UEFA Champions League playoff round preview: Oh, those second legs

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Noon ET brings us the first of five UEFA Champions League second legs, as Zenit St. Petersburg and Standard Liege look to advance into the group stage.

Those matches will be joined by five more on Wednesday, and tightly-contested — for the most part — first legs have launched us into a busy and potentially-tense 48 hours of soccer.

Russian international Oleg Shatov’s goal in Liege last week gave Zenit that all-important away goal heading into this afternoon’s tilt. It’s 1-0 to the hosts when the two clubs kick off from Petrovsky Stadium.

[ RELATED: Real Madrid rolls out dragon-themed kits for UCL ]

Tuesday’s four remaining games kick at 245 p.m. ET, and only Porto will be feeling much ease after securing an away goal from Mexico’s Hector Herrera in a 1-0 win away at Lille. The French club will need to do work on the road to advance.

Celtic and Maribor, AaB and APOEL, and BATE Borisov’s match with Slovan Bratislava are all knotted at 1 heading into the second leg. Scotland, Cyprus and Belarus are the locales for today’s matches.

Looking ahead to Wednesday, Arsenal’s task of defeating Besiktas at the Emirates will happen without captain Mikel Arteta, suspended midfielder Aaron Ramsey and injured forward Olivier Giroud.

[ RELATED: No Giroud for UCL clash, will Wenger look outside club? ]

Copenhagen needs to thrive in Germany, as they allowed Bayer Leverkusen to pot three away goals in a one-goal loss last week.

Malmo enters its second leg against Red Bull Salzburg knowing they’re down a goal but have an away goal in their back pocket after a 2-1 loss in Austria, while Romania’s Steaua Bucaresti boasts a 1-0 advantage heading into Sofia for a match with Ludogorets Razgrad.

Finally, Athletic Bilbao and Napoli drew 1-1 in Italy, setting the stage for a fun second leg in Spain.

Predicted to advance: Zenit, Bayer Leverkusen, Celtic, Porto, Besiktas, Steaua Bucaresti, Napoli, Malmo, BATE Borisov, AaB

Soccer world reacts to the Manchester attacks

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NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.

Soccer clubs, players and personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.

Juventus purchases Cuadrado from Chelsea

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If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.

The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.

Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.

Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.

Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.

Report: Jermain Defoe meeting with Bournemouth

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Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.

Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.

[ MORE: ‘The Moment’ of each PL club’s season ]

The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.

Chelsea’s Conte wins pair of top managerial honors

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Antonio Conte took league and national honors from the League Managers Association on Monday night.

The Chelsea boss was named Premier League Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year after leading the Blues to the PL title and an FA Cup Final in his first year on the job.

Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton nabbed another Championship boss of the year award after leading the Gulls to the Premier League. He also won the honor with Newcastle United in 2010.

The League One winner is Chris Wilder of Sheffield United. Wilder won the honor with Northampton Town last season.

In League Two, Paul Cook of Portsmouth was named the winner.