Women’s World Cup Roundup: Germany Thrash South Africa & France Win in Controversial Fashion

?We’re into the business end of the group stage now, as eight sides played out their final matches before either heading home, or heading through to the knockout stages. 

Monday saw Groups A and B come to their conclusions, dramatic and otherwise, so without further ado, here’s your lowdown on another action-packed day of football.


South Korea 1-2 Norway

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Having lost their first two matches to France and Nigeria, South Korea knew that they needed several pieces to fall into place throughout the other groups in the days to come, in order to stand a chance of progressing as one of the best third-placed sides.

Before anything else, however, they had to win their last game and claw back as much of their increasingly poor goal difference as possible. Standing in their way was a Norway side with their own progress on the line. For them, the remit was simple: win, make sure of second place, dust themselves down for the next round. 

Within five minutes, it was pretty clear which way it was going. Caroline Graham Hansen was the hero on the night – she converted a penalty after five minutes, then won another at the start of the second half. Isabell Herlovsen would convert that one, with Hansen withdrawn shortly after due to injury.

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South Korea, to their credit, made a game of it from there. They didn’t want to go out with a whimper, and after dominating much of the second half, found a goal through Min-Ji Yeo to give Norway something to think about in the last ten minutes. 

In the end, however, the Norwegians were able to see it out, and ended what has been a successful group campaign on a high with a hard-fought victory. We’ll find out who they’ll face on Tuesday, with the tree pitting them against whoever finishes second in Group C – likely one of Brazil or Australia, with Italy needing just a point to win that one. 


Nigeria 0-1 France

Wendie Renard

?The hosts came into their final game in cruise control, looking to end their campaign with  maximum points and take as much momentum with them into the last 16 as possible.

Nigeria, meanwhile, were hoping for a point that would book their passage into the last 16, while not too hopeful of a win against one of the tournament’s favourites. The game, then, could have been something of a damp squib, with a point effectively suiting both sides. 

It looked as if it might have been going that way, as well, until VAR reared its head 15 minutes from time. Awarding France a penalty – and Ngozi Ebere a red card – for a foul on on Viviane Asseyi, Wendie Renard initially fluffed the opportunity, but was given a reprieve when the referee ruled that Chiamaka Nnadozie had stepped off her line – after once again consulting the technology.

Nigeria v France: Group A - 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France

Upon the re-take, Renard did not repeat her mistake, emphatically sending it into the top corner with minimal fuss, and France’s 100% record rolled on. 

As the winners of Group A, the hosts will face one of the third-placed sides who advance, while Nigeria – should other results mean they make the cut, which is still a distinct possibility on three points – will face one of the group winners. 


China 0-0 Spain

The final Group B matches kicked off at 5pm, with both Spain and China fully aware that a point would be enough to move them into the knockout phase, despite Germany leading the group. 

In truth, it seemed like both sides were fully aware of this fact. Neither was prepared to throw caution to the wind to get the goal that would make sure of their progress, with risk outweighing reward in this instance, although Lucia Garcia could have put her side ahead when she got on the end of Mariona Caldentey’s cross, only to send an effort wide. 

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As the game wore on, Spain dominated in virtually every respect, not conceding as much as a shot on target throughout the 90 minutes, but China showed exactly why they have never qualified for a World Cup and failed to progress through the group stages as they limited their more esteemed opponents to half-chances and speculative efforts.

In the end, neither side will put too much stock into the result, as finishing on four points each means Spain qualify in second place, while China are guaranteed to be one of the best third-placed sides. They will face either England or Japan in the last 16, depending on who wins Group A. 


Spain, meanwhile, have reason to root for Sweden when they face the USWNT on Thursday, since they will face the winner of Group F. Anything but a Sweden win, of course, sees the US advance in first place, due to their remarkable +16 goal difference.


South Africa 0-4 Germany

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If the other match in Group B resembled a closely fought chess match, then this one was more like a Formula One race. Unfortunately, South Africa’s engine packed in after 14 minutes, leaving Germany to race ahead and pick up an easy victory. 

The South Africans knew heading in that a victory was a must to salvage any sort of back door into the knockout phases, but any lingering hopes that they might have come up with something special, against a Germany side who were already sure of their progress, found themselves soundly and methodically taken to bits by half time. 

First half strikes from Melanie Leupolz, Sara Dabritz and Alexandra Popp all-but ensured the Germans finished as group winners on a 100% record, before Lina Magull added a fourth to put the gloss on things just before the hour mark. 4-0 it finished, but it could have been far more in a scintillating performance from Die Nationalelf. 

For their efforts, they will face one of the third placed sides, while South Africa head home battered, bruised and pointless after a third straight defeat. 


