Neymar shows the good, bad and ugly of his game in PSG’s win over Liverpool


The nature of being Neymar is that he can never, truly deliver the performance that his talent insists he should. Even when he has moments of brilliance, the Paris Saint-Germain forward will let himself down with a touch of carelessness or that overriding desire to make the show all about him.

He was outstanding at times during PSG’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool at the Parc des Princes — a win that puts their Champions League qualification hopes firmly in their own hands — but the Brazil international then let himself down with unnecessary showboating and the kind of histrionics that have always been a stain on his wholesale nfl jerseys china

Perhaps it is being overly critical of the 26-year-old to focus on the negative parts of his game on a night when he really delivered when it mattered for PSG. After all, the French champions didn’t smash the world transfer record by spending £198 million on the former Barcelona forward for him to be the difference against the likes of Montpellier and Nimes in Ligue 1.

Neymar was a statement signing back in the summer of 2017, but it wasn’t all about making headlines. PSG signed him to take the club to the next level in the Champions League, but a long-term metatarsal injury put paid to that last season before Real Madrid knocked them out in the round of 16.10

Maybe it is too easy and unchallenging for him in the French league because a player focused solely on his game would not let himself down as Neymar does. But at 26, he is approaching the very peak of his career and with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo now in their 30s, Neymar ought to have a cold-eyed determination to be the man who knocks them off the summit of world nfl jersey wholesale

Against Liverpool, Neymar showcased just why PSG spent so much to sign him. He displayed pace, strength, vision and the ability to transition PSG from defence to attack in the blink of an eye. He scored one and could have scored a couple more; at times, he even looked as though he was a 15-year-old playing against 10-year-olds. But he switches off too easily. When you watch Neymar, you wonder what he would really be like if he had the focus and drive of Ronaldo, who always wants more whether or not he has already scored a hat trick or wonder goal.

Neymar is simply wired differently. The moment in the second half of this game, when he turned his back on the play to urge the crowd to turn up the volume, was a case in point. While he was throwing his arms in the air, the ball to Neymar from midfield ended up sailing past him and out of play, unseen by the player who was instead looking at the crowd. That just wouldn’t happen with Ronaldo or Messi.

Real Madrid find rich vein of young talent as Barcelona’s conveyor belt all but stops


Xavi Hernandez would have appreciated the irony at the Camp Nou on Sunday very much indeed. Barcelona were about to bring on a talented, highly exciting kid from their academy to replace a battle-scarred, high-profile midfield general: Carles Alena ordered to take over from Arturo Vidal.wholesale cheap nfl jersey china

Boos and whistles rang out around the Camp Nou. A brutal reminder, if your memory is long enough, that the more things change, the more things stay the same.9

The reference to Xavi is that, when he was Alena’s age, the young Catalan maestro often had to listen to his beloved Camp Nou boo and whistle shrill disapproval while he queued on the touchline to replace Pep Guardiola. The anger and spleen venting were back in the barren times, when Barcelona were failing miserably and in the midst of a six-year trophy drought. The Camp Nou didn’t appreciate that their declining hero, Guardiola, appeared to be falling victim to Xavi’s precocious skills.

Xavi — I know because he told me so — felt the acute horror of a vast public referendum against him and dislike appearing to rain down from the dark nighttime skies while Guardiola trotted toward him. His stomach was knotted with the fear of failing in front of a hostile audience that should, in principal, already have been head over heels in love with this locally bred, Camp Nou-educated wholesale nfl jerseys china

Not for a second am I saddling Alena with the burden of being named “the next Xavi,” but the 20-year-old, Catalan-born midfielder is talented — anyone who can’t see that is a fool. He also has vision, technique and confidence that evoke better days in the Barcelona academy when Cruyff principles were taught and taught well.

The real comparison is that there he stood, unable to be wholly sure what the hostile reception was about while waiting to seize this massive chance to advance his Barcelona career. The Spanish champions’ injury list is like a phone book, the match with Villarreal was balanced on a knife edge, and Ernesto Valverde had tapped him on the shoulder.

River Plate deserve to be punished for violence but disqualification is highly unlikely


I was in the stadium for River Plate’s first game of this overly dramatic 2018 Libertadores campaign — and very few people can say that.

The match was against Flamengo of Brazil, and it took place in Rio de Janeiro on Feb. 28 — behind closed doors. Flamengo were serving a punishment for the mass pitch invasion by their fans in the Copa Sudamericana finals the previous December.

