World Cup Buzz Archives for January 2015

EPL GW19 review and GW20 preview; World Soccer Talk Podcast

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Listen to the World Soccer Talk Podcast featuring Richard Farley and Laurence McKenna as they review the Premier League's round 19 fixtures and preview the first match day of 2016.

Richard and Laurence look back on a gameweek that saw Arsenal reclaim a place at the top of the league as well as look forward to Manchester City's visit to Watford as well as a captivating matchup between high-powered Everton and the league's best defense, Spurs.

Real Sociedad’s Sergio Canales has suffered the third cruciate tear of his career

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Photo credit: AFP.

Real Sociedad playmaker Sergio Canales suffered a suspected third cruciate ligament tear of his career as the Basques lost 3-1 to Real Madrid on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old went down clutching his left knee under no pressure late in the first half, having already had two operations on his right knee after suffering cruciate ligament damage when at Valencia.

Top 5 Premier League players during the first half of the season

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There have certainly been a few surprises throughout the first half of the 2015-16 season. In fact, this is perhaps one of the most unpredictable starts to a Premier League season in recent memory. Now that the first half of the current campaign is in the books, let's take a look at the top five standout players of the current campaign.

ESPN wants to broadcast a debate between FIFA’s five presidential candidates

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ESPN has invited the five candidates vying to head the scandal-plagued FIFA to participate in a televised debate. The network said on its website that it made the offer seeking "a forum for open, transparent discussion about the future governance of the sport in advance of the election that will determine who occupies the most powerful position in global football".

Latest January transfer window deals and news (up-to-the-minute news)

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It's the silly season, aka January transfer window, and we'll be keeping you updated throughout the entire month with up-to-the-minute reports and confirmed deals. Feel free to bookmark the page and keep on returning to it throughout the month.

For the Premier League, the January transfer window opens on January 1 and closes at 6pm ET on Monday, February 1.

Two goals from Cristiano Ronaldo move Real Madrid to the top of La Liga [VIDEO]

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Photo credit: AFP.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice and missed a penalty as Real Madrid eased the pressure on under fire coach Rafael Benitez by moving to the top of La Liga with a 3-1 win over Real Sociedad. Real now lead Barcelona and Atletico Madrid by a point, but both can move back ahead of their title rivals with victories over Real Betis and Rayo Vallecano respectively later on Wednesday.

Ashley Cole links are the perfect addition to the LA Galaxy’s nonsensical offseason

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Reports from afar that Ashley Cole is close to signing with the LA Galaxy would once have been dismissed as more Euro-generated garbage littering the outer edges of silly season. After all, the Galaxy once graded out at "pretty doggone reliable" on player moves. But more and more, we seem to be asking: Remember when the LA Galaxy made good personnel choices?

Switzerland hands US prosecutors FIFA evidence

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Photo credit: AFP

Switzerland on Wednesday handed over an initial package of bank documents to US prosecutors requested by Washington as evidence in the ongoing criminal cases targeting senior FIFA leadership.

The material "relates to bank accounts allegedly used for bribes connected with the grant of marketing rights to soccer tournaments in Latin America and the USA", a statement from the Swiss attorney general's office (FOJ) said.

Chelsea’s Cesc Fabregas is staying put, says Guus Hiddink

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Guus Hiddink says Cesc Fabregas is happy at Chelsea amid speculation he could soon be the subject of a big-money bid from Italian clubs.

The Spain midfielder has been linked with both Juventus and Inter Milan following a poor half to the season at the Premier League champions, whose fall from grace has been well-documented.

Wages of sin return to haunt sports barons

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Photo credit: AFP

Judges and prosecutors trashed the reputations of two of the leading Lords of the Rings in 2015 and criminal charges against Sepp Blatter and Lamine Diack were a warning that sport has got to clean up its act.

Bribes, doping, even more bribes, the sky seems to be the limit in the strictly cash underbelly of sports marketing and fixed sporting glory.

Watch Soccer Morning from 9-10:15am ET with Charlie Boehm and Paul Tenorio

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Today's Soccer Morning features an interview with Charlie Boehm from Soccerwire followed by Paul Tenorio from the Orlando Sentinel.

You can watch Soccer Morning live via the World Soccer Talk LIVE page every weekday at www.worldsoccertalk.com/live.

During the show, you can tweet your questions or observations live to @soccermorning Or better yet, you can call in with your questions or comments by dialing 646-832-3909.

Ex-FIFA VP received $50,000 a month in bribes from sports marketing companies

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Photo credit: AFP.

Fallen FIFA vice president Eugenio Figueredo received $50,000 a month in "improper payments" from sports marketing companies, authorities in his native Uruguay alleged Tuesday in an indictment. The 83-year-old ex-soccer boss, one of seven top FIFA officials arrested at a Zurich luxury hotel in May, received "hefty sums" each month to ensure firms retained their exclusive broadcast rights to various South American tournaments, said the indictment published by a Uruguayan court.

Arsenal need to toughen up for a difficult 2016

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The last time Arsenal held the pole position in the Premier League (2013/14), the manner in which they blew their title became a story tough to describe and hard to digest. The Gunners were on course for their fourth Premier League title and were table toppers until February, when fourth-placed Liverpool gave them a reality check with a 5-1 drubbing.

Jurgen Klopp warns Liverpool not to underestimate Sunderland

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Photo credit: AFP.

Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool won't take Premier League strugglers Sunderland lightly after ending high-flying Leicester's long unbeaten run.

Klopp's side became the first side to stop Leicester scoring in the league this season as Claudio Ranieri's team were beaten 1-0 at Anfield on Saturday, their first defeat since September.

Blanc says PSG can reach Champions League’s semis, admits players could move in January

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Photo credit: AFP.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc said Tuesday he thinks his side are ready to reach at least the Champions League semifinals for the first time in more than 20 years.

Speaking ahead of PSG's friendly clash on Wednesday in Qatar against Italy's Inter Milan, Blanc said it was right that the pressure was on for PSG to perform in European soccer's biggest domestic club competition.

David Herman interview; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.29.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring an interview with David Herman, head of PR and marketing for One United USA, the official Manchester United supporters club of America.

During the interview, David shares his opinions on Louis Van Gaal as Manchester United manager, whether he feels he should be sacked or not, what needs to change at Old Trafford, as well as his opinions about the 0-0 draw with Chelsea.

Luis Enrique hints Barcelona is ready to buy in the January transfer window

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Photo credit: AFP.

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique on Tuesday refused to rule out the possibility of strengthening his side in the January transfer window, with the club's ban on signing new players set to expire. Barca were barred from registering new players for two consecutive transfer windows in 2015 after breaking FIFA rules on the signing of foreign players under the age of 16.

Premier League’s policy on online match highlights helps, not hurts, piracy

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The Premier League continues to wage a war on social media sites that featureillegal clips of matches that are uploaded by users. First, it was YouTube. Then, it was Vine. And this week, it's Streamable. The list will undoubtedly continue as soccer fans (and pirates) look for new ways to share clips.

Tim Howard’s position at Everton has become farcical and he must be dropped

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Ironic cheers from supporters form a key part of the soundtrack to modern day soccer, but it's rare to hear home fans direct these jibes in the direction of their own players.

Tim Howard and Everton fans are a special case at the moment, though. Applause and whoops rung out from the Gwladys Street when the United States international came and claimed a cross midway through the first half during the 4-3 loss to Stoke City, having hopelessly flapped at rudimentary ball into the box just seconds earlier.

Louis van Gaal vows to fight at Manchester United, derides media ‘lies’ about his job

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Photo credit: AFP.

Louis van Gaal has vowed to fight on as Manchester United manager, but admits that the matter may yet be taken out of his hands by the club's board. The Dutchman, 64, has faced three weeks of speculation after a run of games that has seen United slip to sixth place in the Premier League table and limp out of the Champions League in the group phase.

John Terry believes Chelsea are now headed in the right direction

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Photo credit: AFP.

Chelsea's recovery has begun, captain John Terry claimed Tuesday with the Blues unbeaten in the three games since Jose Mourinho's departure. A victory over Sunderland has been followed by draws with Watford and Manchester United. A surge up the Premier League table has yet to materialize, however, and the champions remain in 14th place, only three points off the relegation zone.

Rafa Benitez says there is a media campaign against him and Real Madrid

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Photo credit: AFP.

Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez lashed out Tuesday at what he called a media "campaign" against him and the club, insisting that reports of a crisis were overblown ahead of Wednesday's La Liga game against Real Sociedad.

Speculation over Benitez's position has been rife in the Spanish media, with Real's reserve team coach Zinedine Zidane touted as leading contender to take over following three defeats in six league games as well as the club's expulsion from the Copa del Rey.

Turkey’s soccer federation has been fined for revoking the license of a gay referee

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Photo credit: AFP.

A Turkish court on Tuesday ordered the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) to pay thousands of dollars in compensation after it revoked the refereeing license of a local referee on the grounds that he was gay. The Istanbul court ordered the TFF to pay 23,000 Turkish Lira ($7,900) in material and moral compensation over its treatment of Halil Ibrahim Dincdag, the Dogan news agency reported.

Arsene Wenger lauds Mesut Ozil as Dennis Bergkamp’s equal

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Photo credit: AFP.

Arsene Wenger hailed Mesut Ozil as the best player in the Premier League and an equal of Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp following another influential display in a 2-0 win over Bournemouth German midfielder Ozil made one goal and scored another at the Emirates Stadium on Monday to help Arsenal back to the top of the table, leaving pundits running out of superlatives to describe his performance.

Ex-Newcastle ‘keeper Pavel Srnicek dies after heart attack

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Photo credit: AFP

Former Czech international goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek of Newcastle United fame died on Tuesday following a heart attack he had suffered while out jogging last week, his agent said.

"It is with deep sadness that I have to announce the passing of former Newcastle United player Pavel Srnicek," Steve Wraith said in a statement on Facebook.

British tabloids are manufacturing the narrative to sack Premier League managers in order to sell newspapers

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Louis van Gaal's Manchester United are now winless in eight games in all competitions. For the Red Devils, this is a dry spell of historic proportions. But van Gaal appears to retain the support of Manchester United Chief Executive Ed Woodward, the club's board and luminaries such as Paul Scholes.

Wenger hails Mesut Ozil as Dennis Bergkamp’s equal

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Arsene Wenger hailed Mesut Ozil as the best player in the Premier League and an equal of Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp following another influential display in a 2-0 win over Bournemouth.

German midfielder Ozil made one goal and scored another at the Emirates Stadium on Monday to help Arsenal back to the top of the table, leaving pundits running out of superlatives to describe his performance.

Watch Soccer Morning from 9-10:15am ET with ArseBlog

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Today's Soccer Morning features an interview with ArseBlogger (Andrew Mangan) to discuss Arsenal moving to the top of the Premier League table.

You can watch Soccer Morning live via the World Soccer Talk LIVE page every weekday at www.worldsoccertalk.com/live.

During the show, you can tweet your questions or observations live to @soccermorning Or better yet, you can call in with your questions or comments by dialing 646-832-3909.

History-makers Real Madrid seek end-of-year boost

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Photo credit: AFP

Real Madrid host Real Sociedad on Wednesday intent on producing another tub-thumping performance to follow up their historic 10 goals and shore up under-fire Rafael Benitez's position as coach.

Real became the first side to reach double figures in a La Liga match in 55 years in their 10-2 dissection of Rayo Vallecano prior to the short Spanish winter break.

Albrighton: Manchester City ‘a test’ of Leicester’s staying power

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Photo credit: AFP.

Leicester City winger Marc Albrighton says the Premier League leaders can bounce back from defeat to Liverpool against title rivals Manchester City at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday night.

While Leicester's 15-goal top scorer Jamie Vardy is expected to be fully fit after a virus, City will be without injured captain Vincent Kompany.

DC United home jersey for 2016 leaked online [PHOTOS]

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An artist's rendition of the DC United home jersey for the 2016 MLS season has been released on the Internet.

The design, courtesy of FootyHeadlines, features black and charcoalhoopsdown the front of the shirt, as well as a red and trim on the cuffs and the back of the neck. The new DC United jersey also features black sleeves as well as the new DC United team crest.

Pochettino cautious about Tottenham title talk

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Photo credit: AFP

Mauricio Pochettino urged his Tottenham stars to keep their feet on the ground as they head into 2016 firmly in the Premier League title race.

Pochettino's side move into the new year primed to not just battle for a Champions League place but also vie for the domestic crown.

Manchester United’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea paints over cracks of a grim reality

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"Is that the best you've got?"

Ed Woodward should spit those wordsout the moment Louis van Gaal picks up his phone. Manchester United's executive vice chairman and manager reportedly talked after the team's loss at Stoke City, with some outlets reporting today's visit from Chelsea represented Van Gaal's last shot.

Tottenham are showing that a title challenge is possible

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Before the loss against Newcastle, Spurs weren't exactly reeling, but some of their verve and joy gone away in their performances against Chelsea and West Brom. It wasn't that the unbeaten run had falsely foretold Spurs' future; it was that they seemed to be coasting a bit too much. The comments from manager and players indicated that they needed a reset, and the loss to Newcastle was a covertly welcome respite.

Van Gaal, post-match: ‘Players are fighting for me … I am fully confident’ [VIDEO]

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Saying that he did not see any reason to resign, Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal gave a positive appraisal of his team's Monday performance against Chelsea, where a number of near-misses for both sides left the Red Devils drawn 0-0 with the Premier League's defending champions.

Louis van Gaal: "The players are fighting for me.

Arsenal 2-0 Bournemouth: Mesut Ozil leads Gunners to the top of the Premier League [VIDEO]

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Photo credit: AFP.

Arsenal's title challenge is back on track following a 2-0 victory over Bournemouth on Monday which sent them to the top of the Premier League and saw goalkeeper Petr Cech set a new clean-sheet record. Goals from Gabriel and Mesut Ozil, who was again Arsenal's key performer, were enough for the Gunners to settle a few nerves following a shock 4-0 defeat at Southampton two days earlier.

Manchester United 0-0 Chelsea: Is a scoreless draw enough to save Louis Van Gaal’s job? [VIDEO]

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Photo credit: AFP.

Manchester United bought beleaguered manager Louis van Gaal a measure of respite with an improved display in Monday's 0-0 draw at home to under-performing Premier League champions Chelsea. Van Gaal previously admitted that he was contemplating leaving Old Trafford after a wretched slump in form, but although his team have now gone eight games without victory in all competitions, they avoided sinking to five straight defeats for the first time since December 1936.

Watch Son Heung-min backheel Tottenham into third place in the Premier League [VIDEO]

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Chelsea's visit to Manchester United dominated headlines coming out of Boxing Day, but it was Monday's match at Vicarage Road that promised to be the day's best matchup. Tottenham, coming off back-to-back convincing wins, were visiting a Watford squad in the midst of a surprise top-four push. Though the match didn't carry the prestige of a Big Four battle, it offered something the showdown at Old Trafford couldn't: two teams currently among the Premier League's best.

Cuco Martina versus Xherdan Shaqiri: Who finished it better? [VIDEO]

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Is it too romantic, to see these goals by Southampton's Cuco Martina and Stoke City's Xherdan Shaqiri as the range that soccer has to offer? One, a powerful strike demanding the instincts and execution of a top-level player. The other, a touch a 12-year-old could execute, but only if that child's feet extended from the mind and reactions of a near-world class talent.

Heartwarming trailer for Stanley Matthews film shows different side to English legend

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When you think of Stanley Matthews, a lot of memories come to mind —English football legend, the Wizard of the dribble, the star of the Matthews Final (1953 FA Cup), etc. But how many of you knew the impact that Matthews left behind a legacy in Africa where he coached youth players? Neither did we.

Chelsea home jersey for 2016/17 season leaked on Internet [PHOTOS]

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An artist's rendition of the Chelsea home jersey for the 2016/17 season has been released on the Internet.

The design, courtesy of FootyHeadlines, features the classic blue shirt of Chelsea but with a key difference —there are Chelsea lions imprinted across the entire jersey.

Chelsea's home shirt for next season also features the new adidas design of three stripes down the side of the shirt instead of down the sleeves, as well as a v-neck collar design.

EPL GW18 review show and GW19-20 preview; World Soccer Talk Podcast

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Listen to the World Soccer Talk Podcast featuring Richard Farley and Nipun Chopra as they review the Premier League's Boxing Day fixtures, and preview the Monday-Wednesday fixtures.

With plenty to talk about including the collapse of Arsenal to Southampton and Man United to Stoke, as well as all of the other topics, this show is a must listen to catch up on the analysis as well as to listen to expert previews.

Southampton 4-0 Arsenal: Wenger finds fault with referee and team

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Photo credit: AFP

Arsene Wenger believes referee Jon Moss incorrectly allowed three goals in his side's 4-0 rout at the hands of Southampton, but insisted his Arsenal team's performance was more of a concern.

Arsenal began Saturday's match well but simply fell apart after Southampton's opening goal, scored with a 30-yard shot by Cuco Martina on his first Premier League start.

Bayern Munich home jersey for 2016/17 leaked on Internet [PHOTOS]

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An artist's rendition of the Bayern Munich home jersey for the 2016/17 season has been released on the Internet.

The design, courtesy of FootyHeadlines, features the classic red colors of Bayern Munich, but with some distinct differences. The shirt features a white rounded collar as well as the three white stripes from adidas along the side of the jersey.

‘Invincible’ Vincent Kompany vows to fight back from new injury misery

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Manchester City skipper Vincent Kompany described himself as "invincible" on Saturday despite seeing his latest injury comeback last just eight minutes.

The 29-year-old Belgian international came on as a second-half substitute in the 4-1 win over Sunderland after eight matches out with a calf injury.

Man Utd defeat at Stoke leaves Van Gaal on brink; Match highlights [VIDEO]

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Louis van Gaal's position as Manchester United manager is in serious jeopardy after his side's wretched form continued with a 2-0 defeat at Stoke City on Saturday.

Pre-match media reports suggested Van Gaal was one defeat away from the sack and the 64-year-old Dutchman saw his team's run of games without a win extended to seven at a windswept Britannia Stadium.

England home jersey for Euro 2016 leaked on Internet [PHOTOS]

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Photo credit: AFP.

