Although it’s still relatively early in the campaign across the major European leagues, already some title races appear on the cusp of being called off.
Some of the clashes across the continent this weekend may leave some teams with margins that appear insurmountable at the summit of their respective divisions. It’s certainly the case in both Spain and France, when the team in second spot hosts the leaders on Sunday evening.
While you’ll have to pick between two games there, on Saturday there’s a huge derby from Germany to enjoy. Later in the day two of the Premier League’s bitterest rivals meet, while one of English football’s surprise packages will be out to continue their incredible recent form on Sunday.
All kick offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Looking ahead to this fixture weeks ago, few would have anticipated Schalke heading to the Westfalenstadion ahead of their local rivals in the Bundesliga table.
Dortmund enjoyed a brilliant beginning to the season, capitalising on Bayern’s early hesitancies and blazing a trail to the top of the table. But their form has been alarming as of late, with a defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League in midweek the latest underwhelming performance. The pressure is mounting on manager Peter Bosz.
It’ll mount even more if Schalke were to head to the home of their enemies and turn them over. Domenico Tedesco’s team have enjoyed a quietly impressive run of late too, overtaking both Dortmund and RB Leipzig to nestle in behind Bayern Munich in second spot.
Schalke have the attributes to cause an unsure BVB side big issues, as they’re robust, organised and bristling with energy. Bosz will be looking to his big players to show something in what feels like a make-or-break game in Dortmund’s season. If they don’t, it may spell the end for the Ajax boss.
Liverpool will be keen to shake off the woes of midweek on Saturday at what’ll be a hostile Anfield, as they go up against Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side.
The Reds were coasting to victory against Sevilla in midweek, leading 3-0 at half time and on course for a rout. But Jurgen Klopp witnessed his players crumble defensively in the second period and a stoppage-time equaliser for the La Liga side capped off a remarkable comeback. It’ll be intriguing to see how Liverpool respond.
Especially against a Chelsea team that are slowly finding their feet this season. They were so accomplished in their 4-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday and were winners against Qarabag in the Champions League in midweek too.
For Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard, who have both been in wonderful form recently, the prospect of getting stuck into the Liverpool defence will be an enticing one. Still, on home soil the Reds have excelled lately and will approach this one with an attacking endeavour that’s been so prevalent in recent outings.
By now, 12 games into the Premier League season, plenty would have anticipated Burnley’s brilliant start coming to an end. But if they can beat Arsenal on Sunday, they will move three points clear of them.
Sean Dyche may have been linked with a move to Everton as of late, though his team have remained so focused on the job at hand. Early in the campaign they were revered for their excellent away form, though in recent weeks they’ve started to get it together at Turf Moor too, beating Newcastle United and Swansea City in their last two games on home soil.
Arsenal will obviously pose a much stiffer test for Dyche’s side, especially if they can find the levels that saw them breeze past Tottenham Hotspur last weekend. In the north London derby the attacking vibrancy and variety showcased by Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette would give any defence headaches.
On the road their record remains inconsistent, with just one win from their six games away from the Emirates Stadium. Burnley have the physical and defensive qualities to frustrate Arsenal too, meaning this encounter should be an encapsulating clash of styles.
In Spain, Barcelona’s lead at the top of the table has regularly been noted as 10 points this week. But it’s not, as Valencia trail the Blaugrana by four points.
The 10-point gap is in reference to Barca’s struggling rivals Real Madrid. And perhaps a nod to the fact that many still don’t consider this effervescent Valencia team as genuine title contenders quite yet. But a win at the Mestalla on Sunday, a win that’d make it nine in a row in La Liga, would surely alter those perceptions.
Marcelino’s side have been sensational in 2017-18. The manager has added defensive nous, energy and spirit to Los Che. It’s from that base that the likes of Simone Zaza, Rodrigo and Goncalo Guedes have excelled on the counter; the type of blueprint that may pose problems for the Blaugrana.
Barcelona continue to win without performing particularly well and it’ll be interesting to see if levels are raised for what promises to be their toughest test of the campaign so far. If they were to win here, it’d be a blow to the rest of the sides in La Liga who fancy themselves as possible title winners.
With a six-point lead to Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain will feel as though victory in this one would go a long way to wrapping up the Ligue 1 title.
Monaco have slipped up massively in the week leading up to this game. In their last domestic match they could only muster a draw against Amiens, perhaps with the Champions League and the clash with PSG in mind. Against RB Leipzig, they were then hammered 4-1 on home soil. Confidence is low approaching this one.
PSG continue to march serenely on by contrast. In Ligue 1 they’ve only dropped four points all season, in the Champions League they boast a perfect record and supporters are being treated to some mesmerising attacking football.
Arguably, this is the toughest domestic test PSG will face all season and for the visitors there’ll be a determination to show what they can do having lost out on the title last term. Plus, if they pull nine points clear with the hardest game of the campaign negotiated, they’ll be almost impossible to reel in.
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