West Brom

Premier League Relegation Watch: Nervy times for West Brom and Norwich City

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With six weeks left in the Premier League, only nine points separate bottom feeders Fulham from 13th placed Swansea City.

Here we look at all the relegation-threatened sides and evaluate their remaining matches, form, injuries and odds of staying up in the Premier League.

13. SWANSEA CITY 33 PTS (32 PLD)

Remaining Matches (6): Hull City (A); Chelsea (H); Newcastle United (A); Aston Villa (H); Southampton (H); Sunderland (A)

League Form: LDLLDW

Other Competitions: None

InjuriesKyle Bartley, hamstring (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 28/1

Verdict: It was a good week for Swansea, drawing 2-2 with Arsenal and spanking Norwich City 3-0. With Michu back healthy and a reasonable end-of-the-season schedule, there’s little to no fear of relegation at the Liberty.

14. HULL CITY 33 PTS (32 PLD)

Remaining Matches (6): Swansea City (H); Manchester United (A); Arsenal (H); Fulham (A); Aston Villa (A); Everton (H)

League Form: WLLWLL

Other Competitions: FA Cup (v. Sheffield United on April 13th)

Injuries: Allan McGregor, kidney (no return date); Robbie Brady, groin (no return date); Paul McShane, ankle (no return date), Joe Dudgeon, knee (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 16/1

Verdict: It was a tough week for Hull, outplaying West Ham and losing before playing even with Stoke and suffering the same result. Losing McGregor to a kidney injury is also a concern. Still, the Tigers have quality and three more points should be enough to keep them afloat.

15. NORWICH CITY 32 PTS (32 PLD)

Remaining Matches (6): West Bromwich Albion (H); Fulham (A); Liverpool (H); Manchester United (A); Chelsea (A); Arsenal (H)

League Form: WLDLWL

Other Competitions: None

InjuriesLeroy Fer, hamstring (April 12th); Michael Turner, hamstring (April 5th); Elliot Bennett, knee (April 20th); Joseph Yobo, calf (April 5th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 3/1

Verdict: Things are not looking good for the Canaries. They were spanked 3-0 by Swansea last weekend and now have two matches – against West Brom and Fulham – to get points out of before they face four Top 7 sides to end their season. For me, they’re the club that’s currently safe but is most likely to end up relegated.

16. CRYSTAL PALACE 31 PTS (31 PLD)

Remaining Matches (7): Cardiff City (A); Aston Villa (H); Everton (A); West Ham United (A); Manchester City (H); Liverpool (H); Fulham (A)

League Form: LDLDLW

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Dwight Gayle, ankle (April 12th); Marouane Chamakh, hamstring (April 5th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 3/1

Verdict: Gigantic, season-changing win last weekend for the Eagles over Chelsea. Might very well be the victory that keeps them in the Premier League. Palace will need to find more points elsewhere but with a game in hand and a favorable end-of-the-season schedule, Tony Pulis’ record of never being relegated should remain in tact.

17. WEST BROMWICH ALBION 29 PTS (31 PLD)

Remaining Matches (7): Norwich City (A); Tottenham (H); Manchester City (A); West Ham United (H); Arsenal (A); Sunderland (H); Stoke City (H)

League Form: DDLWLD

Other Competitions: None

Injuries: Gareth McCauley, ankle (no return date); Victor Anichebe, hamstring (April 5th); Claudio Yacob, hamstring (April 12th); Chris Brunt, knee (April 12th); Billy Jones, hamstring (April 12th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 3/1

Verdict: Had last week’s game in the palm of their hand before Berahino failed to go to the corner flag, lost the ball and Cardiff scored in the last second to draw 3-3. Dropping points to Cardiff is a bad, bad thing and this week the Albion will try to avoid the same fate against Norwich in a match both sides will be desperate to win.

