What to watch in the leading leagues in European soccer this weekend:
The second clásico of the league season arrives with Barcelona hitting its stride and Real Madrid stumbling.
The teams meet at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium on Sunday, four days after Madrid lost there to Manchester City in the last 16 of the Champions League. Before that, Zinedine Zidane’s team lost at Levante and drew against Celta Vigo at home in la Liga.
Barcelona, meanwhile, drew at Napoli in the Champions League and has won four straight in the Spanish league. It has a two-point lead over Madrid, which is the smallest points difference between them when playing the second clásico since 2015.
Barcelona has a four-game winning streak against Madrid in league games at the Bernabéu. It is unbeaten in seven straight matches against the rival, with its last loss in the 2017 Spanish Super Cup in Madrid. In the league, Madrid’s last home win dates to 2014, although it won at the Camp Nou in 2016.
Third-placed Atlético Madrid visits last-placed Espanyol on Sunday, while fourth-placed Sevilla hosts Osasuna.
— By Tales Azzoni in Madrid.
Five matches in Italy will be played in empty stadiums, including a top-of-the-table clash between Juventus and Inter Milan.
The measures have been taken because of the virus outbreak in northern Italy. Last weekend, four Serie A matches were postponed.
The other matches that will take place without fans are: Udinese vs. Fiorentina (Saturday), AC Milan vs. Genoa, Parma vs. Spal, and Sassuolo vs. Brescia (all Sunday.)
Inter trails Serie A leader Juventus by six points going into the Derby d’Italia, although it has played a match less.
Sunday’s match will also see Inter coach Antonio Conte return to Juventus for the first time since he left the club in 2014. Conte led Juventus to the first three of its eight straight league titles and also spent most of his playing career with the Bianconeri.
By the time the match takes place, Lazio could be two points clear of Juventus at the top of the table if it beats Bologna on Saturday.
— By Daniella Matar in Milan.
The first major trophy of the season is up for grabs on Sunday and, once again, Manchester City is the big favorite to capture it.
City is looking to win the League Cup for the third straight year under Pep Guardiola, and for the fifth time in the past seven seasons, when it takes on Aston Villa in the final at Wembley Stadium.
With Villa in relegation danger in the Premier League, and City back in form and having just beaten Real Madrid away in the Champions League, it could be a lopsided encounter. City has beaten Villa 3-0 and 6-1 in the Premier League this season.
City is about to lose its Premier League crown, however, with Liverpool still unbeaten in the top flight and needing just four wins from its 11 remaining games to clinch a first English championship title since 1990.
Liverpool is at Watford on Saturday, and a win would move Jurgen Klopp’s team 25 points clear of City.
In the tight race for the final Champions League qualification places, fourth-placed Chelsea visits Bournemouth, fifth-placed Manchester United is away to Everton, and sixth-placed Tottenham is at home to eighth-placed Wolverhampton.
— By Steve Douglas.
Bayern Munich will have to learn how to cope without injured top scorer Robert Lewandowski if it is to claim a record-extending eighth Bundesliga title.
The Polish striker will miss around four weeks after breaking his left shinbone on Tuesday in the win over Chelsea in the Champions League.
Lewandowski scored the late winner against Paderborn last Friday to raise his league tally to 25, and Bayern will need other players to step up to keep title rivals at bay in his absence.
Leipzig is just one point behind ahead of the 24th round, with Borussia Dortmund three points back.
Bayern visits Hoffenheim on Saturday, Leipzig plays Bayer Leverkusen at home on Sunday, and Dortmund welcomes Freiburg on Saturday.
The round begins on Friday, when Fortuna Düsseldorf hosts Hertha Berlin in a relegation battle.
— By Ciarán Fahey in Berlin.
After a surprise victory against Juventus in the Champions League, Lyon can win back its disgruntled fans even more by beating Saint-Étienne at home on Sunday.
Two of France’s most storied sides share 17 league titles, but are also bitter rivals who are less than one hour’s drive apart. Regardless of where they are in the league table, the teams’ fans forgive almost anything if their side wins the local bragging rights.
Saint-Étienne still holds the record for league titles with 10, but the last was way back in 1981.
Lyon’s previous one was its seventh straight in 2008. Neither are good enough to challenge dominant Paris Saint-Germain these days, but both have much to play for.
Lyon needs a run of wins to maintain its slim chances of qualifying in third place for next season’s Champions League qualifying rounds.
Saint-Étienne, a proud club with working-class roots, is only two points above of the relegation zone.
PSG will be without Neymar for Saturday’s home game against lowly Dijon. The volatile Brazil star is suspended after being sent off last weekend.
Defending champion PSG is 13 points ahead of second-placed Marseille, which is at Nimes on Friday.
— By Jerome Pugmire in Paris.
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