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EURO 2020 qualifying preview: Germany-Netherlands showdown on deck

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Wondering which of the 50 qualifiers for the 2020 European Championship you should be watching over the next week? Wonder no more…

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Ireland v. Switzerland — Thursday, 2:45 p.m. ET

After four of 10 games, Ireland (10 points) holds a commanding lead in Group D, currently five points clear of second-place Denmark (one game in hand) and six ahead of third-place Switzerland (two games in hand). Thursday’s showdown in Dublin should go a long way toward answering the question of “is this real, or the by product of a cake-walk run of fixtures?”

Germany v. Netherlands — Friday, 2:45 p.m. ET

After missing out on back-to-back major tournaments (EURO 2016 and World Cup 2018), the Dutch (3 points) are off to another slow(-ish) start to qualifying for EURO 2020. Sure, they’ve only played two games, but Friday’s trip to Hamburg could see Ronald Koeman‘s side left with considerable ground to make up to finish in the top-two of Group C.

Germany went into Amsterdam and snatched a 3-2 victory at the very end of these sides’ first encounter back in March. On the one hand, that means the Netherlands’ schedule will turn considerably more favorable for their final seven games. On the other hand, they’ll be at least nine points out of Germany and Norther Ireland, if they lose on Friday.

England v. Bulgaria — Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
England v. Kosovo — Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. ET

By the time the international window closes, England could be as many as seven points clear of third place and have qualification all but wrapped up. With six points (and a +9 goal differential) from their first two games, and a pair of eminently winnable fixtures on deck this week, the path ahead of Gareth Southgate‘s side is rather straightforward. At this point, the main draw of watching England through the remainder of qualification will be to see which players Southgate comes to rely upon most heavily with an eye toward his 23-man roster for next summer.

Serbia v. Portugal — Saturday, 2:45 p.m. ET

The reigning European champions aren’t in grave danger of missing the tournament (yet), due to having two points from only two games played (thanks, Nations League), but Saturday’s clash with Serbia could move Fernando Santos’ side one step closer to semi-serious struggles. A loss to Serbia would put Portugal five points back of second place with five games left to play. Heading down the playoff path wouldn’t be an outright disaster, but avoiding that fate is massively preferable.


Notable EURO 2020 qualifying standings (points, games played)

Group A

1. England (6, 2)
2. Czech Republic (6, 3)

Group B

1. Ukraine (10, 4)
2. Luxembourg (4, 4)
3. Serbia (4, 3)
4. Portugal (2, 2)

Group C

1. Northern Ireland (12, 4)
2. Germany (9, 3)
3. Netherlands (3, 2)

Group D

1. Ireland (10, 4)
2. Denmark (5, 3)
3. Switzerland (4, 2)

Group E

1 . Hungary (9, 4)
2. Slovakia (6, 3)
3. Croatia (6, 3)

Group F

1. Spain (12, 4)
2. Sweden (7, 4)

Group G

1. Poland (12, 4)
2. Israel (7, 4)

Group H

1 . France (9, 4)
2. Turkey (9, 4)
3. Iceland (9, 4)

Group I

1. Belgium (12, 4)
2. Russia (9, 4)

Group J

1. Italy (12, 4)
2. Finland (9, 4)

LIVE, UCL last 16: Atletico v. Liverpool; Dortmund v. PSG

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The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League is finally back as the Round of 16 kicks off this week and Atletico Madrid host Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain head to Borussia Dortmund in what should be two epic battles.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Liverpool are the first Premier League club to get going as Jurgen Klopp locks horns with Diego Simeone’s Atleti, who are a very dangerous team to play and they will scrap and battle for every ball against the reigning European champions. With Sadio Mane back fit, he could be the difference for Liverpool as the runaway Premier League leaders return to the stadium where they win their sixth European title at the end of last season. Madrid holds fond memories for Klopp’s boys. Atletico Madrid are struggling along in La Liga but they have played the underdog role very well in recent seasons and this encounter will be full throttle from the start.

Borussia Dortmund host Paris Saint-Germain in the other UCL last 16 first leg clash on Tuesday and that should be a cracking game between two very evenly-matched teams as former Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel takes PSG to the Westfalenstadion. Kylian Mbappe v. Jadon Sancho equals chef’s kiss.

[ MORE: Which Premier League team(s) will reach last eight? ]

Next week the other four last 16 first legs take place as Man City and Chelsea are in action against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively. Out of the four Premier League teams still in the competition, Liverpool and Spurs will be the most confident of advancing.

Below is the full schedule for the two UCL last 16 first leg games on Tuesday, with bothgames kicking off at 3 p.m. ET. You can follow the action live by clicking on the link above.


Tuesday Champions League action

Atletico Madrid v. Liverpool
Borussia Dortmund v. Paris Saint-Germain

Champions League score predictions: Round of 16

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The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League is finally back as the Round of 16 kicks off this week and two of the four Premier League clubs are in action.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, the two finalists from last season, are first up and both will be happy enough with their draws in the last 16.

That said, Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool know that Diego Simeone’s Atleti are a very dangerous team to play as they will scrap and battle for every ball against the reigning European champions. As for Spurs and Jose Mourinho, the news that Heung-min Son has broken his arm and could be out for the rest of the season is a huge blow but they host an inconsistent RB Leipzig.

Borussia Dortmund host Paris Saint-Germain and Atalanta host Valencia in the other last 16 ties this week and both should be cracking encounters between two very evenly-matched teams.

[ MORE: Which Premier League team(s) will reach last eight? ]

Next week the other four last 16 first legs take place as Man City and Chelsea are in action against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively. Out of the four Premier League teams still in the competition, Liverpool and Spurs will be the most confident of advancing.

Below we predict the scores for the UCL round of 16 games taking place over the next two days. Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section below, too.


Tuesday
Atletico Madrid 1-2 Liverpool
Borussia Dortmund 3-2 PSG

Wednesday
Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 RB Leipzig
Atalanta 2-1 Valencia

Lampard issues Chelsea injury update; Pulisic remains out

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Chelsea boss Frank Lampard issued a lengthy injury update after their 2-0 defeat against Man United and USMNT fans will not be happy to hear that Christian Pulisic remains out.

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Ahead of Chelsea’s pivotal top four clash at home against bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Lampard could be without as many as five key players.

Andreas Christensen broke his nose and came off at half time against United, while N’Golo Kante was subbed off early after yet another leg injury for the French superstar.

“Callum, no. Pulisic, no. N’Golo, no, from that today. Tammy is a maybe. It is not going our way with injuries at the moment but the players who come in they have to show that. That is what the squad is there for. It is frustrating,” Lampard told Chelsea TV when asked about availability for Saturday.

Lampard then gave an extra update on Kante, who walked through the mixed zone after the game looking okay and told the French journalists who were assembled that it wasn’t too bad.

“It is an adductor injury,” Lampard confirmed. “We will have to assess it and scan it. It doesn’t look great. It is on the same leg [as he injured before].”

With four wins in their last 14 Premier League games Chelsea are not in good form and are just one point ahead of fifth-place Tottenham ahead of their game this weekend.

They also have a nasty habit of dominating matches but are failing to put multiple chances away and with these injuries piling up it certainly makes Chelsea’s decision to not spend in the January window to strengthen their squad, especially in terms of strikers, very surprising.

With Bayern Munich coming up in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie next week, Lampard will hope Chelsea’s luck turns and plenty of players return from injury.

FC Cincinnati coach Jans resigns amid investigation over remarks

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CINCINNATI — FC Cincinnati coach Ron Jans resigned amid an investigation by Major League Soccer of his use of a racial slur in the locker room.

Jans resigned late Monday, FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding said: “The club had suspended Jans pending the investigation, which was prompted by a complaint from the MLS Players Association.

“As Major League Soccer’s investigation unfolded and some themes emerged, Ron offered his resignation and we agreed that it was the best course of action for everyone involved with FC Cincinnati,” Berding said.

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The club designated Yoann Damet as interim head coach while the team conducts a search. Cincinnati is training in Florida for its second season in MLS.

Cincinnati has been through two head coaches during its brief stay in the league. It fired Alan Koch after its 11th first-tier match, which left the expansion club with two wins, seven losses and two draws.

Damet also was the interim head coach while the team conducted a search that resulted in Jans’ hiring last August.

Cincinnati finished with the worst record in MLS in its inaugural season, with six wins, six draws and 22 losses. It scored a league-low 31 goals in 34 matches.

Cincinnati gained entry into MLS after a successful debut under Koch, who led the team to the semifinals of the United Soccer League’s playoffs in both 2017 and 2018.