MATCH DAY: Leicester at Forest in the Cup; Barça receives Atlético
A preview of what’s happening in European football on Sunday:
Leicester continue their FA Cup defense at Nottingham Forest in the fourth round boosted by the return of Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho from the Africa Cup of Nations. Nampalys Mendy is still absent in Cameroon, with his Senegalese team in Sunday’s final against Egypt. Wesley Fofana, Jamie Vardy, Jonny Evans, Timothy Castagne and Ricardo Pereira remain injured. Second-tier Forest ousted Arsenal last month. Liverpool’s new signing Luis Diaz may only be on the bench for the visit to Cardiff. Jürgen Klopp’s side have already reached a final this season – with Chelsea awaiting the League Cup climax on February 27. Fifth tier Boreham Wood face a tough game at Bournemouth.
Barcelona host Atlético Madrid in a fight for fourth in the Spanish league and last place in the Champions League. Xavi Hernández has included Ousmane Dembélé in his Barcelona squad despite the winger’s refusal to sign a new contract or secure a transfer to a new club during the winter transfer window. Barcelona new signings Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Adama Traore could make their debuts against Atlético. Leader Real Madrid host Granada and third-placed Real Betis take on Villarreal. Midfielder Giovani Lo Celso could make his Villarreal debut following his loan spell from Tottenham. Real Sociedad travel to Valencia to try and stop their fall in the standings. The Basque Country club has only one victory in its last eight league matches.
Runaway league leaders Paris Saint-Germain have a point to prove when they visit defending champions Lille, having lost and drawn against the northern side last season without scoring a goal. PSG are 10 points ahead of second-placed Marseille and 11 ahead of third-placed Nice, which hosts struggling Clermont. Lille have improved after a poor start to the season but are only mid-table heading into the game and have conceded 30 goals in 22 games, seven more than all of last season. PSG will be without striker Mauro Icardi due to a minor foot injury. He was ineffective and had a bad game in Monday night’s Coupe de France quarter-final loss to Nice.
Borussia Dortmund are under pressure from above and below as they host Bayer Leverkusen – from above as Bayern Munich extended their lead to nine points on Saturday, and from below as Leverkusen are third, eight points behind Dortmund. Dortmund will be without injured Erling Haaland but US forward Gio Reyna could return after missing 25 games with an injury sustained on international duty last September. Leverkusen’s attack is the best ever in the Bundesliga (49 goals in 20 games) and coach Gerardo Seoane appears to have corrected the team’s defensive weaknesses. Wolfsburg, threatened with relegation, welcomes the last Greuther Fürth to close the 21st round. Wolfsburg have not won in 11 games in all competitions, while Fürth are improving.
Napoli have the chance to level the points with second-placed AC Milan if they win in Venice in the Italian league. Serie A leaders Inter Milan are one point clear of city rivals Milan. Atalanta, fourth, hosts Cagliari, threatened with relegation. In other games, fifth-placed Juventus host Verona and Torino play Udinese.
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