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Ligue 1: Cavani scores 2, sets up 1 as PSG continue chasing Monaco

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PARIS (AP) Edinson Cavani set up Angel Di Maria for the opening goal and then scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain shrugged off a sluggish first-half performance to beat Guingamp 4-0 in the French league on Sunday.

Cavani’s goals have largely carried PSG and the Uruguay striker has an outstanding record of 42 in 41 games this season, including 29 in the league. Midfielder Blaise Matuidi added the fourth goal in injury time.

Defending champion PSG remains three points behind league leader Monaco with seven games left, although the lead is effectively four points because Monaco’s goal difference is +19 better.

Nice is four points behind Monaco, having played one game more than the top two clubs. Nice beat Lille 2-1 on Friday and Monaco won 1-0 at Angers on Saturday, thanks to Radamel Falcao‘s 25th goal of the season.

“We’re holding on to Monaco and Nice aren’t far behind,” Matuidi said. “It’s a great league this season.”

Guingamp was the last team to beat PSG in the league, shortly before Christmas, and was gaining in confidence before carelessly losing possession near the halfway line in the 56th minute.

The ball was pinged quickly to Cavani rampaging down the left, and his fizzing pass across the penalty area rolled into the path of Di Maria, who advanced before lofting the ball over Swedish goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson.

Four minutes later, Guingamp was caught out again near the halfway line and two quick passes sent Cavani into the penalty area. He was tackled but won the loose ball and curled it into the bottom right corner.

His second of the night was even better, as he latched onto a superb cross-field pass from Di Maria and cushioned the ball into his path before driving a low shot into the bottom left corner in the 71st minute.

Although Cavani hit the crossbar with a glancing header in the 18th, and Johnsson saved a shot from Matuidi, mid-table Guingamp looked sharp breaking forward during the first half.

PSG seemed nervous and center half Presnel Kimpembe’s risky pass out from the back landed straight at the feet of forward Jimmy Briand, whose shot flew just over the bar, moments before the break.

Shortly after halftime, Guingamp forward Alexandre Mendy hit the side netting after bursting into the area.

“We weren’t very good in the first half, but we did much better in the second,” Matuidi said on Canal Plus television.

Ultimately, two errors let PSG back in the game, and the individual class of two players costing more than 60 million euros ($64 million) each made the difference.

Marseille lost ground in the chase for a place in next season’s Europa League.

After Toulouse dominated the first half, playmaker Dimitri Payet twice went close to winning the game for Marseille.

With 20 minutes left, Payet’s powerful strike from just inside the penalty area drew a spectacular save from goalkeeper Alban Lafont.

Then, five minutes from time, his free kick from the edge of the area went just over.

Marseille remains in sixth place after a third straight league draw, one point behind fifth-place Bordeaux with six games remaining.

Striker Martin Braithwaite hit the crossbar in the first half for Toulouse, which is in ninth place.

“It’s a fair result,” said Marseille coach Rudi Garcia, whose side has scored once in the last three games. “I’m not worried, but we must start finishing better and improve our attacking play.”

Substitute Benjamin Corgnet rescued a point for Saint-Etienne with a powerful header 20 minutes from time.

Burkina Faso striker Prejuce Nakoulma gave Nantes the lead in the 15th minute, making it five goals in six games since joining in January.

Saint-Etienne is in seventh place, three points behind Marseille and three ahead of eighth-place Nantes.

Five Thirty Eight unveils Top 426 soccer clubs in the world

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Perspective achieved?

Advanced statistical site Five Thirty Eight has put together a weekly ranking of the top and bottom club teams in the world, and its algorithm gives us a theoretical answer into where Major League Soccer fits into the club soccer landscape.

[ MORE: Julian Green back on transfer market ]

At its very base level, the rankings will give reason to check back all season. Can Manchester United break into the Top Three? Will an MLS side leap into the Top 100? Can the worst American club avoid the bottom slot?

Here’s the list of clubs, and Five Thirty Eight has also gone through the trouble of giving its statistical analysis of who’s best set-up to win leagues and even games.

A note on the methodology:

We’re using recent matches played between teams from different leagues, supplemented with league market values (from Transfermarkt), to assign a strength rating to every league that we’re forecasting. Our new league ratings also give us the ability to a calculate a global Soccer Power Index (SPI) rating for each team — a number from 0 to 100 that represents the overall strength of each team.

The Premier League and La Liga combine for six of the Top Ten teams in the world, with Real Madrid No. 1 and Man City, Manchester United, and Chelsea running Nos. 7, 8, and 9.

Brighton and Hove Albion is the lowest ranked Premier League club, 188th in the world. The only PL sides outside the Top 125 are the three promoted clubs. Swansea is 113th, the lowest (or highest) ranked PL side aside from the new promotions.

Brighton is 17 spots below MLS’ top representative: Toronto FC. The same web site ranked MLS as the 28th best league in the world earlier this month, between Denmark and Croatia.

New York City FC shows up next, at 259, then rivals New York Red Bulls at 267. The bulk of MLS clubs fit between 320 and 422, where Minnesota United brings up the rear. The study ranks 426 teams, with three Scottish clubs running 424-426.

[ MORE: Man City 1-1 Everton | 3 things ]

As for some other odds, Five Thirty Eight gives Manchester United the best odds to win the league at 31 percent, with Man City, Chelsea, and Spurs joining them with the best odds to place in the Top Four.

The average simulated season has United besting rivals City by two points, with 80. Tottenham (72) tops Arsenal (68) for fourth by four points, while No. 6 Liverpool finishes 10 points clear of Merseyside rivals Everton (57 points).

It’s no surprise that the three promoted clubs — Huddersfield Town, Newcastle, and Brighton — are the top bets to be relegated, with Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, and Swansea City the next best bets to find life in the Championship.

Other notes:

— Manchester United is the fourth-best defensive team in the Premier League, behind only Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Juventus.

— Spurs are also in the Top Ten amongst defensive teams, a 8.

— Man City is the best offensive team in the PL, seventh in the world.

— Watford is this week’s highest PL riser, up 22 spots.

— MLS side Chicago Fire suffered the fourth biggest drop in the world this week (40 spots).

Five Thirty Eight is one of the best predictive web sites in the world, and one of the only ones who gave more than an outside shot (though still ranking it a long shot) of the 2016 United States presidential election turning out for the winner of the electoral college. So this is certainly food for thought.

Former Dinamo Zagreb boss injured after shooting

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SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) Controversial former Dinamo Zagreb director Zdravko Mamic was shot and injured in Bosnia on Monday, police and media reported.

Croatia’s state TV said Mamic was shot in his leg and taken to a local hospital on Monday. It said the injury was not life-threatening.

Police were searching for two possible assailants.

[ MORE: Five PL new boys to watch ]

Bosnian media said Mamic was attending a memorial for his father at a graveyard near the town of Tomislavgrad when two people fired at him from a nearby forest. Another report said it was a drive-by shooting.

Croatia’s TV said Mamic voluntarily left the hospital in Bosnia after doctors managed to stop the bleeding, and he went to the Croatian capital, Zagreb.

Bosnian police declined to confirm the identity of the victim by name, but said a man with the initials ZM and born in 1959 in the Croatian city of Bjelovar, just like Mamic, was shot and injured.

Mamic, known for his fiery temper, has been on a high-profile embezzlement and tax fraud trial in Croatia.

Prosecutors accuse Mamic, his brother, and two others of embezzling 15 million euros of the club’s money since 2008 and not paying 1.6 million euros in taxes.

Mamic, who remains Dinamo’s adviser, is still considered the most powerful man in Croatian football despite the charges.

Dinamo issued a statement, calling the attack a “murder attempt.”

It said the attempted “liquidation” of Mamic was not a surprise amid a “lynching campaign” against him by the Croatian media.

He was recently knocked off his yacht into the sea by an attacker believed to be a fan of rival Hajduk Split.

AP Writer Dusan Stojanovic contributed from Belgrade, Serbia.

LIVE – Champions League playoff: Nice-Napoli headlines action

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With Celtic (just about) booking their spot in the UEFA Champions League group stage on Tuesday, four more teams will join them.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ] 

Napoli, Olympiacos, Sevilla and Hapoel Be’er Sheva all have narrow leads heading into the second legs which sets things up rather nicely. Olympiacos and Be’er Sheva will be feeling particularly nervous after conceding at home in the first leg.

On Wednesday five more ties takes place across Europe with Liverpool looking to book their spot in the UCL group stage against Hoffenheim.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s games, which kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET, while you can click on the link above to follow live commentary on all four matches.


Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League playoff second legs

Nice vs. Napoli (Napoli lead 2-0 on aggregate)
Astana 4-3 Celtic (Celtic advance 8-4 on aggregate)
Rijeka vs. Olympiacos (Olympiacos leads 2-1 on aggregate)
Sevilla vs. Istanbul Basaksehir (Sevilla leads 2-1 on aggregate)
Maribor vs. Hapoel Be’er Sheva (Hapoel Be’er Sheva lead 2-1 on aggregate)

LIVE – Premier League clubs enter League Cup

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Seven Premier League teams enter the League Cup second round on Tuesday with plenty of potential upsets lined up.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

All 13 PL clubs (six more are in action on Wednesday) face teams from the lower leagues with the likes of Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Bournemouth and Swansea City all on upset alert.

U.S. national team players to watch out for include Lynden Gooch who starts for Sunderland and Emerson Hyndman who is on the bench for Bournemouth.

Below is the schedule for the League Cup games on Tuesday with all games to kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET unless otherwise stated.


Tuesday
Crystal Palace vs. Ipswich Town – 2:30pm
Aston Villa vs. Wigan Athletic
Leeds United vs. Newport County
Middlesbrough vs. Scunthorpe United
Norwich City vs. Charlton Athletic
QPR vs. Brentford
Fulham vs. Bristol Rovers
Cardiff City vs. Burton Albion
Carlisle United vs. Sunderland
Doncaster vs. Hull City
Brighton vs. Barnet
Accrington Stanley vs. West Brom
Sheffield United vs. Leicester City
Birmingham City vs. Bournemouth
Watford vs. Bristol City
MK Dons vs. Swansea City
Reading vs. Millwall – 3pm
Bolton vs. Sheffield Wednesday – 3pm