The Soccer Report

Barcelona clinch 26th La Liga title; Liverpool's van Dijk named PFA Players' PoY

Barcelona have their sights on reclaiming the Champions League trophy after watching rivals Real Madrid lift it the past three years. Credit: Nike, Inc.

FC Barcelona joined Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus as the latest side to clinch their domestic league. Unlike the other two, Barça now focus their energy on getting past Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League semifinals. Liverpool, Barcelona's opponent, will have the opposite challenge of putting aside their current fight for the Premier League to try and advance to the UCL final for the second straight year. Ajax and Tottenham will duel in the other semifinal series.

UEFA Champions League

Four sides remain in what is probably the best soccer tournament (after the World Cup, of course) with Barcelona considered the favorite to win it all. The battle between Barça and Liverpool matches up the world's best attacker in Leo Messi against the best defender going today in Virgil van Dijk. The other series is a battle of Cinderella teams between Tottenham and Ajax.

UEFA Europa League

Thursday will have similar drama as not only will the four teams left want to lift the cup at the end of the season but they all have a stake in wanting to secure the Champions League spot that comes with it. All four teams still have a chance to accomplish that through their league standings but, with the Premier League standings as tight as it is, the Europa League serves as an important insurance policy.

English Premier League

The saga continues between Liverpool and Manchester City as goal line technology played a part to add to the drama of the title race. No side is letting up, making this a photo finish to the end. In the awards category, Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk was awarded with this season's PFA Player of the Year Award and Manchester City's Raheem Sterling won the PFA's Young Player of the Year Award.

Top six: 1. Manchester City (92), 2. Liverpool (91), 3. Tottenham (70), 4. Chelsea (68), 5. Arsenal (66), 6. Manchester United (65)

Scoring leader: 21 - Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Assists leader: 13 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC) / Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)

Spain's La Liga

Top six: 1. (C) - FC Barcelona (83), 2. Atlético Madrid (74), 3. Real Madrid (65), 4. Getafe (55), 5. Sevilla (55), 6. Valencia (52)

Scoring leader: 34 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 13 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) / Pablo Sarabia (Sevilla)

German Bundesliga

Top six: 1. Bayern Munich (71), 2. Dortmund (69), 3. RB Leipzig (64), 4. Eintracht Frankfurt (54), 5. Monchengladbach (51), 6. Bayer Leverkusen (51)

Scoring leader: 21 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 14 - Jadon Sancho (Dortumund)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. (C) - Juventus (88), 2. Napoli (70), 3. Inter Milan (62), 4. Atalanta (59), 5. Roma (58), 6. Torino (56)

Scoring leader: 23 - Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)

Assists leader: 10 - Dries Mertens (Napoli)

French Ligue 1

Top six: 1. (C) - PSG (84), 2. Lille (68), 3. Lyon (62), 4. Saint-Étienne (59), 5. Marseille (54), 6. Montpellier (51)

Scoring leader: 30 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 12 - Teji Savanier (Nimes)

Dutch Eredivisie

Top three: 1. Ajax (80), 2. PSV Eindhoven (80), 3. Feyenoord (62)

Belgian First Division A

Championship Round: 1. Genk (47), 2. Club Brugge (41), 3. Antwerp (38), 4. Standard Liege (33), 5. Anderlecht (27), 6. Gent (26)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Top three: 1. Benfica (78), 2. Porto (76), 3. Sporting CP (70)

Scottish Premier League

Championship: 1. Celtic (81), 2. Rangers (72), 3. Aberdeen(61)

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Concacaf Champions League

Monterrey is a bit of a quiet place these days as neither side of fans wants to jinx their team in the regional final to determine the champion of Concacaf. Monterrey took a 1-0 win away at Tigres and will look to finish the job at home on Wednesday. Tigres fans, however, remain hopeful that their side can be crowned champions on their rivals' home turf just as they did in Liga MX a few seasons ago.

Major League Soccer

East top seven: 1. D.C. United (17), 2. Montreal (17), 3. Philadelphia (14), 4. Toronto (13), 5. Columbus (13), 6. Orlando (12), 7. NYCFC (12)

West top seven: 1. LAFC (23), 2. LA Galaxy (22), 3. Seattle (18), 4. FC Dallas (17), 5. Houston (16), 6. Minnesota (14), 7. Real Salt Lake (10)

Scoring leader: 11 - Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Assists leader: 6 - Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers) / Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders FC)

Liga MX

One matchday remains in Mexico to decide the eight teams that will advance to this season's playoffs. Tijuana is currently in the final spot and they host 9th place Puebla where the winner will advance.

