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UCL draw analysis: Chelsea, Spurs get worst of congestion

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We know the group mates for the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League, but how do the fixtures play out for the five Premier League sides in the tournament?

[ MORE: Full UCL draw ]

Those answers, along with pre-draw expectations and the peers in their groups have us wondering whether the stocks of each are up or down.


Chelsea
Last season: Not in Europe
Best finish: Won 2011-12 Champions League

Fortune is… slightly down. As Antonio Conte begs for depth at Stamford Bridge, he’ll face two top sides. One faces a similar depth challenge in Atletico Madrid, while AS Roma may not have the top end force but is steady well past its regular 18. At least Qarabag will get some big money gate receipts.

As for the fixture list, woof. Chelsea has to go to Atleti three days before hosting Man City, it heads to Roma five days before hosting Manchester United, and goes to Qarabag three days before heading to Liverpool.

Tottenham Hotspur
Last season: Finished behind Monaco, Bayer Leverkusen in Group E
Best finish: Quarterfinalist, 2010-11 

Fortune is… way down. Spurs supporters deserved a better fate that Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, and APOEL Nicosia. It’s probably a dead heat between Spurs and BVB as to who finishes second and who goes to the Europa League.

How do the fixtures go for Spurs? They are home to Everton before opening up UCL play with a visit from BVB, but consider this fortnight (or so):

Oct. 17 – at Real Madrid
Oct. 22 – vs. Liverpool
Oct. 28 – at Manchester United
Nov. 1 – vs. Real Madrid

Holy smoke.

Manchester City
Last season: Lost to Monaco in Round of 16
Best finish: Semifinalist, 2015-16

Fortune is… steady-to-up. Many figured City was already built to win its group barring an absurd draw, and this is far from tricky. Napoli will give City a real hassle in terms of a group win, and Pep Guardiola will need to be very careful in how he sets up his back line. Neither Shakhtar Donetsk nor Feyenoord have the quality to pip City nor Napoli to second barring remarkable transfer work before the end of the deadline.

Man City two toughest matches — both versus Napoli — are fairly well insulated by Premier League fixtures, excepting a trip to Napoli on Nov. 1 which is four days before a visit from Arsenal. Keep in mind the visiting Gunners will have one less day’s rest because of Europa play.

Liverpool
Last season: Not in Europe
Best finish: Five titles (last in 2004-05)

Fortune is… up. It’s between Sevilla and Liverpool for top team in the group, and the Reds should probably be favored to win it. Neither Maribor nor Spartak Moscow will receive many second place predictions from pundits and fans.

The Reds fixture set-up could be worse, but starts rough with a visit from Sevilla which comes four days after Liverpool plays at Man City in the Premier League. A trip to Maribor is sandwiched between PL matches against Manchester United and Spurs, while Liverpool’s Nov. 21 trip to Sevilla is four days before a visit from Chelsea (who has one less day’s rest).

Manchester United
Last season: Won UEFA Europa League
Best finish: Three titles (last in 2007-08)

Fortune is… up. Big time. United has a history of getting friendly group draws dating back to Sir Alex Ferguson‘s days in charge of the club, and this is no different. Benfica is tricky in Europe, but CSKA Moscow and Basel should present little challenge to Jose Mourinho.

Leon Bailey stars but Bayer Leverkusen held 4-4 by Hannover

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BERLIN (AP) Jamaica striker Leon Bailey scored twice after coming on as a substitute but Bayer Leverkusen failed to hang on as Hannover grabbed a 4-4 draw in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

[ MORE: Liverpool smashes Bournemouth to move fourth ]

Bailey, who came on at the break, needed only two minutes to equalize after Hannover had gone 3-2 ahead, and he scored again 20 minutes later to put Leverkusen 4-3 in front.

But the 20-year-old missed another chance to complete a hat trick and Julian Korb scored late for Hannover to draw.

“I had a third chance, and I just know if I had taken that chance it would have been over for them. It’s just unlucky. But that’s football,” said Bailey. “A wise man learns from his mistakes. But a wiser man learns from others’ mistakes.”

Both teams traded goals on an afternoon to forget for the goalkeepers.

“It was worth the entrance price for the spectators,” Korb said.

