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Aston Villa chief executive first to speak after Premier League postponement

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After the decision was made to postpone Premier League activity through at least April 3, Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow was surrounded by reporters upon leaving the premises and asked about the situation.

His immediate reaction was one of praise for the leaders who are in the process of putting together a long-term plan. “I think it’s a very good decision, we’ve got great league management and they made the right decision.”

When asked if he believes the season will restart on the scheduled date of April 3, he said, “None of us know, we’ll see.” He was then asked if he believes the season will come to a conclusion at some point, to which he responds, “We have no idea, let’s hope so.”

Aston Villa currently resides in the relegation zone, sitting 19th in the Premier League table on 25 points, two back of safety. Obviously, the season’s conclusion has an extremely significant impact on Aston Villa’s future, with the club potentially facing relegation to the Championship next season. Norwich City and Bournemouth are the other two clubs currently in the relegation zone, with Watford, West Ham, and Brighton all very much still fighting for their lives.

The situation also affects Liverpool who is right on the cusp of officially securing the Premier League title, but has not mathematically done so just yet. The club’s magic number is six to win the league, needing a combined six points gained of their own and dropped by Manchester City.

VIDEO: Alphonso Davies turns on style with amazing assist

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Alphonso Davies ladies and gents. Alphonso Davies.

The Canadian teenager set up Bayern Munich’s fifth goal in their demolition of Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal and he did it in some style.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Remember: the Vancouver Whitecaps product only broke into Bayern Munich’s first team as a regular earlier this season and he’s now ripping it up against Barcelona in the latter stages of the Champions League.

He will be pinching himself right about now as he played a key role in a classic Bayern display as they tore Barcelona apart and could have scored seven or eight easily.

Alphonso Davies, 19, totally bamboozled Barcelona’s right back Nelson Semedo on more than one occasion way out on the left flank. He then drove towards goal, skipped past another defender and put it on a plate for Joshua Kimmich to make it 5-2.

Check out the video below to see Davies doing what he does best for the assist, as the teenager is surely going to become the best left back on the planet.

His incredible story continues as his first season as a regular for Bayern Munich has been a hugely memorable one.

Barcelona v. Bayern Munich: How to watch, as Bayern batter Barca

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Barcelona – Bayern Munich is a massive UEFA Champions League quarterfinal on Friday (start time, 3pm ET) and here is everything you need to know ahead of the epic clash in Lisbon, Portugal.

And it delivered early on.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]Β 

Thomas Muller scored the opener. David Alaba scored a peach of an own goal. Ivan Perisic smashed home. Serge Gnabry and then Muller both grabbed another goal each for Bayern. Both teams had a plethora of chances. And that was just the opening 32 minutes!

Check out the goal videos here, as there was sublime quality in attack from Bayern and Barcelona just couldn’t handle the Bavarians.

PREVIEW: Barcelona – Bayern Munich

Many believe the 2019-20 Champions League winner will be one of these two teams, as they face the winner of Manchester City v. Lyon in the semifinal.

Barcelona and Lionel Messi have the disappointment of losing their La Liga title in recent weeks to spur them on in the Champions League, while Bayern Munich swept all before them in Germany this season with Robert Lewandowski scoring 53 goals in 44 games in all competitions.

After just a few months in charge, Barca boss Quique Setien likely needs to win the Champions League to keep his job as Messi is firing in attack but Barca are still suspect at the back. As for Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick, who has masterminded a masterful turnaround since taking charge last November, he and the Bayern hierarchy will see this as the Bavarians’ best chance to win the Champions League since they last did so in 2013.

[ MORE: Key battles in UCL quarterfinals ]

Below you will find all of the details you need on Barcelona – Bayern Munich in what is set to be the game of the Champions League season so far as both teams love to attack.


How to watch, stream Champions League: Barcelona – Bayern Munich

Dates: August 12, 3pm ET kick off
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
How to watch:Β CBS Sports
Live updates:Β UCL here at NBCSports.comΒ &Β Europa League here at NBCSports.com


Team news

Barcelona have Ousmane Dembele on the bench. The Frenchman hasn’t featured in nine months and had surgery on his hamstring in February, but he could be a great option off the bench. The rest of the lineup is as expected with De Jong and Vidal charged with supporting Messi and Suarez up top and Antoine Griezmann on the bench.

Bayern are without Benjamin Pavard who has an ankle injury, while Alphonso Davies shook off a slight adductor problem to start and experienced duo Thiago Alcantara and Ivan Perisic start for Bayern.


What they’re saying

Antoine Griezmann on Barcelona’s mindset: “We are looking forward to it, we have worked well tactically and we are ready to play the game. We know it will be difficult, but we know what we have to do to qualify for the semifinals. It will be a very good match. We hope to take advantage of the quality we have. We are in a good moment and we can play a good game. We have to be together, up front and at the back, and try to have the ball as much as possible.”

Hansi Flick on the style of play he wants from Bayern: “Defensively to win the ball – and offensively, purposefully and consistently to score goals. The intensity of our actions is crucial. We also want to play attractive possession football. The most important thing is that we see ourselves as a team and that everyone knows what their task is. Every player has to get involved and be able to rely on his neighbor on the pitch. This is extremely important to us.”


Odds – Full matchweek odds

It is not often that Barcelona (+235) are the underdogs but they are here, and that shows you how good Bayern Munich (+115) have been in recent months. Bayern will be wary of Messi but with Lewandowski banging in goals for fun and a stable midfield and defensive unit behind him, the Bavarian giants are the favorites for a reason. The tie at +255 provides value and this should be a goal-fest.


