Happy Friday and welcome to the Golazo Starting XI newsletter! I'm Roger Gonzalez, eager for what should be a wild weekend of international soccer ahead. Thanks for joining us. Let's get started, shall we?
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📺 On Paramount+ or CBS Sports Network
All times Eastern
Serie A action
⚽ Cremonese vs. Lecce, Saturday, 9 a.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Roma vs. Empoli, Saturday, 12 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Sassuolo vs. Atalanta, Saturday, 2:45 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Spezia vs. Napoli, Sunday, 6:30 a.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Torino vs. Udinese, Sunday, 9 a.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Fiorentina vs. Bologna, Sunday, 12 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Inter Milan vs. AC Milan, Sunday, 2:45 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ St. Johnstone vs. Celtic, Sunday, 7 a.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Network
FA Women's Soccer League
⚽ Leicester City vs. Manchester City, Saturday. 6:30 a.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Network
⚽ Tottenham Hotspur vs. Chelsea, Sunday. 7:30 a.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ West Ham vs. Arsenal, Sunday. 7:30 a.m. ➡️ Paramount+
Argentine Primera Division
⚽ Newell's Old Boys vs. Velez Sarsfield, Friday 6 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Tigre vs. Rosario Central, Friday, 6 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Arsenal Sarandi vs. Estudiantes, Saturday, 3 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Sarmiento vs. Barracas Central, Saturday, 3 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Belgrano vs. River Plate, Saturday, 5:15 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Argentinos Juniors vs. Racing Club, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Lanus vs. San Lorenzo, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Independiente vs. Club Atletico Platense, Sunday, 3 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Boca Juniors vs. Central Cordoba de Santiago, Sunday, 5:15 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Atletico Tucuman vs. Talleres, Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Godoy Cruz vs. Colon, Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
⚽ Union vs. Instituto, Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
📺 What else we're keeping an eye on
⚽ Club World Cup second round: Seattle Sounders vs. Al Ahly, Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
⚽ Premier League: Tottenham vs. Manchester City, Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
⚽ La Liga: Barcelon avs. Sevilla, Sunday at 3 p.m.
⚽ The Forward Line
🇺🇸 American soccer history will be made
We are just one day away from what will be an incredibly significant day in the history of American soccer. For the first time ever, an American team will play in the FIFA Club World Cup 🏆. The competition is already underway, but Major League Soccer side the Seattle Sounders will debut in the competition Saturday when they face Al Ahly from Egypt. Sure, it might not be the most intriguing matchup on paper, boasting teams from leagues that aren't considered among the best in the world, but it's just so incredible that the Sounders have even gotten to this point.
Last season, they beat Pumas from Mexico in the Concacaf Champions League to earn a berth at the Club World Cup, which is being played in Morocco. They became the first American team to ever win the competition, breaking a streak of 13 straight seasons where a Mexican team had won it. But that Mexican dominance stretches back further. Prior to the 2008-09 season when the competition was renamed, it was called the Concacaf Champions Cup. A Mexican team had won it every year since 2006. An American team hadn't won that since 2000 when D.C. United did it, but even Costa Rica had more titles with Alajuelense and Deportiva Saprissa claiming the crown in the following years. So, winning the CCL was a huge deal.
Now, Al Ahly played in the first round and pounded New Zealand club Auckland City, 3-0. Seattle will be slightly favored in this one, but since it is currently MLS preseason, how sharp will they really be?
This game for the Sounders, however, comes with quite the opportunity -- a spot in the semifinals to face what is widely considered the biggest club in soccer history, mighty Real Madrid.
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🔗 Midfield Link Play
🍕 Inter Milan vs. AC Milan watch party in Boston on Sunday!
One of the biggest rivalries in world soccer will write its latest chapter on Sunday in the Derby della Madonnina as Inter Milan face AC Milan. It's a battle between the last two Serie A champions, two of the biggest clubs in the world, and two teams looking to boost their momentum heading into what will be a critical stretch of the season. Our crew from Calcio E Cappuccino will be in Boston at Ducali Pizzeria in the north end for an awesome watch party!
To reserve a spot, click here.
As for the game itself, both teams are chasing leaders Napoli and both are still alive in the Champions League, which you can watch on Paramount+.
