What to watch in the leading soccer leagues in Europe this weekend:
Real Madrid will have the Spanish league lead on the line when it hosts Atletico Madrid in the city derby on Saturday.
Madrid will be defending its two-point lead over Barcelona against an Atletico team in its best spell of the season, coming off five straight wins and with its stout defense working well again.
Madrid also has won five games in a row, and its attack has scored at least a goal in the last 51 games in all competitions.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema — Madrid’s strikeforce — will be fully rested for the match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium after being left out of the team’s win at Leganes on Wednesday.
Defending champion Barcelona visits Malaga, which ended a six-game winless streak by beating Sporting Gijon on Wednesday.
Also Saturday, Sevilla will try to halt a five-game winless run against Deportivo La Coruna.
— By Tales Azzoni in Madrid.
A place in the Premier League history book is available for Craig Shakespeare when the Leicester manager takes the resurgent champions to Everton on Sunday.
Since taking over from title-winning coach Claudio Ranieri in February, Shakespeare has steered Leicester away from relegation danger and into the comfort of mid-table with five straight league wins. One more at Goodison Park and he’ll match the record of consecutive victories at the start of a managerial career in the Premier League, shared by Pep Guardiola (Manchester City) and Carlo Ancelotti (Chelsea).
Whether Shakespeare joins that esteemed pair may depend on what lineup he selects against Everton, because he might have one eye on the first leg of Leicester’s Champions League quarterfinal match against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday. Is it worth Shakespeare risking the likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez ahead of possibly the biggest game in Leicester’s history, especially now that the team is up to 11th place in the 20-team Premier League and appears safe from relegation?
Chelsea holds a seven-point lead with eight matches remaining and visits Bournemouth. Second-place Tottenham, which looks to be the only team capable to stopping Chelsea, hosts Watford.
— By Steve Douglas in Manchester.
The biggest game in German soccer is also in danger of being overshadowed by the looming resumption of the Champions League.
Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich and fourth-place Borussia Dortmund meet on Saturday, yet both could be preoccupied by what awaits them in the quarterfinals of Europe’s top competition in the coming days. Dortmund hosts Monaco on Tuesday, and Bayern is at home to Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Saturday’s game sees the top scorers in Germany go head-to-head. Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leads with 25 goals, while Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski has 24 before he faces his former club.
Aubameyang scored the winner in Dortmund’s 1-0 victory over Bayern at home last November. That defeat in Dortmund was Bayern’s first of the season.
Dortmund is under more pressure as it bids to overtake Hoffenheim for the last automatic Champions League qualification place.
Bayern is hoping goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is available after a minor operation on his foot.
— By Ciaran Fahey in Berlin.
Boosted by victory in last weekend’s League Cup final, Paris Saint-Germain has its sights set on catching Monaco in the title race.
PSG trails Monaco by three points, although it is effectively four given Monaco’s huge goal difference of plus 61 — more than 20 goals better than PSG.
But PSG hopes the 4-1 win over Monaco in last Saturday’s final can crank up the pressure, with the teams facing each other in the French Cup semifinals. Monaco also has extra games in the Champions League, playing Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals, and has a smaller squad than PSG.
Still, top scorer Radamel Falcao’s return from a hip injury comes at the perfect time for Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim, who will be counting on the striker’s big-game experience.
Falcao looks to add to his 24 goals this season when Monaco travels to play Angers on Saturday, while PSG hosts eighth-place Guingamp on Sunday.
Guingamp is the last team to have beaten PSG in the league, just before Christmas.
— By Jerome Pugmire in Paris.