Prediction

If this turns into a straight shootout, you would probably fancy Barcelona to advance with Luis Suarez, Messi and Antoine Griezmann in attack. But Bayern will keep it tight, look to slow play down and then launch counters which Lewandowski can finish. I think this game will be stretched and become the attacking feast all neutrals are hoping for, but the Germans are just a more ruthless and solid team right now. Barcelona 1-3 Bayern Munich.

Alexander-Arnold wins Premier League’s Young Player of the Year

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Trent Alexander-Arnold is a sensation and the 21-year-old right back has been named the Premier League Young Player of the Year for the 2019-20 season.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]Β 

Alexander-Arnold has been a revelation since bursting onto the scene at the end of the 2016-17 campaign and his marauding runs from right back, stunning long-range passes and wonderful free kicks were a key part in Liverpool winning the Premier League title.

He set a new record for Premier League assists for a defender, as he racked up 13 throughout the season and was so often a difference maker in tight wins for the Reds. The local lad has well and truly done good with a Champions League, World Club Cup and Premier League trophies in his first few seasons as a pro.

The England international beat Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood, Jack Grealish and Dean Henderson to the award and there can be no arguments with this decision.

Here’s a look at just a few of TAA’s highlights from 2019-20.

The big question now around Alexander-Arnold is this: how far can he go?

He is much more than just an outlet for Liverpool at right back. He somehow dictates so many of their attacks from the right back position, which is no mean feat, and given that Jurgen Klopp plays a 4-3-3 formation he is also expected to dig in and do plenty of defensive work. Somehow he does that, as well as surging forward and providing an attacking outlet.

Alexander-Arnold could easily move into midfield or play as a forward and it would not be surprising to see Klopp bring in a new right back when one of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane eventually move on, then he could move TAA into the attack.

A defender who does his job at the back but contributes in attack, consistently and with quality, is so hard to find.

Alexander-Arnold is a modern day full back and his form this season suggested he can become one of the best right backs in the game. If he isn’t the best already.

Who else is close to him in the world game? Think about it. Keep thinking. Yep. You can’t think of anybody better than him, can you? Joshua Kimmich? Dani Carvajal? Aaron Wan-Bissaka? Kimmich and TAA are close but Kimmich doesn’t offer what TAA does in attack, even though he is also capable of playing much further forward and in midfield.

The early years of Alexander-Arnold’s career has proven he is versatile and can become a more attacking player, but he’s done such a great job at right back, is it worth the hassle in moving him from that position? Whatever happens and wherever you put him he will provide quality deliveries, assists and clever runs.

Europa League semifinals: How to watch, start time, prediction

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Man United – Sevilla and Inter Milan – Shakhtar Donetsk are a pair of highly intriguing Europa League semifinals, featuring four clubs from four different leagues, set for Sunday and Monday, respectively (start time, 3pm ET each day).

United reached the final four by narrowly escaping the upset threat of Copenhagen in extra-time; Sevilla broke Wolverhampton Wanderers’ hearts with a late winner in the quarterfinals; Inter held on to an early lead to beat Bayer Leverkusen; and Shakhtar, interestingly enough, have perhaps the most momentum following a 4-1 drubbing of Basel.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

Reminder: from the quarterfinals onward, this year’s Europa League features single-leg ties, meaning the winners on the night will book their place in the final.

Ahead of this week’s semifinals, below is a look at how to watch Man United – Sevilla and Inter Milan – Shakhtar Donetsk in the USA, the betting odds, predictions and much more.


What they’re saying ahead of Europa League semifinals

Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: “Let’s see if we’ve developed throughout the season because we’ve had two semifinals before. We want to go to the next step. Semifinals, that’s a good effort, decent, but it’s not good enough. It’s not good enough for Man United still. … Let’s make sure that hurt that we felt in both the other cups that we’ve gone out, that can be our maybe marginal difference. The difference that we want it more than them.”

Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui: “We are going to play against Manchester United in the next match β€” they’re the biggest team in the world but we’re going to be prepared for them. We’re focused on the next game, against a top, historic side, one of the best in the history of the sport who are in great form. We will give our best as we always do. To play against them will be really tough, but we’ll go into it believing we can beat them.”


Europa League semifinals odds

Man United – Sevilla – Full Europa League, Champions League odds

United are slight betting favorites at +150 and Sevilla checking in at +195. That’s about as tight as odds can get. Given how close this one is expected to be, +215 to tie is perhaps the most intriguing prospect.

Odds for Inter – Shakhtar

There’s certainly a great deal of value to be had with Shakhtar set as hefty underdogs at +350. Inter are the heavy favorites at -132, representing very little betting value unless you’re absolutely certain they’re a lock to win it.


Prediction for Man United – Sevilla

United have conceded just two goals in the Europa League dating back to the start of the calendar year (five games), which creates a thoroughly difficult challenge for Sevilla, who have scored just three goals in four games during the same period. This should be a low-scoring affair and United do just enough to come out on top, 1-0.

Prediction for Inter – Shakhtar

Upset special, anyone? Shakhtar have largely flown under the radar and received very little attention during their run to the semifinals, but they have plenty of firepower to hang with Inter in this one. One thing is a near-certainty: there will be goals. It ends 2-2 and goes to penalty kicks, where Inter only just survive.


How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon/Germany
How to watch:Β CBS Sports
Live updates:Β UCL here at NBCSports.comΒ &Β Europa League here at NBCSports.com