Champions League roundup: Manchester stumbles as Spanish sides cruise

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On the opening night of group play in the UEFA Champions League, it was tough sledding for the Manchester clubs as both City and United stumbled out of the gate. Below is a recap of all the action from around Europe.

Manchester City 1-2 JuventusMORE

Manchester City has yet to lose and Juventus has yet to win in league play, but none of that mattered today in the Champions League as the Citizens fell 2-1 at home. City led with 20 minutes to play, but late goals from Mario Mandzukic and Alvaro Morata buried Pellegrini’s men in a stunning result, as Manchester City’s struggles in Europe continue.

PSV Eindhoven 2-1 Manchester UnitedMORE

Another Manchester club that led 1-0 but fell 2-1 is United, as Louis Van Gaal‘s men were defeated by the defending Dutch champions. Memphis Depay gave the Red Devils the lead with a pretty goal against his former club, but PSV climbed back in front of a raucous home crowd to dampen United’s return to the Champions League. Making things even worse, Luke Shaw suffered a broken leg and will likely miss the rest of the season for United.

Real Madrid 4-0 Shakhtar DonetskMORE

Cristiano Ronaldo…ever heard of him? After scoring five goals over the weekend in Real’s La Liga match, Ronaldo took it easy today and scored just a hat trick in a 4-0 win over Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk. Karim Benzema opened the scoring for Real, and after Shakhtar was sent to ten men, Ronaldo buried three more. Ronaldo’s performance temporarily broke his tie with Lionel Messi as the leading goalscorer in Champions League history with 80 goals.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 Malmo

Angel di Maria scored his first goal for PSG in the fourth minute as the Parisians cruised to a comfortable win over Swedish champions Malmo. Di Maria’s tally was his first club goal since January, when he scored for Manchester United against Yeovil Town. Edinson Cavani added another after the break, but circle the date for the return leg in Malmo. Zlatan Ibrahimovic will travel back to his homeland to the club where he started his professional career.

Galatasaray 0-2 Atletico Madrid

Atletico survived a tricky trip to Turkey as an Antoine Greizmann brace led his side to a 2-0 win over Galatasaray. The French international scored both his goals in less than ten minutes in the first half, and Diego Simeone’s side held off some late pressure from the Turkish hosts.

Sevilla 3-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

Sevilla completed a perfect day for Spanish sides, as teams from La Liga went a perfect three-for-three on the opening day of group play. Monchengladbach has gotten off to a brutal start in the Bundesliga with four losses through four matches, and their losing ways continued in a poor performance in Seville. Sevilla had three penalties in the match, with Kevin Gameiro scoring his first and hitting the crossbar on his second before Ever Benega buried the third attempt. Yevhen Konoplyanka would add an insurance goal late in the match.

[ RELATED: Three things we learned from Manchester City’s collapse vs. Juventus ]

Wolfsburg 1-0 CSKA Moscow

Julian Draxler was brought to Wolfsburg to replace Kevin De Bruyne, and the speedy winger scored his first goal for the club today, which ended up being the game winner against CSKA Moscow. Moscow has been dominant domestically as they sit atop the Russian Premier League, but failed to create many chances against their German opposition.

Benfica 2-0 Astana

Kazakhstan’s FC Astana was one of the surprise team’s to make it this far, becoming the first side from Kazakhstan to reach the Champions League group stage. However, their debut didn’t go as planned as Portuguese champions Benfica took all three points with a 2-0 win. It was far from convincing from Benfica, but a win was expected from Rui Vitoria’s side as Astana should struggle to take any points in Group C.

Wednesday’s UCL schedule

Chelsea vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Arsenal
Roma vs. Barcelona
Olympiacos vs. Bayern Munich
Bayer Leverkusen vs. BATE Borisov
Dynamo Kyiv vs. Porto
Valencia vs. Zenit St. Petersburg
Gent vs. Lyon

All matches scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET kickoff

Bundesliga schedule for Matchweek 29

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The return of German soccer has been hugely successful and the Bundesliga schedule for Matchweek 29 is locked and loaded and below are details on how you can watch the games in the USA.

Dust off your lederhosen, fill that stein to the brim and make sure you know which young American stars to keep an eye on. Live sports is back.

[ LIVE: Bundesliga scores ] 

Bayern Munich are top of the table with a seven-point lead after their big win at Borussia Dortmund, while RB Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach have all dropped points as their title bids have faltered.

Given that Bayern look likely to secure an eighth-straight title, there is an epic scramble for European qualification. The top four in Germany qualify automatically for the UEFA Champions League group stage and that means one of the five teams mentioned above as title contenders will miss out, while Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin are surging and Schalke and Freiburg have struggled in the Europa League spot.

Below is the full Bundesliga schedule for this week, as the fourth round of games to restart the campaign is a beauty, while there are also details on how you can watch on TV in the USA.

Bundesliga schedule

  • TV Channels: FS1, FS2
  • Stream Live: Via Fox Soccer
  • USMNT players to watch: Gio Reyna, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Alfredo Morales, Josh Sargent

Friday, May 29

2:30 p.m. ET: Freiburg v. Bayer Leverkusen

Saturday, May 30

9:30 a.m. ET: Hertha Berlin v. Augsburg
9:30 a.m. ET: Mainz v. Hoffenheim
9:30 a.m. ET: Schalke v. Werder Bremen
9:30 a.m. ET: Wolfsburg v. Eintracht Frankfurt
12:30 p.m. ET: Bayern Munich v. Fortuna Dusseldorf

Sunday, May 31

9:30 a.m. ET: Borussia Monchengladbach v. Union Berlin
12 p.m. ET: Paderborn v. Borussia Dortmund

Monday, June 1

2:30 p.m. ET: Cologne v. RB Leipzig

Barcelona ready to sell six players this summer

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According to the latest news out of Barcelona, the Catalan giants are ready to rework their squad and want to sell up to six players to fuel their transfer plans.

