Arsenal, Bayern Munich choose complimentary route ahead of Champions League match

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With Manchester City and Barcelona at each others’ throats ahead of their Tuesday matchup, Arsenal and Bayern Munich chose a kinder route to ahead of their Champions League festivities.

The pair of powerhouses are scheduled to play the opening leg of their knockout round faceoff on Wednesday, and the two hold a mutual respect for their opposition.

Arsenal’s German midfield talisman Mesut Ozil knows first hand the massive quality Bayern Munich possesses, and it’s impressed him.

“I have huge respect for Bayern,” Ozil told Germany’s Bild. “They are even better than they were last year, but we’re not going to hide. Anything is possible over two legs. I’m the kind of player who loves games like these.”

Gunner fans sure hope he’s up for these type of games, since it’s exactly why they shelled out $41 million for the 25-year-old.  They’ll need Ozil, who has seen a dip in form recently, although he’s tabbed it as a “test of character.”

Bayern players have expressed equal caution, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and captain Phillipp Lahm both making their respect for the Londoners clear.

“We are really looking forward to coming back to the Champions League after the break of a couple of months,” said Lahm. “Especially against top opposition like Arsenal.

“I follow Arsenal a bit more this year and they’ve left a good impression. They’re fighting for the championship and that’s not a coincidence. I believe they’ve developed as a team. They’ve become much stronger, the squad is more balanced and they still play the way Arsenal always play.”

Schweinsteiger was a little more selective with his praise, singling out a German national teammate who he says could play a big part in the matchup.

“Per has made them one of the most defensively solid teams in England,” said the midfielder. “He is one of the best central defenders in Europe with fantastic positional awareness and real leadership qualities.”

Eventually, Schweinsteiger opened up a bit more about the Gunners as a whole

“Arsenal have led the Premier League in England for a lot of this season – so we are aware it will be a very big test.”

Cristiano Ronaldo announces birth of twin sons via surrogate

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Cristiano Ronaldo will not play in Portugal’s third-place match at the 2017 Confederations Cup this Sunday.

He has bigger things to sort out.

Ronaldo, 32, was released from Portugal’s squad late Wednesday after their defeat on penalty kicks to Chile in the Confed Cup semifinals in Russia.  The Real Madrid and Portugal superstar will now travel to visit his new twin sons, who were born via a surrogate earlier this month, with Ronaldo set to meet them for the first time after captaining Portugal in Russia over the past few weeks.

According to reports from Portuguese TV channel SIC, the surrogate mother was based on the west coast of the U.S. (I can already hear you guys asking ‘does that mean they’re eligible to play for the USMNT?’). Ronaldo is now the father of three children after already having a seven-year-old son, Cristiano Ronaldo Jr.

Reports also suggest that his 22-year-old girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez is five months pregnant, so soon he could be a father for the fourth time. He would then be able to field a five-a-side team of Ronaldo’s for indoor games…

Below is the post from Ronaldo confirming his departure from Portugal’s squad, which the national team also confirmed, as he is set to meet his new children for the first time.

“I was in the service of the national team, as always, body and soul, even though my two sons were born. Unfortunately, we have not been able to achieve the main sporting objective that we wanted, but I am sure we will continue to give joy to the Portuguese.

“The President of the Portuguese Football Federation and the national picker have today had an attitude that has touched me and I will not forget. I’m very happy to finally be with my children for the first time.”

Open Cup roundup: Poku lifts Miami; Red Bulls, Cincy win on PKs

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While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.

[ MORE: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson ]

Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.

Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.

Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire
San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy 2-0 Sacramento Republic

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.