UCL preview: Man City seek bounce-back; United host Valencia

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Matchday no. 2 of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League group stage is upon us, and Tuesday is a massively important day for a pair of Premier League sides — for very different reasons.

[ MORE: Mourinho continues to spread blame at Man United ]

On one side of Manchester, there’s Man City, who suffered a shocking home defeat to Lyon in their Group F opener two weeks ago. Up next is a potentially tricky away clash with Hoffenheim. Julian Nagelsmann’s side began UCL play with a 2-2 draw away to Shakhtar Donetsk — they blew a pair of one-goal leads in doing so — and sit seventh in the Bundesliga following a 2-1 defeat to RB Leipzig this weekend.

Sergio Aguero left City’s 2-0 victory Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, but the forward has been labeled fit for selection. Kevin De Bruyne is back in training following a knee injury suffered in August, but the Belgian playmaker won’t be available on Tuesday. The hope is that he could return for Sunday’s titanic title clash with Liverpool (Watch live, 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) at Anfield.

[ MORE: Man United staff thinks Mourinho will be fired soon ]

On the other side of Manchester, there’s Man United — more specifically, there’s Jose Mourinho and his ongoing feud with, seemingly, anyone and everyone currently at the club. From telling Paul Pogba he’ll never captain United again, to their awkward interaction on the training field, to Monday’s claims that “some [players] care more than others,” let’s just say it’s been a tumultuous year start to the season month week for the Portuguese manager.

After kicking off Group H play with a 3-0 victory away to BSC Young Boys, the Champions League is the one competition in which United are currently excelling — the Red Devils were knocked out of the EFL Cup by Championship side Derby County a week ago, and currently sit 10th in the PL table after enduring the club’s worst start to a season in 29 years. Valencia, who suffered a 2-0 home defeat by Juventus two weeks ago, are set to visit Old Trafford.

Elsewhere in Europe, three-time defending champions Real Madrid will make the 2,500-mile trip east to Moscow, where they’ll seek to get back on track and make it two wins from two games in UCL play. Bayern Munich will host Ajax at the Allianz Arena in a battle of Group E’s two teams currently on three points.

Tuesday’s UCL schedule (all games at 3 p.m. ET unless noted)

Hoffenheim vs. Manchester City — 12:55 p.m. ET
Juventus vs. BSC Young Boys — 12:55 p.m. ET
Manchester Untied vs. Valencia
Bayern Munich vs. Ajax
CSKA Moscow vs. Real Madrid
Roma vs. Viktoria Plzen
Lyon vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
AEK Athens vs. Benfica

Three key questions for USMNT in March

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The United States men’s national team returns to competitive action with an interim coach at the wheel and a spot in the CONCACAF Nations League finals still uncertain.

The Yanks clobbered Grenada at home in their first CNL group match but could only manage a 1-1 draw with El Salvador thanks in no small part to a sloppy pitch and a red card. The USMNT was also down several first-choice players including Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

The U.S. will be favored to advance and will hope to be in the catbird seat following Friday’s match with Grenada at Kirani James Athletic Stadium in St. George’s.

Grenada lost 3-1 to El Salvador away but drew Los Cuscatlecos at home and need to beat the visiting U.S. to qualify for Gold Cup.

But the USMNT’s aforementioned 1-1 draw with El Salvador looms large: Even if the Yanks were to falter in Grenada, they’ll be the Group D winner by beating Los Cuscatlecos on March 27 in Orlando.

Three key questions for USMNT in March

1. Center forwards still needed, but is there anyone ready for the task? The Nos. 1, 2, and 3 non-Reyna-related question for Gregg Berhalter when the World Cup ended was why he chose his center forwards, how he used them, and why they didn’t score goals. Haji Wright was the only CF to score at the World Cup and that was the first center forward goal in six USMNT matches. Jesus Ferreira scored four the previous game, but that was against Grenada and the FC Dallas star has three more goals in his 15 other caps. And Timothy Weah, a danger up top when called upon but often a wide man, is injured and will miss the international break.

So where will interim coach Anthony Hudson turn against Grenada and El Salvador?

World Cup cut Ricardo Pepi is back and so is Daryl Dike.

Meet the candidates and their forms:

  • Pepi, 20, is on loan at Dutch side Groningen from Augsburg. He started off hot with Groningen and has nine goals, though he’s scoreless in his last three matches.
  • Dike, 22, is fit and firing for West Bromwich Albion, where he’s scored four times in his last five Championship appearances, all starts.

This is one of those “prove it” camps, with Christian Pulisic and Giovanni Reyna among those helping to cue up chances for their center forwards. If you’re not gonna get the job done against Grenada and El Salvador, you’re missing the boat.

2. Who steps into the Tyler Adams role? Tyler Adams has unflinchingly been Leeds’ most consistent and steady player in a year of tumult, and he’s proven the same time and again in a USMNT shirt.

But he’s not here!

