After the distraction of some important world cup qualifiers and some meaningless international friendlies, the real business resumes for the major leagues in Europe. It’s not difficult to understand why most of the club managers don’t like international breaks as it breaks the rhythm, sometimes leads to injuries to key players and long journeys cause fatigue. They can only plan for the upcoming fixtures once they assess the fitness of their players. This time around, barring Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, most of the big guns in Europe should be happy that most of their players have come relatively unscathed from the international break.
Premier League Preview
Last playing weekend’s results have shaken things up nicely in the premier league with Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea all dropping points. A quick glance at the league table tells you that only 6 points separate the top 8 teams in the Premier League. It also means that no club in top 8 can afford to drop points over the weekend. However with 6 of the top 8 teams in the PL playing against each other, Chelsea and Manchester United expect to gain some ground over other team around them provided they win their matches. Depending on how the results shape up, both Liverpool and Southampton has a chance of being top of the table after the weekend, theoretically at least.
Highlight of the Premier League weekend is surely the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park and the contest between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at Etihad Stadium. It is interesting that after a long period both Liverpool and Everton have made a strong start to the league campaign this year. Although Liverpool has dominated this fixture in recent years, but given Everton’s start, home advantage and the way Martinez has gone about setting his team in big games, looks like Everton may just be able to edge Liverpool out in this contest. In recent years, matches between Man City and Spurs have been exciting and decisive (in the context of league table), with Spurs edging Man City out of Champions League spot once and City returning the favour next year. However, given Man City’s irresistible form at home, it’s surely is advantage City in this fixture. Another top 8 matchup is between Arsenal and Southampton, current number 1 and 3 in the league. Despite the dream start that Southampton has made, it still is a tough task to come away with any points from Emirates.
- Arsenal v/s Southampton – > Arsenal wins
- Everton v/s Liverpool -> draw
- Cardiff v/s Manchester United ->Manchester United wins
- West Ham v/s Chelsea -> Chelsea wins
- Manchester City v/s Tottenham Hotspur –> Manchester City wins
La Liga Preview
Looks like business as usual in La Liga with Top 3 having winnable games. Barca hosts Granada and it doesn’t look like that Granada can stop Barca’s unbeaten run in the league. Atletico hosts Getafe and Diego Simeone’s men should be able to get maximum points from this encounter. Real Madrid travel to Almeria and they should be able to get 3 points too. Out of the top 3, Real is possibly the one team that can least afford to drop points in winnable matches.
- Barcelona v/s Granada -> Barcelona wins
- Atletico Madrid v/s Getafe -> Atletico wins
- Almeria v/s Real Madrid -> Real Madrid wins
Serie A Preview
Most of the big guns in Serie A face winnable matches too, so any dropped points will be an upset of sorts. The likes of Roma, Napoli and Milan are at home whereas Juve and Inter have away matches. AC Milan, although have not been in a good form so far, but are still expected to get 3 points against Genoa. Another loss and the voices to sack Allegri will only grow louder.
- Napoli v/s Parma -> Napoli wins
- Livorno v/s Juventus -> Juventus wins
- AS Roma v/s Cagliari -> AS Roma wins
- AC Milan v/s Genoa -> AC Milan wins
- Bologna v/s Internazionale -> Inter wins
The game of the weekend is surely happening in the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund hosting Bayern Munich– a German Classico of sorts. Although Dortmund has already beaten Bayern earlier in the Supercup by 4-2, it will be foolish to read too much into that result. Since then Bayern has settled really well under Pep and are unbeaten in all the competitions. Having said that, this is definitely the most difficult game for Bayern in the league and beating Dortmund in their own backyard will not be easy, especially that both Bastian Schweinsteiger and Franck Ribery are ruled out because of injuries.
Not an easy task going into the most difficult game of the season without two of your best players. But Dortmund’s injury worries are probably worse, as Klopp will have to change their entire back four for this game. Dortmund is also coming into this game in some sort of a wobble; they have lost their last two games – at home to Arsenal in the Champions league and away to Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga. Moreover, this game comes at such a crucial point in their season that a loss to Bayern will make their chances of claiming Bundesliga title nearly negligible. Additionally, a loss to Bayern could also deal a deadly psychological blow to Dortmund ahead of the must win game against Napoli at home in the Champions League. Two losses for Dortmund in their next 2 matches and they could possibly be out from the running in the two most important competitions.
Borussia Dortmund v/s Bayern Munich -> Borussia Dortmund wins