MATCHDAY: Newcastle at Forest, Gladbach eyes landmark win

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


Newcastle will look to move a point off the Premier League's top four when it visits relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest. Newcastle is currently in fifth place, four points behind Tottenham in fourth but with two games in hand. The northeast team ignited its push for Champions League qualification by beating Wolverhampton on Sunday to end a four-game winless run in the league. Forest is in 14th place in the 20-team league but only two points above the relegation zone in what is shaping up to be a tight race to avoid dropping into the Championship. The bottom five is separated by five points.


Athletic Bilbao visits Valladolid in the Spanish league looking to create some winning momentum in the buildup to its decisive Copa del Rey semifinal match. Bilbao has not won in five consecutive games, despite playing well in last week’s 1-0 loss to leader Barcelona. Bilbao is in ninth place and will have a hard time reaching the European positions, but it is just two wins away from lifting the cup. After Valladolid and one more league game, Bilbao will face Osasuna in the second game of their semifinal that Osasuna leads 1-0. Valladolid is in 14th place and unbeaten in two games.


Atalanta needs to get back to winning ways when it hosts Empoli to avoid falling further behind in the race for the Champions League spots. Atalanta has lost three of its past four matches, drawing the other, to leave it six points below fourth-place AC Milan. Empoli has not won since a surprise victory at Inter Milan in January and has lost its previous three matches. It sits 11 points above the relegation zone. Spezia is in an even more perilous position as just five points separate it from the bottom three but it will be boosted by a shock win over Inter in the last round. It visits a Sassuolo team that has won its previous three matches.


Borussia Mönchengladbach can clock its 500th home win in the Bundesliga with a victory over Werder Bremen. Gladbach has beaten Bremen 31 times at home in the league, more often than any other rival. Both teams have been inconsistent this season. Gladbach has one win from its last five games – a 3-2 success over league leader Bayern Munich – while Bremen has lost four of its last five matches. Gladbach is 10th, just ahead of Bremen on goal difference, and will remember its 5-1 loss to Bremen the last time the teams met. It was Bremen’s biggest win this season.


Lyon hosts Nantes in a league match three weeks before the teams meet again in the French Cup semifinals. Alexandre Lacazette scored two late goals for mid-table Lyon to salvage a 3-3 draw at Lyon last Friday. Nantes will try to end its four-game winless run in league play.


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