MATCHDAY: Ibrahimovic returns; Griezmann back at Atlético
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Sunday:
It was looking as if Leeds and Liverpool would be without their influential Brazilian players for the Premier League game at Elland Road as a punishment for blocking them from traveling for World Cup qualifiers in the international break. However, the threat of a five-day ban from FIFA was lifted late Friday, meaning Leeds can field winger Raphinha and Liverpool can play midfielder Fabinho and goalkeeper Alisson for the match. Liverpool is, however, without injured striker Roberto Firmino — another Brazilian — as the team looks to maintain its unbeaten start to the season. Liverpool has seven points from a possible nine, while Leeds is on two points and is still searching for its first win.
Antoine Griezmann could start his second stint with Atlético Madrid when the defending champions visit Espanyol. Griezmann was sent back to Diego Simeone’s side on loan by the cash-strapped Barcelona at the end of the transfer market. Atlético aims to take the three points at an Espanyol that has yet to win in three rounds after its return to the top flight. Real Madrid returns to its partly renovated Santiago Bernabeu 18 months later to host Celta Vigo. Madrid took advantage of the pandemic confinement to remodel its stadium while playing at a smaller stadium in its training grounds. Carlos Soler will lead Valencia at Osasuna after the midfielder impressed with Spain during the international break. Real Sociedad is at Cádiz seeking a third victory in a row.
Zlatan Ibrahimović should be available off the bench for his return from left knee surgery when AC Milan hosts Lazio in a matchup of clubs that won their opening two matches. But Olivier Giroud is doubtful after testing positive for COVID-19 following his two-goal performance in Milan’s 4-1 win over Cagliari before the international break. Roma has won all four of its matches under José Mourinho across all competitions entering its game against a Sassuolo side featuring Giacomo Raspadori, who impressed for Italy midweek. Defending champion Inter Milan, which also has six points, meets Sampdoria in the lunchtime fixture with 35-year-old Edin Džeko going up against 38-year-old Fabio Quagliarella in a matchup of aging strikers.
Some German clubs with Champions League ambitions are already under pressure after poor starts and will be in more trouble if they don’t win on Sunday. Borussia Mönchengladbach has one point from three games under new coach Adi Hütter and hosts Arminia Bielefeld, which has the league’s joint second-best defensive record. Winless Eintracht Frankfurt takes on Stuttgart. It’s been a pitiful start to the season for last-placed Hertha Berlin after three losses but a visit to promoted Bochum offers a good chance to turn things around.
Surprise front-runner Angers looks to maintain its unbeaten run when it travels to play struggling Brest. Few predicted Angers would be on 10 points from four games after long-serving coach Stephane Moulin left the club at the end of last season, but Gerard Baticle has done well despite having little experience. Nice is also unbeaten ahead of a trip to Nantes and Lyon needs to find form at home to Strasbourg. Lyon coach Peter Bosz is getting to grips with his new role after replacing Rudi Garcia and has won only once. Lyon’s defense needs to improve quickly after leaking seven goals.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports