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Marcelo trying to repeat his idol’s success at Real Madrid

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MADRID (AP) Marcelo was still in his teens when he arrived at Real Madrid with the difficult task of replacing one of his boyhood idols, Roberto Carlos.

It didn’t take long for him to rise to the challenge.

On Saturday, Marcelo will have a chance to emulate Roberto Carlos’ feat of winning three Champions League titles.

“It’s priceless to be playing again in a Champion League final,” said Marcelo, who will face Juventus on Saturday in Cardiff. “I couldn’t be happier.”

Nearly 11 years after joining Madrid from Brazilian club Fluminense as an 18-year-old promising youngster, Marcelo has become a defensive star just like Roberto Carlos, who won his Champions League titles in 1998, 2000 and 2002.

One of the team’s captains, Marcelo will be trying to win his third European title in four seasons. He scored a goal in extra time when Madrid defeated crosstown rival Atletico Madrid in the 2014 final, and converted a penalty kick in last year’s decisive shootout, also against Atletico.

Marcelo and Roberto Carlos are the foreign players with the most ever appearances for Real Madrid. Marcelo will be playing in his 408th match on Saturday, while Roberto Carlos ended his 11-year stint at the club with 527.

Roberto Carlos left Madrid shortly after Marcelo arrived, but the two remained friends and stayed in contact since then. Roberto Carlos works for the club and still lives in the Spanish capital.

“To come to a place where your idol is playing and have him welcome you so warmly, knowing that you play in his position, that’s rare in soccer,” Marcelo said. “I came here to be his successor and he treated me and my family as if we were his own. He gave us his number and told us to call him if we needed anything.”

Earlier this year, Marcelo surpassed Roberto Carlos as the foreign-born player with most Spanish league wins with Madrid.

The 44-year-old Roberto Carlos has repeatedly praised his successor, calling him the world’s best full back.

The former great thrived with a very different style compared to Marcelo, relying mostly on his physical strength and incredible long-range shots.

The 29-year-old Marcelo has excelled with his skillful footwork and precise crosses, looking more like a playmaker than a defensive player.

Marcelo was one of the team’s leaders in assists this season, and his performances were good enough to earn him a place in Brazil’s national team under coach Tite.

Marcelo won a bronze medal with Brazil at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but was left out of the 2010 World Cup squad coached by Dunga. He was a starter in Brazil’s 7-1 loss to Germany in the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup.

Roberto Carlos won the 2002 World Cup under coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Marcelo will be facing another Brazilian on Saturday, right back Dani Alves, who has thrived since joining Juventus from Barcelona last season. The Brazil teammates will be on the same side of the field and are expected to be constantly going against each other.

“I know that Dani Alves is a very good player and I always enjoying playing against him,” Marcelo said. “It’s going to be a great match.”

UEL, LIVE — Arsenal meets Eintracht before Man Utd, Wolves play

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The Europa League group stage begins play on Thursday, with Arsenal in Germany to face Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Bundesliga side is missing a lot of familiar faces after a tumultuous summer saw Luka Jovic, Sebastien Haller, and Ante Rebic.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

Arsenal will follow suit with some youth, as Emile Smith-Rowe, Bukayo Saka, and Joe Willock drawing starts.

Kickoff is at 12:55 p.m. ET, with Manchester United and Wolves set to kick-off their respective matches against Astana and Braga at 3 p.m. ET.

Full slate

12:55 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Lazio
LASK v. Rosenborg
Getafe v. Trabzonspor
PSV Eindhoven v. Sporting Lisbon
Basel v. Krasnodar
APOEL Nicosia v. Dudelange
Copenhagen v. Lugano
Standard Liege v. Vitoria SC
Qarabag v. Sevilla
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Arsenal
Rennes v. Celtic
Dynamo Kiev v. Malmo

3 p.m. ET
Wolfsburg v. Oleksandriya
Espanyol v. Ferencvaros
Rangers v. Feyenoord
Porto v. Young Boys
Slovan Bratislava v. Besiktas
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Wolfsberg
Partizan v. AZ Alkmaar
AS Roma v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Gent v. Saint-Etienne
Manchester United v. Astana
Wolves v. Braga
Ludogorets Razgrad v. CSKA Moscow

Report: Man City’s David Silva in “likely” Inter Miami move

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Arguably the greatest player in Manchester City history could become the first star player of Inter Miami.

That’s the story coming out of England, where The Independent reports that David Silva will “likely” join Inter Miami CF for its inaugural MLS run in 2020.

It’s well-known that Silva is leaving Man City this summer after one last-go at his first UEFA Champions League title.

[ MORE: Man City bests Shakhtar ]

David Beckham has been recruiting some of the top names in the game, and has been linked with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Silva, 33, checks all the boxes. The Spanish star won two EUROs and a World Cup, and is still playing at a very high level. He has five assists in six matches for City this season.

If healthy, it would be foolish to expect anything but dominance out of Silva, though beware the think pieces out there about how he “might find it tougher than he thinks.” We’re talking about a world beater who posted 10 goals and 14 assists for City last season.

Even at his age, he’d carry one of the top resumes of any player to join Major League Soccer (Beckham, Steven Gerrard, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic would like a word).

He has 71 goals and 134 assists in 402 matches for City, and would eventually line up against fellow City Football Group club NYCFC.

NBC Sports’ Premier League Fan Fest heading to Austin

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Everything is bigger in Texas. And this will be no different.

NBC Sports and the Premier League have announced details for the first Premier League Mornings Live Fan Fest event of the season, and we are heading to Austin, Texas in October.

Just like the events in Washington D.C., New York City and Boston last season, fans will be able to watch all of the PL action together with the live studio show taking place in front of them.

This time it takes place at Scholz Garten in downtown Austin.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live

The two-day celebration of Premier League fandom will take place on Saturday Oct. 26 and Sunday Oct. 27. The Scholz Garten venue is inclusive of a full street closure, courtyard space, and indoor bar.

All sections of the venue will be packed with fun activities and of course plenty of viewing areas for fans to watch all of the action.

The event will feature the NBC Sports studio broadcast live onsite with special appearances throughout the day. We’ll also have free merchandise and giveaways throughout the day, plus food, drink and plenty more.

Premier League Interim Chief Executive, Richard Masters, said: “After a successful season of Premier League Mornings Live, we are delighted to be visiting Austin, Texas, for the first event of 2019-20. Last year we saw how passionate our American fans are, as we brought the Premier League experience to Washington D.C., New York and Boston.

”This season we are once again working with NBC Sports and bringing many of our clubs, partners and some famous faces to unique locations in different cities. Those attending in Austin can expect some great activations and I am sure there will be plenty of entertaining football for them to enjoy as we have some exciting fixtures taking place over the weekend.”

Report: Newcastle United tracking Atlanta United’s Martinez

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A report out of Newcastle says the Magpies may be returning to Atlanta United’s ranks for a January transfer swoop.

MLS record goal scorer Josef Martinez is the name mentioned as among Newcastle’s targets, though journalist Lee Ryder says there may be trepidation given Miguel Almiron’s failure to find goals at St. James’ Park.

[ MORE: Hex watch sees Canada move closer ]

Martinez, 26, scored twice more Wednesday evening for the Five Stripes, including a sensational solo goal. He has scored in 15-straight league matches and is five goals away from matching his MLS single season record set last season.

Atlanta signed Martinez through the 2023 season. Transfermarkt puts his market value around $11 million, comparing him with players like Jurgen Locadia, Yoshinori Muto, and Manolo Gabbiadini.

Newcastle broke its transfer record to land Almiron last season, then smashed it sign Joelinton from Hoffenheim in August. The Magpies have also splashed cash on Allan Saint-Maximin and there’s a clear focus on upgrading the attack.

Maybe the Magpies would view the move as a bargain which could help Almiron get back to his form of last season, but it seems there would be numerous hurdles to clear before a firm bid would be made for Martinez. If Saint-Maximin or Almiron finds form, would there be room for Martinez running underneath Joelinton? Or maybe we’re wrong and Mike Ashley is ready to spend to provide adequate depth?

Lots of questions here.