Premier League Playback: Can Chelsea stay unbeaten throughout 2014-15?

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“THE INVINCIBLES” – CAN CHELSEA DOMINATE?

After breezing past Aston Villa on Saturday, Chelsea hardly got out of second gear. That’s happened a lot so far this season.

Okay, so they haven’t had to play too many of the top teams yet (only the 1-1 draw away at Manchester City last weekend was a big test) but the strength in-depth of Jose Mourinho’s squad is mind-boggling.

Here’s what the man himself had to say following Chelsea’s fifth win out of six to start the season as his side are still unbeaten but he expects more to come, especially from his Brazilian contingent, in the coming months.

“I think everyone that came from the Brazil national team without a proper holiday and without a proper pre-season, not one of them arrived and had enough time in the pre-season to start the season in a very strong way. All of them, they are coming step by step. Oscar is the same. Now they are getting into the intensity of the game. Players, they need holidays. They don’t have holidays. They need a proper pre-season, they don’t have a proper pre-season.”

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Click to enlarge – Matic’s heat map vs. Villa. Source: Opta
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Click to enlarge – Fabregas’ heat map vs. Villa. Source: Opta

All three of Chelsea’s scorers were Brazilian born on Saturday, Oscar, Willian and Diego Costa (who plays his international soccer for Spain) and with a strong midfield base protecting a back four which was hardly tested, Chelsea’s creativity was allowed to flourish.

[RELATED: Full match replays]

If you look at the heat maps on the left and right, it shows how Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas, playing in a deeper role against Villa, stuck to their task and locked down the center of the pitch, allowing Oscar, Willian and somewhat subdued Eden Hazard to push forward and supply Costa with chances to score. The deeper shade of red indicates the mean position of each player, with the balance superb as Matic sat just to the left and Fabregas to the right but slightly more advanced. Those two provide the Blues’ attackers with the perfect base to launch attacks. Villa had one shot on target and barely threatened to score in the 3-0 defeat.

Looking at Mourinho’s bench for Saturday, the strength of Chelsea’s options in their 18-man squad is remarkable. New signing Felipe Luis continues to warm the bench, German World Cup winner Andre Schurrle isn’t a regular, Loic Remy is a French international, Didier Drogba was an unused sub and John Obi Mikel came on for a cameo role. When you consider the fact that Ramires was out injured, Mohamed Salah wasn’t in the 18 and you have Petr Cech as a back up for Thibaut Courtois, this is pretty ridiculous.

In the video above, NBC’s analyst discuss whether or not Chelsea can match the famous Arsenal side of 2003-04 and go unbeaten throughout an entire Premier League season. So far, that’s not as crazy as it sounds.

[VIDEO: Premier League highlights, here]

Last season, Chelsea were undefeated against the other top four Premier League teams as they beat champions Manchester City home and away, the same with Liverpool and hammered Arsenal at home before drawing away. The only reason they didn’t win the league was because they lost to smaller teams such as Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Sunderland when nobody expected it. After the first six games this season, they seem to have solved that issue of breaking down smaller teams who just want to defend. Diego Costa’s eight goals in his first six PL games is a big reason for that but the sheer quality of attacking options Mourinho now possesses means he can switch things up and his team will not be weaker.

Can Chelsea go the whole 2014-15 season unbeaten? Ask me that question again in a month or so after they face Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool. Only then will we get a true reflection of just how good this Chelsea side is. Right now, they look like “invincible’s” in waiting.

ROONEY’S RED CARD MADNESS

Petulant. Irresponsible. Mindless.

Those are some of the words used to analyze Wayne Rooney’s straight red card for Manchester United on Saturday. With 30 minutes to go, Rooney decided to hack down Stewart Downing as the red mist once again descended on the Red Devils skipper. He put his team in a tough spot and they just managed to hold on to a 2-1 win against West Ham.

[RELATED: Should Rooney still captain United?]

Rooney has since apologized to his teammates for his red card, which now sees him out of action for the whole month of October and games against Everton, West Brom and Chelsea. This isn’t the first time Rooney has been involved in an incident like this, and on Saturday I wrote this column asking if Louis van Gaal regrets his decision to name him United’s captain and if the honor should go elsewhere?

[RELATED: Premier League stats]

The fact that Rooney is nearly 29, is the captain of United and English national team and has had previous experiences when it comes to losing his cool after a decision goes against him means that his actions on Saturday were inexcusable. Okay, everyone makes mistakes but to keep making the same ones time and time again, that just shows to me that Rooney hasn’t curbed his temperament issues and in turn his leadership abilities and credentials to captain United should come under scrutiny. He is a fantastic player who will likely become the all-time leading scorer for United and England but incidents like this tarnish his reputation and will hurt his team until November 2 when he can get back out on the pitch again.

Time to head back to the studio for the final word on this, as the crew discuss how Rooney’s red card will impact Manchester United in the next month while he is sat in the stands watching on.

Premier League Schedule – Week 6

Result Recap & Highlights
Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham Recap and watch here
Chelsea 3-0 Aston Villa Recap and watch here
Crystal Palace 2-0 Leicester Recap and watch here
Hull City 2-4 Man City Recap and watch here
Liverpool 1-1 Everton Recap and watch here
Man United 2-1 West Ham Recap and watch here
Southampton 2-1 QPR Recap and watch here
Stoke City 1-0 Newcastle Recap and watch here
Sunderland 0-0 Swansea Recap and watch here
West Brom 4-0 Burnley Recap and watch here

DISAPPOINTING DERBIES?

Over the weekend two of the fiercest rivalries in the Premier League played out as the Merseyside and North London derbies commenced.

Have to say, I expected a little more.

Liverpool and Everton drew 1-1, as did Arsenal and Tottenham, with all four teams somewhat tentatively going about their business. True, it’s early in the season to have a derby match but think of the impetus and confidence winning on Saturday would have given those squads?

[RELATED: Latest Premier League standings]

Liverpool totally outplayed Everton in the early game and Steven Gerrard’s stunning free kick looked to give them all three points. However, just as their luck has been going so far this season, Liverpool conceded an injury time equalizer they could do nothing about.

In the 92nd minute the ball dropped 25-yards out to Phil Jagielka and the Everton center back hit a one in a million shot which he caught perfectly as it bent away from Simon Mignolet and into the top corner after grazing the crossbar. Everton, in truth, didn’t deserve a point from this game but may look back on it as a turning point for Roberto Martinez’s men. The Toffees have still won just one game this season, but Tim Howard’s save from Mario Balotelli just after Gerrard had given Liverpool the lead was huge as they dug in for a point. Liverpool still look lackluster going forward and Daniel Sturridge can’t return from injury quick enough. The struggles of Mario Balotelli and Lazar Markovic continue but Adam Lallana’s performance was a bright spot as Brendan Rodgers’ side were unlucky not to get a win.

As for the North London derby, this was a real midfield battle and all three of Arsenal’s center mids were injured in a typically rambunctious affair at the Emirates. Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta were both forced off in the first half with muscle injuries, while Jack Wilshere hobbled around. Spurs took the lead through Nacer Chadli and looked very solid throughout, however a sliced clearance from Erik Lamela lead to a chance for Arsenal and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain equalized with 15 minutes to go. A draw was a fair result in a disjointed game which never got going. Arsenal are unbeaten but have now drawn four of their opening six games, as the cutting edge in attack was once again missing as Mesut Ozil and Danny Welbeck failed to recreate the form which saw them rip apart Villa last week.

Work to do for all four teams, as Derby Day was as intense as ever but the games themselves failed to churn out the pulsating drama they usually provide in abundance.

OUT OF THIS WORLD, THREE INCREDIBLE GOALS

Take a bow Phil Jagielka, Charlie Austin and Graziano Pelle. On Saturday in the Premier League, all three of those players scored goals which will probably be Goal of the Season contenders.

Watch the Saturday recap video below to see Austin and Pelle’s incredible acrobatic efforts, plus Jagielka’s long-range drive which broke the hearts of Liverpool fans across the world.

Incredible skill from all three players.

HIGH-FLYING SAINTS

Second in the Premier League. Six-straight wins in all competitions and three in the last seven days against Swansea, Arsenal and Queens Park Rangers, Southampton are surprising everyone. They beat QPR 2-1 for their fourth-straight PL win on Saturday and momentum is building down at St Mary’s as they were tipped for relegation by many before the campaign.

Premier League Star Performers – Week 6

Player Reason
1. Sadio Berahino (WBA) 2 goals, England call up?
2. David Silva (Man City) Simpy stunning, tore Hull apart
3. Graziano Pelle (Saints) Incredible overhead kick, beast
4. Jason Puncheon (Palace) The Eagles’ creative hub
5. Tim Howard (Everton) 2 crucial saves, superb

How are they doing it?

More on that here, but their success is one of the stories of the season so far. New manager Ronald Koeman has come in and overseen a huge summer of transition which saw Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert and Calum Chambers all leave Saints for a total of $170 million in transfer fees. Saints received more money in transfer fees than any other club in Europe and they have spent it wisely on eight players and still made a huge $66 million net profit.

[RELATED: Premier League schedule]

Graziano Pelle, as you saw in the video above, is a phenomenal goalscorer, Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mane’s creativity out wide tore Arsenal apart in the League Cup and did the same to QPR and the signing of England ‘keeper Fraser Forster has given their impressive defense (the best in the league with just four goals conceded) a formidable anchor.

Simply put, we should be surprised and salute the coaching staff, directors and players at Southampton for their best-ever start to a Premier League campaign as they have 13 points from a possible 18 and are just three points behind leaders Chelsea. Yes, the fixture list has been kind to them but with positive momentum going into their clash away at Tottenham next week and the chance to show their former manager Mauricio Pochettino (who also walked out on them this summer) what he’s missing, don’t expect the rise of the Saints to end anytime soon.

With a stronger squad than this time last year, the Saints are alive and well and are in with a shout of bettering their eighth place finish from last season. A tough patch will arrive in December and January when they face Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United multiple times, but until then fans on the South Coast are enjoying Saints’ unexpected early season dominance.

USMNT UPDATE – HOWARD STEALS THE SHOW

It’s been an up and down start to the season for Tim Howard but he made some great saves for Everton in their Merseyside derby draw with Liverpool. A great stop from a Lallana header in the first half got Howard on his way, then he saved from Balotelli with an instinctive starfish spread from close range which tipped the ball onto the bar at a pivotal moment of the game. Elsewhere, Brad Guzan couldn’t do much about Villa’s 3-0 defeat to Chelsea, while Jozy Altidore was an unused sub for Sunderland. Better news comes from Stoke, as U.S. international Geoff Cameron is back in full training and is expected to challenge for a spot in the 18-man squad next Saturday at Sunderland.

Safe to say that Howard was happy to see Jagielka’s howitzer hit the back of the net…

Premier League Playback comes out every Monday as PST’s Editor and Lead Writer takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here

Potter’s strong start continues as Chelsea cruise past AC Milan

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Chelsea vs AC Milan recap: Graham Potter’s Blues turned in their best performance to date (by a long, long way) as they cruised past reigning Serie A champions AC Milan, 3-0, at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Wesley Fofana, who later in the first half went off injured, opened the scoring by opening his Chelsea account in the 24th minute. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored for the second straight game to make it 2-0, and Reece James added the third just after the hour mark.

Chelsea were smooth and comfortable in possession (to be expected of a Potter-coached side), while giving AC Milan next to nothing (just three shots in 90 minutes) defensively, as they often tried to do under previous boss Thomas Tuchel.


What we learned from Chelsea vs AC Milan

Chelsea squad better suited to Potter’s style than Tuchel’s

It’s easy to say that based on the results alone (2W-1D-0L), but it only takes a quick scan up and down the squad list to see that the vast majority of the players currently at the club are ill suited to counter-attacking football, both with and without the ball.

Aubameyang is notoriously blessed with the straight-line speed required to get in behind opposing defenses (he played just one game under Tuchel, remember), but the other attackers (Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic) are all technical players who thrive in combination play and sustained possession. Much of the same is true for the midfield, where N’Golo Kante is no longer able to cover every blade of grass, and Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic were miscast as mostly stationary protection for the backline, where there are nothing but ball-playing defenders (both central and wide).

Everyone appear much happier as they express something better resembling their truest selves as players, and the results will only add to those good vibes currently emanating from west London.

Follow @AndyEdMLS


How to watch Chelsea vs AC Milan live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Wednesday
TV Channel: TUDN, Paramount+
Online: Updates via NBCSports.com


Key storylines

Chelsea grabbed a late, and controversial, win at Palace at the weekend and they’re creating more chances in attack and are slowly getting used to Graham Potter’s tactics. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is off and running as he scored at Palace too and Chelsea continue to look solid defensively. Potter has also seen his injury issues subside as the likes of N’Golo Kante, Edouard Mendy and Marc Cucurella are all expected back soon. As for Milan, they have had a workmanlike start to the Serie A season and sit in fifth place but are just three points off the top and their squad is looking very deep.


In-form players to keep an eye on

Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher scored a beauty to win the game at Palace and he will be flying high, while Aubameyang looked sharp and grabbed his goal at the weekend as he proved he can lead the line in this revamped Chelsea side. Reece James has been in sensational form at right back. For Milan, Olivier Giroud is their top goalscorer this season with five goals in all competitions and Rafael Leao is just behind him with four. Sandro Tonali makes Milan tick in central midfield and will look to dictate the tempo of this game.


The lowdown on AC Milan

With Giroud leading the lead and Chelsea academy product Fikayo Tomori anchoring the defense, there are a couple of ex-Chelsea players who will be desperate to prove a point against their old club. Aside from that storyline, Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has created a dynamic, hard-working side who are very tough to break down and have individual quality to score plenty of goals from counters and set pieces. That will concern Chelsea as defensively they’ve struggled on those two areas.


Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options

This game may come too soon for Kante, Mendy and Cucurella to start but Potter will be delighted they are almost fit, while Gallagher, Broja and Pulisic are all pushing hard for minutes. Will Thiago Silva and Wesley Fofana start at center back again? Or will Koulibaly come in to give Silva a break?



Man City hammer Copenhagen 5-0, Haaland scores two more goals

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Man City vs Copenhagen recap: Erling Haaland scored two more goals to bring his season tally to 19 in 11 games as the two-time defending Premier League champions hammered Danish side Copenhagen 5-0 at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Haaland scored goals no. 1 and 2 for Manchester City before Pep Guardiola brought him off at halftime, up 3-0 following an own goal (caused by Haaland) not long before the break. Riyad Mahrez added the fourth from the penalty spot and Julian Alvarez bagged his first UCL goal to complete the scoring.

That’s three wins from three games for Man City in the UEFA Champions League group stage. Their lead over 2nd-place Borussia Dortmund remains three points after the Bundesliga side also won on Wednesday. City and Dortmund will meet in Germany on matchday 5.


What we learned from Man City vs Copenhagen

Total and complete dominance, as expect, from Manchester City

Copenhagen attempted all of two shots in 90 minutes on Wednesday, the first of which didn’t come until the 72nd minute, at which point Man City had already attempted 24. Haaland took four himself, in just 45 minutes, as the midfield playmakers (Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo on Wednesday) continue to simply feed the monster.

Whereas possession used to aimlessly loiter around the penalty area, Manchester City now look to exploit the space in behind the defense anytime it presents itself. The runs that Haaland makes — perhaps the best part of his game, by the way — pose a constant and eternal threat to opposing defenses, particularly when Kevin De Bruyne is pulling the strings, leaving most anyone and everyone in their path (and their wake) wondering what exactly you’re supposed to do.

If anyone has ideas, please share them.

Follow @AndyEdMLS


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

Kick off: 3pm ET, Wednesday
TV Channel: TUDN, Paramount+
Online: Updates via NBCSports.com


Key storylines + in-form players to keep an eye on

This time, we can combine the “key storylines” and “in-form players” sections: It’s Phil Foden and Erling Haaland.

Let’s focus on the latter.

Erling Haaland is threatening to put up season numbers that would seem impossible were we not to have experience Lionel Messi’s 2011-12 season at Barcelona. That season saw Messi score 50 goals and 19 assists in La Liga while adding 20 more goals and nine assists in other competitions.

