Derby matches, top-of-the-table encounters and cup finals. There’s not much more we could really ask for from this weekend if we’re being honest!
All kick offs are in Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Lazio vs. Roma
Friday, January 15, 2:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+
There’s a showdown in the Eternal City on Friday night to ignite this weekend of high-class action, with Lazio and Roma going head-to-head at the Stadio Olimpico.
While it was Lazio who emerged as serious contenders for the Scudetto last season, this term it’s the turn of Roma. Their hopes were checked a little last weekend after a thrilling 2-2 draw with Inter Milan, although they’re still just six points back on leaders AC Milan and manager Paulo Fonseca has the Giallorossi playing some thrilling football.
Lazio found it hard to get going in the early weeks of the season, although with seven points from the last nine available there are some signs that Simone Inzaghi’s team are rediscovering the levels of 2019-20. Win here and they’d only be three points behind their bitter rivals.
The Derby della Capitale is one of the fixtures in Europe that suffers most from the lack of supporters, who typically provide a colorful and raucous backdrop. But with a lot at stake under the Olimpico floodlights, this encounter should be one to savour for those watching on around the world.
Ajax vs. Feyenoord
Sunday, January 17, 10:45 a.m. ET, ESPN+
Like so many of European football’s biggest leagues, the Dutch top flight has a tight title race this season. Ajax and Feyenoord are both in the fight.
Even though there’s still plenty to play for in the Eredivisie, Ajax are the big favorites to finish top of the pile again after a big win on Thursday. They were locked 1-1 with Twente going into the final minute of their match, before veteran forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored in the 90th and 91st minute to put the Amsterdam club three points clear at the top.
It’s Feyenoord who are in closest proximity to Ajax going into the weekend and boasting the division’s best defensive record, they’ll be confident of coming away from the capital with a result.
With just one loss in the league this season, Dick Advocaat’s side will undoubtedly be a tough nut to crack. Where they may struggle on Sunday and for the remainder of the season is finding to find the firepower to match that of their big rivals.
Liverpool vs. Manchester United
Sunday, January 17, 11:30 a.m. ET, Peacock Premium (free trial)
Anfield will play host to the biggest game in the Premier League so far this season on Sunday, with Manchester United heading to Liverpool as the division leaders.
When Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side hammered Crystal Palace 7-0 in December, there was a sense of inevitability that they would waltz away with the title. However, they’ve run into trouble in recent weeks, suffering a loss to Southampton on the back of successive frustrating draws against West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United.
Although it wouldn’t be a catastrophe for the Red Devils if they were to lose on Sunday, if they could take three points from Anfield it’d be a big statement. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been able to get a tune out of the United players and has shrewdly rotated what is arguably the deepest squad in the division at the moment.
Liverpool have typically saved their best for these fixtures in recent years and while they have injuries in defence, it’d be a shock if they didn’t turn in a strong performance. It’ll be intriguing to see if this new version of United can keep pace with them and potentially push clear at the summit.
Inter Milan vs. Juventus
Sunday, January 17, 2:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+
After one of the biggest city derbies in Italy on Friday night, it’s the Derby d’Italia on Sunday, when Inter Milan will welcome defending champions Juventus to the San Siro.
It promises to be one of the most crucial matches in years between these great rivals. Juventus are clinging on in the fight for the Italian top-flight title, with seven points between them and AC Milan, who have played a game more. A win for Inter, who are four clear of the Bianconeri, would potentially put the holders out of the race.
Inter thrust themselves into contention with a string of six wins in a row over the festive period, but Antonio Conte has watched his team toil a little since then. Against Roma last weekend, they were able to carve out a number of opportunities despite having less of the ball; Conte will be concerned with the defensive frailties the team has showcased as of late though.
Juventus were 3-1 winners over Sassuolo last time out, although it took them a while to click into gear. Having given themselves hope in the Scudetto fight with a win at the San Siro against AC Milan recently, Andrea Pirlo will be looking to his big players to come to the fore again in a huge fixture.
Barcelona vs. Athletic Club
The Spanish Super Cup final takes place on Sunday, with Barcelona and Athletic Club meeting after a pair of thrilling semi-finals.
The Blaugrana needed penalties to eventually overcome Real Sociedad, with the teams locked at 1-1 beforehand. Manager Ronald Koeman would’ve been pleased to see his players prevail in such a high-pressure scenario without their talisman Lionel Messi; the iconic forward looks set to be fit for Sunday’s showpiece too.
In the other semi there was a shock, as the Basque giants were able to overcome Real Madrid 2-1. New manager Marcelino would have been delighted with the aggression and intensity his players showed, with Raul Garcia’s first-half brace putting the team in a strong position; Lois Blancos, despite the best efforts of Karim Benzema, were unable to recover.
The Estadio La Cartuja in Seville will host the final and with the running track around the outside and 60,000 empty seats, the atmosphere may be eerie for the players. Even so, there’s enough quality in both of these squads to give what’s been an intriguing mini-competition a memorable conclusion.
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