THE SOCCER REPORT

MLS Cup playoffs begin Wednesday; tragedy strikes Leicester City

Wayne Rooney's D.C. United are one of the hottest teams entering the MLS Cup Playoffs. MLS/D.C. United

Cristiano Ronaldo is on the hottest start of any Juventus player in recent years while Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick for FC Barcelona in El Clasico. The playoff picture is set in MLS and the Copa Libertadores finalists will be decided this week. Here is the week in soccer:

English Premier League

The top six remain the same in the Premier League as Manchester City and Liverpool continue in the pole position for the title. City and Tottenham faced off in a fight of top five teams where a Riyad Mahrez goal was the difference. The 1-0 spectacle was marred by the football lines at Wembley that were left from Sunday’s NFL game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Arsenal, unbeaten in their last 12, saw their 11-match winning streak snapped by 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace. Liverpool won 4-1 vs. Cardiff City, Chelsea won 4-0 at Burnley and Bournemouth took a 3-0 win at Fulham to round out action for the top six. Manchester United, down in 8th place, added three points for themselves with a 2-1 win over Everton.

On Saturday, Leicester City drew 1-1 with West Ham United at the King Power Stadium. Unfortunately, the headlines came from the tragic death of five from a helicopter crash outside the stadium following the match. Among the casualties was Leicester City Owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who purchased the team for a reported reported £39 million ($50 million) in 2010 and helped the club win it’s first Premier League title with their 2015-16 cinderella season.

Top six: 1. Manchester City (26), 2. Liverpool (26), 3. Chelsea (24), 4. Arsenal (22), 5. Tottenham (21), 6. Bournemouth (20)

Scoring leader: 7 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC) / Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal)

Assists leader: 5 - Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City FC) / Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)

Spain’s La Liga

All eyes in Spain - and around the world - this weekend were on the 238th edition of El Clasico. FC Barcelona held on to the top of the table with a 5-1 home win over rivals Real Madrid. Uruguay’s Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick to carry Barcelona in the absence of Lionel Messi. Real Madrid, now winless in their last five league encounters, drop to ninth and will go with a new manager the rest of the way as Julen Lopetegui was relieved of that position on Monday.

Alaves, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid all picked up three points to keep pace with the defending champions at the top of the standings. Espanyol, in second last week, drop to fifth after a 1-1 draw at fellow top-six side Valladolid.

Top six: 1. Barcelona (21), 2. Alaves (20), 3. Sevilla (19), 4. Atletico Madrid (19), 5. Espanyol (18), 6. Valladolid (16)

Scoring leader: 8 - Cristhian Stuani (Girona) / Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo)

Assists leader: 5 - Jony Rodriguez (Alaves) / Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Dortmund entered the weekend with a six-match winning streak across all competitions, including a 4-0 win vs. Spain’s Atletico Madrid in the Champions League midweek. On Saturday, they were shown the breaks with a 2-2 draw against top-six side Hertha Berlin. In fact, Dortmund were just minutes away from taking the full three points before giving up a goal off a penalty in stoppage time. That score could prove to be a costly mistake as defending champion FC Bayern Munich have climbed the standings and are now only two points removed from first place. It was just a few weeks ago that Bayern were down in sixth place but their latest win, 2-1 at Mainz, has calmed the waters in Bavaria and put rivals Dortmund on notice.

Top six: 1. Dortmund (21), 2. Bayern Munich (19), 3. Monchengladbach (17), 4. Werder Bremen (17), 5. RB Leipzig (16), 6. Hertha Berlin (16)

Scoring leader: 7 - Paco Alcacer (Dortmund) / Luka Jović (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Assists leader: 6 - Jadon Sancho (Dortmund)
 

Italian Serie A

Cristiano Ronaldo scored two to save Juventus from an upset at 18th place Empoli. The champions were down a goal before CR7 converted a penalty in the 54th and secured the winner in the 70th minute. Meanwhile, in a battle of top five teams, Mauro Icardi had two of his own in a 3-0 Inter Milan win at Lazio. Napoli were held to a 1-1 draw vs. Roma and A.C. Milan jumps into the top five with a 3-2 win at Sampdoria.

