A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Wednesday:
The defense of the Premier League title is still in Manchester City’s hands as the champions host Brighton needing to reclaim top spot from Liverpool. Pep Guardiola’s side saw one route to a trophy end by losing the FA Cup semifinal to Liverpool on Saturday. But a double can still be won with a Champions League semifinal meeting against Real Madrid to come next week. Guardiola will hope playmaker Kevin De Bruyne and midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who were unused substitutes at Wembley due to injury, will be fit to return against mid-table Brighton. Defender Kyle Walker was also not involved against Liverpool and has not recovered from his ankle problem. City is two points behind Liverpool before playing Brighton, which has beaten Tottenham and Arsenal in recent games. The pursuit of the four Champions League places is the focus of another of Wednesday’s matches. Arsenal heads across London to third-place Chelsea after back-to-back losses that saw Mikel Arteta’s side slip to sixth spot. At the other end of the standings, Everton will look to move six points clear of the relegation zone by beating Leicester. Newcastle and Crystal Palace meet at St. James’ Park, with both 12 points above the drop zone.
Real Madrid visits Osasuna looking to move a step closer to its second Spanish league crown in three seasons. Victory would give Carlo Ancelotti’s team a chance to clinch the title next weekend against Espanyol, depending on other results. Madrid has a 15-point lead with six rounds to go. Second-place Barcelona, which has a game in hand, is tied on points with Sevilla and Atlético Madrid. Ancelotti will not be able to count on midfielder Casemiro because of health reasons, and veteran Luka Modric will be rested. Fourth-place Atlético hosts relegation-threatened Granada, while midtable Celta Vigo plays Getafe.
Dušan Vlahović will again face his former team as Juventus hosts Fiorentina in the second leg of their Italian Cup semifinal. Vlahović failed to score in the first leg, which Juventus won 1-0 in the forward’s first return to Florence since his acrimonious departure in January. But the 22-year-old has three goals in his past four matches. Defending champion Juventus has won the Italian Cup a record 14 times. Fiorentina claimed the last of its six triumphs in 2001. The winner will face defending Serie A champion Inter Milan on May 11 after the Nerazzurri beat AC Milan 3-0 on Tuesday.
Leipzig hosts Union Berlin for a place in the German Cup final against Freiburg, which defeated Hamburger SV 3-1 in the first semifinal on Tuesday. Leipzig, which is still looking for its first major title, is hoping to go one better than last year when it was beaten in the final by Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund and fellow heavyweight Bayern Munich have been knocked out already, allowing the remaining teams a real chance of lifting the trophy in Berlin’s Olympiastadion on May 21. Leipzig and Union are in good form. Union has won its last three Bundesliga games and is pushing for European qualification again, while Leipzig is on a 14-game unbeaten run across all competitions. Leipzig was only founded in 2009 and has never faced Union in the cup. They’ve played nine times in the Bundesliga and second division, with Leipzig winning five of those games and Union three. Leipzig won all four at home, however, and will expect to reach its third final in four years.
Paris Saint-Germain can clinch a record-equaling 10th league crown if it betters second-place Marseille’s result. PSG holds a 15-point lead. It can join Marseille and Saint-Etienne on 10 titles if it wins at Angers and second-place Marseille fails to beat Nantes. A draw is enough if Marseille loses. If both sides win then PSG will officially need one point, even though it has a vastly superior goal difference. Record seven-time Golden Ball winner Lionel Messi and other key players will miss PSG’s match. Messi has a swollen Achilles tendon on his famed left foot, while midfielder Marco Verratti (swollen left knee) and central defender Presnel Kimpembe (sore right knee) are sidelined. Neymar is suspended. At the bottom of the table, 19th-place Bordeaux desperately needs a home win against 17th-place Saint-Etienne. Bordeaux has conceded a league-high 77 goals this season.
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