- Associated Press - Thursday, December 14, 2017

What to watch in the leading soccer leagues in Europe this weekend:

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ENGLAND

Tottenham runs into the record-breaking Manchester City juggernaut at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. A 15-game winning run has propelled City 11 points clear at the Premier League summit.

“They’re the best team in England,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said, “and one of the best in Europe.”

Tottenham’s February 2016 triumph at the Etihad is the only time Pochettino has won away with the club in 16 attempts against the other members of the recent top six: City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

While Tottenham climbed to fourth by beating Brighton 2-0 on Wednesday, Pochettino’s team is 18 points behind City. North London rival Arsenal has slipped to seventh ahead of Saturday’s home game against Newcastle.

Burnley is the surprise package of the season, going to Brighton sitting sixth. Third-place Chelsea hosts Southampton. Sunday sees second-place Manchester United face West Bromwich Albion and fifth-place Liverpool take on Bournemouth.

- By Rob Harris in London.

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SPAIN

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid remain the only unbeaten teams after 15 rounds, and both face struggling opposition this weekend.

Atletico heads into Saturday’s game against Alaves six points behind Barcelona, the consequence of drawing twice as many games - six - as the leaders.

Alaves is just inside the relegation zone but has won two straight since Abelardo Fernandez took over as the team’s third coach of the season.

Barcelona hosts Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday. Valencia, five points off the lead in second, visits mid-table Eibar on Saturday.

Real Madrid, fourth in the standings, is playing at the Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

- By Tales Azzoni in Madrid.

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GERMANY

Peter Stoeger will seek a second successive win at the start of his reign as Borussia Dortmund coach in Saturday’s home game against Hoffenheim.

Stoeger has a contract until the end of the season, and Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann is reportedly the favorite to take the Dortmund job on a permanent basis next term.

Dortmund was leading the standings after seven games but has slumped to sixth. Bayern Munich has a nine-point lead after 16 matches.

Bayern is well placed for a record-extending sixth straight Bundesliga title. Jupp Heynckes’s team visits Stuttgart, which has five wins and one loss from its seven home games.

Second-place Schalke faces Eintracht Frankfurt.

- By Ciaran Fahey in Berlin.

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ITALY

Serie A leader Inter Milan faces a tricky challenge against Udinese on Saturday.

Inter is unbeaten while Udinese is at the wrong end of the standings, seven points off the relegation zone. However, new coach Massimo Oddo has sparked an upturn in form, winning two matches after losing to Napoli in his opening game.

With a lack of squad depth exposed, Inter struggled midweek before eventually beating third-division Pordenone on penalties. Coach Luciano Spalletti brought on a number of key substitutes in an attempt to progress to the quarterfinals in regulation time.

Inter is a point ahead of Napoli and two above Juventus.

Torino hosts Napoli on Saturday, while Juventus travels to Bologna the following day. AC Milan visits Hellas Verona on Sunday after beating the same opponents 3-0 in the Italian Cup midweek.

-By Daniella Matar in Milan.

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FRANCE

Paris Saint-Germain looks to avoid a second straight away defeat when it plays improving Rennes on Saturday.

Rennes is revitalized under new coach Sabri Lamouchi and Wednesday’s League Cup victory against Marseille was its fourth win in five games, with the other match drawn.

PSG’s unbeaten start to the season ended with a shock 2-1 loss at promoted Strasbourg two weeks ago. Coach Unai Emery’s side bounced back with a home win against Lille and also knocked Strasbourg out of the League Cup.

Striker Edinson Cavani hopes to end a mini slump for PSG by scoring for the first time in four games.

PSG has a nine-point lead over Lyon, Monaco and Marseille, three teams separated by goal difference.

Marseille visits Lyon on Sunday while defending champion Monaco travels Friday to out-of-form Saint-Etienne, which is two points above the relegation zone in 15th place.

- By Jerome Pugmire.

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More AP soccer coverage: https://www.apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer

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