Hello weekend! I’m Igor Mello with your Friday edition of the Golazo Starting XI newsletter. Let’s look ahead to the biggest storylines and games coming up. New to the Golazo Starting XI newsletter? Get yourself the best deal in soccer and subscribe now to ensure you receive updates three times a week.
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Serie A slate (all times U.S./Eastern): Fiorentina vs. Sassuolo, Saturday, 9 a.m. (Paramount+)Juventus vs. Udinese, Saturday, 12 p.m. (Paramount+/CBS Sports Network)Monza vs. Inter Milan, Saturday, 2:45 p.m. (Paramount+)Salernitana vs. Torino, Sunday, 6:30 a.m. (Paramount+)Spezia vs. Lecce, Sunday, 9 a.m. (Paramount+)Lazio vs. Empoli, Sunday, 9 a.m. (Paramount+)Sampdoria vs. Napoli, Sunday, 12 p.m. (Paramount+)AC Milan vs. Roma, Sunday, 2:45 p.m. (Paramount+)Notable games (all times U.S./Eastern): FA Cup: Manchester United vs. Everton, Friday, 3 p.m.Coupe de France: Chateauroux vs. PSG, Friday, 3 p.m.FA Cup: Tottenham vs. Portsmouth, Saturday, 7:30 a.m.La Liga: Villarreal vs. Real Madrid, Saturday, 10:15 a.m.FA Cup: Liverpool vs. Wolverhampton, Saturday, 3 p.m. FA Cup: Manchester City vs. Chelsea, Sunday, 11:30 a.m.La Liga: Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona, Sunday, 3 p.m.⚽ The Forward Line Leão can get Milan back into Scudetto mix Jose Mourinho and AS Roma travel to Milan in what promises to be the most anticipated match of the calcio weekend. A win on either side would go a long way into the race for the top four Champions League spots, let alone AC Milan’s Scudetto race with Napoli. The Rossoneri, led by Rafa Leão, are five points behind Napoli while Roma are three points back from the fourth and final Champions League spot. It’s no secret that Stefano Pioli’s Milan boast more firepower than Roma as they are ranked third in goals scored (31), first in big chances created (43) and second in big chances scored (21) and shots on target (87). While Mourinho’s side builds things up a little more methodically out of the back, it is Milan who operate with more purpose by funneling the ball into the final third and completing long passes.
Milan have not won back-to-back Serie A titles since 1994, and the man who can get them back into the Scudetto mix is Leão on the left flank, who has 11 goal contributions — including all of his seven goals coming from open play — in 15 matches played. The dynamic winger is a threat anytime he touches the ball. He has completed a team-high 28 take-ons and created 26 big chances for his teammates. Expect him to be the difference-maker if the Rossoneri can catch Napoli. Match prediction: The firepower is there, sure, but Mourinho’s squad won’t make it easy for Milan, who will scratch and claw to pick the lock and come away with three points. PICK: AC Milan 2, Roma 1. Sponsored by Paramount+ 🔗 Midfield Link Play Berhalter breaks silence The drama between the Berhalters and the Reynas continues to linger. Gregg Berhalter said Thursday at a Harvard Business Review event that he was “saddened by these events” and shared his desire to continue coaching the United States men’s national team through the 2026 World Cup where the Americans will co-host with Mexico and Canada. “My heart aches for my wife because it was her story to tell if she chose to or not,” Berhalter said.
U.S. Soccer Federation director Earnie Stewart, a USMNT teammate of both Berhalter and Reyna in ’90s and 2000s, said Berhalter is still in contention for a contract extension barring the investigation results. Check out our explainer where we dive deep into the history of the Berhalters and the Reynas that dates back into the ’80s. Listen below and follow In Soccer We Trust: A CBS Sports Soccer Podcast where your three favorite former USMNT players cover everything you could possibly want to know about the United States men’s national team following their World Cup elimination in Qatar.
Let’s get to some more links:Want more coverage of women’s soccer? Listen below and make sure to follow Attacking Third, A CBS Soccer Podcast devoted to bringing you everything you need to know from the NWSL and around the globe. 💰 The Back Line Best bets A modest pick followed by a home-run swing for this weekend. All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook. AC Milan vs. Roma, Sunday, 2:45 p.m. ET:💰 THE PICK: Both teams to score (-110) — I’m expecting a Jose Mourinho masterclass where Milan will be forced to pick the lock for a breakthrough. That said, while I lean on Milan as favorites in this one, they have conceded in three of the past four league games. Follow SportsLine’s best bets here.Three-leg parlay:💰 THE PICK: Real Madrid win; Juventus win; Man City draw (+1569) — Let’s take a big swing on two favorites and this weekend. I’m not exactly confident in Man City winning back-to-back games against a weaker Chelsea side, which is why I’m going for a draw and not a Blues win in 90 minutes. Villarreal are pretty damn good at home, but this is Real Madrid needing to solidify themselves as league contenders. They take care of business when it matters. Follow SportsLine’s best bets here.