MATCHDAY: Man City begins EPL title defense at West Ham
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Sunday:
Striker Erling Haaland is set to make his Premier League debut for Manchester City at West Ham. City will be without defender Aymeric Laporte for the start of its league title defense. Laporte had knee surgery and could be sidelined for a month. West Ham’s new signings aren’t ready to debut. Striker Gianluca Scamacca isn’t fit enough yet and defender Nayef Aguerd has a knee injury. Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has been coy about whether Cristiano Ronaldo will appear when they host Brighton. Ronaldo has been public about wanting to leave but ten Hag has been equally insistent about keeping him. Ten Hag said, “Cristiano is working really tough and hard.” Leicester, home to Brentford, was the only league club not to sign anyone new this summer, and neither will they replace two key injuries from last week’s friendly win against Sevilla. Portugal defender Ricardo Pereira ruptured his Achilles and is out for six months and winger Harvey Barnes will be out for a few weeks with a knee issue. Departed captain Kasper Schmeichel won’t be replaced either. Danny Ward and Daniel Iversen will fight over the goalkeeper start. Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans is the new captain.
Promoted Schalke visits Cologne for its first game back in the Bundesliga after its season in the second division. Schalke has a new coach in Frank Kramer after club great Michael Büskens steered it back into the top division with seven wins from his eight games in charge. Whether Kramer enjoys a similar success rate remains to be seen after an offseason of signings and departures at the cash-strapped club. Cash is no problem for Leipzig, which visits Stuttgart for the early game. Leipzig, which finished fourth last season, last week signed Germany defender David Raum for a reported 26 million euros ($26.5 million) from Hoffenheim.
Marseille, Rennes and Nice are among the contenders for a top-three finish. Marseille hosts Reims, Rennes plays Lorient, and Nice visits promoted Toulouse. Igor Tudor has big shoes to fill after replacing Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli, who left Marseille this summer reportedly because of a disagreement with the club’s recruitment strategy. Marseille heavily relied on Dimitri Payet to create and score goals so the arrival of Colombian striker Luis Suarez from Granada could alleviate Payet’s burden. Hoping to qualify for the Champions League, Rennes has signed Wales international Joe Rodon on loan from Tottenham and Belgian defender Arthur Theate from Bologna for a reported fee of 20 million euros to make up for the departure of Morocco center back Nayef Aguerd to West Ham. Nice has replaced coach Christophe Galtier with a familiar face, Lucien Favre, who led the club to a third-place finish in 2017. Nice’s recruitment policy has been ambitious with the signing of Wales international Aaron Ramsey from Juventus and Romanian winger Rares Ilie from Rapid Bucharest to help out Andy Delort and Amine Gouiri up front. At the back, Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel has replaced Walter Benitez, who joined PSV Eindhoven, while promising center back Mattia Viti from Empoli will be an alternative to an aging Dante.
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