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Serie A

This weekend in European soccer: Previews, predictions for 5 must-see games

Every week, theScore will pick standout matches to watch across Europe. This weekend’s slate is highlighted by a bumper Sunday schedule featuring a classic Italian rivalry and a heated London skirmish.

Serie A

Juventus vs. AC Milan

Giorgio Perottino / Getty Images Sport / Getty

When: Sunday, Sept. 19 (2:45 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: CBS Sports Network (U.S.), FuboTV (Canada)

After a miserable start to the campaign, Juventus finally got on track midweek, putting together an assured Champions League display against Malmo to pick up their first win of the new season. That 3-0 triumph will count for little if the Bianconeri don’t back it up with three points Sunday. Juve, sitting on one measly point from three Serie A matches, risk falling 11 points behind Sunday’s opposition with a loss.

It’s a long season, yes, but that’s a potentially whopping gap to try and close.

Meanwhile, AC Milan head into the enticing clash on the back of a defeat to Liverpool, but the nature of that game may actually give the Rossoneri a spring in their step. Making their long-awaited return to the Champions League, Milan recovered after a rocky start at Anfield, even stunning a raucous crowd and taking a shocking lead before ultimately succumbing to a frantic 3-2 defeat. A victory would’ve been great, of course, but the resiliency and ability to hang with one of the continent’s best sides was extremely encouraging, particularly without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who remains doubtful heading into the weekend due to an Achilles issue.

After many false dawns over the past decade, Milan now have a proper plan in place and appear well on their way to regaining lofty status.

Sunday’s game will push the proverbial narrative into overdrive. Either Juventus are truly “back” after a groggy start to Massimiliano Allegri’s second stint, or Milan have usurped the Old Lady as one of the title favorites in a season with no clear front-runner in Italy.

Prediction: An entertaining draw with some late penalty drama

Premier League

West Ham United vs. Manchester United

Ash Donelon / Manchester United / Getty

When: Sunday, Sept. 19 (9 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: NBCSN (U.S.), DAZN (Canada)

Manchester United need to bounce back. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team have been lambasted on the back of a last-second defeat to Young Boys in the Champions League and will be looking for an immediate response.

“We know expectations are high, and we expect more of ourselves, the performance wasn’t up to our standard,” said the manager, after bemoaning what he deemed to be an overzealous response to the setback.

In a delicious twist, Jesse Lingard, whose brutal error gifted the Swiss club its famous victory Tuesday, will be desperate to atone against the team he starred on while on loan last season.

The schedule hasn’t been particularly kind to United, though, as David Moyes’ West Ham present a difficult challenge; the Hammers haven’t tasted defeat this season, racking up 10 goals over four league matches.

However, the Red Devils catch a huge break going into the contest as West Ham will be without talisman Michail Antonio. The red-hot forward, who has five goals in as many games across all competitions this season, was sent off last week against Southampton and will miss Sunday’s tilt due to suspension.

Prediction: Manchester United get back on track with slim win

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea

Tottenham Hotspur FC / Tottenham Hotspur FC / Getty

When: Sunday, Sept. 19 (11:30 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: Peacock (U.S.), DAZN (Canada)

The Premier League campaign is only four matches old, but Nuno Espirito Santo already faces his first conundrum: Does his Tottenham Hotspur side have the personnel to defend astutely and furnish chances for Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son, and their other attackers?

Kane worryingly ended last weekend’s 3-0 defeat to Crystal Palace without a single shot or touch in the opposition’s box.

Despite being on home turf, Nuno’s gut instinct should be to protect his defense from Chelsea’s rich array of attacking talent. Oliver Skipp has improved exponentially from a season-long loan with Norwich City. Either Skipp or Harry Winks could start alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, but that means there is only one spot left for someone to complement Kane and Son.

The safest option would be Dele Alli, who only played around 15 minutes Thursday against Rennes as a shuttling box-to-box midfielder. But Nuno’s side could be less predictable and more dangerous with the elusive dribbling and vision of Giovani Lo Celso or Tanguy Ndombele, or the raw pace and agility of Bryan Gil. Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn are both injured.

It’ll be interesting to see if Nuno has the bravery to select one of his more inventive players for Chelsea’s visit or whether they’re simply called off the bench to respond to Spurs falling a goal or two behind to their London rivals.

Prediction: Chelsea win their third straight away match against Tottenham


Wolfsburg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt

picture alliance / picture alliance / Getty

When: Sunday, Sept. 19 (1:30 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: ESPN+ (U.S.), Sportsnet World (Canada)

It was supposed to be one step backward and two steps forward for Oliver Glasner. However, the Austrian tactician leaving fourth-place finishers Wolfsburg for Europa League-bound Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer hasn’t panned out so far.

Mark van Bommel’s Wolfsburg sit atop the Bundesliga table with a perfect record, while Glasner’s Frankfurt are just above the relegation zone with three points from four outings.

Wolfsburg has played a high-octane style under Glasner, aggressively pressing to win possession in the final third and relying on Wout Weghorst as a focal point when launching direct attacks. But Rafael Borre, who Frankfurt signed this summer to replace Andre Silva, can’t provide the same aerial ability and brawn when he’s 10 inches shorter than Weghorst, so Glasner mimicking his Wolfsburg success in Hesse could be difficult.

Meanwhile, Van Bommel has sensibly and successfully built on the defensive foundations that Glasner left behind.

“We know the coach, so we know his tactics somewhat, too,” Wolfsburg defender Maxence Lacroix told the Bundesliga website. “So we have a bit of an idea of how we can set up against them.”

Prediction: Wolfsburg make it five wins in five matches with a narrow victory

Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon


When: Sunday, Sept. 19 (2:45 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: beIN SPORTS (U.S. and Canada), FuboTV (Canada)

After blasting through the field and picking up maximum points from their opening five league matches, Paris Saint-Germain’s roaring start hit a wall Wednesday as Club Brugge shut down Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe in a 1-1 draw. The acclaimed “MNM” trio, playing together for the first time since Messi’s celebrated arrival, looked disjointed. Time on the training ground is needed before the three stars become a cohesive unit.

An ankle injury suffered by Mbappe may delay that chemistry a touch longer. His fitness going into the weekend remains in question.

Finding a balanced tactical structure that can accommodate all three in the same lineup will be Mauricio Pochettino’s greatest challenge this season. In that sense, Mbappe’s potential absence Sunday may make his life a little easier, at least in the immediate term.

Meanwhile, after a rocky start to the season, including a 3-3 draw with Clermont Foot that prompted jeers from the home fans and a very public dressing down from manager Peter Bosz, Lyon have steadied the ship, winning each of their last three matches in all competitions.

The talented Lyon midfield will be key if Bosz and Co. are to pull off an upset and keep their mini resurgence alive, especially after watching PSG get overrun in the middle of the pitch against Brugge.

Prediction: Messi leads PSG to win with his first goal for the club

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Serie A

This weekend in European soccer: Previews, predictions for 5 must-see games

Every week, theScore will pick standout matches to watch across Europe. This weekend’s slate features Cristiano Ronaldo’s likely debut and a potential bonanza in the Bundesliga.

Premier League

Manchester United vs. Newcastle United

Martin Rickett – PA Images / PA Images / Getty

When: Saturday, Sept. 11 (10 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: USA Network (U.S.), DAZN (Canada)

Saturday’s match at Old Trafford won’t be broadcast in England, leaving anyone without a ticket unable to watch Cristiano Ronaldo make his second debut as a Manchester United player.

Viewers in North America face no such conundrum.

Fans waited two weeks for Ronaldo to turn up again in his former colors. United could be playing anyone and the match would generate the same amount of interest. Newcastle United are simply invited guests on a day that should offer at least a cameo appearance from Ronaldo. The 36-year-old arrived at United’s training base on Tuesday, cutting short his time with the Portuguese national team to reorient himself with his former stomping ground.

