England qualify for Euro 2024 knockout stages

England have qualified for the last 16 of Euro 2024 after results on Monday night ensured they would finish the group stage as one of the best-performing third-place sides at a minimum.

The Three Lions picked up a win and a draw from their first two Group C games against Serbia and Denmark respectively and take on Slovenia on Tuesday night in their final outing before the knockout stages.

Albania’s defeat to Spain has now mathematically rubber-stamped England’s place in the next round along with France and the Netherlands.

Following UEFA’s increase of competing teams at the Euros from 16 to 24, the four best third-placed teams across the groups reach the last 16 courtesy of a separate league table.

Harry Kane, Kieran TrippierHarry Kane, Kieran Trippier

England are through / Catherine Ivill – AMA/GettyImages

England’s tally of four points was already better than Group A’s third-placed team Hungary, who only got off the mark thanks to a dramatic late win over Scotland.

While their progression is secured, the side the Three Lions could face in the next round still depends on the result of their clash with Slovenia. If they win the group, Gareth Southgate’s side will take on the third-place team from Group D, E or F on Sunday 30 June.

If England can only finish as runners-up, that would consign them to a bout with hosts Germany, who they faced at the same stage at Euro 2020, running out 2-0 winners at Wembley Stadium.

Should they drop all the way down to third, Portugal would await Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham and co in Frankfurt.

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Arsenal set to rival Barcelona for Spain midfielder – report

Arsenal are reportedly keen on a move for Real Sociedad midfielder Mikel Merino but could face competition from Barcelona for his signature.

Mikel Arteta’s side are keen to welcome a new midfielder to the Emirates Stadium this summer and may have settled on the Spanish star, whose contract with Sociedad is set to expire in 2025.

According to Mundo Deportivo, manager Arteta is said to personally be interested in Merino’s skillset and the Gunners are exploring a deal. However, they aren’t the only team monitoring him with Barca and new manager Hansi Flick also tracking developments.

Sociedad are thought to value Merino at around €25m, a fee that’s realistically affordable for the north London side, whereas Barca may struggle to find the necessary cash.

Reports also state Arteta has already started to carve Merino into his plans with Sport confirming the Spaniard has personally reached out to his compatriot in a bid to sweeten the move.

If Merino does choose Arsenal over Barcelona, he will return to the Premier League after previously impressing at Newcastle United. After becoming a fan favourite at St James’ Park, the midfielder swapped the Magpies for Sociedad in the summer of 2018.

Mikel ArtetaMikel Arteta

Arteta hopes to bring Merino to the Emirates / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

In an interview with Faro de Vigo while on international duty with Spain at Euro 2024, Merino was asked about his views on the Premier League and his time at Newcastle amid interest from clubs like Arsenal.

He said: “What marked me the most in Newcastle was the stadium, the fans. I think it was a unique life, feeling what St James’ Park is, I will always have it in my heart and mind because it is something unique.

“If there is one thing I am happy about throughout this journey, it is that the steps I have taken in my career have been perfect and at the right time to continue growing as a footballer who has undergone a growth process. And I don’t want it to end.”

Before he looks ahead to the 2024/25 campaign, Merino must first navigate Euro 2024. He made substitute appearances against Croatia and Italy before starting Spain’s final Group B fixture against Albania.

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San Jose Earthquakes fires head coach Luchi Gonzalez

Major League Soccer team San Jose Earthquakes announced Monday that it parted ways with head coach Luchi Gonzalez following a 6-2 thrashing by LAFC.

“We want to thank Luchi for his hard work, commitment to the club and professionalism. Luchi and his staff have worked extremely hard the past year and a half, but we have not met expectations this year as a club. We felt that we needed to make a change, and it was in the best interests of the club to move in a different direction,” general manager Chris Leitch said in the announcement.

The team announced assistant coach Ian Russell as interim head coach. Assistant coaches Steve Ralston, Luciano Fusco and Adin Brown will remain with the Quakes in their current roles.

Mateusz BoguszMateusz Bogusz

LAFC put six goals past San Jose in a 6-2 thrashing on the weekend. / Shaun Clark/GettyImages

Gonzalez leaves the team posting a 13-24-16 record the past two seasons. He was first named head coach on Aug. 17, 2022, but didn’t join the team full-time until after the 2022 FIFA World Cup where he was an assistant on Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT staff.

San Jose is currently last in MLS’ Western Conference winning a league-low three games and a league-high 14 through 19 matches. The Quakes lost seven of its last eight in all competitions and has failed to win an MLS match since May 11. The team was also knocked out of the U.S. Open Cup by Sacramento Republic FC.

“I want to thank ownership, leadership and our fans for the opportunity and the support they gave me during my time managing the Earthquakes. I am very grateful to all the staff and players that worked hard every day to improve our situation and wish them the very best moving forward. I plan to take some time with my family to reflect and prepare for the next step in my journey,” Gonzalez said in the announcement.

Russell takes over previously serving as interim head coach in 2014 for two matches. He was part of the coaching staff in 2012 when the Quakes won the Supporters’ shield. HE also won two MLS Cup championships as a midfielder for San Jose back in 2001 and 2003. The club honored him recently as one of the 50 greatest players in the team’s history.

