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Soccer weekend: Liverpool can seal EPL title in record time

LONDON (AP) — What to watch out for in Europe's top soccer leagues this weekend amid the coronavirus outbreak: ENGLAND If results go its way, Liverpool could clinch the Premier League title in the 30th round of games.

It's unlikely, though. It would require second-place Manchester City to first lose at home to Burnley on Saturday. If that happens, Liverpool could secure its first English championship in 30 years by beating local rival Everton away on Monday.

That would be the earliest a top-flight title has ever been won in England, with Liverpool currently holding a 25-point lead having lost only once this season and needing two wins from their remaining nine games.

English soccer forges on in front of fans this weekend amid the virus outbreak, with the British government saying there is little medical reason to ban the staging of sporting events. The most interesting Premier League game might be Manchester United's trip to Tottenham for a match against its former coach, Jose Mourinho.

United is in fifth place, which is currently a qualification spot for the Champions League following Man City's recently awarded two-year ban from European competition for breaching financial rules. Tottenham is in eighth place, four points behind United, and in poor form.

By Steve Douglas GERMANY The Bundesliga’s 26th round will be played without fans in stadiums as German authorities prioritize dealing with the threat of the new virus. Borussia Mönchengladbach won the first of the league’s so-called “Geisterspiele” (ghost games) with a 2-1 victory over visiting Cologne on Wednesday, as hundreds of fans waited outside.

The German soccer league says the show must go on and plans to complete the season – with or without fans. Union Berlin’s biggest Bundesliga game to date, against Bayern Munich, is affected on Saturday as is the Ruhr derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke beforehand.

Pay TV broadcaster Sky announced Thursday it would show games on Saturday for free. Bayern leads by four points ahead of Dortmund with nine rounds remaining. Leipzig, which hosts Freiburg on Saturday, is a point further back in third, while Gladbach is another point further behind before its visit to Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.

By Ciarán Fahey FRANCE With matches set to be played without fans until mid-April, Paris Saint-Germain looks to cement its lead at the top of the league with a home win against Nice on Sunday. PSG leads second-place Marseille by 12 points, having played one game fewer, and its confidence has been further boosted after beating Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

Marseille takes a trip along the south coast to face eighth-place Montpellier, which was routed 5-0 at third-place Rennes last weekend but is usually strong at home. Coach Andre Villas-Boas has his Marseille squad almost at full strength, but goalscoring winger Florian Thauvin will be on the bench for Saturday’s game as he makes his way back from six months out following ankle surgery.

Marseille is six points ahead of Rennes with 10 games left. Second spot seals automatic entry into the Champions League, while third gets a slot in the qualifying rounds. Rennes is away to Bordeaux on Sunday.

By Jerome Pugmire

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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