Euro 2016: Russia v England Team News, Expected Starting Lineups And History

Russia kick-off their UEFA European Championship 2016 campaign today as Leonid Slutsky’s side face Group B favorites England in Marseille.

Slutsky’s preparations for the tournament have been hit by injuries, with midfielder Igor Denisov joining Yuri Zhirkov, Alan Dzagoev, Denis Cheryshev, and Oleg Kuzmin on the sidelines.

Spartak Moscow’s Denis Glushakov is doubtful for the game and faces a late fitness test, while Krasnodar’s Dmitri Torbinski has been unable to train this week and could miss out.

Paval Mamaev is in line to replace the injured Denisov, but the Krasnodar midfielder says Slutsky has “not detailed for certain anything about central midfield.”

Zenit’s Artur Yusupov, who was on holiday in the same Monaco hotel as the Russian team, was called up to replace Denisov but may not be ready to face England.

“I was planning to fly back to Moscow (on Monday),” Yusupov told UEFA.com.

“I didn’t even have my football boots with me and none of my kit. I had to borrow from (Russia midfielder) Roman Neustadter.

“After being on holiday for 14 days, of course it is difficult to get down to work. I don’t really know myself what state I will be in.”

By contrast, England arrive in France as the only team win all of their qualifying fixtures, and have since claimed victories over Turkey, Australia and Portugal in their warm-up matches.

Questions over Roy Hodgson’s team selection have dominated the pre-match build-up, with captain Wayne Rooney’s role in the team coming under increased scrutiny.

Slutsky has claimed Rooney is “not the player that he was”, but the Manchester United striker says he is looking forward to the tournament.

“You can sense the excitement around the team and around the team hotel, and I think you sense that excitement around the country,” he said.

“Certainly the fans are doing that, but the players are doing exactly the same.

“We’re the ones going out on the pitch and we’re the ones who have to go and do it, so hopefully we can and we’ll give everyone good memories.”

Rooney faces competition for a starting role from Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, although newspaper reports have suggested the latter is likely to start on the bench.

England defenders Gary Cahill, Chris Smalling and Ryan Bertrand all suffered knocks during training earlier in the week, but are expected to be available for selection.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding England’s line-up, Hodgson believes England have an excellent chance of making progress.

“There is definitely a selection headache in terms of so many good players who could quite easily command a place in the team,” he said.

“I’m pleased with the headaches and that having gone through three matches and some intensive training we still have all our players available.

“We know we have a team who, if they perform to the level we think they can perform to, will make it difficult for our opponents.

“We have a lot of respect for Russia. We think they are a very good team, a very experienced team with lot of players who’ve played together a long time at CSKA and Zenit.”

With England’s starting eleven still unknown, Stutsky plans to announce the Russian line-up as late as possible.

“There is always a debate between youth and experience,” said Slutsky.

“It is impossible to say which is better and we have had this discussion on a number of occasions. We will also have a lot of players who will be experiencing a major tournament for the first time.

“I don’t think it would be correct to say whether this is the most important match of my career. I know there is a lot of responsibility with the whole country watching and I would like us to play good football tomorrow and for them to get the result they want.”

Artem Dzyuba is expected to get the nod in attack after bagging eight goals during Russia’s qualifying campaign.

The Zenit marksman is hoping to have a big impact on this year’s tournament.

“Four years ago, before Euro 2012, which I eventually did not play in, I called myself a lion cub, but now I am a lion,” he said.

The two countries have met just twice in the last decade during the Euro 2008 qualifiers, with England winning 3-0 at Wembley, while Russia triumphed 2-1 in Moscow in a game famous for a misplaced Gary Neville back-pass that led to an own goal and England failing to qualify for the tournament.

Russia, as the Soviet Union, won the first ever European Championships in 1960 beating Yugoslavia 2-1 after extra-time in the final.

They have lost their three subsequent Euro finals in 1964, 1972 and 1988.

England have never progressed beyond the semi-finals at the Euros.

The Three Lions finished third in 1968 and were knocked out in the last four by Germany in 1996.

