AC Milan Training Session And Press Conference
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I hope you had as good a weekend as Barcelona did, who clinched their 27th league title, but not without some postgame drama. We'll have more for you on that later. But first, there are only three Champions League matches remaining this season, and two of them happen this week. I'm Mike Goodman, this is the Golazo Starting XI newsletter. Let's start your week off right.

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📺 Footy fix

All times U.S./Eastern.

Monday, May 15
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 EPL: Leicester City vs. Liverpool, 3 p.m. ➡️ USA

Tuesday, May 16
🌟 UCL: AC Milan vs. Inter, 3 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+ and CBS

Wednesday, May 17
🌟 UCL: Man City vs. Real Madrid, 3 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+ and CBS
🇺🇸 NWSL: Racing Louisville vs. KC Current, 7:30 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+

🎥 CBS Sports Golazo Network will offer a live second-screen tactical cam for UCL action.

⚽  The Forward Line

AC Milan need Leão to spark derby comeback


The first leg between these two sides wasn't close. Milan suffered a 2-0 defeat in what was considered an home leg last Wednesday. Things didn't get better over the weekend in a 2-0 away loss to Spezia where they conceded goals in the 75th and 85th minutes to a team currently in 17th place battling relegation. And it was a deserved result for Spezia, who, despite both teams taking 14 shots, got the better of the expected goal battle, 1.80 to 1.03. The loss dropped Milan four points behind Lazio for fourth place in Serie A, meaning that they could miss out on the Champions League altogether next season.

So where can Milan turn to for solace? Their only hope, really, is that Rafael Leão can return and put this team on his back. He's their superstar in every possible way, leading the teams in goals (12), assists (seven), non-penalty expected goals (nine), expected goals assisted (6.4) and shots (84). And the list doesn't stop there, he's tops in progressive runs with the ball (121) and progressive passes received (210). The Milan attack is predicated on passing the ball up the field to Leão, waiting for Leão to make something amazing happen, and then having Leão either finish off the move himself or set up Giroud. The 23-year-old sat out both games Milan lost due to a muscular injury but trained (separate from his teammates) on Monday ahead of the big derby decider on Tuesday.


Leão, who remains on the verge of signing a new deal with Milan, is legitimately a game changer. Of course the thing about losing 2-0 in the first leg is that even if Leão returns from injury and changes the game, it may not be enough. That's how Jonathan Johnson is looking at it in our expert picks piece for this week's matches.

  • Johnson: "The opening leg did such damage to Milan that it will be very difficult to recover now. Leão or not, the Rossoneri are facing an uphill battle and Inter are strong favorites to advance. Even if Pioli's men get the win here, there is no guarantee that they do it by two or more goals to at least force extra time."

There's no hiding the fact that this is an extremely tall task for Milan, and that without Leão having a transformative match, it will be almost impossible for them to succeed. But if they do, it will be because Leão announces himself on the international stage not just as one of the most exciting young players in the world, but as a true superstar winger ready to be counted among the word's best right now.

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🔗  Midfield Link Play

Chaos ensues during Barça's title clincher

It's not a surprise that Barcelona won the La Liga title this weekend. They've had a giant lead at the top of the table for months now. But what happened next was chaos. The fact that they clinched the title away to crosstown rivals Espanyol -- and that Espanyol are currently stuck in the middle of a relegation battle -- meant that emotions were heightened during the title-clinching celebrations on the field. A chaotic scene erupted as Espanyol fans crashed the party, forcing Barcelona players to beat a hasty retreat. Don't miss Nico Cantor breaking down the situation on Morning Footy

And now let's get to some links:

🔗 Arsenal's season is ending with a whimper, writes James Benge.
🔗 Chuck Booth has your Premier League title-clinching scenarios for Manchester City.
🔗 Our expert picks for Inter vs. Milan, we don't expect a miracle comeback.
🔗 And in Manchester, we all expect Pep Guardiola's side to advance to the final.
🔗 Chelsea women won Sunday's FA Cup final at a rocking Wembley Stadium.
🔗 Paul Pogba suffered a season-ending injury for Juventus.
🔗 With Julian Nagelsmann out of the picture in the Spurs managerial hunt, Booth looks at where they might turn next.
🔗 Fabrizio Romano joins Morning Footy to talk all the latest transfer news.
🔗 Real Madrid's Eduardo Camavinga picked up a knock over the weekend leaving his UCL availability in doubt.
🔗 Finally: Mauricio Pochettino reportedly agreed on a deal for him to take over Chelsea this summer.
🔗 House of Champions: It's Champions League preview time!
🔗 Attacking Third: Sandra and Lisa have the weekend recap coming your way.

💰  The Back Line

💵 Best bets

All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and all times U.S./Eastern. SportsLine has you covered with this weekend's best bets.

  • EPL: Leicester City vs. Liverpool, Monday, 3 p.m. 
    💰 THE PICK: Liverpool (-165) -- Liverpool still have an outside chance of qualifying for the Champions League, sitting only four points back of both Newcastle and Manchester United. Leicester City are now sitting in relegation territory and desperately need three points to leapfrog Everton and Leeds. It's just hard to see Liverpool, since they've got a lot to play for, slipping up here. They have six wins in a row and are unbeaten in eight. It's not going to change here.
  • UCL: Inter vs. Milan, Tuesday, 3 p.m. 
    💰 THE PICK: Under 2.5 (-135) -- Even with a healthy Leão, Milan are a team that struggle to score easily. And if he's not healthy enough to start, then forget about it. Inter dominated in the first leg and now they're "at home" with a two-goal cushion. There's simply very little reason to believe Milan will have what it takes to turn this into a high-scoring affair.