Manchester United notch embarrassing win on their way to the FA Cup final; Real Madrid just keep winning

Happy Monday! Hope you’ve recovered from an entertaining weekend because another batch of high-profile matchups are on the schedule, including a Milan derby that could end with Inter as Serie A champions. I’m Pardeep Cattry with the latest.

📺 Footy fix

All times U.S./Eastern

Monday, April 22
🇮🇹 Serie A: AC Milan vs. Inter, 2:45 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+

Tuesday, April 23
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 EPL: Arsenal vs. Chelsea, 3 p.m. ➡️ USA Network
🇮🇹 Coppa Italia: Lazio vs. Juventus, 3 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+, Golazo Network
🌍 CCC: America vs. Pachuca, 10:15 p.m. ➡️ FS1


⚽ The Forward Line

🏆 United (barely) avoid crisis in the FA Cup

For the second year in a row, the Manchester derby will hit Wembley Stadium for the FA Cup final as both Manchester City and Manchester United won their semifinals over the weekend. They did so in very different ways, though — while City came out with a 1-0 win over Chelsea on Saturday, United escaped a nearly calamitous 3-3 draw with Coventry City after winning a penalty shootout.

Erik ten Hag’s side seemed to benefit from the fact that they were facing a Championship side at first, taking a 3-0 lead by the 59th minute. United took their foot off the gas and let in three goals before regular time was up, and came close to conceding on several occasions during extra time before luck swung their way in the penalty shootout. Despite the victory, it may have been the lowest point in a season full of them, though ten Hag was defiant — and arguably delusional — in his post-match assessment, when he rejected the idea that United fans might be embarrassed by the performance.

  • Ten Hag: “I can’t see that word. At the end of the day, it’s about the achievement. I see the mistakes we make. We can’t look away from it, but it’s not an embarrassment. As I say, it’s a huge achievement.”

While the penalty shootout victory may have ensured that Ten Hag will finish out the season, there is still very little certainty around his job security after the fact. United were dealt a perfect scenario to avoid the pitfalls that have defined their season, chief among them an ability to concede shots at a rate higher than most teams across Europe’s top five leagues. Coventry took just two shots by the time United took a 3-0 lead, but the Red Devils fell back into their troublesome old habits and conceded 18 shots by the end of extra time.

That outing did little to dispel concerns about ten Hag’s ability to improve United’s performances during a season of ups and downs, and arguably only makes his hot seat hotter before what could be a summer of change for the club.

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🔗  Midfield Link Play

🇪🇸 Bellingham scores late in El Clasico

Real Madrid took all three points from the latest edition of El Clasico on Sunday, coming back from behind twice to beat Barcelona 3-2 as they extended their lead atop La Liga to 11 points.

Barcelona took the lead at the Santiago Bernabeu just six minutes in through Andreas Christensen, but Vinicius Junior scored the equalizer in the 18th minute through a penalty. Fermin Lopez scored to restore Barcelona’s advantage in the 69th minute but that lead was erased just three minutes later with a strike from Lucas Vazquez. Jude Bellingham then gave Real Madrid the lead in the first minute of stoppage time, the first time Los Blancos had led all game.

The victory capped off a season-defining week in fine fashion for Real Madrid, who ousted City from the Champions League just days earlier and became the favorites to lift that title in the process. They have achieved impressive feats despite frequently appearing to be flawed in the biggest games, at times wasteful and other times demonstrating a reluctance — or inability — to truly dominate matches, something expected of a team of Real Madrid’s caliber. The latter was true against both City and Barcelona this week as both teams won the possession battle, while City took 33 shots at Real Madrid’s goal midweek.

They seem to get away with those inconsistencies each and every time thanks to their all-star attack, which did the job over the course of the week. Rodrygo scored the go-ahead goal in Manchester on Wednesday and combined with Vinciius Junior and Bellingham to do so, while Vinicius Junior also recorded an assist on Sunday. Whether or not it’s a sustainable strategy is up for debate since Real Madrid are outperforming their expected goals tally in both La Liga and the Champions League, but it seems to be their approach for the foreseeable future with Kylian Mbappe’s expected arrival.

The fact that their attackers can bail them out of trouble, though, perhaps means Real Madrid’s strategy is working. The function of high-profile goalscorers like the ones on their roster means they should be able to survive any opponent and all types of game states because their offensive unit can beat anybody. Considering their success this season despite their flaws, Real Madrid enter this final stretch of the season as Europe’s most unbeatable team. The expectation now is for them to keep that up as they reach the finish line, especially in the Champions League.

