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European soccer weekend: What to watch in the main leagues

BERLIN (AP) — What to watch for in the leading soccer leagues in Europe this weekend: GERMANY Bayern Munich hopes to bounce back from two straight losses in the Bundesliga with a win against Werder Bremen in Munich on Saturday.

Bremen has lost in each of its last 17 games against Bayern, a league record, and recent results indicate it’s a run that is likely to continue. Bremen lost to last-place Paderborn last weekend and hasn’t won any of its last 10 games in the league.

Bayern is already seven points behind Borussia Mönchengladbach and can ill afford any more slip-ups after last weekend’s loss at the league leaders. Interim coach Hansi Flick may call on support from the reserve side with only 13 players from the senior team healthy.

Gladbach will aim to keep its run going with a win at Wolfsburg on Sunday. Second-place Leipzig visits Fortuna Düsseldorf on Saturday, when third-place Borussia Dortmund visits Mainz. Jürgen Klinsmann is aiming for his first win in charge of Hertha Berlin at home against Freiburg on Saturday.

By Ciarán Fahey in Berlin ITALY Former AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso will need to turn thing around swiftly at Napoli after replacing Carlo Ancelotti this week. Napoli beat Genk 4-0 in Ancelotti’s last match in charge to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League. That was also its first win in nine matches. The club hasn’t won in the league in two months.

“It’s certainly a bit embarrassing to see this team in seventh, but I believe the side can get back up there,” Gattuso said. Napoli hosts Parma on Saturday. Inter Milan was the only Italian team not to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League and it will have to pick itself up swiftly for Sunday’s trip to Fiorentina.

League leader Inter has a two-point advantage over eight-time defending champion Juventus, which hosts Udinese. Lazio is only three points further back and visits a Cagliari side which is surprisingly fourth.

By Daniella Matar in Milan ENGLAND Thirty-seven points separate Liverpool and Watford ahead of a meeting between the Premier League’s first- and last-place teams at Anfield on Saturday. Whereas Liverpool hasn’t lost any of its opening 16 games of the season — dropping only two points along the way — and holds an eight-point lead, Watford has only won once and is already onto its third manager of the season.

Liverpool is a big favorite to win its first English championship in 30 years, but could see its lead soon whittled down if it lost surprisingly to Watford. That would give second-place Leicester the chance to trim the gap to five points by winning at home against Norwich hours later. Next week, Liverpool is inactive in the Premier League because it is playing in the Club World Cup, so Leicester could possibly reduce the lead to two points by beating Manchester City.

City has dropped 14 points behind Liverpool in a faltering defense of its title and plays at Arsenal on Sunday. By Steve Douglas FRANCE Lyon’s players will be bracing themselves for a tense atmosphere in Sunday’s home game against Rennes.

Astonishing scenes at the end of Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Leipzig in the Champions League saw players confronting their own fans after captain Memphis Depay intervened to remove an insulting banner aimed at Lyon defender Marcelo. Depay claims some Lyon players were even spit on by their own fans, and Marcelo hit back against the insults he received by aiming a middle-finger gesture to the crowd with both hands.

Given that coach Rudi Garcia is already an unpopular choice with Lyon fans, primarily because he took charge immediately after coaching Marseille, a win seems absolutely vital to appease an increasingly tense situation. But fourth-place Rennes, which has played one game less, is pushing for a Champions League place next season and will be hard to beat for seventh-place Lyon.

League leader Paris Saint-Germain faces a tough away game at Saint-Etienne, which is usually strong at home and has improved since Claude Puel took charge. But an away game in the Europa League on Thursday is hardly ideal preparation to face PSG, which enjoyed a resounding home win in the Champions League a day earlier.

Elsewhere, second-place Marseille looks to make it seven straight league wins when it visits Metz on Saturday. By Jerome Pugmire in Paris SPAIN Barcelona and Real Madrid have difficult away matches this weekend before finally playing each other in the “clásico” next week.

Barcelona travels to Basque Country to face fourth-place Real Sociedad on Saturday. On Sunday, Madrid visits eighth-place Valencia, which has won three in a row and eliminated Ajax from the Champions League on Tuesday.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are even with 34 points, with the Catalan club ahead on goal difference. They will meet next Wednesday at the Camp Nou in the game postponed from October because of a separatist rally in the Catalan capital.

Both teams rested key players in the Champions League this week after they had already reached the knockout stage in advance. Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde rested Lionel Messi and Gerard Piqué from the team’s 2-1 win at Inter Milan on Tuesday, while Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane rested Sergio Ramos and Toni Kroos from the team’s 3-1 win at Club Brugge on Wednesday.

Third-place Sevilla hosts Villarreal on Sunday, while seventh-place Atlético Madrid hosts Osasuna on Saturday to try to keep momentum from its Champions League win against Lokomotiv Moscow. By Tales Azzoni in Madrid

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