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Jude Bellingham: Germany match the ‘next step’ for young England midfielder, says ex coach | Football News | Sky Sports

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“He will be desperate to play. He won’t be fazed in the slightest.”

The man who nurtured Jude Bellingham’s football career from the age of seven, says a game against Germany in the knockout stages of a major international tournament is “just the next step on his journey”, and the teenager won’t be happy unless he’s in England’s starting XI for the match.

Mike Dodds, Birmingham City’s head of academy, has told Sky Sports News he thinks Bellingham will be a fixture in the England midfield for the next decade, and he has the perfect mindset for a game as big as the one at Wembley on Tuesday.

“This would just be the next step in his journey,” Dodds explains, “which seems to be endless.

“On the basis of what he has achieved in just two seasons, what is he going to look like in 10 years’ time? It’s actually quite scary.”

England’s last-16 match comes on Bellingham’s 18th birthday.

Dodds says it’s a day when he can come of age in an England shirt, given the chance.

Harry Maguire with Jude Bellingham during England training on Thursday (PA)

“He will be disappointed if he’s not playing. He won’t be sitting on that bench thinking ‘what a fantastic occasion this is’. He will be thinking ‘why am I not playing?’ he explains.

“I dealt with that throughout his development period. He called himself ‘impatient’, and that’s what he is. He wants the next thing, and the next thing after that.”

Dodds says Bellingham has already proved he meets challenges head-on, and he never takes the easy option. That’s why he chose a £25m move to Borussia Dortmund last summer, instead of a club in England.

“He’s gone over to Germany at 17, in the middle of a pandemic, away from his family, and to perform at the level he’s performed at speaks volumes,” explains Dodds.

“The perfect way to describe his progress to this point is ‘methodical’. He has planned the next step throughout his career.

Jude Bellingham and Jadon Sancho

“At 16 he could have left the football club (Birmingham) but he didn’t, because he knew he had a chance to play in the first team, in the Championship which is a brutal league.

“He could have gone to the Premier League last summer, or many other clubs across Europe, but he chose Borussia Dortmund and the proof has been in the pudding – he’s played over 40 games in the Bundesliga.

“He’s got into Gareth’s England team at the age of 17, and when I have conversations with him, his mindset is: ‘I want to play. I want to be in the team’. It’s not: ‘I want to enjoy this experience. I’m in a really good place, I can’t believe I’m here’. His mindset is ‘how do I get in the team?'”

Dodds is adamant that if he’s given the opportunity against Germany, he will impress.

“From a football point of view, there is zero concern,” he says.

“Some may worry because of his age, and the magnitude of the game. But history is the best predictor of the future, and he’s already played in the Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City, in the German Cup final against a top-quality RB Leipzig team, so he’s ready to play in this game if called upon.”

Dodds says Bellingham’s versatility means he can play anywhere in England’s midfield three – and he’s capable of filling the “number eight” void left by Mason Mount if, as expected, the Chelsea man misses out because he can’t leave quarantine until the morning of the Germany match.

England midfielder Jude Bellingham

“As a midfield player, he can do everything,” Dodds says. “He can do deeper work, he can do box to box energy, and he can make the killer pass in the top area of the pitch.

“He has an unbelievable mindset, one of the best I have ever seen. We would put him in to train with the first team at the age of 15 and he did not care. He was in the dressing room with some senior players and it didn’t faze him in the slightest.

“Every obstacle that is put in his way he takes it in his stride.”

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Euro 2020 hits and misses: Belgium eliminate Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal as Dutch soul-searching begins | Football News | Sky Sports

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Euro 2020 hits and misses: Belgium eliminate Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal as Dutch soul-searching begins | Football News | Sky Sports
Thorgan Hazard, Eden Hazard and Axel Witsel celebrate Belgium's opener against Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo looked towards the sky, threw off his captain’s armband, then sunk to the turf shaking his head.

This has been a tournament in which he has sent records tumbling, overtaking Miroslav Klose to become the top-scoring European player at major tournaments and equalling the all-time international scoring record set by Iran’s Ali Daei on 109 goals.

But the final whistle in Seville confirmed that it will not end with him holding the trophy aloft.

