Most of the headlines around the soccer universe today have been taken up by the Premier League, with 14 of the division’s clubs back in action on Saturday. But it wasn’t just England that saw the return of first-division football this weekend — over in Spain, La Liga kicked off the season with Real Sociedad hosting Getafe. The Erreala secured a 2-0 victory thanks to goals on either side of the break, thanks to goals from Carlos Vela and new boy Haris Seferović. That should give Real Sociedad a boost before their upcoming Champions League qualifying match, with the first leg taking place on Tuesday against Lyon.
Next up was a match between two sides that finished in the lower midtable last season, so you wouldn’t necessarily think you were about to see a thrilling match. But the game between Real Valladolid and Athletic Bilbao was fast paced and fun. Markel Susaeta kicked off the scoring for Athletic in the 28th minute, but Valladolid found an equalizer just three minutes later thanks to Patrick Ebert. Shortly after the restart, Athletic regained the lead through a goal by Iker Muniain, which seemed to break the hosts’ spirits. The match ended as a 2-1 victory for Athletic Bilbao.
The final match of La Liga’s Saturday saw Valencia play host to Málaga. With the sides taking 4th and 5th respectively last season, taking all three points was never going to be an easy task. But it was an important one for the new coach of los che, Miroslav Djukic, a former Valencia player. Fortunately for Djukic, Ricardo Costa broke through the Valencia defense in the 64th minute, and despite a flurry of activity from the visitors, the scoreline stood at 1-0.
La Liga action continues on Sunday with a host of great matches. First up is Barcelona hosting Levante, followed by Real Madrid vs. Real Bestis and Osasuna vs. Granada. The weekend wraps up with Atlético Madrid paying a visit to Sevilla.
League Cup roundup: Man City, Everton, Stoke knock off Championship clubs
There will be no lower league wonder story in the League Cup semifinals.
Southampton and Liverpool’s marquee matchup in the quarterfinals of the League Cup will hit your screens on Wednesday, but three other Premier League teams booked their spots in the semis with Tuesday wins.
Man City last won the League Cup in 2013, while Stoke last won in 1972 and Everton has never hoisted the Football League Cup. As for Wednesday’s quarterfinalists, Southampton’s last League Cup final came in 1979, while Liverpool most recently won in 2012.
Middlesbrough 0-2 Everton
The Toffees got two goals in eight first-half minutes, with Gerard Deulofeu scoring a goal off a magnetic dribble and shot in the 20th minute and Romelu Lukaku adding another in the 28th.
Manchester City 4-1 Hull City
Steve Bruce‘s Tigers still have plenty of power from last season’s relegation campaign, and planted men behind the ball in hopes of springing an upset on Manchester City. The defense was broken in the first half by Wilfried Bony after just 12 minutes. Kelechi Iheanacho scored late, before Kevin De Bruyne put home two more. Andrew Robertson provided late consolation for Hull.
Stoke City 2-0 Sheffield Wednesday
The Potters got a wonderful left-footed volley goal from Ibrahim Afellay on the half-hour, and that was about all they’d need against the visiting Owls. Phil Bardsley hammered in a low free kick late to insure and ensure the victory.
Given that status, will he be attractive to other Liga MX clubs? Could he fit the plans of an MLS club? At age 23 and without consistent playing time for club, could a European stop be in the mix?
Transfermarkt estimates his value to about $1.6 million, and he comes with valuable international and CONCACAF Champions League experience. It will be interesting to see his destination, should the reports be true, as we continue to weigh what it means to be a U.S. international on the world stage.
Manchester City host Hull City at the Etihad Stadium with Manuel Pellegrini‘s side hoping to have David Silva back in the starting lineup but Joe Hart is still out injured so Willy Caballero will continue in goal. Steve Bruce‘s side drew 1-1 at the Etihad last season when they visited City before being relegated from the Premier League. The Tigers are fighting for instant promotion back to the big-time and knocked out Leicester City on penalty kicks in the last round.
Everton face a tricky trip to the Riverside Stadium as Roberto Martinez and the Toffees play Middlesbrough. Aitor Karanka’s side lost in the play-off final to Norwich last season but are looking good for promotion this term as they sit second in the second-tier and knocked out Manchester United on penalty kicks in the last round. Can Everton sort out their defensive frailties?
A third PL club has a tricky test coming up on Tuesday as Stoke City’s reward for beating Chelsea on PKs in the last round is a home game against Sheffield Wednesday. This will be no stroll in the park for Mark Hughes‘ side as the second-tier Owls comfortably knocked off Arsenal in the last round and this game has “cupset” written all over it.
Below are the fixtures for Tuesday as you can click on the link above to follow all the games live.
League Cup quarterfinals
Manchester City vs. Hull City – 2:45 p.m. ET
Middlesbrough vs. Everton – 2:45 p.m. ET
Stoke City vs. Sheffield Wednesday – 2:45 p.m. ET
Sponsors were originally promised places on the FIFA reform committee. But instead of being invited into meetings discussing the overhaul of the organization, they have only been offered seats on an advisory board which is yet to be appointed.
The sponsors’ letter was sent from Adidas, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Visa and Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch to FIFA’s ruling body ahead of meetings this week.