Manchester City Eyeing Nicolas Otamendi Transfer to Benfica

Nicolas Otamendi could be switching sides soon…

The 32-year-old Argentine professional footballer, who plays for Manchester City, could be heading to Portugal’s Benfica team.

Nicolas Otamendi

Manchester City is reportedly close to signing Benfica defender Ruben Dias, according to ESPN, that would send Otamendi to Benfica.

Pep Guardiola is hoping to bolster ManCity’s defense with Dias’ arrival. The 23-year-old, who has been capped 19 times by Portugal, is set to arrive in Manchester this week to finalize the move.

Otamendi has yet to feature for Guardiola’s side this season. City are prepared to let the Argentina international leave after five years at the club following his move from Valencia in 2015.

Otamendi has been selected for the Argentina team by coach Lionel Scaloni for next month’s World Cup qualifiers.

Cristian Pavón to Play for the MLS’ LA Galaxy

Cristian Pavón is headed to a galaxy far, far away…

The LA Galaxy have completed the loan signing of the 23-year-old Argentine professional footballerfrom Argentina’s Boca Juniors, the club has revealed.

Cristian Pavón

Pavon becomes the first signing for the Major League Soccerside in this transfer window.

“Cristian is a young and dynamic attacking addition who has the talent to be one of the most effective offensive players in Major League Soccer,” LA Galaxy General Manager Dennis te Kloese said in a statement.

“He is a high-caliber player who will be a valuable piece to our roster moving forward. By providing him with a stable environment and a coach he knows well, we are confident that he can continue to grow and improve as a player within our club. We are extremely excited to add him to our squad and look forward to his contributions with the LA Galaxy.”

Sources told ESPN FC that the Galaxy attempted to sign the forward on a permanent deal but were unable to agree on a fee.

Both clubs have now negotiated an agreement, which will see the Argentina international join on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

Pavon played every match for Argentina in the 2018 World Cupin Russia and scored four goals in 19 appearances for Boca last season.

Gabriel Jesus & Roberto Firmino Lead Brazil Into the Copa America Finals

Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino are hometown heroes…

The Brazilian soccer players scored the two goals that helped lead Brazil to a 2-0 victory against old rival Argentina in the Copa America semifinals.

Gabriel Jesus & Roberto Firmino

Both sides tried to impose themselves physically early on but it was Jesus who gave Brazil the lead after 19 minutes when Firmino sent in a low cross for the unmarked striker to side-foot home from close range.

The two combined again on the counter-attack after 71 minutes to make it 2-0 after great work from Jesus left Firmino with the simplest of tap-ins.

Brazil, who have lost twice in 42 games under coach Tite, will face either Peru or Chile in Sunday’s final at Maracana Stadiumin Rio de Janeiro and captain Dani Alves said their goal was within reach.

“There is one more step to go before we fulfil our objective,” he added. “The standard here is very high there are no easy teams. You have to work and fight for what you want and we worked for this.”

Argentina have not beaten Brazil in a major competitive fixture dating back to 2005 and that run rarely looked like ending in front of 52,000 fans at the Mineirao Stadiumin Belo Horizonte.

Sergio Aguero hit the bar with a header in the first half and Lionel Messi struck the post 11 minutes into the second period but the visitors had little luck in front of goal and were never on top for any length of time.

While the tournament has been plagued by lengthy stoppages for the video assistant referee (VAR), Tuesday’s officials preferred to let the game run, though Argentina were incensed VAR did not come into play when Arthur felled one of their players at a corner.

Messi, who has still not won a major title with Argentina, was more influential than in his first few matches here but was still a pale shadow of the player who has won everything with his club side.

“We had chances, the ball hit the woodwork, it flashed across the six-yard box, there were penalties that weren’t given,” said Messi, who like coach Lionel Scalonicomplained about the refereeing.

“Today it just didn’t happen.”

Argentina bow out after scoring just five goals in five games and are still looking for their first major title since lifting the Copa America in 1993.

“We knew that it would be difficult because of the players they have,” Brazil’s Casemiro said.

“It’s about details. We knew it would be scrappy and that there would be wind-ups and time wasting. But we have to congratulate our strikers who did a great job. When they got chances, they scored.”

Sanchez Helps Propel Chile to Copa America Title Win Over Argentina

Alexis Sanchez is kicking his way into the history books…

The 26-year-old Chilean soccer player, who plays for English club Arsenal and the Chilean national team, helped lead his country to its first Copa America title on Saturday.

Alexis Sanchez

Chile defeated Argentina 4-1 in the penalty shootout, which followed two hours of scoreless action on the field.

Sanchez gave his country the win after Argentines Gonzalo Higuain and Ever Banega failed to convert from 11 meters (36 feet), ending a drought of nearly 100 years for La Roja in the oldest international continental soccer competition.

The final at Santiago’s National Stadium was a clash of titans, an intense battle that was characterized more by the teams’ effort and hustle than artful play.

Chile won the possession battle from the outset, imposing its ball-control style against a side that also typically dominates in that facet of the game.

