European football matchday: Manchester City take on Arsenal in English League Cup; Real Sociedad host Atlético Madrid
The English League Cup reaches the quarterfinals stage this week and Manchester City is closing in on another slice of history under Pep Guardiola.
A look at what’s happening around European football on Tuesday:
The English League Cup reaches the quarterfinals stage this week and Manchester City is closing in on another slice of history under Pep Guardiola. City's players lifted the trophy for the third consecutive year last season and are three matches away from winning four in a row, which will match the achievement of Liverpool in the 1980s. Arsenal is City's opponent in the last eight in the latest head-to-head between Guardiola and the man who was his assistant at City for 3 1/2 years, Mikel Arteta. The other match sees second-tier Brentford host Newcastle and look for another win over Premier League opposition having beaten Southampton, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham en route to the quarters.
Real Sociedad hosts Atlético Madrid seeking a win to stop its skid and pull back level with the league leaders. Back-to-back losses after three straight draws have Sociedad three points adrift of Atlético and Real Madrid, in second place on goal difference. A win would revive Sociedad’s bid to become a longshot candidate for the title, while another loss would leave it with a big gap to make up. Barcelona also needs to win when it visits Valladolid if it wants to stay in touch. Lionel Messi’s side is in fifth place after being held to a draw by Valencia over the weekend. Sevilla will visit Valencia also on Tuesday, while Levante is at Huesca, and Elche hosts last-place Osasuna.
Juventus will be confident of ending the year with its unbeaten league record intact as the nine-time defending champion prepares to welcome relegation-threatened Fiorentina. Juventus is one of only two teams still to lose in Serie A along with leader AC Milan, and has won three of its past four league matches. Its latest success was a 4-0 rout of Parma. Fiorentina is just four points above the drop zone but there are signs new coach Cesare Prandelli is beginning to turn things around. Prandelli lost his first match in charge but drew the next two, against high-flying Sassuolo and Hellas Verona. Elsewhere, Parma is only five points above the relegation zone but will be hopeful of inching further away as it visits bottom club Crotone.
Schalke is hoping for some pre-Christmas tonic for its barren run in the Bundesliga when it hosts fourth-tier Ulm in the second round of the German Cup. The Gelsenkirchen-based club is in crisis amid its worst ever run in the league – a run of 29 games without a win that interim coach Huub Stevens failed to stop against Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday. Stevens, who took over from the fired Manuel Baum last week, remains in charge for just the game against Ulm, where it is hoped the desolate players can restore some confidence against a team that plays three levels below in the German football league system. Ulm would normally host the game in its modest stadium, but the coronavirus pandemic has forced many smaller clubs to give up their home right for logistical reasons. Borussia Dortmund visits second-division Eintracht Braunschweig for new coach Edin Terzić’s third game in charge, Borussia Mönchengladbach visits fourth-tier SV Elversberg, Union Berlin and Cologne host second-division Paderborn and Osnabrück, respectively, and Leipzig visits Augsburg for a Bundesliga duel. Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen had their games postponed to January to avoid overburdening the players.
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Dembele will join Atletico until the end of the season when the club will have the option to buy him permanently for around 35 million euros.
Zidane's position has come under scrutiny again after Wednesday's defeat by third-tier side Alcoyano in the Copa del Rey but Madrid responded at Mendizorroza without their coach, or their captain Sergio Ramos, who was out with a knee injury.
Another late victory for Atletico means they pull seven points clear of second-placed Real Madrid and 10 ahead of third-placed Barcelona, with another game in hand over both still to come.