Sundays are typically the best day of the week for soccer supporters. You can lay on the couch sampling a string of engrossing games with thoughts of the Monday morning alarm locked away at the back of your mind. And for those who love a lazy Sunday, this might just be the best weekend of the entire campaign.
Not only do all five of this week’s games come from different competitions, but they’re all on Sunday! So sit back and enjoy intriguing clashes from the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga and a vital game from the States, as the MLS season draws to an exciting finale.
All kickoffs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Southampton vs. Manchester City
Sunday, November 30, 8:30AM, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra
Ronald Koeman’s newly constructed side have impressed plenty with their bustling brand of football so far this season, but this clash with the champions represents their biggest test of the season and will kickstart a run of exceptionally difficult fixtures for Saints.
Manchester City come into this one after what looked to be a cornerstone performance against Bayern Munich. Sergio Aguero’s sensational hat-trick kept their European hopes alive at the Etihad, and at this juncture he looks to be the finest centre-forward on the planet. Manuel Pellegrini will be hoping his displays will galvanise other members of his toiling team.
That’s because Southampton are a side that have look balanced, hungry and incisive in the early weeks of the campaign and in front of what should be a rocking St. Mary’s crowd, they will feel as though they have an excellent chance of causing this City team problems. If they can pick up a positive result, there are plenty that’ll begin to take their scintillating start a bit more seriously.
Pellegrini’s men have been wholly reliant on Aguero in recent weeks, and if Koeman can conjure a plan to pin him down, then Saints have the industry and ingenuity to take all three points. But after that massive victory in midweek, you get the impression we may just see the champions revitalised come kick-off on Sunday.
Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Moenchengladbach
Sunday, November 30, 9:30AM, GolTV
The overwhelming majority of those who know anything about the Bundesliga will admit that Bayern taking the title looks like a mere formality. But there are few who would have expected Wolfsburg and Borussia Moenchengladbach to occupy second and third place in the league respectively after 12 games.
Wolfsburg’s superb domestic run was halted by Schalke in their last Bundesliga outing, but they’re a team that are really beginning to blossom under the tutelage of Dieter Hecking. Former Chelsea man Kevin de Bruyne has been the star man for the team this season, mesmerising with his displays in a No. 10 role and helping himself to a whopping nine league assists.
Moenchengladbach pose a massive threat of their own, though. They’re a team that may not boast quite as many household names as Wolfsburg, but Lucien Favre has assembled a team that is cohesive, industrious and a major threat on the counter-attack. It’s been a great season for Borussia, but they have lost their last two games and they’ll be desperate to put that right.
Names like Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04 and Bayer Leverkusen are typically the closest challengers to the might of Bayern. But if early indications are anything to go by, these two teams have a fine chance of finishing in a Champions League berth. This fixture should give us an indication of which team is best placed to do so.
Juventus vs. Torino
The Turin derby has yielded a one-sided set of results in recent years, but the games themselves are always ferocious, always competitive and always played before a raucous atmosphere. As the two sides meet again at the Juventus Stadium on Sunday, expect nothing different this time round.
Torino are naturally the underdogs for this fixture, and they’ll be searching for their first win over the Bianconeri in 19 years. Indeed, such is Juventus’ unrelenting stranglehold on this fixture, Torino haven’t netted against their city rivals since 2002.
In truth, it’s difficult to see that changing again this season. Inspired by the supreme goalscoring exploits of Ciro Immobile during the 2013/14 season, the Granata finished in a heady seventh position in Italy’s top flight. But their small squad has failed to astutely balance domestic and European commitments and Torino are currently languishing down in 15th position.
By contrast, Juve look set to clinch another Scudetto after a fine start to the campaign. Massimiliano Allegri has overseen a seamless transition from the reign of the heralded Antonio Conte, and in Carlos Tevez, the Bianconeri have a player in sparkling form. They’ll be hugely confident of preserving their dominance in this fixture, but Torino are definitely due a result.
Valencia vs. Barcelona
There’s always a huge deal of interest when two of Spain’s superpowers go head-to-head, and that’ll certainly be the case when an improving Valencia team welcome Barcelona to the Mestalla in Week 13 of La Liga.
All things considered, Valencia have enjoyed an especially prosperous start to domestic life in 2014/15. The team has functioned wonderfully in the early weeks of the season, and while the Blaugrana and Real Madrid will naturally pull away as the season motors on, Los Che will feel as though a Champions League place is definitely up for grabs come the end of the campaign.
But Barcelona are a team that look to have rediscovered their grove as of late, thanks in no small part to the goalscoring exploits of Lionel Messi. The genial forward has scored six goals this week already after hat-tricks against Sevilla and APOEL; after a somewhat frustrating start to the campaign, Barca’s iconic No. 10 now has some serious momentum behind him.
Valencia is always a very tough place to visit, though. Nuno Santo’s team have the best home record in the division and have yet to lose a domestic game this season in front of their own supporters. With Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez rocking up on Sunday, that’s a record that’ll be put to the test in earnest.
Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy
Sunday, November 30, 9:00PM, ESPN, ESPN Deportes and Univision Deportes
The first leg between these MLS giants wasn’t the most engrossing of spectacles, but with a spot in the end-of-season showpiece now within touching distance for both sides, the return leg at CenturyLink Field will surely yield a much more open affair. Especially given that both the Sounders and Galaxy will feel confident of progressing.
Marcelo Sarvas’ goal was enough for Galaxy to take a 1-0 lead into this one, and given the manner in which Bruce Arena’s team controlled long spells of the game, they’ll feel confident of heading to Seattle knowing an away goal will make things very difficult for the home side. And with Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan set to start, they’ll certainly fancy their chances.
The Sounders are a completely different prospect at home, though. Roared on by their wonderful supporters, you suspect this team will relish chasing the two-goal win needed to guarantee their progression to the MLS Cup Final, and if they were to turn this one around, they will have some serious momentum going into that campaign-defining clash.
The tie is perfectly poised for neutrals, and with the Seattle faithful set to create a colourful, hostile backdrop, you wouldn’t back against Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and co. putting in the performance required to ensure it’s a famous night at CenturyLink Field.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball
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