La Liga & Serie A roundup: Barcelona all but officially champions after Real Madrid slip up


A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights:

Barcelona 2-0 Real Sociedad

Thanks to a pair of second-half goals and another result elsewhere (we’ll get to that in a minute), Luis Enrique’s Barcelona side has one hand firmly planted on the La Liga title, with the domestic league, domestic cup and European cup treble looking more likely by the day.

Neymar put the Blaugrana ahead in the 51st minute, heading home from six yards out, and Pedro scored a stunning overhead kick (below video) with just five minutes of regular time still to play. David Moyes’ side did well to frustrate Barca for 45 minutes, but the quality of the soon-to-be champions shone through eventually.

With a four-point lead in the league — with just two games remaining — a place in the final of the UEFA Champions League all but booked, and a favorable matchup in the upcoming Copa del Rey final (Athletic Bilbao), Barca look good value to lift three trophies between now and June 6. The only thing that could make this year any sweeter would be if they pipped Real Madrid to the league title late in the season and beat Los Blancos in the Champions League final. Barca fans can dream, can’t they?

Valencia 2-2 Real Madrid

The title race is all but over after Real Madrid’s slip-up away to Valencia on Saturday. The fourth-placed side took an early 2-0 lead through Paco Alcacer (19th minute) and Javi Fuego (26th) before Diego Alves saved a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty kick on the stroke of halftime, preserving the two-goal lead heading into halftime.

Real pulled two goals back through Pepe (56th) and Isco (84th), but already trailing Barca by two points heading into the weekend, a Madrid draw is more than enough to hand the title to their bitter rivals, who can clinch next when they’re away to Atletico Madrid, who coincidentally won the league title on Barca’s home field just last year. | FULL RECAP WITH HIGHLIGHTS

Elsewhere in La Liga

Granada 2-0 Cordoba
Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Deportivo La Coruna

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Levante vs. Atletico Madrid (6 am ET)
Villarreal vs. Elche (11 am ET)
Almeria vs. Malaga (1 pm ET)
Celta Vigo vs. Sevilla (3 pm ET)

source: Getty ImagesAC Milan 2-1 Roma

Seemingly believing they’ve locked up a UEFA Champions League place weeks ago (they haven’t), Roma don’t look particularly interested in finishing the season on a high note following another disappointing result (just four wins in their last nine league games).

Saturday’s defeat came at the hands of 10th-placed AC Milan. Marco van Ginkel (40th minute) and Mattia Destro (59th, at right) provided the goals before Francesco Totti converted from the penalty spot to salvage a consolation goal for the visitors. With three games left to play, Roma hold just a one-point and four-point lead on Lazio and Napoli in third and fourth, respectively, each of whom now have a game in hand.

Juventus 1-1 Cagliari

Juventus, who were crowned Serie A champions last week, opted to rest Carlos Tevez, Andrea Pirlo, Alvaro Morata, Gianluigi Buffon, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Giorgio Chiellini ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal showdown with Real Madrid. Massimiliano Allegri’s side did, however, welcome back Paul Pogba, who played 63 minutes and scored the Old Lady’s only goal of the game.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Chievo vs. Hellas Verona (6:30 am ET)
Cesena vs. Sassuolo (9 am ET)
Udinese vs. Sampdoria (9 am ET)
Palermo vs. Atalanta (9 am ET)
Parma vs. Napoli (12 pm ET)
Empoli vs. Fiorentina (12 pm ET)
Lazio vs. Inter Milan (2:45 pm ET)

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


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). 


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


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)


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

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)


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.