Preview: Top of the table showdown in La Liga as Barcelona head to Atletico Madrid

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Barcelona got Lionel Messi back just in time.

The superstar returned from a long-term hamstring injury on Thursday, and it looked like he hadn’t missed a beat.

Thank goodness for Barcelona, because they’ll need the four-time Ballon d’Or winner come tomorrow, as they travel to the Vicente Calderon to face off against Atletico Madrid.

The pair are tied at the top of the La Liga on 49 points, with Barcelona only ahead on a 5-goal spread in differential.

The Catalan giants also get Neymar back from his gastroenteritis, having played 10 minutes in their last three matches.

These two squads faced off twice earlier in the year in the Supercopa, and while Barcelona won on away goals, Madrid did well to hold them to just one goal over the two matches.  They sat back to defend and hit Barca on the break.

source: AP
Diego Costa’s 19 goals have roared Atletico to the top of the La Liga table.

That will likely be their strategy this time around, and barring another duo sent off late (Arda Turan and Filipe were each sent off in the final 10 minutes of their 0-0 Supercopa draw), they could get more goals this time around.

Atletico manager Diego Simeone has experimented with a few different formations this season with smashing success.  The loss of Falcao to Monaco a  year ago has had a Ewing Theory affect on the squad, and Diego Costa has filled in with flying colors.

Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo get all the overseas headlines from La Liga, but it’s Costa’s 19 goals in 18 league matches that have Atletico planted in the top of the table.  Add another nine from David Villa plus the best defensive record in the league (11 goals conceded in 18  matches), shake it all up, and you have the recipe for a pretty tasty La Liga season.

However, a loss to Barcelona would put a serious, serious dent in the title hopes of the Madrid faithful. Barcelona hardly falter elsewhere in the league (they have just a single loss to their name thus far), and those three points dropped to their competition would likely spell doom.

The hosts will be boosted by the knowledge that right-back Juanfran will be eligible to play.  He was originally suspended due to yellow card accumulation, but a court of arbitration ruled that his fifth yellow was received due to acting by a Malaga player, and revoked the caution.

Cameroon vs Serbia, live! Score, updates, how to watch, stream, videos

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Cameroon and Serbia clash in Group G as both aim to get off and running at the World Cup after losing their opening game.

STREAM LIVE CAMEROON v SERBIA

Cameroon were dangerous for large spells against Switzerland but lost 1-0 and Rigobert Song’s side need to be better in the final third. On the counter attack they were excellent against the Swiss but they have to take their chances.

As for Serbia, they were beaten by Brazil and although they hung in there until 30 minutes from time, they never had control of the game. That’s okay. Brazil are one of the favorites to win it all. Let’s now see if this golden generation of Serbian stars can get a big win to set up a showdown with Switzerland in their final group game.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub

Here is everything you need for Cameroon vs Serbia.


How to watch Cameroon vs Serbia live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 5am ET – Monday, November 28
Stadium: Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Cameroon will be dangerous on the counter and their gameplan was pretty spot on against Switzerland and it will be the same against Serbia. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Bryan Mbuemo will cause all kinds of problems on the break and Andre Onana is going to have to excel in goal if the Indomitable Lions are going to get a huge win.

Serbia won’t be too disheartened to lose to Brazil in their World Cup opener but they now know this is basically must-win after Switzerland beat Cameroon in their opening game. Dusan Tadic, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic hold the key for Serbia who will have to be patient as they will see plenty of the ball.


Cameroon quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 43
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from CAF playoffs
Coach: Rigobert Song
Key players: Andre Onana, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Vincent Aboubakar, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting

Serbia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 21
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 12
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs
Coach: Dragan Stojkovic
Key players: Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dusan Vlahovic, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Dusan Tadic


Offsides rules at 2022 World Cup: Explaining how VAR technology impacts referee calls

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The 2022 World Cup is underway from the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar and as the group stage continues, we’ve seen unexpected upsets and some new contenders emerge – but there’s still a long way to go until the tournament champions are crowned in late December.

Along the way, spectators have already seen most matches impacted in at least some capacity by VAR technology when it comes to determining penalties, possession and, frequently, offsides decisions. After introducing semi-automated offside technology at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, FIFA announced this summer that the tool would return for this year’s tournament. Read on to learn how offsides works and how VAR technology is utilized to make decisions at the 2022 World Cup.

