European football matchday: Manchester City face upbeat West Ham; depleted Juventus travel to Hellas Verona
Manchester City holds a 10-point advantage over Manchester United and Leicester as the Premier League leader plays at a West Ham side unusually elevated in fourth place
A look at what’s happening in European football on Saturday:
Manchester City holds a 10-point advantage over Manchester United and Leicester as the Premier League leader plays at a West Ham side unusually elevated in fourth place. Aston Villa sits in eighth place ahead of its trip to Elland Road, a point ahead of Leeds.
Brighton heads to West Bromwich in 16th place and only four points above the relegation zone after a first loss in seven league games against Crystal Palace. West Brom is 11 points adrift of safety in next-to-last place with Sam Allardyce having won only one of his 12 games in charge. Newcastle has slipped to only three points above the bottom three going into the late game against Wolverhampton.
Barcelona visits Sevilla with third place in the league at stake. Sevilla beat Barcelona 2-0 this month in the Copa del Rey, and four days after this league clash the two will see each other yet again in the return leg of their cup semi-final. Barcelona is undefeated in 14 rounds, while Sevilla is on a six-round winning streak.
Barcelona defender Ronald Araújo is available after recovering from a leg injury, but coach Ronald Koeman would not reveal if he planned to give his centre back minutes against Sevilla. Also, last-placed Huesca visits struggling Eibar looking to build on its win over Granada last round. Getafe has lost five in a row going into the game with Valencia, while Alavés also seeks a rebound against Osasuna after losing its last two matches by a combined score of 9-1.
Juventus has a thin squad for a visit to Hellas Verona, with Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Juan Cuadrado, Arthur and Paulo Dybala all unavailable. Plus, Danilo is suspended and Alvaro Morata is sick. That leaves Dejan Kulusevski to partner Cristiano Ronaldo in attack and a likely start at centre back for 19-year-old Radu Drăgușin.
A victory would strengthen Juve’s third-place position and move the nine-time defending champion within one point of second-placed AC Milan. Also, Lazio can move into the Champions League places with a win at Bologna, and Parma visits Spezia.
Bayern Munich has never gone longer than two Bundesliga games without a win under coach Hansi Flick. The Bavarian powerhouse has seen its seven-point lead shrink to two after a draw with Arminia Bielefeld and defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt. Another loss at home to Cologne would give Leipzig a chance to move to the top with a win over Borussia Mönchengladbach in the late game.
It wouldn’t be the first time Cologne forced Bayern into surrendering a league lead. It’s happened four times already, though the last instance was in 1990. Leipzig and Gladbach are hoping to bounce back from Champions League defeats, but the pressure will be on Gladbach coach Marco Rose, whose team has lost both games since it was announced he will be taking over Borussia Dortmund next season. His future team, Dortmund, hosts relegation-threatened Arminia Bielefeld, while Hertha Berlin visits Wolfsburg, and Stuttgart welcomes last-placed Schalke.
Paris Saint-Germain looks to avoid another slip up against a relegation battler when it visits last-placed Dijon, having lost to struggling Lorient a few weeks ago. Defending champion PSG has already been defeated six times this season and trails second-placed Lyon by one point and leader Lille by four in an unexpectedly tight title race. But Dijon is in big trouble, having lost its past six league games and conceding 40 goals for the second worst goal difference in the league.
PSG will be missing midfielder Marco Verratti, who hurt his right foot in training on Thursday, and striker Mauro Icardi with gastroenteritis. Neymar and Angel Di Maria are still recovering from recent injuries. In other game, sixth-placed Metz visits a mid-table Bordeaux side which is experiencing some inner turmoil after veteran centre half Laurent Koscielny criticised the attitude of some of his teammates in a news conference this week.
On Tuesday, the gross spend by Premier League sides had surpassed the competition's previous high of £430 million in January 2018.
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Lazio breezed up to third on goal difference in Serie A table ahead of Inter Milan and local rivals Roma