MATCHDAY: Lukaku’s goals struggle as Chelsea plays Brighton
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Tuesday:
Chelsea plays away at Brighton with club-record signing Romelu Lukaku struggling for fluency in front of goal. The striker has only five goals in 14 Premier League matches since rejoining Chelsea. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said: “He’s a key player, so there will always be pressure but not more pressure than he puts on himself.” Lukaku failed to find the net on Saturday when a 1-0 loss to Manchester City saw Chelsea slip 13 points behind the leader and drop to third place this weekend. Chelsea is the only current Premier League club that Brighton has yet to beat since promotion in 2017. Brighton drew at Stamford Bridge 1-1 at the end of December and is in ninth place. The Burnley-Watford match was postponed for a second time, this time because Burnley didn’t have 13 available outfield players.
Real Betis can strengthen its hold on third place in the league when it hosts relegation-threatened Alavés. Betis is 10 points behind second-placed Sevilla and one ahead of fourth-placed Atlético Madrid. Manuel Pellegrini’s team is coming off a 2-1 win over city rival Sevilla in a Copa del Rey match that was suspended and resumed a day later after a Sevilla player was hit in the head by a piece of PVC thrown from the stands on Saturday. Betis is winless in three consecutive league games, with two losses and a draw. Alavés is winless in eight straight league matches and sits in 18th place, one point from safety. Later Tuesday, second-to-last-placed Cádiz, winless in seven league games and scoreless in the last three, hosts mid-table Espanyol.
The Italian Cup might be the only competition that Juventus has a legitimate chance at winning this season. The defending champion hosts Sampdoria in its first match of this season’s tournament. Relegation-threatened Sampdoria fired coach Roberto D’Aversa on Monday and is reportedly close to signing Marco Giampaolo as a replacement but youth squad coach Felice Tufano will coach the team against Juventus, which lost the Italian Super Cup to Inter Milan last week after extra time. Also, Lazio hosts Udinese.
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