MATCHDAY: League Cup QFs in England; Real Madrid at Bilbao
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Wednesday:
West Ham plays Tottenham for a place in the semifinals of the League Cup after knocking out holder Manchester City. West Ham has slipped in the Premier League recently by losing half of its last six games. Tottenham is trying to win its first trophy since its 2008 League Cup success while its London rival has never won the competition. It’s far from Chelsea’s priority after falling from first to third in the Premier League and Thomas Tuchel’s team faces Brentford with the squad depleted by coronavirus cases and injuries. Leicester and Liverpool, who also meet in the quarterfinals, have been grappling with COVID-19 cases.
Spanish leader Real Madrid visits Athletic Bilbao with both teams missing several players with coronavirus infections. Madrid will be without eight players: Luka Modric, Marco Asensio, David Alaba, Rodgyro, Gareth Bale, Marcelo, Isco Alarcón, and backup goalkeeper Andriy Lunin. Coach Carlo Ancelotti will also be missing Casemiro and Dani Carvajal, both suspended for accumulation of yellow cards. Bilbao will be without Spain goalkeeper Unai Simón, Iñigo Martínez, Jokin Ezkieta and Alex Berenguer due to the virus as well. Madrid saw its run of 10 straight wins broken by a scoreless draw with Cádiz last round. Bilbao is coming off a 3-2 win over Real Betis that included a brace by striker Iñaki Williams. Atlético Madrid visits Granada needing to bounce back after losing three straight. The defending champions have slipped into fifth place.
Inter Milan has already been confirmed as winter champion but the Nerazzurri will be aiming to cap a fantastic year with a victory over Torino. Defending champion Inter is four points above Napoli and AC Milan heading into the final match of the first half of the season. Napoli hosts relegation-threatened Spezia and Milan visits Empoli. Roma and Fiorentina can move to within four points of fourth-place Atalanta and they play Sampdoria and Hellas Verona, respectively. Lazio visits Venezia without key forward Ciro Immobile who has been ruled out with the coronavirus.
Runaway leader Paris Saint-Germain travels to Lorient for its final league game of 2021. Unbeaten in its past nine league matches, Mauricio Pochettino’s team has already killed any sense of suspense. Nearly halfway through the season, PSG has a 13-point lead over second-place Marseille, which has one match in hand and hosts Reims. PSG will be without star striker Kylian Mbappe and midfielder Marco Verratti, who will be missing the game through suspension. Neymar is still sidelined because of an injury. Also Wednesday, Bordeaux hosts defending champion Lille and seven-time champion Lyon plays Metz. Third-place Rennes is at Monaco.