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Top games to watch on April 16-22, 2021

Copa del Rey final, Chelsea vs Man City headline top live games to watch on April 16-22, 2021

April 16, 2021 By Ali M.
Athletic Club vs Barcelona, Chelsea vs Manchester City, Atalanta vs Juventus, Napoli vs Inter Milan, and the MLS season kick-off make our list of must-watch games.

What are the must-watch games this week?

The MLS makes its much-awaited return, with Orlando City vs Atalanta United and Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy headlining Matchday 1 

Major League Soccer is back! The MLS will be making its much-awaited return, with the newest season set to kick off on Friday with Houston Dynamo's home clash vs San Jose. This 8 p.m. ET tie will bring an end to the four-month wait for USA top-flight action, with the excitement being dialed up once the weekend arrives. Orlando take on Atlanta United on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET in the standout fixture as these two bitter rivals in the South look to fight it out for bragging rights live on UniMás and TUDN. David Beckham's Inter Miami take on La Galaxy on Sunday – also at 3 p.m. ET – as the Herons are keen on kicking off the new campaign with a win over the Englishman's former MLS club. Tune in to ABC,ESPN Deportes, and TSN3 to catch this showdown live. Elsewhere, Seattle Sounders take on Minnesota United on Friday while LAFC will host MLS debutants Austin FC on Saturday.

Chelsea vs Man City this Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET live on ESPN+

The FA Cup semifinals are here, with the finalists set to be decided this weekend. Leicester and Southampton will lock horns in the latter of the two semis, but all eyes will be on the first fixture and that is Chelsea vs Man City. This tie will see England's two UEFA Champions League semifinalists battle it out, with the winner likely to go on and win the cup. For Guardiola's men, a historic quadruple is at stake. The Citizens are well on their way to the EPL crown and are also through to the Carabao Cup final. The Spanish tactician has downplayed their odds of winning four trophies but expect his team to go out with the sole purpose of keeping their dream alive. As for the Blues, beating Man City would be another sign of improvement under Thomas Tuchel, with the German coach leading the London giants to victories over Liverpool and Atletico. Who will win this FA Cup showdown? Tune in to find out.

Athletic Club vs Barcelona this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET live on ESPN+

The Copa del Rey final is finally upon us! Spanish giants Barcelona are gearing up to face Athletic Club in Saturday's highly-anticipated showdown, with the Blaugrana keen on avoiding going back-to-back seasons without a trophy. The Catalan side remain in the Spanish Primera Division race, but after losing 2-1 at Real Madrid in the recent Clasico, Koeman's men have dropped to third. Only two points separate them from league leaders Atletico, but with there being a possibility of missing out on La Liga, Messi and Co. must do whatever's in their power to lift the King's Cup. Athletic Club will be out for revenge, having lost last season's Copa del Rey final, which was played earlier this month, to Real Sociedad. It should be pointed out that the last time they faced Barcelona in a domestic final was in January's Spanish Super Cup, and it was the Basque club that emerged triumphant. Do not miss this game.

Athletic Club, Barcelona, Copa del Rey Final, Copa del Rey, Broadcast listings

Napoli vs Inter Milan this Sunday at 2:45 p.m. ET live on ESPN+

Wrapping up our list of the top games to watch this week is another ESPN+ broadcast, this time being a Serie A showdown between Napoli and Inter Milan. Gattuso's men look to be the team to end the Nerazzurri's impressive 14-game unbeaten run in the league. However, having won 11 fixtures in a row, there's little to suggest Conte's men can be stopped. Lukaku and Co. boast a staggering 11-point lead at the top, and with only eight fixtures remaining, it's a matter of when, not if, Inter will win the Scudetto. As for Napoli, the goal for them is to get into the UEFA Champions League. Gli Azzurri currently sit in fifth, two points adrift the top four. However, with third-placed Juventus and fourth-placed Atalanta facing off a day earlier, victory could see Insigne and Co. return to the mix.

Napoli, Inter Milan, Serie A, Broadcast Listings 

This week in women's football, April 16, April 22, 2021, West Ham, Aston Villa, OL Reign, Orlando Pride, Washington Spirit, Houston Dash, Chicago Red Stars, NWSL, FA Women's Super League

The world of women's football keeps spinning as leagues and teams carry on with live competitions. In today's "This Week in Women's Football", we go over how to watch the upcoming NWSL Challenge Cup games, national teams that have qualified for international competitions, the announcement of the 2021 Women's Cup and more.

2021 Challenge Cup games: April 16-22

The 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup is in full effect and will continue with five matches from Friday, April 16, through Thursday, April 22.

  • OL Reign vs. Houston Dash on Friday, April 16, at 10 p.m. ET

  • NJ/NY Gotham FC vs. North Carolina Courage on Tuesday, April 20, at 6 p.m. ET

  • Chicago Red Stars vs. Kansas City on Tuesday, April 20, at 8:30 p.m. ET

  • Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit on Wednesday, April 21, at 7 p.m. ET

  • Portland Thorns vs. OL Reign on Wednesday, April 21, at 10 p.m. ET

All games except for the Portland Thorns vs. OL Reign game will be live-streamed on Paramount+ in the USA and on Twitch internationally. The Portland Thorns vs. OL Reign game will be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network in the USA and Canada, and Twitch internationally.

