MATCHDAY: Arsenal-Liverpool in the cup; Barca, Madrid in action
A preview of what’s happening in European football on Thursday:
Arsenal host Liverpool in the second leg of the League Cup semi-finals with the sides tied at 0-0 after last week’s first leg at Anfield. The winning side will face Chelsea in the final at Wembley Stadium next month. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta declined to say how many of his players are unavailable for the game after the London club had a request to postpone a Premier League derby against Tottenham last weekend granted by the league. Thomas Partey has returned to Arsenal after his Ghana side were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday, but he won’t be back in time to play. Liverpool remain without star strikers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, still in the African Cup.
Real Madrid visit Elche and Barcelona are at Athletic Bilbao, in matches that will conclude the Copa del Rey Round of 16. Madrid have just triumphed in the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia, where they beat Barcelona in the semi-finals and Athletic in the final. Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti left three regular starters for Thursday’s game – goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, defender Éder Militão and striker Karim Benzema, the team’s top scorer this season. Striker Gareth Bale will make the trip after a long injury absence. Barcelona beat Athletic in the Copa final last year. In Spain’s only league match, Getafe and Granada meet in a game between teams from the bottom half of the table.
The final Coppa Italia quarter-final spot will be decided when Roma host second division Lecce. The winner will face Inter Milan. Lecce are the only team outside of Serie A that remains in the competition. Jose Mourinho’s Roma ended a three-match winless streak at the weekend with a narrow 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Cagliari.
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