WEEKLY RECAP

Weekly soccer recap: Man City, Barca, PSG remains undefeated, MLS Cup playoffs resume

The Houston Dynamo resume their playoff run when they host Seattle Sounders FC in the first leg of the MLS Western Conference final on Tuesday night. Victor Araiza

League play is back in full swing as the international calendar came to an end. The field of 32 teams going to the FIFA World Cup next year is set, with Australia and Peru solidifying the last spots. Clubs returned to business as usual, with deciding matches in the Champions League looming ahead to start the week.

Premier League

Manchester City seems to be the consensus favorite to win the Premier League despite the fact that it’s still only November. That’s because they’re running like a well oiled locomotive with no signs of stopping - and their form extends into the Champions League as well. Guardiola’s side won 2-0 against Leicester City displaying their menacing tactical style, though were lucky not to have their captain Vincent Kompany sent off.

While it seems that the rest might be a race for second, the field looks pretty good. Manchester United welcomed back the likes of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a 4-1 win over Newcastle. Chelsea demolished West Brom 4-0 on the road, led by an Eden Hazard double while Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah had a double of his own in the Reds 3-0 win vs. Southampton.

The spotlight this weekend, however, was on the North London Derby where Tottenham was looked on as the heavy favorite. Arsenal had the last laugh in the 2-0 win at the Emirates, further frustrating their supporters about the inconsistency of their form.

Top 5: Manchester City (34), Manchester United (26), Chelsea (25), Tottenham (23), Liverpool (22)

La Liga

The Madrid Derby was the focus of the weekend in Spain as Atlético Madrid welcomed their crosstown rivals to their new stadium. Neither team really did much to separate themselves from the other and the real winner of this nil-nil draw was FC Barcelona, who’s lead in the standings only grows with the Catalan’s 3-0 win at Leganes. Valencia did pick up a 2-0 win over Espanyol and are quietly hanging around second place. Sevilla stays in fifth with a 2-1 win over Celta Vigo.

The 5: Barcelona (34), Valencia (30), Real Madrid (24), Atlético Madrid (24) and Sevilla (22)

Bundesliga

Remember when Bayern Munich fired their manager after that embarrassing 3-0 loss to Paris in the Champions League and trailed rivals Dortmund in the league? That was at the end of September and is now history as the Bavarians have gone undefeated in all competitions since then and are on a five game winning streak in the league. More importantly, they look to be on a steady path to their 27th Bundesliga title with a five point cushion over second place.

Schalke moved up to second with a 2-0 win over Hamburg and a 2-2 draw from RB Leipzig at Bayer Leverkusen. Dortmund fall to fifth after a 2-1 loss at Stuttgart, their third straight loss in the league.

Top 5: Bayern Munich (29), Schalke 04 (23), RB Leipzig (23), Mönchengladbach (21), Dortmund (20)

Ligue 1

All is well in the City of Lights as Cavanni, Di Maria and Pastore lit up the scoreboard in Paris Saint-Germain’s 4-1 win over Nantes. The result extends the Parisians lead in the league, currently at six points, and keep them undefeated along the likes of other European powers like Manchester City and Barcelona. The three closest teams in the table - Monaco, Lyon and Marseille - did not do themselves any favors as all three drew this weekend.

Top 5: Paris Saint-Germain (35), Monaco (29), Lyon (26), Marseille (25), Nantes (23)

Serie A

All eyes were on Rome to start the weekend as rivals Roma and Lazio faced off in the nation’s capital. Roma were 2-1 winners in the Derby della Capitale with a deciding goal from Radja Nainggolan. Napoli kept the lead at the top with a 2-1 win over A.C. Milan while Inter Milan keeps pace in second with a 2-0 win vs. Atalanta. The attention ended on Genoa as Sampdoria stunned Juventus with a 3-2 win.

