Man United face bitter rivals; Real Madrid welcome bad travellers – five games to watch

Some mouthwatering ties in the Europa League and across Europe.

EUROPA LEAGUE: Manchester United v Liverpool, Thursday, beIN Sports, 12.05am

With the exception of Borussia Dortmund, who travel to North London to defend a 3-0 advantage against Tottenham Hotspur in the second leg of their last-16 fixture, the rest of the ties are well poised for teams to stake their claim for a quarter-final berth. If Manchester United want their name in the hat for the last eight, they are going to have to overturn a 2-0 deficit to Liverpool. The experience of the fit-again Bastian Schweinsteiger could be vital if United are to claw their way back into the tie. Playing in front of their own fans against their bitter domestic rivals should make for a cracking atmosphere. Will we witness another memorable European night at Old Trafford?

ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE: Everton v Arsenal, beIN Sports, Saturday, 4.45pm

One is in the FA Cup semi-final, one isn’t. Arsenal’s predictable seasonal slump is going against the grain this season – Arsene Wenger’s squad usually rally and finish with a flourish, but instead are in danger of bowing out with a whimper. Elimination from the Uefa Champions League against Barcelona looks inevitable, but that could be a blessing in disguise for Arsenal, with only the Premier League title to gun for. They sit third in the table, behind Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur, but have a run of winnable home games. It’s on the road where they could come unstuck. First up is Everton at Goodison Park, who boast an in-form Romelu Lukaku fresh off a match-winning performance that knocked Chelsea out of the cup.

LIGUE 1: Paris Saint-Germain v Monaco, beIN Sports, Saturday, midnight

First v second in any league at any level would normally be an enticing encounter. Not so in France’s top tier though, where Paris Saint-Germain wrapped up the championship in emphatic fashion last week with a 9-0 trouncing of bottom club Troyes – a Ligue 1 record score – with eight rounds still remaining, also a league record. So what’s at stake here? Not much on the face of it, but assuming PSG win and Nice, currently third, beat relegation-threatened Ajaccio the same day, the gap to Monaco is cut to two points. Given France only has two Uefa Champions League places on offer, Monaco will not want to give Nice any encouragement.

PRIMERA LIGA: Real Madrid v Sevilla, beIN Sports, Sunday, 11.30pm

Both Real Madrid and Sevilla have formidable home records, but Sevilla are truly horrible on the road. For a team that sits fifth in La Liga and on the brink of progressing to the quarter-finals of the Europa League, it is a major blot on their record that Sevilla are yet to win away from home this season. That record is likely to extend this weekend when they travel to the Spanish capital to take on a Real Madrid side that is still yet to fully convince under new coach Zinedine Zidane, but whose form at the Bernabeu has been imperious: Madrid have scored a whopping 27 goals in five league games under the Frenchman at their home ground.

PREMIER LEAGUE: Manchester City v Manchester United, beIN Sports, Sunday, 8pm

A match that would usually be decisive in deciding the destination of the title is diluted a little by both teams’ league positions. Manchester City currently occupy fourth spot in the league table, with United two places and four points farther back in sixth. Nonetheless, this game carries with it major bragging rights, and a win for City at Etihad Stadium could effectively kill off any lingering hopes United have of a top-four finish. Manuel Pellegrini’s side progress to the quarter finals of the Champions League but at a price. Vincent Kompany, the City captain and without doubt their best centre-back was withdrawn from the 0-0 draw against Dynamo Kiev injured and faces a month on the sidelines. The game at Old Trafford in October finished goalless, let’s hope for none of the same on Sunday.

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