After a surprisingly entertaining international break, domestic soccer is back on the menu around the globe again this weekend. And while this week’s quintet of must-watch games don’t quite compare to the previous round’s almost perfect weekend of fixtures, there are still a plethora of tremendous matches to savor.
There’s a treat from France to enjoy on Friday between two sides striving to cement their spot back in the upper reaches of the division after a ropey start. That’ll be backed up by two gripping games in the Premier League on Saturday and an equally enticing double-header from Italy on Sunday.
All kickoffs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Monaco vs. Lyon
Friday October 16, 2:30PM, beIN SPORTS Español and fuboTV
With Paris Saint-Germain roaring away at the top of Ligue 1, Monaco and Lyon look as though they’ll be battling with Marseille for second spot in French football’s top flight during the 2015-16 season.
At this juncture, the principality club are languishing down in 10th position. Monaco have changed tact as of late, deciding against bringing in big names, instead opting to focus on youth development and moving players on for a profit. Still, after losing Anthony Martial, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Aymen Abdennour in the window, they’re struggling.
Lyon managed to keep hold of their prize assets this summer but Hubert Fournier’s men are still striving for the sparkle which took them so close to the title in the previous campaign. Alexandre Lacazette’s form has suffered after the injury accrued by creative foil Nabil Fekir and it’s vital OL find a way to get him firing again very quickly.
There’s not been much between these two sides in previous meetings and with both still searching for a groove, it could be tentative at first. But with Monaco and Lyon sitting in 10th and sixth, respectively, three points will be vital for both and subsequently, we should be treated to an open, attacking clash.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool
Saturday October 17, 7:45AM, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra
The waiting will be over for Liverpool fans at lunchtime on Saturday, as they will get to witness the beginning of Jurgen Klopp’s tenure in earnest, as the Reds tackle an in-form Tottenham Hotspur team at White Hart Lane.
After the departure of Brendan Rodgers following the 1-1 draw with local rivals Everton, Klopp’s natural charisma has already given plenty a lift at Anfield. The German demands his side play a rock ’n’ roll brand of soccer and that’ll surely rejuvenate a team that’s been going through the motions in the nascent stages of the campaign.
Spurs are in danger of being a little overlooked coming into this one, though. Their previous home game against Manchester City was a prime indication of what they’re capable of, trouncing the league leaders 4-1 with a remarkably rounded performance. Mauricio Pochettino, like Klopp, demands his team play at a break-neck pace.
Liverpool have had the edge over Tottenham in clashes between the two recently. They’ve won the last five meetings between the two teams by an aggregate scoreline of 18-4, including 5-0 and 3-0 triumphs on their last two visits to the Lane. Klopp will be hoping that trend continues in his first taste of Premier League football.
Everton vs. Manchester United
Saturday October 17, 10:00AM, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra
It’s been a long time since these two sides met in a standard 3:00PM BST/10AM ET kickoff on a Saturday, but there’s plenty at stake for both Everton and Manchester United in this early season tussle.
The Red Devils will have been stewing after their 3-0 humbling against Arsenal prior to the international break. Louis van Gaal’s side were completely outclassed in the early stages by the Gunners, as the hosts flew out of the traps and roared into an early three-goal lead. Expect a renewed cohesion to be a factor of their play at Goodison Park.
For all the positive strides made by Everton as of late, they haven’t started matches too well this season, falling behind in their last three matches. But if Roberto Martinez’s men can test out a creaking United defense early on with a sharp opening, as they did against Chelsea, in the rejuvenated pairing off Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku, they have the quality to test United.
Everton have fared well against their north west rivals in recent meetings, winning three of the last four meetings and the last three at Goodison Park. If they can take another three points from this one, the Toffees will move above the Red Devils in the Premier League table.
Napoli vs. Fiorentina
Sunday October 18, 9:00AM, beIN SPORTS and fuboTV
Serie A, dominated by Juventus the last four seasons, has done little to endear itself to the casual fan prior to this campaign. But the efforts of teams such as Napoli and Fiorentina early this season have made the Italian top flight arguably the most entertaining division in Europe so far in 2015-16.
Admittedly, Napoli are only just coming to the boil. Maurizio Sarri’s team did struggle for a spark in the early weeks of the season, but inspired by the attacking efforts of Lorenzo Insigne and Gonzalo Higuain, they’ve been superb in their last couple of matches, beating Juventus 2-1 at the San Paolo before an emphatic 4-0 win over Milan at the San Siro last time out.
In Fiorentina they’ll be facing the best team in the division. The league leaders have won their last five in a row, playing an aesthetic and adaptable style of football. Not only are La Viola banging in the goals under Paulo Sousa, with former Blackburn Rovers man Nikola Kalinic in excellent form, but they’re strong at the back too, conceding just four all season.
The San Paolo clash will arguably be their biggest test so far. Napoli’s supporters always create a hostile backdrop and the Partenopei have plenty of momentum behind them. Given the attacking panache with which both of these teams have played with recently, this isn’t a contest to be missed.
Internazionale vs. Juventus
Sunday, October 18, 2:45PM, beIN SPORTS and fuboTV
While we’ve been treated to a new name at the summit of Serie A, Internazionale and Juventus, who have won nine of the last 10 Scudetto’s between them, will be desperate to restore a more natural order to the summit of Italian football.
Inter are actually having a decent season overall. They sit in second position heading into the weekend, having only lost to league leaders Fiorentina. Roberto Mancini still hasn’t quite found an attacking formula which works, opting to pack the midfield with the industry of Kondogbia, Fredy Guarin and Felipe Melo rather than intricacy.
Juve have looked vulnerable ahead of this Derby d’Italia however and are set to be without star striker Alvaro Morata after the injury he picked up on international duty for Spain. The Bianconeri are languishing down in 12th place, 10 points off La Viola and while the title is still retrievable, a couple more losses would severely damage their title chances.
There are still doubts over whether Inter have what it take to challenge for the Serie A crown despite their massive summer spending. A win here would certainly give them a mental boost moving forward, but it’s surely only a matter of time before the champions do settle into an overdue rhythm.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball
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