Premier League preview: Manchester United vs. Leicester City

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  • Man United (9 points): 7th in PL, 6 points off the lead
  • Leicester (7 points): 11th in PL after slow start
  • 1-1 draw in this fixture last season

Three losses in a week — two in the Premier League, one in the Europa League — with only an EFL Cup victory over League 1 side Northampton Town to counteract. Jose Mourinho will be desperately hoping to see his Manchester United side bounce back from his first setback at the club when Leicester City visit Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), before the negativity currently surrounding the Red Devils snowballs and 2016-17 ends up looking like 2015-16 all over again for the Portuguese.

The defense always seemed a likely cause for concern this season, and that’s certainly been the case as Mourinho’s men conceded six times in the losses to Manchester City, Feyenoord and Watford last week. Perhaps just as worrying, they found the back of the net just twice, and enter Sunday’s encounter with the defending champions without a clear first-choice attacking unit. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Rashford have combined to scored six league goals thus far — the latter of which has grabbed his two in just 154 minutes of on-field time — while the rest of the squad has managed two as a whole (one each for Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata).

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Leicester’s slow start — just one point from their first two games, but two wins in their last three — had as much to do with the departure of N'Golo Kante as anything else. With the French midfielder off to Chelsea for $40 million in the summer, manager Claudio Ranieri finds himself still in search of an all-action, do-everything replacement in the heart of midfield.

Islam Slimani enjoyed a dream debut for the Foxes last weekend, scoring twice against Burnley as his new side cruised to a 3-0 victory at the King Power Stadium. Even for the $36 million Leicester paid Sporting CP for the Algerian this summer, that’s a decent immediate return on investment. With Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez combining to score just three times through five games, the best is still yet to come from Leicester in 2016-17.

INJURIES: Man United — OUT: Phil Jones (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Anthony Martial (concussion), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (thigh), Luke Shaw (groin) | Leicester — RETURNING: Kasper Schmeichel (concussion), Nampalys Mendy (ankle)

What they’re saying

Mourinho, on football’s Einsteins: “I know that some football Einsteins – football is full of Einsteins – I know that they tried to delete 16 years of my career. They tried to delete an unbelievable history of Man United football club and to focus on a bad week with three bad results. But that’s the new football – it’s full of Einsteins. I can understand clearly the disappointment if the fans are disappointed with the last week. I understand completely, but I’m sure that with the team going back home, they will be behind the team like they always are.”

Claudio Ranieri, on Mourinho feud: “It’s prehistoric, not now. It was a long time ago, I’m OK. He’s a great manager and a fantastic person. Maybe he will offer me a good red wine. I love red wine and if he offers I will go and drink it with him. Mourinho is a fantastic manager, intelligent, clever. He is OK.”

Prediction

Neither side has realized its identity for the 2016-17 season as of yet, thus a frustratingly choppy affair seems on the cards this weekend. If Leicester can defend deep and hit quickly on the counter — as they did all of last season — Man United will be in big trouble. A point for either side, 1-1.

Hertha Berlin slams racist abuse of under-23 player Ngankam

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BERLIN (AP) Hertha Berlin has condemned apparent racist abuse of its under-23 player Jessic Ngankam from Lokomotive Leipzig fans during their fourth-division game on Friday.

Hertha says on Twitter that, “Ngankam was subjected to racist hostility during the game against Lok Leipzig. As a club, we are completely behind Jessic . The incident was also noted in the match report and a preliminary investigation has since been launched by the league. Lok Leipzig have already given their own statement on the incident. (hash)notoracism”

Hertha executive board member Paul Keuter says the club should have reacted sooner to the alleged abuse, “but nobody should doubt our commitment against racism.”

Hertha player Jordan Torunarigha wrote on Twitter the club is “100% against racism and one shouldn’t argue over why my club is just giving a statement now.”

The 19-year-old Ngankam, who is black, told broadcaster MDR that he was targeted with monkey chants by some fans in the visiting supporters’ block and that he was called an “ape” by an opposing player.

“Of course you’re trained not to react or show emotion. But it still hits you,” Ngankam told MDR. “Insults are unfortunately an everyday occurrence in football, and I can put up with them. But racist abuse is a no-go.”

Lokomotive criticized the abuse on its website, where it reminded its own fans that it has players within the club with roots in 32 countries.

“Only two colors interest us – (club colors) blue and yellow,” Lokomotive said. “Racism has no place among us and everyone knows that! If there are still people who call themselves blue-yellow fans and can’t comprehend that, then it must be clear that (Leipzig district) Probstheida is no place for them.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

Champions League permutations: Who needs what?

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Here’s a quick reminder of how many teams from each group have already reached the last 16:

Group A: Paris St-Germain (winners), Real Madrid (runners up)
Group B: Bayern Munich (winners), Tottenham (runners up)
Group C: Manchester City (winners)
Group D: Juventus (winners)
Group E: None
Group F: Barcelona (winners)
Group G: RB Leipzig
Group H: None

And here’s what teams in each group need to do to advance:

Group C
Shakhtar Donetsk will reach the last 16 if they win at home against Atalanta, while both Atalanta and Dinamo Zagreb can still reach the last 16 with wins.

