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Atleti ends Liverpool hopes of UCL repeat

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Marcos Llorente scored twice in extra time, the first off an extra-time blunder from Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian, as Atletico Madrid knocked the reigning champions out of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

The match finished 3-2 to Atleti, 4-2 on aggregate, as Alvaro Morata scored late to pour salt in Liverpool’s wounds.

[ MORE: Klopp, Milner react | Simeone, too ]

The Reds forgot their finishing boots on a dominant day, out-attempting Diego Simeone’s visitors 34-9. Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak made nine saves.

Roberto Firmino’s goal in the fourth minute of extra time joined Georginio Wijnaldum‘s first-half goal to give Liverpool an advantage it held for less than two minutes.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]


Three things we learned

1. Gini and The Ox run the show, but miserable finishing kills Reds: Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rewarded Jurgen Klopp for his risk of removing off-kilter star Fabinho from the Starting XI. The pair teamed up on the opening goal but it was more than that that earned them headlines. Wijnaldum was the best player not named Jan Oblak in the first half, while Oxlade-Chamberlain was a menace to Atleti’s midfielders in the second frame. While Jordan Henderson was understandably a bit rusty at times, his center midfield mates delivered the goods.

That said, Liverpool’s finishing was a combination of truly poor and terribly unlucky. Even when the Reds went ahead in stoppage time, it was Firmino cashing in a rebound after his first shot toward a gaping half of the goal hit the post. Robertson headed off the cross bar. Mohamed Salah shot ball after the ball almost directly to Jan Oblak or over the goal. This won’t go down as “Atleti is so hard to break down,” though Simeone’s men obviously are a tough team; The Reds just didn’t finish enough of their many, many chances.

2. Oblak almost everywhere: Not sure where exactly the joke is here, but Atletico Madrid’s goalkeeper blocked nearly everything that came his way, inspiring “Oh” and “Oh” from the Anfield faithful. The Slovenian shot-stopper

3. Adrian gives it away: Spanish keeper Adrian had very little to do on the day in filling in for the injured Alisson Becker, but ultimately will go down as the man responsible for Liverpool’s failure to defend its UCL crown. He made three saves on the day, but his poor pass up the middle of the pitch to Joao Felix will be what everyone remembers as Liverpool again loses a big UCL match due to a goalkeeper error (and terrible finishing).

Man of the Match: It’s Oblak. Yes, Llorente scored twice. Sure, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wijnaldum were incredible. But the Slovenian commanded his box in the face of extreme adversity and congestion.


Liverpool entered the match with predictable vigor, Jan Oblak’s first duty coming off a Georginio Wijnaldum header of a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross.

Atleti found its footing soon after, Kieran Trippier unable to turn a long diagonal ball off a free kick back toward goal.

Salah tempted the frame with a 20-yard attempt in the 10th minute, and Oblak made a sprawling denial of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain four minutes later.

Atleti won a corner in the 17th, but Felipe nodded short of the near post.

Salah took advantage of a Renan Lodi slip to cue up Sadio Mane, but his bounding shot was blocked and collected by Oblak.

The Atleti keeper then made a fantastic save on Roberto Firmino after an incisive Alexander-Arnold cross.

Wijnaldum leveled the tie in the 43rd minute, and the goal had been coming. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross found a wide-open Wijnaldum at the spot for a powered-down header that bounced past Oblak.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Salah stung Oblak’s palms early in the second half, and the Atleti keeper stopped an offside Mane with a fantastic left-hand save in the 50th.

Oblak got low to palm away an Oxlade-Chamberlain drive, conceding a corner.

Joao Felix had a chance out of nothing, and Adrian bumbled the ball but saved his error by blocking Correa’s chop at the rebound.

Robertson was celebrating a would-be go-ahead goal off a Salah cross, but it hit the cross bar in the 67th minute. Oblak made another fine save before the rebound was blocked by a defender.

An 81st-minute corner routine set up Robertson for glory, but he blazed clear of the frame from 18 yards.

Wijnaldum couldn’t finish with a back post header off a James Milner cross, and Mane smashed an overhead kick over the bar.

Saul Niguez was offside when he headed a stoppage-time free kick home, and the match moved to extra time.

Oblak made another save to start stoppage time, his ninth of the match. Firmino then took his rebound off the post to make it 2-0.

But wait, Atleti had an answer when Adrian’s clearance went right to Joao Felix. A few touches later it was 2-1 through Llorente’s low drive, and he added another through a well-worked counterattack to stun the reigning champs.

Morata blazed past the Liverpool back line to seal the result deep in the second period of extra time.

Premier League clubs will reportedly be allowed preseason friendlies

Premier League return
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Premier League clubs will be allowed to play preseason matches ahead of the 2019-20’s restart season later this month.

There will be strict protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, and the matches will likely be officiated by club coaching staffs (We have so many Jose Mourinho as ref quips to make here, but let’s keep going anyway).

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Sky Sports says clubs will be limited to opponents within 90 minutes of their venue, and that players will have to drive themselves to the stadiums and go directly to the field in uniform.

With the League One and League Two seasons still hanging in the balance, it’s likely PL sides will be limited to each other and Championship sides. Presumably clubs will not want to meet others still on their fixture list.

We assume some players will get dressed in their vehicles outside the ground, but allow yourself some levity in these challenging times and imagine a fully kitted-up Virgil van Dijk driving the roads from Liverpool to Wigan Athletic.

English defender Onuoha speaks out on fear of police in the U.S.

Nedum Onuoha
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Real Salt Lake defender Nedum Onuoha is speaking out on his experience as a black man in the United States in the wake of ongoing protests and violence following the killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleaded for air in Minnesota.

Speaking with the BBC, Onuoha says he has loved his time in the United States but admitted a wariness around law enforcement that he does not experience at home in England. The 33-year-old says there are “plenty of good” police in the country but admitted he doesn’t feel “100% safe” around law enforcement officers and that he has a “fear and distrust” of them.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Onuoha says the protests and demands for reform are “emotional” and “overdue,” adding that he feels empowered by the non-black voices joining the calls for justice.

From The BBC:

“I have loved living in this country but there is [another] side of it. In the UK, I am more comfortable because if something happens it probably will not be deadly – but over here because of their rights it is more common that altercations become deadly. I am always very aware of that whenever I go around anywhere.

“I am comfortable but when it comes to any kind of brutality, if it’s from the police, if they read me the wrong way then my life could be taken. I feel that every single day. It is not just me but everybody else as well.”

The Nigeria-born English defender joined RSL in 2018 and has played 36 times for the Utah club. Onuoha previously spent seven years with Queens Park Rangers after beginning his career with City and Sunderland.

MLS released a statement on the Floyd killing earlier this week, expressing unity with the black community and “horror” at the “senseless murder” of the 46-year-old American man.

La Liga state of play, schedule for remainder of 2019-20 season

La Liga schedule
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La Liga will return on June 11 and El Clasico’s heated rivals will restart a battle for the top of Spain’s top flight.

The full schedule has been released and is included below as the league builds to a July 19 final day which will feature two battles of current top seven sides.

Catalan clubs face drama at both ends of the table with Barcelona in first and Espanyol in 20th. Between there is mayhem.

MORE: Premier League remaining fixtures ]

Barca holds a two-point edge on Real Madrid in its bid for a third-straight La Liga crown and fifth in six seasons. Real will need a slip-up from Quique Setien’s men as there is not a Clasico to be found on the fixture list.

The other two Champions League spots will be hotly-contested with four sides within two points between third and sixth, especially considering the side bringing up the rear is powerful Atletico Madrid (45 points). Sevilla currently sits third with 47 points, with fourth-place Real Sociedad and fifth-place Getafe on 46.

Valencia is also in the picture with 42, and seventh-place will be a Europa League spot should Real Sociedad win the Copa del Rey or rivals Athletic Bilbao (37 points) win it and climb into sixth.

[ Bundesliga: Live scores | Week 29 preview, predictions  ] 

The bottom half of the table is a relegation picture, even if 11th-place Osasuna counts a nine-point lead on the bottom three of Mallorca (25 points), Leganes (23), and Espanyol (20).

The matches will, of course, be played behind closed doors, though Spanish authorities have hope for fans in the 2020-21 season.

Matchweek 28 will be played from June 12 to June 15 with the full La Liga schedule below, while there are also details on how you can watch on TV in the USA.

