Neymar hasn’t played since injuring his ankle on Jan. 16, but having returned to training on earlier this week, the Brazilian star will travel with Barcelona when Spain’s leaders visit Real Sociedad on Wednesday. If you’re expecting the 22-year-old attacker to lace up his boots in San Sebástian, however, don’t get your hopes up. Gerardo Martino’s highly unlikely to risk his young icon in the second leg of Barça’s Copa del Rey semifinal.
The team has already said they don’t rush Neymar’s return, and with their starting left winger having just resumed practicing on Monday, Wednesday is too soon. With the team up 2-0 after leg one at the Nou Camp, Martino has no reason to rush Neymar into action.
So why is he traveling? According to Barcelona’s website, it’s because of the occasion. With Barça 90 minutes away from a clinching a place in April’s final, Martino has asked the whole team to travel to Basque Country. That means everybody on the club’s 25-man roster will be in San Sebástian, even though Neymar and Jonathan Dos Santos are both specifically noted as “injured.”
Though Barcelona denies it, most see the team targeting a Feb. 18 for Neymar’s return. That’s when the team will be in England to take on Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16. Perhaps he gets some time this weekend to built some match fitness, but with the team’s all-important Champions League tie less than a week away, Martino may be especially remiss to take chances with his one of his stars.
Even if Neymar doesn’t play on Wednesday, his return to training gets Spain’s leaders a little closer to something they’ve rarely experienced: full fitness. Lionel Messi, out for most of the fall, appears to be finding his stride after two goals this weekend. Andrés Iniesta is starting to shake off his knocks. Victor Valdes and Jordi Alba are back in the team, and even Carles Puyol appears to have found a temporarily patch of health.
With Neymar the team’s only major absence, things seem to be falling in place. Martino’s getting his best players out of the trainer’s room and onto the field.
Christian Pulisic sat out Friday’s 2-1 Dortmund defeat against Stuttgart. Coincidence? Perhaps.
However, the club’s struggles are apparent as Dortmund’s winless run extended to four matches and their gap from Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich could be up to nine points by the end of the weekend.
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BVB was without several of its top talents for the match, including U.S. Men’s National Team star Pulisic and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but it’s Dortmund’s defending that continues to be the side’s biggest issue.
Stuttgart struck after five minutes when Chadrac Akolo broke the deadlock off of an embarrassing blunder by Marc Bartra and the Dortmund defense.
Bartra attempted a routine back pass to goalkeeper Roman Burki during the early moments of the match, but his ball back proved to be way too strong and deflected off of Burki and into the path of Stuttgart forward Akolo (video below).
Dortmund atoned for the former Barcelona man’s mistake just prior to halftime when Maximilian Philipp equalized, but it took just six minutes into the second stanza for Josip Brekalo to restore the Stuttgart advantage.
David Moyes has given Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez assurances that he’ll have the opportunity to compete for a starting role with the Hammers, but the Mexican international will have to wait a bit for a chance.
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Hernandez, 29, is currently nursing a hamstring strain, leaving his status for this weekend against Watford in doubt.
“I think everyone knows he [Chicharito] has got a hamstring injury,” Moyes said during Friday’s press conference. “It could take a week, it could take two weeks.”
Moyes didn’t mince words recently when speaking about Chicharito and other players within the squad, essentially pointing out that no player will be awarded a starting role simply because of their stardom.
Hernandez has scored four goals in 13 matches this season for West Ham, who currently sits 18th in the Premier League. The Hammers have won just two matches to start the 2017/18 campaign and sit on nine points.
Miami FC quickly put itself on the U.S. soccer map in two short seasons, and much of the club’s success can be attributed to manager Alessandro Nesta.
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The former Serie A defender has managed the club in its first two years of existence, but Nesta’s time in South Beach is coming to an end.
Nesta revealed on Friday that he won’t be returning to the NASL club in 2018, as he prepares to fnd a “new challenge” in his managerial career.
With NASL’s future as a league very much up in the air, Nesta could be seeking a more stable position entering 2018, especially given that his name has been thrown around with several MLS jobs over the last few months.
It isn’t always the score at the end of the match that matters, and Orlando City proved that with its recent friendly to benefit those affected by hurricanes in Puerto Rico.
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Orlando City faced off with the Puerto Rico national team on Nov. 4, which the Lions won 6-1, but it was the club’s humanitarian efforts that proved to be the real story from the event.
The club announced that it raised $327,530 from the match, with all proceeds from the event going directly to the Puerto Rican people.
“I’m very proud of what our Club and our partners were able to accomplish,” Orlando City SC owner Flavio Augusto da Silva said in a team statement. “What we did meant more than just raising funds for Puerto Rico. Once again, we came together as a community to rally behind something bigger than us all.”