MATCHDAY: Tottenham-Chelsea in EPL; Real opens title defense
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Sunday:
Tottenham is seeking just a second victory at Stamford Bridge since the Premier League started in 1992 when it travels across London to play Chelsea in the headline game of the second round. Indeed, the last five meetings between the teams have all been won by Chelsea, which handed out three humbling losses to Tottenham in January. That left Antonio Conte, the Tottenham manager who used to be in charge of Chelsea, to reflect on the distance between his current and old team. Tottenham has improved since than and started the season with a 4-1 win against Southampton. Chelsea opened with a 1-0 win at Everton. Nottingham Forest hosts West Ham in the other game, with both teams seeking a reaction after losing their openers last weekend.
Real Madrid kicks off its Spanish league title defense with a seemingly easy visit to newly promoted Almería. Coach Carlo Ancelotti has said that with the World Cup coming in November, he expects to use more players this season to ensure his team remains fresh. That could mean starts at Almería for newcomers Antonio Rüdiger and Aurelien Tchouameni, who both were used as substitutes when Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 to win the UEFA Super Cup this week. Ancelotti said that even Eden Hazard, who rarely played last season, will feature more this campaign. Elsewhere, Real Sociedad visits Cádiz with a chance for see new forwards Takefusa Kubo, Mohamed-Ali Cho and Brais Méndez, all summer signings, play their first competitive match with Spain striker Mikel Oyarzabal still recovering from his serious leg injury. Gennaro Gattuso also debuts as Valencia’s new coach in a home match against Girona, which spent the last three seasons in the second division.
José Mourinho and Roma will be looking to make a show of intent when the capital side visits Salernitana in its opening match of the season. In Mourinho’s first year in charge, he steered Roma to the Europa Conference League title — the club’s first trophy in 14 years. Having finished sixth last season in Serie A, Roma will be targeting a top-four finish and a Champions League spot but it is also seen as a dark horse for the league title, especially after the marquee signing of former Juventus forward Paulo Dybala. City rival Lazio is also looking to make it back into the top four and hosts Bologna, while Fiorentina welcomes newly-promoted Cremonese. Empoli visits nearby Spezia.
Wolfsburg travels to Bayern Munich for what promises to be a daunting task in the Bundesliga. Bayern, the 10-time defending champion, started the league with a 6-1 rout of Eintracht Frankfurt away last weekend and Wolfsburg is one of its favorite opponents. The Bavarian powerhouse has scored at least one goal in each of its last 28 meetings with Wolfsburg, 80 goals altogether. It’s Bayern’s longest scoring run against any opponent in the league. Sadio Mané, Jamal Musiala (two), Joshua Kimmich, Benjamin Pavard and Serge Gnabry all scored against Frankfurt as if to show the club will not miss Robert Lewandowski following his summer transfer to Barcelona. Union Berlin visits Mainz for the early game. Mainz only lost twice at home last season – including a defeat to Union, which claimed its first ever away win in the Bundesliga at Mainz, 3-2 on Nov. 9, 2019 when captain Christopher Trimmel set up all three goals. Both Union and Mainz won their opening games of the season.
Chile forward Alexis Sanchez could make his French league debut when Marseille visits Brest. Coming on a free transfer from Inter Milan, Sanchez hopes to have the same impact as new signings Luis Suarez and Nuno Tavares, who both scored in Marseille’s 4-1 win over Reims last weekend. Center back Duje Caleta-Car and midfielder Pape Gueye will be available for Marseille after serving their suspension in the opening round. Nice hosts Strasbourg , while the match between Lorient and Lyon has been postponed because the pitch has been deemed unsafe for the players. The pitch of Stade du Moustoir has deteriorated as it has been used as a venue for the Festival Interceltique, an ongoing 10-day event which celebrates Celtic culture.
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