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Champions League quarterfinal predictions

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The UEFA Champions League quaterfinals kick off on Tuesday as four huge ties take center stage over the next week.

[ MORE: Champions League scores

With the first legs happening this week and the second legs next week, there isn’t much time for a breather, especially with domestic games wedged in-between.

An all-Premier League clash ensures that there will be one English club in the semifinal, while the three Spanish teams left in the competition have all avoided each other.

Below we take a look at each series and predict the outcome.


Liverpool v. Manchester City – First leg: Apr. 4 & Second leg: Apr. 10
This is it. A monster clash between two of the Premier League’s top three teams. Liverpool’s 4-3 win against Manchester City at Anfield earlier this season (they are still the only team to beat City in the PL this season) will give Jurgen Klopp‘s men confidence they can pull off an upset. But with Pep Guardiola‘s City one win away from clinching the PL title in-between this series (against Man United in a Manchester Derby no less) and the bookmakers favorites to win the UCL, Liverpool are the underdogs.

The key battle will be in the first leg. Liverpool know they must take a lead with them for the second leg at the Etihad Stadium to have any chance of advancing to the final four and that means they will press City high early on, just like they did in the league win in January. If Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi can weather the storm from Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino then City have a chance of putting Liverpool in their place, especially with Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva back in top form. Virgil Van Dijk has improved Liverpool’s defense drastically but can Loris Karius step up and deliver two huge displays over the two legs? Man City to advance 4-2 on aggregate


Juventus v. Real Madrid – First leg: Apr. 3 & Second leg: Apr. 11
Massive clash between European soccer royalty. Juve have reached the final in two of the last three seasons. Real have won the Champions League two years in a row. This rematch of the 2016-17 final in Cardiff promises so much. Just like we saw against Tottenham in the Round of 16, this Juve side has the ability to withstand severe pressure and not fall. Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco and Karim Benzema will come at them but with Gigi Buffon in goal and Giorgi Chiellini at the heart of their defense, Juve still has a fear factor around them despite their ageing years.

As for Zinedine Zidane and Real, they are all in on the UCL and have been for a while. A three-peat would be an incredible achievement and Zidane would likely walk away from being a manager after leading this star-studded team to unprecedented success. That said, his former team Juve will give them their toughest test in the UCL this season. Real Madrid to advance 3-2 on aggregate


Sevilla v. Bayern Munich – First leg: Apr. 3 & Second leg: Apr. 11
Having the first leg in Seville means the Spanish side will want to go for it from the start and we saw against Manchester United just how many chances they can create at home with their supporters creating a superb atmosphere. Vincenzo Montella’s men blew a 2-0 lead against Barcelona at the weekend and should have wrapped things up before Lionel Messi jumped off the bench to grab a point for Barca and keep their unbeaten season going.

Bayern have already said they’re wary of Sevilla, who knocked out Man United in stunning fashion at Old Trafford in the last round, but the Bavarian giants are the heavy favorites to make yet another UCL final four. For Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery, this is one last chance to win the big trophy as they continue to rip it up in the Bundesliga year after year. Bayern’s experience should get them through this. Bayern to advance 3-1 on aggregate


Barcelona v. Roma – First leg: Apr. 4 & Second leg: Apr. 10
Barca warmed up for this game with a shaky defensive display at Sevilla as Ernesto Valverde had to call on Messi to save their unbeaten season. Still, with Messi back fit, Barcelona have the edge and having the first leg at home makes a big difference as they will look to wrap things up nice and early at the Nou Camp.

Roma should not be underestimated, especially with Edin Dzeko capable of unnerving the toughest defenses and youngster Cengiz Under bursting onto the scenes in recent months with some incredible goals and attacking displays. Roma’s veteran defense could well collapse with Messi and Luis Suarez running at them but if they can hold things together for the second leg in Rome, things could get very uncomfortable for Barcelona. We saw Roma batter Chelsea earlier this season in the group stages in the Stadio Olimpico and although the Messi factor is strong, Roma has nothing to lose as nobody seriously expected them to get to this stage. Like Sevilla and Liverpool, a team playing without any pressure is a dangerous proposition at this stage of the tournament. But, it’s Messi. Barcelona to advance 4-3 on aggregate

MLS at Week 8: Galaxy host Atlanta, NYCFC aims to stay unbeaten out west

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A full weekend of MLS action kicks off on Friday night with two of the Western Conference’s elite, while Saturday and Sunday feature a number of quality matchups.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the LA Galaxy have been quite the attraction since the Swede made his move to MLS a few weeks ago, but Sigi Schmid’s side will be in for another early-season test on Saturday when they take on a red-hot Atlanta United.

[ MORE: Sweden not keen on Zlatan’s World Cup return ]

Both sides currently sit in second place in their respective conferences, while Atlanta boasts the second-highest goalscoring total in the league to this point, with 15 goals in six games.

Western Conference leaders Sporting KC have gone unbeaten in their last six matches since their opening day defeat to New York City FC, and Matt Besler and Co. will have another opportunity to put their stamp on the conference with a crucial match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, who sit third in the West.

