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MATCHDAY: Man United looks for improvement against Burnley

December 29, 2021 GMT
Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the English Premier League soccer match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St. James' Park in Newcastle, England, Monday, Dec. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
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Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the English Premier League soccer match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St. James' Park in Newcastle, England, Monday, Dec. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
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Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during the English Premier League soccer match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St. James' Park in Newcastle, England, Monday, Dec. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Thursday:

ENGLAND

Manchester United manager Ralf Rangnick might be tempted to make some changes against Burnley in the Premier League after a poor performance by his team in the 1-1 draw at Newcastle on Monday, when he complained about a lack of energy and physicality from his players. Some of that might be down to rustiness after United had back-to-back matches — against Brentford and Brighton — called off because of a coronavirus outbreak in the squad. That’s something Burnley might be wary of because its period of inactivity has been even longer, with three straight games postponed following virus outbreaks in opponents’ squads. Its last match was a 0-0 draw against West Ham on Dec. 12. Edinson Cavani, in particular, is pushing for a recall for United after scoring off the bench against Newcastle. United-Burnley is the only match being played after Everton-Newcastle was postponed because Newcastle had too many players out with either injuries or COVID-19.

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PORTUGAL

Benfica plays for the first time since the departure of coach Jorge Jesus when the team faces fierce rival Porto in the league. A 3-0 win for Porto in the same fixture in the Portuguese Cup last week might have contributed to the decision for Jesus and Benfica to part company midway through the second season of his second spell in charge. Benfica is third in the league, four points behind Porto and Sporting after 15 games. Nélson Veríssimo, Jesus’ assistant, will lead Benfica until the end of the season.

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