MATCHDAY: Manchester rival United, City chase EPL top spot
Manchester rivals United and City are vying for first place in the Premier League when they play games back-to-back. City can go above Leicester and United to take top spot for the first time this season by winning at home to Aston Villa, whose senior players are playing their first match since January 1 — after which there was a coronavirus outbreak in the squad that led to the training ground being closed. City is the form team in the league, having won its last five matches. United plays later at Fulham, which is in third-to-last place but is proving hard to beat in recent weeks. As is United, which hasn't lost in the league since Nov. 1 and can take a two-point lead at the top with a win.
Real Madrid plays in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey against third-division club Alcoyano, which eliminated top-flight Huesca in the previous round. Madrid is winless in its last two matches in all competitions. In another round-of-32 game, Real Sociedad visits third-division club Córdoba. In the Spanish league, Villarreal hosts Granada, Celta Vigo visits Real Betis and last-place Huesca plays at Getafe.
Bayern Munich has been able to preserve and even extend its lead after mixed recent form when other title contenders slipped up too. A visit to Augsburg should be a straightforward opportunity to get another win to follow Sunday's shaky 2-1 victory over Freiburg. After two winless games, Leipzig's title challenge has been dented, making a win over Union Berlin even more important. Luka Jovic scored twice on his return to the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt on loan from Real Madrid and now faces Freiburg away. Schalke hosts Cologne and Stuttgart visits Arminia Bielefeld.
Anything but a convincing win for Juventus over Napoli in the Italian Super Cup could spell the beginning of the end of Andrea Pirlo’s brief time in charge. Pirlo is under pressure just a few months into his first senior coaching job, with Juventus faltering in the league. The nine-time defending champion lost 2-0 at title rival Inter Milan to leave it fifth in Serie A, 10 points behind league leader AC Milan. Napoli beat Fiorentina 6-0 to move third. Atalanta can move into third place if it wins at relegation-threatened Udinese earlier in its rearranged league match. The match was originally set to take place on Dec. 6 but was postponed because of a flooded field. Udinese is just three points above the relegation zone.
After an abject performance last weekend, Marseille must bounce back with a home win against Lens as it plays one of its two games in hand. The 2-1 home loss to a struggling Nimes side was arguably Marseille’s worst showing of the season. It led to some stinging post-match comments from Marseille’s central defender Alvaro Gonzalez about not fighting for the jersey enough, and from its coach Andre Villas-Boas. A much-needed win at Stade Velodrome would put Marseille one point behind fourth-place Monaco and restore some pride.