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Champions League quarterfinal predictions

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The UEFA Champions League quaterfinals kick off on Tuesday as four huge ties take center stage over the next week.

[ MORE: Champions League scores

With the first legs happening this week and the second legs next week, there isn’t much time for a breather, especially with domestic games wedged in-between.

An all-Premier League clash ensures that there will be one English club in the semifinal, while the three Spanish teams left in the competition have all avoided each other.

Below we take a look at each series and predict the outcome.


Liverpool v. Manchester City – First leg: Apr. 4 & Second leg: Apr. 10
This is it. A monster clash between two of the Premier League’s top three teams. Liverpool’s 4-3 win against Manchester City at Anfield earlier this season (they are still the only team to beat City in the PL this season) will give Jurgen Klopp‘s men confidence they can pull off an upset. But with Pep Guardiola‘s City one win away from clinching the PL title in-between this series (against Man United in a Manchester Derby no less) and the bookmakers favorites to win the UCL, Liverpool are the underdogs.

The key battle will be in the first leg. Liverpool know they must take a lead with them for the second leg at the Etihad Stadium to have any chance of advancing to the final four and that means they will press City high early on, just like they did in the league win in January. If Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi can weather the storm from Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino then City have a chance of putting Liverpool in their place, especially with Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva back in top form. Virgil Van Dijk has improved Liverpool’s defense drastically but can Loris Karius step up and deliver two huge displays over the two legs? Man City to advance 4-2 on aggregate


Juventus v. Real Madrid – First leg: Apr. 3 & Second leg: Apr. 11
Massive clash between European soccer royalty. Juve have reached the final in two of the last three seasons. Real have won the Champions League two years in a row. This rematch of the 2016-17 final in Cardiff promises so much. Just like we saw against Tottenham in the Round of 16, this Juve side has the ability to withstand severe pressure and not fall. Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco and Karim Benzema will come at them but with Gigi Buffon in goal and Giorgi Chiellini at the heart of their defense, Juve still has a fear factor around them despite their ageing years.

As for Zinedine Zidane and Real, they are all in on the UCL and have been for a while. A three-peat would be an incredible achievement and Zidane would likely walk away from being a manager after leading this star-studded team to unprecedented success. That said, his former team Juve will give them their toughest test in the UCL this season. Real Madrid to advance 3-2 on aggregate


Sevilla v. Bayern Munich – First leg: Apr. 3 & Second leg: Apr. 11
Having the first leg in Seville means the Spanish side will want to go for it from the start and we saw against Manchester United just how many chances they can create at home with their supporters creating a superb atmosphere. Vincenzo Montella’s men blew a 2-0 lead against Barcelona at the weekend and should have wrapped things up before Lionel Messi jumped off the bench to grab a point for Barca and keep their unbeaten season going.

Bayern have already said they’re wary of Sevilla, who knocked out Man United in stunning fashion at Old Trafford in the last round, but the Bavarian giants are the heavy favorites to make yet another UCL final four. For Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery, this is one last chance to win the big trophy as they continue to rip it up in the Bundesliga year after year. Bayern’s experience should get them through this. Bayern to advance 3-1 on aggregate


Barcelona v. Roma – First leg: Apr. 4 & Second leg: Apr. 10
Barca warmed up for this game with a shaky defensive display at Sevilla as Ernesto Valverde had to call on Messi to save their unbeaten season. Still, with Messi back fit, Barcelona have the edge and having the first leg at home makes a big difference as they will look to wrap things up nice and early at the Nou Camp.

Roma should not be underestimated, especially with Edin Dzeko capable of unnerving the toughest defenses and youngster Cengiz Under bursting onto the scenes in recent months with some incredible goals and attacking displays. Roma’s veteran defense could well collapse with Messi and Luis Suarez running at them but if they can hold things together for the second leg in Rome, things could get very uncomfortable for Barcelona. We saw Roma batter Chelsea earlier this season in the group stages in the Stadio Olimpico and although the Messi factor is strong, Roma has nothing to lose as nobody seriously expected them to get to this stage. Like Sevilla and Liverpool, a team playing without any pressure is a dangerous proposition at this stage of the tournament. But, it’s Messi. Barcelona to advance 4-3 on aggregate

Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke suspended, fined

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NEW YORK (AP) Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke has been suspended an additional game and fined $10,000 by Major League Soccer for on-field misconduct during a game against Minnesota United.

[ MORE: Alisson on the brink of joining PL giants Liverpool ]

The suspension announced Wednesday follows an automatic one-game game ban for being ejected from the Utah club’s 3-1 road loss Saturday night.

Petke was fined for abusive and profane language directed at officials, uncontrollable behavior when he was ejected and public criticism of officials during a postgame press conference. Real Salt Lake also was fined $10,000 fine for social media posts.

Petke will miss games Saturday night against Colorado and July 28 against San Jose.

Adam takes shot at Shaqiri as example of Stoke rot

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Xherdan Shaqiri has left relegated Stoke City for the greener Premier League pastures of Liverpool, labeling it a move in search of silverware.

Former teammate Charlie Adam thinks that’s pretty rich.

[ MORE: Alisson on the brink of joining PL giants Liverpool ]

The 32-year-old Adam, a former Red himself, says Shaqiri was among the group of players he criticized for shrinking in big moments and not caring enough about the relegation fight.

Here’s what Adam said in May:

“I’ll be honest for the supporters, I think some players have been getting away with murder for a long time and it’s difficult for supporters. It’s not just one or two, I think there are four or five that could be counted.”

