What I’d Do #2: Belgium

Today is the second installment of the What I Would Do series. Today we have a team that many overlook due to the fact that they haven’t ever made a World Cup semifinal. However, Belgium deserves your full attention on the international stage.

At goalie is Chelsea star Thibaut Courtois. His spot on the national team has never been in question after his stellar performances in the 2014 World Cup.

The back line is full-on Premier League. Tottenham has one of the EPL’s best center back tandems in Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. Linking them together is Manchester City star Vincent Kompany.

At left midfielder is a terrific player with a mouthful of a name. Yannick Ferreira Carrasco is only 22, but has already cemented his position in the starting eleven for club and country.

At the center midfielder spots, Belgium has terrific creators and defenders in Kevin de Bruyne and Radja Nainggolan. Nainggolan had lost his spot to Axel Witsel before he went absolutely crazy at AS Roma, getting his Belgian spot back and locking it down for the foreseeable future. De Bruyne is one of the best players in the world and has arguably been Manchester City’s best player.

At right midfielder is a player you might not have heard of, but really should. Thomas Meunier has been playing so well for PSG that at times he was starting at right winger over Angel Di Maria.

At left winger, Eden Hazard needs absolutely no explanation. If you don’t know who he is, Google his name.

At striker, Everton star Romelu Lukaku was heavily linked with transfer rumors to all kinds of clubs in the summer, but he stayed at Everton. He edges out Christian Benteke for the start in the national team due to his prolific goal scoring ways.

Finally, at right winger is Napoli’s most consistent goalscorer in a long time, Dries Mertens.

 

Suggestions? Questions? Concerns? Leave your message down in the comments down below!

NEW SERIES!! What I’d Do: #1 Croatia

Welcome to a new series on my blog, called What I’d Do. Every Saturday, I will explain my choices for the Top international soccer XI of the country chosen. Today it’s a country who isn’t exactly world-renowned for their soccer team, but they have some great players. “They” are Croatia.

At goalie is Danijel Subasić. AS Monaco’s starting keeper, Subasić is second in the Ligue 1 with thirteen clean sheets and is invaluable to the French giants.

You might not have heard of left back Ivan Strinić, but since his first call-up in 2010, he has been Croatia’s first choice on the left side of the defense. He missed the 2014 World Cup due to a hamstring injury, but was rewarded for his strong performances at Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk with a transfer to Italian giants Napoli.

Almost everyone has heard of center-back Dejan Lovren from his stellar career at Liverpool, but not many know he is Croatian. He has 31 appearances for the national team, and gets the nod over Igor Bubnjić.

Vedran Corluka also gets the nod over Bubnjić. The Lokomotiv Moscow standout has been terrific in the Russian League this year, and helps make up for what is otherwise a defense lacking in strength.

Darijo Srna can play all along the right side of the team at Shakhtar Donetsk, and he has quickly become Croatia’s best right back.

Ivan Perisić is Inter Milan’s best player, and if I didn’t put him in at left midfielder, something would be dreadfully wrong.

Luka Modrić is so good for Real Madrid that he received a Team of the Season card in FIFA. He plays in the center of the midfield with Barcelona maestro Ivan Rakitić and Real Madrid teammate Mateo Kovačić.

At right midfielder, Marko Pjaca has burst onto the international stage, with more assists through ten apoearances for Croatia than anyone else in that many games.

And finally, at striker we have another Juventus player. Mario Mandžukić may have lost his starting spot at Juventus due to Paulo Dybala’s sensational performances, but Mandžukić is still a prolific goalscorer and the perfect player to get a header on crosses from Perisić and Pjaca.

March Madness: Previewing North Carolina vs. Oregon

We have reached the Final Four in this insane NCAA Tournament. Oregon dominated Kansas in the Elite Eight, while North Carolina defeated Kentucky via buzzer beater in the game of the year.

 

One Key to the Game

It’s the same for both teams. Win the rebounding battle. If UNC’s Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks can’t beat Oregon’s Jordan Bell on the boards. . . well, ask Kansas. If UNC has their way inside, Tyler Dorsey and Dillon Brooks will need to be on fire from 3.

 

Prediction

UNC. North Carolina just has too many ways to beat Oregon. Theo Pinson’s length will be a problem for Dorsey, and Dillon Brooks isn’t 50 point material. Bell would have to absolutely dominate the best rebounding team in the country, and I don’t see that happening.

The Final Four: How they got here

Few people even had South Carolina coming out of the first round. They made the Final Four as a #7 seed with star performances from Sindarius Thornwell and P.J. Dozier, knocking off Marquette, Duke, Baylor, and fellow SEC member Florida.

Gonzaga is probably the most picked against #1 seed in history. They have proved doubters wrong with stellar play from guard Nigel Williams-Goss and Missouri transfer Jonathan Williams, defeating South Dakota State, Northwestern, West Virginia, and Xavier to reach the Final Four.

North Carolina destroyed their first three opponents utilizing the best rebounding frontcourt in the nation, but needed a midrange bomb from former walk-on Luke Maye to defeat Kentucky.

Oregon lost Chris Boucher to injury before the tournament. Skeptics cited his incredible three-point shooting, ability to space the floor, and shot-blocking presence inside. Guess what? He wasn’t even a starter, and Oregon didn’t need him in wins over Iona, Rhode Island, Michigan, and Kansas.

March Madness: Previewing Gonzaga vs. South Carolina

March Madness has earned its name this year. Reigning champion Villanova, Duke, Florida State, and Louisville were all knocked out in the round of 32. Arizona was defeated by Xavier in the Sweet 16. Gonzaga rose head and shoulders above their competition with stellar play from guard Nigel Williams-Goss, while South Carolina arrived in Phoenix due to their defense.

 

One Key to the Game

Gonzaga: Slow down Sindarius Thornwell. Where Thornwell goes, the Gamecock offense goes. If Goss is firing and Thornwell isn’t, it could be a long night for South Carolina.

South Carolina: Score the basketball! Gonzaga is winless when its opponent scores 75 points or more.

 

The Daily Blooper

In the first half against North Carolina on Sunday, Kentucky went 45% from the line. 45%!

March Madness: One reason to root against each remaining team

Fans for life, bandwagoners, and eternal haters: here is one reason to root against each team remaining in March Madness.

Florida: They win based on luck and defense in an offense-based world.

Wisconsin: Minnesota fans, listen up. BETTER DEAD THAN RED.

South Carolina: Overseeded team? Check. Got incredibly lucky against heavily favored first round opponent? Read: SMU. Somehow pulled off a win against a two seed? Check. Busted your bracket? Yeah.

Baylor: Must they win at every sport? Seriously.

Gonzaga: They had one of the easiest schedules in the nation, and they got a one seed! On top of that, their fiercest opponents in the region, Arizona and Notre Dame, got knocked out early!

Xavier: They were underseeded, plain and simple. They should have been a 5 or a 6 seed. Arizona and Maryland should not have been playing Xavier early.

Kansas: Voter fatigue! Bill Self has been winning at Kansas FOREVER.

Oregon: This team runs on one player: Tyler Dorsey. And Dorsey gets a lot of help from the refs.

North Carolina: I’m a Syracuse fan, so I will refrain from raging how they got a one seed instead of Arizona and Kentucky.

Butler: They were a four seed because they beat Villanova twice, a team that lost to Wisconsin and the referees.

UCLA: Lonzo Ball is overhyped, T.J. Leaf is a power forward that can’t dunk, and LaVar Ball needs to be kicked out of a stadium on live TV soon.

Kentucky: They win with their backcourt, and “Bam Bam” Adebayo can’t do anything but dunk and block once every five fouls.

 

 

March Madness 2017: Previewing Friday’s Games

The 2017 NCAA Tournament continues on Friday with the second part of the Sweet Sixteen.

Thursday’s scores:

Oregon 69-68 Michigan

Gonzaga 61-58 West Virginia

Kansas 98(!)-66 Purdue

Xavier 73-71 Arizona

Friday

Wisconsin vs. Florida

The Badgers pulled a massive upset over Villanova, but now they run into a very strong Florida defense that will cause them problems. Pick: Florida

Baylor vs. South Carolina

Gamecock SG Sindarius Thornwell is the breakout star of the NCAA Tournament, of that there is no question. The question for South Carolina is what will they do when he isn’t on the floor? The Gamecocks don’t have the bench to contend with Baylor for 40 minutes. Pick: Baylor

North Carolina vs. Butler

Butler is the only team to beat Villanova twice this year. However, UNC’s big men should easily win the rebounding battle on both sides of the floor. This could be a very lopsided game. Pick: UNC

UCLA vs. Kentucky

Lonzo Ball leads arguably the most high-powered attack in basketball to take on Kentucky’s star-studded backcourt. The question for the Bruins is their defense. Lonzo Ball will likely blanket Malik Monk on defense, but who will cover De’Aaron Fox? Even Wichita State’s Landry Shamet couldn’t stop him. Ball on Monk leaves Bryce Alford on Fox. Good luck. Pick: Kentucky

 

The Daily Blooper

Arizona and West Virginia lost close games in the Sweet 16 yesterday, but in TBS’s post game show, an incorrect graphic had them advancing to the Elite Eight instead of Gonzaga and Xavier!