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Euro 2016 power rankings: Germany and Italy on top as England nosedive

The world champions’ meeting with Antonio Conte’s team could be the game of the tournament, but only Wales are left to fly the flag for the home nationsJoachim Löw was lacking balance in his team – overstocked with No10s – during the group stage but Germany seemed far better going forward with Mario Götze relegated to the bench against Slovakia. The most notable thing of all, though, is die mannschaft are the only side yet to concede a goal and possess the tournament’s most consistently impressive player to date in Toni Kroos. Their quarter-final against Italy on Saturday night in Bordeaux will likely be the toughest game the world champions play – but it could also take a lot out of them before a likely semi-final against France. Continue reading...

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Carl Craig: the man with the punk past leading Minnesota United into MLS

The Loons are joining MLS as an expansion team, and leading them into the promised land is a coach whose approach is best described as open-mindedIn his early years, in the 1980s, he was there on the picket lines supporting striking miners. There to rage against a machine fixed against the British working class and their way of life – a world from which he came. There, too, to witness the brutal policing that came with it. And there to watch on in horror as the soccer world got a dose.Because the end of the decade saw another policing disaster: the deaths of 96 Liverpool supporters at Hillsborough, innocent victims who were later blamed. Carl Craig, son of Newcastle, England, recognized it as another example of the worst excesses of the times, when soccer fans were “treated like shit,” virtual “second-class citizens”. The policies of Margaret Thatcher claimed many victims. And Craig was one of its agitators: protester, advocate, and punk musician. Continue reading...

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Euro 2016 quiz: whose hair or beard is this?1

Can you spot the footballer by the hair on his head?Euro 2016 quiz: identify the players by their tattoosWhose hair is this?Radja NainggolanMarek HamsikAnsi AgolliJuraj KuckaWhose hair is this?Zlatan IbrahimovicBirkir SævarssonMichael LangDomagoj VidaWhose beard is this?Joe LedleyJoe AllenArda TuranSergio RamosWhose hair is this?Anthony MartialBlaise MatuidiPaul PogbaPatrice EvraWhose hair is this?Marouane FellainiDivock OrigiDavid AlabaKingsley ComanWhose beard is this?Aron GunnarsonSergio RamosJoe AllenJames CollinsWho is this wearing a fake moustache?Thomas MüllerMesut ÖzilLuka ModricAntoine GriezmannWhose hair is this?Kevin De BruyneAaron RamseyToni KroosEidur GudjohnsenWhose hair is this?Paul PogbaKingsley ComanDavid AlabaDivock OrigiWhose hair is this?Milan BadeljIvan PerisicIvan RakiticDarijo Srna Continue reading...

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Germany and Italy raise standard at Euro 2016 after group-stage mediocrity1

By expanding the tournament Uefa has sacrificed quality for quantity and the deserved progress of Wales and Iceland to the quarter-finals should not obscure how bad much of the football has beenThe European Championship has at last woken up. With Germany against Slovakia and Italy against Spain, there have at last been two performances worthy of the stage. After two weeks, the tournament has finally begun. It’s almost as though 16 teams was the right size for the tournament all along.“The group stage was a little bit strange, because Uefa did some stupid things with the system,” Lukas Podolski said. “You lose the first two games and you still have a chance to get through to the next round. So it is a bit confused but for us, it doesn’t matter. Now the tournament starts.” Continue reading...

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Joe Hart’s England place under threat after Iceland blunder1

After his errors against Wales and Iceland led to goals at Euro 2016 the goalkeeper’s six-year reign as No1 may be coming to an endAs mea culpas go Joe Hart’s could not be more searing: “I apologise for ultimately costing us the game and the tournament,” the goalkeeper said after his mistake allowed Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s winner in Iceland’s victory that knocked England out of Euro 2016.On a torrid Monday night in Nice Hart’s earth-swallow-me moment came after 18 minutes. The 29-year-old dived to his left but the weak hand pushed at Sigthorsson’s attempt was, as he conceded, just not good enough. Continue reading...

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Are England better off having tournament games on BBC or ITV? | The Knowledge1

Plus: the origin of ‘dead rubbers’, winning the Golden Boot after a slow start, and rubbish European Championship hosts. Mail your questions to knowledge@theguardian.com or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU“I was wondering, as England were on ITV for their game against Slovakia, which of the various broadcasters has the best record. Do England have a better chance of winning a major championships with one TV channel over another?” asks Stephen Turner.Reader Matt Bryant had his eye on the ball. “Ever since I was a child I have seen appearances on ITV as a sign England could be in trouble,” he begins. “This has been validated by standout moments of glory/despair; think Motty’s “England have done it!” v Belgium in 1990, as opposed to Brian Moore’s “Well you know him better than anyone …” v Argentina in 1998. So imagine my self-righteousness when I came across this graphic earlier this month. At World Cups and Euros since 1996 [before Euro 2016]: Continue reading...

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Football transfer rumours: James Rodríguez to Manchester City or Chelsea?1

Today’s fluff is unconvincedWe begin this morning with an oddity: a deal that appears to be happening. Related: Henrikh Mkhitaryan set to join Manchester United for £30m after ‘improved offer’ Continue reading...

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Tottenham and Leicester interested in signing Iceland’s Ragnar Sigurdsson1

• Central defender excelled against England in Monday’s Euro 2016 victory • Sigurdsson also wanted in Germany but would prefer Premier League moveTottenham and Leicester are among several Premier League clubs interested in signing Ragnar Sigurdsson after his impressive displays for Iceland in their run to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, although they face competition from two German sides for the central defender.Sigurdsson, who is under contract with the Russian side Krasnodar until the summer of 2018, has been a star performer in France and was man of the match in the 2-1 victory against England in the last 16 on Monday after scoring the equaliser and producing a commanding performance at the heart of Iceland’s defence. Continue reading...

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Lionel Messi, forgiveness and the retirement that divided Argentina

The Barcelona forward is one of the greatest to have have played the game. But his international career highlighted the fraught marriage between football and country“Tonight, all the political programmes on TV are about football,” Ezequiel Fernandez Moores, Argentina’s leading sports columnist, tells me from Buenos Aires. He has just returned home on the underground, and noticed that the arrivals board read “No te vayas Lio”: Lio, don’t go.That phrase had been trending on social media since the early hours of Monday, when the Argentina captain announced, in tears, that he had quit international football after defeat in the Copa América final to Chile. Messi missed a penalty in the shootout and the result extended Argentina’s title drought to 23 years. Continue reading...

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Milan appoint Vincenzo Montella as new head coach

• Former Sampdoria coach signs two-year deal at San Siro • Montella replaces former youth team coach Cristian BrocchiMilan have appointed former Fiorentina and Sampdoria boss Vincenzo Montella as their new manager on a two-year contract, the Serie A club said on their website on Tuesday.The 42-year-old will begin work with the Italian side from July 1 and will replace Cristian Brocchi, who took charge on an interim basis after Sinisa Mihajlovic was sacked in April. Continue reading...

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