Top eight: 1. Leon (38), 2. Tigres UANL (34), 3. Monterrey (30), 4. Cruz Azul (29), 5. Pachuca (28), 6. Necaxa (26), 7. Club America (26), 8. Tijuana (25)

Scoring leader: 14 - Angel Mena (Leon)

Assists leader: 9 - Angel Mena (Leon)

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National Women's Soccer League

Standings: 1. North Carolina Courage (7), 2. Utah Royals (6), 3. Chicago Red Stars (5), 4. Portland Thorns (5), 5. Houston Dash (4), 6. Washington Spirit (3), 7. Seattle Reign (2), 8. Sky Blue FC (1), 9. Orlando Pride (1)

Scoring leader: 4 - Crystal Dunn (North Carolina)

Assists leader:2 - Lynn Williams (North Carolina) / Meghan Klingenberg (Portland)

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Apr. 30

2:00p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Tottenham vs. Ajax (TNT, Univision, Univision Deportes)

Wednesday, May. 1

2:00p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] FC Barcelona vs. Liverpool (TNT, Univision, Univision Deportes)

9:00 p.m. - [Concacaf Champions League] Monterrey vs. Tigres UANL (YahooSports.com, Univision Deportes)

Thursday, May. 2

2:00p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Arsenal vs. Valencia (B/R Live, UniMas)

2:00p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Frankfurt vs. Chelsea (B/R Live, Univision Deportes)

Friday, May. 3

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Mainz vs. RB Leipzig Leverkusen (FS2)

2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Everton vs. Burnley (NBC Sports)

Saturday, May. 4

6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Bournemouth vs. Tottenham (NBC Sports)

8:30 a.m. - [Budesliga] Bayern Munich vs. Hannover (FS2)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] West Ham vs. Southampton (NBC Sports)

11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Cardiff vs. Crystal Palace (NBC)

1:00 p.m. - [MLS] NY Red Bulls vs. LA Galaxy (ESPN)

1:45 p.m. - [Premier League] Newcastle vs. Liverpool (NBC Sports)

3:00 p.m. - [MLS] Houston Dynamo vs. FC Dallas (Twitter, Univision)

Sunday, May. 5

8:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Huddersfield vs. Manchester United (NBC Sports)

9:15 a.m. - [La Liga] Real Madrid vs. Villarreal (beIN Sports)

10:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Arsenal vs. Brighton (NBC Sports)

11:00 a.m. - [Budesliga] Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (FS2)

5:00 p.m. - [NWSL] Houston Dash vs. Orlando Pride (YahooSports.com)

8:00 p.m. - [MLS] Sporting KC vs. Atlanta United (FS1)

Monday, May. 2

2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Manchester City vs. Leicester City (NBCSports)

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The Marlins are showing interest in Yuli Gurriel. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images.

As the reporting date for pitchers and catchers draws near, there are still some decisions hanging over the Astros. One of them is whether or not to bring back Yuli Gurriel. “La Piña,” as he's affectionately called, is 38 years old. He turns 39 in June. His leadership and instincts cannot be matched. The man has seen a ton of baseball and comes from a family of baseballers. So, what's the holdup?

Enter the Miami Marlins. The ownership group, led by Bruce Sherman, is undoubtedly trying to capitalize on the heavy Cuban population in the Miami area. Bringing in the Cuban Babe Ruth is a great way to attempt to get more fan engagement. The franchise has only been to the playoffs three times. First two times (1997 and 2003), they won it all. In 2020, they were swept in the NLDS. They're most likely offering him a ridiculous amount of money to come to a team with a losing history. Knowing the Marlins are willing to hand out stupid money, would you blame La Piña for taking one last ridiculous payday?

Think about it. He's got two rings and made a ton of money. He can safely retire very comfortably. The lure to come back for another year or two would definitely be about money. The Marlins aren't a real threat in the next couple of seasons to do anything, but are willing to pay me like I'm still a star? Plus, I'm closer to my home country with all my family and friends? Sign me up!

This is where the Astros have to make a decision. Bring Yuli back for another year or move on. If he follows through with his last four years, this should be a bounce back year. Since 2016, his first year in Houston and MLB, he's hit .262, .299, .291, .298, .232 (pandemic shortened season), .319, and .242 last season. The man is a professional hitter. He knows how to work an at-bat and can drive pitchers nuts. His defense isn't bad either. He's a more than capable first baseman.

This won't win me any favor, but I think it's time to move on. Yuli will always have a place in my heart because he was a major factor in the Astros' two World Series wins. Last season's title run was even more satisfying since it helped silence the haters. That was the mouthwash that got rid of the stench of the sign stealing scandal. Piña was there through it all.

Now, it's time to start transitioning towards the future. Piña, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Justin Verlander, and Lance McCullers Jr were the only holdovers from the 2017 team. Verlander was one of the guys the Mets backed the Brinks truck up for this offseason. Altuve (32), Bregman (28), and McCullers (29) should be all that's left of that group. While it would've been great to have Verlander (39) back, the emergence of the youth movement in the pitching staff made his loss somewhat expendable. At some point, the nostalgia wears off. Father Time and Mother Nature are both undefeated. If they were to bring Piña back, he should be a part timer transitioning into a hitting coach. Careers come to an end. It's time to start looking at his exit.

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