Game On: South American Saturday continues, Colombia vs. Uruguay up next

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Free-scoring Colombia take on Luis Suarez-less Uruguay in Rio de Janiero at the Maracana on Saturday.

Colombia has been one of the best teams of the tournament so far, racking up three wins from three and scoring nine goals in the process. As for Uruguay, Diego Godin’s late header in their final group game vs. Italy sent La Celest through to the last 16 as they recovered from their opening game defeat to Costa Rica.

The two sides have met 38 times in history, with Uruguay winning 18 and Colombia taking 11.

It will be a rambunctious affair in the famous Maracana, as both teams will be supported heavily by a vast army of travelling fans.

This could go all the way to extra time and penalties, so expect a tight and rambunctious affair in Rio.

[ MORE: Colombia hammer Japan | Uruguay beat Italy to go through ]
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LINEUPS

Colombia: Ospina; Armero, Yepes (c), Zapata, Zúñiga; Aguilar, Sánchez, Cuadrado, James; Jackson, Teo.

Uruguay: Muslera, Godin (c), Pereira, Rodriguez, Forlan, Gimenez, Pereira, Arevalo, Gonzalez, Cavani, Caceres

Talking points

How much will Uruguay miss Suarez? 

This is the HUGE question around this game as La Celeste prepare for life after Suarez. Following his bite on Giorgio Chiellini in their final group game vs. Italy, Suarez has been banned for four months by FIFA and is out of the rest of the World Cup. Edinson Cavani has looked a shadow of the player who ripped it up with Napoli in years gone by but now he needs to step up and shine in Suarez’s absence. He is Uruguay’s only hope up top.

Can Colombia score early… and often?

With the likes of James Rodriguez and Jackson Martinez ripping it up for Colombia in the group stages, they are riding a wave of euphoria into the knockout rounds. If Colombia scores early, in front of what is bound to be a huge number of their own supporters, things could get out of hand. Just imagine if star striker Radamel Falcao would have been fit for the World Cup?

Expectations 

If Colombia score early it will force Uruguay to attack and this game could become a real cracker. However, the likelihood is that Uruguay will sit back, frustrate Colombia and try to score on a set piece like they did vs. Italy.

One blogger’s prediction

This will be a close encounter between two teams who know eachother very well. Expect late challenges, heated tempers and some staunch defense. It will be a real clash of styles at the Maracana, one that Colombia should just sneak with their superior attacking talents. Losing Suarez will prove costly for Uruguay.

Watch Live: West Brom v. Liverpool

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West Bromwich Albion host Liverpool on Saturday at the Hawthorns (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Premier League’s bottom team aim to pull off another shock win to keep their faint survival hopes alive.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

The Baggies won 1-0 at Manchester United last time to delay their impending relegation as well as hand Manchester City the title and interim boss Darren Moore will want to grab another big win as the Baggies aim to try and pull off the greatest of escapes. Anything other than a win could see West Brom relegated this weekend.

As for Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp‘s men have cemented their spot in the top four and will have one eye on a big week of European action.

In team news West Brom have Jonny Evans back fit and on the bench but are unchanged from the win at Man United, while Liverpool rest several players ahead of their UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg against Roma.

Andrew Robertson, Roberto Firmino, Alexander-Arnold and Oxlade-Chamberlain are all on the bench with Joe Gomez returning to the starting lineup.

LINEUPS

West Brom

Liverpool

VIDEO: Sporting KC’s Medranda scores wonder goal in win over Vancouver

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Sporting KC showed again on Friday night why they’re the rightful leaders at the top of the Western Conference, pulling four points ahead of the LA Galaxy and the Vancouver Whitecaps with a dominating 6-0 win over the Whitecaps at home.

Scottish forward Johnny Russell bagged a hat-trick in the game, all by the 48th minute, but the highlight of the night came off the foot of 24-year-old Jimmy Medranda. The Colombian scored an absolute worldie from a ridiculous angle, taking the space given to him outside the top-left corner of the box and sailing it over the head of Vancouver goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic and into the back of the net.

It was, of course, massively beneficial to Sporting KC that Vancouver went two men down in the 40th minute after a huge skirmish that saw Yordy Reyna and Efrain Juarez both sent off. Reyna earned his marching orders for throwing Russell to the ground, while Juarez reportedly used unacceptable language.

Still, KC was already up 3-0 when the incident occurred, and credit must go to teams that take advantage of what has been handed to them. Sporting KC certainly did that as Russell becomes the first Scotsman to score an MLS hat-trick since Colorado’s John Spencer in 2001, and Medranda’s wonder goal sealed the deal past the half-hour mark.

Jurgen Klopp already wants a piece of Man City next season

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Manchester City may have run away with the Premier League title this year, but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp can’t wait for a clean slate to try and challenge City’s title defense next season.

The Reds are into the Champions League semifinals and also looking to finish the Premier League season strong in a battle for positioning in the top four, but when asked about next year, Klopp was giddy.

“Of course I don’t fear the challenge,” Klopp said in his prematch press conference ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League visit to West Brom on Saturday morning.

The German made it clear he wants a piece of Manchester City next season. “This year, if City plays a normal season – which they didn’t do – then it would have been really close until the end because we are now all close together.”

“United is four points ahead [of Liverpool], Tottenham is two points behind. It’s a real fight for these positions. All big six pretty much delivered this year but City delivered the best. We will see. It’s difficult to deal with success as it is difficult to deal with other things in football but I’m pretty sure they will be strong again.”

Liverpool is one of only two teams to beat City in league play this year, with Manchester United being the other. Klopp and company torched the City back line in a wild 4-3 victory that ended City’s 22-match unbeaten run. Ultimately, though, Klopp knows they have to look at the entire season as a whole to best the defending champs next year, not just their matches against each other.

“It’s not important how good City will be, it’s about how we can get all the other points, plus the points we got so far again,” he said. “That’s the job to do. That is why it is always possible that it is closer. But are they able to dominate? They don’t have a limit to spending and all that stuff so I don’t know.”

VIDEO: Goalkeeper sends Memphis Depay flying with skillful touch

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Former Manchester United attacker Memphis Depay has one of the brightest spots for Lyon this season that sees them battling with Monaco and Marseille for 2nd place behind a dominant PSG. He has scored 15 goals and assisted 11 others this Ligue 1 campaign, adding to his tally just four minutes into Friday’s 5-2 win over Dijon, the sixth win in a row for the club that pulled them within a point of Monaco.

However, there was a moment to forget for Depay in the victory as well.

With the score still at 1-1 in the 19th minute, Depay was sent high up the pitch to press Dijon goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet, owner of the leakiest net of the Ligue 1 season. Nevertheless, sometimes the underdog prevails, and that’s what happened as Depay flung himself at the ball to put Reynet under pressure.

One silky touch by the netminder was all it took for Depay to end up on his backside.

The 24-year-old Dutch winger has had a fantastic season and one that could potentially propel him back to the biggest stage and a bigger paycheck, but for now, we can all poke fun at his misery in the moment.