Paris (AFP) – Erling Braut Haaland is after more goals, Real Sociedad are hoping to maintain their brilliant start in La Liga and the under-pressure Antonio Conte needs his Inter Milan side to get back to winning ways.
AFP Sport previews the standout football action on the continent this weekend:
– Is there any stopping Haaland? –
Borussia Dortmund v Cologne, Saturday 1430 GMT
Haaland may fancy his chances of adding to his remarkable goals tally this weekend as Dortmund host struggling Cologne.
The Norwegian’s brace against Club Brugge in the Champions League took him to 17 for the season in all competitions, with nine in Dortmund’s last four matches. He scored four times at Hertha Berlin last weekend.
Haaland has also now scored 16 Champions League goals in just 12 appearances — Lionel Messi had two goals and Cristiano Ronaldo none after the same number of appearances.
It appears there is no stopping the 20-year-old and certainly not Cologne, who are second-bottom and still to win after eight Bundesliga games this season.
– Pressure building on Conte –
Sassuolo v Inter Milan, Saturday 1400 GMT
Antonio Conte’s position as Inter coach is looking a little shakier after their 2-0 home loss to Real Madrid on Wednesday left the Nerazzurri looking at a group-stage exit from the Champions League for the third season running.
“If I don’t get to eat my panettone this year it will be because I don’t deserve to,” Conte said on Thursday in reference to the traditional Italian Christmas delicacy. The phrase is often used when a coach is at risk of losing his job.
Inter’s form in Serie A is better but after eight games last season’s runners-up are fifth, five points behind leaders AC Milan and three points behind unbeaten Sassuolo in second.
A defeat this weekend would leave Conte right up against it before his side play for their Champions League lives against Borussia Moenchengladbach.
– All not well at PSG –
Paris Saint-Germain v Bordeaux, Saturday 2000 GMT
PSG are two points clear at the top of Ligue 1 going into their clash with Bordeaux, which they will be expected to win. However the pressure is building on their coach too, with Thomas Tuchel’s team not in a comfortable position in the Champions League either.
They beat RB Leipzig on Tuesday but their performance was poor and a defeat against Manchester United next could leave last season’s runners-up at risk of a group-stage exit.
Tuchel appeared agitated and irritated when he spoke to the media after the Leipzig game and his mood will be scrutinised again on Saturday as PSG look to bounce back from losing their last Ligue 1 outing, 3-2 at Monaco.
– Messi to return for Barcelona? –
Barcelona v Osasuna, Sunday 1300 GMT
Lionel Messi had a midweek off from Champions League duty as he was rested for Barcelona’s 4-0 win at Dynamo Kiev.
That was because Messi needed a break, and also because Barca coach Ronald Koeman needs the Argentine to help turn around their worrying form in La Liga.
They host Osasuna having won just once, and lost three times, in their last six league games to slip to 13th, 12 points behind leaders Real Sociedad albeit with two games in hand.
Another slip-up here would be little short of disastrous for Koeman, who is without defensive talisman Gerard Pique for two months with a knee injury.
– Real Sociedad chase seven in a row –
Real Sociedad v Villarreal, Sunday 2000 GMT
The game of the weekend in La Liga is in San Sebastian as Real Sociedad chase what would be a club record seventh straight league win when they host Villarreal.
La Real are three points clear of Atletico Madrid, albeit having played two games more, and have been inspired by the goals of Mikel Oyarzabal as well as the form of the evergreen David Silva, back in his homeland after a decade at Manchester City.
However Silva is set to miss Villarreal’s visit with a hamstring injury, and Unai Emery’s team will hope to take advantage — they are in good form too, sitting third, four points off the pace.
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