Artist renditions of what the England home jersey for Euro 2016 will look like have been released on the Internet.

According to FootyHeadlines, the "new Nike England Euro 2016 home jersey will boast an eye-catching design in white and ice blue, set to be launched in March 2016.

Southampton vs. Arsenal predicted lineups and team news

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High-flying Arsenal travel to St Mary's on Boxing day as they attempt to build on their 2-1 win over Manchester City last Monday.

The Gunners underlined their title credentials by defeating City and are now unbeaten in their last six matches after a bit of a wobble in early November.

Coming into this game, Arsenal have a decent record against Southampton with only one loss in their last 11 Premier League meetings.

Liverpool vs. Leicester City predicted lineups and team news

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Premier League leaders Leicester City travel to Liverpool on Saturday as they aim to continue their impressive run of form this season which has seen them lose just once this season.

The Foxes have been the most consistent and efficient side this season and are now seemingly well placed to make a serious title challenge this season, much to the surprise of everyone.

James Collins has signed on for two more years at West Ham

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Photo credit: AFP.

Welsh international defender James Collins on Thursday signed a new two-year deal with West Ham which will keep him at the London club until 2018.

Collins, 32, has made 160 appearances for West Ham across two spells, having rejoined the club in 2012 after a three-year period with Premier League rivals Aston Villa.

Jurgen Klopp’s still surprised by the reaction to Liverpool’s Kop salute

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Photo credit: AFP.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on Thursday expressed surprise over the mirth provoked by his decision to salute the club's fans following the recent 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion. Liverpool snatched a point in the Dec. 13 game at Anfield when Divock Origi scored a 96th-minute equalizer, and afterward Klopp and his players joined hands to salute the fans sitting on the Kop for their support.

Arsenal truly is a changed Premier League force

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Christmas usually isn't too merry for the Arsenal faithful. Over the years they've gotten used to seeing their side attain an impeccable position from which there is no hope of winning the title, even with half the season remaining; seeing their key players follow the footsteps of full-time hospital resident and part-time central midfielder Abou Diaby; or seeing their team get thoroughly dismantled against the other top teams in the English Premier League.

Klopp: England’s national team needs the Premier League to take a winter break

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Photo credit: AFP.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes the Premier League should follow their European rivals and introduce a winter break to help increase the national team's chances of success.

The German coach will experience his first hectic Christmas and New Year period in England having been used to a month's rest during his time with Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.

Happy Holidays from the team at World Soccer Talk

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For many, myself included, Christmas is the most special time of the year. It's a time to celebrate as well as to cherish your friends and family. And for many of us, it's an opportunity to give and receive soccer-related gifts, as well as to prepare for the onslaught of games over the coming days during the busiest time of the year for fans of Premier League clubs.

Turnover among top managers hurts soccer at the highest levels

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Why would anyone want to be the manager of Manchester United?

A few years ago, if you asked that to a soccer fan, you'd be greeted with a dumbfound stare and probably a quick exit from the conversation. The fame, prestige and glory of winning with a super club like Manchester United, Real Madrid, or Barcelona are lifelong goals, things that most coaches can only dream of.

England’s Boxing Day soccer bonanza inspires love and hate

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While the rest of Europe hibernates over the Christmas holiday period, England indulges in an orgy of football, with Boxing Day the highlight of this secular and often maligned tradition.

With barely any time to digest the Christmas turkey, teams come out the next day to play as part of a series fixtures running into the first days of 2016.

Manchester United players fighting for Van Gaal, says Rooney

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Photo credit: AFP

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney declared on Thursday that he and his team-mates are "fighting" to save the job of embattled manager Louis van Gaal.

British media reports claim Van Gaal is on the brink of the sack after a run of six games without victory and he stormed out of his weekly press conference on Wednesday after criticizing the speculation about his job.

Former Arsenal boss and England assistant Don Howe dies

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Photo credit: AFP.

Don Howe, a highly-respected former Arsenal player, manager and coach, died on Wednesday, aged 80.

Howe won 23 caps for England and was also part of the national team for their two most successful tournaments in recent history, working as an assistant to both Bobby Robson and Terry Venables as they reached the semifinals of the 1990 World Cup and the 1996 European Championship.

Claudio Ranieri sees Leicester City as the Premier League’s Forest Gump

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Photo credit: AFP.

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri has labelled the surprise leaders as the Premier League's Forrest Gump. Ranieri's side are in first place at Christmas just 12 months after being bottom of the table and the former Chelsea boss wants Leicester to maintain their pace at the top, likening their stamina to Tom Hanks' film character Forrest Gump, who ran across America:

"I am very confident because Leicester, last season, saved themselves in the last two months and that means the stamina is fantastic.

Gary Taphouse interview; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.23.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring an interview with Premier League commentator Gary Taphouse.

During the interview, Taphouse chats about how he got his start as a commentator, what he loves about the game, whether he prefers to do solo commentaries or work with a co-commentator, how the role of a commentator has changed over the years, as well as more insight into his role as an announcer for the Premier League world-feed and Sky Sports.

Eddie Howe remains cautious about Bournemouth’s Premier League surge

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Photo credit: AFP.

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe admitted on Wednesday it will be tough to continue his side's recent winning run over the hectic festive period. The Cherries have not been beaten since the beginning of November and followed up a shock 1-0 victory at Chelsea and 2-1 win at home to Manchester United with a 2-1 success at West Bromwich Albion last time out, their third win in a row.

Ship the Abby Wambach backlash and focus on US Soccer’s identity problem

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Our country's soccer fans and pundits have been arguing about so-called passport players since before we knew what a pundit was. It's been a talker since the days of Thomas Dooley and Earnie Stewart, the top US performers among the foreign-born set at a highly meaningful World Cup 1994.

But old argument doesn't mean bad or unnecessary argument.

Are MLS’ reported attendance numbers a game of smoke and mirrors?

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So you watched your favorite MLS team on TV this past season and you noticed the vast swath of empty seats at the stadium (not you Seattle, Orlando or NYCFC fans). Then you get your soccer geek on and check the boxscores for the game and see that the attendance has been reported at a sellout or a near sellout.

The Premier League is entering a period of upheaval

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It's Christmas period, and Leicester City are top of the table. Meanwhile Chelsea are still enduring a chastening season, with their beloved Jose Mourinho sacked in what seems a strange move – unless, of course, they've got someone like Diego Simeone lined up as "The Special One's" successor.

Perhaps to their delight, Chelsea aren't the only Premier League giants consumed by chaos and problems.

Manchester City’s new club crest leaked on the Internet

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Manchester City planned to unveil its brand new crest on Saturday, December 26 (Boxing Day). In the past several days, the club has embarked on a marketing campaign with posters adorned throughout the streets of Manchester. However, its plans have been dealt a blow after the new crest has been leaked on the Internet by the UK's Intellectual Property Office.

Dimitri Payet ‘way ahead of schedule,’ expected to return Jan. 2 against Liverpool

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Photo credit: AFP.

France international Dimitri Payet is set to make his return from an ankle injury in the new year, West Ham manager Slaven Bilic said on Wednesday. The former Marseille attacking midfielder was expected to be out until February after sustaining the injury in last month's 1-1 draw with Everton.

Wilfried Bony is disappointed he didn’t start for Manchester City against Arsenal

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Photo credit: AFP.

Wilfried Bony has slammed Manuel Pellegrini for failing to start him in Manchester City's defeat at Premier League title rivals Arsenal. Ivory Coast striker Bony had scored three in four games while City's star forward Sergio Aguero was out with a heel injury. But Aguero was back for Monday's clash at the Emirates Stadium and started as City lost 2-1 in a match that could have a significant bearing on the title race.

Commentators for Premier League matches on NBC Sports, Gameweeks 18 through 20

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In what is, for many, the most exciting Premier League weekend of the season, NBC Sports has a ton of coverage planned as well as the popular Premier League Breakaway show on Monday. Read more about NBC's holiday coverage plans for supporters of Premier League clubs in the USA.

Here's the complete line-up of commentatorsfor this weekend's Premier League matches (all times Eastern):

Saturday, December 26

Stoke vs.

Watch Louis Van Gaal’s Man United press conference that led to him storming out [VIDEO]

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Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal stormed out of his press conference today after journalists failed to apologize for the media speculation surrounding his job.

Van Gaal began the press conference by asking, "Has anybody in this room not a feeling to apologize to me? Nobody has that feeling?

Guus Hiddink tells Chelsea players to ‘look in the mirror’

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Photo credit: AFP

New Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink has asked his underperforming players to "look in the mirror" and claims their future at the club is at risk if they don't up their game.

The Dutchman has replaced Jose Mourinho but confirmed at a press conference on Wednesday it is only likely to be a short-term role.

Premier League and Liga MX post record-breaking 2015 viewing numbers on US TV

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NBC Sports Group and Univision posted record-breaking numbers in 2015 for its soccer coverage. Most of the impressive numbers below are a direct result of the increasing popularity of the Premier League and Liga MX to viewers in the United States.

Here are the biggest eyeopening numbers for 2015:

NBCSN

NBCSN delivered:

•It's best total day and primetime viewership in the network's history in 2015,

•After consecutive record-setting seasons in 2013-14 and 2014-15, NBCSN is averaging 439,000 viewers this season up 3% from last year at this time.

US investors in talks to buy Everton, says report

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Photo credit: AFP

A consortium led by two US technology investors is negotiating to buy Everton Football Club for an estimated £200 million (272 million euros, $297 million), The Times newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The report said the group had signed a preliminary agreement with owner and chairman Bill Kenwright and was checking the club's accounts with the aim of completing a takeover within the next six weeks.

Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel says hamstring injury will sideline him for six weeks

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Photo credit: AFP.

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel has revealed he expects to be sidelined for six weeks after suffering a hamstring injury. Skrtel limped off in the first half of Liverpool's 3-0 defeat at Watford on Sunday and scans have revealed the Slovakia center back has a torn hamstring that will keep him out until February.

Premier League preview show GW18; World Soccer Talk Podcast

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Listen to the World Soccer Talk Podcast featuring Richard Farley, Laurence McKenna and Nipun Chopra as they preview the Premier League's Boxing Day fixtures. The trio also review Monday's Arsenal-Manchester City showdown and discuss the new speculation around the Manchester United managerial job.

Listen to the show via the player above or via this link.

Remi Garde targets 10 wins to save Aston Villa from relegation

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Photo credit: AFP.

The Premier League's bottom side Aston Villa need to win 10 matches to save themselves from relegation, manager Remi Garde said Tuesday.

The Frenchman has yet to guide his side to a single Premier League victory since taking over from the sacked Tim Sherwood six games ago.

NBC announces Premier League coverage plans for Christmas and New Year’s holiday season

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While other leagues are on winter break or in their offseason, fans of Premier League clubs in the United States will be able to enjoy a fantastic weekend of coverage during the next week across the NBC Sports Group networks.

NBC Sports Group's holiday Premier League coverage is highlighted by 30 matches in nine days, featuring the first-ever NBC doubleheader this Saturday, Dec.

Ancelotti: Players’ ‘lack of motivation’ cost Mourinho the Chelsea job

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Soon-to-be Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti believes a "lack of motivation" within the squad at his old club Chelsea is what cost Jose Mourinho his job. Mourinho was fired last week with Chelsea languishing just above the relegation zone in the Premier League only seven months after they won the title.

Thierry Henry analyzes differences between Guardiola and Van Gaal tactics [VIDEO]

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On Sky Sports' Monday Night Football, Arsenal legend Thierry Henry shared his analysis regarding the differences between the tactics under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona and Louis van Gaal at Manchester United.

While Henry is certainly no Gary Neville, there are some interesting points that he makes in the video below.

MLS announces its 2016 opening weekend schedule, dates for all 20 home openers

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Major League Soccer has announced the start date to its 2016 season as well as the dates for its club's 20 home openers. The season will begin with 10 matches on Sunday, March 6, 2016, with the remaining home openers extending into the 12th week of the campaign.

Nineteen of the league's clubs will play home openers within the season's first three weeks.

MLS’s rules and the Galaxy’s choices have landed Omar Gonzalez in Mexico

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United States international Omar Gonzalez has been transferred from Major League Soccer's LA Galaxy to Liga MX's Pachuca, the Galaxy announced on Wednesday. The move ends the defender's seven-year stay at the MLS club.

"We thank Omar for his contribution and dedication to this club throughout the past seven years," Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena said in a statement published by the club.

The pros and cons to Manchester United hiring Jose Mourinho

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Over the last five days, we've kicked around the idea of Manchester United hiring Jose Mourinho. While some United supporters may have initially laughed or scoffed at the idea, this weekend's loss to Norwich City may give the Old Trafford board a kick in the pants.

Now more than ever, United have reason to part ways with Louis van Gaal and fix the rudderless ship.

Real Madrid home jersey for 2016/17 season: Leaked [PHOTOS]

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An artist's rendition of what Real Madrid's home jersey for the 2016/17 season will look like has been revealed on the Internet.

According to FootyHeadlines, "the Real Madrid 2016-2017 kit boasts a very classy and traditional design, inspired by the very first shirts worn by Los Blancos in the early 1900s.

NBCSN has a gaping hole in its Premier League coverage

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Last Thursday when news broke that Jose Mourinho had been sacked at Chelsea, it was arguably the biggest club soccer story of the year. Despite the serious implications of the news, one TV network in particular was silent and it illustrated a gaping hole in its coverage. That company was NBC Sports Group.

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini affair marks ‘new low point’ in soccer

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Photo credit: AFP

Leading figures in football hit out at the disgraced Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini after they were handed eight-year bans from the sport.

FIFA president Blatter and UEFA president Platini have been banned from all footballing activities after the association's ethics tribunal said they had abused their positions over a suspect $2-million payment (1.

Lack of unity at Manchester United pushes Louis Van Gaal to the brink

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Photo credit: AFP

Just days after Jose Mourinho's abrupt departure from Chelsea, Louis van Gaal is teetering on the brink of becoming the next high-profile victim of the Premier League sack race.

The pressure is mounting on the embattled Manchester United manager, who was hunkered down at United's Carrington training base on Monday amid speculation he will be axed if his side lose either of their next two matches at Stoke City on Saturday or at home against Chelsea next Monday.

Watch Soccer Morning from 9-10:15am ET with guest Luke Moore

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Today's Soccer Morning features an interview with Luke Moore from The Football Ramble.

You can watch Soccer Morning live via the World Soccer Talk LIVE page every weekday at www.worldsoccertalk.com/live.

During the show, you can tweet your questions or observations live to @soccermorning Or better yet, you can call in with your questions or comments by dialing 646-832-3909.

Investigators used special software to find Blatter and Platini’s secret payment

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Photo credit: AFP.

FIFA investigators used special software for financial watchdogs to catch the $2 million transfer that led to the ban on Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, a source close to soccer's world governing body said. Unleashing the Swiss-developed program which can analyze thousands of accounts in double quick time highlights the lengths now being taken to track doubtful money transfers in world soccer.

Former Chelsea and Republic of Ireland winger Damien Duff has announced his retirement

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Photo credit: AFP.

Former Chelsea and Republic of Ireland winger Damien Duff announced his retirement on Monday.

Duff came through the youth ranks at Blackburn before moving onto Chelsea, Newcastle and then Fulham. The 36-year-old won two Premier League titles and the League Cup with Chelsea, lifted the League Cup with Blackburn and helped Fulham reach the 2010 Europa League final.

Raphael Gellar interview; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.21.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring an interview with BBC reporter Raphael Gellar about whether Kenny Saief will decide to pick the uSA or Israel to play his senior international soccer.

In addition to Saief, Gellar chats about the latest Middle East soccer stories and his thoughts on where the Israeli national team goes from here.

Kobe Bryant: FIFA corruption ‘damages the emotional Shangri-La you get from sport’

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Photo credit: AFP.

NBA legend Kobe Bryant called the eight-year bans issued Monday to FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini an "important first step" in cleaning up global soccer. The 37-year-old Los Angeles Lakers guard, a five-time NBA champion and twice an Olympic gold medal winner, is in his 20th and final NBA campaign, announcing his retirement last month.

Phil Jones thinks Louis van Gaal ‘is doing a terrific job’

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Photo credit: AFP.

Manchester United defender Phil Jones has issued a rallying call to his teammates to stick together and relieve some of the pressure on under-fire boss Louis van Gaal. The Dutchman has come under increased scrutiny amid a poor run of results, with Saturday's 2-1 home defeat against Norwich seeing United slide out of the Premier League's top four.

Pedro backs Cesc Fabregas to win back Chelsea fans’ support

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Photo credit: AFP.

Spain forward Pedro has backed his club and international teammate Cesc Fabregas to overcome hostility from some Chelsea fans and come good for the west Londoners. Midfielder Fabregas was jeered by some sections of the Stamford Bridge crowd during Saturday's 3-1 win over Sunderland as part of protests against the sacking of 'Shed' hero Jose Mourinho.

Macnhester City are stuck in neutral until Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta return

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This time last year, talk of Vincent Kompany's inconsistency began defining his reputation, with the once vaunted central defender reduced to a precarious place among soccer's elite. Now, with Manchester City undefeated in the league when the imposing Belgian is in the lineup, the debate about his value has gone silent.

Arsenal 2-1 Manchester City: Highlights and match report

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Photo credit: AFP.

Theo Walcott scored a brilliant opening goal as Arsenal established themselves as the number one challengers to Premier League leaders Leicester City by overcoming Manchester City 2-1 on Monday. Walcott curled home a beauty in the 33rd minute before Mesut Ozil teed up Olivier Giroud to score his 12th goal in 14 games in first half stoppage time, with Yaya Toure's classy reply coming too late for City.

Arsene Wenger vows to get January transfer business done early

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While Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is normally tight-lipped on potential incoming transfers most notably when he claimed to have never heard of Santi Cazorla only days before signing him from Malaga in 2012 the Frenchman has recently claimed that he will do his best to make signings as quickly as possible during the upcoming transfer period.

Juventus home jersey for 2016/17 season: Leaked [PHOTO]

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An image of Juventus' home jersey for the 2016/17 season has been leaked on the Internet.

