This World Cup has been something else. Late goals, penalty shootouts, upsets, its had all the drama that you can handle. However as we reach the semifinal stage, it’s an all European affair. And it’s been this way a lot lately. A European team will have won the last 4 World Cups after this one, and besides 2014, there hasn’t been a non-European World Cup finalist since Brazil won the World Cup in 2002. Ryan O’Hanlon of The Ringer takes a look at this, as well as the other main takeaways from the World Cup quarterfinals.
If you had been told England would be in the World Cup Semifinals only a year or so ago, people would have thought you were a crazy person. Two years ago England had perhaps its worst tournament result ever, losing to Euro newcomers and tiny nation Iceland 2-1. After Roy Hodgson resigned, Sam Allardyce was appointed the England manager. A coach known for pragmatism and saving relegation threatened teams from the abyss, he wasn’t an inspired hire, but one who it was thought could at least avoid results like the Iceland one. Yet Allardyce left the job after just one game, after he told an undercover journalist about a scheme to circumvent FIFA and English FA rules for a lucrative speaking engagement from a shady company. England were forced then again to find a new coach. Gareth Southgate had done well enough with the Under-21s, and he was the interim coach until the FA found a new one. A run of good results, and Southgate became the full time boss. Fast forward to today, and Southgate has England one game from the World Cup final. And it’s not as if he’s just been a passenger. From integrating a good number of young players on the team, to cultivating a relaxed enviroment on the team, to working to maximize England’s scoring chances on set pieces, Gareth Southgate has the Three Lions firing on all cylinders. And despite themselves, the English FA found a coach that can get the most out of that team.
Something that started off as another crazy summer rumor has seemed to gain some traction in the last couple of days. Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Real Madrid to Juventus would be a blockbuster move, and one the Italian team is definitely seeking. Juventus is looking to break through into the top European elite teams, like Bayern, PSG, Real and Barcelona, and the two Manchester Clubs. At this point Serie A doesn’t quite have the revenue of England or Spain in particular, and signing Ronaldo would help Juventus boost their profile around the world. Nothing has been confirmed yet, and this could well be another rumor in the transfer window. Still, Ronaldo has won everything there is to win in Spain, and he might be looking for another challenge at one of Europe’s top clubs.
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