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Juventus V Lyon: Can Juve Spring a Champions League Upset?

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MATCH INFO:

Juventus vs Olympique Lyonnais: UEFA Champions League – Leg 1 – Round of 32

Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy

Kickoff: December 9th, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. EST

The UEFA Champions League is back, with the knockout round beginning this week as 32 of the best teams in Europe gear up to compete for the most prestigious prize in club football.

With the first legs of the Round of 32 matches set to be played on December 9th and 10th, there are several highly anticipated matchups which promise to deliver the usual Champions League fireworks. But no matchup looks to be bigger than that between Juventus and Olympique Lyonnais, the first leg of which will take place in Turin, Italy.

Juve currently tops the Serie A table and has won the league title the last three seasons. That’s a pretty good resume, until you compare it to Lyon’s. The 14-time defending French league champs have won the Champions League title the past five years and seven times overall. They begin their latest title defense looking to cement their status as one of the dynasties the sport has ever seen.

Olympique Lyonnais is considered the best and most successful women’s football club in the world. In the past decade, Lyon has won over 25 trophies, and given the money, resources, and development that the club has put into their current squad and coaching staff, it doesn’t look like their winning ways are stopping anytime soon.

Last year, Juventus was knocked out in the Round of 32 by Barcelona, who made it all the way to the semi-finals. A disappointing result, but for a club that was only founded in 2017, Juventus has made great strides both domestically and in Europe.

When the Champions League comes along, teams dread being drawn against Lyon. For the past five years, it has meant a quick ticket out of the competition. Lyon’s history, experience, and strength on the pitch makes them almost impossible to beat.

If Juventus wants to advance to the Round of 16, the team will likely need to mimic what Paris Saint-Germain did against Lyon in late November of this year. PSG were able to shock Lyon in a Division 1 Féminine match, beating them 1-0.

Lyon’s defeat was more than just a loss to a rival; it was their first league defeat in four years. Before the match, Lyon sat atop the Division 1 Féminine standings, with Paris one point behind them. After the loss, Lyon moved to second, and have stayed behind PSG since.

Juventus not only has a gameplan to mimic, but they can take solace in the fact that Lyon has been playing a full-strength XI every week in hopes of catching up with Paris Saint-Germain. In contrast, Juventus, with nine wins in nine matches played, has been able to rest key players in the build-up to this match.

Fans of both teams will be hoping that they have enough to beat the other, of course, but neutrals will be hoping for a classic matchup that showcases all of the usual drama we’ve come to associate with the UEFA Champions League. Whatever happens during this tie, one of Europe’s best teams will be crashing out in the Round of 32.

Other exciting matchups in this round include Ajax vs Bayern Munich and PSV Eindhoven vs Barcelona. FAWSL teams Chelsea and Manchester City will likewise take on SL Benfica and Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC respectively, while last season’s runner ups, VfL Wolfsburg, will take on ŽFK Spartak Subotica.

Caitlin Clark stuns in surprise SNL appearance

(Julia Hansen/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Caitlin Clark made a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend, which quickly went viral.

The Iowa star showed up on the show’s Weekend Update segment to playfully call out Michael Che’s history of making jabs at women’s sports. It started when Che joked that Iowa should replace Clark’s retired No. 22 “with an apron.” 

When Clark entered, Che said that he was a fan. But Clark wasn’t convinced – especially not when co-host Colin Jost brought the receipts of Che’s jabs.

“Really, Michael? Because I heard that little apron joke you did,” she said, before making him read some jokes of her own in retaliation and shouting out the WNBA greats that came before her. She then got in one final dig – bringing him a signed apron as a souvenir. 

When Che promised to give it to his girlfriend, Clark delivered her best line of the night.

“You don’t have a girlfriend, Michael,” she said.

Afterward, SNL castmember Bowen Yang told People that the 22-year-old and teammates Gabbie Marshall, Kate Martin and Jada Gyamfi – who joined her at Studio 8H – “were so cool.”

“She's so charming and witty,” Yang said. “They were just the most stunning, noble people.

“Athletes just have this air about them. They know they're amazing. I mean, these are people who have numeric attachments and values to their performance. That's something that comedians never have.”

Portland Thorns start NWSL season winless, in uncharted territory

Portland has started the season winless through four games for the first time. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The Portland Thorns continue to struggle to start the season, falling 2-0 to the North Carolina Courage and remaining winless through its first four games. 

