A look at what’s happening around European soccer on Wednesday:
Fulham’s players head to Tottenham aggrieved they were only given two days’ notice for their Premier League game. Tottenham was scheduled to play Aston Villa but that match was postponed on Monday at the request of Villa because 10 of its players tested positive for the coronavirus last week. The Premier League announced simultaneously that Tottenham would instead play Fulham — a match initially scheduled for Dec. 30 which was postponed following a coronavirus outbreak in the Fulham squad. Fulham manager Scott Parker has said it is a “scandalous” decision to force the game on his team, which is in the relegation zone. Fifth-place Tottenham would likely climb to third place with a win. Sixth-place Manchester City is tied for points with Tottenham heading into its home match against Burnley.
Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and France defender Presnel Kimpembe have been deemed fit to take on bitter rival Marseille in Wednesday’s Champions Trophy. Neymar has not played in PSG’s last five league games following an ankle injury on Dec. 13 and has returned to training only this week. PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino said Neymar could even start the game. Kimpembe is back from a hamstring injury. Pochettino will be without the injured Juan Bernat and Alexandre Letellier, while Colin Dagba, Thilo Kehrer and Rafinha have been ruled out following Covid-19 positive tests. The Champions Trophy traditionally pits the winner of the French league against the French Cup holder. Since PSG won both titles, it faces last season’s runner-up Marseille.
Barcelona will have a rested Lionel Messi available when it plays Real Sociedad in the first semifinal of the Spanish Super Cup. Messi was substituted in the second half of the team’s win against Granada in the Spanish league on Saturday, when he scored twice. The winner between Barcelona and Real Sociedad will play either Real Madrid or Athletic Bilbao, who play in the second semifinal on Thursday. The tournament was originally scheduled to be played in Saudi Arabia for the second year in a row but will take place in southern Spain because of the coronavirus pandemic.
If Inter Milan beats Fiorentina in the Italian Cup it would set up a quarterfinal against city rival AC Milan, which it is also battling against for the Serie A title. Leader Milan is three points ahead of second-place Inter in the league. Fiorentina was eliminated from the cup last year by Inter, at the quarterfinal stage. Cup holder Napoli hosts second-division Empoli in the round of 16 with the winner going on to face Roma or Spezia, which play next week. Juventus has won the cup a record 13 times — including four of the past six editions — and welcomes Genoa. The winner of that match will face either Sassuolo or Spal.
Bayern Munich’s defensive problems are a worry for coach Hansi Flick ahead of the team’s rescheduled German Cup game at second-division team Holstein Kiel. The winner will face second division Darmstadt in the third round, which Bayern is bidding to reach for the 20th consecutive year – a record. But all is not well at Bayern after its 3-2 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga, where its defense has been leaking a worryingly high number of goals. Due to coronavirus restrictions and its busy schedule, the team will fly to the northern German city of Kiel just hours before the game.
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