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CL Preview: Liverpool, Spurs have tough tests

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Premier League teams were given tough draws in the 2018/19 Champions League group stages, and that gets under way on Tuesday as Tottenham travels to Italy to take on Internazionale, while Liverpool hosts French giants Paris Saint-Germain to Anfield.

Spurs has a mountain to climb, heading into the trip on the heels of two straight Premier League defeats that saw them squander a lead at Watford and soundly beaten at home by Liverpool. Mauricio Pochettino has the task of getting Harry Kane back on track, without a goal in either of those losses.

[ PREDICTIONS: PST gives CL group stage picks ]

In addition, Tottenham has a number of significant injuries to work around. Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has been missing since late August with a thigh strain, leaving Michel Vorm in net for the pair of league losses. Midfielder Dele Alli is also confirmed to be out after picking up a hamstring strain on international duty with England. Spurs released a video on social media showing the team departing for Italy, and neither Lloris or Alli – highly visible team stars – were not present in the video. 19-year-old Alfie Whiteman was present in the video, meaning he will likely be the backup.

Inter also comes into this match with early-season struggles, owning just one win and one draw over four matches to start the Serie A season, including a road loss at newly-promoted Parma.

Meanwhile, Liverpool welcomes PSG to England in a marquee Champions League matchup. The defending French champions have a full bill of health Merseyside, and have high hopes for their Champions League campaign after failing to progress past the Round of 16 in each of the last two seasons. “With the players they have and the manager they have, they all brought it together to go as far as possible in the Champions League and we are aware of that,” Klopp said ahead of the match.

The Reds are preparing to start Daniel Sturridge at striker, with a trio of forwards all set to miss the match. Roberto Firmino was injured in the win over Tottenham this weekend after Jan Vertonghen‘s finger went into his eye. Klopp described his fitness as “close” but it is assumed the Brazilian will miss out. Divock Origi and Dominic Solanke were both injured in a U-23 match, so they will be sidelined.

For PSG, American international Timothy Weah did not make the matchday squad, while goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is suspended from his antics in last year’s semifinal. Marco Verratti will also sit out after being sent off in the Round of 16 loss to Real Madrid last season. Only Dani Alves and Layvin Kurzawa, who have yet to make their debuts this season, are out injured. Thiago Silva was injured late in the home win over St. Etienne over the weekend, but is expected to return in time.

Elsewhere, Barcelona hosts Dutch side PSV Eindhoven. The visitors are no slouch, having begun the Eredivisie season at the top of the table after five wins out of five, blasting ADO Den Haag and Willem II by a combined 13-1 in their most recent two games. Mexican international Hirving “Chucky” Lozano has already scored six goals this season, while Argentinian Gaston Pereiro and Steven Bergwijn each have five, although the latter’s status is questionable due to a groin problem.

Barcelona will be looking to avenge last season’s early (and stunning) Round of 16 exit, and are at full strength with Sergio Busquets and Philippe Coutinho set to return after being rested over the weekend.

AS Monaco hosts Atletico Madrid in an intriguing first leg. The Spanish side has won just once in its first four La Liga matches, with just three goals in that span. The French side has also struggled to start the season, sitting 15th in the Ligue 1 table with one win and five points in five matches. Monaco could be missing World Cup stars Alexsandr Golovin and Danijel Subašić who have yet to debut this season after struggling to regain match fitness following long summer adventures on international duty.

Christian Pulisic is set for his 100th match in yellow as Borussia Dortmund visits Belgian side Club Brugge. The American has made just one Bundesliga appearance for Dortmund this season thanks to a slight leg injury suffered in the opener against RB Leipzig, but could return on Tuesday according to ESPN. Club Brugge has not won in any of its last 10 Champions League matches, losing nine and drawing just one.

Napoli enters the European competition on a high as they visit Red Star Belgrade. The Italians, having finished second last year in the Serie A table, have wins over Lazio, AC Milan and Fiorentina to start the season, although they did inexplicably fall apart in a 3-0 loss to Sampdoria earlier this month. The hosts have had success of their own of late, into their first Champions League group stage since 1992 thanks to a come-from-behind win over Red Bull Salzburg in the playoff round. Former Le Havre youth product El Fardou Ben Mohammed scored twice in three minutes to complete the comeback, giving Belgrade the spot in the group stage on away goals after a 2-2 draw.

In addition, FC Porto visits German club Schalke, who has suffered a dreadful start to the Bundesliga season with three losses in three. Turkish side Galatasaray also hosts last year’s Russian Premier League winners Lokomotiv Moscow, who are into the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2002/03 competition when they were also matched up against Tuesday’s opponent.

Club World Cup: Kashima beat Chivas 3-2, will meet Real Madrid

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AL AIN, United Arab Emirates (AP) Japanese side Kashima Antlers beat Chivas of Mexico 3-2 on Saturday, advancing to a semifinal against Real Madrid at the Club World Cup.

