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Premier League Power Rankings: Settling into a groove

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At this point in the season, power rankings begin to feel a lot closer to the actual table than an experiment in form.

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After all, teams in bad position are playing with mounds of pressure on their shoulders and not always picking up big results. And solid teams might have a poor result here or there, but usually nothing shocking.

Well, besides Swansea City and Liverpool.

[ ARCHIVE: All of PST’s Power Rankings ]

Here are this week’s rankings.

TEAM RANKING
source: 20 (20) Sunderland: The loss at West Brom just further proof of a lack of inspiration in the squad.
source: 19 (19) Crystal Palace: Now in the drop zone, Big Sam needs Wilfried Zaha back from AFCON in a big way.
Hull City logo 18 (17) Hull City: Zero shame in losing at Chelsea, but it doesn’t get easier as Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal are next.
source: 17 (18) Swansea City: The win at Liverpool is the type that can change a season.
source: 16 (16) Watford: The Hornets have not won a league game since Dec. 10, its only PL win since mid-November.
200px-Middlesbrough_crest 15 (15) Middlesbrough: Jese would be nice.
Leicester City logo 14 (13) Leicester City: AFCON was always going to be a problem with Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani on the books.
source: 13 (12) Bournemouth: The Watford draw somehow feels like a loss for Eddie Howe‘s bunch.
source: 12 (14) Southampton: Usually we don’t account for Cup momentum in the PRs, but with Wembley on the minds and a big win over Leicester City, Saints feel a lot better this week.
source: 11 (10) Stoke City: No shame in drawing Manchester United.
source: 10 (11) West Ham United: We are almost convinced that the Irons have turned the corner. Healthy Andy Carroll is almost unstoppable.
burnley fc crest 9 (8) Burnley: Forget the controversial ending, the Clarets showed us a bit about their mettle in the 2-1 loss to Arsenal.
source: 8 (9) West Bromwich Albion: Easy win over Sunderland.
Logo_Manchester_City 7 (7) Manchester City: Same place, and were tempted to move them up considering referee and not player error may’ve cost them a win versus Tottenham.
Source: Everton FC 6 (6) Everton: Was a lot of work beating Palace.
source: 5 (4) Liverpool: We can talk AFCON absences, but the Reds didn’t lose to Swansea for lack of attack.
source: 4 (3) Manchester United: Stoke draw really needed to be a win, not that the Red Devils didn’t deserve all three points.
source: 3 (4) Arsenal: Good mettle to hold off Burnley. All wins are wins (it’s science).
source: 2 (2) Tottenham Hotspur: Fortunate not to lose versus Man City, but fortune is needed in a title push. Ask Leicester.
source: 1 (1) Chelsea: Really good team. Really. Let’s hope to see Nathan Ake get his chance to shine.

Real Madrid come from behind to win in Club World Cup semis

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Real Madrid made things on Wednesday a bit more complicated than they would have preferred, but the two-time defending European champions are through to the final of the Club World Cup for the second straight year.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million ]

Zinedine Zidane’s men came from behind to beat United Arab Emirates side Al Jazira (winners of the U.A.E. Pro League, the tournament’s host country), courtesy of second-half goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, 2-1 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Al Jazira held a 1-0 halftime lead, thanks to Romarinho’s opening goal in the 41st minute. The advantage lasted just a dozen minutes, though, as Ronaldo used Madrid’s first genuine chance of the game to bring Los Blancos back onto level terms in the 53rd minute. Luka Modric slipped the Portuguese superstar through, and the recently crowned Ballon d’Or winner finished with ease to make it 1-1.

[ MORE: West Ham targeting Wilshere in January transfer window ]

The winner didn’t come for quite some time after that, as Madrid were made to wait — and work — for their place in Saturday’s final, where they’ll face Brazilian side and Copa Libertadores winners Gremio. Bale had only just come off the bench seconds earlier, when Lucas Vazquez cut the ball back for Bale to hit it hard and low past the goalkeeper.

The Welshman nearly made it 3-1 with four minutes to go in regular time, but his scissor from the edge of the box was saved to deny Madrid a stunning insurance goal very late on.

Madrid are aiming to become the first side to win back-to-back Club World Cup titles after beating Kashima Antlers, 4-2 after extra-time, in the 2016 final.

Watch Live: Man City, Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs in action

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Seven Premier League games are coming your way from 2:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and you can watch them all live online.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]

Manchester City head to Swansea looking to extend their winning streak to a record-breaking 15-straight in a season, while Manchester United host Bournemouth and Tottenham welcome Brighton to Wembley. There’s a big London derby between West Ham and Arsenal, while Liverpool host West Brom, in-form Leicester head to Southampton and struggling Newcastle clash with Everton.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for the seven games on Wednesday is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


Wednesday’s Premier League schedule

2:45 p.m. ET: Swansea City vs. Manchester City – NBCSN [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Newcastle United vs. Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Southampton vs. Leicester City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM

3 p.m. ET: Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Manchester United vs. Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Brighton & Hove Albion – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: West Ham United vs. Arsenal – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Copa Sudamericana finals, leg 2: Flamengo vs. Independiente

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SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Germany’s players have big-money incentive to win World Cup

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BERLIN (AP) Germany’s players will each receive $410,000 bonus if the team defends its World Cup title next year in Russia.

The German soccer federation says it has agreed to a performance-related bonus system for the team, as it did for the successful 2014 World Cup campaign and the last two European Championships.

Bonuses will only be paid upon reaching the quarterfinals, when each player would receive $90,000. That will increase to $150,000 for reaching the semifinals, $175,000 for third place and $235,000 for reaching the final.

Only Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962) have won back-to-back World Cup titles.