Things to look out for in European football: January 7-9

The latter stages of the EFL Cup and Coupe de la Ligue provide an early glimpse of silverware, while four teams battle it out in Spain’s Super Cup. Bet on European football on our site.

Can Manchester United claim another result against a top rival?

Without a goal yet in 2020, Manchester United turn their attention to the EFL Cup and a showdown with bitter rivals, and current holders, Manchester City. United’s struggles this season have been well-documented but they have had better luck against top-quality opposition. Having kicked off the season with a 4-0 win against Chelsea, they defeated Tottenham and Manchester City in December and remain the only team to have taken points from Liverpool in the Premier League. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have also eliminated Chelsea from the EFL Cup and, even though City boast a far superior squad, this is another big occasion that United tend to rise to.

Injury crisis leaves Real Madrid short on fire power

Real Madrid head to Saudi Arabia for the Spanish Super Cup but the build-up has focused on the players left behind. Injury has robbed Eden Hazard of a chance to win his first trophy at the club, while fellow forwards Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale have also been deemed unfit. With Marco Asensio side-lined, Zinedine Zidane must look to summer signings Luka Jovic and Rodrygo for Wednesday’s game against Valencia. The former has struggled for playing time since his move from Eintracht Frankfurt, finding the net just once. Rodrygo, meanwhile, has failed to shine since a hat-trick against Galatasaray in early November, although he is earmarked as one for the future. This is a fantastic opportunity for both to stake their place in Zidane’s plans.

Rodgers has opportunity to continue silverware streak

What’s the limit for this Leicester side? On current evidence, a shot at the Premier League title might be unrealistic but Brendan Rodgers has nonetheless done wonders since he arrived last season. This current Foxes outfit look arguably as strong as the edition that lifted the Premier League title four seasons ago and they are just one step away from a first EFL Cup final since 2000, when they last won the competition. Aston Villa stand in their way but, given the Foxes’ form, there is a growing sense that they will be at Wembley next month. Rodgers lifted the Scottish League Cup in each of his three seasons at Celtic – doing it in England would be a fantastic achievement within his first 12 months back.

In-form Atletico look to end terrible run v Barcelona

Considering their rise to becoming one of Europe’s top sides in the last decade, it is somewhat surprising to note that Atletico Madrid have only recorded one win over Barcelona since 2014. Furthermore, they have not managed to beat the Catalan side away from their old home, the Vicente Calderon, since 1998. As a result, Thursday’s Super Cup semi-final presents an opportunity for Los Rojiblancos to end both of those runs. Barcelona have been far from convincing on their travels in recent years; as evidence, they have only won two of their last ten away games in the Champions League knockout stages. Atletico come into the game on the back of four straight wins and conditions for a game against Barcelona don’t get much better.

Can anybody stop PSG from reclaiming the Coupe de la Ligue?

PSG were dealt a shock last season as the Coupe de la Ligue, which they had lifted in five successive seasons, was instead claimed by relative minnows Strasbourg. It was at this stage 12 months ago, in the quarter-finals, that PSG experienced their first defeat in 21 games in the competition as Guingamp won 2-1 at the Parc de Princes. This time around PSG host Saint-Etienne but holders Strasbourg remain in the fold, along with Lille and Lyon. Although the Parisiens remain overwhelming favourites to take back their crown, they cannot afford to get complacent.