With the international break to come, this week gives us the chance to fill up on some fascinating domestic football.
Across Europe, there are absorbing contests to get stuck into too. In Italy and France there are derbies, while title favorites are in action in Spain and titles challengers seek to get back on track in Germany. On Saturday afternoon, it’s the standout FA Cup quarter-final.
All fixtures are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Hertha Berlin vs. Borussia Dortmund
Despite battling to an important win over Stuttgart last weekend, Borussia Dortmund were knocked off the top of the Bundesliga table by Bayern Munich on goal difference. The defending champions were 6-0 winners over Wolfsburg.
The two teams head into the final nine games of the season deadlocked on 57 points and with no Champions League commitments for either, it’s set to be a straight fight for the top domestic prize. Dortmund play ahead of their rivals this weekend and have the chance to apply some pressure.
Manager Lucien Favre would have been pleased with the manner in which Dortmund were able to come through against Stuttgart, as they were level at 1-1 with six minutes remaining. In the end, late goals from Paco Alcacer and Christian Pulisic ensured they kept in touch at the summit of the table.
Hertha Berlin are languishing in mid-table, although they do have the ability to make this a tough afternoon for Dortmund. Even so, following Bayern’s abysmal display in the Champions League in midweek, this feels like a fine chance for BVB to up the ante on their rivals.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Manchester United
Saturday, March 16, 3:55 p.m. ET, ESPN+ (7-day free trial)
In a wide-open FA Cup this season, another serious challenger for the trophy will be eliminated on Saturday as Wolves host Manchester United at Molineux.
With a number of big names eliminated before this quarter-final stage, after Manchester City these two teams are arguably the next favorites to win. Given the game is to be played at Wolves, it’s a fixture that does genuinely feel like it could go either way.
United will head into this one on the back of their first domestic loss under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. In truth, it was little surprise to see the Red Devils play in a jaded way at Arsenal on Sunday, just days on from their heroics in the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain.
With a week to recover expect United to be much sharper and much more organised against Wolves. Even so, Nuno Santo’s side have proven themselves to be dangerous opponents, especially for the top six sides in the Premier League. With a raucous home crowd behind them, they’ll fancy their chances of springing another shock.
AC Milan vs. Inter Milan
Sunday, March 17, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+ (7-day free trial)
Derby matches between the two Milan giants have felt a little flat in recent years, so it’s encouraging that there’s genuine excitement about what’s to come at the San Siro on Sunday in a key game.
Going into the game, AC Milan are in third spot, with their rivals a point behind in fourth. While plenty of neutrals would love to see both of the Milan sides back in the Champions League, a defeat for either here would be a blow to their chances.
Inter gear up for the game in the midst of a saga involving their star striker Mauro Icardi. The Argentina international has not played since he was stripped of the captaincy in February and having tormented the team’s local rivals down the years, AC supporters will be glad at what appears to be his likely omission from the contest.
In Krzysztof Piatek, AC Milan fans have their own new goalscoring hero, with the Polish striker settling into life at his new club brilliantly following a January transfer from Genoa.
Real Betis vs. Barcelona
Barcelona have been able to put considerable distance between themselves and the chasing pack in La Liga. A win at Betis would be another big step forward for them in the pursuit of the title.
The Blaugrana go into the game this weekend with a seven-point advantage on Atletico Madrid. That gap could possibly be down to four by the time Barcelona take to the field on Sunday, although Diego Simeone’s side face a difficult fixture on Saturday away at Athletic Bilbao.
Barcelona go into the Betis clash in good spirits, though. They were able to negotiate a potentially challenging midweek showdown with Lyon in the Champions League. Eventually they ran out 5-1 winners at the Camp Nou, with Lionel Messi once again in inspired form for his side.
Betis sit in eighth going into this fixture, although the race for European places remains a tight one. They’re just six points back on Getafe in fourth and victory here would potentially ignite their campaign with just 10 matches left to play in the Spanish top flight.
PSG vs. Marseille
There’s been a malaise engulfing PSG following their Champions League elimination at the hands of Manchester United. The visit of Marseille should bring some edge back to their play.
With the Ligue 1 title effectively wrapped up, the primary goal for Thomas Tuchel and his players in the remaining weeks of 2018-19 would have been the European Cup. With that ambition gone, it’ll be a challenge for the team to guard against complacency in the remaining weeks of the Ligue 1 season.
Marseille’s arrival will prompt a fiery atmosphere in the stands at least and should refine the focus of the PSG players. As of late, the visitors’ form has picked up too and now they’re just three points behind Lyon in third, who occupy the final Champions League place.
With that in mind, this is arguably a more significant game for Marseille and it’ll be intriguing to see if they can raise their game as such.