European football matchday: Atletico Madrid keen to widen gap on Barcelona, Real Madrid

The Associated Press
·2 min read

A look at what's happening in European football on Sunday:

SPAIN

Atlético Madrid visit Villarreal needing a win after hitting a slump that has let Barcelona and Real Madrid get back in the Spanish league title hunt. Diego Simeone's team have only one win in their last four games in the competition, and they travel to Villarreal after having lost to Chelsea 1-0 in the Champions League.

Leading scorer Luis Suárez has four yellow cards and one more would mean he would miss the next round's derby with Madrid.

Unai Emery's Villarreal are in sixth place after a run of five draws and one loss.

Granada host Elche looking to build on their elimination of Napoli from the Europa League. Real Betis are at Cádiz seeking to keep up their good run in 2021, while Iago Aspas returns from a one-game suspension to lead Celta Vigo against relegation-threatened Valladolid.

GERMANY

Freiburg's visit comes at just the right time for confidence-battered Bayer Leverkusen. Christian Streich's Freiburg haven't beaten Leverkusen for seven games, giving some encouragement to his under-pressure counterpart Peter Bosz.

Bosz's team was knocked out of the Europa League by Swiss side Young Boys on Thursday, another blow after Leverkusen were knocked out of the German Cup by fourth-tier Rot-Weiss Essen.

Leverkusen's goal of Champions League qualification is also under threat with just two wins from their nine Bundesliga games in 2021. Leverkusen are missing important players such as Lars Bender, Julian Baumgartlinger and goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky due to injuries. Hradecky's replacement, Niklas Lomb, has been prone to costly mistakes.

Union Berlin host Hoffenheim for a duel between teams stretched by injuries. Relegation contender Mainz hope to build on some encouraging results with a win at home over Augsburg.

FRANCE

Lyon will move to the top of the league on goal difference if they win at Marseille and Lille loses at home to lowly Strasbourg.

Marseille's fans will be in optimistic mood, however, after unpopular president Jacques-Henri Eyraud was replaced and Jorge Sampaoli named as the new coach.

In another boost for Marseille supporters, striker Arkadiusz Milik and goal-scoring winger Florian Thauvin are back from injury.

Fourth-placed Monaco look to make it 12 league games unbeaten when they host Brest. Niko Kovac's slick Monaco side has not lost since mid-December and comfortably won at PSG 2-0 last weekend.

Also See: What to watch in European football this weekend: Lionel Messi-led Barcelona at Sevilla; Porto hope to stop runaway leaders Sporting and an 'Olympico'

Bundesliga: Bayer Leverkusen continue poor form with loss against Freiburg; Union Berlin held to 1-1 draw at Hoffenheim

LaLiga: Atletico Madrid bounce back with 2-0 win over Villarreal; Real Valladolid draw 1-1 at Celta Vigo

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