MLS All-Stars vs Real Madrid: Preview and Prediction

2017 MLS All-Star Game: MLS All-Stars vs Real Madrid

Soldier Field, Chicago – Wednesday, August 2nd – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: MLS All-Stars 21/5 – Draw 3/1 – Real Madrid 7/10

MLS All-Stars vs Real Madrid: Preview

The 2017 MLS-All Stars take on Real Madrid on Wednesday night in the 22nd annual MLS All-Star game. North America’s finest soccer talents will have to try and topple the current European champions, with the sides clashing at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Real Madrid’s outlook

It’s the first time the best of MLS will come up against Spanish opponents, and Real Madrid arrive as the best club side in world football. That’s proven by the fact they’ve won back-to-back Champions League titles. They also won their first La Liga title in five years in 2016/17. They became the first side to score in every La Liga game on their way to glory.

Wednesday’s game will be Real Madrid’s final preseason warmup before they return to competitive action. Zinedine Zidane’s side face Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup next Tuesday. They then face Barcelona over two legs for the Spanish Super Cup before the new La Liga season begins on August 20.

The haven’t had the best of summers, in terms of preseason results. They failed to win any of their three International Champions Cup matches. A penalty shootout loss to Manchester United in Santa Clara was followed by a 4-1 defeat to Manchester City in Los Angeles. They then fell 3-2 to Barcelona in Miami before flying to Chicago to prepare for the All-Star game.

MLS All-Stars outlook

The MLS All-Stars lost their first game since 2013 last year. They fell 2-1 to Arsenal in San Jose and will want to bounce back with a win against the Spanish giants here.

Major League Soccer is continuing to improve with every season. The quality of the league gets better with each season. The All-Star game is the best chance for the league to showcase that to the world.

Chicago Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic will lead the star-studded MLS All-Stars this year. He is enjoying a fine season in charge of Chicago. But he now has to try and beat the world’s best team with a squad of players that have had just three days to prepare for the game together.

Ultimately, this is an exhibition game. But the stars of MLS will want to show the world how far the league has come. The All-Stars are expected to lose. But a win would further highlight the giant strides being made across the Atlantic.

MLS All-Stars vs Real Madrid: Team News

Veljko Paunovic has a mix of world-renowned talent, US national team heroes and young stars to represent the best of MLS. Commissioner Don Garber has picked Dom Dwyer and Kellyn Acosta to represent the All-Stars, and they form part of a strong 24-man squad. Former Real Madrid galactico Kaka has never played against Real Madrid, so Wednesday’s match will be a special occasion for him. David Villa was a long-time rival to Real Madrid during his time with Valencia, Atletico and Barcelona. He has played 28 games against Real – more than against any other club in world football. Bastian Schweinsteiger will captain the All-Stars.

Position MLS All-Stars Squad
Goalkeepers Frei, Howard
Defenders Beasley, Garza, Grana, Hedges, Kappelhof, Parkhurst, Van Damme, Zusi
Midfielders Acosta, Almiron, Bradley, Dos Santos, Kaka, McCarty, Piatti, Schweinsteiger, Valeri
Forwards Altidore, Dwyer, Giovinco, Nikolic, Villa

Real Madrid won’t be able to call on star man Cristiano Ronaldo. The current Ballon d’Or holder hasn’t been apart of the team’s preseason tour. That’s because of his participation in the Confederations Cup with Portugal. However, the European champions still have some of the world’s finest talents to call on. The likes of Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema are all set to play at Soldier Field on Wednesday. Several young players have been used by Zidane on the tour and they will be expected to see some action in the later stages of the match.

Position Real Madrid Squad
Goalkeepers Navas, Casilla, Yanez, L. Zidane
Defenders Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Nacho, Marcelo, Theo Hernandez, Quezada, Tejero, Achraf, Manu
Midfielders Kroos, Casemiro, Modric, Isco, Ceballos, Kovacic, Oscar, Franchu
Forwards Benzema, Bale, Vazquez, Gomez, Mayoral

MLS All-Stars vs Real Madrid: Key Points

MLS All-Stars last five games: W/L/W/W/L

Real Madrid’s last games: W/W/D/L/L

Key Stat: The MLS All-Stars have scored in 11 of their 12 All-Star games against European opponents since the format was introduced in 2005. The only year in which they failed to score was 2011 in a 4-0 loss to Manchester United.

