ProSoccerTalk’s daily soccer re-set

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Soccer birthdays: I have never been more excited about a daily re-set that I am today. Maybe it’s because I only do one re-set a week that (a) I can still get excited (really excited) about them, and (b) I don’t often this kind of stand-out birthday, but when I looked and saw Francesco Totti was born today, I practically jumped off my picnic table (that’s not a figure of speech; I’m really sitting at a picnic table).

Keep that excitement in mind as you read the following superlatives.

As he turns 36, it’s the perfect time to stop and reflect on how undervalued Francesco Totti’s been. Romanistas don’t undervalue him, but because he’s been a club-first man who wasn’t anywhere near as dominant for country as he has been for club, Totti’s only  been adequately appreciated in Italy – by those he’s served he’s served and those he’s burned. Over the course of his career, Totti’s been one of the world’s best players, a truly unique talent, but because he only scored nine goals for Italy, he hasn’t been fully appreciated.

Along with Juan Roman Riquelme, he is on of this era’s quintessential trequartistas, an odd grouping considering the drastic differences between the two players. Riquelme is slick, magical, his deft touches dominating with caresses. Totti is imposing in skill, movement and personality, capable of striking a fatal blow or distracting you while setting up a teammate to do the same.

I better stop now. This is supposed to be a daily re-set, not a love letter to Francesco.

Big Important Stories of the Day: John Terry’s expected to return to Wembley on Thursday to hear the verdict on The FA’s charge that he racial abused Anton Ferdinand last October. There had been speculation that a decision could be delayed until after Chelsea’s game Saturday against Arsenal, but now it looks like the Blues’ captain will miss this weekend’s derby (along with a few more games). If you need a refresher on the Terry issues, read about his abrupt international retirement and some details about The FA hearing.

Soccer Birthdays: I forgot to mention: Totti was a member of Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning squad.

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Eduardo Hurtado

What you should watch on TV today: If you’re lucky enough to have beIN Sport, then you can catch one of the few live games on today: Siena vs. Bologna in Serie A action. Beyond that, it’s pretty bad. Even the repeat stuff on FOX Soccer stinks (who wants to watch Celtic-Benfica – there were only two shots on goal!).

Soccer Birthdays: Totti is also Roma’s all-time leader in appearances and goals. With his goal against Sampdoria this weekend, Totti is now up to 216 Serie A goals for Roma, 271 in all competitions.

PST background noise while blogging today: The Shins, who PST recently saw in concert as they’re touring the States’ west coast. Their performance of “Phantom Limb” was, as expected, particularly noteworthy.

We’ll leave you with this: Did you know it’s Francesco Totti’s birthday?

Report: Villarreal defender Semedo arrested on charges of alleged assault, kidnapping

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For the third time in the past four months, Ruben Semedo has found himself in trouble with the law.

According to a report from Spain, the Villarreal centerback was arrested Tuesday morning at his home on charges of assault, kidnapping and robbery. A complaint filed to the police by a victim alleges that Semedo and two others tied the victim up and locked the victim in a room in Semedo’s home.

Semedo and the others then allegedly took the victim’s keys and went to the victim’s house, where they allegedly stole money and/or other valuable items.

[READ: Wigan shock Man City in FA Cup]

Villarreal has yet to respond to the latest incident off the field, which has marred Semedo’s season and the club’s reputation. Semedo has only played four times this year as he’s currently recovering from a right leg injury, and he’s been sidelined with a variety of injuries since joining from Sporting Lisbon for around $17.3 million last summer.

This is Semedo’s third time in trouble with the law. Last October, after a long night of partying, Semedo allegedly smashed a bottle over someone’s head. In November, in the early hours of the morning following an all-night session at a night club, Semedo pointed a gun at a member of the night club’s security staff after an argument earlier in the evening forced Semedo to leave.

For the latter crime, the local prosecutor is pushing for two years in prison. If the current allegations can be proven true, Semedo could face even more time behind bars.

As of right now, it seems incredibly unlikely that Semedo could feature for Portugal in the World Cup, as he’ll have more important matters to deal with.

Russian authorities fine hotels for World Cup price-gouging

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MOSCOW (AP) Russian authorities in two cities say they have issued hundreds of fines after finding many hotels were illegally hiking prices for the World Cup.

The Rospotrebnadzor consumer regulator says one Moscow hotel raised prices up to 570 percent above what is allowed by a government decree designed to prevent excessive profiteering during the tournament.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The regulator’s Moscow branch says it issued fines totaling 5.95 million rubles ($105,000) to 198 legal entities and 181 people.

In the Ural mountain city of Yekaterinburg, where Mexico and France will each play a group game, the regulator said it fined seven hotels, some of which were charging almost three times the allowed rate for rooms.

Russian authorities have taken a hands-on approach to regulating hotel and travel costs during the tournament to prevent the negative publicity of visiting fans being charged large sums.

Spanish police dismantle match-fixing scheme in 3rd, 4th tiers

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MADRID (AP) Spanish police have dismantled a match-fixing scheme involving players and clubs in the country’s lower divisions.

Authorities said more than 20 people have been detained as part of the police operation launched on Monday, including players, although no names were immediately disclosed.

The matches under suspicion were in the third and fourth divisions this season and last season.

The match-fixing scheme reportedly involved Chinese betting sites.

The Spanish league said the operation was based on information collected by its analysts about suspicious activities.

UCL preview: Chelsea host Barcelona; Bayern vs. Besiktas

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  • Chelsea vs. Barcelona, at Stamford Bridge
  • Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas, at Allianz Arena
  • Champions League round of 16 resumes on Tuesday

[ UCL: Spurs fight back to draw Juventus | Liverpool thrash Porto in leg 1 ]

Chelsea, mired in some of their worst form since the disastrous 2015-16 season, welcome a Barcelona side enjoying one of the best six-month runs of results in the famed club’s entire history. The Blues have won just four of their last 12 games across all competitions, while the Blaugrana have lost once in 38 games.

On the plus side, Chelsea enter Tuesday’s colossal clash as winners of their last two games — back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018 — having outscored the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Hull City by a combined 7-0. Star striker Alvaro Morata returned to action against Hull after five weeks out with a back injury, thus Antonio Conte has something of a selection dilemma on his hands with the Spaniard perhaps only partially fit, and Olivier Giroud racking up a goal and three assists in the last two games, his first starts for the club.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have conceded just two goals in their last nine games (all competitions) and even managed to overturn their lone defeat, to Espanyol, and advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals (and eventually final). Despite losing Neymar in the summer, Barca mostly cruised through their Champions League group, only dropping points in draws away to Juventus and Olympiacos. Lionel Messi has, strangely, never scored a goal in his eight career appearances against Chelsea, a record which has been spoken about at length in the build-up to Tuesday — similarly to the goal-less record which plagued him against Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, whom he finally bested back in September.

[ MORE: Man City win big away to Basel | Real Madrid 3-1 PSG ]

In the other round-of-16 first-leg matchup on Tuesday, five-time (soon-to-be six) defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich host surprise winners of Group G, Besiktas, ahead of the likes of Monaco, RB Leipzig and Porto.

Since taking over on an interim basis (through the end of the season), Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes has won 21 of 22 games of which he’s been in charge, including four of six games during the group stage en route to finish second behind Paris Saint-Germain, while also racing out to a 19-point lead back home in Germany.