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Welcome to the weekend! Jonathan Johnson here before another massive weekend of European soccer starting with Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid in La Liga on Friday, right through to Sunday and the North London Derby. So let's get into it!

📺 Footy fix

All times U.S./Eastern

Friday, Apr. 26
🇪🇸 La Liga: Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid, 3 p.m. ➡️ ESPN+

Saturday, Apr. 27
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 EPL: West Ham United vs. Liverpool, 7:30 a.m. ➡️ USA Network
🇮🇹 Serie A: Juventus vs. Milan, 12 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 EPL: Aston Villa vs. Chelsea, 3 p.m. ➡️ Peacock Premium
🇺🇸 USL: Sacramento Republic vs. Loudoun United, 10 p.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Golazo Network

Sunday, Apr. 28
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 WSL: Everton vs. Arsenal, 7:30 a.m. ➡️ Paramount+
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 EPL: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal, 9 a.m. ➡️ USA Network
🇮🇹 Serie A: Napoli vs. Roma, 12 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
🇺🇸 MASL Final: Kansas City Comets vs. Chihauhau Savage, 5:05 p.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Golazo Network

👀 Don't miss CBS Sports launch of the "Champions League" channel, a brand new streaming channel

⚽ The Forward Line

🌶️ EPL title race could twist and turn this weekend

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Arsenal and Manchester City are separated by just a single point at the summit coming into this weekend's Premier League games and although Liverpool have taken a step back after their unexpected Merseyside Derby defeat to bitter rivals Everton, the Reds could yet close the gap on the Gunners. Mikel Arteta's men take on Tottenham Hotspur in the North London Derby on Sunday with Ange Postecoglou's side needing six points from their two games in hand over Aston Villa in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification. Should Spurs take a point or better against Arsenal, that could be a huge opening for Jurgen Klopp and his players to make up the ground lost in midweek. 

  • Klopp on LFC title hopes post-Everton: "I do not know. I can only apologize for today, to the people, everybody who is with us. I know how hard this is for us as well but for the people, it is especially hard. We should have done better. We did not. Second half [was] emotional, we were in a rush, not really clear and then we conceded in the second half with a routine they do the whole season. We knew exactly the ball would end up there, we just did not defend it. 

    They had free kick after free kick. We had the ball, they earned the free kick. It is an important start of the story. We tried but at the end, it is not good enough. There is nothing we can explain and if you win, you have 500 reasons and when you lose, it is just not good enough. It is not the greatest moment we are in and we still have to play games so we have to try to get through. We have to use these moments to build, to get the momentum back."

Whether that would be enough in terms of the title tilt does not depend on how the current EPL leaders fare, though, as City are one point behind the Gunners with a game in hand and two points clear of Liverpool before a ball is even kicked. The Merseysiders get things underway away at West Ham United which is a tricky game despite the Hammers' drifting form while Pep Guardiola's men will have the luxury of knowing how both Liverpool and Arsenal have fared before taking to the field against relegation threatened Nottingham Forest, having blown Brighton and Hove Albion away 4-0 on Thursday. All Liverpool can do is put pressure on Arsenal who can only do the same to City with the defending champions essentially holding the key thanks to their game in hand.

Villa, who take on Chelsea at Villa Park on Saturday before Sunday's North London Derby, need to extend their six-point lead over Tottenham in case Arsenal beat Spurs and put a further dent in their Champions League hopes. Unai Emery's men are so close to the promised land of the UCL that they can hear the famous anthem in their ears, but they must make good on their current points lead until Postecoglou's team drop some points in their games in hand. Spurs' run-in includes Chelsea, Liverpool and City so the odds are well and truly stacked against them if they lose to the Gunners, and nothing is assured even if they do win as Villa may well see off a demoralized Chelsea with not much left to salvage from another disappointing season.

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🔗 Midfield Link Play

🤩 Looking ahead to the massive Champions League semifinals

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The UEFA Champions League semifinals is one of the most anticipated stages of each European soccer season and this campaign is no different with two delightful pairings in the final four. There is little doubt that Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid shades Borussia Dortmund vs. Paris Saint-Germain in terms of prestige, but the overriding narrative of a potential Real vs. PSG final given the question of Kylian Mbappe's future is hard to resist. For that to happen, though, there is 180 minutes of soccer to be played in the coming fortnight and it promises to be unmissable stuff.

Bayern vs. Real throws up a historic battle between two traditional European forces who account for a combined 20 European titles at this level but it is also a meeting of two of the game's great minds with Thomas Tuchel in the German corner and Carlo Ancelotti in the Spanish corner. Tuchel is leaving Bayern at season's end and is already in demand elsewhere, but a second personal Champions League win and a seventh title for the Bavarians would leave his Allianz Arena stint looking far more positive than it does right now after Bayer Leverkusen knocked them off of their Bundesliga perch. For that to happen, though, 14-time juggernauts Real and their four-time winning boss Ancelotti must be disposed of and that is easier said than done.

