There are five games to savor from four different leagues this weekend.
A number of Premier League teams return to action following their winter break, although the pick of the matches in the competition comes on Monday night, when two Champions League hopefuls face off.
Elsewhere, the race for the title and the top four will heat up in Serie A, while title contenders take to the field in tough games in Germany and Spain.
All kick offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
After negotiating a difficult assignment at Real Betis last weekend, Barcelona face a different task entirely when Getafe head to the Camp Nou on Saturday.
The visitors have enjoyed an incredible season to this point, sitting in third spot in the table. While their brand of football may not be palatable for purists, it’s certainly effective, as Valencia discovered last weekend when they were hammered 3-0 by the Madrid-based outfit.
Coping with the intensity and aggression of Getafe will be a challenge for Barcelona, although manager Quique Setien will be confident they can stand up to the test. At Betis, they twice recovered from a deficit to secure a crucial 3-2 win, keeping the gap to leaders Real Madrid to three points.
Lionel Messi has not scored in his last three games, albeit he has five assists in his last two outings. All eyes will be on him to see if he can end this mini-drought and on Getafe’s defence to see how they combat his influence.
Borussia Monchengladbach will be looking reassert their credentials as genuine Bundesliga title challengers on Saturday at Dusseldorf.
Given their meeting last weekend, it’s no surprise much of the focus in Germany has been on Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig when it comes to the title race, not to mention free-scoring Borussia Dortmund. But BMG remain in contention.
They go into this set of fixtures down in fourth, although only four points behind leaders Bayern with a game in hand. Getting over the line in these sorts of matches is likely to determine whether or not they can last the pace with the league’s heavyweights.
Dusseldorf are fighting for their life too. They are currently in the relegation playoff spot and only out of the automatic relegation spot on goal difference. Mainz 05 are four points clear in a safe position and Fortuna surely can’t afford to let the gap grow any further.
Atalanta vs. AS Roma
Saturday, February 15, 2:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Neither Atalanta nor Roma will be involved in the Serie A title race this term, but they are both expected to be involved in a gripping battle for fourth spot.
At the moment, it’s Atalanta who have the edge in that scrap, as they sit three points clear of Saturday’s opponents. Their 2-1 win over Fiorentina a week ago was a crucial one, with the team showing some inconsistency since the turn of the year.
It was a victory that allowed Atalanta to pull clear of Roma, who have hit a rut themselves as of late. Paulo Fonseca has watched his players slump to back-to-back losses in their previous two matches, with Sassuolo beating them 4-2 and Bologna winning 3-2 at the Stadio Olimpico last time out.
As the top scorers in Serie A, Atalanta will be confident of creating a number of opportunities when the sides meet at the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia. For Roma, it feels like matching that firepower will be difficult on the day.
Lazio vs. Inter Milan
Sunday, February 16, 2:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Arguably the biggest match of the weekend comes in the Italian capital, with the two biggest challengers to defending Serie A champions Juventus going head-to-head.
Inter are level on points with the Bianconeri after a memorable win over their city rivals Milan on Sunday. After falling two goals behind, Antonio Conte’s team were able to launch a memorable comeback and eventually emerged as 4-2 victors.
Lazio are not to be discounted though, as they have been consistently on the tails of the top two throughout the season. Simone Inzaghi has managed to find an excellent balance in his team, as they have the joint-best defensive record in the division and have only been outscored by Atalanta.
The Olimpico should be rocking for this encounter. While many consider Lazio to be third-favourites in this three-horse race, should they down Inter on Sunday you suspect there will plenty ready to take them a lot more seriously.
In the Premier League this weekend, there are repeats of the opening fixtures of the campaign. Monday’s match between Chelsea and United offers an opportunity to assess the progress made by the two sides.
Chelsea were 4-0 losers at Old Trafford back in August. Frank Lampard managed to get the team purring again following that loss though and while they have gone off the boil a little as of late, he will be content to see his team sitting in fourth spot, still in contention for the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League.
United are trying to chase Chelsea down in the Premier League. They start the weekend in eighth position, five points back on their opponents on Monday. Manager Ole Gunnar Soslkjaer will be pleased with the defensive performance of the team recently, with no goals conceded in their last four games.
United have already won at Stamford Bridge this season, eliminating the Blues in the League Cup. A repeat of that result would blow the race for the top four wide open.
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