With all 32 places for next summer’s World Cup dished out, domestic soccer will be the focus again until preparations begin for the Russia showpiece.
And for a lot of teams, this weekend is the trigger for a congested spell of fixtures, with matches coming thick and fast in a variety of different competitions. We’ve got a brilliant set of games at the beginning of this stint.
There are three city derbies from three capital cities, as the north London, Rome and Madrid rivalries will come to life. There’s also a testing contest for the league leaders in La Liga and the champions of Italy.
All kick-offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Some derbies in the Premier League are so laced with fear and loathing, often they struggle to live up to their billing. Matches between Arsenal and Tottenham don’t usually fall into that particular category.
For Spurs, this feels like a big one. Yes, they’ve made astounding progress under Mauricio Pochettino in recent years and yes they finished ahead of Arsenal last season. But in the matches against their fellow top-six sides away from home they’ve often struggled to show what they’re about.
Arsenal will be aware of that and having won all five of their Premier League home matches this term, will hold some confidence. Still, they have fallen well short against the division’s better sides this term, with Liverpool and Manchester City easily taking them apart.
With Harry Kane back, Dele Alli returning to form and Christian Eriksen in mesmerising fettle over the international break Spurs have the tools to do the same. Whether they have the confidence in themselves in what’ll be a white-hot atmosphere on Saturday afternoon is another matter entirely.
There’s been a curiousness about Barcelona’s La Liga season so far and it’s set to take another intriguing turn when they meet Leganes on Saturday.
Without ever really playing spellbinding football, manager Ernesto Valverde has been able to get a tune out of these players. So much so that they’re four points clear of Valencia at the summit of the standings and a whopping eight ahead of their bitter rivals and most likely challengers for the title in Real Madrid.
So what’s Valverde done? He’s done his utmost to get the best out of Lionel Messi, even if that has been to the detriment of the likes of Luis Suarez. Valverde also appears to have helped the likes of Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Samuel Umtiti kick their games up another level. With just four goals conceded this term, defensively they’re clearly more robust.
They’re going up another team that are extremely tough to beat in Leganes on Saturday, as they’ve only let in nine goals all season. They’ve enjoyed an excellent beginning to the campaign and will fancy their chances of frustrating their illustrious visitors at Butarque.
ROMA VS. LAZIO
Saturday November 18, 12 p.m. ET, beIN SPORTS Connect (live), beIN SPORTS (joined in progress at 12:15pm), beIN SPORTS en Espanol (joined in progress at 1pm), Sling World Sports and fubo Premier (live) (free trial)
From a city that bristles with passion for football, it’s little surprise the Derby della Capitale is one of the most fiercely contested matches anywhere in the world.
In recent years, with both teams performing well at the top of Serie A, it’s become one of the most important in the Italian top flight too. For Lazio, who are four points off the top with a game in hand, it’s especially significant, as they’ll be desperate to show they can mix it with the best sides in the division. Do that, and they must be considered serious contenders for the Scudetto.
Roma have gone under the radar somewhat this term, but they’re just a point back on their neighbours having played the same amount of matches. They too have been in an excellent groove as of late, with the 4-2 triumph at Fiorentina their fourth win in a row.
The fixture will also bring together two of the deadliest strikers in the division, with Edin Dzeko, who has seven goals this season, poised to lead the line for Roma. But Lazio currently boast the man leading the race for the Capocannoniere; a red-hot Ciro Immobile has 14 from 11 appearances.
This is one Atletico Madrid supporters would have been looking forward to for a while, as they “welcome” bitter rivals Real Madrid to their new Wanda Metropolitano home.
They would have preferred to be in better form for the Derbi Madrileno, though, as Diego Simeone’s side haven’t quite been at their boisterous best in the 2017-18 term. Granted they’re unbeaten and still tough to score against, but with Antoine Griezmann struggling for form it’s been tough for the Rojiblancos to turn draws into wins.
They’ll be coming up against a Real Madrid team that have shown vulnerabilities as of late, especially away from home. Zinedine Zidane has seen his team slump to two losses in a row on the road, with Tottenham Hotspur scoring an emphatic 3-1 win against the European champions.
With Real’s own talisman Cristiano Ronaldo also struggling—he has a solitary La Liga goal this season—there’s a sense this may be a tentative affair. But an early goal for either side would potentially ignite the football match and the raucous atmosphere we’ve already been witness to at the Wanda so far.
For all the talk of Juventus being dethroned at last in Serie A, the Bianconeri remain in the title picture. This weekend’s trip to Sampdoria will test their mettle for the fight.
Juventus may not have been at their brilliant best in 2017-18, but the squad available to manager Massimiliano Allegri remains the best in the division. And since the 2-1 loss at home to Lazio, they’ve responded well, hammering Udinese and SPAL before chalking up narrow wins against AC Milan and Benevento.
The end result is that they’re still just a couple of points behind the much-lauded Napoli side who lead the way this season. Given the Partenopei have a potentially testing home game against Milan to negotiate on Saturday, this weekend may well be the one in which Juve retake the summit of the table.
But Sampdoria will view the contest as a chance to show they’re serious about European qualification this season, as they sit in sixth position. The Genova outfit have won all five matches at their Stadio Luigi Ferraris too, meaning Juve will likely have to be at full throttle if they’re to keep the pressure on Napoli.
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