Monthly Archives: June 2016

Gerard Pique admits Spanish reign may be over

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Spain’s Gerard Pique competes with Italy’s Graziano Pelle for the ball.

UEFA EURO 2016 Round of 16

Italy vs Spain (2-0)

Italy progresses to the quarter-finals

Gerard Pique admitted that Spain no longer have the standard that won them two consecutive European Championships (2008, 2012) and the 2010 World Cup.

La Roja’s domination in major championships were shaky since their group stage exit in the 2014 World Cup, but their defeat at the hands of Italy marks a definitive end to their tournament winning form.

It was easy to say that Italy looked the stronger team in the match. Not only were they able to suppress the tiki-taka style that had been the backbone of Spain’s dominance for so long, they were also convincing in offence. If not for the lack of a superior finisher up front and David De Gea’s miraculous saves, the Azzurri could have ended the match a lot earlier.

Just after the half-hour mark, Pique fouled Graziano Pelle near the edge of the area. The resulting free-kick caught De Gea and the entire Spanish defense unawares, and although the Spanish No. 1 managed to keep it out he could not hold on to it.

Sensing vulnerability, the Italians were quick to pounce on the rebound – and after a brief struggle against the United keeper, Giorgio Chiellini slots it home.

After warding off a much stronger Spanish offense in the second half, Pelle volleyed in Italy’s second in the dying minutes of the game to seal his team’s victory.

Pique issued the need for a “big reflection” following Spain’s defeat.

“I think it’s lots of things, not just the level of the players. I think [there is] the style of football, even though we’re doing the same thing,” he said.

“We are not as effective as we were in the way we thought we had to play. It’s a bit of everything,” he added. “I think we have to undertake a big reflection, both in terms of style and level, and face up to the next two years.”

“Obviously, the first thing is that we have to qualify [for the 2018 World Cup], but we have to raise our level if we want to have a chance of winning big competitions.”

 

Roy Hodgson: ‘I don’t really know what I am doing here’

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UEFA Euro 2016 Round of 16

England vs Iceland (1-2)

Iceland advances into quarter-finals

Roy Hodgson told a media conference in Chantilly “I don’t really know what I am doing here.”

Earlier, the England team he led into the European Championship knockout stages suffered their worst humiliation since they were knocked out of the 1950 World Cup by USA in Brazil as Iceland stunned them with early goals to win 2-1.

Wayne Rooney converted a fourth-minute penalty for an early English lead but Iceland immediately equalized not more than a minute later with a trademark long throw which Ragnar Sigurdsson bundled home.

Then Iceland won the game as a defensive failure allowed Kolbeinn Sigthorsson a shot within the area, but it went into the net only thanks to another blunder by England keeper Joe Hart.

Changes were quickly made to enforce England’s attack, but Iceland dug in to keep them out. Even then, the nation, ranked 37th in the world and with just a population of 330,000, was able to create significant chances to end the game early.

It was a landmark win for the islanders, which they commemorated – led by their team captain Aron Gunnarsson – with their trademark clap-chant alongside their supporters.

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A mesmerizing Iceland team celebrated alongside their supporters with their clap-chant.

Hodgson had previously announced his immediate resignation as England’s coach during the post-match conference after the match.

“I don’t really know what I am doing here. I thought my statement last night was sufficient,” he said.

“I’m no longer the England manager, my time has gone but I was told it was important that I appear here.”

Although his four years in managing yielded nothing but disastrous defeats in major tournaments, Hodgson said he appeared before the media because he did not want to give the impression that he was “frightened.” However, he added that he did so in reluctance.

“I was not forced to come here. I did so because I have never shirked a press conference, because I have never run away from anybody,” he said.

“So much is going to be written about our failure to get to the quarter-finals that nothing I can say would do anything other than fuel the flames, possibly.”

This much was true as the match approached its end; fans chanted out in hurt and despair to every English player in general “you’re not fit to wear the shirt!”

Fnatic takes TI6 spot, Execration aims for Wild Card win

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Mushi and co. will be heading to Seattle after making their way through the qualifiers.