The top 5: Napoli (35), Inter Milan (33), Juventus (31), Roma (30), Lazio (28)

Major League Soccer

The MLS Cup Playoffs resume after a two week break with the conference finals opening on Tuesday. Columbus Crew SC hosts Toronto FC followed by Houston Dynamo hosting Seattle Sounders FC. The second legs will be played next week but teams can set themselves up nicely, especially Toronto and Seattle who will be looking to leave with away goals. Sellout crowds are expected in both Columbus and Houston.

Liga MX

Mexico had a derby of their own as the Clásico Regio saw Monterrey finish at the top of the table with a 2-0 win over Tigres. Defending champions Guadalajara - who were eliminated from the playoffs a while back - ended their season with a 2-0 win over León. Necaxa and Tijuana were denied entrance into the playoffs and a deflected goal has pit crosstown rivals América and Cruz Azul into a first round playoff series. The playoffs kick off Wednesday.

Playoff matchups: (1) Monterrey vs. (8) Atlas, (2) Tigres vs. (7) León, (3) América vs. (6) Cruz Azul, (4) Morelia vs. (5) Toluca.

MVP of the Week - Mohamed Salah

A big reason why Liverpool have failed to regain the mystique that once made them one of “the big four” was the factor of having players who other teams had to account for. Players who would show up and win games for the club. Mohamed Salah has done that for LFC this year with nine goals in the league - now the top scorer - and four in the Champions League. He is proving to be a one-two punch for the Reds with the likes of Philippe Coutinho and could give Liverpool fans hope of long-standing success at the top if they can retain the two. So far Salah is the signing of the season.

Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Nov. 21:

11:00 a.m.- Besiktas vs. Porto (FS2)

1:30 p.m.- APOEL vs. Real Madrid (FS1)

1:30 p.m.- Dortmund vs. Tottenham (FS2)

1:30 p.m.- Manchester City vs. Feyenoord (FOX Sports Southwest)

1:30 p.m.- Sevilla vs. Liverpool (Facebook)

7:00 p.m.- Columbus Crew SC vs. Toronto FC (ESPN)

8:30 p.m.- Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders FC (FS1)

Wednesday, Nov. 22:

11:00 a.m.- Qarabag vs. Chelsea (FS2)

1:30 p.m.- Juventus vs. Barcelona (FS1)

1:30 p.m.- Basel vs. Manchester United (FS2)

1:30 p.m.- PSG vs. Celtic (FOX Sports Southwest)

1:30 p.m.- Atlético Madrid vs. Roma (Facebook)

7:30 p.m.- Toluca vs. Monarcas (Univision Deportes)

9:30 p.m.- León vs. Tigres (Univision Deportes)

Thursday, Nov. 23:

12:00 p.m.- FC Köln vs. Arsenal (FS1)

12:00 p.m.- Konyaspor vs. Marseille (FS2)

2:00 p.m.- Everton vs. Atalanta (FS1)

2:00 p.m.- A.C. Milan vs. Austria Vienna (FS2)

7:30 p.m.- Cruz Azul vs. América (Univision Deportes)

9:30 p.m.- Atlas vs. Monterrey (Univision Deportes)

Friday, Nov. 24:

1:20 p.m.- Hannover 96 vs. Stuttgart (FS2)

2:00 p.m.- West Ham vs. Leicester City (NBC Sports)

Saturday, Nov. 25:

9:00 a.m. - Manchester United vs. Brighton (NBC Sports)

9:15 a.m. - Real Madrid vs. Málaga (beIN Sports)

11:20 a.m. - Mönchengladbach vs. Bayern Munich (FS2)

11:30 a.m. - Liverpool vs. Chelsea (NBC)

7:00 p.m.- Tigres vs. León (Univision Deportes)

9:00 p.m.- Morelia vs. Toluca (Univision Deportes)

Sunday, Nov. 26:

8:00 a.m. - Burnley vs. Arsenal (NBC Sports)

10:00 a.m. - Huddersfield vs. Manchester City (NBC Sports)

1:45 p.m. - Valencia vs. Barcelona (beIN Sports)

6:00 p.m.- Monterrey vs. Atlas (Univision Deportes)

8:00 p.m.- América vs. Cruz Azul (Univision Deportes)

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RAVENS 33, TEXANS 16

5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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