NYCFC and FC Dallas remain on the only two unbeaten clubs left in 2018, although the latter has been far less convincing in its first five matches.

Patrick Vieira and NYCFC are coming off of a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Atlanta last weekend, and now head west to take on the Portland Timbers.

Meanwhile, Dallas plays host to the Philadelphia Union, who have taken just one win out of their first five games.

Here’s a look at the full slate of matches around MLS in Week 8.

Friday

Sporting KC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps — 9 p.m. ET

Saturday

Montreal Impact vs. Los Angeles FC — 1 p.m. ET
Houston Dynamo vs. Toronto FC — 3 p.m. ET
New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire — 3:30 p.m. ET
Columbus Crew vs. New England Revolution — 7:30 p.m. ET
Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes — 7:30 p.m. ET
FC Dallas vs. Philadelphia Union — 8 p.m. ET
Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids — 9 p.m. ET
LA Galaxy vs. Atlanta United — 10:30 p.m. ET

Sunday

Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United — 4 p.m. ET
Portland Timbers vs. New York City FC — 6 p.m. ET

Atletico defeat leaves Barcelona 1 win from title

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MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid lost 3-0 at Real Sociedad on Thursday, leaving Barcelona one victory away from clinching the Spanish league title.

Barcelona, which drew 2-2 at Celta Vigo on Tuesday without most of its regular starters, can secure its 25th crown at Deportivo La Coruna on April 29.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Burnley, trails Spurs by five points in UCL race ]

The Catalan club faces Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final on Saturday.

Barcelona has a 12-point lead over Atletico, with five matches left, and is 15 in front of third-place Real Madrid, which needed a late goal by Cristiano Ronaldo to draw 1-1 with Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday.

Another loss for Atletico on Sunday against Real Betis would leave Diego Simeone’s team out of contention for the title because Barcelona holds the head-to-head advantage between the clubs.

Willian Jose shot Sociedad ahead in the 27th minute at the Anoeta Stadium. Juanmi Jimenez made it 2-0 in the 80th after a perfect backheel from Jose before Jimenez scored again with an injury-time header.

It was a third straight win for Sociedad, which stayed 11th in the standings. Atletico hadn’t lost in three consecutive league matches.

GIRONA WINS

Girona ended a four-match winless streak with a 2-1 victory at Alaves, staying in contention for a Europa League spot next season.

Aleix Garcia opened the scoring for Girona in the 59th minute and Cristhian Stuani added a penalty in the 86th, moving the team within one point of seventh-place Sevilla.

Tomas Pina struck in the 90th minute for Alaves, which is 15th.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

Leicester 0-0 Southampton: Saints lose chance to gain relegation ground

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Leicester City and Southampton finished scoreless at the King Power Stadium on Thursday, as the latter failed to pick up three critical points in a heated Premier League relegation race.

The best opportunity on the day likely came in the second half when Marc Albrighton‘s brilliant volley was deflected over the crossbar by Saints keeper Alex McCarthy.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Burnley with Moses’ second-half strike ]

Southampton boasted many of its regulars as they prepare to stave off being dropped down to the Championship next season, although Mark Hughes‘ side features in a big FA Cup semifinals clash over the weekend against Chelsea.

Chances were at a minimum in the opening stanza, with Leicester the more dominant of the two sides in attack, although it didn’t amount to much on their various counterattacking opportunities.

Kelechi Iheanacho threatened early on for the Foxes, coming close in the 15th minute with a strike that narrowly missed the far corner. This came briefly after he followed up on his own blocked attempt moments prior.

The Saints now sit four points behind 17th place Swansea City, while Leicester remains in eighth place — trailing Arsenal and the top six by 10 points.

Burnley 1-2 Chelsea: Moses rescues Blues all three points

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With four matches remaining in the Premier League season, Antonio Conte‘s side has everything to play for in the final weeks of the campaign.

[ MORE: Leicester, Southampton finish scoreless at King Power Stadium ]

Chelsea picked up a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Burnley on Thursday afternoon at the Turf Moor behind Victor Moses‘ second-half finish.

Moses was active throughout the match for Chelsea, playing a hand in both goals.

Ashley Barnes pulled a goal back for the Clarets in the 64th minute, but it wasn’t enough for the seventh place side to steal points off the Blues for the second time in 2017/18.

Alvaro Morata’s struggles continued on the day, as the Spanish international had a quality breakaway chance to seal the game early in the second half, but put his right-footed attempt wide of the goal.

The Blues went in front in the 20th minute after Burnley defender Kevin Long put the ball into his own net off of a dangerous cross from Victor Moses on the righthand side of the box.

Olivier Giroud made heavy claims for a penalty in the eighth minute, when the striker went to ground after having been contacted by Long.

The Frenchman started the match paired with Alvaro Morata up front as Antonio Conte looked to rest Eden Hazard and Willian ahead of this weekend’s FA Cup semifinal against Southampton.

The victory for the Blues puts Conte and Co. within five points of Spurs with four matches remaining in the PL campaign. Tottenham currently occupies the fourth Champions League position in England’s top flight.