18. CARDIFF CITY 26 PTS (32 PLD)

Remaining Matches (6): Crystal Palace (H); Southampton (A); Stoke City (H); Sunderland (A); Newcastle United (A); Chelsea (H)

League Form: LLWLLD

Other Competitions: None

InjuriesCraig Noone, muscle (April 5th); Mark Hudson, hamstring (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 1/4

Verdict: Nice to snatch a point last weekend against West Brom but Cardiff needs wins. Three of their next four matches offer a strong possibility with Palace, Stoke and Sunderland all in the cards. Still, Cardiff in the Championship next season feels right, doesn’t it?

19. SUNDERLAND 25 PTS (30 PLD)

Remaining Matches (8): Tottenham (A); Everton (H); Manchester City (A); Chelsea (A); Cardiff City (H); Manchester United (A); West Bromwich Albion (H); Swansea City (H)

League Form: LLDLLL

Other Competitions: None

InjuriesSteven Fletcher, ankle (no return date);Keiren Westwood, shoulder (no return date)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 2/5

Verdict: Decent fight last week against Liverpool but a poor effort against West Ham put Gus Poyet’s side in a really bad place. Yes, they have two games in hand on most of their competitors but the Black Cats look positively anemic up top. No goals, no Premier League. Seems like a fair rule.

20. FULHAM 24 PTS (32 PLD)

Remaining Matches (6): Aston Villa (A); Norwich City (H); Tottenham Hotspur (A); Hull City (H); Stoke City (A); Crystal Palace (H)

League Form: DLLWLL

Other Competitions: None

InjuriesDan Burn, muscle (no return date); Kostas Mitroglu, knee (no return date); Scott Parker, knee (April 5th); Damien Duff, knock (no return date); Georgios Karagounis, knock (April 5th)

Vegas odds to be relegated: 1/6

Verdict: Vegas offering 1/6 is likely the last odds for Fulham before they stop taking bets. It’s sad, really. Anyone who loves the Premier League, especially Americans, should have a soft spot for Fulham. The Cootagers schedule still has five very winnable games left but, well, you know, that’s a huge long shot.

Messi’s tax fraud case begins with player avoiding court

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 17:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on  during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Valencia CF at Camp Nou on April 17, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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MADRID (AP) Lionel Messi’s tax trial began Tuesday with the player deciding not to appear in court for early proceedings.

Messi is facing a prison sentence of nearly two years on charges he failed to properly pay taxes for part of his earnings from Barcelona from 2007-09.

[ FOLLOW: All of PSTS’s Copa coverage ]

The Argentina playmaker is not obligated to appear in the Barcelona court until Thursday, when he is scheduled to testify before a judge. Sentencing is not expected until next week.

Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, have been charged with three counts of tax fraud for allegedly defrauding Spain’s tax office of 4.1 million euros ($4.5 million).

Because of the trial, Messi is missing Argentina’s preparation for the Copa America Centenario, which begins Saturday in the United States. He is expected to fly straight to the U.S. to join his teammates after the trial ends. Argentina debuts in the tournament on Monday against defending champion Chile.

Even if found guilty, it is highly unlikely that Messi or his father will face any jail time. They have denied wrongdoing.

[ COPA AMERICA PREVIEWS: Group A | BC | D ]

“Everything is good. Everybody is calm,” said Messi’s lawyer, Enrique Bacigalupo, as he arrived at the Barcelona court on Tuesday.

The trial is centered on alleged unlawful activities of Messi’s father, but authorities said the player knew enough to also be named in the case. Officials said that although Messi was mostly unfamiliar with tax issues, there was sufficient evidence to believe he could have known and consented to the creation of a fictitious corporate structure to avoid paying taxes on income from his image rights.

In addition to each facing a prison sentence of 22 months and 15 days, Messi and his father could also be fined in the amount defrauded and ordered to pay all legal proceedings and the loss of any possible tax benefits for a year and a half.

Messi is just the latest high-profile player to have to deal with Spain’s tough tax system. Neymar, Javier Mascherano, Adriano and Xabi Alonso also were targeted by authorities recently.

