MATCHDAY: Southampton in surging form, but Marseille reeling
A look at what’s happening around European soccer on Friday:
Southampton has surged up to fifth in the Premier League ahead of hosting Newcastle but will be without striker Danny Ings who has been ruled out for up to six weeks following knee surgery. Burnley is also playing on the south coast, still searching for its first win as it faces Brighton. The Clarets have picked up one point from their six matches, keeping just one clean sheet and scoring only three goals. Burnley captain Ben Mee could return to action after being out since June with a thigh injury. Brighton striker Neal Maupay is back in contention after being dropped for last weekend’s loss at Tottenham after a disciplinary issue.
Sassuolo hosts struggling Udinese with a once-unthinkable chance to take the provisional lead in Serie A. With four wins, two draws and no losses, Sassuolo is in second place trailing Italian league leader AC Milan by two points. Last weekend, Sassuolo won 2-0 at expected title contender Napoli to raise its season total to 18 goals -- best in the league and one more than high-scoring Atalanta. Sassuolo coach Roberto De Zerbi is known for his offensive approach. Udinese has won one game and lost five.
Celta Vigo heads to Elche needing a win after only earning a single victory from eights rounds in the Spanish league. Coach Óscar García’s job appears to be in doubt with his team that counts on Iago Aspas and other talented attacking players near the relegation zone. It has four losses and one draw heading into the game. “I have been under pressure since I started playing football,” said García, a former Barcelona midfielder. “I don’t know if my job is at risk. What I do know is that this is not a crisis for the players or the team.” Celta will get defender Hugo Mallo back from injury, but will be without injured midfielder Emre Mor. The promoted Elche has surpassed expectations and enters Round 9 in 10th place.
Werder Bremen can end a run of three draws as it takes on Cologne, which has yet to win a game in the Bundesliga this season. Cologne is hoping that could change after a combative showing in a 2-1 loss to Bayern Munich last week. United States forward Josh Sargent is likely to start for Bremen, which has said he is one of several players who won't be made available for their national teams next week.
Marseille fans are in unforgiving mood as the players travel to play Strasbourg, reeling from the team's loss at Porto in the Champions League on Tuesday. It was Marseille's 12th straight defeat in the competition, equaling the worst ever run set by Belgian club Anderlecht. This is particularly galling for Marseille, considering it stands proud as the only French side to win the competition, back in 1993. Coach Andre Villas-Boas was scathing about his players after the Porto defeat and will demand far better against the struggling Alsace side. Still, a win will move Marseille into fourth spot ahead of this weekend's games.
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