Following on from winter breaks, domestic cup competitions and even Club World Cups, a sense of normality returns to European soccer again this weekend.
The Bundesliga is back after their hiatus, with two eye-catching contests on the schedule. Elsewhere, in the Premier League the runaway leaders face what promises to be their most difficult challenge of the campaign, while another tussle will have big connotations at both ends of the table.
Elsewhere, in Spain the struggling champions will be desperate to get back to winning ways after a disappointing term.
All kick offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Although Bayern Munich are once again disappearing over the horizon in the Bundesliga, the race for second spot should be fascinating. It’s a race Bayer Leverkusen find themselves in.
Heiko Herrlich’s side have been excellent this term and currently find themselves in fourth place in the table after a 12-game unbeaten run. They’re just two points back on Schalke in second spot, but they’re also one of four teams on 28 points that’ll all fancy their chances of securing a Champions League berth.
They’ve been playing some brilliant football too. In the final third Herrlich has stumbled on a formula that is seeing attacking stars like Julian Brandt, Karim Bellarabi and Leon Bailey blossom. The latter of that trio, in particular, has been sensational this campaign.
Bayern will provide a test of their mettle on Friday, as Jupp Heynckes’ side, 11 points clear at the top, tend to relish these types of occasions. The BayArena will be bouncing for the visit of the champions and an absorbing 90 minutes is in store.
With Barcelona 16 points ahead of them, the La Liga title appears to be out of reach for Real Madrid. Against Villarreal, they’ll be seeking to preserve their place in the division’s top four.
Los Blancos slipped up again in their first match of the new year, as Celta Vigo earned a 2-2 draw at Balaidos. In the end, Zinedine Zidane’s side were fortunate to pick up a point, as the home side dominated much of the second period and Madrid struggled to get their best players into the action.