BC-SOC--European Soccer Weekend
What to watch in the leading soccer leagues in Europe this weekend:
Huddersfield could become the first team relegated from the Premier League.
If Burnley and Southampton win their games against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Brighton, respectively, Huddersfield will go down if it also loses at Crystal Palace. In last place on 14 points from 31 games, Huddersfield still has six more games to play after this weekend.
The title race is much closer with only two points separating Liverpool, which hosts Tottenham on Sunday, and second-place Manchester City, which is away to next-to-last Fulham. City has a game in hand, which will be against Cardiff on Wednesday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first game as full-time manager of Manchester United is at home to Watford on Saturday and a win would lift his team into the top four, at least until Monday when Arsenal hosts Newcastle.
— By Steve Douglas
With a comfortable 10-point lead in the Spanish league, Barcelona hosts city rival Espanyol on Saturday carrying an 11-match winning streak at home in the Catalan derby.
Barcelona hasn’t lost or drawn a match against Espanyol at Camp Nou Stadium since a league match nearly a decade ago. Its only loss to the rival since then was last year in an away game in the Copa del Rey.
Lionel Messi’s squad enters the first round after the international break having won six straight matches in all competitions, outscoring opponents 20-5.
Espanyol, featuring Chinese sensation Wu Lei, has won only one of its last five matches and is 13th in the 20-team standings.
Third-place Real Madrid, in its second game with Zinedine Zidane back at the helm, visits last-place Huesca on Sunday. Madrid trails second-place Atletico Madrid by two points.
In the fight for the last Champions League spot, fourth-place Getafe plays at home against struggling Leganes on Saturday, while fifth-place Alaves hosts Atletico later in the day.
Sixth-place Sevilla hosts seventh-place Valencia on Sunday.
— By Tales Azzoni
With four of the top six sides in Serie A playing each other, this weekend could go a long way toward deciding Champions League qualification.
Inter boosted its chances before the international break by winning the city derby to move third, two points above AC Milan.
It hosts sixth-place Lazio on Sunday and former captain Mauro Icardi could make his first appearance in more than a month after recovering from a knee injury.
Roma is four points below fourth-place Milan and hosts Napoli in what is interim coach Claudio Ranieri’s third match in charge. Milan visits Sampdoria on Saturday.
Serie A leader Juventus will be without Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portugal forward injured his right thigh on international duty. But it hosts relegation-threatened Empoli and has a 15-point advantage over second-place Napoli.
— By Daniella Matar
It is only a question of when Paris Saint-Germain will win another French title, and a victory at Toulouse on Sunday will take Kylian Mbappe’s side a step closer.
PSG is already a massive 20 points clear of second-place Lille, having played one game less. Lille is also in action Sunday, when it travels to play struggling Nantes.
Although PSG is under no pressure and can even afford to lose a couple of games, Mbappe’s motivation remains particularly high. The 20-year-old forward, who scored in both of France’s first two European Championship qualifiers during the international break, only needs four more goals this season to reach 30 in the league.
He is competing with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi to finish as the highest scorer in Europe’s five major leagues, and the Barcelona star is currently on 29.
Lille, meanwhile, is battling third-place Lyon for second spot and automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League.
With nine games left, Lille is four points ahead of Lyon, which has a difficult trip to eighth-place Rennes on Friday.
— By Jerome Pugmire.