Italian Football returns this weekend with the Coppa Italia Semifinal second legs taking center stage in Europe.
Defending league champions Juventus welcome a familiar face to Turin with AC Milan paying the leaders a visit. Cristiano Ronaldo’s 90th-minute penalty kick equalizer gave the Old Lady a lifeline in the first leg after Ante Rebic’s opener for Milan was canceled out. Close to four months after playing the first leg, the sides meet again with a place in the final up for grabs. Milan’s last victory over Juventus came in Serie A play back in 2016, but the Coppa Italia is the Bianconeri’s best shot at a trophy this season. Juventus will rely on Ronaldo’s goalscoring and playmaking ability in Friday’s second leg in an empty stadium.
Elsewhere, La Liga play resumes with Atletico Madrid visiting Athletic Bilbao in the headlining matchup. Barcelona and Real Madrid are also in action, continuing their head-to-head race for the league title. Wolfsburg’s clash with Freiburg is the pick of the litter in German Bundesliga play, which also sees RB Leipzig host Hoffenheim.
Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s top European matches:
Wolfsburg vs. freiburg – saturday, 9:30 a.m. Fox soccer plus
Four points separate Wolfsburg and Freiburg in the Bundesliga table with both teams still alive for European qualification.
Wolfsburg are sixth and continuing to hang onto the final Europa League spot after a 1-0 road win over Werder Bremen last weekend. Wout Weghorst’s 12th league goal came at a clutch time for Oliver Glasner’s side who avoided a disappointing result with the win. Weghorst is the attacker to watch for the hosts this weekend while U.S. Men’s National Team defender John Brooks leads the backline.
Freiburg picked up a clutch victory of their own last weekend with a 1-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. Nils Petersen’s goal came 68 seconds after the German striker came on a second-half substitute. Petersen has 10 goals this season and should provide a physical battle with Brooks on that end of the field.
rb leipzig vs. hoffenehim – friday, 2:30 p.m. Fox Sports 2
A top-seven clash comes from Red Bull Arena on Friday afternoon as RB Leipzig takes on Hoffenheim at home.
Julian Nagelsmann will take on his former club in a match that Leipzig desperately needs to win with both Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach right behind them in the top four race. A 1-1 draw with Paderborn now gives Leipzig 11 draws this season, tied with Schalke for the most in the Bundesliga. Timo Werner leads the way with 25 goals while midfielder Christopher Nkunku has 13 assists in a breakout first season.
Hoffenheim remains two points behind Wolfsburg for sixth place and is riding a four-match unbeaten run in league play. A 2-2 draw with Fortuna Dusseldorf last weekend saw Hoffenheim hang on after being reduced to 10-men after only nine minutes. With manager Alfred Schreuder let go earlier this week, it will be interesting to see how Hoffenheim’s coaching staff sets the team up against a dangerous attack in Leipzig.
paderborn vs. Werder Bremen – Saturday, 9:30 a.m.
The bottom-two clubs in the Bundesliga square off in a massive six-pointer on Saturday morning.
Werder Bremen visits Paderborn knowing a win could see them tied with 16th place Fortuna Dusseldorf, pending Dusseldorf’s result at Borussia Dortmund. Goals have been an issue for Florian Kohfeldt’s side, who are dead last in the league with 30 goals in 30 matches. American striker Josh Sargent could earn another start after putting in strong shifts over the past few weeks.
Paderborn haven’t won in their last 11 matches and are eight points from the relegation playoff with four matches left. A 1-1 draw at RB Leipzig last weekend was a good result for the bottom side in the league, but ultimately wins need to happen if they want to pull a massive escape. Forwards Streli Mamba and Dennis Srbeny are tied with five goals each for Paderborn this season.
Here’s a full schedule of this weekend’s matches:
RB Leipzig vs. Hoffenheim – 2:30 p.m. Fox Sports 2
Cologne vs. Union Berlin – 9:30 a.m. Fox Sports 1
Paderborn vs. Werder Bremen – 9:30 a.m.
Hertha Berlin vs. Eintracht Frankfurt – 9:30 a.m. Fox Sports 2
Fortuna Dusseldorf vs. Borussia Dortmund – 9:30 a.m. Fox Sports 1
Wolfsburg vs. Freiburg – 9:30 a.m. Fox Soccer Plus
Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Monchengladbach – 12:30 p.m. Fox Sports 1
Mainz vs. Augsburg – 9:30 a.m. – Fox Sports 1
Schalke vs. Bayer Leverkusen – 12 p.m. – Fox Sports 2
Napoli vs. Inter Milan – Saturday, 3 p.m. ESPN+
In the other semifinal second leg this weekend, Napoli hosts Inter Milan at the San Paolo on Saturday.
A 1-0 road win for Napoli back in February saw Fabian score the only goal, handing Inter Milan a disappointing result on home soil. Revenge will certainly be on the minds of Inter as they travel to the San Paolo knowing multiple goals are likely needed. Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez have combined for 28 league goals this season and should provide a good test for the Napoli backline, led by Kalidou Koulibaly. Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne will look to score early and often to put this tie out of reach.
Athletic Bilbao vs. Atletico Madrid – Sunday, 8 a.m. Bein Sports
La Liga action also returns this weekend with a top-half battle coming from Bilbao on Sunday.
Atletico Madrid comes to town looking to remain in the race for European qualification. Diego Simeone’s side are riding a seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions, which also included the elimination of Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League. Atletico has won four of the last four head-to-head meetings including a 2-0 home victory back in October. Alvaro Morata and Saul Niguez both scored in that showdown and will both be key for the club going forward.
Athletic Bilbao are 10th in the table and won two of their last four league matches prior to the pause in the season. The club is eight points from the final European qualification spot, currently held by visiting Atletico Madrid. Spanish forward Inaki Williams has six goals this season and will be expected to lead the line following Aritz Adruiz’s retirement.
Mallorca vs. Barcelona – Saturday, 4 p.m. Bein Sports
It will be a David vs. Goliath matchup in Mallorca on Saturday with the hosts welcoming leaders Barcelona to town.
Mallorca are 18th in the table and a point from safety with plenty still to play for. The club already took the scalps of Real Madrid, Eibar, Villarreal this season and could give Barcelona a tough go at home. Croatian striker Ante Budimir has nine goals this season and scored twice against Barcelona in a 5-2 loss earlier this season.
Barcelona are 33 points higher than Mallorca and know they cannot afford any slip-ups with Real Madrid right behind them. Lionel Messi’s 81st minute penalty in a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad was Barcelona’s last action prior to the break. Messi has 19 league goals this season and will look to link up with Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann in the Barca attack.
Here’s all of this weekend’s La Liga matches:
Granada vs. Getafe – 1:30 p.m.
Valencia vs. Levante – 4 p.m. – beIN Sports
Espanyol vs. Alaves – 8 a.m.
Celta Vigo vs. Villarreal – 11 a.m.
Leganes vs. Valladolid – 1:30 p.m. – beIN Sports
Mallorca vs. Barcelona – 4 p.m. – beIN Sports
Athletic Bilbao vs. Atletico Madrid – 8 a.m. – beIN Sports
Real Madrid vs. Eibar – 1:30 p.m. – beIN Sports
Real Sociedad vs. Osasuna – 4 p.m. – beIN Sports