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Blog - ESPN FC United

Barcelona stay top as Juventus take advantage of Chelsea's slip

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop reveals his latest power rankings for this week which feature Barcelona on top despite a 1-nil loss to Malaga.
The ESPN FC crew discusses the potential backlash from a winter World Cup, why English teams aren't thriving in European competition and whether Barcelona and Real Madrid will meet in the Champions League final.

It's been a week of little movement in the Power Rankings. Barcelona stay on top but there is a jump for Juventus, who leapfrog the Premier League leaders.

1. Barcelona (no change)

The Catalan giants retain top spot despite losing in the league last weekend. That's because they then went out and taught Manchester City a footballing lesson with a supreme Champions League performance. Sure, Lionel Messi missed a last-minute penalty but, that aside, Barca's display was as professional as they come.

2....

 By Rory Smith

Premier League referees not getting worse, contrary to popular opinion

Our experts debate whether Premier League referees need more help with crucial decisions during matches.

Ronald Koeman did not quite get the credit he deserved. Just a few minutes previously, the Southampton manager had seen his side lose to Liverpool, ceding ground in the achingly tight race for a Champions League spot. There had been a quite brilliant goal from Philippe Coutinho and a quite fortuitous one from Raheem Sterling.

There had also been three penalty claims -- one decent, one reasonable, one very strong -- for the Dutchman's team. Two had come in the first four minutes, a few seconds before...

FIFA's winter World Cup should not be played in November-December

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti answers what would happen if clubs fight FIFA and refuse to release their players for a winter World Cup.

It's like one of those slow-motion car crash sequences in a 1970s movie. You see the tractor-trailer spinning out of control, and you know what's going to happen next.

Qatar's decision to bid for the 2022 World Cup has led -- indirectly in some cases -- to an absurd sequence of events, each precipitated by the one before, each to some degree both predictable and unavoidable.

A Qatari bid, with all that it implied, magnified a process that was already murky and dubious -- bidding to host a World...

How a 2022 winter World Cup might impact Premier League, La Liga, MLS

The 2022 World Cup will start in November, if FIFA accepts the recommendation from its own task force.

With the 2022 World Cup expected to take place in November and December, football officials around the world have already started examining their planning schedules to assess what impact it will have on their domestic competitions. Here we take a look at the world's leading leagues and what they might need to do in order to accommodate the first winter World Cup.

Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)

England, Premier League: With no winter break, England's leading players are likely...

 By Uli Hesse

Remembering the rich, crazy history of Borussia Dortmund versus Juventus

Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri is confident his side can take a result from the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 clash with Borussia Dortmund.
Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp says his club will have no added motivation when they meet Juventus in the UEFA Champions League last-16.
Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri was pleased by his side's tenacity in their narrow victory over Atalanta.

The 1997 Champions League final was about 25 minutes old when I felt a tug on my sleeve. I looked down and noticed a steward trying to get my attention. "Excuse me, sir," he said. "Will you be standing on your seat for the entire game?"

I looked around. In this part of Munich's Olympic Stadium, the north curve, by and large everybody was standing on the plastic seats. One of the few exceptions was the elderly couple directly to my left. They were sitting down and, consequently, couldn't see...

 By Kevin Palmer

Ambitous Man City and Juventus must deliver in this week's UCL matches

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini believes his side can beat Barcelona in their UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg, even without the suspended Yaya Toure.
Manchester City's Manuel Pellegrini, left, Juventus' Massimiliano Allegri, middle, and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger, right, all face pressure to push their clubs forward in Champions League after disappointments in last year's tournament.

Here are four storylines to watch for ahead of this week's Champions League matchups. 

1. Manchester City's reasons to be cheerful

Manchester City's cast list has barely changed, so logic would suggest the final outcome is unlikely to alter when the club faces Barcelona for a second successive season in the last-16 of the Champions League. Yet, City manager Manuel Pellegrini has genuine reason to hope the result can be different this time.

A year ago, it was Lionel Messi and his Barca pass...