Soccer on TV: MLS Cup, Manchester derby, Madrid derby, Liga MX title game
The weekend in world soccer is highlighted by two championship games in North America and two rivalry games in Europe. Here’s your viewer’s guide to the best action to watch.
The weekend in world soccer is highlighted by two championship games in North America and two rivalry games in Europe.
Here’s your viewer’s guide to the best action to watch.
RB Leipzig vs Werder Bremen
Saturday, 9:30 a.m. (ESPN+)
Fresh off ousting Manchester United from the Champions League, Tyler Adams’ Leipzig hosts fellow American Josh Sargent’s Bremen. Sargent has just two goals in 10 games this season, but is playing well enough to have reportedly attracted suitors in England and elsewhere.
» READ MORE: Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna and Weston McKennie score goals on banner day for USMNT players in Europe
Manchester United vs. Manchester City
Saturday, 12:30 p.m. (NBC10, Telemundo)
United’s exit from the Champions League heaped another pile of pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer. So did comments from star midfielder Paul Pogba’s agent that the player “is unhappy” at the club and “needs to change team.”
But when it comes to just the Premier League, the bigger crisis might just be at City. Pep Guardiola’s team is in seventh place, a point behind sixth-place United. The club’s last two Premier League wins have looked good, but have come against lowly Burnley and Fulham. City’s last big game was a 2-0 loss at Tottenham, and before that was a 1-1 home draw with Liverpool.
One of these two teams is going to get some much-needed momentum out of the 183rd Manchester Derby. The other is going to suffer a big setback. Or they might tie, leaving both teams stuck.
Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid
Saturday, 3 p.m. (beIN Sports, beIN Sports Español)
Both of these giants delivered statement wins in the Champions League on Wednesday to book places in the round of 16. Now they clash in La Liga, where Atletico stands in first place and Real is in fourth. Expect the spotlight to be on the star forwards, Atletico’s Luis Suarez and Real’s Karim Benzema. but the real players to watch will be the young phenoms: Atletico’s Joao Felix and Real’s Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo.
Columbus Crew vs. Seattle Sounders
Saturday, 8 p.m. (Fox29, Fox Deportes)
If you suggested when the MLS regular season resumed that these teams would reach the final, a lot of people would have agreed with you. Though neither was the No. 1 seed in their conference, there’s no questioning their quality.
Columbus’ midfield of Lucas Zelarayan, Darlington Nagbe, Artur, Pedro Santos and Derrick Etienne Jr. is arguably the best in the league; and striker Gyasi Zardes has answered his critics with 15 goals in 25 games this year. But the Crew were rocked Thursday night by the news that Nagbe and Santos aren’t medically cleared to play, which is MLS’ version of saying they have COVID-19.
Across the field will stand the team that’s not just the defending champion, but the league’s gold standard. This is the Sounders’ ninth final in their 12 years in the league, and their fourth MLS Cup final in the last five seasons. The attacking trio of Jordan Morris, Raul Ruidiaz and Nicolas Lodeiro is in rampaging form right now. And with Nagbe and Santos out, the Sounders will be favored to win the title again.
» READ MORE: Brenden Aaronson dreams of success with the USMNT, and of maybe playing in the Champions League in a few weeks
Manchester City vs. Arsenal
Sunday, 9:30 a.m. (NBCSports.com, atafootball.com)
Manchester City’s men’s team isn’t the only squad in the club that’s underperforming right now. The women’s team is in fourth place in the FA Women’s Super League, and American star Rose Lavelle suffered a minor knee injury during last Sunday’s win at Everton.
Arsenal is in second place, but with a big asterisk: the last two league games were a loss to Manchester United and a tie with Chelsea. That reputation for not being able to beat the “big” teams will haunt manager Joe Montemurro and his players until they finally get a win that really matters.
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon
Sunday, 3 p.m. (beIN Sports Connect)
Despite a few stumbles along the way, PSG has finally climbed up to the top of Ligue 1. Lyon is in third, on a four-game winning streak and 12-game unbeaten run (albeit with five ties).
The player to watch here is Lyon’s Houssem Aouar, who is wanted by England’s Arsenal and wants to leave France. Things got fractious in late November when he refused to take part in a warm-down session after a game, and was suspended by the club because of it.
Leon vs. Pumas UNAM
Sunday, 9:30 p.m. (Univision, TUDN)
The first leg of the final in Mexico’s Liga MX was a 1-1 tie Thursday night at Pumas’ home, the 1968 Olympic Stadium in Mexico City. Now the scene shifts north to Leon, where the team nicknamed Los Panzas Verdes will try to clinch its first league title since 2014.
Leon is led by Argentine forward Emanuel Gigliotti, Ecuadorian winger Ángel Mena, and veteran Costa Rican striker Joel Campbell. Pumas is led by another Argentine, forward Juan Dinneno, and Paraguayan star winger Juan Iturbe — formerly of clubs including Bournemouth and AS Roma.