A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Wednesday:
Nottingham Forest and Manchester United meet in the first leg of the League Cup semifinals. United has reached the semifinals of the competition for the third time in four years — it was knocked out at that stage by Manchester City in 2020 and 2021 — as the club looks to claim a first major trophy since 2017. United was on a nine-match winning run in all competitions before last week, when it drew at Crystal Palace and then lost at Arsenal in the league. Forest, which hosts the first leg at the City Ground, was a four-time League Cup winner under Brian Clough between 1978-90 and is in the semifinals for the first time in 31 years. Forest has lost only two of its last 11 games in all competitions as its slew of new signings start to gel. One of those losses was against United, though, 3-0 in the Premier League.
Real Sociedad faces Barcelona in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey at the Camp Nou Stadium, where it hasn’t won since 1991. The Basque Country side is the hottest team in Spain this season, though, with 21 wins in 28 matches in all competitions, with 13 of those wins coming in away games. It has lost only four times overall, and has won nine straight going into the game against the Catalan club. Barcelona has won three in a row in all competitions and coach Xavi will count on the return of Robert Lewandowski after the Poland striker couldn’t play against Getafe in the Spanish league because of a suspension. Sociedad will be without veteran playmaker David Silva because of a muscle injury. In another quarterfinal match, Osasuna hosts struggling Sevilla.
Borussia Dortmund visits Mainz as it comes off a 4-3 win over Augsburg that underlined Dortmund's tendency for creativity in attack and a brittle defense — a combination that often serves up thrilling games. Striker Sébastien Haller made his competitive return for Dortmund in that game following cancer treatment and is now looking for more minutes as he gets back to full fitness. Dortmund needs to improve its dismal away record after losing five of its last six Bundesliga road games. Freiburg was second in the table before a shattering 6-0 loss to Wolfsburg on Saturday and now needs to turn things around against Eintracht Frankfurt to avoid dropping out of the Champions League places entirely. After a rocky start as Bayer Leverkusen coach, Xabi Alonso has now won four Bundesliga games in a row and aims to extend the streak against Bochum. Union Berlin visits a Werder Bremen team which is reeling from a 7-1 loss to Cologne, while Augsburg hosts Borussia Mönchengladbach.
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The Associated Press