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.

First pick Joao Moutinho scores first LAFC goal in preseason

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Los Angeles FC will need all of its new assets to contribute as the club looks to find its footing in MLS during its inaugural season.

That includes the team’s first-ever MLS SuperDraft selection, who is already paying big dividends for the expansion team.

Former University of Akron defender Joao Moutinho scored the lone goal for LAFC during Sunday’s 1-0 preseason friendly win over USL side Sacramento Republic FC.

Moutinho, who has primarily played left back for LAFC during preseason, shot down the left side of the pitch in the 60th minute before blasting a low shot into the far corner.

The defender is no stranger to finding the back of the net though, after scoring three goals and adding five assists last year in his lone campaign at the University of Akron.

Henry: Arsenal job would be a “dream for me”

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Thierry Henry remains a legend within the ranks of Arsenal, and the former striker says it would “be a dream” if he were to grab hold of the reigns at the London club.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails Man City as trophy haul begins ]

The Frenchman is currently a commentator in England and an assistant manager for the Belgium national team, however, the ex-Gunner clearly has his sights set on becoming the lead man at Arsenal one day.

“It would be a dream for me,” Henry told Sky Sports. “Interested [in the job]? Yes. Who wouldn’t be?

“But I can’t talk about it because of the respect that I have for the man in charge still, and my job that I’m doing with Belgium right now.”

Long-time manager Arsene Wenger and Henry have remained close for many years, even after Henry exited the Premier League giants, and it would likely take the former to step down from his position for Henry to have a shot at nabbing the job.

Wenger has been in charge at the Emirates Stadium since 1996, and has won three Premier League titles in that span, to go along with the rest of his club’s silverware.

UEFA bans Samir Nasri six months for IV treatment

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Former Premier League midfielder Samir Nasri has been banned for six months by European governing body UEFA for receiving an intravenous drip treatment in Los Angeles, California in December 2016.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails Man City as trophy haul begins ]

During the time in question, Nasri was on loan from Manchester City with Spanish side Sevilla.

Nasri reportedly received the treatment upon an initial diagnosis from his ex-girlfriend Dr. Sarabjit Anand. He later traveled to LA for the treatment, where a private medical company known as the Drip Doctors, set up the IV drip for Nasri.

The IV was said to have contained sterile water containing 50 milliliters of micronutrient components, which given in an infusion over the span of six hours is considered illegal by the World Anti-doping Agency.

Nasri is without a club at this time, after last appearing for Turkish club Antalyaspor in January. The 30-year-old left the side this winter after making just eight appearances in all competitions.

PSG suffers big blow as Neymar stretchered off against Marseille

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With an important run of fixtures upcoming, including a UEFA Champions League date with Real Madrid, the Parisians received disappointing news on Sunday.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails Man City as trophy haul begins ]

Despite picking up a 3-0 victory against Marseille, Paris Saint-Germain suffered a massive blow in the second stanza after Neymar was stretchered off the pitch with a right leg injury in the 81st minute.

The Brazilian international appeared to twist his ankle upon landing on the ground after going in for a challenge, although there was no contact when the attacker went down in agony.

Minutes after suffering the apparent ankle injury, Neymar was carried off the field on a stretcher by medical staff, raising questions about his availability in the coming weeks.

PSG faces a crucial run of matches, including Wednesday’s French Cup match against Marseille and their second leg UCL fixture against Real Madrid.

Unai Emery and his side currently trail 3-1 against Los Blancos, as the tie heads back to Paris for the second meeting.

This season, Neymar has tallied 28 goals in all competitions for the Parisians, including six finishes in the UCL, so his potential absence would be a huge blow to PSG’s hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals.