Monday's soccer news starts with the return of the Europa League later this week. The round of 16 continues on Wednesday, picking up where European soccer's secondary competition left off following the March 12 matchday. Three USMNT players were active in the tournament when it went on hiatus. That number is now two with Matt Polster leaving Rangers for the New England Revolution.
Polster's former club is an example of how strange this season and next have become. Rangers played a game that counts for the first time since March on Saturday. The Scottish Premier League chose not to resume its 2019-20 season, leaving Rangers with a lengthy gap in its competitive schedule. Making their situation even odder, the Scottish Premier League started its 2020-21 season over the weekend. After playing a lengthy set of friendlies in July, Rangers won 1-0 at Aberdeen to open next season before this European season officially finishes.
"We deserve this opportunity to still be in the tournament," Rangers manager Steven Gerrard said. "Obviously with Covid-19, we preferably would have wanted to play closer to the time, but it wasn't to be. But we deserve to still be in the tournament and we still have a fighting chance. We are going there to try and cause an upset - we understand the difficulty of the challenge, but whilst we have Rangers badges on, you never give up."
John Brooks's Wolfsburg is down 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk with Brooks scoring in that game. A 7th-place finish in the Bundesliga last month won Wolfsburg the final European spot. Unless this season's Europa League ends with the trophy, they enter the 2020-21 Europa League in the second round of qualifying. Wolfsburg is on the road at Kiev's NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium. They started preseason shortly after last season ended, drawing 1-1 with RB Leipzig on Thursday.
"The players gave a good account of themselves, even if everything was not perfect just yet," Wolfsburg coach Oliver Glasner said. It’s also important that all the players came through a warm-up match like this fully fit, so from that point of view, you can say that everything turned out the way that we wanted it to. Now we’ve got to focus on what’s coming up."
Timmy Chandler's Eintracht also needs a comeback in the Europa League. They trail Basel 3-0 and are on the road in Switzerland. Eintracht finished 9th in the Bundesliga, not qualifying for Europe for the 2020-21 season. Their only route into Europe would require winning the Europa League and taking its spot in the Champions League group stage. "Our full focus is on Basel," Eintracht coach Adu Hutter said with his team returning to training last Wednesday.
Inside World Football's Samindra Kunti updates the situation with the legal challenge to relegation in Belgium's Pro League. AP's Rob Harris has FIFA's response to Swiss authorities investigating the organization's president Gianni Infantino. The Guardian's Jonathan Wilson outlines Juventus's big player problem in the Champions League.
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