Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. (ESPN+)

It’s a good thing that Chelsea came back to tie Liverpool 2-2 on Sunday, with Christian Pulisic scoring an outstanding equalizer just before halftime. Had the Blues not dug out of the 2-0 hole they fell into early, manager Thomas Tuchel would have been hit with a storm of criticism for benching star striker Romelu Lukaku.

Tuchel did it because Lukaku gave an unauthorized interview to Sky Italy in which he said he wasn’t happy with his situation at the London club, which paid $134 million to acquire him in August. The interview happened three weeks ago, before the Belgian scored in back-to-back games at the end of December. But Tuchel was still upset, and made a power move to leave Lukaku out of Sunday’s big game.

Tuchel and Lukaku met Monday to clear the air, and the player admitted his remarks weren’t a good look. But that won’t solve all of Chelsea’s problems. The tie with Liverpool put first-place Manchester City 10 points ahead of the second-place Blues and 11 points of the third place-Reds.

Now comes the first game of a two-leg Carabao Cup semifinal that normally wouldn’t matter much, but happens to be against a famous old rival. Oh, and Spurs have won just one trophy in this millennium, the same tournament in 2008.

The other semifinal also has two big teams, Arsenal and Liverpool. Arsenal hosts first (Thursday, 2:45 p.m., ESPN+), then Tottenham and Liverpool host the second legs next Wednesday and Thursday, respectively (both 2:45 p.m., ESPN+).

UPDATE: The Arsenal-Liverpool series has been postponed one week because of a COVID-19 outbreak in Liverpool’s squad.

AC Milan vs. AS Roma

Thursday, 12:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network, Paramount+)

Serie A rings in the new year with first-place Inter holding a four-point lead over second-place Milan. If the Rossoneri are to mount a comeback charge, this game against sixth-place Roma is a big one.

Atlético Mancha Real vs. Athletic Bilbao

Thursday, 2 p.m. (ESPN+)

Spain’s Copa del Rey has its round of 32 this week, with all 16 games on ESPN+. Ten of the games are second-division teams hosting La Liga teams; four are third-tier teams hosting La Liga teams; and this one is a fourth-tier team hosting the back-to-back tournament runner-up. Athletic lost to Barcelona in the 2020 edition and Basque Derby rival Real Sociedad in the last edition.

Mancha Real is based in southern Spain, playing at a stadium that seats just 1,500 people. This is the farthest the team has ever gone in the Copa del Rey.

The other big matchup of the round is Alcoyano hosting Real Madrid for the second straight season, after a stunning upset win last January (Wednesday, 3:30 p.m.).

Also Wednesday, Atlético Baleares hosts Celta Vigo, managed by former Union player Eduardo Coudet (2 p.m.); and Linares hosts Barcelona (2:45 p.m.). On Thursday, Rayo Majadahonda hosts Atlético Madrid (3:30 p.m.).

» READ MORE: The rest of this week's Copa del Rey schedule

Juventus vs. Napoli

Thursday, 2:45 p.m. (CBS Sports Network, Paramount+)

For all that Juventus struggled early in the season, Weston McKennie and company have lost only once in Serie A since the end of October. The Bianconeri have risen to fifth place. Hosting third-place Napoli, in what is always a spicy contest, will be a measuring stick for how good the home team is right now.

» READ MORE: The rest of this week's Serie A schedule

Atlético San Luis vs. Pachuca

Thursday, 10 p.m. (TUDN)

Three and a half weeks after Liga MX’s autumn season (officially the Torneo Apertura) ended, the spring season (the Torneo Clasura) kicks off.