Portugal, the reigning champions following their triumph over France in 2016, are heading home at the last-16 stage after a 1-0 loss to Belgium which may turn out to be the 36-year-old Ronaldo’s final appearance at a European Championship.

He had his moments at Estadio Olimpico de la Cartuja, forcing a sprawling save from Thibaut Courtois with a powerfully-struck free-kick in the first half and pulling out some nimble footwork to tee up Diogo Jota after the break. But his best efforts were not enough in the end.

His extraordinary legacy will live on, of course, and his five-goal haul in the group stage suggests he may defy his age for a lot longer yet. But perhaps the future belongs to Belgium rather than Portugal.

Cristiano Ronaldo following Portugal's defeat to Belgium at Euro 2020

Roberto Martinez’s side were a long way from their best in Seville. They only mustered six shots to Portugal’s 23 over the course of the 90 minutes and spent most of the second period with their backs firmly against the wall as the holders pushed for an equaliser.

But their show of resilience bodes well for a side whose attacking qualities are already well known, but whose defence is usually viewed as a weakness.

It certainly did not look like a weakness on Sunday night. Courtois provided a reminder of his world-class stature in goal, most notably when he denied Andre Silva from close range in the final few minutes, and the players in front of him were just as impressive.

Thomas Vermaelen marshalled the backline superbly, while Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, former team-mates at Tottenham, showed all of their experience either side of him, forcing Ronaldo to go looking for the ball in deeper areas and keeping clear chances to a minimum.

With doubts now surrounding Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard’s availability for Friday’s quarter-final against Italy, Belgium will need their defensive players to deliver again. But if they can keep Ronaldo at bay, then they can surely stop Ciro Immobile and the rest too.
Nick Wright

Frank de Boer was unable to inspire the Dutch

Frank de Boer cut a dejected figure at the final whistle at the Puskas Arena, aware the sceptics will be back out in force following the shock exit for the Netherlands at the hands of the Czech Republic. He had promised to “swim in the canals of Amsterdam”, if his side went all the way to the Wembley final and lifted the trophy for only the second time in their history.

The Netherlands imploded after De Ligt was sent off for a cynical handball 10 minutes into the second half. It came within a minute which effectively turned the game on its head.

Donyell Malen hesitated with several opportunities – none more so than when sprinting through the Czech defence to go one-on-one with Tomas Vaclik, before having the ball snatched away from his feet as he tried to round the ‘keeper. Within 60 seconds, De Ligt was dismissed.

Despite showing glimpses of the same swashbuckling football which had served them so well during a gentle group stage, with their overlapping runs and passing ability, De Boer’s side ultimately failed to muster a single shot on target, managing just one attempt overall in the second period.

Quincy Promes was introduced as the head coach sought a solution, but the Czechs assumed control and might have won by more than the two goals in the end.

“The first Czech goal was coming,” Gary Neville said in the ITV studio. “They had the Dutch on the ropes. De Boer’s men wilted like you wouldn’t believe… they looked really poor after the sending off. They didn’t tactically adapt. They capitulated.”

A tournament which promised so much has been brought to another abrupt end. This was an ill-timed, sobering lesson. Having now lost their last three Euro final tournament knockout-phase matches, De Boer will hope to have the opportunity to continue the rebuild ahead of Qatar.
Ben Grounds

Czech Republic's Patrik Schick, right, celebrates with Czech Republic's Tomas Holes after scoring his sides second goal

At elite level, there is no doubt the margins of victory are very fine, but there are always certain teams you love coming up against.

The Czech Republic have scored two or more goals in five of their last seven international matches against the Netherlands, including both of their meetings in this run which came at the European Championships (the other a 3-2 win at Euro 2004).

As they celebrated a famous 2-0 victory in Budapest on Sunday, their head coach Jaroslav Silhavy afforded himself a broad smile as wide as the River Vltava.

Czech Republic's Jaroslav Silhavy celebrates after the victory

Preparations had been far from ideal for the Czechs, stripped of their captain Vladimir Darida through injury. To make matters worse, their flight to Budapest was cancelled on Saturday morning when an inflatable emergency slide was accidentally deployed on their private plane.

