A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Friday:
Juventus hosts Torino for the Derby della Mole (Turin Derby) in Serie A. Danilo’s injury-time equalizer at Atalanta on Sunday stretched Juve’s unbeaten run in the league to 11 games, but the “Old Lady” will need the same resilience against its local rival, which has one of the best defenses in Serie A. Only Juve and Inter Milan have conceded fewer than Torino’s 25 goals in 24 games, while its 69 shots allowed on target is the lowest in the division. Torino lost both its last games –- to Udinese and Venezia –- giving it added incentive to claim derby honors and get back on track. Torino captain Andrea Belotti’s return as a substitute last weekend is timely. Both Rolando Mandragora and Saša Lukić are available again after serving suspensions against Venezia. Denis Zakaria should start for Juve after being rested against Atalanta, while fellow new signing Dušan Vlahović will get another chance to shine after failing to score in Bergamo on Sunday.
High-scoring Bayer Leverkusen aims to consolidate third place and put pressure on Borussia Dortmund in second with a win at mid-table Mainz in the Bundesliga. Leverkusen has scored at least four goals in each of its last three games and can match a league record if it manages to repeat the feat in Mainz. But Mainz has the best defense in the Bundesliga with 24 goals conceded in 22 games, and Bo Svensson’s team hasn’t conceded at all in its last four games at home. Leverkusen’s in-form forwards – Patrik Schick (19 goals), Moussa Diaby (10) and Florian Wirtz (7) – face a test to keep their run going.
Defending champion Lille needs to push hard for a European place next season, starting with a home win against 19th-place Metz. With 14 games left mid-table Lille is seven points third-place Nice in the Champions League playoff place and six behind fourth-place Strasbourg for an automatic entry into the Europa League. After conceding seven goals in two games coach Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side picked up a much-needed win and clean sheet last weekend. He has made a selection decision by reinstating goalkeeper Leo Jardim and dropping Ivo Grbic, who made two big errors in a recent 5-1 home loss to PSG. Metz has won only four games and is level on points with rock-bottom Bordeaux.
Rayo Vallecano visits Elche aiming to stop its slide down the Spanish league standings. The small club from Madrid was the sensation of the competition through mid-December, when its excellent home record helped it rise into fourth place and the Champions League positions. It also reached the Copa del Rey semifinals for the first time in four decades. But since its last league win over Alavés on Dec. 18, it has lost four and drawn one. The poor run has sent Rayo tumbling into 11th place. Elche, meanwhile, has been on the rise, climbing out of the relegation zone at the start of January into 14th place after one loss in its last five games.
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