After 14 long years, soccer’s oldest rivalry returns: England vs. Scotland is back

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When you mention England against Scotland, a few things start to swirl around in your mind.

Suddenly, bearded men jumping over Hadrian’s wall wearing tartan kilts spring to mind. Medieval wars written into both countries folklore defined the early battles between these two proud nations.

But since 1872, when soccer’s first-ever international match took place between Scotland and England in Glasgow at Hamilton Crescent, the fierce rivals have turned to the soccer pitch to do battle.

Yet in recent times somewhat of a truce has been called.

After 14 years without an encounter, today’s “friendly” at Wembley Stadium is long overdue. Scotland beat England 1-0 in a Euro 2000 play-off game when they last met in November, 1999 at Wembley. But England went through to the tournament after a 2-0 win at Hampden Park thanks to two Paul Scholes goals. The Scots have been claiming a morale victory and bragging rights ever since.

However, when the final whistle blows in North London tonight we’re not sure when we will see this fixture again. There are no plans in the next few years for another encounter.

I’m okay with that.

Absence has certainly made the heart grow fonder in the case of this rivalry. For too often in the 1970s and 80s England ans Scotland squared off in Home Nations tournaments — a yearly competition which saw England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland play against each other to decide who ruled the British Isles — and dire games threatened to throw the rivalry into the history books. Various Scottish wins at Wembley saw fans invade the pitch and famously snap the crossbar in half after Scotland won 2-1 in 1977.

Ah, the good old days are about to return.

The “auld enemies” have never gone this long without a game against each other during the last 141 years. This rivalry has never been a friendly encounter and don’t expect today to be any different. The last time they met in a friendly was 1973 when England won 5-0 in Glasgow. Will there be a similar scoreline tonight?

Some would argue that it’s a bigger game for Scotland than England. They’re on the rise again under new manager Gordon Strachan after beating Croatia away from home in a World Cup qualifier last-time out. They’re improving and want a marquee win against their bitter rivals to get the nation on their side.

A win against England at Wembley would do wonders for the morale of the “Tartan Army,” Scotland’s loyal band of supporters who follow them across the globe. While England need to kick on to try and qualify for the World Cup next summer. Scotland have no chance of doing that.

Their big game on the horizon happens today.

This is the longest period of time in history that the two nations have gone without playing each other. From 1989 to 1996 they didn’t play a game and from 1939 to 1947 they didn’t square off due to the Second World War. But other than those elongated periods of sparseness, this rivalry flourished on an almost yearly basis from the late 19th century and all the way through the 20th.

But a whole generation of English and Scottish fans have gone without this rivalry. They’re excited for its returns and are probably tired of hearing long-winded tales about the wins of the 70s and 80s. Looking back, some of the ginger mullets and perms on both teams were a sight to behold. But let’s try and stay on topic…

So, the first battle between these two nations in the 21st century promises to be a sight to behold. England will want to put on a show and put Scotland in their place, while the Scots will scrap and fight for every ball and hit the Three Lions on the counter-attack. They will also be spurred on to not be embarrassed and do their nation proud. On Tuesday night the respective nations Under-21 sides faced off at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane. England beat Scotland 6-0. All of a sudden, more pressure has been heaped on the Scots shoulders.

It will be a brooding and fiery atmosphere at Wembley on Wednesday.

Whoever wins this one will have the bragging rights for quite some time. Scotland? Or England? Who will prevail as the original Battle of Britain finally returns.

Reaction to Premier League return on June 17

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Our partners in the UK, Sky Sports, have confirmed that the 2019-20 Premier League season will restart on June 17 and the reaction to that news has been one of relief and delight across the globe.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Premier League is holding in-depth meetings with all 20 clubs on Thursday to determine the potential restart date, among many other matters, and June 17 has emerged as the date games will return.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic the Premier League season was suspended on March 13 with 92 games remaining, and when the season restarts on June 17 it will have been 100 days without a game in England’s top-flight.

It is believed that the clubs want the Premier League season to be finished by August 1, so clubs can then focus on the FA Cup and European action in the Europa League and Champions League, while the 2020-21 season can then resume in early September.

All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place, with contact training now allowed after a return to small-group training was a success. The third round of COVID-19 testing saw a slight rise in positive tests compared to the last, as a total of 2,752 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out on Premier League players and staff with a total of 12 positive results.

Here’s a look at the reaction from key figures across the soccer world to the news the Premier League season will restart in less than three weeks’ time.

You beauty.

Bundesliga schedule for Matchweek 29

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The return of German soccer has been hugely successful and the Bundesliga schedule for Matchweek 29 is locked and loaded and below are details on how you can watch the games in the USA.

Dust off your lederhosen, fill that stein to the brim and make sure you know which young American stars to keep an eye on. Live sports is back.

[ LIVE: Bundesliga scores ] 

Bayern Munich are top of the table with a seven-point lead after their big win at Borussia Dortmund, while RB Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach have all dropped points as their title bids have faltered.

Given that Bayern look likely to secure an eighth-straight title, there is an epic scramble for European qualification. The top four in Germany qualify automatically for the UEFA Champions League group stage and that means one of the five teams mentioned above as title contenders will miss out, while Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin are surging and Schalke and Freiburg have struggled in the Europa League spot.

