With the inaugural winter break underway in England’s top flight, there will be many anxious football fans worrying about what exactly they can fill their time with over the coming days.
Well, there are in fact some cracking contests coming up this weekend.
Top-of-the table clashes around Europe? Yep. Classic derbies? Indeed. Hugely important games for underperforming European heavyweights? Most definitely.
So, sit back, relax, and let’s guide you through our selection of six unmissable fixtures that kick off throughout the weekend:
Internazionale vs AC Milan
When?: Sunday 19:45.
Where?: San Siro.
The Milan Derby remains one of the greatest spectacles in European football and is always of importance to both sides.
Inter currently sit second in Serie A, just three points behind league leaders Juventus. The Rossoneri, in contrast, are eighth, some 19 points off their arch-rivals. However, an away win could take them up to sixth, just four points off Serie A’s top four (depending on other results).
When the sides met earlier in the season, the Nerazzurri recorded a 2-0 victory, with Romelu Lukaku scoring on his maiden derby appearance.
Bayern Munich vs RB Leipzig
When?: Sunday 17:00.
Where?: Allianz Arena.
The Bundesliga’s top two come head to head on Sunday afternoon in what promises to be an enthralling contest. Bayern, who sit in first, one point above Leipzig, know that victory will leave them four points clear of their closest title-rivals.
Yet, if Leipzig can win at the Allianz Arena, they will finish the weekend as Bundesliga leaders. However, Julian Nagelsmann’s side have been poor of late, having crashed out of the DFB Pokal in midweek, and failing to win their previous two league fixtures.
Bayern, in contrast, are in excellent form, having won their last five league matches. They have also been in frightening form going forward, scoring 16 times in their last four fixtures in all competitions. Robert Lewandowski, the league’s top scorer with 22 goals, and fellow forward Thomas Muller have both found the back of the net in four consecutive games.
Leipzig, however, will hope their own attacking weapon – the lethal Timo Werner, who has scored 20 times this campaign – can fire RBL to victory.
Paris Saint-Germain vs Lyon
When?: Sunday 20:00.
Where?: Parc des Princes.
Even if PSG are 12 points clear at the top of Ligue 1, and Lyon are some 25 points off of the Parisian side, this is a clash that always lives up to the hype.
Earlier in the season, the two sides engaged in an exceedingly tight contest, and it took a sensational solo effort from Neymar late on to secure a 1-0 victory at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.
In any case, PSG have won six on the bounce in all competitions, while Lyon have drawn, and lost their most recent two fixtures. But, Les Gones tend to turn it up an extra gear when facing the French champions. Sunday ought to be no different.
Manchester City vs West Ham
When?: Sunday 16:30.
Where?: Etihad Stadium.
This one is tasty for different reasons. Not necessarily a classic rivalry, no, but both sides are in desperate need of a win. City have lost consecutive games to Tottenham, and Manchester United in the Carabao Cup, while the Hammers are winless in five – having slipped into the relegation zone after their 3-3 draw with Brighton last weekend.
Even though City’s title hopes are all but over, Guardiola will not stand for anything other than a convincing victory on Sunday. As for West Ham, well, David Moyes will be praying that by some miracle, his side can return to London on Sunday night with something to show for their troubles.
Real Betis vs Barcelona
When?: Sunday 20:00.
Where?: Benito Villamarin.
The Catalan giants have had a week to forget. Lionel Messi is perhaps the unhappiest he has ever been at the club, following a public dispute with his former teammate, and current Barca Sporting Director, Eric Abidal.
As a result, speculation has emerged that the upcoming summer is the most likely it’s ever been for the Argentine to leave the Catalan giants.
As well as that, Barca were dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Athletic Bilbao on Thursday evening. Oh, and Ousmane Dembele suffered another serious muscle injury, and joins Luis Suarez on the treatment table.
So yeah, not great.
Messi and co. are in desperate need of a win on Sunday, especially considering they have fallen to second in La Liga behind rivals Real Madrid. A win would go a small way to lifting the spirits in Catalonia.
Bayer Leverkusen vs Borussia Dortmund
When?: Saturday 17:30.
Borussia Dortmund know a win on Saturday would well and truly blow the Bundesliga wide open, with it likely that one of Leipzig or Bayern (or both) will drop points when they meet on Sunday.
Their opponents, Bayer Leverkusen, sit in fifth and know a victory would close the gap between them and their visitors to just two points.
Due to the recent form of new teenage sensation Erling Haaland, Dortmund will be considered heavy favourites here.
As well as netting in Dortmund’s midweek DFB fixture against Werder Bremen, he has scored seven times from just seven shots. He’s played just 136 minutes of football – that’s an average of a goal every 19 minutes. Unbelievable.
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