Paris (AFP) – RB Leipzig hope to capitalise on the absence of Robert Lewandowski in a top-of-the-table clash against Bayern Munich, while title rivals Paris Saint-Germain and Lille face off in France and there’s an all-Basque Copa del Rey final… almost a year later than planned.
AFP Sport selects some of the standout action in Europe this weekend:
Bayern face Leipzig test
RB Leipzig v Bayern Munich, Saturday 1630 GMT
Bundesliga leaders Bayern, without the injured Lewandowski, visit second-placed Leipzig at the start of a spell which could define the European champions’ season.
The Bavarian giants sit four points clear of their opponents with eight league matches remaining as they bid for a ninth straight Bundesliga title.
Bayern are unbeaten in six matches against Leipzig, although four of those games were drawn.
But Hansi Flick’s men may also have one eye on Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Paris Saint-Germain at the Allianz Arena.
Leipzig are still in the running for a domestic double, having also reached the German Cup semi-finals.
Top two collide in France
Paris Saint-Germain v Lille, Saturday 1500 GMT
Lille’s shock loss at Nimes before the international break allowed PSG to retake top spot on goal difference, but Christophe Galtier’s side will look to wrest the advantage back in the capital as they target a first Ligue 1 crown since 2011.
Mauricio Pochettino could hand Neymar a first start in almost two months following his recovery from a thigh injury. The PSG boss has the added bonus of a fresh South American contingent after CONMEBOL postponed March’s World Cup qualifiers.
That is in stark contrast to Kylian Mbappe who featured in all three France matches, including Wednesday’s 1-0 victory in Sarajevo on the way back from the long trip to Kazakhstan.
Burak Yilmaz was in fine form for Turkey, scoring four times in three games, and is Lille’s joint-top scorer on nine goals this season alongside Canadian international Jonathan David.
Atletico enter home straight
Sevilla v Atletico Madrid, Sunday 1900 GMT
Luis Suarez hit his 500th career goal in last month’s narrow win over Alaves to keep Atletico four points clear of his former club Barcelona heading into the final 10 games of the campaign.
The Uruguayan’s 19 goals in La Liga are second only to Lionel Messi (23) this season and more than double that of his team-mate Marcos Llorente, Atletico’s second leading scorer with nine.
With their Champions League dreams extinguished by Chelsea, Diego Simeone’s side have just one remaining goal — to hold off Barca and Real Madrid and repeat their 2013/14 title triumph.
Sevilla’s 55 points at this stage is the club’s second most ever, two shy of their tally from the 2016/17 season. They too were knocked out of Europe’s top club competition in the last 16 but look a solid bet to return with a 10-point cushion over Real Sociedad.
Long-awaited Cup final Basque derby
Athletic Bilbao v Real Sociedad, Saturday 1930 GMT
The 2020 Copa del Rey final, which was originally scheduled for last April and saw its semi-finals played before the first coronavirus lockdown in Spain, sees the Basque rivals face off in Seville.
The winners will only hold the trophy for two weeks before the 2021 final, though, also at La Cartuja.
But Bilbao will be hoping for a golden fortnight, with Marcelino’s side also in this season’s showpiece against Barcelona.
Saturday’s match will be the first ever Cup final Basque derby.
Bilbao have won the tournament 23 times, second only to Barca, while Sociedad have lifted the trophy twice.
Desperation on both sides of Turin divide
Torino v Juventus, Saturday 1600 GMT
As Juventus attempt to stay in touch with Serie A leaders Inter Milan, city rivals Torino are in a fight of their own against relegation having won just four times all season.
Juve’s pursuit of a 10th successive Italian title sustained another heavy blow with defeat by Benevento last time out leaving Andrea Pirlo’s team 10 points off the pace.
However, they have prevailed on 10 of their past 11 visits to Torino, currently in 17th place, and lost just one of the last 29 top-flight meetings between the two sides.
Torino are banking on the experience of former player Davide Nicola to keep them up. The 48-year-old rescued Crotone from the brink in 2016/17, collecting 20 points from the final nine games to spare them from the drop.