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ES Setif
Western Sydney Wanderers
(5) 2
(4) 2
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Borussia Dortmund
VfL Wolfsburg
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San Lorenzo
Auckland City
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AFC Bournemouth
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Tottenham Hotspur
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Real Sociedad
Real Oviedo
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Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 0
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Blog - Marcotti's Musings

Man Utd-Liverpool reflections, Barca's blip, Bayern march on, Juve slip again

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno, Shaka Hislop and Steve Nicol discuss whether or not Manchester United are Premier League title contenders after winning six consecutive league matches.

Apart from club allegiances, how you viewed Manchester United's 3-0 victory over Liverpool probably depends on your approach to watching football.

Are you a purist and an aesthete? The game was terrible, an ode to mis-hit passes and bad defending. As Alan Shearer put it on Match of the Day: "The standard of passing for both teams was just so poor..."

Are you a short-attention span type who enjoys goals, thrills and spills? If so, it wasn't so bad. There were plenty of chances and not all of them...

Jose Mourinho's 'ball boy' comments did just what they were supposed to do

The ESPN FC crew discuss Chelsea's loss to Newcastle United. Manager Jose Mourinho blamed the ball boys for time-wasting, but Gab Marcotti thinks Chelsea are still in the driver's seat.

It's been a long-running debate. Does a screw fall out causing him to lose all perspective? Or does he know exactly what he's doing?

With Jose Mourinho, you do wonder. And the answer is that sometimes -- like when he's eye-poking or identifying UNICEF as grand conspirators against him -- he does lose his cool. And he does say and do things he comes to regret.

Other times, he says things for effect. Because he's a clever guy and he knows the reaction he'll get and he believes that reaction...

Do we have a Prem title race yet?
Plus: How far can Real Madrid go?

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti believes Chelsea players may suffer fatigue in the latter stages of the season if they are to make a deep run in the Champions League, while also searching for the Premier League title.

It's not quite "game on" in the Premier League title race, but it's equally true that a year ago Manchester City were six points behind Arsenal and went on to win the title. And this year, they're six behind Chelsea, so you might conclude: why not?

The easy answer is that Chelsea aren't Arsenal. They're coached by Jose Mourinho and they're packed with guys who have won silverware in recent years -- and therefore have that "winning mentality" that will help avoid a second-half meltdown.


Arsenal woe down to Wenger, Milan sides have far to go, Chelsea impress

ESPN FC's Paul Mariner breaks down why Arsenal are in a slide and what they can do to fix it.

I couldn't believe that someone actually asked Louis Van Gaal whether Manchester United's performance in their 2-1 win at Arsenal on Saturday was the best United has played this season.

Talk about mistaking results for performance. To his credit -- unlike some managers who might have basked in the afterglow of a win at Arsenal and suggested it was all part of a master plan -- Van Gaal is brutally honest. He doesn't need to make himself look good.

"With the way we played in the first half,...

James Pallotta wants to take AS Roma, Serie A, to top of world football

Ahead of their league clash with Torino, Roma head coach Rudi Garcia believes his side can achieve great things this season.

The thing about owning AS Roma and telling the world about your long-term project to make the giallorossi into the dominant force in Europe is that there almost too many clichés.

It wasn't built in a day, we get it. But, ultimately, all roads lead there, which is why there is so much potential. The key though, now that you're in Rome, is knowing when -- and to what extent -- to do as the Romans do and when to do your own thing, your way.

James Pallotta eschews these aphorisms. He has his own....

Could football ever truly ditch FIFA? Plus: Mancini might be ideal for Inter

The ESPN FC team delve deeper as FIFA cleared Qatar and Russia of corruption over their World Cup bids.

It's something mooted by many of those who are disgusted every time FIFA wastes an opportunity to show it can clean up its act. Or at least give the impression it is cleaning up its act.

Like right now, when you have a serious, supposedly independent investigation like Michael Garcia's being withheld from the general public -- indeed, withheld from everyone in the world apart from those you can count on the fingers of one hand. Instead, we're served up a redacted "summary" that Garcia himself...