UEFA Women's EURO playoffs results

Northern Ireland, Russia and Switzerland qualified for the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 in England after winning their respective two-legged playoffs.

Northern Ireland made history by taking down Ukraine 4-1 after home and away games. The Northern Irish entered the qualifiers ranked 32nd of the 48 participants and advanced to the finals after defeating Ukraine twice, thus advancing to the Women's EURO 2022 finals for the first time in history. Russia reached its sixth final tournament out of the last seven after taking advantage of an inexperienced Portugal side. Goalkeeper Elvira Todua played a big role in their feat over two legs. Lastly, Switzerland denied the Czech Republic a debut finals after the first-ever UEFA Women's EURO playoff penalty shootout. 

These three winners will join Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, holders the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden in the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 finals in England.

Louisville ready to host 2021 Women's Cup 

Racing Louisville will host the 2021 Women's Cup at Lynn Family Stadium on Aug. 18 and 21. European powerhouses Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain will join NWSL members Racing Louisville and the Chicago Red Stars in the four-team, four-game tournament.

FA Women's Super League: West Ham United vs. Aston Villa

ATA Football will stream an FA Women's Super League make-up game between bottom-dwellers West Ham and Aston Villa for free in the USA, Germany and Italy. The game will also be available in England and Ireland (BTSport), Australia (Optus Sport), Canada (Sportsnet Now) and internationally (The FA Player).

Aston Villa will look to snap a seven-game losing streak to exit the relegation spot. On the other hand, West Ham will have a chance to win consecutive games for the first time this season after defeating Reading 5-0 on Matchday 19.

Biggest stories of the week

Barcelona overtake Real Madrid in rankings for the first time

So, the second El Clasico was played last weekend,  and the entire share of the spoils have gone to Real Madrid, who now have inched up into second spot in the table, just one point behind Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona, for their part, unfortunately, have seen their winning streak snapped as they've slid down into third. However, there may be something that could give Blaugrana fans a little bit to smile about. For the first time, Barcelona have been ranked as the most valuable football team in the world as per American publication Forbes.

Currently, the Blaugrana are valued at $4.76 billion, which is higher than any other team in Europe. That's notable despite their well-documented debt issues, which totaled $1.2 billion as of late. 

Bayern Munich, who made history as the first German side to win a Sextuple, came in third at $4.22 billion, while Manchester United and Liverpool completed the top five with values of $4.2 billion and $4.1 billion respectively.

But back to Barcelona - so while that obviously won't take away from the bitter disappointment of being knocked out of the Champions League, or more recently, losing the second Clasico of the season to Real Madrid, at least the Catalan giants can say that their value climbed higher than any team in Europe. During an era that is currently battling the unprecedented global health crisis known as COVID-19.

Including higher than Los Blancos, who finished in second with a value of $4.75 billion.

Barcelona overtake Real Madrid as the world's most valuable team

Forbes Most Valuable Clubs, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool

Guardiola, Foden and Bellingham make UCL history as Man City seal semi-final berth

Pep Guardiola, Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham landed Champions League milestones for their respective contributions in Wednesday's clash between Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City.The latter overcame an early scare to book their place in the semifinal stage of the competition, and are set to take on Paris Saint-Germain in the penultimate tie. Jude Bellingham, aged 17 years 289 days, got Dortmund's only goal against the Citizens, becoming  the second-youngest player to score in a UEFA Champions League knockout game, after Bojan for Barcelona against Schalke in April 2008 (17 years and 217 days).After Riyad Mahrez had restored parity via a spot kick in the second half, Phil Foden sealed the comeback for City to become the first U21 player after Kylian Mbappe in 2017 to score in both legs of a Champions League quarter-final tie. The win for Manchester City saw Pep Guardiola reach his eighth UEFA Champions League semifinal in his managerial career - the joint-most in the history of the competition, alongside José Mourinho.

Hansi Flick tipped to leave Bayern this summer after Champions League exit

Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick has been tipped to leave the Bundesliga giants in the wake of their UEFA Champions League exit. This is according to Lothar Matthaus, claiming that their recent elimination at the hands of PSG will convince him to bring a premature end to his successful spell at the Allianz Arena.

Matthaus argues that the UCL elimination will only persuade the manager to leave the club for one position that has been offered to him: the German national team job. Joachim Low announced a while back that he will be stepping down as die Mannschaft boss after this summer's European Championship, with the likes of Klopp and Flick being linked with the role. The 1990 World Cup winner has confirmed that Flick is in the running to replace Low and adds that he is the German FA's top candidate.

