11

England didn’t match pregame hype vs. Croatia – Ivan Rakitic

Ivan Rakitic said England were wrong to believe they had the edge over Croatia in Wednesday’s World Cup semifinal and that Gareth Southgate’s side didn’t live up to fans’ expectations.

Emphasis was placed before the game on the fact Croatia had needed extra time to see off Denmark and Russia and that England, who beat Sweden 2-0 in the quarterfinal, were considered fresher — and were younger — going into the game.

However, that didn’t prove to be the case, with more-experienced Croatia getting stronger as the match progressed and coming from behind to win 2-1 after extra time.

“All I can say is that they asserted that they were going to be much better physically, that they were superior in that aspect,” Rakitic told Mundo Deportivo when asked if England talked too much before the game.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“But, in the end, it was the opposite. It was we who imposed ourselves and played better in the second half and in extra time. We deserved to win. We imposed ourselves because we were the better team.”

As well as playing 120 minutes twice in the week before the game, Rakitic had a fever on the eve of the England clash.11

The Barcelona midfielder, who has coeliac disease, managed to shake it off just in time to help his country reach their first World Cup final.

“The day before the game my temperature was 39 degrees,” he said. “I was in bed and I was thinking I wasn’t going to be able to take part in a game as important as a [World Cup] semifinal.

“I lost four kilograms during the game because of the effort I then put in. I ran 14 kilometres. I don’t know where the strength came from, but you do it. It comes from inside you.”
Rakitic’s partnership with Luka Modric has been key to Croatia’s progress in Russia, with the duo putting the Barca-Real Madrid rivalry to the side.

The two could have ended up as teammates at club level, too, if Modric, who Rakitic said was a Barca fan when he was younger, had joined the club when he had the chance.

“We all had our favourite team when we were kids and it’s no secret that Luka pulled for Barca,” Rakitic told MD. “But I can say now, the great professional that he is, that we have ‘lost’ him. He’s 100 percent Madrid. You just have to see how he plays in Clasicos. It’s difficult to find someone more Madrid than him.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

“Sometimes, when we’re playing against each other, I joke when we change shirts at full-time: ‘Now you have the shirt you always wanted to take home.’ It’s a shame he never ended up at Camp Nou, but it’s also an honour to play against him in La Liga and the Champions League. It’s really special for Croatia to be able to enjoy a player of his level.”

10

Brett Gardner, bullpen help Yankees pick up Luis Severino

Indeed, the much-anticipated Severino-Kluber matchup — one that was hyped because of the starters’ sub-2.50 ERAs and double-digit win tallies — failed to live up to its lofty billing as the offenses churned out a combined 18 hits (nine for each team) and five home runs in a 7-4 Yankees win.

Every one of Cleveland’s hits came with same Yankees pitcher on the mound: Severino. It seemed like baseball after baseball that left the starter’s right hand was blasted to some part of the field. To their credit, the four Yankees relievers who replaced Severino across the game’s final four innings held Cleveland hitless to keep their club in the ballgame.

“They kind of did a number on us,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Combine the Yankees relievers’ version of a half-game no-hitter with an offensive outburst, and the end result is the type of win through which a team can have a valuable lesson reinforced.

Even when its best starting pitcher gets shelled by a very good hitting team, the Yankees still have a roster that is complete enough to pull through with a victory.

“Up and down the lineup we had contributions in big at-bats in big spots,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “The night when Sevy didn’t have his best, the rest of the guys were able to come through in a very big way.”10

How rough was Severino’s night? He had his first one-strikeout game since September 2016, and he allowed multiple homers in a second consecutive game for the first time since May 2016.

“They took very good at-bats against me for a lot of pitches, and they made me grind,” Severino said. “I struck out one batter. I’m not that kind of guy. I’m maybe two or five, but not one.”

Four times this season Severino has reached double digits in strikeouts. In two other games, he finished with nine K’s.

“Aaron does so many things as far as his ability to get on base, his speed element, the power he brings from both sides of the plate,” Boone said. “He’s just a really good player, and I’m glad that people are a little bit more starting to see that.”cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Following the double, Hicks made the heady decision to steal third on Cleveland reliever Oliver Perez, setting up a sacrifice fly opportunity for Bird moments later. When Bird drove Hicks in for his 11th RBI in his past four games, he helped cap a complete team win.

“Look what he’s been doing lately. That’s what you want from everybody,” Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius, who hit his own 430-foot homer off Kluber, said of Bird. “You want to do damage from top to bottom.

9

Arizona’s Zack Greinke to replace Cubs’ Jon Lester on All-Star roster

Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Greinke will replace left-hander Jon Lester on the National League All-Star roster.

Lester is due to start for the Chicago Cubs against new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap San Diego on Sunday and would be unavailable for Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Nationals Park in Washington.

This is the fifth All-Star selection for Greinke, who has a 9-5 record with a 3.39 ERA, 117 strikeouts and 23 walks in 114 innings. Since May 9, he has gone 6-3 with a 2.88 ERA in 13 starts.

The 2009 Cy Young winner struggled in spring training, with a fastball that was only in the mid-80s, and at one point said he wondered if he still had what it took to pitch.

For that reason, Greinke, 34, said this All-Star nod is his most meaningful.9

“You guys that saw me pitch in spring training —nfl nike jerseys cheap china  I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get any outs this year,” he said Thursday. “To end up doing as good as it’s been so far, it’s pretty exciting.”

10

France celebrate reaching final: Pamela Anderson, water fight with Macron and tears

President of France Emmanuel Macron enters the team’s dressing room. It is only a few minutes after Les Bleus beat Belgium and reached their third World Cup final.

The place is not going totally bonkers yet. But it won’t be long. First, Macron congratulates the players: “Well done. You have made your country proud and the French people happy. The country is going mad with happiness thanks to you,” he says.

It was his first game in Russia with the team and he will be back on Sunday for the final. One by one, he shakes the players’ hands with a little word for each of them.

Benjamin Mendy, the former Marseille player and official joker of the squad, has to do something to recognise Macron, himself a big OM supporter.

“And for the president …” he starts the song and in a dressing room full of laughter, everyone else follows.nfl replica jerseys cheap

“And for the president …”

A water fight starts, everyone jumps everywhere and shouts: “We are in the final, we are, we are, we are in the final!”

A few minutes before, coach Didier Deschamps also compliments his men: “I am proud of you,” he says. “You played the perfect game. Well done! But it is not over. In a World Cup, we only remember the winners.”10

The music is blaring, they sing, they dance. Mendy, Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba are leading the way, obviously. Lucas Hernandez and Presnel Kimpembe are missing it all because they are at the anti-doping test.

The younger players still can’t really appreciate the magnitude of the achievement. “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it,” whispers Benjamin Pavard, still only 22 with a mere 11 caps and a final to play in his first-ever World Cup.

Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele are quite incredulous. “It is the best day of my life,” says Mbappe, 19, who doesn’t have his driving licence but will play a World Cup final on Sunday.

The more experienced ones, those who went through the huge disappointment of the 2016 European Championship and the heartbreaking loss in the final against Portugal, have crucial words.

“This is nothing. We have not won anything. It is not over,” shouts Matuidi in the tunnel on his way back towards the dressing room.

“We can’t do like in 2016. There is one more game to go, we stay calm, win it and then we enjoy,” says Pogba.wholesale nfl jerseys cheap

The players are checking their phones and discover the incredible scenes back home, the Champs Elysees rammed with fans, the millions of people celebrating all around the country in the streets. They can’t believe what they are seeing.

9

England must make World Cup run the start of something big, not another false dawn

For England, this was so much better than anyone could have possibly expected. But in the end, it wasn’t enough.