It was clear, then, that River would have to suffer some kind of punishment for the action of their fans on Saturday, when, as it approached the stadium, the Boca Juniors team bus was attacked with a shower of stones and bottles. In the wake of this, there was little chance of the second leg going ahead in River’s stadium in front of a packed crowd. Some kind of punishment was clearly nfl jerseys cheap china

But CONMEBOL were caught in the headlights of another problem. The organization needs money. Its image, and its commercial possibilities, have been severely hit by the FIFA-gate corruption scandal, in which so many South American directors, and former CONMEBOL presidents, have been implicated.10

A Boca- River final is a financial godsend. It is the biggest occasion in the history of club football in South America, and as such has huge commercial value. TV rights were sold all over the world. CONMEBOL now has to deliver the content.

It would seem that this is the explanation for the strenuous, not to say ludicrous, attempts to force the match to go ahead on Saturday. The CONMEBOL medical staff even issued a statement saying that the injuries suffered by the Boca players were superficial, and need not prevent the game from going ahead — a position that looks, to say the least, bizarre, given the examination the following day of Boca captain Pablo Perez, who had been struck in the eye by fragments of glass from a broken window. The ophthalmologist said that Perez was still suffering a 60 percent loss of vision and that there was a risk of infection if he took the nike nfl jerseys wholesale

On Saturday, the clubs agreed to put the game back 24 hours. But once it was clear that Perez should not play, there was no chance that Boca would turn up — and CONMEBOL bowed to the inevitable.

Boca, of course, are looking for payback for 2015. Three years ago, when the teams met in an earlier round of the competition, the River Plate players were attacked, in Boca’s stadium, as they returned to the pitch after half-time. A Boca fan sliced his way through the inflatable protective tunnel and threw pepper spray at them. The match could not continue, and Boca were kicked out of the competition.

Is Aaron Mooy a must-start as a Tier 3 midfielder in ESPN Fantasy Soccer?


At the start of the season, the third midfield tier was an easy source of points, with exciting players like Ryan Fraser and Andre Schurrle. They have since, rightfully, been promoted out of this group and now selecting the right player out of Tier 3 midfield is more important than ever. While this tier lacks the high-upside, flashy names found in others, this is where you can find the most differential options to make up ground in your matchups and leagues. So, to help you maximize your points potential, let’s try to make sense of the wild west that is Tier 3 nfl jerseys china nike

Many different players have finished at the top of this tier in different weeks, which has made picking the right player so difficult of late, but there is one player who represents a constant amidst the chaos: Aaron Mooy.

The Huddersfield midfielder is coming off an incredible outing in Matchweek 13, which saw him rack up an impressive 35.9 points. While his two goals made up the majority of those points, he still would have scored a personal high of 15.9 without them. This is very important when considering Mooy’s value, as he is unreliable as a goalscorer, having never scored more than four goals in a season in England. While this would be a damning indictment for many players in our game, Mooy shrugs it off without issue and continues to post solid weeks regardless.9

The Australia international has been the driving force for Huddersfield ever since he arrived in West Yorkshire in 2016-17. During his debut season in the Championship, he not only helped ensure promotion for the Terriers, but also boasted the unique accomplishment of leading his club in both chances created and tackles won. Once he reached the Premier League, Mooy demonstrated these skills yet again as the only player in the league who created more than 50 chances while also winning 60 tackles. The players that led those categories in the league last season were Kevin De Bruyne and Idrissa Gueye respectively, which should help offer context into just how strange and unique Aaron Mooy is as a player.

This diverse skill set was put to fantastic use last season as, in the ESPN game, Mooy would have finished as the fifth best midfielder outside of the top six clubs, and the 28th best outfielder overall. He averaged a very respectable 9.8 points per game, finishing top 25 in a third of our 15 scoring categories. This ability to impact matches in so many different ways gives Mooy an incredibly high floor in fantasy, and makes him a guaranteed starter for nfl jerseys cheap china

These traits certainly have not escaped the eye of manager David Wagner who, realizing Mooy’s broad skillset, has already utilized him at four different positions this season. Impressively, this constant change in usage has yet to negatively impact his usefulness to the club, nor his fantasy value, as he’s averaging between 7.5 and 13.5 points per game regardless of position. Basically, he brings value so long as he’s on the pitch, and he almost always is having logged more minutes than any another midfielder at the club over the past two seasons.

Newcastle revival continues with victory at Burnley


Newcastle United surged clear of the Premier League relegation zone after a Ben Mee own goal and Ciaran Clark’s header in the first half helped them to a 2-1 win at struggling Burnley on Monday.

Newcastle celebrated a third successive league victory after failing to win any of their opening 10 fixtures and moved up to 13th place on 12 points from 13 nfl jerseys cheap paypal

The Magpies are four points clear of the relegation zone and three points ahead of 17th-placed Burnley, who stretched their winless league streak to six games.

