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France Lines Up For Euro 2016 Win

They have the home soil advantage and they intend to work it!! Stats have pros and cons in football but this one is pretty striking: In the last 18 World Cups and Euros, the hosts have won the tournament only twice. It was France both times, in 1984 and 1998.

When it comes to winning the competitions you organise, the French are really good at it. See it as a good omen or not, it’s another argument in Les Bleus’favour. They are one of the favourites to win this European Championship, even after all the withdrawals and players missing [Karim Benzema, Raphael Varane, Lassana Diarra, Mathieu Valbuena, Mathieu Debuchy, Mamadou Sakho], even after all the controversies, and even with the current atmosphere in the country, which has seen strikes and protests, as well as flooding.

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It would be better, of course, if all those players were in the squad, if the preparation had been smooth and without issues and if the country was a bit more excited and ready for the tournament.

However, France are always better in adversity. In 1998, before the start of the World Cup, there were also strikes, the media was critical of head coach Aime Jacquet and the team, and the atmosphere was morose.

They stayed strong, believed in themselves and they did it. Like in 1998, this is an extremely gifted squad with players at the top of their game at the biggest European clubs, and we are not just talking about Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba or Anthony Martial.

There is a lot of experience in the side, both at the domestic and international level. There is character, too. A lot of Didier Deschamps’ players had to work hard to make the squad: Olivier Giroud, Andre-Pierre Gignac, Koscielny, N’Golo Kante, Morgan Schneiderlin, Patrice Evra, Adil Rami and Christophe Jallet all started their careers in the French lower leagues.

Even Griezmann could not find any academies in France that wanted to take him, so he had to go to Real Sociedad in Spain to start his career in the second division. Many of Deschamps’ men began at the bottom and now they are here, ready to win the Euros. They never gave up at the start of their career, even when the odds were against them to make it. In terms of experience, this is priceless. It means that when goings get tough, they work even harder.

Giroud was recently booed by some of his own fans before a friendly against Cameroon. He responded with three goals in two games. He now has seven in his last eight appearances for Les Bleus. No one is booing him anymore.

The last time a French squad seemed so happy together was back in 2006 when they reached the World Cup final. There is camaraderie. They are all friends, brothers even and, thought you don’t need to all love each other to win football matches, it’s better when the mood is as such. In 2008, 2010 or 2012, all the problems France had came down to egos, individualism and selfishness. This time, it is different. They are a proper team.

Evra, who has been part of problem-ridden squads in the past, said recentlythat he was ready to be pelted with stones to protect his teammates. There is competition too, more in certain positions than others but still. “I get on great with Olivier [Giroud] and I want him to win us matches but I am there behind him, pushing him to take his place too,” said Gignac on Tuesday.

They have a lucky charm as well in Deschamps. Everywhere he has been, as a player or as a manager, he has won trophies and plaudits. He is associated with winning and he has brought a winning mentality to this team. France have won 13 of their last 14 games now, with the lone defeat coming last November against England, days after the Paris terror attacks.

The French players can’t wait. We all know now, unless someone picks up an injury, what the starting XI will look like on Friday against Romania. Dimitri Payet will start up front with Giroud and Griezmann, ahead of Martial. Pogba, Blaise Matuidi and Kante will compose the midfield and the back five will be goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, along with Bacary Sagna, Rami, Laurent Koscielny and Evra.

With Varane, Kurt Zouma, Sakho, Mathieu, Aymeric Laporte and Debuchy out, Deschamps had to build a new defence and chose Rami to partner with Koscielny. It could be considered a surprise considering his last cap was three years ago, but the 30-year-old had a good season with Sevilla and starting him ahead of Eliquim Mangala means that Koscielny can stay on the left side of central defence. Rami was dreadful against Cameroon, but better in a 3-0 win against Scotland.

“Against Cameroon, it was his first cap in a very long time, he was a bit stressed,” Koscienly said about his teammate on Tuesday. “I told [Rami] to stay calm. He is capable of great things, he just needs to stay calm. I have faith in him, we all do. We are all united.”