Group D
Atletico Madrid will secure their spot in the last 16 if they beat Lokomotiv Moscow at home, but if they draw or lose and Bayer Leverkusen win at home against group winners Juventus, the German side will go through.

Group E
Red Bull Salzburg will reach the last 16 if they beat Liverpool at home, while the reigning UCL champions need just a point to make it to the knockout rounds. However,  if Liverpool lose they will be out unless Napoli lose at home to Genk too or if Liverpool score four away goals or more and only lose by one goal (eg a 5-4 loss) combined with a Napoli defeat they will go through. Napoli need a point in their final game at home against Genk to reach the last 16.

Group F
Inter Milan will make the last 16 if they beat Barcelona at home but if they don’t win then Borussia Dortmund will go through by bettering Inter’s result. Dortmund host Slavia Prague at home.

Group G
Leipzig have already qualified and will finish top of the group with a win. Zenit will reach the last 16 if they win away at already eliminated Benfica, while Lyon can qualify if they better Zenit’s result from the final game.

Group H
Chelsea know they will reach the last 16 with a win at home to already eliminated Lille. Ajax only need a draw to make the last 16, while Valencia need a win at Ajax to advance. Chelsea will also reach the last if they draw against Lille and Ajax beat Valencia.

Champions League score predictions: Matchweek 6

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The sixth and final matchday of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League group stage is here, and two of the four Premier League clubs needing to avoid defeat to go through.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Fans of Liverpool and Chelsea will both be sweating ahead of their group stage finales.

Below we predict the scores for all 16 UCL games taking place over the next two days, with Tottenham heading to Bayern Munich able to rest players,  while reigning champions Liverpool head to Jesse March’s Salzburg needing a draw to advance but the hosts will go through with a win.

As for Chelsea, they host Lille needing a win to secure their route to the last 16 and a draw could be enough if Valencia lose to Ajax, while Man City travel to Dinamo Zagreb already confirmed as group winners.

Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section below, too.


Tuesday

Group E
Red Bull Salzburg 3-5 Liverpool
Napoli 3-1 Genk

Group F
Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Slavia Prague
Inter Milan 2-2 Barcelona

Group G
Lyon 2-1 Leipzig
Benfica 0-2 Zenit

Group H
Chelsea 1-1 Lille
Ajax 2-2 Valencia


Wednesday

Group A
PSG 3-0 Galatasaray
Club Brugge 1-2 Real Madrid

Group B
Bayern Munich 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Olympiacos 3-1 Red Star Belgrade

Group C
Shakhtar Donetsk 1-3 Atalanta
Dinamo Zagreb 1-3 Man City

Group D
Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Juventus
Atletico Madrid 2-1 Lokomotiv Moscow

MLS teams learn opponents for CCL last 16

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The draw for the last 16 of the CONCACAF Champions League took place late Monday and some intriguing clashes have been set up to kick off the knockout rounds.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage

2019 Supporters’ Shield champs LAFC face Liga MX’s Club Leon, while NYCFC fave San Carlos from Costa Rica, 2019 MLS Cup champs Seattle Sounders square off with Honduran side Olimpia, the Montreal Impact face Costa Rica’s Saprissa and Atlanta United also have Honduran opponents in Motagua.

Fans of MLS teams will not need reminding that Liga MX have dominated this competition, with a team from Mexico winning this competition each season since 2006.

Below is the schedule in full for the knockout rounds of the tournament, which begin in mid-February.


2020 CONCACAF Champions League Round of 16 schedule

Leg 1: Feb. 18-20; Leg 2: Feb. 25-27. First team listed hosts Leg 2.

  1. Atlanta United (USA) vs. Motagua (HON)
  2. Club America (MEX) vs. Comunicaciones (GUA)
  3. Cruz Azul (MEX) vs. Portmore United (JAM)
  4. LAFC (USA) vs. Club Leon (MEX)
  5. Tigres UANL (MEX) vs. Alianza (SLV)
  6. NYCFC (USA) vs. San Carlos (CRC)
  7. Seattle Sounders (USA) vs. Olimpia (HON)
  8. Montreal Impact (CAN) vs. Saprissa (CRC)

Quarterfinals

Leg 1: March 10-12; Leg 2: March 17-19. Winner of odd-numbered Round of 16 game hosts Leg 2.

  • Winner 1 vs. Winner 2
  • Winner 3 vs. Winner 4
  • Winner 5 vs. Winner 6
  • Winner 7 vs. Winner 8

Semifinals

Leg 1: Apr. 7-9; Leg 2: Apr. 14-16. Hosting determined by performance in prior rounds.

  • Winner 1/2 vs. Winner 3/4
  • Winner 5/6 vs. Winner 7/8

Final

Leg 1: April 28-30; Leg 2: May 5-7. Hosting determined by performance in prior rounds.

  • Winner SF1 vs. Winner SF2