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Leicester City Loan Players: How They Got on Away From the King Power During the 2018/19 Season

?After an incredibly promising season for the Foxes, Brendan Rodgers and co. will be hoping to build upon their position in the league to mount another challenge for European qualification next season. And with the breadth of quality in which Leicester have coming back from some strong loan spells, their dream of becoming a top club in England once more may become a reality. 

Here’s how Leicester City’s most prominent loan players performed last season.


Islam Slimani

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?The 30-year-old just hasn’t hit the heights expected of him when he signed for ?Leicester City for a club record-breaking fee of £29m back in 2016. Having only made 35 appearances for the Foxes in three years, only scoring eight in that time, his Foxes career may not be over. 

Last season he was loaned out again, after a previous unsuccessful loan spell at ?Newcastle, he moved to Fenerbahce, where he scored a solitary goal in 15 appearances.

Slimani will undoubtedly be moved on from the King Power after many failed loan spells, this should help give him another chance of reaching the heights he did for Sporting CP in the 2015/16 season, and it should help free up a massive chunk of wage budget for future signings. 

Rating: 4/10


Adrien Silva  

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After all the hype surrounding the signing of this player on deadline day in 2017, Silva’s Leicester career fizzled out as quickly as it started. In his first season with the club he failed to make any major impact upon the starting XI, and was loaned out to Monaco in January to aid them and their relegation troubles, with Youri Tielemans moving the other way. Silva went nine games unbeaten with Monaco, and was a pivotal figure in the ascent out of the drop zone. 

Even though Monaco finished the season only two points outside of the relegation zone, Silva reignited his career to some degree and may have earned himself a spot in next year’s starting XI under new manager Brendan Rodgers.

Rating: 6/10


Fousseni Diabate

Fousseni Diabate,Cyrus Christie

Diabate spent the second half of the season on loan at Turkish Super Lig side Sivasspor after failing to impress at the King Power, with his fortunes turning around whilst he was at Sivas. He became a crucial first team player, and in 17 league games he scored two goals and got three assists, with the 23-year-old scoring an incredible solo goal against Besiktas. According to reports from Turkish news outlet ?Fanatik, Besiktas were so impressed with the goal that they’re looking to sign him permanently.

Diabate doesn’t look to have guaranteed a starting place under Rodgers, with the Foxes having a plethora of excellence in the wide-areas of the pitch, meaning this move for Diabate looks more than likely. 

Rating: 8/10


Andy King

Andy King

?Club legend Andy King has been with Leicester since 2006, playing well over 300 games for the Foxes, and was pivotal in Leicester’s 2015/16 Premier League winning campaign. Yet as of late, his career at the King Power has stagnated, being relegated to various ?Championship loan spells plagued by injury and a lack of fitness. This was the case for his spell with Frank Lampard’s ?Derby County, as he suffered an ankle injury in February ruling him out for the rest of the season. 

The 30-year-old will likely be sent out on loan again, with Leicester being unable to sell or release this iconic player without some fans revolting. 

Rating: 3/10


Filip Benkovic 

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?Benkovic signed for Leicester City in 2018 from Dinamo Zagreb for a deal worth around £13m, and has spent his first season in the United Kingdom on loan at Rodgers’ former club and current Scottish champions Celtic. In his first season he made 19 appearances for the Hoops scoring two and assisting one from centre-back, to top off a remarkably impressive debut season.

However, it seems as though Celtic fans don’t need to mourn his departure just yet as Rodgers has plans for him to return to Celtic Park, as quoted in the Daily Record, “Filip’s situation is one I’ll certainly look at. But there’s no doubt that if I want him to go out on loan again, I’d want him to go to Celtic,

Of course, I’ll have a conversation with the player and I think he’s a big talent. But we’ve got four really good centre-backs here with big experience in Jonny Evans, Harry Maguire, Wes Morgan and Caglar Soyuncu. He needs to play and Celtic has been a great experience for him.” 

Rating: 9/10


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Transfer Rumours: Man City in for New Keeper, Meunier to Arsenal, Neres to Everton and More

?The slow crawl to the beginning of the new league season is now well underway, with some clubs opting to get their business done nice and early, while others have inconsiderately opted to drag their heels, and leave fans champing at the bit for something to talk about. 

Wherever your club fit in on that spectrum, here are some of Monday’s tastiest rumours to get your teeth into. 


Manchester City in for New Third Choice Keeper

Asier Riesgo,Philippe Coutinho

Not satisfied with Ederson and Claudio Bravo as senior options between the sticks next season, rumour has it that Pep Guardiola is keen to bring in a new third choice keeper this summer, and  is eyeing up SD Eibar’s backup stopper Asier Riesgo. 

The 35-year-old hasn’t featured for the Spanish side since February, playing second fiddle to Marko Dmitrovic, and ?Mundo Deportivo build on an earlier report from the Sun in saying that Guardiola is pushing to lure him away from La Liga on a free transfer.

