MATCHDAY: Derby-West Ham in FA Cup; Villarreal eyes top 4
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Monday:
West Ham looks to avoid becoming the 12th Premier League team to be eliminated from the FA Cup when it heads to third-tier Derby. West Ham might field a weakened team, with its priority being preserving its status in the top flight. The Hammers are a point and two places outside the relegation zone in the league after a poorer-than-expected first half of the season. Derby is fourth in League One. It is the last of the fourth-round matches in the famous old competition, in which the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle have already been ousted.
Villarreal hopes to continue its pursuit of a Champions League spot with a home win against Rayo Vallecano in the Spanish league. Villarreal sits three points behind fourth-place Atletico Madrid. Quique Setién’s team has won six of its last nine matches in all competitions. Ninth-place Rayo Vallecano has only one victory in its last six matches, with three losses and two draws.
Hellas Verona will be aiming to build on recent results when it travels to Udinese as it looks to inch closer to Serie A safety. Verona has only lost one of its last four matches, winning two of them, to halt a run of 10 straight defeats. That has seen the team move to within six points of 17th-place Spezia. Udinese, which has hopes of qualifying for Europe, needed a late goal in the last round of games to beat relegation-threatened Sampdoria and end a run of 10 matches without a win.
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