🔗  Top Stories

🇮🇹 Derby della Madonnina: AC Milan aims to block Inter’s chances of winning the Serie A title for at least one more game amid reports that manager Stefano Pioli could leave the club at the end of the season.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Forest’s complaint: Nottingham Forest issued a statement condemning the refereeing in their 2-0 loss to Everton on Sunday, arguably establishing a bad precedent when it comes to clubs criticizing officials.

🇺🇸 NWSL check-in: The Washington Spirit are rising up the ranks in the latest batch of NWSL power rankings after their youth-focused squad beat Gotham, while Maria Sanchez got her long-awaited trade to the San Diego Wave.

🩹 Dest injury: The USMNT’s Sergino Dest picked up a serious knee injury over the weekend, raising concerns about his availability for the Copa America.

🇫🇷 PSG win: Paris Saint-Germain continue to soft-launch the post-Mbappe era with a big win over Lyon in which the star did not play.

🦩 Messi scores again: Lionel Messi bagged a brace as Inter Miami beat Nashville on Saturday, rising to the top of MLS’ Eastern Conference.

🇳🇱 Vitesse points deduction: Vitesse was hit with an 18 point deduction for breaching financial rules, and is under investigation over allegations that disgraced Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich was at one point secretly financing the club.

🏆 FA Cup changes: The FA Cup will do away with replays starting next season, inspiring criticism from lower league clubs impacted by the change.

🇪🇺 Coefficient battle: Here’s the latest on Europe’s coefficient battle after a big week for German teams — and a horrendous one for their English counterparts.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Hall of Fame: Andy Cole, Ashley Cole and John Terry became the latest inductees into the Premier League’s Hall of Fame.

💰  The Back Line

💵 Best bets

  • Serie A: AC Milan vs. Inter, Monday, 2:45 p.m.
    💰 THE PICK: Inter to win 1-0 (+750) — AC Milan have every incentive in the world to keep Inter at bay in the latest edition of the Milan derby, chief among them the fact that Inter could officially clinch the Serie A title on Monday. Form favors Inter, though, who are on a 20-match unbeaten run, while Milan are coming off their Europa League exit to Roma. It might be a closely contested matchup but considering Inter’s rotating cast of attacking threats that lead Serie A with 77 goals, expect them to find a way to win and clinch their first Serie A title in three years.

📺 What’s on CBS Sports Golazo Network

☀️ Morning Footy (Weekdays 8-10 a.m.): Hosts Susannah Collins, Charlie Davies, Nico Cantor and Alexis Guerreros help fans get their day started on the network’s flagship morning show with highlights, interviews and the biggest soccer storylines. Morning Footy is also available in podcast form, so you’ll never have to miss an episode.

📦 Box 2 Box (Weekday afternoons): The news-driven show quickly recaps all the latest headlines from around the world with panelists previewing the top matchups of the day. Catch Box 2 Box on CBS Sports Golazo Network on the CBS Sports app, PlutoTV and Paramount+. 

3️⃣ Attacking Third (Monday, Thursday): The leading women’s soccer podcast and social brand is now a live studio show. The NWSL season is back and our coverage of the women’s game is stronger than ever. Our analysts will be breaking down the USWNT, NWSL and European domestic season all year long.

👟 Kickin’ It (Tuesdays): CBS Sports Golazo Network’s unfiltered interview show releases Tuesday. Hosted by Kate Abdo, Clint Dempsey, Mo Edu and Charlie Davies, the group chat candidly with the biggest names from the Beautiful Game and share their stories from on and off the pitch. 

Call it What You Want (Monday night): A weekly podcast where Jimmy Conrad, Jesse Marsch and Charlie Davies cover all things USMNT and the state of the beautiful game in the United States.

🥅 Scoreline (Daily): Scoreline is the newest place for fans to catch up on all the biggest news and results impacting global football, match highlights from the top soccer competitions and all the can’t-miss goals from the day’s action, starting Thursday and airing seven days a week.

📺 How to watch: CBS Sports Golazo Network is a free 24/7 channel exclusively dedicated to offering unparalleled coverage of all the top soccer competitions worldwide. You can stream for free on the CBS Sports app, Pluto TV and Paramount+.

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