So there will be no “MMA” midfield of Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, and Adams. The first two pieces are here from Leeds and Valencia, but it’ll be a third piece to complete the trio. Luca de la Torre of Celta Vigo and Alan Sonora of Juarez have been called into camp and Johnny Cardoso is the most defense-minded of the bunch if the team is to go “like-for-like.” Cardoso, 21, is starting for Internacional in Brazil, who trails only Gremio on the Gaucho table.

3. What’s the state of mind? Look, the “youth soccer” and “extremely childish” incident has made for plenty of discussion online, but the U.S. group seemed plenty bonded after Giovanni Reyna’s World Cup camp incidents had happened but were yet to be exposed by Gregg Berhalter at a “private” speech.

So, in theory, Reyna will arrive back into a USMNT camp in need of consistent effort and good attitude but as a member of the fold. The problem may be that the fold thought it left the World Cup with Berhalter either returning as head coach or with a search being conducted for a new coach.

It turns out, it’s only mostly the latter; Berhalter remains a candidate for the U.S. job and has been in Europe to see his “former” players. His assistant, Anthony Hudson, remains in charge of the first team on an interim basis and who can really know how much input Berhalter may currently have on the group.

All of that said, the USMNT is better than both of its opponents, regardless of venues, and should look superior to them even without Adams and Weah. Should is still pretty conditional, so let’s see what statement comes out of these two games in the favorites role, because it’s going to be quite a while before the Yanks are a clear underdog again.

Grenada vs USMNT: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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The USMNT will, for all intents and purposes, begin the 2026 World Cup cycle when they take on Grenada in CONCACAF Nations League action in St. George’s on Friday (8 pm ET).

[ MORE: Folarin Balogun to USMNT? “It’s something that will come to me” ]

Anthony Hudson will once again take charge of the USMNT, as he did in January with a mostly domestic-based squad of future prospects, as U.S. Soccer continues its sporting director and head coach searches.

[ MORE: Three key questions for USMNT in March ]

The USMNT currently sits 2nd in Group D after two games played — a 5-0 home victory over Grenada and a scoreless draw away to El Salvador in June — and two games left to play.

[ MORE: USMNT upcoming schedule – Nations League, friendlies, Gold Cup ]

Here is everything you need for Grenada vs USMNT. 


How to watch Grenada vs USMNT live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 8pm ET, Friday (March 24)
Stadium: Kirani James Athletic Stadium, St. George’s
TV in English: TNT
TV/streaming en Español: Universo/Peacock

[ LIVE: CONCACAF Nations League scores – Grenada vs USMNT ]


USMNT squad

Goalkeepers (3): Ethan Horvath (Luton Town), Zack Steffen (Middlesbrough), Matt Turner (Arsenal)

Defenders (8): Sergino Dest (AC Milan), Mark McKenzie (Genk), Tim Ream (Fulham), Bryan Reynolds (Westerlo), Antonee Robinson (Fulham), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), Joe Scally (Borussia Monchengladbach), Auston Trusty (Birmingham City)

Midfielders (7): Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional), Luca de la Torre (Celta Vigo), Weston McKennie (Leeds United), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Alan Sonora (Juarez), Djordje Mihailovic (AZ Alkmaar)

Forwards (6): Taylor Booth (Utrecht), Daryl Dike (West Bromwich Albion), Ricardo Pepi (Groningen), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Alejandro Zendejas (Club America)

EDIT: Tim Weah (Lille) was originally called up, but exited due to a head injury.

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Projected USMNT lineup for Nations League games in March

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The USMNT have two intriguing CONCACAF Nations League games coming up at Grenada and at home against El Salvador over the next week and interim head coach Anthony Hudson has some big decisions to make.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

Who is the starter in goal? Who will replace the injured Tyler Adams in midfield? Will Gio Reyna start in attack? And perhaps the biggest question for the USMNT over the last few years: who is going to start as the No. 9?

Below is a look at the projected USMNT lineup for the key Nations League games, with this international window a key window ahead of the Gold Cup this summer.


How to watch USMNT

TV channels in English: HBO Max, TNT
TV channels en Español:
Universo, Telemundo Deportes
Streaming en Español: Peacock


Projected USMNT lineup for Nations League games vs Grenada, El Salvador

—– Turner —–

— Dest — M. Robinson — Ream — A. Robinson —

—- McKennie —- Musah —-

—- Reyna —- Aaronson —- Pulisic —-

—– Pepi —–


Analysis of the USMNT lineup options

There is a real battle between Matt Turner, Ethan Horvath and Zack Steffen emerging. Not quite Friedel, Meola and Keller, but it’s still very good. Turner has looked understandably shaky for Arsenal in his recent Europa League outings and he needs to head out on loan to play regularly next season. That is what Steffen and Horvath have done and their moves from the Premier League to the Championship have worked out perfectly as they’re both regulars for teams battling for promotion to England’s top-flight. Don’t be surprised if Steffen starts over Turner in at least one of these games.

The back four pretty much picks itself with three of the four starters from the World Cup included in this squad in Sergio Dest, Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson. Having Miles Robinson back is a huge boost and it will be intriguing to see his partnership alongside Ream.

