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Soccer News and Notes: Premier League Races Heating Up

The English Premier League title has been claimed by Liverpool for the first time, and now the race is on for the lucrative Champions League positions behind them. Manchester City is still awaiting the appeal of their Champions League ban as they sit in second place.

Leicester City and Chelsea both dropped points this week with a loss and draw, respectively, opening the door for Manchester United and Wolverhampton to swoop in.

Meanwhile, the relegation battle is likely to go down to the wire with Watford and West Ham United currently holding off Aston Villa, Bournemouth, and Norwich City. The FA Cup semifinals are set for July 17-18 as Manchester United will play Chelsea, and Manchester City will play Arsenal with both games happening at Wembley Stadium in London.

La Liga Going To Madrid?

Two-time defending La Liga champions Barcelona are in trouble thanks to two straight draws as they have seen hated rivals Real Madrid jump over them into first place. By the time they take the pitch this weekend, Barca could be four points behind Los Blancos with just five games left to play.

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Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid took over third place thanks to a 2-2 draw with Barca, and Sevilla sits in fourth.

Mallorca, Leganes, and Espanyol are in the relegation spots and in big trouble as they slip further behind Celta Vigo and Eibar. Keep an eye on Real Villarreal and Getafe as they look to steal a Champions League spot down the stretch.

Race Is On in Italy

Juventus put themselves seven points ahead of Lazio before the challengers knocked off Torino 2-1 on Wednesday to get back to a four-point deficit. Juve, behind a monster goal from Cristiano Ronaldo this week, is attempting to win a ninth-straight Scudetto.

The race behind those two is not as close, as Inter sits in third, and Atalanta holds a nine-point lead over Roma for the final Champions League spot. At the bottom of the table, Lecce is just one point behind 17th-place Genoa to stay in Serie A. SPAL and Brescia are currently in relegation spots and without a miracle will head to Serie B.

German Cup Time

The German soccer season comes to a close Saturday as Bayern Munich meats Bayer Leverkusen in the DFB-Pokal Cup Final in Berlin. The Bavarians are looking for a record 20th straight title, their second in a row, while Leverkusen last won the cup in 1993 with finals losses in 2002 and 2009.

The teams have never met in a DFB-Pokal Final, and Bayern Munich is favored by 1.5 goals.

A win on Saturday puts Bayern Munich in position to go after the treble. They already won the Bundesliga behind Robert Lewandowski’s 34 league goals, and he has a chance at 50 with a goal on Saturday.

MLS Is Back

The MLS is Back Tournament gets underway on July 8 in Orlando, Fla., with two games in Group A. The first-ever Florida matchup between Orlando City and Inter Miami CF gets the tournament rolling, followed by Nashville SC against Chicago Fire FC.

All 26 teams will play in the group stage with three games each, and 16 teams will head to the knockout round starting July 25 and ending with the Championship on Aug. 11.

Overall, the tournament will include 54 matches on 26 matchdays. The top three teams from Group A, which has six teams, and the top two teams from all other groups make it to the knockout stage. They will be joined in the final 16 by the three highest-ranked third-place teams outside of Group A.

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