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LIVE, UCL – Chelsea vs. Barcelona; Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas

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Two can’t-miss matchups are on display as the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first legs continue on Tuesday afternoon.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Chelsea and Barcelona continue its terrific recently rivalry over the past two decades with Ernesto Valverde’s side traveling to Stamford Bridge to face Antonio Conte and co. At the same time, Bayern Munich hosts Turkish giant Besiktas at the Allianz Arena.

Lionel Messi, who has yet to score against Chelsea in eight games, will be looking to break his own five-game goal drought while also keep Barcelona’s Champions League hopes alive against one of his club’s toughest opponents. Messi will be playing up top alongside Luis Suarez, with both Paulinho and Sergio Busquets sitting deep behind them to keep Chelsea from posing too much of a threat on the counter attack.

For Chelsea, the Champions League remains the last trophy the club can theoretically win, and Conte has named a strong side, though without a recognizable No. 9, with Eden Hazard playing as a false nine.

Bayern Munich is looking to reach the Champions League semifinals for the seventh time in the last nine years, and they’re facing a side who’s in the knockout stage for the first time. Vagner Love leads the line for Besiktas with Ricardo Quaresma and Anderson Talisca looking to create behind. Former Real Madrid centerback Pepe starts on the backline, and will look to stop Robert Lewandowski.

Click on the link above to follow live commentary of the two UCL last 16 games, while we will have you covered for analysis and reaction from both games right here at Pro Soccer Talk.


Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 schedule

Chelsea vs. Barcelona – 2:45 p.m. ET
Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas – 2:45 p.m. ET

UCL preview: Chelsea host Barcelona; Bayern vs. Besiktas

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  • Chelsea vs. Barcelona, at Stamford Bridge
  • Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas, at Allianz Arena
  • Champions League round of 16 resumes on Tuesday

[ UCL: Spurs fight back to draw Juventus | Liverpool thrash Porto in leg 1 ]

Chelsea, mired in some of their worst form since the disastrous 2015-16 season, welcome a Barcelona side enjoying one of the best six-month runs of results in the famed club’s entire history. The Blues have won just four of their last 12 games across all competitions, while the Blaugrana have lost once in 38 games.

On the plus side, Chelsea enter Tuesday’s colossal clash as winners of their last two games — back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018 — having outscored the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Hull City by a combined 7-0. Star striker Alvaro Morata returned to action against Hull after five weeks out with a back injury, thus Antonio Conte has something of a selection dilemma on his hands with the Spaniard perhaps only partially fit, and Olivier Giroud racking up a goal and three assists in the last two games, his first starts for the club.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have conceded just two goals in their last nine games (all competitions) and even managed to overturn their lone defeat, to Espanyol, and advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals (and eventually final). Despite losing Neymar in the summer, Barca mostly cruised through their Champions League group, only dropping points in draws away to Juventus and Olympiacos. Lionel Messi has, strangely, never scored a goal in his eight career appearances against Chelsea, a record which has been spoken about at length in the build-up to Tuesday — similarly to the goal-less record which plagued him against Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, whom he finally bested back in September.

[ MORE: Man City win big away to Basel | Real Madrid 3-1 PSG ]

In the other round-of-16 first-leg matchup on Tuesday, five-time (soon-to-be six) defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich host surprise winners of Group G, Besiktas, ahead of the likes of Monaco, RB Leipzig and Porto.

Since taking over on an interim basis (through the end of the season), Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes has won 21 of 22 games of which he’s been in charge, including four of six games during the group stage en route to finish second behind Paris Saint-Germain, while also racing out to a 19-point lead back home in Germany.

Orlando City CEO rips “troublemaker” Larin for Besiktas exit

Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP
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Orlando City CEO Alex Leitao took the microphone for one last set of comments about the club’s former star striker Cyle Larin.

Saying this was indeed the last time he’d talk about the Canadian striker engineering a transfer to Besiktas by refusing to acknowledge validity in his contract with the MLS club, Leitao tore into Larin.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Johannsson’s clever Bremen goal ]

The 22-year-old player was clear that he planned to leave MLS following last season, but he thought he was free to leave the team while Orlando expected a transfer fee (which it eventually received).

