Domestic football returns after the international break with some tasty fixtures across Europe, though it feels like its going to be hard to escape the shadow of the upcoming World Cup during the next six weeks of club action. Here are the games I am looking forward to this weekend.
Bayern Munich vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Always one of the games to look forward to in the Bundesliga, but with both sides under pressure. Bayern are winless in four while Leverkusen have won only once in the league this season, leaving them just outside the relegation zone. With Champions League commitments midweek, both sides will look to start the football week with a win and reset their campaigns.
Arsenal vs. Tottenham
The North London derby provides an exciting platform to start the next matchday in the Premier League. Both sides have started the season really well as the league-leading Gunners welcome a Spurs side just a point behind in third. There is growing belief in both camps that the season can be truly special. A win for either side here will be a powerful statement.
Liverpool vs. Brighton
Graham Potter’s Brighton caused Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool a fair amount of problems in recent seasons. The Reds haven’t beaten the Seagulls at Anfield since the 2019-20 season and need a positive result to move up the league table. Will Roberto De Zerbi make an instant impact on his debut as Brighton manager?
Crystal Palace vs. Chelsea
Another London derby but more than local bragging rights everyone is intrigued to see Graham Potter’s league debut as Chelsea manager. Palace do have a history of stifling their illustrious neighbours, making this a tough test to see whether Potter can get Chelsea’s struggling attack going.
Inter vs. Roma
Jose Mourinho returns to his former home with both Inter and Roma feeling the heat after two defeats each in their last three games. Serie A’s cramped up table means this is still a season of possibilities, but make no mistake, both sides really need a win in this game if their season is to be anything more than a fight for European places.
Sevilla vs. Atletico Madrid
It seems it was only a short while ago that both Sevilla and Atletico Madrid could aspire to more than just hanging on to their places in the Champions League. But stagnation has eventually led to both sides going backwards and where Champions League qualification seemed a sure bet in recent seasons, it’s a different story this time around as a stronger mid-table challenges for the top four in La Liga. Another game where a win is vital.
PSG vs. Nice
Christophe Galtier welcomes his former side to the capital, as two of France’s richest sides take on each other. PSG have had their struggles against Nice in previous seasons, but Lucien Favre’s side have been uninspiring this season. PSG’s famed front three have been in sparkling form and it’s going to be interesting to see how they build up to the World Cup. Nice will hope their motley crew of signings can finally get going after two weeks of rest.
Manchester City vs. Manchester United
Another high stakes derby in England this weekend sees City welcome United to the Etihad. While this was an easy double for the champions last weekend, United come into this fixture feeling positive after four wins a row, though it has been almost a month since we last saw the Red Devils domestically. The Champions are the heavy favourites, though they have suffered at the hands of United’s counter in recent seasons, which suggests this game is far from a foregone conclusion.
Lens vs. Lyon
Fourth faces sixth as Franck Haise’s brilliant undefeated Lens welcome a stuttering Lyon. Les Gones have no excuse to perform poorly this season considering they’re not in Europe, but Peter Bosz’s defensive vulnerabilities are simply incurable. Both teams have scored 16 goals so far, proving there is ample firepower to whet the appetite of the neutrals.
Leicester vs. Forest
The weekend ends with a basement battle in the Midlands as bottom of the table Leicester welcome Forest who are one place above them. Both sides have made their fans dream in recent seasons, but this season is turning out to be a nightmare. It feels like both Steve Cooper and Brendan Rodgers are on the brink, which only adds to the tension and intrigue around this affair.