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FESIG League Preview – (Derby della Madonina & Le Classique edition)

Paris Saint-Germain welcome in-form Olympique Marseille to Parc des Princes on Sunday evening for Le Classique also known as the French Clasico. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have no European distractions anymore with this season’s Bundesliga title race expected to be a photo finish with both teams level on points with nine games to go. The city of Milan is expected to come to a standstill during this weekend’s Derby della Madonina because of its significant importance in the Champions League race and in England, the oldest cup competition – the English FA Cup will have its semi-finalists with the game at the Molineux between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United being the biggest in the quarters.

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

We begin in France;

OLYMPIQUE LYON v MONTPELLIER – SUN. 17 MAR 2019, 14.30HRS
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Lyon and Montpellier square off at the Groupama stadium in what is expected to be an entertaining game with both teams in the hunt for European places. Lyon suffered a humbling defeat against Barcelona at the Camp Nou in the Champions League but were good value for money till quite late in the game. Les Gones have Marseille up on their hills for the final Champions League spot in France so they do not need further motivation to seek all three points against visiting Montpellier. With one win in six league matches, Michel Der Zakarian’s team have dropped down to seventh on the table and will need points on board if they are to secure a European berth for next season. Montpellier have been playing above expectation but will need to adopt a well-rounded strategy for this game if they aim to pick up any point away from home.

VERDICT – Lyon will be eager to get their focus back in Ligue 1 following their exit from the Champions League and a victory against Montpellier will help Bruno Genesio’s team along the way. Pedro Mendes absence is a huge miss for La Paillade; he is a key player in defense. These two sides met in December in a cracking affair which ended in a stalemate but current form suggest the home side have an edge going into this game. They have three wins in their last six Ligue 1 matches including a 5-1 thrashing of Toulouse in their last home game.

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN v OLYMPIQUE MARSEILLE – SUN. 17 MAR 2019, 21.00HRS
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All eyes will be on Parc des Princes when Paris-Saint Germain and Olympique Marseille face each other in Le Classique. PSG have had to switch their focus to Ligue 1 following a shocking elimination in the Champions League last 16 as they race towards another league title. Marseille will arrive in the French capital filled with confidence against one of their hated rivals as they aim to throw spanner in the works for Thomas Tuchel’s team. Edinson Cavani is back and will likely join Kylian Mbappe in attack for the host while Mario Balotelli is the arrow head of Marseille attack in a game which both teams will love to play on the front foot. Rudi Garcia’s team has five wins in their last six league matches but a trip to Paris to play PSG is an uphill task for any team.

VERDICT – Marseille have been invigorated by Garcia’s tactical switch and the form of Mario Balotelli. There isn’t a better time for Les Phocéens to play PSG whose fixture congestion and absentees means Thomas Tuchel has to rotate his squad. This is arguably one of the biggest fixture in the French Ligue 1 calendar and it never fails to provide a spectacle. On current form, this is quite difficult to call to call a winner but we expect both teams to get on the score sheet on Sunday evening.

Payet (OM) – Verratti (PSG)

To Germany;

HERTHA BERLIN v BORUSSIA DORTMUND – SAT. 16 MAR 2019, 18.30HRS
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Bayern Munich, Borussia Moenchengladbach and Eintracht Frankfurt are amongst the big names to have failed to win in the Bundesliga at the Olympiastadion in Berlin this season. Can Hertha secure another big win at home against a fully loaded Borussia Dortmund whose attacking armory is packed ahead of the trip to the capital? 10th place Hertha are not threatened by relegation but are not likely to secure European qualification as well which leaves Pál Dárdai’s team playing the remainder of the season without pressure. Dortmund can leapfrog Bayern back to the top of the table even if it is for 24 hours on Saturday evening with a victory in Berlin in the title race. It is quite important for them to pick up three points with difficult games against Wolfsburg and a potential title decider against Bayern in Munich on the horizon after the international break. 

VERDICT – Despite beating Bayern, Gladbach and Frankfurt, Hertha have only won five of their 12 home league games this season. Visiting Dortmund have been struggling away from home lately; they are winless in their last three on the road. A chance to return to the top of the table should serve as enough motivation for Lucien Favre team. BVB haven’t won at Hertha since 2014 but they are the ones in the title race and have to go for it. Expect goals from both teams with Dortmund just shading it for an away win.  

