Looking Ahead Vol. 9

After an engrossing week of action on the continent, it’s back to domestic football on the weekend. As well as Der Klassiker, it’s also Arsenal hosting Liverpool, while Xabi Alonso makes his top flight managerial debut with Bayer Leverkusen and Jorge Sampaoli returns for his second stint at Sevilla.

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Schalke 04

This used to be a match between sides competing for Champions League qualification. The circumstances are different this time, but the main reason I am intrigued is because Xabi Alonso makes his managerial debut.

Milan vs. Juventus

The champions can’t afford to lick their wounds from their humbling at Chelsea for too long as they welcome Juve to the San Siro. Milan are only three points off the top, but are dealing with injuries while Juve will look to get a second straight league win for the first time this season.

Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich

Germany’s two biggest clubs come into Der Klassiker buoyed by excellent performances in Europe. They are level on points, and games between the two at the Signal Iduna have always been thrilling, though nobody knows what to expect from Dortmund – this could be end-to-end, or equally a thrashing by the champions.

Sevilla vs. Athletic Club

Jorge Sampaoli returns to Sevilla with the Andalusian side struggling at 17th in the table. It’s a tough opening fixture for the Argentinian manager as they welcome an Athletic sitting in third, having themselves benefitted from the return of Ernesto Valverde for the new season.

Udinese vs. Atalanta

What a story we have over here, as third welcomed second when Udinese welcome Atalanta. Both sides have far exceeded early season expectations. Udinese have won six straight, scoring 17 goals with only league leaders Napoli having scored more. Atalanta are tied with Napoli, with their success built on having the league’s best defence, conceding only three goals so far.

Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Koln

The Rhine derby takes place with Koln above their rivals after an excellent start to the season, highlighted by a fantastic win over Dortmund last weekend. Daniel Farke has had some promising moments with Gladbach though their defending last week when they conceded five at Werder left a lot to be desired.

Arsenal vs. Liverpool

It’s been a long time since the Gunners have come into this clash between English football’s historic giants as anything close to equals. Arsenal will never have a better chance, as the league leaders welcome a Liverpool in ninth place and struggling to get their league campaign going.

Real Sociedad vs. Villarreal

Both teams have aspirations to get a spot in Spain’s open race for the top four. La Real found their scoring boots last weekend when they scored five at Girona. Unai Emery would kill for such efficiency in front of goal, as their lack of end product is nullifying all their good work in possession.

Lille vs. Lens

First of all, let’s hope this passionate derby doesn’t see the ugly scenes we saw last season between rival fans. French football could really do without crowd trouble for a while. On to the Derby du Nord, and Lille would like nothing more than delivering Lens’ first defeat of the season. Both sides have scored 17 goals each, so there should be plenty of excitement for the neutrals.

Fiorentina vs. Lazio

The hosts promised a lot in the summer after qualifying for Europe and investing in the transfer window, however Vincenzo Italiano’s side have struggled to get going, scoring only seven goals in eight games. Lazio have serenely moved to fourth without anyone noticing, as Mattia Zaccagni is linking up beautifully with Sergei Milinkovic-Savic to get the team playing Sarriball in the manager’s second season.

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