Derby weekend in European soccer as leagues resume
What to watch in the leading soccer leagues in Europe this weekend:
The 12th round of the Premier League kicks off on Saturday with the north London derby, and a chance for Tottenham to validate its supremacy over Arsenal. For the first time in 22 years, Tottenham finished above its neighbor last season. Already, Mauricio Pochettino’s second-place team has a four-point advantage over Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal.
Manchester City is already running away at the top of the standings, pushing eight points clear of Manchester United and Tottenham. City striker Sergio Aguero says he will be fit for Saturday’s game at Leicester after being taken to a hospital feeling dizzy during Argentina’s game against Nigeria on Tuesday.
United will face Newcastle on Saturday without Phil Jones. Manager Jose Mourinho is annoyed the defender featured for England against Germany last week despite already struggling with a thigh problem.
Champion Chelsea, which is fourth, travels to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. Among Saturday’s other games, Everton is set to face Crystal Palace while still under the temporary command of David Unsworth as the club has failed to appoint a permanent successor yet to the fired Ronald Koeman.
—By Rob Harris in London.
Real Madrid plays its first derby at Atletico Madrid’s new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
The city rivals are already far behind leader Barcelona, so if either loses on Saturday it could be facing an 11-point deficit against the thriving Catalan club.
In south Madrid earlier Saturday, Barcelona, which has won 10 of its 11 league matches, plays mid-table Leganes.
Second-place Valencia, four points off the lead, tries to extend its seven-game winning streak when it faces Espanyol on Sunday.
Valencia, Barcelona, and Atletico are the only unbeaten teams after 11 rounds.
Barcelona’s only setback was a 1-1 draw against Atletico at the Metropolitano, where the hosts haven’t won in four matches. Atletico has won only two of its six games at the venue inaugurated this season.
Diego Simeone’s team has won only two of its last nine games in all competitions.
Real Madrid, which has never overcome an eight-point deficit to Barcelona in the league, is coming off a home win against Las Palmas after two consecutive losses.
—By Tales Azzoni in Madrid.
After three defeats in a four-game winless run, Borussia Dortmund is desperate to get back on track in the Bundesliga with a win at Stuttgart on Friday.
Dortmund was leading the league by five points from Bayern Munich last month, but is yet to recover after losing at home to Leipzig. Bayern is now six points ahead, with Leipzig sandwiched in second place between them.
Bayern hosts Augsburg for a Bavarian derby on Saturday, when the defending champion will look to extend Jupp Heynckes’ record of seven wins across all competitions since his return as coach.
Leipzig, which is four points behind Bayern, visits Bayer Leverkusen for what should be a tough encounter on Saturday.
Cologne and Werder Bremen are still looking for their first wins. Cologne, bottom with only two points after nine defeats, visits Mainz on Saturday, while Bremen hosts promoted Hannover on Sunday.
—By Ciaran Fahey in Frankfurt.
Less than a week after Italy’s failed qualification for the World Cup, Serie A returns with a big weekend.
Six of the top seven teams play one another, highlighted by Roma versus Lazio in the Rome derby on Saturday, and leader Napoli’s match against AC Milan.
On Sunday, defending six-time champion Juventus visits surprising Sampdoria, and Inter Milan hosts Atalanta, which was last season’s revelation.
The first derby since longtime Roma captain Francesco Totti retired is the most anticipated meeting between the capital’s two clubs in years.
Lazio and Roma have had strong starts and sit fourth and fifth, respectively, in the standings with only one point separating them.
It will be a matchup between last season’s Serie A scoring leader, Roma’s Edin Dzeko (29 in 37 matches), and this season’s scoring leader, Lazio’s Ciro Immobile (14 in 11).
After losses to Lazio, Roma, Inter and Juventus, big-spending AC Milan is in desperate need of a big win to provide job security for embattled manager Vincenzo Montella.
Napoli winger Lorenzo Insigne should be motivated after being relegated to a bench role in Italy’s playoff loss to Sweden — which was seen as one of the main tactical reasons for the 1-0 aggregate defeat Monday.
—By Andrew Dampf in Rome.
Since taking charge of Nantes, Claudio Ranieri has built his team around a solid defense that has conceded only nine goals in 12 games. Only league leader Paris Saint-Germain and Montpellier have let in fewer goals.
But Ranieri’s tactical credentials face the toughest test possible when fifth-place Nantes travels to play PSG on Saturday. PSG has netted 39 goals already at an average of more than three per game.
Defending champion Monaco, which is four points behind PSG in second place, has found some decent form heading into Friday’s trip to Amiens.
Monaco hopes to welcome back 13-goal top scorer Radamel Falcao from a hamstring injury.
Third-place Lyon is unbeaten in nine games in all competitions, scoring 15 and conceding none in the last four. With forwards Nabil Fekir and Memphis Depay in prolific form, Lyon will be confident of denting Montpellier’s proud defensive record when the teams meet on Sunday. With fourth-place Marseille facing a difficult game away to Bordeaux, also on Sunday, a home win for Lyon could strengthen its grip on third spot.
—By Jerome Pugmire in Paris.
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