Champions League Preview: Arsenal and Chelsea look to clinch

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On Tuesday, Matchday Five of the Champions League group stage rolls out with multiple sides looking to secure a berth in February’s knock-out phase.

Here are the key details for each match.

Zenit St Petersburg v. Atletico Madrid, 12:00pm ET, FOX Soccer Plus and FOX Soccer 2Go

Zenit St Petersburg could join already-qualified Atletico Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League with victory over the Spanish side combined with a Porto slip up against Austria Vienna.

Zenit will be without Danny and Cristian Ansaldi while red-hot Atletico, who have 16 wins in 20 competitive matches this season, will be without Diego Costa, David Villa, Arda Turan, Tiago and Filipe Luis, who all have the night off.

Basel v. Chelsea, 2:45pm ET, FOX Sports 1 and FOX Soccer 2Go

Chelsea travel to Switzerland knowing a draw with Basel will put them into the knockout stages of the tournament while a victory ensures the Blues top spot in the group. Jose Mourinho’s men lost to Basel 2-1 in the opening match of the group stage but have won all three of their matches since then, putting them atop the Group E table with nine points.

Chelsea will be without David Luiz, out with bruised patella tendon, while Basel must get on without Chile midfielder Marcelo Diaz and defender Behrang Safari.

Arsenal v. Marseille, 2:45pm ET, FOX Sports 2 and FOX Soccer 2Go

An Arsenal win at bottom-of-the-group Marseille combined with Borussia Dortmund failing to defeat Napoli will send Arsene Wenger’s to the knockout stages for the 14th successive season. For Marseille, fourth-place in Group F was confirmed when they lost 3-2 to Napoli last time out.

Arsenal welcome the return of Mathieu Flamini from suspension and Theo Walcott from injury as both look to prove themselves in the Gunners’ increasingly crowded midfield.

Celtic v. AC Milan, 2:45pm ET, FOX Soccer Plus and FOX Soccer 2Go

Celtic must win to continue on in the Champions League while a win for Milan, combined with a Barcelona win over Ajax in Amsterdam, will see The Old Lady join Barcelona in the last 16.

Celtic return James Forrest and Mikael Lustig while Scott Brown is out serving the final match of the three-game ban he received following his red card against Barcelona on Matchday Two. For Milan, Philippe Mexes and midfielder Sulley Muntari lead the extensive  list of injuries plaguing Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri.

Borussia Dortmund v. Napoli, 2:45pm ET, FOX Soccer 2Go

At third-place on six points, Borussia Dortmund have their backs against the wall as only a win will keep their hopes of making the last 16 while second-place Napoli require only a draw to confirm their place in the knockout stage.

Dortmund will be without long-term absentees Neven Subotic, Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer and Ilkay Gundogan while the visitors miss defenders Camilo Zuniga and Giandomenico Mesto with knee injuries.

Porto v. Austria Vienna, 2:45pm ET, FOX Soccer 2Go

Austria Vienna need a win combined with a Zenit defeat to already qualified group leaders Atletico Madrid if they want any hope of bowing out of the group stage early. But it won’t come easy as Porto, just one point behind second-placed Zenit, will be equally motivated to keep the UCL dreams alive.

Porto has doubts over Algeria striker Nabil Ghilas while Juan Quintero and Hector Herrera are both expected to return.

Steaua Bucharest v. Schalke, 2:45pm ET, FOX Soccer 2Go

With a victory over Steaua Bucharest combined with a Chelsea win over Basel, Schalke can book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday night. For the Romanians, only a win will do.

Schalke will be without long-term absentees Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Kyriakos Papadopoulos while goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand and midfielder Leon Goretzka are also unavailable through injury.

MLS Snapshots: Opara scores a bike, SKC win; SJ thump RSL

Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The game in 100 words (or less): I’m going to start by quoting myself (re: Sporting Kansas City), via Twitter: “This team is better in June than it was in March, and will be better in October than it is in June. Just steadily progressing.” Saturday’s 2-1 victory away to LA Galaxy (just their second road win of the season, and the team’s fourth and fifth away goals in 10 games) is the latest sign of progress for Peter Vermes’ side, as they extend their lead on the rest of the Western Conference to five points. Roger Espinoza and Ike Opara scored the visitors’ goals — the latter coming in spectacular, most unexpected fashion — before the hosts pulled back to 2-1 through Dave Romney late in the second half. LA, meanwhile, sit sixth in the West, one point clear of the wrong side of the playoff cut line.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Three moments that mattered

22′ — Diop’s howler puts SKC up 1-0 — Sometimes — and this is one of those moments for Clement Diop — you just want the ground to open up and swallow you into the middle of the Earth.

35′ — Opara rides his bike to 2-0 — Ike Opara, a center back, scored a bicycle kick from a long ball played to him by Matt Besler, Sporting KC’s other center back. It’s a sequence of events you won’t see again for a long, long time.

59′ — Smith goes through Feilhaber, who is subbed off — Baldomero Toledo allowed Nathan Smith to stay on the field after this “tackle” on Benny Feilhaber.

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Man of the match: Ike Opara

Goalscorers: Espinoza (22′), Opara (35′)


San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Real Salt Lake

Three Two moments that mattered

13′ — Hoesen blasts a loose ball past Rimando for 1-0 — If you fail to clear the ball anywhere inside 12 yards, you’re probably going to get scored on. Danny Hoesen got all of this one.

68′ — Hoesen sets up Ureña for 2-0 — Hoesen’s speculative through ball found its way into space, and Marco Ureñat took it from there, putting the game away and handing RSL their eighth loss in 11 games.