Leitao said players are becoming more professional all the time, but Larin is an exception to the rule. When Larin showed up Besiktas, the thought process changed at Orlando City. From ProSoccerUSA.com’s Alicia DelGallo:

“At this moment, we have a conversation, ‘What’s the point to force a player with that character, with that personality, a troublemaker? What’s the point of bringing a player like that back to the club?’” Leitão said. “So we decided to engage in negotiations with the Turkish club and came up with, in my opinion, a very good negotiation and result for us as a club.”

Larin was on the bench with the hopes of making his Besiktas debut in Tuesday’s Turkish Cup win over Genclerbirligi Ankara, but did not make an appearance.

Report: Larin’s strange saga ends with move from Orlando to Besiktas

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Following weeks of he-said-she-said back-and-forth over the immediate future of Cyle Larin, the details of the Canadian international’s move from Orlando City SC to Turkish giant Besiktas has reportedly been agreed by all parties, according to a report from Pro Soccer USA.

[ MORE: David Beckham’s Miami team is finally official ]

Before delving into the details, a quick refresher: Larin began garnering interest from Europe around this time last year; interest ramped up during the summer, but Orlando City refused to sell before the end of the season due to service time with the team (their percentage of transfer fee retained would go up after three full seasons); Besiktas approached Orlando and Larin this winter; having believed a deal was done, Besiktas flew Larin to Turkey where he underwent a medical evaluation and photos, along with an announcement of sorts, were shared by the club; Orlando insisted that no deal had been finalized; Besiktas contended that Larin’s contract with MLS, which included unilateral option years, was invalid by FIFA standards.

Fast-forward to Monday, and the final piece of the messy puzzle has reportedly been resolved: Orlando and the MLS league office have agreed on an unprecedented percentage split of Larin’s transfer fee — Orlando will keep 100 percent, as opposed to the league’s stand two-thirds share (for non-Generation adidas players) — from Pro Soccer USA:

Orlando City will keep the full amount of the transfer fee because of the lengthy ordeal instead of giving 30 percent to the league and 10 percent to the player as is usual for a third-year Generation adidas player, per sources.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundupSunday | Friday ]

This, of course, leaves MLS in yet another confusing gray area: previously, only outgoing transfers of homegrown players (Larin was drafted first overall in the 2015 Super Draft) were to net a team 100 percent of a fee paid; the league’s single-entity structure would absorb the other one-third after two-thirds went to the team (a few examples: Kei Kamara, to Middlesbrough; Fabian Castillo, to Trabzonspor; Uri Rosell, to Sporting CP).

Now, for the first time, Orlando will keep the entire fee for a non-homegrown player, which will lead to every team wanting and expecting the same treatment upon future sales. Take, for instance, Jack Harrison, who’s widely expected to leave New York City FC for either Stoke City Middlesbrough, for anywhere between $5 million and $8.5 million, in the next 48 hours.

[ MORE: USMNT draws first friendly of 2018 | Player ratings ]

What’s the threshold for time and messiness that a transfer saga must meet in order for a team to maximize that transfer revenue? It’s an absurd question to consider, but because MLS continues to fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to roster rules and regulations, here we are.

One day — soon, hopefully — a departing player caught up in a similar situation will follow through and contest MLS’s practice of unilateral option years, which is what this entire saga comes back to, in front of FIFA. That player will, hopefully, score a massive victory for every non-Designated Player in the league, many of whom live year-to-year without the financial security of a guaranteed contract. Within the current setup, power lies in the hands of the league, and the league only. It’s a toxic, but lucrative, way of doing business.

Report: Orlando City, Besiktas finally agree on transfer fee for Larin

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The Cyle Larin transfer saga may be finally coming to a close.

According to multiple reports in Turkey, Besiktas will pay Orlando City $2.3 million over the next three years for Larin to join the team before the end of the January transfer window. Larin had been determined to leave MLS for Europe after the end of last season and even though he initially agreed that the club option on his contract was valid, it appears he and his representatives changed their mind, and set up a trial with Besiktas.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Larin was seen earlier this week training with the first team in Turkey.

The former No. 1 selection in the MLS SuperDraft was never able to grow upon his rookie season, when he scored 17 league goals for Orlando City. He scored 14 goals in 2016 and 12 goals in 2017, as Orlando City continued to fail to make the MLS Cup playoffs.

With Kaka now gone, Larin likely saw another rebuilding season ahead and decided to try his luck in Europe. Hopefully he’ll find playing time in Turkey, even though Besiktas just signed another forward – Brazilian veteran Vagner Love.