With the English Premier League again pausing for domestic cup play, the focus in European soccer this weekend shifts to a couple of leagues where the first-place teams aren’t being challenged but the competition in heating up back in the pack.
Serie A: With Juventus, Europe’s last unbeaten team, 11 points clear of the rest of the league, the title race is over in Italy. But there’s a lot going on behind the leaders, with fourth-place Milan separated from seventh-place Lazio by just a point. At stake are berths in the Champions League, which goes to the top four finishers, and the Europa League, for the teams finishing fifth and sixth. Milan will be playing to maintain its hold on a Champions League berth on Saturday when it visits fifth-place Atalanta (ESPN Plus, 11:30 a.m. PT). The teams are a point apart in the table and have played to draws in their last two meetings. Both are unbeaten in their last six games in league play.
Bundesliga: Frankfurt will enter the weekend fifth in the German league but it is leading a tightly packed group of six teams separated by just two points in the battle for the Bundesliga’s top Europa League invitations. Two of those teams, Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen, face each other Saturday (FS2, Fox Deportes, 9:30 a.m.). Bremen, which trails Hertha by a point, is unbeaten in its last four and hasn’t lost to Hertha in seven meetings. Meanwhile Frankfurt, led by the league’s top scorer in Luka Jovic, plays host to Borussia Monchengladbach on Sunday (FS2, 6:30 a.m. PT).