By Tim Stannard (@stannardsports)
1) Christian Pulisic to lose international cherry against Guatemala
Unless matters go utterly pear-shaped in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday in another clash against the apparently gutsy Guatemala, the US should still move through to the next round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, despite Friday’s horrible 2-0 defeat. But it would not have been a pleasant experience, especially when preceded by the limp biscuit that was last summer’s Gold Cup performance.
Either in a wonderful sign of the fine, young talent becoming available to Jurgen Klinsmann, or a desperate concern that a 17-year-old rookie is going to be one that has to bail out Team America, Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic has been called up to the US of A squad and is expected to make his senior debut in Tuesday’s clash. The Pennsylvania-born youngster is set to play alongside players almost twice his age and half his speed, such as Clint Dempsey. Tune in to Monday’s XTRA at 10PM to get the latest from the USMNT camp and then the thoughts of the panel on the Locker Room at 10.30PM ET, who may not be so kind to Mr Klinsmann’s clan. And apologies for those who may be stuck with a Katy Perry song stuck in their head for the rest of the day. Not nice.
2) King Zlatan hints at next move as Lukaku looks for Mourinho reunion at Old Trafford
Well, one person who is going to be have a lot of fun over the next couple of months is King Zlatan as he leaves a trail of breadcrumbs in his path about his future while reclining on his chaise lounge of mystery. The Swedish striker is claiming that a number of English teams are interested in his services once his contract with PSG runs down this summer. But they will have to work hard to sign him up. "It's like a marriage. Both sides need to be happy." The world will have to wait on who loads the dishwasher and takes out the garbage in King Zlatan’s next relationship. Actually, it is unlikely that he will do either.
Another player who has been making googly eyes at other clubs during the international break is Everton’s Romelu Lukaku. Manchester United is apparently the Belgian’s number one choice for a move, with the Europa League such an enticement, apparently. If such a reshuffle were to take place and if Jose Mourinho were to be in charge at Old Trafford, next season, then Lukaku says that it would not be a problem to work under the Portuguese provoker despite Mourinho selling him to the Toffees two years ago.
3) Isco says not to blame for Madrid malaise as Suarez transfer fee revealed
Isco has been a busy body in the media this weekend, claiming to Spanish radio that it is not fair to single himself and James out for Real Madrid’s poor season. A fairly valid point, to be fair. The midfielder also says that he has no intention of leaving the Santiago Bernabeu despite apparent interest from PSG and Juventus. Let’s see what Zizou has to say about that, this summer. Providing he is in charge at Real Madrid. You never know. But it seems that Isco will be watching the start of el Clasico in the Camp Nou on Saturday from the same position as much of the rest of the word. Sitting down. Remember that you can catch all the build-up to the game, all week, on the XTRA at 10PM ET weeknights on beIN SPORTS.
When the Barcelona bosses saw the headlines on Monday combining the words ‘Football Leaks’, ‘contract’ and ‘Luis Suarez’ there may have been a sharp intake of breath after that whole Neymar business. But then it was probably let out again, with the simple confirmation that the footballer moved from Liverpool to Barcelona in the summer of 2014 for a fee of $91 million. Meanwhile, the Uruguayan himself says that he never thought he would be good enough to lead the line for Barcelona, and that being able to share out the goal scoring chores with his M and N is quite the burden off his shoulders.
4) Chad bids farewell to AFCON qualifying to leave Nigeria in peril
In an African butterfly effect, Chad have been forced to withdraw from the current round of AFCON qualifying, reportedly due to a lack of resources, to leave Nigeria’s participation in next year’s event in Gabon in some doubt. All points from Chad’s results have been wiped out from the group, leaving Nigeria in second, two behind group leaders, Egypt with just two games left. Only the first-place team in each of the groups is guaranteed a spot in Gabon. Meanwhile, you can catch more action on from Africa today over on beIN CONNECT from 12.45PM ET with Libya hosting Sao Tome in a fourth round Group F clash.
There is also some international action from Europe as well, in a friendly between Northern Ireland and Slovenia as the home side continue their tune-ups for Euro 2016. Action starts at 2.30PM ET
5) Tragedy strikes cycling world after death of Antoine Demoitie
In a sad reminder that cyclists are very special and very brave beasts indeed. Belgium’s Antoine Demoitie has died at the age of 25 after an accident in the Gent-Wevelgem cycling classic on Sunday after the cyclist was reportedly hit by a pace motor cycle after falling. The ORICA Green-EDGE rider was rushed to hospital in Lille, but later died from his injuries.