The team did not divulge details regarding a new coaching search in its announcement, nor how long Russell will serve as interim boss.

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Argentina predicted starting lineup vs Chile: Copa America 2024

Fresh off winning their first Copa America 2024 match, Argentina will face Chile at MetLife Stadium on June 25, and Lionel Scaloni might switch up his starting XI.

The reigning Copa America champions showed no signs of slowing down as they kicked off their Copa America 2024 campaign against Canada on June 20. La Albiceleste walked away with a comfortable 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Julian Alvarez and Laurtaro Martinez, both assisted by Lionel Messi.

Argentina’s next Group A fixture comes just five days later against Chile, the side that beat them in back-to-back Copa America finals in 2015 and 2016. La Roja looked rather unimpressive in their first match against Peru, though, giving Scaloni the freedom to test out a different formation.

Here’s what Argentina’s starting XI could look like against Chile in East Rutherford.

Emiliano Martinez, Lautaro MartinezEmiliano Martinez, Lautaro Martinez

Emiliano Martinez is one of Argentina’s most reliable players. / Alex Slitz/GettyImages

GK: Emiliano Martínez – Martínez stood tall for La Albiceleste against Canada, adding another clean sheet to his resume, and will look to do the same against Chile.

RB: Nahuel Molina – Atletico Madrid’s Molina will make his 40th international cap tomorrow as one of Lionel Scaloni’s most trusted players.

CB: Cristian Romero – Expect Romero to play every match at center-back for Argentina at this summer’s Copa America. His supporting cast of fellow defensemen might change every now and then, but the Tottenham player is always a constant fixture for his country.

CB: Lisandro Martínez – After starting Argentina’s last three matches, Martinez rightfully earned his spot alongside Romero, beating out 36-year-old Nicolas Otamendi.

LB: Marcos Acuna – Nicolas Tagliafico was the starting left-back at the 2022 World Cup, but Acuna has since won the starting job and will likely only be on the bench for rest throughout Copa America 2024.

CM: Rodrigo de Paul – Rodrigo de Paul brings a much-needed physical presence to Argentina’s midfield and is always around to help out his defense, especially on counter attacks.

CM: Leandro Paredes – Leandro Paredes will continue controlling the tempo of the game from Argentina’s midfield as Enzo Fernandez works to achieve full match fitness.

CM: Alexis Mac Allister – Mac Allister was instrumental in Argentina’s win against Canada, and the Liverpool midfielder should be even more active in the attack against Chile.

AM: Giovani Lo Celso – Di Maria is rumored to be rested against Chile, giving Lo Celso the perfect opportunity to play crucial minutes and link up with Messi and Alvarez up top.

CF: Lionel Messi – Messi came away with two assists against Canada, and found himself through on goal several times, but could not find the back of the net. Expect the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner to bounce back and finish his chances against Chile.

ST: Julian Alvarez – Alvarez’s opening goal last match all-but guaranteed his place in Argentina’s starting XI tomorrow, but Lautaro Martinez’s goalscoring form is becoming hard to ignore as he continues to challenge for the Manchester City man’s spot.

Real Madrid decide new captain as Nacho nears exit – report

Luka Modric will become Real Madrid’s captain next season as the club prepare to move on without Nacho Fernandez, reports in Spain claim.

Nacho, who is representing Spain at Euro 2024, is expected to join Saudi Arabian side Al Qadsiah following the expiry of his Santiago Bernabeu contract after deciding to pursue a new challenge.

The 34-year-old lifted the La Liga title last season and helped Madrid claim a record-extending 15th Champions League crown, and his impending departure will end a 23-year association with the club that has seen him play over 350 times in all competitions and win 25 trophies.

Spanish journalist Miguel Angel Diaz reports that decisions have been made over Madrid’s leadership moving forwards, with veteran midfielder Luka Modric, who agreed a new one-year deal in June, poised to take over as the club’s new captain.

Long-serving Dani Carvajal is tipped to serve as Modric’s understudy, and he’s joined in a six-strong leadership group that consists of Lucas Vazquez, Federico Valverde, Thibaut Courtois and Vinicius Junior, who many consider to be the favourite for this year’s Ballon d’Or.

Luka ModricLuka Modric

Modric is currently away with Croatia / Mateusz Slodkowski/GettyImages

Modric has been at Real Madrid for over a decade, establishing himself as one of the greatest midfielders to have played the game alongside midfield partner Toni Kroos. Like Nacho, he has been at the club during a golden era of success in the Champions League, winning the competition six times and never once coming out on the losing side of a final.

He has also won La Liga on four occasions, though his role has diminished over the past 12 months given the vast array of talent at Carlo Ancelotti’s disposal.

Valverde, Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga are likely to continue ahead of Modric in the pecking order, but his experience will prove valuable in a dressing room that is preparing to welcome superstar duo Kylian Mbappe and Endrick next season.

As for now, Modric is playing for Croatia at Euro 2024, tasked with escaping a tough group that contains Spain, Italy and Albania. Failure to make the knockout stages would almost certainly bring the curtain down on his fairytale international career, which peaked during the 2018 World Cup in Russia as Croatia unexpectedly made the final by beating England 2-1.

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