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Man of the match: Danny Hoesen

Goalscorers: Hoesen (13′), Ureña (68′), Hernandez (90+4′)

MLS Snapshots: Hat trick for Accam; MNUFC come back from 2-0

Photo credit: Chicago Fire / Twitter: @ChicagoFire
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The game in 100 words (or less): All hail King David Accam, the newest superstar of MLS — except, well, you know, he’s been doing this for a couple years now. It’s not his fault you hadn’t already taken notice. For too long, it was Accam and not much else for the Chicago Fire, who finished bottom of the league two straight seasons, in 2015 and 2016. Now, with the likes of Dax McCarty, Nemanja Nikolic and Bastian Schweinsteiger joining him in Bridgeview, Accam has ascended to his rightful throne as an MVP candidate. The 26-year-old Ghanaian international strengthened his case on Saturday, bagging three goals and an assist, playing a key part in all four goals, in Chicago’s 4-0 drubbing of Orlando City SC. Accam’s season stats now sit at 10 goals and six assists, for the Eastern Conference’s second-place team. If these kind of performances persist, don’t be surprised when Accam follows in Fabian Castillo’s footsteps, right off to Europe.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Three moments that mattered

8′ — Accam rounds Bendik for 2-0 — The long-ball distribution from Bastian Schweinsteiger is perfect, but Accam still has a ton to do from there. He corrals the ball with his first touch, quickly goes around Joe Bendik, gets his wits about him and fires through an opening to make it David Accam 2-0 Orlando City SC. This one came just six minutes after his brilliant backheel finish for the opening goal.

52′ — Accam sets up Nikolic for 3-0 — The time and space afforded Accam is inexcusable from Orlando’s midfield remaining players in their defensive half of the field, but the through ball still required inch-perfect precision to find Nikolic.

63′ — Accam converts from the spot — No doubt about this one, as Accam slams home from the penalty spot to complete his much deserved hat trick.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: David Accam

Goalscorers: Accam (3′, 8′, 63′ – PK), Nikolic (52′)


Minnesota United 2-2 Vancouver Whitecaps

Three moments that mattered

45+2′ — Tchani heads a rocket past Shuttleworth — You’re not going to find many headers with more power behind them than this one from Tony Tchani, anywhere in the world, anytime.

50′ — Calvo heads down and past Ousted — Take, for example, Francisco Calvo’s goal five minutes into the second half… not quite as much behind it.

63′ — Thiesson hits it low, through traffic, for 2-0 — Jerome Thiesson’s equalizer needed eyes to make its way through a penalty area full of bodies.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Kevin Molino

Goalscorers: Techera (17′ – PK), Tchani (45+2′), Calvo (50′), Thiesson (63′)

MLS Snapshots: Manneh inspires Crew SC; Philly, Atlanta win at home

AP Photo/Jay LaPrete
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Columbus Crew SC 4-1 Montreal Impact

Three moments that mattered

17′ — Higuain’s free kick beats Bush — Aided by a slight deflection off the top of the wall, Higuain put a free kick past Evan Bush to give the home side an early lead.

70′ — Manneh makes an immediate impact — The initial ball from Higuain is what you came here for, but the elementary defending by three Montreal defenders is what’ll keep you glued until the very end.

72′ — Manneh sets up Kamara for 3-1 — Kekuta Manneh had been on the field for all of three minutes, and he put a goal and an assist to his name. Most importantly, three points to that of Crew SC.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Federico Higuain

Goalscorers: Higuain (17′, 88′), Jackson-Hamel (19′), Manneh (70′), Kamara (72′)


 

Philadelphia Union 1-0 D.C. United

Three moments that mattered

28′ — Blake gets down to deny Harkes from distance — Ian Harkes had picked out a spot just inside the far post, but Andre Blake was well up to the task of denying DCU’s homegrown rookie.

31′ — Picault slams Bedoya’s cross — Alejandro Bedoya’s cross has some serious loft on it, which it makes it so tough to keep the ensuing shot low and to hit it with such power. Fantastic finish from Picault.

70′ — Blake stone-walls Neagle from the spot — It’s a pretty poor penalty from Lamar Neagle, but it’s a massive moment so badly needed by Andre Blake who’s been well off his own standard this season. Don’t be surprised if it’s a season-turning save for the talented Jamaican.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Andre Blake

Goalscorers: Picault (31′)


 

Atlanta United 1-0 Colorado Rapids

Three One moment that mattered

67′ — Martinez turns and beats Howard for the game’s only goal — You can’t give Josef Martinez this kind of space, and this kind of time, around the six-yard box. He’s shown us seven times already this season (in just seven games) how deadly he is from there.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Josef Martinez

Goalscorers: Martinez (67′)

VIDEO: Accam’s slick backheel puts Chicago ahead

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For the last two years, David Accam has been, in my estimation, the best player in MLS that no one talked about.

[ MORE: NYCFC run rampant on Red Bulls, win NY derby 2-0 ]

Understandably so, of course, given the 26-year-old Ghanaian international and the Chicago Fire been rooted to the bottom of the league table for two years running. All of that has changed in 2017, though, as Accam finally has a forward (Nemanja Nikolic) who can not only put chances away, but create space and chances for his teammates, and a solid midfield base which allows him to cherry-pick counter-attacks just that little bit more.

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Entering Saturday’s game against Orlando City SC, Chicago sat second in the Eastern Conference, just four points back of Toronto FC, and Accam’s 7 goals and 5 assists (in 15 games) were a huge part of the why and the how. It didn’t take Accam long — two minutes, in fact, to put Chicago ahead of Orlando with a ridiculous backheel finish to Matt Polster’s cross.