Those players being sold are Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets… just kidding. Of course not.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

According to a report from the Daily Mirror, Barca have made Rafinha, Arturo Vidal, Jean-Clair Todibo, Nelson Semedo, Junior Firpo and Moussa Wague available for permanent transfers. Wague is currently on loan at Nice, while Todibo is on loan at Schalke and Rafinha at Celta Vigo. Ousmane Dembele is another player who has been consistently linked with a move away from the Nou Camp too, as he continues to be hampered by injuries.

Why the huge exodus? It is believed Barcelona want to sign Lautaro Martinez from Inter Milan and Miralem Pjanic from Juventus to spruce up their squad under relatively new manager Quique Setien, who only arrived in mid-January.

It is believed Inter boss Antonio Conte is a big fan of Vidal, but any deal for the Chilean midfielder would reportedly be separate for a deal for Martinez. The Argentine striker has been sensational for the Italian giants so far this season and is said to have been in close contact with Messi about a move to Barcelona.

As for Pjanic’s potential arrival, what does that mean for Ivan Rakitic? He has just one year left on his current Barcelona contract and seems relaxed about his future but Pjanic plays in a very similar position to the Croatian playmaker.

One thing is for sure, Barcelona need to freshen up this squad and there is plenty of transfer news floating around when it comes to ins and outs. They are just ahead of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga and Real have certainly had a huge overhaul over the last 12 months with Vinicius Jr., Eden Hazard, Brahim Diaz, Ferland Mendy, Rodrygo and Luka Jovic all arriving at different times.

Barcelona’s old guard remains intact with Messi, Busquets, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba as instrumental as ever but there’s no doubt Setien will want to strengthen his squad as they aim for Spanish and European glory next season and beyond.

With plenty of talk about Barcelona’s financial situation and the huge contracts that Messi, Suarez and Antoine Griezmann in particular have, offloading this many players suggests they have to cut their cloth accordingly in order to bring in top talent.

Setien will be hoping he can offload as many players as possible reshape this Barcelona squad which is still incredibly talented but has a few glaring needs.

Premier League to restart on June 17

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The 2019-20 Premier League season will restart on June 17, Sky Sports confirmed on Thursday.

The Premier League is holding in-depth meetings with all 20 clubs and, among other matters, and June 17 has emerged as the date games will return. Due to the coronavirus pandemic the Premier League season was suspended on March 13 with 92 games remaining.

Other reports also indicate clubs and the league have agreed on that date, which is five days later than the original placeholder date suggested last month. It has been reported the two games in hand, Man City v. Arsenal and Aston Villa v. Sheffield United, could be played on June 17 so all teams are on 29 games played, then the rest of the games would kick off on June 19-21.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

It is believed that the clubs want the Premier League season to be finished by August 1, so clubs can then focus on the FA Cup and European action in the Europa League and Champions League, while the 2020-21 season can then resume in early September.

Other reports suggest that a sticking point remains neutral stadiums as police forces in the UK want certain high-profile games to be played at neutral stadiums over fears of fans congregating outside home stadiums. However, it is believed the majority of games could be played at home stadiums as normal.

More details will no doubt filter out in the coming hours, while the meeting is also set to discuss the plan for possible curtailment if playing the remaining games of the 2019-20 season is not possible. The schedule for how games will be played will also be discussed, with five games back-to-back on both Saturday and Sunday reported as a possibility.

All players and staff at Premier League clubs will be tested twice a week during the strict return to training protocols put in place, with contact training now allowed after a return to small-group training was a success.

The third round of COVID-19 testing saw a slight rise in positive tests compared to the last, as a total of 2,752 COVID-19 tests have now been carried out on Premier League players and staff with a total of 12 positive results.

All 20 Premier League clubs have agreed to return to contact training in stage two of the ‘Project Restart’ plan, as the main focus is to agree on a Premier League restart date that managers and players can now focus on.

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith’s father dies of COVID-19

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Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has lost his father, Ron, who died at the age of 79 after contracting COVID-19.

Ron Smith was a lifelong Aston Villa fan who worked at Villa Park as a steward and passed on his love of the club to Dean and the rest of his family.

The Premier League club released the following statement honoring Smith.

“The Aston Villa Family are saddened to announce that Ron Smith, the father of our current head coach Dean, has passed away at the age of 79.

“Ron, who had recently been living in a care home after being diagnosed with dementia six years ago, contracted coronavirus four weeks ago and after a short spell in hospital passed away with his family at his side.

“A lifelong supporter, Ron was a steward at Villa Park for many years and passed on his love of the club down to his children. As well as being a regular at home games, Ron was also there to witness that greatest of days in May 1982 when Villa lifted the European Cup in Rotterdam.

“The thoughts of everyone at the football club are currently with Dean and his family at this most distressing of times and would kindly ask for the family’s privacy to be respected.”

Dean Smith is a hardcore Aston Villa fan and the fact he joined them midway through last season and got them promoted back to the Premier League via the playoffs was a hugely emotional moment for the former Walsall and Brentford manager.

He has spoken candidly in the past about his close relationship with his father and the impact dementia had on his dad. Last summer Dean Smith revealed this story before he led their beloved Aston Villa to promotion back to the Premier League.

“I went to see my old man on Friday and I managed to get his eyes open for two minutes and I said to him ‘next time you see me I’m going to be a Premier League manager’,” Smith said. “He smiled and nodded, for me that’s enough.”

Man City manager Pep Guardiola lost his mother to the coronavirus pandemic and the Premier League rallied around the Spanish coach. They will do the same for Smith who has lost the man who introduced him to the beautiful game in the first place.