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International

European Soccer Weekend: No Fans in Italy, Manchester Derby

March 6, 2020

What to watch in the leading leagues in European soccer this weekend:

ITALY

Serie A resumes in full this weekend in empty stadiums with the matches that were postponed last week because of the virus outbreak in Italy, including a game between Juventus and Inter Milan that could help to determine the title.

The “Derby d’Italia,” or Italy’s derby, will be played on Sunday.

Juventus is in second place, two points behind league leader Lazio, which has played a match more. Inter is eight points behind Lazio but has played two matches less.

Six matches were postponed last week. The revised Serie A program was formed after the government ordered all sporting events in Italy to take place without fans until April 3.

__ By Daniella Matar.

ENGLAND

With three losses in four games in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup, Liverpool’s juggernaut has stalled. But it’s far from gloomy.

Hopes of winning the Premier League unbeaten ended last weekend but Liverpool hosts Bournemouth on Saturday with a 22-point lead over second-place Manchester City. Bournemouth could be the perfect opponent for Liverpool to recover from the league loss to Watford and cup exit at Chelsea. The Reds have outscored the south-coast team 17-0 in their last five league meetings.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be looking to complete the double over Pep Guardiola in this season’s derby matches when Manchester United hosts Manchester City on Sunday. United has hauled itself back into Champions League qualification contention, sitting only three points from fourth place. There’s a clear gulf between the Manchester rivals, with City 15 points ahead.

Among the other games, third-place Leicester hosts Aston Villa on Monday, Chelsea faces Everton on Sunday and sixth-place Tottenham is at Burnley.

— By Rob Harris.

SPAIN

Barcelona hosts Real Sociedad on Saturday after being toppled from first place with a loss to Real Madrid last weekend.

Lionel Messi will face an opponent playing the most attractive attacking soccer in the competition this season. Led by midfielder Martin Odegaard, forward Mikel Oyarzabal and striker Alexander Isak, Sociedad is chasing a spot in the top four to qualify for the Champions League.

Sociedad, which is three points behind third-place Sevilla in sixth, has also reached the Copa del Rey final.

There’s also a meeting of third and fifth on Saturday when Sevilla visits Atletico Madrid, with two points separating them.

Madrid visits a Real Betis team that is winless in six matches.

— By Joseph Wilson.

GERMANY

Title hopes will be on the line Saturday when third-place Borussia Dortmund faces fourth-place Borussia Monchengladbach. Dortmund leads its rival by two points but Gladbach has a game in hand.

Dortmund has been revitalized since defender Emre Can and striker Erling Haaland arrived in January. Can has brought in much much-needed steel and Haaland has scored nine goals in seven games.

Dortmund is four points behind leader Bayern Munich after winning all but one of its league games since the winter break, while Gladbach is under pressure after consecutive draws against Leipzig and Hoffenheim. However, Gladbach still has to play its postponed Rhine derby with Cologne on Wednesday.

Second-place Leipzig’s hopes took a knock last weekend in a 1-1 draw with Bayer Leverkusen, but the team is still only three points behind Bayern.

Leipzig visits Wolfsburg on Saturday, while in-form Bayern hosts Augsburg for a Bavarian derby on Sunday.

— By Ciaran Fahey.

FRANCE

Mid-table Strasbourg hosts runaway league leader Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday.

The encounter has been physical in recent times, and PSG coach Thomas Tuchel must decide whether to rest some players ahead of next week’s Champions League match. PSG trails Borussia Dortmund 2-1 from the away leg.

PSG has a 13-point lead over Marseille, which hosts relegation-threatened Amiens on Friday.

Third-place Rennes is eight points behind and fourth-place Lille is nine points back. Both have tough matches on Sunday, with Rennes hosting sixth-place Montpellier and Lille facing fifth-place Lyon.

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