Top six: 1. Juventus (28), 2. Inter Milan (22), 3. Napoli (22), 4. Lazio (18), 5. Milan (15), 6. Fiorentina (15)

Scoring leader: 9 - Krzysztof Piątek (Genoa)

Assists leader: 7 - Suso (A.C. Milan)

French Ligue 1

PSG remain perfect in league play as they collected their 11th win of the season with a 2-0 result at Marseille. The league’s top scorer Kylian Mbappé started off the bench after arriving late to the pre-match team meeting. The French phenom nonetheless went on to score the winning goal in the 65th minute. The loss drops Marseille down to fifth in the standings, allowing Lyon to move up to fourth place with their 2-1 win at Angers.

Top six: 1. PSG (33), 2. Lille (25), 3. Montpellier (22), 4. Lyon (20), 5. Marseille (19), 6. St-Etienne (17)

Scoring leader: 10 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 6 - Angel Di Maria (PSG)

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Major League Soccer

The final day of the regular season left plenty of talking points in MLS. Atlanta United failed to secure the top spot overall and was denied the opportunity to best Toronto FC’s 2017 record of most points in a single season by Toronto themselves in a 4-1 loss in Canada. That record of 69 points was broken, however, by the New York Red Bulls who picked up their third Supporters’ Shield title - securing homefield throughout the playoffs. New York City FC and Philadelphia faced off in a playoff preview as Philly’s 3-1 loss drops them to sixth, a result that will see them return to Yankee Stadium instead of opening at home for the first round of the postseason. As a result, D.C. United moves to fourth and secured a home playoff match to culminate the club’s revival with the arrival of Wayne Rooney. Columbus’ 3-2 win over Minnesota secured them the last playoff spot in the East.

The top of the table in the West was another story to follow as four teams were in play for the top two spots - and the bye to the next round that comes with it. Sporting Kansas City secured first in the West with a home win against LAFC, who themselves where playing for the same spot. FC Dallas was unable to move up back in the top two after a 2-1 upset at Colorado. By virtue of these results, Seattle became the biggest benefactor and jumped up to second with a home win over San Jose.

The biggest upset came with the Houston Dynamo’s 3-2 comeback win at LA Galaxy. LA were up 2-0 at halftime but were beaten in the second half with a double by the Dynamo’s Mauro Manotas. LA misses the postseason for the second consecutive season, the postseason misses out on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and an LA Derby in the first round and Real Salt Lake - who were out of action on “Decision Day” - take the last playoff spot in the West.

Final standings

East - 1. NY Red Bulls (71), 2. Atlanta United (69), 3. NYCFC (56), 4. D.C. United (51), 5. Columbus (51), 6. Philadelphia (50).

West - 1. Sporting KC (62), 2. Seattle (59), 3. LAFC (57), 4. FC Dallas (57), 5. Portland (54), 6. Real Salt Lake (49).

Scoring champion: 31 - Josef Martinez (Atlanta United)

Assists champion: 18 - Borek Dockal (Philadelphia Union)

Playoff Matchups

Knockout Round

(E3) New York City vs. (E6) Philadelphia Union

(E4) D.C. United vs. (E5) Columbus Crew

(W3) LAFC vs. (W6) Real Salt Lake

(W4) FC Dallas vs. (W5) Portland Timbers

Conference Semifinals 

(E1) New York Red Bulls vs. D.C., Columbus or Philadelphia

(E2) Atlanta United vs. NYCFC, D.C. or Columbus

(W1) Sporting KC vs. Dallas, Portland or RSL

(W2) Seattle Sounders vs. LAFC, Dallas or Portland

Liga MX

There was quite a bit of shuffling in the top eight in Mexico with less than a handful of matches before the playoffs begin. Club America and Cruz Azul faced off in a test of top three teams where the scoreless result benefited the former to stay at the top of the table. Santos Laguna’s 1-0 win over Monterrey helped them climb to second while Monterrey fell to six. Morelia’s 2-1 win at Guadalajara helped the “Monarchs” jump into the playoff picture to seventh place. Hanging around the playoff bubble are Pachuca, Queretaro and Puebla.

Top eight: 1. Club America (28), 2. Santos Laguna (28), 3. Cruz Azul (27), 4. Pumas UNAM (26), 5. Toluca (25), 6. Monterrey (23), 7. Morelia (22), 8. Tigres UANL (20)
 

Scoring leader(s): 11 - Julio Furch (Santos Laguna)

Assists leader: 7 - Dorlan Pabon (Monterrey)

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UEFA Champions League

Borussia Dortmund, FC Barcelona, Porto and Juventus were the teams that took a stranglehold at the top of their groups and put themselves just a few steps away from advancing to the knockout stage. Dortmund demolished “defensive” Atletico with a 4-0 win while Barcelona won 2-0 over a tough Inter Milan side. Tottenham were held to a 2-2 draw at PSV as neither could take advantage of Inter’s defeat. In Group C, Liverpool went to the top with a 4-0 win and a 2-2 draw between PSG and Napoli. Ajax is giving Bayern a run for their money in Group E as both picked up three points this week. Manchester City and Real Madrid went top of their groups with wins while Juventus defeated Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford in the marquee match of the week.

Group A: Dortmund (9), Atletico Madrid (6), Monaco (1), Club Brugge (1)

Group B: Barcelona (9), Inter Milan (6), Tottenham (1), PSV (1)

Group C: Liverpool (6), Napoli (5), PSG (4), Red Star Belgrade (1)

Group D: Porto (7), Schalke 04 (5), Galatasaray (4), Lokomotiv Moscow (0)

Group E: Ajax (7), Bayern Munich (7), Benfica (3), AEK Athens (0)

Group F: Manchester City (6), Lyon (5), Hoffenheim (2), Shakhtar Donetsk (2)

Group G: Real Madrid (6), Roma (6), CSKA Moscow (4), Plzeň (1)

Group H: Juventus (9), Manchester United (4), Valencia (2), Young Boys (1)

UEFA Europa League

Not much surprise in Europa League as clubs like Arsenal, Sevilla and Chelsea continue to lead their groups with little trouble. Real Betis, leaders in Group F, are the biggest revelation with a 2-1 win at A.C. Milan. Rangers are faring well also, sharing the top of the group with Spain’s Villareal.

Group A: FC Zurich (9), Bayer Leverkusen (6), Ludogorets (1), AEK Larnaca (1)

Group B: Red Bull Salzburg (9), RB Leipzig (6), Celtic (3), Rosenborg (0)

Group C: Zenit (7), Slavia Praha (6), Copenhagen (4), Bordeaux (0)

Group D: Dinamo Zagreb (9), Fenerbahce (4), Spartak Trnava (3), Anderlecht (1)

Group E: Arsenal (9), Sporting CP (6), Vorskla (3), Qarabag FK (0)

Group F: Real Betis (7), A.C. Milan (6), Olympiacos (4), Dudelange (0)

Group G: Rangers (5), Villarreal (5), Rapid Wien (3), Spartak Moscow (2)

Group H: Eintracht Frankfurt (9), Lazio (6), Marseille (1), Apollon Limassol (1)

Group I: Genk (6), Malmo (4), Sarpsborg (4), Besiktas (3)

Group J: Sevilla (6), FC Krasnodar (6), Standard Liege (6), Akhisar (0)

Group K: Astana (5), Dynamo Kiev (5), Rennes (3), Jablonec (2)

Group L: Chelsea (9), PAOK (3), Videoton (3), BATE (3)

Copa Libertadores

The semifinals in South America’s premier club championship is pitting two of the best from Argentina against two top Brazilian clubs. The dream match between hated Argentine rivals in the final may be put on hold. River Plate lost their home leg 1-0 against Gremio and will be without their Manager Marcelo Gallardo on the sideline for the return leg in Brazil due to suspension. Boca Juniors, 2-0 winners in their home leg against Palmeiras, will have the same problem as Manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto has also been served a suspension by the South American governing body, CONMEBOL. The second legs take place Tuesday and Wednesday to decide the finalists.

Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Wednesday, Oct. 31

12:30 p.m. - [German Cup] Dortmund vs. Union Berlin (ESPN Deportes)

2:30 p.m. - [Serie A] A.C. Milan vs. Genoa (ESPN+)

2:45 p.m. - [English League Cup] Arsenal vs. Blackpool (ESPN+)

2:45 p.m. - [English League Cup] Chelsea vs. Derby County (ESPN+)

2:45 p.m. - [English League Cup] West Ham vs. Tottenham (ESPN+)

2:45 p.m. - [German Cup] Monchengladbach vs. Leverkusen (ESPN3)

6 p.m. - [MLS Playoffs] New York City FC vs. Philadelphia Union (FS1)

7:45 p.m. -  [Copa Libertadores] Palmeiras vs. Boca Juniors (FOX Soccer Match Pass/Fanatiz)

8:30 p.m. - [MLS Playoffs] FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers (UniMás)

Thursday, Nov. 1

2:45 p.m. - [English League Cup] Manchester City vs. Fulham (ESPN+)

7 p.m. - [MLS Playoffs] D.C. United vs. Columbus Crew SC (FS1)

9:30 p.m. - [MLS Playoffs] LAFC vs. Real Salt Lake (ESPN2)

Friday, Nov. 2

8 p.m. - [Liga MX] Morelia vs. Tigres (Univision Deportes)

10 p.m. - [Liga MX] Puebla vs. Chivas (Univision Deportes)

10 p.m. - [Liga MX] Monterrey vs. Veracruz (FOX Deportes)

Saturday, Nov. 3

9 a.m. - [La Liga] Leganes vs. Atletico Madrid (beIN Sports)

7:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Bournemouth vs. Manchester United (NBC Sports)

9:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Bayern Munich vs. Freiburg (FS2/Univision Deportes)

10 a.m. - [Premier League] Cardiff vs. Leicester City (NBC Sports)

10:15 a.m. - [La Liga] Real Madrid vs. Valladolid (beIN Sports)

12:30 p.m. - [Premier League] Arsenal vs. Liverpool (NBC)

12:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Hertha Berlin vs. RB Leipzig (FS2/Univision Deportes)

2:30 p.m. - [Serie A] Juventus vs. Cagliari (ESPN+)

2:45 p.m. - [Premier League] Wolverhampton vs. Tottenham (CNBC)

2:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Rayo Vallecano vs. FC Barcelona (beIN Sports)

8 p.m. - [Liga MX] Club America vs. Toluca (Univision)

10 p.m. - [Liga MX] Lobos BUAP vs. Tijuana (Univision)

Sunday, Nov. 4 

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Monchengladbach vs. Dusseldorf (FS1)

9 a.m. - [Premier League] Manchester City vs. Southampton (NBC Sports)

11 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Mainz vs. Werder Bremen (FS2/FOX Deportes)

11:30 a.m. - [La Liga] Real Sociedad vs. Sevilla (beIN Sports)

TBA - [MLS Playoffs] Check MLSsoccer.com for listings

Monday, Nov. 5

2 p.m. - [Premier League] Huddersfield vs. Fulham (NBC Sports)

 

Carlos Tevez has challenged his Boca Juniors teammates to keep their heads up after drawing 2-2 with rivals River Plate in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores Final. Nike, Inc.

Manchester City, FC Barcelona, Dortmund, Juventus and PSG maintain leads in their respective leagues while the MLS Cup Playoffs is down to four teams. All eyes, however, were on South America as one of the fiercest rivalries reached new heights with the Copa Libertadores title on the line.

English Premier League

Matchday 12 in the Premier League provided close encounters with five of the 10 matches resulting in draws and three other results decided by one goal. In fact, the biggest margin of victory this week was by two and it included the top two sides in the standings - Manchester City and Liverpool.

The five stalemates where Southampton-Watford (1-1), Leicester City-Burnley (0-0), Huddersfield-West Ham (1-1), Chelsea-Everton (0-0) and Arsenal-Wolves (1-1). The biggest setbacks where obviously for Chelsea, who stay in third but see the gap widen from the title race, and Arsenal, who dropped to fifth and now saw Tottenham pass them by three points. Bournemouth stay in sixth but took a hit with a 1-2 loss at Newcastle. Watford and Manchester United have equaled Bournemouth with 20 points and Everton is one point behind at 9th place.

Mohamed Salah was influential in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Fulham but Manchester City maintained first place in the standings with a 3-1 win over rivals United in the Manchester Derby.

Big news came down this Wednesday as last place Fulham announced Claudio Ranieri as their new manager. The Italian tactician led Leicester City on that Cinderella Premier League title run that later saw him named the The Best FIFA Men's Coach in 2016.

Off the field, the Premier League announced a new CEO, and their first top female executive, in Animal Planet chief Susanna Dinnage. The new PL chief will take over in January and will be tasked with the continuing global growth of the Premier League.

