Premier League Tues. preview: Jockeying for position at Old Trafford

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The Premier League midweek kicks off with a quartet of Tuesday matches, highlighted by a pair of would-be Top Four contenders aiming to rebound from disappointing weekend results.

[ MORE: Koeman defends Barkley, Lukaku ]

Manchester United vs Everton

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been one of the keys to Manchester United’s success this season, and he’ll bring a much-needed boost to the Red Devils when they host the Toffees.

United is still without Juan Mata, Chris Smalling, and Phil Jones, and the status of Paul Pogba remains up in the air. But United boss Jose Mourinho thinks his side might not have bettered its scoreless result versus West Brom if they were all available.


“I cannot say now that if Zlatan and Juan Mata had played on Saturday, we would have won the game. I cannot say that at all. What I can say is Jones and Smalling wouldn’t play better than Bailly and Rojo did and Pogba and Herrera couldn’t play better than what Fellaini and Carrick did.”

Ronald Koeman is trying to keep his side afloat in the race to qualify for Europe following injuries to Seamus Coleman and Ramiro Funes Mori, not to mention the disappointing 3-1 loss at Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby.

Burnley vs. Stoke City
2:45 p.m. EDT, Premier League Extratime – [STREAM

Don’t look now, but the Clarets remain winless since the tail end of January and now sits just five points above the drop zone. Given the improved play of Crystal Palace, Swansea City, and Hull City, it’s possible to imagine Burnley finding its way to the drop zone if it cannot handle its business at home. Stoke isn’t an easy out, but Sean Dyche has to find at least a point on Tuesday.

Leicester City vs. Sunderland
2:45 p.m. EDT, Premier League Extratime – [STREAM] 

The Foxes are now just three points off ninth despite a near season-long malaise, and will love their chances of burying Sunderland at the King Power Stadium. David Moyes has added to the Black Cats’ drama by threatening to slap a female reporter, and it would take one of the greatest escapes of all-time to save Sunderland from the drop zone.

Watford vs. West Brom
2:45 p.m. EDT, Premier League Extratime – [STREAM

After beating Arsenal and drawing Manchester United, Tony Pulis‘ West Brom will be eyeing its chances of catching seventh place Everton. The Baggies might catch the hosts off guard considering that Watford would’ve exhaled deeply following a win over Sunderland.

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
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Now that Cristiano Ronaldo has taken to sporting a reasonable hairstyle atop his head, people are talking about the foliage on his face.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

Ronaldo, 33, drew speculation when he stroked his chin following a goal in his hat trick performance against Spain in the World Cup opener. Some said he was demonstrating defiance against Lionel Messi posing with a goat (Greatest Of All Time) in a recent photograph.

Ronaldo scored again on Wednesday, and there was seemingly little doubt his goatee was a wink to the speculators. But what did it mean, CR7? From ESPN:

“This goatee? It’s a joke I had with [Ricardo] Quaresma. “We were in the sauna [before Friday’s match against Spain] and I started to shave and I left the goatee. I said if I score tomorrow, I would leave it for the rest of the tournament. And it gave me luck.

“I scored in that game, I scored in this one, so it stays.”

Personally, I like to imagine Ronaldo starting to get as wild with his facial hair as he did his head hair.

Perhaps a beatnik style, or something like Serj Tankian from System of a Down. Get nuts, C-Ron.

Report: Southampton could sell Tadic to Ajax for $20m

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Could Southampton be selling one of its most creative forces?

Dusan Tadic, 29, is in the middle of a World Cup run with dark horse Serbia, but the Saints star is also being talked about as a purchase item for Ajax.

[ MORE: Serbia tops Costa Rica ]

The celebrated Eredivisie has traditionally been a selling club for the Premier League, but could be a $20 million buy for Ajax.

The report says director of players Marc Overmars and financial director Jeroen Slop have flown to Southampton to work out a deal.

Tadic starred for Dutch sides Groningen and Twente between 2010-14 before moving to St. Mary’s for a reported $12 million.

He’s scored 24 goals with 35 assists in 162 appearances for Saints, 21 and 30 of which came in the Premier League.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE