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USMNT-Brazil preview: Sarachan, meet gauntlet

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Let’s recap the Dave Sarachan interim spell in charge of the United States men’s national team.

Two wins, three draws, and a loss to Ireland in Dublin are on Sarachan’s record, the most notable perhaps being a 1-1 draw against France that leaves the Yanks as one of the last two teams to play Les Bleus to a stalemate over 90 minutes (Denmark at the World Cup group stage).

[ MORE: What’s at stake for USMNT? ]

The Rochester, N.Y. born 64-year-old has been a steady hand for a reeling program, one which has yet to announce its next full-time boss (There’s reason to infer it could be Tata Martino, but let’s leave that for a later date).

It’s legitimate to wonder whether Sarachan will add another win to his resume before the end of the year. The manager will lead the U.S. against Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, England, and Italy (though the first four will be hosted on American soil, at least the first two will be without national team phenom Christian Pulisic).

That won’t change what’s easy to see as a successful tenure by the Sarachan, who has navigated the fact that he was a part of the staff who failed to qualify for the World Cup with calm if not savvy while introducing several new players to the fold.

We say all this now because the odds are that the USMNT fan base’s good vibes could be rocked on Friday night when Brazil rolls into MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Tite’s Seleção includes Neymar, Roberto Firmino, Alisson Becker, Philippe Coutinho, and Casemiro.

The United States has beaten Brazil once, a 1-0 win at the 1998 Gold Cup, and frankly the Yanks have had a lot of trouble keeping their CONMEBOL visitors from scoring boatloads of goals. Brazil has scored three of more goals in five of six against the USMNT, the outlier being a 2-0 loss.

The latest was a humbling 4-1 defeat for Jurgen Klinsmann’s men that was only saved from a clean sheet by Danny Williams‘ absurd blast in the direction of Marcelo Grohe.

[ MORE: Hernandez to MUFC or Real? ]

Sarachan can choose 10 of the 11 men who started the 1-1 draw against France by sliding DeAndre Yedlin into Shaq Moore’s shoes (though we must say he could start 11 of 11, however unlikely).

Brazil’s 4-3-3 will look different for sure, with Marcelo, Paulinho, Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Miranda, and Fagner all absent after starting for Tite in the Selecao‘s 2-1 loss to Belgium at the World Cup.

Assuming a Firmino start between Neymar and Willian with Coutinho handling some playmaker duty underneath, this is another massive test for (presumably) Zack Steffen, Yedlin, John Brooks, Matt Miazga, and either Eric Lichaj or Antonee Robinson.

There are ways it could go well and the Yanks could still lose by two, which is why the utmost of caution should be given to any poor performance. But if the Yanks win or draw, it would not just be a positive step but a historic one for a team that enters the day 1-17 all-time against Brazil.

Griezmann’s second half brace saves Barcelona from shock upset in Ibiza

Barcelona survives Copa del Rey scare
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Like a college kid on Spring Break, Barcelona vastly underestimated the power of Ibiza.

One of the biggest clubs in the world had loads of trouble in its Copa del Rey Round of 32 meeting at UD Ibiza on Wednesday.

Barcelona barely got past the third-tier side thanks to two Antoine Griezmann goals and a comeback 2-1 win at the Estadi Municipal de Can Misses.

UD Ibiza playing in a 5,000-seat stadium, took a ninth-minute lead and had more shot attempts as late as the 65th minute. New manager Quique Setien was left to sweat it out.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Somewhat fitting that a man named Pep got the early goal. Josep Caballe Martin has more yellow cards than goals in Segunda B this season.

Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, and an injured Luis Suarez were among the players left behind, but this wasn’t a massively depleted Barcelona side. Arturo Vidal and Jordi Alba were brought off the bench.

Frenkie de Jong set up Griezmann for a 72nd minute equalizer, and Griezmann added his second off an Alba feed in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

Watch Live: Man Utd v. Burnley; Spurs v. Norwich; Leicester v. West Ham

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The race for the Premier League’s top-four resumes with as many as three genuine contenders for Champions League qualification in action, all at home, all against bottom-seven competition, on Wednesday.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 

The day’s late game, to be shown live on NBCSN, features fifth-place Manchester United hosting Burnley at Old Trafford. Elsewhere, eighth-place Tottenham Hotspur will host Norwich City and third-place Leicester City will host West Ham United.

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

The schedule for the three games on Wednesday is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


3:15 p.m. ET: Man United v. Burnley — NBCSN [STREAM]
2:30 p.m. ET: Tottenham Hotspur v. Norwich City — NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
2:30 p.m. ET: Leicester City v. West Ham United — NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Police enter headquarters of Spanish club Malaga

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MALAGA, Spain (AP) Police entered the headquarters of Spanish club Malaga on Wednesday to seize documents related to a court case involving the second-division team.

[ MORE: Christian Eriksen holds talks with Levy; Inter “still confident” ]

Authorities did not release further details because the search-and-seizure action was part of an investigation being conducted under secrecy.

Police would not confirm Spanish media reports that the action was about a case in which Qatari owner Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani is being sued by minority owners over alleged administrative irregularities.

[ MORE: Levy reportedly met with Real Madrid about Gareth Bale ]

Al-Thani took over the club in 2010.

Malaga last month fired coach Victor Sanchez del Amo after an intimate video was released online.

The team from southern Spain is 16th in the 22-team second-division standings.

Bale’s agent denies loan reports; ‘not many clubs can afford him’

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Gareth Bale‘s agent Jonathan Barnett has called recent reports claiming the Real Madrid superstar could be loaned elsewhere “ridiculous” on the basis that “there are not many clubs that can afford him anyway.”

[ MORE: Daniel Levy reportedly met with Real Madrid about Bale ]

Bale has reportedly been unhappy in Madrid and at odds with manager Zinedine Zidane, leading to months of speculation that he could leave the Santiago Bernabeu. However, due to his nearly $600,000-per-week wages, very few — if any — clubs in the world can afford his wages, let alone the transfer fee required as well.

Therefore, a loan move would seem to make sense, only Barnett seems to be offended that a player of Bale’s caliber would ever be discussed as a loan candidate — quotes from the BBC:

“Why would one of the best players on Earth go on loan? That’s ridiculous. At the moment, he is going to be playing football for Real Madrid and he has got two and a half years left on his contract.

“He is happy and hopefully he will win a couple of more things with Real Madrid.”

“Things can change, but loans are ridiculous and there are not many clubs that can afford him anyway.”

Bale’s contract runs through the summer of 2022. He has scored just two goals in nine league games this season.