France look strong everywhere — everything is united for success — and they are going to win Euro 2016 on July 10. You can bet on it. It is the sense of history. As we say in France, things always come in threes.

Julian Laurens is a London-based French journalist who writes for ESPN FC and Le Parisien. Follow him on Twitter @LaurensJulien.

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10 facts about Man U new recruit Eric Bailly

Jose Mourinho has completed his first signing as Manchester United manager with the acquisition of Eric Bailly from Villarreal.

But who is the 22-year-old? Here are 10 facts you might not know about United’s latest recruit…



  1. Bailly was spotted by Espanyol scout Emilio Montagut at a youth tournament organised by Spanish company Promoesport which was held in Burkina Faso.
  2. Bailly joined Espanyol at the age of 17 in December 2011 and didn’t make his first-team debut until October 2014.
  3. Bailly is an aggressive centre-back who likes to carry the ball forward – he’s even made the odd appearance on the left flank for Ivory Coast
  4. Bailly was the youngest player in the Ivory Coast team that won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015
  5. Bailly is the first Ivory Coast international to play for Manchester United.

  6. Bailly has played only 35 games in La Liga in his entire career.
  7. Bailly is the first Ivory Coast international to play for Manchester United.
  8. Bailly was born in Bingerville – the same town as Manchester City striker Wilfried Bony.
  9. At £30 million, Bailly is Manchester United’s most expensive defender of all time. Rio Ferdinand, a £29.1m signing from Leeds United in 2002, moves down to second spot. Jaap Stam is in third after joining from PSV in a £10.75m deal in 1998.
  10. Bailly is the eighth player born in Africa to play for Manchester United after Quinton Fortune, Patrice Evra, Nani, Wilfried Zaha, Eric Djemba-Djemba, Mame Biram Diouf and Manucho.
Image credit: Getty Images



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Klinsman Wins with same starting lineup

Jurgen Klinsmann played the same lineup that faced Colombia, and it cruised past Costa Rica, rewarding Klinsmann’s faith.

CHICAGO — As long as he has been coaching the U.S. national team, Jurgen Klinsmann has been known as a man who likes to tinker with his lineups.

Not since the opening match of the 2014 World Cup, against Ghana, had the U.S. trotted out the exact same lineup as the previous match. In that instance the Americans were coming off a convincing 2-0 victory against Nigeria.

The U.S. wasn’t coming in off the high of a victory when it took the field against Costa Rica on Tuesday, but rather a 2-0 loss to Colombia. Jurgen Klinsmann insisted that his team had played well that day and matched the highly-rated Colombians, save for a pair of defensive mistakes.



That sounded a lot like spin at the time, but when Klinsmann trotted out the same lineup on Tuesday night against Costa Rica, he showed that he did believe his team had played well, and could be even better against the Ticos. It seemed like a gamble, but his players made it pay off in impressive fashion.

The Americans pressured Costa Rica into mistakes, capitalized on chances in a way they weren’t able to against Colombia, and closed out the match with a shutout despite Costa Rica dominating possession and finding chances in the second half.

Klinsmann’s men showed much more energy on Tuesday, as cooler temperatures here in the Windy City made for a much better environment for the U.S. to press a Costa Rica side that looked frazzled in the first half.

Costa Rica coach Oscar Ramirez was defiant in the post-match press conference, insisting that while the U.S. was efficient in finishing chances, he felt his Ticos were the better team from the run of play. The notion seemed a bit delirious considering the 4-0 scoreline, even if final stats gave Costa Rica clear edges in possession, passing accuracy and total passes.

The U.S. scored early and often on Tuesday, and carried a 3-0 lead into halftime before letting Costa Rica carry the play in the second half.

The Americans aren’t likely to care much about losing in the style points department. That earned them nothing against Colombia, and Tuesday provided a reminder that it’s much better to score goals than to earn moral victories.



Several players were criticized after the loss to Colombia – perhaps none more than Jermaine Jones, who simply didn’t have much of an impact in the Copa America opener. There were calls for him to be benched, in part to allow Klinsmann to play some youngsters, but the U.S. coach stuck by the veteran German-American and Jones showed why he still belongs in the lineup, playing his best national team match since the 2014 World Cup.

