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MLS Preview: Conference clashes set up intriguing Week 8

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With the New York Red Bulls and Seattle Sounders still struggling to find their way in the new MLS season, both sides will look for some stability in their respective conferences.

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That’s right, Week 8 is about conference matchups, except for Columbus-Houston. With no Friday night game on the docket, let’s take a look at what the weekend has to offer.

Philadelphia Union vs. New York City FC — Saturday, 4 p.m. ET

The Union have been one of the more surprising teams in MLS through seven weeks. Unfortunately for NYCFC, there haven’t been many surprises in terms of improvements from a season ago. Despite David Villa’s offensive firepower, New York City continues to struggle in front of goal, with very little to no support for the Spaniard. Since their opening match against the Fire, which saw them score four goals, NYCFC has tallied just five goals in as many matches since.

Montreal Impact vs. Toronto FC — Saturday, 4 p.m. ET

Already atop the Eastern Conference, the Impact can now add Didier Drogba into the mix. The ex-Chelsea forward scored just minutes after being substituted on for Montreal last weekend against the Fire, giving the team another dimension. Add him in with Ignacio Piatti, already with four goals on the year, and you have a very dangerous tandem. Toronto is still figuring things out, on the other hand. In a competitive East, TFC sits fourth on the table, but is still searching for assistance up front. Sebastian Giovinco’s four goals and two assists lead the team, however, the Atomic Ant appears to be their only option when getting forward.

D.C. United vs. New England Revolution — Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET

Neither team has started the season the way that they would have liked to. Both D.C. and New England have one win each though the opening month-plus of the season. Goals have been hard to come by for both teams, so maybe facing one another will be the key to breaking out.

Columbus Crew vs. Houston Dynamo — Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET

As a team that played for the MLS Cup in 2015, expectations for the Crew were much higher than what they have met so far. Five points in six games isn’t good enough for an attack that boasts the likes of Kei Kemara and Ethan Finlay. For the Dynamo, scoring goals hasn’t been the issue. Keeping them out has been though. Houston has scored 13 goals in 2016, while allowing the same number, which will always be a recipe for failure.

Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders — Saturday, 9 p.m. ET

The new-look Rapids continue to impress this season under Pablo Mastroeni, sitting third in the Western Conference. While Mastroeni’s side doesn’t score a lot of goals, their defense is among the best in MLS, making it very difficult for opposition to break through. The Sounders have begun to string together a nice run of results, unbeaten in three straight games, although the team is still lacking substance in the midfield. Marco Pappa’s arrival in Colorado has given the Rapids a huge lift, while also breaking the back of Seattle.

LA Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake — Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET

In a battle of two of the West’s best teams, RSL looks to remain unbeaten against the Galaxy. Real Salt Lake is the only team that has yet to lose this season, and head coach Jeff Cassar has a lot to do with that. The squad has brought back many key players from previous seasons, while adding a few pieces here and there to solidify their weaknesses. The Galaxy will be missing Nigel de Jong as par of his suspension, but Gyasi Zardes and crew should be game to take on RSL. The Galaxy are tied for first in goals allowed with Toronto and the Rapids, conceding five goals.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. FC Dallas — Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET

This match is a tale of two very different sides. Dallas is undoubtedly among the hottest teams in MLS through almost two months of play, holding 17 points and topping the West. The side’s attack features countless players that can break a game open at any moment, including Michael Barrios and Max Urruti. The Whitecaps are led by Pedro Morales offensively, but it has been their defense that has raised questions so far, giving away 11 goals in seven games. Vancouver has gone three straight matches without scoring a goal, so they’ll be hoping to end that trend at BC Place.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. Sporting Kansas City — Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET

This could very well be game of the week based off of what the two sides have shown through seven weeks. Both teams have more than capable attacks, as well as quality defenses. Chris Wondolowski leads the charge for the Earthquakes, having netted six goal in seven games. With each side coming off of a loss, two straight in the case of Sporting KC, look for them to get after one another early and often. Dom Dwyer can add to his goal total of four on Sunday, especially with the team’s service from the wings.

New York Red Bulls vs. Orlando City SC — Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET

The question isn’t what has gone wrong for the Red Bulls thus far in 2016, but instead what has gone right? Other than their four-goal outburst against the Dynamo, New York has scored just one additional goal. Bradley Wright-Phillips and the Red Bulls attack have struggled mightily in front of net, despite having numerous opportunities to get on the scoreboard this season. Orlando City is having no such difficulty when it comes to finding goals, with Cyle Larin picking right up where he left off in his rookie year. The second-year forward has three goals thus far, while Kaka has added an additional two.

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Sarri sacked: Juventus fire manager after one season

Sarri sacked
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Sarri sacked: Maurizio Sarri has been fired by Juventus after just one season in charge following the Bianconeri‘s shocking exit from the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on Friday.

[ MORE: Man City knock out Real Madrid ]

Juventus claimed its ninth straight Serie A title on the final day of the season last week, but bowing out of the one trophy which has eluded the Italian giants during their decade of dominance, at the hands of Lyon no less, was simply too much for chairman Andrea Agnelli to stomach.

The players struggled a great deal to adapt to Sarri’s tactical system and demands, as did Sarri to being back in Serie A, and things never seemed to click in the already-imperfect marriage. Star midfielder Miralem Pjanic summed up the differences between the sides rather succinctly after the loss to Lyon.

[ MORE: Guardiola: “We’re here to win the Champions League” ]

Juve thanked Sarri for his service in a brief statement on the club’s website.

The club would like to thank the coach for having written a new page in Juventus’ history with the victory of the ninth-consecutive championship, the culmination of a personal journey that led him to climb all the divisions of Italian football.

Mauricio Pochettino is the first, and biggest name, currently being bandied about in connection with the Allianz Stadium job. The Argentine has been out of work since he was sacked by Tottenham Hotspur in November, but it stands to reason he did enough at Tottenham to have earned a chance at a club like Juve.

Outside of Cristiano Ronaldo’s mammoth contract, the majority of the squad could be turned over and refreshed with little to no trouble. Juve have never been shy to spend big money for big stars — a luxury Pochettino didn’t exactly enjoy at Spurs — so if they are interested in Pochettino, the prospect of a project on the scale of Juventus will almost certainly grab his attention.

Champions League: How to watch, odds, start time, predictions

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The UEFA Champions League and Europa League resume this week and I’m going to reveal my predictions for this next round as well as the latest odds for Europe’s top two continental tournaments.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

With Manchester City and Chelsea still in the Champions League and Manchester United and Wolves among the favorites to win the Europa League, there is a lot on the line for Premier League clubs in the coming weeks.

Just because the Premier League season is over, that doesn’t mean the action is over. Far from it.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

In the next few days the Europa League and Champions League Round of 16 second legs will take place before mini tournaments begin.

Man City lead Real Madrid 2-1 from their first leg in Spain, while Chelsea trail Bayern 3-0 as they head to Germany for the return game. Man United are all but in the quarterfinals, while Wolves are favored to make the Europa quarters too.

Lisbon, Portugal will host the Champions League games from the quarterfinal stage onwards, while the Europa League games will be hosted around Germany.

Below is a look at my predictions, the odds for the games this week and how to watch and follow all of the fixtures in the USA.

How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Round of 16 at home venues; Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon/Germany
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: UCL here at & Europa League here at

JPW’s Champions League predictions

Round of 16 (August 7-8)
Friday, August 7: Manchester City 1-1 Real Madrid (2-1)
Friday, August 7: Juventus 2-1 Lyon (0-1)
Saturday, August 8: Barcelona 3-1 Napoli (1-1)
Saturday, August 8: Bayern Munich 2-1 Chelsea (3-0)

JPW’s Europa League predictions

Round of 16 (August 5-6)
Copenhagen 1-2 Istanbul Basaksehir
Wolves 2-0 Olympiakos
Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Rangers
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-3 Wolfsburg
Basel 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
Manchester United 3-1 LASK
Inter Milan 3-0 Getafe
Sevilla 1-3 Roma

Champions League betting odds

Round of 16 (August 7-8)
(-139) Manchester City v. Real Madrid (+320). Tie: +340
(-230) Juventus v. Lyon (+650). Tie: +340
(-150) Barcelona v. Napoli (+400). Tie: +300
(-250) Bayern Munich v. Chelsea (+650). Tie: +410

Quarterfinals (August 12-13)
(+200) Atalanta v. Paris Saint-Germain (+120). Tie: +285
(+225) RB Leipzig v. Atletico Madrid (+133). Tie: 220

Outright winner
Manchester City (+350)
Bayern Munich (+365)
Paris Saint-Germain (+450)
Atletico Madrid (+700)
Atalanta (+950)
Barcelona (+1100)
RB Leipzig (+1500)
Juventus (+1700)

Europa League betting odds

Round of 16 (August 5-6)
(+155) Copenhagen v. Istanbul Basaksehir (+180). Tie: +235
(-134) Wolves v. Olympiakos (+390). Tie: +260
(-162) Bayer Leverkusen v. Rangers (+410). Tie: +310
(+135) Shakhtar Donetsk v. Wolfsburg (+185). Tie: +265
(+155) Basel v. Eintracht Frankfurt (+155). Tie: +275
(-455) Manchester United v. LASK (+1200). Tie: +550
(-143) Inter Milan v. Getafe (+385). Tie: +285
(+110) Sevilla v. Roma (+270). Tie: +230

