Champions League preview: Do Arsenal stand a chance vs. Barcelona?


Arsenal haven’t been to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League since 2010. In five straight knockout stage appearances they’ve been bounced from the competition in the round of 16, having been little more than an afterthought in conversations of real contenders for the title.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]

They’ve also endured a tortured recent history against this season’s round of 16 foe, Barcelona, who happen to be in the midst of one of the longest, most dominant unbeaten runs we’ve seen in quite some time.

So why, of all years, should we believe this to be any different for the Gunners? To find that answer, we’re going to have to look really, really deep into this round of 16 tie, which kicks off Tuesday (2:45 p.m. ET, with live and post-game coverage on PST). Even then we might not find what we’re looking for.

[ MORE: CL roundup — Chelsea lose in Paris | Real Madrid win in Rome ]

Arsenal’s all-time CL meetings with Barcelona: 1-1 and 2-4 (group stage – 1999); 1-2 (2006 final); 3-6 (aggregate – 2010); 3-4 (aggregate – 2011). In short, history is not only not on Arsenal’s side, but it couldn’t be much more against them (one single-leg victory in seven meetings all-time – 2011 first leg).

Barcelona’s current unbeaten run: 32 games. The last time Barca lost, the date was Oct. 3, 2015. Simple math tells us that’s nearly five months without a loss in any competition.

Messi, Suarez and Neymar goals scored combined: 91 through 46 games (1.97 per game – all competitions) this season. Last season they combined to score 122 goals in 61 total games (2.0 per game – Suarez was suspended the first three months of the season). A better attacking trio has arguably never existed.

Do Arsenal even want to bother with progressing in the CL? They’ve not had a chance this good to win the Premier League since they last won it a decade ago. They’re two points back of Leicester City and level with Tottenham Hotspur. They’ve already got an fifth-round replay against Hull City in their bid for a third straight FA Cup. They’re finally close to having a fully fit squad, but is it deep enough to compete on three fronts when one of them involves European travel mid-week with important domestic games on the weekends either side? Of course they do, but it’ll only make life tougher in the meantime.

Will it even matter what they want? As is the case with most top sides, Arsenal struggle most noticeably against teams that are organized defensively, sit deep inside their own half and hit back on the counter-attack. Barcelona are the most proactive, possession- and attack-minded side in the world, and they’ll look to dominate possession and attack non-stop from the opening to final whistles. There will be room to hit back on the counter themselves, putting to good use the pace of Theo Walcott, the directness and nose for goal of Alexis Sanchez, and the brilliant vision and the splitting through balls of Mesut Ozil. The real problem lies in the fact that for every chance Arsenal have on the counter, Barca will have three or four or five during prolonged periods of possession while camped inside Arsenal’s half of the field.

Best of luck, Arsenal. You’re going to need it.

Must-See Goal: Jozy Altidore puts USMNT in front with Bicycle Kick

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jozy Altidore put his stamp on the game and gave U.S. Men’s National Team coach Gregg Berhalter more to speak about with one fell swing.

Altidore finished off a corner kick in spectacular fashion, executing a perfect bicycle kick to put the USMNT up 1-0 in the 66th minute. The goal came one minute after the entrance of Christian Pulisic, which perhaps was on the mind of the Panama defense.

It was Altidore’s second-straight game vs. Panama with a goal. His last two were in October 2017, when the U.S. pummeled Panama, 4-0. Of course, a few days later, a tired USMNT failed to win at Trinidad and Tobago.

FOLLOW LIVE, Gold Cup: USMNT closes out group v. Panama

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s a fully-changed starting XI for the U.S. Men’s National Team as it closes out the group stage against Panama at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.

Omar Gonzalez and Matt Miazga start together in the backline, Jozy Altidore returns to the starting lineup up top, and Jordan Morris and Jonathan Lewis feature on the wings alongside Altidore. Ten of the 11 players now ply their trade in MLS, including the Gonzalez, who recently moved to Toronto FC.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: USMNT takes on Panama in Kansas City]

Hit the link above to follow along for the next two hours, and check back on PST for a full recap and in-depth analysis after the final whistle.

Must-See Goal: Wayne Rooney v. Orlando City

Getty Images
Leave a comment

I’m going to go out on a limb and say it. Wayne Rooney just scored the most amazing goal in Audi Field’s young history.

In the 10th minute of D.C. United’s match against Orlando City SC on Wednesday evening, Rooney noticed Orlando’s Brian Rowe straying way off his line. And so, with an audacious but accurate attempt, Rooney let fly from 65 yards and SCORED. Just check this goal out below.


Rooney took advantage of a crazy bounce and with his literal first touch, unleashed a thunderbolt that Rowe couldn’t catch up to. It automatically becomes one of the top contenders for the MLS Goal of the Year, and should make it on every top ten countdown this evening and tomorrow.

Benfica: Atletico Madrid make $143 million bid for Felix

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The legend of Joao Felix appears to have reached full market value potential.

The 19-year-old Portuguese striker is coming off a breakout year for Benfica, and now the Portuguese giants have received an impressive $143 million offer from Atletico Madrid for Felix. The club confirmed the offer in a statement on its website, stating it was analyzing the deal. Felix has a $136.5 million release clause in his contract, but it appears the additional $7 million is in processing costs.

[READ: Kroos wants to retire at Real Madrid]

Felix was outstanding at Benfica last year, scoring 15 goals with seven assists in 26 league games and three goals and one assist in five Europa League game. Felix has already made his international debut for Portugal.

If confirmed, Felix would become the fifth-most expensive transfer in world history, and the second-most expensive transfer for a teenager behind Kylian Mbappe.