La Liga schedule

  • TV Channels: beIN Sports USA
  • Stream LiveVia beinSports
  • When: From June 11 to July 17

June 11
Sevilla v. Real Betis

June 12
Granada v. Getafe
Valencia v. Levante

June 13
Espanyol v. Alaves
Celta Vigo v. Villarreal
Leganes v. Valladolid
Mallorca v. Barcelona

June 14
Athletic Bilbao v. Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid v. Eibar
Real Sociedad v. Osasuna

June 15
Levante v. Sevilla
Real Betis v. Granada

June 16
Getafe v. Espanyol
Villarreal v. Mallorca
Barcelona v. Leganes

June 17
Valladolid v. Celta Vigo
Eibar v. Athletic Bilbao
Osasuna v. Atletico Madrid

June 18
Alaves v. Real Sociedad
Real Madrid v. Valencia

June 21
Mallorca v. Leganes
Athletic Bilbao v. Real Betis
Granada v. Villarreal
Sevilla v. Barcelona
Getafe v. Eibar
Atletico Madrid v. Valladolid
Real Sociedad v. Real Madrid
Valencia v. Osasuna
Espanyol v. Levante
Celta Vigo v. Alaves

June 24
Real Betis v. Espanyol
Villarreal v. Sevilla
Real Madrid v. Mallorca
Valladolid v. Getafe
Alaves v. Osasuna
Real Sociedad v. Celta Vigo
Eibar v. Valencia
Barcelona v. Athletic Bilbao
Leganes v. Granada
Levante v. Atletico Madrid

June 28
Levante v. Real Betis
Osasuna v. Leganes
Celta Vigo v. Barcelona
Villarreal v. Valencia
Athletic Bilbao v. Mallorca
Granada v. Eibar
Atletico Madrid v. Alaves
Espanyol v. Real Madrid
Sevilla v. Valladolid
Getafe v. Real Sociedad

July 1
Mallorca v. Celta Vigo
Leganes v. Sevilla
Alaves v. Granada
Valladolid v. Levante
Real Sociedad v. Espanyol
Real Betis v. Villarreal
Valencia v. Athletic Bilbao
Real Madrid v. Getafe
Eibar v. Osasuna
Barcelona v. Atletico Madrid

July 5
Athletic Bilbao v. Real Madrid
Villarreal v. Barcelona
Osasuna v. Getafe
Celta Vigo v. Real Betis
Levante v. Real Sociedad
Sevilla v. Eibar
Atletico Madrid v. Mallorca
Granada v. Valencia
Valladolid v. Alaves
Espanyol v. Leganes

July 8
Getafe v. Villarreal
Athletic Bilbao v. Sevilla
Mallorca v. Levante
Real Madrid v. Alaves
Celta Vigo v. Atletico Madrid
Eibar v. Leganes
Real Sociedad v. Granada
Barcelona v. Espanyol
Valencia v. Valladolid
Real Betis v. Osasuna

July 12
Granada v. Real Madrid
Sevilla v. Mallorca
Villarreal v. Real Sociedad
Espanyol v. Eibar
Alaves v. Getafe
Valladolid v. Barcelona
Atletico Madrid v. Real Betis
Levante v. Athletic Bilbao
Leganes v. Valencia
Osasuna v. Celta Vigo

July 15
Barcelona v. Osasuna
Mallorca v. Granada
Celta Vigo v. Levante
Real Sociedad v. Sevilla
Real Betis v. Alaves
Valencia v. Espanyol
Getafe v. Atletico Madrid
Eibar v. Valladolid
Real Madrid v. Villarreal
Athletic Bilbao v. Leganes

July 19
Osasuna v. Mallorca
Atletico Madrid v. Real Sociedad
Villarreal v. Eibar
Levante v. Getafe
Granada v. Athletic Bilbao
Espanyol v. Celta Vigo
Alaves v. Barcelona
Valladolid v. Real Betis
Leganes v. Real Madrid
Sevilla v. Valencia

Standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Barcelona 27 18 4 5 63 31 32 13-1-0 5-3-5 58
 Real Madrid 27 16 8 3 49 19 30 9-4-0 7-4-3 56
 Sevilla 27 13 8 6 39 29 10 6-5-2 7-3-4 47
 Real Sociedad 27 14 4 9 45 33 12 8-2-3 6-2-6 46
 Getafe 27 13 7 7 37 25 12 7-4-3 6-3-4 46
 Atlético Madrid 27 11 12 4 31 21 10 8-5-1 3-7-3 45
 València 27 11 9 7 38 39 -1 8-6-0 3-3-7 42
 Villarreal 27 11 5 11 44 38 6 6-4-3 5-1-8 38
 Granada 27 11 5 11 33 32 1 8-2-3 3-3-8 38
 Athletic Club 27 9 10 8 29 23 6 7-3-3 2-7-5 37
 Osasuna 27 8 10 9 34 38 -4 5-5-4 3-5-5 34
 Betis 27 8 9 10 38 43 -5 7-3-4 1-6-6 33
 Levante 27 10 3 14 32 40 -8 7-3-3 3-0-11 33
 Alavés 27 8 8 11 29 37 -8 6-5-3 2-3-8 32
 Valladolid 27 6 11 10 23 33 -10 3-7-3 3-4-7 29
 Eibar 27 7 6 14 27 41 -14 6-1-7 1-5-7 27
 Celta Vigo 27 5 11 11 22 34 -12 4-5-4 1-6-7 26
 Mallorca 27 7 4 16 28 44 -16 6-2-6 1-2-10 25
 Leganés 27 5 8 14 21 39 -18 4-3-7 1-5-7 23
 Espanyol 27 4 8 15 23 46 -23 1-5-7 3-3-8 20

Transfer news: Almada to Man United; Coutinho keen on PL

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In the latest transfer news Man United have been linked with a move for Thiago Almada, while Philippe Coutinho is keen to head to the Premier League and Arsenal is a possible destination.

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Starting with Man United, it appears they are planning for alternatives when it comes to signing winger Jadon Sancho.

According to the Manchester Evening News, young Argentine winger Thiago Almada is a target for Man United, so too are David Brooks and Rabi Matondo as they may not splash over $130 million to sign Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.

There is no doubting Sancho’s ability but given the financial situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, even a club in a healthy financial state like Man United will have to cut their cloth accordingly. This is where Argentina youth national team star Almada comes in.

Almada, 19, has become a star for Velez Sarsfield in Argentine and Man United are one of many European clubs waiting to make their move. Per the report, Almada is a back-up option for Man United and right wing is a position they want to strengthen in.

Given Daniel James’ up an down first season at Man United, this position is the only one of their attacking slots which needs attention. Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Bruno Fernandes clearly have the other slots locked down but more competition and quality out on the right will be key for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Now, James may develop and his pace is a huge asset and he’s still very young. That said. Almada would slot in to Solskjaer’s philosophy of buying young, hungry players to add to his squad.

Coutinho
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Switching to London, where Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea have all been linked with a move for former Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho.

The Brazilian playmaker has been on loan at Bayern Munich from Barcelona this season and it is safe to say he will not be staying at Bayern on a permanent basis. Where next?

Coutinho’s agent, Kia Joorabchian, told talkSPORT that his client is keen on heading back to the Premier League.

“We’re still waiting until the season finishes before we start talking about anything in terms of transfers,” Joorabchian said. “I’ve always said he loved to play in the Premier League, he enjoyed his time at Liverpool very much. If the opportunity arises to come back to the Premier League, whether it be this year or in the future, he’s definitely looking at that.”

There you have it. If that’s not a ‘come and get me plea’ to Premier League clubs, I don’t know what it is.

A return to Liverpool seems unlikely, while it also seems unlikely that he will head back to Barcelona permanently. Chelsea and Arsenal would seem like a good fit, and although Tottenham have plenty of fine attacking talents, would Coutinho start ahead of Dele Alli, Son or Lucas Moura? Chelsea have a lot of young attackers in his position but with the futures of Willian and Pedro seemingly elsewhere, there could be a spot in Frank Lampard’s attack for Coutinho.

Arsenal seems like the best fit here. Mikel Arteta is building a new team and needs quality and experience to add to his young but talented players. What a loan move to Arsenal for Coutinho would mean for Mesut Ozil remains to be seen but having Coutinho, Ozil, Nicolas Pepe and maybe Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette around would be an absolutely bonkers attacking lineup. That said, the latter two seem likely to leave and that could actually pave the way, financially, for Coutinho to arrive on loan.

There’s a very, very good chance that Coutinho returns to the Premier League in the next six months.