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International

Soccer Weekend: New Barcelona Coach, Liverpool Faces Man United

January 16, 2020

LONDON – What to watch for in the leading soccer competitions in Europe this weekend:

SPAIN

Quique Setien will make his debut as Barcelona coach in the Spanish league against Granada at the Camp Nou Stadium on Sunday.

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu replaced Ernesto Valverde with Setien this week to give the club “an extra push” in the second half of the season.

Setien inherited the team at the top of the league standings, ahead of Real Madrid on goal difference. Madrid, coming off winning the Spanish Super Cup final, has a home game against fourth-placed Sevilla on Saturday.

Sevilla is five points behind the leaders, tied on points with third-placed Atletico Madrid, which visits relegation-threatened Eibar later Saturday.

In the fight for spots in European competitions, fifth-placed Real Sociedad visits Real Betis on Sunday, while sixth-placed Valencia travels to face Mallorca.

By Tales Azzoni in Madrid

ENGLAND

The only team to take points off Liverpool this season, Manchester United is looking to end its great rival’s unbeaten run in the Premier League.

Liverpool and United meet at Anfield on Sunday on what is traditionally regarded as the biggest game on the English soccer calendar, with the clubs having won more domestic and European titles than any other in the country.

Liverpool holds a 14-point lead and has won 20 of its 21 games, its only dropped points coming in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in October.

United has a good record against the top teams, winning at Manchester City and also beating Leicester, Chelsea and Tottenham in the league.

United is fifth in the standings, five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea in the race for Champions League qualification.

City, which has climbed above Leicester into second place, hosts Crystal Palace on Saturday, Chelsea also visits Newcastle that day.

Leicester is away to Burnley on Sunday.

GERMANY

Bayern Munich’s bid to overhaul Bundesliga leader Leipzig after the winter break begins at Hertha Berlin on Sunday.

Hertha coach Jurgen Klinsmann will hopefully have found his coaching license before the game against his former team, while counterpart Hansi Flick’s concerns have been centered on a squad thinned by injuries. Bayern will be hoping star striker Robert Lewandowski shows no ill effects from a groin operation on Dec. 21.

Lewandowski has 19 goals in 17 games and a record-extending eighth Bundesliga title seems unthinkable without the Polish forward in form.

Bayern is four points behind Leipzig (37 points), which is also looking over its shoulder at Borussia Monchengladbach (35) and Borussia Dortmund (30).

Leipzig hosts promoted Union Berlin on Saturday after Dortmund visits Augsburg.

Gladbach begins the second half of the season at Schalke (30) on Friday.

By Ciaran Fahey in Munich.

ITALY

Juventus has started 2020 with goals — lots of them.

The Bianconeri have scored 10 in their past three matches, in all competitions, and are alone at the top of the Serie A standings.

Juventus hosts Parma on Sunday. Roberto D’Aversa’s team is flying high in sixth place but let in five goals in its last league match, against Atalanta.

Inter Milan is two points below Juventus and visits relegation-threatened Lecce earlier in the day.

Third-placed Lazio will be hoping for a club-record extending 11th successive win when it welcomes Sampdoria on Saturday. The capital side is six points below Juventus but with a game in hand.

Also, AC Milan hosts Udinese with Zlatan Ibrahimovic eager to score in front of his home fans.

By Daniella Matar in Milan.

FRANCE

Lorient is next in line to face Paris Saint-Germain’s fearsome scoring quartet in the French Cup.

The second division leader must somehow cope with an attack which has netted 36 goals in eight games to stand any chance of reaching the last 16.

PSG is trying to win the Cup back after losing last year’s final to Rennes, which is also away from home on Sunday when it visits Athletico Marseille — a fifth-tier side.

Meanwhile, there’s another 6,000-mile journey for Reunion island side JS Saint-Pierroise. After previously knocking out second-division Niort, the players again travel from off the east coast of Africa to face fourth-division Epinal on Saturday.

An all-first division clash on Saturday sees Nantes hosting Lyon, two sides with a combined 15 league titles.

Marseille, second in the French league, needed penalties against a minnow in the last round and will expect a more professional job away to fourth-division Granville on Friday.

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