Real Madrid are already the two-time defending UEFA Champions League winners, and are tabbed as one of two or three favorites to be crowned champions of Europe again this season.
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While the past (three Champions League triumphs in four seasons) is already littered with silverware, the future isn’t looking so bad either after the defending La Liga champions announced new long-term contracts for a pair of under-25 superstars in the making in the span of 24 hours this week.
24-year-old defender Raphael Varane, who featured prominently in all three UCL runs, signed on Wednesday a new five-year deal which will keep him at the club until 2022. A day later, 21-year-old attacker Marco Asensio, who’s loudly announced himself onto the world’s stage already this season, re-upped for six more years with a new deal tying him to Los Blancos until 2023.
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Asensio signed for Madrid from Mallorca in the summer of 2014, but spent the next two seasons on loan, back at his old club for a season and then at Espanyol. Last season saw him break into the first team and flash momentary bits of brilliance late on in the season. That momentum has carried over to this season, as the heir apparent to the trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema has four goals and one assist through the first 10 games (all competitions).
To the surprise of absolutely no one, Real Madrid will remain quite good for quite some time to come.
Real Madrid made things on Wednesday a bit more complicated than they would have preferred, but the two-time defending European champions are through to the final of the Club World Cup for the second straight year.
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Zinedine Zidane’s men came from behind to beat United Arab Emirates side Al Jazira (winners of the U.A.E. Pro League, the tournament’s host country), courtesy of second-half goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, 2-1 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Al Jazira held a 1-0 halftime lead, thanks to Romarinho’s opening goal in the 41st minute. The advantage lasted just a dozen minutes, though, as Ronaldo used Madrid’s first genuine chance of the game to bring Los Blancos back onto level terms in the 53rd minute. Luka Modric slipped the Portuguese superstar through, and the recently crowned Ballon d’Or winner finished with ease to make it 1-1.
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The winner didn’t come for quite some time after that, as Madrid were made to wait — and work — for their place in Saturday’s final, where they’ll face Brazilian side and Copa Libertadores winners Gremio. Bale had only just come off the bench seconds earlier, when Lucas Vazquez cut the ball back for Bale to hit it hard and low past the goalkeeper.
The Welshman nearly made it 3-1 with four minutes to go in regular time, but his scissor from the edge of the box was saved to deny Madrid a stunning insurance goal very late on.
Madrid are aiming to become the first side to win back-to-back Club World Cup titles after beating Kashima Antlers, 4-2 after extra-time, in the 2016 final.
Seven Premier League games are coming your way from 2:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and you can watch them all live online.
[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]
Manchester City head to Swansea looking to extend their winning streak to a record-breaking 15-straight in a season, while Manchester United host Bournemouth and Tottenham welcome Brighton to Wembley. There’s a big London derby between West Ham and Arsenal, while Liverpool host West Brom, in-form Leicester head to Southampton and struggling Newcastle clash with Everton.
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You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which 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: “Goal Rush” here ]
For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.
The schedule for the seven games on Wednesday is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.
Wednesday’s Premier League schedule
2:45 p.m. ET: Swansea City vs. Manchester City – NBCSN [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Newcastle United vs. Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Southampton vs. Leicester City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Manchester United vs. Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Brighton & Hove Albion – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: West Ham United vs. Arsenal – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.
The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.
Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.
Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.
The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.
Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.
After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.
If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.
Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.
The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.
BERLIN (AP) Germany’s players will each receive $410,000 bonus if the team defends its World Cup title next year in Russia.
The German soccer federation says it has agreed to a performance-related bonus system for the team, as it did for the successful 2014 World Cup campaign and the last two European Championships.
Bonuses will only be paid upon reaching the quarterfinals, when each player would receive $90,000. That will increase to $150,000 for reaching the semifinals, $175,000 for third place and $235,000 for reaching the final.
Only Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962) have won back-to-back World Cup titles.