THE SOCCER REPORT
Champions League, Copa Libertadores semis and “El Clasico” highlight soccer schedule
The rivalry game between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid will be missing the top two stars in the world for the first time since 2007. Cristiano Ronaldo departed Real Madrid in the offseason while Lionel Messi will be out injured.
Down in South America, the Copa Libertadores semi finals begin this week on the road to crowning a new continental champion. To recap the week and what’s to come, here is a breakdown of the major leagues:
English Premier League
Chelsea and Manchester United kicked off the return from the international break with a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. The Blues salvaged a point at home thanks to a Ross Barkley goal in stoppage time. Elsewhere in London, Tottenham won by a 1-0 margin at West Ham United. Brighton picked up three points at Newcastle, Everton defeated Crystal Palace 2-0, while Watford and Cardiff City also picked up wins. Manchester City’s 5-0 drubbing of Burnley keeps them top of the table.
One of the top storylines this week was Liverpool’s visit to Huddersfield Town because of the history of the managers. Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp faced off against his former Borussia Dortmund assistant David Wagner, now manager at Huddersfield. The match was decided by one goal, a Mohamed Salah score in the 24th minute, to keep Liverpool behind Man City. Arsenal made headlines of their own by ending the weekend slate with a 3-1 win over Leicester City - extending their winning streak to 10 in all competitions.
Top six: 1. Manchester City (23), 2. Liverpool (23), 3. Chelsea (21), 4. Arsenal (21), 5. Tottenham (21), 6. Bournemouth (17)
Scoring leader: 7 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)
Assists leader: 5 - Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City FC)
Spain’s La Liga
You may blink a few times in disbelief when you see the current standings in Spain. That’s because despite Barcelona returning to the top spot, the hierarchy has been challenged. Sevilla, last week’s leader, dropped to fourth thanks to their 4-2 loss at Barcelona. Atletico Madrid was held to a 1-1 draw at Villareal and, the biggest surprise, Real Madrid dropped to seventh after a 1-2 home loss to Levante. Alaves picked up a 1-0 win at Celta Vigo and Espanyol won 2-0 at Huesca, both good enough results to catapult them into the top three.
The big headline out of the weekend, besides Real Madrid’s fall from grace, was the injury to Lionel Messi in Barcelona’s match. That’s because Barcelona host hated rivals Real Madrid this coming weekend in a match that could determine the future of Madrid Manager Julen Lopetegui.
Top six: 1. Barcelona (18), 2. Espanyol (17), 3. Alaves (17), 4. Sevilla (16), 5. Atletico Madrid (16), 6. Valladolid (15)
Scoring leader: 8 - Cristhian Stuani (Girona)
Assists leader: 5 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)
Serbian striker Luka Jović skyrocketed to the top of the scoring chart this week with a five-goal performance in Frankfurt’s 7-1 win over Fortuna. Bayern Munich picked up a 3-1 win at Wolfsburg to rectify their early season drop and are now up to fourth. Bayer Leverkusen and Hannover 96 drew 2-2, Hertha tied 1-1 with Freiburg, Werder Bremen picked up a 2-0 win at Schalke 04 and Monchengladbach won 4-0 against Mainz.
Borussia Dortmund continue at the top with a 4-0 win at Stuttgart. American midfielder Christian Pulisic returned from injury and grabbed an assist as Dortmund now look ahead to their clash with Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.
Top six: 1. Dortmund (20), 2. Monchengladbach (17), 3. Werder Bremen (17), 4. Bayern Munich (16), 5. RB Leipzig (15), 6. Hertha Berlin (15)
Scoring leader: 6 - Paco Alcacer (Dortmund) / Luka Jović (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Assists leader: 6 - Jadon Sancho (Dortmund)
Italian Serie A
Cristiano Ronaldo picked up his fifth goal for Juventus in a 1-1 draw against Genea, the first time this season Juve drop points. The goal also marked Ronaldo’s 400th across the top five European leagues, the first player to reach that mark. Napoli gladly took advantage of trying to close back in on the title race, with a 3-0 win at Udinese. Inter Milan collected a cool 1-0 win over their rivals A.C. Milan while Lazio also got three points. Sampdoria and Fiorentina, both with draws this week, round out the top six.
Top six: 1. Juventus (25), 2. Napoli (21), 3. Inter Milan (19), 4. Lazio (18), 5. Sampdoria (15), 6. Fiorentina (14)
Scoring leader: 9 - Krzysztof Piątek (Genoa)
Assists leader: 6 - Suso (A.C. Milan)
French Ligue 1
Paris Saint-Germain continue to, unsurprisingly, wreck the French league with their latest win, 5-0, over Amiens SC. The defending champs are now undefeated in their first ten matches to start the season. Lille valiantly follow in second - eight points behind - with a 2-1 win at Dijon. Montpellier and Marseille both pick up three points but the former jumped the latter in the standings on goal differential. Lyon jumps to fifth with a 2-0 win and St-Etienne’s 1-1 setback against Rennes.
Top six: 1. PSG (30), 2. Lille (22), 3. Montpellier (19), 4. Marseille (19), 5. Lyon (17), 6. St-Etienne (16)
Scoring leader: 9 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)
Assists leader: 5 - Angel Di Maria (PSG) / Dimitri Payet (Marseille)
Major League Soccer
How quickly can a week change things? In MLS, three more teams clinched their playoff spots. D.C. United did so by winning both their matches this week to complete the comeback from a season of disarray to one of hope and ascension with the arrival of Wayne Rooney. The Black & Red where on the playoff bubble to enter the week but on Sunday clinched their appearance in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Seattle clinched - their 10th consecutive playoff appearance - midweek while rival Portland did the same on Sunday. LA Galaxy picked up three points as Zlatan Ibrahimovic picked up a goal and an assist in the 3-1 win against Minnesota United, in front of 52,242 fans at TCF Bank Stadium. The Galaxy now control their destiny and can clinch a playoff spot with a win against the visiting Houston Dynamo on Sunday.
