Ahead of Sunday’s clash, is it Liverpool or Manchester United that are favorites?

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Sunday brings one of the most hotly contested Premier League fixtures: Manchester United vs. Liverpool. The reverse fixture, played in September, saw Liverpool trot out 1-0 winners, courtesy of an early goal from Daniel Sturridge.

Little has changed in the past six months. The Merseyside club are currently in second place, seven points off first and eleven points above United. They’ve yet to lose in the league this calendar year, winning seven and drawing two (apparently the Reds don’t enjoy playing clubs from the West Midlands). Oh, and they’ve knocked in 29 goals in those nine matches.

Then there’s Manchester United. The title-holders are currently in sixth, nine points below Manchester City in fourth, although their city rivals have two games in hand. But United have gone six games unbeaten, and after winning their last two matches with a combined 5-0 scoreline, it looks as though they’ve finally got things figured out.

So who’s the favorite for the clash at Old Trafford? Interestingly enough, both managers are reluctant to claim that title.

Brendan Rodgers stated that it would be dangerous to think that his side were the superior team. The Liverpool manager said, “Manchester United] are still the champions and until that changes all we can do is go there and look where we are at. We are second in the league on merit. We have performed consistently for a long period of time and that makes us a very dangerous opponent. We know we are dangerous but I would never disrespect them and what they have done over a long period of time.”

When asked whether Liverpool were the favorites in Sunday’s clash, David Moyes replied, “It may well be. Their league position suggests they’re ahead of us. They possibly do come here favourites.”

But the United manager just couldn’t resist having a little dig at Rodgers’ side. Moyes went on to suggest that Liverpool’s strength this season was aided by an easy fixture list early on, as well as the fact that they had no European games to deal with.

Moyes said, “Liverpool and Brendan might have benefited from being out of Europe. Certainly this year we think it’s been a big benefit. I think Liverpool were an improving side last year. A lot of people questioned it but I always felt they would be there or thereabouts. Their fixture list … gave them a great opportunity to start the season well. They’ve grown in confidence from that.”

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.