MATCHDAY: Wolves faces Leeds; Getafe at Bilbao
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Friday:
Wolverhampton wants to boost its improbable ambitions of Champions League qualification. Leeds is desperate to move further clear of relegation trouble. Teams with contrasting objectives meet at Molineux to start a truncated round of the Premier League, taking place on the same weekend as the FA Cup quarterfinals. This is the first of just four league matches. Wolves can climb above Tottenham and West Ham into sixth place, and within two points of fourth-place Arsenal, with a win. Leeds will start the game four points clear of the bottom three and is looking for a second straight win under new American manager Jesse Marsch, whose first victory at the helm came last week against last-place Norwich.
Tenth-place Sassuolo looks to extend a five-match unbeaten streak when it hosts Spezia, which is 15th. Sassuolo is without suspended striker Giacomo Raspadori, who was sent off with two yellows in a 2-2 draw at Salernitana last weekend. Spezia is coming off a 2-0 win over Cagliari that boosted its chances of avoiding relegation and securing a third straight season in Serie A. Also, 11th-place Torino visits Genoa, which is second from the bottom and hasn’t won since the third round. Torino held defending champion Inter Milan to a draw in its last match, while Genoa has drawn seven straight.
Getafe visits Athletic Bilbao with Enes Unal aiming to rekindle his superb scoring form. The Turkey striker has scored 13 times this season in the Spanish league, only trailing Real Madrid pair Karim Benzema (22) and Vinícius Júnior (14) as the competition’s top scorers. But he has gone without a goal in Getafe’s two past games. When Getafe hosted Athletic in December, it ended in a scoreless stalemate. Athletic is undefeated in six games across all competitions at San Mamés Stadium.
Bochum and Borussia Mönchengladbach will have to do without their coaches when they meet for the opening game in the Bundesliga’s 27th round. Bochum announced Thursday that Thomas Reis tested positive for the coronavirus, while Gladbach coach Adi Hütter is still not back after testing positive the week before. It will the first time in the Bundesliga that both teams will be without their coaches. Bochum’s assistant coach Markus Gellhaus will fill in for Reis. “You have to be prepared for almost anything these days,” Gellhaus said. Germany registered a record number of coronavirus infections on Thursday.
Ten-time champion Saint-Etienne continues its mission to avoid relegation against Troyes. Following a catastrophic first half of the season, Saint-Etienne has bounced back under the guidance of coach Pascal Dupraz, who was appointed in December. But Saint-Etienne remains in 18th place. Troyes is in good form, having won its past two matches to climb to 15th place, just two points above Saint-Etienne.
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