What to watch in main com­pe­ti­tions

Malta Independent - - Sport -

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

ENG­LAND

Jose Mour­inho has started to ac­cept that at­tack is the best form of de­fense for his Manch­ester United team that has kept just one clean sheet in the Premier League all sea­son.

Will he main­tain that stance ahead of a match against the most pro­lific side in Eng­land?

Manch­ester City has net­ted six goals in each of its last two games go­ing into the derby against United on Sun­day, the stand­out fix­ture of the week­end. With 33 goals in 11 games in the league, City has scored six more than Chelsea, the next best team.

United has won its last three matches, the most re­cent be­ing a 2-1 vic­tory at Ju­ven­tus in the Cham­pi­ons League on Wed­nes­day. Watch­ing United at the mo­ment is as ex­cit­ing as it has been for a while, and it makes for a po­ten­tially ex­plo­sive derby at Eti­had Sta­dium. The sub­plot, as al­ways, will be Mour­inho go­ing head to head with ri­val coach Pep Guardiola.

City leads the league by two points from Chelsea, which is at home to Ever­ton on Sun­day, and Liver­pool, which hosts last­place Fulham the same day. Fulham man­ager Slav­isa Jokanovic ap­pears to be bat­tling to save his job af­ter a run of six straight losses — five com­ing in the league.

— By Steve Dou­glas

SPAIN

Celta Vigo will pro­vide a good test of whether Real Madrid has truly turned around its sea­son un­der in­terim coach San­ti­ago Solari.

Madrid has won three matches un­der Solari since the fir­ing of for­mer coach Julen Lopetegui, but a visit to Celta on Sun­day should pro­vide more of a chal­lenge than third-tier Melilla in the Copa del Rey, a home game against Valladolid in La Liga, and a trip to Czech side Vik­to­ria Plzen in the Cham­pi­ons League.

Barcelona looks to main­tain its lead when it hosts Real Betis on Sun­day.

Lionel Messi is doubt­ful as he re­cov­ers from a bro­ken bone in his right fore­arm, while Philippe Coutinho is out af­ter tear­ing a mus­cle in his left leg.

Sec­ond-place Es­panyol vis­its third-place Sevilla on Sun­day, while fourth-place Atletico Madrid wel­comes Ath­letic Bil­bao on Satur­day.

— By Joseph Wil­son in Barcelona.

ITALY

Af­ter fall­ing to its first loss of the sea­son on Wed­nes­day, Ju­ven­tus wants to get straight back on track but faces a tricky trip to AC Mi­lan on Sun­day.

Ju­ven­tus hadn't lost in any com­pe­ti­tion un­til con­ced­ing two late goals in a 2-1 de­feat to Manch­ester United in the Cham­pi­ons League.

Do­mes­ti­cally, Juve is march­ing to­wards a record-ex­tend­ing eighth Serie A ti­tle and al­ready has a six-point lead over its clos­est challengers, In­ter Mi­lan and Napoli.

AC Mi­lan is 10 points be­hind Juve but has won its last three league matches to move up to fourth.

In­ter also plays on Sun­day, at neigh­bor­ing Ata­lanta, while Napoli trav­els to Genoa on Satur­day.

Lazio has the same points as Mi­lan and on Sun­day vis­its Sas­suolo, which is three points be­hind the cap­i­tal side.

— By Daniella Matar in Mi­lan.

GER­MANY

Bay­ern Mu­nich vis­its Bun­desliga leader Borus­sia Dort­mund on Satur­day for the much-an­tic­i­pated Ger­man "Klas­siker."

Few be­lieved at the start of the sea­son that Bay­ern would be four points be­hind Dort­mund af­ter 10 matches.

Bay­ern pres­i­dent Uli Hoe­ness has played down his side's chances.

"We're not go­ing as fa­vorites to Dort­mund, but as out­siders — for the first time in a long time," Hoe­ness said.

Werder Bre­men hosts Borus­sia Moenchenglad­bach for what prom­ises to be an ex­cit­ing game on Satur­day, while Ein­tra­cht Frank­furt will put Schalke's im­prove­ment to the test on Sun­day.

— By Ciaran Fa­hey in Ber­lin.

FRANCE

Run­away leader Paris Sain­tGer­main vis­its Monaco, which is 19th and lurch­ing into a cri­sis un­der new coach Thierry Henry.

Things are go­ing from bad to worse for Monaco, which has not won in 15 games — the past five com­ing since the France

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