MATCHDAY: Liverpool v Man United; Barcelona hosts Valencia
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Sunday:
Liverpool hosts Manchester United in the Premier League in a fixture traditionally regarded as the biggest in English soccer. The balance in power between the teams has shifted dramatically, with Liverpool languishing way behind United a season after beating its fierce rival 5-0 and 4-0 in league meetings. United starts the game in third place and 10 points clear of Liverpool, which has won three of its last four league games as it recovers from a poor first half of the season. Nottingham Forest hosts Everton, which is in the relegation zone, in the other game.
Barcelona hosts Valencia while missing several first-choice players. Robert Lewandowski, Pedri and Ousmane Dembélé are out injured, while Gavi will serve a one-game suspension from accumulation of yellow cards. Barcelona leads Real Madrid by seven points at the top of the league. Valencia is in the relegation zone. Madrid faces a tough test at Real Betis, which is aiming to get into the top four spots that earn a Champions League berth. Luka Modric will miss the match for Madrid after racking up five yellow cards. Betis will be missing two critical playmakers: Nabil Fekir is out for the rest of the season after needing surgery this week to repair a left knee injury, while Sergio Canales is sidelined with a muscle injury. Rayo Vallecano also hosts Athletic Bilbao in a matchup of two sides fighting for a Europa League berth. Espanyol visits Valladolid with both trying to avoid the drop.
Just a week ago, second-placed Marseille was on course for a league-cup double. But a tough 3-0 home loss against bitter rival Paris Saint-Germain followed by another defeat at Stade Velodrome at the hands of second-tier Annecy has brought Marseille crashing to earth. It has been a wakeup call for a team playing an attractive but also demanding brand of high-press football under coach Igor Tudor. Marseille has been giving the impression of running out of steam in the last week and needs to bounce back at fifth-placed Rennes to preserve its second place ahead of Monaco, which travels to Troyes.
Roma coach José Mourinho will be on the bench during the match against Juventus after his two-match ban was suspended. Mourinho was banned after being sent off in Roma’s surprise loss to Cremonese but an appeal court has suspended the decision until after hearing from the fourth official. Roma is three points off fourth spot in a tight battle for the Champions League qualifying spots. Inter Milan will also be looking to bounce back from defeat to boost its Champions League hopes. The Nerazzurri, which lost at Bologna on Sunday, host relegation-threatened Lecce. At the other end of the table Hellas Verona visits Spezia in a crucial relegation battle. Spezia is three points above Verona and the bottom three. Bottom club Sampdoria hosts Salernitana.
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The Associated Press