He has been offered new terms in Spain, but since he isn’t likely to be playing much at either club, it’s easy to imagine that the financial lure of City will be playing on his mind this late on in his career. Should he move to the Premier League champions, the report notes that Arijanet Muric would likely go out on loan to Nottingham Forest, in order to gain some valuable first team experience that would set him up as a long-term second choice to Ederson. 


Arsenal Priced Out of Another Transfer? 

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Frequent reports have suggested that Arsenal have just the £40m to work with in their transfer budget as things stand. In flagrant ignorance of that, frequent reports have also linked them with hundreds of millions of pounds worth of potential incomings, so something’s got to give here. 

The most recent signing they are reported to be keen on is Paris Saint-Germain’s Thomas Meunier, the Belgian right-back who was Unai Emery’s first choice at the French champions, but hasn’t really been fancied by Thomas Tuchel. ?The Sun, however, suggest that the £30m PSG are asking for is out of their price range, and they will instead look to other targets. 

On top of that, the player himself has also come out and said that he ?wants to stay at PSG, so it seems the ‘Arsenal don’t have any money’ chat may win the day on this one.


James Maddison on His Future (Again)

James Maddison

James Maddison’s prize for an impressive first season in the Premier League? Constant questions about his future, of course! 

The 23-year-old has been linked with Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and virtually every English club you could consider a ‘step up’ from Leicester ever since making the switch from Norwich and proving he was very much worth the £22m transfer fee, and this is what he had to say when asked by ?Sky Sports if he’d given the rumours any thought. 

“No, you have just got to ignore that and take it all in your stride. As a 17 year-old boy I’d started five games for Coventry and saw on my phone that I was being linked with Tottenham and Liverpool.

“With transfer talk you need to take it as a compliment that people are even talking about you, it won’t distract me.”


Manchester United Keen to Tie Down Scott McTominay Amid Crystal Palace Interest

Scott McTominay

Manchester United are reported to be keen to put a new contract on the table for 22-year-old midfielder Scott McTominay, in order to stave off interest from Crystal Palace.

The youth academy graduate is currently tied to the club until 2023, but signed his last deal in 2017, and has seen his status within the squad grow exponentially since. Palace are believed to be monitoring his situation, and could lure him away with the promises of first team football, should he have any uncertainty about his role in the United side.

The Old Trafford hierarchy, however, are keen to keep him, according to ?the Sun, and want to offer him improved terms to prevent him leaving. 


Marseille Enter Race for Salomon Rondon

Rafael Benitez,Salomon Rondon

Newcastle’s hopes of landing Salomon Rondon on a permanent basis may have taken a blow, as Ligue 1 side Marseille are reported to have entered the race to sign West Brom striker.

Joining on loan last season, Rondon made himself a key part of Rafa Benitez’s side, scoring 12 goals in 33 appearances, and with his contract up next month, it is believed they are keen to re-sign him. Marseille, however, will offer some competition, as ?GFFN say Andre Villas-Boas is keen to bring him to France.

Meanwhile, the ?Daily Mail report that the Baggies want to sign Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle on a permanent deal, after he impressed on loan in the opposite direction last season. 


Ajax to Throw Money at David Neres to Prevent Everton Switch


Ajax star David Neres has been linked with a move to Everton this week, the connection made thanks to his involvement at the Copa America alongside Blues striker Richarlison, but Brazilian outlet ?Globo have moved to quell such speculation. 

They report that, while both Everton and Paris Saint-Germain have expressed interest, Ajax plan to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Neres to convince him to stay for another season, including a pay-rise and a clause that will allow him to leave on a subsidised deal next summer. 

It’s easy to see why, too. In a season that saw Ajax win the Eredivisie and make the Champions League semi-finals, the 22-year-old was directly involved in 27 goals in all competitions, and scoring important goals against both Real Madrid and Juventus in the process.


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Sergej Milinkovi?-Savi?: The Contenders to Sign Him & Where He Might End Up

After all the transfer hype surrounding ?Sergej Milinkovi?-Savi? last summer, he ended up staying at Lazio. Was it worth it? Probably not. 

He did add a Coppa Italia to his trophy cabinet, but that was the only positive in a relatively underwhelming season for both Milinkovi?-Savi? and Lazio. Champions League place hopefuls at the start of the season, the Rome based side could only finish eighth in ?Serie A at the end of the season. 

There’s no doubting Milinkovi?-Savi?’s ability though; he still managed to score seven in 41 appearances in a season where the goals seemed to dry up for Lazio. 

He’s established himself as one of the most exciting midfielders in European football. His through balls and defensive contribution has been highlighted as being his strong points and he has proved himself to be a complete midfielder. As a result, he has been targeted by some of Europe’s top clubs. Here’s a rundown of those clubs…


Barcelona

Arturo Vidal

Milinkovi?-Savi?, who was actually born in Catalonia, has been ?linked with a move to Barcelona in recent m?onths as they reportedly sent a scout to watch him earlier this season. 

If ?Barça were to complete a deal for Milinkovi?-Savi?, it would surely be a big step in their rebuilding process as they look to replace their ageing squad and once again compete for the Champions League trophy.

However, a deal for Milinkovi?-Savi? looks to be unlikely as it is unclear where he would fit in a three-man midfield that could already include Sergio Busquets, Artur Melo, Arturo Vidal and now ?Frenkie De Jong (although Rakitic is probably on his way out). With the acquisition of De Jong in particular, one could argue that Barça do not need the Serbian international.

Likelihood Rating: 2/10


Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjae

If a player in Europe ever shows even a glimmer of ability, you can bet ?Manchester United will be linked to him, and ?Milinkovi?-Savi? is no exception. The difference with this link is, Manchester United might actually need him, especially ?if Paul Pogba leaves.

United have been crying out for more quality in their midfield for years and Milinkovi?-Savi? could be the key to making Manchester United, once again, a dangerous and feared side. His versatility might prove a decisive factor as ?Ander Herrera is set to leave.

The price tag that ?Juventus have been quoted (£100m!) might put off the Red Devils, who may need to trim their transfer budget having only qualified for the Europa League last season. 

Likelihood Rating: 5/10


 Real Madrid

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?Following a disappointing 2018/19 season, ?Real Madrid have decided to splash the cash. Spending no less than £272m on players such as ?Eden Hazard and ?Luka Jovi?. ?Zinedine Zidane’s side has been linked with Milinkovi?-Savi? and it’s thought his large price tag won’t put off Los Blancos. 

Once again there would be question marks over how the Serbian midfielder would fit into this Real Madrid team. They already have plenty of depth in this area and a player might need to be moved on in order to facilitate the arrival of Milinkovi?-Savi?. Given his age however, Real might be tempted to buy him now just so he can develop further around world class players. That has definitely seemed to be their transfer policy so far this season. 

Likelihood Rating: 6/10


Juventus

Maurizio Sarri

Juventus, like Bayern Munich, seems to have a habit of raiding their division’s lower sides of their best players. It’s what they did with Miralem Pjanic, it’s what they did with Federico Bernadeschi, the list goes on. La Vecchia Signora have been heavily linked with Milinkovi?-Savi? over the last two summers and it appears that this time around they might actually pull it off. 

The Lazio midfielder could be Maurizio Sarri’s first signing, ?as it has been reported that Juve are keen to get the deal done and might even offer Leonardo Spinazzola and Cristian Romero as sweeteners. 

Milinkovi?-Savi? would suit ‘Sarriball’ quite well. His passing and dribbling ability would be valued in Sarri’s possession-based, quick attacking football. He is also somewhat similar to Marek Hamšík (mohawk aside), who thrived under Sarri while he was at ?Napoli

Likelihood Rating: 8/10


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Arsenal Set to Make Under-21 International Markus Schubert the Club’s 1st Signing of the Summer

?German goalkeeper Markus Schubert looks set to become Unai Emery’s first signing of the summer transfer window. 

The 21-year-old, who plays for Dynamo Dresden in the Bundesliga 2 is a free agent this summer and it is reported that Arsenal are looking to secure his services. 

The youngster comes with a big reputation and clearly has bags of potential after previously being linked with moves to Bayern Munich and VfB Stuttgart. 

Markus Schubert

Although ?Arsenal are locked in negotiations with the goalkeeper, it seems unlikely that a decision will be made regarding his future before the Under-21 European Championships finish, where the German is in action. 

According to ?Football.London, Arsenal are the only side that are currently chasing the youngsters signature, meaning that they are in pole position to land their man.

Schubert kept nine clean sheets in 31 appearances last season and is known to be strong under a high ball. Emery’s interest in the German comes after noticing his ability with his feet, a trait that the Arsenal manager believes is key for goalkeepers. 

Markus Schubert

It is thought that the German will be loaned back out almost immediately after arriving at Arsenal in order to aid his development with the ?Bundesliga and the Football League being touted as possible destinations. 

This paid dividends after Emiliano Martinez flourished at ?Reading and is now expected to become Arsenal’s second choice keeper after ?Petr Cech announced his departure from the Emirates to become sporting director at ?Chelsea. 

David Ospina

Arsenal are looking to offload Colombian keeper David Ospina to ensure that their youngsters gain valuable experience at the club. However, the Gunners are yet to reach an agreement with ?Napoli who would prefer to pay around half of the £4m purchase option that they had previously agreed with Arsenal. 

Highly rated youngster Arthur Okonkwo looks set to be promoted by the club to take on the role of Under-23’s keeper with other young goalkeepers, Matt Macey, and Deyan Iliev now surplus to requirements and free to leave the North London side. 

 

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