With most domestic races in Europe long decided, it’s interesting to note the huge changes Champions League teams made in league action. Six of the eight teams chancing the European Cup made seven changes on Saturday. Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich was one of two teams to keep over half their lineup in place, making only five changes, while Turkish leaders Galatasaray returned seven players who started Wednesday’s match at the Santiago Bernabeu.
For a veteran team like Juventus, the changes are necessary. An aging squad can’t play three games in nine days (which is why it was so curious that Antonio Conte started a full-strength team last Saturday at Inter Milan). For teams with younger legs, there are two schools of thought. You don’t want to do anything to disrupt whatever rhythm or momentum your team’s built; however, fatigue and injury have to be considered. If you’re facing struggling opposition in a game that won’t influence your league fortunes, the benefits of maintaining a routine don’t outweigh using caution.
Some of this weekend’s moves were forced by fitness. After a mid-week injury, Toni Kroos is out for much of the rest of the season, as is Javier Mascherano. Lionel Messi, a doubt for Wednesday against Paris Saint-Germain, was out this weekend.
Here are the ins and outs for each team on Saturday. Players in italics came on as substitutes:
won vs. Augsburg, 4-2
won vs. Pescara, 2-1
lost at Real Sociedad, 4-2
Roque Santa Cruz
won at Rennes, 2-0
Gregory van der Wiel
won vs. Levante, 5-1
Angel Di Maria
won at Eintracht Frankfurt, 1-0
Daniel van Buyten
won vs. Mersin Idmanyurdu, 3-1
For a few dozen players, hearing their name called up to the big stage will validate all the hard work and sacrifices they’ve made since they were children.
Starting at 11:00 a.m. when Los Angeles FC is on the clock at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, the 2018 MLS SuperDraft will be underway. Many of the top college prospects will soon find out whether they’ll be headed to the Pacific Northwest, New England, the Southeast, Southern California or anywhere in between.
[MORE: 2018 MLS Mock Draft]
This year’s draft class is loaded with attacking talent, from Generation Adidas trio Ema Twumasi (Wake Forest), Mason Toye (Indiana) and Francis Atuahene (Michigan) to Twumasi’s college teammate Jon Bakero.
But potential No. 1 overall pick is a three-time national champion, Thomas Hilliard-Arce, who could become the anchor of a backline for a decade.
Follow along below as we update the picks live as we hear them:
MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich signed Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka on Friday on a free transfer from Bundesliga rival Schalke effective from next season.
Bayern said the 22-year-old Goretzka signed a four-year deal from July 1 through June 2022.
Schalke, which Goretzka joined in 2013 from hometown club Bochum, said the player informed the club this week of his wish to join Bayern when his contract expired.
[ MORE: Bundesliga scores ]
“We think we did everything in the last months to convince Leon to stay with us,” Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel said. “In the end, it wasn’t enough.”
Schalke had long been engaged in trying to get Goretzka to extend his contract, but was aware of reported interest from Bayern, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Liverpool.
“We’re very happy that Leon Goretzka, a German international with big potential, has decided in favor of Bayern despite big-name international competitors. This way it’s ensured that Leon Goretzka remains in the Bundesliga,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.
Goretzka scored 19 goals and set up 13 more in 130 appearances for Schalke.
The club had previously expressed its displeasure with Bayern making public statements about its player after Goretzka was praised by sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic and coach Jupp Heynckes.
Heidel said “we don’t need to hear every day from the Munich people how good our player is.”
Goretzka has six goals in 12 games for Germany.
The most famous soccer player in the world had a scare last night as he was hospitalized in Brazil for “severe exhaustion.”
Pele, 77, was set to travel to London this weekend to be honored by the Football Writers Association, though it looks like that trip has now been postponed.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, Pele collapsed and was taken to a hospital in Brazil where he has undergone a series of tests which appear to point to severe exhaustion,” a FWA statement said. “He remains on fluids while doctors monitor his recovery.
“Thankfully, there is no suggestion of anything more serious than exhaustion.”
Here’s to hoping Pele makes a full recovery.
[MORE: USMNT centerback heads to Championship club]
Cameron Carter-Vickers has a new club to call home for the next five months or so after a rough first half of the season.
Tottenham announced Friday morning that it had loaned the U.S. Men’s National Team centerback to Championship club Ipswich Town for the rest of the season. Carter-Vickers spent the first five months of the season at fellow Championship side Sheffield United, starting 17 times though he struggled recently as Sheffield won just one game he played in during the month of December, losing three and drawing one.
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Carter-Vickers was then recalled earlier this week and now has a new home with a mid-table Championship club, with a new chance to impress. Hopefully Carter-Vickers can recover his form and continue to grow, potentially latching on to another Premier League side next year or breaking into the Tottenham first team.
There’s another interesting American tie-in to this. Carter-Vickers appears to be a short-term replacement for Ipswich Town’s Tommy Smith, who the club states is headed to join the Colorado Rapids ahead of the 2018 MLS season.