What to watch in the leading soccer leagues in Europe
What to watch in the leading soccer leagues in Europe this weekend:
Huddersfield could become the first team relegated from the Premier League.
If Burnley and Southampton win their games against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Brighton, respectively, Huddersfield will go down if it also loses at Crystal Palace. In last place on 14 points from 31 games, Huddersfield still has six more games to play after this weekend.
The title race is much closer with only two points separating Liverpool, which hosts Tottenham on Sunday, and second-place Manchester City, which is away to next-to-last Fulham. City has a game in hand, which will be against Cardiff on Wednesday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game as full-time manager of Manchester United is at home to Watford on Saturday and a win would lift his team into the top four, at least until Monday when Arsenal hosts Newcastle.
— By Steve Douglas
Barcelona hasn’t lost or drawn a match against Espanyol at Camp Nou Stadium since a league match nearly a decade ago. Its only loss to the rival since then was last year in an away game in the Copa del Rey.
Lionel Messi’s squad enters the first round after the international break having won six straight matches in all competitions, outscoring opponents 20-5.
Espanyol, featuring Chinese sensation Wu Lei, has won only one of its last five matches and is 13th in the 20-team standings.
— By Tales Azzoni
With four of the top six sides in Serie A playing each other, this weekend could go a long way toward deciding Champions League qualification.
Inter boosted its chances before the international break by winning the city derby to move third, two points above AC Milan.
It hosts sixth-place Lazio on Sunday and former captain Mauro Icardi could make his first appearance in more than a month after recovering from a knee injury.
Serie A leader Juventus will be without Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portugal forward injured his right thigh on international duty. But it hosts relegation-threatened Empoli and has a 15-point advantage over second-place Napoli.
— By Daniella Matar
Although PSG is under no pressure and can even afford to lose a couple of games, Mbappe’s motivation remains particularly high. The 20-year-old forward, who scored in both of France’s first two European Championship qualifiers during the international break, only needs four more goals this season to reach 30 in the league.
He is competing with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi to finish as the highest scorer in Europe’s five major leagues, and the Barcelona star is currently on 29.
Lille, meanwhile, is battling third-place Lyon for second spot and automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League.
With nine games left, Lille is four points ahead of Lyon, which has a difficult trip to eighth-place Rennes on Friday.
— By Jerome Pugmire
Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga title ambitions are being undermined by its leaky defense. Lucien Favre’s side has conceded 14 goals in its last eight games across all competitions and the coach is concerned.
“We can’t always score three goals,” Favre said in reference to the side’s injury-time 3-2 win at Hertha Berlin on March 16 in the last round before the international break.
Wolfsburg visits Saturday for Dortmund’s first game after the break before the potentially league-deciding clash with Bayern Munich the following weekend.
Midfielder Christian Pulisic is out after picking up a right quad injury in the Unites States’ 1-1 draw with Ecuador on Tuesday, but Axel Witsel, Mario Goetze and Paco Alcacer are back for Dortmund.
A win over Wolfsburg, which is chasing European qualification, would be Dortmund’s third consecutive victory, but that’s still a poor streak compared to Bayern, which has clawed back a nine-point gap to lead on goal difference. Bayern has won its last six league games and racked up 17 goals in its last three alone.
Freiburg is bracing for the Bavarian powerhouse’s visit on Saturday.
— By Ciaran Fahey