Top six: 1. Manchester City (32), 2. Liverpool (30), 3. Chelsea (28), 4. Tottenham (27), 5. Arsenal (24), 6. Bournemouth (20)

Scoring leader: 8 - Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Assists leader: 6 - Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)

Spain’s La Liga

Don’t pencil in FC Barcelona as the champions just yet. The defending champions suffered a dramatic 3-4 loss to the visiting Real Betis and have been kept within range in the Spanish title race. Sevilla, with a 2-1 win over Espanyol, and Atletico Madrid, with a late 3-2 win over Athletic Bilbao, each picked up three points to pull within one of 1st place.

Real Madrid picked up their 4th straight win with a 4-2 victory at Celta Vigo, a result that influenced two managerial announcement. Real Madrid Manager Santiago Solari saw his interim tag removed and has assured himself the position with a contract lasting until June 2021. Celta Vigo, meanwhile, parted ways with Antonio Mohamed and announced Miguel Cardoso as their new manager.

La Liga will resume after the international break with a match of title implications as third place Atletico Madrid hosts FC Barcelona in the Spanish capital.

Top six: 1. Barcelona (24), 2. Sevilla (23), 3. Atletico Madrid (23), 4. Alaves (23), 5. Espanyol (21), 6. Real Madrid (20)

Scoring leader: 9 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona) / Luis Suarez (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 5 - Jony Rodriguez (Alaves) / Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Borussia Dortmund are looking every bit the part of the champion after a 3-2 win over rivals Bayern Munich. The two were separated by four points and Bayern were looking to shorten that gap to one on their path to a 28th league title and their potential 7th consecutive title. Dortmund, the last champion before Bayern’s six-season stranglehold, now look like a potential threat to that dynasty.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, Luka Jović had a brace in Frankfurt’s 3-0 win over Schalke 04 to take the top spot in the golden boot race. Monchengladbach and Leipzig also picked up three points apiece to take advantage of Bayern’s loss and move up the standings.

Top six: 1. Dortmund (27), 2. Monchengladbach (23), 3. RB Leipzig (22), 4. Eintracht Frankfurt (20), 5. Bayern Munich (20), 6. Hoffenheim (19)

Scoring leader: 9 - Luka Jović (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Assists leader: 6 - Jadon Sancho (Dortmund)
 

Italian Serie A

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to perform for Juventus by scoring in the marquee match at A.C. Milan. The 2-0 result keeps Juve in a somewhat comfortable lead as CR7 is now second in both goals and assists. Napoli kept pace with the leaders with a 2-1 win at Genoa while Inter Milan fall back to third with an embarrassing 1-4 loss at Atalanta. Lazio could not bring away the full three points at Sassuolo while Roma makes its way up the table with a 4-1 win vs. Sampdoria.

Top six: 1. Juventus (34), 2. Napoli (28), 3. Inter Milan (25), 4. Lazio (22), 5. Milan (21), 6. Roma (19)

Scoring leader: 9 - Krzysztof Piątek (Genoa)

Assists leader: 8 - Suso (A.C. Milan)

French Ligue 1

Another day, another win for Paris Saint-Germain. The defending champions are now on a thirteen match winning streak with a 4-0 win at Monaco. Lille drew 0-0 with Strasbourg and Montpelier lost 1-0 at Angers, stretching PSG’s lead even further. Lyon remains in the top four with a 4-2 win at Guingamp with St-Etienne and  Marseille picking up wins of their own to keep them in the picture for European competition next season.

Top six: 1. PSG (39), 2. Lille (26), 3. Montpellier (25), 4. Lyon (24), 5. St-Etienne (23), 6. Marseille (22)

Scoring leader: 11 - Emiliano Sala (Nantes) / Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 6 - Angel Di Maria (PSG)

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Major League Soccer

We’re down to the last four in the MLS Cup Playoffs: New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United in the East, Sporting Kansas City and Portland Timbers in the West.

New York City FC could not extend their season after defeating Philadelphia Union in the knockout round and lost their series against Atlanta by 4-1 on aggregate. The main question with NYCFC is what will be their direction after failing to win any hardware with 2010 FIFA World Cup winner David Villa, who will reportedly part ways from the club this offseason. Columbus Crew are left with a similar question as they too are eliminated. The Crew took care of red hot D.C. United in the knockout stage but could not get past the mighty Red Bulls in the conference semifinals. With Crew Head Coach Gregg Berhalter reportedly the leading candidate to take over the U.S. national team, many wonder who will lead Columbus next year.

In the West, Los Angeles FC and FC Dallas could not translate successful seasons into lengthy playoff runs. Both teams were one-and-done against lower seeds Real Salt Lake and Portland Timbers, respectively. RSL gave West No. 1 seed Sporting KC a scare but ultimately could not get past a more complete team. The Timbers, on the other end, took Seattle Sounders FC to extra time in the second leg of the Western conference finals, eliminating their bitter rivals on penalties.

The playoffs now take a hiatus due to the international break and return on Nov. 25 with the start of the Conference finals. The two conference champions will meet in the MLS Cup Final, hosted at the higher seed, on Dec. 8.

Playoff Results:

Knockout Round 

(E3) New York City 3-1 (E6) Philadelphia Union

(E4) D.C. United 2-2 (2-3 pens) (E5) Columbus Crew

(W3) LAFC 2-3 (W6) Real Salt Lake

(W4) FC Dallas 1-2 (W5) Portland Timbers

Conference semifinals 

(E1) New York Red Bulls 3-1 agg. (E5) Columbus Crew

(E2) Atlanta United 4-1 agg. (E3) New York City

(W1) Sporting KC 5-3 agg. (W6) Real Salt Lake

(W2) Seattle Sounders 4-4 agg. (2-4 pens) (W5) Portland Timbers

Liga MX

The playoff picture is almost complete in Mexico with one matchday left in the Apertura 2018 tournament. The eight are essentially the same we’ve seen for a few weeks, with a bit of shuffling around from one through eight. Cruz Azul is back on top with a 2-1 win over Lobos BUAP while Santos and America drew 1-1 this past weekend. Pumas took advantage of the latter by moving up to third in the standings with a 1-0 win over Toluca. Frenchman Andre-Pierre Gignac scored four in a 6-1 Tigres win against Puebla to propel his side up to sixth. In the final playoff spot, Monarcas may have all but booked their spot with a 3-2 win over Tijuana. Pachuca and Queretaro, at 9th and 10th with 23 points each, are the only teams on the bubble with possibilities to crash the party.

With Liga MX taking a rest due to the FIFA international break, many teams use the opportunity to stay in action by touring in the United States. Tigres UANL and Pumas UNAM, two contenders for this season’s title, will face off on Saturday (2:00 p.m. kickoff) in Downtown Houston. Plenty of tickets are still available at BBVACompassStadium.com

Top eight: 1. Cruz Azul (33), 2. Club America (30), 3. Pumas UNAM (29), 4. Santos Laguna (29), 5. Monterrey (27), 6. Tigres UANL (26), 7. Toluca (26), 8. Morelia (25)
 

Scoring leader(s): 14 - André-Pierre Gignac (Tigres UANL)

Assists leader: 8 - Dorlan Pabon (Monterrey)

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UEFA Champions League

There’s never any shortage of things to talk about when it comes to the Champions League. Cristiano Ronaldo made sure of that with a stunner of a goal against his former club Manchester United, and was then upstaged by the Red Devils as they took a 2-1 win in Turin, Italy. Red Star Belgrade defeated Liverpool in Sebia to throw a wrench in Group C, as if Napoli hadn’t done that already. In Group A, Atletico Madrid made up for their loss at Dortmund by winning their match against the German leaders, 2-0, in Madrid. Barcelona could not break down Inter Milan in Italy but retains the top spot after a 1-1 draw. Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Real Madrid all enjoyed comfortable wins and kept the top spots in their groups.

Group A: Dortmund (9), Atletico Madrid (9), Club Brugge (4), Monaco (1)

Group B: Barcelona (10), Inter Milan (7), Tottenham (4), PSV (1)

Group C: Napoli (6), Liverpool (6), PSG (5), Red Star Belgrade (4)

Group D: Porto (10), Schalke 04 (8), Galatasaray (4), Lokomotiv Moscow (0)

Group E: Bayern Munich (10), Ajax (8), Benfica (4), AEK Athens (0)

Group F: Manchester City (9), Lyon (6), Hoffenheim (3), Shakhtar Donetsk (2)

Group G: Real Madrid (9), Roma (9), CSKA Moscow (4), Plzeň (1)

Group H: Juventus (9), Manchester United (7), Valencia (5), Young Boys (1)

UEFA Europa League

Premier League clubs Arsenal and Chelsea continue to walk through the Europa League group stage, but other top clubs have found it difficult. A.C. Milan, for example, continues to be upstaged by Real Betis in Group F and Sevilla is finding it hard to take a stranglehold of Group J. Other hopefuls like Scottish clubs Celtic and Rangers remain in their respective group races but with little room for error.

