UEFA Champions League Preview: Leaky Real Madrid at Juventus; Manchester clubs looking for control

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UEFA Champions League’s group stage resumes on Tuesday, with Groups A through D completing the phase’s fourth round. With special focus on the day’s big match in Turin, here’s a preview of the week’s first eight games:

WHERE DISASTROUS WON’T CUT IT
Juventus (Italy) vs. Real Madrid (Spain)
Kickoff: 2:45 p.m. Eastern, Turin (Juventus Stadium)

Two weeks ago, Real Madrid beat a 10-man Juventus 2-1, sending the Bianconeri to third in Group B. Since, the Merengues have allowed seven goals in three games, with head coach Carlo Ancelotti labeling his team “disastrous” after giving up two second half goals this weekend’s to Rayo Vallecano.

[REVIEW: Cristiano Ronaldo double helps Real Madrid see off 10-man Juventus]

[REVIEW: Despite 3-2 win, Carlo Ancelotti rips “disastrous” Real Madrid]

“We’ve been conceding too many goals and this is our problem,” Ancelotti says, staying coy on which pair he’d start in central defense. “[Raphaël] Varane will play tomorrow because he didn’t play on Saturday and will be fresh, then I’ll choose between [Sergio] Ramos and Pepe to partner him.

Obviously, disastrous is an exaggeration (Real Madrid did win, 3-2), but he was right to worry about his team. They haven’t been good enough. Three goals conceded to Sevilla? Two to Rayo Vallecano? It won’t work against Juventus. In fact, Real’s defending is enough to wonder what would have happened them if Giorgio Chiellini hadn’t picked up a second yellow card two weeks ago.

[REVIEW: Spain roundup: Ronaldo hat trick, Bale double lead Real Madrid’s rout of Sevilla]

Juventus was starting to control that game. They gave up an early goal to Cristiano Ronaldo, but after that, their midfield was dictating the terms of the game. They’d created a clear chance for Andrea Pirlo and cashed in on a goal by Fernando Llorente. Something was going to have to happen to turn that game back in Real Madrid’s failure, and it did. Chiellini got sent off.

He won’t be Juve’s only absence. Wing back Stephan Lichsteiner and forward Mirko Vucinic are still out, leaving Juve short-handed for a game which they need to win to keep their knockout round fate in their own hands.

[REVIEW: Where They Stand: Groups A through D after three rounds of UEFA Champions League]

“We’ve got to show on the field, as we did in Madrid, that we deserve to go through,” head coach Antonio Conte said Monday. “Otherwise we will be the first to kneel down and applaud those who make it through at our expense.”

Real Madrid, on the other hand, confirm a place in the knockout round with a win and, depending on what happens in Denmark, could secure first place in their group.

source: Getty ImagesBREAKAWAY TIME FOR MANCHESTER CLUBS

Manchester City (England) vs. CSKA Moscow (Russia)
Kickoff: 2:45 p.m. Eastern, Manchester (Etihad Stadium)

Real Sociedad (Spain) vs. Manchester United (England)
Kickoff: 2:45 Eastern, San Sebastián (Aneota)

Amid all the focus on racism from the previous match in Moscow, a potentially historic moment is being ignored for Manchester City. If they win, they’re through to the knockout round (unless Viktoria Plzen beats Bayern Munich). After two years of European failure under Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini could have the Sky Blues into the final 16 after four rounds.

[MORE: Manchester City hopes to leave racism controversy ‘in the past’ ahead of visit from CSKA]

“For Manchester City, [getting through the group stage] would be a great achievement,” Pellegrini confessed on Monday. “We all know what happened in the last two years, so for a club that is always trying to grow every day, progression in Europe is very important.”

Manchester United’s knockout round fate won’t be decided on Tuesday, but they have a chance to assume a commanding position in Group A. Beat Real Sociedad in Spain, and the Red Devils will move to 10 points. Last year, 16 of 18 teams who reached that plateau made it into the knockout round. The year before, it was 11 of 12 teams.

To reach that mark, Manchester United will have to improve on their performance of two weeks ago, where only a Iñigo Martínez own goal separated the sides at Old Trafford.