“Some players really stepped it up, Jermaine was one of them today, putting his stamp on this game,” Klinsmann said of Jones, who was named Man of the Match. “He kind of gave the message with Michael in the midfield that this is our game.”

Jones thrived in the 4-3-3 at the start, covering ground and helping limit what Costa Rica could do through the midfield, but he looked even more imposing once the U.S. switched to the 4-4-2. He surged forward, delivering passes and taking shots, one of which resulted in the goal that made the score 2-0.

“Today I knew that a big tournament could be over if we lose that game, so I tried to do my best for the team,” Jones said. “My quality, to get that freedom to go forward, to go back. Today was a completely different one than what we had with Colombia, so I went out there and tried to enjoy it.”

Jones was an imposing presence defensively, and dangerous in the attack. His production on both fronts was considerably better than it was against Colombia. Consider his defensive contributions consisted of zero tackles won and just three recoveries last Friday, where on Tuesday he produced five tackles won and nine recoveries. That increased production played a big part in helping the U.S. post the shutout, and keep control of the game.



Via GOAL DOT COM

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John Brooks settling in as U.S. starter in Copa America

cocacola

The German-born defender will likely start for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side against Costa Rica as he returns to Chicago for the first time in almost two decades.

CHICAGO — Though not quite a homecoming, John Brooks’ first visit to Chicago in nearly two decades is significant. His tattoo of the state of Illinois on his right elbow offers some evidence as to why.

The German-American defender came to the Windy City as a toddler, visiting the family of his American serviceman father, who is from here. Almost two decades later, Brooks is back as a member of the U.S. national team, preparing to play in the biggest game of his budding international career.

The U.S. faces Costa Rica on Tuesday in a virtual must-win Copa America match, and if the Americans are going to secure the three points needed to keep their hopes of advancing to the knockout round alive, they will need another strong showing from Brooks.

The 22-year-old defender held his own against Colombia on Friday, one of the few clear bright spots on an otherwise lackluster performance by the U.S. Having overtaken Matt Besler for the starting left center back spot, Brooks has looked very sharp for the U.S. in recent appearances and is finally playing at the same level for the national team as he has played for Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin.

“I think I finally found my spot a little here on this team,” Brooks said when asked if he finally feels settled in with the U.S. “From the beginning, the team was nice, but when you come every time from Europe it’s a little bit different here. Now I think I’m finally here and it’s good for me now.”

Brooks looked very confident against Colombia, both defensively and in possession. His distribution was excellent and he avoided the kind of defensive mistakes that had plagued past national team appearances, most memorably at last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. As much as he had his struggles at the Gold Cup, he believes the tournament helped him become better.

The U.S. faces Costa Rica on Tuesday in a virtual must-win Copa America match, and if the Americans are going to secure the three points needed to keep their hopes of advancing to the knockout round alive, they will need another strong showing from Brooks.

The 22-year-old defender held his own against Colombia on Friday, one of the few clear bright spots on an otherwise lackluster performance by the U.S. Having overtaken Matt Besler for the starting left center back spot, Brooks has looked very sharp for the U.S. in recent appearances and is finally playing at the same level for the national team as he has played for Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin.

“I think I finally found my spot a little here on this team,” Brooks said when asked if he finally feels settled in with the U.S. “From the beginning, the team was nice, but when you come every time from Europe it’s a little bit different here. Now I think I’m finally here and it’s good for me now.”

Brooks looked very confident against Colombia, both defensively and in possession. His distribution was excellent and he avoided the kind of defensive mistakes that had plagued past national team appearances, most memorably at last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. As much as he had his struggles at the Gold Cup, he believes the tournament helped him become better. “Every game I learn a lot, especially the Gold Cup,” Brooks said. “It was a good experience too. It was not always the best conditions but we tried our best and at the end we were not as lucky as we wanted to be, but for me it was still a good experience.

“Of course (I learned) a lot,” he said of his Gold Cup experience. “You really can’t compare (it to Copa America), but it was still good preparation for this Copa America so I know what to expect, so it’s good for me now.”

