Two Argentine managers (Diego Simeone and Santiago Solari) square off against each other when Real Madrid make the short trip to Wanda Metropolitano to face city rivals Atletico Madrid in the Madrileno derbi on Saturday. In England; Chelsea face a big test in keeping fourth position as they prepare to face Manchester City at the Etihad; the Citizens will be seeking revenge following December’s league defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Here is our preview of matches across top five European Leagues.
We begin in France;
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN v BORDEAUX – SAT. 09 FEB 2019, 17.00HRS
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Paris Saint-Germain unbeaten run in Ligue 1 ended last weekend at the Groupama against Lyon. The defeat cut Les Parisiens lead to 10 points but the capital club have two extra league matches to play where they can extend their lead at the top. Bordeaux travel to Paris on the back of two straight losses in the league; Parc des Princes isn’t a venue to regain form considering PSG 100% record in front of their fans. Les Girondins are 12th on the table, they are not in a desperate situation regarding relegation but are not equally performing at expected level. They are far from a team that can secure a European place having lost more than 50% of their away matches and managing to score just seven goals on the road this season.
VERDICT – Paris Saint-Germain have won their last 11 Ligue 1 home matches; they have scored at least two goals in 27 of their last 30 home matches. Ricardo Gomes face a daunting trip to the French capital; they have failed to score in two of their last three matches but might be fortunate to play Thomas Tuchel’s team who will have an eye on their trip to Manchester United next week. In spite of that, the home team should have enough in their tank to return to winning ways.
OGC NICE v OLYMPIQUE LYON – SUN. 10 FEB 2019, 21.00HRS
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Lyon will aim to strengthen their position on the table following last weekend victory over PSG as they travel to face a solid defensive team in OGC Nice. Patrick Vieira’s team defeated Bordeaux and Nimes in their previous home games and will want to continue similar trend against Lyon. However, Bruno Genesio’s troops will be brimming with confidence following their victory over PSG and they will be seeking revenge to their home loss to Les Aiglons in August while aiming to replicate last season’s 5-0 success at Allianz Riviera.
VERDICT – Nice are undefeated in their last six Ligue 1 home matches while Lyon have won their last three league matches. Vieira’s team have been one of the league’s poorest sides going forward at home, scoring just nine times in 11 matches. Les Gones are on beaten on the road in since October which gives them a slight edge going into this fixture. With everything considered, Lyon are in high spirit for this game and that gives them the edge for this game.
BORUSSIA DORTMUND v TSG HOFFENHEIM – SAT. 09 FEB 2019, 15.30HRS
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Borussia Dortmund gained a point rather than lose two in their draw against Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend but their week got dampened with their surprise exit from the DFB Pokal competition to Werder Bremen. Die Schwarzgelben need a positive result ahead of next week Champions League game against Tottenham Hotspur in London. Dortmund have an almost perfect run in the Bundesliga at home; securing 28 out of a possible 30 points at home with Lucien Favre turning Signal Iduna Park into a fortress. Hoffenheim are struggling at the moment; recording just one victory in their last six Bundesliga matches and their poor form was evident in their disappointing performance 1-1 draw against bottom club Fortuna Dusselfdorf at home. Both teams might be without key players – talismanic Dortmund skipper Marco Reus is almost ruled out for this game while Joelinton would be a big miss for Hoffeheim.
VERDICT – Hoffenheim are unbeaten in their last seven away Bundesliga games (W4, D3), but have lost their last five Bundesliga matches in Dortmund. Best friends Jadon Sancho and Reiss Nelson could meet each other for the first time as professionals when Borussia Dortmund host Hoffenheim on Saturday. Both friends will put their friendship aside for 90 minutes as they search for three points for their respective clubs. Dortmund have looked like an irresistible force at home where they have won as well as scored plenty goals. Their recent record at home against Hoffenheim is fantastic; we expect them to dominate this game and record another home win.
