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Neymar, Brazil To Clash With Germany In Olympic Final

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After dancing past Honduras to the tune of 6-0, Brazil now patiently awaits a rematch with World Cup champion Germany in the world famous Maracaná Stadium on Saturday.

Still with the sour taste from a humiliating 7-1 loss in home soil at the biggest stage of world soccer, the ‘Cariocas’ look to avenge their national pride and take Olympic gold for the first time in history.

Barcelona star Neymar put away the fastest goal in Olympic history, slipping a shot past Honduras goalkeeper Luis Lopez 15 seconds into the match. He finished the game with a brace after notching a penalty kick to the far left corner in the 91st minute.

The Germans cruised to a 2-0 win against a Nigeria team that played valiantly throughout this tournament despite the difficulties they had getting into Rio. An early tap-in goal by Lukas Klostermann in the ninth minute and a late sliding goal by Nils Petersen in the 89th was all they would need to put away a Nigerian squad that just didn’t have enough as Germany secured its place in the gold medal game.

Brazil goalkeeper Weverton carries a five-game clean sheet streak into the final match and his team a 12-goal differential in the past three games as they struggled to scoreless draws in their first two.

Despite their early struggles against South Africa and Iraq, Brazil has carried an impeccable back line marshaled by defensive midfielder Renato Augusto. While their forwards Gabriel Barbosa, Gabriel Jesus and Neymar grab the spotlight; solid goalkeeping and a disciplined back four are what have allowed this team to go forward fearlessly and score goals.

As how it often happens on the big stage, it’s not how well a team starts, but how well it finishes; and Brazil has made the most of its chances in the past three games, looking to ride the wave to its first Olympic Soccer gold medal, but most importantly to get revenge for the worst loss in the Brazilian history.

While Olympic play is mostly players under 23 years old, each country is given an exemption of three players over the age limit; for Brazil, Neymar is one of them. The Barcelona forward purposely chose not to participate in June’s Copa America to have a chance to claim gold for his country, but a win against Germany in the final game of the tournament could be the biggest win since the days when Ronaldo captured the country’s fifth World Cup title.

Beating Germany would appease this soccer-crazed country and surely bring them hope for the future to come as their senior team has brought disappointment in recent international competitions.

Brazil has not won a major international title since winning the Copa America in 2007 and a win on Sunday would put an end to the second-worst title drought since Pelé’s retirement in 1971.

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Bruno Manrique is a sportswriter from San Francisco, California and has worked for Bleacher Report, Dime Magazine, AOL's Patch.com and the San Francisco Examiner. Witty commentary and a deadshot eye for detail are some of his best traits when it comes to writing.You can follow Bruno on Twitter: @thesportslede

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Juventus Fans Arrested After Clash with Police

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Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash between Juventus and Ajax has already been marred by violence and controversy, before the teams even took to the pitch.

According to Ansa, citing a report from De Telegraaf, dozens of fans were reportedly arrested in Amsterdam in the hours leading up to the game.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini (h/t Football Italia) took to Facebook live video to state that “around 120” fans had been arrested.

Per the report from De Telegraaf, fans near the Johan Cruyff Arena were “in possession of knives, clubs, pepper spray and flares.” Also, dozens of Ajax supporters were reported to have clashed with riot police in separate incidents outside the stadium and were eventually dispersed with the use of tear gas and water cannons.

The Mirror posted the following images on their Twitter page:

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Man City forward Raheem Sterling Looking to Combat Racism on the Pitch

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Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, who spoke out last month after being subjected to taunts during England’s game in Montenegro, is looking to take his fight against racism to the pitch, saying he would rather stay on the field than let racism force him to walk off of the pitch during a match.

Sterling’s manager Pep Guardiola, stated that he would support players walking off in protest if it happened again, in a strong statement that racism is simply not acceptable.

“I think everyone are entitled to their own opinions. My mum has taught me to be comfortable in my own skin and I am,” Sterling said, according to the Manchester Evening News.

“I wouldn’t personally agree with [walking off], to win the game would hurt them even more they’re only trying to get you down. If you walk off they win, to score or win would be better.

“Everyone’s different. Everyone has their own opinion, how they deal with things emotionally and you have to support everyone.”

Sterling opened up about the racism he has faced in his life, discussing when he first expereinced racism when he moved from North London up to the north-west back in 2010.

“I don’t think trying to make a difference or making a difference, it’s about speaking what you experience. Some people might shy away from it, if more players speak up that might be better.

“It’s offensive but growing up my mum always told me I’m a wonderful black child and I know this. When I hear it, it’s nothing new. I’m happy with it. I’m confident, I’m black and I’m proud. Some people can’t take it but my mum has always told me to love who I am.

“The first time I experienced racism is when I went up north to Liverpool – in London in schools and on a day-to-day basis you’re surrounded by a diverse community. Only a few occasions growing up in the academy in Liverpool, and then mainly in the last couple of years of being a professional.”

 

 

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Birmingham City Fan Jailed for 14 Days for Punching Aston Villa Player

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27-year old Paul Mitchel, a Birmingham City fan has been jailed for 14 days after he plead guilt to assaulting Aston Villa midfielder Jack Graelish during the derby on Sunday.

Mitchell rushed the pitch and took a swing at Graelish when the player’s back was turned at Birmingham City’s St. Andrew’s stadium during the Championship match on Sunday.

Mitchell admitted to invading the pitch and has been officially banned from attending any football match in the U.K. for up to 10 years, and was also ordered to pay £350 in total fines.

Graelish made a statement in which he described how he was “shocked and scared” by the attack.

“I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident,” he said (h/t ESPN). “It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon.”

“He cannot explain what came over himself yesterday morning,” Mitchell’s lawyer, Vaughn Whistance, said on Monday.

“His initial foolish intention was to go onto the pitch to whip up the crowd. He is certainly remorseful today. He is a man with a partner, they have a 2-year-old together and they’re expecting their second child.”

“This weekend a line has been crossed in terms of fan behaviour,” said a spokesperson for the FA.

“On Sunday we saw two separate incidents, at Birmingham City and Arsenal, of individuals entering the field of play and assaulting players.

“Not only is it an offence to enter the pitch, which could result in a club ban and criminal charges for the individual, but it also puts the safety of the players at risk.

“This is entirely unacceptable and we strongly condemn both incidents.

“We will be working with the clubs, the leagues and the police to discuss what collectively needs to be done to protect players and officials on the pitch.

“In addition, we have written to both Birmingham City and Arsenal to seek their observations to examine the security measures they had in place.”

Birmingham City apologized to Grealish and Aston Villa and banned Mitchell for life.

“Birmingham City Football Club would like to apologise to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa Football Club for an incident in Sunday afternoon’s derby match,” a club statement said.

“We deplore the behaviour of the individual who committed this act and rest assured he will be banned from St. Andrew’s for life. The club will also support any further punishment this individual may face in the eyes of the law.

“The club will be working with the relevant authorities to investigate all the circumstances and we will be reviewing our stadium safety procedures.

“What happened has no place in football or society. Jack is a Birmingham lad and regardless of club allegiance should not have been subjected to this — there are no excuses.

“Again, we apologise to Jack and all at Aston Villa Football Club.”

 

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