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Champions League quarterfinal predictions

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UEFA Champions League action returns on Tuesday and Wednesday as we are down to the final eight teams in Europe’s elite club competition.

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Three La Liga teams remain, plus two from the Bundesliga, one from Ligue 1, Serie A and Leicester City from the Premier League.

With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at the ties with Atletico clashing with Leicester, Juventus slugging it out with Barcelona, reigning UCL champs Real Madrid up against Bayern Munich and Dortmund facing Monaco with plenty of goals expected.

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Below you will find score predictions on how all four quarterfinals encounters will play out over the two legs.


Atletico Madrid vs. Leicester City 
First leg in Madrid: April 12, 2:45 p.m. ET
Second leg in Leicester: April 18, 2:45 p.m. ET

The Foxes will fancy their chances of repeating their exploits against Sevilla in the last round. Leicester went to Spain and nabbed a vital away goal on the break and then followed that up with a typically committed display under the lights at the King Power Stadium. Yet, facing Atleti is easily their toughest challenge in the UCL to date. With Antoine Griezmann in fine form and Diego Simeone’s fine-tuned machine humming along nicely in recent weeks, the Spanish side could be out of sight before the second leg. Leicester will hang in there but Atletico’s star power will prove too much. 3-1 to Atletico Madrid on aggregate. 


Juventus vs. Barcelona
First leg in Turin: April 11, 2:45 p.m. ET
Second leg in Barcelona: April 19, 2:45 p.m. ET

If you thought PSG vs. Barca was fun in the last round (well, the second leg was absolutely nuts) then this should take things to another level. The Italian and Spanish giants collide with plenty of superstars on show and Barcelona will feel they are destined to go all the way after their amazing comeback win against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16. Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Gianluigi Buffon will have other ideas as Juve aim to get revenge for their defeat to Barca in the 2015 final in Berlin. Barca’s shock defeat in La Liga at the weekend suggests they’re focused on success in the UCL and with Luis Enrique leaving at the end of the season he seems to be putting all his eggs in one basket. That may well see Barca come unstuck in the first leg but at home they can achieve the impossible with Messi, Suarez and Neymar in full flow. Expect Barca to sneak through in a classic encounter. 3-2 to Barcelona on aggregate. 


Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid
First leg in Munich: April 12, 2:45 p.m. ET
Second leg in Madrid: April 18, 2:45 p.m. ET

Another clash of European giants has neutrals salivating with the leaders of both the Bundesliga and La Liga colliding. Zinedine Zidane’s men are the reigning champs but this will be a huge test of their credentials as former boss Carlo Ancelotti guided Bayern past Arsenal 10-2 on aggregate in the last round. With Robert Lewandowski in fine form, Bayern will look to take the game to Real in the first leg but must be wary of getting countered with the pace of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo on the break. You get the sense that although Bayern has looked unstoppable in spells this season, the challenge of a fired up Real may be a little too much. 4-2 to Real Madrid on aggregate.


Borussia Dortmund vs. AS Monaco
First leg in Dortmund: April 11, 2:45 p.m. ET
Second leg in Monaco: April 19, 2:45 p.m. ET

Fans of U.S. soccer are hoping and praying Christian Pulisic plays a leading role in leading Borussia Dortmund to a UCL semifinal. They may get their wish. That said, Monaco’s free-flowing style of soccer has wowed France, and most of Europe, as they breezed past Tottenham and Manchester City but they do take risks defensively. Dortmund’s talented attackers in Aubameyang, Pulisic and Dembele will have plenty of chances but you get the sense that everyone continues to underestimate Monaco. Expect Falcao, Mbappe and Lemar to make the difference for the French club. If this turns into a goal-fest (that’s what we are all hoping for, isn’t it?) then Monaco will prevail. 5-4 to Monaco on aggregate.

MLS Snapshots: Hat trick for Accam; MNUFC come back from 2-0

Photo credit: Chicago Fire / Twitter: @ChicagoFire
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The game in 100 words (or less): All hail King David Accam, the newest superstar of MLS — except, well, you know, he’s been doing this for a couple years now. It’s not his fault you hadn’t already taken notice. For too long, it was Accam and not much else for the Chicago Fire, who finished bottom of the league two straight seasons, in 2015 and 2016. Now, with the likes of Dax McCarty, Nemanja Nikolic and Bastian Schweinsteiger joining him in Bridgeview, Accam has ascended to his rightful throne as an MVP candidate. The 26-year-old Ghanaian international strengthened his case on Saturday, bagging three goals and an assist, playing a key part in all four goals, in Chicago’s 4-0 drubbing of Orlando City SC. Accam’s season stats now sit at 10 goals and six assists, for the Eastern Conference’s second-place team. If these kind of performances persist, don’t be surprised when Accam follows in Fabian Castillo’s footsteps, right off to Europe.

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Three moments that mattered

8′ — Accam rounds Bendik for 2-0 — The long-ball distribution from Bastian Schweinsteiger is perfect, but Accam still has a ton to do from there. He corrals the ball with his first touch, quickly goes around Joe Bendik, gets his wits about him and fires through an opening to make it David Accam 2-0 Orlando City SC. This one came just six minutes after his brilliant backheel finish for the opening goal.

52′ — Accam sets up Nikolic for 3-0 — The time and space afforded Accam is inexcusable from Orlando’s midfield remaining players in their defensive half of the field, but the through ball still required inch-perfect precision to find Nikolic.

63′ — Accam converts from the spot — No doubt about this one, as Accam slams home from the penalty spot to complete his much deserved hat trick.

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Man of the match: David Accam

Goalscorers: Accam (3′, 8′, 63′ – PK), Nikolic (52′)


Minnesota United 2-2 Vancouver Whitecaps

Three moments that mattered

45+2′ — Tchani heads a rocket past Shuttleworth — You’re not going to find many headers with more power behind them than this one from Tony Tchani, anywhere in the world, anytime.

50′ — Calvo heads down and past Ousted — Take, for example, Francisco Calvo’s goal five minutes into the second half… not quite as much behind it.

63′ — Thiesson hits it low, through traffic, for 2-0 — Jerome Thiesson’s equalizer needed eyes to make its way through a penalty area full of bodies.

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Man of the match: Kevin Molino

Goalscorers: Techera (17′ – PK), Tchani (45+2′), Calvo (50′), Thiesson (63′)

MLS Snapshots: Manneh inspires Crew SC; Philly, Atlanta win at home

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Columbus Crew SC 4-1 Montreal Impact

Three moments that mattered

17′ — Higuain’s free kick beats Bush — Aided by a slight deflection off the top of the wall, Higuain put a free kick past Evan Bush to give the home side an early lead.

70′ — Manneh makes an immediate impact — The initial ball from Higuain is what you came here for, but the elementary defending by three Montreal defenders is what’ll keep you glued until the very end.

72′ — Manneh sets up Kamara for 3-1 — Kekuta Manneh had been on the field for all of three minutes, and he put a goal and an assist to his name. Most importantly, three points to that of Crew SC.

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Man of the match: Federico Higuain

Goalscorers: Higuain (17′, 88′), Jackson-Hamel (19′), Manneh (70′), Kamara (72′)


 

Philadelphia Union 1-0 D.C. United

Three moments that mattered

28′ — Blake gets down to deny Harkes from distance — Ian Harkes had picked out a spot just inside the far post, but Andre Blake was well up to the task of denying DCU’s homegrown rookie.

31′ — Picault slams Bedoya’s cross — Alejandro Bedoya’s cross has some serious loft on it, which it makes it so tough to keep the ensuing shot low and to hit it with such power. Fantastic finish from Picault.

70′ — Blake stone-walls Neagle from the spot — It’s a pretty poor penalty from Lamar Neagle, but it’s a massive moment so badly needed by Andre Blake who’s been well off his own standard this season. Don’t be surprised if it’s a season-turning save for the talented Jamaican.

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Man of the match: Andre Blake

Goalscorers: Picault (31′)


 

Atlanta United 1-0 Colorado Rapids

Three One moment that mattered

67′ — Martinez turns and beats Howard for the game’s only goal — You can’t give Josef Martinez this kind of space, and this kind of time, around the six-yard box. He’s shown us seven times already this season (in just seven games) how deadly he is from there.

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Man of the match: Josef Martinez

Goalscorers: Martinez (67′)

VIDEO: Accam’s slick backheel puts Chicago ahead

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For the last two years, David Accam has been, in my estimation, the best player in MLS that no one talked about.

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Understandably so, of course, given the 26-year-old Ghanaian international and the Chicago Fire been rooted to the bottom of the league table for two years running. All of that has changed in 2017, though, as Accam finally has a forward (Nemanja Nikolic) who can not only put chances away, but create space and chances for his teammates, and a solid midfield base which allows him to cherry-pick counter-attacks just that little bit more.

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Entering Saturday’s game against Orlando City SC, Chicago sat second in the Eastern Conference, just four points back of Toronto FC, and Accam’s 7 goals and 5 assists (in 15 games) were a huge part of the why and the how. It didn’t take Accam long — two minutes, in fact, to put Chicago ahead of Orlando with a ridiculous backheel finish to Matt Polster’s cross.

 

Bravo fit again, but will he start Chile’s Confed Cup group finale?

Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images
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MOSCOW (AP) Claudio Bravo is fit again and could start in goal against Australia at the Confederations Cup on Sunday, Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said Saturday.

Bravo – who is Chile’s joint most-capped player with Alexis Sanchez – hasn’t played since April 27, when he injured his calf for Manchester City in a derby game with Manchester United.

“Claudio is fit, he’s managed to train the last couple of days just like his other teammates,” Pizzi said. “He’s ready and available to play.”

Pizzi brushed off concerns about a lack of match fitness, saying that “quite obviously we take into account that factor” but players like Bravo are “are of such good quality that it isn’t that important they haven’t played in the last couple of months.”

Stand-in Johnny Herrera played in Chile’s 2-0 group stage win over Cameroon and Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Germany.

Gary Medel was substituted with a minor injury while playing in defense for Chile against Germany. Teammate Francisco Silva said Saturday that Medel had complained of “a very small muscle contraction issue” but was now fit.

Pizzi said he will aim to tire out Australia with Chile’s trademark all-action style, even though his team struggled for energy in the latter stages against Germany.

“This energy drop we had in the second half didn’t damage us too much because the opposing team couldn’t maintain a high pace because of the demands we’d imposed on them,” Pizzi said of the Germany game.

“We’re going to try to get (the Australians) tired as well and use this to beat our opponent, and we hope this is going to translate into goals.”