WEEKEND WATCH: TOP GAMES AROUND EUROPE
With the football league season well under way on the continent, we bring you the biggest games to watch out for across Europe this weekend.
Key Match: Juventus v Napoli
Sunday 4th October, Kick off 19:45
With at least seven teams in the hunt for the top four, Serie A is guaranteed to have fantastic fixtures throughout the season, with the pick of the bunch this week being Juventus v Napoli.
Napoli have gotten off to a flying start, sitting top of the table and beating Genoa 6-0 last time out. Since Gennaro Guttuso took over from Carlo Ancelotti mid-way through last season, the club has had a new lease of life, and after spending €81 million on Victor Osimhen this summer, fan expectations are high.
The Bianconeri are going for a 10th title in a row to make it a decade of domination in Italy, and this year could be their biggest challenge yet. The club is still finding its feet under Andrea Pirlo, with the legendary Italian player having never managed before. Roma fought Juventus to a 2-2 draw last week in the capital, with it taking a last-minute Ronaldo header to rescue the club from the clutches of defeat.
Juventus go into the match as favourites, but it will be a highly competitive game throughout, expect plenty of goals. With how tight it is expected to be at the top of the league this season, the result of this game could be very significant, especially if Napoli win, stretching their lead on the champions to five points.
Other Notable Fixtures:
Lazio v Inter Milan, Sunday 4th October, Kick Off 14:00
AC Milan v Spezia, Sunday 4th October, Kick Off 17:00
Key Match: Bayern Munich v Hertha Berlin
Sunday 4th October, kick off 17:00
None of the big teams in Germany play each other this weekend, but defeats for Borussia Dortmund and Bayern last week show that the league has the quality to provide surprise results no matter who is playing.
Bayern had one of the greatest seasons in the clubs prestigious history last year, winning the treble, but last weeks 4-1 defeat to Hoffenhiem showed that they are very much beatable. New signing Leroy Sane has added more threat to the clubs attack, however with the loss of Thiago to Liverpool, the club’s midfield will take time to reinvent itself.
Hertha had a dream start to the season, beating Werder Bremen 4-1, but lost 3-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt last week. The Berlin side dominated large parts of the game and played good football, but lost out due to defensive mistakes.
Bayern will dominate possession in the match, and if Berlin defend like they did against Frankfurt, Hans-Dieter Flick’s side could repeat the thrashing of Schalke 8-0 on the opening day. However, if Hertha can sort out their defensive issues, their attacking talent of Krzyszatof Piatek, Matheus Cunha and Dodi Lukebakio could cause Bayern plenty of problems.
Other Notable Fixtures:
Dortmund v Freiburg, Saturday 3rd October, 14:30
RB Leipzig v Schalke, Saturday 3rd October, 17:30
Key Match: Barcelona v Sevilla
Sunday 4th October, 20:00
The title race was enthralling last season in Spain, and went down to the final weeks of the season, and with Lionel Messi staying at Barcelona, there’s sure to be plenty of entertainment this time around. The league has had a staggered start, with both Sevilla and Barcelona playing an extra game this week before their clash on Sunday.
Barcelona have had a nightmare pre-season, with the Messi transfer saga and the club being in a precarious financial position, leading to Arturo Vidal, Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic departing for minimal fees.
It came as a surprise then that the club beat Villarreal four-nil so comfortably in Ronald Koeman’s first game as manager. Messi seemed his normal superstar self, but the stand out player of the match was Ansu Fati, the 17 year-old grabbing two well taken goals.
Sevilla also started their season well, winning the derby against Cadiz 3-1. The side will be looking to build on their Europa League success last season and challenge near the top, and with Rakitic back at the club, the team has plenty of quality.
All eyes will be on Barcelona to see if they can turn their fortunes around and become a winning side again after having a terrible season in 2019/20, and this game against Sevilla should prove to be a good test for Koeman’s side.
Other Notable Fixtures
Atletico Madrid v Villarreal, Saturday 3rd October, Kick off 15:00
Valencia v Real Betis, Saturday 3rd October, Kick 0ff 20:00