Americans Abroad Preview: Howard looks for bounceback vs Manchester United

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After their massively disappointing loss midweek that left Everton once again chasing Arsenal for the final Champions League spot, Tim Howard and the Toffees are hoping to turn things around.

They’ll have to do so against a resurgent Manchester United team that’s won three of its last four Premier League matches.  A point behind the Gunners without their game in hand, they’ll need Arsenal to drop points if Howard wishes to play in Europe’s top competition next season.

Elsewhere across England’s top flight, Jozy Altidore‘s struggles are starting to make Jurgen Klinsmann nervous, as Sunderland has to go to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea.

(MORE: Premier League Preview – Chelsea vs Sunderland)

Brad Guzan‘s Aston Villa still hasn’t secured Premier League status for next season, although their poor form recently still has a long way to go to be in any serious trouble. Villa hosts Southampton who is coming off a bad loss to Cardiff City.

Stoke City, meanwhile, are flying high and Geoff Cameron continues to be at the forefront of their success. The Potters take on Cardiff tomorrow featured on NBCSN.

WATCH ALL PREMIER LEAGUE GAMES LIVE ONLINE VIA NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA

Americans in the Championship are dwindiling in numbers as injuries continue to pick people off one by one.  Those still standing include Danny Williams who’s Reading sits just a point outside the final playoff spot.  They have three matches left to make up that deficit, but must wait until Tuesday for their first crack 12th-placed Middlesbrough.

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Oguchi Onyewu (right) has been getting good minutes with Sheffield Wednesday, despite their relatively leaky defense.

Sheffield Wednesday are safe, and that leaves Oguchi Onyewu with little to play for – at least as far as the club is concerned. But he will continue his search for a very outside shot at this year’s World Cup, playing the full 90 in eight of the club’s last 10 games.

However, Oguchi’s defense has given up nine goals in the last three games he’s started. They take on Tim Ream‘s Bolton Saturday, who has little to play for, mired in the middle of the Championship table.

Huddersfield are not yet mathematically safe, but with three matches to go their seven-point cushion appears fine.  They get Yeovil Town on Monday, and Duane Holmes will look for playing time, as he was an unused sub in their loss to Derby last week.

The Eredivisie is off this weekend, and as such so are Aron Johannsson and Juan Agudelo.

Sacha Kljestan waits until Monday for Anderlecht to take the pitch, on the road at Racing Genk where a win could see them pull within three of second-place Club Brugge, if they were to fall to leaders Standard Liege.  After playing nearly all Anderlecht’s minutes through 2013, Kljestan’s had trouble finding the pitch in 2014, playing just 225 minutes in their last 12 matches.

Nantes are not mathematically guaranteed Ligue 1 safety, but with five matches left they would need an epic collapse to find themselves relegated, especially if Ale Bedoya continues his good form. He’s getting lots of minutes and scored his fourth goal of the season two matches ago. They take on relegation candidates Valenciennes on Sunday.

Down south, Puebla are desperately hoping to avoid Liga MX relegation as they take on Pachuca on Saturday with DaMarcus Beasley one of their few bright spots. They remain bottom of the Clausura table, but sit above Atlante by five points on the relegation average table.  Hercules Gomez, Edgar Castillo,and Joe Corona lead Tijuana on the road at Atlante on Sunday looking to do their Puebla buddies a favor.

Fabian Johnson travels with Hoffenheim to Werder Bremen Saturday hoping to secure their top-ten status in the Bundesliga. Johnson’s played the full 90 minutes in five straight matches, in which Hoffenheim have lost exactly none of.

John Anthony Brooks made a stupid and got a massive back tattoo, keeping him out of this weekend’s Hertha BSC fixture with Augsburg.  Things like that are becoming a problem, after German media told Brooks back in December he needs to “become an adult” aka grow up.

Barcelona GM: “We’re close to signing Coutinho, Dembele”

Philippe Coutinho
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Barcelona did not post a magical comeback versus Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup second leg, instead losing 5-1 on aggregate after Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at the Bernabeu.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

But perhaps the celebrated La Liga club has worked some wizardry in the transfer market, with not one but two big targets “close” to the Camp Nou.

