MATCHDAY: Liverpool, Barcelona, Dortmund, Juventus in action
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Saturday:
Liverpool faces a quick turnaround for a Premier League game against Southampton. Jurgen Klopp’s team beat Porto 2-0 on Wednesday in the Champions League and hosts a defensively stout Southampton squad looking to bounce back from a loss to Norwich a week ago. Liverpool trails league leader Chelsea by four points and Manchester City by one. Norwich goes for three in a row when it hosts Wolverhampton, which has quietly risen to sixth place. Arsenal was humbled 4-0 at Anfield last week and welcomes winless Newcastle to Emirates Stadium. Aston Villa visits Crystal Palace, which has a seven-game unbeaten streak. Brighton hosts Leeds.
Xavi Hernández will coach his first away match for Barcelona as it visits Villarreal with both sides looking to start a winning streak following disappointing starts to the season. Xavi has overseen a 1-0 victory over Espanyol in the Spanish league and a 0-0 draw with Benfica in the Champions League since replacing Ronald Koeman. The former Spain midfielder hopes to get more from an attack whose sole goal has come from the penalty spot since he took over. Barcelona enters the round in seventh place and 10 points behind leader Real Madrid. Unai Emery’s Villarreal is in 12th place after only one win in the last five rounds. It also fell 2-0 to Manchester United in the Champions League this week. Rayo Vallecano, the surprise of the season in Spain, visits Valencia looking for a victory that could lift it level on points with fourth-place Atlético Madrid. Rayo is hoping Radamel Falcao will be back from injury.
Borussia Dortmund can move top in the Bundesliga with a win at Wolfsburg before league leader Bayern Munich hosts Arminia Bielefeld for the late game. Dortmund is just a point behind Bayern following the Bavarian powerhouse’s surprise loss at Augsburg last weekend, and the two heavyweights meet for a potentially decisive game next weekend. Star forward Erling Haaland could return for Dortmund in Wolfsburg, while Bayern is dealing with the fallout of unvaccinated players. Both Joshua Kimmich and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting tested positive for COVID-19 during the week, adding to Niklas Süle and Josip Stanišić on Bayern’s infected list. Cologne hosts Borussia Mönchengladbach for the Rhine derby, but the home fans’ enthusiasm is tempered by their team’s patchy form. Cologne has only one win from its last four games and has dropped to 12th in the 18-team division.
Juventus could be in for another defensive headache as the Bianconeri host high-scoring Atalanta four days after losing 4-0 at Chelsea in the Champions League. Fourth-place Atalanta enters on a six-match unbeaten run in Serie A and is coming off a wild 3-3 draw at Young Boys in the Champions League. Juventus has won two straight in Serie A but is still in only eighth place. Also, Empoli hosts Fiorentina in a Tuscan derby and Hellas Verona visits Sampdoria.
Defending champion Lille looks to snap a five-game winless streak in the league when it hosts mid-table Nantes. Lille trails Nantes by one point in the standings and will be high on confidence after beating Salzburg 1-0 on Tuesday for the lead of its Champions League group. Nantes may need the experience of Nicolas Pallois to stop Jonathan David, the top scorer in Ligue 1. Pallois will be available again after serving a one-game suspension. Meanwhile, Nice can consolidate second place when it hosts bottom side Metz. Nice will rely on rising star Amine Gouiri to find the net. Complacency could be an issue for Nice, which lost to Montpellier in its previous home game. Metz has the most porous defense in the league and will miss midfielder Farid Boulaya through suspension and defender Matthieu Udol through injury.
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