A look at what’s happening around European soccer on Saturday:
Manchester United will look to bounce back from the disappointment of losing in the League Cup semifinals to Manchester City on Wednesday by beating second-tier Watford in the FA Cup third round. United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is sure to rest many of his key players for the game at Old Trafford ahead of an important week in the Premier League, with his team able to go top on Tuesday by avoiding defeat at Burnley and then playing fierce rival Liverpool at the weekend. It’s a big day for Chorley, with the northern team from the sixth tier at home to second-tier Derby. Premier League teams Everton and Leicester play lower-league opposition in Rotherham and Stoke, respectively, and there’s an all-Premier League matchup between Arsenal and Newcastle.
A heavy snowstorm threatens to interfere with games involving the top teams in the league. Athletic Bilbao’s flight to the capital on Friday to play at Atlético Madrid had to return to the Bilbao airport after Madrid’s airport was closed due to bad weather. The Basque club says it has contacted to the league to see if the match can be played as scheduled on Saturday afternoon. Atlético leads the league by two points ahead of Real Madrid, which is also due to travel by plane to its match at Osasuna. Atlético needs to rebound from its embarrassing elimination from the Copa del Rey at a lower-division side. Diego Simeone’s team flopped 1-0 at third-tier Cornellà this week in a match it played without top scorer Luis Suárez. Barcelona visit Granada looking to reclaim third place and stay in touch, while Sevilla plays Real Sociedad in a clash between two sides hoping to finish in the top four and earn a Champions League berth.
Fresh off its first loss of the season, AC Milan hosts relegation-threatened Torino at the San Siro. Milan is still without injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic but the Rossoneri will be looking to show that they won’t be deterred by Wednesday’s defeat to Juventus as they seek a first Serie A title in a decade. Milan still leads the league by one point ahead of city rival Inter Milan, which faces a potentially challenging visit to third-place Roma on Sunday. Also, Atalanta visits in-form Benevento after having scored eight goals in its last two matches, and relegation-threatened Genoa hosts Bologna.
Schalke can equal the Bundesliga record for most consecutive games without a win at 31 if it fails to beat Hoffenheim at home. A Champions League club two seasons ago, Schalke is in financial turmoil exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and facing relegation. Leipzig has not conceded a goal in four games as it prepares to host Borussia Dortmund, which is still trying to steady the ship under interim coach Edin Terzic after Lucien Favre was fired last month. Bayer Leverkusen takes on Werder Bremen after two consecutive defeats dented Leverkusen’s surprise title bid. Also, Union Berlin hosts Wolfsburg, Freiburg plays Cologne and relegation-threatened Mainz takes on Eintracht Frankfurt.
New Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino will still be without Neymar for the home game against Brest at Parc des Princes, where the former defender Pochettino once played as PSG captain. Neymar is close to returning from a minor ankle injury. Defending champion PSG is being challenged more than usual this season and sits in second place, three points behind leader Lyon. Rudi Garcia’s side is in fine form and looks to make it 16 games unbeaten when it travels to fourth-placed Rennes. Elsewhere, third-placed Lille is level on points with PSG but looks to bounce back from a midweek home defeat when it travels to play last-placed Nimes, which conceded five goals on Wednesday.
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