England have been eliminated on penalties in three of their last four Euros in 1996, 2004 and 2012.

Expected Starting Lineups:

England: Hart; Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose; Dier, Alli; Lallana, Rooney, Sterling; Kane.
Russia: Akinfeev; Smolnikov, V Berezutski, Ignashevich, Schennikov; Golovin, Neustadter; Smolov, Shatov, Kokorin; Dzyuba.

Copa America Blunder: Organizers play Chile’s national anthem for Uruguay’s team

The Copa America Centenary organizers were left red-faced with embarrassment after they played Chile’s national anthem by mistake for Uruguay’s team in the latter’s match against Mexico on Sunday.

Uruguay players had lined up before kickoff but as the unfamiliar music played over the stadium sound system, Uruguayan players looked around awkwardly not knowing what to do next. The Uruguayan press immediately took offense at what it termed as a disrespectful gesture. Video of the incident is below:

For their part, the organizers were quick to recognize their mistake and rectify it, while also issuing an immediate apology:

Mexico comfortably won their game against Uruguay 3-1 in a match that saw both sides get a red card, the earliest own goal in Copa America history (in the fourth minute) and a late double-salvo in the 85th and 90th minutes by Mexico to close out a game they dominated in possession.

Earlier on the weekend, Brazil could only draw their opening game against Ecuador while hosts USA were easily beaten by Colombia in the opening game on Friday night.

Argentina play Chile on Monday.

Is institutional racism to blame for the lack of US soccer stars?

The head of US Soccer’s diversity task force says the some of the country’s most gifted players are prevented from showcasing their talents because of their cultural background.

Doug Andreassen believes athletes in mostly African American and Latino neighborhoods get left behind, while parents from wealthier areas are able to fund their child’s progression in the game.

Andreassen points out that last year’s Women’s World Cup winners were almost all white, and that several of the non-white players in the US Copa America squad grew up overseas.

“People don’t want to talk about it,” he said. “The system is not working for the underserved community. It’s working for the white kids.

“We used to say to ourselves: ‘How good would we be if we could just get the kids in the cities?'”

The US pay-to-play system is said to be the main contributory factor to the disparity, with talented youngsters from poorer backgrounds heavily reliant on scholarships or sponsorships to break into the game.

Julio Borge, director of coaching at the largely Latino Heritage Soccer Club in Pleasant Hill, California said: “You are buying skill – but there are some pieces of the game that just can’t be bought.

“In my area, we are missing a ton of these kids. A lot of coaches don’t have time to see everybody.

“It’s expensive to try out for the big programs, so many don’t even go after the opportunity.”

Borge believes US Soccer should implement a strategy to ensure the best players, whatever their background, have a route to the top.

“We need someone to speak up – (Jurgen) Klinsmann or whatever – and say: ‘Here are the players we are looking for, and here’s how the system should be built.’

The diversity problem is seemingly more prevalent in the women’s game than the men’s.

While more than a third of the men’s roster in this month’s Copa America will be non-white, the women’s team playing at the Rio Olympics will be mostly white.

With five players from the women’s team threatening to boycott Rio 2016 after filing a wage-discrimination complaint, it appears the issues of diversity and equality are a long way from being resolved.

Soccer has greatly improved in the US in recent years, but Borge insists more needs to be done by both US Soccer and the MLS to create a structure where players can progress in the game, whatever their background might be.

“We have coaches who need to recruit talent from all over the nation and invest in the Olympic Development Program and let them be creative and let the let them play freely,” he said.

“It takes huge dedication and it takes money, but we have the money at US Soccer.”

Andreassen also believes more should be done to ensure soccer becomes as accessible and diverse as sports such as Basketball or American Football.

“There are the kids in the diverse communities playing on the street corner, and we have to find them,” said Andreassen.

“Someone knows they are there, either the church or the school.

“Maybe it’s a pastor or a principal or someone at the YMCA or Boy’s and Girl’s Club. We have to identify those community leaders.

“I think I’ve pushed the ball one revolution. But my goal is to get it down to the goalline.”