Brooks and Geoff Cameron have formed a steady partnership and have played two strong games together. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann is likely to call on the pair against a Costa Rica side with some dangerous attackers in Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz.

“I can play well with Geoff Cameron,” Brooks said. “I think you saw the defense was pretty good and we’ll keep going.”

Brooks acknowledged how special it was to be back here, and he expects several family members to be in attendance at Soldier Field to watch him play. If Brooks can put together another good showing Tuesday, he will take another step toward establishing himself as Klinsmann’s long-term central defender option, something he has seemed destined to be since making his national team debut in 2012.

Brooks didn’t watch Costa Rica’s goal-less draw with Paraguay, but he still believes he and the U.S. are in a tough test Tuesday, one he believes the U.S. can pass.

“Everybody knows Costa Rica, we know Costa Rica as well,” he said. “Of course it’s a tough game, but we’re getting prepared for it.”  -Via Goal

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RONALDO CANNOT WIN EUROS BY HIMSELF

The Blancos star is expected to play a big part in his team’s campaign, but the trainer has warned against putting him under too much pressure to succeed

Portugal coach Fernando Santos has stressed Cristiano Ronaldo cannot lead his country to Euro 2016 glory on his own, but concedes the Real Madrid attacker will be key to their chances in France.

Santos’ men are regarded as one of the outsiders to win the showpiece in France, but the 61-year-old believes much will depend on the form of their star man.



“Ronaldo is important for Real Madrid, but he is at least as important for Portugal, if not more,” Santos told Marca.

“If you have a player who scores 50 or 60 goals per season, someone who could score from out of nowhere, he is always going to be important. It’s impossible to quantify how important he is.

“But not even Cristiano can do it all on his own. Nobody can win games on his own. You are always going to need your team-mates’ help. But there is no denying he is hugely important.”

Ronaldo was unable to guide Portugal to success at the 2014 World Cup due to fitness issues, but Santos is confident the prolific attacker is fit enough to make an impact in France, despite his injury problems towards the end of the season.

“We are always talking about players having to be 100 per cent, but that’s not the reality. There are always exceptions,” Santos added.

“Ideally, everybody would be 100 per cent fit, but nobody would leave out Cristiano if he is at 80 per cent. We are keeping a close eye on his fitness.

“It would be different had he been seriously injured. We would not have called him up if we thought he couldn’t play.”


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Pele deeply grieved over Ali’s Death

The Brazil legend says the sporting universe has been hit after passing of his friend, his idol and his hero at the age of 74 was announced

 Brazilian soccer great Pele has paid tribute to Muhammad Ali after the boxing icon’s passing aged 74.

Arguably the two greatest sportsmen of all time, Pele and Ali dominated the sporting landscape throught the 1960s and 70s, while their legends remain intact.



Pele said of Ali last year: “He was a completely different character – more fun, making jokes all the time. We used to get together for dinner and he would tease me, saying he was more famous than me.”

It was confirmed that three-time world heavyweight champion Ali had passed away on Friday, having battled Parkinson’s disease for 32 years.

In response, Pele posted a moving tribute on Instagram, sharing an iconic meeting between the pair when the former striker played in the United States with the New York Cosmos.

“The sporting universe has just suffered a big loss,” he said. “Muhammad Ali was my friend, my idol, my hero.

“We spent many moments together and always kept a good connection throughout the years. The sadness is overwhelming. I wish him peace with God. And I send love and strength to his family.”

Zinedine Zidane and Didier Drogba were among the footballing luminaries also paying tribute to the the sporting icon widely considered as the greatest heavyweight boxing has even seen.   Via Goal


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Justin Beiber and Neymar play ball

The Brazil international was invited to the Canadian singer’s home recently, with the pop star impressing as the pair kept the ball in the air for over 30 seconds.

With two months to go until the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil star Neymar can be forgiven for unwinding after a hectic club campaign.
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The Barcelona man’s not completely stopped playing soccer, though, with Justin Bieber inviting him for a kick-about in his backyard.

