European football matchday: Virus-hit Manchester City face Chelsea; Barcelona take on SD Huesca

Manchester City are without five players at Chelsea due to coronavirus infections, with only goalkeeper Ederson, striker Gabriel Jesus and defender Kyle Walker identified as among the five.

The Associated Press January 03, 2021 10:50:08 IST
European football matchday: Virus-hit Manchester City face Chelsea; Barcelona take on SD Huesca

Manchester City are unusually low in eighth place in the Premier League, behind Chelsea in sixth on goal difference. AP

A look at what's happening around European football on Sunday:

ENGLAND

Manchester City are without five players at Chelsea due to coronavirus infections, with only goalkeeper Ederson, striker Gabriel Jesus and defender Kyle Walker identified as among the five.

City are unusually low in eighth place in the Premier League, behind Chelsea in sixth on goal difference. After only collecting four points from their last five matches, Chelsea have lost ground in the title race.

One of the reasons behind Chelsea's dip in form is Timo Werner's struggles in front of goal with the summer signing from Leipzig not scoring in two months. Fourth-place Leicester, which are three points ahead of Chelsea, is at Newcastle on Sunday.

Newcastle have struggled for goals this season and netted only 17 times in 15 league games, but held leader Liverpool 0-0 on Wednesday. Fulham's match against Burnley has been postponed on Sunday due to a coronavirus outbreak at the west London club.

SPAIN

Atltico Madrid visit Alaves seeking a fourth consecutive win at a Mendizorroza stadium that could see snowfall according to weather forecasts. Atletico enters the match in second place at one point behind Real Madrid, but Diego Simeone's side has played three games fewer.

Atltico have not lost at Alaves in eight visits under Simeone. Barcelona will have Lionel Messi back in their lineup for a trip to Huesca after a right-ankle problem sidelined him for last round's draw with Eibar.

Barcelona are in sixth place and coach Ronald Koeman has admitted their chances of challenging for the title are fading. Third-place Real Sociedad welcomes a struggling Osasuna.

Sociedad finally broke a long winless streak last round and will seek another three points to strengthen its hold on a Champions League spot. Elche visit Athletic Bilbao after getting a boost by holding Madrid to a draw last round, while Granada are at Eibar hoping to remain in competition for a Europa League berth.

ITALY

Serie A leader AC Milan will be met by a familiar face when they travel to midtable Benevento in their first match back after the winter break. Benevento is led by former Milan star player and coach Filippo Inzaghi.

Milan, which will still be without injured forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, are the only unbeaten team across Europe's top five leagues. Inter Milan are second, a point behind their city rival, and can take a two-point lead at the top for a few hours at least if they beat relegation-threatened Crotone in the first match of the day.

Nine-time defending champion Juventus host Udinese in the final match of the round. All the Serie A teams are being played on the same day. Fourth-place Sassuolo face a tricky trip to Atalanta, which are only four points below its opponent.

Third-place Roma host Sampdoria. At the other end of the table, Torino are bottom and visit Parma, which are only two points above the relegation zone. The other team in the drop zone, Genoa, host Lazio. Also Sunday, it's Cagliari vs. Napoli; Fiorentina vs. Bologna; and Spezia vs. Hellas Verona.

GERMANY

Bayern Munich aim to reclaim the Bundesliga lead with a win at home over lowly Mainz, which is still in turmoil amid boardroom changes. Rouven Schrder quit as sporting director when he heard the club was talking to his predecessor Christian Heidel about a return.

Heidel has since returned to the board of directors, while former Mainz coach Martin Schmidt has returned to take the vacant sporting director position. The club also fired Jan-Moritz Lichte as coach and appointed former youth coach Jan Siewert on an interim basis.

Mainz have only one win from their opening 13 league games, while Bayern have only one loss. Borussia Dortmund host Wolfsburg in Sunday's other game.

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