That led to a golden opportunity in the 11th minute for Chilean midfielder Arturo Vidal, who received a ball that had been lobbed in the air on a deflection by an Argentine defender and nearly booted it past goalkeeper Sergio Romero, who was forced to make a diving save.

Fourteen-time Copa America champion Argentina also had some chances in the first half, including a header at point-blank range by Sergio “Kun” Agüero that Chilean Claudio Bravo was able to deflect out of play.

In the second half, Argentine midfielders Lucas Biglia and Javier Mascherano struggled to impose any order in their team’s attack, rendering super-striker Lionel Messi unable to work any playmaking magic.

With the Chilean crowd urging them on, Jorge Sampaoli’s squad aggressively sought out the winning goal and was nearly rewarded for their efforts when a shot by Sanchez barely missed the mark in the 82nd minute.

Then on the final play of regulation, Argentina had its best scoring opportunity of the match when Ezequiel Lavezzi received the ball on the left side from Messi and sent a pass that scooted past Bravo and found Higuain, but the Argentine forward received the ball too close to the goal line and could only slam a shot into the side of the net.

The extra period was mostly uneventful, with both teams wary of making a costly error, although a miscue by Mascherano nearly ended in a goal for Sanchez in the 15th minute.

Argentine’s offensive ineptness continued in the penalty shootout, with Higuain sending his shot far over the crossbar and Bravo denying Banega’s attempt, leaving Messi as the only member of the Albiceleste to score.

Sanchez put the finishing touch on the historic victory with a soft strike that slowly bounded into the left half of the goal after Romero had dived to the other side.

Chile finally won the Copa America title match in its fifth appearance to end nearly a century of frustration at this event, which was known as the South American Championship between 1916 and 1967.

La Roja finished runner-up in 1955 (when it was also the host nation), 1956, 1979 and 1987.

Rodriguez Wins FIFA’s Golden Boot Award After Being the Top Goal Scorer at the World Cup

World Cup 2014

James Rodriguez has the FIFA Wold Cup’s golden leg…

The 23-year-old Colombian forward was awarded FIFA’s Golden Boot award after being the top goal scorer at this year’s World Cup.

James Rodriguez

Rodriguez, who scored six goals in five games at the 2014 Brazil World Cup, celebrated along with his family following the end of the championship match where Germany edged Argentina 1-0 for the trophy.

Germany’s Thomas Mueller and Brazil’s Neymar won the silver and bronze boots for their respective five and four goals of the tournament.

Rodriguez is the first Colombian to ever win the prize.

“Thanks to God. All of you for the effort you made. And to my national team colleagues who made it all possible,” posted Rodriguez on his Twitter account.

Thanks largely to Rodriguez’s six goals, Colombia made it past the first two rounds of the World Cup for the first time in history before knocked out in the quarterfinals by host Brazil with a score of 2-1.

Messi Receives FIFA’s Golden Ball Award After This Year’s World Cup

World Cup 2014

Despite a heartbreaking loss in the World Cup final, Lionel Messi is still a golden boy.

The soccer star and captain of the Argentina national team was awarded FIFA‘s Golden Ball award as the best player of the FIFA World Cup after leading his team to Sunday’s final.

Lionel Messi

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who kept a clean sheet as his side beat Argentina 1-0 in extra time at the Maracana to claim their fourth World Cup, was awarded the Golden Gloves as the tournament’s top keeper.

“It is a sad prize that I won because we wanted to lift the trophy for Argentina,” Messi said of his consolation prize, as if the look on his face had not already said it all.

Four-times World Player of the Year Messi had a quiet game by his standards on Sunday but was the driving force behind Argentina’s push to their first World Cup final since 1990.

He scored four of their six goals in the group stage, set up Angel di Maria‘s winner in the last 16 against Switzerland and shouldered the burden of slotting home Argentina’s first penalty in their shootout win over the Netherlands in the semi-finals.

Messi also won four successive man-of-the-match awards against Bosnia, Iran, Argentina and Switzerland.

While some pundits thought Messi looked jaded after the group stage and did not influence his team as much, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said he was a deserving winner.

“I think Lionel reached the pantheon of the greats a while back,” Sabella told reporters. “Yes, I think he deserved it. He played a great World Cup to get us where he did.

“I think it’s very deserved.”

Germany forward Thomas Mueller was runner-up to Messi and Netherlands winger Arjen Robben was third.

France midfielder Paul Pogba was named young player of the tournament, while Colombia took the Fair Play Award after receiving just five yellow cards in five matches in Brazil.

FIFA also praised their positive play and the behavior of their players and officials.

Shakira Performs “La La La (Brazil 2014)” at the FIFA World Cup Closing Ceremony

World Cup 2014

It’s a red-hot record-setting performance for Shakira in Brazil…

The 37-year-old Colombian singer performed “La La La (Brazil 2014)” at the closing ceremony of this year’s FIFA World Cup.

