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International

MATCHDAY: Liverpool Hosts Tottenham; Barcelona Faces Test

December 16, 2020

A look at what's happening around European soccer on Wednesday:

ENGLAND

It's tight at the top of the Premier League and it could switch around with the top four, who are separated by two points, all in action. The headline match is a meeting of the frontrunners with surprise leader Tottenham at Liverpool and only ahead of the champions on goal difference. Third-place Leicester hosts Everton and fourth-place Southampton takes on Arsenal, which is enduring a miserable season down in 15th place after losing seven of its opening 12 games. Fulham will look to climb out of the relegation zone by beating Brighton at home, while Newcastle visits Leeds seeking a second straight win since returning to action after a COVID-19 outbreak at the club forced the closure of its training ground and one of the team's matches to be canceled. The other match sees West Ham host Crystal Palace.

SPAIN

Barcelona hosts Spanish league leader Real Sociedad in a match that could prove crucial to its chances of mounting a title challenge. Barcelona has struggled all season since the club overhauled its squad and brought in coach Ronald Koeman to rebuild the team following its humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich to finish the last campaign. Despite having two games in hand to play, it enters the match in eighth place, at nine points adrift of Sociedad, which is level on points with Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid at the top of the table. Also, Atlético visits minnow Cardassar on the island of Mallorca in the first round of the Copa del Rey for teams from the top two divisions.

ITALY

AC Milan will be hoping to have Zlatan Ibrahimović back as it looks to extend its lead at the top of Serie A. Ibrahimović has been out injured but Milan has nevertheless continued its unbeaten streak in the Italian league and is three points clear of second-placed Inter Milan. Milan visits Genoa while Inter hosts Napoli. Gennaro Gattuso's Napoli is just one point behind Inter and level with nine-time defending Serie A champion Juventus, which hosts Atalanta. Also, it's Fiorentina vs. Sassuolo, Parma vs. Cagliari, Spezia vs. Bologna, and Hellas Verona vs. Sampdoria.

GERMANY

Bayern Munich isn't used to getting knocked off the top spot in the Bundesliga. Bayern dropped to second following a 1-1 draw with Union Berlin but has the chance to rebound at home against Champions League-chasing Wolfsburg, which remains unbeaten this season in fourth place. Bayer Leverkusen is the league leader for the first time since 2014 and will extend its stay at the top with a win over local rival Cologne. Third-place Leipzig visits Hoffenheim and could end the day in first if Leverkusen and Bayern both fail to win. Schalke tries to end its monumental 27-game winless run in the Bundesliga at home to Freiburg. Arminia Bielefeld plays Augsburg.

FRANCE

Paris Saint-Germain is off to its worst start since the 2009-10 season with four defeats in 14 league games, and its tally of six losses in 20 matches overall is the same as all last season from 49 matches. Coach Thomas Tuchel is under increasing pressure, although his side should not realistically be troubled at home to 17th-place Lorient. Lille tops the league from Lyon on goal difference. PSG is one point behind them in third position, while fourth-place Marseille trails PSG by one point but having played two fewer games. Lille visits last-place Dijon; Lyon hosts Brest, and Marseille has a tough trip to eighth-place Rennes.

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