- City has claimed 10 of 12 points since loss to Liverpool
- Villa’s weekend win was first since March 15
- Villa beat City 3-2 on Sept. 28 at Villa Park
Manchester City can take another step in its quest for its second Premier League title in three years when it hosts Aston Villa on Wednesday (Watch live at 2:45pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBC Sports Live Extra).
City can leapfrog Liverpool for first place in the table with a win, and even a draw would push them into first place on goal differential.
Villa clinched its Premier League safety this weekend with a 3-1 win over Hull City. The Midlands club hasn’t swept Manchester City since 1963, but did win at the Etihad Stadium in last season’s League Cup.
WATCH LIVE AT 2:45pm ET ON NBCSN AND ONLINE VIA NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA
What they’re saying…
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert on not mailing it in: “We’re not going there just to make up the numbers, we’re going there to try to win.You have to run a lot and run without the ball. We’re going to have to work really hard without the ball but you also know you’ve got to try to win the game and that’s what we’re going to try and do.”
Manchester City’s Martin Dimichelis: “We are so close now to winning the title but the most important thing at this stage is how we manage the pressure. We know that we are almost there but we haven’t achieved our goal yet. I hope that we can isolate ourselves from that.
City will be firing on all cylinders, and certainly Manuel Pellegrini will keep a close eye on his defense regardless of the score after witnessing what befell Liverpool at Selhurst Park on Monday. Look for a cautious but comfortable 2-1 City win, as the coronation comes one step closer.
Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]
However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.
Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.
They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.
The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.
Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.
[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]
Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.
The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.
[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]
Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0
Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.
[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]
Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw
Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.
[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]
Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.
Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.
Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.