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Europa League quarterfinal field set

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Longtime Liverpool man Lucas Leiva led Lazio into the UEFA Europa League, as eight teams not await Friday morning’s quarterfinal draw.

[ MORE: Arsenal blasts Milan ]

Three rounds stand between these teams and an automatic berth in the UEFA Champions League, though that does not seem to be an issue for several via league standing (chiefly Atletico Madrid).

AC Milan, Lyon, Borussia Dortmund, and Zenit Saint-Petersburg were among the eight sides dumped out of the tournament on Thursday.

Atletico Madrid
CSKA Moscow
RB Leipzig
RB Salzburg
Sporting Lisbon

Ahead of last season, Drogba admits interest in Marseille role

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Didier Drogba loves everything about soccer, but his time on the field is finally coming to a close.

[ PL PREVIEW: Stoke vs. Man City ]

The Phoenix Rising owner turned 40 on Sunday, and signaled the end of his playing career in November with an announcement than the 2018 USL season would be his last.

But a Telefoot interview shows the player-owner may take a role with American businessman Frank McCourt’s Marseille project (translated by ESPN):

“We’ll have to see what is offered. I’m always ready to help. … In any case, Marseille are showing good things this year. Rudi Garcia’s project is taking shape, they’re building a team with young players. It’s excellent to stay in the top three with a team like that. As a fan, I have a lot of faith in them.”

Drogba scored 32 times in his only season at Marseille.

He also netted nine times with three assists in 14 appearances last season as Phoenix finished fifth in the USL’s Western Conference before bowing out in penalty kicks against Swope Park Rangers in the first round of the playoffs.

PSG issues Neymar injury update; Silva claims Marseille targeted star

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Pretty heavy charges lay at the feet of Marseille midfielder Dimitri Payet, as PSG announced that Neymar has a sprained ankle and broken metatarsal.

[ MORE: PL All Star teams? ]

The Paris Saint-Germain captain claims that Payet and his teammates aimed to hurt Neymar in the lead-up to the seemingly innocuous exchange that ultimately sent the megastar off the field on the stretcher.

His basis? Silva says Payet told the referee as much:

“It’s a shame. Payet said to the referee that he wanted to hurt. That is not football.”

French radio station RMC claimed Payet told referee Benoit Bastien: “Tell Neymar to calm down or we are going to take care of him.”

Now Neymar’s injury came without contact — typically worse for the severity of the injury — and after he snuck his studs onto Bouna Sarr’s leg, but there’s no question the Brazilian was being hunted (There’s embellishment in the below video, but also clear tactical fouling).

PSG plays Marseille again on Wednesday in the French Cup before a league match at Troyes and a first leg with Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.

PSG suffers big blow as Neymar stretchered off against Marseille


With an important run of fixtures upcoming, including a UEFA Champions League date with Real Madrid, the Parisians received disappointing news on Sunday.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails Man City as trophy haul begins ]

Despite picking up a 3-0 victory against Marseille, Paris Saint-Germain suffered a massive blow in the second stanza after Neymar was stretchered off the pitch with a right leg injury in the 81st minute.

The Brazilian international appeared to twist his ankle upon landing on the ground after going in for a challenge, although there was no contact when the attacker went down in agony.

Minutes after suffering the apparent ankle injury, Neymar was carried off the field on a stretcher by medical staff, raising questions about his availability in the coming weeks.

PSG faces a crucial run of matches, including Wednesday’s French Cup match against Marseille and their second leg UCL fixture against Real Madrid.

Unai Emery and his side currently trail 3-1 against Los Blancos, as the tie heads back to Paris for the second meeting.

This season, Neymar has tallied 28 goals in all competitions for the Parisians, including six finishes in the UCL, so his potential absence would be a huge blow to PSG’s hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals.

Europa League preview: Field set for final trim

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The UEFA Europa League gained some big names this week with the third-place teams of the Champions League, but will it lose some others?

Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, Atletico Madrid, and Sporting CP are among eight UCL drop-outs to join the UEL for the knockout rounds.

[ MORE: Liverpool crushes Spartak ]

Everton and Hoffenheim have already been eliminated, and Koln, Marseille, and Athletic Bilbao could bow out of the tournament without results on Thursday.

Only eight spots remain before Thursday’s action, with giants Arsenal and AC Milan already through before matches with BATE Borisov and Rijeka. The Gunners will be without Shkrodan Mustafi for the match, and will face a desperate BATE team which can still advance in a number of scenarios.

The other Premier League side in the tournament, Everton, is in Cyprus to face Apollon Limassol in a match thatb doesn’t matter for either side. Sam Allardyce will likely have little use for it ahead of Sunday’s Merseyside Derby.

Group F is the only bunch with two spots still open. Sheriff Tiraspol (Romania) leads the way, and needs just a point from Copenhagen. The hosts need to top Sheriff, while Lokomotiv Moscow advances with a win at Fastav Zlin or a Copenhagen draw or loss.

As for the three big names in question:

— Marseille advances with a win at home to Red Bull Salzburg, or a draw and help from Vitoria against Konyaspor.

— Koln goes through with a win at Red Star Belgrade.

— Athletic Bilbao simply needs to avoid a loss in Ukraine to Zorya Luhansk.