We’re on the brink of a big weekend across European football, with more clarity to come on the destination of silverware and Champions League spots.
Coming up are two cracking games from the Premier League, another two from La Liga and a vital showdown in Serie A.
All kick offs are Eastern time. Enjoy your weekend and enjoy the games!
Manchester City vs. West Ham United
It’ll be West Ham’s turn to attempt to stop the Manchester City juggernaut on Saturday, as first meets fourth to begin a new Premier League weekend.
After their routine win over Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League on Wednesday, it’s now 19 victories in a row for Pep Guardiola’s imperious side. A 20th success in succession would put them 13 points clear of Manchester United and Leicester City, who each have testing matches this weekend.
West Ham can go into this match knowing the pressure is off, although they will be hopeful of getting something from the Etihad Stadium having enjoyed a remarkable campaign. They are currently well in the hunt for a Champions League spot, with David Moyes team defying the pre-season concerns over a possible relegation battle.
After playing Wednesday night, City might be a little bit jaded for the early kick off. However, Guardiola is close to having a fully-fit squad to call upon and even if he does rotate his side, the drop-off in quality will be minimal.
Sevilla vs. Barcelona
The two most in-form sides in La Liga go head-to-head in Andalusia on Saturday, with Sevilla hosting Barcelona at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Although both teams recently suffered disappointing home losses in the Champions League, domestically they’ve found things a lot easier. Sevilla are on the hunt for what would be a seventh win in succession—three points here would take them above Barcelona— while their visitors are now on a 14-game run without a loss.
Barcelona won’t feel totally out of the title race yet, as they’re only five points off Atletico Madrid, who still have a game in hand. However, there’s still a feeling that a poor result isn’t too far away for this team, as was the case when they were well beaten 4-1 at the Camp Nou by Paris Saint-Germain.
Sevilla also have positive recent memories of playing Barcelona, winning 2-0 in the recent first-leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final. Saturday’s clash will actually be the first of two meetings in quick succession for these two outfits, with the second leg of that encounter to be played on Wednesday.
Chelsea vs. Manchester United
Chelsea can thrust themselves back into major contention for the top four on Sunday, when second-place United visit Stamford Bridge.
Overall it’s been a brilliant start to life with the Blues for Thomas Tuchel. Having won four and drawn one of their five Premier League matches with him at the helm, they produced their best performance of his short tenure on Tuesday, winning 1-0 against Atletico Madrid; the Premier League side were in complete control against the La Liga pace-setters.
United should be the fresher of the two teams on Sunday, as they were able to rest a number of players for their Europa League second leg with Real Sociedad. Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will hope the break for some key men can give them an edge, as they’ve been a little inconsistent in recent weeks.
When the two sides met earlier in the campaign they played out a cagey 0-0 draw. But with United seeking to keep pace with City and Chelsea much improved since their change of manager, the return fixture in the capital should be a lot more watchable.
Roma vs. Milan
Sunday, February 28, 2:45 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Back-to-back losses in Serie A for Milan have seen them surrender top spot to Inter and they need a performance on Sunday to ensure they stay in contention for the Scudetto.
Last week, Milan were hammered 3-0 by their city rivals and didn’t resemble the team that has led the way for so long in the Italian top flight this term. While they remain in second place, with Inter up against Genoa earlier in the day at San Siro, there’s every chance the deficit could be extended come kick off.
Any slender hopes Roma had earlier in the season of winning the title have faded lately, with Paulo Fonseca’s team lacking the consistency needed to keep pace with the elite sides. However, they remain in the top four going into this weekend and on home soil they have been excellent this term, boasting the best home record in the division.
There’s a precedent for these two teams playing out thrilling matches too. At San Siro, the two were involved in a thrilling 3-3 draw.
Villarreal vs. Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid are currently enduring their first major wobble of the 2020-21 season, making this clash with Villarreal a crucial one to keep their domestic season on track.
Atletico have been beset by injury issues recently, as well as a Covid-19 outbreak in the squad. Nevertheless, manager Diego Simeone would’ve wanted to see more from his players against Chelsea in the Champions League and last weekend when they were beaten 2-0 by Levante.
The Levante slip-up allowed Real Madrid to cut down the deficit to their local rivals at the top of the table, with Atletico’s lead now only three points, albeit with a game in hand. Simeone will be desperate to keep the champions at arm’s length, as they have the experience his Atletico team lack when it comes to La Liga pushes.
Villarreal away is traditionally one of the toughest La Liga fixtures, but this may be a good time for Atletico to take them on. They may sit in sixth going into the weekend, although Unai Emery’s team are on a six-game run without a win.
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