Our resident Italian giornalista, Francesco Porzio, gets you ready for the game, sharing why it is such a massive contest for each.
- Porzio: "Inter Milan are in a better shape compared to their city rivals, especially since they won 3-0 in the last Derby della Madonnina on Jan. 18. in the Supercoppa Italiana. That match won Simone Inzaghi his third trophy since he was appointed in the summer of 2021. However, even as he won two Supercoppas and one Coppa Italia, he missed the chance to win the Scudetto last season and also lost the last two Serie A Derby della Madonninas. Inter Milan need to win this game if they still want to have a even the faintest of hopes to catch Napoli in the title race, considering that the Nerazzurri are currently second in the table,but thirteen points behind Napoli. Defender Milan Skriniar might start the match and play for the first time in front of his fans after he signed a pre-agreement with Paris Saint Germain for the summer"
And here he is on defending champions AC Milan.
- Porzio: "AC Milan are coming off of a very difficult month as the Rossoneri conceded 18 goals in seven matches. In the last two games. AC Milan lost 4-0 against Lazio before a 5-2 defeat at home against Sassuolo last Sunday. Those two defeats put more pressure on the position of coach Stefano Pioli, who is now supported by the club but definitely needs to find a way to bring the team back together as soon as possible. The Milan derby has a new added meaning since last season when AC Milan won the Scudetto with the last match of the year, managing to beat city rivals for the title after an incredible and surprising run that started one year ago when Oliver Giroud's brace in a win against Inter started Milan set the tone for the stretch run."
We hope if you are in the Boston area, that you can join the crew for what will surely be a blast. Now, there is no word yet where there will be any ranch involved (Seriously, can you believe the incredible persuasive powers we must have to even get Alessandro Nesta to try this), but one thing we can probably agree on -- ranch does not belong on high-quality pizza.
And now let's get to some links:
🔗 PSG's Kylian Mbappe is injured, likely out of the Champions League first-leg clash vs. Bayern Munich.
🔗 Jonathan Johnson breaks down all your transfer deadline day winners and losers.
🔗 James Benge breaks down Arsenals' transfer moves as they chase a title.
🔗 Francesco Porzio looks at why Juventus' season may just be salvageable.
🔗 Alex Morgan spoke to CBS Sports about what year two could be like for the San Diego Wave.
🔗 With the transfer window over, Chuck Booth broke down some American moving (or almost moving) in Europe.
🔗 House of Champions: It's Friday, that means it's weekend preview time.
🔗 Manchester United's Mason Greenwood has rape charges dropped.
🔗 In Soccer We Trust: Sounders' USMNT midfielder Cristian Roldan joins the show.
🔗 Megan Rapinoe is back on the USWNT roster in time for the SheBelieves Cup.
🔗 And remember, all of your soccer needs -- from Champions League to Serie A to NWSL and so much more -- are available on Paramount+. Try one month for free by using the code: SERIEA.
💰 The Back Line
💵 Best bets
We're looking for intrigue the next couple of days. All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and all times U.S./Eastern.
- Premier League: Chelsea vs. Fulham, Friday, 3 p.m.
💰 THE PICK: Boh teams to score (-115) -- Sure, Chelsea haven't conceded in their last two games, but they conceded in their four previous, including two to Fulham back on Jan. 12 in a loss. The Blues' attack figures to have a better showing than the 0-0 draw against Liverpool last time out, and this is a big game for both teams. Fulham can stay firmly in the race for European qualification with a win, while the Blues need to start a winning streak to have any hope of qualifying for Champions League. Fulham have also conceded in their last four. Follow SportsLine's best bets on this Premier League showdown here.
- La Liga: Mallorca vs. Real Madrid, Sunday, 8 a.m.
💰 THE PICK: Real Madrid (-135) -- Los Blancos are coming off a comfortable win against Valencia, and while there is the injury concern to Eder Militao, this is still a match they should win on the road. Mallorca haven't scored more than a goal in a league game since November, while Real are the highest-scoring team in Spain, averaging over 2.0 goals per game. Yes, Los Blancos do have the Club World Cup coming up, but that's hardly a competition you rest players in.preparation of as you mighr for the Champions League. And regardless, this team has more than enough depth. Follow SportsLine's best bets for all the weekends biggest soccer matches here.