The match total? 53.

That works out to 1.4 goals and 0.4 assists per game.

Haaland? So far he has 17 goals and three assists in 11 matches, good for… 1.54 goals and 0.27 assists per game.

So, yes, Haaland is currently on his “Messi prime” grind.


The lowdown on Copenhagen

Copenhagen enters this match hoping that star goalkeeper — ex-Brighton starter — Mathew Ryan can help shut down an incredible City attack.


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

John Stones (thigh), Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), and Kyle Walker (muscular) are set to miss the match, while Rodri (lower leg) faces a late fitness test.

UEFA Champions League: How to watch, predictions, updates, scores, schedule, fixtures

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The 2022-23 UEFA Champions League group stage is here and we are ready to roll between now and November.

With a congested schedule due to the 2022 World Cup kicking off in November, we will have midweek Champions League action every week between now and early November (aside from the international break in late September).

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Can Real Madrid win back-to-back Champions League titles? Or will the Premier League giants continue to reach the final (at least one PL team has reached four of the last five finals with two all-English finals in the last four) and go one better this season?

Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Inter Milan are together in the “group of death,” while Tottenham were handed a (relatively) easy draw with Eintracht Frankfurt, Sporting CP and Marseille in Group D. Manchester City will face perennial European noise-makers in Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla in Group G, while PSG and Juventus were paired up in Group H.

Rangers are back in the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2010, joining bitter Glasgow rivals Celtic to give the Scottish Premiership two clubs in the UCL group stage for the first time in 15 years.

Elsewhere, Benfica, Copenhagen, Dinamo Zagreb, Viktoria Plzen and Maccabi Haifi made it through the playoffs, while this is the first time the Bundesliga has had five teams in the group stage after Frankfurt won the Europa League last season to qualify.

Below is everything you need following the UEFA Champions League group stage.


UEFA Champions League schedule, dates, how to watch

Dates: Group stage to be played September to November
Online: Live updates via NBCSports.com
How to watch: TUDN, Paramount+


Champions League group stage fixtures (all kick off times ET)

Matchday 3

Tuesday, 4 October
Bayern Munich 5-0 Viktoria Plzen
Marseille 4-1 Sporting CP
Liverpool 2-0 Rangers
Ajax 1-6 Napoli
Porto 2-0 Leverkusen
Club Brugge 2-0 Atletico Madrid
Inter Milan 1-0 Barcelona
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur

Wednesday, 5 October
Salzburg vs Dinamo Zagreb (12:45)
Leipzig vs Celtic (12:45)
Chelsea vs AC Milan (3:00)
Real Madrid vs Shakhtar (3:00)
Man City vs Copenhagen (3:00)
Sevilla vs Dortmund (3:00)
Juventus vs Maccabi Haifa (3:00)
Benfica vs Paris (3:00)


JPW’s Champions League predictions – Matchday 3

Tuesday, 4 October
Bayern 4-1 Plzen
Marseille 2-2 Sporting CP
Liverpool 4-2 Rangers
Ajax 2-2 Napoli
Porto 1-2 Leverkusen
Club Brugge 1-2 Atletico
Inter 1-1 Barcelona
Frankfurt 1-2 Tottenham

Wednesday, 5 October
Salzburg 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb
Leipzig 3-1 Celtic
Chelsea 2-1 AC Milan
Real Madrid 3-1 Shakhtar
Man City 4-1 Copenhagen
Sevilla 2-1 Dortmund
Juventus 3-1 Maccabi Haifa
Benfica 1-4 Paris


Matchday 1

Tuesday, 6 September
Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 Chelsea — Highlights, Tuchel’s furious response
Dortmund 3-0 Copenhagen — WATCH: Reyna’s two assists
Salzburg 1-1 AC Milan — Dest makes Milan debut off bench
Celtic 0-3 Real Madrid — Carter-Vickers’ Bhoys eventually falter
Leipzig 1-4 Shakhtar — Ukrainians off to rollicking start
Sevilla 0-4 Man City– Highlights, Guardiola’s glowing reaction
Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 Juventus — McKennie scores in loss
Benfica 2-0 Maccabi Haifa — Cohen makes 3 saves in loss

Wednesday, 7 September
Ajax 4-0 Rangers — Dutch giants hammer Gers as Alvarez gets ball rolling
Frankfurt 0-3 Sporting CP — Portuguese giants led by Edwards’ opener
Napoli 4-1 Liverpool — Highlights as Klopp’s boys run ragged
Atletico 2-1 Porto — Griezmann scores 101st minute winner amid late drama
Club Brugge 1-0 Leverkusen — Sylla seals big win for Belgian champs
Barcelona 5-1 Plzen — Lewandowski hat trick leads rout
Inter 0-2 Bayern — Sane unplayable as Bayern ease to win
Tottenham 2-0 Marseille — Richarlison the late hero on his UCL debut

Matchday 2

Tuesday, 13 September
Plzen 0-2 Inter — Goal, assist for Dzeko in win over 10-man hosts
Sporting CP 2-0 Tottenham – Conte rues details plus video highlights
Liverpool 2-1 Ajax –Klopp relief at rebound win; Video highlights
Porto 0-4 Club Brugge — Four different scorers highlight blowout
Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Atletico Madrid — Frimpong sets up two late goals
Bayern Munich 2-0 Barcelona — Wasteful finishing haunts Lewandowski return
Marseille 0-1 Eintracht Frankfurt — Late first-half Lindstrom goal the difference

Wednesday, 14 September
AC Milan 3-1 Dinamo Zagreb
Shakhtar 1-1 Celtic
Chelsea 1-1 Salzburg – RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS
Rangers 0-3 Napoli
Real Madrid 2-0 RB Leipzig
Man City 2-1 Dortmund – RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS
Copenhagen 0-0 Sevilla
Juventus 1-2 Benfica
Maccabi Haifa 1-3 Paris Saint-Germain


Matchday 3

Tuesday, 4 October
Bayern vs Plzen (12:45)
Marseille vs Sporting CP (12:45)
Liverpool vs Rangers (3:00)
Ajax vs Napoli (3:00)
Porto vs Leverkusen (3:00)
Club Brugge vs Atletico (3:00)
Inter vs Barcelona (3:00)
Frankfurt vs Tottenham (3:00)

Wednesday, 5 October
Salzburg vs Dinamo Zagreb (12:45)
Leipzig vs Celtic (12:45)
Chelsea vs AC Milan (3:00)
Real Madrid vs Shakhtar (3:00)
Man City vs Copenhagen (3:00)
Sevilla vs Dortmund (3:00)
Juventus vs Maccabi Haifa (3:00)
Benfica vs Paris (3:00)


Matchday 4

Tuesday, 11 October
Copenhagen vs Man City (12:45)
Maccabi Haifa vs Juventus (12:45)
Dinamo Zagreb vs Salzburg (3:00)
AC Milan vs Chelsea (3:00)
Shakhtar vs Real Madrid (3:00)
Celtic vs Leipzig (3:00)
Dortmund vs Sevilla (3:00)
Paris vs Benfica (3:00)

Wednesday, 12 October
Napoli vs Ajax (12:45)
Atletico vs Club Brugge (12:45)
Rangers vs Liverpool (3:00)
Leverkusen vs Porto (3:00)
Barcelona vs Inter (3:00)
Plzen vs Bayern (3:00)
Tottenham vs Frankfurt (3:00)
Sporting CP vs Marseille (3:00)

Matchday 5

Tuesday, 25 October
Salzburg vs Chelsea (12:45)
Sevilla vs Copenhagen (12:45)
Dinamo Zagreb vs AC Milan (3:00)
Celtic vs Shakhtar (3:00)
Leipzig vs Real Madrid (3:00)
Dortmund vs Man City (3:00)
Paris vs Maccabi Haifa (3:00)
Benfica vs Juventus (3:00)

Wednesday, 26 October
Club Brugge vs Porto (12:45)
Inter vs Plzen (12:45)
Napoli vs Rangers (3:00)
Ajax vs Liverpool (3:00)
Atletico vs Leverkusen (3:00)
Barcelona vs Bayern (3:00)
Tottenham vs Sporting CP (3:00)
Frankfurt vs Marseille (3:00)

