A look at what’s happening around European soccer on Wednesday:
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho continues his bid to deliver the club’s first trophy since 2008 when his team visits second-tier Stoke in the English League Cup quarterfinals. Spurs have dropped away in the Premier League of late, after losing to Liverpool and Leicester in the space of four days. Stoke, managed by former Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill, is looking to match the exploits of Brentford, a fellow second-tier club which beat Newcastle on Tuesday to reach the semifinals along with titleholder Manchester City. The final quarterfinal match sees Manchester United play away to Everton.
Eden Hazard returns to Real Madrid’s squad for its match against Granada after recovering from his latest injury. A muscle problem in his right thigh kept him out of Madrid’s last six matches. Hazard has only made six appearances this season. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane acknowledges “it has not been easy psychologically” for the Belgium star dealing with the repeated injuries he has endured since moving to the club from Chelsea. Madrid hosts Granada seeking a fifth straight win in the Spanish league that will leave it locked on the same points as leader Atlético Madrid. Zidane is resting Luka Modric for the game. Also, a surging Celta Vigo visits Getafe seeking a fifth successive victory since the arrival of Eduardo Coudet as coach. Real Betis hosts Cádiz with both winless in two rounds, while Eibar is at Alavés in a Basque Country derby.
One of the Milan clubs will end the year on top of Serie A. Current leader AC Milan has a one-point advantage over Inter Milan and hosts Lazio in its last match of 2020. Milan is the only unbeaten team in Serie A after Juventus lost against Fiorentina on Tuesday. Inter is the in-form team, with six successive wins, and it visits Hellas Verona. Third-place Napoli is seven points behind Milan and will have been boosted by winning its appeal against a default 3-0 loss to Juventus and a point deduction. It hosts Torino. Also in the final round of the year, it’s Bologna vs. Atalanta, Roma vs. Cagliari, Sampdoria vs. Sassuolo, Spezia vs. Genoa and Udinese vs. Benevento.
The injuries are piling up for Paris Saint-Germain, which will be missing 10 players, including Neymar and center half Presnel Kimpembe, for the home league game against a physical Strasbourg side just above the relegation zone and needing points. PSG striker Kylian Mbappe is also doubtful. Defending champion PSG may head into the winter break in the rare position of being in third place, since it trails Lyon and leader Lille by one point. Lille has the tougher-looking game of the two when it travels to sixth-place Montpellier, while Lyon should expect to beat 15th-place Nantes and make it 14 games unbeaten. Lyon’s slick attacking trio of Memphis Depay, Karl Toko Ekambi and newcomer Tino Kadewere are looking increasingly good.
Stuttgart hosts Freiburg in an all-Bundesliga game in the second round of the German Cup on the last day of games in 2020 before the shortened winter break. Stuttgart is trying to replicate the strong run which took it into the top half of the league table in its first season since promotion, while Freiburg started the season poorly but is now five games unbeaten. Champions League-chasing Wolfsburg has a squad depleted by coronavirus and injury as it plays second-tier Sandhausen. Werder Bremen visits Hannover and struggling Mainz plays Bochum. German soccer takes a shorter-than-usual break before resuming with league games on Jan. 2.