Monday, December 05, 2022

MATCH DAY: Juventus vs Inter, Barcelona hosts Sevilla

A look at what is happening in European football on Sunday:


The Derby d’Italia is always a fierce battle between two of the biggest teams in Italian football. But this time, Juventus know it can move above defending champions Inter Milan in what has become an exciting title race. After a poor start to the season, Juventus are unbeaten in 16 consecutive league games and sit just one point behind Inter, who have fallen to third after one win in their last seven games. Victory would also lead to Juventus narrowing the gap to AC Milan to four points, with the Serie A leader only playing on Monday. Napoli can move level with Milan at the top – for at least 24 hours – with a win against Atalanta. Roma and Fiorentina bid for European places and play Sampdoria and Empoli respectively. There is also a relegation battle as Udinese hosts Cagliari.


Barcelona hosts Sevilla with only three points separating the opponents fighting for second place in the league. Xavi Hernández lets Barcelona play his best of the season after winning five league games with a combined score of 18-2. That included a 4-0 victory over leader Real Madrid in the final round before the international break. Barcelona will have all its first-choice players available. Back-up striker Luuk de Jong is out after testing positive for COVID-19. Sevilla have been splashed in recent weeks and are in danger of losing second place. Atlético Madrid even scored points with Sevilla. Fifth-placed Real Betis host Osasuna who need a win to stay in contention for a top-four finish and a Champions League place. Betis will be without the suspended Nabil Fekir and the injured Sergio Canales and Borja Iglesias, three of his key players in the attack. Athletic Bilbao play against Elche who are trying to climb into the Europa League positions. Cádiz will try to get away from the relegation zone with a win over Valencia, while Granada will also flank the drop before facing Rayo Vallecano.


Everton look set to relegate to the Premier League with a win over West Ham, whose priorities could lie elsewhere in the remaining two months of the season. Frank Lampard’s Everton are one place and three points above the bottom three and are going for a second consecutive win in the league, after beating Newcastle 2 1/2 weeks ago with a break goal. West Ham, who are six points off the Champions League qualifiers, play Lyon in a first-leg match in the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday, so David Moyes must decide whether to leave out key players. In the other match, Tottenham host Newcastle. Tottenham are three points behind Arsenal in fourth place, their fierce rival in North London, in the race for the Champions League qualifier.


Augsburg’s attempt to escape Bundesliga relegation begins with a home game against Wolfsburg before welcoming Mainz for their match postponed by the coronavirus on Wednesday. Augsburg are level on points with Hertha Berlin and Arminia Bielefeld, who are in the relegation zone due to their inferior goal difference, and that is one point behind Stuttgart. But Augsburg coach Markus Weinzierl will be without regular forwards Michael Gregoritsch and André Hahn. Ruben Vargas is doubtful to play, which means Weinzierl will have to put his trust in Florian Niederlechner and Ricardo Pepi. The former has not scored since October and Pepi has not scored since his winter transfer from FC Dallas. Borussia Mönchengladbach host Mainz in the late game.


The away leader, Paris Saint-Germain, could move closer to a record 10th league title with a victory over the humble Lorient. PSG will rely on Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Angel Di Maria, all of whom scored during the international break. Strasbourg, who finished fifth, became a surprising contender in the race for European places, but will miss six injured players against Lens. Midfield Lyon, who need a strong finish to qualify for Europe, will be without an injured Maxence Caqueret against Angers, but will be strengthened by the recent signing of Brazilian wing Tete from Shakhtar Donetsk. Monaco have a win against Metz who need relegation battles to make field in the race for Europe.


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