Spain roundup: Big Three win, Getafe & Valladolid climb to safety

Leave a comment

Real Madrid may be in real trouble despite the thumping they unleashed on Rayo Vallecano this weekend, as Barcelona and Atletico Madrid show no signs of weakening ahead of a run-in to the end of a thrilling La Liga season.

Meanwhile, the weekend saw a shakeup in the relegation zone, as Getafe has at least temporarily escaped the terrors of the Bottom Three thanks to a surprising road win at Valencia.

After Barca’s heart-pounding win over Real Madrid last weekend officially made La Liga a three-horse race, Real lost its second straight with a Tuesday loss at Seville, while wins from Barca and Atletico propelled them into better paths to the title.

So this weekend provided a big question for Real supporters, and their club responded with a resounding, “Yes, we’re still here,” pounding away at Vallecano to the tune of 5-0. It took just 15 minutes for the Bernabeu to see a goal, as Cristiano Ronaldo scored before Daniel Carvajal and Alvaro Morata contribued a goal and Gareth Bale picked up a brace.

But a 77th minute penalty conversion from Lionel Messi sealed three points for Barca in its derby date at Espanyol, and Atletico overcame a sixth minute tally from Iker Muniain to see a 2-1 win at Bilbao behind goals from Diego Costa and Koke (above).

And so Real has to resort to hope, as it could win the rest of its matches and still be monitoring matches outside their participation right up until the final week’s Atletico/Barca power fixture.

Before you think we only care for the big name squads, how about a hand for Getafe and Valladolid? The other Madrid club fell behind 1-0 early before Lafita, Ciprian Marica and Pedro Leon scored to lift Getafe out of the relegation zone. They are now one point free of a three-way tie for the final two drop zone tickets.

And Valladolid is now surviving via goal differential in that three-way tie after a sixth minute Manucho goal paced them by Almeria in a massive relegation battle. The home team pushed Almeria down into the drop, as Valladolid picked up eight of its 30 points in March including the March 8 upset of Barca.

Elsewhere

  • Celta Vigo 1-0 Sevilla FC — The hosts waited until the 87th minute to break through on a Nolito penalty.
  • Villarreal 1-1 Elche — Jonathan canceled out a penalty from Damian Suarez, but Villarreal failed to take advantage of stumbles from Sociedad and Sevilla.
  • Osasuna 1-1 Real Sociedad— A disappointing draw leaves Sociedad muddled with two clubs in a race for fifth, while Osasuna is now the third team in a three-team tie for two relegation spots. Not the good kind of third.
  • Granada vs. Levante — Monday
  • Real Betis vs. Malaga– Monday

 

Standings

 

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Atlético Madrid 31 24 4 3 69 22 47 13-3-0 11-1-3 76
Barcelona 31 24 3 4 89 25 64 14-0-1 10-3-3 75
Real Madrid 31 23 4 4 86 32 54 13-0-2 10-4-2 73
Athletic 31 16 8 7 53 34 19 11-3-2 5-5-5 56
Sevilla 31 14 8 9 55 46 9 8-3-4 6-5-5 50
Real Sociedad 31 14 8 9 54 44 10 10-3-2 4-5-7 50
Villarreal 31 14 7 10 51 37 14 7-6-3 7-1-7 49
Espanyol 31 11 7 13 34 36 -2 7-3-6 4-4-7 40
Valencia 31 11 7 13 44 45 -1 8-3-5 3-4-8 40
Levante 30 9 10 11 27 38 -11 5-5-5 4-5-6 37
Celta Vigo 31 10 6 15 34 44 -10 4-6-6 6-0-9 36
Granada 30 10 4 16 28 40 -12 6-1-8 4-3-8 34
Rayo Vallecano 31 10 3 18 34 68 -34 6-0-9 4-3-9 33
Málaga 30 8 8 14 29 38 -9 5-2-8 3-6-6 32
Elche 31 7 11 13 25 42 -17 5-6-5 2-5-8 32
Getafe 31 8 7 16 29 48 -19 4-6-6 4-1-10 31
Valladolid 31 6 12 13 32 50 -18 5-7-3 1-5-10 30
Almería 31 8 6 17 33 58 -25 5-5-5 3-1-12 30
Osasuna 31 8 6 17 26 52 -26 5-3-7 3-3-10 30
Betis 30 5 7 18 26 59 -33 4-3-8 1-4-10 22

Baroni fired by Serie A basement club Benevento

Dino Panato/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BENEVENTO, Italy (AP) Benevento fired Marco Baroni and named Roberto De Zerbi its new coach after becoming the first squad in Serie A history to lose its first nine matches of the season.

The southern Italian club is the only team in Europe’s five major leagues without a point.

[ MORE: Ronaldo wins Best Male Player at FIFA awards ]

Benevento also announced it fired sporting director Salvatore Di Somma.

The moves on Monday came a day after a 3-0 home loss to Fiorentina.

The Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Benevento will have to pay Baroni 800,000 euros (nearly $1 million) as part of an anti-firing clause in his contract.

Baroni guided Benevento up from Serie B last season.

De Zerbi last coached Palermo nearly a year ago before being fired by the Sicilian club.

It’s the second coaching change in Serie A this season, after Diego Lopez replaced Massimo Rastelli at Cagliari last week.

