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PL Preview: Manchester United vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers

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  • Manchester Uniited midfielder Nemanja Matic and striker Marcus Rashford are both suspended following red cards against Watford and Burnley respectively.
  • Manchester United have won their last six league matches against Wolves at Old Trafford, including all four in the Premier League, one of six sides they have played against on at least four occasions at home in the competition while retaining a 100 per cent record.
  • Wolves have won their last two Premier League matches, both by a 1-0 scoreline. They have not won three in a row in the top-flight since March 1980.
  • Man United are looking to avoid consecutive home defeats in the Premier League for the first time since March 2014, while manager Jose Mourinho has never suffered back-to-back home league defeats in his managerial career.

Facing one of the Premier League’s hottest clubs, Manchester United will look to avoid a second consecutive home defeat when it takes on Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. ET live online at NBCSports.com/Gold. It’s a reunion of sorts, as Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho meets his countryman Nuno Espirito Santo, who formerly played at goalkeeper for Mourinho while at Porto.

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Man United has looked solid in its last three matches, all away from home, but they’ll want to avoid the memories of the last time the Red Devils took the field at Old Trafford, a 3-0 defeat to Tottenham. On the other side, Wolves are unbeaten in four matches and face their biggest test since facing Manchester City earlier in the season. It’s been 38 years since Wolverhampton last won at Manchester United. Can they re-write history in the process?

What they’re saying

Man United manager Jose Mourinho on his team’s improving defense: “I think the team as a team is resolving the defensive problems better than before. I don’t want to say it was Bailly or Jones, and it’s now Smalling or Lindelof. I think the team is more compact, is more solid, the spirit, the co-operation, the empathy, the communication, all of that improved in the team and good results bring confidence. I think we are improving as a team. I don’t want to say that our improvement has the name of Chris or Victor. The team is playing better and of course they are part of the team that played well in these matches.”

Wolverhampton manager Nuno Espirito Santo on not changing his team’s playing style: “There is no game I recall that we changed. That tells a lot about what the players believe. If you change, it doesn’t make sense. You have to adapt, respect and be humble – know you are facing a strong team – but you cannot change and fear. None of those things are part of us. We go there to compete, believing in ourselves.”

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Prediction

Even with a better defense, Manchester United will feel the absence of Nemanja Matic in midfield. Wolverhampton won’t back down and on the counter, Ruben Neves will make a late run and score from the top of the box to nullify a goal from Romelu Lukaku. Manchester United 1-1 Wolverhampton

 

Red Bulls handle Atlético Pantoja to start CCL campaign (video)

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The New York Red Bulls didn’t need to leave it late (like DaMarcus Beasley and Houston), nor did the MLS side forget how to play (like Toronto FC).

[ MORE: Nashville gets its MLS logo ]

RBNY scooped up a 2-0 first leg defeat of Dominican Republic side Atlético Pantoja in CONCACAF Champions League play in Santo Domingo on Wednesday.

Daniel Royer inspired a first half Pantoja own goal, but it was Kaku’s looping assist to Royer that stole the show with an insurance marker in the 67th minute.

Academy product and former Wake Forest midfielder Omir Fernandez, 20, made his senior debut off the bench in the 75th minute.

Nashville SC to keep its name, unveils logo for MLS 2020

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Nashville SC will remain Nashville SC when it moves into Major League Soccer next season, the USL club announced on Wednesday.

Nashville SC’s logo is an N wearing headphones — I apologize if I’m wrong here, but that’s what I see — as the Music City becomes a welcome addition to the United States’ top flight.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

Stunningly The fans wanted to keep the name of the club they’ve been supporting for a few years, and former Liverpool executive Ian Ayre announced that the club will keep a color from its crest as well.

“Gold is our primary club color, and we need to own that color in the sport. As we grow as a team we want to be recognizable by our color, our name and our values as a club.”

