War of words begins as Mancester City and Barcelona both declare themselves favorites

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With the Champions League knockout stages just around the corner, members of Tuesday’s marquee matchup have already begun the puffing of the chests.

Manchester City and Barcelona square off in the round of 16, and both clubs think they are the better side.

With Samir Nasri having returned for the Sky Blues from injury this weekend, he told English media, “Tuesday is a massive game. Every player wants to play those kind of games – Champions League, last 16, against Barcelona. The good thing is we are really strong. We have our confidence back.”

After pumping his team up, the French winger didn’t wish to leave his opponents out of the conversation either. “I think they are weaker than they were two years ago,” Nasri said. “It’s going to be a tight game and an interesting game for everyone.”

Barcelona manager Gerardo Martinez doesn’t think so.  He believes with a healthy Lionel Messi and Neymar both on form, it’s the perfect time for the two to come together.

“We face the match against Manchester City in very good form,” Martino told reporters in Spain. “It is probably the best time to play this Champions League leg, regardless of the opponent.  Physically we are just great, and we have got all of our players available and healthy.”

The Barcelona bossman was not shy about their strategy coming into the match, but it will surprise exactly no one. “If we can keep the ball for more time then we will reduce the chances they have and give ourselves a better opportunity,” Martino declared.

Surprise! Barcelona will try to hold the ball!

Both Messi and Neymar scored world-class goals in the past few days, and the news will be great for Barcelona fans as they maintain a goal-differential lead in La Liga and head into the knockout stage of the Champions League on a very high note.

LINEUPS: Tim Howard starts for USMNT against Costa Rica

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01:  Tim Howard of the United States gestures during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
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The United States takes on Costa Rica in a friendly tonight at Red Bull Arena, as the USMNT must put the Mexico match behind them and focus on the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

The biggest inclusion in tonight’s starting XI is that of Tim Howard in goal, marking his return to the national side after taking a self-imposed sabbatical. It will be Howard’s first appearance for the USMNT since his legendary performance against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup.

Klinsmann has chosen to go with a 4-4-2 tonight, and Geoff Cameron remains the only starter in the back-line from the Mexico match. He’ll partner with Michael Orozco in the center of defense, with Brad Evans and Tim Ream on the outsides.

[ MORE: Fabian Johnson sent home from USMNT after fall-out with Klinsmann ]

In the midfield, Klinsmann has put some speed on the wings through the likes of DeAndre Yedlin and recent call-up Brek Shea. Danny Williams joins Jermaine Jones as the central midfielders.

Up top, Jozy Altidore will play alongside Gyasi Zardes, who returns to his more comfortable position as forward.

Cristiano Ronaldo wins record fourth European Golden Boot

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 13:  Real Madrid football player Cristiano Ronaldo poses with his four Golden Boot Awards as maximun goal scorer of European leagues at The Westin Palace Hotel on October 13, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Cristiano Ronaldo has added another trophy to the collection, winning his fourth Golden Boot as Europe’s top scorer for the 2014-15 season.

The award accounts for goals in league play only, which means the Champions League and domestic tournaments are not included. In La Liga, Ronaldo scored 48 goals in 35 appearances.

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Ronaldo first won the award after the 2007-08 season with Manchester United, and has now added three more with Real Madrid in 2010-11, 2013-14, and 2014-15.

With his fourth win, Ronaldo moves ahead of Lionel Messi as the only player to win the award four times. Messi has won three, while eight players have won two.

Below is a post from Ronaldo’s Facebook page reflecting on the award:

What a special moment in my professional life!

Winning four Golden Boots is a privilege for me and I’ll keep challenging myself because I want to do better every time and I want to keep chasing for more records.

I have to thank everyone in Real Madrid that made this possible and we want to keep winning more titles and more trophies. Thank you everyone.

Ronaldo alone scored more goals in La Liga play last season than 14 clubs did, which shows how prolific his season was. The only player to score more than 48 league goals in a European season was Messi, who scored 50 in 2011-12.

[ EURO 2016: A look at the 20 teams that have qualified for France ]

While it was a successful year for Ronaldo personally, it was a very disappointing campaign for Real Madrid, who fired manager Carlo Ancelotti after finishing the season without a trophy.