It means that even three points for Juventus on Saturday wouldn’t be enough to put them back on top of the table. And for Napoli, if Juve were to lose at the Olimpico, there’d be a chance to put seven points between themselves and their rivals. It makes the visit of Roma a huge fixture at the San Paolo.
Roma haven’t relished matches against the biggest sides in Serie A this season, although away from home they have proven a tough nut to crack, with just one loss on the road in 2017-18. They sit in fifth heading into this weekend and will be desperate to ensure they stay in touch in the race for Champions League places.
If Atletico Madrid hold serious hopes of winning the La Liga title this season, then you feel as though they will need to go to Barcelona and win at the Camp Nou on Sunday.
The capital club are seven points behind the league leaders having embarked on a brilliant run of recent form. Diego Simeone’s side have found an attacking swagger in recent outings too, hammering Sevilla 5-2 on Sunday before smashing Leganes 4-0 on Wednesday. Remarkably, Antoine Griezmann has netted seven goals over the course of those two games.
Given how good Atletico have been as of late, it’s testament to the consistency of Barcelona that they’ve been able to stay seven points ahead of their rivals. And in the 6-1 hammering of Girona, they too showed an attacking sparkle, with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele linking well.
The approach from both sides will be interesting here. Barcelona’s natural inclination will be to attack, although a draw would be a fine result. Meanwhile, Atletico are a defence-first football team that need to win. A fascinating tactical battle is on the cards at the Camp Nou.
With the first trophy of the Pep Guardiola era in the bag, you sense there’ll be a buzz around the Etihad Stadium on Sunday and that’s unlikely to help Chelsea’s cause.
The Blues, having slipped down to fifth after their loss to Manchester United last weekend, could find themselves seven points behind Liverpool and five points behind Tottenham Hotspur—both sides have winnable home games—heading into this showdown against the league leaders. It’d leave them with a mountain to climb in the race for a top four spot.