Alex Baker

  • The France savior who was told he wasn't good enough for Euro 2016

    Alex Baker at FC Yahoo 1 hr ago

    Before the European Championships, there was no shortage of talk about France's abundance of talent and its excellent chances of winning the title on home soil. However, most of the conversation was centered on the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and N'Golo Kante.

    And yet, over the course of the group stage, the man who had been deemed not good enough almost singlehandedly hauled France into the knockout round.

    [ EURO 2016 | Predictions | Scores/Schedule | Standings | Teams ]

    Payet, who who had set up Olivier Giroud for France's first goal, walked off the field victorious with tears of joy streaming down his face.

    Because Payet is living proof of that. And the unlikely hero just might carry France all the way to the final of Euro 2016.

     

  • Chicharito embraces starring Copa America role as Mexico's leading man

    Alex Baker at FC Yahoo 15 days ago

    PASADENA, Calif. – In a Copa America Centenario in which many of the big stars have thus far failed to deliver, or even to appear at all, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez lived up to his billing as Mexico's leading man, scoring the go-ahead goal in Mexico's 2-0 win over Jamaica at the Rose Bowl on Thursday.

    The Bayer Leverkusen striker joins James Rodriguez and Angel Di Maria as one of the few world-class stars to have impressed so far in a Copa that's seen Edinson Cavani and Alexis Sanchez struggle to make an impact and Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez yet to even make an appearance.

    [ COPA AMERICA | Predictions | Scores/Schedule | Standings | Teams ]

     

     

  • Rodriguez shrugs off injury, fires Colombia into Copa quarterfinals

    Alex Baker at FC Yahoo 17 days ago

    PASADENA, Calif. – Despite widespread reports that he was unfit to play, James Rodriguez was indeed in the starting 11 for Colombia against Paraguay on Tuesday, captaining his side to an action-packed 2-1 win at the Rose Bowl.

    The Real Madrid star appeared to injure his shoulder in the Copa America Centenario opener against the United States. Colombia manager Jose Pekerman said that Rodriguez recuperated well over the weekend and looked good in practice, so the staff made the decision to start him.

    That said, Rodriguez is at risk going forward.

    "With this type of injury, sometimes there is an incident and the option is surgery," Pekerman said. "Now Real Madrid has already been informed of this particularity, and so this was something that we were lucky he recuperated quite well."

    If there were any lingering effects from the injury, they weren’t on display as Rodriguez put in a Man of the Match performance, setting up Carlos Bacca for Colombia’s first goal and scoring the second himself.

    The Colombians took the lead just 12 minutes in when they were awarded a corner. Rodriguez delivered a pitch-perfect ball for Bacca, who headed it home from inside the box:

  • Soccer's biggest villain has chance to finally change his reputation

    Alex Baker at FC Yahoo 20 days ago

    Two years ago in Brazil, Luis Suarez created the scandal of the 2014 World Cup when he sank his teeth into the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini. The Uruguayan striker was immediately shown a red card and handed a lengthy ban in the days after.

    [ Copa America Centenario | Scores and Schedule | Standings | Teams ]

    Since then, Suarez has gone from Liverpool in the English Premier League to Spanish power Barcelona. He has also transformed himself into the finest No. 9 on the planet.

    With Uruguay in the Copa America Centenario, the controversial Suarez has an opportunity to supplant the prevailing memory most have of him – sitting on the pitch at the Estadio das Dunas in Natal clutching his teeth – with a picture more befitting of a player talented enough to be considered among the world’s best players.

    Provided he can keep his teeth to himself that is.

     

  • Champions League final forecast: The rising storm of Fernando Torres?

    Alex Baker at FC Yahoo 29 days ago

    In weather terms, the return of the El Niño climate pattern was pretty much a letdown in that it did little to alleviate the years-long drought in Western states like California. But in soccer terms, the return of El Niño – that is the return of Fernando Torres to his boyhood club, Atletico Madrid – has been a success.

    [ FC Yahoo predictions | Champions League final vs. Super Bowl: Which is bigger? ]

    The 32-year-old Torres, who – during his peak years with Liverpool between 2007 and 2010 – was considered among the deadliest strikers in the world, is Atleti’s second-leading scorer this season with 11 La Liga goals and 12 in all competitions. While he’s only scored once in Atletico's current Champions League campaign, his clutch away goal at the Camp Nou was a vital component in Atleti's stunning upset of Barcelona in the quarterfinals.

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  • Bayern Munich sends off Pep Guardiola with DFB Pokal title and domestic double

    Alex Baker at FC Yahoo 1 mth ago

    Pep Guardiola restored some of the sheen to his Bayern Munich legacy by claiming his second DFB Pokal Cup title in three years as his side beat Borussia Dortmund on penalties to claim a domestic double on Saturday.

