MATCHDAY: Mane back with Liverpool, AC Milan eying top spot
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Sunday:
Liverpool will look to trim the deficit to league leader Manchester City back to nine points with a win at Burnley. Sadio Mane is back in the squad after a few days off celebrating Senegal’s triumph at the African Cup of Nations. West Ham will aim to consolidate fourth place by beating struggling Leicester, and Tottenham can move level on points with sixth-placed Arsenal — its fierce north London rival — with a home win over Wolverhampton. The other game is Newcastle-Aston Villa.
Barcelona crosses the city to play Espanyol in a derby following its biggest win of an otherwise tumultuous season. Xavi Hernández’s side will hope to build on its 4-2 victory over Atlético Madrid from the last round at their city rivals. Barcelona will be without Dani Alves, serving the first of a two-game suspension, while Memphis Depay will be unavailable due to injury. That could open the door for new arrival Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to make his first start. Espanyol, which upset Real Madrid 2-1 at home in October, is on a five-game winless streak. Third-placed Real Betis visits last-placed Levante following its 2-1 victory at Rayo Vallecano in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semifinal. Valencia visits Alavés after it drew its cup semifinal 1-1 at Athletic Bilbao. Real Sociedad also welcomes Granada needing a victory to move back into the Europa League spots.
AC Milan can move to the top of Serie A with a win against Sampdoria. Following last week’s derby victory, Milan is just two points behind leader Inter Milan, which was held to 1-1 at second-placed Napoli on Saturday. Swedish veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still missing but Milan can rely on France forward Olivier Giroud, who scored both goals in the derby.
Bayern Munich’s unexpected defeat at Bochum on Saturday has given Borussia Dortmund a chance to cut the defending champion’s Bundesliga lead to six points with a win at Union Berlin. It would also atone somewhat for Dortmund’s 5-2 loss at home to Bayer Leverkusen last weekend, when Marco Rose’s team again showed it’s fallible without injured top forward Erling Haaland. But Haaland remains out with muscular problems and will miss the trip to Berlin. Union also has to make up for disappointment after losing at relegation candidate Augsburg 2-0 in its first game without the experienced Max Kruse, who asked for a switch to Wolfsburg. Urs Fischer’s team can reclaim fourth place if it keeps the run going of the home team always winning when these sides meet in the Bundesliga. Hoffenheim hosts relegation-threatened Arminia Bielefeld to finish the 22nd of 34 rounds.
Marseille travels to struggling Metz looking to open a four-point gap in the race for a runner-up finish. With Paris Saint-Germain untouchable at the top of the standings, Marseille is vying for second place with southern rival Nice, which lost at Lyon 2-0 on Saturday. Marseille has a one-point lead over the Riviera side before heading to Metz. Pape Gueye and Bamba Dieng are back with Marseille after winning the African Cup of Nations with Senegal.
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