[REVIEW: Three points, few answers for Manchester United in Champions League]

“We have to play well if we’re going to get those ten points, which will get us over the line,” Manchester United boss said, emphasizing the importance of that double-digit mark.

“I won’t take anything for granted. I have a lot of respect for Sociedad.”

source:  THE BEST MATCH YOU WON’T WATCH
Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) vs. Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)
Kickoff: 2:45 Eastern, Donetsk (Donbass Arena)

The big, untold story of the last match day? Shakhtar, now consistent presences in Champions League, got blitzed in Leverkusen. In a battle between teams fighting for the spot behind Manchester United in Group A, Sami Hyypiä’s team scored a knockout, with Stefan Kießbling’s double leading Bayer to a 4-0 victory.

[REVIEW: UEFA Champions League roundup: All hail Ibra as PSG, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid stay perfect]

“The result in Leverkusen didn’t reflect what happened on the pitch,” Shakhtar coach Mirsea Lucescu said on Monday, an act of denial. “In the first half, they didn’t create anything except for the move that led to Stefan Kiessling’s goal, and before the break we were unlucky as Alex Teixeira missed the opportunity to equalise. Our task for the second half was to risk playing attacking football, but after the second goal we stopped doing the things that we spoke about.”

Perhaps predictably, Hyypiä sees things differently.

” Our victory was fully deserved,” Hyypia affirmed, “but I think that everything will be different here in Donetsk. They’re a very strong Shakhtar side and now they’re playing at home, so I expect it will be a very difficult match for us.”

Leverkusen rested players this weekend, so they’ll be ready for a Shakhtar team that lost in league on Friday (shocking, Shakhtar are still in second place in Ukraine). With Bayer carrying a two-point edge into Tuesday’s match, a draw will do nicely.

Regardless, these are two teams who, while unlikely to go far in the competition, have talented, dynamic, yet distinctly different attacks. With Shakhtar needing a win and Bayer coming off a four-goal victory, this could be the day’s highest scoring game, with the likes of Kießling, Luiz Adriano, Sidney Sam, and Teixeira capable of scoring against the best teams in the world, let alone sides a step or two down the pecking order.

It’s the best match you’ll have no access to on Tuesday, which is too bad. As much as the big names that you know will make the knockout round, these teams are what group stage is all about – getting to see talented sides that won’t normally cross your path outside of Champions League soccer.

Others
All games kickoff at 2:45 p.m. Eastern time.

  • Viktoria Plzen (Czech Republic) vs. Bayern Munich (Germany), Štruncovy Sady Stadium, PlzenBayern ties a competition record with their sixth-straight win if they win in Plzen. Two weeks ago, they out-shot the Czech champions 30-2 en route to a 5-0 win.
  • Copenhagen (Denmark) vs. Galatasaray (Turkey), Parken, Copenhagen – Win this game and their match in Istanbul against Juventus (match day six), and Gala are into the knockout round, but the Denmark leg of that double will have to be conquered without goalkeeper Fernando Muslera and playmaker Wesley Sneijder. Both internationals have been ruled out for the game at Parken.
  • Paris Saint-Germain (France) vs. Anderlecht (Belgium), Parc de Princes, Paris – A win puts PSG in the final 16, and coming off a 5-0 win in Belgium, they’re heavy favorites to take full points. In this season’s competition, Anderlecht have the same number of points as goals: 0.
  • Olympiacos (Greece) vs. Benfica (Portugal), Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus – The Greek champions have already earned a point in Portugal, leaving head coach Michel wary of complacency within his squad: “We must avoid being over-confident … We are only thinking about the present, though, and not the future.” But teams are on four points through three rounds.

Reports: Tottenham Hotspur to hire Celtic’s Ange Postecoglou as next manager

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Multiple reports say that Ange Postecoglou will be leaving Celtic to become the next manager of Tottenham Hotspur.

Celtic had reportedly granted permission for Spurs to speak with their trophy-collecting boss, and things apparently progressed quickly as the 57-year-old looks set to oversee the club’s big rebuild.