"I already said two weeks ago that in my opinion, this is Hansi Flick's last season," Matthaus told Sky in Germany. "I've said that Hansi Flick is right at the top of the DFB [German Football Federation] list, and then nothing else for a long time. There's an offer from the DFB, yes.

Flick to leave Bayern Munich just months after winning a historic sextuple?

Lothar Matthaus, Hansi Flick, Bayern Munich, German National Team 

Other key headlines from the world of football

Luka Modric agrees Real Madrid contract extension

AS revealed that one of Zidane's most reliable players has agreed terms to a one-year contract extension, with only a few details left for him to sign the document. That man is none other than Luka Modric, who will continue playing for Los Blancos beyond this season, according to the Spanish newspaper.

Diario As states that Modric, who will play for Los Merengues after his 36th birthday, agreed to lower his wage demands in order to sign the new deal with the Spanish giants. The Croatian footballer reportedly agreed to do so after knowing the economic problems being faced by Real Madrid as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ibrahimovic in danger of receiving career-ending ban

Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be facing a career-ending sanction due to an investigation by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. The publication revealed that Zlatan could have violated FIFA and UEFA's Code of Ethics when it comes to his investments, as he has been tipped to have an economic interest in the betting website known as Bethard.com. This is a direct infringement of the rules established by both football governing bodies which forbid players from having an economic relationship with gambling websites or associations.

Hence, the Swedish footballer could be facing a sanction by both parties, which may come in the form of a fine or a playing ban. The latter should be the main cause for concern in Ibra's camp, as it could see the footballer being suspended from playing for the next three years. Ibrahimovic had reportedly said he no longer had a relationship with the betting site, but the company's director, Erik Sharp, confirmed to the newspaper that Ibrahimovic still owns a share of the company's assets.

Benfica to make history with new technology at Estádio da Luz

Thanks to Benfica's exclusive partnership with mobile communications provider NOS, Benfica supporters will be able to gain access to carefully curated content that's provided by 5G as well as both augmented reality (AR) and the more-commonly known virtual reality (VR). As a result, fans will gain really innovative benefits such as being able to select from which angle they'd like to follow a game, seeing stats from the match and players in real time, transmitting high-definition (HD) video and accessing cameras used during transmission broadcasts.

The 5G technology isn't also going to benefit fans - it will also help to boost the team's performance as well. Namely, the NOS 5G networks will hope to further streamline and improve Benfica's technical operations to assist in better assessment of player's performances by making it easier for coaches and their relevant staff members to be able to gather data and conduct more efficient statistical analyses to be able to properly formulate tactics ahead of practice sessions, and subsequently, matches. 

Top games to watch this week

Friday, April 16 

RB Leipzig vs Hoffenheim (Bundesliga)

Everton vs Tottenham (EPL)

Lille vs Montpellier (Ligue 1)

Farense vs Sporting CP (Primeira Liga)

OL Reign vs. Houston Dash (NWSL)

Saturday, April 17

Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich (Bundesliga)

Chelsea vs Man City (FA Cup)

Benfica vs Gil Vicente (Primeira Liga)

Athletic vs Barcelona (Copa del Rey Final)

América vs Cruz Azul (Liga MX)

Orlando City vs Atlanta United (MLS)

Los Angeles FC vs Austin FC (MLS)

Sunday, April 18

Milan vs Genoa (Serie A)

PSG vs Saint-Etienne (Ligue 1)

Real Sociedad vs Sevilla (La Liga)

Arsenal vs Fulham (EPL)

Atalanta vs Juventus (Serie A)

Dortmund vs Werder Bremen (Bundesliga)

Atlético Madrid vs Eibar (La Liga)

Man United vs Burnley (EPL)

Nacional vs Porto (Primeira Liga)

Leicester vs Southampton (EPL)

Napoli vs Inter (Serie A)

Getafe vs Real Madrid (La Liga)

Inter Miami vs LA Galaxy (MLS)

Monday, April 19

Leeds United vs Liverpool (EPL)

Tuesday, April 20

West Ham United vs. Aston Villa (FA Women's Super League)

Bayern vs Bayer Leverkusen (Bundesliga)

Chelsea vs Brighton (EPL)

Vélez vs Flamengo (Copa Libertadores)

Wednesday, April 21

Milan vs Sassuolo (Serie A)

PSG vs Angers (Coupe de France)

Tottenham vs Southampton (EPL)

Juventus vs Parma (Serie A)

Spezia vs Inter (Serie A)

Aston Villa vs Manchester City (EPL)

Cádiz vs Real Madrid (La Liga)

Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit (NWSL)

Sporting CP vs Belenenses (Primeira Liga)

The Strongest vs Boca Juniors (Copa Libertadores)

Universitario vs Palmeiras (Copa Libertadores)

Thursday, April 22

Roma vs Atalanta (Serie A)

Napoli vs Lazio (Serie A)

Portimonense vs Benfica (Primeira Liga)

Porto vs Vitoria Guimaraes (Primeira Liga)

Barcelona vs Getafe (La Liga)

Fluminense vs River (Copa Libertadores)


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