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Why Cristiano Ronaldo’s greatness continues to surprise

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Cristiano Ronaldo breaks so many records on a weekly basis it’s tough to know where to start.

[ MORE: Real batter Atletico in UCL ]

Let’s begin with his latest exploits, a second-straight UEFA Champions League hat trick as he led Real Madrid to a 3-0 win in their UCL semifinal first leg against crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid.

Real have scored nine goals in their last three UCL games. Ronaldo has eight of them and his penchant for delivering at the pivotal moments of the biggest matches continues.

Ronaldo’s three goals took his tally to 103 in the UCL, the most all-time and he’s now ahead of Lionel Messi by nine goals. He also has the most goals in UCL semifinals ever, with 13, plus he is the first player to reach 50 goals (52, to be exact) in UCL knockout rounds and he has equaled Messi’s record of most hat tricks in the UCL (7) and is also the first to score 10 or more UCL goals in in six consecutive seasons.

We will leave the whole “Messi or Ronaldo?” debate for most of the next five decades another day, but Ronaldo is heading towards his fourth UCL crown (third with Real) which equals Messi’s total at Barcelona and the Portuguese national team captain looks nailed on to win a second-straight Ballon d’Or to equal Messi’s current record of five.

Despite all of these incredible stats, it sometimes feels like Ronaldo’s goals, performances and general beast-mode abilities aren’t appreciated as much as they should be. Maybe the stats doing the rounds from his most-recent hat trick will help change that. But probably not. He is revered in Portugal for leading them to their first major title at EURO 2016 last summer and the accolades and awards pour in, but when we reflect on his career will he really join the immortals Pele, Maradona and Messi?

Think about it.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ] 

There’s a sense of “huh, he’s still doing it, isn’t he?” out there among fans of rival clubs, neutrals and even some of Real’s own supporters who still boo him. That’s right. Booing the man who is the all-time leading scorer at Real with 399 goals in 389 appearances. That’s 76 more goals than Real legend Raul who sits in second place all-time and he took 741 games to reach that mark…

Ronaldo is now 32 years old and he shows no signs of slowing down but it is perhaps his constant posturing which puts off many compared to the more relaxed, unassuming demeanor of Messi. Maybe Ronaldo is just too “in your face” to be mentioned in the same breath of soccer’s greatest-ever players. But if you were that good, wouldn’t you too be pretty proud of it?

While many make fun of his washboard abs he often shows off, his impeccable tan and his wild gesticulations towards officials, what you can’t deny is his supreme professionalism on and off the pitch.

He’s been in the game since the age of 17 at Sporting Lisbon and then Manchester United, but did anyone at either club really believe he would go on to achieve what he has at Real over the past eight seasons? Maybe Ronaldo himself may not have believed it (he probably did, let’s be honest) but he’s doing it. Of course he’s played with some sensational players but since joining Real in 2008 his goals have been the main reason they’ve challenged, and won, major trophies.

Given his incredible physical fitness and a real lack of severe injuries over the years, why can’t he go on doing it for the next decade?

Look at Francesco Totti, a totally different type of player (Messi-esque, if you will) who never relied on pace and power. At the age of 40 he is set to retire, almost begrudgingly, so even father time has caught up with him. It will happen to Messi too but like Totti, his game doesn’t hinge quite as much on sheer fitness and power as Ronaldo’s does.

Messi may get more plaudits than Ronaldo simply because his play on the ball is more aesthetically pleasing as he glides over the grass and bamboozles defenders. Ronaldo’s game is about combining pace and power with technical ability. He often bulldozes opponents to smash home volleys and bullet headers into the top corner. Ronaldo may not be able to go on as long as Messi, but he’s already reinvented himself in many ways, drifting into a central role rather than playing out wide as an out-and-out winger like he did in his early days.

His template to follow should be Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Yes, he’s currently recovering from a serious knee injury at the age of 35, but did Zlatan look out of place in the pace of the Premier League this season? Nope. Ronaldo’s soccer brain is clever enough to reinvent himself once more and remain at the top level in Europe for another four or five seasons.

Imagine how many more records he will break when his career is finally up. That’s if that moment ever actually comes…

Premier League TV, streaming schedule: MD 24

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Drink in all the Premier League action you can get before the FA Cup takes center stage the weekend after next.

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The full TV schedule for the games this weekend are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,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 around the grounds. Goal Rush is available via NBC Sports.com 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 NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.