Currently sitting fourth in the Serie A table, the Turin side will be wearing its iconic black and white stripes for the 2016/17 season, but the design will look quite different than in previous seasons.

Andre Schubert and Borussia Moechengladbach are the story of the Bundesliga season

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The Bundesliga title race isn't exactly setting pulses racing, but there are still plenty of talking points. Pep Guardiola is leaving for pastures new at the end of the season, and the Munich giants have acted swiftly in securing Carlo Ancelotti as his replacement. There's Borussia Dortmund under the stewardship of Thomas Tuchel, whose team has scored more goals than any other side in the Bundesliga.

Where to find Arsenal vs. Manchester City live on US TV and streaming

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Monday's clash between Arsenal and Manchester City could have a big implication on the Premier League title race as both clubs are trying to narrow the gap against high-flying Leicester City.

But if you live in the United States, where can you find the game on television and streaming?

Here are all of the details you need:

Who: Arsenal vs.

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini promise to fight their eight-year bans

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Photo credit: AFP.

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini vowed to keep fighting FIFA in courts after being suspended for eight years over ethics violations on Monday.

Blatter, FIFA's president since 1998, said he had been "betrayed" by the world body's ethics committee which he helped set up and accused judges of ignoring key evidence he believes should have cleared his name.

Lionel Messi responds with punch after River fans spits on him at Club World Cup

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Photo credit: AFP.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi was spat at by a River Plate fan during an ugly airport altercation following his side's 3-0 victory in the Club World Cup final in Japan, Spanish media reported on Monday. Messi, who scored the opening goal in Sunday's final, reportedly retaliated with a punch after being subjected to a series of insults from fans of the Argentine club as he was preparing to board a flight home from Tokyo's Narita airport.

Kick-It Trainer is the perfect soccer gift to improve ball-kicking skills

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Most adolescent brother and sister relationships consist of teasing, hair pulling and kicking. But in the case of teenage siblings Erik and Kirsten Nergaard, "kicking" was the impetus behind their innovative new invention, Kick-it Trainer.

Kick-it Trainer is a patent-pending piece of sporting equipment which enables athletes of all levels to hone and improve their ball-kicking skills in rapid fire succession without having to chase after the ball each time, or worry about it landing in the neighbor's yard.

Why Jose Mourinho is absolutely the wrong choice for Manchester United

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Jose Mourinho's sacking by Chelsea last week coupled with the continued bad form of Manchester United, managed by one of the Portuguese manager's coaching mentors Louis van Gaal, has led to rampant speculation that the Red Devils will soon make a change. Mourinho has made it clear he has no intention of taking a sabbatical from management and that his preferred destination remains in England.

Liverpool suffering all-too familiar bad form despite Jurgen Klopp’s arrival

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It can certainly without doubt be considered a little harsh to judge Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp's time at Liverpool thus far. After all, the former Borussia Dortmund manager has only been in charge of the club for 15 games. However his time at the club can be called underwhelming thus far.

The question to pose is; Have Liverpool improved under him since the sacking of Brendan Rodgers?

Real Madrid’s 10 goals against Rayo can’t prevent fans booing Rafa Benitez

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Real Madrid's under fire coach Rafael Benitez admits some fans will never be happy despite his side hitting a historic 10 goals to sweep aside nine-man Rayo Vallecano 10-2 on Sunday.

Gareth Bale scored four for the first time in his Madrid career, whilst Karim Benzema struck his second hat-trick in three games as Real became the first side to score 10 in a La Liga match in 55 years.

Listen to Soccer Morning from 9-10:15am ET with Ross Dunbar and Simon Evans

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Today's Soccer Morning features an interview with Simon Evans, live from Zurich, where he's reporting about the latest FIFA developments where Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have been banned from soccer for 8 years.

Also interviewed is Ross Dunbar about the weekend's Bundesliga news including Pep Guardiola leaving Bayern Munich at the end of this season.

Premier League review show GW17; World Soccer Talk Podcast

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Listen to the World Soccer Talk Podcast featuring Richard Farley, Nipun Chopra and Laurence McKenna as they dissect all of the new story lines from the nine games during Premier League gameweek 17.

During the show, the trio discuss what's been going wrong at Liverpool and Manchester United, whether Louis Van Gaal will be sacked soon, who the new title contenders are now, as well as updates from all of the other matches from Saturday and Sunday.

FIFA bans Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini from soccer for eight years

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Photo credit: AFP

A FIFA ethics tribunal on Monday banned Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini for eight years saying they had abused their positions over a 2 million Swiss francs payment made to Platini.

The sentence against the two most powerful men in football stunningly highlighted the troubles faced by the world's most popular sport where billions of dollars have been invested in recent years.

Chelsea coach backs Costa and Fabregas to beat boo boys

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Photo credit: AFP

Chelsea's first-team coach Steve Holland backed Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa to win back the club's supporters after they were booed during the 3-1 Premier League win over Sunderland.

Fans of the West London club jeered the pair as their names were read out before Saturday's game on the PA system and then when they were substituted towards the end of the match.

Guus Hiddink sees Chelsea win against Sunderland; Video highlights [VIDEO]

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Chelsea's new interim manager Guus Hiddink watched his team beat Sunderland 3-1 on Saturday, while Norwich City won at Manchester United to imperil their manager Louis van Gaal.

Appointed prior to kick-off in place of the sacked Jose Mourinho, Hiddink was in the stands at a discontented Stamford Bridge as Chelsea prevailed through goals from Branislav Ivanovic, Pedro Rodriguez and Oscar.

Carlo Ancelotti to replace Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich next season, club confirms

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Photo credit: AFP

Pep Guardiola will leave Bayern Munich as head coach at the end of the season and be replaced by Carlo Ancelotti, club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge confirmed on Sunday.

"We appreciate everything Guardiola gave to our club and hope to celebrate a lot of success this season, especially as we know now he is leaving," Rummenigge said in a club statement.

Penalty king Riyad Mahrez keeps Leicester top for Christmas

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Two penalties from Riyad Mahrez and a fine finish from Shinji Okazaki helped Premier League leaders Leicester to a 3-2 win over Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Claudio Ranieri's surprise title contenders again underlined their collective strength with a wonderful team effort that ensures Leicester go into the Christmas period at the top of the table after their 11th win in 17 matches.

Bayern Munich go eight points clear, wait on Pep Guardiola decision

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Bayern Munich opened an eight-point lead in the Bundesliga on Saturday with a 1-0 win at struggling Hanover as the Bavarians wait to learn whether Pep Guardiola will leave at the end of the season.

Guardiola's contract as head coach expires in June and the club say an announcement on the 44-year-old's future plans will be made on Sunday when the German league begins the month-long winter break.

Louis Van Gaal booed again as Norwich stun Manchester United

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Louis van Gaal's position as Manchester United manager will come under increased scrutiny after relegation-threatened Norwich secured a shock 2-1 win at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Goals from Cameron Jerome and Alex Tettey either side of half-time gave Alex Neil's team a 2-0 lead and Anthony Martial's reply for United couldn't stop Norwich climbing out of the relegation zone thanks to their first victory at United since 1989.

Soccer trailblazer Jimmy Hill dies aged 87

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Photo credit: AFP

Jimmy Hill, one of the most influential figures in English football history, died from Alzheimer's disease on Saturday aged 87.

Hill, who had been suffering from Alzheimer's for several years, played a major role in the development of football in a remarkable life that encompassed virtually every facet of the sport.

Paul Scanling interview; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.18.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring an Paul Scanling about professional soccer in Atlanta. Paul, a long-time follower of the NASL's Silverbacks, talks about the state of the team as well as the future of a market that will soon welcome a Major League Soccer expansion team.

Commentators for Premier League matches on NBC Sports, Gameweek 17

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Coverage begins this Saturday, Dec. 19, on NBCSN at 8 a.m. ET with Barclay's Premier League Preview, followed by Premier League Live at 9 a.m. ET. Saturday's live match coverage begins at 10 a.m. with Chelsea v. Sunderland on NBCSN, and Manchester United v. Norwich City on USA Network. Match coverage continues with Newcastle v.

Roman Abramovich still chasing his dream after another Jose Mourinho departure

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Photo credit: AFP.

In search of the 10th manager of his 12-year tenure as Chelsea owner, Roman Abramovich appears no nearer to his dream of owning a self-sustaining, crowd-pleasing soccer team.

Jose Mourinho, sacked on Thursday, came back to Chelsea in 2013 vowing to build a legacy, but he instead brought characteristic short-term success, followed by a staggeringly rapid collapse.

EPL preview: The aftermath of Mourinho is overshadowing key title tilts

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Photo credit: AFP.

Jose Mourinho's abrupt departure from Chelsea has put the crisis-torn champions' clash with Sunderland on Saturday firmly in the spotlight on a weekend that would otherwise have been dominated by Premier League title tilts.

Mourinho will be gone but not forgotten at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea's players and fans get the chance to respond to the polarizing Portuguese coach's sacking.

Lampard can respond to detractors

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Frank Lampard's arrival in Major League Soccer was initially belated, and then rather disappointing.

An extended spell at Manchester City, having agreed to join expansion outfit New York City FC, frustrated many, with the former England international arriving Stateside a year later than expected, and mid-season.

Chelsea begin life without Mourinho with crucial clash against Sunderland

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Photo credit: AFP.

Chelsea start life after Jose Mourinho with a vital showdown against Sunderland on Saturday as the crisis-torn Premier League champions look to climb away from the relegation zone.

Prior to his sacking on Thursday, Mourinho insisted that while the club was struggling near the bottom three, they were not in a relegation fight.

Report: Germany pledged millions to Jack Warner for World Cup vote

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Photo credit: AFP.

Germany's soccer association promised a package worth millions of euros to secure a crucial vote from disgraced official Jack Warner for its bid to host the 2006 World Cup, Der Spiegel said Friday. The news magazine which in October broke the story alleging Germany bought votes to secure hosting rights for the tournament said it has seen a contract detailing perks that the Trinidad and Tobago official and the association he headed would be given by the German football association (DFB).

Wilkins: Hiddink’s the perfect choice to revive Chelsea post-Mourinho

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Photo credit: AFP.

Guus Hiddink is "absolutely perfect" to step in as Chelsea's savior following Jose Mourinho's sacking, former Blues assistant boss Ray Wilkins said Friday, as reports said the Dutchman was poised to get the job. The 69-year-old is in a London hotel "holding discussions with Blues officials," the BBC reported.

Vicente del Bosque plans to step down from Spain post after Euro 2016

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Photo credit: AFP.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque says he plans to step down from the post after Euro 2016 in France, according to extracts from his new book which were published on Friday.

"If everything goes as expected, after Euro 2016 I will leave the national team and the Spanish football federation.

Jurgen Klopp apologizes to Tony Pulis

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Photo credit: AFP.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has apologized to West Bromwich Albion boss Tony Pulis for his emotional outburst following last weekend's fiery Premier League clash.

Klopp and Pulis had several heated exchanges on the touchline during the 2-2 draw at Anfield, and the Reds boss did not exchange the customary handshake with his opposite number at full-time.

Six potential Jose Mourinho jobs that nobody’s talking about

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The other shoe has dropped and the formally regarded "Special One" has been let go; or, technically, mutually parted ways with. Speculation is already buzzing about his next position and without a doubt the man, despite being hard to work with, will have tons of currency thrown at him to be a manager at a well-regarded, very rich club.

Watford’s Quique Sanchez Flores has been the Premier League’s best manager

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When Quique Sanchez Flores took over at Watford in the summer, many expected the club's direction to change. He's an exotic name, after all, and having managed Atletico Madrid to the UEFA Europa League crown in 2010, Flores came with a stellar reputation. Free-flowing, continental soccer was anticipated at Vicarage Road.

Chelsea’s upheaval should make Manchester City reconsider ditching Pellegrini for Guardiola

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Prior to Thursday's sacking of Jose Mourinho, headlines in the English paper were centered around Pep Guardiola's long rumored move to Manchester City. The Bayern boss will reportedly announce next week that he will not return to the club after the conclusion of the 2015-16 season.

Guardiola's relationships with Manchester City's top executives CEO Ferran Soriano, who promoted him to head coach at Barcelona in 2008 over Mourinho, and Director of Football Txiki Begiristain, with whom he worked closely with at the Catalan club have been cited as reasons why the Blues lead the chase for the Bayern manager.

Explaining managerial decline: Why soccer’s best minds still bend to Father Time

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Knees get shot, sharpness fades, minutes have to be managed. For sports fans, the idea that athletes have a limited shelf life is not a difficult one to accept. It's always hard to watch your favorite player lose a step, but it's never totally unexpected. A playing career is divided into three acts: the early years, the peak, and the decline.

British media ‘stuffed’ with Christmas dinner metaphors after Mourinho’s departure

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Photo credit: AFP.

Jose Mourinho's sacking by Chelsea was depicted as an early Christmas carve up on Friday as the British press reported he had been let go after a holiday lunch with players.

"Jose gets stuffed: Christmas lunch with team ... then Mourinho's sacked after losing toxic dressing room," wrote the Daily Mirror.

Top 5 must-see soccer matches on TV this weekend

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The top section of the Premier League makes for pretty remarkable reading at this late point of the calendar year, with surprise leaders and sluggish champions.

This weekend, the last before the calendar becomes convoluted with festive fixtures, will tell us plenty about the credentials of this season's title challengers.

Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri cools title talk as Everton challenge looms

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Photo credit: AFP.

Claudio Ranieri is refusing to entertain the prospect of a Premier League title challenge from Leicester City, even though his side travel to Everton on Saturday as surprise leaders.

Ranieri's side, who began the season among the favorites for relegation, have stunned the rest of the division with a superb run that has left them two points clear of second-placed Arsenal.

Mueller, Boateng, Martinez and Alonso all sign contract extensions with Bayern Munich

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Photo credit: AFP.

Germany striker Thomas Mueller, defender Jerome Boateng and Spain's Javi Martinez have all extended their contracts with Bayern Munich until 2021, the club said on Friday.

The three-time defending German champions also extended midfield holder Xabi Alonso's deal until 2017.

Watch Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo explain Jose Mourinho’s departure

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"Anybody can understand ... that this club is in trouble," was part of Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo's explanation for Jose Mourinho's sacking. On Thursday, the Blues parted ways with the most successful manager in club history, leaving Chelsea without a manager while sitting 16th in the Premier League.

Brian Dunseth interview; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.17.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring an interview broadcast Brian Dunseth about life on the road in Major League Soccer. Brian, a former MLS player and US Olympic captain, is currently a broadcaster for Real Salt Lake but also works nationally on FOX Soccer and ESPN's MLS broadcasts.

Atletico Madrid run win streak to nine after advancing in Copa del Rey

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Photo credit: AFP.

Atletico Madrid sealed their place in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey with a ninth consecutive win in all competitions thanks to Thomas Partey's solitary goal against Catalan minnows Reus on Thursday. Ghanaian midfielder Thomas struck his first goal for the club eight minutes after halftime to complete a 3-1 aggregate win for a side without the rested Diego Godin and Antoine Griezmann.

Cristiano Ronaldo will invest $40 million in a series of CR7 hotels

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Photo credit: AFP.

Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is already looking toward life after soccer as he unveiled plans to invest over €37 million ($40m) in hotels bearing his 'CR7' moniker in his native Portugal, Madrid and New York.

"Many footballers finish their careers without knowing what they want to do.

‘Player discord’ cited by Chelsea management as reason for Jose Mourinho’s departure

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Photo credit: AFP.

Jose Mourinho's tumultuous second spell as Chelsea manager was ended "by mutual consent" on Thursday, with the club's technical director revealing that squad disharmony was a significant factor. Chelsea's disastrous start to the season prompted owner Roman Abramovich to press the eject button, with the club saying it was "in the best interests of both parties to go our separate ways.

The nine defeats that led to Jose Mourinho’s departure from Chelsea

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Photo credit: AFP.

Jose Mourinho was sacked as Chelsea manager on Thursday following the club's slide to within one point of the Premier League relegation zone.

AFP Sports charts the nine league defeats that led to his dismissal by Chelsea for a second time:

August 16: Manchester City 3-0 Chelsea

In their second game, the champions are dealt a dispiriting defeat by title rivals City, who put down an early marker courtesy of goals from Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and Fernandinho.

Manchester United should finally hire Jose Mourinho

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Jose Mourinho being sacked probably won't change the basics of Louis van Gaal's time at Manchester United, but it might make choices a lot easier. That's because having an excellent manager free to take a job is clearly going to make a change seem less drastic, and less of a risk. But it's also because the only two serious contenders for United's job until now, Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola, seem likely to be heading to other directions.

The highest attendances for soccer matches in the US in 2015

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In 2014, there were 35 games played in the US that were attended by at least 40,000 people usually considered the cutoff for a standout soccer crowd. That's an outstanding total, but in 2015 it was even great: 45 games had 40,000 or more people.

Unfortunately there was no single game that had over 100,000 people like 2014's Real Madrid-Manchester United matchup in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Now is the perfect time to buy stock in Jose Mourinho

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He's gone. We all knew it was coming. For the second time in just over eight years, José Mourinho has been sacked by Chelsea. After winning the Premier League title with relative ease last season, Mourinho's Chelsea have started this year so atrociously that they find themselves just a point away from the relegation zone.

Arsenal should take no chances with Alexis Sanchez in Monday’s Manchester City showdown

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If you haven't heard, there is a massive match on Monday at the Emirates Stadium in London. Arsenal and Manchester City, the top two favorites to win the Premier League, will face off in the important game, as both teams look to distance themselves from the other. A win for either club could put them atop of the league table, if current league leaders Leicester City stumble away to Everton on Saturday.

West Brom’s James McClean thinks Jurgen Klopp is ‘a bit of an idiot’

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Photo credit: AFP.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was branded "a bit of an idiot" by West Bromwich Albion winger James McClean in comments reported by the BBC on Thursday.

Klopp was involved in several fiery exchanges with opposition manager Tony Pulis during Liverpool's 2-2 draw at home to West Brom on Sunday and the pair did not shake hands at the final whistle.

Report: Franck Ribery will be sidelined for two months with new injury

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Photo credit: AFP.

