With the League Cup in the bag, Manchester City are within touching distance of winning the English Premier League title for the first time in four years when they host their illustrious neighbors – Manchester United in the Mancunian Derby. In the city of Liverpool, the Toffees take on the Reds in the Merseyside derby. Atletico Madrid will need to be at their best defensively to contain ruthless Cristiano Ronaldo in the Madrid derby.
Bayern Munich can clinch their sixth consecutive league title at the WWK Arena with a victory this weekend.
This is our preview of some key fixtures in the top leagues in Europe.
We begin in France;
SAINT-ETIENNE v PSG
Saint-Etienne head into this clash in form on the back of two successive wins in Ligue 1. Les Verts are unbeaten in their last six league games and are just three points of European qualification spot. PSG are inching closer to the league title in France and can draw inspiration from picking up their first silverware of 2018 in last week’s Coupe de la Ligue triumph. Les Parisiens are on a nine game winning run in the league and have scored at least a goal in their last 24 league games.
VERDICT – Saint Etienne average goals per match is 1.1 compared to PSG 3.06. An away win could be on the cards with PSG winning four of their last five encounters.
MARSEILLE v MONTPELLIER
Marseille returned to winning ways at Dijon last week and will be keen to hold on to the final Champions League spot in France. They are up against a Montpellier team who haven’t lost in their last six league games. At the Orange Velodrome, Marseille are a force to reckon with but injuries to a limited squad and their Europa League commitment will see Rudi Garcia stretch his lean group. In spite of Marseille’s quality in front of their fans, they should be concerned with Montpellier’s away form. The visitors are undefeated in 12 of their last 13 away league matches. In the last six meetings between both sides, it has been 2W 2D 2L each so there isn’t much to separate them.
VERDICT – Considering all factors, we should expect goals at Stade Orange Velodrome.
AS ROMA v FIORENTINA
Roma have to shift their focus back to Serie A after their defeat at the Camp Nou and ensure they qualify for the Champions League next season. On the other hand, Fiorentina have won five straight league games and are pushing hard for a continental ticket. The Violas will not roll over easily at the Olimpico but Edin Dzeko who will lead the line for the Giallorossi could continue his fine scoring run. Roma’s record in the last six meetings with Fiorentina is 4W 1D 1L – a stats the Romans would love to see.
VERDICT – Since their 2012 victory at stadio Olimpico, Fiorentina have lost five straight matches against Roma in the Eternal City. We anticipate over 2.5 goals in the match.
NAPOLI v CHIEVO
Maurizio Sarri and his team must win this match if they still harbor anything title aspirations hope. It appears the wheels are falling for the Neapolitans who dropped two points last week against Sassuolo. Chievo are out of the drop zone but they are not totally safe and cannot afford any complacency. The home team need to approach this match guns blazing from the blast of the whistle to avoid the surprise result in the reverse fixture at Bentegodi in November.
VERDICT – Chievo have lost their last eight league games and Napoli are undefeated in the last six league meetings between both teams. Looks like a home win.
BORUSSIA DORTMUND v STUTTGART
Borussia Dortmund need to react after last week’s annihilation at Bayern. Dortmund went to Allianz Arena undefeated in their last 12 league matches but were easily brushed aside by the Bavarians. Stuttgart have picked up five wins and three draws under new coach Tayfun Korkut. The platform for this excellent run has been their solid defense and the enterprising partnership in attack led by Mario Gomez and Daniel Ginczek. Dortmund are in the Champions League qualification zone but they are aware of competition around them.
VERDICT – Stuttgart will prove Dortmund with another stern test this weekend but Marco Reus return should galvanize the Yellow and Black. We expect goals at Signal Iduna Park.
AUGSBURG v BAYERN MUNICH
Bayern Munich should wrap up the league title up for their sixth consecutive Bundesliga crown with a victory at WWK Arena. FC Hollywod won Der Klassiker in style last week crushing Borussia Dortmund six nil at home as well as winning their Champions League match against Sevilla midweek. In their current form, Bayern would be expected them to dominate an Augsburg side who have been struggling for consistency in the league in 2018.
VERDICT – Augsburg have lost their last three league matches at home. On a day Bayern Munich can clinch the title, an away victory is probably the most ideal outcome.
REAL BETIS v EIBAR
Coach Quique Setien of Real Betis and Jose Luis Mendilibar of Eibar have set La Liga alight with the brand of football played by their respective teams. The game at Estadio Benito Villamarin is a battle for European football qualification. Real Betis have won their last three league games and kept back to back clean sheets at home while Eibar seem to have dropped off a bit. However, the Basque side who are winless in their last four league games have the ability to turn up on the day and secure a result.
VERDICT – Since the turn of the year, Betis have found equilibro (balance) between defense and attack. Both sides love to attack so we anticipate goals. Over 2.5 goals in this match.
REAL MADRID v ATLETICO MADRID
Real Madrid take on city rivals Atletico Madrid to the Santiago Bernabeu in el Derbi Madrileno. Only four points separate 3rd place Real and 2nd place Atletico in the battle for the runners up position behind runaway leaders Barcelona. Can Cristiano Ronaldo lead his team to victory after his impressive performance in Turin midweek? Your guess is as good as mine. Atletico Madrid are well-known for their strong organization at the back and will be well prepared for the Portuguese captain.
VERDICT – We anticipate a very close game in Madrid. The last two league meetings between both sides ended in a draw, another could be on the cards.
EVERTON v LIVERPOOL
Liverpool will head into the Merseyside derby in high spirit after their masterclass performance and victory over Manchester City in the Champions League. The physical side of preparation will be a concern for Jurgen Klopp as he rallies his troops in their bid to seal their place in the top four. Everton have been quite inconsistent this season and their defeat to City has heaped more pressure on Big Sam. This derby is a perfect opportunity for them to react and win their crowd support back. Can they do it?
VERDICT – We expect an electric atmosphere with tackles flying at Goodison Park. Everton are without a win in the last 16 derbies in all competitions. Difficult to see that trend changing.
MANCHESTER CITY v MANCHESTER UNITED
Manchester City entertain Manchester United at the Etihad in the Mancunian derby. A win over Manchester United will see Manchester City clinch the Premier League title which could possibly make up for Wednesday’s disappointment. After watching Liverpool take City apart midweek, Jose Mourinho and his team will be looking to spoil the party and delay City’s title celebration. Can they put the Citizen’s champagne on ice a little longer? It remains to be seen.
VERDICT – Pep Guardiola’s City are best team in England and they should prove that by securing the title on Saturday.
This wraps up our previews across the 5 major leagues in Europe. Keep playing, keep winning….
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