SPANISH FOOTBALL | SPORTS

FC BARCELONA SIGNS DEFENDER UMTITI

French Sports paper "L´Equipe" announces that Spanish Football Club FC Barcelona has agreed to a 30M€ transfer fee payment for 22 year old Central defender Samuel Umtiti. The Olympique Lyon player takes the place of Batra who goes to Borussia Dortmund.

FC Barcelona signing

The defender signs for the next 5 seasons & will give competition to Mascherano & Mathieu. The new signing can also play in the left-back position is needed, like an injury to Jordi Alba.

ITALY 2 - SPAIN 0 | ITALY ELIMINATES SPAIN FROM EURO 2016

Italy has eliminated Spain from the UEFA Euro 2016 Cahmpionship. The final 2 - 0 in favour of Italia is deserved & justified after a 1º st half that saw Spain overrun by Italy. When the best player on the field is Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea, this tells you everything. The Spanish goalkeeper made 4 espectacular saves in  the first 45 mins that kept Spain with options right up to the end.

However, while Italy counter-attacked perfectly in the 1º st half with dangerous players Eder & Pelle running riot, the 2º nd half was a master-class of defending that kept out the final desperate Spanish attempts. 

Italy - spain

The Italians were quicker, more determined & physical stronger from the start. Spain was lost, with bad field positioning & inaccurate passing. The Italians had a clear game plan & worked the counter-attacks to perfection. After a couple of saves from De Gea, a free kick outside the box opened the can. A powerful Eder shot hit Spanish goalkeeper De Gea & Chiellini scored from the deflection in the 33rd min.

Italy had more chances that luckily at this "early" stage were not goals against Spain. 

Italy-Spain

Spanish Coach Del Bosque then took off Nolito & put on Aduriz for the 2º half to change the play & put muscle upfront against the experienced Italian central defenders. The idea worked as Spain began finding opportunities but the defending from the Italians was superb. 

Spain then lost Aduriz to injury & young Lucas Vazquez came on the put some fresh legs upfront. More opportunities arose for Spain but Italian goalkeeper Buffon then did his stuff blocking off an Iniesta shot & more dangerous attempts for Spain.

Spain was desperate & began an all out attack phase that nearly gave the equalizer in the 88th min but Pique missed in front of Buffon who stopped the shot. With Spain skewed upfront a counter-attack opened Spain & Pelle scored the second for Italy in the 90th min to secure the Italian victory.

Italy now moves onward in the tournament & will meet Germany next Saturday, while Spain goes home with the "end of a marvellous generation of players". For Spain it is now all questions like, will Coach Del Bosque continue? If not, who will be the new Selector-Coach? Will their be some "in-house" cleaning? Was this the last Spanish National team call-up for Casillas? 

Stay tuned!

AT MADRID | SIGNS SIME VRSALIJKO

News out from Italian paper "Gazzetta dello Sport" announces what has been rumoured all week, that Croatian International defender Sime Vrsalijko is a new Atletico de Madrid signing for next season. The defender has gone medical exams in Paris & Clubs, Sassuolo & At Madrid are soon to make official.

At Madrid signing

The deal is said to be around 16M€ plus 2M€ in incentives, that takes the deal to 18M€. The Croatian has been signed to give Spanish International Juanfran rest & obviously stiff competition for the right-back position.

Other European Clubs were interested like Napoles, but the player preferred Atletico over all others. 

CROATIA 2 - SPAIN 1 | EURO 2016 GROUP D RESULT

First serious opponent for Spain tonight that exploited their accumulated tiredness & the multiple mistakes of the Spanish team. Croatia defeated 2 - 1 Spain in the last Group D match of the Euro 2016 Championship which leaves Spain in second place in the Group. Although the good news for Spain is that they qualify for the next round, the bad news is that it "changes" their match-up path with now Italy the next opponent next Monday in Paris. However, if Spain manages to continue after Italy the "theoretical" stronger teams, e.g. Germany & France... will also be along the path. 

Obvious surprise result as a draw would have given Spain top spot and the "easier" path, but this now is for Croatia which played their game & very well. Croatian bet on pressure & in exploiting the Spanish mistakes, using effectively the counter-attacks which were more dangerous as the Spaniards tired towards the end. Said this it is no excuse & does not take away the merit from the Croatian side which is a very good team, even without Modric who did not play tonight.

Spain Euro 2016

Spain started with the same 11 from previous matches : De Gea, Juanfran, Piqué, Ramos, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Iniesta, Cesc; Silva, Nolito & Morata; started strong, controlling the game & creating chances. The goal came early for Spain when Morata pushed in a Cesc Fabegras pass in the 7th min.

Spain then had a concentration slip & lost the ball too much which allowed Croatia into the match & lifted in confidence. Their goal & equalizer came in the 44t min through Kalinic, a psychological blow for Spain.

But the draw was still enough for top spot for Spain, & while Spain attempted to secure things the evening heat & tiredness came into effect. Croatia was psychical stronger & quicker which troubled Spain & were getting closer to the goal every time. 

Then a crucial moment half way through the 2º half when a doubtful penalty was called on David Silva. Spanish Captain Sergio Ramos took the penalty but was stopped by Croatian goalkeeper Sabasic. A boost to Croatia which carried them through until the end when they converted a rapid counter-attack into the winning goal in the 86th min through Perisic

The rest is what it is 2 - 1 result in favour of  Croatia.

The end result is not bad in itself for Spain as it may bring back to earth the early Spanish euphoria after their 2 previous earlier games. The negative aspects is, as said, the difficult path towards a hypothetical final where beforehand Spain must overcome the Euro 2016 favourites. While the "other" path is beforehand much "easier" now for Croatia. 

Next game for Spain, Monday 27th of June in Paris against Italy. An elimination game & against an old & difficult rival. Tough affair.

UEFA EURO2016 TOP 10 PLAYERS AFTER TWO ROUNDS

UEFA has released its Top 10 players after two Rounds of the Euro2016 Championship being played in France. There are four Spanish National Team players within the Top 10: Pique, Sergio Ramos, Andres Iniesta & Alvaro Morata

UEFA Top 10 players after 2 rounds

UEFA measures there "Top 10" with an algorithm that takes into account data, statistics & players state of form from the start of the year until now. A method heavily criticised in the first round top 10 list when Spaniard Andres Iniesta was not included. Obvious fail, as the FC Barcelona midfielder played a "blinder" in the first round & is currently the tournaments best player.

So was the criticism that UEFA as apparently re-tuned the "algorithm" & now has included Andres Iniesta.   

While "Big Data" is all the rage it is obvious that the "machine" lacks the knowledge or the human appreciation for "Football beauty". However, this may be the way for many Sports including Football.

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