Manuel Pellegrini: “Manchester City are bigger club than Manchester United”

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In his press conference ahead of Manchester City’s massive match with Barcelona on Tuesday, City’s Chilean boss Manuel Pellegrini has added further fuel to the fire as the fierce rivalry in Manchester rumbles on.

Given Manchester United’s struggles this season, currently sitting in seventh place and 15 points off league leaders Chelsea, and the fact that City are just three points off top spot and tearing teams apart at will, Pellegrini has a point.

His point being: Manchester City are the best team in Manchester.

But are they the biggest team in Manchester?

In almost every other scale imaginable, United would tower above their “noisy neighbors,” But in the one that matters most, the Premier League standings, they are lagging far behind City this season.

Asked about that, this is what Pellegrini had to say.

“If we only consider this season, there is just one club in Manchester and it’s ours but you cannot forget what United has done in the previous years. We are aiming to keep growing by winning trophies – not just national but international trophies. We are fighting for four titles this year. We have to be patient because you cannot change the team from one day to another. We have to keep the philosophy of the style and for that you need time.”

When asked about the rivalry and City being bigger than United, Pellegrini replied in Spanish via a translator and said that “the biggest team is City now but we cannot forget the last few years.” The 60-year-old manager speaks good English and didn’t flinch when the translator uttered what the City boss had just said.

So, what do we think? Are City the biggest team in Manchester and if they aren’t… will they be in the not so distance future?

(MORE: Fernandinho’s return could give City huge boost ahead of Barcelona clash)

The massive last 16 UEFA Champions League clash with Barca, with the first leg coming up at the Etihad this week, will have a huge say as to how big City really are. Success in European soccer’s elite club competition has evaded them since Sheikh Mansour rolled in a few years ago and has splashed the cash ruthlessly ever since. If they make a deep run at the UCL crown this campaign, it could elevate City further ahead of United.

Stadium expansion, a huge new academy and training facility next to the Etihad almost finished and buying clubs in Major League Soccer, the Middle-East and the A-League are just some of the projects that have now made City the centerpiece of Mansour’s global soccer brand. United, of course, are one of the globe’s biggest sports brands. But that could dwindle in the next few years if success evades the Red Devils.

With United’s success dwindling on the field this season and a potentially rocky period ahead, it seems as though Pellegrini’s jibes of City being the bigger team in Manchester aren’t too far from the truth.

Right?

WATCH: Camila’s wicked swerving goal for Brazil

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The Tournament of Nations got underway earlier Thursday, with Brazil and Japan drawing 1-1 in Seattle.

While some in the crowd may’ve been waiting to see the United States women’s national team and Australia in the second game of the twin bill, they got an absolute treat from Brazil’s Camila.

[ MORE: Galaxy’s season-changing signing ]

The Orlando Pride midfielder is yet to scoop up 10 caps, but blasted this 25-yard goal home with a wicked outside bend.

The aesthetics are terrific.

LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

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Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

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Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.