England’s League Cup semifinals are set

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It’s the third of three competitions in England, but when it gets down to the semifinals, the League Cup takes on a special feel. The two legs, home and away, give the round a feeling unique to English soccer. And of course, the winners get a trip to Wembley for a chance at silverware and a place in Europe.

Today, Chelsea became the fourth League Cup semifinalists, with Aston Villa, Swansea City, and League Two’s Bradford City having confirmed their places last week.

At Elland Road, the Blues gave up the first goal to Luciano Becchio and Leeds United before five goals by five different players saw Chelsea to a 5-1 victory.

The Blues move on face Michael Laudrup’s Swansea City in what could prove a dangerous tie. Swans sit 10th in the Premier League in large part due to the league’s joint-top scorer, Michu (12 goals). As the Blues showed in Japan (and after 45 minutes today), they remain vulnerable, though over 180 minutes, that vulnerability may ned to reach new levels to be ousted by Swansea.

In the other half of the draw, Aston Villa’s recent resurgence (unbeaten since Nov. 17) has landed them a matchup with Bradford City. The fourth-tier club currently sit fifth in League Two thanks in large part to Bermuda attacker Nahki Wells’ 12 goals.

Having already seen off Arsenal, the Bantams are unlikely to give Villa the easy time their stature suggests, even if Paul Lambert’s side will be heavily favored.

At this point, this competition is Chelsea’s to lose. Even with their newfound bipolarity, they should be able to claim a trophy for Rafa.

Soccer world reacts to the Manchester attacks

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NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.

Soccer clubs, players and personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.

Juventus purchases Cuadrado from Chelsea

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If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.

The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.

Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.

Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.

Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.

Report: Jermain Defoe meeting with Bournemouth

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Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.

Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.

[ MORE: ‘The Moment’ of each PL club’s season ]

The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.

Chelsea’s Conte wins pair of top managerial honors

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Antonio Conte took league and national honors from the League Managers Association on Monday night.

The Chelsea boss was named Premier League Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year after leading the Blues to the PL title and an FA Cup Final in his first year on the job.

Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton nabbed another Championship boss of the year award after leading the Gulls to the Premier League. He also won the honor with Newcastle United in 2010.

The League One winner is Chris Wilder of Sheffield United. Wilder won the honor with Northampton Town last season.

In League Two, Paul Cook of Portsmouth was named the winner.