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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.

Mourinho’s agent: Coach paid $27 million in taxes in Spain

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  Jose Mourinho manager of Manchester United stands alongside his substitute Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on December 4, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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MADRID (AP) Jose Mourinho’s agent says the Manchester United manager paid more than 26 million euros ($27 million) in taxes when he lived in Spain from 2010-13.

The information was made public on Tuesday by Gestifute, a company run by Mourinho’s agent, Jorge Mendes.

[ MORE: Pulisic wanted by Arsenal, Spurs ]

The Portuguese company has been releasing details about its clients’ tax declarations after European media outlets published what they claimed were details of apparent tax arrangements made by top soccer players and coaches, including Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil.

Gestifute, which also has Ronaldo as a client, has already published documents allegedly showing that Spanish fiscal authorities have certified that Mourinho and Real Madrid star Ronaldo are “up to date on … obligations.”

Mourinho coached Real Madrid from 2010-13 and took charge of United this season.

Staying in Dallas: New contract for MLS Defender of the Year Hedges

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 12:  Giles Barnes #10 of the Houston Dynamo battles for the ball with Matt Hedges #24 of FC Dallas during their game at BBVA Compass Stadium on March 12, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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This is going to turn out to be one of the most exciting years of Matt Hedges’ life.

The FC Dallas man lead one of the best back lines in Major League Soccer to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield.

[ MORE: PST talks with Hedges, Zimmerman ]

He’s also likely set for a chance to return to the USMNT fold under new coach Bruce Arena, as Hedges is one of the best players to be largely ignored by Jurgen Klinsmann.

Hedges, 26, was named the MLS Defender of the Year and made the Best XI, and now he’s inked a new long-term deal with FC Dallas.

The four-year deal will keep Hedges in Dallas through his 30th birthday. Capped once, Hedges has 159 appearances with 11 goals for FCD.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Two more Pulisic suitors in North London? USMNT teen in demand

Dortmund's Emre Mor, left, celebrates with Dortmund's Felix Passlack and Dortmund's Christian Pulisic, right, after scoring during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and SV Darmstadt in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016. Dortmund defeated Darmstadt with 6-0. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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Christian Pulisic is one of the most exciting young prospects in the world.

It’s a statement that isn’t often said without hyperbole when it comes to American standouts, but the 18-year-old Borussia Dortmund man has seen his names in the gossip pages a few times this year.

While Liverpool has often been the destination, Italian site Calcio Mercato says Premier League interest is wider than Merseyside. The clubs? Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.

[ VOTE: Who should win USMNT player of year? ]

Dortmund doesn’t want to sell the youngster, who is locked up through 2019. The whispered price has been $31 million at a minimum, but perhaps BVB would be tempted given their wealth of young attacking options.

Pulisic has made 27 appearances for Borussia Dortmund, nabbing four goals and six assists. He has 11 caps and three goals for the USMNT as well.

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Real Madrid asks for “utmost respect” to Ronaldo following tax drama

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 03:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid reacts after missing a chance during the La Liga  match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at Camp Nou on December 3, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Cristiano Ronaldo had been linked with massive tax evasion, but Real Madrid would ask you to kindly go back to treating him like a king now that he’s proven his innocence.

In a move usually reserved for politicians aiming for high office, Ronaldo’s agent released some of his tax documents to prove everything’s above board.

It all looks good, unlike what befell Neymar and Lionel Messi, so back off, huh?

[ MORE: Wednesday’s Champions League preview ]

From Real Madrid:

In view of the stories published over recent days and in consideration of the certificate issued by the Spanish Tax Agency which confirms that our player Cristiano Ronaldo is up to date with all of his tax obligations, Real Madrid C. F. call for the utmost respect to be shown towards Cristiano Ronaldo, whose conduct has been absolutely exemplary throughout all of his time at our club.

Only the utmost for CR7.

Real Madrid hosts Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday in a match which will decide Group F of the UEFA Champions League.

Follow @NicholasMendola