A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Sunday:
The first piece of major domestic silverware is on the line when Manchester City plays Tottenham in the English League Cup final at Wembley Stadium. It pits one of the world’s most storied coaches, City’s Pep Guardiola, with a rookie counterpart in Tottenham’s Ryan Mason – the Premier League’s youngest manager at 29 taking charge of only his second senior game after replacing the fired Jose Mourinho. It could be the first of three trophies this season for City, which leads the Premier League by 11 points and is into the semifinals of the Champions League. There are fitness doubts over the best players in each team – Kevin De Bruyne of City and Harry Kane of Tottenham. Tottenham hasn’t won a major trophy since 2008. In the Premier League, second-placed Manchester United can be virtually assured of Champions League qualification by beating fierce rival Leeds away. Next-to-last West Bromwich Albion needs to win at Aston Villa to keep alive any realistic hopes of staying up, and Burnley travels to Wolverhampton.
Leipzig hopes to make amends for a dip in form when it hopes Stuttgart, knowing another defeat would hand Bayern Munich the Bundesliga title with three rounds to go. Second-placed Leipzig slumped to a surprise loss to relegation candidate Cologne in its last game and has fallen 10 points behind the Bavarian powerhouse after just one win in its last four games. Stuttgart has lost its last three games and is still hoping to claim the point that would bring its tally to the 40 that sporting director Sven Mislintat said was the target for the season. Borussia Monchengladbach hosts relegation-threatened Arminia Bielefeld in the late game. Gladbach also hopes to make amends after throwing a two-goal lead away in a 3-2 loss at Hoffenheim on Wednesday.
Atletico Madrid has an excellent chance to take a big step toward its first title since 2014 when it visits Athletic Bilbao. A victory would lift Diego Simeone’s side five points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the league. Top scorer Luis Suarez and forwards Joao Felix and Thomas Lemar will all be back on Atletico’s squad after recovering from injury. Barcelona, if it wins at Villarreal, can also pull level with Madrid, which drew with Real Betis 0-0 on Saturday. Lionel Messi leads the league with 25 goals, while Villarreal’s Gerard Moreno with 20 is third on the scorers’ list behind Karim Benzema. Sevilla can keep alive its outside title bid with a win at Granada that would leave it one point behind Madrid. Also, Getafe is at Huesca, while Celta Vigo hosts Osasuna.
Juventus will be looking for revenge when it visits Fiorentina, which handed the nine-time defending champion a demoralizing 3-0 defeat in Turin in December. Sitting in fourth place with a precarious hold on the final Champions League spot, Juventus has no more room for missteps against a Fiorentina side attempting to avoid relegation. Meanwhile, Serie A leader Inter Milan hosts Hellas Verona and third-placed Atalanta looks to extend its six-match unbeaten run when it hosts Bologna. Also, Roma warms up for its Europa League semifinal against Manchester United with a visit to relegation-threatened Cagliari.
With Paris Saint-Germain finally finding form, Lille is the one now under pressure. Christophe Galtier’s side needs to win at Lyon to retain top spot by one point from defending champion PSG with four games remaining after this weekend. But waiting in the wings are third-placed Monaco and fourth-placed Lyon, and they are both firmly in title contention. If Monaco wins at Angers and Lyon beats visiting Lille, then Monaco will jump up to second, Lyon goes third, and Lille drops to fourth. The title race is the closest for many years. Of the four rivals, Niko Kovac’s slick Monaco side is playing the best soccer, has lost only once in the past 22 games, and has its key players in form.
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