European football matchday: Thomas Tuchel's first game as Chelsea manager against Wolverhampton; Lionel Messi back for Barcelona in Copa del Rey clash

A look at what’s happening in European football on Wednesday

The Associated Press January 27, 2021 08:57:42 IST
European football matchday: Thomas Tuchel's first game as Chelsea manager against Wolverhampton; Lionel Messi back for Barcelona in Copa del Rey clash

Thomas Tuchel. AP

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

England

German coach Thomas Tuchel is set for his first game in charge of 10th-place Chelsea after agreeing an 18-month deal. Chelsea hosts 14th-place Wolverhampton. Manchester United can knock Manchester City off the top of the standings if they beat Sheffield United at Old Trafford. Third-place Leicester aims to keep the pressure on the two Manchester clubs by beating Everton away, while there's a key game at the other end of the standings when fourth-to-last Brighton hosts third-to-last Fulham. A win for Brighton would open up an eight-point gap to Fulham, which currently occupies the final relegation spot. After their surprise win at Liverpool last week, Burnley can pull further clear of the relegation zone with a home win over Aston Villa.

Spain

Lionel Messi is back in the Barcelona squad that will face second-division club Rayo Vallecano in the Copa del Rey. Messi has not played in the Copa del Rey this season but coach Ronald Koeman is expected to use him in the round-of-16 game after missing two matches because of a suspension. Messi had been rested before that because of an unspecified minor fitness problem. Rayo has been playing well recently and sits fourth in the second division. In other last-16 matchups, Sevilla hosts Valencia and Osasuna visits Almería.

Italy

Second-division team Spal visits nine-time defending Serie A champion Juventus in the quarter-finals of the Italian Cup. Spal is the only Serie B team remaining in the competition. Juventus has lifted the trophy a record 13 times while Spal has never won the cup. The winner of their game will face Inter Milan in the semifinals. Atalanta is also playing on Wednesday, against Lazio. The winner of that match will play holder Napoli or Spezia, who play their quarter-final on Thursday.

France

Last-place Lorient is back in action with a crucial match against struggling Dijon in the fight against relegation. Lorient’s home game against Dijon was postponed two weeks ago due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the club and Christophe Pélissier’s team could not play at Nimes last weekend because of the high number of coronavirus cases within the squad. In addition to those ruled out after testing positive, Lorient will also be without forward Armand Laurienté, who is suspended. With just 12 points from 19 matches, Lorient lag three points behind 18th-place Dijon.

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