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez praised his team after a solid performance.10

“We had an idea of how to play, we knew crosses would come from everywhere, we defended well, our effort and attitude was great,” the Spaniard told Sky nfl jerseys cheap china

“We suffered a bit at the end but we could have scored a third goal. Our defenders did well because the [Burnley] strikers are big and then they put another big lad up front.”

The kick off was delayed by half an hour when the referees’ assessor Eddie Wolstenholme collapsed in the tunnel and was taken to hospital, but once the match got underway Newcastle dominated the opening period.

The Magpies took a fourth-minute lead after a Federico Fernandez shot from 20 metres took a heavy deflection off Mee and Clark then made it 2-0 with a superb header in the 23rd minute as he met a fine cross from the left by Matt Ritchie.

Sam Vokes pulled one back for Burnley shortly before the break with a looping header from 15 metres, with Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka caught out of position after a long ball by Mee.

Ritchie was guilty of an astonishing miss just after the break when he shot wide from two metres with Burnley keeper Joe Hart beaten. Joselu also hit the post for Newcastle with a stinging low shot and they then held on in the closing stages.

Echoes of 2013 as Sporting Kansas City hold out against the Portland Timbers


As the pregame tifo from the Timbers Army unfurled, it was clear that the home fans at Providence Park were trying to channel the energy from Portland’s run to the 2015 MLS Cup. The message read “We’re Back, You’re Welcome” — a reference to the television show “Eastbound & Down,” which was the inspiration for many tifo from that magical nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Sporting Kansas City certainly didn’t need any reminders of that campaign. SKC was one of Portland’s victims during that year’s playoffs, falling in the knockout round via a penalty shootout that was immortalized for, among other things, Saad Abdul-Salaam’s attempt at a game-winner that hit both posts and bounced out.8

It was fitting then that not only did Sporting KC deliver a bit of karmic payback with a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the Western Conference finals against the Timbers, but it managed to set the Wayback Machine to its own MLS Cup run in 2013.

The similarities to the current campaign and that year’s playoffs are borderline spooky for Kansas City. Five years ago, SKC opened the conference finals with a similar 0-0 road draw against the Houston Dynamo, surviving an apparent goal from the Dynamo’s Kofi Sarkodie that was waived off by the referee. Kansas City then relied on some gritty defending to head back home level, eventually prevailing in the second leg 2-1.

History repeated itself on this night on multiple fronts. An apparent second-half goal from the Timbers’ David Guzman was disallowed, and there was plenty of stout defending from SKC to secure the scoreless draw.

“It was a frantic game and it never settled down,” SKC defender Matt Besler said. “We expected it to be that way, at least to start, because it’s a playoff game and we’re away from home and it’s a difficult place to play. But at the same time, we expected the game to settle down at some point with a spell of possession here or there, for both sides. I don’t think we had a spell or they had a spell. It was just up and down, up and down.“cheap nfl jerseys china nike

There were some critical differences as well. Most notably the posts that were unkind to Kansas City three years ago came to its rescue this time, as Jorge Villafaña’s sixth-minute strike hit the post and bounced harmlessly away.

Mexico must shake off delays, off-pitch issues and focus on Argentina


For any potential incoming Mexico manager combing through the domestic press and taking the temperature of the game in the North American country over recent weeks, the overall conclusion wouldn’t be particularly positive.

Last week, the government’s watchdog agency on monopolies began a formal investigation into Liga MX’s transfer practices. That comes on top of the government tax authority’s ongoing investigation into players signing “double contracts” with clubs.

Then there appears to be a kind of lingering hangover from the World Cup. The team has operated in a bunker-like menality during the subsequent international breaks with little access given to the traveling nfl jerseys wholesale cheap10

And there are suspicions that at least part of the reason why Javier Hernandez, Hector Herrera, Andres Guardado and Hector Moreno haven’t been called into the squad since Russia is because of friction over how the national team operates.

“Those that don’t come will have their reasons,” said defender Edson Alvarez in a news conference on Wednesday ahead of the first of two friendlies against Argentina. “They are people that maybe have had a long run [in the national team]. When they were starting I’m sure they didn’t want to miss a call-up.”

Even the news of the cancelation of next Monday’s NFL game at Estadio Azteca due to the abysmal pitch conditions reflected badly on Mexican football, given that Club America and Cruz Azul — two of Mexico’s top clubs — will be playing potentially championship-defining matches on it in a couple of nike nfl jerseys paypal

On top of that have come problems in Cordoba this week. Players endured nightmare journeys due to the poor weather and the team’s training session on Tuesday took place in a local indoor gym because the bus carrying the team’s equipment had broken down on route from Buenos Aires.

That wasn’t actually the federation’s fault, but still, the reports go out into the public and the actual details can get lost.

Finally, the search for a new head coach rumbles on. Quique Sanchez Flores is the latest to apparently turn down the possibility and Gerardo “Tata” Martino remains the frontrunner.

Mexico’s November friendlies will be a litmus test for Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico’s goalkeepers


Scanning the Mexican national team, it’s easy to spot the much-needed generational change that is beginning to take place. While a few older and more experienced names are gradually losing their relevance, intriguing new options such as Roberto Alvarado, Diego Lainez, Victor Guzman, Erick Gutierrez and a handful of others have started to make an impact.

Following another disappointing World Cup exit in the round of 16, changes like these are necessary to make improvements. Although Mexico will still have to rely on several veterans that were included in the latest 2018 Russia roster, a number of positions will continue to require some crucial alterations. For example, a new crop of strikers, defensive midfielders and central defenders would vastly help the depth of Mexico’s squad in the near nike jerseys for cheap

But what about the goalkeeping position?9

In recent years, there have been no doubts that Guillermo Ochoa is Mexico’s best choice in net. Due to his European experience at club level, and his noteworthy World Cup appearances for the national team in 2014 and 2018, Ochoa easily stands out amongst his peers. In fact, when Qatar 2022 rolls around, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the 33-year-old remain the strongest goalkeeping candidate for El nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

And yet, despite his significance for Mexico, the Standard Liege star could benefit from a strong performance to help solidify his unquestioned starting spot. With plenty of young players now being given opportunities in recent friendlies — three of which were goalkeepers under the age of 30 — Ochoa should be motivated to highlight his capabilities in either of November’s friendlies against Argentina on the 16th and 20th.

With two games set against the South American giants in Cordoba and Mendoza, Ochoa will likely be given at least one start for Mexico this month. In an intimidating atmosphere outside of the comforts of the CONCACAF region, the goalkeeper will have a high-profile opportunity to not only showcase his talent and world-class reflexes, but also his leadership as the player with the most international caps (96) from El Tri’s latest call-up list.

Manchester United were ‘in awe’ of Juventus but can win in Turin – Chris Smalling


Manchester United Chris Smalling has said he and his teammates were “in awe” of Juventus in their recent Champions League clash, and has challenged the players to put things right in their return meeting.

Juventus won 1-0 when they visited Old Trafford in a game in which United were punished for a slow start but improved after half-time — something that is becoming a theme of the season for Jose Mourinho’s side.

Smalling said that he and his teammates were much improved after the interval, and that gives them the belief that can get something at the Allianz nfl jerseys china nike

“I think Juventus, we started the game a bit in awe, we were off the pace and they were on the front foot but the second half we showed we could give them a game,” Smalling said.10

“We created chances and we can take that second half performance to Turin and we will be more on the front foot and I think you’ll see a better performance than you did, particularly in the first half.

“Juve have shown they don’t concede many goals and hopefully we can get on the front foot. The first half, I think we learned from that and we showed that in the second half and on Wednesday you will see a difference.”

Meanwhile, Smalling has challenged United to use the momentum from their last-gasp win at Bournemouth to earn statement wins in a week which sees them play Manchester City after nfl nike jerseys from china

Smalling described United’s first-half performance at the Vitality as their “worst” of the season.

But after Marcus Rashford’s stoppage-time winner, which gave United a 2-1 victory, Jose Mourinho’s team now head into a heavyweight week in the Champions League and Premier League on the back of two straight wins.

“We know we are going into a very tough week now but we can come out with some results it can be seen as a good month especially as it’s a tough month now,” Smalling said. “It would galvanise us knowing that we have had some big games this month and that we have gone toe to toe and picked up some big results.

Manchester United’s Chris Smalling on defensive criticism: ‘You need to have thick skin’


Chris Smalling has admitted he has had to develop a thick skin as Manchester United’s defensive problems continue.

Callum Wilson’s goal for Bournemouth on Saturday was the 18th United have conceded in 11 Premier League games this season — more than West Ham, Brighton and Crystal nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Manager Jose Mourinho branded the defending in the first half at the Vitality Stadium “awful” while regular centre-backs Smalling and Victor Lindelof have had to deal with their share of criticism from some supporters.9

“You can’t get away from it [the criticism] but I’m not going to sit there and read all my comments [on social media],” Smalling said.

“I think as players you need to have thick skin. It’s about making sure you have more good days than bad.”

Smalling is into his ninth season at Old Trafford after joining the club from Fulham in nfl jerseys china nike

Mourinho has spent more than £60 million on centre-backs since taking over in 2016 but Smalling was still trusted to play nearly 50 games last season and the 28-year-old has been a regular in the team again this term.

“To be able to be a club like this and last as long as I have you need to have that courage and belief in your ability,” Smalling said.

“You won’t have good days every week and the bad days are often highlighted when you’re at a big club. I believe in myself and I keep working.”