BAYERN MUNICH v MAINZ 05 – SUN. 17 MAR 2019, 18.00HRS
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Bayern Munich have to make amends for their disappointing exit from the Champions League by ensuring they maintain their new position at the top of the Bundesliga having overtaking Dortmund last weekend. Nico Kovac will have Joshua Kimmich back while Leon Goretzka could push for a starting role ahead of James Rodriguez. Mainz are not in serious danger of relegation threat but their current form of five defeats in the last six means Sandro Schwarz’s team will likely be dragged into it sooner. The 05ers will require something magical and special to pick up any point against a team looking for a quick rebound following the Champions League disappointment.

VERDICT – Mainz have one win, one draw and one defeat from their last three visits to the Allianz Arena so there is every chance the away side could be get some tips from their former manager – Jurgen Klopp on how to plot a victory and be the ones celebrating again on Sunday evening. Mainz are entitled to a wish and dream but Bayern current Bundesliga record is solid; 12 wins from their last 13 Bundesliga matches. Robert Lewandowski has scored 13 goals in his last 12 meetings with Mainz, including five braces. Anything outside a home victory would be a huge surprise.

To Italy;

GENOA v JUVENTUS – SUN. 17 MAR 2019, 12.30HRS
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Against all odds, Juventus overcame Atletico Madrid with an epitome of an all-round master class performance led by Cristiano Ronaldo. Tuesday night performance is a classic example of why the Bianconeri went all out to get the Portuguese legend. Will they have enough left in their tank for the trip to Genoa on Sunday afternoon? Il Grifone are one of the three teams to have taken points off Juventus in the Serie A this season. Cesare Prandelli has managed to pull the Rossoblù away from relegation scrap since his arrival. They were on a five-game unbeaten run till lost narrowly to Parma last week. Visiting Old Lady have technically sealed the title race in Italy, they are running away alone at the top, 18 points better than second place Napoli and barring any unforeseen catastrophic collapse, winning their eight consecutive Scudetto is a many of when not if.

VERDICT – Juventus have won five in a row in the league and will be full of confidence after the midweek victory over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. Genoa have struggled for goals; they have failed to score in each of their last four games. Juventus won convincingly at Stadio Luigi Ferraris last season and should do same this term regardless of the line-up chosen by Allegri.

AC MILAN v INTER MILAN – SUN. 17 MAR 2019, 20.30HRS
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Milan head into Derby della Madonnina in prime form compared to their city rivals Inter in the battle for battle for third place with Roma looking to pounce should the Nerazzurri fail on Sunday evening. The pressure is building up on Luciano Spalletti and his team. They were dumped out of Europe on Thursday night at the San Siro with skipper Samir Handanovic heroics keeping the scoreline down. Gennaro Gattuso’s team is surprisingly on a 10-game unbeaten run in the league; the Rossoneri have won five in a row, and are in red-hot form at the moment. With Krzysztof Piatek netting consistently, Milan look quite unstoppable at the moment. Inter are in need of three points more than the host. They have been inconsistent lately and a loss could see fifth-placed Roma draw level on points with them with difficult games against Atalanta, Roma and Juventus in April.

VERDICT – Inter are unbeaten in league derbies since a 3-0 loss in January 2016, managing two wins and three draws. When these sides met in October, Mauro Icardi’s goal settled the game but that game feels like a life time ago to La Beneamata. We don’t get to see high scoring games when these two meet but this could be different with Piatek starring for the Diavolo. Milan have all the aces and should win what might be a close encounter.

To Spain;

VALENCIA v GETAFE – SUN. 17 MAR 2019, 18.30HRS
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Six points is all that separates seventh place Valencia and overachieving fourth place Getafe going into week 28 when Los Che host Azulones at Estadio Mestalla. Valencia have been able to turn the corner following a poor first half of the season with Marcelino’s team trying to pick up points to ensure they finish in Champions League places. Getafe have continued to impress admirers and critics with their fairytale run in LaLiga this season. Jose Bordalas team is unbeaten in their last six league matches winning four including an away victory at Betis a fortnight ago. Valencia have shown character and battling spirit in their last two matches; winning at Montilivi with 10 men and securing a last gasp equalizer in Krasnodar to book their place in the Europa League last eight.