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Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid: 2016 Champions League Final Preview

The San Siro has seen many trophies being lifted by its own clubs but this time it will witness one of the Madrid clubs being crowned the Champions League champions in the 2016 final.

These two teams locked horns in the 2013-14 Champions League final, which Real Madrid won 4-1 at the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon and took home their tenth crown or La Decima under Carlo Ancelotti. The scoreline was misleading on the day as Atletico performed very well and it was only extremely late that Real were able to break Simeone’s team’s resilience.

Two years later, Simeone faces a different rival in Zinedine Zidane. Zidane took over from Rafa Benitez midway this season and the Real Madrid legend has done a good job so far.

After being denied the La Liga title, which went right down to the wire, both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid’s ambition will be to get one of the most prestigious titles in football, the Champions League. The latest champions league betting tips and pundit predictions favour Real Madrid, but you can’t discount the threat that a rested, hungry Atletico side poses.

Real Madrid beat Roma, Wolfsburg and Manchester City to enter the finals while their Madrid rivals defeated PSV, Barcelona and Bayern Munich on their run to Milan.

There are doubts over Cristiano Ronaldo’s fitness which could be a massive thorn in Los Blanco’s side; however, it is expected that the superstar will be able to feature in the gigantic tie. Ronaldo is the key player for the side but if he is absent, the others have to step up, something that didn’t happen against Manchester City in the first leg.

For Atletico, Antoine Griezmann is the key player and the 25-year-old did score the decisive goal against Bayern Munich. Like his counterpart Ronaldo, the bulk of the burden of firing the side to glory would be with the Frenchman who would be expected to continue his fine form.

It would be a battle of Zinedine Zidane’s offensive and what has been dubbed as the beautiful brand of football against Diego Simeone’s rigorous and often unappealing style; style and finesse against grit and determination.

Man United announce Louis van Gaal has been sacked, Mourinho appointment expected

Manchester United have confirmed that Louis van Gaal has been sacked as manager of the Old Trafford club after two years in charge.

The experienced Dutchman arrived in England as the Red Devils were undergoing major changes following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and a disastrous period under David Moyes.

Over 24 months Van Gaal has led United into the Champions League and won the FA Cup two days before being dismissed as the club’s manager.

Executive vice chairman Ed Woodward paid homage to the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss as the news was announced.

“I would like to thank Louis and his staff for their excellent work in the past two years culminating in winning a record-equalling 12th FA Cup for the club (and securing him a title in four different countries),” a statement reads.

“He has behaved with great professionalism and dignity throughout his time here. He leaves us with a legacy of having given several young players the confidence to show their ability on the highest stage. Everyone at the club wishes him all the best in the future.”

Van Gaal ultimately has paid the price for finishing outside the top four in 2015-16, with a lack of attacking inspiration in the final third also leading to his exit.

The Dutchman released a long statement saying he was honored to have been in charge at Old Trafford.

“It has been an honor to manage such a magnificent club as Manchester United FC, and in doing so, I have fulfilled a long-held ambition,” he said.

“I am immensely proud to have helped United win the FA Cup for the 12th time in the club’s history. I have been privileged during my management career to have won 20 trophies but winning the FA Cup, which is steeped in so much history, will always be one of the most special achievements of my career.

“I am very disappointed to be unable to complete our intended three-year plan. I believe that the foundations are firmly in place to enable the club to move forward and achieve even greater success.”

United have stated that an announcement on the club’s new manager will be made in the near future, with it little secret that Jose Mourinho is set to be unveiled at Old Trafford.

The former Chelsea boss was sacked from the outgoing Premier League champions following a tumultuous start to the 2015-16 campaign but boasts a proud record of managerial success.

Having won the Champions League for both Porto and Inter Milan, Mourinho has also claimed domestic titles in Portugal, Italy, Spain and England.

The reaction of the United fans to the outspoken coach’s arrival will be interesting given that he was highly disliked in the Old Trafford ranks during his reign at Stamford Bridge.

Video: Man United captain Wayne Rooney in bizarre X-Men Apocalypse movie teaser

The video below may well be slightly unnerving and cringeworthy, but it is yet another example of Manchester United’s innovative ways of monetizing the club’s fame.

With a furore around the new X-Men Apocalypse movie, the Old Trafford club have become involved in promoting the film’s release.

As can be seen in the video below, Wayne Rooney is asked by the movie’s heroes to help them in their latest quest to save humanity, while both David De Gea and Anthony Martial also star.

The video is sure to help opposition supporters attack Rooney, with the United captain’s blushes potentially on show at Wembley as his side take on Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final later today.

The latest ploy to make money from the Red Devils brand adds to an array of sponsorship agreements that United have signed up over recent years.

As well as their major partnerships with the likes of Adidas and Chevrolet, the Premier League side also have an official diesel engine partner and official savoury snack partner – with seemingly every opportunity to make money capitalized upon.

In the latest figures released by Forbes, United are third in the global rich list behind Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Teenager causes security scare at England training camp

A teenager caused a security scare at St Georges during England’s preparations for Euro 2016.

18-year-old Harry Peak tried to blended in as he trained alongside Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling.

The DJ was suspended by Pirate FM, where he and his sister hosted The Youth Show on the station, as a result of the stunt.

The station’s director said Peak had always been a maverick, but had gone too far this time.

Staff noticed Peak less than a minute after he entered the pitch and quickly removed him.

He reportedly carried out the stunt after an autograph session involving England players was cancelled.

Peak was there as a guest of Club Wembley of which his father, a highly successful dentist, is a member.

He later apologised on Twitter for the stunt, saying he never meant to cause concern or embarrassment and left as soon as he was asked.

The FA said they would be investigating and may revoke his father’s membership as a result.

Peak is not the first person to try a similar stunt.

Simon Brodkin, the character behind Lee Nelson and Jason Bent, has pulled several similar pranks.

He trained with the Manchester City first team squad as they went through their pre-match warm up against Everton.

Brodkin also nearly boarded the England train that was heading to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, but it was his stunt during a FIFA press conference that brought him to the attention of a much wider audience.

After throwing around $600 at Sepp Blatter as he was addressing corruption allegations against FIFA, Brodkin was arrested and charged with trespassing but the case was never brought to court as Zurich prosecutors never received an application for a criminal case.

YouTube to stream Champions League final

After successfully broadcasting the Europa League final between Sevilla and Liverpool on Wednesday, YouTube will also be streaming the Champions League final live next Saturday, May 28.

The Google-owned company, who struck a deal with BT Sport to screen both finals, drew a record peak audience of 3.5 million viewers but has said that it has no plans to challenge for Premier League rights.

Stephen Nuttall, YouTube’s senior director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “It is amazing that BT has chosen to put the Europa and Champions League finals on YouTube to reach the widest possible audience.

“Live content works brilliantly as a complement to TV coverage for a broadcaster running a very good YouTube channel.

“Some partners think how much ad revenue can I make on it? Some think about what reach they can get to grow and build a domestic or global audience.”

The Europa League final is believed to be in YouTube’s top five most-watched live sports broadcasts in the UK.

With the Champions League final set to be aired on May 28, rumors had started to circulate that the company would take on Sky and BT in the next Premier League rights auction, but Nuttall dismissed the idea.

“We are not a buyer of rights,” he said. “We are very good at distributing content to the largest possible audience.

“It’s pretty clear. We are a technology company, we do a great job of creating tools that broadcasters, sports leagues and clubs can use to tell their stories to the largest possible engaged audience.

“That is what I expect we will continue to focus on. Our whole model is about partnering with people to allow them to make the greatest possible success out of their content.

“Overall, whether you are BT or UEFA or you are the BBC you look at YouTube and decide that it looks like an interesting place to distribute content.

“We work with, and focus on, distributing their content. Sometimes live, sometimes clips and highlights in the sports world. Sometimes digital natives. We donít create the content ourselves.”

YouTube has steadily been growing its portfolio of live sports offerings.