Franck Ribery's thigh injury is worse than first thought, and the Bayern Munich star is set to miss the next eight weeks, according to German magazine Kicker.

The 32-year-old ex-France winger has endured a miserable 2015. He tore his thigh muscle in Bayern's Champions League game at Dinamo Zagreb last week during just his second appearance after nearly nine months out with an ankle injury.

Sepp Blatter has his day in FIFA ethics committee court

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Photo credit: AFP.

Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter appeared before the world body's ethics judges Thursday to answer corruption allegations as Switzerland announced it has frozen tens of millions of dollars in accounts linked to soccer bribes.

Blatter, who with vice president Michel Platini faces a long suspension, arrived at FIFA's base in Zurich in a black Mercedes with his lawyer.

What Chelsea would get with the return of Guus Hiddink

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Expect the main criticism of Chelsea's parting with Jose Mourinho center on turnover, a word only used when "change" is not ominous enough. But that kind of cynicism's to be expected after another managerial change at Stamford Bridge. Since Roman Abramovich assumed control of the club 12 years ago, 11 men with 12 tenures of varying lengths have managed the club.

Premier League preview show GW17; World Soccer Talk Podcast

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Listen to the World Soccer Talk Podcast featuring Richard Farley, Laurence McKenna and Nipun Chopra as they preview the matches for Premier League gameweek 17 as well as discuss the new turmoil around Jose Mourinho's job at Stamford Bridge.

Listen to the show via the player above or via this link.

Report: Chelsea have fired Jose Mourinho

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Three days of rampant speculation has resulted in the inevitable. Jose Mourinho, seven months after claiming his third Premier League title, has been relieved of his duties as manager of Chelsea FC. The BBC were the first to report the news.

Mourinho's job has been the subject of speculation all season, with Chelsea having issued an unprecedented vote of confidence in early October as the team lingered in the bottom half of the Premier League table.

Reports: Guardiola has told Bayern he will leave; Ancelotti lined up to replace him

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Photo credit: AFP.

Pep Guardiola, strongly linked to a move to the Premier League, has told Bayern Munich he will be leaving the club at the end of the season, German media reported on Thursday. The Spaniard's three-year contract expires next June, and Bayern's head coach has said he will announce "before Christmas" whether he will extend his stay or leave, with Manchester City among the English sides keen to secure his services.

Abby Wambach thinks US Soccer should fire Jurgen Klinsmann

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Photo credit: AFP.

American Abby Wambach, whose 184 goals make her the top scorer in international soccer history, retired with a bang on Wednesday, saying the US Soccer Federation should fire men's coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

The 35-year-old striker helped the Americans win this year's Women's World Cup and was set to make her farewell as a player in a US friendly against China on Wednesday at New Orleans.

Ted Westervelt interview; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.15.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring an interview with Ted Westervelt.

Ted is one of the most vocal critics of the structure of organized soccer in the United States, using www.soccereform.us and @soccerreform to discuss potential overhauls, like implementing promotion-relegation, as well as the drawbacks he sees as inherent to U.

Aubameyang nets 27th goal of the season as Dortmund reach the German Cup quarterfinals

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Photo credit: AFP.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit his 27th goal of the season on Wednesday to help Borussia Dortmund seal a 2-0 win at Augsburg to reach the quarterfinals of the German Cup.

Aubameyang, the Bundesliga's top-scorer with 18 goals in 16 games, slotted home a Lukasz Piszczek pass on 61 minutes to give Dortmund the lead at Augsburg.

Kartik Krishnaiyer interview; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.16.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring an interview with Kartik Krishnaiyer.

Kartik is a regular contributor to World Soccer Talk, both in written form and via the site's podcasts. In this show, Kartik discusses the increasing role of foreign ownership in the English Premier League.

Juventus turnaround continues with Coppa rout of rival Torino

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Photo credit: AFP.

Simone Zaza struck twice while Paulo Dybala and Paul Pogba added late goals as holders Juventus cruised into the Italian Cup quarterfinals with a 4-0 rout of Torino on Wednesday.

After a poor start to the season, last year's double winners Juve have enjoyed a Serie A revival to move within six points of leaders Inter Milan with one game remaining before the festive break.

Suarez hat trick vaults Messi, Neymar-less Barcelona into Club World Cup finals

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Photo credit: AFP.

Luis Suarez fired a hat trick as Barcelona overcame the loss of Lionel Messi to kidney problems to beat China's Guangzhou Evergrande 3-0 and reach the Club World Cup final on Thursday. The Spanish giants will face Argentina's River Plate in Yokohama on Sunday when they will be chasing a record third title.

Valencia claim first victory under Neville, reach Copa del Rey Round of 16

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Photo credit: AFP.

Gary Neville claimed his first victory as a head coach at the third attempt as Valencia eased into the last 16 of the Copa del Rey with a 2-0 win over Barakaldo on Wednesday.

Already leading 3-1 from the first leg against the Basque side from the third tier of Spanish soccer, Santi Mina ensured there was to be no unwanted shocks for Neville when he headed home just his second goal for the club after eight minutes.

On her final day, Abby Wambach was at full volume

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You might have heard, Abby Wambach is retiring today. So that means one last media circus. One last round of interviews. One last word cloud of sound bites.

Wambach deleted her Twitter account as part of a Gatorade campaign. She was on Bill Simmons' podcast. US Soccer busted out one last T-shirt to grab that cash.

The rise, fall and resurrection of Deportivo La Coruna

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Down by two goals midway through the second half at the Camp Nou, most teams would have packed it in. Some may have kept attacking only to be obliterated for daring to do so, but even fewer would have been able to stem the tide, far less muster a comeback.

When Barcelona go ahead, the tie is rarely in doubt, and the question then becomes: How many goals?

Former FIFA player of the year Homare Sawa announces her retirement

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Japanese midfielder Homare Sawa, who has been a key part of the national squad for two decades and was named FIFA women's player of the year in 2011, is to retire, her agent said Wednesday. The 37-year-old scored 83 goals in 205 appearances for Japan in an career that extended over six World Cups including Japan's 2011 victory.

US Soccer: Copa America Centenario final will be played at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium

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Photo credit: AFP.

The 82,000-seat stadium of football's New York Giants and New York Jets will be the site of next year's Copa America Centenario final, the US Soccer Federation announced Wednesday. MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey will host the championship game of the unique showdown between North and South American national teams on June 26.

Manchester City says Sergio Aguero will be available for Monday’s trip to Arsenal

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Photo credit: AFP.

Sergio Aguero could be available for Manchester City's table-topping Premier League clash with Arsenal on Monday after returning to full training on Wednesday, the club announced.

Aguero, 27, has missed four games with a heel problem sustained against Southampton last month, but City said on their official website that the Argentina striker was back training with his team-mates.

Michel Platini will boycott his FIFA ethics committee hearing on Friday

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Photo credit: AFP.

Michel Platini has decided not to attend his hearing before FIFA's ethics committee in Zurich, scheduled for Friday, his lawyers told AFP on Wednesday. A statement from the legal representatives of the suspended UEFA president said he chose to boycott the hearing after "the verdict was already announced to the press by a spokesman .

Adidas is considering cutting ties with FIFA

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Photo credit: AFP.

The head of German sportswear giant Adidas hinted for the first time on Wednesday at the possibility of cutting links with FIFA in the wake of the corruption allegations dogging the bidding process for the 2006 World Cup.

"If FIFA succeeds in reforming itself and in my view they're making good progress here then we will continue," Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer told the business daily Handelsblatt.

Former Spurs boss Juande Ramos is a surprise candidate to replace Jose Mourinho at Chelsea

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Former Sevilla, Tottenham and Real Madrid manager Juande Ramos has emerged as a potential replacement at Chelsea for Jose Mourinho, according to reports out of England. The 61-year-old Spaniard, whose most recent job was with Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, has been unemployed since the end of Ukraine's 2013-14 season, but he has surfaced as a surprise short-term option as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich considers Mourinho's future.

Reports: Chelsea consider replacements as board meets over Jose Mourinho’s future

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Photo credit: AFP.

Jose Mourinho's future as Chelsea manager is in suspense over his failure to lift the team out of their alarming slump, according to British press reports on Wednesday. The Daily Mail said that the Chelsea board was due to meet to discuss Mourinho's position on Wednesday, while the Daily Telegraph claimed the club's hierarchy was drawing up a list of potential replacements.

Leicester City trading places with Chelsea might be the Premier League’s new norm

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Whether you believe Leicester City can win the Premier League or even finish in the top four this season, most seem to see the Foxes' success as an aberration. However, Leicester's rise may become a new normal in the changing Premier League. It is no given that the big spenders of the Premier League's emergence as a global marketing power between 2005 and 2015 are permanently entitled to a seat near the top of the table.

Long view needed to truly appreciate Leicester City’s Cinderella story

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Photo credit: AFP.

To fully appreciate the implausibility of Leicester City's astonishing rise to the top of the Premier League, wind the clock back 12 months. A year ago, Leicester were at the foot of the table, five points from safety with 10 points from 16 matches and looking dead certain for an immediate return to the Championship.

Copa del Rey preview: Gary Neville seeks opportunity for Valencia, seeks first win

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Photo credit: AFP.

Gary Neville has a great chance to seal his first win as Valencia boss when Los Che host third tier Barakaldo at the Mestalla on Wednesday. Valencia already lead the Basques 3-1 from the first leg before Neville's appointment a fortnight ago.

Real Madrid's expulsion from the competition for fielding an ineligible player against Cadiz could open the door for a winner outside Spanish football's dominant top three of Real, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid for the first time since 2010.

Bayern’s Arturo Vidal would have preferred to meet Juventus in the Champions League final

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Photo credit: AFP.

Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal is relishing the Champions League last 16 clash against his former club Juventus, but says he would have preferred to meet them in the final. Bayern play Juventus in Turin in the first leg on Feb. 23, then host last season's finalists at Munich's Allianz Arena on March 16 for a place in the quarterfinals.

Klinsmann announces US men will start 2016 against Iceland and Canada

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Photo credit: AFP.

The United States will launch its 2016 season with friendlies against Iceland and Canada before resuming 2018 Russia World Cup qualifying, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said Tuesday. The US team will entertain Iceland on Jan. 31 and welcome Canada on Feb. 5, with both matches in suburban Los Angeles.

On the 20th anniversary of Bosman, MLS remains behind the free agency curve

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Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Bosman ruling by the European Court of Justice. The decision is commonly regarded as one of the most momentous in the business of sport, but there have been over the years many misconceptions surrounding the consequences and repercussions of the ruling.

Jean-Marc Bosman was a journeyman midfield player who in 1990 came to the end of his contract with RFC Liège in the Belgian First Division.

Bayer Leverkusen move quickly to quiet talk of Stefan Kiessling’s departure

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Photo credit: AFP.

Stefan Kiessling is set to stay at Bayer Leverkusen for the rest of the season, the club said on Tuesday, just days after the ex-Germany striker revealed he wanted to leave. The 31-year-old, who won the last of his six caps for Germany at the 2010 World Cup, scored twice in Leverkusen's 5-0 thrashing of Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday in Bayer's final home match of 2015.

Arsenal is capable of beating Barcelona in Champions League

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There was a collective groan from North London on Monday when Arsenal were drawn against Barcelona in the Round of 16 of the Champions League. The massive matchup against the Spanish giants was widely considered the worst-case scenario for the Gunners, as Barca are the reigning European champions and still rated as the best team in the world.

Jose Mourinho still intent on steering Chelsea’s turnaround, wants players to ‘be humble’

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Photo credit: AFP.

Jose Mourinho insists he will fight to stay as Chelsea manager after accusing his players of betraying him in their 2-1 defeat at Premier League leaders Leicester City. Mourinho told Chelsea's underachieving stars to be humble as they look to turn around their dismal defense of the English title and claimed he wants to remain in charge.

Laurent Blanc refuses to see PSG as favorites against Chelsea in Champions League

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Photo credit: AFP.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc refuses to see his side as favorites to beat Chelsea in their Champions League last 16 tie despite the contrasting form of the two teams.

PSG beat Chelsea on away goals at the same stage of last season's Champions League and their only defeats in their last 39 games have come against Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Messi: Club World Cup gives Barcelona chance to prove they’re better than ever

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Photo credit: AFP.

Lionel Messi believes the current Barcelona side has more weapons than Pep Guardiola's 2009 world-beaters and wants to prove it by winning a record third Club World Cup.

The Spanish giants, who have captured the Champions League, Spain's La Liga, the Copa del Rey and European Super Cup this year, take on China's Guangzhou Evergrande Thursday for a place in the tournament final in Yokohama on December 20.

Groin injury will sideline Dortmund’s Marco Reus until the new year

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Photo credit: AFP.

High-flying Borussia Dortmund must do without Marco Reus for the rest of 2015 as the Germany winger has a groin injury. Reus limped off just before halftime in Sunday's 4-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt, and although an MRI scan has revealed there is no tear, he will miss Wednesday's German Cup third-round tie at Augsburg and Saturday's league match at Cologne.

Janusz Michallik interview; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.14.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring an interview with Janusz Michallik.

Michallik is a regular analyst for ESPN who talks about Saturday's Euro 2016 draw, where host nation face was draw into an advantageous group while co-favorites Germany and Spain were given more challenging group stage tasks.

Tottenham became too comfortable during their unbeaten run

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To say Tottenham were resting on the laurels of their 14-game unbeaten run in the Premier League is a bit harsh. But cracks were starting to show before Sunday's loss to Newcastle, the first of which was not putting a weak Arsenal side to the sword at the Emirates. Still, with underwhelming draws against Chelsea and West Brom in the rearview mirror, it looked like Spurs were primed for a return to winning ways, especially after thumping Monaco with a rotated squad in Europa League last Thursday.

Bosman anniversary finds namesake penniless amid players’ increased freedoms

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Photo credit: AFP.

Jean-Marc Bosman may have changed the face of soccer transfers for ever, but the Belgian has been left destitute after the system changed too late for him to take advantage.

Bosman is known the world over for having challenged the previous regulations governing soccer transfers before the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to give those out of contract the freedom to join new clubs without their old team's permission.

Euro 2016, Champions/Europa League draws; World Soccer Talk Podcast

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On this edition of the World Soccer Talk podcast, Richard Farley and Nipun Chopra break down Monday's result at King Power Stadium, where Leicester City went back to the top of the Premier League with a 2-1 win over Chelsea. Then, Kartik Krishnaiyer joins Richard to talk about the week's three big tournament draws Champions League, Europa League, and Euro 2016 before relaying the lessons he learned about the Bundesliga's future during a recent trip to Germany.

Barcelona look to underscore their dominance with a world title in Japan

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Photo credit: AFP.

Barcelona were mobbed by Japanese fans on Monday after holding their first training session at the FIFA Club World Cup. The European champions, bidding to become the first team to win the competition three times, had a gentle run-out in Yokohama after being greeted like rock stars on their arrival in Japan earlier in the day.

Watch Mourinho talk Hazard’s injury, being ‘betrayed’ by players after Chelsea’s lost at Leicester

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NBC analyst Robbie Mustoe described it as one of the most honest post-match interviews he's seen from Jose Mourinho. After Chelsea's 2-1 loss to Leicester at the King Power stadium, Mourinho confessed the Foxes were better for the first hour, but he also admitted to feeling "betrayed" by players' inability to execute the game plan he set out.

Vardy, Mahrez goals help Leicester City heap more misery on Chelsea, Mourinho [VIDEO]

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Photo credit: AFP.

Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez fired Leicester back to the top of the Premier League and extended Chelsea's miserable season with a 2-1 victory on Monday that heaped renewed pressure on Jose Mourinho. Mahrez created Vardy's 15th goal of the season with a wonderful cross on 34 minutes.

African scorers took center stage this weekend in Europe

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Photo credit: AFP.

Nigerian Odion Ighalo of Watford and Wilfried Bony at Manchester City both scored to help their teams win in the Premier League at the weekend.

In Germany, Salomon Kalou hit the back of the net for Hertha Berlin, while Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made it 18 goals in 16 league matches for Borussia Dortmund.

Espanyol name Constantin Galca new head coach

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La Liga side Espanyol replaced the sacked Sergio Gonzalez with former Romanian international Constantin Galca as the club's head coach on Monday. Gonzalez was fired after a run of just one win in their last eight games left Espanyol three points above the relegation zone in 12th.

Galca played over 100 times for Espanyol between 1997 and 2001 and was teammates with Gonzalez when the Barcelona-based club won the Copa del Rey 15 years ago.

Traveling through Australia in search of soccer

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Down under wasn't at all as I expected, especially in the northern territory of Queensland. Being from London, I am used to always being surrounded by people, but there is so much space in Australia and such a small population that the smaller towns aren't filled to the brim with human activity.

I expected Great White sharks to be having a beer in the bars I visited and crocodiles to be in the bathtub when I got home.

US prosecutors target banks in next step of FIFA pursuit

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Photo credit: AFP.

US prosecutors are threatening to punish banks for failing to flag up suspicious activity on accounts linked to world soccer's scandal-hit governing body FIFA, the Financial Times reported on Monday. US banks JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup, Swiss lenders Credit Suisse and UBS and British HSBC and Standard Chartered are holding discussions on the issue with US authorities, the business daily said.

Euro 2016 will be Belgium and Wales’ chance to live up to the hype

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Some soccer fans claim that UEFA's European Championship, and not the World Cup, is soccer's most prestigious tournament. While any tournament without the South American powers cannot be elevated to such an exalted status, Saturday's group stage draw for Euro 2016 shows why the tournament is so highly regarded.

Barcelona greeted like rock stars in Japan at Club World Cup

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Photo credit: AFP.

European champions Barcelona were greeted like rock stars on their arrival in Japan on Monday to contest the Club World Cup, looking bleary-eyed after a long flight from Spain. Around 300 screaming fans greeted the Spanish giants trying to take pictures of superstars Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez as they swept through Narita airport at around 0800 local time dressed in blue team tracksuits.

Espanyol fire head coach Sergio Gonzalez

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Photo credit: AFP.

La Liga side Espanyol sacked head coach Sergio Gonzalez on Monday after a run of just one win in their past eight games.