RELATED: World Cup 2022 schedule – how to watch, groups, calendar, match schedule, brackets, dates

What is the offsides rule?

A player is in an offsides position when they are in the opponent’s half of the field and any part of their head, body or feet is “nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.” Simply put, a player needs to be entirely in front of the last defender when their teammate passes them the ball. The offsides rule exists to keep players from lingering near their opponent’s goal to try and scoop up scoring opportunities.

The offsides rule does not apply when the player receives the ball directly from a corner kick, throw in or goal kick.

RELATED: What are the group stage tiebreaker rules at the 2022 World Cup?

What is VAR?

By now a familiar acronym to any fans of year-round leagues like the Premier League, VAR stands for “Video Assistant Referee.” It refers to officials off the pitch who are watching the match with access to multiple cameras, angles and data points, as well as slow-motion replay, who can weigh in on decisions including goals and penalties, with the objective of making officiating more accurate.

RELATED: World Cup 2022 odds: Favorites, underdogs, group stage winners

How does technology impact offsides calls at 2022 World Cup?

In Qatar, FIFA is using multiple forms of VAR technology to support officials in determining offsides. This includes 12 tracking cameras constantly collecting data on the limb position of each player, as well as “connected ball technology,” a sensor within the official match ball sending kick-point detection data to the video operations room. Per FIFA, “by combining the limb- and ball-tracking data and applying artificial intelligence, the new technology provides an automated offside alert to the video match officials inside the video operation room whenever the ball is received by an attacker who was in an offside position at the moment the ball was played by a teammate.”

After the video referee and the officials on the pitch have confirmed a decision, a 3D visualization of the offsides penalty is available to clearly communicate the infraction.

Germany v Japan: Group E - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

World Cup 2022 schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 10am, 11am, 2pm (all ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, scores, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup, and be sure to subscribe to NBC Sports on YouTube!

World Cup Today – Latest news, analysis, reaction on 2022 World Cup in Qatar

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During the 2022 World Cup we are breaking down all the action and will be discussing all of the key storylines from Qatar.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]  

From upsets to powerhouses flexing their muscles, from the USMNT to new stars emerging and everything in-between, we have you covered.

Joe Prince-Wright, Andy Edwards and Nick Mendola will provide updates, analysis and reaction across our platforms here at NBC Sports.

[ LIVE: Watch World Cup en Espanol en Peacock

Below you can find every episode of their World Cup shows and above is the latest edition to make sure you’re up to date with everything you need.


World Cup Today – Day 8 (November 27)


World Cup Today – Day 7 (November 26)


World Cup Today – Day 6 (November 25)


World Cup Today – Day 4 (November 23)


World Cup Today – Day 3 (November 22)


World Cup Today – Day 2 (November 21)


World Cup preview show (November 17)

Saudi Arabia vs Mexico: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Mexico needs a win to have hope of reaching the World Cup knockout rounds, while Saudi Arabia’s hopes of the final 16 may require the same at Stadium 974 in Doha on Wednesday.

The Saudis stunned Argentina 2-1 In Lusail to open the tournament but could not repeat the feat against Poland at Education City in Al Rayyan on Saturday to leave themselves with three points through two matches.

STREAM LIVE SAUDI ARABIA vs MEXICO

Mexico remains without a win after their scoreless draw versus Poland led to a Lionel Messi-inspired loss to Argentina In Lusail.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Saudi Arabia vs Mexico.


How to watch Saudi Arabia vs Mexico live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Wednesday Nov. 30
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

The Saudis have arguably been the most fun team at the tournament amongst non-powers, always running and getting exceptional goalkeeping. Salem Al-Dawsari was very good in both games but his missed penalty before halftime against Poland looms large of a match that could’ve been 1-1 going to the break and instead ended 2-0.

Mexico has not scored at the tournament so far, and Raul Jimenez has only been used as a super sub. Hirving Lozano and Alexis Vega combined for just three shot attempts before being subbed out of the Poland loss, while Lozano and Henry Martin combined for two versus Poland (Vega attempted five). They need better up top to keep up their streak of making Round of 16 appearances at the World Cup.


Saudi Arabia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 51
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group B)
Coach: Herve Renard
Key players: Salem Al-Dawsari, Fahad Al-Muwallad, Mohammed Al-Owais

Mexico quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 13
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 16
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (2nd place)
Coach: Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino
Key players: Guillermo Ochoa, Hector Herrera, Raul Jimenez