European Soccer Roundup: Klopp Leaving Liverpool, Americans Shine in Serie A, and much more!

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Soccer
FILE – Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp lifts up the trophy as he celebrates with players after winning the Champions League final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid, June 1, 2019. Jurgen Klopp announced Friday Jan. 26, 2024, he will step down as Liverpool manager at end of this season. (AP Photo/Armando Franca, File)

The European Soccer season is in full swing! Across the continent, the top leagues all have different action going on! There’s news out of England, Germany, and Italy that has been making the rounds this past week. If you have missed any of it, we at Philly Sports Network have you covered with our latest edition of European Soccer Roundup!

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FILE – Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp lifts up the trophy as he celebrates with players after winning the Champions League final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid, June 1, 2019. Jurgen Klopp announced Friday Jan. 26, 2024, he will step down as Liverpool manager at end of this season. (AP Photo/Armando Franca, File)

Klopp will leave Liverpool this summer

In a surprising turn of events, the world learned Friday morning that Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will leave the club at the end of the 2023/2024 season. In 2015 Klopp inherited a Liverpool team that used to be a giant in European soccer. There was a lack of belief and system before Klopp. Now nine seasons later he has turned Liverpool back into goliaths. As of now, Klopp has coached 317 Premier League matches; he’s overseen 199 wins, 74 draws, and only 44 losses while winning one league title.

League success is not the only way Klopp turned Liverpool back into a top-class team. In his time he won the Champions League, the League Cup, the FA Cup, the Club World Cup, and the UEFA Super Cup as well. He has defined an era at Liverpool through his awe-inspiring management style that has demands on the players but is extremely supportive of how they play. He created a culture and led a team that had no belief, and made it one that is entertaining almost to a fault. Not to mention he helped the club out of a 30-year league title drought, a 16-year FA Cup drought, and a 14-year European title drought!

While there is still a whole half of a season left for Klopp’s Liverpool, and the opportunity to win four trophies, this announcement gives the opportunity to reminisce on the compliments of the manager and the team! Let’s see how the last few months go as a sendoff for one of the great managers in world soccer!

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FILE – Liverpool’s manager Jurgen Klopp celebrates at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Bournemouth at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, March 7, 2020. Jurgen Klopp announced Friday Jan. 26, 2024, he will step down as Liverpool manager at end of this season. (AP Photo/Jon Super, File)

A look at the FA Cup

Although there is no Premier League soccer to consume this weekend, there’s plenty of FA Cup 4th-round action to fulfill your appetite.  From lower-division clashes to battles between some of Europe’s top clubs to the Davids trying to take down the Goliaths – there’s a little bit of everything on the spread this weekend.  

Thursday’s Horderve

Bournemouth 5 – 0 Swansea

The mid-table Championship side was no match for Andoni Iraola’s Bournemouth, a team that’s found a bit of comfortability in the Premier League this season.  The contest was over before it ever really got started, with Lloyd Kelly and Alex Scott both hitting the net before the clock hit the 10-minute mark.  

Luis Sinisterra, David Books, and Dominic Solanke added to the lead in the first half, wrapping things up before halftime and sending Bournemouth onto the next round with a 5-0 victory.

Friday’s Entrees

Tottenham Hotspur VS Manchester City – 1/26/24 @ 3:00 pm

In what was maybe the most exciting FA Cup matchup this weekend Pep Guardiola’s historic Manchester City went up against Ange Postecoglou’s revitalized Tottenham Hotspur.  It was an important one for Tottenham, hopeful of claiming their first trophy since 2008 under Postecoglou this season, but it’s no easy task with one of Soccer’s most successful managers standing in the way. 

That being said, Manchester City haven’t beaten Tottenham on the road since May 3rd, 2015, and have been outscored by a total of 13-1 across those 7 games.  However, streaks are meant to be broken, and that’s what happened in this one. Man. City scored in the 88th minute to nick a 1-0 win over Spurs to move onto the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Chelsea VS Aston Villa – 1/26/24 @ 2:45 pm

Another clash between two Premier League heavy hitters as Chelsea hosted the boys from Aston Villa on Friday afternoon.  Mauricio Pochettino’s Chelsea still haven’t quite found a way to make almost a Billion dollars worth of new players gel together, while Unai Emery’s Villa find themselves in a top-4 race, if not a title race, after 21 games.  