We’ll also get an early indication of where exactly manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will field his ex-teammate. Solskjaer said he sees Ronaldo as “more of a center-forward at the moment.” After all, it’s goals United want.

Prediction: Ronaldo scores off the bench in an easy win

Arsenal vs. Norwich City

Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal FC / Getty

When: Saturday, Sept. 11 (10 a.m. ET)
Where to watch: Peacock (U.S.), DAZN (Canada)

Arsenal can’t afford to get this wrong. Without a single goal scored or point secured, the Gunners are off to their worst start to a league season in 67 years. Manager Mikel Arteta had every right to call Saturday’s meeting with Norwich City – another club off to a horrendous start – a “must-win” affair. They’re only ahead of Arsenal because they managed to score after three matches.

There aren’t any more excuses to make. Arteta has had a full preseason and time to study his team and make adjustments. If anything, the international break provided the 39-year-old an excellent opportunity to figure out a way to get the most out of £150 million in signings. Even with midfielder Granit Xhaka out with COVID-19, Arteta will likely have the chance to start newcomers Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu in defense, and perhaps he can establish a new system for the likes of Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, and Emile Smith Rowe.

Because right now, Arteta isn’t getting good enough performances from his star players. Club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has only scored twice in his last 11 league appearances, and £72-million signing Nicolas Pepe continues to disappoint on the right wing. If they don’t pick up the pace soon, Arteta may have no choice but to roll with the youngsters the rest of the way.

Prediction: Arsenal come out flying to ease the pressure on Arteta


NurPhoto / NurPhoto / Getty

RB Leipzig vs. Bayern Munich

When: Saturday, Sept. 11 (12:30 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: ESPN+ (U.S.), Sportsnet World (Canada)

An early battle between last season’s Bundesliga winners and the runners-up comes with the potential for an off-the-script bonanza.

A number of Bayern Munich’s players, including Niklas Sule, Leroy Sane, and Leon Goretzka, have had limited time in training before the marquee fixture. That’s because their flight from Iceland, where they were representing their country, was forced to stop suddenly in Scotland, turning a short trip back home into a 14-hour odyssey.

RB Leipzig are in no better shape, with Andre Silva struggling for form and youngsters Josko Gvardiol, Mohamed Simakan, and Ilaix Moriba all needing time to adjust to a new league.

It could be messy at Red Bull Arena. It could also be a lot of fun.

Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann will at least have an idea of what to expect from former side Leipzig. Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer – who followed Nagelsmann to Bavaria this past summer – will undoubtedly share insider info inside Bayern’s dressing room. But Leipzig have a game-changer of their own. Attacking midfielder Dani Olmo is coming off a productive summer with the Spanish national team – at both Euro 2020 and Tokyo 2020 – and he’s fully rested after sitting out the last round of international fixtures.

Prediction: Leipzig deliver Jesse Marsch’s first big win as manager

Serie A

Napoli vs. Juventus

Francesco Pecoraro / Getty Images Sport / Getty

When: Saturday, Sept. 11 (12 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: Paramount+ (U.S.), fuboTV (Canada)

Napoli will renew hostilities with Juventus the only way they know how: with fans causing an absolute ruckus inside the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. The southern Italians have beaten their northern rivals in three of the past five meetings, flexing their muscle even without an adoring crowd. But the best thing about Napoli is the fervor that devours the stadium, and with police allowing supporters entry four hours early, you can bet on them creating a killer atmosphere.

A lot has happened since the last time Napoli hosted Juventus in front of fans. That was back in January 2020, when the Partenopei scored a shocking 2-1 victory over Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus, with Gennaro Gattuso still on the bench. Luciano Spalletti now leads Napoli, and he’s got an early chance to win over a notoriously loyal fan base.

Victor Osimhen is also available to play, winning an appeal against a two-match ban for striking a player during a corner kick. The 22-year-old striker finished last season strong, scoring six goals in his final nine Serie A appearances, and entered the campaign as an outside pick to win Italy’s Golden Boot award.

Meanwhile, Juventus head into hostile territory without a win to date. Federico Chiesa and Paulo Dybala are unavailable as well.

Prediction: Osimhen scores twice in a heated affair

AC Milan vs. Lazio

Insidefoto / LightRocket / Getty

When: Sunday, Sept. 12 (12 p.m. ET)
Where to watch: Paramount+ (U.S.), fuboTV (Canada)

This is the most intriguing matchup of the weekend. AC Milan and Lazio are both perfect to begin the term, and they’re each coming off blowout victories.

Both clubs are looking to cement Champions League places this season. For Milan, it’s about continuity, but for Lazio, it’s about proving they belong. The Biancocelesti missed out on a berth after making their first appearance in the competition in 12 years last season. Milan, on the other hand, are back in the Champions League for the first time in seven years.

For so long, these two sides have run side by side, jostling for wins and position in the standings, and contests between them have followed a similar theme. A single goal decided seven of their last nine meetings, including dramatic last-minute winners that delivered crucial points in the Champions League race.

There will almost certainly be goals this time around. Only two of their last 26 encounters finished goalless, and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in line to make his return from injury at a half-capacity San Siro, Milan will look to build on their strong start.

Prediction: Milan grind out a win despite Lazio’s late comeback attempt

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Serie A

FIFA ignoring fans in World Cup proposal that 'threatens' game, say supporters

Supporters’ groups from across the globe have hit out at FIFA’s proposal to hold the World Cup every two years, describing it as a move that threatens to “destroy” the football ecosystem and put more matches out of their financial reach.

A joint statement released Tuesday by 58 fan groups representing all six confederations began by quoting FIFA director of development Arsene Wenger saying the plan is “what the fans want.”

“The undersigned fans’ organizations categorically refute this statement,” the declaration reads. “The overwhelming majority of fans oppose a biennial World Cup cycle – and if FIFA had bothered to engage with us on the subject, they would have known this to be the case.”

Wenger is discussing his proposed shake-up with former England internationals Michael Owen and John Terry and has vowed to include all of football’s major stakeholders in the extensive consultation process, according to BBC Sport’s Simon Stone. There was no mention of supporters in Stone’s report.

“We’re not the only ones (who are ignored),” Ronan Evain, the executive director of Football Supporters Europe, told theScore. “National associations, clubs, and leagues – they’re not really involved in it, either.”

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin and European Clubs’ Association chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi both condemned the notion of a biennial World Cup on Monday. Al-Khelaifi warned that “international competition cannot suffocate fans’ and players’ connections to clubs, without which international competition wouldn’t exist.”


Evain added: “FIFA is saying they’re already speaking to fans outside of Europe, but we’ve spoken to dozens and dozens of groups in Africa, in Asia, in South America … and no one has been consulted. So, either they do this fan consultation with random people, or it is bullshit.”

The joint statement continued in questioning FIFA’s motivation to alter a World Cup tradition that began in 1930, saying there’s no evidence it’ll improve the global game.

Additionally, the fan groups noted the damage they believe a biennial World Cup could cause.

“Such a move threatens to destroy the already fragile balance between local, domestic, continental, and international competitions and calendars,” the statement reads. “In particular, it will devalue and endanger the established competitions run by the various confederations – competitions that are just as important to match-going fans as the World Cup itself.

“We enjoy the World Cup precisely because it is an extraordinary event. Most of us do not have the time, money, or ability to travel to the other side of the world every 24 months to watch our teams play in a much-diminished competition and half-empty stadia.”

Evain, who’s French, tried to think about Wenger’s proposal from the perspective of nations that find it harder to reach major tournaments, citing Wales as an example. However, he’s found that the potential of more tournament games through more World Cups isn’t enticing fans from those countries.

