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FESIG League Preview – (The North West Derby & Derby della Mole)

This weekend sees the city of Liverpool take on the city of Manchester with four clubs from the two cities facing each other. The North West derby between Liverpool and Manchester United is the biggest game in the Premier League round 17 fixtures. Serie A leaders, Juventus make the short trip to Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino to play city rivals Torino in the Turin derby and in LaLiga, Barcelona will have revenge on their mind when they travel to Valencia to play Levante at Ciutat de Valencia.

Here is our preview of matches across top five European Leagues.

We begin in England;

MANCHESTER CITY v EVERTON – SAT. 15 DEC 2018, 13.30HRS
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Pep Guardiola will demand an immediate reaction from his team following their first Premier League defeat of the season at Chelsea while Everton are targeting a first victory in four matches. It is interesting to know that City struggle a bit against Everton, they have managed just two victories in their last seven matches in all competition against Everton and the Toffees have drawn their last three games at the Etihad and scored seven goals against the Citizens. City have not looked their dominate best against Chelsea or Hoffenheim in midweek. Perhaps the absence of important players like Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero is being felt but last week’s defeat should re-energized them in front of their fans.

VERDICT – City have a growing injury list with Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva both ruled out for this game while Sergio Aguero remains a doubt. The Toffees are much fortunate, only Morgan Schneiderlin ruled out for the trip to the Etihad. Everton are winless in their last three league matches; losing to Liverpool and forcing two draws at home against Newcastle and Watford. City have won their last nine Premier Leaguehome matches and will aim to put Marco Silva’s team to the sword at lunch time on Saturday.

LIVERPOOL v MANCHESTER UNITED – SUN. 16 DEC 2018, 17.00HRS
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Unbeaten league leaders Liverpool are aiming for a sixth straight Premier League victory when they welcome Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United to Anfield. United are the only member of the BIG SIX yet to beat any of the top sides this season but Liverpool are also in search of their first Premier League victory over Manchester United in nine attempts (3D, 5L). Jurgen Klopp has defensive worries with Joe Gomez and Joel Matip ruled out through injuries which leaves him lean at the back as he prepares to face Mourinho who has the best win percentage of any visiting manager to Anfield. There is a real buzz in Liverpool following their incredible start to the season and the atmosphere would be bouncing after the Reds secured qualification to the knockout stages in the Champions League.

VERDICT – Liverpool are undefeated in their last 28 Premier League home matches and have kept a clean sheet in 11 of their last 12 Premier League home matches. The Reds replaced Manchester City at the top of the table last weekend and will aim to retain their new spot by getting one over hated rivals Manchester United. The season has not panned out exactly well for Jose Mourinho and his team but Anfield is a Premier League venue they have not lost at in five visits. Klopp will require some metallic magic to put the Red Devils down at Anfield – can his team rise to the occasion? 

To France; 

NIMES OLYMPIQUE v LILLE OSC – SUN. 16 DEC 2018, 15.00HRS
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New boys Nimes welcome second place Lille to Stade des Costières for this week 18 game in the French top division. Bernard Blaquart’s team have continued to amaze critics with their performances in the top flight and are currently on a three-game winning run in the league as they prepare to face overachieving Lille OSC. Nimes beat Amiens 3-0 in a convincing home win last time out and will feel well equipped to take on Les Dogues. Christophe Galtier’s team seem to have suffered a dip in form, managing one win in their last six Ligue 1 matches and required a very late Nicolas Pepe’s penalty to rescue a point at home in their last league game. Both teams had a similar story of requiring late goals last weekend to rescue a draw or earn all three points.

VERDICT – Lille OSC are unbeaten in their last five head-to-head matches against Nimes (3W, 2D). They are unbeaten in 18 of their last 25 games. Nimes has never failed to score against Lille at their stadium. Only Saint-Etienne has scored more goals than Lille in the last five league matches. History favors Lille but current form sees Nimes in better than form. Les Crocodiles will aim to improve their poor home record against Lille.

To Germany;

HOFFENHEIM v BORUSSIA MOENCHENGLADBACH – SAT. 15 DEC 2018, 15.30HRS
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Hoffenhiem extended their unbeaten run to seven Bundesliga matches after coming from behind to draw 2-2 with Wolfsburg last weekend. Andrej Kramaric scored for the fourth successive game, and now sits level with on-loan Arsenal youngster Reiss Nelson as Hoffenheim’s top scorer in the Bundesliga this season with six goals. On the other hand, Gladbach proved that the previous week disappointment at Leipzig was a blip by putting three second half goals past helpless VfB Stuttgart to maintain their pursuit of leaders Dortmund and maintain the point difference at seven. Both teams love to play on the front foot – Hoffenheim have scored at least once in every league game so far this season (30 in total), but they’re still not quite as productive as Borussia Moenchengladbach (33 goals).

VERDICT – The last 10 duels between Hoffenheim and Gladbach has produced a staggering 46 goals. Only one fixture in January 2013 has failed to produce a goal. Dieter Hecking’s team are a real force to be reckoned with at home, but they often struggle on the road. Julian Nagelsmann’s troops on a seven game unbeaten run in the league. They are in better form than their guest and can be seen a slight favorites for this game though it is anticipated that both teams will find the back of the net at WIRSOLRhein-Neckar-Arena. 

