MATCHDAY: City’s Haaland has Southampton in his sniper scope
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Saturday:
Pep Guardiola admits he has nothing to teach Erling Haaland, saying the striker has “incredible instinct” for scoring. Haaland has 19 goals in 12 matches, including three hat tricks, since joining Manchester City in the summer. Guardiola says, “He has this talent, this quality. All the time — a cross, a deflection — he is there. This type of player, how can a manager teach him? It is impossible. It is instinct, completely natural. He did it in Norway, in Austria, in Germany and he does it here. He smells it.” Haaland scored three in the 6-3 win over Manchester United last weekend, and two in the 5-0 win over Copenhagen midweek in the Champions League. They welcome Southampton, which was unbeaten against City last season, but has scored only eight times in this league. City is one point behind league leader Arsenal, which hosts Liverpool on Sunday. Chelsea is at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Both have been rocked by injuries. Wesley Fofana’s knee injury isn’t as serious as first suspected midweek in the win over AC Milan, but he’s out for weeks rather than months. N’Golo Kante is back training after his latest hamstring issue but isn’t fully fit. Wolves are having to shake off Portugal winger Pedro Neto’s ankle surgery that will sideline him until after the World Cup. Tottenham and Brighton will wear black armbands in tribute to much-loved Spurs fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone, who died this week. It’s the first home match for Brighton manager Roberto De Zebri. Spurs are without Brazilian defender Emerson Royal, who got a three-match suspension for being sent off in the loss to Arsenal last weekend. Also, Newcastle hosts Brentford, and Bournemouth has Leicester.
Carlo Ancelotti has left Karim Benzema off his squad for Real Madrid’s league game at Getafe. Benzema trained individually while the rest of the team practiced on Friday. Ancelotti says his striker is feeling “worn down” after playing two matches following a three-week injury layoff. A win by Madrid would lift it back ahead of Barcelona into first place. After Getafe, Madrid has a Champions League game against Shakhtar Donetsk and then a clásico against Barcelona over the coming week. Jorge Sampaoli will start his second stint as Sevilla’s coach when it hosts the red-hot Athletic Bilbao. Since Ernesto Valverde returned to the Basque club this summer, Bilbao has five wins, a draw and just one loss. It is in third place. Sevilla won just once under the recently fired Julen Lopetegui. Atlético Madrid aims to bounce back from its 2-0 loss to Club Brugge in the Champions League when it hosts Girona, while Rayo Vallecano is at Almería.
Juventus has finally won two consecutive matches for the first time but will face a sterner test at defending champion AC Milan in Serie A. Juventus beat Bologna 3-0 last weekend then defeated Maccabi Haifa 3-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday. “We have to stay silent, get our heads down and work hard because we are behind in both Serie A and the Champions League,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri says. Ángel Di María, who provided all three assists against Haifa, is suspended for the AC Milan match. AC Milan is struggling with injuries and reeling from a 3-0 loss at Chelsea. Inter Milan visits Sassuolo buoyed by a victory over Barcelona but having lost three of its last four in the Italian league. Also, Dejan Stanković makes his debut as coach of last-placed Sampdoria at Bologna.
Bayern Munich visits Borussia Dortmund for ‘der Klassiker’ in the Bundesliga, one of the most anticipated matches of the season. The rivals are level on points after eight rounds and first place is beckoning for the winner. Leader Union Berlin and second-placed Freiburg both play on Sunday. Bayern appears to have recovered from its mini-slump of four games without a win by scoring nine goals and conceding none in two victories since the international break. Dortmund has lost two of its last three league games. Bayern has won the last seven meetings between the clubs in the league by a combined score of 23-7. Earlier, Xabi Alonso makes his debut as Bayer Leverkusen coach against visiting Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt visits Bochum, Mainz hosts Leipzig and Augsburg welcomes Wolfsburg.
Paris Saint-Germain looks to extend its winning streak in the league to six games when it visits struggling Reims. Lionel Messi has scored in his last four games for PSG but will be rested after a calf knock on Wednesday in the 1-1 draw with Benfica in the Champions League. Messi is expected to be available for the next game. Reims will miss Japan forward Junya Ito through suspension while PSG will also be without Portugal left back Nuno Mendes, who suffered a hamstring injury against Benfica. PSG, Marseille and Lens are still unbeaten in the league. Marseille, two points behind PSG, can keep the pressure on with a victory over bottom side Ajaccio. Marseille will miss France wing back Jonathan Clauss and midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, who picked up knocks in the 4-1 win over Sporting Lisbon in the Champions League on Tuesday.
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