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Europa League Preview: Arsenal, Atleti the favorites

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Here we go!

Arsenal is bidding to win the UEFA Europa League to ensure a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League, and there’s precious little hope of it happening any other way.

[ MORE: LFC-Man City recap | 3 things ]

Standing directly in its way is CSKA Moscow, and defeating the Russians would mean more trouble from an unusually strong field that features Atletico Madrid, Lyon, Sporting Lisbon, Marseille, RB Leipzig, Red Bull Salzburg, and Lazio.

Here are the pertinent details of the remaining teams in the tournament, and their quarterfinal ties.

Arsenal vs. CSKA Moscow

Arsene Wenger is keeping his lineup close to the vest, including goalkeepers Petr Cech and David Ospina. He says Alexandre Lacazette is fit to start but wouldn’t commit to selecting him.

Domestically speaking: Arsenal’s 51 points are five points behind fifth place Chelsea and five ahead of seventh place Burnley in the Premier League. CSKA is three points behind Spartak Moscow and five back of Lokomotiv Moscow in the race for the Russian Premier League.

Head-to-head: The two sides met in the 2005-06 UEFA Champions League, with CSKA winning 1-0 in Russia on top of a scoreless draw at the Emirates Stadium during its first season as Arsenal’s ground.

Atletico Madrid vs. Sporting Lisbon

Domestically speaking: Atleti is nine points behind leaders Barcelona and four ahead of city rivals Real Madrid with the Madrid Derby looming this weekend. Sporting is five points shy of Porto and six behind Benfica in the Primeira Liga.

Head-to-head: A pair of Europa League dates in 2010 saw Sporting Lisbon advance by scoring the only away goals in 2-2 and 0-0 draws.

RB Leipzig vs. Marseille

Domestically speaking: Marseille is third in Ligue 1, five points back of Monaco and two ahead of Lyon. RBL is fourth in the Bundesliga, two points behind Borussia Dortmund and one clear of Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Head-to-head: This is the first meeting between the German whiz kids and the French mainstays.

Red Bull Salzburg vs. Lazio

Domestically speaking: Salzburg has an 8-point lead on SK Sturm Graz in the race for the Austrian Bundesliga crown, while Lazio’s 57 points are two back of fourth place Inter Milan in Seriea.

Head-to-head: Salzburg beat Lazio 2-1 home and away in the group stage of the 2009-10 Europa League.

Leeds, Bielsa win Fair Play honor at FIFA’s The Best awards

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Well this is peak FIFA.

Football’s governing body has just awarded Leeds United and much-admired manager Marcelo Bielsa its FIFA Fair Play award at its 2019 The Best awards ceremony in Milan.

[ MORE: Klopp wins manager award ]

The reason the Whites won the award is understandable, if you just ignore the fact that they were publicly caught cheating months earlier… and that the “fair play” moment came after an extremely questionable play which led to a brawl.

The win comes for Bielsa’s decision in late April, when his player Mateusz Klich scored a goal despite Aston Villa’s Jonathan Kodija being injured on the pitch.

Bielsa instructed his players to allow Villa to tie the match after a post-goal fight saw a red card to Anwar El Ghazi.

Fair play? Sure, and Leeds kissed goodbye its slim hopes of finishing in automatic promotion place in the Championship.

However, Leeds was also caught monitoring Derby County training sessions, leading to Bielsa to admit in January that he had spied “all the rivals” that season.

I mean, who were the other nominees? Jose Callejon and the Turkish player who fouled players with a sharp object during play?

Bielsa admitted this during an extraordinary Powerpoint session for media members in England which showed the maniacal depths of his preparation, which curried a lot of favor with the media and fans.

Yes, even though he admitted Leeds cheated the whole season.

He also said, “I thought I wasn’t violating the norm,” which is ridiculous.

Now of course we should be too pious, either; A whole lot of teams cheat in this way and football is a cutthroat game. Bielsa is a managerial legend and loved by Pep Guardiola, Mauricio Pochettino, and Jorge Sampaoli.

Jurgen Klopp wins FIFA’s The Best men’s manager

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Jurgen Klopp has been named the top manager in the world for the past season at FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony on Monday in Milan, Italy.

The UEFA Champions League-winning manager beat out Premier League winner Pep Guardiola of Manchester City and UCL finalist Mauricio Pochettino of Spurs.

[ WATCH: FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony ]

Klopp, of course, was magnanimous in victory.

 “It is great, nobody expected this 20, 10, five, four years ago that I would be standing here,” Klopp said. “We know what an incredible job Mauricio Pochettino did and what Pep did.”

He thanked the owners and players of his club.

“To the owners thank you, they gave me an incredible team. I have to thank my team – as a coach you can only be as good as your team is. I’m really proud of being manager of such an incredible bunch of players. This is an individual prize, I don’t 100% understand individual prizes, I’m here for a lot of people.”

Good for Klopp.

Watch Live: FIFA’s The Best awards 2019

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FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony takes place in Milan, Italy on Tuesday as the top players and managers on the planet will be crowned.

The ceremony starts at 2:30 p.m. ET and you can watch it live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes (click on the link below).


Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo are the three nominees to be crowned the best male player on the planet.

USWNT duo Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are up for the top female award, as is England’s Lucy Bronze.

Outgoing USWNT head coach Jill Ellis is the favorite to land the award for the best coach in the women’s game, while Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino are all among the candidates to be named the best managers in the men’s game.

Click on the link above to watch the glitzy ceremony from Milan as plenty of other awards, like the Puskas Award for the best goal scored in the world, will be dished out.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Matchweek 6 produced some stunning displays across the Premier League, with big wins, comebacks and late drama across plenty of games.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Players from Liverpool, Man City and Leicester City dominate our rankings, while the likes of West Ham and Bournemouth are also well represented. There are also plenty of new entries among our top 20.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.

1. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – New entry
2. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – Even
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – Up 13
4. James Maddison (Leicester) – Up 16
5. Joel Matip (Liverpool) – New entry
6. Bernardo Silva (Man City) – New entry
7. N’Golo Kante (Chelsea) – New entry
8. Steve Cook (Bournemouth) – New entry
9. Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester) – New entry
10. Fernandinho (Man City) – New entry
11. Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea) – New entry
12. Mark Noble (West Ham) – New entry
13. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Even
14. Mason Mount (Chelsea) – Down 10
15. Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) – Even
16. Aaron Ramsdale (Bournemouth) – Up 3
17. Andriy Yarmolenko (West Ham) – New entry
18. Chris Wood (Burnley) – New entry
19. Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal) – New entry
20. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) – New entry