A look at what’s happening in European football on Saturday:
Arsenal will try to reinforce their leadership in the Premier League when they visit Leicester. Key midfielder Thomas Partey could return for Arsenal, who have a two-point gap and a game less than Manchester City. Second-placed City play relegation-threatened Bournemouth. Leeds is just one point above bottom-ranked Southampton. Saints visit Elland Road after beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last week. Aston Villa visit Everton. West Ham host Nottingham Forest. In the evening cup, Liverpool will try to bounce back from a shock 5-2 defeat at home to Real Madrid in the Champions League when they take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Real Madrid host Atletico Madrid with a need to win the capital derby to ensure they keep Barcelona at striking distance and their league title defense alive. Barcelona leads the defending champion by eight points and visits modest Almería on Sunday. Atlético are out of contention for the title, but are fighting to finish in the top four to maintain their place in the Champions League. Atlético have not won at the Santiago Bernabéu since 2016. Their last defeat there came a month ago in the Copa del Rey. Third-placed Real Sociedad will hope to move closer to Real or away from Atletico with a win over struggling Valencia side who have lost five straight games to drop into the relegation zone. Rayo Vallecano aim to continue their surprisingly strong campaign when they visit a Cádiz team in need of a point to escape relegation. Mallorca also visits Espanyol with coach Javier Aguirre facing one of his former teams.
League leaders Napoli can extend their lead to 18 points with a win at Empoli, who need a result to avoid being dragged into a relegation fight. Napoli are on a six-match winning streak in all competitions and have only conceded one goal in those matches. Also, the league’s top scorer Victor Osimhen has 10 in his last nine games for Napoli. Empoli are winless in their last four Serie A games to leave them 11 points clear of their last three. Lecce are just one point behind Empoli and are brimming with confidence after drawing Roma and beating Atalanta in their last two games. Lecce host Sassuolo, who are just seven points above the relegation zone.
Borussia Dortmund can reach the top of the Bundesliga with a win over Hoffenheim. Bayern Munich’s poor start to 2023 has allowed Dortmund to close the gap and they trail only Bayern on goal difference. US coach Pellegrino Matarazzo has lost his first two games at Hoffenheim, which he hasn’t won since October. Leipzig hosts Eintracht Frankfurt in a meeting of teams still fighting in the Champions League and in a close battle to qualify for next season’s competition. Wolfsburg are winless in five games before playing Cologne. In matches that could be key to the relegation fight, Schalke play Stuttgart, Werder Bremen host Bochum and Hertha Berlin take on Augsburg.
After losing control of second place following a shaky run, Lens need to build up a winning streak to get back in the hunt for an automatic Champions League spot next season. Victory in Montpellier will lift Lens’ north side over Monaco and into third place. But Montpellier has improved since manager Michel Der Zakarian took the reins again and the south side are looking for a third straight win. In the other game, rock-bottom Angers are on a 16-game winless streak when hosting Lyon.
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The Associated Press