Rafa Leão’s AC Milan could return to the Scudetto mix; plus, we peel back layers on the Berhalter-Reyna family feud

Hello weekend! My name is Igor Mello with the Friday edition of the Golazo Starting XI newsletter. Let’s look ahead to the biggest stories and games to come.

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Series A slate (all times US/Eastern):

  • Fiorentina vs. Sassuolo, Saturday at 9 (Paramount+)
  • Juventus vs. Udinese, Saturday, 12pm (Paramount+/CBS Sports Network)
  • Monza vs Inter Milan, Saturday, 14:45 (Paramount+)
  • Salernitana vs. Torino, Sunday, 06:30 (Paramount+)
  • Spezia vs. Lecce, Sunday at 9 (Paramount+)
  • Lazio vs. Empoli, Sunday at 9 (Paramount+)
  • Sampdoria vs. Naples, Sunday at 12.00 (Paramount+)
  • AC Milan vs. Rome, Sunday, 14:45 (Paramount+)

Notable games (all times US/Eastern):

  • FA Cup: Manchester United v Everton, Friday at 3 p.m
  • Coupe de France: Chateauroux vs. PSG, Friday at 3 p.m
  • FA Cup: Tottenham vs. Portsmouth, Saturday, 07:30
  • La Liga: Villarreal vs. Real Madrid, Saturday, 10:15
  • FA Cup: Liverpool v Wolverhampton, Saturday at 3 p.m
  • FA Cup: Manchester City v Chelsea, Sunday, 11.30am
  • La Liga: Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona, ​​​​Sunday at 3 p.m

⚽ The forward line

Leão can get Milan back into the Scudetto mix

Jose Mourinho and AS Roma travel to Milan in what promises to be the most anticipated game of the calcio weekend. A win for either side would go far into the battle for the top four Champions League places, let alone AC Milan’s Scudetto run with Napoli. The Rossoneri, led by Rafa Leão, are five points behind Napoli, while Roma are three points off the fourth and final Champions League spot.

It’s no secret that Stefano Pioli is Milan have 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 goal (87). While Mourinho’s side build things up a bit more methodically at the back, Milan 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 assists — including all seven of his goals from open play — in 15 games played. The dynamic winger is a threat every time 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 if the Rossoneri can take Napoli.

Campaign teams: The firepower is there, of course, but Mourinho’s side will not make it easy for Milan, who will be itching to pick the lock and come away with three points. PICK: AC Milan 2, Roma 1.

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🔗 Link game in midfield

Berhalter breaks the silence

The drama between the Berhalters and the Reynas continues to persist. 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 US men’s national team through the 2026 World Cup, which the Americans will co-host with Mexico and Canada. “My heart goes out to my wife because it was her story to tell whether she chose to or not,” Berhalter said.

U.S. Soccer director Earnie Stewart, a USMNT teammate of both Berhalter and Reyna in the 1990s and 2000s, said Berhalter is still in the running for a contract extension excluding the investigation results.

Check out our explanation where we dive deep into the history of the Berhalters and Reynas dating back to the 80s.

Listen below and stay tuned In Soccer We Trust: A CBS Sports Soccer Podcast where your three favorite former USMNT players cover everything you could want to know about the USA Men’s National Team following their World Cup elimination in Qatar.

Let’s get to some more links:

Want more coverage of women’s football? Listen below and be sure to follow Attacking Third, a CBS Soccer Podcast dedicated to bringing you everything you need to know from the NWSL and around the world.

💰 The back line

Best game

A modest pick followed by a home run swing for this weekend. All odds from Caesars Sportsbook.

  • AC Milan vs. Rome, Sunday, 2:45 PM ET:
    💰 THE SELECTION: Both teams score (-110) — I expect a Jose Mourinho master class where Milan will be forced to pick the lock for a breakthrough. That said, while I trust Milan as favorites in this one, they have conceded in three of their last four league games. Follow SportsLine’s best bets here.
  • Three-leg parlay:
    💰 THE SELECTION: Real Madrid win; Juventus win; Man City draw (+1569) — Let’s take a big swing at two favorites and this weekend. I’m not exactly sure that Man City will win 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 good at home, but this is Real Madrid who need to strengthen themselves as league contenders. They take care of business when it comes down to it. Follow SportsLine’s best bets here.

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