Alex Ferguson

Stakes look very different today for managers at Manchester United, Real Madrid in Champions League clash

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So much is on the line today for two of the true heavies of European soccer, where the quarterfinal round will see the Champions League run end for either Manchester United or Real Madrid.

Both clubs have their own reasons to be desperate when the contest, tied at 1-1 after the clubs met three weeks ago in Madrid, returns today to fabled Old Trafford.

There, Manchester United and manager Sir Alex Ferguson remain on a season-long mission to atone for a 2011-12 campaign that just did not measure up to their top-shelf standards. The Red Devils are running away with the English Premier League crown, and getting past Jose Mourinho and Real today would inch Manchester United closer to another of those glorious seasons of multiple, major crowns.

They’ve had those before.

Kickoff for today’s titanic clash is 2:45 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel.

Could a Champions League title be the one that gets Ferguson, a true legend in the game, to No. 50 in terms of major titles earned around Old Trafford?  And not to get ahead of ourselves here, but what would a Champions League crown do for Ferguson’s plans going forward? He is 71, after all.

Meanwhile, the stakes look very different for Mourinho, an increasingly mighty figure in the game not very long ago, but now struggling to regain the swagger that once underlined his fast career advance. From the linked Daily Telegraph piece:

To see him so enfeebled over the last few months has been a disquieting experience. Many will say he had it coming. Plenty will feel he has failed to capitalise on last season’s impressive league campaign, in which Real rattled up with 121 goals and 100 points. With Ronaldo to the fore, Mourinho was ideally placed to smash Barcelona off their bohemian perch.

Dressing room mutinies and sullen press conferences are not what we have come to expect from him. Nor do we associate him with vacillation in the second half of games. At Chelsea and Inter Milan, Mourinho would bounce from the dugout, spot a problem, solve it, then add another victory to his pile. Against United in the first-leg of this tie he seemed to lack the old confidence and authority.

Mourinho, by the way, promises to be on his best behavior today; he promises no repeat of the infamous 2004 histrionics that Real Madrid’s manager has dragged around – something like the way Bobby Knight once dragged around the chair incident in our part of the world.

A good tactical outlook of today’s match is here.

Some late updates, including the situation with first-choice Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas can be found here.

Albert Ruiz scores fastest hat trick to start game in NCAA history

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After being named the NCAA Soccer Men’s Player of the Week, Spanish junior Albert Ruiz went out and set the base for a repeat.

The Florida Gulf Coast striker scored three goals in three minutes and 19 seconds on Tuesday, and the Eagles are battering visiting Rutgers.

[ MORE: Pochettino happy with “must win” defeat of CSKA ]

Not only that, but three goals all came before the game was 10 minutes old (9:02 to be exact). The team’s Twitter account says that’s a record to start a game, besting the record was set by Indiana’s Steve Burks on Oct. 6, 1973. Burks scored his three goals by the 11:41 mark of the first half.

If you look at the clock, too, we think it’s more like nine minutes on the dot.

Ruiz scored seven times in 11 games as a sophomore, and is battering that impressive mark this year. It’s not even halftime at FGCU, and he’s up to 11 goals in his ninth game of the season. That puts him into a tie with Buffalo’s Russell Cicerone for the most goals in men’s D1 soccer (and Ruiz has more than 45 minutes to play).

The 6-foot-2 forward is going to be attracting a lot of attention, especially considering this is his second hat trick in 10 days.

PST Extra: Breaking down the 1v2 clash between Spurs, Man City

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Manchester City visits White Hart Lane for a match-up of this early season’s first and second place Premier League clubs.

City will have one less day of rest than its Premier League rivals, though both are coming off road matches in Europe.

Spurs beat CSKA Moscow 1-0 on Tuesday, while Man City is battling Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany a day later.

[ MORE: Pochettino happy with “must win” defeat of CSKA ]

A win would pull Spurs to within a point of the leaders, while a City victory would guarantee, at-worst, a five-point table advantage for Pep Guardiola‘s bunch.

Kickoff is at 9:15 a.m. ET Sunday, and our own Joe Prince-Wright has the preview for you with the latest PST Extra (above).

Spurs: Pochettino pleased with “must win”, Son admits “a lucky time”

Tottenham's Son Heung-min is hugged by Tottenham's manager Mauricio Pochettino after he scored 1-0 during the Champions League Group E soccer match between CSKA Moscow and Tottenham Hotspur, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin
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While it’s easy to call any match “must win” after you’ve won, there’s little doubt how badly Spurs needed their 1-0 win at CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Champions League roundup ]

After making the long hike to Russia, Spurs controlled the match. Both Erik Lamela and Son Heung-min were lively but couldn’t break down the CSKA back line until Son finished a late chance.

From the BBC:

“That was a very important victory. Important to be in the race for the next round of the Champions League. This was a must win game, we are second in the group now but it is still all open.”

And Son admits it was a bit fortunate, as his shot was slowed by Akinfeev before inching across the line.

“This is a good time but also a lucky time. I try every game to score. We are very happy to win this game.”

Spurs are a point behind Monaco, who won at White Hart Lane in both teams’ Group E openers. Next up is a tricky visit from Bayer Leverkusen.

Ranieri laughs off England speculation with quip about bookmakers

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26:  Claudio Ranieri, Manager of Leicester City speaks during a Leicester City press conference ahead of their Champions League match against FC Porto at The King Power Stadium on September 26, 2016 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
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When it comes to quotes, Claudio Ranieri is one of the best.

The Leicester City manager was put on the spot after Tuesday’s 1-0 UEFA Champions League win over Porto, and handled it well.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Pulisic, BVB best Madrid ]

Asked about his name appearing on betting sites as a favorite to replace disgraced England boss Sam Allardycewho left the job Tuesday — Ranieri responded with a nod to Leicester’s long odds-defying Premier League title run.