A look at what’s happening around European soccer on Saturday:
After tame back-to-back losses, Manchester United is under pressure to get a win at Everton in the Premier League. United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under renewed scrutiny with his team starting the latest round in 15th place and having slumped to defeats at Arsenal last weekend and toIstanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League in midweek. Everton has also lost two straight matches — to Southampton and Newcastle — after its flying start to the league, but can return to first place with a win at Goodison Park. Chelsea is on a 10-match unbeaten run in all competitions heading into a home game against last-place Sheffield United, which has just one point from seven games. Fulham looks to back up its first win since promotion with another at West Ham, while fellow promoted team Leeds visits Crystal Palace.
Barcelona hosts Real Betis needing a victory to end a four-game winless streak. Lionel Messi has four goals in all competitions but all have come from the penalty spot. The Argentine has also gone without a goal in five consecutive league matches. Coach Ronald Koeman defends his struggling star, saying “like any player he can have tough moments when the ball won’t go in.” Also, Atlético Madrid hosts Cádiz, the early revelation of the season tied on points with Diego Simeone’s side in fifth place. The promoted Cádiz has won all four away matches, including 1-0 at Real Madrid. Sevilla welcomes Osasuna after three league losses in a row. Winless Huesca visits an Eibar that has yet to win at home.
Borussia Dortmund hosts Bayern Munich for “der Klassiker” with top spot in the Bundesliga at stake before the international break. Bayern leads on goal difference from Dortmund. The Bavarian powerhouse has already wracked up huge wins in the opening six rounds and knows even a close victory over its greatest rival will ease its way to a record-extending ninth consecutive title. Dortmund seems to be Bayern’s only realistic challenger, but it remains consistently inconsistent and coach Lucien Favre could be on his way out at the end of the season. There’s no sign yet from the club of giving the Swiss tactician a new deal. Dortmund’s attacking lineup of Erling Haaland, Gio Reyna, Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho should instill fear in any opponent, though they have struggled against well-organized defenses. Organization is Bayern’s forte under coach Hansi Flick, who celebrated a year in charge with a 6-2 victory over Salzburg in the Champions League on Tuesday. It was his 43rd win from 47 games. Before the Bundeslia’s best teams clash in the evening, its worst meet in the afternoon, when Mainz will hope to end its six-game losing start against Schalke. Third-place Leipzig hosts Freiburg, Union Berlin welcomes Arminia Bielefeld, Hertha Berlin visits Augsburg, and Stuttgart plays Eintracht Frankfurt.
Sampdoria is unbeaten in five matches and can move into the top three with a win at Cagliari. But it hasn’t won in Sardinia in 13 years. Victory would lift it to third, three points behind early leader AC Milan. At the other end of the table, Benevento hosts Spezia in a matchup between two sides promoted from Serie B last season. Also, Fiorentina coach Giuseppe Iachini is under pressure as his team prepares to visit Parma. Fiorentina has won only two of its league matches.
Injury-hit league leader Paris Saint-Germain goes for an eighth straight win when it hosts third-place Rennes, which beat PSG last season and in the previous season’s French Cup final. PSG will be missing star forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, along with midfielder Marco Verratti, center half Presnel Kimpembe and goalkeeper Keylor Navas through injury. That means Angel Di Maria could lead the attack alongside in-form loan signing Moise Kean. A victory would move Rennes above second-place Lille and level on points with PSG. In the other game, Bordeaux hosts Montpellier in a contest between mid-table sides.
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