BAYERN MUNICH v SCHALKE 04 – SAT. 09 FEB 2019, 18.30HRS
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Bayern Munich recovered from last weekend’s disappointment in Leverkusen with a victory over Hertha Berlin in the DFB Pokal. The Bavarian giants have won seven of their last eight league matches and are still within sight of leaders Borussia Dortmund. Nico Kovac’s team know they cannot afford anymore slip ups if they harbor any hope of retaining their league crown. It has been quite a difficult season for the Royal Blues. Last season runners up Schalke sit 12th on the table; having lost half of their league matches this season. Their fans will not be expecting much at the Allianz Arena; a ground where they haven’t won on their last six visits.
VERDICT – The gulf in class between both teams is crystal clear. Bayern are high up there while Schalke have been nothing more than an average side all season. 11 of the 18 Bundesliga teams have outscored Schalke after 20 matches; the Royal Blues have registered only 24 goals. Schalke did manage to produce a solid performance in the DFB Pokal victory over Fortuna Dusseldorf but they are in a difficult position in the Bundesliga. Anything short of a Bayern victory would be a huge upset.
FIORENTINA v NAPOLI – SAT. 09 FEB 2019, 18.00HRS
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Napoli were handed a life-line back in the Scudetto race thanks to Parma holding off Juventus to draw last weekend. Carlo Ancelotti’s team will aim to reduce the gap to six points before the Old Lady play on Sunday. On the other hand, Fiorentina will aim to improve their league fortunes and build some momentum in the race for European places when Napoli show up at Stadio Artemio Franchi. The home team are missing a number of important players which means Stefan Pioli will have to reshuffle his team for this game. For Napoli, the distraction of Captain Marek Hamsik’s China move must not derail their title push with no domestic cup distraction.
VERDICT – Napoli have one of the best away record in the Calcio; undefeated in 34 of their last 38 matches. Their record against Fiorentina is solid except for last season’s 3-0 loss in the same fixture. This fixture brings back painful memories of Kalidou Koulibaly being sent off in the opening minutes effectively ending Napoli’s Scudetto dreams. The Partenopei will be gunning for revenge but also have their eyes on closing the gap and putting some pressure on fragile Juventus. Carlo Ancelotti will definitely not want his faint dreams go up in the smoke in Tuscany as he presses for a win. Expect goals from both teams in this interesting fixture.
SASSUOLO v JUVENTUS – SUN. 10 FEB 2019, 18.00HRS
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Juventus have raised the bar so high this season and have become a victim of their own success. The Bianconeri are still unbeaten in the league but haven’t been convincing lately. They contrived to drop two points at home against Parma conceding two late goals in the game. Europa league chasing Sassuolo are a work in progress under Roberto De Zerbi; the Neroverdi are not particularly in good form. A single league victory in their last six and only three since September against relegation teams. The Old Lady look fragile at the moment; losing to Atalanta in the Coppa and conceding late on to draw against Parma. Max Allegri will be desperate to see improvements in his team’s back line at Mapei Stadium-Città del Tricolore on Sunday evening.
VERDICT – Juventus won nine, drew one and lost one of 11 meetings with the Neroverdi. Max Allegri’s team head into this off the back of six subsequent victories over Sassuolo though they have kept only one clean sheet in their five Serie A trips to Sassuolo. Juventus have not looked as brilliant but should have enough to prevail here.
ATLETICO MADRID v REAL MADRID – SAT. 09 FEB 2019, 16.15HRS
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Second position is on the line in this Madrileno derbi between two Argentine managers plying their trade in the Spanish capital. Diego Simeone’s Atleti have been the immovable object in the Spanish top flight since his arrival while powerful Real Madrid are beginning to look like an irresistible force under Santiago Solari. We are expecting fireworks at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday afternoon with both teams almost at full strength for the derby. Koke and Saul Niguez have returned to training for Los Colchoneros and are expected to feature while Real Madrid have Isco missing. Another interesting twist to this tale is Thibaut Courtois featuring against his former club while Alvaro Morata should be doing same.
