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European Cups roundup: Barca into Copa final; Bayern reach semis

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A roundup of Tuesday’s action in the Copa del Rey semifinals and DFB-Pokal quarterfinals…

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings — It’s all a mess behind Chelsea ]

Barcelona 1-1 (3-2) Atletico Madrid

Barcelona are through to their 39th Copa del Rey final, where they’ll play for their record 29th Spanish Cup triumph, following a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday (3-2 on aggregate). Luis Suarez fired Barca to a 3-1 aggregate lead just before halftime, at which point Luis Enrique’s side was cruising to a smooth, painless progression. Sergi Roberto was sent off in the 57th minute, though, as was Atleti’s Yannick Carrasco in the 69th minute, making the result all the more straightforward, or so we thought.

Atleti won a penalty in the 80th minute, only to see Kevin Gameiro’s effort glance off the crossbar and head for the stands behind the goal. Gameiro tapped home a brilliant ball from Antoine Griezmann three minutes later, though, to bring the visitors to within a goal of sending the tie to extra time. Luis Suarez was booked once in the 87th minute, then shown a straight red card for an elbow to the head of Koke in the 90th minute — which means he’ll be suspended for the final — forcing Barca to see out the game with nine men. That’s what we call making life unnecessarily difficult.

The Blaugrana will go into the May 27 final as massive favorites, as they’ll face the winner of Wednesday’s second semifinal second leg, between Alaves and Celta Vigo, which is currently all square at 0-0.

[ MORE: Philipp Lahm will retire this summer, at 33 ]


Bayern Munich 1-0 Wolfsburg

Douglas Costa scored the game’s only goal, as Carlo Ancelotti opted to field a full-strength side with critical Bundesliga games either side of Tuesday’s Cup quarterfinal. Philipp Lahm made his 501st appearance for the club — he was honored for his 500th, achieved over the weekend, prior to the game — and then it was reported by German newspaper Sport Bild that the 33-year-old will retire at the end of the season. Bayern are through to the semifinals, which puts them two games from (likely) sending the German legend out a double (at least) winner (again).

Hamburg 2-0 Kolk

Hamburg currently sit 16th of 18 teams in the Bundesliga (relegation playoff place), but they’re through to the semifinals of the German Cup after a 2-0 home win over Koln, which was capped off by the seventh goal of the season for U.S. national team striker Bobby Wood. (WATCH HERE) The last time Hamburg lifted a major domestic trophy, the date was June 20, 1987 (Cup).

Full DFB-Pokal scoreboard

Greuther Fuerth 0-2 Borussia Monchengladbach
FCA Walldorf 1-1 (4-5 PKs) Arminia Bielefeld

Report: Villarreal defender Semedo arrested on charges of alleged assault, kidnapping

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For the third time in the past four months, Ruben Semedo has found himself in trouble with the law.

According to a report from Spain, the Villarreal centerback was arrested Tuesday morning at his home on charges of assault, kidnapping and robbery. A complaint filed to the police by a victim alleges that Semedo and two others tied the victim up and locked the victim in a room in Semedo’s home.

Semedo and the others then allegedly took the victim’s keys and went to the victim’s house, where they allegedly stole money and/or other valuable items.

[READ: Wigan shock Man City in FA Cup]

Villarreal has yet to respond to the latest incident off the field, which has marred Semedo’s season and the club’s reputation. Semedo has only played four times this year as he’s currently recovering from a right leg injury, and he’s been sidelined with a variety of injuries since joining from Sporting Lisbon for around $17.3 million last summer.

This is Semedo’s third time in trouble with the law. Last October, after a long night of partying, Semedo allegedly smashed a bottle over someone’s head. In November, in the early hours of the morning following an all-night session at a night club, Semedo pointed a gun at a member of the night club’s security staff after an argument earlier in the evening forced Semedo to leave.

For the latter crime, the local prosecutor is pushing for two years in prison. If the current allegations can be proven true, Semedo could face even more time behind bars.

As of right now, it seems incredibly unlikely that Semedo could feature for Portugal in the World Cup, as he’ll have more important matters to deal with.

Russian authorities fine hotels for World Cup price-gouging

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MOSCOW (AP) Russian authorities in two cities say they have issued hundreds of fines after finding many hotels were illegally hiking prices for the World Cup.

The Rospotrebnadzor consumer regulator says one Moscow hotel raised prices up to 570 percent above what is allowed by a government decree designed to prevent excessive profiteering during the tournament.

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The regulator’s Moscow branch says it issued fines totaling 5.95 million rubles ($105,000) to 198 legal entities and 181 people.

In the Ural mountain city of Yekaterinburg, where Mexico and France will each play a group game, the regulator said it fined seven hotels, some of which were charging almost three times the allowed rate for rooms.

Russian authorities have taken a hands-on approach to regulating hotel and travel costs during the tournament to prevent the negative publicity of visiting fans being charged large sums.

Spanish police dismantle match-fixing scheme in 3rd, 4th tiers

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MADRID (AP) Spanish police have dismantled a match-fixing scheme involving players and clubs in the country’s lower divisions.

Authorities said more than 20 people have been detained as part of the police operation launched on Monday, including players, although no names were immediately disclosed.

The matches under suspicion were in the third and fourth divisions this season and last season.

The match-fixing scheme reportedly involved Chinese betting sites.

The Spanish league said the operation was based on information collected by its analysts about suspicious activities.

UCL preview: Chelsea host Barcelona; Bayern vs. Besiktas

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  • Chelsea vs. Barcelona, at Stamford Bridge
  • Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas, at Allianz Arena
  • Champions League round of 16 resumes on Tuesday

[ UCL: Spurs fight back to draw Juventus | Liverpool thrash Porto in leg 1 ]

Chelsea, mired in some of their worst form since the disastrous 2015-16 season, welcome a Barcelona side enjoying one of the best six-month runs of results in the famed club’s entire history. The Blues have won just four of their last 12 games across all competitions, while the Blaugrana have lost once in 38 games.

On the plus side, Chelsea enter Tuesday’s colossal clash as winners of their last two games — back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018 — having outscored the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Hull City by a combined 7-0. Star striker Alvaro Morata returned to action against Hull after five weeks out with a back injury, thus Antonio Conte has something of a selection dilemma on his hands with the Spaniard perhaps only partially fit, and Olivier Giroud racking up a goal and three assists in the last two games, his first starts for the club.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have conceded just two goals in their last nine games (all competitions) and even managed to overturn their lone defeat, to Espanyol, and advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals (and eventually final). Despite losing Neymar in the summer, Barca mostly cruised through their Champions League group, only dropping points in draws away to Juventus and Olympiacos. Lionel Messi has, strangely, never scored a goal in his eight career appearances against Chelsea, a record which has been spoken about at length in the build-up to Tuesday — similarly to the goal-less record which plagued him against Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, whom he finally bested back in September.

[ MORE: Man City win big away to Basel | Real Madrid 3-1 PSG ]

In the other round-of-16 first-leg matchup on Tuesday, five-time (soon-to-be six) defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich host surprise winners of Group G, Besiktas, ahead of the likes of Monaco, RB Leipzig and Porto.

Since taking over on an interim basis (through the end of the season), Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes has won 21 of 22 games of which he’s been in charge, including four of six games during the group stage en route to finish second behind Paris Saint-Germain, while also racing out to a 19-point lead back home in Germany.