Offensively, Shaqiri had the best season of his career. The 26-year-old Swiss international scored eight goals in the Premier League, but was absent from the score sheet from March 3-April 28. Stoke collected just four points during that eight-match span, all draws.

But Shaqiri did score Stoke’s lone goal in the match which saw them officially relegated, a 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace in which there’s no question the stakes were incredibly high.

Asked about Shaqiri on Thursday, Adam did not hold back.

“Was he one of them? Oh, definitely. When the chips are down you look at your big players, you want your big players to bring magic in one moment in the season, and at times we felt like the so-called big players in the squad never turned up for us and never performed.

“Yeah, everybody else could help, but for all the plaudits to so-called bigger players we getting from certain members of the management staff last season – they weren’t producing.”

Shaqiri scored in three-straight February matches, of which Stoke won exactly zero, and pitched in seven assists this season. Huh.

While we don’t know what his attitude was like around the Potteries, it’s very difficult to consider labeling his season a big reason for Stoke’s downfall.

He’s an easy man to scapegoat now, being out the door, but Shaqiri had a decent season for sure. Adam is a strong servant of Stoke, but played in less than a dozen games. This truly seems like the wrong messenger picking the wrong target, though it could help build a bit of momentum for a new season.

USOC roundup: LAFC, Chicago join Philly, Houston in semis

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All four quarterfinals of the 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup were played on Wednesday, and not a single one of the fixtures required extra time or penalty kicks. The semifinal field is set, as follows…

[ MORE: Man City, USMNT’s Mix Diskerud loaned to South Korea ]

Los Angeles FC 3-2 Portland Timbers FULL HIGHLIGHTS

LAFC might be an expansion team in 2018, but Bob Bradley‘s bunch is headed to the semifinals of the Open Cup after narrowly outlasting the Portland Timbers on Wednesday.

Each side put the ball into the other team’s goal twice, but David Guzman’s early own goal — the game’s opening tally in the 33rd minute — proved the difference on the night. Carlos Vela made it 2-0 to LAFC just five minutes later, but Julio Cascante halved the lead in first-half stoppage time.

Two more goals, courtesy of Marco Ureña and Vytautas Andriuskevicius, came in quick succession early in the second half. It was 3-1 after 51 minutes, and 3-2 after 52.

A memorable night in Southern California was, however, marred by a racial slur which was allegedly lobbed at LAFC striker Adama Diomande.

Houston Dynamo 4-2 Sporting Kansas City — FULL HIGHLIGHTS

The defending holders of the Open Cup went ahead, through Johnny Russell, after two minutes, but proceeded to conceded the game’s next four goals — three of which came during a scintillating 34-minute stretch beginning in the 35th minute.

Romell Quioto scored nos. 1 and 2, followed by nos. 3 and 4 from Mauro Manotas to put the game away and brush aside a shorthanded, injury-stricken Sporting KC side playing its fourth game in 14 days (three of four have been on the road). Yohan Croizet pulled a goal back during second-half stoppage time, but it was far too little, too late.

Sporting head coach Peter Vermes held back very little as he lit into his players after the game.

“I thought some players gave everything they had. There were other players that didn’t give everything they had. More so, I think a couple guys gave up in the game. … You’re not going to win a game when you have certain players that just give up or don’t put the effort in like they have to. That’s the result you get.”

Chicago Fire 4-0 Louisville City — FULL HIGHLIGHTS

Chicago dispatched the last remaining lower-division team in this year’s tournament, smacking aside Louisville with a pair of first-half goals, followed by another paid during the final minute of the game and stoppage time.

Nemanja Nikolic and Aleksandar Katai did the damage in the first half, followed by Diego Campos and Elliot Collier in the 90th and 92nd minutes.

Philadelphia Union 1-0 Orlando City SCFULL HIGHLIGHTS

In the night’s opening game, Philadelphia got an early goal from Alejandro Bedoya and held on for the ensuing 86 minutes to knock off Orlando City at Talen Energy Stadium. It was Haris Medunjanin’s free kick which was headed across the face of goal by Fafa Picault, and Bedoya arrived late to poke the ball past backup goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr.

Semifinal draw

Thursday, July 19, 1:45 p.m. ET — on ussoccer.com

Mourinho bemoans ‘very bad’ preseason for Man United

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MANCHESTER, England — Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has described the team’s preseason as “very bad” because of the disruption caused by the World Cup and the absence of Alexis Sanchez for the tour of the United States.

Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, Marouane Fellaini and Phil Jones will not return to training with United until close to the start of the new season because their countries got to the semifinals of the World Cup in Russia.

Sanchez wasn’t among the United squad heading across the Atlantic because there was an issue with his visa after the Chile forward accepted a 16-month suspended sentence in Spain over a tax issue.

Mourinho said “preseason is very bad, I have to say that,” adding that “I am worried because I am not training with all my players.”

On Sanchez, Mourinho said “he’s very sad, it’s not good for him or me, not good for anyone. There is no one to blame — the club is making an effort. I have to respect the U.S. authorities in their process of selection of visas. I hope he will come to join us.”

Mourinho said he is set to start the season with Sanchez, Juan Mata and Anthony Martial as his strike force.

United flew to Los Angeles on Sunday and will play five games, including three International Champions Cup matches against Real Madrid, AC Milan and Liverpool, during its stay.

United plays its first English Premier League game of the season on Aug. 10 against Leicester at Old Trafford.