Manchester City v Leeds United - Premier League
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It's time for 🎶 THE CHAAAMPIONS 🎶 

I'm Mike Goodman and if this week's semifinals are not enough, don't forget there's also U.S. Open Cup action on CBS Sports Golazo Network to feed your evening cravings. So let's get to it with your Monday Golazo Starting XI newsletter.

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📺 Footy fix

All times U.S./Eastern.

Monday, May 8
🇮🇹 Serie A: Udinese vs. Sampdoria, 12:30 p.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Golazo Network
🇮🇹 Serie A: Sassuolo vs. Bologna, 2:45 p.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Golazo Network
🇦🇷 Argentina: San Lorenzo vs. Defensa y Justicia, 5 p.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Golazo Network
🇧🇷 Brasileirão: Corinthians vs. Fortaleza, 7 p.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Golazo Network

Tuesday, May 9
🌟 Real Madrid vs. Man City, 3 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+ and CBS
🇺🇸 Open Cup: Charlotte FC vs. Orlando City, 7 p.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Golazo Network
🇺🇸 Open Cup: Monterey Bay vs. LAFC, 10:30 p.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Golazo Network

Wednesday, May 10
🌟 AC Milan vs. Inter 3 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+ and CBS
🇺🇸 Open Cup: Cincinnati FC vs. NYCFC, 7 p.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Golazo Network
🇺🇸 Open Cup: Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy, 10:30 p.m. ➡️ CBS Sports Golazo Network

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

⚽  The Forward Line

Welcome to the Champions League semifinals

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It's been a weird Champions League season. As we like to do around these parts, we've got our top 50 players of the round ranked. And when you check out the list you can see that things are a tad bit lopsided. On one side of the bracket, we've got Real Madrid and Manchester City each with 16 players on the list, and Inter and AC Milan on the other side have nine each. It's even more lopsided if you check out the top 10, where nine of them come from one side of the bracket.

That said, it would be a mistake to overlook the Italian clubs. We'll talk more about the matchup when we hit your inbox on Wednesday, but suffice to say the stakes of two crosstown rivals with decades of history behind them squaring off for a shot at the final makes the match no less compelling than what we've got ahead of us on Tuesday when the two favorites square off.

What's scary when you look at the list is just how well balanced City and Madrid are when it comes to age and experience in this team. The Spanish side has its well known trio of Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, but waiting in the wings there's Vinicius Junior, the blossoming Rodrygo, Federico Valcerde, Aurelian Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga all under 25 years of age. 

On the City side, you may not realize this but some of their mainstays are starting to push up to the end of their primes. Kevin De Bruyne is 31 already! Ilkay Gundogan is 32, so is Kyle Walker. Heck, at 28, Bernardo Silva is closer to the end of his prime than the beginning (Riyad Mahrez, in a testament to just how deep Manchester City are, didn't even make our top 50 list, but he's 32). But then, of course, there's Erling Haaland. He sits atop our list, and I'll let our James Benge take it from here:

  • Benge: "Is he the best player in the world? Quite possibly the answer to that question is yes. Certainly, there's no one on earth who puts the fear of god in opponents quite like Erling Haaland. He's a unicorn gone remorseless destructive force, an unstoppable beautiful beast who carves a path through everything. The worry for opponents in the coming years might just be how he is improving under Guardiola, becoming a passer and presser along with a pure scorer. There may be no way for the teams left in the field to stop him."

We have plenty of UCL coverage ahead for you, but for starters make sure you check out the full top 50 player rankings here.

Craving more soccer coverage? Listen below and follow House of Champions, a CBS Sports soccer podcast, bringing you top-notch analysis, commentary, picks and more. 

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🔗  Midfield Link Play

The PSG-Messi soap opera continues

The ugliness of PSG and Lionel Messi's divorce seems to have abated a bit. On Friday, it was Messi making the overture as he issued an apology to his club for skipping practice to go to Saudi Arabia. Today, it was PSG allowing the superstar to return to practice and suggesting that after sitting out only one of the two games he was suspended for, he might be able to return this weekend.

And now let's get to some links:

🔗 It's a Champions League Monday and that means expert picks!
🔗 Here are all the games airing on CBS Sports Golazo Network this week.
🔗 The Morning Footy crew broke down the Real Madrid-Manchester City matchup.  
🔗 Napoli played their first home match since clinching the Scudetto and the party really got started.
🔗 Over the weekend, Harry Kane passed Wayne Rooney to become the second-highest PL scorer.
🔗 With Manchester United losing and Liverpool winning, the race for the top four in England is back on.
🔗 Arsenal are unlikely to win the title, but this group will compete until the end, writes James Benge.
🔗 Celtic clinched the SPFL title and American Cameron Carter-Vickers was a big part of it.
🔗 Two MLS coaching dismissals on Monday: Gerhard Struber at Red Bulls and Ezra Hendrickson in Chicago.
🔗 The Superclásico was wild and the Morning Footy crew broke down what led to seven red cards and 21 minutes of stoppage time.
🔗 In the NWSL, Washington Spirit's Trinity Rodman and Ashley Sanchez kept them undefeated, writes Sandra Herrera.
🔗 The FA Cup women's final is set and it's a classic matchup between Manchester United and Chelsea.
🔗 House of Champions: It's a Champions League preview Monday.
🔗 Attacking Third: Sandra and Lisa look back on all the weekend NWSL action.
🔗 And remember, all of your soccer needs -- from NWSL to Champions League to Serie A and so much more -- are available on Paramount+. 📺 You can try one month free by using the code: EUROPE.

💰  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.

  • UCL: Real Madrid vs. Man City, Tuesday, 3 p.m. 
    💰 THE PICK: Man City (+119) -- Do you remember the last time Manchester City lost? I don't remember. I had to go look it up. It's been a cool unbeaten run of 20 straight for City since a Feb. 5 loss to Spurs. Granted, that does include two away draws in the Champions Leagues, but both came in second legs when they were sitting on a lead. Real Madrid are good, but Manchester City are currently unstoppable.
  • 💰 THE PICK: Under 2.5 (+105) -- While I like City to win, I also think that first and foremost they'll be focused on not letting Vini Jr. carve them open on the wings. Their last two UCL away legs were both 1-1 draws, and Guardiola has a habit of erring on the side of caution late in the tournament. I have them winning, but in a low-scoring affair.