Highlights

Qatar Eliminated From World Cup Contention, Confirm Status As Worst Host Nation Ever

Syria’s 3-1 victory over Qatar in World Cup qualifying on Thursday was remarkable for two reasons: 1.) Syria are now in third place in Group A heading into the final matchday, a finish that would see them improbably qualify for the fourth round playoff. 2.) Defeat for Qatar means that they’ve been mathematically eliminated from the 2018 World Cup, so they’ll be the first nation since Italy in 1934 to host the tournament without having ever taken part.

Japan Becomes The Fourth Nation To Qualify For The World Cup

Japan joined hosts Russia, Brazil and fellow AFC side Iran as the only countries to have booked their places at next summer’s World Cup finals after defeating Australia 2-0 in front of over 60,000 delirious supporters. This will be Japan’s sixth straight World Cup finals appearance.

Takuma Asano gave the Samurai Blue the lead in the 41st minute, and 21-year-old midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi secured the victory with this stunning goal in the 82nd. With only one matchday remaining in AFC qualifying, Australia’s road to Russia just got a lot more complicated.

With Goals Like These, Italy Must Bring Back Sebastian Giovinco

Major League Soccer may be a retirement home for some, but David Villa affirmed last week you can still factor into one of the best national teams in the world while plying your trade in MLS.

So why can’t Sebastian Giovinco get a recall from Italy?

Villa earned a spot on the Spanish roster for the two upcoming World Cup qualifiers after starting the season with 19 league goals for New York City FC. These aren’t throw-away qualifiers either; Spain faces Italy for first place in UEFA Group G on Saturday. 

Consistency Doesn’t Sell Like Goals, But That’s What Christian Pulisic Brought This Weekend

Without a goal or an assist in Borussia Dortmund’s 2-0 win over Hertha Berlin on Saturday, Christian Pulisic mania wasn’t allowed to grip the nation. But a “quiet” week from the 18-year-old also allows us to dissect his performance in a more serious manner. 

What the analysis reveals should obviously already be clear, but let’s just belabor the point: Pulisic isn’t a gimmick. He’s not the fevered creation of a nation starved of a world-class talent. He’s actually just really, really good.

Before Andrea Pirlo, There Was Demetrio Albertini, The Human Embodiment Of Silk

Demetrio Albertini enjoys a legendary status amongst those who watched AC Milan and the Italian national team in the 90s, but the midfielder’s remarkable talent isn’t widely recognized outside of that sphere. As a ball-winning midfielder that orchestrated play from deep, Albertini doesn’t have a massive highlight reel with regards to goals, although he did score a number of long-range screamers and some gorgeous free kicks.

Marseille Keeper Steve Mandanda Skill Checks The Living Hell Out Of An Attacker

So yeah, the linesman has his flag up for offside, negating the reality of Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda’s actions here, but the attacker for NK Domzale doesn’t know that. He’s going full bore, which really makes this combination Cruyff Turn/Rolled Nutmeg bloody murder.

The 32-year-old French international set the tone with this skill check. Is it any surprise, with the Stade Velodrome suddenly set to lit level 10, that Marseille scored the opener only 12 minutes later?

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