MLS Cup Playoffs: Atlanta hosts Crew, Whitecaps take on Earthquakes

Twitter/@MassiveReport
Leave a comment

34 rounds of MLS action are in the books, and now the real fun is set to begin this week.

The MLS Cup Playoffs have arrived, and 12 teams are firmly in the running to hoist a trophy in December.

[ MORE: PST talks to Justin Meram ahead of the Crew’s playoff run ]

While Toronto FC, New York City FC, the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers will each have the opportunity to watch the first round from their homes, the action all starts on Wednesday and Thursday.

Here’s a look at what to expect when the knockout round begins.

Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls — Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. ET

The Fire were one of the most intriguing stories for much of the regular season, but Veljko Paunovic’s side enters the postseason limping. Lucky for them, the Red Bulls have been just as inconsistent throughout the course of 2017 — which already saw Jesse Marsch’s club lose in the U.S. Open Cup final.

Paunovic and Co. have lost eight of their last 15 matches, which doesn’t bode well entering the home stretch of the schedule. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls have won just two of their last 10 matches. The Harrison side should be well-rested though for Wednesday’s encounter after starting a mostly second-tier squad in Sunday’s season finale against D.C. United.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. San Jose Earthquakes — Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET

The Whitecaps looked to be a sure-fire club destined for a bye in the first round, but things didn’t fall their way on Decision Day. Now, Carl Robinson’s side faces an Earthquakes side that is simply unpredictable.

The Quakes have the second-worst road record in the Western Conference when it comes to acquiring points — holding eight in points 17 matches. However, Chris Leitch has instilled a new-found belief amongst the squad that gives the California side a puncher’s chance.

Atlanta United vs. Columbus Crew — Thursday, 7 p.m. ET

These two sides haven’t met since July 1, so all bets are off about these teams knowing one another. Since that point, Atlanta and Columbus have been two of the hottest sides in MLS and the former moved into a new stadium — which has given opposing sides quite the difficult time.

In their last 10 matches combined, the clubs boast just one loss, which Atlanta suffered at home against Minnesota United. There’s no reason not to expect a great one at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Houston Dynamo vs. Sporting KC — Thursday, 9:30 p.m. ET

Peter Vermes’ Sporting KC side enters the playoffs winless in their last five, while their counterparts are unbeaten in six. The MLS postseason is often about which team is in the best form at the right particular moment, and right now, it doesn’t look like Sporting KC has luck on their side.

It’s also hard to not pay attention to the fact that the Dynamo have lost just once at BBVA Compass Stadium in 2017, which came on September 9 against the Colorado Rapids.

Carabao Cup preview: Man City hosts Wolves, Chelsea meets Everton

Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
Leave a comment

All eyes will remain on the 11 Premier League sides left in this season’s Carabao Cup, but could a potential upset(s) shake the balance of power in the competition?

Norwich City and Leeds United will be among the teams seeking an upset in the tournament as they take on Arsenal and Leicester City, respectively, on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo captures Best Male Player at FIFA awards ]

Meanwhile, fresh off of Ronald Koeman‘s sacking, Everton must regroup quickly when they head to Stamford Bridge to take on Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea. The Toffees have taken just eight points in their first nine PL matches, leaving the Merseyside club in the relegation zone.

The Blues are aiming for their sixth League Cup title this season, while Manchester United could also achieve the same feat with the crown.

Here’s the slate of matches for the Carabao Cup Round of 16.

Tuesday (All fixtures kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET)

Swansea City vs. Manchester United
Bournemouth vs. Middlesbrough
Bristol City vs. Crystal Palace
Leicester City vs. Leeds United
Arsenal vs. Norwich City
Manchester City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wednesday (All fixtures kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET)

Chelsea vs. Everton
Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham United

Report: RBNY midfielder Felipe, NYCFC’s Harrison could play for USMNT

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The U.S. Men’s National Team has seen a rise in dual nationals representing the Stars and Stripes in recent years, and that trend could continue with two of MLS’ most promising midfielders interested in enhancing their international careers.

[ MORE: PST names Best XI for the 2017 MLS season ]

According to MSG Network’s Kristian Dyer, New York Red Bulls midfielder Felipe Martins is in the midst of a finalizing his American citizenship, while New York City FC attacker Jack Harrison has spoken with U.S. Soccer about potentially representing the U.S..

Martins already has his green card — which opened up an international slot for the Red Bulls this season –but obtaining citizenship in the near future would make him eligible for selection for the USMNT ahead of the 2022 World Cup qualifying cycle.

The 27-year-old had also previously applied for permanent residency in Canada back in 2013 while Martins was with the Montreal Impact, however, his aspirations to represent the nation never transpired.

Meanwhile, Harrison recently represented the England Under-21s in October, but he too could be on track for U.S. citizenship over the next few years if he remains in MLS.

[ MORE: Justin Meram talks Crew’s good form, facing Atlanta and more ]

In Dyer’s report, he notes the rising interest in Harrison from English clubs, though, and a potential move back to the United Kingdom would hurt the former Manchester United academy member’s chances of joining the USMNT.

Harrison is only in his sophomore season with NYCFC, but the young Englishman has garnered plenty of attention after scoring 14 goals and adding 13 assists thus far for the Bronx side.