    [ FC Yahoo: Arturo Vidal still thinks Atletico Madrid plays 'ugly' football ]

    In the end, it was more grueling than spectacular. Although one only had to look as far as an anguished, gesticulating Guardiola raging on the touchline in the second half to see how much it meant to the departing Bayern boss.

    After a cagey 90 minutes of normal time, during which both sides largely cancelled each other out and there were more yellow cards than opportunities on goal, the match ticked into extra time. However, two additional 15-minute halves failed to separate the sides as Dortmund put in a spirited rearguard action, in which Thomas Tuchel's players' lung-bursting efforts largely nullified the superior talents of Bayern's assemblage of midfield creators and dangerous target men.

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  • Guardiola coaching for more than Champions League final vs. Atletico

    Alex Baker at FC Yahoo 1 mth ago

    There were no corks popped or giant beers splashed out at the Allianz Arena last weekend.

    If Bayern Munich had hopes of breezing into Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal second leg against Atletico Madrid on the momentum of another Bundesliga title win, those hopes were dashed when Borussia Monchengladbach’s Andre Hahn cancelled out Thomas Muller’s early goal with alate equalizer in a 1-1 draw.

    [ Play Daily Fantasy Soccer | Champions League scores and schedule ]

    Like Barcelona before them, Pep Guardiola’s team looked a little gassed from its Champions League excursion against Diego Simeone’s Atletico side. Following Wednesday’s 1-0 loss at the Vicente Calderon with the home draw against Gladbach represents the first time this season Bayern has dropped points in consecutive matches.

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  • Totti incredibly scores two goals in last five minutes to rescue Roma (Video)

    Alex Baker at FC Yahoo 2 mths ago

    They say that form is temporary, but class is permanent. If Francesco Totti is anything to go by, they’re right.

    Rome’s "Eternal Captain" came off the bench on Wednesday at the Stadio Olimpico to net a brace and haul Roma back from a goal down to a 3-2 win over Torino. The result saw the Giallorossi pull seven points clear of fourth-place Inter and close the point-gap on second-place Napoli to just five.

    It was also a timely reminder of what Totti is capable of, in the midst of a season in which we’ve seen him struggle for game time.

    Torino had gone ahead 10 minutes before halftime, through a penalty converted by Andrea Betolli. Roma defender Kostas Manolas then leveled for the home side 20 minutes into the second half.

    Torino regained the lead in the 80th through Josef Martinez. At that point, it looked as if Roma was on its way to dropping points for the third game in a row. But Totti had other ideas.

    The half-empty Stadio Olimpico was still celebrating the equalizer when Roma was awarded a penalty, after referee Gianpaolo Calvarese deemed that Torino center back; Nikola Maksimovic had handled the ball.

  • Atletico Madrid looms as biggest threat to ruin Barcelona's dream season

    Alex Baker at FC Yahoo 2 mths ago

    Barcelona followed its El Clasico defeat with a second straight La Liga defeat on Saturday, losing 1-0 away to Real Sociedad. The result extended Barça's run without a win in the league to three matches, the club's longest winless spell under Luis Enrique.

    It also effectively blew the Spanish title race wide open, further opening the door for the one team in Europe that's currently poised to knock Barcelona out of the running for two of the three trophies it's currently contending for – Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid.

    [ Play Champions League Daily Fantasy | Champions League scoreboard ]

    But even with Barça holding a narrow lead from the first leg, Atleti is in position to knock out the defending Champions League holders with a 1-0 win at home, just as it did two seasons ago.

     

  • Seven candidates to replace Arsene Wenger as Arsenal manager

    Alex Baker at FC Yahoo 3 mths ago

    Knocked out of the FA Cup by Watford, eliminated from the Champions League by Barcelona and fallen 11 points behind Premier League leader Leicester City, one-time title favorite Arsenal now faces a familiar slump toward third or fourth place.

    The collapse of a season that held so much promise has ratcheted up the pressure on manager Arsene Wenger in a way that we’ve never quite seen before. Opinions remain divided on whether the long-serving Gunners boss should, or will, remain in place next season.

    But with long-term managerial targets Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp now secured by Manchester City and Liverpool, respectively, who are some of the other managers who could replace Wenger if were to finally go?

    Ronald Koeman

    If there is a ready-made replacement for Wenger already in the Premier League, surely it is Southampton boss Koeman. The Dutchman, who won the Champions League as a player with Barcelona before going on to win multiple Eredivisie titles while managing Ajax, has exactly the right sort of pedigree for Arsenal.

    Roger Schmidt

    Frank de Boer