Top Stories

Thursday Evening Ticker: Spain downs Italy in PKs; four nations progress to U-20 World Cup knockout round; and more

JesusNavasCelebrates-ItalyConfederationsCup (Terra)


With both teams failing to score a goal in 120 grueling minutes of soccer at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, any outcome seemed likely.

It was the Spanish National Team though that showed why they were still the team to beat in the world, calmly hitting all of their penalty kicks to defeat Italy, 7-6 on PKs, in the Confederations Cup semifinals. With the win, Spain advances to the final on Sunday in Rio De Janeiro, where they’ll face the host nation, Brazil.

The two squads suffered through long periods of possession without finding goals, with shots pinging off posts and tiredness creeping into the legs and minds of the players as both teams trudged on. Spain midfielder Xavi took a 25th minute strike that was palmed off the post while later Emanuele Giaccherini of Italy had one ping away as well. Spain midfielders Jesus Navas and Andres Iniesta spent the entire game running and tiring the Italian defense, yet their “bend but don’t break” method of defending kept Spain off the board after regulation and extra time.

Finally in the penalty shootouts, despite a brilliantly taken “panenka” kick by Italy’s Antonio Candreva, Spain kept their cool, slotting home six times before Italy’s Leonardo Bonucci stepped up to take a penalty kick. Bonucci sent his shot over the bar, and the ensuing penalty kick taken by Jesus Navas was dispatched past Buffon for the game-winner.

Here are some more stories to get you caught up around the world:


Four nations at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup ensured a place in the knockout rounds on Thursday.

Spain defeated France, 3-1, with yet another goal coming from Real Madrid starlet Jese, earning the Iberian nation top spot in Group A. France was helped by Nigeria’s victory over the U.S., which allowed the French to qualify for the next round automatically.

Portugal ran over Cuba in a 5-0 victory for the Group B leaders. Portugal winger Bruma scored his fourth and fifth goals of the tournament on either side of halftime as Ricardo, To Ze, and Aladje each added goals of their own in the blowout victory. Nigeria needed just one goal to take down South Korea, a ninth minute strike from Olarenwaju Kayode proving to be the difference.

Next up for Spain and Portugal are third-placed finishers, while Nigeria will face the runners-up in Group F and France will face the runners-up in Group C.


After a two-year stint with the French national team, Laurent Blanc is now officially back in the league that made him famous as a player and manager.

Blanc was formally introduced Thursday as the new manager of defending League 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain. The 47-year-old, who started his managing career with a successful stint at Bordeaux, had been away from coaching since resigning as national team manager almost one year ago.

“When a club wins the championship with 83 points and reaches the quarter-finals of the Champions League, the aim will be to do just as well, if not better, in terms of titles, in terms of points and in terms of the quality of our play,” Blanc said of PSG’s ambitions. “Paris are a great club, where demands are very high. We have the means to construct a great team so we should be competitive.”

Blanc spent three seasons at Bordeaux, where he won a domestic double in his second season. The former French international then left to become the national team manager, and he resigned shortly after a quarterfinal finish at Euro 2012.


In a move that would seek to overall club finances and increase league competitiveness, Spain’s Sports Council has announced a plan that would end FC Barcelona and Real Madrid’s TV revenue dominance in the country.

Miguel Cardenel, president of Spain’s Sports Council, announced Thursday that he plans to present a new law by the end of the year that would give La Liga collective control of all television rights.

Cardenel said the law would make individual club’s finances more transparent, making it easier for the Spanish government to collect payments on tax debts.

“The centralization (of TV rights) would let the public administrations be the first to get paid,” he said. “Thirty-five percent of revenues from TV rights won’t be passed on to the clubs that can’t show they are up to date on their payments.”

FC Barcelona and Real Madrid currently rake in $182 million a year in television revenue alone. The third-highest earning club, Atletico Madrid, makes $61 million from TV, and small club Rayo Vallecano makes only $18.2 million.


What do you make of these reports? Who did you think would win the penalty shootout? Impressed by Portugal’s win over Cuba? How do you see Blanc settling at PSG?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Italy out-Spained Spain for much of this contest, and showed more than just the classic Italian tactical football. they broke out early and often attacking and missed great chances to take the lead, then possessed the ball beautifully for many stretches in the game. I still believe they miss Puyol and in this game it showed, even without Balotelli out there

    looking forward to the final, should be awesome. does Brazil show up feeling the pressure of the home crowd or seize the moment with all that energy?

    • Italy out-Spained Spain for much of this contest, and showed more than just the cla$$ic Italian tactical football. they broke out early and often attacking and missed great chances to take the lead, then possessed the ball beautifully for many stretches in the game. I still believe Spain miss Puyol and in this game it showed, even without Balotelli out there

      looking forward to the final, should be awesome. does Brazil show up feeling the pressure of the home crowd or seize the moment with all that energy?

  2. Penalty kicks need to be banned at the next FIFA Congress. Seriously, they might as well flip a coin after extra time to decide the winner. They could allow one sub per 15 min. period of extra time and keep playing until someone scores, or just go back to golden goal.