In midfield, captain Tyler Adams is missing through injury but you can expect Weston McKennie and Yunus Musah to both be deployed in their usual areas in the engine room. It would be great if Brenden Aaronson was given a free role in the No. 10 position to roam and create just ahead of them but Luca de la Torre could come straight in for Adams in a more defensive kind of role.

In attack Christian Pulisic is a lock on the left wing, while on the right it is time for Gio Reyna to come back into the fold as a regular now that he has finally had regular minutes under his belt at Borussia Dortmund with his injury issues hopefully behind him.

Up top it is one of Daryl Dike, Ricardo Pepi or Alex Zendejas with Taylor Booth an intriguing option following his first senior call-up. It will be fun to see if either Dike or Pepi can take this chance to nail down a starting spot as both have been in good form for West Brom and Groningen respectively, while Zendejas has been in good form for Club America.

EURO 2024 qualification schedule: EURO qualifiers results, standings

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EURO 2024 qualifying is here, and you’re in the right spot for groups, fixtures, and results.

Italy outlasted England in penalty kicks to win EURO 2020 and is bidding to become the first repeat winner since Spain in 2008 and 2012.

[ MORE: Breaking down Premier League title race ]

England is still seeking its first European Championship and will be favored to emerge from Group C with aforementioned Italy as well as Ukraine, North Macedonia, and Malta.

Netherlands and France are also in a spicy group that has dark horse Republic of Ireland and former champions Greece, as well as Gibraltar.

A number of nations have guaranteed themselves no worse than a playoff spot due to their performances in the UEFA Nations League: Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Spain, Scotland, Georgia, Croatia, Turkey, Serbia, Kazakhstan.



EURO 2024 qualifying schedule

Thursday, March 23

Kazakhstan 1-2 Slovenia
Slovakia 0-0 Luxembourg
Italy 1-2 England – Video, player ratings as Kane breaks Rooney record
Denmark 3-1 Finland
Portugal 4-0 Liechtenstein
San Marino 0-2 Northern Ireland
North Macedonia 2-1 Malta
Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-0 Iceland

Friday, March 24

Bulgaria vs Montenegro — 1pm ET
Gibraltar vs Greece — 3:45pm ET
Moldova vs Faroe Islands — 3:45pm ET
Serbia vs Lithuania — 3:45pm ET
Austria vs Azerbaijan — 3:45pm ET
Sweden vs Belgium– 3:45pm ET
Czech Republic vs Poland — 3:45pm ET
France vs Netherlands — 3:45pm ET

Saturday, March 25

Scotland vs Cyprus — 10am ET
Israel vs Kosovo  — 1pm ET
Armenia vs Turkey — 1pm ET
Belarus vs Switzerland  — 1pm ET
Spain vs Norway — 3:45pm ET
Croatia vs Wales — 3:45pm ET
Andorra vs Romania — 3:45pm ET

Sunday, March 26

Kazakhstan vs Denmark — 9am ET
England vs Ukraine — Noon ET
Liechtenstein vs Iceland — Noon ET
Slovenia vs San Marino — Noon ET
Slovakia vs Bosnia and Herzegovina — 2:45pm ET
Northern Ireland vs Finland — 2:45pm ET
Luxembourg vs Portugal — 2:45pm ET
Malta vs Italy — 2:45pm ET

Monday, March 27

Montenegro vs Serbia — 2:45pm ET
Netherlands vs Gibraltar — 2:45pm ET
Poland vs Albania — 2:45pm ET
Austria vs Estonia — 2:45pm ET
Sweden vs Azerbaijan — 2:45pm ET
Moldova vs Czech Republic — 2:45pm ET
Hungary vs Bulgaria — 2:45pm ET
Republic of Ireland vs France — 2:45pm ET

Tuesday, March 28

Georgia vs Norway — Noon ET
Wales vs Latvia — 2:45pm ET
Romania vs Belarus — 2:45pm ET
Switzerland vs Israel — 2:45pm ET
Kosovo vs Andorra — 2:45pm ET
Turkey vs Croatia — 2:45pm ET
Scotland vs Spain — 2:45pm ET


EURO 2024 qualifying standings

Group A

Spain
Scotland
Norway
Georgia
Cyprus

Group B

Netherlands
France
Republic of Ireland
Greece
Gibraltar

Group C

Italy
England
Ukraine
North Macedonia
Malta

Group D

Croatia
Wales
Armenia
Turkey
Latvia

Group E

Poland
Czech Republic
Albania
Faroe Islands
Moldova

Group F

Belgium
Austria
Sweden
Azerbaijan
Estonia

Group G

Hungary
Serbia
Montenegro
Bulgaria
Lithuania

Group H

Denmark
Finland
Slovenia
Kazakhstan
Northern Ireland
San Marino

Group I

Switzerland
Israel
Romania
Kosovo
Belarus
Andorra

Group J

Portugal
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Iceland
Luxembourg
Slovakia
Liechtenstein