It's a Champions League Tuesday in the soccer news with Manchester City trailing Spurs 1-0 and Juventus tied 1-1 with Ajax on one side of the quarterfinal bracket and Barcelona leading Manchester United 1-0 and Liverpool 2-0 up on Porto on the other side. Juventus vs Ajax and Barcelona vs Manchester United conclude later today, with the home teams holding the clear advantage. It's the same for Wednesday's quarterfinal second-legs.
What the favorites advancing to the semifinals sets up is an opportunity for the Premier League. Though it would take a few seasons of dominance to fully make the point, they could begin replacing La Liga at the top of the European table. All it would take is two Premier League teams in the Champions League final.
That's still a significant ask at this point. Though the potential is there for the Premier League to fill three out of the four semifinal spots, two seems more likely. Never count out Manchester United in Europe, but turning around that 1-0 home loss to Barcelona is a significant ask. Barcelona may no longer be the La Liga team that dominates the Champions League, but this season they're the last Spanish club standing. It's a different scenario when they're not also dealing with Real Madrid and/or Atletico at some point in the knockout round. They're also not playing a Serie A team, their exit scenario in the last two quarterfinals.
Should Ajax take care of the last remaining Serie A club, it's good news for Manchester City. Should they come back against Spurs, Ajax is a better semifinal match-up for them than Juventus. Short of the highly unlikely scenario where Porto knocks out Liverpool and then advances past United or Barcelona to make the final, Ajax will remain the underdog until they lose. That could happen as early as later today, with their free flowing and pass happy offense running up against a squad built around last season's top scorer in the Champions League.
This is still a Champions League of favorites, with a replay of the 2014-15 final the easy pick. Barcelona beat Juventus 3-1 in Berlin, a game that started Juve's reputation as a team good enough to make a Champions League final but not capable of winning. That carried over to Serie A as a whole in the era of La Liga dominance.
Should Barcelona make it six Champions League titles in a row for Spanish clubs, the Premier League could be facing it's own under card scenario. Good enough to get teams to the semifinals, not capable of winning.
BBC Sport has Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola stressing the concept of finals for games that aren't. Pro Soccer Talk's Daniel Karell with Atalanta's astounding offensive numbers against Empoli that led to no goals. The Guardian's Jonathan Wilson profiles Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson. Bundesliga Fanatic's Warren Pegg explains the issues with the big chances statistic and what it means in the Bundesliga.
MLSsoccer's Tom Bogert reports that the Seattle Sounders will have full capacity for four games this season. The St Louis Post-Dispatch's Mark Schlinkmann updates the situation for the city's proposed stadium for an MLS expansion team.
Veracruz’s last few days:— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) April 16, 2019
👉 9-2 loss to Pachuca
👉 owner threatens to spill beans on Liga MX practices
👉 Siboldi out as coach
👉deducted 4 points by FIFA #ligamxeng
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