After a long, winding road, which for some teams began way back in July, the day has finally come. It’s the day of the Champions League final! And if you’re not excited, well, you’re probably jaded by life in general.
This year’s UEFA Champions League final has already made history: it’s the first time two teams from the same city will meet in the final game of the tournament. Today in Lisbon, Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid will play out the 265th edition of El Derbi madrileño on one of the world’s biggest stages.
(READ MORE: PREVIEWING LISBON’S MADRID DERBY)
But for one side, the stakes are even higher than usual. Real Madrid are fighting to win their 10th European Cup, a trophy they’ve been striving for since 2002, when Zinedine Zidane put in a spectacular goal to ensure los merengues triumphed over Bayer Leverkusen.
Twelve years have passed since Real Madrid made it to the final. But they arrive in Lisbon not on the back of a bout of good luck, but because reaching the final has been their goal the entire season. Carlo Ancelotti said on Friday,
We began the season thinking in this objective, to reach this final, to win ‘La Decima.’ We have achieved that. For all madridistas, tomorrow is a special day. Everyone knows the importance of this competition for Real Madrid, and my job is to do the best. I said that on first day I came here, I would do the best I could to win this competition, and we are very close.
Close, perhaps, but that tenth trophy isn’t in hand yet. And considering their opponents won La Liga this season, Real can’t be expecting that their crowning will be a mere formality.
Week 28 of the Premier League season is here and the main talking points are the battle for the top four and the ever-changing relegation situation.
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Remember: due to the League Cup final on Sunday, finalists Arsenal will host Manchester City on Thursday, Mar. 1 as they were also scheduled to play in the PL this weekend. That worked out smoothly.
The full TV schedule for the games this weekend are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.
Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.
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You can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” at for all the goals as they go in around the grounds. Goal Rush is available via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App.
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If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.
Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days. Enjoy.
FULL TV SCHEDULE
7:30 a.m. ET: Leicester City vs. Stoke City – CNBC [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Liverpool vs. West Ham – CNBC [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Bournemouth vs. Newcastle United – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Brighton vs. Swansea City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Burnley vs. Southampton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Brom vs. Huddersfield Town – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
12:30 p.m. ET: Watford vs. Everton – NBC [STREAM]
7 a.m. ET: Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur – NBCSN [STREAM]
9:05 a.m. ET: Manchester United vs. Chelsea – NBCSN [STREAM]
Petr Cech and Ederson will watch from the bench as their clubs start the League Cup Final on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola announced that Manchester City will turn to Claudio Bravo between the sticks against Arsenal, which has already appointed David Ospina as its backstop for the final.
[ MORE: Europa League draw ]
And if you think Pep, having seen his side lose to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup, should go back to Ederson for the final, he gets it.
“You can have an opinion, I am the manager. We are here for Claudio. He saved two lots of penalties. He deserves to play in the final. The locker room is more important than the final.”
The points aren’t completely independent, of course, but at this point the final is pretty darn important as Man City could see its trophy potential drop from 4-2 in little more than a week’s time.
Bravo has played just 45 minutes in the Premier League, against Liverpool in relief of Ederson, but has been the man for each of eight League and FA Cup matches.
City has just one clean sheet in that group, but won the seven matches apart from the 1-0 Wigan defeat. Two of those, against Wolves and Leicester, came in penalty kicks.
Arsenal’s path to the UEFA Champions League just got a whole lot tougher.
[ MORE: Arsenal loses 2nd leg, advances ]
Already eight points back of the Premier League’s Top Four, the Gunners have drawn Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan in the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16.
The first leg is March 8 at the San Siro before moving to the Emirates a week later.
Milan is currently 7th in Serie A despite its big-spending summer, and faces a similar problem to the Gunners; Gattuso’s men need to make up eight points on Lazio and seven on fifth-place Inter Milan.
Elsewhere, Moscovian sides CSKA and Lokomotiv got no favors with trips to Lyon and Atletico Madrid, respectively.
Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund will be pleased to see Red Bull Salzburg, while the latter’s sister club, RB Leipzig, was held apart from it by a draw with Zenit Saint-Petersbug.
Here’s the draw in full.
UEFA Europa League Round of 16
Lazio vs. Dynamo Kiev
RB Leipzig vs. Zenit St Petersburg
Atletico Madrid vs. Lokomotiv Moscow
CSKA Moscow vs. Lyon
Marseille vs. Athletic Bilbao
Sporting Lisbon vs. Viktoria Plzen
Borussia Dortmund vs. Red Bull Salzburg
AC Milan vs. Arsenal
After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.
[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]
If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.
There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.
Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.