Outright winner
Manchester United (+160)
Inter Milan (+500)
Bayer Leverkusen (+700)
Wolves (+800)
Sevilla (+900)

Guardiola: ‘We’re here to win the Champions League’

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Pep Guardiola has put down a marker as Manchester City beat Real Madrid to reach the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

He now wants his Manchester City side to go on and reach the holy grail and win the Champions League, the trophy their Abu Dhabi owners crave above all others.

Man City beat Real Madrid 2-1 in their Round of 16 second leg, and 4-2 on aggregate, as Guradiola outwitted Zinedine Zidane over two legs to set up a winnable quarterfinal against Lyon in Lisbon, Portugal next Saturday.

Asked by BT Sport after the game what this win against Real Madrid means for Man City and their mentality, Guardiola did not play down their chances.

“For us, it is of course important, we beat them twice. Zizou never lost one knockout game. You see the calm and personality they play with, they are good,” Guardiola said. “But we are here to try and win the Champions League. It is just one step. If we think that is enough, we will show how small of a team we are. To win the Champions League you have to beat the big clubs.”

Man City will face one of those big clubs, likely Bayern Munich or Barcelona, in the semifinal stage of the Champions League but first they have to get past underdogs Lyon, who stunned Juventus as Memphis Depay has led the Ligue 1 side to the last eight.

“I spoke to the scouting department and they told me ‘be alert’ and we have eight days, we will enjoy this tonight and tomorrow, then we will start to think about Lyon,” Guardiola said when asked about their quarterfinal opponents.

Man City are the heavy favorites to beat Lyon and they are the bookies’ favorites to win the Champions League overall.

Pep Guardiola has now piled the pressure on his team to prove just how good they are and even without the injured Sergio Aguero, and with Fernandinho playing at center back, they eased past Real Madrid.

Manchester City have fallen at the quarterfinal stage when favorites in each of the last two seasons and Guardiola knows this is their best chance to win their first-ever Champions League trophy as Bayern Munich or Barcelona are very good, but not unbeatable, if they get past Lyon.

Guardiola looks hungry and he badly wants to win the Champions League for the first time since 2011 as he failed to win the trophy at Bayern Munich and in his first three seasons at Man City.

The stars are aligning for Man City to deliver the one trophy Guardiola hasn’t won since he arrived in Manchester in 2016 and the one trophy the club hasn’t won since their Abu Dhabi owners took over in 2008.

In this year, just a month after they overturned UEFA’s decision to ban them from the Champions League for two seasons, success would surely taste even sweeter for everyone connected with Man City.

Lyon shock Juventus, reach Champions League quarterfinal

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Juventus – Lyon was mean to be a straightforward comeback win for the home side to reach yet another UEFA Champions League quarterfinal.

It was anything but as Lyon shocked Juventus to dump Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. out of Europe as Maurizio Sarri’s side continued their poor form since the restart.

[ MORE: Champions League predictions

Juventus won 2-1 on the night, as Ronaldo scored twice but Juve came up one goal short and for the second season running Ronaldo has failed in his quest to lead the Italian giants to the Champions League title.

As for Lyon, who haven’t played in over 5 months as the French league was cancelled in April due to the coronavirus pandemic, they put in a heroic display as they now face Manchester City in Lisbon, Portugal in the last eight on Aug. 15.

[ LIVE: Champions League schedule ]

Lyon got off to the perfect start in Turin, but it was fortunate, as Houssem Aouar won a very dubious penalty kick as VAR checked the decision but somehow it stood.

Memphis clipped home a delicious panenka to put Lyon 1-0 up and leave Juventus needing to score three goals on the night to advance.

Federico Bernardeschi went close and Anthony Lopes saved well from Ronaldo’s free kick as Lyon sat back and soaked up pressure.

Juventus won a penalty kick before half time, as Memphis handled Miralem Pjanic’s free kick but it look harsh as his arm wasn’t in an unnatural position.

Ronaldo slotted home the spot kick to make it 1-1. Game on.

At the start of the second half Ronaldo smashed home a beauty to make it 2-1 as Juve needed one more goal to advance to the last eight.

Ronaldo was everywhere and he then set up Gonzalo Higuain to head home, but his effort was off target from close range.

And Juve couldn’t find one more goal to send them through as Lyon advanced on the away goals rule and shocked everyone by dumping the Italian champions out of Europe.