Two supporters’ organizations from Wales signed the statement slamming the biennial World Cup plans.

“I can’t really see the demand – and I’ve tried hard to find it,” Evain said.

The statement concludes: “We … call on FIFA and supportive national football associations to abandon their proposals to impose a biennial World Cup and include fans’ voices in any decisions that affect the future of the game that we fund and make a global spectacle.”

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Serie A

Biggest winners and losers from the wildest transfer window ever

And … breathe. After a flurry of deadline-day moves, theScore picks out the winners and losers from the most unpredictable summer transfer window of our time.

Winners: Paris Saint-Germain

PSG bullied the opposition in the summer transfer window, showing no mercy as they poached teams’ best players on free transfers. The barely believable signing of Lionel Messi served as a changing of the guard, the handing of the baton from the football establishment to the new kids on the block.

PSG’s signings read like end credits on a Hollywood epic: Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Sergio Ramos join an already stellar cast featuring Marquinhos, Marco Verratti, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe. That PSG could assemble such a roster without falling afoul of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules is either genius or suspicious, depending on your perspective.

John Berry / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Perhaps emboldened by their headline-grabbing moves, Les Parisiens reportedly had the cojones to turn down Real Madrid’s €200 million for Mbappe. PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi seems to be convinced he can re-sign the 22-year-old hotshot before his contract expires next summer.

Now come the expectations: PSG have to win the Champions League, the competition their Qatari owners have sought since they took over the club in 2011. Anything less will be a failure.

Losers: Barcelona

If you think your favorite team had a rough transfer window, take solace in the fact it wasn’t as disastrous as what transpired at Barcelona.

Mired in a financial quagmire of its own making, the Catalans lost Messi even though he wanted to stay. That alone makes Barca the biggest loser of the summer – perhaps any summer. Maybe the Blaugrana could’ve kept Messi if they managed to offload Antoine Griezmann before the final day of the window.

SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty

As if losing Messi wasn’t bad enough, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba had to take last-minute pay cuts just to allow the club register Sergio Aguero’s contract. If they hadn’t, Barcelona would’ve exceeded their salary cap and forfeited Aguero’s signing.

Barcelona were so strapped for cash they couldn’t even keep promising teenager Ilaix Moriba, who was relegated to the club’s B team in the preseason because of his contract demands and later sold to RB Leipzig. All told, these guys put on a masterclass in how not to run a football club.

Winners: Manchester United

For a long time, Manchester United seemed to spend money for the sake of spending money. They’re still dropping huge wads of cash, but at least they’re breaking the bank on the right players.

Take away Cristiano Ronaldo for a second. The addition of Jadon Sancho solves a problem on the right wing and solidifies an electrifying front four that could compete with any team in Europe. The arrival of Raphael Varane also brings much-needed relief to a back line that has cost United points in the past. Together, they’ve brought a balance to United unseen since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson. Fans would have liked a defensive midfielder to round out the team, but for once, the Red Devils have the vast majority of pieces in place.

Chris Brunskill/Fantasista / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Now, Ronaldo himself doesn’t exactly address a need. He’ll simply score the goals Edinson Cavani would have otherwise netted. Ronaldo may even take time away from budding talent Mason Greenwood. But the 36-year-old wouldn’t have returned if he didn’t believe the club could win trophies. And that’s ultimately validation of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad and the club’s prospects.

Loser: Harry Kane

Harry Kane clearly wanted to leave Tottenham Hotspur for Manchester City this summer, but there was no convincing chairman Daniel Levy. City’s reported £125-million bid fell well short of Levy’s asking price, and Kane couldn’t possibly force his way out with three years remaining on his contract. Had he negotiated a release clause in the six-year deal he signed with Tottenham back in 2018 – as Jack Grealish did with Aston Villa last year – Kane would’ve had the authority to engineer a move to the reigning Premier League champions.

