AC Ajaccio
6:45 PM UTC
Leg 1
Game Details
Toronto FC
FC Dallas
12:00 AM UTC May 26, 2018
Game Details
Houston Dynamo
New York City FC
12:55 AM UTC May 26, 2018
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LA Galaxy
San Jose Earthquakes
3:00 AM UTC May 26, 2018
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12:00 PM UTC May 25, 2018
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7:00 PM UTC May 25, 2018
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Real Madrid
ESPN3 6:45 PM UTC May 26, 2018
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Aston Villa
4:00 PM UTC May 26, 2018
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Liverpool and Real Madrid's major issues to sort

UEFA Champions League

Messi Oasis myth busted, Rio's toilet phobia

The new season is nearly upon us and Off The Ball will be scratching around the underbelly of professional football for some bizarre and often inexplicable revelations every step of the way.

This week we have Rio Ferdinand expressing his fear of public toilets, Santos players trading bare-chested insults with their fans, Robert Green abused by his West Ham colleagues and Lionel Messi hasn't formed an Oasis tribute band.

Santos players insult fans during video chat

When Santos players Alan, Zezinho, Felipe, Madson and Ze Eduardo agreed to do a live video chat they probably didn't expect to end up bare-chested, trading insults with the Brazilian club's fans.

However, when goalkeeper Felipe was told he had "lettuce hands" by one supporter he took exception and responded by saying: "What I spend on food for my dog is what you make in a month".

While it was not the most sharp-tongued exchange - in fact, "lettuce hands" has a particularly pleasant ring to it - the incident was widely reported by several websites and TV sports shows in Brazil and Felipe was forced to say sorry.

"It was a joke that got misinterpreted," the goalkeeper said. "I apologise if anybody was offended by it."

Argentine journalist busts Messi Oasis myth

It's the news that The Sun's showbiz section has been dreading. Argentine award-winning journalist Clemente Cancela has revealed that Lionel Messi has never heard of Oasis and so the newspaper's far-fetched tales about his bizarre love of the Manchester band must come to an end.

The Sun have brought us some fantastical yarns, beginning with Messi's discovery of Oasis during a long-haul flight with Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez and peaking this week with a particularly tall-stories about the world's best player forming a tribute band.

"Our disguise is based on how Oasis looked in the mid-90s," Messi never told The Sun. "We'll visit the UK. If you're at a pub or club where we are performing and see past our disguises there'll be a decent prize in it for you."

However, Cancela, who has legitimate access Messi, recently revealed: "Messi does not know Oasis. I repeat: does not know Oasis. He told me."

Rio fears doing a poo in public toilets

There are many glamorous ways for a professional footballer to spend their down time, but crocked England international Rio Ferdinand appears to fill his by pondering the finer points of public toilets.

This week the prolific Tweeter used his personal account (@rioferdy5) to express his fear about doing a No. 2 in the train toilets.

"Clean WC well done virgin! Does any1 else try and get out of the train toilets real quick so other passengers don't think u have done a poo?!"

It's nice to know that Manchester United's £100,000 a week defender has similar concerns to us regular folk.

Vatican slams Serie A Sunday lunchtime kick-offs

Serie A may have appeased Italian TV companies by spreading out the weekend schedule but their decision to play matches at 12.30 pm on Sundays has brought the wrath of the Vatican.

The decision, which had already angered Italian's who simply couldn't choose between football, food and their mothers, was condemned as a 'pitch invasion on life' by one leader of the Catholic Church.

"I consider this a truly harmful development," Monsignor Carlo Mazza told Tuttosport. "Putting people in front of the television screen at 12.30 (CET), when they are having lunch with their families, to me seems like a 'pitch invasion' on life.

"Family time is a very important institution and we cannot 'sell it off' to other events."

West Ham team-mates abuse Green

Blundering England goalkeeper Rob Green is preparing for a barrage of abuse from the stands this season by getting his West Ham United colleagues to hurl insults at him in training.

Green's goalkeeping blunder handed USA a 1-1 draw at the World Cup this summer and if the reception he received during a pre-season friendly at Ipswich Town is anything to go by he can expect to get some stick.

As a solution, Green, a keen devotee of sports psychology, suggested that he be booed and insulted by his own teammates - a request to which they duly obliged.

West Ham open the season against Aston Villa and their fans will need to put an extra bit of effort into their witty chants if they are to crack Green's new-found mental fortitude.

Video of the week

Last week we brought you a fishy celebration from Icelandic side Stjarnan that leapt to the top of the Viral Video Chart (yes there is such a thing) and has since been copied by a team in the J-League.

But Stjarnan have previous when it comes to bizarre goal celebrations. Click here to check out their Rambo celebration.

Around the web

• Sol Campbell, and a team of 'big boned' footballers

• Rammie The Ram wins 'Daffodil Derby' Football Mascot Race

• Wazza on the Razza: smoking, partying and peeing

• Sneijder: Jose special enough to manage Man United AND England


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