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Barcelona vs. AC Milan Predictions: Champions League Preview

Barcelona might be able to wrap up Group H before things really ever get started by beating the Champions League odds on Tuesday in a nationally televised duel against AC Milan.

The UCL Cup holders come into this one as the overwhelming +195 favorites to repeat as champs this year. To make life even easier, there is no way that Barca should be dropping even a point in four matches against BATE Borisov and Viktoria Plzen, and three points in this fixture against the Rossoneri should be good enough to ensure getting into the knockout rounds as the Group H champs.

We have to remember that this is going to be a showcase game at Camp Nou for men like Cesc Fabregas, Thiago, and the likes. Of course, Lionel Messi is going to be one of the, if not the best player on the pitch, and he is always a threat to be able to find the back of the net.

Alexis Sanchez has been ruled out for this clash, as he’ll be sidelined for two months with a thigh injury.

Barca was stunned in a 2-2 draw in which it lost Sanchez. Real Sociedad came back from down 2-0 to draw, something that would have seemingly been impossible last season against the La Liga champs.

The Italian champs got off to a bad start to the Serie A season over the weekend when they dropped to an 0-2 hole at home against recent challengers, Lazio, and though they did end up drawing the fixture, no one in Milan was overly thrilled about it. However, both Antonio Cassano and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were able to find the back of the net within four minutes of one another on Friday to pull level. There wasn’t another goal in the game.

Kevin-Prince Boateng has come in the papers in this fixture, calling it one that the Rossoneri can actually take three points out of. He claims that stopping Anders Iniesta and Xavi will be the key, and there has to be a level of confidence over the fact that Real Sociedad was able to fight back against Barca over the weekend.

Barca is a 1.5 ball favorite on the Asian Handicap, and it is a -120 favorite as well, making it the biggest chalk on the board on the first day of Champions League betting action. The over/under has been set at 3, over -120, also the highest number on the board. We’d recommend taking AC Milan though, as a goal and a half is a tremendous head start for a league champion of its stature, and we wouldn’t be shocked if it were to take a point from Camp Nou in Barcelona’s form.

Posted in Champions League (UCL), Featured

New York Red Bulls vs. Los Angeles Galaxy MLS Preview: Premier League Stars on Display

On Sunday night, American soccer fans have a true treat to watch on ESPN2, and we’re set to make our New York Red Bulls vs. Los Angeles Galaxy picks for one of the biggest fixtures that the MLS has ever seen.

No, it’s not that the Red Bulls and the Galaxy are getting ready to play in the MLS Cup in the playoffs. Though it is definitely a possible pairing in the first round of the draw, it’s not what anyone is really looking forward to. After all, New York is right on the cutoff line for the postseason as we speak, and its form down the stretch will determine whether or not it will even be in the 10-team field in the playoffs.

The real display here on Sunday is that we have so many major, major names in soccer that are all sharing a pitch at the same time on American soil, playing for American teams. Red Bull Arena will clearly be rocking, as the Red Bulls try to tame the giants of the MLS, the Galaxy.

The Red Bulls this year have been an epic failure, as they have assembled a team that, on paper anyway, should be challenging for the Eastern Conference crown. Thierry Henry is the leader of the bunch from his days with Arsenal in the Premier League, while other high profile names like Rafael Marquez and Frank Rost were really supposed to be helping out this roster as well. Henry and Marquez have done their parts. Henry has a dozen goals on the campaign and has consistently been a force on the offensive side of the pitch.

The problem that New York has is that it really can’t keep its own net clean. Over the course of the last five fixtures, the team has allowed at least two goals in all five, and it has surrendered a total of 13 strikes, the worst such mark in the MLS. No matter how strong Henry, Carlos Mendes, Roy Miller, and Marquez are in the outfield, if the goaltending just doesn’t shore up for this team, the 2011 Emirates Cup winners are going to be kept out of the postseason.

The Galaxy need virtually no introduction with all of their huge names that will be on display on Sunday night. Landon Donovan already has 11 goals this year to pace the team, and David Beckham has a pair of strikes to boot. Vitor Junior and Omar Gonzalez are internationally known names to boot, but the biggest acquisition might have been the most recent one. Robbie Keane came on last week after getting transferred in directly from the MLS and scored a goal for LA in fine form.

Los Angeles has been playing in the CONCACAF Champions League of late, which could give it some tired legs heading into this one. We know that the Galaxy have the names, but the Red Bulls do as well. These two teams fought to a 1-1 draw playing in Tinseltown earlier this season, and we would expect nothing less than yet another fantastic match, as two of the biggest, glitziest teams in the sport battle it out on Sunday night.

Posted in Featured, MLS

Premier League News: MCL Injury to Petr Cech, Out Four Weeks

Last weekend, Manager Andre Villas-Boas took a lot of heat for the way that his new team, Chelsea played in a scoreless draw against Stoke City. Now, he has a new challenge to deal with. His goalkeeper, Petr Cech is going to be out of the lineup for at least the next three to four weeks after suffering an MCL injury.

The injury was suffered on Wednesday in training, and it is certainly going to be an injury that will prove costly for the Blues.

The question that remains at Stamford Bridge is who will take over in net for the next few fixtures. The good news is that both Ross Turnbull and Henrique Hilario have plenty of experience at the top levels of soccer. Even better is the fact that Cech should only miss two fixtures, against West Bromwich Albion this week and against Norwich City next weekend. The hope is to have Cech back in the fold for a September 10th duel against Sunderland.

Turnbull came over from Middlesbrough in 2009. There, he struggled mightily, costing Boro its place in the Premier League. Middlesbrough only went 7-11-20 that season, and it allowed a whopping 57 goals, 37 of which came on the road. From there, Turnbull immediately became Cech’s backup. He played in two Premiership fixtures and a pair of Champions League games in 2009-10, and last year, he was called upon only twice. In one of those matches, Newcastle ripped him for four goals in the team’s Carling Cup exit.

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Hilario has been with Chelsea since the 2006-07 season, but he really hasn’t been used all that much since his first season at Stamford Bridge. He didn’t make an appearance for the Blues last year, and he was really only used in the Carling Cup and FA Cup competitions in 2009/10. The 35-year old was left off of the team’s roster in the first match of the year against Stoke City, which leads us to believe that he will most likely be on the bench as an available substitute this week against WBA.

Cech will also almost certainly miss the Czech Republic’s friendly battle with Ukraine on September 6th before potentially returning to the Blues that weekend.

Posted in English Premier League, Featured

Indi Cowie Soccer Juggler Exhibition

Posted in United States (Vid)

2011 U.S. Celebrity Soccer Challenge (Video)

Posted in United States (Vid), Videos

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