Messi, unlike Barca, is in form, while CR7 and Real are rolling along. Nine months and one day after beating a Barcelona side that looked like it would be the first team to win back-to-back Champions League titles, Real Madrid returns to Catalonia’s church of football on Saturday. The El Clasico on April 2 – a 2-1 Real victory – ended an historic run of 39 matches unbeaten for Barcelona and set into motion a series of events that denied Barca the possibility of a double-treble.
Two of the brightest and most highly-regarded managers in world soccer square off on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium as Pep Guardiola and Antonio Conte collide. Manchester City vs. Chelsea (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) is eagerly anticipated as many people’s title favorites lock horns in what should be an intriguing tactical battle with Guardiola and Conte both already stamping their authority on their teams just a few months into their reign. Speaking at Stamford Bridge on Friday before Chelsea hopped on a train from London to Manchester Conte spoke to the media in a humble manner, playing down his own importance and revealing his admiration and respect for Guardiola not only as a coach but as a player when they met the one time in Italy towards the end of their careers.
Many of the victims were players and coaches from a small-town Brazilian soccer team that was headed to the finals of one of South America’s most prestigious tournaments after a fairy-tale season that had captivated their soccer-crazed nation. On Thursday, row upon row of caskets, many covered with white sheets printed with the logo of the Chapocoense soccer team, filled a Medellin funeral home in preparation for being flown home, as family members of some victims gathered there to say their final good-byes. “Profit brings greed,” Machado said, speaking in the Brazilian team’s hometown of Chapeco.