- Associated Press - Thursday, October 19, 2017

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



Back-to-back losses in the Premier League to Manchester City and Crystal Palace have put the brakes on Chelsea’s title defense. On top of that, Antonio Conte’s side chucked away a two-goal advantage in drawing with Roma in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Next up on Saturday is an unlikely tricky trip north of London to face an unusually elevated Watford side sitting two points above the fifth-placed champions.

Watford is seven points behind Manchester City, which on Saturday hosts another side enjoying an unexpectedly strong start to the season: Seventh-placed Burnley.

Burnley is even ahead of Liverpool, on goal difference. Juergen Klopp’s side travels on Sunday to Wembley Stadium to take on third-placed Tottenham, which has been buoyed by a draw with Real Madrid in the Champions League.

Second-placed Manchester United, whose ultra-defensive display in a draw at Liverpool last weekend sparked a wave a criticism, makes the trip across northwest England to Huddersfield on Saturday.

- By Rob Harris in London.


Barcelona endured a difficult draw against Atletico Madrid in the last round. Now the Spanish leader gets one of the easiest matchups possible when it hosts last-placed Malaga, which has lost seven of its eight matches.

Malaga’s only point came in a 3-3 home draw against Athletic Bilbao last month, while Barcelona had opened the league campaign with seven wins before drawing with Atletico.

Barcelona has a four-point lead over surprising Valencia, which will put its unbeaten streak to the test when it hosts fifth-placed Sevilla on Saturday.

Fourth-placed Atletico, winless in four consecutive matches in all competitions, is at Celta Vigo on Sunday. Second-placed Real Madrid hosts Eibar later in the day. The defending champion was held by Tottenham in the Champions League on Tuesday, but it has won three in a row in La Liga.

- By Tales Azzoni in Madrid.


Cologne hosts Werder Bremen on Sunday in a meeting of sides who are winless after eight rounds of the Bundesliga and have scored only three goals each.

“It’s difficult psychologically, but we won’t end the season with just a point,” says Cologne coach Peter Stoeger, whose side has drawn only one of its games.

Cologne misses the contribution of French forward Anthony Modeste, last season’s top-scorer who was sold in the offseason to Tianjin Quanjian in China.

Bundesliga leader Borussia Dortmund hopes to get over its recent dip in form with a win at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, while Bayern Munich aims to continue its morale-building recovery under Jupp Heynckes at favorite victim Hamburger SV.

Hamburg, poor again this season, hasn’t beaten Bayern in 15 games, while it has conceded a remarkable 55 goals in the last 13 meetings between the two.

By Ciaran Fahey, Berlin.


Leader Napoli faces another stern test of its title credentials when it hosts second-placed Inter Milan on Saturday.

Napoli won at title rival Roma 1-0 last weekend to remain the only side in Serie A with a perfect record, having won all eight of its matches, scoring 26 goals in the process. Napoli has a two-point lead over Inter, which beat AC Milan 3-2 in the last round and is the only other unbeaten side.

But Inter has not won at Napoli in 20 years.

Six-time defending champion Juventus is five points behind Napoli following a draw and a defeat in its past two league matches and it will be looking to bounce back at Udinese on Sunday.

Lazio, which handed Juventus that defeat, is level on points with the Bianconeri and hosts Cagliari. It will be Diego Lopez’s first match back in charge of Cagliari after he replaced the fired Massimo Rastelli on Wednesday.

- By Daniella Matar in Milan.


Unbeaten Paris Saint-Germain will be heavy favorite when it travels to play bitter rival Marseille on Sunday.

There was a time when a trip to the hostile Stade Velodrome, and the seething anti-Parisian vitriol that awaits there, was a daunting trip. Now Marseille, with its leaky defense, has the worrying to do against a side that has scored 29 goals in nine games.

Defending champion Monaco was the pacesetter last season, scoring 107 in the league and more than 150 overall. But coach Leonardo Jardim’s current side is a pale imitation and already trails PSG by six points.

Without Radamel Falcao’s league-leading 12 goals, Monaco would be truly struggling. However, a home match against Caen on Saturday is a good opportunity to get some confidence back.

Meanwhile, third-placed Saint-Etienne faces a difficult match against resilient Montpellier, which has drawn against PSG and Monaco this season.

- By Jerome Pugmire in Paris.


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

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