Matchday 6

Tuesday, 1 November
Porto vs Atletico (18:45)
Leverkusen vs Club Brugge (18:45)
Liverpool vs Napoli (21:00)
Rangers vs Ajax (21:00)
Bayern vs Inter (21:00)
Plzen vs Barcelona (21:00)
Sporting CP vs Frankfurt (21:00)
Marseille vs Tottenham (21:00)

Wednesday, 2 November
Real Madrid vs Celtic (12:45)
Shakhtar vs Leipzig (12:45)
Chelsea vs Dinamo Zagreb (3:00)
AC Milan vs Salzburg (3:00)
Man City vs Sevilla (3:00)
Copenhagen vs Dortmund (3:00)
Juventus vs Paris (3:00)
Maccabi Haifa vs Benfica (3:00)


Knockout stage dates

Round of 16 draw: 7 November
Round of 16: 14/15/21/22 February & 7/8/14/15 March 2023
Quarter-final and semi-final draw: 17 March 2023
Quarter-finals: 11/12 & 18/19 April 2023
Semi-finals: 9/10 & 16/17 May 2023
Final: 10 June 2023


Champions League group stage standings

Group A
Napoli — 6 points (+6 GD)
Ajax — 3 (-2)
Liverpool — 3 (+3)
Rangers — 0 (-7)

Group B
Club Brugge — 6 (+5)
Bayer Leverkusen — 3 (1)
Atletico Madrid — 3 (-1)
Porto — 0 (-5)

Group C
Bayern Munich — 6 (+4)
Barcelona — 3 (+2)
Inter Milan — 3 (0)
Viktoria Plzen — 0 (-6)

Group D
Sporting CP — 6 (+5)
Tottenham Hotspur — 3 (0)
Eintracht Frankfurt — 3 (-2)
Marseille — 0

Group E
AC Milan — 4 (+2)
Dinamo Zagreb — 3 (-1)
Red Bull Salzburg — 2 (0)
Chelsea — 1 (-1)

Group F
Real Madrid — 6 (+5)
Shakhtar Donetsk — 3 (+3)
Celtic — 1 (-3)
RB Leipzig — 0 (-5)

Group G
Manchester City — 6 (+5)
Borussia Dortmund — 3 (+2)
Copenhagen — 1 (-3)
Sevilla — 1 (-4)

Group H
Paris Saint-Germain — 6 (+3)
Benfica — 6 (+3)
Juventus — 0 (-2)
Maccabi Haifa — 0 (-4)


Ukraine to join Spain-Portugal host bid for 2030 World Cup

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NYON, Switzerland — Hosting World Cup matches in 2030 would be “the dream of people who survived the horrors of war,” Ukrainian soccer federation president Andriy Pavelko said Wednesday after his country launched a joint bid with Spain and Portugal.

The leaders of the three soccer federations joined together at UEFA headquarters to present a campaign they hope will connect people beyond the world of sports.

“This is the dream of millions of Ukrainian fans,” Pavelko said at a news conference, “the dream of people who survived the horrors of war or are still in the occupied territories and over whom the Ukrainian flag will surely fly soon.”

Pavelko said the project is backed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

[ MORE: Premier League Golden Boot race ]

The expected Spain-Portugal bid, which has been in the works for more than three years, previously was made UEFA’s preferred candidate. FIFA will vote on the host in 2024.

“Now it’s not the Iberian bid, it’s the European bid,” Spain soccer federation president Luis Rubiales said at the launch. “Together we represent the power of transformation football has in society.”

No details were given about how many games at the 48-team World Cup would be staged in Ukraine or in which cities. The Olympic Stadium in Kyiv hosted the finals of the 2012 European Championship and the 2018 Champions League.

The European bid is expected to face a South American candidacy with co-hosts Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Saudi Arabia, which has built close ties to FIFA and its president, Gianni Infantino, has been preparing a multi-continent bid potentially including Egypt and Greece. It is unclear how Greece would be approved by UEFA to be part of that.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]