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


FULL TV SCHEDULE

Saturday
7:30 a.m. ET: Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Chelsea – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Burnley vs. Manchester United – NBCSN [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace – CNBC [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Everton vs. West Bromwich Albion – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Leicester City vs. Watford – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Stoke City vs. Huddersfield Town – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Ham United vs. Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
12:30 p.m. ET: Manchester City vs. Newcastle United – NBC [STREAM]

Sunday
11 a.m. ET: Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur – NBCSN [STREAM]

Monday
3 p.m. ET: Swansea City vs. Liverpool – NBCSN [STREAM]

First Sanchez, now Seri: Manchester clubs lock horns

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Alexis Sanchez isn’t the only player wanted by both Manchester clubs…

[ MORE: Aubameyang to Arsenal? ]

Manchester City and Manchester United are both chasing Nice midfielder Jean-Micheal Seri, according to the Guardian.

A report claims that Man City have earmarked the defensive midfielder as a key target for the summer transfer window but United are also keen on the Ivory Coast international.

Seri, 26, came close to joining Barcelona in the summer but the Spanish giants pulled out of the deal late in the transfer window and he has struggled in Ligue 1 this season. That said, his talent is undoubted.

Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Everton are all said to be interested in Seri, but it appears United and City are most likely to offer close to the $50 million Nice want for the central midfielder.

Seri only has 18 months left on his current contract, so in the summer he could cost much less than $50 million.

Who needs him most: City or United?

Fernandinho has been solid for City this season and is often an unsung hero but some of his limitations did come to the fore in City’s 4-3 defeat at Liverpool last weekend with the Brazilian now 32 years old. Pep Guardiola will likely search for a long-term replacement for Fernandinho in holding midfield with Yaya Toure out of the picture out and of contract this summer.

As for United, they also need a holding midfielder. Nemanja Matic has been a key addition this season but there is arguably a slot alongside him with the futures of Ander Herrera, Maraoune Fellaini and Michael Carrick all up in the air beyond this season. Seri would add stability in midfield and Mourinho’s penchant for playing two defensive-minded central midfielders is well known.

Seri will be a man in demand this summer given the length of his contract and the fact that Barcelona came so close to signing him.

Andy Carroll’s Chelsea move in doubt due to injury

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Andy Carroll‘s hopes of securing a move from West Ham to Chelsea in January appear to be over.

The Telegraph is reporting that Carroll, 29, has suffered an ankle injury which will keep him out for at least a month but possibly as long as four months if he needs surgery. This comes after he has missed West Ham’s FA Cup win against Shrewsbury on Tuesday as he didn’t participate in training.

Carroll hasn’t played for West Ham since coming on as a late sub in their 1-1 draw at Tottenham on Jan. 4.

It has been widely reported that Chelsea had lined up Carroll and were willing to pay West Ham $30 million for the Englishman, with Michy Batshuayi potentially involved in a loan deal, but the former Newcastle and Liverpool forward has suffered yet another untimely injury.

Carroll has scored just two goals in the Premier League this season, with both coming in the 2-1 win against West Brom in January. The towering forward has been restricted to just 12 appearances in the PL in 2017-18.

What now for Chelsea? With his deal over, it appears they will continue their hunt for a back-up option to Alvaro Morata.

In the summer they tried to signed Fernando Llorente but failed as the Spaniard signed for Tottenham Hotspur instead, while they currently have only Batshuayi to back up Morata but it appears the Belgian forward could be heading out on loan in the coming days.

With Carroll suffering this injury, it appears Batshuayi may be staying at Chelsea after all as Antonio Conte looks around for an alternative striking option for the Blues. In truth, the vast majority of Chelsea’s fans were either bemused or hugely underwhelmed by this potential transfer deal in the first place.

Could Chelsea move to bring Daniel Sturridge back to Stamford Bridge? Would Liverpool sell a clinical forward to a direct rival in the PL? It’s unlikely, while Sturridge has previous with Chelsea after the way he left the club in 2013 and moved to Liverpool.

It’s back to the drawing board for Chelsea’s recruitment guru’s as Carroll’s injury appears to be worse than West Ham first feared.

Premier League Power Rankings

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Which players are on fire in the Premier League?

[ MORE: Power Rankings archive ]

Players from Tottenham and Liverpool feature prominently in our latest top 20 after four wins from their last five for both teams, while some of Manchester United’s stars continue to rise.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League.

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


  1. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – Up 5
  2. Harry Kane (Tottenham) – Up 1
  3. Heung-Min Son (Tottenham) – Up 5
  4. Paul Pogba (Man United) – Up 9
  5. Marko Arnautovic (West Ham) – Up 10
  6. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – Down 6
  7. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City) – Down 3
  8. Jesse Lingard (Man United) – Down 6
  9. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – Up 2
  10. David De Gea (Man United) – Even
  11. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – New entry
  12. Anthony Martial (Man United) – New entry
  13. Leroy Sane (Man City) – Up 1
  14. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – Down 4
  15. Raheem Sterling (Man City) – Down 9
  16. Ederson (Man City) – Down 7
  17. Dele Alli (Tottenham) – New entry
  18. Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea) – New entry
  19. Antonio Valencia (Man United) – New entry
  20. Bakary Sako (Crystal Palace) – New entry