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Club America relishing semifinal match against Real Madrid

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YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) Club America midfielder William da Silva is relishing his team’s Club World Cup semifinal match against Real Madrid on Thursday.

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The Mexican side came from behind to beat South Korean club Jeonbuk Hyundai 2-1 on Sunday, and is aiming to become the first club from the CONCACAF region to reach the Club World Cup final.

“It’s in the past the times where a jersey could win games by itself, instead of the players,” da Silva said Tuesday. “Today, the players are the ones who make difference. And I believe our team is strong enough to beat them.

“We know that, as players, if you compare name by name, they have a bigger history than we do. But, as they do, we also represent a great club.”

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Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has said that he knew little of Club America before this competition, but da Silva took no offense and insisted the players have to make an impression on the field.

“I am not surprised, to be honest, because that’s the truth. He’s telling the truth,” da Silva said. “But we will make ourselves known on Thursday. We have to do the things in the right way, push hard, work a lot, so we can achieve what we came here for.”

America has extra motivation — being the club’s centenary year — and da Silva is determined to mark the occasion with a fitting performance against Madrid.

“This is the match of our 100th anniversary. And it’s not happening because it was a gift given to us,” da Silva said. “On the contrary, we fought very hard to be here.”

Madrid also held a training session on Tuesday, and Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo was taking part at Mitsuzawa Stadium. He is expected to be back in the lineup for Thursday’s match after being rested for the 3-2 Spanish league win over Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday.

Madrid captain Sergio Ramos was absent, though, nursing a slight knock.

Madrid is huge favorite to pick up its second Club World Cup title and is unbeaten in all competitions since April 6. That run has set a club record, with the team undefeated in 35 games.

If Madrid does win the trophy in Yokohama on Sunday, it would add to Europe’s dominance of the competition, with the continent’s representative victorious in eight of the last nine editions.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Watford

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  • Chelsea are without N'Golo Kante, Victor Moses (both hamstring) and Danny Drinkwater (calf) is still absent.
  • Watford remain without Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Prodl (both thigh), plus long-term absentees Craig Cathcart, Nathaniel Chalobah and Isaac Success (all knee).
  • Watford have not won against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since 1986, but the Hornets have won 10 points of a possible 12 on the road. 
  • Chelsea have lost three of their first eight matches this season. No team has ever lost this many of their opening eight matches and still won the Premier League title.

Watford heads south for another London derby with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

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The Hornets have had an amazing start to the season and currently occupy fourth place on 15 points, two points ahead of fifth-place Chelsea, which has lost two-straight Premier League games. The Blues have struggled without N’Golo Kante and Alvaro Morata and there have been reports of grumbles from the squad about dissatisfaction with Antonio Conte‘s training methods, but the Chelsea coach has brushed those rumors off.

Meanwhile Watford is coming off a confidence-boosting win last weekend against fellow Londoners Arsenal, and the club is looking to take down another big club for a second-straight week.

What they’re saying

Watford manager Marco Silva on his team’s start“I want everybody to be really calm. We did really in the first eight matches but it’s too early. We want to continue to work hard every day. Everything changes fast and you need to keep going and treat the next game as the most important. But of course I feel proud.”

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte on being under pressure: “‘Do I feel the pressure? Every manager feels pressure, but I try to give all of myself into my job, so I’m happy when I go home because I know in every moment I give all of myself for the fans, the players and the club. In football you know anything can happen, but the most important thing is to work.”

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Prediction

Chelsea has its back against the wall but the team’s overall quality should be enough to see them through with all three points against Watford. The Hornets luck runs out in Stamford Bridge as Chelsea hold on for a late win. Chelsea 2-1 Watford

Leicester City record massive earnings from UEFA Champions League

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Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League campaign may have ended without a trophy, but the Premier League side pipped the European champions in the bank account.

UEFA announced on Friday that Leicester City earned $96,167,125 during the Champions League run that ended in the quarterfinals, the farthest of any Premier League club. Real Madrid, the back-to-back champions, earned a slightly less $95,385,679. Much of the difference comes from TV rights deals in England, which pays out more to teams compared to the TV rights deal in Spain.

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Juventus, the Italian giant, earned the most of any club in last year’s Champions League, making a whopping $129,965,357, mostly thanks to the TV rights again.

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic could return in December

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Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.

That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.

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“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.

However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.

Manchester City quartet called up by Brazil for friendlies

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Brazilian National Team coach Tite has decided on calling up a full-strength squad for November’s upcoming friendly matches in Europe, including four Manchester City players in his 25-man squad.

Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Danilo and Ederson all made the squad as Tite looks to develop more chemistry among his side ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil breezed into after Tite took over in 2016.

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Luckily for Manchester City and the other European-based players in the squad, Brazil’s friendly matches will be played in Western Europe. The Selecao first faces Japan in Lille, France on November 10 before taking on England at Wembley Stadium on November 14.

The call-ups may be a tough pill for Guardiola to swallow though. As of Friday, Manchester City has 17 games remaining in the calendar year, and surely he would prefer for some of his starters to get a two-week break in November to preserve some energy instead of play in friendly matches.