Gerard Pique signs new deal at Barcelona

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With a new era about to be ushered in at the Nou Camp, there will be at least one familiar face sticking around.

Star center back Gerard Pique has signed a new contract to stay with Barcelona.

Pique, 27, put pen to paper on a new four-year deal as the Spanish international is a key cog in the Catalan clubs masterplan. He will be part of the Blaugrana for quite some time but the ball-playing center back hasn’t always been with the Spanish giants.

He left Barcelona’s academy as a teenager to sign for Manchester United but with first-team opportunities limited at Old Trafford, Pique returned to Barcelona in 2008 and has racked up 266 appearances whilst winning four La Liga titles, two Champions League crowns and countless other trophies as a defensive lynchpin. With Spain he has also won the 2010 World Cup and European Championships in 2012, so he is no stranger to success. His experience will be key in the upcoming rebuild.

With new manager Luis Enrique arriving this summer, many believe a huge overhaul will take place at Barca as they aim to get back to winning ways after not lifting a single trophy in the 2013-14 season under former boss Gerardo Martino.

Our friends over Soccerly have all the details about Pique’s new deal, as the defender can now concentrate on playing well for Spain at the World Cup this summer (and hanging out with his popstar wife Shakira) before jetting back to Barcelona to help his team climb back to the top of Spanish and European soccer next season.

Gerard Piqué, who put pen to paper on his new five-year contract this morning, claimed that Barcelona have everything it takes to rise back to the summit of world football.

“Barcelona have to be at the top, winning trophies and making our presence felt among the elite of European and world football. We have the team and the coach, so we have all the ingredients to get back where we belong”, the defender stated.

Piqué also threw his weight behind the appointment of Luis Enrique as the club’s new coach: “I’m really excited. He showed that he has very clear ideas in his press conference. He knows the club very well and I think he’ll have a big impact”.

Europa League Preview: Everton, Milan look to make group stage

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Everton look to make it back into the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season and it has a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg of its tie.

Ronald Koeman and co. travel to Croatia to face Hadjuk Split Thursday having won the first leg at Goodison Park, 2-0. Everton is coming off a hard-fought draw on Monday with Manchester City and will be on short rest heading into the match.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, AC Milan take its 6-0 aggregate lead to Skopje, Macedonia as the legendary club looks to return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since 2013-2014.

Here’s a look at all of Thursday’s Europa League matches, with the current aggregate scores:

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EFL Cup Rewind: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

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Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

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The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

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On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET