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Predictions for Champions League semifinals

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With the UEFA Champions League semifinals kicking off on Tuesday, now is a good time to take a closer look at both encounters to see who will meet in the final in Cardiff on June 3.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

There’s a Madrid derby to look forward to, while Juve and Monaco clash with plenty of talented young attackers set to square off.

The final four of the UCL should be lots of fun.


Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid
First leg: At Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid – May 2, 2:45 p.m. ET
Second leg: At Vicente Calderon, Madrid – May 10, 2:45 p.m. ET

For the fourth season in a row these two teams meet in the UCL knockout rounds. After beating their crosstown rivals in two of the last three UCL finals, Real Madrid will be feeling confident of once again ruling the Spanish capital. Yet this promises to be a cagey affair as Diego Simeone’s side dig deep to thwart Zinedine Zidane’s stars. If feels like this could well be Antoine Griezmann’s moment to shine on the biggest stage of all and it also feels like Simeone’s final chance to win the UCL win Atletico before bigger projects perhaps call him, and several of his star players, elsewhere.

When these two teams last met in La Liga at the Bernabeu last month it was a 1-1 draw and that result would be huge for Atleti to take back to the Vicente Calderon with them as they look to send off their famous stadium in style before moving into their brand new home next season. With Gareth Bale out injured for the favorites to win the La Liga title, it could be over to Alvaro Morata to provide the goals for Real but Cristiano Ronaldo and Karem Benzema, as always, will take on most of the goalscoring burden. The midfield duo of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos will have some battle against Gabi, Jimenez and Koke in midfield and this tie could well need extra time to see who goes through to the final. Real’s extra firepower could just prove the difference. Real Madrid to advance 2-1 on aggregate.


Monaco vs. Juventus
First leg: At Stade Louis II, Monaco – May 3, 2:45 p.m. ET
Second leg: At Juventus Stadium, Turin – May 9, 2:45 p.m. ET

How do you stop Monaco’s supercharged offense? That’s the same question everyone has been asking in France and Europe this season and, so far, nobody has come up with an answer. If anybody can, Juvetnus can as the Turin outfit haven’t conceded a UCL goal in 531 minutes. Led by Gianluigi Buffon in goal and the dependable Georgio Chielleni at the heart of their defense, the Italian champions will be the favorites to reach the final but will also be incredibly wary of Kylian Mbappe, Radamel Falcao plus the likes of Silva, Lemar and Carrillo as the supporting cast. Wherever you look, Monaco has goals as they’ve scored six over two games against both Man City and Borussia Dortmund so far in the knockout stages. They are being criminally underestimated.

That said, this is Juve. They just beat Barcelona 3-0 on aggregate in the quarterfinals and are the masters of putting together a defensive masterplan and executing it to perfection. Max Allegri’s men also have some star attackers of their own with Paulo Dybala improving by the week and Gonzalo Higuain the prototypical predator. Expect these two games to deliver plenty of drama, and goals, but the experience of the Italian champs should seem them through. Just. Juventus to advance 3-2 on aggregate.  

Day Four: All the action from the U20 World Cup

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South Korea and Venezuela clinched berths in the knockout rounds of the U-20 World Cup on Tuesday, while Germany and Argentina have surprising work to do after two matches in South Korea.

[ MORE: Allardyce steps down at Palace ]

South Korea 2-1 Argentina

Barcelona B man Lee Seung-woo helped South Korea take a 2-0 lead, then hold on for the win and group lead over England.

England 1-1 Guinea

Chelsea youngster Fikayo Tomori scored a wild long range own goal to cost England the three points, but the Blues are still well-positioned to advance out of the group stage. Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook scored for England, and it was a beaut.

Venezuela 7-0 Vanuatu

Seven different Venezuelans have scored through a pair of shutout wins, with Caracas’ Sergio Cordova the only one to bag a pair.

Mexico 0-0 Germany

Germany has just one point through two matches, thanks largely to Pachuca’s Abraham Romero’s seven saves. Mexico was outshot 12-6.

Porto, Watford, Hull? Marco Silva in demand

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Marco Silva is one of the hottest properties in management, months after eliciting cries of “Who?” following his appointment at Hull City.

While those cries may have been a tiny bit myopic given his time at Sporting CP and Olympiacos, the 39-year-old is now visible to the world despite Hull’s relegation.

[ MORE: Real Madrid nabs $50m teen ]

Silva will be back in England to meet with Hull on Wednesday, but a clause in his contract that said he could leave if the club was relegated gives the Tigers very little hope.

Rumors have him wanted at Watford, and he’s also been linked with a number of other jobs including Southampton (should the club part ways with Claude Puel).

However, the former right back is also reportedly a target of one of the biggest clubs in his home country: Champions League side Porto.

UEFA Europa League Final preview: Manchester United vs. Ajax

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Jose Mourinho’s big European gamble takes center stage on Wednesday in Sweden, when Manchester United attempts to topple young Ajax in the UEFA Europa League Final.

United’s chances for UEFA Champions League qualification, a magnificent opportunity, are overshadowed by the pall cast over Manchester by sinister terrorist attacks at a pop concert that killed and injured many on Monday night.

Alas, there’s soccer to be played, and Mourinho is looking to make it a trio of shiny items in his first year on the job. United beat Leicester City for the Community Shield, then topped Southampton in the EFL Cup Final en route to Sweden.

United’s well-documented dearth of healthy defenders will march out one more time on Wednesday, with Chris Smalling and Phil Jones tasked with manning the center of the back line. Expect Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian out wide.

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 season reviews

Despite the injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mourinho’s attack is going to give Ajax fits. Marcus Rashford has been next level for most of the second half of the season, and United will also likely feature Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba atop Ander Herrera.

If someone is going to break United down, it could be midfield wizards Davy Klaassen and Lasse Schone. The creative middle men have a variety of options to find with the ball, including on-loan Chelsea man Bertrand Traore and Danish teenager Kasper Dolberg.

But how will they deal with United’s attack? Sure Ajax has stopped Lyon, Schalke, Copenhagen, and Legia Warsaw, but United and Mourinho? That’s another challenge for Peter Bosz and his men.

Ajax won the 1992 UEFA Cup, and this is United’s first ever trip to this particular final. The Red Devils are heavy favorites, and we expect United to prevail. Don’t sleep on Juan Mata heroics. Call it 3-1.

Allardyce resigns, opening up intriguing vacancy at Palace

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Sam Allardyce is walking away on top outside the relegation zone.

The veteran Premier League manager, 62, resigned his post as Crystal Palace on Tuesday, weeks after leading another team to safety.

The move ends a tumultuous eight months for Allardyce, who was fired as England manager after an undercover sting exposed unethical dealings with agents.

[ MORE: Full 2016-17 season reviews

It also comes about an hour after somebody wrote that Crystal Palace should move on from Allardyce. What a jerk, that somebody.

Rarely at a loss for words, here’s Big Sam from cpfc.co.uk:

I want to be able to savour life while I’m still relatively young and when I’m still relatively healthy enough to do all the things I want to do, like travel, spend more time with my family and grandchildren without the huge pressure that comes with being a football manager.

This is the right time for me. I have no ambitions to take another job, I simply want to be able to enjoy all the things you cannot really enjoy with the 24/7 demands of managing any football club, let alone one in the Premier League.”

All kidding aside — and I’m far from a Big Sam fan — congrats to the man on walking away to enjoy the finer things in life. He had a heck of a run, and we’ll see how long he can resist being away from the fray. Cheers, Sam.