Will the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer effect continue this weekend when Manchester United travel to Wembley to face Tottenham Hotspur? Can giant killers – Wolverhampton Wanderers create another upset at the Etihad on Monday night when they face defending champions Manchester City? The French Ligue 1 resumes after the Christmas/winter break with a supposed big game at the Orange Velodrome between out-of-form Olympique Marseille and struggling AS Monaco. LaLiga winter champions Barcelona welcome Eibar to the Camp Nou for the final game of the first half of the season while Santiago Solari and his Real Madrid team have an uphill task at Benito Villamarin against Quique Setien’s Real Betis.
Here is our preview of matches in the English, French and Spanish Leagues.
We begin in England;
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR v MANCHESTER UNITED – SUN. 13 JAN 2019, 17.30HRS
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Tottenham Hotspur welcome Manchester United to Wembley in what should be a real cracker considering both teams form heading into this duel. Spurs have six wins of their last seven Premier League matches while Manchester United have seen their fortunes turn around under their new caretaker boss. The Red Devils have won their last four league games, putting themselves in with a shout for a top-four place while Mauricio Pochettino’s team still nurse a title ambitions, they are six points of the top. They will be hoping to complete a league double over Manchester United in front of their fans. Both teams have several of their stars hitting top gear but Spurs will have to get on without Korean star Son Heung-min who is off for international duties.
VERDICT – Solskjaer will have his first real test as Manchester United at Wembley on Sunday evening when he takes on one of the league’s finest manager. United have the better head-to-head but in recent seasons, they have found it difficult picking up points away at Spurs – losing on their last three visits. Manchester United look like a team with a breath of new life under the new regime but Spurs are well rounded and settled. Will baby boy assassin dream start as United manager come to an end on Sunday? This is a game not to miss as Spurs are unlikely to lose two successive home matches in the league.
MANCHESTER CITY v WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS – MON. 14 JAN 2019, 21.00HRS
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Second-placed Manchester City are targeting a third straight Premier League victory as they host Wolverhampton Wanderers, who are bidding to build on their FA Cup triumph over Liverpool. Champions Manchester City ended Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the Premier League season and kept the title race on the front burner in their closely fought victory over the Reds. The Citizens have scored 18 goals in their last three matches in all competitions and will look to neutralize Wolves at the Etihad. Giant killers Wolves are proving to be a tough nut to crack having taken points or beaten every member of the top six this season. Nuno Espirito Santo’s team need to find some consistency in their game to be consider more seriously. Do they have it in them on Monday evening?
VERDICT – Man City are unbeaten in their last 34 Premier League home matches against promoted sides. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have won nine points from their seven matches against last season’s top six clubs (2W, 3D, 2L). The new boys shocked Tottenham in their last away Premier League match and Pep Guardiola will be aware of their qualities and strength. The Citizens have closed the gap to four points and will want to keep it that way as they chase Liverpool in this exciting title race. Wolves will give a good fight but City have the quality to prevail in a game which should provide top quality football.
AMIENS v PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN – SAT. 12 JAN 2019, 17.00HRS
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Paris Saint-Germain travel to Amiens having suffered a shock quarter final exit from Coupe de la Ligue in the hands of basement Ligue 1 club Guingamp. Before this defat to Guingamp, Paris Saint-Germain had gone 21 matches without defeat in the Coupe de la Ligue as they racked up five successive titles. Thomas Tuchel will be demanding for a response on Saturday evening at Stade de la Licorne. 17th place Amiens have one mission in the top flight; stay in the division. Christophe Pélissier’s team need to improve their game if they are to avoid the drop. They are unbeaten in their last three league matches and will need to be at their very best against a wounded PSG who suffered their first loss in domestic competition under Tuchel.
VERDICT – PSG are unbeaten in their last five meetings against Amiens though they were forced to a 2-2 draw last May. The champions are 13 points better off at the top of the table but the defeat to Guingamp is a wake-up call to the powerful Parisiens that they have a target on their back. Thomas Tuchel should field his strongest XI for the Amiens game as he aims to stretch the lead at the top even further. It is unlikely PSG will lose two in row so they are strong candidate to win at Stade de la Licorne.
OLYMPIQUE MARSEILLE v AS MONACO – SUN. 13 JAN 2019, 21.00HRS
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It is the biggest game in this round between two former champions at the Orange Velodrome. Rudi Garcia’s team ended 2018 on a poor note and have picked up where they left in the New Year suffering a shocking 2-0 loss to Andrezieux in the Coupe de France which makes the situation in the dressing room quite tense ahead of Monaco’s visit. Les Rouges et Blancs claimed their second home win of the season in the penalty shoot-out win over Rennes to seal a semi-final spot in Coupe de la Ligue. Thierry Henry’s side is probably the worst side in the league, with four losses in their last six league matches and with a long list of first team players out injured. Both teams are winless in their last two Ligue 1 matches and the pressure is building up for Garcia.
VERDICT – Marseille won the reverse fixture at Stade Louis II earlier in the season and will aim to complete a double over Monaco though both teams are not at their best currently. Monaco lost their last league match to bottom club Guingamp and look quite fragile mentally. The atmosphere at Marseille’s Centre d’entraînement Robert Louis-Dreyfus is not any much better but Rudi Garcia has a healthier squad than Henry. We are not expecting a classic game these fixtures used to serve us in the past but they would be goals at the Orange Velodrome.
BARCELONA v EIBAR – SUN. 13 JAN 2019, 18.30HRS
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League leaders Barcelona welcome Eibar to the Camp Nou for the final game in the first half of the season. Ernesto Valverde’s team have not matched the heights of last season but are in steady command, winning their last five LaLiga matches and are five points better than the closest challenger. Jose Luis Mendilibar’s team travel to Catalonia on a four game unbeaten run in the league but those four matches have been draws. This run has seen the Basque club drop to 13th on the log but they are just three points off seventh place Getafe – this shows the competitive nature of the Spanish league where one bad result could take you down.
VERDICT – The Azulgranas have lost all eight meetings against Barcelona. In four trips to the Camp Nou, they have shipped in 16 goals and managed to score four. Barcelona’s return to form as coincided with Leo Messi’s brilliant run. The Barca skipper is the man to watch; he has 16 LaLiga goals in 16 league matches including five in the last three. He also has a good record against Eibar at home, scoring seven times in the four league meetings in Catalan. We should look no further than the Argentine maestro leading Los Cules to a comfortably victory at home.
REAL BETIS v REAL MADRID – SUN. 13 JAN 2019, 20.45HRS
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Real Madrid travel to Andalusia in wobbly form with no victory in two league matches in 2019. For a club of Los Blancos status; that is crisis building up. Solari’s team managed a victory in their impressive win Copa victory over Leganes midweek and will aim to build some momentum on that platform. On the other side, Real Betis suffered a surprise defeat to bottom club Huesca in El Alcoraz after taking the lead last weekend but managed a goalless draw midweek in San Sebastein in Copa del Rey . The league defeat didn’t affect their position on the table but it served as a reminder to Quique Setien and his team that there are no minnows in the top flight of Spanish football. That said, Real Betis will fancy their chances against Real Madrid who have lost four times on the road this season and are having a poor campaign by all standards. Los Beticos will unleash their attacking weapons on a fragile Real Madrid team whose seasoned campaigners are performing below expectation.
VERDICT – Both teams won the away fixtures last season with Real Madrid beating Betis at home 5-3 after suffering a shock 1-0 loss in Madrid. Real Madrid have the better head-to-head, winning three of their last four trips to Betis scoring 17 goals in the process. Los Blancos aren’t the same team without Cristiano Ronaldo and have found it difficult to batter teams like in the past. Betis look well rounded and have managed some good results this season including their 4-3 win over Barcelona at the Camp Nou. There would be goals from both teams at the Benito Villamarin.
This wraps up our preview for the week. Predict and win big by visiting our Sports shop Babaijebu.ng for mouthwatering offers in the French Ligue 1, Spanish LaLiga and the English Premier League this weekend.