MATCHDAY: Werder hosts Hertha, Lens looks to close in on PSG
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Friday:
Werder Bremen hosts Hertha Berlin in a meeting of two teams seeking mid-table sanctuary from the threat of relegation. Bremen’s first season back in the Bundesliga after promotion started well and the team has pulled away steadily from the relegation battle, now sitting in 11th, but a run of three defeats in the league and cup has raised concerns. Hertha is 13th in the 18-team league and only stayed up last season after a relegation playoff. Beating Schalke 2-1 last week ended a five-game winless run for Hertha in the Bundesliga but it was hardly a convincing victory over the last-placed team. Werder was boosted by a contract extension Wednesday for midfielder Leonardo Bittencourt.
Mallorca hosts Espanyol aiming to build on its comeback victory over Valencia last round that ended a four-game winless streak for Javier Aguirre’s team. Mallorca is in 12th place and two points ahead of Espanyol. The visitors to the Balearic Islands are seeking a second win in six away games this season. Espanyol is in 14th place but only one point from the relegation zone in a tightly packed bottom part of the Spanish standings.
Lens can close the gap on league leader Paris Saint-Germain to two points if it wins at home against promoted side Toulouse. Northern side Lens is tough to beat at home when its passionate fans get behind the team, and last weekend’s away win at Marseille has further boosted confidence within coach Franck Haise’s attack-minded side. Forward Florian Sotoca leads the Lens scoring charts with six goals. Toulouse has adapted comfortably on its return to the top flight. With 19 goals in 12 matches the southern team has scored as many as Lens, but has conceded far more. Lens has let in just eight goals for the second-best defense behind PSG.
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