Barca general manager Josep “Pep” Segura was on television after the match, and noted Spanish football expert Sid Lowe relays his words: Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele are coming to Barca, “but until it’s closed I can’t say anything.”

Well, you just said something about it, so what gives.

Now before anyone freaks out at Anfield or Westfalenstadion, this is a man speaking after a relatively embarrassing performance for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Segura could simply be treading water for new manager Ernesto Valverde after his club was simply worked over in 120 minutes versus its El Clasico rivals.

VIDEO: Asensio, Real Madrid outclass out-of-sorts Barca; PSG trolls?

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This one wasn’t even close, and is going to instantly have many Barcelona fans wondering if the loss of Neymar is going to be too much for Ernesto Valverde to handle.

Real Madrid rode a stunning Marco Asensio strike to a 2-0 first half lead at the Bernabeu on Wednesday en route to a 5-1 aggregate win over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.

It’s Real’s 10th Spanish Super Cup, and first since 2012.

[ MORE: Bacca to Villarreal ]

Karim Benzema also scored in the opening frame, which saw Barca looking out of sorts and rudderless.

As in the first leg in Barcelona, the Blaugranas had their moments but failed to show sharpness and class against the reigning La Liga and UEFA Champions League winners.

Lionel Messi hit the crossbar, Luis Suarez headed off the post. The second half wasn’t producing a magic comeback.

Both teams kick off their La Liga seasons on Sunday, with Barca hosting Real Betis and Real off to Deportivo de la Coruna.

Meanwhile, it seems like PSG spent the afternoon trolling Barca, first posting a shot of ex-Blaugranas stars Dani Alves and Neymar training, and then an incredulous Neymar accompanied by a laughing emoji.

Carlos Bacca joins Villarreal, Boateng leaves Las Palmas

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MADRID (AP) Colombia striker Carlos Bacca joined Spanish club Villarreal on loan from AC Milan on Wednesday.

Villarreal said the one-season loan agreement includes the option to buy the player at the end of the season.

Bacca returns to a Spanish league where the 30-year-old forward flourished in two seasons at Sevilla before joining Milan in 2015.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

Bacca has made 39 appearances for Colombia, scoring 13 goals. According to Villarreal, he has scored 165 career goals in 336 matches. He scored 14 goals for Milan last season.

Elsewhere in Spain, Las Palmas announced that Kevin-Prince Boateng was leaving the club after both sides agreed to end his contract two days before its season opener.

Las Palmas said that Boateng was leaving due to “personal reasons of an irreversible nature.” The club thanked the former AC Milan standout for his “professionalism” that he displayed during his single season on the Canary Islands.

Las Palmas opens the Spanish league season on Friday at Valencia.

Man City has $23 million Evans bid shot down by WBA

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Could Jonny Evans be the latest player to cross Manchester’s red and blue divide, albeit with a stop in between?

Reports Wednesday say West Bromwich Albion has rejected a $23 million Manchester City bid for the Northern Irish center back.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

$23 million? That’s like 40 percent of a Kyle Walker!

Evans, 29, is the Baggies captain and a key piece of the club’s aims to continue its long stay in the Premier League.

He joined Manchester United’s academy at age 16 and stayed at Old Trafford through 2015, taking loan opportunities at Royal Antwerp and Sunderland on the way.

At United, Evans won three Premier League titles and two League Cups, and also has a Championship win from one of his two stints at Sunderland.

The 61-times capped Belfast native would give City a key component for Premier League play along with a center back corps of Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, and John Stones. Eliaquim Mangala completes their veteran depth, and is certainly City’s weakest position.

Would West Brom sell at any reasonable price? The Baggies are not deep at center back, either — not too many clubs are — and will be in a boatload of trouble without Evans. And given the transfer market, finding a proper replacement at under $30 million is going to be difficult (Reread that sentence. What a summer).

It’s another argument for the transfer window closing before the start of the season.