On the other side, Dortmund are the rank outsiders remaining in the competition with PSG favorites to advance after their stunning comeback to overcome a first leg deficit to dump Barcelona out in Catalonia. Luis Enrique was the architect when Barca inflicted the Remontada upon Les Parisiens back in 2017 and the Spanish tactician was again pulling the strings as the Ligue 1 giants -- who could seal their 12th French title this weekend ahead of the trip to Germany -- blasted their way into the semifinals for the first time since 2021. BVB's quarterfinal success against Atletico Madrid was prolific and impressive in its own right, but this game will bring back memories of 2020 and PSG's first and so far only run to the UCL final which ended in narrow defeat to Bayern, but featured a round of 16 triumph over Dortmund just before COVID-19 arrived. 

🔗  Top Stories

🏗️ North London Derby: Title-chasing Arsenal and UCL hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur meet on Sunday in a high-stakes game with both at different stages of their respective rebuilds.

🗼 USWNT Olympic roster: Projecting towards the Paris Games with Jaedyn Shaw rising and Rose Lavelle shrouded in doubt with just 90 days or so left.

🤔 Milan coaching options: Who will replace Stefano Pioli this summer out of Antonio Conte, Paulo Fonseca, Maurizio Sarri and Mark Van Bommel?

💰 RFEF corruption latest: The Spanish government takes control of the RFEF as the investigation into Luis Rubiales' corrupt tenure continues.

😮‍💨 Deadly Dembouz: Ousmane Dembele's prolific uptick in form with PSG has come at the right time with UCL and Ligue 1 titles to be won in the coming weeks.

💣 Mainz bomb scare: An active World War II bomb was found near Mainz 05's stadium in Germany which required 3,500 peoople to be evacuated.

🎰 Slot machine: Feyenoord boss Arne Slot admits that he wants to replace Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool boss as the Reds close in on their man.

↕️ Titles, UEFA, relegation and promotion: Which teams have done what so far across Europe's top five leagues with just weeks to go?

✅ UCL 24-25: Who has qualified, who risks missing out and what to know ahead of the new format changes from next season.

💰 The Back Line

💵 Best bet

  • MLS: New England Revolution vs. Inter Miami, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
  • 💰 THE PICK: Two or more Lionel Messi goals (+500) -- Depleted Inter Miami and Lionel Messi are back in MLS action on Saturday away at New England Revolution's Gillette Stadium. Miami have lost two of their three games against Saturday's opponents in Foxborough, Massachusetts with a 5-1 combined losing score line in those two outings. Now out of the CONCACAF Champions Cup, Tata Martino's side must focus on MLS success with consecutive domestic wins since losing to Monterrey for 18 points from 10 games -- a tally which took them 21 games to reach last year. Defense is still a concern for the Herons with 15 goals conceded but they have won 11 points from losing positions so far in 2024 and two away wins from four road games is not a bad return given they only won three times on their travels all of last campaign. The numbers hint at Miami doing better than expected and Messi is helping them to defy those expectations but 2021 was the only time they have beaten the Revs. Luis Suarez teed up one of Messi's two goals which was a 50th career assist for the legendary Argentina international alone so expect him to get at least two here.

📺 What's on CBS Sports Golazo Network

☀️ Morning Footy (Weekdays 8-10 a.m.): Hosts Susannah Collins, Charlie Davies, Nico Cantor and Alexis Guerreros help fans get their day started on the network's flagship morning show with highlights, interviews and the biggest soccer storylines. Morning Footy is also available in podcast form, so you'll never have to miss an episode.

📦 Box 2 Box (Weekday afternoons): The news-driven show quickly recaps all the latest headlines from around the world with panelists previewing the top matchups of the day. Catch Box 2 Box on CBS Sports Golazo Network on the CBS Sports app, PlutoTV and Paramount+. 

3️⃣ Attacking Third (Monday, Thursday): The leading women's soccer podcast and social brand is now a live studio show. The NWSL season is back and our coverage of the women's game is stronger than ever. Our analysts will be breaking down the USWNT, NWSL and European domestic season all year long.  

👟 Kickin' It (Tuesdays): CBS Sports Golazo Network's new unfiltered interview show returns Tuesday Hosted by Kate Abdo, Clint Dempsey, Mo Edu and Charlie Davies, the group chat candidly with the biggest names from the Beautiful Game and share their stories from on and off the pitch. 

⚽ Call it What You Want (Monday night): A weekly podcast where Jimmy Conrad, Jesse Marsch and Charlie Davies cover all things USMNT and the state of the beautiful game in the United States.

🥅 Scoreline (Daily): Scoreline is the newest place for fans to catch up on all the biggest news and results impacting global football, match highlights from the top soccer competitions and all the can't-miss goals from the day's action, starting Thursday and airing seven days a week.

📺 How to watch: CBS Sports Golazo Network is a free 24/7 channel exclusively dedicated to offering unparalleled coverage of all the top soccer competitions worldwide. You can stream for free on the CBS Sports appPluto TV and Paramount+.