Rare is the week that doesn't involve any major Cup action across England, but when that does happen, you can bet that the top teams in the Premier League are going to have a couple really tough fixtures. The EPL is in the midst of a two-match week starting on Tuesday, and that's just the tip of the iceberg of what should be a great week for soccer bettors.
Liverpool vs. Chelsea, Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET ( NBC Sports Network )
Liverpool has really turned this season into a disaster in a hurry. The team was within striking distance of the top of the table before a suspect run at the end of the calendar year, and even still, it was only seven points back of Chelsea and at least in a position to strike with a few easy fixtures ahead. A potential EFL Cup title and the FA Cup were both still on the table as well. And that all went up in flames in a span of three home games in eight days.
The Reds were beaten by Swansea City to fall 10 back of Chelsea, then got taken out of the EFL Cup by Southampton and finally, were dismissed by Championship side, Wolverhampton to get booted out of the FA Cup in the fourth round. It was as bad of a week as this club has had in years and years, and now, Jurgen Klopp could be staring a fourth straight home loss in the face with the top team in England coming to Anfield. Lose this one, and Liverpool will be 13 back and basically finished in the Premier League race just 23 matches into the season.
Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona, Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. ET ( beIN Sports )
Real Madrid was taken out of the Copa del Rey by Celta Vigo last week, and that has left the door wide open for Atletico Madrid or Barcelona to barge right through and win some silverware. That said, they have to go through each other first before facing either Celta Vigo or Alaves in the Copa del Rey final, and the home-and-home series starts on Wednesday in Madrid.
The Atleti haven't had the most stellar year, going just 10-6-4 and sitting six points behind Sevilla for third in La Liga. Barca hasn't been anywhere near as demonstrative as usual, though is sits just four back of Real Madrid, albeit with Los Blancos holding a match in hand as well.
This is the first leg of the home-and-home series. The return leg will be played next week at Camp Nou.
USA vs. Jamaica, Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET ( FOX Sports 1 )
It's not that this match means the world to the Americans – far from it, in fact. However, Bruce Arena's team went 90 minutes with a de facto junior side from Serbia and mustered just one shot on goal in a scoreless draw over the weekend. Sure, this is USMNT team is made up of just MLS players, but when you go back and look at the roster that was out there to start against the Serbs, there could have been as many as eight starters out there who will be debuting against Panama in March in incredibly important World Cup qualifiers.
Jamaica is basically bringing a junior squad of its own. Kemar Lawrence is going to captain the team, and he's the only man who has more than six Caps on the roster that is playing in the outfield. Surely, the Reggae Boyz shouldn't be able to hold a candle to the USA, even with just half of a squad, but then again, neither should have Serbia.
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