CL Tuesday preview: struggling Liverpool in Spain, Juventus scrambling for a result

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The Champions League has returned for another round of group stage play, with some interesting storylines gracing our midweek headlines.

With group stage play halfway complete, most groups are still there for the taking while a few look to be just about covered.

Real Madrid vs. Liverpool

Most notably, Brendan Rodgers’ struggling Reds hit the road to the Spanish capital running out of time to get a result in group stage play.

Madrid torched Liverpool’s porous back line for a trio of goals in a comprehensive 3-0 win in England, and unless the manager can turn things around in a hurry, this one likely could go the same way. Unfortunately for the Reds, they’re in a bad spot. Tied with the other two teams in the group on three points, if they fall in Madrid they’ll be guaranteed to be out of a knockout stage position with just two games to play.

Daniel Sturridge is still unlikely to play leaving the Liverpool attack still thin, with all Liverpool strikers owning just one league goal all season combined. Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti is a solid shout for Manager of the Year this season after being fed an entirely new bevy of attacking players and still getting them to fire on all cylinders.

Juventus vs. Olympiacos

The Italians have it all to do as they take on the surprising group A leaders at home in Turin. Juventus is in charge of the Serie A table, but they’ve failed to score in their last two Champions League matches and fell at Olympiacos last time out. This time, things will favor the Italians as Olympiacos is clearly a different team on the road than in the friendly confines.

source: APBorussia Dortmund vs. Galatasaray

The Germans have a crisis to handle in domestic play, but they are still in a solid position when it comes to European play.  Three wins out of three have them top in Group D, but it remains to be seen whether their horrific start to the Bundesliga season will affect their concentration in other competitions. Jurgen Klopp has overseen

They’ll be missing German international Mats Hummels who sustained a sprained ankle in their match with Bayern Munich last weekend. Klopp will also likely be without Nuri Sahin, Marcel Schmelzer, and Jacob Blazczykowski, while Cesare Prandelli’s squad is almost completely healthy.

Arsenal vs. Anderlecht

Arsenal have a chance to solidify their knockout stage position and create a clear divide in Group D when they host Anderlecht. A win would at the least keep them five points ahead of the third place side, and potentially could put them eight points clear. Jack Wilshere has been ruled out, but the team is starting to return to full fitness as Theo Walcott has made his return and could feature. Steven Defour will miss out for Anderlecht. Thankfully, Arsene Wenger won’t have to worry about his zipper keeping him from focusing.

Benfica vs. Monaco

A topsy-turvey Group C will hope for a better match than the last two times these two teams faced off.  A listless 0-0 draw graced State Louis in France to give the Portuguese side its first point of the group stage, and they’ll look to get back into the thick of things at home in the reverse fixture. Don’t hope for too much in this one though, as Monaco have yet to concede in the group stage and have only scored one goal themselves.

Atletico Madrid vs. Malmo

The other Champions League game in Spain this matchday, Atletico have a great chance to overtake Olympiacos as the Group A leaders. Both teams will have injury boosts, with Tiago back from a hamstring problem while the Norwegians have goalkeeper Robin Olsen back after being substituted in their last league game.

Basel vs Ludogorets

The Group B underdogs will be looking to feast on a potential Liverpool slip in Madrid and leap into a knockout stage position as they face off in Switzerland. Ludogorets won the reverse fixture two weeks ago 1-0 at home, and while the Swiss are firing in the league, they will be without Ivorian midfielder Serey Die after his sending off in the last match.

Man City vs Man United: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Manchester City vs Manchester United: Erling Haaland is set for his Manchester derby debut when the two-time defending champions host the rapidly improving Red Devils at Etihad Stadium on Sunday (watch live, 9 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE MAN CITY vs MAN UNITED

Haaland has taken the Premier League by storm with an absurd 11 goals scored in his first seven games after (ostensibly) choosing Man City over Man United before leaving Borussia Dortmund this summer.

Six weeks ago, Manchester United had not a single point from their first two games, including a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of tiny Brentford, but Erik ten Hag has since switched tactical course en route to four straight wins, including a 3-1 victory over PL leaders Arsenal last time out, to set up this hugely intriguing showdown on Sunday.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Man City vs Man United

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


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

Kick off: 9 am ET, Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Despite a pair of disappointing draws (Newcastle and Aston Villa), it’s been an unbeaten start to the 2022-23 season for Man City, who still lead the PL in possession (66.4 percent per game) while also becoming an unstoppable offensive force from last season (14 goals in their first seven games) to this season (23). That’s not to say it’s been easy as Manchester City go through a tactical shift of their own to better appeal to the big Norwegian’s poaching abilities. Though they have been forced to grind out results a few times already this season, it’s highlighted a newfound spontaneity for a side that’s been as regimented as any in the world. Will that freedom be what ultimately lands Pep Guardiola his first Champions League trophy since 2011, and perhaps a third straight PL title (and a fifth in six years) to boot?