The Canadian singer surprisingly held his own as the pair kept the ball in the air for as long as possible, with Bieber using his feet, head and shoulder to continue the sequence.

Neymar, meanwhile, looks effortless as he brings every pass under instant control.  Everyone knows about the 24-year-old Brazilian’s talents by now, but Bieber’s touch will come as something of a surprise to many. MLS clubs: sign him up!

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Ronaldo wants to play for Real Madrid beyond his 40th birthday

Real Madrid fans could be seeing Cristiano Ronaldo on the Bernabeu pitch for another nine years if the Portuguese gets his wish.

Cristiano Ronaldo wants to remain at Real Madrid for the rest of the career and hopes to continue playing for the club beyond his 40th birthday.

Ronaldo signed for Madrid in a record-breaking transfer from Manchester United in 2009 and this season overtook Raul as the leading scorer in the club’s history, cementing his place as one of the all-time greats.



The 31-year-old has regularly been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain in recent years, but he is not planning on leaving the Santiago Bernabeu.

“I am going to retire at Real Madrid when I’m older than 40,” Ronaldo told AS. “I am very happy here and will work hard to achieve that.”
Ronaldo scored the winning penalty as Madrid overcame Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final last weekend.

It was the second time the forward lifted the trophy with the team from the Spanish capital – which has been crowned champion of Europe 11 times – but his focus has already switched to the upcoming Euro 2016 campaign with Portugal.

“I am super happy to have won ‘la Undecima’ and now I’m already thinking about the Euro,” added Ronaldo. “We want to give a great joy to Portugal by winning it, which is something the Portuguese people deserve.”


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Douglas Costa Out Kaka In for Brazil

A left-thigh injury has kept the Bayern Munich midfielder out of the Copa America Centenario, with the Orlando City man drafted into the Selecao squad in his place.

Kaka will replace the injured Douglas Costa in Brazil’s 23-man squad for the upcoming Copa America Centenario, it was announced on Thursday.

Bayern Munich midfielder Costa, who played in the club’s penalty shoot-out win against Borussia Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal final last week, was ruled out of the Copa America due to a left-thigh injury.

Brazil coach Dunga elected to replace him with Orlando City midfielder Kaka, who has contributed five assists and scored twice in seven appearances in the MLS this season.

Kaka made his Brazil debut under Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2002 at the age of 19, and has gone on to play 91 times for the national team.

Brazil are looking to win a ninth Copa America title at the special Centenario edition of the tournament, held in the United States next month.

Dunga and Co. begin with a clash against Ecuador on June 4, before facing fellow Group B opponents Haiti (June 8) and Peru (June 12.

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Football drills and workout

It takes sharp fitness to be good at the game! The drills to build such fitness can be quite fun and blaze up those calories.  Enjoy these drills featured here.

Total Soccer Workout ► Drills / Tricks / Agility / Conditioning ► Progressive Soccer Training has tons of soccer drills to improve your soccer tricks quickly. Soccer conditioning drills and agility training to improve your soccer fitness. Soccer workouts and soccer exercises or football drills if you prefer to call this sport by it’s real name.

In this soccer workout video I will show you some soccer drills I do on my off days to improve my agility, fitness, skills, tricks, and footwork.

However, if you want different soccer workouts with soccer exercises and football exercises check out this video:

Soccer Workouts For Strength and Speed
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-FfA…

If you want fast footwork soccer drills and football drills that will really improve your footwork skills check out this video:

Soccer Footwork Drills – The best soccer training drills for footwork
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_tEX…

If you want soccer training drill and football drills that will help you improve all of the different areas of your game, you may be interested in these soccer drills:

13 Soccer Drills To Improve Ball Control, First Touch, and Technique
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lft7A…

If you just want to improve your soccer tricks or football tricks here is a football tricks for beginners tutorial that will teach you fun soccer skills and tricks you can use to impress your friends:

Soccer Tricks – The Best Soccer Tricks For Better Skills
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoWBX…

Finally, if you want to improve your soccer fitness here are some soccer fitness training drills from progressive soccer training that will get you fit for the upcoming soccer season:

10 Soccer Drills for Soccer Fitness Training
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qRFk…