Key Player: Sebastian Giovinco – Picking one player as the key man in a game that will be littered with stars is almost impossible. But Giovinco comes into the game having set an MLS record with his 10th free-kick goal in Sunday’s 4-0 win over NYCFC. That was also his 50th MLS goal. He has set Major League Soccer alight since moving to Toronto in 2015. If anyone is likely to tear the Madrid defence apart it’s The Atomic Ant.

MLS All-Stars vs Real Madrid: Prediction

MLS All-Stars 2-1 Real Madrid – The absence of Ronaldo will obviously be huge for Real Madrid. He’s their best player and is arguably the best in the world. But Real Madrid are still incredible strong without him. The worry for the visitors is that they have been in poor form on their US tour this summer. The All-Stars will look to take advantage of that. They are in the middle of the MLS season, meaning they are at optimum fitness. They also have a huge array of talent to call on. Don’t be surprised to see them beat Los Blancos on Wednesday night.

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Vote: Who do you want to see in the 2017 MLS All-Star starting XI against Real Madrid?

The 2017 MLS All-Star game is rapidly approaching. The best of MLS will take on La Liga and Champions League winners Real Madrid at Soldier Field in Chicago on Wednesday night (8:30 ET/01:30 BST). But who do you want to see in the 2017 MLS All-Star starting XI?

Real Madrid are the first Spanish team to play in the MLS All-Star game. Their squad is graced with world class talent. The likes of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Luka Modric and Isco all set to play on Wednesday night.

The All-Stars have long-time European stars such as Bastian Schweinsteiger. US national team stars such as Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. And emerging MLS talents in Kellyn Acosta and Miguel Almiron.

But who do you want to see in the 2017 MLS All-Star starting XI? Vote below now, or use this link.

Do Liverpool hold the key in Hazard’s Chelsea departure with attempt to sign €80m Madrid star?

Liverpool could potentially play a key role in Eden Hazard leaving Chelsea at the end of the season as they are reportedly interested in signing Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez, so long as they qualify for next season’s Champions League.

The Colombian has been in and out of the Madrid side since joining for a whopping €80 million in 2014, but Los Blancos may well entertain offers for him this summer in a bid to fund a potential world-record transfer for Hazard.

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It’s no secret the Chelsea man is wanted by Real. Many have dubbed him a ‘Real Madrid sort of player’ and with the current state of the transfer market in mind this could be the first fee to reach over £100m.

Madrid have broken transfer records to land Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale and are unlikely to hesitate doing the same thing to bring Hazard to the Bernabeu this summer.

Chelsea are not a club renowned for selling their top players but have been making a name for themselves with the business they’ve been doing over the last few seasons in terms of selling stars they no longer need for big money. While Hazard certainly doesn’t fall into that category it shows if the right price is offered they could agree to sell him.

An offer of the sort of value that is being spoken about would no doubt be tempting for any club, no matter how good the player is and it would provide Chelsea with the purchasing power to sign a like-for-like replacement and potentially break even.

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Jurgen Klopp looks set to be preparing for the possibility of life after Philippe Coutinho, who is heavily tipped for a move to Barcelona in the coming months, so the potential purchase of Rodriguez would almost definitely have a knock-on effect across Europe.

One thing is for sure, if Real Madrid want Hazard they will do everything possible to get him. They’ve got a history of splashing huge amounts of cash on players and would no doubt be willing to spend whatever it takes to get their man, even if they were to keep hold of Rodriguez.

Will Rodriguez join Liverpool? Is Hazard on his way out of Chelsea?

Messi and Ronaldo to meet in Miami as El Clasico heads stateside this summer

The two biggest clubs in world football will go head-to-head in Miami this summer, with Real Madrid and Barcelona gearing up for just the second ever El Clasico to be played outside of Spain.

Some of the game’s biggest stars – including Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – are expected to be on show as the Spanish giants prepare to face off in the 2017 International Champions Cup series. The game will be played on Saturday July 29 in front of over 60,000 people at the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium.

It will be the first time El Clasico has ever been played on American soil and will be just the second time the rivalry has been played outside of Spain, with the only previous meeting abroad coming 35 years ago in Venezuela.

Barcelona will have their famous MSN trio of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar at their disposal, while Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to make the game, despite his involvement in the Confederations Cup in Russia a month before.

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It’s another huge boost for an ever-growing soccer audience in the USA and particularly for Miami, considering the continuous troubles with the attempts to get David Beckham’s MLS Expansion Franchise off the ground.

It would be an incredible day to announce that Miami is finally set to get an MLS team, but we’ll try not to get too ahead of ourselves on that one.

However, it is highly likely that either Barcelona or Real Madrid will be the opponent for the 2017 MLS All-Star match, which is set to take place in Chicago just four days after the game in Miami.

Panic for Arsenal just days before new season as star could leave

Some worrying news for Arsenal fans has emerged just days before they kick off their Premier League season at home against Liverpool as German newspaper Bild report Mesut Ozil would be immediately ready to return to Real Madrid.

Arsenal’s struggles are already being widely spoken about as they prepare to start the season with a squad with some major problems. Arsene Wenger looks like he is going to have to drop Laurent Koscielny in at the back without undergoing preseason as Per Mertesacker and Gabriel are both injured.

Wenger has already claimed players who featured in Euro 2016 could struggle in the early weeks of the season and rumours of an Ozil exit will only have intensified panic.

The Arsenal manager’s transfer policy has come under scrutiny once again as he has yet to bring in a big-money high-profile striker, one position fans are desperate to see filled.

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Although there is plenty to be positive about for Arsenal, this is certainly a concerning time for fans and the potential departure of Ozil would be devastating.

Why would Ozil returning to Real Madrid be a huge blow for Arsenal?

Assists:

No Arsenal fan needs telling how influential Ozil is. The German playmaker registered 19 assists in the Premier League last season, the highest total made by any player in the 2015/16 campaign.

Chances created:

Ozil created a whopping 144 chances for teammates in the league last season. Another reason why Arsenal fans are so desperate for Wenger to sign a word-class striker. Ozil would arguably become an even more important player for the club with someone in front of him to constantly put the ball in the net. His reputation for supplying Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid was one reason why Arsenal fans were so excited to see the German join back in 2013.

Passing: 

The German made 1936 successful passes last season with 1242 of those being forward passes. If those statistics aren’t impressive enough on their own, he averaged a pass completion of 87%.

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Arsenal quite simply wouldn’t be able to replace Ozil if he left this late on in the transfer window, this close to the start of their season. His influence on the side is huge and along with his passing and assist statistics he also scored six league goals in 2015/16.

As far as things stand there has been no contact reported from Real Madrid for the Arsenal man, and fans will be hoping that nothing changes in the time remaining in the summer transfer window.

How important is Ozil to Arsenal? Will he return to Madrid this summer?

Arsenal legend says Pogba “can be one of best in history” – but is he worth £100m?

French midfield star Paul Pogba might be preparing for a huge semifinal clash with Germany tonight, but that hasn’t stopped him from being continuously linked with a world-record transfer away from Juventus this summer.

Former club Manchester United are said to be preparing a £100 million bid for his signature, with Jose Mourinho keen on bringing the 23-year-old star to Old Trafford before the summer transfer window shuts.

Real Madrid are also interested, with the player’s agent, Mino Raiola confirming last month that initial talks had taken place with the Spanish giants.

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Whichever way you look at it, Pogba is in demand. He is wanted by the top clubs around the world and they are seemingly prepared to smash the world-record transfer fee to get him. But is he worth that sort of investment?

Well according to Arsenal legend and fellow Frenchman Thierry Henry, the answer is yes. Henry told Sky Sports that he feels Pogba “can be one of the best midfielders in history”.

“He has the quality to do that, the pundit added. “He needs to make sure he concentrates on what he can do well.

