MATCHDAY: Rangnick makes Man U debut; Hertha’s new coach too
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Sunday:
Ralf Rangnick takes charge of Manchester United for the first time in a home game against Crystal Palace, hoping to build on the team’s recent momentum. Rangnick, hired as interim manager for the rest of the season, had to watch Thursday’s 3-2 win over Arsenal from the stands after getting his work permit the same day but will be in the dugout against Palace. Tottenham’s Antonio Conte is looking for a third straight league win to keep up a top-four push when Spurs host Norwich. Also, Leicester travels to Aston Villa and Leeds welcomes Brentford.
Two of the surprise sides of La Liga will meet when Espanyol visits Rayo Vallecano in the capital. Both have impressed since returning to the top-flight with big wins over top clubs. Rayo has the best home record of any team with six wins and one draw, including a victory over Barcelona at its Vallecas Stadium. Rayo has 10 goal-scorers, including Radamel Falcao with five. Espanyol, which has upset Real Madrid and Real Sociedad at home, is seeking its first road victory of the campaign. Celta Vigo aims to extend its four-round unbeaten run against Valencia. Cádiz is at Elche with both struggling to avoid the relegation zone, while last-placed Levante hosts Osasuna still hunting for its first league win.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri insists he and his players are not being distracted by the club’s off-the-field problems. The club is being investigated for false accounting. Matters on the pitch are also of concern as Juventus prepares to host relegation-threatened Genoa. Fiorentina and Bologna have the same amount of points as seventh-placed Juve and they play each other in the lunchtime match. Lazio is only two points further back and visits Sampdoria. Spezia and Venezia are perilously close to the relegation zone and play Sassuolo and Hellas Verona respectively.
Hertha Berlin is hoping for a fresh start under new coach Tayfun Korkut, who makes his debut in charge at his former club Stuttgart. Korkut was a surprise choice to replace the fired Pál Dárdai for many Hertha fans, as the former Turkey player’s record as coach is relatively poor. Korkut hadn’t coached any team since 2018 and his unsuccessful nine-month stint at Stuttgart. Hertha sporting director Fredi Bobic hopes Korkut can “give the team new impulses and new input” after this season saw underwhelming performances overseen by Dárdai. Hertha strives for European qualification but looks set for another flirt with relegation. Stuttgart hasn’t lost in five games against Hertha. Borussia Mönchengladbach hosts Freiburg in the late game. Freiburg was formerly third but has dropped back after losing three games in a row.
With just 12 points after 16 matches, Saint-Etienne has relegation looming large. It’s the team’s lowest total since 1994 and it will be looking to improve the poor record against Rennes. It might be the right time for “Les Verts” to try and bounce back against Rennes, whose 13-match unbeaten run in all competitions was ended midweek by defending champion Lille. On the back of its goalless draw at leader Paris Saint-Germain, Nice takes on Strasbourg looking for an attacking spark to go with its solid defense. Also, struggling Bordeaux is up against Lyon, whose inconsistent form has left the seven-time champion lagging in mid-table.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports