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UCL preview: Leicester, Bayern have deficits to overturn vs. two Madrids

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Previewing Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League fixtures, in which two European giants (or newcomers) will book their places in the 2016-17 semifinals…

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Leicester City (0) vs. (1) Atletico Madrid1ST LEG RECAP

Leicester weren’t supposed to be here — not here, potentially 90 minutes away from a Champions League semifinal — heck, they almost weren’t even in the Premier League at the start of last season, yet they went on to defy 5,000-to-1 odds and claim the league title. This year, they were supposed to come crashing back down to the Earth, and they have — in the PL, that is.

In the CL, though, they’ve been nearly unbeatable. They cruised through the group stage and finished top, ahead of a trio of established European sides — Porto, Copenhagen and Brugge. The Foxes lost the first leg of their round-of-16 tie against Sevilla, but overturned the deficit in their home leg and advanced, 3-2 on aggregate.

On Tuesday, they’ll have to do the same against another Spanish side, Atletico Madrid, at the King Power Stadium in order to keep the impossible fairytale alive. Having recently (presumably) secured their PL status for another season, Craig Shakespeare’s side can focus every ounce of energy and fight they have left on securing yet another historic result on Tuesday, and perhaps beyond.

Real Madrid (2) vs. (1) Bayern Munich1ST LEG RECAP

In the other quarterfinal, Bayern find themselves in the same position as Leicester — only, they’re much worse off, having lost their home leg to Real Madrid and conceded not one, but two away goals.

To make things worse, Madrid have only lost at home once all season — to Celta Vigo, in the Copa del Rey (Zinedine Zidane’s side has also drawn just four times at home this season). A bit of positive news for Bayern: all three of Gareth Bale, Pepe and Raphael Varane will miss Tuesday’s second leg due to injuries. Inversely, Bayern will be without hugely influential midfielder/defender Javi Martinez after the Spaniard was booked twice in the first leg. Bayern do expect star striker Robert Lewandowski to be available after missing the first leg with a shoulder injury.

Cristiano Ronaldo could reach the century mark in Champions League play with a hat trick, having already become the first player to reach 100 goals scored in European club competition last Wednesday.

Premier League TV, streaming schedule

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More midweek action is coming up in the Premier League. Let the festive fun continue.

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The full TV schedule for this weekend is below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.

Gold 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: Premier League live here ] 

You can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” at for all the goals as they go in. Goal Rush is available via NBC and the NBC Sports App.

[ MORE: Premier League “Goal Rush” ] 

If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days. Enjoy.


2:45 p.m. ET: Burnley vs. Stoke City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Crystal Palace vs. Watford – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea – NBCSN [STREAM

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

Premier League notes: Wanyama, Bolasie return after long layoffs, Sakho injured

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Two Premier League clubs saw a pair of players return to the field after long spells on the sidelines.

Tottenham revealed that Victor Wanyama took part in training on Monday for the first time since suffering a knee injury in late August, which has kept him off the field since then. Wanyama started in both of Tottenham’s first two fixtures of the season before the injury.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

At the same time in the northwest of England, Yannick Bolasie returned to the field for Everton’s reserves for the first time since suffering a torn ACL last December against Manchester United. Everton manager Sam Allardyce hinted recently that Bolasie could even make the first team subs bench before the end of the calendar year as he continues his rehab.


Report: Sporting KC on verge of signing French midfielder Croizet

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Sporting Kansas City could be adding some European flair to its midfield this offseason.

According to multiple reports, the MLS club is in negotiations to sign French midfielder Yohan Croizet, who currently plays for Belgian first division side KV Mechelen. Croizet, who reportedly cost Mechelen a transfer fee worth more than $1 million, has started all 15 games he’s played for his side this season but has been substituted off on seven occasions and Mechelen are currently struggling in the league, sitting in 13th place with 18 points from 18 games.

Croizet hasn’t played since November 17, and appears on his way out.

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Sporting Kansas City coach Peter Vermes, a Hungarian-American, is no stranger to the European market and has brought over plenty of diamonds in the rough from Europe to star with Sporting KC. Some previous examples, though in different positions from Croizet, include current winger Gerso, Krisztián Németh, Uri Rosell, and Aurelien Collin.

It will be interesting to see where Croizet plays in the Sporting KC side should it sign him, and how he works with Benny Feilhaber, who is turning 33-years old in January.

Arsenal lands Ostersunds in Europa League draw

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Arsenal will face a team with an English connection in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.

The Gunners were paired with Swedish side Ostersunds in the Europa League knockout stage draw Monday, with matches set to be played on February 15 and February 22. Ostersund are managed by Englishman Graham Potter, who played in the Championship and lower in England before starting his managerial career with Ostersunds in 2010 in the fourth tier of Swedish soccer.

[READ: UCL draw+analysis]

Ostersunds surprised many earlier this year winning the Swedish Cup to qualify for the Europa League, and then advanced out of a group that included Hertha Berlin and Athletic Bilbao.

It represents an interesting draw for Arsenal, which will have to balance the squad during a tough February. The weekend prior to the first-leg match is the second leg of the North London derby against Tottenham, and following the second match with Ostersunds is a showdown with Manchester City.

Here’s a look at how the rest of the draw shook out: