Game On: Lineups & talking points as Spain looks to bounce back against Chile

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The Spaniards get ready to put the Dutch embarassment behind them and charge into second place in Group B as they take on Chile at 3pm ET.

Spanish manager Vicente del Bosque has made two key changes to the lineup, removing Xavi and Gerard Pique from the starting XI that fell to the Netherlands 5-1 last time out.

In their places come Javi Martinez at the back and another striker in Pedro as del Bosque changes the formation to a 4-3-3.  With Diego Costa proving insignificant last time out, he may be helped with a pair of true wingers beside him.

The Chileans looked shaky to Australia last time out, but seeing the Dutch barely escape their matchup with the Socceroos today with their lives, that is a little more understandable. They will look to pull off another shocking defeat of Spain and put one foot into the knockout round.

[ MORE Group B: Netherlands rip Spain | Dutch escape Australian threat ]
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LINEUPS:

Spain – Casillas; Azpilicueta, Ramos, Javi Martínez, Alba; Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta; Silva, Costa. Pedro.

Chile -Bravo; Jara, Silva, Medel; Mena, Aránguiz, Díaz, Isla; Vargas, Vidal, Sánchez

Talking points

1. Can the new Spanish lineup perform better? It’s surprising that del Bosque removed Xavi, who was much better against the Netherlands than Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets, but it’s the 34-year-old who is axed in favor of another attacker.  With Spain so sloppy on the ball in the midfield on Friday, it will be interesting to see if they return to form or if they truly are a dying breed.

2. Is Chile truly up to the task? If Chile makes it to the knockout round, they surely will have earned it, and today is a crucial moment. If Spain grabs momentum back, it will be easy to put the disaster on Friday behind themselves and look forward towards clinching a knockout round berth against Australia in their final group match. However, if Chile does pick up a result today, it will be against the defending champions and could even knock them completely out of contention if things go right. What will happen?

3. Can Iker Casillas put his disastrous performance behind him? It would have been interesting to see how del Bosque handled the goalkeeping situation had David de Gea been fit, but with the Manchester United goalkeeper down with an injury, it was between Casillas and Pepe Reina, not as difficult of a decision.  Del Bosque looked to take pressure off his goalkeeper by declaring the loss wasn’t his fault, but Casillas has much to prove to Spain fans if he wishes to win them back.

Expectation: Chile is a dangerous side, but Spain is the defending champions, and while Alexis Sanchez has the opportunity to truly cement his name in World Cup history, it’s likely that the Spanish get back on their feet.

One blogger’s prediction: This will be an exciting and close match, but the Spaniards come out on top with a 2-1 win with goals from Iniesta and Pedro.

Wigan player races off for son’s birth after scoring 2 goals

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WIGAN, England (AP) It was better than a hat trick.

A player for English soccer team Wigan had a night to remember when he scored his second goal before dashing off the field and to the local hospital, where his girlfriend was in labor.

[ MORE: Chelsea advances to UCL Round of 16 after win over Qarabag ]

A picture of Ryan Colclough holding his new-born baby, Harley, while still in his soccer uniform was shared on social media by Wigan chairman David Sharpe.

Colclough said his father, sitting in the stands on Tuesday for Wigan’s 3-0 win over Doncaster in the second division, “gave me the action that the waters had broken,” but he didn’t want to come off until the ball was out of play.

“My head was a little bit battered, but I went and scored, looked at the manager and he said we’ll bring you off now,” Colclough said Wednesday of his 58th-minute goal, which he celebrated by pretending to rock a baby. “I came off and was straight down the tunnel, grabbed my keys and my phone, and went to hospital.”

Colclough had visited the midwife that day, and was told the baby was unlikely to arrive for “another couple of days.”

Lille suspends coach Marcelo Bielsa

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LILLE, France (AP) French club Lille has provisionally suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa following a string of poor results in the top tier.

[ MORE: Basel stuns Man United late to keep UCL hopes alive ]

The northern side said in a statement that Bielsa has been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club.” Lille did not elaborate.

Bielsa joined Lille this season but has failed to make the club competitive again, with the team second to last after 13 matches.

The 2 Robbies podcast: PL sides in the UCL, Pulis sacking and more

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In today’s Euro Pod Edition, the Robbies breakdown the latest Champions League action. Man United lose at Basel, Chelsea cruise at Qarabag, Spurs impress against Dortmund, Man City continue to win, Liverpool surrender a 3-goal lead against Sevilla. Plus, the guys weigh in on the Oumar Niasse ban for diving and the Tony Pulis sacking.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Europa League preview: Arsenal looks to wrap up Group H and more

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While several teams have already booked their place in the knockout phase, the Europa League reaches its penultimate round on Thursday with many big matches in hand.

[ MORE: Yannick Bolasie finally returns to Everton training ]

Of the two Premier League sides in the competition, only one will advance to the Round of 32, as Arsenal have all but assured themselves of the top spot in Group H. The Gunners can do so tomorrow with a win over Koln or a Red Star Belgrade defeat.

The other end of the spectrum features Everton, who has already been eliminated from reaching the next round after acquiring just one point in its first four matches.

European giants AC Milan can lock up a spot in the knockout phase on Thursday despite the club’s ongoing struggles in Serie A, while fellow Italian side Atalanta can move a step closer to the Round of 32 in Group E along with Lyon.

Here’s the full rundown of Thursday’s UEL matches.

Astana vs. Villareal — 11 a.m. ET
Konyaspor vs. Marseille — 1 p.m. ET
Rosenborg vs. Real Sociedad — 1 p.m. ET
Lazio vs. Vitesse — 1 p.m. ET
Viktoria Plzen vs. Steaua Bucuresti — 1 p.m. ET
Lokomotiv vs. Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit vs. Vardar — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Vitoria — 1 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao vs. Hertha Berlin — 1 p.m. ET
BATE vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Ostersund vs. Zorya — 1 p.m. ET
Koln vs. Arsenal — 1 p.m. ET
Nice vs. Zulte Waregem — 1 p.m. ET
Lugano vs. Beer-Sheva — 1 p.m. ET
Ludogorets vs. Istanbul — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga vs. Hoffenheim — 3:05 p.m. ET
AEK vs. Rijeka — 3:05 p.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Austria Wien — 3:05 p.m. ET
Lyon vs. Apollon — 3:05 p.m. ET
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Slavia Praha — 3:05 p.m. ET
Sheriff vs. Zlin — 3:05 p.m. ET
Partizan vs. Young Boys — 3:05 p.m. ET
Skenderbeu vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:05 p.m. ET
Everton vs. Atalanta — 3:05 p.m. ET