Probable starting lineups for Manchester City-Manchester United (and the matchups they create)

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One of the great things about today’s big match: We’re unlikely to see any pre-match surprises. True, a good twist is often irresistible, but when a match is this delicious, it speaks for itself, beginning with the starting XIs.

Aside from long term absences (like Nemanja Vidic) each team has their first choices available. There are no new injuries. There are no suspensions, illnesses – lingering rifts between stars and bosses. There are no excuses.

These might not be the exact starting XIs come 3:00 p.m. ET, but it’s be a shock if they weren’t pretty dang close.

Here’s the team Roberto Mancini’s likely to select for the home team:

Manchester City, Probable Starting XI

G: Joe Hart
LB: Gael Clichy
LCB: Joleon Lescott
RCB: Vincent Kompany
RB: Micah Richards
DM: Gareth Barry
DM: Yaya Touré
M: Samir Nasri
M: David Silva
F: Carlos Tévez
F: Sergio Agüero

That Carlos Tévez will be in a position to win this league for City proves the inherently unpredictable nature of a universe addicted to irony.

Manchester United, Probable Starting XI

G: David de Gea
LB: Patrice Evra
LCB: Jonny Evans
RCB: Rio Ferdinand
RB: Rafael da Silva
DM: Michael Carrick
DM: Paul Scholes
LW: Nani
RW: Antonio Valencia
AM/F: Wayne Rooney
F: Danny Welbeck

Some interesting matchups these lineups imply:

Antonio Valencia vs. Gael Clichy – So much of what United has done this year (where they’re at their best) has involved Antonio Valencia. Gael Clichy is capable of containing him.

Wayne Rooney vs. Gareth Barry – The chances United has to counter will likely be the times Touré has surged into attack. That leaves Gareth Barry to lockup one of the Premier League’s best creators.

Nani vs. Micah Richards – The way these teams lean, expect Manchester United’s left flank to be wide open. As many nightmares as Nani’s given Premier League right backs, Micah Richards is just a terrifying for left midfielders tasked with marking the City’s juggernaut.

Nasri/Tevez/Silva vs. Carrick/Scholes – As deep as United’s midfielders are prone to sit, their job is more about clogging channels than offsetting their numerical disadvantage. Carrick and Scholes will need to stay disciplined and force overly-ambitious passes that can be cleaned up by Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans and David de Gea.

Sergio Aguero vs. Rio Ferdinand and/or Jonny Evans – It’s a horrible matchup for United’s central defenders: A quick striker that reads the game beautifully and does his damage playing along the defense. Whether they can hold their own will likely depend on how much help they get from the players around them.

It’s a big game, it’s a weekday, so PST will be doing play-by-play. Check back at 2:30 p.m. ET as we take you moment-by-moment through Monday’s big match in Manchester: City vs. United, with the Premier League title at stake.

CCL wrap: FC Dallas disappoints; Club America struts (video)

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The CONCACAF Champions League returned Tuesday with Toronto FC’s 2-0 quarterfinal first leg win in Colorado, and a trio of ties began Wednesday across Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Tauro 1-0 FC Dallas

Veteran striker Edwin Aguilar scored a big goal, and goalkeeper Oscar McFarlane did plenty of good things as the Panamanian side struck a wild first blow against its MLS visitors.

Here’s a random fact underscoring how remarkable of a failure this would be for FC Dallas: Only six of Tauro’s roster members have their own Wikipedia page.

Deportivo Saprissa 1-5 Club America

Cecilio Dominguez and Mateus Uribe each bagged a brace, and Renato Ibarra also scored as the tournament’s top team sauntered into and out of Costa Rica on Wednesday. Club America has been to seven CCL finals, and one every single one.

Motagua vs. Club Tijuana — 10 a.m. ET

Honduran hosts hope to have a leg to stand on — pun intended — once the tie heads to Mexico.

West Ham to friendly neighbors Dag & Red: “Will help save our club”

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English Conference Premier side Dagenham and Redbridge has seen better days, and is getting a hand from a Premier League pal.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

West Ham United will pay a visit to Dag & Red as part of the latter’s #SaveTheDaggers campaign, and the March 21 date will cost fans between $7 and $21 to see a top flight side at 6,000-seat Victoria Road.

Dagenham and Redbridge chairman Paul Gwinn said, “It really will help save our club.”

“So please come on down to the Chigwell Construction Stadium for an additional night of football. Bring a friend, or two, or more and we can use the gate takings to help get us back on track,” reads a press release.

Dag & Red was founded in 1992 and climbed as high as League One in 2011, and plays just 2.5 miles from West Ham United’s training ground. Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle are among Dag & Red alums in the Premier League.

It’s a terrific gesture from West Ham, and is even more impressive in the United States where the growing club game is increasingly cutthroat (especially between non-synced leagues).

Angry Di Francesco extremely quotable after Roma loss

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AS Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco absolutely roasted his charges after i Lupi tossed aside a Cenzig Under-inspired lead to fall 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Wednesday.

Di Francesco had praise for Edin Dzeko, who assisted Under’s goal, as well as goalkeeper Alisson, but was mostly enraged by his side.

[ MORE: Recap + Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Rather than construct a narrative, we’re going to point out our five favorite selections from Di Francesco’s post-match talk.

4) “The difference was that in the first half we tried to hurt them while in the second we were looking to hold on – to what? I don’t know.”

— “To what? I don’t know” is hilarious. Di Francesco’s side has posted some serious wins this season, including killing off Chelsea 3-0 at home and coming back from 2-0 to draw the Blues at Stamford Bridge. He doesn’t preach sitting back.

3) “There were far too many schoolboy errors – even by players with a wealth of international experience.”

— Schoolboy errors!

2) “I saw two completely different teams out there today. There were lots of players I should have taken off after we conceded the first goal.”

— Again, one mistake by a number of players on Facundo Ferreyra is enough for Di Francesco. He’s not just happy to be here.

1) “I can’t imagine we’d get arrogant just because we’re winning an important game. It’s not as if Roma are used to reaching the final every year.”

— When you’re willing to essentially rip an entire club’s history — Roma’s been to just two UCL quarterfinals since losing the final to Liverpool in 1984 — you’re putting your footprints in new cement.

Europa League preview: Rating every second leg

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Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund are one of many teams with their UEFA Europa League fates realistically in the balance come Thursday’s second legs of the Round of 32.

[ MORE: Sevilla 0-1 Man Utd | Mourinho reacts ]

Aside from a sextet of big teams posting blowouts, there’s still hope for the Round of 16 and a step closer to an automatic berth in the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League.

Basically done

Atletico Madrid 4-1 Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Sporting Lisbon 3-1 Astana — 1 p.m. ET
Arsenal 3-0 Ostersund — 3:05 p.m. ET
Milan 3-0 Ludogorets Razgrad — 3:05 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Spartak Moscow — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga 0-3 Marseille — 3:05 p.m. ET

In four of these cases, the heavy favorites emerged with multiple goal leads and at least three away goals.

Actually done

CSKA Moscow beat Red Star Belgrade 1-0 on Wednesday to win 1-0 on aggregate.

Unlikely, but big club lurks

RB Leipzig 3-1 Napoli — 1 p.m. ET
Villarreal 1-3 Lyon — 1 p.m. ET

In the case of Napoli, their 3-1 home loss to Leipzig was stunning but it’s impossible to rule out a club with such firepower. Villarreal trails by two to Lyon, but is home and dangerous.

Advantage one side, but anyone’s guess

Lokomotiv Moscow 3-2 Nice — 11 a.m. ET
Lazio 0-1 FCSB — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit Saint-Petersburg 0-1 Celtic — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg 2-2 Real Sociedad — 3:05 p.m. ET
Atalanta 2-3 Borussia Dortmund — 3:05 p.m. ET

Salzburg’s two away goals in a draw feels like a one-goal lead, and the one-goal matches are especially interesting. In the case of Atalanta, 1-0 to the Serie A side could undo Michy Batshuayi‘s first leg heroics for BVB.

Wide open

Plzen 1-1 Partizan Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Dynamo Kyiv 1-1 AEK Athens — 1 p.m. ET

Yes, nil-nil will get it done for the hosts, but there wasn’t a 0-0 in the entire group of first legs.