"Espanyol have decided in the past few hours to release the Catalan coach from his duties," the club said in a statement on their website.

MORE LA LIGA: Barcelona targets €1 billion in annual income by 2021.

Breaking down the Euro 2016 draw

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It might only be December, but it's never too early to start looking forward to Euro 2016 this June in France. On Saturday, the tournament's 24 teams found out what their group stage journeys will look like, and there were certainly some interesting matches drawn.

#EURO2016 Group A.

Three takeaways from today’s UEFA Champions League draw

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1. 2009 seems so long ago.

What's so special about 2009? Well, 2008-09, to be precise. That was the last Champions League tournament where England qualified three teams for the semifinals, an achievement the Premier League had managed three years in a row. Though it's fading into a blurry, irrelevant distance, there was a time when England was the defining power in Europe.

Europa League draw: Manchester United faces Midtylland; Liverpool handed Augsburg

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After seeing two of its Champions League survivors handed tough Round of 16 match-ups, the English Premier League enjoyed better fortune in Monday's Europa League draw. Manchester United, relegated from Europe's premier club competition last week, were paired with Denmark's FC Midtylland in Europa's Round of 32, while Liverpool manager Jurgen Klipp will face a familiar foe in Augsburg, currently sitting 13th in the German Bundesliga.

Champions League draw: Barcelona to face Arsenal; Chelsea handed PSG rematch

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Photo credit: AFP.

European champions Barcelona will go up against English Premier League leaders Arsenal in the Champions League last 16 after they were thrown together in Monday's draw. French heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain were drawn against 2012 winners Chelsea for the third straight season, while Bayern Munich will meet last year's finalists Juventus.

Premier League review show GW16; World Soccer Talk Podcast

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Listen to the World Soccer Talk Podcast featuring Richard Farley, Kartik Krishnaiyer and Laurence McKenna as they dissect all of the new story lines from the nine games during Premier League gameweek 16.

As Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham stumble, Arsenal and Manchester City climb back to the top of the league, with Leicester City left to play catch-up on Monday against Chelsea.

Michel Platini may boycott FIFA hearing, says lawyer

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Photo credit: AFP

Michel Platini may refuse to attend a FIFA hearing to defend himself against misconduct accusations after a spokesman was quoted as saying that the Frenchman would get a long ban, his lawyer said on Saturday.

FIFA's action against Platini and world body president Sepp Blatter took a stunning new twist when FIFA ethics committee spokesman Andreas Bantel told French sports newspaper l'Equipe that Platini "will be suspended for several years.

Chicharito claims hat-trick for Bayer Leverkusen in golden goal-run

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Mexico striker Javier Hernandez claimed only the second hat-trick of his career on Saturday to extend his scoring run to 15 goals in Bayer Leverkusen's last 12 games.

"Chicharito" needed just 13 second-half minutes to score his three goals in Leverkusen's 5-0 victory over Borussia Moechengladbach in the German league as ex-Germany striker Stefan Kiessling also scored either side of half-time.

Bournemouth shocks Manchester United as Manchester City go top [VIDEO]

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Photo credit: AFP

Josh King returned to haunt Manchester United on Saturday as his goal earned Bournemouth a memorable 2-1 victory that completed a miserable week for Louis van Gaal's beleaguered team.

United were hoping to turn the page on their mid-week Champions League exit, but Junior Stanislas put Bournemouth in front straight from a corner after 100 seconds and although Marouane Fellaini equalized, former United trainee King punished slack defending at a corner to claim a 54th-minute winner.

England given Wales showdown at Euro 2016

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England and Wales will meet at Euro 2016 after Saturday's draw in Paris for next year's 24-team finals paired them together in Group B, while world champions Germany can look forward to meeting neighbors Poland.

The British rivals were drawn alongside Fabio Capello's former team Russia and tournament debutants Slovakia, and will meet each other in their second match in the northern city of Lens on June 16.

Where to find the Euro 2016 draw live on US TV and streaming at Noon ET

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The draw for Euro 2016 is upon us, featuring the most number of teams competing in the tournament (24) compared to the previous 16 from 1996 onwards.

If you live in the United States and you want to watch the draw live, you can via TV and/or streaming. Here are all of the details you need:

What: Draw for the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament (to be held in France next summer)
When: Coverage of the draw begins at Noon ET / 9am PT, Saturday, December 12
Where: Live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes
Streaming: Live on ESPN3.

January decision will likely approve goal-line technology for Euro 2016, Champions League

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Photo credit: AFP.

Goal-line technology is likely to be used during Euro 2016 as well as in next season's Champions League, with UEFA saying a final decision will be taken in January.

Currently, the technology is used in the English Premier League, Italy's Serie A, the German Bundesliga and Ligue 1 in France.

Jim Daly interview; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.11.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring an interview with musician, comedian and Crystal Palace supporter Jim Daly.

In the interview with Daly, he talks about what life is like as a Palace supporter (and whether he still pinches himself that the club is doing so well), as well as what his opinions are about Alan Pardew and what makes supporting Palace so unique.

Commentators for Premier League matches on NBC Sports, Gameweek 16

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Fourth-place Manchester United visit Bournemouth this Saturday, Dec. 12, at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and NBC UNIVERSO, highlighting NBC Sports Group's Premier League coverage this weekend. Manchester United come off a goalless draw against West Ham, and will look for crucial points against an improving Bournemouth this weekend.

Defiant Van Gaal insists expectations at Manchester United must be reassessed

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Photo credit: AFP.

Louis van Gaal played down the scale of the storm gathering around Manchester United and claimed that expectations of the Old Trafford club need to be reassessed.

Van Gaal's management of United has come under closer scrutiny following his team's exit from the Champions League at the group stage following their 3-2 defeat at Wolfsburg on Tuesday night.

UEFA announces 54% increase in prize money for Euro 2016

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Photo credit: AFP.

UEFA announced on Friday that there will be a substantial increase in prize money for the nations competing at the Euro 2016 finals in France.

Ahead of Saturday's draw in Paris for the first ever 24-team finals, European soccer's governing body said the total prize fund had gone up to 301 million euros (£217.

Barcelona sets sights on Premier League, targets €1 billion in annual income by 2021

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Photo credit: AFP.

Barcelona are aiming to become the world's highest earning club in the next six years and are determined to counter England's Premier League, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said in an interview published Friday. The Spanish giants will make about 600 million euros ($658 million) this year, but Bartomeu told the Financial Times newspaper he was aiming to lift this to one billion euros ($1.

Manchester City’s Yaya Toure voted BBC African Player of the Year

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Photo credit: AFP.

Manchester City's Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure was voted the BBC's African Footballer of the Year for the second time on Friday. Toure helped his country win the African Nations Cup in February and has maintained his high standards with City, who finished second in the Premier League last season and are challenging for the title again this term.

Why Atletico Madrid look set to challenge again in La Liga

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Naturally, Real Madrid and Barcelona have hogged the spotlight in La Liga this term. The struggles of Rafael Benitez, the form of Neymar, the erratic play of Cristiano Ronaldo and an emphatic 4-0 win for Barca over their great rivals have been prominent in the Spanish press during the early stages of the campaign.

Court of Arbritration for Sport rejects Michel Platini’s appeal, upholds 90-day suspension

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Photo credit: AFP.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Friday backed a 90-day FIFA ban against Michel Platini, in a new blow to the Frenchman's hopes of entering the FIFA's presidential race. Platini, head of European confederation UEFA and a FIFA vice president, had been the favorite to succeed outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter, until he was named in a Swiss criminal investigation in September.

MLS must consider shifting its schedule so MLS Cup doesn’t get overrun by football

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Sunday's MLS Cup Final, despite officiating controversies, was a thoroughly entertaining affair. Portland, who have one of the hardest-core fan bases in the league, won the title defeating Columbus in a game played in front of anoisycrowd in a stadium that was built exclusively for this sport.

NBC Sports Live Extra ramps up Premier League ‘Tactical Cam’ offering this weekend

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If you've watched a Premier League match on NBC Sports Live Extra during the past 18 months, you may have noticed the 'Tactical Cam' option that's available in the top right corner of the window for select matches. After opening the tactical cam window, the feature gives you the opportunity to watch the match from a completely different camera angle than the main TV/Live Extra feed.

Top 5 must-see soccer matches on TV this weekend

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Serie A takes center stage this weekend, with four of the top five sides in the Italian top flight squaring off in what's likely to be a bumper Sunday of soccer.

Aside from those clashes, set to make a big impact on which teams are to be considered genuine challengers for the Scudetto, there are a pair of interesting Premier League fixtures to take in, with two of the division's established elite teams facing difficult away trips.

Listen to Soccer Morning from 9-10:15am ET with Jonathan Johnson

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Today's Soccer Morning features an interview with Jonathan Johnson from beIN SPORTS.

You can listen to Soccer Morning live via the World Soccer Talk LIVE page at www.worldsoccertalk.com/live.

During the show, you can tweet your questions or observations live to @soccermorning Or better yet, you can call in with your questions or comments by dialing 646-832-3909.

Your must-knows about La Liga at the one-third mark

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The first third of La Liga's season has been a topsy-turvy ride, though you wouldn't necessarily know if by looking at the top of the table. At the summit, Barcelona have continued their excellence despite the absence of Lionel Messi for large portions of the season. Of course, much of this is due to the play of Luis Suarez and Neymar, with the latter being far and away the best player in the league this season.

Questions for NWSL Year 4: Should fans worry about the rich club-poor club divide?

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There's a new team in town, and their name is the Orlando Pride. Major League Soccer franchise Orlando City SC bought in to the National Women's Soccer League, announcing they would field a women's side starting in 2016. They're now the third MLS team to do so, after the Portland Timbers started the Thorns and the Houston Dynamo established the Dash.

DISH Network adds Premier League Extra Time channels

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DISH Network is adding the Premier League Extra Time channels to its programming beginning this Saturday, December 12.

With Premier League Extra Time, soccer fans in the United States can watch any of the Premier League matches that are not shown on NBCSN, NBC or USA.

"DISH customers with a subscription to America's Top 200 package and above may access these games on Channels 875 through 880," said a spokesperson for DISH Network.

Nick Webster and Kyle Van Buren interviews; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.10.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring interviews with Nick Webster and Kyle Van Buren.

In the interview with Webster, he discusses what's broken with the current US youth soccer system and what changes are needed to make a profound impact. Van Buren from Arsenal Review USA Podcast joins the show to discuss Arsenal's surprise qualification for the next round of the UEFA Champions League as well as a preview of Sunday's game against Villa and his analysis on the Arsenal injury crisis.

Ronaldinho hopes for better days after FIFA elections

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Photo credit: AFP.

Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho said Thursday he hopes the scandal-hit sport will learn lessons from the multi-million dollar corruption crisis engulfing governing body FIFA after a fresh wave of indictments last month. The deepening scandal has tainted FIFA's image, with suspended president Sepp Blatter and his would-be successor, Michel Platini, both facing corruption allegations by Swiss prosecutors.

Alvaro Morata extends Juventus contract through June 2020

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Photo credit: AFP.

Spain striker Alvaro Morata has ended speculation surrounding his future at Juventus by signing a contract extension with the Italian champions on Thursday. Morata's deal was due to expire in June 2019, but Juventus announced: "Alvaro Morata has signed a new deal that will see him remain at the club until June 30, 2020.

Olivier Giroud is giving Arsenal a huge return on investment

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Olivier Giroud may be the most polarizing player in the Premier League. Despite the fact that the Frenchman has scored the second-most goals in the prestigious league since the start of the 2013-14 season, behind only Sergio Agüero, Giroud has his fair share of detractors. The Arsenal striker's statistics are even more impressive considering that the North London club reportedly paid just £9.

Real Madrid has lost their appeal against their Copa del Rey disqualification

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Photo credit: AFP.

Real Madrid have had an appeal against their disqualification from the Copa del Rey rejected, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed on Thursday.

"Every club is responsible for checking whether their players are eligible to play," the Federation's appeals committee said as they rejected an appeal made by Madrid last week.

Fidel Martinez: The overlooked star that could decide Liga MX’s final

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Pumas had a remarkable turnaround this Liga MX season. The historic Mexico City side finished 13th in spring's Clausura but are in this week's final after finishing atop the table in the recently concluded Apertura.

What spurred this rebound? You don't need to look much further than Fidel Martínez.

Scotland’s return to Cup roots could be a model for MLS

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A couple of weeks ago it was reported that Celtic, Dundee and the Scottish Premiership Football League (SPFL) were close to committing to playing a competitive league game in the US. To describe the idea as a bad one would be a massive understatement.

The proposal is borne from a misreading of the sophistication of US soccer market.

Sunil Gulati had a bad 2015; 2016 needs to be better

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Is there anyone in the US soccer establishment more ready for 2015 to be over than federation president Sunil Gulati? Well, check that ... in this glorious year of FIFA comeuppance, perhaps we should say it this way: "Is there anyone associated with US soccer not headed to jail who is more ready for 2015 to over and done with already?

FOX Sports to feature Leverkusen vs. Bayern Munich and Stuttgart-Hamburg on FOX network

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FOX Sports will broadcasttwo high-profile Bundesliga matches live on its over-the-air FOX network in the US during the first two months of 2016. The matches will be Bayer Leverkusen vs. Bayern Munich and Stuttgart vs. Hamburg.

The matches will be the first two of eight that FOX plans to feature on its over-the-air network during the second half of the 2015/16 Bundesliga season.

France hands Karim Benzema indefinite suspension over sex tape scandal

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Photo credit: AFP.

The French Football Federation (FFF) on Thursday indefinitely suspended star striker Karim Benzema because of criminal charges of involvement in a sex tape blackmail attempt against teammate Mathieu Valbuena. Federation president Noel Le Graet said the suspension would include the 2016 European Championship to be held in France which get under way in exactly six months unless the case was settled.

Manchester United’s Bastian Schweinsteiger ruled out for next 3 matches for violent conduct

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Manchester United's Bastian Schweinsteiger has accepted the charge of violent conduct from The FA and will serve a three-match suspension with immediate effect.

The incident occurred during Manchester United's game last Saturday against West Ham United. Schweinsteiger elbowed Winston Reid in the face in the 49th minute, knocking the New Zealander directly to the ground.

MLS’ new TAM rule could lure European-based USMNT stars to league

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WithWednesday's announcement by MLS, the league has made a major stride forward now thatnearly $37 million will be investedinto league-wide player compensation during the next two seasons. This will certainly allow MLS clubs to be competitive in attracting players on the international market and give the league a better opportunity for its clubs to win the elusive CONCACAF Champions League crown, which has remained in the hands of Liga MX sides since its creation in 2009.

First look at Manchester United’s 2016/17 home jersey: Leaked photo

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Manchester United will be wearing a jersey for the 2016/17 season that will be inspired by Newton Heath, the name of the club before they became Manchester United Football Club in 1902.

While Manchester United won't quite be wearing green and gold jerseys like they did from 1992 to 1994, the Red Devils will be wearing a half-and-half red jersey — with two different shades of red.

Listen to Soccer Morning from 9-10:15am ET with Eric Gomez and Andrew Mangan

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Today's Soccer Morning features interviews with Eric Gomez about Liga MX and Andrew Mangan about Arsenal advancing to the next round of the UEFA Champions League.

You can listen to Soccer Morning live via the World Soccer Talk LIVE page at www.worldsoccertalk.com/live.

During the show, you can tweet your questions or observations live to @soccermorning Or better yet, you can call in with your questions or comments by dialing 646-832-3909.

Improve your football betting returns with FanBet’s social platform

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When it comes to betting on football, it's often been a very solitary experience. But with a new and open betting platform from FanBet, you can follow your friends and top ranked bettors to get a wealth of betting tips to help improve your real money bets.

By being able to tap into a completely transparent platform, you can use the power of social and crowdsourcing to get key insight that you won't be able to find elsewhere.

Premier League preview show GW16; World Soccer Talk Podcast

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Listen to the World Soccer Talk Podcast featuring Richard Farley, Nipun Chopra and Christopher Harris as they preview the matches for Premier League gameweek 16 as well as discussing all of the UEFA Champions League results.

Also discussed are the topics of Manchester United crashing out of Europe, and where Swansea goes from here after sacking manager Garry Monk.

Andy MacVannan interview; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.9.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring an interview with author Andy MacVannan.

In the interview with Andy, he discusses the latest edition of his book entitled 'We Are Hibernian' that features chapters from Irvine Welsh, Charlie Reid from The Proclaimers and more.

Real Madrid’s turnaround will start when Perez’s new Galactico era is stopped

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The extravagance of Real Madrid when compared to the results of the new Galactico Era has become shocking. Utterly shocking. Eight-goal wins over Malmo not withstanding, compared to where Los Blancos were before Florentino Perez's 2009 return, the club hasn't made progress, having regressed from the heights of their 10th European title a year-and-a-half ago.

Pep Guardiola celebrates 100th win at Bayern Munich

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Photo credit: AFP.

Pep Guardiola celebrated his 100th win as Bayern Munich coach as Robert Lewandowski scored both goals in Wednesday's 2-0 Champions League win at Dinamo Zagreb.

Bayern had already secured their place in the next round as Group F winners before the match at the Maksimir stadium in Zagreb which saw Guardiola reach his landmark figure in just 132 games at the Bavarian giants.

Luis Enrique concerned Neymar faces a lengthy layoff

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Photo credit: AFP.

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique is concerned Neymar may be set for a lengthy layoff after the Brazilian superstar injured his groin before their final Champions League group match. The defending champions were already through to the Champions League's last 16 for the 12th year in succession and ended their group campaign on Wednesday with a 1-1 draw at Bayer Leverkusen.

MLS sees 38% decline in 2015 MLS Cup TV viewing numbers

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The final TV viewing numbers are in for 2015 MLS Cup, and it's not good news. As we reported yesterday, the combined viewing figure for the Columbus-Portland game on ESPN and Univision Deportes was 874,000. The only number we were missing was UniMas. Despite positive numbers for last year's final on UniMas, the number for the Crew SC-Timbers final was down 56% this year to 300,000.

Rampant Romelu Lukaku is only going to get better

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Romelu Lukaku is brilliant. There are few who will deny the fact now. You only need to delve into statistics surrounding the young to realize that.

