Paris (AFP) – Barcelona look to build on a morale-boosting midweek win in the Champions League, while Napoli meet a Serie A surprise package and record-breaking Ajax may fancy their chances of another big victory.
AFP Sport previews the standout action on the continent this weekend:
– New hope for Barcelona?
Alaves v Barcelona, Saturday 2000 GMT
Barcelona have been through just about every emotion in the last week, from a damaging defeat at home to Real Madrid in the Clasico to a fine win away to Juventus in the Champions League, with president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigning in between.
His departure offers hope of a brighter future for a club that has been in crisis for months, but for now they have work to do in La Liga after collecting just seven points from their opening five matches.
They are seven points behind leaders Real Sociedad, albeit with two games in hand, and they should expect to win away at struggling Alaves, whose home record is especially miserable.
– Off night for Nagelsmann –
Borussia Moenchengladbach v RB Leipzig, Saturday 1730 GMT
Julian Nagelsmann’s suit in Manchester was especially dapper, but his team’s performance at Old Trafford was especially bad as RB Leipzig lost 5-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday.
“I wear what I like. I’m a football coach, not a model,” Nagelsmann reportedly snapped when asked about his outfit following a chastening defeat for a team who reached the Champions League semi-finals in Lisbon in August.
It was the worst loss of the 33-year-old’s coaching career, but his team are top of the Bundesliga and have a chance to underline their credentials when they go to Gladbach.
The hosts, who are sixth, are themselves on the rebound after conceding two late goals to draw 2-2 at home to Real Madrid in the Champions League.
– Surprise package Sassuolo –
Napoli v Sassuolo, Sunday 1700 GMT
Second plays third in Serie A when Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli host Sassuolo, who come into the weekend unbeaten and as the division’s top scorers.
Coached by the former Napoli player Roberto De Zerbi, the ‘Neroverdi’ scored four in wins against Spezia, Crotone and Bologna, before drawing 3-3 with Torino last weekend.
Their star performer has been Francesco Caputo, who has five goals to his name and recently won a first Italy cap at the age of 33.
A trip to Naples promises to be their toughest test yet, however.
– Garcia goes back to Lille –
Lille v Lyon, Sunday 2000 GMT
This season marks a decade since Rudi Garcia led a Lille side featuring Eden Hazard to an unlikely French league and cup double. On Sunday he goes back to his old club in charge of Lyon in a key game in Ligue 1.
Lille are defending an unbeaten start to the French season which has made them look the most likely challengers to Paris Saint-Germain, although they struggled against Celtic in the Europa League on Thursday.
Meanwhile, last season’s Champions League semi-finalists Lyon have scored seven goals in back-to-back wins since the transfer window closed with star men Houssem Aouar and Memphis Depay still at the club.
– Goals galore again for Ajax? –
Ajax v Fortuna Sittard, Saturday 1900 GMT
Ajax recorded the biggest win in the history of the Dutch Eredivisie when they beat VVV Venlo 13-0 away last weekend, with teenage forward Lassina Traore scoring five times.
Now, after a 2-2 draw at Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday, they will be fancied to win big again as they host Fortuna Sittard.
It is top against bottom in the Dutch league, with Fortuna still winless. They lost 5-0 away at Ajax last season, and on current form a repeat scoreline would probably represent something of a success.
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