Julian Brandt fired Leverkusen into an early lead with a brilliant volley but Ihlas Bebou replied straight away with a header for Hannover.

Niclas Fuellkrug put the home side ahead with a penalty, only for Admir Mehmedi to equalize four minutes later for Leverkusen.

Hannover went ahead again after Fuellkrug set up Felix Klaus with his heel before the break, when Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich reacted with two substitutions.

One of them was Bailey, who raced forward to reach Kai Havertz’s through ball and kept his cool to beat Hannover `keeper Philipp Tschauner.

Bailey claimed his sixth goal of the season after the game’s longest stretch without a goal when Mehmedi played him through on a counterattack after a Hannover corner.

But there was further drama to come as Bebou eluded three Leverkusen defenders to set up Korb for Hannover’s equalizer with seven minutes remaining.

Leipzig, level on points with Leverkusen, had the chance to go second again with a win at home against Hertha Berlin later Sunday.

The 2 Robbies podcast: Liverpool dominates, selling Coutinho discussed

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe start off today’s show by discussing Man United’s win at The Hawthorns as Lukaku scores for the second straight match with Juan Mata impressing with his link up play. The guys also look at Alan Pardew’s influence on the Baggies. Liverpool net four in a dominating victory over Bournemouth and with Mo Salah continuing to dominate, the Robbies ask: can Liverpool now afford to sell Coutinho? And finally, the guys discuss Bournemouth’s recent struggles.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Report: PSV likely to land Man City, USMNT’s Palmer-Brown on loan

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A number of well-known American players have completed moves to Europe over the years, and a former Sporting KC defender is about to embark on his own journey abroad.

[ MORE: Liverpool smashes Bournemouth to go fourth ]

U.S. youth national team centerback Erik Palmer-Brown is headed to Premier League side Manchester City, who currently leads the English top flight, after signing a pre-contract with the club back in September.

It is now believed though that the young player will go on loan once he arrives with the English side.

Metro is reporting is that Palmer-Brown is likely to complete a move to Dutch Eredivisie club PSV Eindhoven on loan.

Palmer-Brown helped the U.S. Under-20 national team reach the quarterfinals at this year’s U-20 World Cup in South Korea, after previously representing several other U.S. youth national teams.

La Liga & Serie A: Barca routs Deportivo, AC Milan routed

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A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

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Barcelona 4-0 Deportivo

Although Lionel Messi’s stardom was rewarded prior to the match at the Camp Nou with the European Golden Shoe, the Argentine forward couldn’t crack the scoresheet one the game kicked off. That didn’t matter though, as Luis Suarez and Paulinho each bagged braces on the day to keep Barcelona six points clear of Atletico Madrid on Sunday. Messi, who had a penalty kick attempt saved in the second half, came close on several occasions, but couldn’t find the scoring touch for the Blaugrana.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Girona 1-0 Getafe
Celta Vigo 0-1 Villareal
Las Palmas 2-2 Espanyol


Hellas Verona 3-0 AC Milan

If AC Milan’s season wasn’t bad enough prior to Sunday, today’s performance at the Stadio Marc`Antonio Bentegodi could have only made the club’s outlook much, much worse. Hellas captured its third league win of the season, however, the team remains in 19th in Serie A despite picking up three points. Meanwhile, the Rossoneri fell to eight in Italy’s top flight, after Genaro Gattuso’s men were completely outplayed on the road. To make matters worse for the struggling side, Suso earned a straight red card in the dying minutes, leaving Milan to fend with 10 men.

Bologna 0-3 Juventus

At the top of Serie A, things are getting very intriguing as the season nears its halfway point. Juventus did its part to keep pressure on league leaders Napoli, but four teams currently sit within four points of one another at the league’s summit, making for a testy title race. Miralem Pjanic and Mario Mandzukic each scored before halftime, giving the Bianconeri a comfortable lead before the break. Meanwhile, ex-PSG man Blaise Matuidi capped off the game’s scoring in the 64th minute.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Atalanta 3-3 Lazio
Benevento 1-2 SPAL
Sampdoria 0-1 Sassuolo
Fiorentina 0-0 Genoa
Crotone 1-0 Chievo Verona