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Chasing Real Madrid; Manchester City may envy United, but the Spanish giants should be real target

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From a competitive standpoint and considering Manchester City’s place in terms of geography and housing in England’s Premier League, the club’s mighty crosstown rivals are surely the primary rabbit to chase around the Etihad.

But in financial terms and in the reach for even greater acclaim, Manchester City should train its pursuit on Real Madrid; the iconic side from Spain is the European standard bearer here.

So says Bobby McMahon in this piece at

McMahon makes the case that UEFA’s newly created Financial Fair Play rules are mostly about annual economic sustainability at their heart, and that Real Madrid checks all the right boxes. Profits in 2011 around the Bernabeu, the Forbes pieces notes, rang the cash register at around $60 million, and the club puts its 2012 surplus at around $44 million.

In pursuing the riches of Real Madrid, there’s also a matter of a record nine Champions League titles that reside at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

(MORE: Real Madrid’s early struggles)

Manchester United, meanwhile, has three. (Although it should be noted that two-thirds of those continental titles were in the 50s and 60s, a very different day in Spain and throughout Europe.)

I won’t quibble with the point in strict financial terms.  But I simply cannot see City taking its eyes off the closer-range prize in everything else, and that’s Manchester United.

As that awful Hannibal Lecter once famously told us: “We covet what we see every day.”  And for the players, coaches, management and staff of Manchester City, that’s Manchester United and all of its acclaim. It must be difficult to be the champions of England, but still be subject to daily doses of Red Devil exaltation.

All this is just a little of the backdrop as Champions League group play matches begin Tuesday; Manchester City’s visit to Madrid is the feature match among 16 set for Tuesday and Wednesday.

The full UEFA Champions League schedule is here.

LINEUPS: Tim Howard starts for USMNT against Costa Rica

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01:  Tim Howard of the United States gestures during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
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The United States takes on Costa Rica in a friendly tonight at Red Bull Arena, as the USMNT must put the Mexico match behind them and focus on the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

The biggest inclusion in tonight’s starting XI is that of Tim Howard in goal, marking his return to the national side after taking a self-imposed sabbatical. It will be Howard’s first appearance for the USMNT since his legendary performance against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup.

Klinsmann has chosen to go with a 4-4-2 tonight, and Geoff Cameron remains the only starter in the back-line from the Mexico match. He’ll partner with Michael Orozco in the center of defense, with Brad Evans and Tim Ream on the outsides.

[ MORE: Fabian Johnson sent home from USMNT after fall-out with Klinsmann ]

In the midfield, Klinsmann has put some speed on the wings through the likes of DeAndre Yedlin and recent call-up Brek Shea. Danny Williams joins Jermaine Jones as the central midfielders.

Up top, Jozy Altidore will play alongside Gyasi Zardes, who returns to his more comfortable position as forward.

Cristiano Ronaldo wins record fourth European Golden Boot

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 13:  Real Madrid football player Cristiano Ronaldo poses with his four Golden Boot Awards as maximun goal scorer of European leagues at The Westin Palace Hotel on October 13, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Cristiano Ronaldo has added another trophy to the collection, winning his fourth Golden Boot as Europe’s top scorer for the 2014-15 season.

The award accounts for goals in league play only, which means the Champions League and domestic tournaments are not included. In La Liga, Ronaldo scored 48 goals in 35 appearances.

[ MORE: 2015 MLS playoff scenarios ]

Ronaldo first won the award after the 2007-08 season with Manchester United, and has now added three more with Real Madrid in 2010-11, 2013-14, and 2014-15.

With his fourth win, Ronaldo moves ahead of Lionel Messi as the only player to win the award four times. Messi has won three, while eight players have won two.

Below is a post from Ronaldo’s Facebook page reflecting on the award:

What a special moment in my professional life!

Winning four Golden Boots is a privilege for me and I’ll keep challenging myself because I want to do better every time and I want to keep chasing for more records.

I have to thank everyone in Real Madrid that made this possible and we want to keep winning more titles and more trophies. Thank you everyone.

Ronaldo alone scored more goals in La Liga play last season than 14 clubs did, which shows how prolific his season was. The only player to score more than 48 league goals in a European season was Messi, who scored 50 in 2011-12.

[ EURO 2016: A look at the 20 teams that have qualified for France ]

While it was a successful year for Ronaldo personally, it was a very disappointing campaign for Real Madrid, who fired manager Carlo Ancelotti after finishing the season without a trophy.