BORUSSIA DORTMUND v WERDER BREMEN – SAT. 15 DEC 2018, 18.30HRS
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Borussia Dortmund won the derby last weekend continuing their phenomenal run in the Bundesliga. They will be eager to face a struggling Werder Bremen side that has lost four of their last six league matches. Lucien Favre was able to rest key players for the Champions League victory at Monaco and will be happy with the performance of his team in Monaco. On the other side, Josh Sargent in the new sensation and excitement in Bremen, the American kid made his debut and scored last weekend and should be confident of making the squad to Dortmund. The league leaders are still unbeaten (11W, 3D) in the Bundesliga and will hope to maintain their seven point advantage over Gladbach.

VERDICT – Dortmund lead the head-to-head tie but struggle against Werder last year. DieGrün-Weißen took four points from two Bundesliga matches against Borussia Dortmund last season. BVB will become winter champions with a win over Bremen. While Bremen still have fond memories from last season at Signal Iduna Park, this is a different Dortmund and the home team will be favorites for this one.

To Italy;

TORINO v JUVENTUS – SAT. 15 DEC 2018, 20.30HRS
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It’s time for Derby della Mole – the local Turin derby between the city two prominent clubs. Torino are performing well this season, sitting sixth on the log when they welcome their illustrious neighbors – Juventus to Grande Olimpico Torino. The Granata have lost just once in their last 10 Serie A games and have recorded five clean sheets in their opening 15 matches with Walter Mazzarri making them very difficult to beat. Juventus defeated Inter in the Derby d’Italia last time out while Torino held Milan to a draw at the San Siro. Mazzarri has a fully fit squad to select his team and will likely stick to his 3-5-2 system for the derby. Allegri has some players out injured but with a deep squad, the former Milan coach has a big pool to select his team.

VERDICT – Juventus have the better head-to-head recording 69 wins in comparison to Torino’s 35. Toro have won just one of the last 12 derbies they have hosted, with Juventus claiming nine wins and two ending in draws. Juventus forwards – Cristiano Ronaldo, MarioMandzukic and Paulo Dybala are forming a solid partnership which is a nightmare for any team in the world. Juventus have won their last nine Serie A away matches in a row. Torino are a stubborn opponent who will battle the Bianconeri whose resilience should take them past their neighbors.

CAGLIARI v NAPOLI – SUN. 16 DEC 2018, 20.30HRS
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Napoli suffered Champions League heartbreak midweek but will need to put that disappointment behind as they aim to keep up pace with leaders Juventus who are looking to put the title race over as quickly as possible. Carlo Ancelotti’s team search for the next three points will see them travel to Sardinia face Cagliari who are unbeaten in their last four matches. The Rossoblu forced Roma to a 2-2 draw with a last minute equalizer from Marco Sau after Darijo Srna and Luca Ceppitelli were sent off in a dramatic game. Rolando Maran will be without his top goalscorer –Leonardo Pavoletti and two starting defenders, so their task just got harder considering Napoli will need a quick reaction following midweek disappointment.

VERDICT – Napoli are undefeated in 35 of their last 38 Serie A away matches while Cagliari have drawn their last four league matches. Rolando Maran’s team will be filled with confidence following last week comeback draw against Roma but with key players out, it could be tougher against a wounded Napoli whose morale might be low. Regardless, Napoli will not want to suffer double losses in a space of days. The Partenopei are still favorites at Sardegna Arena.

To Spain;

SEVILLA v GIRONA – SUN. 16 DEC 2018, 12.00HRS
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Girona travel to Andalusia to face their former manager Pablo Machin who moved south in the summer to join Sevilla. Los Rojiblancos sit second on the table, three points behind Barcelona and seek to return to winning ways after two successive draws in LaLiga. Girona are settling well into new manager Eusebio Sacristán methods with the Catalans enjoying another fine season in the Spanish top flight. Blanquivermell are on a decent run winning three of their last six league matches, earning two draws and lost to Athletic Bilbao last time out. Sevilla have a strong record at home – winning five at home on the spin but face a team that has lost once in seven away outing.

VERDICT – Sevilla beat Girona with a similar scoreline in their two LaLiga meetings last season. Girona’s strong unbeaten run came to an end at theNew San Mames on Monday with Sacristán hoping to rally his team to start another strong run in the league. They have been solid defensively conceding just two goals in three away games against the likes of Valencia, Espanyol andAthletic Bilbao. Sevilla have turned Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan into a fortress and will aim to continue their dominance at home but will find Girona much harder to crack. We anticipate a low scoring outcome on Sunday afternoon.  

LEVANTE v BARCELONA – SUN. 16 DEC 2018, 20.45HRS
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Levante welcome league leaders Barcelona to Ciutat de Valencia for this week 16 LaLiga game. Only eight points separates both teams with Levante sitting sixth and Barcelona top of the table respectively. Levante forced a draw in an entertaining 4-4 draw with Eibar at Ipurua last weekend while Barcelona brushed aside city rivals Espanyol in the Catalan derby. Levante have shown their attacking prowess this season scoring 11 goals in their last four games in all competitions including a comfortable 3-0 home win over Athletic Bilbao the last time they play in front of their fans. It was Levante that deny Barcelona their invincible campaign in the 2017/18 season so Ernesto Valverde’s team will be out for revenge on Sunday evening.

VERDICT – Levante are unbeaten in their last four games and have taken two comfortable wins against CD Lugo and Athletic Bilbao recently at Ciutat de Valencia. With just one defeat in their last 11 games, Levante welcome Barcelona in good form and confidence and will be willing to show that last season’s victory wasn’t a fluke. Barcelona had a chance to rest players during their 1-1 Champions League draw with Tottenham midweek, which should put Ernesto Valverde’s side in great shape. Goals have been a part of the fixture and we anticipate a high scoring game in Levante.

This wraps us our weekend preview. Predict and win big by visiting our Sports shop Babaijebu.ng for mouthwatering offers. 

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