[ MORE: Marcelo giving away UCL winners’ medal…on Facebook ]

Mascherano, Messi’s teammate with Argentina and Barcelona, earlier this year was handed a suspended one-year prison sentence for not paying nearly 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) in taxes for 2011 and 2012. Brazil striker Neymar recently had to testify before a judge because of alleged irregularities involving his transfer to Barcelona. He and the club were accused of withholding the real amount of the transfer fee, in part to avoid paying the full amount of taxes.

Messi was also being investigated by Spanish tax authorities after his name was among those released in the probe of international offshore accounts, known as the Panama Papers, although he was not charged for those allegations.

VIDEO: Bayern’s David Alaba scores brutal own goal for Austria

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David Alaba is going to want this one back…

While playing in a friendly for Austria, the Bayern Munich left-back scored a cringe-worthy own-goal that his teammates will surely never let him forget.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s EURO coverage ]

With Austria leading Malta 2-0, goalkeeper Ramazan Ozcan played out of the back to Alaba. As pressure come from Malta’s strikers, Alaba turned and played a blind pass back to his keeper.

The only problem is, his keeper wasn’t there.

Ozcan did the right thing and moved outside of his goal to give Alaba support, only the defender never picked up his head to realize. Austria would hold on to win the match 2-1.

[ MORE: Klinsmann treating USMNT’s Copa opener vs. Colombia like a final ]

After winning their EURO qualification group with nine wins from ten matches, Austria has high hopes of making a run in the tournament. They will play in Group F with Portugal, Iceland, and Hungary.

Host nation France names superstar-filled EURO squad

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 29:  Paul Pogba of France in action during the International Friendly match between France and Russia held at Stade de France on March 29, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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France has high expectations heading into EURO 2016, as the host nation is currently the bookies’ favorite to lift the trophy on July 10.

With manager Didier Deschamps announcing his final 23-man roster on Tuesday, you can see why the French are excited to get the tournament underway.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s EURO coverage ]

This team is overflowing with talent at every position and will cause nightmare matchup problems for the opposition, while also feeding off of their home crowd.

Eleven players from the Premier League have made the French side, from Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who leads the team as captain with 72 caps, to Leicester’s midfield workhorse N'Golo Kante, who has just three appearances for Les Bleus. Manchester United’s Morgan Schneiderlin was a late inclusion as Lassana Diarra was forced to withdraw through injury just hours after being selected to the final squad.

[ MORE: Rashford, Sturridge headed to EURO 2016 with England ]

Lyon’s 22-year-old defender Samuel Umtiti makes the side despite never being capped with the senior team, replacing the injured Jeremy Mathieu. Adil Rami also makes the cut in place of Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, who is out with a thigh problem.

Final 23-man roster

Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Benoit Costil (Stade Rennais)

Defenders: Samuel Umtiti (Lyon), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Manchester City), Adil Rami (Sevilla), Patrice Evra (Juventus), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Lucas Digne (Roma), Christophe Jallet (Lyon)

Midfielders: Paul Pogba (Juventus), Blaise Matuidi (Paris Saint-Germain), Morgan Schneiderlin (Manchester United), N’Golo Kante (Leicester City), Yohan Cabaye (Crystal Palace), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United), Dimitri Payet (West Ham United)

Forwards: Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Andre-Pierre Gignac (UANL Tigres)

Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas will miss Copa America through injury

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 28:  Keylor Navas of Real Madrid signals during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Real Madrid and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 28, 2016 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Keylor Navas will not play for Costa Rica in the upcoming Copa America tournament while nursing an achilles injury.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Copa coverage ]

Diagnosed with chronic Achilles tendinopathy, the Real Madrid goalkeeper has been bothered by discomfort throughout the season.

However, he did play the full 120 minutes in the Champions League final for last weekend, helping Real to a record 11th European title.

[ COPA AMERICA PREVIEWS: Group A | B | C | D ]

The loss is a big one for Costa Rica, whose three goalkeepers now on the squad have a combined 34 caps for the national team. Navas alone has 66.

Navas tied the Champions League record with nine clean sheets in the competition this season, and has quietly been one of the best keepers in the world over the past few seasons. His absence could be beneficial for the United States though, who will face Costa Rica in Group A play.