Soccer weekend: What to watch in Europe’s main leagues
What to watch out for in the leading soccer leagues in Europe this weekend:
Manchester City and Liverpool expected to be slugging it out for the title on the home stretch. Instead they meet at Anfield on Sunday in a tussle just to be among the four Champions League qualifiers.
City, which is reeling from its Champions League exit at Monaco, is only a point ahead of Liverpool in third place.
Despite the swirling storm around Arsene Wenger, fifth-place Arsenal is only five points behind Liverpool with two games in hand. But Arsenal travels to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday having only won twice in the last month — both times against fifth-tier teams in the FA Cup.
Leicester is on a roll again since Claudio Ranieri was replaced by Craig Shakespeare. The ailing champions have moved three points clear of the relegation zone with two Premier League wins under Shakespeare, who has also steered the Champions League newcomers into the quarterfinals.
Middlesbrough will be hoping the end of Aitor Karanka’s reign on Thursday produces a similar uplift as it sits next-to-last in the standings going into Sunday’s game at sixth-place Manchester United.
By Rob Harris in London.
Sevilla can’t dwell on its Champions League elimination if it wants to guarantee a return to the competition.
At the start of the month, third-place Sevilla was nine points in front of Atletico Madrid. Now the gap is down to five points ahead of their meeting in Madrid on Sunday. Finishing fourth requires teams to contest a playoff to reach the group stage of the Champions League.
“We have to reverse this situation and do well in the league so we can quickly return to the (Champions League),” Sevilla captain Vicente Iborra said.
Besides the 2-0 loss at Leicester on Tuesday, Sevilla is coming off two league draws.
Unlike Sevilla, Atletico is through to the Champions League quarterfinals after ousting Bayer Leverkusen. It also won its last two domestic matches.
Real Madrid will be defending its two-point lead over Barcelona when it visits seventh-place Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. The next day, Barcelona, coming off a 2-1 loss at Deportivo La Coruna, hosts Valencia at the Camp Nou.
By Tales Azzoni in Madrid.
Only an extraordinary collapse will deny Bayern Munich a fifth straight Bundesliga title.
With a 10-point lead and 10 games remaining, Bayern visits Borussia Moenchengladbach on Sunday having only lost once in the league all season.
Europe is ’Gladbach’s only route to a trophy.
In the battle to stay in the Bundesliga, last-place Darmstadt is at Wolfsburg, 11 points ahead and in danger of being one of the teams that has to contest a playoff to stay in the top division.
Hamburger SV and Werder Bremen are behind Wolfsburg on goal difference. Hamburg is at sixth-place Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, when Werder Bremen hosts second-place Leipzig.
Next-to-last Ingolstadt has a tough trip to third-place Borussia Dortmund.
By Ciaran Fahey in Berlin.
It will be a clash of Serie A’s top scorers when Inter Milan visits Torino on Saturday.
Torino forward Andrea Belotti is at the top of the scoring chart with 22 goals. Mauro Icardi scored a nine-minute hat trick in Inter’s 7-1 rout of Atalanta last weekend to take his tally to 20.
Inter’s victory kept its hopes of qualifying for the Champions League alive. Inter is fifth, six points behind third-place Napoli and the final Champions League spot.
Napoli visits Empoli on Sunday, when it will be a case of the league’s best attack against the weakest. Napoli has scored 65 goals, while Empoli has found the back of the net only 15 times.
Lazio, which is four points below Napoli, visits Cagliari, while second-place Roma hosts Sassuolo.
Also, Juventus visits Sampdoria as its goes for a record sixth straight Serie A title.
By Daniella Matar in Milan.
It’s all been about Monaco teenager Kylian Mbappe in recent weeks in France. But other forwards have been performing well and the league never looked so attractive.
Among them are Edinson Cavani and Alexandre Lacazette, who will be facing off on Sunday.
Cavani, the league’s best striker with 27 goals, will be leading Paris Saint-Germain’s attack at the Parc des Princes as the defending champions host in-form Lyon. Lacazette has found the net 22 times for Lyon, which is unbeaten in seven games in all competition.
Still reeling from its Barcelona thrashing, PSG has no room for mistake as it lags three points behind leader Monaco in the defense of its title, while fourth-place Lyon netted 21 goals in it five last games.
Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Nantes, third-place Nice has not given up hopes of winning the title despite being five points behind Monaco, which plays Caen.
By Samuel Petrequin in Paris.