Group A: Bayer Leverkusen (9), FC Zurich (9), Ludogorets (2), AEK Larnaca (2)

Group B: Red Bull Salzburg (12), RB Leipzig (6), Celtic (6), Rosenborg (0)

Group C: Zenit (8), Slavia Praha (7), Copenhagen (5), Bordeaux (1)

Group D: Dinamo Zagreb (12), Fenerbahce (7), Spartak Trnava (3), Anderlecht (1)

Group E: Arsenal (10), Sporting CP (7), Vorskla (3), Qarabag FK (3)

Group F: Real Betis (8), A.C. Milan (7), Olympiacos (7), Dudelange (0)

Group G: Villarreal (6), Spartak Moscow (5), Rangers (5), Rapid Wien (4)

Group H: Eintracht Frankfurt (12), Lazio (9), Marseille (1), Apollon Limassol (1)

Group I: Genk (7), Sarpsborg (5), Malmo (5), Besiktas (4)

Group J: FC Krasnodar (9), Sevilla (9), Standard Liege (6), Akhisar (0)

Group K: Astana (8), Dynamo Kiev (8), Rennes (3), Jablonec (2)

Group L: Chelsea (12), Videoton (6), PAOK (3), BATE (3)

Copa Libertadores

One of the most heated rivalries in all of soccer, with the South American championship on the line, kicked off this past weekend after weeks of anticipation. It took an extra day, as heavy rains and floods in the Buenos Aires region postponed the match from its original Saturday kickoff to Sunday afternoon. Once the first leg was underway, there was no denying the electricity as Boca Juniors took the lead with a 34th minute goal by their talisman in this edition of the Libertadores, Ramon Abila. The celebration was short lived by the home fans as River Plate’s Lucas Pratto tied the game on the ensuing kickoff. Boca were then forced to make an early change as Cristian Pavon had to leave the game due to injury. His replacement, Dario Benedetto, came off the bench and gave the home team the 2-1 lead just before halftime.

River Plate tied the match in the 61st minute thanks to a Carlos Izquierdoz own goal and the match would end in a 2-2 draw. Now, the animosity will grow back as the two teams prepare for the return leg across town on the 24th of this month. The winner will have everlasting bragging rights as this is not only the first time the historic rivals face off in a South American final but also the last in a home-and-home series - next season, the Libertadores switches to a neutral venue one match final.

Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Thursday, November 15

 

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Belgium vs. Iceland (ESPNews)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Croatia vs. Spain (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [International Friendly] Germany vs. Russia (ESPN+)

2 p.m. - [International Friendly] England vs. USA (ESPN2/UniMás)

Friday, November 16

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Wales vs. Denmark (ESPNews)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Netherlands vs. France (ESPN+/UniMás)

2 p.m. - [International Friendly] Brazil vs. Uruguay (beIN Sports)

6 p.m. - [International Friendly] Argentina vs. Mexico (UniMás/Univision Deportes)

6:15 p.m. - [International Friendly] Chile vs. Costa Rica (beIN Sports)

Saturday, November 17

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Italy vs. Portugal (ESPN+)

Sunday, November 18

8 a.m. - [UEFA Nations League] England vs. Croatia (ESPNews)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Switzerland vs. Belgium (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [International Friendly] Spain vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina (ESPN+)

Monday, November 19

12:30 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Iceland vs. Qatar (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Czech Republic vs. Slovakia (ESPNews)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Germany vs. Netherlands (ESPN+)

Tuesday, November 20

1:30 p.m. - [International Friendly] Brazil vs. Cameroon (beIN Sports)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Sweden vs. Russia (ESPNews)

1:45 p.m. - [UEFA Nations League] Portugal vs. Poland (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [International Friendly] Italy vs. USA (FS1/UniMás)

2 p.m. - [International Friendly] France vs. Uruguay (ESPN+)

6 p.m. - [International Friendly] Argentina vs. Mexico (UniMás/Univision Deportes)

 

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