That’s the problem with progress. People will always want more and, having been within 22 minutes of playing in their first World Cup final since 1966, England must now prepare for a third-place playoff against Belgium in Saint Petersburg on Saturday, when they really wanted to be playing in Moscow 23 hours later.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Croatia, in the end, were simply too good and too streetwise in the semifinal and their 2-1 victory was deserved, despite England’s impressive start to the game.

But defeat still stings for Gareth Southgate and his overachieving players.9

“Did we feel we would be in this position?” Southgate asked after the game. “Realistically, I don’t think any of us did.

“But when you get to this point and play as well as we did in the first half, you want to take those opportunities in life, so the dressing room is a very difficult place at the moment.”

England’s shortcomings, the fault lines that have consumed them long before the semifinal stage in previous tournaments, remain the same as ever. Southgate has done well to mask his team’s flaws and give them a renewed sense of confidence and identity, but the problems that cost them against Croatia were the same that almost handed victory to Colombia in the round of 16.

England don’t have a Modric — few teams do — but they have to learn how to control games better against top-class teams. Had Southgate’s players faced a Brazil, France, Uruguay or Portugal before this stage, they might not have made it so far because the lack of service to Harry Kane would really have told against such high-quality opposition.

Southgate is keen to remind people that England’s squad was the least experienced in Russia. This journey to the semifinal will certainly help his players and make them more confident in the future, but their lack of nous at this level did show against Croatia.nfl replica jerseys cheap

“We played extremely well in the first half, given the size of the game, and I was really pleased with the way we controlled possession,” Southgate said. “But when you’re in charge of the game and have the chances we had, you have to take a second goal at that point.

8

Rodger Saffold plays ‘poor man’s Stan Kroenke’ to rising esports powerhouse

In the middle of this scene at the Call of Duty World League tournament is Los Angeles Rams offensive guard Rodger Saffold. He finished mandatory minicamp only the week prior, and he’s tending to his other job as owner of Rise Nation, an esports team that he founded in 2014, which boasts several of the top video game players and teams in the country.

“The lights are crazy; the energy is amazing,” said Saffold, who, at 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds, stood out among the crowd, wearing a black sweatshirt and a diamond-encrusted pendant with a Rise Nation logo. “It’s also very stressful.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

For six months a year, Saffold is strictly focused on football. But when the season ends, the nine-year NFL pro fills much of his time with gaming. He grew up loving puzzles. Then during college, he developed a penchant for video games, more specifically “Call of Duty,” the first-person-shooter game.

The structure of an esports organization bears a resemblance to an NFL team.8

As the owner, Saffold funds the organization, “like a poor man’s Stan Kroenke,” he chuckled, in reference to the Rams’ owner. He has a partner in longtime friend Kareem Horsley and hired former gamer Jonathan Tucker as general manager.

“In big decisions, we keep him informed,” said Tucker, who first met Saffold in 2014 at a gaming tournament. “Transfers, signings, big-money moves that could affect how we work, we have to consult him. … But as far as day-to-day stuff, me and Kareem do most of it, because it’s just too many things to bother him with.”

Saffold, who studied business management at Indiana, has 10 full-time employees and a roster that fluctuates between 10 and 12 players among seven teams, depending on the games and tournaments the organization is involved in.

To develop his business, Saffold leaned on the friendships he developed within the esports industry. “Just picking everybody’s brain,” Saffold said, “we were kind of able to figure out a formula.”

He also sought the creative input of a Rams graphic designer to develop a Rise Nation logo.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“I wanted to be involved and invested into something that I have a lot of passion for,” Saffold said. “This seemed to be it.”

Saffold isn’t the only person from professional sports getting into gaming. Earlier this year, the NBA became the first professional sports league to operate an esports league when it launched NBA 2K, which features some of the best basketball gamers in the world.

7

NFLPA files challenge to league’s national anthem policy

The NFL Players Association filed a non-injury grievance Tuesday challenging the legitimacy of the NFL’s new national anthem policy on several grounds.