The media giant recently agreed a free-to-air broadcast deal with Spain’s Professional Football League (LFP) to air games from the LFP World Challenge, the country’s top-tier football pre-season tour.

YouTube will also offer highlights packages and behind the scenes content from the tour.

The company has also partnered with the NFL to offer fans some of the game’s most iconic matches for free.

Cricket continues to be part of YouTube’s strategy to develop its live sports offering, as shown by their recent airing of the inaugural Pakistan Super League competition.

Sevilla win third consecutive Europa League title after stunning comeback against Liverpool

Sevilla produced a stirring second half comeback to overturn a one-goal deficit and win their third consecutive Europa League title against Premier League side Liverpool in Switzerland.

Europa League holders Sevilla retained their European crown after coming back from a goal down against English side Liverpool, scoring three goals in a devastating second half display to win their third consecutive Europa League title and secure Champions League football next season.

Daniel Sturridge gave Liverpool a deserved lead midway through the first half with an outstanding strike with the outside of the boot, with Jurgen Klopp’s side quickly finding their rhythm in what was their first European final since 2007.

Liverpool had three strong penalty appeals turned down by referee Jonas Eriksson in what was a hugely encouraging opening 45 minutes from their point of view – but Sevilla emerged after the break with renewed vigour to draw themselves level in the first minute of the second half.

Kevin Gameiro, the La Liga side’s top scorer in the Europa League this season, tapped in after a superb run from the right-back Mariano to start the comeback, leaving Liverpool visibly shell-shocked. So impactful was the goal that the Premier League side soon looked a shadow of the team that had run Sevilla ragged in the first half.

Sevilla could well have been 2-0 up minutes later but for a superb stop from Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet, denying Gameiro a quickfire second after he had been put clean through on goal.
There was to be no mistake from the Sevilla captain Coke just after the hour with the 29 year-old brilliantly sweeping home a loose ball to give his side the lead for the first time on the night.
Liverpool hassled and harried but failed to regain control of the match they had looked in total control of in the first half, with Coke once again firing in after the ball fell kindly to him in the Liverpool box to give Sevilla yet another night of European glory.

Tottenham Hotspur only Premier League team to make 2015-16 transfer window profit

A study of the activity of the Premier League’s 20 clubs during the last two transfer windows shows that only one team made a profit and that spending and success are not inextricably linked.

Activity in the summer 2015 and January 2016 windows was taken into consideration, with Tottenham Hotspur the only team to make a profit.

The White Hart Lane side made $9.7 million from their deals, with only a handful of new faces brought to White Hart Lane including Toby Alderweireld and Son Heung-min.

This was counteracted by the sales of a host of players including Paulinho, Vlad Chiriches and Roberto Soldado.

Manchester City were the side to make the highest loss on transfers, with a net spend of $180m, which brought the likes of Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Nicolas Otamendi to the Etihad Stadium.

Interestingly, Newcastle United were the next highest net spenders on $115.8m, but this was not enough to save the Tyneside club from relegation.

This also shows the perils of spending big mid-season, with the likes of Andros Townsend and Jonjo Shelvey signed in January but not enough to keep Rafa Benitez’s men in the top flight.

Shock English champions Leicester City made a $41.8m net spend, with only six teams in the division making a bigger loss.

Manchester United were the second highest net spenders in the top half of the finalised table on $48.6m, while a host of the biggest spenders were in the lower reaches of the division.

Newly promoted sides Watford, Bournemouth and Norwich all spent big, with their expenditure in the transfer market actually dictating their fate.

The Hornets and Cherries made net spends of $61.5m and $56m respectively and avoided the drop, while the Carrow Road side’s outlay of $39.2m was not enough to stave off relegation.

The figures will be another source of frustration for Arsenal fans, with the Gunners’ net spend at $22.6m.

With the Emirates Stadium faithful crying out for Arsene Wenger to buy a world-class striker and reinforce the squad, the fact that only six teams spent less will evoke annoyance in the North London supporters.

The figures are set to be shaken up this summer as the likes of United, Chelsea and Liverpool are expected to spend big in a bid to get back into the Premier League top four and fight for major silverware.