Sometimes the soccer calendar opts not to churn out a string of heavyweight fixtures over the course of a weekend. This is one of them.
Yet while there aren’t glamour ties across the globe to include in our selections, often that’s not a bad thing. With the pressure somewhat off, class outfits can relax into a wonderful style of football, or occasionally fall prey to complacency, and shocks can occur.
So while the two games from the Premier League, one from La Liga, one from Ligue 1 and Friday night’s Bundesliga tussle may not be fixtures you’d have looked forward to ahead of the campaign, they all have the potential to be fascinating.
All kick-offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Bayern Munich can temporarily move back to the top of the Bundesliga table on Friday when they host Wolfsburg at the Allianz Arena.
The German champions currently sit in second spot, having bounced back well from their surprise loss to Hoffenheim earlier in the campaign. A 3-0 win at Schalke on Tuesday, that saw James Rodriguez net his first goal for his new club, was the biggest indication yet this outfit are back in their best groove again.
With Borussia Dortmund—the league leaders—facing a potentially testing clash with Borussia Monchengladbach on Sunday, Carlo Ancelotti will want to see his players apply some pressure with three points here. Wolfsburg are unlikely to roll over and allow Bayern to coast to victory though.
While the team have struggled for form overall in 2017, there are some dangerous individuals for new manager Martin Schmidt to call upon. On-loan Liverpool striker Divock Origi netted his first for the club in the 1-1 draw against Werder Bremen in midweek.
There’s a feel-good factor surrounding Atletico Madrid at the moment and they’ll be out to preserve that positivity against Sevilla on Saturday in what promises to be the match of the weekend.
Not only has their iconic coach Diego Simeone signed a new deal with the football club, they won their first game at the new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium against Malaga and followed that up with a brilliant 2-1 victory at Athletic Club in midweek. At the moment, they look like Barcelona’s biggest challengers in the title race.
But Sevilla shouldn’t be forgotten about. Sandwiched between the Blaugrana and Atletico, they are perched in second spot having dropped just two points all season. New boss Eduardo Berizzo has forged a cohesive and functional football team in the early weeks of his tenure; they’ve conceded just one goal this term.
This will be their biggest test so far, undoubtedly. And after a roaring start to life at their new home, expect the Atletico supporters to turn up the noise again for their first big game at the stadium.
Revenge may well be on the mind of the Tottenham players on Saturday lunchtime when they visit West Ham United.
Last season, a loss to the Hammers late in the campaign effectively ended their hopes of winning the Premier League title. And not only do West Ham have a bit of a habit of beating Spurs, the club’s supporters cherish getting one over on their city rivals. Expect a lively atmosphere at the London Stadium as a result.
Spurs will most likely relish this type of challenge. After all, they continue to toil at Wembley in the Premier League, with the stalemate against Swansea City their most recent slip-up. It’s only on the road in wins against Newcastle United and Everton that Mauricio Pochettino’s team have shown what they’re all about.
West Ham have slowly found some form after a sluggish start, with a draw at West Brom following up their win at home to Huddersfield. Another victory at the expense of their local rivals would ignite their campaign.
It’s rare in football that a team gets a chance to immediately respond to a setback. Liverpool have the opportunity against Leicester City this weekend.
The Reds were at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday in the League Cup and were turned over by the Foxes. Jurgen Klopp’s side fell victim to similar flaws, as they dominated the first period, didn’t take chances and were undone by slack defensive play late in the game. These trends need to be shrugged off if this Liverpool team is to progress.
The side Klopp will field on Saturday evening will be much-changed from the one that took to the turf in midweek and he’ll know it’s vital three points are picked up here. Liverpool are on a run of four games without a win and the confidence that bristled after their demolition of Arsenal has slowly seeped away.
Leicester, meanwhile, haven’t quite caught alight in the Premier League, as they’ve had a tough start to negotiate. Having acquitted themselves well in losses to Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea, Craig Shakespeare and his players will feel as though they’re finally ready to get over the line against one of the Premier League’s best.
JUVENTUS VS. TORINO
Saturday, September 23, 2:45 p.m. ET, beIN SPORTS Connect and fuboTV
The Turin derby may have been dominated by Juventus for a long time, though Torino will feel they can do something special when they head to the home of their biggest rivals this weekend.
Juve have started the campaign in typically efficient fashion with five wins from their opening five matches. However, with Napoli soaring and scoring with remarkable regularity, it appears there will be genuine competition for the Scudetto in 2017-18; it’ll be intriguing to see how the champions react to that.
In midweek they were far from their best in the 1-0 with over Fiorentina, with Mario Mandzukic’s goal eventually getting the Bianconeri out of trouble. Based on the way the Viola frustrated Juve for long spells, Torino may look to borrow facets from their blueprint and upgrade it in this Derby della Molle.
After all, they’ve been decent so far this term, winning three and drawing two of their five matches. In Andrea Belotti they have a man capable of making the difference in the final third too; Torino will hope so, as they’ve only managed to beat their rivals in one of the last 23 meetings.
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