Football Weekend Preview: Rudderless Madrid Faces Barcelona in El-Clasico

Football Weekend Preview: Rudderless Madrid Faces Barcelona in El-Clasico

The weekend is here again and league football resumes after three breathless nights of European club football. The English Premiership hosts a top match between Tottenham and Manchester City.

Here is the preview of some of the matches in the English Premier League:

LIVERPOOL VS CARDIFF CITY

Liverpool heads into their Premier League clash with Cardiff City on Saturday afternoon looking to extend their unbeaten run in the top flight to 10 games and move three points clear of Manchester City.

Cardiff makes the trip to Anfield keen to build on last weekend’s 4-2 triumph over Fulham, a result which moved the Bluebirds out of the relegation zone

Liverpool has registered three clean sheets in a row in all competitions, but perhaps the biggest plus point from the last few outings is Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino both getting themselves back among the goals.

Mohamed Salah

 

Salah had gone almost a month without finding the back of the net until contributing the only goal of the game at Huddersfield – which was followed up with a double in midweek – while five weeks had passed when Firmino ended his goal drought on Wednesday night.

Cardiff is only one of a number of teams who have struggled since the start of the season, and it already feels that less than 40 points will be good enough to retain a place in the top flight for another 12 months.

 

BURNLEY VS CHELSEA

Chelsea makes the trip north on Sunday, with the plan to further their championship credentials against Burnley at Turf Moor.

The Blues remain unbeaten under new boss Maurizio Sarri but have slipped off the pace ever so slightly having drawn three of their last four in the Premier League.

Jorginho of Chelsea

Chelsea still sits third in the Premier League, level on points with London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham below them and two points behind Manchester City and Liverpool at the top.

Burnley was just starting to look like their old selves following a tough start to the new campaign.

Sean Dyche’s men had strung together three games unbeaten and seven points from nine.

 

CRYSTAL PALACE VS ARSENAL

Premier League hotshots Arsenal visit Crystal Palace for a London derby on Sunday, with another three points firmly on the agenda.

The Gunners have won an eye-popping seven on the bounce in the EPL.

Alexandre Lacazette

Crystal Palace, by stark contrast, has hit the buffers with three defeats in a row.

Narrow losses to high-flying Wolves and Bournemouth will have grated with veteran boss Roy Hodgson – but nowhere near as much as their last result.

 

MANCHESTER UNITED VS EVERTON

Jose Mourinho faces another huge test on Sunday as his struggling Manchester United side host Everton at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils are already nine points off the pace as they sit 10th in the League with three defeats in nine games, though they were only denied an impressive win at Chelsea last weekend by a last-minute Ross Barkley goal.

Romelu Lukaku

Unfortunately for Mourinho, United followed that up with a limp 1-0 Champions League home defeat to Juventus in midweek to once again raise questions of the manager’s suitability for the job.

United have an impressive record against Everton, but with Marco Silva’s Toffees sitting above them in the table, Mourinho’s side will once again be asked tough questions in front of an Old Trafford crowd who are used to dominating fixtures like these in the past.

 

TOTTENHAM VS MANCHESTER CITY

What is going according to the script is that City are top of the league — what is surprising, however, is that they are not sitting there alone. After 8 games, City has won 6, drawn 2 and are on 20 points, along with Chelsea and Liverpool, both of whom have identical records (although City is well clear on goal difference).

Spurs, sitting in 5th spot on the table with 18 points, likewise have 6 wins, but they have also lost twice (to Watford away and to Liverpool at home).

 

The Spanish La Liga hosts the star attraction of the weekend where the first instalment of the El-Clasico plays out with Barcelona hosting Real Madrid at the Camp Nou.

BARCELONA VS REAL MADRID

Barcelona welcomes a beleaguered Real Madrid to the Camp Nou for the first El Clasico of the season. A victory for the Catalans would consolidate their place at the top of the La Liga table, although it could be a hard task without Leo Messi who will miss the game with a broken arm.

A defeat for Real would almost certainly mean that Julien Lopotegui would be relieved of his duties as head coach.

After initially struggling, it seems that Barca has found their rhythm at home and in Europe. Last weekend, Barca returned to the top of the table with a comfortable 4-2 win over Sevilla, whilst a 2-0 win over Inter Milan midweek ensured that Ernesto Valverde’s side maintained a perfect start in the Champions League.

Last time out, Real cruised to a routine 2-1 victory over Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League thanks to goals from Karim Benzema & Marcelo.

However, it is the winless run in five league games that has got Los Blancos in trouble. It’s the sides worse start to a season in 17 years.

Part of the problem is that Real simply did not invest after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, the clubs all-time leading goalscorer and the supplier of some 50 goals a season for the side.

The return of striker Mariano Diaz to the club the only signing of note in the summer, simply put he is not the quality to match up to Ronaldo and as a result Real have suffered.

 

ATLETICO MADRID VS REAL SOCIEDAD

It’s been a dreadful week for Atletico Madrid so far. They failed to see off Villarreal on Saturday playing just a 1-1 draw away at Estadio de la Ceramica only to suffer a 4-0 disaster when they visited Signal-Iduna Park for the Champions League clash against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

Diego Simeone’s men were completely outplayed by Die Schwarzgelben in the mid-week.

The Argentine manager will have a very tough task motivating his lads after such a failure. Given Saturday’s opposition comes in the likes of Real Sociedad, we’d not be surprised to see another slip-up from the Mattressers.

Txuri-Urdinak has a side capable of beating any team in the league on their day. They do have huge problems with the lack of consistency which keeps them away from the contest for European positions.

Asier Garitano’s troops now sit 9th in the league ladder with three wins, draws and defeats apiece coming into this 10th round fixture.

 

ATHLETICO BILBAO VS VALENCIA

Both Athletic Bilbao and Valencia are struggling to find the right rhythm at the start of the new season. The hosts continued with dismal displays on Wednesday when they only drew 1-1 away at fellow strugglers Rayo Vallecano.

The Basques were even lucky to have saved a point thanks to Iker Muniain’s leveller midway through the second half in Madrid.

Eduardo Berizzo’s job is thus rumoured to be on the line and the former Celta Vigo and Sevilla manager could easily part ways with the Lions without a serious turnaround in form.

Bilbao started off with a 2-1 home victory over Leganes but has failed to win a single out of the following eight games in Primera Division.

 

Here is a preview of some of the matches in the German Bundesliga:

MAINZ VS BAYERN MUNICH

Bayern Munich somehow managed to survive Wolfsburg and AEK Athens tests to pick up two straight wins within the last seven days.

These successes came after a four-game run without a victory for the Bavarian giants who are still looking to find the kind of form which led them to Bundesliga dominance in the last decade.

Der FCB dominated the pitch from the very outset last time out at the VOLKSWAGEN ARENA.

They had a two-goal cushion through a Robert Lewandowski brace but suddenly got into a rough position when Wout Weghorst pulled one back for the Wolves six minutes after Arjen Robben was sent off for his second booking of the game.

Nonetheless, James Rodriguez sealed the deal for Niko Kovac’s men netting team’s third 18 minutes from time.

 

BORUSSIA DORTMUND VS HERTHA BERLIN

Dortmund is enjoying a phenomenal spell of form coming into Saturday’s fixture against Hertha BSC in the 9th round of Bundesliga.

Die Schwarzgelben enters the game off the back of two separate 4-0 wins within the last seven days.

They took nine out of nine points in three Champions League fixtures and sit at the very top of the domestic league ladder after winning four on the bonce in Bundesliga.

Lucien Favre rested his key man in the final third Paco Alcacer in the mid-week Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid, but it did not prevent BVB from destroying La Liga heavyweights on Wednesday evening.

Marco Reus played as “false 9” on the occasion and it worked out perfectly for Favre’s side. Raphael Guerreiro bagged a brace, while goals also came from Axel Witsel and Jadon Sancho.

Can Die Schwarzgelben keep such an amazing form going here against The Old Lady?

 

Some of the matches in the Italian Seria A are:

EMPOLI VS JUVENTUS

Empoli is next up on the menu for Juventus, who will hope to rebound after a surprise 1-1 draw with Genoa that saw their perfect 100% winning record end in Serie A last weekend.

Still, Juve has yet to lose a single game across all comps this season. Massimiliano Allegri’s men beat Manchester United earlier this week thanks to a goal from Paulo Dybala to put them comfortably in control of their group, with three wins out of three and they are pretty much set for the round of 16.

Despite drawing with Genoa, Juventus still has a four-point lead over Napoli, who face a tricky test against Roma on Sunday, and Empoli is hardly a team who will rock the boat when the reigning Scudetto champions come to town.

The Azzurri have failed to win their last eight games and blew a great chance to end that frustrating run by drawing 3-3 with Frosinone. That was a relegation six-pointer and sees them still sitting in the relegation zone.

 

NAPOLI VS AS ROMA

This week’s highlight fixture in Serie A is the Derby del Sole, as title challengers, Napoli takes on Roma. Who will triumph in this heated rivalry?

Napoli comes into the match as slight favourites against Roma. Roma had been in great form before last week’s defeat but will back themselves to get a result away from home.

Carlo Ancelotti is known for rotating his squad and formation and has certainly lived up to his reputation thus far, refusing to name an unchanged line-up for any game and switching between 4-3-3, 4-4-2 and 4-4-1-1.

Napoli has scored 18 goals in nine games which means they have averaged exactly two per match, thanks in part to the array of attacking options Ancelotti has at his disposal.

Roma has been just as proficient in front of goal this term, with no less than 12 different scorers so far and last season’s top scorer Edin Dzeko averaging a goal every other game with five in ten appearances.

Both clubs are similarly matched both offensively and defensively, with Napoli scoring only two more and conceding two less than Roma so far, yet they find themselves seven points ahead in second whilst the Romans languish in seventh place.

 

LAZIO VS INTER MILAN

The Capital City faces an Inter Milan side who had recovered from their early-season wobbles and are now in good form.

Lazio is also in very good form with victories in their last three matches.

This match promises to deliver goals with plenty of tackles flying.

 

AC MILAN VS SAMPDORIA

AC Milan is now in a mini-rut with defeats in their last two matches; losing at home in Thursday’s Europa League match against Real Betis.

Sampdoria is in a better form compared to their more illustrious counterpart with two victories in their last four matches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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