[ MORE: Recalling Zlatan’s “unicorn” career ]

Spurs suffered through an inconsistent 2022-23 season with Antonio Conte at the helm, followed by Cristian Stellini and Ryan Mason in interim stints.

Tottenham will not have European football this season and is at risk of losing legendary center forward Harry Kane. The club has eight players including Kane going into the final year of their contracts, including Ivan Perisic, Davinson Sanchez, Eric Dier, and Hugo Lloris.

Spurs finished eighth last season, 15 points off the top four despite spending much of the season inside of it. The club’s finished fourth just once in the past four seasons despite qualifying for the Champions League the previous four seasons.

Ironically, Celtic is being linked with pursuit of Brendan Rodgers and Jesse Marsch if Postecoglou departs this week.

Who is Ange Postecoglou?

Postecoglou, 57, was born in Greece and moved to Australia at a young age, starring for South Melbourne as a player and earning for caps for the Socceroos.

He is coming off a domestic treble with Celtic and won five of six trophies available to him in his two seasons with the Bhoys.

At Celtic, Postecoglou played with a 4-3-3 for much of the first half of his tenure but played a lot of this campaign in a 4-2-3-1.

Postecoglou won trophies as a manager with South Melbourne, Brisbane Roar, and Yokohama F. Marinos, claiming the Asian Cup during his stint as Australia national team coach.

He said he expects tricky early times wherever he goes.

“Wherever I’ve been, the initial part is always rocky, because my ideas are… well they’re not extreme to me but I can see how they can be seen as extreme from the outside. It takes a while. Usually it can take me six months, it can take me a year to really bed them in, depending on how many opportunities I have to change the playing squad and the staff and all those kinds of things.”

Five players to watch in the Premier League’s summer transfer window

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There’s going to be turnover in the Premier League this offseason, and it seems likely the big boys will again be looking to the top young talents in other leagues to get in when the getting is good.

There will be big price tags attached to some players this summer, but in the case of the players below we may be talking about players just a window away from having unattainably high price tags for most clubs.

[ TRANSFER NEWS: Arsenal | Liverpool | Chelsea | Tottenham | Man City | Man United ] 

Most of these names have danced through ProSoccerTalk‘s transfer rumor mill at least once during the past season or two, and in one case have been on the radar for a half-decade or so.

Here’s a look at five players who may well find their way to the Premier League in the very near future, and could move somewhere this summer.

Xavi Simons, PSV Eindhoven

At times the teen hype around Xavi Simons coming out of Barcelona’s academy was akin to the recruitment of Martin Odegaard out of Norway so many years ago. But Simons couldn’t break through at Barca and his move to Paris Saint-Germain didn’t take off as expected. So Simons, who just turned 20 in April, landed at PSV Eindhoven. All he did was lead the Eredivisie in goals. PSG has a buyback clause but Simons would have to want to go there… and there are plenty of rumored suitors for the playmaker. Simons chipped in eight assists and was Fotmob’s highest-rated Eredivisie player.

Possible fits: Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool

Jurrien Timber, Ajax

Still 21 for a couple more weeks, Timber got Mancunian tongues wagging when he attended the FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Manchester City. The star center back played under United boss Erik ten Hag at Ajax and now has 15 caps for the Netherlands senior team. He has a ridiculous passing and ball progression profile for his position, and has showed enough attacking acumen to get any team excited about him.

Possible fits: Manchester United, Manchester City

Randal Kolo Muani, Eintracht Frankfurt

The 24-year-old has acknowledged dreams of playing in the Premier League following a blockbuster first season at Eintracht, where he scored 23 goals with 17 assists amongst all competitions. Moving to a new country did not slow him at all after his time at Nantes, and he was linked with a number of PL sides even before he admitted his interest in the league.

Possible fits: Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United

Sepe Elye Wahi, Montpellier

The 20-year-old nearly scored as many goals as his age in his third season with Montpellier’s first team, and has attracted interest from Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, and Chelsea amongst others. Wahi is still very raw when it comes to passing the ball but part of his statistical deficiencies could have to do with his club’s relative struggles. A eager presser, his best traits are finishing and that’s the stat that drives the bus for him.

