What to watch this weekend

by

August 18, 2018
Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery (left) and Rafinha.
Marseille's Florian Thauvin
Lopetegui
File Chelsea's Danny Drinkwater (left) vies for the ball with Arsenal's Ainsley Maitland-Niles during their English League Cup semi-final, first leg, match at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, on Wednesday, January 10, 2018.
Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo
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(AP):

The Italian and Spanish leagues get underway this weekend, a week after the English and French leagues started. In Germany, there are cup matches.

What to watch in the leading football competitions in Europe this weekend:

ITALY

Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to make his Juventus debut in the northeastern Italian city of Verona following his Serie A record EU112 million move from Real Madrid.

An influx of fans is expected to descend on a city with a population of around 257,000. Anti-terrorism units are being deployed as part of heavy safety measures in place around Verona's Stadio Bentegodi.

Ronaldo scored in both pre-season friendlies he played and the five-time world player of the year is now ready to start Juve's pursuit of a record-extending eighth successive Serie A title.

Napoli, which finished second last season, have a new coach. today's trip to Lazio will be Carlo Ancelotti's first match back in Italian football after a nine-year absence.

ENGLAND

Tottenham should have been hosting Fulham in their first game at the rebuilt White Hart Lane. But the new 62,000-seat stadium is not ready and might not be until November so the north London club is picking up today where they left off last season by playing home games at Wembley.

Tottenham, which finished in the top three for three seasons, opened with a victory on an opening weekend lacking any significant surprises.

Last season's top five all started with wins. Defending champion Manchester City next hosts Huddersfield tomorrow when Manchester United play at Brighton, Liverpool go to Crystal Palace on Monday night and Chelsea host Arsenal at Stamford Bridge this afternoon.

Arsenal, who lost to City last weekend, are vying along with Chelsea to return to the top four UEFA Champions League places.

SPAIN

Real Madrid open their bid to dethrone Barcelona as champions in their first league game of the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era against Getafe at the Santiago Bernabeu tomorrow.

After losing the UEFA Super Cup to Atletico Madrid in Estonia on Wednesday, new Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui will be hoping for a more positive start at home. Lopetegui was fired from Spain's national team just days before the FIFA World Cup after accepting the Madrid job.

Barcelona begin their title defence against Alaves today. The Catalan club lost Andres Iniesta and Paulinho in the off season, but added Arturo Vidal, Arthur and Malcom. Philippe Coutinho will likely have greater responsibility as the team's playmaker in midfield.

Atletico open at Valencia on Monday. Valencia should be considered a title contender along with Villarreal, which host Real Sociedad today.

Newcomer Huesca will make their first-division debut at Eibar tomorrow, Valladolid made their return to the top flight with a goalless draw at Girona yesterday. Rayo Vallecano, the other promoted club, host Sevilla tomorrow.

FRANCE

Lyon opened the second round of games with a 1-0 loss at Reims yesterday.

Like the rest of last season's top four, Lyon made a winning start to the new season last weekend with the skillful Memphis Depay making the difference against Amiens.

Marseille have a chance of being more competitive and improving on a fourth-place finish, with attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet looking sharp and fully fit, and prolific winger Florian Thauvin in scoring form.

Marseille opened with a 4-0 home win against Toulouse. But it remains to be seen whether they can maintain a sustained title challenge, especially given how easily Paris Saint-Germain won the league last year. The defending champions seek a second straight win when they travel to Guingamp.

Monaco, with veteran striker Radamel Falcao, host Lille today.

GERMANY

After collecting the German Super Cup with a victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in his first game in charge of Bayern Munich, Niko Kovac's next assignment before the Bundesliga title defence starts is a trip to fourth-tier side Drochtersen/Assel.

With no professional players, Drochtersen qualified for the German Cup for only the second time in their 41-year history by winning the Lower Saxony Cup. The team has added temporary seats to expand its stadium capacity in northern Germany from 3,000 to 7,500 for today's visit of the record 18-time cup winners.

Defender Meickel Klee, a bricklayer, could be coming up against Champions League winner Franck Ribery.

"I've been a fan of Bayern for 23 years," Klee said. "It's like winning the lottery."

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