A preview of what’s happening in European football on Saturday:
Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to be available when Manchester United host Tottenham in a game with European implications for both sides. It is one of three Premier League matches for the day. Edinson Cavani and Raphael Varane will also be available for fifth place United. All three missed United’s 4-1 loss to Manchester City last Sunday. Ronaldo was out with a hip bending problem and reportedly traveled to Portugal amid speculation he was unhappy. Caretaker manager Ralf Rangnick said: “Well, I don’t know, I didn’t ask him if he was happy at Manchester and at this club.” Spurs are three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal. Second-placed Liverpool travel to Brighton early in the game and will look to close the gap on City to three points. Burnley can climb out of the relegation zone with a win at Brentford.
After beating league leaders Paris Saint-Germain without conceding a goal, second-placed Nice will be full of confidence heading into their southern rivals Montpellier in the French league. Nice have forwards Amine Gouiri and Andy Delort in fine form and the defense looks solid again under veteran Brazilian Dante. Midtable Montpellier’s form has plunged with four defeats in the last five games. But Montpellier are a tough team to beat at home and have one of the best midfielders in the league in Teji Savanier. Sixth-placed Nantes are riding high under coach Antoine Kombouaré and have won five of the last six games overall. Next up is a visit to struggling Troyes, who are 16th.
AC Milan can take another big step towards their first Serie A title since 2011 by winning at home to Empoli. Victory would send Milan five points clear of defending champions Inter Milan in second place and six clear of third-placed Napoli, with the two not playing until the following day. Having revived their own title chances recently, Juventus can put more pressure on the top three with victory over relegation-threatened Sampdoria. There is also a vital fight to avoid a fall when Cagliari visit Spezia, with just one point separating the two sides hovering just above the bottom three. Salernitana, last place, welcomes Sassuolo.
Villarreal host Celta Vigo and are aiming to build momentum before heading to Juventus in the Champions League. Unai Emery’s side were unbeaten in five consecutive matches, including a 1-1 draw with Juventus, before stumbling 1-0 at Osasuna in the final round. A win would lift Villarreal to sixth place. After Celta, Villarreal will prepare to travel to Italy for the Champions League Round of 16 second leg with Juventus. Granada will face Elche in the first match under caretaker manager Rubén Torrecilla since Robert Moreno was sacked after the team lost six of seven matches. Valencia visit Getafe in search of a fourth straight win in all competitions, while bottom-placed Levante host Espanyol.
Relegation-threatened Hertha Berlin visits struggling Borussia Mönchengladbach in a Bundesliga clash both sides will be desperate to win. Hertha are in the relegation playoff spot after winning no games this year and the club itself is in disarray amid a public power struggle between board members and the investor who injected 374 million euros into the club. Stuttgart, which is only one point away from Hertha, visits Union Berlin. Champions League contender Freiburg host Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich can extend their lead at the top with a win at Hoffenheim.
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