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Three key battles: Tottenham vs. Dortmund

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Tottenham Hotspur host Borussia Dortmund at Wembley on Wednesday in one of the most intriguing games in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

 [ MORE: UCL Tuesday roundup

Spurs and Dortmund are on an equal footing on many levels with both Mauricio Pochettino and Peter Bosz leading young, hungry squads to challenge for domestic titles and have hopes of making a deep UCL run with their finely-tuned, high-pressing styles the envy of others across Europe.

Two golden-boot winners will be on show at Wembley with Harry Kane leading Spurs’ charge from the front and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the main man for Dortmund, but a whole host of other key battles will take place between the Premier League and Bundesliga teams.

Below is a closer look at the three key battles which will determine the outcome of this game.


Harry Kane vs. Neven Subotic

It is September so Kane is in full flow having scored twice against Everton last time out and that is a bad news for a Dortmund defense who are missing Marcel Schmelzer, Marc Bartra and potentially Neven Subotic. Kane and Co. will fancy their chances of pressing high on Dortmund’s defense early on and the likes of Sokratis and Omer Toprak may struggle to cope with the mobility of Spurs’ main forward. We all know that Kane is capable of scoring any type of goal and Dortmund’s defense will have to be wary of him dropping deep, drifting wide and then cutting inside.

Ben Davies vs. Christian Pulisic

Ah, Das American. Pulisic, still just 18 years old, is likely to have a key role in this game and he will likely start on the right of Dortmund’s attack. That means he will be up against second-choice left back (Danny Rose remains out with a knee injury) Ben Davies with Spurs expected to play in a 3-4-3 formation. Pulisic, as all USMNT fans know, loves to pick up the ball wide and drift inside and you just feel that with constant links to a move to the Premier League, this is a chance for him to prove his quality against PL opponents. Davies is solid and steady and will get forward but defends first. The Welsh international will provide a stern test for Pulisic but the American playmaker will see this as a battle he can easily win.

Toby Alderweireld vs. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

On his day there a few better center backs in Europe than Alderweireld. The same can be said about Aubameyang when it comes to strikers. This should be one heck of a battle with both imposing physically and Aubameyang able to hold the ball up and bring others into play. Alderweireld is more than comfortable following a forward out of the back line and if he wins the ball often enough the ball-playing Belgian can stride into midfield and start attacks. Aubameyang has a knack of being in the right place at the right time but Alderweireld reads the game superbly and along with Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen, they will deny space for Aubameyang to turn and link up with Dortmund’s playmakers.

Barry Bennell jailed 30 years for abusing young players

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LIVERPOOL, England (AP) A former English youth soccer coach was jailed Monday for 30 years for abusing 12 young footballers after the judge called him the “devil incarnate.”

Barry Bennell, a former coach at Crewe and scout for Manchester City, was convicted at Liverpool Crown Court of 50 child sexual offenses committed between 1979 and 1991.

“Your behavior towards these boys in grooming and seducing them before subjecting them to, in some cases, the most most serious, degrading and humiliating abuse was sheer evil,” Judge Clement Goldstone told the 64-year-old Bennell.

Bennell looked at the floor and nodded as the judge sentenced him. Some members of the public began to applaud as he was sent down, but were stopped by the judge.

Goldstone said Bennell had appeared to his victims as a God.

“In reality, you were the devil incarnate,” the judge added. “You stole their childhoods and their innocence to satisfy your own perversion.”

Goldstone said Bennell’s abuse had destroyed the enthusiasm his victims had for playing football and had led to them suffering problems including suicidal thoughts, alcoholism and depression.

Bennell has already served three jail terms, totaling 15 years, for similar offenses involving 16 other victims in England and the United States.

LIVE, FA Cup: Wigan host Manchester City

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All conquering Manchester City head to third-tier Wigan Athletic on Monday (Kick off, 2:55 p.m. ET) to keep their quest of a legendary quadruple alive.

[ LIVE: Follow Wigan v Man City here

Pep Guardiola‘s men are 16 points clear atop the Premier League summit, while they are virtually through to the last eight of the UEFA Champions League and are in the League Cup final against Arsenal at Wembley on Sunday.

Can anyone stop them?

Wigan stand in their way with the Latics promotion favorites from the third tier who have already beaten Premier League teams Bournemouth and West Ham United to reach the last 16.

The winner will host Southampton in the quarterfinal for a place in the semifinal at Wembley Stadium, and City’s fan will be feeling a little nervous heading into this game.

Why? They played Wigan in the FA Cup final in 2013 and lost 1-0 after a last-gasp header from Ben Watson sealed one of the greatest upsets of all time to hand the Latics their first-ever major trophy. Wigan also beat City in the FA Cup quarterfinals in 2015, the last time they met in this competition.

Surely Guardiola’s boys won’t be on the end of another upset this time, especially with this starting lineup…

Click on the link above to follow the action live, while we will have analysis and reaction from the final FA Cup fifth round clash right here at Pro Soccer Talk.

Italy VAR chief: Incidents to be shown on stadium screens

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Decisions which have been changed on video review could soon be shown on the giant screens in Italian stadiums, offering soccer fans more clarity.

[ MORE: Juve, Napoli keep winning

The video assistant referee system was introduced in Italy at the start of the season and has been criticized for leaving supporters in the stadiums blind sometimes as to what is happening on the pitch or why a decision has been changed.

The head of the project in Italy, Roberto Rosetti, told Radio Anch’io Sport on Monday: “Probably in a few months’ time we’ll be able to see on big screens in the stadiums images of the decisions that have been changed and why they have been changed.”

Rosetti admits they need to “improve on the uniformity of both interpretation and intervention” but says the positive effect of the VAR can clearly be seen by “the drastic reduction in bookings for protests and anti-sporting behavior.”

Spurs “have the capacity” to win the Champions League

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We know. They just drew 2-2 away at Rochdale in the fifth round of the FA Cup. We know.

[ MORE: Dele Alli and the diving debate

But Tottenham Hotspur’s last 2-2 draw was much more impressive as they went to Juventus and outplayed the reigning Italian champions in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

Heading into the second leg at Wembley on Mar. 7, it appears that new signing Lucas Moura, who scored their opening goal against Rochdale on Sunday, is a fan of what he’s seen in his short time at Tottenham.

Speaking to reporters after his first goal for Spurs on his full debut, Moura has high hopes for his time in North London.

“I am 25 years old but I think I gained a lot of experience with PSG and I think I can help Tottenham. I think we have a lot of quality and a great structure and can arrive at the end of the season with a trophy. The Champions League is the most difficult cup but I think we have the capacity to win it if we always think in positives and always work hard,” Moura said, via the Guardian.

“We did a big game against Juventus away. It was a good result in Italy and I am sure we can do a good game with our fans and continue. It’s always important to win. Every player wants to win trophies, to make history and I am here to make history with my new friends, my new team-mates. I believe that because we have a lot of quality, a great structure – I am really impressed – and I think we can dream with the Champions League.”

Does Moura have a point? Aside from a weakened side struggling away at Rochdale on a freshly laid pitch, they’ve been superb in recent months.

And given the current form of Harry Kane and the entire Spurs team there won’t be a single club who says “you know what, let’s take Spurs” if they make it through to the last eight of the UCL.

The high-pressing style of Mauricio Pochettino saw them bully Juve away from home and all of a sudden it seems like the rest of Europe has woken up and realized just how good they are.

If injuries are kind to Spurs and Moura continues to show flashes of brilliance since his arrival from PSG in January, the Brazilian could well be on to something. Tottenham are by no means favorites to win the Champions League, but their recent results against Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool prove they are a force to be reckoned with.