The striker scored 100 career goals quicker than the likes of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Earlier this term, he notched his 50th Premier League goal, with only Ronaldo, Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler and Wayne Rooney scaling that landmark younger.

Gary Neville off to disappointing start as Valencia lose to Lyon [VIDEO]

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Photo credit: AFP.

Gary Neville endured the worst possible start to his managerial career as Valencia crashed out of the Champions League due to a 2-0 home defeat to the already eliminated Lyon on Wednesday. Goals either side of halftime by Maxwel Cornet on his first Champions League start and Alexandre Lacazette handed the French side their first European win of the season.

Chelsea 2-0 Porto: Mourinho earns reprieve as Blues advance in Champions League [VIDEO]

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Photo credit: AFP.

Jose Mourinho clawed himself back from the brink of the sack as Chelsea swept into the Champions League last 16 with a 2-0 win over Porto on Wednesday.

Mourinho was in severe danger of being axed as Blues boss heading into a tie that would decide Chelsea's Champions League fate.

olympiacos arsenal

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Argentine Jose Luis Meiszner, indicted in FIFA scandal, turns himself in

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Photo credit: AFP.

Top South American football official Jose Luis Meiszner, one of the latest figures indicted in the corruption scandal rocking FIFA, turned himself in Wednesday in his native Argentina.

Meiszner was the secretary general of South American federation CONMEBOL until his indictment by US prosecutors last week alongside 15 other top Latin American soccer officials, the latest twist in the massive corruption saga at world soccer's governing body.

New hamstring injury puts Daniel Sturridge’s December in doubt

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Photo credit: AFP.

Liverpool's injury-plagued striker Daniel Sturridge has sustained a hamstring problem likely to sideline him for a few weeks, according to widespread British media reports on Wednesday. The 26-year-old has only recently recovered from knee and foot injuries and has made only three appearances for new Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who was appointed in October, as a result.

Watch BBC Panorama’s documentary, ‘FIFA, Sepp Blatter and Me’ [VIDEO]

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Earlier this week, the BBC's investigative show Panorama aired a new episode entitled "FIFA, Sepp Blatter and Me" that feature reporter and author Andrew Jennings traveling around the world in search of justice and putting an end to the power of corrupt FIFA officials.

Jennings has been investigating corruption in world football for the past 15 years.

Bayer Leverkusen hopes to blaze the Bundesliga’s trail in North America, Asia

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A corporate owned club with plastic fans that has bought success over the last two decades. That's the stereotype many fans of other Bundesliga clubs have of Bayer 04 Leverkusen. While Leverkusen has played in a UEFA Champions League final and has finished in a European place in six consecutive seasons, finishing second behind Borussia Dortmund in 2001-02, they have yet to win a Bundesliga title.

Concerns about Brendan Rodgers replacing Garry Monk as Swansea manager

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Swansea City have sacked manager Garry Monk. The decision was made today, just days after the club lost 0-3 at home against Leicester City this past weekend. Under Monk, the club had failed to win in its last 5 matches (the worst form in the Premier League).

For Swansea City supporters, the decision is a tough pill to swallow.

Sepp Blatter says FIFA investigation is like the ‘Catholic Inquisition’

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Photo credit: AFP

Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter says the Ethics Committee investigation into corruption allegations is "like a Catholic Inquisition".

Blatter again denied involvement in corruption and said he should not have trusted officials at football's world body.

"What I can say about myself: I am an honest person, and I've had too much confidence," Blatter told German broadcaster ARD.

Tuesday’s Champions League frenetic action is a perfect use case for FOX’s MultiMatch 90

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If ever there was a perfect use case for why soccer fans should consider subscribing to FOX Soccer Plus and/or FOX Soccer 2GO, today's frenetic action in the UEFA Champions League was it.

Since the launch of the Champions League in 1992, I can't remember an afternoon when there was such a flurry of goals going into the back of the net in so many meaningful matches.

German national team and Bundesliga reaping benefits of strong youth program

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After winning the 2014 World Cup, the German national team is far from resting on its laurels. With Tuesday's spirited performances in the UEFA Champions League by Wolfsburg and Borussia Monchengladbach, as well as Bayern Munich winning their group, a new generation of German national team talent — particularly in the midfield — has begun to impress at the Bundesliga level.

MLS expansion to 28 teams seems reasonable – and inevitable

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Maybe for you, Major League Soccer rests in a good place at 20 teams, the same size as the Premier League and some of the other heralded associations with which American soccer remains endlessly smitten. Or maybe you wanted MLS to fill more dots in this great big land of ours, stretching from sea to shining sea with 24 or 28 or even 32 teams.

Controversy with Club America’s semifinal loss overshadows doubts about their coach

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Club América is the champion of CONCACAF and just touched down in Japan to represent the region at the Club World Cup. Spirits have been higher, though. The club is coming off a controversial defeat in Liga MX's two-legged semifinal against inner-city rival Pumas.

América had hoped to force the league to reschedule the Apertura's final, with Mexican media outlets already talking about the novelty of playing the round's two legs around Christmas.

Jack Wilshere’s fitness has become even more important for Arsenal

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While Arsenal are currently only two points behind surprise Premier League leaders Leicester City, the Gunners are in the midst of somewhat of an injury imbroglio. The latest players to be sidelined are stars Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla, with manager Arsene Wenger breaking the news about their absences following his team's 3-1 victory over Sunderland on Saturday.

Van Gaal, after Manchester United’s Champions League exit: ‘I can’t defend myself’

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Photo credit: AFP.

Louis van Gaal says he is unable to defend himself following Manchester United's Champions League exit, but he insists the Red Devils are improving under his tenure. United crashed out with a 3-2 defeat at Wolfsburg, who made club history by reaching the knockout stages as Group B winners.

Pep Guardiola plans to rest Manuel Neuer for Bayern’s last group stage match

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Photo credit: AFP.

Bayern Munich will be without Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for Wednesday's Champions League clash at Dinamo Zagreb, with Pep Guardiola's Bavarian giants already in the knockout phase. Guardiola has opted to rest Neuer, with former Stuttgart goalkeeper Sven Ulreich due to play only his second competitive game for the German champions.

Cristiano Ronaldo insists Rafa Benitez is ‘doing a good job,’ deserves more time

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Photo credit: AFP.

World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo claimed Real Madrid fans should get off coach Rafael Benitez's back after a record-equaling 8-0 mauling of Malmo in the Champions League.

Ronaldo set a new record for goals scored in the Champions League group stage by hitting four against the Swedish champions on Tuesday to take his tally in this season's competition to 11.

Gary Neville trying to remain calm before his Valencia storm

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Photo credit: AFP.

New Valencia boss Gary Neville admitted his life is about to change, but said he is remaining calm ahead of his debut as a head coach in his side's crucial Champions League clash against Lyon on Wednesday.

"Someone said it's the first day of the rest of my life tomorrow," England coach Neville said on Tuesday.

Listen to Soccer Morning from 9-10:15am ET with Luke Moore and Tyler Ruthven

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Today's Soccer Morning features interviews with Luke Moore from the Football Ramble and Tyler Ruthven about USL players wanting to form a union.

You can listen to Soccer Morning live via the World Soccer Talk LIVE page at www.worldsoccertalk.com/live.

During the show, you can tweet your questions or observations live to @soccermorning Or better yet, you can call in with your questions or comments by dialing 646-832-3909.

Cristiano Ronaldo sets Champions League record with 11 group stage goals [VIDEO]

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Cristiano Ronaldo struck four times to set a new record for goals scored in the Champions League group stage as Real Madrid also equalled the record victory in the competition with an 8-0 mauling of Malmo on Tuesday. Troubled French striker Karim Benzema also scored his first hat-trick for five years, whilst Mateo Kovacic added his first goal for the Spanish giants.

Manchester City 4-2 Gladbach: Sterling stellar as City claim Group D [VIDEO]

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Photo credit: AFP.

Raheem Sterling marked his 21st birthday with a decisive brace as Manchester City secured top spot in Champions League Group D by overpowering in-form Borussia Moenchengladbach 4-2 on Tuesday.

With 10 minutes left City trailed, goals from Julian Korb and Raffael having cancelled out David Silva's 16th-minute opener, but a stunning late surge by the hosts saw Sterling strike twice in two minutes to put City in charge before substitute Wilfried Bony added a fourth.

Gary Neville set for high-stakes debut when Valencia hosts Lyon

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Photo credit: AFP.

Gary Neville will be handed a baptism of fire as Valencia boss when the Spanish side host Lyon in the Champions League on Wednesday hoping to seal their place in the last 16. The match will be Neville's first as a head coach after he was surprisingly hired by business partner and Valencia owner Peter Lim until the end of the season despite his lack of managerial experience.

Wolfsburg 3-2 Manchester United: Red Devils sent to Europa League [VIDEO]

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Photo credit: AFP.

Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League on Tuesday with a 3-2 defeat at Wolfsburg, who made club history by reaching the knockout stages. The German Cup holders advanced to the last 16 for the first time as Group B winners thanks to their comeback win at the sold-out Volkswagen Arena.

Jose Mourinho is confident he still has Roman Abramovich’s support

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Photo credit: AFP.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Tuesday that he feels he retains the support of owner Roman Abramovich despite the looming risk of Champions League elimination. The misfiring Premier League champions face a make-or-break on Wednesday, when they need a draw to rubber-stamp their place in the Champions League last 16.

Americans playing abroad: Our team of the week for Nov. 30-Dec. 7

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Be it for their performances, progress or new places in U.S. men's national team's fans hopes, here's our team of Americans that stood out last week:

GK – Tim Howard (Everton): The veteran U.S. international has been doing quite well in the last few weeks. Howard was part of Monday's 1-1 draw at home against Crystal Palace, a result that helped Evertontomoveone point back of Liverpool and four points away from a European qualification spot in the Premier League.

CONCACAF by committee: Organization won’t name a replacement president

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Photo credit: AFP.

The scandal-tainted ruling body for soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) said Monday it will not seek to immediately appoint a new president following the suspension of incumbent Alfredo Hawit. CONCACAF said in a statement the organization which has seen several officials targeted in the US-led investigation into FIFA corruption would be led by its executive committee until an election in May next year.

Rummenigge comes to Schweinsteiger’s defense, hits back at Van Gaal

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Photo credit: AFP.

Bayern Munich's chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has criticized Manchester United coach Louis van Gaal over comments he made about the form of Bastian Schweinsteiger.

"I'm a bit disappointed with Louis, he should leave Bastian alone. He was the one who definitely wanted to sign him," Rummenigge told German magazine Sport Bild.

Garry Monk’s future in doubt as Swansea chairman admits ‘something needs to change’

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Photo credit: AFP.

Garry Monk's anticipated dismissal as Swansea City manager appeared to move a step closer on Tuesday as chairman Huw Jenkins declared that "something needs to change."

British media reports suggest Monk's hours at the Liberty Stadium are numbered after a run of one win in 11 games that has seen the Welsh club slide to within a point of the relegation zone.

Access to public transit makes David Beckham’s Miami MLS stadium site a winner

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The long and winding road of David Beckham's stadium saga in south Florida is nearing the final stages. After years of discussion centering on "sexy" sites on the water and close to Marlins Park, the former England International did what he should have done from the get-go – settle on a practical site that is near public transit.

2015 MLS Cup scores 874,000 total viewers for Columbus-Portland final

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Despite recording the lowest-ever overnight rating in the league's 20-year history, the final viewing number for the 2015 MLS Cup wasn't as bad as some first feared. A total of 668,000 people watched the game on ESPN, while 206,000 viewed the game on Univision Deportes for a grand total of 874,000 people.

Crunch time for Mourinho as Chelsea’s Euro fate hangs in the balance

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Photo credit: AFP

Jose Mourinho faces a decisive moment in his fight to save his job as the beleaguered Chelsea manager bids to avoid a catastrophic exit from the Champions League against Porto on Wednesday.

Mourinho is on the brink of being sacked by Blues owner Roman Abramovich after Saturday's stunning 1-0 home defeat against lowly Bournemouth left the crisis-torn Premier League champions languishing just two points above the relegation zone.

From Xavi to MSN: The numbers behind Luis Enrique’s Barcelona makeover

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Barcelona are playing a new and exciting style of attacking soccer, and the Catalan side's 34 goals, a total that leads La Liga, actually understates the team's quality. By expected goals, a statistical estimate of the quality of chances created, Barcelona should have scored about 39 goals this season only occasional struggles with finishing have kept Barcelona from running away with La Liga's title.

Benitez holds Bale, Modric, Navas out of Real Madrid’s trip to Malmo

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Photo credit: AFP.

Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez has left Gareth Bale and Luka Modric out of his squad for the visit of Swedish champions Malmo on Tuesday with the Spanish giants already assured of their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Madrid's better head-to-head record against Paris Saint-Germain means the 10-time winners will finish on top of Group A no matter what happens on matchday six.

Ex-South American soccer president will not fight his extradition to the United States

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Photo credit: AFP.

One of the latest soccer officials arrested in Switzerland in the FIFA corruption probe, Juan Angel Napout, has decided not to contest his extradition to the United States, media in his native Paraguay reported Monday. Napout, the ex-president of South American confederation CONMEBOL and a vice president of FIFA, was arrested Thursday morning at a Zurich luxury hotel, one of 16 people named in a new indictment from US authorities investigating allegations of massive corruption at world soccer's governing body.

Despite positives, Bundesliga faces uphill climb in United States

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Last week, World Soccer Talkspent several days in Germany and attended the Bayer Leverkusen-Schalke 04 match on November 29. As the tour proves, the Bundesliga has embarked on an aggressive effort to increase its global reach including a prioritization of the American market. Germansoccerhas long had its proponents in the American soccer community.

Ian Joy interview; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.07.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring an interview with FOX Sports presenter Ian Joy.

In the interview with Ian Joy, he shares his excitement about his Portland Timbers team winning the 2015 MLS Cup, as well as sharing his opinions about many of the talking points that resulted from the game.

Manchester United intent on proving they can score goals against Wolfsburg

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Photo credit: AFP.

Manchester United's Louis van Gaal says the Red Devils must prove they are good enough to reach the Champions League's knockout stages by breaking their goal drought against Wolfsburg on Tuesday. United have scored just one goal in drawing their their last three games, including a goalless draw at home to PSV Eindhoven a fortnight ago.

Gianluigi Buffon believes Juventus is still a match for any team in Europe

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Photo credit: AFP.

Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon believes his side have the qualities to reach the Champions League final once more this season as they look to seal their place in the last 16 as group winners against Sevilla on Tuesday.

A point at the Sanchez Pizjuan will be enough to ensure the Italian champions top Group D ahead of Manchester City and avoid the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid in the last 16.

A win in Germany shouldn’t save Louis van Gaal’s job

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Later today, Manchester United will face off against Wolfsburg in a game that could decide its Champions League group phase fate. Win, and the Reds will progress to the next round as group winners. Lose or draw, and they could find themselves out of the competition altogether.

That United even finds themselves in this position, despite landing in a group that, on paper, should have been handily negotiated is a damning indictment of the state of Louis van Gaal's team.

Wolfsburg hopes Manchester United will help them move on from Bundesliga shock

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Photo credit: AFP.

Wounded Wolfsburg insist they will use the pain of their last-minute German league defeat to beat Manchester United on Tuesday and book their place in the Champions League knockout phase.

Wolfsburg lead Group B and need just a point against Louis van Gaal's United to reach the last 16 in Europe, but they must win to be sure of progressing as group winners.

It’s time for Mourinho to be sacked

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Defending champion Chelsea has been in absolutely miserable form throughout the Premier League campaign thus far. The title defense is at this point a punchline, and currently the Blues are closer to relegation than a top-four finish that would earn them entry into next season's Champions League. Despite this miraculous turn of events, Chelsea has still managed to dominate the Premier League spotlight, largely because of ongoing discussion about the potential sacking of José Mourinho.

Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery is suing a French publisher over prostitution claims

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Photo credit: AFP.

Former France international Franck Ribery is suing the magazine Closer for 400,000 euros ($434,000) over an article which claimed he was implicated in a prostitution case. The 32-year-old is suing Mondadori Magazine France, which publishes Closer, for "serious prejudice to his image and dignity," according to a document seen by AFP on Monday.

PSG prospect Adrien Rabiot will seek a loan move in the January window

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Highly-rated France U-21 international Adrien Rabiot has asked Paris Saint-Germain for a January loan to gain more playing time. Recently speaking with French website Telefoot, Rabiot stated:

"I've asked the president for a loan move in January if my time on the field is insufficient.

The top of the Premier League is becoming defined by self-inflicted wounds

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With more a third of the Premier League season already accounted for, this is usually around the time where the wheat is separated from the chaff. Over the last decade, only three teams have been crowned champions, and the top four spots have been shared among the same six teams. Distinct tiers emerge, and there are rarely more than two or three real title contenders going into the holiday season.

Pellegrini unsure when Aguero, Kompany will return for Manchester City

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Photo credit: AFP.

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini insists Sergio Aguero's heel injury is not serious even though he doesn't know when the Argentina striker will return.

Aguero has missed two games since limping out of last month's victory over Southampton and will again be absent when City wrap up their Champions League group stage fixtures against Borussia Monchengladbach at Eastlands on Tuesday.

Remember the best of Columbus’s MLS Cup, not one section’s terrible moment

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As the rogue wheel hurdled down the busy highway towards my car, I found myself with enough time to think, "wow, I didn't expect to have a near-death experience on this trip." That was literally my first thought as the bouncing mass of steel and rubber came into my view; not "maybe I should swerve to the shoulder.

FA Cup 3rd Round Draw features Exeter vs. Liverpool and Man United vs. Sheff Utd

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The FA Cup 3rd Round draw has been completed, and several plum tieshave been "picked out of the hat"including Exetervs. Liverpool, Eastleigh vs. Bolton and Manchester United vs. Sheffield United.

The 135th edition of the tournament began in July with 736 professional and amateur teams participating from across England and Wales.