The race for the top spot, and the Supporters’ Shield trophy, will come down to the last day of the season as both Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls picked up wins. Atlanta’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire also saw them tie Toronto FC’s 2017 record of 69 points - the most by any team in one season. They, as well as the Red Bulls, have an opportunity to surpass that mark on Sunday’s Decison Day.
East top six: 1. Atlanta United (69), 2. NY Red Bulls (68), 3. NYC FC (53), 4. Philadelphia (50), 5. D.C. United (50), 6. Columbus (48).
West top six: 1. Sporting KC (59), 2. LAFC (57), 3. FC Dallas (57), 4. Seattle (56), 5. Portland (54), 6. Real Salt Lake (49).
Scoring leader: 30 - Josef Martinez (Atlanta United)
Assists leader: 17 - Borek Dockal (Philadelphia Union) / Luciano Acosta (D.C. United)
With five games to go in the regular season, the playoff picture is taking shape in Mexico’s top division. Club America took the top spot thanks to a 3-0 win over Tijuana and a Cruz Azul 0-2 loss at Queretaro. The latter also benefited as they hold the final playoff spot, at least for the moment. Pumas and Tigres tied 3-3 and Lobos drew 1-1 with Chivas of Guadalajara. Monarca’s 2-0 win over Puebla help them lead the playoff bubble as does Leon’s 2-0 win at Necaxa.
Top eight: 1. Club America (27), 2. Cruz Azul (26), 3. Santos Laguna (25), 4. Pumas UNAM (23), 5. Monterrey (23), 6. Toluca (22), 7. Tigres UANL (19), 8. Queretaro (19)
Scoring leader(s): 10 - Julio Furch (Santos Laguna) / André-Pierre Gignac (Tigres)
Assists leader: 7 - Dorlan Pabon (Monterrey)
2018 Concacaf Women's Championship
After securing their berths in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the U.S. and Canada women faced off in Frisco to crown a regional champion. The U.S. successfully defended their crown, picking up their eighth Concacaf Women’s Championship title. Rose Lavelle and Alex Morgan were the goalscorers in the 2-0 win.
Jamaica and Panama faced off in the third place match where one of the two sides would assure themselves a first appearance at the Women’s World Cup. After a 2-2 draw, and with no winner decided in extra time, Jamaica would advance 4-2 on penalties. Panama can still qualify when they face Argentina in a home-and-home playoff series in November.
Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):
Wednesday, Oct. 24
12 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] PSV Eindhoven vs. Tottenham (TNT/UniMas)
2 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] FC Barcelona vs. Inter Milan (TNT/Univision)
2 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] PSG vs. Napoli (B/R Live/UniMas)
2 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Dortmund vs. Atletico Madrid (B/R Live/Galavision)
2 p.m. - [UEFA Champions League] Liverpool vs. Red Star Belgrade (B/R Live)
7:45 p.m. - [Copa Libertadores] Boca Juniors vs. Palmeiras (FOX Soccer Match Pass/Fanatiz)
Thursday, Oct. 25
12 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] AC Milan vs. Real Betis (B/R Live/UniMas)
12 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Sporting CP vs. Arsenal (B/R Live)
2 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Chelsea vs. BATE (B/R Live)
2 p.m. - [UEFA Europa League] Villarreal vs. Rapid Vienna (B/R Live/UniMas)
Friday, Oct. 26
1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Freiburg vs. Monchengladbach (FS2)
2 p.m. - [La Liga] Valladolid vs. Espanyol (beIN Sports en Espanol)
7 p.m. - [Liga MX] Santos Laguna vs. Monterrey (Univision Deportes)
9 p.m. - [Liga MX] Veracruz vs. Pachuca (Univision Deportes)
Saturday, Oct. 27
8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Dortmund vs. Hertha Berlin (Univision Deportes)
8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Mainz vs. Bayern Munich (FS2/FOX Deportes)
9 a.m. - [Premier League] Liverpool vs. Cardiff (NBC Sports)
11 a.m. - [Serie A] Empoli vs. Juventus (ESPN+)
11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Leicester vs. West Ham (NBC)
11:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Hoffenheim vs. Stuttgart (FS2/FOX Deportes)
1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Villarreal vs. Atletico Madrid (beIN Sports)
7 p.m. - [Liga MX] Tigres vs. Lobos BUAP (Galavision/ESPN Deportes)
7 p.m. - [Liga MX] Chivas vs. Morelia (Univision/Facebook)
9 p.m. - [Liga MX] Cruz Azul vs. Club America (Univision)
Sunday, Oct. 28
8:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal (NBC Sports)
9:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] RB Leipzig vs. Schalke (FS2)
10 a.m. - [La Liga] FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid (beIN Sports)
11 a.m. - [Premier League] Manchester United vs. Everton (NBC)
12 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Werder Bremen vs. Leverkusen (FS1)
12 p.m. - [Serie A] Milan vs. Sampdoria (ESPN)
2:30 p.m. - [MLS] Decision Day (ESPN) / Sporting KC vs. LAFC (FS1) / All other matches (ESPN+)
Monday, Oct. 29
1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] Lazio vs. Inter Milan (ESPN+)
2 p.m. - [Premier League] Tottenham vs. Manchester City (NBC Sports)