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Live, FA Cup quarterfinal: Watford v. Crystal Palace

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Watford host Crystal Palace on Saturday (match begins at 8:15 a.m. ET) to kick off the FA Cup quarterfinal action.

[ LIVE: FA Cup scores here

The rivalry between these two teams has bubbled up over the past few years and even though the main protagonist, Wilfried Zaha, isn’t fit and playing there will still be a spicy atmosphere at Vicarage Road.

Watford have beat Palace 2-1 in both of their Premier League encounters this season, but Palace’s strong away form will make this a tense quarterfinal.

In team news Watford have named their strongest possible lineup, with veteran goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes coming in to start in goal.

Palace are without Zaha, who is nursing a hamstring injury, and both Scott Dann and Patrick Van Aanholt are also out.


LINEUPS

How should USMNT line up against Canada?

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The USMNT take on Canada in Toronto on Tuesday in a very tasty CONCACAF Nations League clash.

With Gregg Berhalter’s side beating Cuba 7-0 last Friday, they’ll be up for a much tougher test this time.

This feels like a massive game in determining which direction Berhalter’s reign will go in, as a convincing win will make a statement but a defeat would see plenty of questions asked about any progress made over the past two years.

Canada’s attacking trio of Junior Hoilett, Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David will cause the USMNT defense lots of problems, with Davies a global star in the making after being named among the Golden Boy finalists.

As for the USMNT, Berhalter will hope Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Zack Steffen stand tall throughout the spine of the team as Canada fancy their chances of grabbing a marquee win in front of a fired up home crowd.

Below is a look at the strongest possible USMNT lineup, in our opinion, with some reasoning as to why these players should be selected.


USMNT starting XI versus Canada

—– Steffen —–

— Yedlin — Miazga — Long — Ream —

—- McKennie —- Bradley —-

— Morris — Lletget — Pulisic —-

—– Sargent —–


Analysis

Berhalter has said Steffen will start in goal, so no surprise there. In defense DeAndre Yedlin should get the nod at right back but Reggie Cannon has played well, while Matt Miazga and Aaron Long will likely continue at center back. The problem position at left back has been filled by Lovitz and Lima in recent game, while Tim Ream could also start there. Ream’s experience could be key, so it would be good to slot him in where you can.

In midfield Michael Bradley was rested for the game against Cuba and is likely to start in his home stadium, while McKennie’s goalscoring ability was on show with his hat trick but we will have to see more of his defensive prowess against Canada.

In attack, having Christian Pulisic, Jordan Morris and Sebastian Lletget linking across the three attacking midfield positions (Pulisic and Morris starting out wide) would make sense. Josh Sargent is suffering with an ankle knock so if he isn’t fit expect Zardes or Boyd to come in with Morris perhaps switching to a central striking role of Boyd or Paul Arriola come in.

Bulgaria, England both sanctioned by UEFA

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UEFA have dished out sanctions to both Bulgaria and England after their EURO 2020 qualifier on Monday.

The game was halted twice in the first half due to racist chants from the home fans.

UEFA’s anti-racism protocol was put into place as the racist abuse was reported to officials who then stopped the game and an announcement was made over the stadium speakers threatening to abandon the game.

European Soccer’s governing body announce on Tuesday they have sanctioned the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) for racist chanting, Nazi salutes, disrupting the national anthems and throwing objects among other charges.

The English Football Association have been hit with charges which include not having enough travelling stewards and also for disrupting the national anthem.

UEFA are said to be thoroughly investigating the racist abuse of England’s players from Bulgaria’s fans.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov asked for the president of their football association, Borislav Mihaylov, to resign following the racist abuse of England’s players in Sofia’s Vasil Levski stadium on Monday.

And on Tuesday Mihaylov handed in his resignation as Bulgaria, who has previously been charged for racist chants against Kosovo and the Czech Republic, were at the center of the truly disgusting racist abuse.

Bulgaria goalkeeper, coach on racist abuse: “England overreacted”

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Bulgaria’s goalkeeper Plamen Iliev believes their fans ‘behaved well’ in Sofia on Monday, despite the game being halted twice in the first half due to racist chants from the home fans.

UEFA’s anti-racism protocol was put into place as the racist abuse was reported to officials who then stopped the game and an announcement was made over the stadium speakers threatening to abandon the game.

Bulgaria’s prime minister has condemned the incidents of racism and called for the Bulgarian FA president, Borislav Mihaylov, to resign with immediate effect.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Iliev praised Bulgaria’s fans and said that England’s complaints were an overreaction.

“If I am honest, I believe they [the fans] behaved well today,” Iliev said. “There wasn’t any abuse [as far as I could hear] and I think they [the England players] overreacted a bit. The public was on a good level – I didn’t hear any bad language used towards their or our players.”

Despite England’s players, fans and staff all hearing the abuse, plus television microphones picking up monkey chants during the game, the fact Iliev has uttered these words is truly shocking.

His manager echoed the same views, while saying that the reason Bulgaria’s captain Ivelin Popov went over to speak to home fans at half time was probably because they weren’t playing well…

During a press conference with both managers after the game, local journalists shouted “exaggeration” when questions about the racist abuse were asked.

Bulgaria’s manager, Krasimir Balakov, said he heard nothing and he was shown having a heated exchange with Jordan Henderson on the pitch during the second stoppage as he’d shown signs of frustration that the game was paused.

“I personally did not hear the chanting,” Balakov said. “I saw the referee stopped the game but I also have to say the behavior was also not only on behalf of the Bulgarian fans but also the English fans, who were whistling and shouting during the Bulgarian national anthem. During the second half they used words against our fans which I find unacceptable.”

With UEFA launching a full investigation into the chants and England making a formal complaint, Bulgaria can expect a hefty punishment for their latest incident of racist abuse of opposition players. A section of the stadium in Sofia was shut on Monday due to racist abuse of players from both Kosovo and the Czech Republic during EURO 2020 qualifying.

We can only hope that Iliev and Balakov apologize for these comments in the coming days and weeks ahead.

Golden Boy shortlist revealed

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The top 20 players under the age of 21 in European soccer have been announced, as the famous Golden Boy award nominees for 2019 will raise a few eyebrows.

An award dished out by Italian outlet Tuttosport, previous stars to be named Golden Boy include Raheem Sterling, Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney and Paul Pogba, as Matthijs de Ligt was the winner in 2018 and is nominated once again.

Nominees must be under the age of 21 and play in one of Europe’s top-flight leagues.

Four of the 20 finalists play in the Premier League with Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Matteo Guendouzi and Moise Kean all named on the shortlist.

Alongside de Ligt, the likes of Joao Felix, Jadon Sancho and Kai Havertz are all expected to be among the favorites for the award. Felix’s rise to stardom at Benfica and Atletico Madrid will likely see him win this award.

Canada’s Alphonso Davies is a finalist as the former Vancouver Whitecaps star continues to develop at Bayern Munich.

Below is the full list of nominees for 2019, with the winner announced on December 16 as media outlets across Europe vote for the winner.


Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)
Matthijs de Light (Juventus)
Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan)
Ansu Fati (Barcelona)
Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal)
Erling Braut Haland (RB Salzburg)
Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)
Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)
Dejan Joveljic (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Moise Kean (Everton)
Kang-in Lee (Valencia)
Andriy Oleksiyovych Lunin (Real Valladolid)
Donyell Malen (PSV)
Mason Mount (Chelsea)
Rodrygo (Real Madrid)
Jadon Sancho (BVB)
Ferran Torres (Valencia)
Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid)
Nicolo Zaniolo (AS Roma)