This game does come on the back of a 6-1 routing of Middlesbrough FC by Chelsea in the EFL Cup this past midweek, but they run into a very difficult team to beat, with Villa losing just once in their previous 14 games. The match itself was dull; Villa seemed to have the edge, but couldn’t find the finishing touch them match ended in a scoreless draw and will need a replay. 

Saturday’s Main Course

Fulham VS Newcastle – 1/27/24 @ 2:00 pm

A short time ago Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United was one of Europe’s most exciting clubs, but are currently struggling to find form and confidence after winning just 3 of their previous 13 games in all comps.  Marco Silva’s Fulham isn’t exactly rolling right now either, losing and being shut out in 4 of their previous 5 Premier League games, which has pulled Fulham just 8 points from the Relegation zone.  

The one thing that might make a difference in this one is home-field advantage, with Fulham losing just one game at Craven Cottage in their previous 7 contests, and Newcastle winning just 1 of their previous 9 away games.  A win for either team might be exactly what they need to pull themselves out of a funk.  

Sheffield United VS Brighton – 1/27/24 @ 10:00 pm

Another Top-flight show-down in the 4th round of the FA Cup as Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton travels to the home of the Premier League’s most likely team to be relegated in 2024, Sheffield United.  

Sometimes top clubs can struggle to go to small, intimate venues like Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane for Cup Competitions, but I’d expect Brighton to handle their business on Saturday morning as Sheffield has won just 2 of their previous 10 games at home. 

Sunday’s Charcuterie Board of Championship Hopefuls 

West Bromwich Albion VS Wolves – 1/28/24 @ 6:45 am

One of the games on my upset radar this weekend is Championship side West Brom playing host to Premier League’s mid-table Wolves on Sunday morning.  West Brom plays best when they’re at home, losing just 2 of the previous 13 games at the Hawthorns, which stacks up well against a Wolves team that has just 3 wins on the road in 13 tries this season.  

Regardless of playing on the road, Gary O’Neil does have his Wolves side playing pretty good soccer recently, losing just 1 of their previous 9 games and beating both Brentford and Chelsea during that stretch.  

Liverpool VS Norwich City – 1/28/24 @ 9:30 am

This one isn’t on my upset radar, as I fully expect Liverpool to take care of Norwich City at home.  The reason I’ve got this one circled is due to Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp announcing his departure from the club following the 2024 season.  

Klopp is loved by his team, staff, and fans more than almost anyone in soccer, which is why I think Liverpool could go on an absolute tear to finish out Klopp’s reign. I’d be nervous to be anyone standing in Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool’s way to finish out 2024

Newport County VS Manchester United – 1/29/24 @ 11:30 am

One of the Premier League’s most puzzling clubs at the moment, Manchester United, travel to League 2’s Newport County on Monday night for the first meaningful meeting between the two in history. It feels like Erik Ten Hag has been on the hot seat for most of the season, and surely losing an FA Cup tie to a club that’s 3 divisions below one of soccer’s most storied franchises would be the final straw for the Dutch head coach.  

The two clubs come into this one in varying form, with Newport County going 5W-4D-1L in their previous 10, while Manchester United are just 3W-2D-5L.  Newport County have been grinding out results, and earning points, while Manchester United have been struggling to acquire them.  No matter the outcome, Manchester United making the trip to an 8,700-capacity Rodney Parade in Wales is what the FA Cup is all about.  

Monday’s Dessert 

Blackburn Rovers VS Wrexham – 1/29/24 @ 2:30 pm

The 4th round of the FA Cup will conclude with Championship side Blackburn Rovers playing host to Wrexham, one of the most talked about clubs in the world over the last 2 seasons after being bought by Hollywood’s Ryan Reynolds and  Rob McElhenney.  The Welsh side continues to climb the English football pyramid, currently sitting in 2nd place in League 2, and looking for their first 4th Round FA Cup victory since the 1996-1997 season.  