But Silhavy ensured his players fell on the right side of a game which was evenly poised as the hour-mark approached and turned in their favour after De Ligt’s moment of madness. The ruthless way in which they “punched and punched” the Dutch, as Neville noted, made this a fully-deserved victory.

“They were the favourites in this game, it is an unreal feeling to beat such a team 2-0,” said Tomas Holes, scorer of the first goal. “They were better with the ball, we struggled, but thanks to our team performance, we did not give them much space.”

Tomas Holes' goal broke the deadlock after 69 minutes

The format of this competition provides second opportunities, and Czech Republic have turned around their Euro 2020 fortunes to book a quarter-final clash with Denmark having only reached the knockout phase after finishing third in their group.

For all the talk of permutations, tournaments never pan out quite how you imagine. There is no denying this side of the draw is becoming increasingly appetising for England, but beware these dark horses.

Having overcome their own case of adversity, Patrik Schick and co will believe they can replicate their runners-up place at Euro 96 and dream of going one better.
Ben Grounds

Austria's Aleksandar Dragovic, left, and Italy's Ciro Immobile compete to head the ball during the Euro 2020 soccer championship round of 16 match between Italy and Austria at Wembley Stadium, London, Saturday, June 26, 2021. (Laurence Griffiths/Pool Photo via AP)

After impressing through the group phase, the stage was set at Wembley for Italy to put on a show for their fans, who massively outnumbered their Austrian counterparts inside the stadium. Italy had played their first three matches in Rome but this was like a home from home.

With the sun shining and Italian songs in the stands, there was plenty for their supporters to like about their play in the first half, too, as Roberto Mancini’s side demonstrated the gap in quality between the teams.

If Ciro Immobile’s shot had gone in rather than crashed against the woodwork it would have given the Azzurri a fully deserved lead at the break, while the surging runs of Leonardo Spinazzola and his combination play with Lorenzo Insigne had the fans out of their seats.

But Italy’s drop-off in the second half was a shock. They were suddenly sloppy and sluggish all over the pitch and an inspired Austria capitalised to give them a real scare, with VAR denying Marko Arnautovic a headed opener.

Substitutes Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina eventually saved the day – and underlined the strength in depth of this Italian squad – but after Sasa Kalajdzic scored late on to set up a nervy finale, following a flurry of Austria openings, many would have walked away from Wembley reassessing the chances of Italy going all the way at these Euros.

The defence suddenly didn’t seem as watertight. The flow in attack not as fluid. With Portugal or Belgium in Munich up next in the quarter-finals and then France or Spain their likely opponents after that, Italy are going to have to do it the hard way in this tournament – and they will have to be much sharper in those matches than they were at Wembley.

Of course, those sides will present different challenges to Italy, while Mancini can point to the spirit his side showed to battle through in the end and maintain their remarkable unbeaten streak of 31 games. But brave Austria have taken some of the shine off Italy’s fast start to Euro 2020 and it will be fascinating to see how they respond.
Peter Smith

Denmark's Kasper Dolberg celebrates with team-mates after scoring his sides second goal during the Euro 2020 soccer championship round of 16 match between Wales and Denmark

And so Denmark march on.

It is only a fortnight since Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest in their opening group game against Finland, but those traumatic events at Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium, from which Eriksen is now recovering, appear to have galvanised Kasper Hjulmand’s men.

The Danes became the first side in European Championship history to reach the knockout stages having lost their first two group games thanks to their thrilling and emotional 4-1 win over Russia, and they followed that up with an even better display against Wales.

They are shorn of their biggest star in Eriksen, whose plight now serves as their inspiration, but new ones are emerging in his absence and there is a growing feeling that Denmark, champions in 1992, may be capable of repeating that extraordinary feat.

Kasper Dolberg was the outstanding performer against Wales, seizing his opportunity in Yussuf Poulsen’s absence with two goals, but wing-back Joakim Maehle was just as impressive, scoring for the second consecutive game, and then there is Mikkel Damsgaard.

The 20-year-old, an attacking midfielder who plays for Sampdoria in Italy, became the youngest Danish player to score at a European Championship when he struck the opener against Russia and he produced another eye-catching performance in Amsterdam.

Damsgaard lined up on the left-hand side of Denmark’s attack but drifted all over the final third, with Wales unable to contain him.

He was the architect of the opening goal, wriggling away from Aaron Ramsey and feeding scorer Dolberg, but that was just one of many excellent individual moments.

Damsgaard already looks like one of the tournament’s breakout players and he and Denmark’s other rising stars will now continue their emotional bid for glory against either the Netherlands or the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals.
Nick Wright

Gareth Bale and Joe Rodon after Wales' defeat to Denmark

For Denmark, it feels like 1992 all over again, but this was far from a Super Saturday for Wales. Alun Wyn Jones was ruled out of the Lions tour of South Africa just as the footwork of Kasper Dolberg was leading them on a merry dance in Amsterdam.

To continue the comparisons with that summer when Denmark were surprise winners of this competition, Dolberg became the second Danish player to score two goals in a knockout game at a major tournament after Henrik Larsen against the Netherlands 29 years ago.

Now, they could well meet in the last four, but Wales never really got going. Other than the opening 10 minutes, they rarely threatened.

Having travelled 5,350 miles from Baku to Rome onto the Netherlands, Wales looked weary and out of sorts, unable to respond to Kasper Hjulmand’s decision to move Andreas Christensen into midfield to limit the impact of Aaron Ramsey.

It was an achievement in itself that Robert Page’s side got through the group stages, having made Turkey look so poor in their second game in Baku, but his players were drowned out by 16,000 Danes galvanising their team at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

Page will hope this is a vital learning curve for the young players in his squad, who have the added experience of facing Italy and being outclassed by a well-drilled Denmark side. After all, this is a squad with the third-youngest average age in the tournament.

A fourth red card in their last seven matches rubbed salt into Welsh wounds, and Page will look to address issues of leadership and ill-discipline to ensure their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign stays on track through the autumn.

By then, he will know if Gareth Bale will be part of his plans moving forward, with speculation over his future within the game.

The 31-year-old has now gone 15 games without scoring for his country, and while injuries have stalled his career, you still sense Wales’ presence in Qatar hinges on the decision of their talisman.
Ben Grounds

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NBA playoffs: Clippers pushed to the brink despite off nights from Suns’ stars – Sports Illustrated

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In what could charitably be described as a bad college basketball game, the Suns took a 3–1 lead in the conference finals with a 84–80 win over the Clippers on Saturday. Both teams shot under 40% from the field and combined to hit only nine threes total in what was a glorified rock fight. 

Phoenix led by 14 after the first half, but Los Angeles chipped away in the second half, coming within one point of the Suns but never tying or taking the lead. For nearly four minutes in the fourth the game was stuck at a score of 71–70, emblematic of both teams’ offensive struggles. 

Here are three thoughts on Phoenix’s victory.

Chris Paul and Devin Booker struggled again

Though now only one win away from the Finals, the Suns have to be slightly concerned about the shooting troubles of Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Booker led Phoenix in scoring with 25 points, but shot only 8-of-22 from the field. Paul was worse, connecting on only six of his 22 field goal attempts. Together, Booker and Paul shot 31.8% from the floor and missed all of their threes. Neither could quite get it going down the stretch either, with Booker fouling out late on a charge, while Paul missed several of his patented pull-up midrange twos with a chance to seal the victory.

The Clips obviously deserve credit for their defensive tenacity. At the same time, Booker is dealing with his broken nose—he ditched his mask during Game 4—while Paul is trying to re-acquire his rhythm after being stuck in the COVID protocol for 11 days. 

The Suns proved in Game 4 they can win an ugly one. Attempting to go down this route and win a championship seems dicey, however. If Phoenix does make it to the next round, Book and CP need to find their offense.

Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

Reggie Jackson has become invaluable

Nobody played particularly well offensively for the Clippers in Game 4. If anyone provided a spark though, it was Jackson, who helped propel the comeback with a nine-point fourth quarter. With no threes falling, Jackson hit some timely jumpers inside the arc, ultimately finishing with 20 points to go along with five boards and five assists. 

In the six games Kawhi Leonard has missed with his knee injury, Jackson has scored at least 20 in five—and had 19 in the other. With Paul George’s efficiency waning as his burden has increased, Jackson has become an indispensable second scorer for Los Angeles. Saturday was his first game with less than three threes since Game 4 of the Utah series, and he’s soaking up big minutes as the starting point guard. 

Jackson hasn’t been perfect—the Clips could still use a secondary playmaker to help out George—but he’s thoroughly exceeded expectations considering the circumstances. Los Angeles’s season is on the brink after Saturday’s loss. If there has been a silver lining in Leonard’s absence, it’s that Jackson appears to be someone who can make an impact moving forward.

What will Ty Lue dial up next?

The hallmark of this Clippers postseason run has been their ability to handle adversity. Can Los Angeles dial up its own 3–1 comeback after falling victim to one last season? Ty Lue has been masterful with his adjustments so far in the playoffs, and he’ll need a new quirk to inject some energy into his club in Game 5. 

Will Lue try going small again? Ivica Zubac played a career-high 40 minutes Saturday and held up well. Still, Lue pulled him out for some late defensive possessions, and Los Angeles went back to a lineup similar to what gave them success against the Jazz. The unit didn’t exactly unlock the offense, and it was susceptible to offensive rebounds, and yet it could be the best way for the Clips to find their groove from the three-point line. (Then again, L.A. missed plenty of clean looks from beyond the arc in Game 4.)

Maybe the next game brings out Rajon Rondo (who didn’t play Saturday after getting only eight minutes in Game 3.) Maybe Luke Kennard or Nic Batum see more time after both played less than 20 minutes. Lue, the head coach of perhaps the greatest 3–1 comeback in NBA history, will need to find similar magic if he hopes to extend the Clippers’ season on Monday.

More NBA Playoffs Coverage:

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B.C. permits spectators to attend Olympic basketball qualifier | CBC Sports

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Canada’s men’s basketball team will get a small boost at its last-chance Olympic qualifier in Victoria.

B.C. Public Health said Friday it would allow roughly 10 per cent attendance at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre for games beginning Thursday, July 1. The Victoria arena normally seats 7,400 people. 

That excludes Canada’s round-robin games which take place on Monday and Tuesday, but includes the tournament semifinals and final.

B.C. Public Health said spectators from different parties must physically distance from each other and from event staff, and that masks are mandated, except for eating and drinking. Alcohol has been prohibited from the event.

Clint Hamilton, chair of the local organizing committee Friends of Victoria Basketball, told CBC Sports the group has been working with the province on a plan for months, but talks only intensified over the last three weeks once it became clear COVID-19 vaccination rates and transmission rates were moving in the right direction.

“We’re excited that some of this world-class basketball, our basketball fans will be able to enjoy. And we’re grateful that the plan we submitted was met with confidence by the public health officer and we’re just excited,” Hamilton said.

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Hamilton said the committee had been eyeing the July 1 date in recent weeks to stay in line with the province’s reopening plan, despite missing out on Canada’s Monday and Tuesday round-robin games.

WATCH | Panel discusses national team ahead of Olympic qualifier:

Andrew Wiggins commits to Team Canada, but who else will be on the qualifying tournament roster?

19:33

B.C.’s reopening plan calls for limited indoor spectators at sporting events in Step 3, as long as 70 per cent or more of adults have received one dose of a vaccine, to go with low case counts and low rate of hospitalization.

All three criteria have been met, but the province has said it won’t enter that stage before Thursday.

Teams are restricted to a modified bubble including the arena, training facilities and hotels. Daily COVID-19 testing is administered to all those within the bubble.

Hamilton said 27,000 tickets were sold within days of their release before the pandemic. He said it’s likely a lottery will determine who fills the available seats, with all those left behind receiving full refunds. First priority in the lottery will go to those who originally purchased tickets and held onto them.

“Those are the people who have stuck with us that will be our first priority and it’s unlikely we will have enough tickets to satisfy all the people that stayed in the system,” Hamilton said.

Some logistics like how seating will be spaced apart still need to be determined.

A team of 14, led by head coach Nick Nurse, arrived in B.C. on Thursday. The roster will be cut to 12 before the tournament begins.

Canada’s men haven’t participated in Olympic basketball since the 2000 Sydney Games.

Other teams in Victoria include Greece, China, Turkey, Uruguay and the Czech Republic.

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