European football matchday: Liverpool host Tottenham in top of table clash; Barcelona face Real Sociedad

Barcelona host Spanish league leader Real Sociedad in a match that could prove crucial to their chances of mounting a title challenge.

The Associated Press December 16, 2020 10:35:03 IST
European football matchday: Liverpool host Tottenham in top of table clash; Barcelona face Real Sociedad

Tottenham are ahead of the champions Liverpool on goal difference. AFP

A look at what’s happening around European football on Wednesday:

England

It's tight at the top of the Premier League and it could switch around with the top four, who are separated by two points, all in action. The headline match is a meeting of the frontrunners with surprise leader Tottenham at Liverpool and only ahead of the champions on goal difference. Third-place Leicester host Everton and fourth-place Southampton take on Arsenal, who is enduring a miserable season down in 15th place after losing seven of its opening 12 games. Fulham will look to climb out of the relegation zone by beating Brighton at home, while Newcastle visit Leeds seeking a second straight win since returning to action after a COVID-19 outbreak at the club forced the closure of their training ground and one of the team's matches to be cancelled. The other match sees West Ham host Crystal Palace.

Spain

Barcelona host Spanish league leader Real Sociedad in a match that could prove crucial to their chances of mounting a title challenge. Barcelona have struggled all season since the club overhauled their squad and brought in coach Ronald Koeman to rebuild the team following its humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich to finish the last campaign. Despite having two games in hand to play, it enters the match in eighth place, at nine points adrift of Sociedad, who are level on points with Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid at the top of the table. Also, Atlético visit minnow Cardassar on the island of Mallorca in the first round of the Copa del Rey for teams from the top two divisions.

Italy

AC Milan will be hoping to have Zlatan Ibrahimović back as they looks to extend their lead at the top of Serie A. Ibrahimović has been out injured but Milan have nevertheless continued their unbeaten streak in the Italian league and are three points clear of second-placed Inter Milan. Milan visit Genoa while Inter hosts Napoli. Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli are just one point behind Inter and level with nine-time defending Serie A champion Juventus, who hosts Atalanta. Also, it’s Fiorentina vs Sassuolo, Parma vs Cagliari, Spezia vs Bologna, and Hellas Verona vs Sampdoria.

Germany

Bayern Munich are not used to getting knocked off the top spot in the Bundesliga. Bayern dropped to second following a 1-1 draw with Union Berlin but have the chance to rebound at home against Champions League-chasing Wolfsburg, who remain unbeaten this season in fourth place. Bayer Leverkusen are the league leaders for the first time since 2014 and will extend their stay at the top with a win over local rival Cologne. Third-place Leipzig visit Hoffenheim and could end the day in first if Leverkusen and Bayern both fail to win. Schalke try to end their monumental 27-game winless run in the Bundesliga at home to Freiburg. Arminia Bielefeld play Augsburg.

France

Paris Saint-Germain are off to their worst start since the 2009-10 season with four defeats in 14 league games, and their tally of six losses in 20 matches overall is the same as all last season from 49 matches. Coach Thomas Tuchel is under increasing pressure, although his side should not realistically be troubled at home to 17th-place Lorient. Lille tops the league from Lyon on goal difference. PSG are one point behind them in third position, while fourth-place Marseille trail PSG by one point but having played two fewer games. Lille visit last-place Dijon; Lyon host Brest, and Marseille have a tough trip to eighth-place Rennes.

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