MATCHDAY: Man United at Chelsea without sanctioned Ronaldo
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Saturday:
Manchester United heads to Chelsea without Cristiano Ronaldo but with more confidence after an acclaimed performance beating Tottenham 2-0 in the Premier League midweek. Ronaldo refused to go on as a substitute and headed to the changing room before the end of the game. He was omitted from the squad for the trip to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea, in fourth, is one point and one place ahead of United. Second-placed Manchester City looks to bounce back from its first loss, at Liverpool last weekend, by beating Brighton at home. Liverpool has problems up front ahead of a trip to last-placed Nottingham Forest. Forward Darwin Nunez has a thigh injury and could join Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota on the sidelines. Everton hosts Crystal Palace also.
Thibaut Courtois is back in Real Madrid’s squad for its Liga game against Sevilla after the goalkeeper missed six matches due to sciatic pain. While Courtois was out, backup Andriy Lunin helped the team remain unbeaten in all 15 of its games this season. Another win by Madrid would open up a six-point gap on Barcelona before the latter plays on Sunday. Sevilla has struggled and won only one and drawn three since Jorge Sampaoli returned as coach. Real Sociedad is in third place before it visits Valladolid. Sociedad has won eight games in a row between the domestic league and Europa League. A victory would pull it level with Barcelona. Gennaro Gattuso’s Valencia also hosts Mallorca seeking a win that would lift it into the Europa League positions. Rayo Vallecano welcomes Cádiz.
Much of the attention will be focused off the field when Monza goes to defending champion AC Milan in Serie A. Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani return to the club they led to 29 trophies in 31 years. Berlusconi bought Monza in 2018 and installed Adriano Galliani as CEO. That reunited the duo that found success at Milan until Berlusconi sold the Rossoneri in 2017. Milan will be looking to move level with Napoli at the top of Serie A. Monza will be hoping to inch further away from the relegation zone after three wins in its past four league matches. Also, Inter Milan visits bitter rival Fiorentina. Salernitana hosts Spezia with just one point separating the struggling sides.
Bayern Munich will be without goalkeeper Manuel Neuer for the fourth game in a row as the German champion heads to Hoffenheim. Neuer has been complaining of shoulder pain but Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann says he doesn’t believe the keeper is in danger of missing the World Cup. Teammate Thomas Müller has recovered from a back problem but misses out with a stomach bug. Bayern is second, four points off surprise leader Union Berlin. In other games, Borussia Dortmund aims to end a three-game winless run in the Bundesliga as it hosts Stuttgart, while third-placed Freiburg plays Werder Bremen. Leipzig visits Augsburg. Xabi Alonso has begun life as Bayer Leverkusen coach with one big win and two heavy losses. His team will try to move away from the relegation zone at home to Wolfsburg.
Southern side Marseille hosts northern team Lens and a win for either side would move it above Lorient and into second place. Lyon coach Laurent Blanc looks for his first win since taking charge when his side visits Montpellier. Both sides are mired in mid-table and concede easily — allowing 37 goals between them so far in 11 games.
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