MATCHDAY: Manchester derby in EPL; Benzema back for Madrid
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Sunday:
A month after its last game in the Premier League, Manchester United heads to city rival Manchester City on a four-match winning run and needing a plan to stop the irrepressible Erling Haaland. Five points separate the teams, with United mounting an impressive recovery after losing its first two games. United’s last two games were postponed due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II. City has yet to lose and is being fueled by the goals of Haaland. He has 11 in seven league games. Leeds hosts Aston Villa in the other game.
Karim Benzema returns from injury for Real Madrid’s league game at home against Osasuna. The France striker missed three matches for the club while mending a right leg injury, but Madrid kept on winning without him anyway. Carlo Ancelotti’s side is aiming for its 10th win in as many games across all competitions. Luka Modric will miss the match against Osasuna due to a muscle issue while playing for Croatia during the international break. Osasuna has impressed with four wins and two losses, but it will be without its best weapon as Chimy Ávila serves a one-game suspension. Real Betis can reclaim third place if it wins at Celta Vigo with Borja Iglesias on a high after debuting for Spain. Real Sociedad visits Girona, and Valencia is at Espanyol.
Atalanta can move back level on points with first-placed Napoli by beating visiting Fiorentina in Serie A. Center forward Duvan Zapata is expected back from injury for Atalanta, which uncharacteristically has struggled to score while conceding just three goals for the stingiest defense in Serie A. Also, struggling Juventus hosts Bologna in desperate need of a victory to boost morale after only two wins in its opening seven games. But the Bianconeri will be without Angel Di Maria, who serves the first of a two-match suspension. Also, Lazio hosts Spezia.
Hertha Berlin will be grateful to visiting Hoffenheim for providing some distraction from its off-field matters when they meet in the Bundesliga. Hertha is on a three-game unbeaten run and finally starting to reward promising performances with results under new coach Sandro Schwarz. But attention has been elsewhere with news of winger Jean-Paul Boëtius’ diagnosis of a malignant tumor. The player had a testicle and the tumor removed and won’t need chemotherapy, the club said on Friday. Also, the club announced it was seeking legal advice following a media report that its financial backer Lars Windhorst hired an Israeli spy firm to get rid of club president Werner Gegenbauer. Gegenbauer’s successor Kay Bernstein was due to be presented to the media with Windhorst in attendance on Tuesday, but that event was scrapped amid an argument between investor and club. Also on Sunday, Schalke hosts Augsburg to end the eighth round.
Surprise package Lorient can consolidate third place by extending its winning streak to five games when it hosts Lille in the league. Lille lifted the title in 2021 and hopes to get back in contention for European football after a disappointing mid-table finish last season. Canada striker Jonathan David should lead the line for Lille while Lorient will rely on the one-two punch formed by Nigeria forward Terem Moffi and Burkina Faso winger Dango Ouattara. On a three-game winning streak, fifth-place Monaco will face a struggling Nantes that has only two points from its last four games. Monaco right back Ruben Aguilar is still sidelined by a foot injury. Lyon visits fourth-placed Lens in a match between two contenders for European spots. Lens has a perfect record at home.
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