MATCHDAY: Man United at Brentford; Lewandowski set for Barça
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Saturday:
Manchester United visits Brentford after a 2-1 home loss to Brighton in its Premier League season opener last weekend. New manager Erik ten Hag hasn’t said if Cristiano Ronaldo will start but the last thing the Dutchman wants is back-to-back losses before Liverpool visits Old Trafford the following week. Defending champion Manchester City hosts Bournemouth in one of the five afternoon kickoffs. Leeds visits Southampton after a 2-1 win last week over Wolverhampton, which hosts Fulham. Newcastle visits Brighton, while Arsenal hosts Leicester. In the early match, Everton visits Aston Villa. Temperatures in London are forecast to hit 34 C (93 F) on Saturday, with extreme heat warnings having been issued for the southern half of England. Premier League games will feature water breaks midway through each half to help players stay hydrated.
Barcelona is set to host Rayo Vallecano in its Spanish league opener with all but one of its summer acquisitions at Xavi Hernández’s disposal. Newcomers Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Franck Kessié and Andreas Christensen as well as the recently renewed Ousmane Dembélé and Sergi Roberto were all declared eligible by the Spanish league on Friday after Barcelona sold another part of its in-house production hub for 100 million euros ($100 million) to improve its battered financial balance. The heavily indebted club still has work to do, however, to be able to register new defender Jules Koundé to play in the league. The modest Rayo stunned Barcelona twice last season, with victories in their two meetings. Unai Emery’s Villarreal also starts its season with a trip to recently promoted Valladolid, while Espanyol coach Diego Martínez makes his club debut at Celta Vigo.
Veteran forward Olivier Giroud has recovered from injury as AC Milan prepares to kick off its title defense against Udinese at a sold out San Siro. The 35-year-old Giroud, whose two goals in the final match last season helped clinch the title, missed the past two friendly matches with a muscular problem and only returned to full training with his teammates on Friday but coach Stefano Pioli says he has a full squad to choose from apart from Sandro Tonali and longterm injury absentee Zlatan Ibrahimović. Udinese was the only team Milan failed to beat last season apart from Juventus. Inter Milan also plays on the opening day of the season and Romelu Lukaku will make his second debut for the Nerazzurri against the same team he made his first, three years ago: Lecce. Meanwhile, former Milan owner and Italy Premier Silvio Berlusconi is back in Serie A and his newly promoted Monza plays host to Torino. Atalanta travels to Sampdoria.
Bayer Leverkusen is looking for its first win of the season when it hosts Augsburg in the Bundesliga. Leverkusen, which is playing in the Champions League again this season, lost in the first round of the German Cup and followed up with a defeat to Borussia Dortmund in its league opener last weekend. Augsburg lost 4-0 at home to Freiburg in its opening game and Leverkusen scores on average 2.4 goals per game against Augsburg — its best record against any of its current opponents in the league. Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt also need to make amends when they meet in the German capital. Hertha was knocked out in the first round of the German Cup, then outplayed by city rival Union Berlin in the derby last weekend. Frankfurt lost the UEFA Super Cup to Real Madrid on Wednesday and was routed 6-1 by Bayern Munich over the weekend. Promoted clubs Werder Bremen and Schalke play Stuttgart and Borussia Mönchengladbach, respectively. Also, Leipzig hosts Cologne and Bochum visits Hoffenheim.
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