Possible fits: Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal

Gabriel Veiga, Celta Vigo

Here’s another playmaker linked with Arsenal, but you can see why he could fit in Mikel Arteta’s system. His 11 goals were 13th in La Liga this season and his four assists means he had a goal contribution on 15 of Celta’s 43 league goals. An eager dribbler, he delivered 80 shot creating actions this season and ranked in the 99th percentile for midfielders when it came to non-penalty goals.

Possible fits: Newcastle, Arsenal, Man CIty

How many times has a team won the treble? Man City goes for history

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There’s been a lot of treble talk these days, talk that’s found a new level of buzz since Manchester City moved within one win of joining the club.

It’s an elite club, by the way, of teams that have won their domestic league, top domestic cup, and the European Cup.

Nine times in history has a team won the treble, and only once has it been done by a Premier League club.

[ MORE: Recalling Zlatan’s “unicorn” career ]

That’s why Man City’s defeat of Manchester United earlier this month in the FA Cup Final rings so true for the Citizens; The blue side of Manchester would join the red side as treble supporters, as United won the treble in 1998-99.

Man City goes for the third jewel of its treble crown on Saturday versus Inter Milan in Istanbul when it kicks off the UEFA Champions League Final.

For more treble trivia, head below the jump.

How many times has the treble been won?

Bayern Munich and Barcelona have each done it twice, with Bayern doing it in 2012-13 and 2019-20 and Barca pulling it off in 2008-09 and 2014-15.

Celtic was the first to win a treble, doing it in 1966-67, while Ajax was the next in 1971-72.

PSV Eindhoven then won it in 1987-88 before Man United made it happen 11 years later. Inter Milan is the only Italian team to pull it off, winning in 2009-10.

(UEFA.com)

Manchester City vs Inter Milan: How to watch Champions League Final, odds, predictions

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Manchester City is on the chase for a historic treble and standing in the way is Inter Milan, one of Europe’s precious few clubs to claim such an honor.

[ LIVE: Manchester City vs Inter Milan ]

The Premier League winners three times running have an FA Cup under their belt after beating Manchester United on June 3 and the final jewel in their treble crown awaits with a win in Istanbul on June 10.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Pep Guardiola could lead a second club to a treble after he did it with Barcelona in 2008-09, and they would give heated rivals United domestic company on the treble stage right down the road.

Guardiola says it’s now okay to talk about the treble. We agree, and we’ve laid out why the achievement is so special after the jump.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Manchester City vs Inter Milan.


How to watch Manchester City vs Inter Milan live, stream link and start time

Dates: 3pm ET June 10, 2023
Online: Live updates via NBCSports.com
How to watch: TUDN, Paramount+


What Premier League clubs have won the treble?

Manchester United won the Premier League, FA Cup, and Champions League in 1998-99.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Red Devils are the lone Premier League club to win it.

That’s it. For now.


How many times has the treble been won?

Nine times in history has a team won its domestic league, top domestic cup, and the European Cup.

Bayern Munich and Barcelona have each done it twice, with Bayern doing it in 2012-13 and 2019-20 and Barca pulling it off in 2008-09 and 2014-15.

Celtic was the first to win a treble, doing it in 1966-67, while Ajax was the next in 1971-72.

PSV Eindhoven then won it in 1987-88 before Man United made it happen 11 years later. Inter Milan is the only Italian team to pull it off, winning in 2009-10.

(UEFA.com)


Champions League Final odds (Betting odds provided by our partner, BetMGM )

BetMGM is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on BetMGM for the first time after clicking our links. 

Man City (-250) vs Inter Milan (+625) | Draw over 120 mins (+380)

Over 2.5 goals (-160). Under 2.5 goals (+110)


Champions League Final predictions

Joe Prince-Wright: Man City 2-1 Inter Milan
Andy Edwards: Man City 3-1 Inter Milan
Nick Mendola: Man City 2-0 Inter Milan


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: None

Inter Milan team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Joaquin Correa. OUT: Dalbert.