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Three key battles in Confederations Cup final

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Germany and Chile both shoot for their first Confederations Cup trophy as they meet on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. ET at St. Petersburg Stadium in Russia.

The match will no doubt be hotly contested, with Chile looking quality at the back, and Germany impressing despite not bringing their first-choice squad.

So, where will the match be won? There will be multiple points of interest for fans to keep an eye on as the game flows.

1. Alexis Sanchez vs. Josh Kimmich

The Arsenal superstar has had a relatively mum tournament, and while Chile has yet to be beaten, the attack has not entirely impressed. Sanchez will now likely see a lot of young Joshua Kimmich in the final, with the Bayern Munich utility man likely to be deployed on Sanchez’s flank.

At just 22 years old, Kimmich has proven much more than his age would suggest. He is the only German to start the last 18 straight games for the national team, and has played the full 90 minutes or more in each one of those matches. However, the German defense hasn’t been rock solid in Russia. Matthias Ginter has proven vulnerable at times, and even Kimmich has shown a slight weakness in the air (see: Cameroon’s goal).

Kimmich has a tall task ahead of him, but if any 22-year-old can take care of business, it’s the German all-star who has risen to heights so great he’s expected to eventually earn the captain’s armband for his country on a long-term basis. Can he stop Alexis Sanchez, who may be playing to earn a few more Premier League bucks?

2. Gary Medel, Gonzalo Jara vs. Timo Werner

Germany may not have brought it’s “A” team, but Timo Werner is making a case to be a part of the first-choice squad when Joachim Low picks his 2018 World Cup team. The 21-year-old has three goals in the last two games, and looks to be a high quality player for the future, and even now.

Chile’s strength lies in its organization and defense. While the offense hasn’t exactly clicked this tournament, the back line has been solid. They have allowed just two goals all tournament, and the two central defenders have been a big reason why. Both sport over 100 caps, and only a slight injury to Medel has kept the pair from playing every minute together in Russia. They are highly experienced, and will need that to stop the prolific German spearheading the attack.

3. Arturo Vidal vs. Julian Draxler

Arturo Vidal never holds back. He never has, and he never will. Julian Draxler will be the next man to face the Chilean’s wrath as the two meet again. They have faced off many times in the past in Bundesliga play before Draxler’s move to PSG, so these two will be quite familiar with one another.

The 23-year-old German has been prolific this tournament, and although he’s only had a direct hand in two of Germany’s 11 Confederations Cup goals, he has been one of the best players in the side. Draxler’s technical ability and pace on the ball has opened things up in the German attack, and Vidal’s crunching style will be key in stopping his counterpart.

UCL AT HALF: Marsch’s Salzburg rolling; Champions holding firm; Chelsea’s Mount hurt

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We’ve got news after 45 minutes of six more UCL matches, including a big injury at Stamford Bridge and a monumental start for an American in Austria.

[ UCL: Scores, lineups, stats, box scores ]

Chelsea 0-0 Valencia

No goals to report here, but early season hero Mason Mount has left the match with an injury for the Blues. He was not replaced by Christian Pulisic, rather Pedro.

Liverpool 0-0 Napoli

It’s been a pretty even affair, though Liverpool can thank Adrian for a pair of great saves on Dries Mertens before Hirving “Chucky” Lozano’s goal was ruled offside.

Red Bull Salzburg 5-1 Genk

Jesse Marsch is now officially the first American man to manage a team in a UEFA Champions League game.

The Red Bull Salzburg boss is also the first to hold a second minute lead, as red hot striker Erling Braut Haland scored his 15th, 16th, and 17th goals in nine matches under Marsch.

Haland also five assists on the season, having entered Tuesday’s match with 658 minutes across all competitions.

Haland is the son of former Leeds, Man City, and Nottingham Forest manager Alf-Inge Haland.

Hwang-Hee Chan has Salzburg’s other goal, and two assists.

Elsewhere

Inter Milan 1-1 Slavia Prague — RECAP
Lyon 1-1 Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona
Ajax 1-0 Lille
Benfica 0-0 RB Leipzig

Yedlin nears return, hoping for October USMNT call-up

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Hindsight being 20/20, it’s easy to see that DeAndre Yedlin didn’t look right last season.

The Newcastle United and USMNT right back was not up to his standards during the 2018-19 season, and Yedlin says the injury that’s cost him the start of this season has been the culprit for a long time.

[ MORE: Neymar ban reduced ]

Yedlin, 26, went through surgery this May for a sports hernia which he says bothered him on game days for almost a year and a half.

From NUFC.co.uk:

 “It was tough, and it was a bit confusing because it would come and go. There would be months that I’d be playing with it and I’d take pain killers before the game and try to get through it, then there’d be times when it didn’t bother me at all,” he said.

“Even in warm ups, I’d be thinking ‘it’s going to be tough to make it through this game.’ Once the pain killers hit in, you can’t really feel anything anymore and then adrenalin hits in but, yeah, it’s tough. As a player you don’t want to stop and then lose your place, but you’ve also got to do what’s best for you and for the longevity of your career.

That’s not good, and both USMNT and Newcastle supporters will hope the injury was the reason behind his decline in form.

Yedlin’s stats dropped in each of his last two PL seasons. For a player whose blessed with blazing speed, a sports hernia is only going to dramatically affect performance.

He says he has been in touch with USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter.

“That’s been tough. I’ve had contact with the manager and they’re keeping updated on how I’m doing. This last international break was just a bit too soon but hopefully the next one, I’ll be ready for and hopefully I’ll have some minutes under my belt by that time, then really crack on from there.”

Conte’s Inter avoids UCL upset in stoppage time

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The Champions League nearly began with an upset, as Slavia Prague led Inter Milan 1-0 into stoppage time at the San Siro on Tuesday.

But a pair of Inter loanees produced a play to tie the score in the second minute of stoppage, as Stefano Sensi (Sassuolo) curled a free kick off the bar and Nicolo Barella (Cagliari) first timed the rebound through traffic and inside the far post.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Peter Olayinka started and finished the play for Slavia Prague’s second half opener. The scorer took the ball to the end line and cut back for Lukas Provod, whose shot was saved by Samir Handanovic.

But Olayinka followed the play and took advantage of the marker who slid to block his initial pass. On the doorstep at the back post, the Nigerian smashed the ball into the top of the goal.

The goal was deserved, and the score line represented the tightness of the contest. Inter barely out shot the Czech visitors and had just a little bit more of the ball.

Romelu Lukaku nearly thumped home a header in the sixth minute of stoppage, but Slavia keeper Ondrej Kolar made a fine save.

Here’s the equalizer:

LIVE, UCL: Napoli v. Liverpool, Chelsea v. Valencia

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The UEFA Champions League group stage is back, as Premier League sides Liverpool and Chelsea are both in action on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Reigning European champs Liverpool head to Napoli in their opening group game, as Jurgen Klopp‘s men aim to avenge the defeat at the Stadio San Paolo in the group stage last season. As for Chelsea, Frank Lampard and several of his young Blues stars are making their UEFA Champions League debuts as a manager and players.

A beauty of a game takes place in Group F, as Borussia Dortmund host Barcelona with Lionel Messi back in the Barca squad after injury.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s late games, with all games kicking off at 3 p.m. ET.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while we will have you covered with a roundup of the action right here on Pro Soccer Talk.


Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League schedule

Group E
Napoli v. Liverpool
Red Bull Salzburg v. Genk

Group F
Borussia Dortmund v. Barcelona

Group G
Benfica v. Leipzig

Group H
Ajax v. Lille
Chelsea v. Valencia