A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Saturday:
Sheffield United looks to complete an unlikely Manchester double this week when it visits new Premier League leader Man City, three days after a stunning win at Man United. Sheffield United is still in last place but the 2-1 win at Old Trafford was its fourth victory in its last five games in all competitions having been winless this season up to Jan. 9. City has won its last seven games in the league to take first place for the first time this season. United has dropped to second place and visits resurgent Arsenal, which has won five of its last six in the league. Two teams in the relegation zone meet at The Hawthorns when West Bromwich Albion hosts Fulham, while in one of the three other matches, Newcastle heads to Everton on a five-game losing run.
Real Madrid hosts Levante in a second match with assistant coach David Bettoni in the dugout as Zinedine Zidane continues his self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. Madrid is also still without first-choice defenders Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal due to injuries. The defending champion enters the weekend seven points adrift of leader Atlético Madrid, which also has a game in hand. Levante, in 12th place, has only one win in 10 away games in the league, but it is coming off a victory to reach the final eight in the Copa del Rey. Sevilla visits Eibar seeking a win that would lift it ahead of third-placed Barcelona before Lionel Messi’s side hosts Athletic Bilbao on Sunday. Sevilla striker Youssef En-Nesyri has two hat tricks this month and is joint scoring leader with 12 alongside Atlético’s Luis Suárez. Villarreal hosts Real Sociedad with both teams trying to get into the fight for a top-four finish and a Champions League berth, while Valencia visits Elche with both sides struggling near the bottom of the table.
It’s a big Serie A day with the three top title contenders all in action. Leader AC Milan visits Sinisa Mihajlovic’s Bologna squad, second-placed Inter Milan hosts Filippo Inzaghi’s Benevento team, and nine-time defending champion Juventus visits Claudio Ranieri’s Sampdoria. Milan is without midfielder Hakan Çalhanoğlu, who finally tested negative for the coronavirus on Friday but was still left out of the match squad. Matthijs de Ligt should make his first start for Juventus after recovering from COVID-19.
With Bayern Munich’s title rivals all dropping points last weekend, the eight-time defending Bundesliga champion can look forward to another positive outcome when second-placed Leipzig hosts third-placed Bayer Leverkusen. Both teams hope to make up for unexpected defeats last weekend and consolidate their Champions League qualification spots. Bayern, which already leads by seven points from Leipzig, welcomes Hoffenheim, the only team to beat the Bavarian powerhouse in 2020. Bayern will be without midfielders Leon Goretzka and Javi Martínez due to positive results for the coronavirus. Borussia Dortmund aims to end its three-game run without a win against Augsburg, Union Berlin hopes to bounce back from two straight defeats as it hosts Borussia Mönchengladbach, and Pál Dárdai is back in charge at Hertha Berlin. The coach makes his second Hertha debut at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Striker Arkadiusz Milik could make his full debut for Marseille at home to Rennes after joining from Italian side Napoli, where he did not play this season after being frozen out. Marseille needs the imposing Poland striker’s goals since it has only three goals in the past five games, winning none of them, and sliding to sixth place. A win for Marseille would move it one point behind fifth-place Rennes, with a game in hand, in the push for a European place next season. In the other game, Montpellier hosts Lens in a contest between sides looking to move up from midtable.
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