A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Sunday:
The first trophy of the season is up for grabs when Manchester United plays Newcastle in the League Cup final at Wembley Stadium. United is looking for a first piece of silverware since 2017, when the club won the League Cup and Europa League under Jose Mourinho. Newcastle has to go back to 1955 for its last major trophy, the FA Cup. It is the first final for Newcastle since the club was bought by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. The teams are in third (United) and fifth (Newcastle) place, respectively, in the Premier League. League play continues with fourth-placed Tottenham at home to Chelsea, which is languishing in 10th place.
Barcelona looks to increase its league lead over Real Madrid to 10 points when it visits relegation-threatened Almeria. The Catalan club can add to the lead thanks to the rival’s home draw against Atletico Madrid on Saturday. Barcelona is coming off elimination to Manchester United in the Europa League, ending its hopes of winning an international trophy this season. It is still mired in the controversy over payments to the vice-president of Spain’s refereeing committee, which has attracted widespread criticism across the country. Almeria has lost three in a row in the league, including 6-2 at Girona last week. Athletic Bilbao hosts Girona, while Valladolid visits Celta Vigo and Sevilla plays against Osasuna.
With Napoli nearly 20 points ahead, it seems like a battle for second place in Serie A between Inter Milan (47 points), Roma (44), AC Milan (44), Lazio (42) and Atalanta (41). Inter visits Bologna in the lunchtime fixture without Federico Dimarco and Milan Skriniar, who are both injured. Milan hosts Atalanta at the San Siro in the late match with goalkeeper Mike Maignan ready to start his first match in five months.
Defending champion Bayern Munich hosts surprise challenger Union Berlin with first place in the Bundesliga at stake. Only goal difference separates the teams and both need to win to join new league leader Borussia Dortmund on 46 points. All three teams started the weekend on 43 but Dortmund won at Hoffenheim on Saturday. While Union is unbeaten across all competitions this year, Bayern drew its first three league games and lost at Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-2 last weekend. The Bavarian powerhouse has seen its four-point lead disappear since the winter break. But Bayern should be fresher for the game after a week to recover from the Gladbach defeat. Union has had little time to recover after beating Ajax 3-1 in their Europa League playoff on Thursday. Also, Freiburg welcomes Bayer Leverkusen in a duel between the other Europa League participants.
Marseille faces bitter rival Paris Saint-Germain knowing that a home victory would move it two points behind the league leader and open up the title race. PSG is under big pressure after losing five of its 12 games this year, including a French Cup defeat at Marseille this month. PSG takes on a confident Marseille which has only one defeat in its last 14 games. PSG narrowly avoided a fourth straight defeat last weekend when it trailed Lille at home before winning 4-3 thanks to Lionel Messi’s injury-time free kick. PSG is without injured forward Neymar and right back Achraf Hakimi but Marseille is missing its best defender Chancel Mbemba. The other main game sees high-flying Monaco hosting improving Nice in the Riviera derby.