After a festive hiatus, domestic football is back in earnest across Europe.
Whilst the Premier League continued to plough on through the December months, the vast majority of European leagues underwent a winter break. Most of the major leagues have either resumed or will be resuming this weekend and for many sides, this set of games marks the start of the season run-in.
And what a selection of games we have to look forward to this weekend. La Liga plays host to what is arguably the biggest domestic game in European football so far this season, not to mention a clash between two teams chasing Champions League football for next year.
We’ve also the biggest game in Portuguese football, a real test for an under pressure boss and two free-scoring Premier League sides locking horns.
So settle in for the weekend and if like myself you’re still desperately trying to cling onto those New Year resolutions, why not indulge in some top class football?
All kick off times are in Eastern Time. Enjoy the games!
Manchester United vs. Swansea City
Saturday, January 11, 12:30PM, NBC (free over-the-air network)
It’s not been the best of weeks for David Moyes. After three consecutive defeats in three different competitions, morale within the United camp seems to be at an all-time low. But they need to dust themselves down and go again as they welcome Swansea to Old Trafford for the second time in the space of six days.
Deprived of star strikers Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney, United have looked toothless in attack. Combine this with the revolving door of defenders that seem to be coming in and out of the backline, they look a team who can be gotten at currently. Moyes will be hoping to have at least one of the aforementioned talismanic figures fit for this one, but a vast improvement is required in all areas of the team if the champions are to get back to winning ways.
In the furore following United’s cup exit on Sunday evening, the contribution of Michael Laudrup’s Swansea side has gone somewhat overlooked. The played with confidence, purpose and aggression at Old Trafford. Their first goal was of outstanding quality and after triumphing a mere six days earlier, they have nothing to fear going into this one.
After running riot in their last encounter, the rejuvenated figure of Wilfred Bony will no doubt fancy notching another goal; he’s scored three times in his previous two Premier League games.
Moyes received a colossal show of support from the United faithful at Sunderland in midweek. But another loss here would surely put doubts in the mind of even his staunchest backers.
Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona
As if this game wasn’t big enough as it is, Lionel Messi looks set to make his La Liga return for Barcelona.
Los Coloncheros and La Blaugrana are deadlocked atop of the table in Spain and with the premier sides scarcely dropping points in this division, this game could be wholly significant in determining the destination of the title come May.