Catherine Ivill / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Despite the power struggle, the 28-year-old said his “conscience is clear,” and true as that may be, he has a lot of work to do to regain the faith of the fans. He did himself no favors by showing up late to preseason training. Whether he had an agreement with the club to arrive at a later date is irrelevant. Perception is reality, and unfortunately for Kane, he’s lost the benefit of the doubt.

There’s only one thing he can do to restore his name: score goals.

Winner: The almighty Premier League pound

It was business as usual in the Premier League. Even against the backdrop of a pandemic that has pilfered the coffers of the richest clubs, spending among English teams topped £1 billion for the seventh consecutive summer, according to

Most expensive signings

Player Club Fee
Jack Grealish Manchester City £100 million
Romelu Lukaku Chelsea £97.5 million
Jadon Sancho Manchester United £73 million
Ben White Arsenal £50 million
Raphael Varane Manchester United £41 million

(Source: Sky Sports)

Even with a hefty £97.5-million outlay for Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea only really spent as much as it had raised in sales. That’s thanks to club director Marina Granovskaia, who once again displayed her negotiating acumen to secure close to £90 million for Tammy Abraham, Kurt Zouma, and Fikayo Tomori.

However, some teams may rue the amount of money they’ve coughed up. Arsenal sit at the bottom of the Premier League despite handing over a reported £156.8 million in transfer fees – more than any other club in the English top flight. The Premier League pound giveth and taketh away.

Loser: Serie A

Ronaldo and Lukaku, the top two scorers from the past Serie A season, led an exodus of talent from the peninsula this summer. Most of it was, for better or worse, financially driven. Inter Milan, facing a financial reckoning just a few short months after winning the Scudetto, had to sacrifice Lukaku and Hakimi, and across town, rivals AC Milan decided to surrender Donnarumma on a free transfer, having refused to raise their offer of €7 million per season. Udinese sold midfield juggernaut Rodrigo De Paul for a hefty profit, and Atalanta peddled up-and-coming defender Cristian Romero to Tottenham for the same reason.

Mark Leech/Offside / Offside / Getty

Serie A itself isn’t in bad shape – it recorded more goals than any of the other top five leagues last weekend – but it’s lost a ton of visibility. Unlike Premier League clubs – which rely on lucrative domestic and international TV deals – every team in Italy has had to make sacrifices to recover lost revenue during the pandemic.

Winners: Roma

For two years, Roma have announced each of their signings alongside pictures of missing children, using their global reach on Twitter not just to tease an announcement or score social media points, but to affect positive change in their community and abroad.

So far, 12 of the more than 100 children who have featured in Roma’s campaign have been found safe.

“It is difficult to explain the happiness of having in some way contributed to the finding of one of these children and consequently to the relief of her family,” said Uzbek striker Eldor Shomurodov, who joined the club from fellow Serie A side Genoa in August. “I’m proud to be part of a club that uses the popularity of football in this way.”

Last year, Roma brought more than 200 professional clubs together to raise awareness on International Missing Children’s Day, sharing videos to a combined 400 million followers.

Loser: UEFA

UEFA is finally admitting defeat. Financial Fair Play is reportedly heading into the bin after a decade of politics and grandstanding. Ultimately, FFP did nothing to bridge the gap between the elite and the chasing pack. If anything, it protected the wealthiest teams, whose vast revenue streams enabled them to spend more money then their thriftier peers.

UEFA relaxed FFP regulations during the pandemic, which could explain why PSG managed to commit tens of millions of euros in salaries and transfer fees despite suffering losses of €204 million and €124 million in the past two seasons.


But with or without FFP, UEFA doesn’t have the confidence of some of its biggest stakeholders. The threat of a breakaway Super League remains high, with a court in Madrid ordering UEFA to rescind the sanctions it imposed on the 12 breakaway clubs. Barcelona, Juventus, and Real Madrid, in particular, believe UEFA has failed to develop a sustainable model. Fans of both big and small clubs believe the same.

The last few months proved UEFA can’t do much to create parity.

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