Championship Sunday preview: Title showdown on Premier League finale

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After 370 games, 266 days and over nine months of grueling action, the final day of the Premier League season is almost upon us.

On “Championship Sunday” the PL title is still on the line as Manchester City and Liverpool go for the ultimate prize in English soccer.

Man City know a win at home to West Ham will seal the title, regardless of what Liverpool do against Newcastle, however if City slip up then Liverpool can pounce to win their first league title in 24 years. Is there one more twist in the tale?

MORE: Premier League TV schedule set for “Championship Sunday”

Whatever happens, we have you covered for a stunning finale in the PL as this Sunday you can watch every single game live on NBC’s family of channels as the season ends with a bang. Before all the madness begins there will be a pre-match show will you can watch on CNBC from 9-10 a.m. ET. Then after all 10 games play out you can watch a special post-match show on NBC & NBCSN from 12-2 p.m. ET To round off “Championship Sunday” in style NBCSN will have also have a 30 minute special on whichever team wins the championship from 2:00-2:30 p.m. ET.

Below are details on where to watch the game, plus a brief preview on what’s at stake for each side. Relegation, European places, PL titles, there’s still a lot to decide. Make sure you don’t miss one last exhilarating matchday before one of the most exciting PL seasons in history  comes to an end.

Enjoy the finale.

Liverpool vs. Newcastle United – live on NBCSN, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

The home fans at Anfield were hoping for much more than this on the final day, as dreams of a title procession have been replaced by nightmares of what could’ve been. Steven Gerrard’s slip in the home defeat to Chelsea two weeks ago could well prove to be the pivotal moment, while that catastrophic collapse against Crystal Palace didn’t help matters. That said, if Liverpool beat a lackluster Newcastle team and City lose, Brendan Rodgers will have delivered the Reds’ first-ever PL title.

Manchester City vs. West Ham United – live on NBC, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

City are the champions elect and only need a point at home to West Ham to seal the title in Manuel Pellegrini’s first season in the PL. City only went back to the top of the standings earlier this week and have had to play catch up for the last month due to their schedule, yet they’ve been bang in form with four wins from their last five. Sergio Aguero is back fit and only a stubborn Hammers outfit stand in the way of the PL trophy being held aloft at the Etihad on the final day of the season. City’s fans are ready to rule Manchester again, are their players ready to deliver?

Southampton vs. Manchester United – live on SyFy, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

United’s nightmare is almost over, as they head to the South Coast to play Southampton on Sunday. If Ryan Giggs’ men win and Tottenham Hotspur lose to Aston Villa, the Red Devils will have the scant consolation of finishing in sixth place and qualifying for the Europa League. Saints have equaled their best ever PL finish of eighth and have accumulated a record number of points, so they will be no pushovers for the reigning champions, as Mauricio Pochettino has a talented young squad of Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw et al.

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Aston Villa – live on USA, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

Spurs boss Tim Sherwood looks likely to be taking charge of his final game as Tottenham boss and the Londoner will want to make sure they finish in the top six. Since Andre-Villas Boas was fired earlier this season Spurs have been up and down with many of their new signings underachieving massively. Can they pull out one more good performance for Sherwood against a Villa side just happy to be safe for another season? Spurs only need a point to guarantee top six spot and European soccer next season.

Cardiff City vs. Chelsea – live on CNBC, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

Chelsea stuck in the title race almost until the end but in the last few weeks defeats to Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa has cost them dear. Jose Mourinho’s side are a work in progress but  came so close to reaching a UEFA Champions League final. They come up against a Cardiff team who are already relegated as eccentric Malaysian owner Vincent Tan has a lot to answer for after firing Malky Mackay. New boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer just couldn’t turn the ship around but can Cardiff shock Chelsea to finish the season in style?

Fulham vs. Crystal Palace – live on E!, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

A London derby down by the banks of the River Thames, as Fulham have also been relegated and Crystal Palace are all but set to finish in an impressive 11th place. When these two teams met in October Fulham won 4-1 and it was the end for old Palace boss Ian Holloway. Since new man Tony Pulis has arrived, he’s worked wonders and the Eagles have soared to safety and up the standings. No pressure on either side in this match when many thought it would be a relegation battle down to the wire.

Hull City vs. Everton – live on Bravo, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

The Tigers have one eye on the club’s first-ever FA Cup final against Arsenal at Wembley on May 17, as their PL season has petered out. Hull managed to stave off relegation and now their players have a chance to audition for the cup final when Everton roll into town. Roberto Martinez has had a superb first season in charge of the Toffees and has delivered European soccer for the first time since 2009 with a fifth placed finish guaranteed. They pushed Arsenal all the way for the top four, so can Everton’s silky attackers flourish one more time this season at the KC Stadium?

Norwich City vs. Arsenal – live on MSNBC, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

Mathematically the Canaries are not relegated… but they might as well be. Three points from safety and a 17 goals worse off than West Brom above them they would need a bizarre set of results, and to beat Arsenal heavily at Carrow Road, to stand any chance of staying up. A poor season from the PL’s lowest scorers who fired Chris Hughton and never recovered. As for Arsenal, their focus is also on the FA Cup final as they search for their first piece of silverware in nine years. Arsene Wenger has delivered a top four spot again but they were top of the standings for so long. That blip after the festive period hit them hard.

Sunderland vs. Swansea City – live on Esquire, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

Gus Poyet’s side have delivered a miracle in the final weeks of the season as the Black Cats looked dead and buried. Four wins on the spin to head into the final game has secured Sunderland’s safety as away wins at Chelsea and Manchester United have surprised everyone. Swansea are safe under young manager Garry Monk who took over midseason, as the shackles will be off and both teams aim to express themselves at the Stadium of Light.

West Bromwich Albion vs. Stoke City – live on Oxygen, 10:00 a.m. ET and stream online via Live Extra

As we mentioned, a mad swing in the goal differential could see the Baggies go down and Norwich stay up, but that isn’t going to happen. Stoke travel down the M6 having all but secured their first-ever top 10 finish in the PL, while West Brom are just grateful to be in the top-flight for another season. Two Midlands clubs will square off at the Hawthorns with both teams aiming to finish the campaign off on a high.

West Bromwich rejects latest bid from Man City for Evans

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Manchester City’s latest transfer target is a Premier League veteran, but he’s not going without a fight.

West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis confirmed that the club had rejected a transfer bid for former Manchester United centerback Jonny Evans from Manchester City. It’s reported that the transfer bid was worth $23.2 million and that Man City are willing to up it to around $28.3 million, though Pulis isn’t budging.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

“We have turned down an offer for Jonny,” Pulis said. “We do not want to sell Jonny and we do not need to sell him. It would have to be a very, very good offer.

“Jonny understands the situation and where everything is. Jonny is happy here and wants to get on with his football. He is one of our best players. We all understand where we are.”

Evans has made 61 starts over the past two seasons for West Bromwich but it’s a question as to whether he’d be first choice at Manchester City, with Vincent Kompany, John Stones and even Nicolas Otamendi ahead of Evans in the pecking order.

Meanwhile, it doesn’t make sense for West Bromwich to sign one of its top players at this point in the transfer window, with less than a month to find a replacement in both the dressing room and on the field.

For all the talk about needing to improve defensively over the offseason, Man City manager Pep Guardiola has so far only been able to bring in new fullbacks, but perhaps his 3-5-2 formation displayed in the opening match of the season can provide more defensive stability for the team, even if Kompany misses extensive time with injury like in the past.

Pique: For first time in career, Barca star feels “inferior to Madrid”

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Gerard Pique does not have the sort of personality that makes admitting defeat an easy proposition.

The longtime Barcelona center back is raging after his side was beaten 5-1 over two legs by rivals Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup.

[ MORE: Barca releases statement on terror attacks ]

And for the first time in his life, he thinks Barca is a step behind its El Clasico enemies. From The Telegraph:

“This is a long process and there is room for improvement but in the nine years that I have been here, it is the first time that I feel inferior to Madrid,” Piqué said. “We are not in the best moment, either as a team or as a club. We must stay as close as possible and keep moving forwards.”

Barcelona looked very poor in the second leg of the Super Cup, though the club did hammer the woodwork on multiple occasions. Real is the best team in the world, which makes being its rival a real hassle.

In fact, both clubs have been 1-2 in the world for some time, which has to make it extra perplexing when you’re No. 2 to only the club you despise more than any other.

Bundesliga preview: Schalke, BVB chase Bayern Munich

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The last time Schalke spent a season outside of European football, the celebrated German club finished second in the league en route to a Champions League semifinal the following campaign.

That’s one of the only silver linings from last season’s disappointing 10th place finish, 19 points behind fourth place Hoffenheim.

[ MORE: Schalke’s teen American impact ]

“Naturally, nobody is happy about not playing international this year,” center back Benedikt Howedes told ProSoccerTalk. “During the week we currently have more time to focus on the next opponent. We will battle the European positions with many teams this season. I think, the race is up in the air. The Bundesliga is very balanced.”

World Cup winner Howedes has 334 appearances for Schalke (Getty Images).

Schalke’s tumulutous 2016-17 season started poorly and never really found its footing. The club lost its first five league matches under Markus Weinzierl, who was fired in June, and saw marquee transfers Naldo, Breel Embolo, and Coke miss a lot of time through injuries.

Enter 31-year-old Domenico Tedesco. Don’t let the age fool you, he’s the boss not a player, and youth will be part of the team as well. Schalke still has Embolo, Max Meyer and Leon Goretzka, American teen Weston McKennie has been promoted to the first team, and Amine Harit has arrived from Nantes.

From the outside, that puts an emphasis on veteran leadership. Fortunately for Schalke, it has living club legend Howedes and ex-Man City defender Matija Nastasic amongst others in the fold.

“The spirit, if you could be in the locker room, it’s amazing,” McKennie told PST. “It doesn’t matter how old you are.”

[ MORE: Guide to two promoted Bundesliga teams ]

In the case of Nastasic, who won the Premier League with Manchester City in 2013-14, his 24 years carry a lot of experience. He’s thrived at Fiorentina, become a staple of the Serbian national team, and rebounding from his injury-hit time at City and is a leader at Schalke.

