Lionel Messi is expected to play his first game for Paris Saint-Germain since his World Cup victory with Argentina. Messi has been training normally with his teamates and coach Christophe Galtier expressed hopes the forward will be ready to take on last-place Angers in a French league match. Kylian Mbappé will be missing as he went on holiday. Lagging four points behind leader PSG, second-place Lens travels to struggling Strasbourg. Ukraine’s Ruslan Malinovskyi could make his debut for third-place Marseille when the nine-time champions play at Troyes. The midfielder has joined on loan from Atalanta until the end of the season with an option to make the move permanent.
The League Cup quarterfinals continue with two all-Premier League matchups: Southampton vs. Manchester City and Nottingham Forest vs. Wolverhampton. City is looking to win the competition for the seventh time in 10 seasons and is coming off back-to-back wins over Chelsea in the league and FA Cup.
Southampton is struggling under recently hired manager Nathan Jones but has caused Pep Guardiola’s squad problems in recent years, with both of the teams’ league meetings last season ending in draws. City has already beaten Southampton 4-0 this season, however, and should recall Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland, who were rested in the 4-0 FA Cup win over Chelsea on Sunday. The League Cup is proving to be a positive distraction for Forest and Wolves from their battle against relegation in the Premier League.
Real Madrid begins the defense of its Spanish Super Cup title in Saudi Arabia in a semifinal against Valencia. Both teams are looking to rebound from losses in the Spanish league. Madrid will be without defender David Alaba and midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni because of injuries, but coach Carlo Ancelotti will have right back Dani Carvajal available after he was sidelined with a muscle problem.
Gennaro Gattuso’s Valencia has won only one of its last eight league matches ahead of the Super Cup. Veteran Edinson Cavani is expected to play in attack for Valencia. Barcelona and Real Betis will play in the other semifinal on Friday (IST).
Defending Serie A champion AC Milan opens its Italian Cup campaign by hosting Torino at the San Siro. The winner will meet either Sampdoria or Fiorentina, who play on Thursday (IST). Milan is third in Serie A and is coming off a disappointing 2-2 draw at home with Roma, when it squandered a two-goal advantage. Torino beat Cittadella 4-0 in the previous round.