MATCHDAY: City looks to extend EPL lead, Copa semis commence
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Wednesday:
Manchester City looks to extend its lead in the Premier League to 12 points when it hosts Brentford. Second-place Liverpool will have two games in hand going into its match against Leicester on Thursday so is looking for a favor from Brentford, which will not include new signing Christian Eriksen because he only started training with his new teammates on Monday. Tottenham will look to stay in touch with the Champions League qualification positions when Southampton visits north London. Relegation-threatened Norwich hosts Crystal Palace, and Leeds travels to Aston Villa.
Real Betis visits Rayo Vallecano in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals. Betis, revamped under coach Manuel Pellegrini, is trying to return to the final for the first time since 2005, when it won the competition. The Sevilla club sits in third place in the Spanish league. Rayo is in the Copa semifinals for the first time in four decades and is trying to reach the final for the first time. The modest Madrid club, led by veteran Colombia striker Radamel Falcao, boasts one of the best home records in Spanish soccer, with nine wins and one loss from 12 matches at Vallecas Stadium. Athletic Bilbao hosts Valencia in the first leg of the other semifinal on Thursday, with the Basque Country team trying to reach its third straight final. Valencia won the Copa in 2019.
Engaged in a tense duel for the runner-up spot behind runaway French league leader Paris Saint-Germain, southern rivals Nice and Marseille meet in the Riviera city for a spot in the French Cup semifinals. Marseille fans have been banned from traveling for security reasons after a French league game between the pair was abandoned in August as home fans threw projectiles and invaded the field. The game was later replayed at a neutral venue and ended in a draw. Nice upset PSG on penalties in the previous round. Marseille also needed a penalty shootout to progress. Fourth-tier sides Bergerac and Versailles face off in the other quarterfinal match scheduled Wednesday.
AC Milan hosts Lazio in the Italian Cup quarterfinals and is looking to reach the semifinals for the third time in four seasons.