I’ve got Blackburn on upset watch for this one, with the Championship side losing 7 of their previous 11 games, while a hungry and motivated Wrexham won 7 of their previous 10.  I’d love to see Wrexham win this one and have the opportunity to play against a Premier League club in the following round

FA Cup 4th Round Full Schedule 

1/25/24
Bournemouth 5 – 0 Swansea

1/26/24
Sheffield Wednesday 1 – 1 Coventry 
Chelsea 0 – 0 Aston Villa
Tottenham 0 – 1 Manchester City
Bristol City 0 – 0 Nottingham Forest

1/27/24
Ipswich Town VS Maidstone United – 7:30 am
Sheffield United VS Brighton – 10:00 am
Leeds United VS Plymouth Argyle – 10:00 am
Leicester City VS Birmingham – 10:00 am
Everton VS Luton Town – 10:00 am
Fulham VS Newcastle United – 2:00 pm

1/28/24
West Brom VS Wolves – 6:45 am
Watford VS Southampton – 9:00 pm
Liverpool VS Norwich City – 9:30 pm
Newport County VS Manchester United – 11:30 am

1/29/24
Blackburn Rovers VS Wrexham 2:30 pm

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FILE – Liverpool’s manager Jurgen Klopp lifts the trophy after wining the English FA Cup final soccer match between Chelsea and Liverpool, at Wembley stadium, in London, May 14, 2022. Jurgen Klopp announced Friday Jan. 26, 2024, he will step down as Liverpool manager at end of this season. (AP Photo/Ian Walton, File)

Man U’s CEO change

Manchester United has not been the same club since Sir Alex Ferguson retired all the way back in 2013. They have gone through four permanent managers and three caretaker/interim managers. The club has not been able to achieve the glory that they did under Ferguson, but things might be on the change for them. In late 2023, it was announced that British billionaire, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, would be purchasing 25% of Manchester United, along with his sports company INEOS taking over the soccer operations of the club.

There is a lot of work to be done to fix the soccer operations of Manchester United, but Sir Jim and INEOS have made their intentions clear with the latest hire for CEO. Last week, Manchester United announced that Omar Berrada, who was the former chief soccer operations officer at City Football Group, has been appointed as the new CEO. This is a huge move for Manchester United as they try to make their way back to the dominant team that everyone knew.

The statement by Manchester United went as follows:

“Manchester United is pleased to announce the appointment of Omar Berrada as its new CEO. The Club is determined to put soccer and performance on the pitch back at the heart of everything we do. Omar’s appointment represents the first step on this journey. As one of the most experienced foccer executives at the top of European soccer, Omar brings a wealth of soccer and commercial expertise, with a proven record of successful leadership and a passion to help lead change across the Club. It is our stated ambition to re-establish Manchester United as a title-winning club…”

“…We are pleased that Omar will be joining us to help achieve that goal, so that, once again, United fans can see, in the words of Sir Matt Busby, the red flag flying high at the summit of English, European and world football. Omar’s start date will be confirmed in due course; in the meantime, Patrick Stewart will continue as interim CEO.”

– Manchester United on the appointment of Omar Berrada as CEO
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Manchester United’s Rasmus Hojlund celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s opening goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur at the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England, Sunday, Jan.14, 2024. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)

The Premier League resumes soon

The 2023/2024 Premier League season has not seen any action for the last few days, and will not for the weekend, as the FA Cup is going on. But the Premier League will resume with Matchday 22 on Tuesday, January 30th and it will run until Thursday, February 1st. All twenty teams will be in action throughout these four days, as it will be an exciting time to have Premier League football back. 

Matchday 22 Premier League Schedule

1/30/24
Nottingham Forest vs Arsenal – 2:30 PM
Luton Town vs Brighton – 2:45 PM
Fulham vs Everton – 2:45 PM
Crystal Palace vs Sheffield United – 3:00 PM
Aston Villa vs Newcastle United – 3:15 PM

1/31/24
Manchester City vs Burnley – 2:30 PM
Tottenham vs Brentford – 2:30 PM
Liverpool vs Chelsea – 3:15 PM

2/1/24
West Ham vs Bournemouth – 2:30 PM
Wolves vs Manchester United – 3:15 PM

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Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, left, and Arsenal’s Oleksandr Zinchenko fight for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

The Bundesliga’s title race is heating up!

Before the season began, if someone had said that Bayern Munich would be heading into their 17th league game (the halfway point of the 34-game Bundesliga season) having only dropped 7 points, and with 2 games in hand on their closest competition, most people would have assumed they were running away at the top of the league, well on course for a twelfth straight Bundesliga title.

Most people would have been wrong.

