Monday, December 05, 2022

MATCH DAY: Man City, Liverpool return; Bayern, Madrid on the way

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


The Premier League title race resumes with leader Manchester City and second-placed Liverpool in action. Liverpool host relegation-threatened Watford in the first of seven games on the day. Right behind Trent Alexander-Arnold may be able to play now that he has recovered from a hamstring injury. City lead Liverpool by one point and travel to Burnley – before the defending champions host Liverpool on 10 April. Chelsea host Brentford in a West London derby with the Blues wanting to bolster their hold on a Champions League place. Leeds will try to make it three wins in a row when visiting Southampton. Norwich is in Brighton, and Wolverhampton is home to Aston Villa. The last game of the day is at Old Trafford, where Manchester United host Leicester. United center behind Harry Maguire was in the news this week when some English fans yelled at him in a friendly at Wembley Stadium.


Six points separate Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich and second-placed Borussia Dortmund by seven rounds. Both are in action against potential Champions League qualifiers: Bayern visit Freiburg in fifth place before Dortmund host Leipzig in fourth place. If Freiburg Dortmund do a favor in the early game, Marco Rose’s team can return it later as both Freiburg and Leipzig are equal on points. Relegation candidate Hertha Berlin visits Bayer Leverkusen in third place in Felix Magath’s second match as Hertha coach. Magath missed the first one due to a coronavirus infection, but will take his place on the sidelines after recovering. Arminia Bielefeld hosts Stuttgart for another relegation battle. Stuttgart are level on points with Hertha and just one point ahead of Bielefeld, who have lost their last four games without scoring. Last placed Greuther Fürth visits Eintracht Frankfurt and Hoffenheim welcomes Bochum.


There is a lot at stake for Saint-Etienne and Marseille when they meet in the biggest grudge match in French football. The country’s two most popular clubs tackle each other in Stade Geoffroy-Guichard with Saint-Etienne looking for points at home in its battle against relegation and Marseille looking for a victory that will confirm their second place behind leader Paris Saint-Germain. After a dismal start to the season, Saint-Etienne was inspired by the appointment in December of coach Pascal Dupraz. He has only lost one of his last eight games to climb into the relegation playoffs. With nine games left, Marseille have just a one-point lead over Rennes in third place and have no room for error in their bid to clinch direct qualification for next season’s Champions League. Saint-Etienne – who have won 10 league titles, one more than Marseille – dominated French football during the 1960s and ’70s, with the Mediterranean club becoming one of its strongest rivals after taking a place in got the top flight back in 1966.


Real Madrid visit Celta Vigo without coach Carlo Ancelotti after testing positive for COVID-19. Madrid had two weeks to stew over its humble 4-0 defeat at home to Barcelona before the international break. Now he is looking for a win to maintain his comfortable lead over La Liga before preparing for next week’s Champions League clash at Chelsea. League top scorer Karim Benzema missed the game against Barcelona with a left leg injury. Madrid leads Sevilla by nine points. Celta forward Santi Mina will be fit for the match a day after a trial that accused him of raping a woman ended. The verdict is due in a few weeks. Atlético Madrid and Villarreal are also in action before starting their respective Champions League quarter-finals. Atlético hosts Alavés, who are looking for a sixth consecutive victory in the domestic competition before leaving for Manchester City. Villarreal visit bottom Levante to warm up for their home game against Bayern Munich. Mallorca also visit Getafe who need a win to escape the relegation battle and draw level on points with the hosts.


Lazio will want to boost their bid for a European place when it hosts Sassuolo in Serie A. Lazio, who are placed seventh, are two points behind Atalanta and Roma, whom they lost in the capital derby before the international break. . Some of the blame for Italy’s failure to reach the World Cup has been placed on forward Ciro Immobile, but the Lazio captain has had four goals in his last six games for his club. On the other side of the table, Spezia hosts Venice in a relegation battle. Spezia has seven points more than 18th-placed Venezia, who can climb out of the bottom three with a win. Also, lower club Salernitana welcomes mid-table Torino.


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