  3. If US was qualifying out of Conmebol , US would get lucky to participate in 1 out of 3 World Cups…same if part of the European qualifying cycle…come on, guys, Panama and Jamaica are quite mediocre teams, as tricky as it is to play away games there…

    To call US a favorite in the World Cup is delusional…US is still a second rate side, capable of the occasional good game and an upset every once in a while…the talent is still not there.

    And looking at the U17 and U 20 performances this summer, the talent won’t be there for at least another decade…

  4. Great match between Spain-Italy, two of my favorite teams. I understand the antipathy mentioned above about Italy and De Rossi’s elbow to McBride, but all forgiven when Italy brought down Germany in 2006 in one of the most dramatic moments in soccer history.

    Spain is still great, but Italy is showing that they are back and I personally do not think Spain will be able to win the WC next summer in Brazil. Tell me: Have you ever seen Del Bosque looking as worried as he looked yesterday during the penalty shoot-out? I think he knows that something is not clicking right with the team and next summer will be tough.

    I think Brazil and Italy now have to be among the the favorites to win WC 2014, along with the USMNT. (Yep, I really do believe this.) And I predict right now that neither Spain nor Germany make it past the semi-finals.

    • Italy continues to show why tactical football can keep any team in any game. Italy is not a good litmus test for great teams. They can play with their competition based on tactical discipline and fundamentals, but they’re just as likely to beat a team like Spain as they are to lose to a team like Scotland. Every team has a weakness and Italy is a team that more often than not knows how to exploit those weaknesses.

      Spain will be fine and to my mind are still the favorites now and next summer barring some very questionable officiating (home cooking) for Brazil. Spain just oozes quality and can beat any team in the world on their best day. The same can be said for Brazil, but I think Spain simply has the better players inside and out.

      Favoring the USA to win it all can only be explained by extreme optimism bordering on what we call “homerism”, but I’ll be rooting for them to pull it off. I can still look at it rationally today, and for me I would be ecstatic if we made it to the QF (which means my prediction is that we advance from the group but get knocked out in the next game)

      • I think two factors possibly helping the USMNT are 1) great fitness and being able to handle the heat better than European teams and 2) playing in the basically the same time zone. A European team has never won in South America.

      • yeah, but they got American blood that has American time zone properties that do not go away when living in Europe.

      • I don’t know. It seemed to me, the difference was the USA coudln’t finish in the final third. They had their chances but couldnt convert. Ghana did.

      • I counted five golden chances and only one converted.

        They were simply outmatched and outplayed by a bigger, faster, stronger, and more experienced team. They had at least two players who had played with the full national team. USA had 0 unless Gil snuck a cap in somewhere and I missed it.

        I’m also not convinced that all of those players were teenagers. Africa and hospital or government records aren’t exactly a great partnership. Ghana also got a two gift goals and that changed the complexion of the game. Goals change games and things might have been different if that first Ghana goal had been correctly called offside.

  5. Brazil has a bit of advantage in fitness, but Spain knows how to win these tournaments. Vincent del Bosque will have a couple of changes to make though. On the Brazil side, I’m curious if Dante will get the start over Luiz.

  6. Spain is still at the highest of levels, this tourney is no cake walk. Italy with the exception of Pirlo and Buffon bore me . I can only hope Spain have enough in the tank to put on a good show on Suday.

    • Not sure what game you were watching but Italy was anything but boring. They absolutely crushed Spain in the first half and should have been up 3/4-0. To Paul Miller (above) the most blatant dive of the game goes to Iniesta top of the box second half, (not even touched) who was really the only Spaniard showing any signs of life.

      That being said penalties are not futbol. It’s almost like a completely different game. 1 player from each team should be pulled off every couple of minutes in extra time, until there is a goal. 10 on 10, 9 on 9, 8 on 8 so forth. And the 3 sub only rule is absolutely ridiculous.

    • If only conceding 3 shots on goal in 120 minutes is “vulnerable” than nobody should bother showing up to any tournament Spain plays in because… jeez.

      • DUDE!…We get it, you love Spain. They are GODS!. Refs are in collusion to undue them, or so you seem to think.

        Spain looked vulnerable, kevin is not the only one saying or thinking…Jeez!

      • Italy easily could have been up a goal (or four) after 20 minutes. First half, Italy was better. Second half was fairly even. Spain didn’t look dominating until extra time.

        That was a game that easily could have gone either way. I don’t think Spain has looked as sharp as they did in 2008 and 2010 for a long time. Maybe people are figuring out how to play against possession better.

      • By the way, I say that with a lot more affinity for Spain than Italy. I like defensive teams, so that bit of history I enjoy. There’s just something about those guys I don’t like (maybe the diving?). Love their keeper. The ten in front of him, not so much.

      • Agreed.

        De Rossi’s elbow to McBribe’s face (well, that entire game actually) has just made me always root against Italy.

        One thing I think is cool is that whether or not you like this current Spain side, it’s awesome that we have a chance to watch them play live (or at least live on TV). They will go down in history as one of the best teams ever and it’s cool to watch it happen. Maybe their star is waning but to witness one of the greatest national teams ever is pretty cool.

      • First of all, that stat is wrong. Italy out shot Spain 9 to 2 in the first hall alone. Italy owned that game. Bossed Spain on both sides of the ball.

    • I’d be surprised if brazil didn’t walk away with the cup. 120 minutes of action and home crowd, seems everything’s coming up brazil.


Leave a Comment