A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Saturday:
Barcelona faces Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey in Seville, just two weeks after Bilbao lost the delayed 2020 final at the same stadium. Barcelona is seeking to add to its record 30 trophies in the competition that includes four straight from 2015-18. Even though it is in the thick of the Spanish league title chase, Barcelona is eager to get back to winning after finishing last season without a trophy and with Lionel Messi considering his future. Bilbao has won the cup 23 times, second only to Barcelona, but its last triumph was in 1984. It lost 1-0 to Real Sociedad in the 2020 final that was postponed until earlier this month. No fans will be allowed into La Cartuja Stadium due to the pandemic.
Manchester City looks to keep alive its bid for a quadruple of major trophies this season by beating Chelsea in the first of the semifinal matches in the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium. City leads the Premier League by 11 points, is into the final of the English League Cup and also the semifinals of the Champions League. Chelsea has won the FA Cup eight times, most recently in 2018, and lost in last season’s final to Arsenal. City has won it six times. In the Premier League, West Ham can climb to third place above Leicester with a win at Newcastle. If Newcastle avoids defeat, Sheffield United will be relegated with a loss in the late game at Wolverhampton.
Cagliari and Parma are both in desperate need of a win when they face each other in a relegation six-pointer in Sardinia. Cagliari is on a four-match losing streak and has slipped five points below safety in Serie A, with Parma two points further back. Torino, which occupies the last position of safety, has also played a match less. Fiorentina is only eight points above the relegation zone and visits Sassuolo, while Sampdoria hosts Hellas Verona. Bottom club Crotone welcomes Udinese.
Eintracht Frankfurt coach Adi Hütter faces his future team Borussia Mönchengladbach in the first game since it was announced that he will be switching sides next season. European qualification is at stake for both, with Frankfurt closing in on a Champions League spot and Gladbach still in the running for Europa League qualification. But all the attention is on Hütter. Frankfurt fans are hoping the announcement of his departure does not precipitate a collapse like Gladbach’s once coach Marco Rose – whom Hütter is replacing – said he was leaving for Borussia Dortmund. Gladbach had been challenging for a Champions League spot and is now in danger of missing out on European qualification altogether. Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich faces a tough game after its Champions League exit to Paris Saint-Germain when it visits third place Wolfsburg.
Marseille and Rennes are both in good form ahead of their games as they continue to fight for fifth place and a spot in next season’s Europa League. Sixth-place Marseille has won three and drawn one of the last five games and hosts Lorient, which is 17th but has much improved in recent weeks to boost its chances of staying up. Lorient will face a Marseille side missing central defenders Alvaro Gonzalez and Duje Caleta-Car through suspension. Seventh-place Rennes is one point behind Marseille ahead of its trip to midtable Angers. Rennes is improving under new coach Bruno Genesio and has taken 10 points from four matches.
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