UEFA Champions League Group B preview

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Three strong teams were drawn into Group B of the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League, with only Danish champion Copenhagen set to struggle for relevance in a powerful quartet.

source:  Real Madrid

How they qualified: La Liga second place, directly into group stage

Best finish: Winner (1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002)

Home stadium: Estadio Santiago Bernabéu / Madrid, Spain

Coach: Carlo Ancelotti

Outlook: This is Real Madrid’s 17th consecutive season in the Champions League, where it will look for a record 10th title. New manager Carlo Ancelotti joined from Paris Saint-Germain, where he led a similarly star-studded squad to the Ligue 1 title last year. However, two narrow victories against much weaker opponents in the opening La Liga matches show that there is work to be done for Real to realize its full potential.

source:  Juventus

How they qualified: Serie A champion, directly into group stage

Best finish: Winner (1985, 1996)

Home stadium: Juventus Stadium / Turin, Italy

Coach: Antonio Conte

Outlook: Buying Carlos Tévez and Fernando Llorente over the summer gives Juventus an attack to fear, with the ageless Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings in midfield. This is perhaps Juventus’ strongest squad in several years, which is saying a lot considering the comfortable nine-point margin by which it won the league last year. European glory is the next step for Antonio Conte’s men, who have won the last two Scudettos.

source:  Galatasaray

How they qualified: Süper Lig champion, directly into group stage

Best finish: Semifinals (1989)

Home stadium: Türk Telekom Arena / Istanbul, Turkey

Coach: Fatih Terim

Outlook: Galatasaray always manages to stay relevant in the European game despite playing in the generally inferior Turkish league. It’s an ambitious club that is willing to spend as much as the Western European powers to buy players such as Wesley Sneijder, Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Eboué, who have made Gala a force to be reckoned with in the past year.

source:  FC Copenhagen

How they qualified: Superliga champion, directly into group stage

Best finish: Round of 16 (2011)

Home stadium: Parken Stadium / Copenhagen, Denmark

Coach: Ståle Solbakken

Outlook: The real outlier in a fairly strong group, FC Copenhagen will struggle to stick with the other three teams in Group B. Despite not dropping out of the top three in Denmark’s highest division since the 1999-2000 season, Copenhagen has also never won a European competition, only advancing beyond the group stage a handful of times in its existence.

Group outlook

Juventus and Real Madrid will be favored to advance to the knockout rounds out of Group B, but Galatasaray could mount a serious threat in its first full year with Drogba and Sneijder. Third place is still the likeliest finishing spot for the Turkish champion, while Copenhagen could steal points from visiting teams in Denmark, but it will struggle to muster any sort of challenge abroad.

Bravo fit again, but will he start Chile’s Confed Cup group finale?

Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images
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MOSCOW (AP) Claudio Bravo is fit again and could start in goal against Australia at the Confederations Cup on Sunday, Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said Saturday.

Bravo – who is Chile’s joint most-capped player with Alexis Sanchez – hasn’t played since April 27, when he injured his calf for Manchester City in a derby game with Manchester United.

“Claudio is fit, he’s managed to train the last couple of days just like his other teammates,” Pizzi said. “He’s ready and available to play.”

Pizzi brushed off concerns about a lack of match fitness, saying that “quite obviously we take into account that factor” but players like Bravo are “are of such good quality that it isn’t that important they haven’t played in the last couple of months.”

Stand-in Johnny Herrera played in Chile’s 2-0 group stage win over Cameroon and Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Germany.

Gary Medel was substituted with a minor injury while playing in defense for Chile against Germany. Teammate Francisco Silva said Saturday that Medel had complained of “a very small muscle contraction issue” but was now fit.

Pizzi said he will aim to tire out Australia with Chile’s trademark all-action style, even though his team struggled for energy in the latter stages against Germany.

“This energy drop we had in the second half didn’t damage us too much because the opposing team couldn’t maintain a high pace because of the demands we’d imposed on them,” Pizzi said of the Germany game.

“We’re going to try to get (the Australians) tired as well and use this to beat our opponent, and we hope this is going to translate into goals.”

USMNT’s Wood extends Hamburg contract through 2021

Photo credit: Hamburg / Twitter: @HSV
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HAMBURG, Germany (AP) American forward Bobby Wood extended his contract with Bundesliga side Hamburger SV on Saturday to 2021.

Wood, who joined Hamburg from second-tier Union Berlin, scored five goals and set up two more in 28 Bundesliga games. He had 17 goals in 31 second-division games for Union the season before.

“Not only his goals count for us, but his readiness to run and challenge,” Hamburg sporting director Jens Todt said. “Bobby is a key player for our offense and a real team player.”

Wood has eight goals in 32 appearances for the United States.

MLS Snapshot: NYCFC run rampant on Red Bulls, win 2-0

Photo credit: NYCFC
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The game in 100 words (or less): The only thing standing in the way of New York City FC avenging their infamous 7-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls with a lopsided demolition job of their own, on Saturday, was an otherworldly goalkeeping performance from Luis Robles. It was the Red Bulls shot-stopper, with his four saves on the afternoon (three of them coming in spectacular fashion), who kept Jesse Marsch’s side within touching distance for more than an hour. Jack Harrison was denied early on by Robles, but got the better of him not long later for the game’s opening goal. Heroics from Robles kept the score at 1-0 for another 32 minutes, before Ben Sweat’s (accidental?) header made it 2-0 in the 65th minute. The Red Bulls, on the other hand, managed their first shot on target in the 80th minute. That’s three wins in a row for NYCFC, who go seven points clear of their Hudson River rivals and keep Toronto FC in sight at the top of the league table, five points ahead.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Three moments that mattered

18′ — Robles goes full-stretch to deny Harrison — David Villa’s vision and Rodney Wallace‘s hold-play created the chance for Harrison, but Luis Robles’ acrobatics denied the 20-year-old Englishman in spectacular fashion.

33′ — Harrison not to be denied this time — Sweat delivered the ball to Harrison near the top of the box, and the second-year man did everything right with what’s a really, really difficult chance to take — facing away from goal, first-time, ball traveling across the goalkeeper, upper-90 to the far post.

65′ — Sweat loops a header past Robles for 2-0 — Sweat probably didn’t mean it, but the ball hit the back of the net, and that’s all that matters. Not a bad time to score your first MLS goal, either.

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Man of the match: Luis Robles

Goalscorers: Harrison (33′), Sweat (65′)

Watford signs Will Hughes from Derby County

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Watford has completed the capture of 22-year-old central midfielder Will Hughes, a fantastic transfer for one of England’s younger talents.

Hughes, despite his young age, racked up 189 appearances for Derby County (despite missing significant time in 2015 for an ACL tear) and now gets his first shot at the Premier League, and with it potentially a chance to push his way into the England fold. Hughes has been a staple for the England youth system, making 22 appearances for the country’s U-21 side but is yet to feature for the senior team.

The fee for the transfer was undisclosed but reports have tabbed the amount at around $10 million.

Hughes came close to making the Premier League with Derby County on multiple occasions, reaching the Championship playoffs in both 2014 and 2016. Now, he’ll battle the likes of Valon Behrami, Tom Cleverley, Etienne Capoue, Abdoulaye Doucoure for a spot in Watford’s midfield.

The club release confirmed that Hughes has not yet completed his medical, and will do so when he returns to the U.K. from competing in the U-21 European Championships in Poland.