“The union’s claim is that this new policy, imposed by the NFL’s governing body without consultation with the NFLPA, is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement and infringes on player rights,” the NFLPA said in a statement.

The NFLPA, which was not consulted about the anthem policy change, argues in its grievance that peaceful demonstration during the anthem does not qualify as “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the National Football League.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The league will need to rely on the broad powers afforded the commissioner through the personal conduct policy, including applying the phrase “conduct detrimental,” to decide whether to fine teams whose players demonstrate on-field during the anthem. NFL fans are accustomed to hearing that phrase as justification for penalizing players accused of illegal or unethical behaviors.

The NFLPA argues that kneeling during the anthem does not qualify as detrimental conduct, evidenced by the fact that the league has said players have the right to use their platform to elevate issues important to them. The players’ association believes that allowing peaceful demonstrations to be grounds for detrimental conduct discipline would set a terrible precedent, which teams could use to penalize players for other peaceful demonstrations, including prayer.7

At NFL owners meetings in May, the league voted to approve a policy that requires players and team personnel on the sideline to stand during the national anthem. Players have the option to stay in the locker room while the anthem is played. The NFL wrote and ratified the policy without input from the players, as the game operations manual is not part of the collective bargaining agreement.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL wants to “treat this moment in a respectful fashion.” Should the league determine that a player is in violation of the new policy, the team will be fined. Teams can choose to fine players.

Under Article 43 of the CBA, franchises have the right to implement “reasonable club rules.” These rules normally include fines for objectively provable violations, such as missing a meeting or skipping a workout. The NFLPA will also seek an arbitrator’s judgment on the reasonableness of team-by-team anthem rules, given the fact that no player has been previously disciplined for such demonstrations.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The NFL will have 10 days to respond in writing to the accusations set forth in the grievance. If the issue is not resolved at that point, the NFLPA can appeal to the notice arbitrator. The grievance will be heard by one of four mutually accepted arbitrators.

58

Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman exits as left knee tendinitis flares up

New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman left Saturday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays because of a recurrence of left knee tendinitis.

Chapman struck out Randal Grichuk before exiting in the ninth inning, escorted by a team trainer. He was replaced by Chasen Shreve, who gave up a home run to Aledmys Diaz but finished out the Yankees’ 8-5 win.cheap new nike nfl jerseys

“Just a little more discomfort than what I usually have been feeling,” Chapman said through an interpreter.

With the Yankees ahead by four runs, manager Aaron Boone wasn’t about to take any chances.58

“He said he was fine to continue, but I just didn’t want to mess with it,” Boone said.

Asked what he saw from Chapman that brought him out to the mound, Boone replied, “Maybe just a little more, slower moving, just got our radar up, so we just went out there and checked on him. He said it was just a little sore, ‘but I’m fine.’ I just decided then, especially with the lead, I thought it was best to get him out.”

Boone noted how well Chapman has pitched while dealing with the injury all season.cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

“I don’t think there’s much that’s changed with it,” he said. “Obviously it’s something we watch with him very closely and that he’s constantly staying on top of, and I don’t think today is anything too extreme from what he’s been dealing with much of the year.”

57

Mark Cuban says DeAndre Jordan ‘gave us the best chance to win now’

It took Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and DeAndre Jordan a matter of seconds to make up a few years after the big man left the franchise at the altar in free agency.

“There’s like four guys I hold grudges with, and three of them are from grade school, maybe even before,” Cuban told ESPN hours after Jordan officially signed with the Mavericks on Friday. “I just want to win. Look, only Dirk [Nowitzki] and J.J. [Barea] were there from that period anyway. All of our guys were like, ‘Go get him! Go get him!’

“I talked to him on the phone, and he’s like, ‘Everything behind us?’ I’m like, ‘Let’s go win.’ He goes, ‘Let’s go to war.’ Done.”cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

Jordan, who infamously reneged on his verbal commitment to the Mavs to re-sign with the Clippers in the summer of 2015, signed a one-year deal with Dallas. His salary will be $22.9 million, sources told ESPN. That’s less than the $24.1 million Jordan could have made if he exercised the player option for the final season of his contract with the Clippers, but the lack of state income taxes in Texas makes up the difference.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said he didn’t have any discussion with Jordan about burying the hatchet.57

“There was no need. There just wasn’t,” Carlisle told ESPN. “Sometimes things take a while to happen. Sometimes you have obstacles, you work through them and figure it out. That’s what we did.

“He’s a good fit for any team that’s trying to get better. He gives us a great rim presence on both ends of the floor.”

Cuban believes Jordan, a dominant finisher who averaged 12.0 points and 15.2 rebounds per game last season, will aid the development of young franchise cornerstones Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic by providing them a lob threat to go along with reserve center Dwight Powell.

“Hopefully it’s just the start of something and they play together so well that we just add to it,” Cuban said.

Cuban said the parties mutually agreed that a one-year deal was the best way to go because they want to test the fit before committing to each other long term. The Mavs offered Jordan a four-year maximum contract in 2015.cheap new nike nfl jerseys

“It’s not like it was a few years back when we had a veteran team and we were trying to make it all work together,” Cuban said. “We have a relatively young team. We wanted to get a chance to see how he fits, he wanted to see how he fits, and if we make it work and we get to where we think we can be, we keep it all together.

“It was really just making us both comfortable. There’s no question about his skill set. There’s no question about his abilities. There’s no question about any of it. It’s just that he wanted to check us out too, and I think he was just done with where he was.”

46

Kings make bold move in extending $78M offer sheet to Zach LaVine

The Sacramento Kings on Friday made a bold offseason move by signing Chicago Bulls restricted free agent guard Zach LaVine to a four-year, $78 million offer sheet, sources told The Undefeated.

The Bulls, who have two days to match it if they want to retain him, have made LaVine a contract offer, but sources say it’s not nearly as strong as the Kings’.

“I’m disappointed that I had to get an offer sheet from another team,” LaVine, 23, told The Undefeated. “But Sacramento stepped up and made a strong impression. It appears that Sacramento wants me more than Chicago.“cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The Kings would be the first team this offseason to sign a restricted free agent to an offer sheet.46

LaVine averaged 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 34.1 percent shooting from 3-point range in 24 games last season. He loved the City of Chicago, his teammates, and the fan base in his short time since arriving from Minnesota in the Jimmy Butler trade and enjoyed playing for the Bulls.

However, the athletic 6-foot-5, 205-pound guard was disappointed that the Bulls did not step up in the same fashion that the Kings did and believed his parent team was trying to take advantage of him in a tight free agent market.

If the Bulls do not match Sacramento’s offer sheet, LaVine would join a franchise that is attempting to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2006. However, Sacramento is loaded with young talent in the rookie forward Marvin Bagley III, the No. 2 pick in the June draft, guards De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic and frontcourt players Harry Giles, Willie Callie-Stein, Skal Labissiere and Justin Jackson. The Kings believe that this young core is part of a new brand that includes “exciting, up-tempo, versatile and position-less players,” a source said.

LaVine visited the Kings’ offices and practice facility in downtown Sacramento on Wednesday on Wednesday. He had a conversation with Kings general manager Vlade Divac and assistant general managers Brandon Williams and Peja Stojakovic during the visit. LaVine also spoke with Kings owner Vivek Ranadive. LaVine could be the biggest free agent signing for the Kings since Divac signed a six-year, $60 million contract in 1999. There was a “mutual expression that it was a good fit” from LaVine and the Kings’ brass, a source said.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

A source said LaVine will take up the remaining Kings salary cap space available if his signing becomes official, but the franchise will still have flexibility to make more free agency moves next summer. The Seattle native debuted with the Bulls last season after recovering from left ACL surgery. The Kings are confident that LaVine is fully healthy and recovered him his knee injury, a source said.