Tuesday's soccer news starts with a look at the two USMNT players in the 2019-20 Champions League. It's not exactly surprising that it's a shortlist for Europe's top competition, finally set to complete the round of 16 on Friday and Saturday. For Tyler Adams's RB Leipzig, it's a longer wait.
RB Leipzig knocked out Spurs 4-0 on aggregate on March 10 to advance to the quarterfinals. They already know their opponent. Atletico Madrid needed extra time to beat Liverpool 4-2 on aggregate, clearing a path in the top-half of the bracket by knocking out the defending champion. With UEFA making sure to spread games around the schedule, we also know who the winner of RB Leipzig vs Atletico will play. Atalanta faces PSG in what on paper looks like a mismatch. PSG knocked out Borussia Dortmund 3-2 with Atalanta putting eight goals past Valencia in an 8-4 aggregate win.
It's the bottom-half of the bracket that still needs to finish the round of 16. Manchester City has a 2-1 lead on Real Madrid, Lyon is up 1-0 on Juventus, and Napoli and Barcelona are tied 1-1. City knocking out Real Madrid isn't necessarily an upset, but a quarterfinal without both of the Spanish giants and the Italian champion certainly is. If Friday and Saturday go the underdogs' way, it could disrupt what we thought we knew about the Champions League.
The other series left to finish is Bayern Munich vs Chelsea. Christian Pulisic's team is down 3-0 needing goals at the Allianz Arena less than a week from losing the FA Cup final at Wembley. It's a difficult scenario if this was still March when the game was originally on the schedule. Now, following a lengthy break, a compact season, and FA Cup disappointment, it requires figuring out a different version of Bayern.
No team in Germany handled the restart better than Bayern Munich. They took the title on their way to winning every game they played once the season resumed. That included the DFB Pokal, knocking out Eintracht in the semifinals and beating Bayer Leverkusen for the trophy. The last time Bayern didn't win was on February 9, with that 0-0 home draw with RB Leipzig breaking a six-game win streak.
If there is an upside for Chelsea, it's that Bayern's last competitive game was that DFB Pokal final on July 4. That layoff may not mean much with this squad, especially since they're defending a 3-0 lead at home. Still, any team takes what they can in this situation. The FA Cup cost Chelsea its winger Pedro, out with a dislocated shoulder, and likely Pulisic himself with a hamstring injury. Pulisic's status has yet to become official, but according to the club's official site it's a matter of time.
There's no downplaying what the absence of Pulisic will mean in this situation. The goalscorer from Chelsea's 2-1 FA Cup final loss to Arsenal, Pulisic has proven he can change games starting or off the bench. With Chelsea needing whatever chance they can manage against Bayern on Saturday, Pulisic has played himself into the likeliest answer. Without him, it's just another problem.
Moving to the soccer news, BBC Sport looks at what we learned from Europe's big leagues this season. The Independent's Jamie Gardner on the parachute payment issue in English soccer. The Washington Post's Steven Goff reports that MLS may begin playing league games later this month. ESPN's Stefano Fusaro goes in-depth with the MLS is Back experience.
All links are provided as a courtesy. US Soccer Players nor its authors are responsible for the content of third-party links or sites. For comments, questions, and concerns please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Hollandse-Hoogte via ZUMA Press - ISIPhotos.com