MATCHDAY: Watford hosts Norwich; Betis aims to keep up form
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Friday:
Two teams likely to be engaged in the scrap to avoid relegation from the Premier League meet when Watford hosts Norwich at Vicarage Road. They are separated by one place and point, with Watford just above the relegation zone ahead of third-to-last Norwich. Claudio Ranieri's Watford hasn't won a game in any competition in two months, since a 4-1 victory over Manchester United, and is yet to keep a clean sheet in the league. Norwich, though, is the lowest scorer in the league with only 10 goals in 21 games. The game marks the start of the 23rd round of matches.
Real Betis visits Espanyol seeking to solidify its hold on third place in the Spanish league and a berth in next season’s Champions League. Manuel Pellegrini has Betis playing its best in years and thrilling its fans with its attacking style. Its 37 goals scored in the league are only second to the 45 goals by leader Real Madrid. Espanyol has only lost twice in 10 games played at its stadium this campaign.
Hellas Verona is slowly getting its players back after a coronavirus outbreak at the club and will be hopeful of getting a good result against a Bologna side that has slid down the table following a poor run of results. Verona was decimated by cases of COVID-19 at the start of the year and endured a surprise home defeat to last-place Salernitana. It bounced back to win 4-2 at Sassuolo last weekend with Antonín Barák bagging a hat trick. Bologna is only three points behind Verona but has lost five of its past six matches.
Eintracht Frankfurt is three points off the Champions League places as it prepares to host relegation candidate Arminia Bielefeld. Frankfurt has goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and winger Filip Kostic available again after they both missed Sunday's 1-1 draw at Augsburg following positive tests for the coronavirus. Bielefeld also comes into the game on the back of a disappointing draw — in its case, giving up an early 1-0 lead in a 2-2 draw at home to last-place Greuther Fürth. Bielefeld is in the relegation playoff spot in 16th and could rise to 14th with a win.
Saint-Etienne travels to bitter rival Lyon looking to end a six-match losing streak that has left the 10-time champion at the bottom of the French league standings. The changing of coach in December did not bring the expected jolt, although Saint-Etienne players mustered two French Cup wins under Pascal Dupraz's helm and showed some improvement in their latest league outing. Lyon has been largely inconsistent this season and will be looking for a second straight league win after snapping a five-game winless run. Among the most popular clubs in the country, Saint-Etienne and Lyon are only 60 kilometers (37 miles) apart and their rivalry is one of the fiercest in French football.
This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune .