If a side boasts an 11-point lead at the top of any domestic division, suddenly games involving those outfits challenging for the title feel a little less significant.
Yet on the flipside, if the runaway leaders have strung together 15 wins playing irrepressible attacking football, then they’re always worth a watch, as is the case in the Premier League.
In truth, heavyweight clashes from across Europe are in short supply this weekend, meaning we’ll need to look at other nuances to relieve our footballing itch. In Spain we have a Basque derby to enjoy, in Italy we’ll see if the leaders can preserve momentum ahead of Christmas, while there’s also a Club World Cup final to savour.
All kick-offs are in Easter time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Inter Milan supporters would’ve taken a deep breath after coming away from their meeting with Juventus with a point last weekend. Now to follow it up against Udinese.
Luciano Spalletti’s side remain top of the pile after Napoli failed to capitalise on points dropped for Inter in Turin. Now it’s important they get back to winning ways against modest opposition and ensure they remain top of the pile come Christmas. If they can do so, Inter can look ahead to 2018 with great excitement.
The Nerazzurri will be wary of Udinese, though, as they’ve been Serie A’s most erratic side this term. Indeed, Udinese are the only side in the division without a draw, winning six and losing nine of their 15 games. If they turn up and click into gear then Inter will have a tough afternoon.
Still, under Spalletti there’s a calmness about Inter, especially at the San Siro. They’ll seek to sap any vibrancy from the visitors’ play and will look to game-changers like Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic to get them over the line.
With Real Madrid away at the Club World Cup, the title race in La Liga takes a bit of a backseat this weekend. Indeed, Athletic’s showdown with Sociedad is the standout fixture.
In recent seasons both of these teams have flirted with the Champions League positions and have given the division’s biggest sides some issues. But neither have had a good beginning to the campaign, with Athletic down in 14th and La Real 11th.
Still, the gap to the top six is far from insurmountable at this juncture and a derby win can often be the catalyst for an upturn in form. For Athletic, there have been some more encouraging signs lately too, with no loss in four and a win lodged at Levante last weekend. Jose Ziganda will want to see his side make strides at the San Mames too.
Sociedad, by contrast, have fallen into something of a lull, with the early-season promise they showcased feeling like it was a long time ago. A win at the home of their bitter rivals would surely reignite a fire under Eusebio Sacristan’s side again.