“What I love about him at the moment is that he’s doing what the team’s asking him to do; maybe he’s sometimes a bit more fancy at Juventus but because Griezmann is playing behind Giroud for France, he has to defend a bit more.

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“That’s the sign of his intelligence. He’s playing within himself in a way, to make sure the team has the right balance.”

That balance that Henry mentions has seen France reach the semifinals of the tournament, without really looking like the dominant force many expected them to be this summer.

Yes, they blew away Iceland in that 5-2 quarterfinal demolition last week – with Pogba himself netting his first goal of the tournament in that rout – but aside from that, they’ve struggled to break teams down until very late in games.

Take nothing away from them for getting to where they are now. But as a team France haven’t set the tournament alight. And the same can be said for Pogba.

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The Juventus star ended last season with eight goals and 12 assists in 35 Serie A appearances. However, for France at Euro 2016, Pogba has registered just one goal and has picked up no assists as of yet.

He might be playing a slightly different role under Didier Deschamps, but Pogba has only won 36% of his tackles at the tournament and has committed a total of 11 fouls in five matches – the joint-fourth highest number at the competition.

Table: Pogba's Euro 2016 statistics ahead of semifinal - (Stats via Squawka).

Table: Pogba’s Euro 2016 statistics ahead of semifinal – (Stats via Squawka).

Dimitri Payet has overshadowed him as Les Bleus’ standout performer and while there is no doubting his ability, Pogba is not yet the player that many want him to be.

He is blessed with raw pace, impressive power and more flair than most central midfielders on the planet. However, his overall game as a central midfielder needs polishing still.

He may only be 23 years of age, but if clubs are willing to spend £100 million to secure your services, you need to be a complete package. And it’s unclear whether Pogba is that just yet…

Do you think Paul Pogba is worth £100 million? Will he be one of the best midfielders in history?

Would this £50m striker answer Manchester United’s goalscoring problems?

Manchester United‘s goalscoring problems have been well documented by pundits and fans alike throughout this season. The summer transfer window is fast approaching and there have already been plenty of players linked to United.

According to Tuttosport.com, Alvaro Morata is a striker Manchester United are looking into. Any sale of the 23-year-old Spaniard would not come through Juventus directly. Tuttosport highlight United would be prepared to offer a figure around £50 million for the forward.

Morata has a buy-back clause of £24 million from his former club Real Madrid, who could well be tempted into resigning their former man to sell on to potential suitors for profit.

If United are interested in signing Morata as the reports state, Madrid would potentially stand to make a whopping £26 million if they were to exercise their right to buy him back from Juventus.

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But is he the right man to lead Manchester United’s frontline? Lets have a look at his statistics.

Morata vs United forward

Morata 2015/16 league stats compared to Martial, Rooney and Rashford

As we can see, Morata made the most appearances in his domestic league compared to the three United strikers in question above. However, the only area he outperformed any of them was in assists.

Anthony Martial scored the most of the strikers compared with 11 goals coming in three less appearances than the Juve man. Marcus Rashford had the highest shot accuracy, though this is unsurprising given his substantially lower amount of games played. Wayne Rooney had the highest pass accuracy and created more chances than the other three strikers listed.

Manchester United’s Martial had the highest direct involvement with goals for his side, combining with his assists to tally at 15. Morata and Rooney came in joint second, with 14 each and Rashford had the lowest output with seven.

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It is worth mentioning that these comparisons are only an indication of the output all four of the strikers in question, though it is difficult to make an exact comparison given the differing number of appearances.

With the stats presented in mind it would be hard to make a case for United to spend anywhere near £50 million on the Juventus forward and there would more than likely be a number of other candidates whose comparable statistics would provide a better option for the club this summer.

Morata’s strike rate is one goal in every 4.85 games, which in comparison to Rooney – who has had his fair share of critics this season despite an injury-stricken campaign – is worse, as the United captain has averaged a goal in every 3.5 games.

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Martial and Rashford have had far less criticism than Rooney and their statistics better both Rooney and Morata’s. Martial is averaging a goal every 2.8 games, while Rashford’s output is one in every 2.2 outings.

