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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.

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.

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.

Retailer removes T-shirt from sale over Hillsborough links

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LONDON (AP) A British retailer has withdrawn a T-shirt from sale in its stores and online following complaints that its design could be associated with the Hillsborough soccer disaster.

[ MORE: Liverpool, Man City drawn in UCL quarterfinals ]

Topman had on sale a red shirt with a large “96” on the back and the phrase “what goes around comes around” underneath. The word “Karma” is written on one of the sleeves.

Ninety-six people were crushed to death in the Hillsborough stadium disaster, which happened in Sheffield in April 1989 at an FA Cup semifinal match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Topman said it “apologizes unreservedly for any offense caused by this T-shirt” and that the “garment has been removed from sale online and in stores.”

The retailer said the design was inspired by a Bob Marley track, with the number referring to the year of the re-release.

Cosmos, Miami FC petition USSF for 2018 U.S. Open Cup entry

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NASL’s decision to cancel the 2018 regular season has caused significant ramifications, with the latest forcing several clubs to be excluded from the U.S. Open Cup.

The New York Cosmos and Miami FC — both of whom participated in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup have not been named among the eligible teams for the 2018 edition following NASL’s cancellation of the league season.

Now, the two teams have petitioned to U.S. Soccer and its new president, Carlos Cordeiro, to rethink its decision and allow the clubs to play despite not belonging to a professional league.

Both clubs do boast reserve teams though — New York Cosmos B and Miami 2 — which is the lead argument from each organization as to why U.S. Soccer should grant the teams an exemption and a spot in the tournament.

Cosmos B and Miami FC 2 will both play in the NPSL once again in 2018, with both rosters largely comprised of senior team players.

As it stands, 94 teams have been placed in the 2018 Open Cup field, as announced by U.S. Soccer on Wednesday.

Both open letters from the respective clubs can be found below.

Brazil’s Luis could miss World Cup after leg fracture

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MADRID (AP) Brazilian left back Filipe Luis has a leg fracture that could stop him going to the World Cup in Russia.

[ MORE: Arsenal draws CSKA Moscow in Europa quarters ]

Atletico Madrid said Friday that Luis sustained the injury to his left leg in the second half of the Spanish team’s 5-1 rout of Lokomotiv Moscow in the Europa League round-of-16 match on Thursday.

The club did not say how long Luis will be sidelined. Similar injuries have required at least six weeks of recovery time and longer if surgery is required.

The 32-year-old Luis was called up by Brazil coach Tite for friendlies against Russia in Moscow on March 23 and against Germany in Berlin on March 27. Brazil’s first game at the World Cup is against Switzerland on June 17.

Luis was injured while trying to prevent Lokomotiv forward Eder taking a shot from inside the area in the 60th minute. He successfully cleared the ball but his leg was hit from behind.

Luis left the field on a stretcher and tests Friday in Madrid confirmed the fracture in his lower leg.

Atletico advanced 8-1 on aggregate after the victory in Russia.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage:

Casemiro: Neymar “would get along very well with Cristiano” at Real

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The speculation (transfer) train keeps chugging along as domestic seasons near their conclusion, and one rumor continues to be fueled linking one of the world’s top players to Real Madrid.

[ MORE: FA Cup preview ]

Neymar’s time at Paris Saint-Germain has been short, less than a season to be precise, but the Brazil international could be moving on from the Parc des Princes sooner rather than later after his side crashed out of the UEFA Champions League recently against Real.

Nothing concrete has been determined about Neymar’s future, but Real Madrid continues to be linked with the South American star, and one current Real player feels Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo would get along “very well.”

“[Neymar] has always been spectacular, since he was 11 years old. He does crazy things,” Real midfielder Casemiro told El Partidazo .l”I don’t think there is any chance that he will come to Real, but you have to ask [Madrid president] Florentino Perez.

“He knows that the door is always open for him in Madrid, but he is happy in Paris. He always says that he is happy there, that he is comfortable in Paris. There are many Brazilians there too, it is very quiet there, but whether it’s possible you have to ask Florentino.

“With the quality that he has, I would sign him for sure. I hope he comes this season.

“He is a great player, one of the top three in the world. He can do whatever he wants off the pitch if he continues to do what he does on it.

“He would get along very well with Cristiano, very well.”

Real is currently in the midst of a historic run in the Champions League, having won the competition three times in the last four seasons.

Casemiro isn’t the only Real player eager to bring in a talent such as Neymar though.

Defender Dani Carvajal also recently told the media that he would be ecstatic to have a teammate like the Brazilian come into the fold at the Santiago Bernabeu.