MATCHDAY: United looks for reaction against Villa in FA Cup
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Monday:
Manchester United will look to bounce back from a demoralizing loss in the Premier League when it hosts Aston Villa in an FA Cup third-round match. United was beaten 1-0 by Wolverhampton last week for a first loss under Ralf Rangnick that exposed problems in the squad that were apparent under his predecessor, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. “I’ve obviously seen a lot of criticism and a lot of (it) is absolutely justified,” United captain Harry Maguire said. Villa looks to be on the up under recently hired coach Steven Gerrard, whose Liverpool connections as a player should guarantee him a hostile reception at Old Trafford. A signal of Villa’s rise to prominence is its ability to attract Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona on loan until the end of the season. Coutinho, who played alongside Gerrard at Liverpool, could make his debut.
Espanyol defends a seven-game unbeaten streak at home in the Spanish league when it hosts relegation-threatened Elche. Espanyol’s last home loss in the league was against defending champion Atlético Madrid in September. It has six wins and a draw since then at its RCDE Stadium. Elche, meanwhile, hasn’t won in its last eight away games in the league, with two losses and six draws. Espanyol is midtable, while Elche is in the relegation zone.
Fiorentina visits Torino in the first match of 2022 for both clubs. Torino was blocked by local health authorities from playing against Atalanta in the previous round after six players and two staff members had tested positive for the coronavirus. Likewise, Fiorentina was supposed to face Udinese, which was also blocked from action due to numerous positives. The game was originally scheduled for Sunday but then postponed by a day to allow Torino’s players more time to recover. Fiorentina was one of the revelations of the first half of the season and has been active in the current transfer market, signing winger Jonathan Ikoné from French champion Lille and Krzysztof Piątek on loan from Hertha Berlin as a backup to Dušan Vlahović, Serie A’s top scorer with 16 goals.
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