MATCHDAY: Focus on Werner as Chelsea hosts Liverpool

A look at what’s happening around European soccer on Sunday:

ENGLAND

Chelsea and Liverpool meet in the first blockbuster match of the Premier League season, with both teams seeking a second straight win to open the season. Much of the focus will be on Timo Werner, who chose to join Chelsea as part of the club’s huge offseason recruitment drive after previous interest from Liverpool. Chelsea will be without three of its recent signings against the champions, though — Thiago Silva, Hamin Ziyech and Ben Chilwell. Tottenham visits Southampton, less than three days after a gruelling trip to Bulgaria for a Europa League match, while Leicester and Newcastle seek second straight wins in a home matches against Burnley and Brighton, respectively.

SPAIN

Real Madrid launches its campaign to win back-to-back Spanish league titles for the first time since 2007-2008 when it visits Real Sociedad. In July, Madrid won its first league trophy in three seasons after Zinedine Zidane’s side ran off 10 consecutive wins. The match in San Sebastian corresponds to Round 2. Madrid’s first round match was postponed to give it more rest after it played in the Champions League round-of-16 in August. Zidane won’t have to worry about what to do with Gareth Bale anymore after the Wales winger was loaned to Tottenham for this season on Saturday. Young midfielder Martin Odegaard is back with Madrid this campaign after breaking out while on loan with Sociedad. Elsewhere, Manuel Pellegrini’s Real Betis welcomes Valladolid aiming for a second straight win. Huesca and Cádiz will meet with both seeking their first victory since returning to the topflight.

ITALY

Andrea Pirlo will take charge of his first ever match when Juventus kicks off its title defense at home to Sampdoria. Pirlo was handed his first coaching job last month when he was put in charge of Juventus’ under-23 team, which plays in Serie C. But the former midfield great had not led a game before he was promoted to replace the fired Maurizio Sarri. Juventus is bidding for a record-extending 10th successive Serie A title. One of its potential challengers is also in action Sunday as Napoli visits Parma. Also, it’s: Genoa vs. Crotone and Sassuolo vs. Cagliari.

GERMANY

With Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund claiming impressive wins to start their Bundesliga campaigns, its over to Leipzig to show what it can do against Mainz on Sunday. Leipzig finished third behind Bayern and Dortmund last season, and the pressure is on coach Julian Nagelsmann to mount a more sustained challenge in his second season. Bayer Leverkusen finished fifth and will also hope to do better, despite the departures of Kai Havertz and Kevin Volland. Peter Bosz’s team faces Wolfsburg away in its first game.

FRANCE

Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain is without Neymar and three other suspended players for the tough trip away to Nice. PSG has made a terrible start to its title defense, losing its opening two games and a flurry of players to red cards. However, coach Thomas Tuchel is set to welcome back Kylian Mbappé after his recovery from the coronavirus. But in a blow for Nice, striker Kasper Dolberg and two other first-choice players tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. Saint-Étienne aims for a fourth straight victory when it travels to face Nantes. Marseille looks to bounce back from a home loss to Saint-Étienne on Thursday when it hosts Lille at Stade Vélodrome.

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