If you cannot find something to like in soccer this week, you really aren’t trying very hard.
England’s FA Cup reaches its fifth round, with several compelling stories spicing the stew; most matches are Saturday and Sunday.
Major League Soccer teams are into the back half of their preseason training; first kick is now less than 20 days away.
The week’s headlining act is Champions League, which spills gloriously into its elimination phase. Sixteen teams remain alive in the world’s most premier club competition.
On Tuesday, one of the old giants of Europe gets a taste of past glory when Celtic meets Juventus in the first leg of their home-and-away series. This is Celtic’s first reach into the Round-of-16 since the 2007-08 season.
The same day, Paris Saint-Germain travels to Spain to meet Valencia, where one David Robert Joseph Beckham could make his debut for PSG. Given the Beckham effect, what looked like a pretty interesting match just became a potentially fascinating one. (You may believe Beckham is overrated as a player, and you surely would not be alone – but it’s a talker either way, eh?)
A day later, Ukranian club Shakhtar Donetsk, known recently for punching above its weight class in Champions League, takes on Dortmund, which navigated group stage without a loss. That’s not such a surprise given the talent around Jürgen Klopp’s stylish side.
And then the biggie … Real Madrid vs. Manchester United. We’ll let Real’s humble manager Jose Mourinho (pictured) sketch out the bottom line on Wednesday’s contest: “This is the match the world wants to see. The only shame is that it is not the final.”
More, obviously, on this one is coming here at ProSoccerTalk.
Jurgen Klopp is on his way to Liverpool to sign a contract naming him the next coach of the Reds.
The celebrated manager, 48, has been on “hiatus” from football since leaving Borussia Dortmund last season.
[ MORE: Messi to stand trial in Spain ]
Reports starting emerging earlier today that an agreement was imminent, and now the BBC is among those reporting that Klopp will be rolled out Friday morning.
From the BBC:
No contract has yet been signed but that is viewed as a formality when Klopp arrives in Liverpool later on Thursday. He will be officially unveiled by Liverpool on Friday morning at 10:00 BST.
There’s not much to say besides this: Klopp’s addition to the Premier League will give more color and brilliance to the country’s footballing scene. Only a certain class of manager can be instantly expected to find a better system for an inherited group of players.
This could and should be a game changer on Merseyside.
It was a mere 48 hours ago that Lionel Messi looked close to in the clear when it came to tax evasion charges.
Now the question is whether a Spanish court will lock away the greatest active footballer, as a judge rejected the prosecutors’ (!!!) request to drop the charges.
[ WATCH: Hilarious spoof pegs Messi, Ronaldo as “Friends” ]
Messi and his father have already made a $5.5 million corrective payment, but there’s principle in play here. And the judge wants to know how Messi can claim he had no idea what was being done with his money.
From the BBC:
Lawyers acting on behalf of the tax authorities demanded 22-month jail sentences for both defendants.
“There are rational signs that the criminality was committed by both accused parties,” wrote the judge in a court filing, according to the AFP news agency.
Can you imagine one of the world’s richer men ending up in a Spanish prison? It’s very difficult to consider. In some ways it’s more plausible that he would buy his own island and start the “Messi Isle Premiership”.
Still, we won’t laugh off the idea, especially with FIFA apparently going down. Messi in prison. That’s something. Sepp in Switzerland. Lionel in Spain.