And those young guys can learn from Nastasic, who’s seen it all at 24.

“When I just arrived in Italy I was only 18 and it was the first year out of my country,” Nastasic told PST. “I didn’t expect at the beginning that I would play that much. Then I changed to England, and it was totally different. Italy is more tactical. Football in England is physical with a lot of tempo and running. I was young also without so much experience but when I was fit I think I played good.”

Schalke will need its young attack to find more goals. Its defense was Top Five in goals conceded last season, but its 45 goals was mid-table.

“Everyone knows that last season was not as good as we had expected,” Howedes said. “With our new coach, we want to improve our game and make our fans happy again. We are training hard and I am sure, that we will be more constant and improve our performances this season.”

[ MORE: First female ref to make Bundesliga debut ]

“From the team I expect a much better season than last year,” Nastasic adds. “We are not playing international games so maybe that’s an advantage for us. We can concentrate on the Bundesliga.”

Both Nastasic and Howedes heaped praise on McKennie, as well as American teammate Haji Wright, who will spend the season on loan to Sandhausen, and the game overseas in general.

“Haji Wright started spectacular,” Howedes said. “For young players the most important thing is to play. On loan in Sandhausen the chance is greater than here. I rejoice for him he get this opportunity. The step in the 2.Bundesliga can be a good beginning of his career.

“The American soccer is really developing the last years. It is no coincidence that a lot of great players like Kaka and Gerrard joined Major League Soccer. And who knows, I also can imagine to play there some day in the future.”

Different champs (but probably not different champs): Bayern Munich will neither have Xabi Alonso nor Philipp Lahm this season, but that doesn’t mean they are runaway favorites to claim its 27th title and sixth-straight since Borussia Dortmund’s two-year reign ended with the 2011-12 crown. Carlo Ancelotti has reloaded with James Rodriguez and Corentin Tolisso, and will be favored to hold off BVB for the crown.

Here’s to the new Bosz: USMNT phenom Christian Pulisic is already making an impact in the mind of his new coach, Peter Bosz, and the manager will be pleased to note that reports say Pulisic has no interest in looking into his future until after the 2018 World Cup.

Sleepers? Eintracht Frankfurt dropped into 11th last season, and may benefit from not finishing in a European place. The club has added Mexican national teamer Carlos Saucedo, Dutch star Jetro Willems, and well-traveled Jonathan De Guzman for its new season.

Americans Abroad:
John Brooks (Wolfsburg)
Julian Green (Stuttgart)
Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)
Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach)
McKennie (Schalke)
Timothy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Bobby Wood (Hamburg)
Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen *expected to be sold)
Caleb Stanko (Freiburg)

Old faces, new places:
Serge Gnabry (Hoffenheim, on loan from Bayern Munich)
Mahmoud Dahoud (Borussia Dortmund, from ‘Gladbach)
Mathew Leckie (Hertha BSC, from Ingolstadt)
Sven Bender (Bayer Leverkusen, from BVB)
Marcel Heller (Augsburg, from Darmstadt)
Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Hamburg, from Bayer)
John Brooks (Wolfsburg, from Hertha)
Paul Verhaegh (Wolfsburg, from Augsburg)
Holger Badstuber (Stuttgart, from Bayern)

New faces, new places:
James Rodriguez (Bayern Munich)
Jonathan Klinsmann (Hertha BSC)
Reece Oxford (Gladbach, on loan from West Ham)
Harit (Schalke)
Jonathan de Guzman (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Jetro Willems (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Carlos Salcedo (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Viktor Fischer (Mainz)

Opening weekend
Bayern Munich vs. Bayer Leverkusen — Friday
Hamburg vs. Augsburg — Saturday
Hertha Berlin vs. Stuttgart — Saturday
Hoffenheim vs. Werder Bremen — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Mainz vs. Hannover 96 — Saturday
Schalke vs. RB Leipzig — Saturday
Freiburg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Sunday
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Koln — Sunday

FC Barcelona releases statement after terror attack

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FC Barcelona found tragedy at home on Thursday when a terrorist plot unfolded in Las Ramblas, killing 13 and injuring more than 100.

Las Ramblas is just a 20-minute ride from the Camp Nou, and the Catalan club hosts Real Betis on Sunday.

[ MORE: Another American teen making Bundesliga name ]

A terrorist-driven rental van was driven at 50 mph through a crowded plaza. As of post time, two men had been arrested but the driver remained on the loose.

Saying it was sickened by the attack, FCB announced it will fly flags at half-mast, wear black arm bands during the match and hold a minute’s silence.

Here’s the full statement:

FC Barcelona wants to express its profound sorrow and utter disgust at the terrorist attack that has hit the heart of our city, la Rambla de Barcelona. The Club wishes to send our support and thoughts to the victims, their families and friends as well as the people of Barcelona and its visitors.

As a mark of respect, the flags will fly at half-mast at the Club’s facilities and the players from both teams will wear black armbands in all the Club’s matches this weekend.

On Sunday, before the 2017/18 La Liga opener against Betis, the Camp Nou will hold a minutes silence in recognition and memory of the victims.