VERDICT – These two teams met in the Copa this season with the second leg ending in a fracas. It is likely that similar tension might come up in this game so a feisty encounter in anticipated. Valencia won the reverse leg fixture at Coliseum Alfonso Perez earlier in the season and will be looking to get a league double over the visitors who won both league matches last season. Valencia might suffer fatigue due to European commitments but should have enough quality to take see them through.

REAL BETIS v BARCELONA – SUN. 17 MAR 2019, 20.45HRS
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Real Betis host leaders Barcelona at Benito Villamarin in what is likely to be a revenge mission for the Catalans who suffered a shock defeat at home to Betis in November. The Andalusia outfit have been quite inconsistent this campaign but should be battle ready with their sight set on securing European qualification for the second season running. Barcelona will arrive in Seville in buoyant mood having booked their place in the last eight of the Champions League and have won 12 of their last 14 LaLiga matches. They are seven points clear of Atletico Madrid and are unbeaten in their last three league matches away from home. Ernesto Valverde cannot count on Ousmane Dembele for the trip to Andalusia but would hope Philippe Coutinho’s goal against Lyon will help improve the Brazilian’s confidence. Giovanni Lo Celso and Sergio Canales would be expected to pull the strings for Quique Setien’s team.  

VERDICT – Real Betis 4-3 win over Barcelona is a memorable one; it was Barca’s first home defeat in the league in 26 months. Can Betis record a league double over the Catalans? It is not impossible but it is equally unlikely. This fixture tends to produce goals and this shouldn’t be an exception. Over 3.5 goals.

To England;

FA Cup

WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS v MANCHESTER UNITED – SAT. 16 MAR 2019, 20.55HRS
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Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United will fight for a place in the last four of the FA Cup. At the stage of any competition, it isn’t out of place to start dreaming of the final with two games to go. Nuno Espirito Santo and his team welcome Manchester United to the midlands in full confidence considering their performance against the top six sides. Liverpool were dumped out of the FA Cup by Wolves and only last weekend, Wolves were seconds away from a victory at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United lost at Arsenal last week, it was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer first domestic defeat since he took the reign at Old Trafford. It would be interesting to see how the Norwegian navigates this cup game with so many injuries and suspension in his team.

VERDICT – Wolves have been one of the surprise teams in the Premier League this season following promotion from the Championship. They held United to a draw at Old Trafford in the league and have performed creditably well against the bigger teams in the division.  Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has to scrap for players with his bare thin squad at the moment which makes the trip to Molineux quite difficult. Wolves won five and drew one of last six home ties and they will certainly be a tough nut to crack. United are not favorites here but can they find the extra resolve to nudge them past? Expect both sides to score but the home team might just have a little edge to move in the semis.

Premier League

EVERTON v CHELSEA – SUN. 17 MAR 2019, 17.30HRS
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Chelsea Champions League qualification suffered a setback last weekend as the Blues could only rally to a late draw at home against Wolverhampton Wanderers. On the other hand, Everton have had an underwhelming campaign till date. Marco Silva is a man under severe pressure which was compounded with their second half collapse at St. James Park dropping a two goal advantage into a 3-2 defeat. The Toffees will be aiming to bounce back at Goodison Park where they have performed reasonably better including forcing Liverpool to a goalless draw in the derby a fortnight ago. Chelsea were impressive in Ukraine and will need to produce such performance consistently in the league as well with two Champions League spots up for grabs between four teams. The Blues are three points shy of fourth-placed Arsenal and one point behind fifth-placed Manchester United, but have a game in hand on them. Sarri’s team cannot afford more slip ups if they aim to return to the Champions League.

VERDICT – This game is of greater importance to Chelsea than their host. Chelsea are unbeaten in their last six games against Everton, winning the last four in a row. This is Chelsea’s game in hand; a win would move them level on points with fourth place Arsenal and also put them a point behind third place Tottenham. This is an opportunity they simply cannot afford to miss against a struggling Everton side with just one victory in the last six.

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. 

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