A look at what’s happening around European soccer on Sunday:
Gareth Bale could make his first Premier League appearance in seven years in Tottenham’s home game against in-form West Ham in the Premier League. Bale, on loan at his former club from Real Madrid, has been in full training with Spurs during the international break and could make up an exciting-looking forward line with Son Heung-min and Harry Kane. Leicester hosts Aston Villa in a match between teams who have started the season strongly, while both Sheffield United and Fulham go looking for a first point of the season when they meet at Bramall Lane. Also, Brighton travels to fierce rival Crystal Palace.
High-flying Sassuolo will hope to maintain its unbeaten start to the season at Bologna. Sassuolo is one of three unbeaten teams in Serie A and can move into a surprise second spot, two points below early leader AC Milan, with a win. It has won two of its three opening matches, scoring nine goals and conceding three. At the other end of the table, Udinese and Torino are still looking for their first points and they host Parma and Cagliari respectively. Also, Roma welcomes Benevento and Fiorentina visits Spezia.
Unai Emery’s Villarreal hosts Valencia in a regional derby featuring several old Valencia players who now wear bright yellow. Emery coached Valencia for four seasons before holding jobs at Paris Saint-Germain, Sevilla, and Arsenal prior to his return to Spain this season. Villarreal signed long-time Valencia team leader Dani Parejo this summer, along with Valencia midfielder Francis Coquelin. Villarreal striker Paco Alcácer also came up through Valencia’s youth squads. Valencia is mired in a club crisis after selling several of its top players and not replacing them. Elsewhere, Manuel Pellegrini’s Real Betis hosts Real Sociedad with both teams looking to continue their promising starts to the season. Athletic Bilbao hosts Levante in need of a win after losing three of four games so far. Elche is at Alavés with both on the edge of the relegation zone, and last-place Valladolid seeks its first victory at Huesca.
Schalke bids to end a club record 19-game run without a win and climb off the bottom of the Bundesliga with a victory over Union Berlin. The Gelsenkirchen-based club fired David Wagner and hired Manuel Baum as coach in his place but Baum’s first game ended in a 4-0 defeat at Leipzig. The international break came at the right time to take stock, but Union is a tough side and will present a stern challenge. “Defensively they are one of the nastiest teams in the league,” Baum said of his first home game in charge. “They’ll probably come with a back five, but they’re very flexible. And of course they’re very good at set plays, and when they close from the wings.” Union defeated Mainz 4-0 for its biggest Bundesliga win before the break. But Urs Fischer’s side is just concentrating on avoiding relegation in its second season in the top flight. Like Schalke, Cologne has also lost its first three games of the season and is aiming for its first points against visiting Eintracht Frankfurt.
Lille and surprise frontrunner Lens contest first place when the northern sides meet in their local derby. A win for either will move it above Paris Saint-Germain at the top. Lille is the only side still unbeaten in the French league along with Rennes, while promoted Lens has lost only once and beat PSG early in the season. Elsewhere, Montpellier travels to play Monaco after 10 of its 12 positive COVD-19 tests among staff and players turned out to be negative following a retest on Friday. Also, Memphis Depay gets back to the business of helping Lyon climb back up the table after the Dutch striker’s dream move to Spanish giant Barcelona fell through. Struggling Strasbourg hosts a Lyon side which reached the Champions League semifinals last season, but is languishing in 14th place after winning one and drawing four of its opening six matches.
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