It’s uncharted territory for Portland, who has never started the NWSL regular season without a win in four games before. Following the loss, defender Becky Sauerbrunn voiced her frustrations with the start. 

“It’s hard to find a lot of encouraging things, but what I find encouraging is that people are frustrated,” she said. “People are pissed off that we’re not doing well. We care, and I think that’s really important.” 


She also added that while the team will reflect individually, “there’s going to be no finger pointing.”

“We’re going to look at ourselves and figure out what we should have done, or I should have done better,” she said. “There is a list of things that I could have done better, and I’m going to make sure I know every single thing and watch this game back.”

The Thorns currently sit at the bottom of the league table with just one point, having allowed 10 goals – tied for the worst in the league. They’ve yet to lead in a match. And as questions grow, answers need to be had from head coach Mike Norris. 

Norris is in his second year as head coach of the club after leading the team to a second-place finish in the regular season last year. When asked about the possibility of pressure growing after the unprecedented start, Norris said that the pressure has been there “from day one.”

“I cannot be driven by my day-to-day and the longer vision of the pressure of the job,” he said. “We’ve got a belief in how we want to play, how we operate. We’ve got to stick with the process of that. While we do it, we have to review and see what is working, what’s not working.

“I’ll be showing up for the team and being there for what they need from me as we approach getting back together as a group next week.”

Maria Sanchez reportedly requests trade from Houston Dash

Mar 23, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Dash forward Maria Sanchez (7) warms up before the match between Racing Louisville and Houston Dash at Shell Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Maria Sanchez, who signed one of the biggest deals in NWSL history just four months ago, has reportedly requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

ESPN was the first to report the news, which was confirmed by multiple sources.

In a statement to ESPN, the team said: “​​Maria Sanchez is under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the Dash worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. At the time, it was the largest contract in NWSL history – something that was eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

The winger was a restricted free agent in the offseason, meaning that Houston could match any offer from another team and retain her rights. Should the team trade Sanchez, her contract would remain as it has been signed with the league. That limits the number of teams that could take on her contract. 

In three starts with the Dash this season, Sanchez has zero goals and an assist. The Dash are 1-2-1 through four games and have allowed a league-worst 10 goals.

The team hired a new coach, Fran Alonso, in December. Earlier this year, former goalkeeper coach Matt Lampson was fired for violating the league’s Coach Code of Conduct and Anti-Fraternization policy. 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close at midnight ET on Friday.

Canada beats U.S. Hockey 6-5 in thrilling World Championship win

UTICA, NEW YORK - APRIL 14: Team Canada raises the Championship Trophy after winning The Gold by defeating The United States in OT during the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championship Gold Medal game at Adirondack Bank Center on April 14, 2024 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Troy Parla/Getty Images)

Canada got its revenge on Sunday, winning the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship and taking down the U.S. in a 6-5 overtime classic.

Marie-Philip Poulin, a longtime star for Canada, got her first two goals of the tournament, while Danielle Serdachny had the game-winner. 

"I hate to say you're not trying to rely on it, expect it, but I know I've grown to expect it," Canada coach Troy Ryan said of Philip-Poulin. "Tonight was just a whole other level. I could see in her eyes every time we called her name that she was ready to go. It's just special."

The win came after Canada lost 1-0 to the U.S. in the group stage of the tournament. On Sunday, the two teams met for the 22nd time in 23 tournaments in the gold medal game – and the action between the two teams delivered. 

Among those scoring for the U.S. were Megan Keller, Alex Carpenter, Hilary Knight, Laila Edwards and Caroline Harvey. Julia Gosling, Emily Clark and Erin Ambrose had the other three goals for Canada, giving them their 13th World title after falling to the U.S. in last year’s title game in Toronto. 

This year’s game was held in New York, and it was the second-highest scoring final between the two teams. The U.S. won a world championship 7-5 in 2015. 

"Oh man, that feels good to win it on U.S. soil," Canada goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens said after the game. "We owed it to them and owed it to ourselves to win that one."

Canada also denied Knight a record 10th World Championship win, although she did become the most decorated player in women’s world championship history with 14 medals. After the game, Poulin gave Knight a hug on the ice. 

"We just said 'that was unbelievable,'" Poulin said.

U.S. coach John Wroblewski echoed the sentiment that it was an outstanding game after being asked about ending the game on a power-play after leaving too many players on the ice. 

"Instead of talking about the isolated events of tonight's game, I think that normally that's an interesting storyline,” he said. “But I think the entity of an amazing 6-5 game is an amazing hockey game that took place."

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