Preview: Cup 'clasico' in Spain; Manchester United hosts Brentford

AP , Wednesday 5 Apr 2023

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will look for a reaction from his team in a home match against Brentford in the Premier League

Brentford
Brighton and Hove Albion s Joel Veltman, left, and Brentford s Mathias Jensen battle for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Brentford, at The AMEX Stadium in Brighton, England, Saturday April 1, 2023. AP

A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Wednesday:

ENGLAND

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will look for a reaction from his team in a home match against Brentford in the Premier League. United was overwhelmed in a 2-0 loss at Newcastle on Sunday and has dropped to fifth place, behind Newcastle and Tottenham on goal difference in the race for a top-four finish to qualify for the Champions League.

United has picked up just one point from its last three league games and is struggling without the suspended Casemiro in midfield. Third-place Newcastle visits West Ham, which climbed out of the relegation zone by beating Southampton on Sunday.

SPAIN

Barcelona needs a draw at home against Real Madrid to reach the Copa del Rey final for the first time since 2021. It won the first leg 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. A win would also make Xavi the first coach to lead Barcelona to four straight victories over Madrid since Pep Guardiola won five in a row from 2008-10. Barcelona has never beaten its rival four consecutive times in the same season.

The Catalan club is the Copa's most successful club with 31 trophies. Madrid hasn’t won it since 2014, when it beat Barcelona the last time it made it to the final.

GERMANY

Borussia Dortmund visits defending champion Leipzig in the quarterfinals of the German Cup in a repeat of the 2021 final. Dortmund won that time, but Leipzig returned to win the competition last year for its first major trophy. Dortmund is coming off a disappointing 4-2 loss at Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, its first defeat in 2023 and one that saw Bayern retake top spot. Leipzig has lost its last three games across all competitions, starting with the 7-0 thrashing at Manchester City in the Champions League.

Dortmund usually brings out the best in Leipzig, which is now led by former Dortmund coach Marco Rose. Leipzig won 3-0 in Rose’s debut on Dortmund’s last visit in the league in September.

Second-division side Nuremberg hosts Stuttgart in the other quarterfinal. It will be Sebastian Hoeness’ debut as Stuttgart coach following Bruno Labbadia’s firing on Monday. Stuttgart is last in the Bundesliga.

ITALY

Last-place Serie A club Cremonese hosts Fiorentina in the first leg of the Italian Cup semifinals. While Cremonese has won only one of 28 league matches this season, the team based in Lombardy eliminated Serie A leader Napoli and Roma in succession to reach the last four of the cup competition.

Fiorentina, which won the last of its six Italian Cup trophies in 2001, is on an eight-match winning streak across all competitions. Fiorentina has also reached the Europa Conference League quarterfinals, where it will face Polish club Lech Poznan. Juventus was hosting Inter Milan in the other semifinal. The second legs will be played April 26-27, with the final scheduled for May 24.

FRANCE

French Cup holder Nantes hosts Lyon in the semifinals of the competition. Lyon has not won the competition since 2012, but confidence has been boosted in coach Laurent Blanc's team following Sunday's win at league leader Paris Saint-Germain. Coach Antoine Kombouaré's Nantes side has been struggling for form, however, with only one win in the past nine games overall. Nantes has won the French Cup four times.

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