Manchester United’s Bastian Schweinsteiger faces three-match ban after violent conduct charge

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Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger faces a three-match ban after being charged with violent conduct by England's Football Association. The Germany international was charged after his elbow struck West Ham's Winston Reid during Saturday's 0-0 draw at Old Trafford.

The incident occurred as United's players lined up at the edge of West Ham's penalty area, preparing to run onto a first half restart from the right flank.

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini will face FIFA’s ethics committee next week

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Photo credit: AFP.

The FIFA ethics committee probing allegations of corruption against suspended president Sepp Blatter and his would-be successor, Michel Platini, will hear from the pair between Dec. 16-18, a committee spokesman said Monday.

"Mr Platini and Mr Blatter will have the chance to present their positions during hearings scheduled between December 16-18," the spokesman told AFP.

Jose Mourinho can turn around Chelsea fortunes: Alex Ferguson

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Photo credit: AFP.

Alex Ferguson warned Jose Mourinho on Monday that soccer is a high-risk industry but backed him to find a solution at misfiring Chelsea.

Speaking at an event in London, the former Manchester United manager suggested Mourinho is a good leader but is struggling to come to grips with his first period, including a home defeat to promoted Bournemouth at the weekend, their eighth defeat in 15 Premier League games.

Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke 04 lead the way in expanding Bundesliga interest in USA

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Now that the new 5-year TV rights deal between FOX Sports and the Bundesliga has begun, the Bundesliga and its clubs have a keen interest in expanding the interest of the German league among soccer fans in the United States.

Bayern Munich already has a large supporter base in the US as well as a corporate office in New York City, but the two clubs outside of Munich that are trailblazers in expanding their presence in America are Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke 04.

Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe proving his managerial pedigree in Premier League

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"Eddie had a dream," sung the hordes of Bournemouth fans tucked into the corner of Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening. And for many of the 3,000 visiting supporters, this would have been a fantasy realized, as they celebrated a shock 1-0 win over Chelsea.

Regardless of the troubles endured by the Blues this season, this was a remarkable result for the Cherries.

How Mark Hughes has transformed Stoke City’s playing style

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Stoke City arrived in the Premier League in 2008, the club's first season in the top-flight of English football for over 20 years. They've never left the top division since. The epitome of a club living within its means and playing a style utterly devoid of pretentiousness under Tony Pulis, they finished 12thin their first Premier League season with 10 victories, and they've never really looked back.

With or without Garry Monk, the 10 biggest problems facing Swansea City right now

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In previous Swansea slumps, I was completely confident they would get out of them. With this current slump (3 wins in 15 games) and the second worst form in the league (only Aston Villa are worse), I don't have the same belief.

So what's changed? In previous slumps, the team was playing very well but they just weren't able to turn those performances into precious three points.

Listen to Soccer Morning from 9-10:15am ET with Andy Edwards and Jeff Kassouf

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Today's Soccer Morning features interviews with Andy Edwards and Jeff Kassouf to talk MLS and USWNT.

You can listen to Soccer Morning live via the World Soccer Talk LIVE page at www.worldsoccertalk.com/live.

During the show, you can tweet your questions or observations live to @soccermorning Or better yet, you can call in with your questions or comments by dialing 646-832-3909.

Sepp Blatter in FBI spotlight over $100M bribery case, BBC says

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Photo credit: AFP

US authorities are investigating evidence indicating that FIFA's suspended president Sepp Blatter knew about $100 million (92 million euros) in bribes paid to former members of the football body, a BBC report said Sunday.

The BBC investigation alleges that sports marketing company ISL paid a total of $100 million to officials including ex-FIFA president Joao Havelange and former FIFA executive Ricardo Teixeira.

Timbers edge Columbus 2-1 to capture MLS Cup

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Photo credit: AFP

Portland's Diego Valeri and Rodney Wallace scored in the first seven minutes and the Timbers defeated host Columbus 2-1 Sunday to win the Major League Soccer Cup playoff final.

It was the first time the Timbers had lifted the champion's trophy, denying Columbus a second MLS title after their breakthrough in 2008.

10 things we learned from the 2015 MLS Cup final

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Here are the ten things we learned from the 2015 MLS Cup.

1. The Timbers are champions

It wasn't a beautiful final, but this year's MLS Cup from MAPFRE Stadium was a classic for all the controversy, intensity, and insanity it had from start to finish.

The Timbers, thanks to two goals in the first seven minutes, won it 2-1.

Premier League review show GW15; World Soccer Talk Podcast

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Listen to the World Soccer Talk Podcast featuring Richard Farley and Kartik Krishnaiyer as they dissect all of the major story lines from the 9 games during Premier League gameweek 15.

In a weekend of shock results with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City suffering defeats, there's plenty for the duo to talk about as well as all of the results from the other matches.

Review of Football Manager Touch 2016, a streamlined, faster-paced FM experience

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Sega surprised many soccerfans by releasing a Football Manager Classic game near the end of last season and giving many mobile managers a much better on-the-go experience. Football Manager Classic 15 was very close to the same experience that you get on the PC but not without its flaws.

An American shares his thoughts about his first 5 years of being a soccer fan

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It seems I picked the right time to become asoccerfan. All it took was one overseas trip and a random Argentina kit to put me on this path.

In the five years I have been following soccer, I have seen many ups and downs inthe sport. And regardless of what I have experienced, I still sometimes ask myself, "Where has this sport been all of my life?

Riyad Mahrez is the engine behind Leicester City’s table-topping success

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While Jamie Vardy has been getting much of the attention on Leicester City for his Premier League record scoring streak, which just ended, he's arguably been the second best player on his team this campaign. For the first-place Foxes, Riyad Mahrez has been the engine that is leading most of their attacks.

Jose Mourinho rules out January signings after latest Chelsea defeat

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Jose Mourinho remains adamant he will not ask Roman Abramovich for money for emergency signings next month despite Chelsea suffering their eighth defeat in the first 15 games of a dismal Premier League title defense.

Newly-promoted Bournemouth won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday evening thanks to an 82nd-minute goal from substitute Glenn Murray.

Brian McBride and Brad Friedel interviews; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.04.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring interviews with US soccer legends Brian McBride and Brad Friedel.

In the interview, McBride discusses how special the supporters are at Everton FC, his opinions about two-man striking partnerships versus one striker up front, and what the MLS Cup means to Columbus Crew.

Barcelona held at Valencia, Benzema double rallies Real Madrid

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New Valencia coach Gary Neville watched on from the stands as Santi Mina's late equalizer handed his side a shock 1-1 draw at home to European champions Barcelona.

Luis Suarez had put the visitors into a controversial lead as he appeared to be offside before slotting in at the near post, but Valencia's work rate was rewarded when Mina fired into the top corner five minutes from time.

MLS owners back Beckham Miami deal, and expansion up to 28 clubs

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Major League Soccer's board of governors approved the planned new stadium location for David Beckham's expansion team in Miami on Saturday and backed future MLS expansion to 28 teams.

On the eve of the 20th MLS Cup championship match between the Columbus Crew and Portland Timbers, club owners backed the deal announced a day earlier by Beckham to purchase land northwest of downtown Miami to build a stadium for what will be the North American league's 24th team.

MLS Cup preview: Columbus Crew seek second MLS crown against Portland Timbers

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Photo credit: AFP.

With Sierra Leone striker Kei Kamara providing the scoring spark and Michael Parkhurst anchoring the backline, the Columbus Crew bid for a second Major League Soccer crown Sunday against Portland.

The Crew, whose lone title came in 2008, will host the Timbers in the MLS Cup championship match.

Palermo plan to sign 4-5 players in January overhaul

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In a candid interview with Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport, Palermo sporting director Manuel Gerolin stated that the club will do their best to bring in a minimum of four or five players during the upcoming January transfer window.

"We will intervene in an important way in January, we already know what to do," saidGerolin.

Chelsea vs Bournemouth predicted lineups and team news

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Chelsea will be hoping to continue their good run of form when they play Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge in Saturday's late game.

The Blues have won two and drawn one of their last three games in all competitions after losing three of the previous four, restoring some belief that they can rescue their season.

Gervinho on track for early return as Roma look for boost at Torino

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Photo credit: AFP.

Ivory Coast striker Gervinho has shaken off injury and could play a part on Saturday as Roma seek redemption for recent sins at home and in Europe with a morale-boosting win at Torino.

Gervinho had been on scintillating form for Rudi Garcia's Serie A title challengers until he suffered a muscle injury playing against Liberia a fortnight ago that was expected to sideline him for three weeks.

Commentators for Premier League matches on NBC Sports, Gameweek 15

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NBC Sports Group begins its last month of Premier League action in 2015 with a full slate of action this weekend on the networks of NBCUniversal.

Coverage begins this Saturday, Dec. 5, on NBCSN at 6 a.m. ET with Barclay's Premier League Preview, followed by Premier League Live at 7 a.m. ET, and Stoke City v.

Brazilian great Ronaldinho set to open youth academy in Singapore

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Photo credit: AFP.

Brazilian legend Ronaldinho will arrive in Singapore next week to establish a youth academy in the soccer-mad city-state, a local club said Friday.

The World Cup winner will partner with local club Tampines Rovers and the International Football Group to jointly establish the Ronaldinho Football Academy, a Tampines Rovers statement said.

Luis Chiriboga, indicted Ecuador soccer chief, turns himself in to authorities

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Photo credit: AFP.

The head of Ecuador's soccer federation, one of 16 officials newly charged with corruption by US authorities, turned himself in Friday in his home country, which does not extradite its nationals.

Luis Chiriboga, who is also a member of the executive committee of South American confederation CONMEBOL, was among those named Thursday in the latest US indictment stemming from a sweeping investigation of corruption at FIFA.

Arsene Wenger claims Alexis Sanchez could have been killed by Norwich defender

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Photo credit: AFP.

Arsene Wenger claims Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez could have been killed when Norwich defender Ryan Bennett pushed him into the Carrow Road camera pit last weekend.

Chile international Sanchez landed heavily in the cameraman's area on the touchline during an incident in the first half of Sunday's 1-1 draw and was later forced off with a hamstring injury.

Louis van Gaal: I’ll quit Manchester United if I lose the dressing room

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Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has warned he will quit Old Trafford if he loses the support of his players.

Van Gaal has come under fire this season for his conservative tactics and United's subsequent failure to play the kind of entertaining soccer that was their hallmark during the Alex Ferguson era.

Jack Warner likens FIFA arrests to US-led conspiracy to take over FIFA

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Fallen Trinidad and Tobago soccer honcho Jack Warner said Friday the latest fallout from the corruption scandal gripping world soccer showed the United States was winning its battle to "take over FIFA."

Speaking outside a court hearing where he is seeking to stave off his extradition to the United States, Warner said there were ulterior motives for the US indictments charging him and a host of other top soccer officials and marketing executives with corruption.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes history as PSG crush Nice [VIDEO]

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Photo credit: AFP.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic set up one goal and notched two more to break yet another scoring record as Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain crushed 10-man Nice 3-0 on Friday.

Edinson Cavani got the opener for PSG at the Allianz Riviera before Nice had Niklas Hult sent off for conceding a penalty that Ibrahimovic scored just before halftime.

Timbers’ route to MLS Cup forged memories that transcend soccer

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When he was battling kidney cancer, going through chemotherapy, and losing his long, wavy hair in the winter 2012, eight-year-old Atticus Lane-Dupre of Portland, contacted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He wanted his soccer team, the Green Machine, to play a game against the Portland Timbers.

Atticus would be cancer free by late spring 2013, and on an early May day that year, at 11:00 a.

David Beckham finally has a stadium deal for his Miami MLS expansion team

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After two years of frustration and failure, retired English star David Beckham's Major League Soccer expansion group announced Friday it has secured a stadium development site northwest of downtown Miami. Miami Beckham United has a contract to buy the property in Overtown, near a major interstate highway and the Miami River, and the final crucial roadblock appears to have been overcome in returning top-level soccer to the region.

Newly indicted Guatemalan soccer official arrested in Florida

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Photo credit: AFP.

A top official in Guatemala's Football Federation, Hector Trujillo, was arrested in the United States on Friday after being indicted in a massive corruption scandal rocking the sport's world body FIFA, a top Guatemalan judge said.

Trujillo was apprehended in Florida, where he had been on a family vacation, the head of Guatemala's Constitutional Court, Gloria Porras, told reporters.

MLS Cup preview: Similarities could become defining differences Sunday in Columbus

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A few things to keep in mind as you watch Columbus and Portland go after it Sunday in Mapfre Stadium, where the 20th MLS Cup will be decided:

Nagbe and Trapp as the key midfield connectors

Two men central to Sunday's action had their international coming out party about a year apart, both in interesting ways, although in very different settings.

Spanish federation makes it official: Real Madrid is out of Copa del Rey

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Photo credit: AFP.

Real Madrid have been thrown out of the Spanish Cup after fielding an ineligible player in their tie against third-tier side Cadiz on Wednesday, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed on Friday.

In the first leg of their fourth-round tie on Wednesday Russian international Denis Cheryshev not only started the match but also opened the scoring in Madrid's 3-1 win.

Guardiola says long-term absence Ribery could play before the Bundesliga’s winter break

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Photo credit: AFP.

After a nine-month ankle injury lay-off Franck Ribery has been training with gusto and could play for Bayern Munich before the winter break, his coach Pep Guardiola said Friday.

"Franck has been training well this week. After nine months he feels no pain, which is delightful news.

Thibaut Courtois is back in Chelsea’s squad for Saturday’s match against Bournemouth

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Photo credit: AFP.

Jose Mourinho confirmed goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is back in the squad after three months out injured for Saturday's home match against Bournemouth, as the Chelsea manager hopes the under-pressure champions are finally turning the corner.

The Belgian goalkeeper has not played since the 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on Aug.

Arsenal must overcome their own nature if they’re to claim the Premier League

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For all the brilliance Arsenal have produced throughout the Premier League season, their current situation seems to be a bit of a shemozzle a wonderful mess that has resulted from their own failures, both on and off the field. And the situation is not even a surprise, because over the past decade or so, it has always been like that for Arsenal, with each ambitious yet realistic title challenge ending with an age-old feeling of what could have been.

FIFA ethics commitee hands 90-day suspensions to newly indicted Hawit, Napout

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Photo credit: AFP.

FIFA's ethics committee on Friday suspended Juan Angel Napout and Alfredo Hawit for 90 days after the two vice presidents of world soccer's's governing body were arrested following corruption charges in the US.

SEE MORE: DOJ announces 16 new indictments in ongoing FIFA probe.

Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla sidelined for up to 4 months

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Photo credit: AFP

Arsene Wenger said on Friday that Santi Cazorla could be sidelined for up to four months after sustaining knee ligament damage in last weekend's draw at Norwich.

The Spain international stayed on the pitch at Carrow Road after taking a heavy knock early in the second half of the game as Arsenal's injury woes continued.

Top 5 must-see soccer games on TV this weekend

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The curtain will come down on another gripping MLS season on Sunday evening, with the competition finale capping off what's going to be a wonderful weekend of action across the globe.

It's one which begins on Friday, with two of Italy's most illustrious names facing off in what should be a cracking contest.

New milestone beckons for history man Jamie Vardy

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Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy can make history for the second weekend running when the Premier League's early-season over-achievers visit slip-sliding Swansea City.

Vardy's goal in the 1-1 draw against Manchester United saw him set a new Premier League record of scoring in 11 consecutive matches, eclipsing the mark set by United old boy Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003.

Belgium keeps top spot in final FIFA rankings of 2015

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Photo credit: AFP.Photo credit: AFP.

Belgium will go into 2016 atop FIFA's national team rankings ahead of World Cup finalists Argentina, European champions Spain and World champions Germany after winning eight of their nine games this year. The nation of just 11.2 million is doted with a multi-talented national squad headed up by Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard and Man City's Kevin De Bruyne.

Terrance Ross interview; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.03.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring an interview with freelance writer Terrance Ross who writes for The Guardian and The Atlantic Monthly.

In the interview, Terrance shares his insight and opinions about the latest FIFA and CONMEBOL scandals, how the Bundesliga is taking steps to conquer America, what Chicharito did to upset Mexican journalists, and what it was like visiting Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke.

City Football Group stake is part of China’s dream of becoming a global sports powerhouse

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Photo credit: AFP.

A state-backed Chinese company's $400 million stake in Premier League giants Manchester City underlines the nation's soaring ambitions in soccer and how its investors are seeking profits as well as prestige, analysts said.

The swoop by China Media Capital (CMC) marks China's first investment foray into the hugely popular English Premier League, and a step forward for a grand project spearheaded by President Xi Jinping.

FIFA to consider a proposal to expand 2026 World Cup to 40 teams

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FIFA is considering expanding the World Cup from 32 teams to 40 in 2026 and will discuss the proposal at a future meeting, with support particularly strong among Asian and African representatives. No formal agreement on the matter was reached at FIFA's Executive Committee meeting on Thursday, but ExCo member Wolfgang Niersbach said it will be discussed at a later date:

"No decision was taken on expanding the World Cup to 40 teams from 2026.

Klopp’s influences gives Liverpool reason to believe in more than just top four

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Photo credit: AFP.

Even the most optimistic Liverpool supporter could scarcely have anticipated the turnaround in fortunes that Jurgen Klopp has engineered in the eight weeks since his appointment as manager. A team who had won only three of their first 11 games have now won seven of the past eight, including superb away victories over Premier League champions Chelsea and current leaders Manchester City.

Laurent Koscielny health a boost for Arsenal; Alexis Sanchez still a doubt

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Photo credit: AFP.

Laurent Koscielny could be fit to play this weekend, but Arsenal do not know how long they will be without star attacker Alexis Sanchez, manager Arsene Wenger revealed on Thursday. Koscielny and Sanchez both limped off in last weekend's 1-1 draw at Norwich City, the former with a hip injury, the latter with a hamstring problem, while midfielder Santi Cazorla suffered a blow to his knee.

Listen to Soccer Morning from 9-10:15am ET with Alexi Lalas and guest-a-palooza

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Today's Soccer Morning features interviews with Alexi Lalas, Phil Schoen, Doug McIntyre, Charles Boehm, Andy Edwards, Jonathan Tannenwald, Andrew Weibe and more to be named.

