MATCHDAY: Merseyside derby in EPL; Barcelona fights for 2nd

·3 min read

A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Sunday:

ENGLAND

Liverpool will look to trim the deficit to Premier League leader Manchester City back down to one point by beating Everton in a Merseyside derby between teams at opposite ends of the standings. City's 5-1 win over Watford on Saturday put the pressure back on Liverpool, which hasn't lost in the league in 2022. Everton is battling relegation and seeking to avoid a first year out of the top flight since the 1953-54 campaign. Everton is a point above the bottom three but could be in it by kickoff at Anfield, with third-to-last Burnley hosting Wolverhampton a couple of hours earlier. Chelsea will try to tighten its grip on third place with a win over West Ham, while Brighton-Southampton is the other game.

SPAIN

Barcelona hosts Rayo Vallecano in a match that was pushed back from January. Barcelona is in second place in the league, but coach Xavi Hernández acknowledges the 15-point gap with leader Real Madrid is far too large to overcome. “Being realistic, the league is practically impossible,” Xavi said the day before the match against Rayo. Barcelona’s only remaining objective for a season that will end without a title is ensuring it finishes in the top four to earn a Champions League berth. Sevilla is level on points with Barcelona in third place, with Atlético Madrid two points back in fourth. But with Real Betis and Real Sociedad still in striking distance, none of the front-runners can afford a late-season letdown.

ITALY

The pressure is on AC Milan and Napoli after title rival Inter Milan beat Roma to move atop of Serie A. Napoli is five points below Inter and should manage to beat an Empoli side which hasn’t won since December. Milan is only a point behind its city rival but faces a tricky trip to Lazio. It is also hit by injuries and low on confidence after a 3-0 defeat to Inter in the Italian Cup semifinals midweek. Lazio is battling for a European berth along with Fiorentina, which visits relegation-threatened Salernitana. All three clubs in the relegation zone – Venezia, Salernitana and Genoa -- have 22 points, six less than 17th-placed Cagliari. Genoa hosts Cagliari in a must-win match. Also, Udinese visits Bologna.

GERMANY

Hertha Berlin hosts Stuttgart for a high stakes Bundesliga relegation duel. Hertha is only one point ahead of Stuttgart, which can climb out of the relegation zone and leave Hertha in its place if it can beat Felix Magath’s team at Berlin’s Olympiastadion. Hertha placed its faith in Magath to lead the team away from danger. In four games since the former Bayern Munich coach took over, Hertha has won two and lost two. It defeated another relegation rival Augsburg 1-0 last weekend and faces another in Arminia Bielefeld after Stuttgart’s visit. Augsburg, which is three points ahead of Hertha, visits Bochum for Sunday's early game.

FRANCE

Marseille will rely on Dimitri Payet to consolidate second place in the league with a victory at Reims. The Mediterranean side has a six-point lead over Rennes, Strasbourg and Monaco with just five games left. In the race for Europe, Rennes hopes to get back to winning ways against Lorient after two straight losses. Lille hosts Strasbourg, which looks to extend its unbeaten run to 12 games but will miss midfielder Jean-Eudes Aholou, sidelined by a groin problem. Sixth-placed Nice needs a win over Troyes to get back in the race for European spots. Brazilian defender Dante is back in the Nice squad after a two-game suspension. In the fight for safety, Bordeaux will miss the injured Alberth Elis, Timothee Pembele and Issouf Sissokho against mid-table Nantes.

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The Associated Press

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