Alberto finishing off Brazil's 1-through-11 move in the 1970 final, or Diego Maradona soaring into the...

Exclusive: UEFA president Ceferin on mission to end gap between football's haves and have nots

Tue, 5 Jun 2018 05:52:00 PDT

Exclusive: UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin tells Gab Marcotti the governing body will do everything to ensure a fair financial playing field. KYIV, Ukraine -- UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin was 19 years old when he was called up to serve in the Yugoslav Army. Military service was mandatory and alongside him were teenagers from Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia and the rest of a country that would soon implode in the most violent and brutal way. Five years later, civil war broke out and he was called back to arms. This time, it was the Slovenian Army and this time, his enemies were the very buddies he had served with a few years earlier. "Luckily,...

Why Zinedine Zidane really left Real Madrid after Champions League glory

Thu, 31 May 2018 06:28:00 PDT

Gab Marcotti explains why he believes Zinedine Zidane has chosen to end his successful run as Real Madrid manager. The ESPN FC crew delve into the factors that led Zinedine Zidane to resign after leading Real Madrid to three consecutive UCL titles. Gab Marcotti reveals some of the candidates and his early pick for the next Real Madrid manager. Despite winning a third consecutive Champions League, Zinedine Zidane shockingly announces he has resigned as Real Madrid manager. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez expresses his love for Zinedine Zidane and wishes he was able to change his resignation decision. On Wednesday, Zinedine Zidane said, "No mas." He walks away from the biggest job in world football and the opportunity to become the first manager to win four straight European Cups. And he does it less than four days after leading Real Madrid to their third consecutive Champions League crown. He used the word "desgaste" -- the same choice of terms used by Pep Guardiola when he left the Camp Nou six years ago -- and it has a specific meaning. "Worn out, out of gas." And yet he also said he...

Man United, Mourinho must fix style, Chelsea's post-Conte future

Mon, 21 May 2018 09:09:00 PDT

Winning the FA Cup on Saturday will have absolutely no bearing on whether or not Antonio Conte sticks around as Chelsea manager. In that sense, the "oldest cup competition in the world" is even less relevant than usual, which doesn't mean it was a fruitless exercise. We learned something, too, getting further confirmation that he can match tactical wits in a war of attrition against almost anyone and come out on top, especially if his team gets the early goal, which they did. Jose Mourinho...

Barca's PR mess after defeat, praise for Allegri as Juve win Serie A

Mon, 14 May 2018 07:18:00 PDT

How about that for a boomerang? In the binary world of Spanish football, this was the sort of gaffe that does double damage. Right now, Barcelona should be sitting back and enjoying the fruits of a Double-winning campaign that saw them go undefeated in La Liga. Maybe send their old rival from the Bernabeu a few postcards ahead of Kiev, too, just to ratchet up the pressure. Instead, they're dealing with a PR disaster after the dramatic 5-4 defeat away to Levante (a team with nothing to play for)...

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