Fnatic and Execration emerges as the curtains closes over the South East Asia qualifiers for The International 6.

The majorly-Malaysian team grabbed the second spot to the main event after TNC Gaming clinched the first with an impressive 7-2 run.

However, Fnatic proved more than capable to thunder through the best of three double elimination playoffs. They scored easy victories against White Fries Gaming and WarriorsGaming.Unity to advance into the grand finals where they encounter Philippines team Execration.

In their first game, Fnatic went with a heavy push roster, with Djardel ‘DJ’ Mampusti picking Enigma alongside Chong Xin ‘Ohaiyo’ Khoo’s Batraider. XTCN claimed Ember Spirit and Death Prophet for split push, but Fnatic started well by winning all three lanes early with Enigma reaching third on net worths.

Fnatic then merely galvanized against every Execration tower objective, and minimized the hurt from Ralph ‘RR.ph’ Penano’s Tidehunter’ ravage to diminish any Execration team fight hopes. It was a painful 35 minutes for Execration that was all but sealed after Fnatic took down two T3 towers at the same time.

In game two, Fnatic were able to dominate again with Tinker at mid and Ohaiyo’s Faceless Void engaging team fights. Gaining early objectives with conceding kills allows them to make the first high ground push in 15 minutes, and by 20 minutes they were able to close the game with a heavily skewed 27-9 kill score.

But as is tradition, Chai ‘Mushi’ Yee Fung experimented, playing game 3 with a questionable Morphling. His not joining in early skirmishes and not helping in early pushes allows Execration’s split push strategy to pay off this time.

Placing Tidehunter up front to force team fights up front allowed Abed ‘Abed’ Yosup’s Naga to farm for boots of travel and radiance. With her core items readied before 20 minutes, the team went for a high ground push, catching Fnatic unawares. Then, Ohaiyo’s wasted Chronosphere on Naga illusions were enough for the pinoys to win mega creeps and drag the series into game four.

Fnatic outdrafted their opponents during picking with a Timbersaw and a Broodmother in game four, but the other team was able to hold off Ohaiyo’s Brood at mid with Sven early on.

However, as soon as Yeik Zheng ‘MidOne’ Nai’s Blink Dagger and Bloodstone formed on his Timber, Fnatic were able to hunt pick-offs persistently, creating chaos in lanes while Brood pushes tower after tower. 20 minutes in and Timber is already big enough for fountain dives as XTCN’s base gets decimated.

Fnatic’s victory gets them a ticket to TI6 but it does not diminish the fact that XTCN had achieved their best, winning a chance to make it into the $14 million prize pool event via Wild Card competition.

Raheem Sterling gets Pep talk boost ahead of Iceland start

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UEFA European Championship Last 16

England vs Iceland (prediction: 2-1)

Roy Hodgson is ready to restore Raheem Sterling as a starting player for England in their last 16 match against Iceland after the Manchester City player received a personal intervention from his future coach Pep Guardiola.

The Catalan manager had decided to get in touch with Sterling after learning that one of the players in his future club suffered from abuse and mounting criticism in France.

Guardiola had made his admiration on Sterling clear even as the 21-year-old was left out following two erratic performances in the opening Group B fixtures against Russia and Wales.

He explained that it was important to block out negative thinking and encouraged Sterling to remember his better qualities as they prepare to work alongside each other in Manchester next season.

“As long as you work for me, I’ll fight for you,” Guardiola told him in a phone call. “Keep your head up, don’t worry, I know you’re a good player and you are a big part of my plans.”

Sterling will be expected to replace former Liverpool teammate Adam Lallana in the left side England’s front three, with Harry Kane operating centrally and Daniel Sturridge on the right.

Team captain Wayne Rooney will return to central midfield, with Tottenham Hotspur full-backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker returning for England’s defense.

Both Sturridge and Rooney had given votes of confidence to Sterling.

Another former club teammate, Sturridge believes that Sterling is “one of the most talented players in the world”.

“It is just a matter of time before you see him take his game to the next level and I am sure that will be very soon,” Sturridge said. “In the games he has played for England, he has not performed as badly as people have made out – he has done quite well.”