Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

UCL Tuesday preview: PSG hosts MSN, Pulisic to Portugal

Leave a comment

The UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 takes its first steps on Tuesday in Paris and Lisbon, with two big name group winners on the road.

Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund are in Portugal to face Benfica at the Estadio da Luz, which is rarely kind to visitors, while the power trio of Messi, Suarez, and Neymar will hit the Parc des Princes to dance with Paris Saint-Germain.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 0-2 Man City ]

The second legs will both be held on Wednesday, March 8.

Benfica vs. Borussia Dortmund

How they got here: Benfica finished second to Napoli in Group B, and Dortmund edged Real Madrid for the Group F crown.

History: Last met in 1963, when BVB won over two legs in the European Cup. Benfica won the home leg 2-1, so history is on their side (This is a joke).

The plot: Thomas Tuchel’s side has disappointed in the Bundesliga, but BVB has shone brightly in the UCL. He’ll be favored to lead the club past Benfica, though the Águias are anything but a pushover.

The subplot: Globally? Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s chances of sticking around BVB will improve if he can accomplish his UCL goals. Locally? USMNT hotshot Christian Pulisic gets his latest chance to shine on the global stage. The 18-year-old has two assists in six UCL matches this season.


BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 21: Neymar of Barcelona takes on Marco Verratti of PSG during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final second leg match between FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain at Camp Nou on April 21, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Barcelona

How they got here: PSG finishes second in Group A, behind Arsenal, while Barcelona won a tricky Group C with Manchester City, Borussia Monchengladbach, and Celtic.

History: These giants have met up in two recent editions of the UEFA Champions League. Barcelona eliminated PSG on road goals in 2012-13, while Barcelona won three of four when the sides met in the group stage and knockout rounds of the 2014-15 tournament.

The plot: Unai Emery has a major test in old La Liga nemesis Barcelona. The PSG manager was hired by Sevilla for his tournament successes in the Europa League, but the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has the French giants in Ligue 1’s second place and that puts a bit more pressure on getting past Barcelona.

Speaking of Barca, the Spanish champions have played two more matches but are still a point back of Real Madrid for the La Liga lead. Pressure on both sides of this tie.

The subplot: Uruguay superstars Edinson Cavani (PSG) and Luis Suarez (Barca) pose problems for defenses, and only one can head to the quarterfinals.

AT HALF: Rooney’s beauty leads entertaining 1-1 vs. Arsenal

Peter Byrne/PA via AP
Leave a comment

The first 10 minutes of Arsenal’s visit to Everton may’ve well been subtitled, “Alexandre Lacazette versus Jordan Pickford,” but Wayne Rooney changed that.

The Everton hero, two days shy of his 32nd birthday, buried his 15th career goal against Arsenal by picking up the ball after a 50-50 scrap opened the ball into his path.

[ STREAM: Everton vs. Arsenal ]

What a hit.

Unfortunately for Everton, Nacho Monreal hit back just before the break to level the score.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Report: Takeover bid would put $660m in Newcastle transfer kitty

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
1 Comment

When the summer transfer window closed, there were rumors that Rafa Benitez, furious with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley’s refusal to live up to his war chest promises, would leave the Northeast regardless of what it meant for his checkbook.

Now, Benitez may get a huge pay-off and stay at Newcastle United.

[ RECAP: Newcastle 1-0 Palace ]

Ashley has reportedly put the Premier League club up for sale, and one of the biggest names mentioned is Amanda Staveley. She’s helped organized takeover bids for Manchester City and Liverpool and, like most prospective owners, has plenty of money.

And, as if to get the Magpies support even more excited at the prospect of new blood in the ownership seats… From The Express:

While Staveley who controls around £30 billion of capital through her PCP Capital Partners firm also advised a group Dubai-based investors during a bid to buy Liverpool.

And Benitez will be given substantial funds on new players as much as £500 million in the next two transfer windows to turn Newcastle into title contenders.
Putting those figures into dollars lends an interesting perspective to how much money and prestige there is in football, in particular the Premier League. Staveley is said to have a hold on $40 billion — for an American angle, that’s more than 13 times the president’s net worth — and is ready to provide almost $660 million in investiture.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Watch Live: Everton vs. Arsenal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Arsene Wenger celebrates his 68th birthday with a trip to Merseyside, as Arsenal visits Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez both start underneath Alexandre Lacazette for Wenger.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin starts up top for Everton and under fire manager Ronald Koeman, while Jonjoe Kenny starts at right back.

LINEUPS

Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Baines, Williams, Jagielka (c), Keane, Gana Gueye, Vlasic, Sigurdsson, Rooney, Calvert-Lewin. SubsJoel, Mirallas, Martina, Niasse, Klaassen, Davies, Lookman.

Arsenal: Cech, Monreal, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Bellerin, Sanchez, Ozil, Lacazette. Subs: Macey, Holding, Coquelin, Wilshere, Iwobi, Walcott, Giroud.

Klopp: Liverpool “not 500 miles away” from Man City’s standard

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jurgen Klopp remains bullish on his Liverpool’s credentials as one of the Premier League’s top-four sides title challengers this season.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup | Sunday preview — Spurs vs. Liverpool ]

While everyone else might be writing off the Reds due to their propensity for defensive disasters on an every-game basis, Klopp refuses to concede that a gap of “500 miles” exists between his side and Manchester City, the early-days runaway leaders of the 2017-18 season — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t compare City with us, but I think everyone can see we are not 500 miles away. But they fly. It was a very decisive day when we lost 5-0. Dealing with a 5-0 defeat is not the easiest thing. We didn’t lose confidence but we were not that fluent afterwards and it was not like we could close our eyes and finish [thinking about it]. They did exactly the opposite. I saw the Stoke goals, you see the shot from Fernandinho and you think, ‘If it works, it works even like this.’ They are a fantastic team and we don’t have to compare, but it starts so early again with us having to apologize for the season so far because one team is flying.”

“Their way of football I would say is not something we are too far away from but to be as clinical as they have been so far? We weren’t.

“That’s the thing. We are still in the race, not with City in the moment because they have I don’t how many points, and I don’t say already that we should only fight for a top-four place. Performance-wise we are a team that should be there but now we have to get the results.”

[ TACTICS SESSION: Inside the brilliant mind of Kevin De Bruyne ]

All due respect to Klopp and Liverpool, the league table says City currently have 25 points (having played one game more), while Liverpool have 13. That’s not a difference of 500 points, but taking into account not only results but performances, it might as well be.