For the first time since 1958, the historic Azzurri have missed the World Cup. After a 1-0 loss in Stockholm to Sweden in the World Cup Playoffs, Italy needed a win at the San Siro against Sweden on Monday, and, despite having some very good chances in the game, ended with a scoreless draw, eliminating them from the World Cup. This can all be traced back to the manager, Gian Piero Ventura, who has had questionable tactics and selections throughout the whole World Cup cycle — an in-form Lorenzo Insigne was left on the bench when Italy needed a goal, while Jorginho did not have a call-up for the Azzurri until the playoff. Italy is now taking a hard look at themselves, because you think the USMNT missing the World Cup was a disaster for the U.S.? Imagine a World Cup without Italy.
Speaking of the USMNT, the U.S. have a friendly against Portugal today under Dave Sarachan, with a very young squad, including several players in line to get their first cap. This is the first real chance for the U.S. to turn towards the future after missing the World Cup. We don’t have a formation yet, but players like Kellyn Acosta, Weston McKinnie, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Josh Sargent, and more will get their chance against a Portugal team without Cristiano Ronaldo, but who still has a great squad including Nelson Semedo, Bernardo Silva, and Andre Silva, in Portugal. This will be a solid test, but we should not exactly be focusing on the result. Focus on this match looking towards the future, and how the youth respond to the opportunity to show themselves in front of the European champions.
Since it is an international break, we are bound to get some transfer news, and here is our daily dose: Real Madrid have reportedly decided they will sell Welsh star Gareth Bale, after the 28-year-old has participated in just nine matches this season due to injury. An early favorite for the dynamic winger is Manchester United, although that could shake up the attacking phase of the squad with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial already there. While this move may make sense for all parties involved should Bale head out of the Spanish capital, we will see if anything comes of this rumor when it comes time to actually buy and sell.
In the seemingly endless saga of FIFA corruption trials, U.S. prosecutors accused three South American administrators of allegedly taking millions of dollars in bribes, which is nothing new when it comes to FIFA allegations. This trial is focusing on the Copa America, Copa Libertadores, and Copa do Brasil, and is expected to last around six weeks, with ample prison time on the line if the three accused men are found guilty.
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