Shakira

Banging on a Carnaval drum while sizzling in a red dress made up of sequined straps and a revealing fringe skirt, Shakirae was accompanied by samba dancers, Brazilian percussionists and Brazilian collaborator Carlinhos Brown, wearing a black tie and an Indian headdress.

It was the third consecutive appearance at the World Cup for Shakira, a first for a musical act.

Shakira’s “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa),” feat. Freshlyground, was the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and she also performed “Hips Don’t Lie” at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Berlin.

Shakira was immediately followed by Santana, Wyclef and Alexandre Pires, who gave an inspired live performance of the official World Cup anthem “Dar Um Jeito (We Will Find a Way).”

By the time Brazilian superstar Ivete Sangalo came out to sing, the crowd was jumping in the stands.

A roar went up in the stadium at the end of the 20-minute show, which came before the final match between Argentina and Germany. As a finale, all of the artists danced together on the field, Shakira holding her toddler son, Milan.

The closing ceremony, though brief, was an appropriately celebratory kickoff for the last game of the global tournament. It was a bittersweet sendoff for Brazil, which suffered an embarrassing defeat to Germany and ended up in fourth place after a 3-0 game against the Netherlands.

After the unprecedented success of her 2010 World Cup South Africa anthem “Waka Waka,” Shakira made a bid for this year’s World Cup with the Brazil 2014 version of her single “Dare.” The song was not awarded official FIFA song or anthem status but was included as a cut on the World Cup album.

 

The video posted on Shakira’s Vevo channel has more than 220 million views, besting Pitbull’s “We Are One,” which has almost 189 million.

Romero Saves Two Penalty Kicks to Help Argentina Reach the FIFA World Cup Final

World Cup 2014

Sergio Romero is the man of the moment…

The 27-year-old Argentine footballer has earned a hero’s welcome in his native country after his impressive performance in the penalty shootout after Argentina and the Netherlands were tied 0-0 at the end of extra time.

Sergio Romero

Romero, the goalkeeper for his team, saved penalty kicks by Holland’s Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder. Argentina’s Maxi Rodriguez put away the winning kick, sending Argentina to its first FIFA World Cup final in 24 years.

The last time a World Cup semifinal was decided by penalty kicks was 1998 when Netherlands played Brazil. Brazil won that encounter.

Argentina will face off against Germany in the final, which will be played Sunday in Rio’s Estadio Maracana.

This will be the third time Argentina and Germany will meet in the ‪World Cup final. Germany won in 1990. Argentina won in 1986.

Higuain’s Gorgeous Goals Puts Argentina into the World Cup Semifinals

World Cup 2014

Gonzalo Higuain has helped propel Argentina into the FIFA World Cup semifinals for the first time in 24 years.

Early in Argentina’s game against Belgium, the Argentinean footballer blasted a half-volley inside the far post on Saturday at Estadio Nacional to give La Albiceleste a 1-0 lead in the match.

Gonzalo Higuain

Higuain’s netting in the eighth minute gave his team all they would need to advance.

With the win, Argentina has advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1990 and further buttressing his reputation as one of the sport’s all-time greats.

In pursuit of its first crown since Diego Maradona’s 1986 squad, Argentina will face off against the Netherlands in Wednesday’s match in Sao Paulo.

“Argentina has gone a long time without doing this,” sais Lionel Messi, “and it was us who crossed the frontier.”

Messi Scores Two Goals Against Nigeria to Tie Neymar at the World Cup

World Cup 2014

Lionel Messi is proving his critics wrong at this year’s FIFA World Cup

The 37-year-old Argentine soccer star – his country’s team captain – has lit up the World Cup stage with four goals in his first three games, matching Brazil’s Neymar, his fellow teammate at FC Barcelona, for the most goals so far.

Lionel Messi vs. Nigeria

Messi, who has had to contend with critics who say he never delivers when playing in an Argentina jersey, has now scored more times in this tournament than his previous two World Cups combined.

Messi’s wwo goals against Nigeria in Wednesday’s 3-2 victory helped Argentina secure the top spot in Group F and move the team into the Round of 16.

“Messi is one heck of a player,” Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi told reporters. “You can’t take that away from him. He’s blessed. I think there are other players in the Argentina squad who are very strong, but Messi is from Jupiter.”

Messi left Argentina for Spain at the age of 13 — a move which led many in his homeland to question whether he had taken on a Catalan identity by the time he grew into one of the world’s greats.

That myth will surely be extinguished should Messi lead his country to its first World Cup triumph since 1986 — and the signs are increasingly encouraging.

He has now scored 42 goals in 88 international appearances while playing with an energy which suggests he may have been saving his best for last following a relatively poor season at Barcelona, which was interrupted by injury.

His last-gasp goal which secured a 1-0 win over a valiant Iran was a moment of magic which will long be remembered.

That goal, which came just moments after Diego Maradona — arguably Argentina’s greatest ever player — had left the stadium, appeared to signal his arrival as the nation’s new hero.

Messi, who turned 27 on Tuesday, said the perfect birthday gift would be the World Cup title — and given his recent performances, it looks like that’s quite possible.