MATCHDAY: Nervous Man United hosts Wolves, Messi back for PSG
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Saturday:
With Premier League title contenders Manchester City and Arsenal in action on Sunday, attention turns to European qualification and top-flight survival. Relegation-threatened Leeds hosts Newcastle, with time running out for the club to climb away from the drop zone. Nottingham Forest can move further away from the bottom three when it travels to Chelsea, while anything other than a win for bottom-placed Southampton at home to Fulham will confirm relegation — and even that might not be enough if other results go against it over the weekend. Fourth-placed Manchester United faces Wolverhampton as it looks to secure Champions League qualification, with Liverpool just a point behind, having played a game more. Aston Villa and Tottenham face off with both still hoping to play in Europe next season.
Lionel Messi will be back in Paris Saint-Germain’s starting lineup against struggling Ajaccio at the Parc des Princes. Messi missed PSG’s previous game because the club suspended him for missing training and traveling to Saudi Arabia for commercial reasons without PSG’s authorization. Galtier said he spoke with Messi and found him in a good mindset, “very determined to win yet another trophy.” With four games left to play, PSG tops the league with a six-point lead over Lens. Ajaccio stands in the relegation zone, 11 points away from safety. Nice travels to Strasbourg.
Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund continue their duel for the Bundesliga title with home games against Schalke and Borussia Mönchengladbach, respectively. Bayern is one point ahead of Dortmund with three rounds including this one remaining. The 10-time defending champion is the firm favorite against a Schalke team fighting for survival. Only a point is keeping Schalke out of the relegation zone. But Schalke has won its last two games and will give all to spring a major surprise in Munich – even if it benefits its fierce rival Dortmund. Dortmund routed Wolfsburg 6-0 last weekend and faces a Gladbach team with pride to play for in mid-table. Bayern can increase the pressure by taking a four-point lead before Dortmund's late game. Also, fourth-placed Union Berlin hosts fifth-placed Freiburg with Champions League qualification at stake. Only the top four qualify. Bochum hosts Augsburg for a relegation battle, Eintracht Frankfurt welcomes Mainz and Hoffenheim visits Wolfsburg.
Between the first and second legs of their Champions League semifinal, Inter Milan and AC Milan face key matches in Serie A to make sure they have spots in Europe’s top competition next season. Inter hosts Sassuolo. Milan visits relegation-threatened Spezia. Inter is fourth and Milan is fifth with the top four spots securing Champions League berths. Sixth-placed Atalanta visits Salernitana.
Karim Benzema, Rodrygo and David Alaba will most likely rest when Real Madrid hosts Getafe to prioritize next week’s Champions League semifinal decider against Manchester City. Coach Carlo Ancelotti said the three players were doubtful for the Spanish league derby after they trained individually on Friday. They are expected to be ready for Wednesday’s trip to Manchester. Madrid is in distant third place in La Liga, 14 points from leader Barcelona, which can clinch the league title on Sunday. Relegation-threatened Getafe will be without suspended top scorer Enes Unal. Real Sociedad hosts an in-form Girona seeking to move closer to locking up a fourth-place finish and the final Champions League berth. Girona has won three in a row to move into seventh place, the spot that will be rewarded by a Conference League berth. Villarreal hosts Athletic Bilbao. Osasuna hosts Almeria after losing the Copa del Rey final against Madrid last weekend.
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The Associated Press