Julio Cesar signs for Toronto FC on loan for 2014 MLS season

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Toronto FC continue to assemble an extremely impressive squad for the upcoming season, as the Canadian club unveiled Brazilian national team goalkeeper Juilo Cesar as a TFC player on Friday.

Toronto have signed 34-year-old Brazilian star Cesar on loan to help him prepare for the World Cup in his homeland this summer and TFC’s GM Tim Bezbatchenko confirmed the deal will last throughout the 2014 MLS season.

The deal means that Cesar will be playing for Toronto before and after the World Cup, as previously many thought it was just a short-term deal that would see him up in Ontario until May.

Making this move happen is just another indicator that Toronto FC really want an MLS title fast, as this signing is a major coup for the ambitious MLS outfit. Plus, Cesar is delighted to be on board.

“I am really happy to come to Canada, I would like to say thanks to Toronto FC,” Cesar said. “I am really excited to work with my new colleagues at my new club.”

Head coach Ryan Nelsen, who played with Cesar at QPR last season, shared his delight at the signing of Cesar, a two-time World Cup veteran with Brazil and Champions League winner with Italy’s Inter Milan.

“As soon as I got a sniff of bringing in Julio, it didn’t take long for it to register how important it would be to have a man like Julio around our guys, for what he does off the field as well as on the field,” Nelsen said. “His reputation on the field is second to none. He is a winner and a leader.”

(MORE – Report: Toronto FC to grab Brazilian national team ‘keeper Cesar on loan)

Bizarrely the former Inter Milan star has fallen behind Rob Green in QPR’s pecking order between the sticks in England’s second-tier, despite impressing in the R’s woeful relegation from the PL last season. But with the World Cup in his homeland just months away and Cesar only playing once all season for QPR, he needed to sort out a loan deal to play regularly and his ex-teammate Ryan Nelsen has moved swiftly to get Cesar on board for his new-look Toronto outfit.

With the MLS season less than a month away Toronto certainly look like one of the strongest squads in the Eastern conference, as USMNT star Michael Bradley and England international Jermain Defoe have already signed long-term deals in Ontario. Add that to the additions of Brazilian duo Gilberto and Jackson and Canadian star Dwayne De Rosario, and this season promises to be the most eagerly anticipated campaign in TFC’s history.

The only way is up for Toronto, it seems.

LIVE – Champions League playoff: Nice-Napoli headlines action

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With Celtic (just about) booking their spot in the UEFA Champions League group stage on Tuesday, four more teams will join them.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ] 

Napoli, Olympiacos, Sevilla and Hapoel Be’er Sheva all have narrow leads heading into the second legs which sets things up rather nicely for the winner takes all second legs. Olympiacos and Be’er Sheva will be feeling particularly nervous after conceding at home in the first leg.

On Wednesday five more ties takes place across Europe with Liverpool looking to book their spot in the UCL group stage against Hoffenheim.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s games, which kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET, while you can click on the link above to follow live commentary on all four matches.


Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League playoff second legs

Nice vs. Napoli (Napoli lead 2-0 on aggregate)
Astana 4-3 Celtic (Celtic advance 8-4 on aggregate)
Rijeka vs. Olympiacos (Olympiacos leads 2-1 on aggregate)
Sevilla vs. Istanbul Basaksehir (Sevilla leads 2-1 on aggregate)
Maribor vs. Hapoel Be’er Sheva (Hapoel Be’er Sheva lead 2-1 on aggregate)

LIVE – Premier League clubs enter League Cup

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Seven Premier League teams enter the League Cup second round on Tuesday with plenty of potential upsets lined up.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

All 13 PL clubs (six more are in action on Wednesday) face teams from the lower leagues with the likes of Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Bournemouth and Swansea City all on upset alert.

U.S. national team players to watch out for include Lynden Gooch who starts for Sunderland and Emerson Hyndman who is on the bench for Bournemouth.

Below is the schedule for the League Cup games on Tuesday with all games to kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET unless otherwise stated.


Tuesday
Crystal Palace vs. Ipswich Town – 2:30pm
Aston Villa vs. Wigan Athletic
Leeds United vs. Newport County
Middlesbrough vs. Scunthorpe United
Norwich City vs. Charlton Athletic
QPR vs. Brentford
Fulham vs. Bristol Rovers
Cardiff City vs. Burton Albion
Carlisle United vs. Sunderland
Doncaster vs. Hull City
Grimsby Town vs. Derby County
Brighton vs. Barnet
Accrington Stanley vs. West Brom
Sheffield United vs. Leicester City
Birmingham City vs. Bournemouth
Watford vs. Bristol City
MK Dons vs. Swansea City
Reading vs. Millwall – 3pm
Bolton vs. Sheffield Wednesday – 3pm

Celtic qualify for UEFA Champions League group stage

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Celtic survived a scare in Kazakhstan to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League for the second season on the trot.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

Brendan Rodgers‘ side beat FC Astana 5-0 in the first leg of their playoff last week at Celtic Park but the trip to Kazakhstan proved much trickier with Astana leading 4-1 late in the game which had pulled the score back to 6-4 on aggregate.

However, Scott Sinclair had scored a priceless away goal to make it 1-1 at half time and despite a late flurry of goals for the hosts Olivier Ntcham scored a deflected effort and Leigh Griffiths wrapped things up late on as Celtic lost 4-3 on the night but went through 8-4 on aggregate.

Last season the Scottish champions went out in the UCL group stage after being drawn with Manchester City, Barcelona and Borussia Monchengladbach and will be hoping for a kinder draw this time around.

Premier League clubs on League Cup upset alert

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The second round of the League Cup (known as the Carabao Cup in 2017-18 for sponsorship reasons) kicks off on Tuesday with 13 Premier League clubs in action.

[ MORE: League Cup scores live ]

All 13 have been drawn against lower-league opposition and those klaxons you can hear signify upset alerts.

Below is a look at how each Premier League club will get on as they enter the competition on Tuesday and Wednesday with a ranking on each game out of 10, with 10 being the most likely for an upset to occur.

Remember: the seven PL teams in European competition will enter the League Cup in the third round.


Upset alert ranking for PL clubs

Tuesday
Crystal Palace vs. Ipswich Town – 8/10
Brighton vs. Barnet – 4/10
Accrington Stanley vs. West Brom – 7/10
Sheffield United vs. Leicester City – 6/10
Birmingham City vs. Bournemouth – 7/10
Watford vs. Bristol City – 5/10
MK Dons vs. Swansea City – 5/10

Wednesday
Newcastle United vs. Nottingham Forest – 6/10
Southampton vs. Wolves – 7/10
Huddersfield Town vs. Rotherham United – 7/10
Cheltenham vs. West Ham United – 8/10
Stoke City vs. Rochdale – 6/10
Blackburn Rovers vs. Burnley – 6/10