By Tim Stannard
1) Barça in big Bilbao battle in Copa del Rey clash
There are only two states of being for the really big clubs of the world in the eyes of the desperate, headline-flogging football media – bestest ever in the world or absolute crisis.
A simple ‘meh, doing ok’ shrug won’t suffice. Barcelona definitely fall into the CRISIS category at the moment – two iffy performances in a row, players failing to turn up to FIFA functions, Gerard Pique being Gerard Pique, lots of complaints over referees. Basically, all the nonsense that a weary Luis Enrique is probably considering while he mulls over whether to end his time at the club in June and do triathlons.
Barcelona have been making quite the noise off the pitch this week, but return to action on it on Wednesday trying to raise the Camp Nou roof and turn around a 2-1 deficit to Athletic Bilbao in a Last-16 Copa del Rey clash. Tune into beIN SPORTS CONNECT or our Spanish sister service from 3:15PM ET / 12:15PM PT to find out if the Catalan club can calm the steaming waters of crisis.
2) Ronaldo rested for Sevilla Cop del Rey mop-up
No such problems for the yin to Barcelona yang, with Real Madrid 3-0 up in their own Copa del Rey match against Sevilla. The second-leg is taking place on Thursday and once again Coach Zizou has left Cristiano Ronaldo out of the squad for the clash at the Sanchez Pizjuan as well as Luka Modric. James Rodriguez is also missing due to a calf strain. Sergio Ramos and Lucas Vazquez do return though. So, that’s nice. Both teams will be meeting in the same spot on Sunday in La Liga in a rather epic first against second La Liga clash.
Tune into the XTRA at 7PM ET / 4PM PT for highlights of that game and all the other Copa del Rey clashes from Wednesday
3) Liverpool look to take step closer to Man Utd match up
It’s Liverpool’s turn to take to the field in the EFL Cup semifinal first-leg against Southampton, a team that are becoming a hipster’s paradise under Frenchman, Claude Puel. Indeed, possible too much so with the former Lyon and Nice boss having to deny accusations that his team were a little dull. The winners of that clash are likely to be facing Manchester United, who defeated Hull City 2-0 in Tuesday’s EFL Cup clash. Tune into beIN SPORTS live from 2:40PM ET / 11:40AM PT for the big game.
United are set to be one man down for the rest of the season – including the weekend’s meeting in the Premier League with Liverpool – after Everton finally managed to agree a deal for French midfielder, Morgan Schneiderlin, for $26 million. Jose Mourinho has said that more sales can be expected in winter to raise money for the summer. Intriguing.
4) Everton in a busy day of wheeling and dealing as Benteke considers exit
Transfer Time! Plump up those pillows! A busy day for Everton it seems with the aforementioned Schneiderlin set to sign on at Goodison Park. But the Frenchman will not be joined by Atalanta hot property, Franck Kessie, with a bid for the midfielder reportedly being rebuffed by the Serie A side. And Gerard Deulofeu has apparently agreed terms with Milan for a loan deal. All that stands in the way now of a Serie A swap is Everton’s approval.
Christian Benteke might become winter window hot property with the Crystal Palace striker supposedly being sold to raise funds for the EPL club in a relegation battle. And some Newcastle United fans were either dismayed and delighted by one story from Spain – the notion that Fernando Torres was moving from Atletico Madrid to Newcastle. But it all turned out to be a prank.
5) Genie continues revival Down Under
Let’s get snug for tennis corner. The semifinals of the Apia International in Sydney are now set and a mini-revival for Genie Bouchard continues with the Canadian player making the final four after a straight-sets win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Bouchard will now meet Johanna Konta with the other pairing seeing Agnieszka Radwanska taking on Barbora Strycova. Live coverage from Sydney begins on beIN SPORTS from midnight ET / 9PM PT.
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The life philosophy of Sports Burst is that if you are not upsetting someone, then you are not trying hard enough. SB is a daily trawl and troll through the morning's sports news to bring you fact-nuggets to make you both smile and swear. Hopefully at the same time.