Below is the full Bundesliga schedule for this week, as the fourth round of games to restart the campaign is a beauty, while there are also details on how you can watch on TV in the USA.

Bundesliga schedule

  • TV Channels: FS1, FS2
  • Stream Live: Via Fox Soccer
  • USMNT players to watch: Gio Reyna, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Alfredo Morales, Josh Sargent

Friday, May 29

2:30 p.m. ET: Freiburg v. Bayer Leverkusen

Saturday, May 30

9:30 a.m. ET: Hertha Berlin v. Augsburg
9:30 a.m. ET: Mainz v. Hoffenheim
9:30 a.m. ET: Schalke v. Werder Bremen
9:30 a.m. ET: Wolfsburg v. Eintracht Frankfurt
12:30 p.m. ET: Bayern Munich v. Fortuna Dusseldorf

Sunday, May 31

9:30 a.m. ET: Borussia Monchengladbach v. Union Berlin
12 p.m. ET: Paderborn v. Borussia Dortmund

Monday, June 1

2:30 p.m. ET: Cologne v. RB Leipzig

Barcelona ready to sell six players this summer

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According to the latest news out of Barcelona, the Catalan giants are ready to rework their squad and want to sell up to six players to fuel their transfer plans.

Those players being sold are Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets… just kidding. Of course not.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

According to a report from the Daily Mirror, Barca have made Rafinha, Arturo Vidal, Jean-Clair Todibo, Nelson Semedo, Junior Firpo and Moussa Wague available for permanent transfers. Wague is currently on loan at Nice, while Todibo is on loan at Schalke and Rafinha at Celta Vigo. Ousmane Dembele is another player who has been consistently linked with a move away from the Nou Camp too, as he continues to be hampered by injuries.

Why the huge exodus? It is believed Barcelona want to sign Lautaro Martinez from Inter Milan and Miralem Pjanic from Juventus to spruce up their squad under relatively new manager Quique Setien, who only arrived in mid-January.

It is believed Inter boss Antonio Conte is a big fan of Vidal, but any deal for the Chilean midfielder would reportedly be separate for a deal for Martinez. The Argentine striker has been sensational for the Italian giants so far this season and is said to have been in close contact with Messi about a move to Barcelona.

As for Pjanic’s potential arrival, what does that mean for Ivan Rakitic? He has just one year left on his current Barcelona contract and seems relaxed about his future but Pjanic plays in a very similar position to the Croatian playmaker.

One thing is for sure, Barcelona need to freshen up this squad and there is plenty of transfer news floating around when it comes to ins and outs. They are just ahead of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga and Real have certainly had a huge overhaul over the last 12 months with Vinicius Jr., Eden Hazard, Brahim Diaz, Ferland Mendy, Rodrygo and Luka Jovic all arriving at different times.

Barcelona’s old guard remains intact with Messi, Busquets, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba as instrumental as ever but there’s no doubt Setien will want to strengthen his squad as they aim for Spanish and European glory next season and beyond.

With plenty of talk about Barcelona’s financial situation and the huge contracts that Messi, Suarez and Antoine Griezmann in particular have, offloading this many players suggests they have to cut their cloth accordingly in order to bring in top talent.

Setien will be hoping he can offload as many players as possible reshape this Barcelona squad which is still incredibly talented but has a few glaring needs.

Premier League to restart on June 17

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The 2019-20 Premier League season will restart on June 17, Sky Sports confirmed on Thursday.

The Premier League is holding in-depth meetings with all 20 clubs and, among other matters, and June 17 has emerged as the date games will return. Due to the coronavirus pandemic the Premier League season was suspended on March 13 with 92 games remaining.

Other reports also indicate clubs and the league have agreed on that date, which is five days later than the original placeholder date suggested last month. It has been reported the two games in hand, Man City v. Arsenal and Aston Villa v. Sheffield United, could be played on June 17 so all teams are on 29 games played, then the rest of the games would kick off on June 19-21.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

It is believed that the clubs want the Premier League season to be finished by August 1, so clubs can then focus on the FA Cup and European action in the Europa League and Champions League, while the 2020-21 season can then resume in early September.

Other reports suggest that a sticking point remains neutral stadiums as police forces in the UK want certain high-profile games to be played at neutral stadiums over fears of fans congregating outside home stadiums. However, it is believed the majority of games could be played at home stadiums as normal.

More details will no doubt filter out in the coming hours, while the meeting is also set to discuss the plan for possible curtailment if playing the remaining games of the 2019-20 season is not possible. The schedule for how games will be played will also be discussed, with five games back-to-back on both Saturday and Sunday reported as a possibility.

All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place, with contact training now allowed after a return to small-group training was a success.

The third round of COVID-19 testing saw a slight rise in positive tests compared to the last, as a total of 2,752 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out on Premier League players and staff with a total of 12 positive results.

All 20 Premier League clubs have agreed to return to contact training in stage two of the ‘Project Restart’ plan, as the main focus is to agree on a Premier League restart date that managers and players can now focus on.