As for Manchester United, the Ten Hag era has been a wild roller-coaster ride already, short as it’s been. The back-to-back defeats were one thing, but the abject performances were the real cause for discontent. While picking up the four straight victories, the Dutchman has also settled on a midfield setup with Scott McTominay and Christian Eriksen operating in (effectively) a double pivot with Bruno Fernandes the most advanced of the three. It has brought defensive stability, of course, but more importantly the change has revealed a deadly counter-attacking side. Each of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Fernandes have scored twice during the winning run, with new boy Antony also getting in on the fun on his debut. With space in behind (and the proper service from deep), Ten Hag might just have his first winning formula (albeit quite unlike him).


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Marcus Rashford (thigh), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE, Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

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WATCH: Lionel Messi spins gorgeous free kick goal past Nice’s Schmeichel

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Lionel Messi got the better of Kasper Schmeichel with an outstanding free kick as Paris Saint-Germain outlasted Nice 2-1 on Saturday at the Parc des Princes.

The world’s greatest scorer was fouled to set up a free kick just inside the arc. Nice, of course, got into a wall and former Leicester City keeper Kasper Schmeichel arranged it to his liking.

As he does so many times, however, Messi spun a free kick just over the wall. The ball, which came so close to taking a slight turn off a leaping wall member (actually, did it?), tumbled down and right into the side netting to give PSG a 1-0 lead before the match was a half-hour old.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi scores relentless Groningen goal ]

Gaetan Laborde tied the match before halftime, and Nice’s revamped roster looked set to hold tight for a point (The club’s signed familiar Premier League names Schmeichel, Ross Barkley, Aaron Ramsey, and Mario Lemina).

Even that wouldn’t be enough, though, as Kylian Mbappe came off the bench to replace young Hugo Ekitike to finish a Nordi Mukiele assist for a 2-1 win.

PSG has eight wins and a draw this season, good for a two-point lead on second-place Marseille. Messi has five goals and a joint-league-best seven assists, tied with Neymar. Mbappe and Neymar are tied for the league goals lead with eight.

Lionel Messi free kick goal video

USMNT’s Ricardo Pepi defies xG with relentless goal (video)

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USMNT forward Ricardo Pepi’s goal while trying to will Groningen back into an eventual 4-1 loss to AZ Alkmaar on Saturday will not be one of the expected variety.

The 19-year-old striker, on loan from Augsburg, ran onto an audacious long pass from 20-year-old defender Neraysho Kasanwirjo but had plenty of work to do with AZ leading 2-0.

[ MORE: Josef Martinez scores audacious overhead goal ]

Pepi sees one defender fall in a race to the ball, then bodies up AZ’s Sam Beukema a little outside the six-yard box.

Hand-to-hand combat sees both players hit the turf, and Pepi probably could won a penalty.

But the World Cup hopeful spins while on the pitch and snaps a shot past charging AZ goalkeeper Hobie Verhulst to make it 2-1.

Video after the jump.

Ricardo Pepi
fotmob.com

Ricardo Pepi goal video: Fantastic start to Groningen loan

Pepi now has a goal or an assist in his first three Eredivisie outings, not unlike his fantastic start to life in a USMNT shirt.

His goal contributions have taken a dive since his first two USMNT matches — World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and Jamaica — and he only has one assist from the following 10 outings in a U.S. shirt.

Still, Pepi is clearly one of Gregg Berhalter’s favorite options for the upcoming World Cup, and his performances will be measured against Union Berlin’s Jordan Pefok, FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira, and others.

In a tournament where every moment matters, his work for this scrappy finish will be well-noted by the USMNT staff.

Josef Martinez scores vicious overhead kick in Atlanta United loss (video)

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If this is the last goal of Josef Martinez’s (likely) final season with Atlanta United, it will be very appropriate.

So for Martinez, even in a losing effort, to go airborne for an overhead kick that is a simply sensational feat of athleticism and power, well, it just feels right.

The 29-year-old Venezuelan forward joined the Five Stripes in 2017 in what seemed a massive capture for the club at the time and now seems downright gargantuan, but he’s fallen out with current manager Gonzalo Pineda and was even suspended for a match last month.

[ MORE: West Ham beats Wolves | Klopp reacts to latest setback ]

Martinez has nine goals and four assists in an injury-abbreviated 25-game season, giving him 111 goals in 156 appearances for ATL UTD. The former Torino and Young Boys striker is still being capped for Venezuela and would leave with an MLS Cup, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and Campeones Cup as well as a boatload of individual honors.

Atlanta lost 2-1 to New England on Saturday and returns home for their season finale next weekend versus New York City FC. The Five Stripes won’t make the playoffs unless at least two teams decide not to field teams, so if the NYCFC game doesn’t go well, let’s pretend this one was his final appearance for the club.