What do you think? It certainly could’ve been worse! We look forward to the building up of a regional rivalry with FC Cincinnati, Atlanta United, Sporting KC, and maybe one day Saint Louis FC.

Sarri, Emery face 2nd leg challenges at home

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Sevilla clinched the first Round of 16 spot with a Europa League win over Lazio on Wednesday, and the other 15 berths will be settled by late Thursday.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings ]

That includes home second legs with varying degrees of difficult for a pair of London sides from the Premier League.

Maurizio Sarri looks like he’ll need to win the Europa League in order to get Chelsea back into the Champions League, and Chelsea needs to bounce back from another poor showing while also preparing for a hardware tilt; The FA Cup loss to Manchester United was three days before Thursday’s match with Malmo, which is three days before the League Cup final against Man City.

Chelsea holds a 2-1 lead after one leg. From ChelseaFC.com:

“We have to solve a big problem because we stayed in the other half for 75 minutes out of 90, and we were not able to score. They played only 15 or 16 balls into our box and they scored two goals. We have to solve this problem. It is probably a problem of aggression, determination in both boxes.”

Arsenal has an even bigger fish to fry than recent form, down 1-0 after one leg in Belarus.

Unai Emery is hoping the North London faithful can be the difference.

“It is also very important to play in our stadium with our supporters, and we need their support for this match and I hope there is a big atmosphere for us. Together, with their support, I know our players can play and give their all. The supporters want to watch our team play with the best performance possible.

“For this reason, I think we need good feedback between the supporters and us. … We need to listen to them supporting us and the players must give them the best performance in our stadium.”

The full schedule is below.

Thursday’s Europa League second legs
All times ET

12:55 p.m. ET
Arsenal v. BATE Borisov (BATE leads 1-0)
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Shakhtar Donetsk (2-2)
Villarreal v. Sporting Lisbon (Villareal leads 1-0)
Dinamo Zagreb v. Viktoria Plzen (Plzen leads 2-1)
Zenit Saint-Petersburg v. Fenerbahce (Fener leads 1-0)
Red Bull Salzburg v. Club Brugge (Brugge leads 2-1)
Valencia v. Celtic (Valencia leads 2-0)
Napoli v. FC Zurich (Napoli leads 3-1)

3 p.m. ET
Chelsea v. Malmo (Chelsea leads 2-1)
Benfica v. Galatasaray (Benfica leads 2-1)
Rennes v. Real Betis (3-3)
Inter Milan v. Rapid Vienna (Inter leads 1-0)
Dynamo Kiev v. Olympiakos (2-2)
Bayer Leverkusen v. Krasnodar (0-0)
Racing Genk v. Prague (0-0)

Juve: ‘No use crying over spilt milk’ after ‘ugly’ first leg loss

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Max Allegri and Juventus look set to fall short of a UEFA Champions League title again, and this time are staring down an exit before the quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Match recap ]

The club has two things going for it after a 2-0 first leg loss to Atletico Madrid in Spain: The 90 minutes or more of the second leg, and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The player has already made his feelings known by setting the second leg stage with a very Patrick Roy (for you hockey fans out there) title rip.

Allegri is a bit more diplomatic, ripping Juve’s “ugly” second half at the Wanda Metropolitano but also demanding the club move past it immediately. From Football-Italia.net:

“Now we have the chance to turn this around, we must have faith, we’ll have some players back and there’s no point crying over spilt milk. We knew it was going to be tough, that Atletico Madrid force you to play badly, with a slow tempo. We moved the ball quicker in the first half, but not in the second.

“We got the approach wrong in the second half. It’s that simple. These things can happen, there will be great disappointment after this 2-0, but we can turn it around. It won’t be easy, we need a great second leg, but it can be done and we must have faith.”

And there’s Ronaldo, Dybala, and a number of world class players on his side. An inspired, spiteful Ronaldo is one thing, but take into account the man clearly carries his legacy on his hip pocket and the Portuguese hero is going to be flying come March 12 in Turin.