While Bayern have been good, not great (by their standards), Bayer Leverkusen has been out of this world. In the marquee matchup of the day last Saturday, first-place Leverkusen took on fourth-place RB Leipzig. And while yes, we all hate Red Bull (even when they call themselves RB or Rasenballsport), this Bayern fan was rooting for the Roten Bullen to make Leverkusen take their medicine and hand them their first loss of the season.

After a strong first half that set them up nicely to come away with at least a point, Leipzig did what Red Bull teams- outside of motorsport- always do and blew it, allowing Leverkusen to score a stoppage-time winner for the second match in a row.

The next day Bayern, perhaps succumbing to the pressure, perhaps succumbing to Thomas Tuchel being the wrong coach for them, conspired to lose 1-0 to a Werder Bremen team that hadn’t beaten Bayern in any competition since 2008 (a 5-2 victory for Bremen which was Bremen’s largest margin of victory ever against Bayern). That’s over 15 years! It was also the first time Bayern failed to score at home since a 2020 match against Leipzig. Of course, the winner came from former Bayern and Leverkusen player Mitchell Weiser, who has rejuvenated his career since joining Bremen.

Bremen’s attackers looked dangerous throughout, despite missing star striker Marvin Ducksch. Perhaps this performance will convince them they no longer need to be looking to bring in Philadelphia Union striker Julián Carranza, an option they’ve reportedly been interested in since last summer. Union fans hoping to see Carranza here throughout the entire season (as slim as that hope may be) will be hoping that proves to be the case.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, want-away midfielder Gio Reyna came on as a 74th-minute substitute for Borussia Dortmund in their 4-0 drubbing of likely to be relegated FC Köln, while former Union player Paxten Aaronson didn’t make it off the Eintracht Frankfurt bench in their 2-2 draw at Darmstadt.

His brother Brenden Aaronson’s Union Berlin didn’t even get to play their Friday night match against Mainz because of ice in the stadium, although they did get to play on Wednesday night, a makeup game from earlier in the season against Bayern. Bayern were once again lackluster, but still beat Union (Berlin’s version) 1-0, with Brenden Aaronson joining the fray in the 78th minute but unable to help his team find an equalizer.

All this means that Leverkusen still sits comfortably 4 points clear atop the table, undefeated, and has shown no signs so far of crumbling under the pressure of possibly winning the club’s first-ever Bundesliga title. But there’s still plenty of soccer to be played!

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FILE – Leipzig’s Timo Werner, right, challenges for the ball with Frankfurt’s Mario Goetze during the German soccer cup, DFB Pokal, final match between RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt at Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, June 3, 2023. Werner might have won the Champions League during his time with Chelsea from 2020-22 but it was still an underwhelming stint in English soccer for the Germany forward. It looks like he’ll be returning to England — to London again, too — in a bid to ignite his career ahead of the European Championship. (AP Photo/Andreas Gora, File)

Americans shining in Serie A

Meanwhile, over in the Italian Serie A, the American contingent continued to play stellar soccer, although the past weekend was quieter than most, particularly for AC Milan at Udinese. Christian Pulisic played for 75 minutes before being subbed off for Luka Jovic, who would score the equalizing goal 8 minutes later. Yunus Musah’s appearance was so short it can barely even be considered a cameo, subbing into the game in the 5th minute of stoppage time to kill time after Milan’s 93rd-minute winner.

Juventus had an easier time the following day, winning 3-0 at Lecce, thanks in part to more fine play from Weston McKennie, who assisted the second Juve goal. Timothy Weah continued his encouraging return from injury, coming off the bench as a 57th-minute substitute. With the win, Juventus jumped a point above Inter Milan at the top of the table, who still have a game in hand.

AC Milan, meanwhile, are 7 points back, in 3rd. Somehow, Napoli are down in 9th, although they too have a game in hand after not playing over the weekend. Sitting so far down the table is astounding for a team as talented as they are. They don’t have any Americans, but their struggles are noteworthy enough to merit a mention.

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AC Milan’s Christian Pulisic smiles at the end of the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Sassuolo at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023. Pulisic scored the goal in Milan’s 1-0 win. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

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Mandatory Credit: AP Photo/Armando Franca, File, AP Photo/Jon Super, File, AP Photo/Dave Thompson, AP Photo/Jon Super, AP Photo/Ian Walton, File, AP Photo/Andreas Gora, File, & AP Photo/Antonio Calanni