What to watch in the leading soccer leagues in Europe
What to watch in the leading soccer leagues in Europe this weekend:
While the Copa Libertadores final is attracting most of the attention in Spain, the Spanish league goes on as planned.
Barcelona will defend its lead in the Catalan derby against Espanyol on Saturday, while second-placed Sevilla visits Valencia. On the same day, third-placed Atletico Madrid hosts fourth-placed Alaves.
A few hours before the highly anticipated Copa final between Argentine rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Sunday, Real Madrid plays at Huesca, which hasn’t won in 14 straight matches in all competitions this season. The promoted club’s only win came on the opening weekend.
Barcelona lost a Copa del Rey match at Espanyol last season but its city rival has struggled recently, having lost three straight league games.
— By Tales Azzoni in Madrid
Manchester City can knock Chelsea out of realistic title contention in the Premier League by winning at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
On current form, that is likely to happen.
While first-place City has won seven straight league games and remains unbeaten, Chelsea has lost two of its last three games to drop 10 points behind and into fourth place.
Second-place Liverpool is the other unbeaten team and can put pressure on City — in fact, go above them in the standings — with a win at Bournemouth in Saturday’s early game.
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino must decide whether to rest key players against Leicester, ahead of an away match at Barcelona on Tuesday when his team likely needs to win to advance. Tottenham is in third place and two points ahead of Chelsea and Arsenal, which hosts Huddersfield.
Manchester United is without a win in four league games and has dropped to eighth place going into a home match against last-place Fulham, which is showing signs of improvement under newly hired coach Claudio Ranieri.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is playing one of the biggest matches in Serie A, the “Derby d’Italia” against Inter Milan.
“The match on Wednesday against Young Boys is much more important,” Allegri said of his team’s next Champions League game. “In the Champions League, we’re playing for top spot which, looking at the other groups, is very important.”
Third-place Inter is already 11 points behind Juventus, the league leader.
Napoli, which is eight points behind Juventus, hosts Frosinone on Saturday.
AC Milan will be looking to stay in fourth spot when it hosts Torino. Lazio is a point behind Milan and plays Sampdoria at home.
— By Daniella Matar in Milan.
It’s derby day in the Bundesliga, with the 93rd meeting between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke taking center stage.
Saturday’s Ruhr Derby in Gelsenkirchen sees visiting Dortmund, which has a seven-point lead, taking on a rival looking to make up lost ground after a poor start to the season. Schalke is already 19 points behind Dortmund, which is unbeaten in the league.
Dortmund is a vastly different side to the one that threw away a 4-0 lead at home in the 4-4 draw between the sides last season, when it also lost to Schalke 2-0 in Gelsenkirchen.
Bayern, which is nine points behind Dortmund, hosts promoted Nuremberg in a Bavarian derby on Saturday.
Nuremberg hasn’t won at Bayern in 14 games and has won only twice this season since returning to the top flight.
Second-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach is at home to Stuttgart on Sunday.
— By Ciaran Fahey in Berlin.
Players at Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon and Marseille can all put their feet up this weekend.
At the request of authorities, four league matches have been postponed in the French league amid expected anti-government protests hitting Paris and other parts of the country, thus stretching resources.
Friday’s eagerly anticipated French Riviera derby featuring Thierry Henry’s Monaco against Patrick Vieira’s Nice is among those affected, along with PSG’s home game against Montpellier and Toulouse against Lyon. Marseille’s trip to Saint-Etienne followed suit and other games could yet be postponed.
It means only one side from the top seven is in action, with second-place Lille taking on Reims on Sunday.
The postponements may have helped PSG and Lyon players get some valuable rest before away matches in the final round of Champions League group games next week. Neither team has qualified yet, with PSG away to Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday and Lyon traveling to Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday.
— By Jerome Pugmire in Paris
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