Ryota Nagaki canceled out Angel Zaldivar’s early goal for Chivas and Kashima took the lead when Serginho converted a penalty in the 69th minute.

Hiroki Abe assured the win with a goal in the 84th before Hugo Leonardo scored an own goal in stoppage time.

Kashima will play Madrid on Wednesday.

Madrid needed extra time to beat Kashima 4-2 in the 2016 final of the Club World Cup.

Also, Al Ain FC beat Esperance Sportive de Tunis 3-0, setting up the other semifinal with South American champion River Plate on Tuesday.

La Liga: Atleti pull level with Barcelona; Real two points back

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ SERIE A: Cristiano Ronaldo scores winner in his first Turin derby ]

Real Valladolid 2-3 Atletico Madrid

Despite a largely indifferent run of form from superstar Antoine Griezmann (just four goals in the first 15 games) to start the season, Atleti managed to hang around in the title race thanks to their league-best 12 goals conceded. Griezmann was always likely to experience something of a World Cup hangover before eventually breaking out and resuming regular service as one of La Liga’s most prolific goalscorers.

Saturday might have been Griezmann’s re-emergence, as the 2018 World Cup winner bagged a brace, including the game-winning goal in the 80th minute, to help Atleti to a 3-2 victory over Real Valladolid.

Nikola Kalinic put the visitors 1-0 ahead before halftime and Griezmann converted from the penalty spot to make it 2-0 as soon as the second half began, but a goal conceded followed by an own goal capped off a dreadful six-minute spell for Diego Simeone’s side. Griezmann was there to save the day, though, popping up at the right place at the right time when Valladolid failed to clear a corner kick and gave Los Rojiblancos three clear-cut chance from inside 10 yards.

Real Madrid 1-0 Rayo Vallecano

Real Madrid scored their game-winning goal nearly 70 minutes earlier than their capital rivals, but their victory wasn’t anymore comfortable as Santiago Solari’s side held on for dear life — and were out-shot 11-9 — by Rayo Vallecano.

Karim Benzema bagged the game’s only goal in the 13th minute before he was forced off with an ankle injury in the 77th minute. Madrid were without Gareth Bale due to an ankle injury of his own. Los Blancos will now depart for the United Arab Emirates where they’ll face Japanese side Kashima Antlers in the semifinals of the Club World Cup on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Getafe 1-0 Real Sociedad
Eibar 1-1 Valencia

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Sevilla v. Girona — 6 a.m. ET
Espanyol v. Real Betis — 10:15 a.m. ET
Huesca v. Villarreal — 12:30 p.m. ET
Levante v. Barcelona — 2:45 p.m. ET

Serie A: Ronaldo scores winner in his first Turin derby

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ PL PREVIEW: Liverpool v. Man United at Anfield; Chelsea, Arsenal in action ]

Torino 0-1 Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo marked his Turin derby debut by scoring the game’s only goal, from the penalty spot, to extend Juventus’ winning streak to seven league games and open up an 11-point lead in the scudetto race.

Torino held strong for more than an hour, despite being forced to sub off starting goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu in the 20th minute. It was Sirigu’s replacement, Salvador Ichazo, who gave away the penalty when he brought down Mario Mandzukic in the 70th minute. Ichazo nearly made the save to preserve the scoreless draw for the home side, but Ronaldo’s powerful strike got past the Uruguayan to take his season tally to 11 goals (to go with five assists) in 16 appearance in league play.

Inter Milan 1-0 Udinese

Inter ended a seven-game winless skid (all competitions) with a narrow home victory over Udinese. Luciano Spaletti’s side left it even later than Juve, waiting until the 76th minute before Mauro Icardi converted from the penalty spot.

Despite the prolonged period of poor results, Inter have a six-point lead on fourth-place AC Milan, who have yet to play this weekend, but have tumbled to 14 points back of the runaway leaders.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

SPAL v. Chievo — 6:30 a.m. ET
Fiorentina v. Empoli — 9 a.m. ET
Frosinone v. Sassuolo — 9 a.m. ET
Sampdoria v. Parma — 9 a.m. ET
Cagliari v. Napoli — 12 p.m. ET
Roma v. Genoa — 2:30 p.m. ET

The 2 Robbies: Gabriel Jesus puts Man City back on top of PL

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Robbie Earle braves it alone without Robbie Mustoe for this one, but is joined by members of NBC’s Premier League crew — Jen Calhoun, Mike Wolosz and Jorge Bustamante — to discuss Manchester City’s win over Everton (0:45), Tottenham’s last-gasp victory against Burnley (12:00) and hear from a true Bournemouth fan after their defeat to Wolves (19:15). Plus a look ahead to Liverpool v. Manchester United — can Jose Mourinho pull off one more special upset? (31:10)

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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