It is clear from the United strikers in question that the squad needs an out-and-out goalscorer in this window. This would take some of the pressure off of the young shoulders of Martial and Rashford but would also give them another quality teammate to learn from.

Given these statistics Morata doesn’t look the right option for United, but as we all know, stats don’t tell the full story in football.

Would Manchester United be wrong to make a move for Morata? Who should they be going after in the summer transfer window?

Manchester United striker ‘open to MLS move’ according to agent

Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez is on his way out of Old Trafford this summer, and after failing to earn a permanent switch to Real Madrid following his loan spell this season, he will need to find a new challenge.

His agent, Eduardo Hernandez, has told Univision Deportes that the Mexican striker will not be playing for Manchester United next term and did little to quash rumours of a move to the United States, admitting that his representatives are “open to MLS”.

Clubs across Europe are also keen on Hernandez as the 27-year-old poacher is in high demand. He has one year left on his United contract and will therefore cost a transfer fee.

That could be a stumbling block for any MLS side interested, with Orlando City the club most strongly linked with the former Chivas Guadalajara attacker.

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He would almost certainly demand a Designated Player contract were he to move to MLS and his agents comments have left the window open.

The Univision report claims United would be willing to lower their asking price for Hernandez to help any move go through but if European sides are unwilling to take the risk, a move stateside will surely ensue.

This looks set to be an on-off transfer rumour but the longer it goes without Hernandez finding a club, the higher the chances of a move to MLS.

Would Javier Hernandez thrive in Major League Soccer?

TRANSFER ROUNDUP: United’s £211m spree, Liverpool in for Chelsea star & Lazio man to MLS

Daily transfer roundup (Tuesday, June 9)

MLS Rumours

Sporting Kansas City have once again been linked with Lazio’s Cristian Ledesma. The midfielder is reportedly unsettled at the club and has attracted interest from Arsenal. (REPORT)

Hull City‘s Abel Hernandez has been linked with a move to Seattle Sounders after the club were relegated from the Premier League. (REPORT)

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Seattle Sounders missed out on signing Dutch midfielder, Tjaronn Chery, after their contract offer for the Groningen man didn’t work out. (REPORT)

Premier League Rumours 

Manchester United have made contact with Real Madrid over the potential signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane. Los Blancos are understood to have no interest in selling any of their stars. (REPORT)

Liverpool are interested in signing Petr Cech from Chelsea but Jose Mourinho has insisted he will find a player from any Premier League rival in a swap deal, which would make any potential transfer more difficult. (REPORT)

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Tottenham Hotspur have made an offer for Stuttgart striker Timo Werner. Mauricio Pochettino is looking to strengthen his attacking options and the bid is understood to be in the region of £7.5 million for the 19 year old. (REPORT)

TRANSFER ROUNDUP: United to HIJACK Arsenal target, Liverpool’s Real Madrid swoop & Britton to MLS

Daily transfer roundup (Monday, June 1)

MLS Rumours

Swansea City‘s Leon Britton is being linked with a move away from the club after limited playing time and Major League Soccer is a possible destination. (REPORT)

Former Liverpool hero, John Arne Riise, is on the verge of signing for Philadelphia Union with Renee Mulensteen playing a key role in the move. (REPORT)

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Oguchi Onyeywu‘s future with New York City FC remains uncertain. The defender has been on a week trial with the club but they are yet to decide whether or not to sign him on a permanent basis. (REPORT)

Premier League Rumours

Manchester United are set to hijack Arsenal‘s move for Southampton‘s Morgan Schneiderlin who is seen as a long-term replacement for Michael Carrick. (REPORT)

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Chelsea have moved into pole position to sign £57m rated Paul Pogba from Juventus. The Frenchman has attracted interest from Europe’s elite clubs. (REPORT)

Liverpool are plotting a £10.5m move for Real Madrid goalkeeper, Keylor Navas, as Los Blancos are preparing for David de Gea to become their number one. (REPORT)
Done Deals
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Watford have completed the signing of Werder Bremen defender Sebastian Prodl. The 27-year-old free agent is Watford’s first signing since their return to the top flight. (REPORT)