Spain roundup: Anyone wanna win a title? Barca, Real, Atleti stumble

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Our editor Joe Prince-Wright asked if there was a punishment for winning La Liga, and that question seems even more relevant on Sunday after the big three collected two out of nine points for the second consecutive week.

Barcelona — yes, Barcelona — could not find a goal on the road at Elche. Despite the Blaugranas out-attempting the hosts 20-6, and holding Elche to zero shots on frame, the teams shared the points with a 0-0 score line.

Real Madrid seized that opportunity by… losing at Celta Vigo. Thirty-year-old Charles Dias de Oliveira scored on both sides of halftime as the hosts beat a Real side 2-0 who did not play Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo.

And so there was Atletico Madrid with an opportunity to clinch its first La Liga title since 1996 with a win at home against Malaga. This was a visiting side that had claimed two points from its last five matches against Atleti.

But they couldn’t find the goal after 45 minutes, and Samuel’s goal in the 65th minute had the home side on the ropes. Atletico was down 1-0, but managed an equalizer less than 10 minutes later when Jose Sosa’s cross was nodded home by Toby Alderweireld. It was the first La Liga goal of the season for the 25-year-old Belgian, and it was a big one.

The match ended 1-1, which means a draw next week at Barcelona will suffice for Atleti to win the league, but who’s betting against Barca now? With Atleti and Real still setting up for a UEFA Champions League final on May 24, Barca only has to focus on 90 minutes next weekend to win its fifth La Liga crown in six seasons.

ELSEWHERE

  • Real Betis 4-3 Valladolid — Just when it looked Betis has licked the stamp on its miserable season, the condemned side scored in stoppage time to keep the visitors in relegation danger.
  • Villarreal 4-0 Rayo Vallecano — The ma
  • Levante 2-0 Valencia— Massive ro
  • Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Real Sociedad — Twenty-five total shots but just two goals as the sides share points.
  • Getafe 1-0 Sevilla — There’s no substitute for desparation; Getafe is three points safe after outshooting the No. 5 team in the table 14-4 en route to the win. Sergio Escudero picks up the lone goal in the 70th minute.
  • Espanyol 1-1 Osasuna – This draw coupled with Almeria’s win keeps Osasuna into the final relegation space heading into the final weekend.
  • Granada 0-2 Almeria– The visitors leapt over their No. 17 in the table hosts to join the ranks of the temporarily safe on goals from Verza and Aleix Vidal.

Standings

 

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Atlético Madrid 37 28 5 4 76 25 51 15-4-0 13-1-4 89
Barcelona 37 27 5 5 99 32 67 16-1-1 11-4-4 86
Real Madrid 37 26 6 5 101 37 64 15-1-2 11-5-3 84
Athletic 37 20 9 8 66 39 27 13-4-2 7-5-6 69
Sevilla 37 17 9 11 66 51 15 10-4-4 7-5-7 60
Real Sociedad 37 16 11 10 61 53 8 11-4-3 5-7-7 59
Villarreal 37 16 8 13 58 43 15 9-6-4 7-2-9 56
Celta Vigo 37 14 7 16 48 52 -4 6-7-6 8-0-10 49
Levante 37 12 12 13 35 42 -7 7-6-6 5-6-7 48
Valencia 37 12 10 15 49 52 -3 9-3-6 3-7-9 46
Rayo Vallecano 37 13 4 20 45 78 -33 8-0-10 5-4-10 43
Espanyol 37 11 9 17 40 48 -8 7-5-7 4-4-10 42
Málaga 37 11 9 17 38 46 -8 7-2-9 4-7-8 42
Elche 37 9 13 15 29 47 -18 6-8-5 3-5-10 40
Almería 37 11 6 20 43 71 -28 6-5-7 5-1-13 39
Getafe 37 10 9 18 33 53 -20 6-6-7 4-3-11 39
Granada 37 11 5 21 31 56 -25 7-1-11 4-4-10 38
Osasuna 37 9 9 19 30 61 -31 5-5-8 4-4-11 36
Valladolid 37 7 15 15 38 59 -21 6-9-3 1-6-12 36
Betis 37 6 7 24 35 76 -41 5-3-11 1-4-13 25

Baroni fired by Serie A basement club Benevento

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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

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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

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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

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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.