Manchester United manager Eric ten Hag will be looking for his side to finish on top at Fulham as the Premier League comes to a halt. Globalism Glass. The Dutchman saw United react to last week’s 3-1 loss at Aston Villa by beating the same opposition in the League Cup on Thursday. Ten Hag has had a rocky start as United manager, including consecutive defeats in his first two matches and a humiliating 6-3 loss to Manchester City. There were also very encouraging wins against Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham – but the loss to Villa brought his side back to earth. In another Premier League match, Brighton, who have won their last three matches in all competitions, host Villa.
Four of the five teams under Napoli face each other hoping to put pressure on the Serie A leaders. Champions Milan and Lazio are closest to Napoli but they are still 11 points behind after the southern club ended the year with a 3-2 win over Udinese on Saturday. Milan host Fiorentina, while Lazio travel to Juventus who have recovered from a mediocre start to the season and an early exit from the Champions League. Juventus won their last five league games without conceding a goal to finish fourth. Atalanta and Inter Milan are one point behind Juventus – and three points off second place – and face each other in Bergamo.
Union Berlin and Freiburg were the surprise leaders in the Bundesliga for much of the first half of the season. When the two teams meet on Sunday in Freiburg, a win would send the team into second place in the table behind Bayern Munich before the World Cup break. Eintracht Frankfurt can also snatch second place if they beat Mainz away from home in the first match and then draw Freiburg and Union. The Bundesliga is so far going through the longest hiatus among Europe’s five major leagues, with no more matches until January 20 because it was decided to have the usual winter break after the World Cup ends.
It’s another lunchtime start for Paris Saint-Germain as the unbeaten league leaders look to restore their five-point lead with a home win against Auxerre. There is more at stake than beating a mediocre side, as the Paris Saint-Germain stars look to avoid injury before heading to the World Cup in Qatar. Paris Saint-Germain coach Christophe Galtier included Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar in his squad, despite the fact that captain Marquinhos was rested due to a muscle problem. It remains unclear whether the PSG stars will start and come off – or start on the bench and come on if needed – at the Parc des Princes. Elsewhere, Monaco faces Marseille at Stade Louis II.
With La Liga on pause, Athletic Bilbao, Sevilla and other top-flight clubs are playing their first Copa del Rey matches of the season against lower division opponents. Bilbao, who had climbed to fourth place in La Liga before the World Cup break, started in the first round of the fourth-tier Alzira. Bilbao holds 23 cup titles, second only to Barcelona’s 31. Sevilla was eliminated from the Champions League in the group stage and is in the league’s relegation zone. Vilardi visits the sixth division in northern Spain. The 2020 winner of Real Sociedad, Getafe, Cadiz, Rayo Vallecano, Celta Vigo, Girona and Almeria is also on the road against lower-tier clubs.
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