MATCHDAY: Brighton vs. rival Palace, Dortmund faces Freiburg
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Friday:
Borussia Dortmund breathed some life back into the title race last week by closing the gap to Bayern Munich to six points. Now Marco Rose’s second-place team needs to follow up with another win at home against a Freiburg team that is no pushover because it too is fighting for a Champions League place. History is on Dortmund’s side, with Freiburg’s only win at Dortmund’s stadium coming in 2001. Freiburg is fourth as it pushes to qualify for the Champions League for what would be the first time.
Near each other in the standings, if not so close on the map, Brighton and Crystal Palace renew their rivalry to open the 22nd round of games in the Premier League. Four points separate the teams who are hovering around mid-table and look to be well clear of relegation trouble this season. The clubs, however, are separated by 46 miles (74 kilometers), which doesn’t make it a typical local rivalry by English soccer standards. Palace is the nearest big club to Brighton, a city on the south coast, and their rivalry appears to only have sprouted since the 1970s as they rose together up the leagues. Palace, which is in 12th place and below Brighton, is without Jordan Ayew and Cheikhou Kouyaté as they are at the African Cup of Nations. Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma is also there.
With Amine Gouiri in this kind of form, Nice can sustain a push for a top-two finish and hope to qualify outright for the Champions League next season. Gouiri will be looking to add to his nine goals and five assists when second-place Nice hosts mid-table Nantes. The only headache for Nice coach Christophe Galtier is who to pair the 21-year-old Gouri with up front. He must choose between Denmark striker Kasper Dolberg or offseason signing Andy Delort, who has made a strong impression since joining from Montpellier and netted some useful late goals. He has eight goals so far while Dolberg has five.
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