You can listen to Soccer Morning live via the World Soccer Talk LIVE page at www.worldsoccertalk.com/live.

During the show, you can tweet your questions or observations live to @soccermorning Or better yet, you can call in with your questions or comments by dialing 646-832-3909.

Gary Neville’s famous effort and acumen will be tested by Valencia’s pressure cooker

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When questioned about his inexperience today, new Valencia manager Gary Neville was acutely aware of the uncertainty surrounding his hire. Neville was asked, "What would Neville the pundit think of an inexperienced Spaniard getting a top job in the Premier League?' His response, "I would question it as a neutral.

Leagues remain intent on uniting to have a greater influence on FIFA

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Photo credit: AFP.

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said Thursday soccer leagues worldwide are working to unite and exert greater influence over FIFA as the corruption-tainted body reeled from a fresh wave of arrests.

Swiss authorities conducted another dawn raid at a Zurich luxury hotel Thursday as they did in May and arrested South American football confederation (CONMEBOL) president Juan Angel Napout and Alfredo Hawit, head of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean football (CONCACAF).

Don Garber warns: David Beckham expansion group needs to find a stadium ‘soon’

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Photo credit: AFP.

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber says David Beckham's Miami expansion group needs to solve its stadium issues "soon" or risk not being added as the league's 24th team. The warning to Beckham's group, which meets this weekend with Garber at the MLS Cup final, came Thursday as its latest stadium plan has hit a snag.

There’s a little Mourinho in Portland’s Caleb Porter

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Caleb Porter has been one of US soccer's rising stars ever since his days at Akron, and much of that promise has finally been fulfilled with this year's Portland team. His Timbers have finally reached the MLS Cup final after the head coach's false starts with the US under-23s in 2012, as well as with the Timbers last season.

FBI raids Miami offices of FIFA-linked television production company

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Photo credit: AFP.

FBI agents raided the Miami offices Thursday of a television production company linked to the corruption scandal shaking FIFA, as the crisis at football's world governing body deepened. The raid occurred as several senior FIFA officials from the past or present were among 16 more people indicted by US authorities, hours after a series of dramatic dawn raids at a luxury hotel in Zurich where top soccer figures were gathered.

Newly indicted Alfredo Hawit insists he was ‘not involved in anything’ illegal

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Photo credit: AFP.

Top FIFA official Alfredo Hawit asserts he is "not involved in anything" illegal following his arrest in Switzerland on Thursday, his predecessor in charge of soccer in Honduras said.

Rafael Callejas, the previous chief of Honduras' FENAFUTH soccer federation and a former Honduran president, said he had spoken with Hawit, who ran the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).

US Department of Justice announces 16 more indictments in ongoing FIFA scandal

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The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced an additional 16 indictments in its ongoing investigation into corruption in world soccer's governing body, FIFA. The new charges, centering around allegations of over $200 million in criminal bribes and kickbacks, come seven months after 14 other high-ranking executives and business associates were charged in the DOJ's first round of indictments.

FIFA executive committee approves new reforms, including term limits for presidents

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FIFA's Executive Committee on Thursday "unanimously" approved a program of reforms which includes limiting presidents to a maximum 12 years in charge and introducing "transparency of compensation" for leading officials.

In a statement, world soccer's governing body confirmed it had been agreed to introduce the reforms as part of broader measures in an attempt to restore credibility at the scandal-hit institution.

Real Madrid near Copa del Rey expulsion as Cadiz appeal ineligible player mistake

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Photo credit: AFP.

Real Madrid edged closer to the Spanish Cup exit door Thursday after third division Cadiz appealed their midweek cup defeat because the capital giants had inadvertently fielded a suspended player. Cadiz confirmed Thursday that having been given the green light by Spanish football authorities overnight, they had launched an appeal.

The weight of England is on Gary Neville’s shoulders at Valencia

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Gary Neville's surprise appointment by Valencia was a long time coming. The former Manchester United captain's work as Roy Hodgson's assistant manager, his tactical analysis for Sky Sports and friendship with Peter Lim all led to the appointment thatwas confirmed Wednesday. Neville's appointment arrived with sensational media back home in England where the former Manchester United captain is thought of as a great hope for the nation.

Florida Cup to feature 9 high-profile teams from around the world this January

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This January, several high profile soccer clubs will travel to the United States to participate in the second-annual Florida Cup. The clubs participating include Shakhtar Donestk, Schalke 04, Bayer Leverkusen, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Independiente Santa Fe, Corinthians, Fluminense, Atletico Mineiro and Internacional.

It’s time for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to step up for Arsenal

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When Arsenal superstar Alexis Sanchez hobbled off of the pitch against Norwich last Sunday, many Gunners supporters knew Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would most likely receive a boost in playing time if the Chilean was to miss time. While initial feelings were that Alexis could miss up to six weeks due to the injury, reports have suggested that the hamstring issue is not as bad as once assumed, and the forward could be back into the side in time for Arsenal's massive match against Manchester City on Dec.

Hiring Gary Neville is Peter Lim’s latest gamble as owner of Valencia

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Photo credit: AFP.

England coach Gary Neville's appointment as Valencia boss for the remainder of the season was received with shock in Spain on Wednesday as Singaporean businessman and club owner Peter Lim attempts to protect his multi-million euro investment in the struggling La Liga side.

Lim and Neville were already business partners through their ownership of English non-league side Salford City.

La Liga signs new three-year 2.65 billion euro domestic television deal

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Photo credit: AFP.

The Spanish league announced on Wednesday that it has agreed a domestic television deal worth a minimum 2.65 billion euros ($2.8 billion, £1.86 billion) for the next three seasons.

A subsidiary of telecommunications giant Telefonica, Movistar, will have first choice of one match from each round of fixtures for 250 million euros a season.

Arlington Spurs supporters group interview; World Soccer Talk Radio (12.02.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring an interview with Gary Brooks from Arlington Spurs, the Tottenham supporters club based in Arlington, Virginia.

In the interview, Gary talks about the current form of Spurs, what changes have resulted in this unbeaten run, which players have stepped up, where the Arlington Spurs supporters club meets and what their meetups are like, the magic of Mauricio Pochettino and more.

Two more FIFA officials arrested as scandal widens

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In a dramatic widening of the FIFA corruption scandal, Swiss police arrested two more top football officials in a dawn raid Thursday on suspicion that they accepted millions of dollars in bribes.

The Swiss justice ministry confirmed a report that a new operation at a luxury hotel in Zurich had snapped up more FIFA officials, after a similar raid at the same spot last May sparked the unprecedented scandal that has shaken football's world body to its core.

Gary Cahill signs four-year contract extension with Chelsea

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Photo credit: AFP.

England international Gary Cahill has signed a new four-year contract with Chelsea, the Premier League champions announced on Wednesday. The deal will keep the 29-year-old defender at Stamford Bridge until 2019.

"I'm really pleased to commit my future to Chelsea and it's great the club has put their faith in me," Cahill told the club website.

Headlines love Pumas-America, but look for Liga MX’s champions the Liguilla’s other semifinal

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As the Liga MX semifinals draw closer, the capital-centric Mexican sports press has focused on the meeting between Pumas and Club América.

That's understandable. The clásico between capital rivals evokes memories of clashes gone by, of epic meetings in the `80s and `90s, not least of which is the 1991 final.

Real Madrid faces expulsion from Copa del Rey after starting an ineligible player

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Photo credit: AFP.

Real Madrid face being thrown out of this season's Copa del Rey after reportedly fielding an ineligible player in the first leg of their fourth round tie against Cadiz on Wednesday.

Russian international Denis Cheryshev opened the scoring in Madrid's 3-1 win in Andalusia, but shouldn't have been on the field as he was due to serve a one-game ban in the competition after picking up three yellow cards whilst on loan at Villarreal last season.

Capital One Cup draw: Liverpool face Stoke; Everton handed Manchester City

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Capital One Cup favorites Liverpool and Manchester City were kept on different halves of tournament's semifinal draw, leaving the 2012 and 2014 winners on course for a meeting in Feb. 28's final. To get there, though, each team must navigate January's two-legged semifinals, with Stoke and Everton hoping upsets can land each club in a sought-after cup final.

Southampton 1-6 Liverpool: Reds reach second straight Capital One Cup semifinal [VIDEO]

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Two goals from Daniel Sturridge and a late first-half blast from Alberto Moreno booked Liverpool's place in a second straight Capital One Cup semifinal, their 3-1 victory over Southampton at St. Mary's moving them into the competition's final four for the third time in four years. Jurgen Klopp's team joins Everton, Manchester City and Stoke City in the tournament's penultimate round.

Landslide vote hands Sebastian Giovinco Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Player award

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Italian striker Sebastian Giovinco, a former Juventus star who scored 22 goals for Toronto this past season, was named Wednesday as Major League Soccer's 2015 Most Valuable Player.

The 28-year-old from Turin was the league's joint-top scorer and laid on a league-best 16 assists for the Canadian club in his debut season, leading Toronto FC to its first playoff appearance.

Watch Daniel Sturridge score two quick goals in his return to Liverpool’s starting lineup [VIDEO]

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Daniel Sturridge had only made four appearances this season before tonight's match at St. Mary's Stadium, where Liverpool faced off against Southampton for a spot in the Capital One Cup semifinals. The match marked the striker's first start since Oct. 4, with various injuries throughout the calendar year limiting the England international to 262 minutes since April.

Wide open Premier League means Arsenal should go for broke in the January transfer window

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With the news that midfielder Santi Carzola has ligament damage in his knee, the Arsenal long-term injury list has a roster more likely to win the Premier League than the current starters. While injuries to the Gunners are as expected as snow in Maine, this year's seem particularly troubling to fans of the North London club.

On the eve of its 20th final, MLS’s progress has been remarkable

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I remember exactly where I was for the very first kick of Major League Soccer: at an oddly configured but otherwise terrific Irish pub with a bunch of soccer nerds just like myself, excited for the match but absolutely giddy with anxious delight about what was unfolding more broadly.

I doubt that anybody associated with Major League Soccer back then – I was "associated," I suppose, as a beat writer at a newspaper, pretty stoked to have a weighty soccer league to cover – could stop themselves from dreaming a little bit.

Karim Benzema will go on French TV to plead ‘misunderstanding’ in sextape blackmail case

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Karim Benzema says his go-between role in the Mathieu Valbuena sextape blackmail case has been misunderstood as the Real Madrid striker prepares to explain himself on French TV on Wednesday. The pre-recorded interview comes after French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Tuesday suggested only players with exemplary records should represent France at Euro 2016.

Franck Ribery back training with Bayern Munich after nine-month layoff

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French winger Franck Ribery admits he was delighted to take part in team training at Bayern Munich on Wednesday for the first time after nearly nine months out with injury.

"It's a super day for me and very emotional," said Ribery after 264 days out with the persistent ankle injury he suffered on March 11.

Emerging star Virgil van Dijk follows a well-trodden path from Celtic to Southampton

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With five games until the half-way mark of the Premier League season, Southampton are at a bit of a crossroads. Sitting 10th, Southampton are nine points behind top of the league Manchester City, and they're 10 points from the relegation zone.

Relegation was the fate that many predicted back in the summer of 2014, when Southampton sold off half a starting outfield.

FIFA’s leadership discusses reforms as key sponsors demand increased oversight

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FIFA's leadership held talks on reforms Wednesday as sponsors who provide hundreds of millions of dollars demanded independent leadership of changes to soccer's scandal-tainted governing body.

The FIFA executive committee with president Sepp Blatter and vice president Michel Platini both suspended is holding two days of talks to discuss reforms proposed by top sporting official Francois Carrard who was named by the world body.

Valencia names Gary Neville head coach for the rest of the 2015-16 season

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England coach and Manchester United legend Gary Neville has been named Valencia boss for the rest of the season, the Spanish side announced on Wednesday.

"Valencia have reached an agreement with English coach Gary Neville for him to be coach of the first team until June 30, 2016," the club said in a statement.

Christian Miles interview; World Soccer Talk Radio (11.30.15)

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Listen to the latest episode of World Soccer Talk Radio featuring an interview with sports presenter and commentator Christian Miles.

In the interview with Christian, he discusses his role at Fox Soccer Channel during the formative years of the channel, his opinions about the MLS Cup playoff semi-finals, LAFC going toe to toe with the LA Galaxy, some of his favorite memories of what a typical Saturday was like at Fox Soccer Channel, and how things have changed so much.

Notorious Singaporean match-fixer arrested just over one week after release from prison

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A Singaporean accused of leading the world's largest soccer match-fixing syndicate was rearrested in the city-state Tuesday about a week after he was freed by the country's highest court, local media reported.

Businessman Dan Tan, who was arrested in Sept. 2013 but never tried, was released on Nov.

Real Madrid’s Daniel Carvajal will miss one month with left thigh injury

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Real Madrid look set to be without right back Dani Carvajal for up to a month due to a thigh injury picked up in Sunday's 2-0 win over Eibar.

"A muscle injury has been diagnosed in his left thigh," Madrid said in a statement on Tuesday without clarifying how long Carvajal would be sidelined for.

New World Association of Leagues aims to help FIFA rebuild

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A group of professional soccer leagues from all over the world have decided to create a 'World Association of Leagues' following a meeting in Paris, the French Professional Football League (LFP) president said on Tuesday. The English, French and Spanish leagues are joined by 20 others from around the world in a bid to work closely with scandal-tainted world governing body FIFA.

Rafa Benitez backs under-fire Karim Benzema: ‘He is very important for us’

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Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez has restated his support for French striker Karim Benzema amid increasing criticism of Benzema's off-field behavior in his homeland. Benzema has been charged in France for his alleged participation in a blackmail case involving international teammate Mathieu Valbuena over a sex tape.

Luis Enrique and Lionel Messi lament Luis Suarez’s absence from the Ballon d’Or shortlist

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Barcelona boss Luis Enrique admitted he feels for Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan missed out on joining teammates Lionel Messi and Neymar as one of the three finalists for the 2015 Ballon d'Or. Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo will join Messi and Neymar on the podium in Zurich on Jan.

Manchester City, Everton and Stoke book places in Capital One Cup semifinals

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Lower division clubs were dealt a dose of Premier League reality on Tuesday, with three fixtures in the Capital One Cup quarterfinals between Premier and Football League sides going the way of top-tier clubs. The results leave Manchester City, Everton and Stoke in the competition's final four, with the semifinals' last spot to be settled on Wednesday between Southampton and Liverpool.

Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is aiming for Africa’s top individual honor

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Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang wants to protect his status as the Bundesliga's top scorer in order to win the 2015 African Footballer of the Year title.

"Of course it's important for me to be the top scorer, because I want to be Africa's Footballer of the Year," he told the Bundesliga website having won the 2014 runner-up award.

French prime minister suggests Karim Benzema should not represent France

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French Prime Minister Manuel Valls took a swipe at Real Madrid and France striker Karim Benzema on Tuesday, saying that great sportsmen should set a moral example.

"A great sportsman should set an example. So many kids, so many young people ... see themselves in well-known sports people," Valls told Europe 1 radio.

Bayer Leverkusen would love to sign an American soccer star, says chairman

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Bayer Leverkusen Chairman Michael Schade says his club would be interested in signing an American soccer player who could help his team score goals and market the club in the United States.

In an interview with US journalists on Monday, the chairman said:

"If I could have a wish, I would like to get a player that really could play in the first team from America and from China because that would open new markets.

The positives of player power are on display for Venezuela

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Yesterday's report on agent fees was as much a glimpse of that cottage industry as it was an update on player power. The $195 million siphoned off by lawyers, fathers, best friends and former night club doormen was the headline, but remember the silver lining: Players are moving all the time, to bigger places with better salaries, enjoying a hard-fought mobility that wasn't available for most of soccer's history.

What happened to the FIFA members who voted for Russia and Qatar

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Five years ago on Wednesday, FIFA's executive committee chose Russia to host the 2018 World Cup and Qatar for 2022 in one of the most controversial votes in sporting history. Sixteen of the 24 executive members have been suspended, arrested for bribery, or banned. Others have faced questions about their record.

Chinese investors pay $400 million for 13 percent stake in City Football Group

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China planted its flag in the English Premier League on Tuesday as a consortium of Chinese investors bought a 13 percent stake in Manchester City's parent company for $400 million (377 million euros). China Media Capital (CMC) and CITIC Capital have purchased the stake in City Football Group (CFG), which had previously been wholly owned by the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), just weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the club.

The increasingly wayward wizardry of Chelsea’s Cesc Febregas

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by Arghya Mukherjee

Arsenal fans have always had a special place for Cesc Fabregas's magical free kicks (not particularly the one that led to Chelsea's goal against them this season, though). Be it those delicious inswinging curlers which nestled at the top corner, winning three points for the Gunners in the past, or the ingeniously pathetic ones he took against Tottenham this week, both were subject to a hearty applause from the Arsenal faithful.

Lionel Messi beats Cristiano Ronaldo to win La Liga’s top striker award for 2014-2015

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Barcelona star Lionel Messi, the favorite to win FIFA's prestigious Ballon d'Or title, was on Monday voted the top striker in the Spanish league last season ahead of Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo. It is the sixth time that the Argentinian has won the title in seven editions of the trophy given by the Spanish football league, with the prize presented during a gala ceremony in Barcelona on Monday night.

Ownership uncertainty leaves cash-strapped Bolton unable to pay players

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Cash-strapped Bolton on Monday revealed they have been unable to pay their players' wages this month and just hours later the Championship's bottom club were held to a 1-1 draw by Brentford.

Neil Lennon's squad have not received their wages for November as the club are currently £172.

FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino promises reforms from ‘day one’

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UEFA's Gianni Infantino said he would work to clean up FIFA from "day one" if elected leader after an evening of close discussions with his Asian rival Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa. Infantino told AFP that he would instigate reforms immediately if he is elected on Feb. 26 to succeed the suspended and deeply controversial Sepp Blatter.

Capital One Cup preview: Manchester City and Liverpool headline quarterfinal field

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Manchester City and Liverpool head the list of teams coveting a berth in the League Cup semifinals this week as the competition reaches the quarterfinal stage without several major names. With Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and holders Chelsea having fallen by the wayside, City and Liverpool will already have designs on the Feb.