VERDICT – Atletico Madrid are unbeaten at home in all competitive this season but have lost thrice on the road including last weekend defeat to Real Betis. Los Colchoneros are unbeaten in their last five meetings with neighbours Los Blancos with the last four league meetings ending in a stalemate. Real Madrid look the balanced side between the two but on derby day, form is usually thrown out of the window. This is another huge test for Solari whose Madrid held their own at the Camp Nou in the Copa. Another stalemate is about the most balanced outcome.
ATHLETIC BILBAO v BARCELONA – SUN. 10 FEB 2019, 20.45HRS
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Athletic Bilbao need to pick themselves up following last weekend Basque derby loss to Real Sociedad with league leaders Barcelona coming to town on Sunday evening. Ernesto Valverde returns to his former club in search of three points and a return to winning ways following two straight draws against Valencia in the league and Real Madrid in the Cup. Los Leones were gradually building some momentum under new coach Gaizka Garitano before losing to their local rivals. The Catalan giants also suffered a blip last weekend, forcing Valencia to a 2-2 draw having gone two goals down inside the first half hour of the game. Lionel Messi rescued his team but picked up a slight injury which forced him to start the Copa Clasico from the bench but he is likely to be passed fit to start at San Mames. When the little man from Argentina plays, Los Cules operate on a different level.
VERDICT – Bilbao held Barcelona to a draw at the Camp Nou earlier in the season but have been in the underdog in the head-to-head in this fixture. Garitano has improved Athletic Club game defensively, they are difficult to break down these days, conceding just one goal in four matches before letting two in the derby. Barcelona Captain Messi is the difference maker for his team and his presence will determine how this game pans out. Goals have always been a part of this fixture but this might not be a high scoring game. Under 3.5 goals should be a safe bet.
LIVERPOOL v AFC BOURNEMOUTH – SAT. 09 FEB 2019, 16.00HRS
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Liverpool are aiming to return to winning ways, and the top of the table, after two successive draws while Bournemouth are targeting a third victory in four league matches. The Reds have got injury problems at the wrong time in title race; they have slipped considerably and have been knocked off the top on inferior goal difference. How does Jurgen Klopp react to this new challenge? Bournemouth seem to be achieving their set objective for the season – a top half finish. The Cheeries sit 10th on the log and were exceptional in their four nil thrashing of Chelsea just to follow it up with a toothless outing against Cardiff City. In spite of this, Eddie Howe team look to be punching above their weight currently but can only be considered outsiders for this game.
VERDICT – Bournemouth are looking for their second victory over Liverpool in all competitions. Liverpool drew their last Premier League home match against Leicester City but haven’t gone two matches without a win there since December 2017. The upside for Liverpool is Eddie Howe’s side have been woeful on the road of late, losing seven successive away league matches, and they’re expected to struggle at Anfield. This looks like a perfect game for the Reds to get their title chase back on track.
MANCHESTER CITY v CHELSEA – SUN. 10 FEB 2019, 17.00HRS
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League leaders Manchester City are looking for a third straight league victory, while Chelsea are aiming to build on their 5-0 triumph over Huddersfield Town last weekend. Pep Guardiola’s team returned to the summit in the league thanks for a two nil victory over Everton midweek and will wish to maintain that position with another victory at home. However, the Blues have their own ambitions too; they are targeting a league double over City for the second time in three seasons following their victory in Stamford Bridge earlier. In addition, Guardiola has lost more league matches against Chelsea than any other time during his time in the Premier League till date.
VERDICT – This is going to be Manchester City toughest game in the week. Maurizio Sarri’s team have quality players that can hurt City; Eden Hazard is playing well and goal scorer Gonzalo Higuain has broken his duck in the Blue shirt. However, Chelsea recent defeats at Arsenal and Bournemouth must be worrying for Sarri ahead of this trip to the Etihad where City have been almost perfect. The Citizens won both league matches last season while the Blues did the same the season before. Guardiola’s team were handed their first league defeat in December so they will be seeking revenge against an old adversary. The margins for error are very fine between City and Liverpool; one would expect City to push very hard at home for a victory.
This wraps up our preview for the week. Predict and win big by visiting our Sports shop Babaijebu.ng for mouthwatering offers in league matches across top five European leagues this weekend.