The international break is almost over, with the return of club action on the horizon. Meanwhile, there is plenty to read up on in the Golazo Starting XI newsletter. I'm Jonathan Johnson and I'm here to walk you through the latest from the ever busy world of soccer. Euro 2024 qualifiers threw up some surprise results, there was a pair of wins for the USMNT too, and a shock return to the USWNT fold by Julie Ertz.
So, without further ado, let's get to it:
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📺 Soccer on Paramount+
All times U.S./Eastern
Thursday, March 30
Argentina: Defensa y Justicia vs. Velez Sarsfield, 7 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
Argentina: Argentinos Juniors vs. Godoy Cruz, 8:30 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
All times U.S./Eastern
Women's Champions League: Barcelona vs. Roma (1-0), 12:45 p.m. ➡️ DAZN
Women's Champions League: Arsenal vs. Bayern Munich (0-1), 3:00 p.m. ➡️ DAZN
Women's Champions League: Wolfsburg vs. PSG (1-0), 12:45 p.m. ➡️ DAZN
Women's Champions League: Chelsea vs. Lyon (1-0), 3:00 p.m. ➡️ DAZN
⚽ The Forward Line
Euro qualifying offered some early international surprises
With March's UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers now over, some interesting scenarios are already starting to unfold in Europe. Let's take a look at what some of the more surprising results mean for Europe's biggest names.
- Did Scotland permanently hamstring Erling Haaland's international career?
Spain were shocked by Scotland on Tuesday which puts Steve Clarke's men in charge of Group A with the Spaniards at risk of being overtaken by Georgia if Willy Sagnol's men win their game in hand. That is bad news if you are Erling Haaland, as the Manchester City man sat out Norway's opening two games injured and saw them take just one point from two games in his absence. If Norway misses out on the 2024 Euros that means one of the defining players of his generation may not even get to compete in an international tournament until he's 25, at the earliest, when the 2026 World Cup comes around.
- Some big names in big trouble while upstarts thrive
Spain's loss was truly shocking and questions remain over the youthful revolution which was started by Luis Enrique and is now being overseen by Luis de la Fuente. A 3-0 win over Haaland-less Norway was not too surprising, but being outfought the way that they were by the Scottish, getting outshot 9-8 despite bossing possession 75% to 25% is a familiar scenario after their World Cup exit in Qatar. La Roja was not the only big name to taste defeat this international break with the Netherlands, Italy, and Denmark also beaten. However, many of the big guns remain strong with France, England, Portugal, and Switzerland all claiming maximum points. More surprising was four of the names joining them on six points from six with Serbia, Austria, Romania, and Slovenia all making impressive starts to their campaigns.
- France, England, among top sides starting strong
Les Bleus and the Three Lions were expected to top their groups before a ball was even kicked, and both have started their Euro 2024 and World Cup 2026 cycle in solid form.
Spaniard Roberto Martinez made a winning start to life with the Portuguese national team after leaving Belgium while his replacement Domenico Tedesco started strongly with the Red Devils by beating Sweden away, but it was a mixed return for Ronald Koeman who saw his Dutch side crushed by the French before an easy win over Gibraltar. Heading into June's fixtures, there are some nations already needing to be careful that their qualification hopes have not already been damaged beyond repair.
And remember, all of your soccer needs -- from NWSL to Champions League to Serie A and so much more -- are available on Paramount+. 📺 You can try one month free by using the code: NWSL2023
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🔗 Midfield Link Play
Tyler Adams injury could be a big blow for Leeds and USMNT
Leeds United and the USMNT suffered a blow with Tyler Adams reportedly undergoing surgery for a hamstring injury which could have ramifications for the Premier League side as they bid to avoid relegation. The 24-year-old was hurt before the international break which brought wins over Grenada and El Salvador for the U.S. However, the schedule gods were much nicer to the USMNT than they will be to Leeds. Beating Arsenal, Nottingham Forest, Crystal Palace, and Liverpool would have been a tall order, even with Adams.
Second for attempted tackles in the Premier League, the former RB Leipzig man will leave a big hole in Javi Gracia's plans. However, fellow American Weston McKennie can at least step into a new-look midfield as he did to good effect in the 4-2 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers pre-internationals. The Whites are only two points above the drop zone and the battle to stay up is a fierce one which Gracia will hope to have Adams back for as soon as possible.
On the USMNT side, Chuck Booth has gone into depth over Adams' importance writing on how much more balanced the team looks with its midfield mainstay.
- Booth: "Against Grenada, Luca De La Torre put in a good performance at the base of midfield but defending isn't part of his game like it is with Adams. While he's injured, with no timetable of a return for Leeds United, Adams isn't someone who can be replaced at the national team level. Kellyn Acosta is the most like-for-like player to Adams, but while he's better at progressing the ball forward, Adams has a unique ability to stop teams in their tracks."
And now let's get to some links:
🔗 Make sure to check out the rest of Booth's USMNT Stock Watch.
🔗 Lionel Messi keeps breaking records, this time it's his 100th career goal for Argentina.
🔗 Herve Renard has officially stepped down from Saudi Arabia as he seems set to lead France for the Women's World Cup.
🔗 For more on the USMNT's win over El Salvador, Booth has you covered.
🔗 Julie Ertz is making a shocking USWNT return, Sandra Herrera breaks it all down.
🔗 Tottenham exec Fabio Paratici is in trouble as FIFA made his Serie A ban for Juventus misdeeds global.
🔗 In other Juventus scandal news, a preliminary hearing in their Prisma investigation is postponed until May.
🔗 House of Champions: Fabrizio Romano joins the show and the crew looks at possible Conte replacements for Tottenham
🔗 Attacking Third: Julie Ertz! What? Sandra and Lisa breakdown the USWNT news.
🔗 In Soccer We Trust: The crew break down the USMNT's 1-0 win over El Salvador.
🔗 USMNT keeper Matt Turner is having another baby. And we all found out together, IT'S A GIRL!
🔗 And remember, all of your soccer needs -- from Champions League to Serie A to NWSL and so much more -- are available on Paramount+. 📺 You can try one month free by using the code: ADVANCE.
💰 The Back Line
💵 Best bets
All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and all times U.S./Eastern. SportsLine has you covered with this weekend's best bets.
- Bundesliga: Frankfurt vs. Bochum, Friday, 2:30 p.m.
💰 THE PICK: Bochum (+480) -- Frankfurt are without a win in seven while Bochum have won their last two outings including a 1-0 win over RB Leipzig last time out. The hosts are slipping out of European contention while the visitors are giving themselves a real chance of survival.
- La Liga: Mallorca vs. Osasuna, Friday, 3:00 p.m.
💰 THE PICK: Osasuna (+280) -- A midtable clash between two sides with one win apiece from their last six outings. Considering that Osasuna are two points better off, this seems like a fairly smart play given that they win more easily than Mallorca despite being on the road here.
- Ligue 1: Marseille vs. Montpellier, Friday, 3:00 p.m.
💰 THE PICK: Draw (+340) -- Given Montpellier's uptick in form since Michel Der Zakarian's return and Marseille's almost unrivalled ability to make life tough for themselves, a draw seems very good value given that the visitors have five wins from their last six and are suddenly clear of relegation trouble. A Montpellier win at +600 is tempting for those who want to be brave, but even a draw at +340 is good value based on form.