THE SOCCER REPORT

Champions League, Copa Libertadores semis and “El Clasico” highlight soccer schedule

FC Barcelona will have to get it done this week without Lionel Messi in Champions League and El Clásico. Nike, Inc.

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)

German Bundesliga

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)

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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)

Liga MX

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)

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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)

 

 

 

The U.S. Women's National Team look to defend their FIFA Women's World Cup title and become back-to-back champs.

The Summer of Soccer is underway with the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, UEFA Nations League and international friendlies all part of the schedule this past weekend. The action is about to kick into another gear with the start of the Concacaf Gold Cup and South America's Copa America this week. Here is the week in soccer:

FIFA Women's World Cup

The premier women's international soccer competition kicked off in France with a 4-0 win by the hosts last Friday to open the competition. France is one of the favorites, and pressured to win, due to their role as the home team. The French women are also looking to match their male counterparts that became World Cup champions last summer at Russia 2018.

Germany, another of the favorites, opened their campaign with a 1-0 win over China while 2011 Champions and 2015 Runners-up Japan were held to a scoreless draw against what could be a Cinderella team in Argentina. England and Scotland faced off for the first time at the World Cup, men or women's, with the Lionesses winning 2-1 while potential dark horse Canada picked up a 1-0 win over Cameroon.

The defending champion United States joins the fray on Tuesday (2:00 p.m. CT, FOX) in what will likely be a multiple goal clinic against Thailand. For all the basics on the Women's World Cup, check out this article.

UEFA Nations League

The first ever Nations League, an attempt to get rid of "meaningless" international friendlies, looks to have been a rousing success and it could not have finished in a better way in terms of garnering media attention. European football's golden boy Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal, the current European champions, to a second European title in three years with a 1-0 win over the Netherlands.

Concacaf Gold Cup

The biannual tournament to determine the champion of North America, Central America and the Caribbean - the region governed by Concacaf - kicks off on Saturday. The United States enter as the defending champions but it is Mexico, the nation with the most titles in the competition, who enter as the favorites to win it all.

Mexico fared well with a 3-1 friendly win over Venezuela in Atlanta on Wednesday followed by a 3-2 win over Ecuador on Sunday up in Arlington, TX. The United States enter with doubts after a 0-1 loss to Jamaica in Washington D.C. and a 0-3 loss to Venezuela in Cincinnati.

CONMEBOL Copa America

South America also has a tournament kicking off this weekend in the revered Copa America. Hosts Brazil are always in the spotlight because of their star-studded squad and will be expected to win despite losing Neymar to injury this past week. Of course, as it has been for several editions now, the main storyline will be if Lionel Messi can finally lift a trophy with Argentina. With what many consider as the best in the world (and best all-time by others) in his prime, the time seems now or never for Messi to conquer the quadrennial tournament as well of the hearts of his country - and what a story it would be to do it on rival turf.

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