BY NICK IUELE
English giants Chelsea and Liverpool square off on Sunday in a matchup of two clubs heading in different directions.
Despite conceding first place to Manchester United last weekend, Chelsea are firmly in the top three and will compete for the EPL crown when all is said and done. Liverpool, however, has struggled mightily this term and has been reduced to a mid-table club, far from what their history and talent level suggests they should be. Chelsea is coming off a draw with Swansea and will be looking to regain top form and if the Reds are not ready, it could be a rout.
In Italy, AC Milan play host to Fiorentina on Sunday. Both sides are moving up the table slowly but surely, il Viola having the better position at fifth. Let by youngster Stephan El Shaarawy, Milan is on a three match unbeaten streak and have eyes on making a surge. These clubs are both dangerous when in good form, so this should be an interesting match.
Barcelona will try to hang on to sole possession of the La Liga lead when they play Mallorca this weekend. Although Barca went on a streak of hard fought wins, the last couple weeks have shown their dominant side. Mallorca is no pushover and with Atletico Madrid in their rear view, Messi and Co. will be looking for all three points and to keep their unbeaten record in tact.
Here is a look at the rest of the this weekend’s action in Europe’s top leagues:
Tottenham Hotspur will look to take sole possession of a the fourth Champions League position against title holders Manchester City. Spurs have been in a bit of a rut the last couple weeks, dropping two straight matches, while City is all but done in UCL and settled for a draw last week to West Ham United. Both club will want to find form, quickly.
Newcastle and West Ham United face off in one of the weekend’s more interesting matchups. West Ham is coming off a huge draw with Manchester City and is in ninth place, while Newcastle is in 10th and are unbeaten in their last four matches in all competitions. A win and some help from other clubs puts either side in the Europe conversations.
Here are this weekend’s English Premier League matches:
Arsenal v Fulham
Everton v Sunderland
Reading v Norwich City
Southampton v Swansea City
Stoke City v Queens Park Rangers
Wigan Athletic v West Bromwich Albion
Aston Villa v Manchester United
Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur
Newcastle v West Ham United
Chelsea v Liverpool
Sinking Lazio, who has failed to win in their last four league matches, takes on a Roma club just finding their form. The two clubs are fifth an sixth in the table respectively, and i Lupi can move into the final Europa spot with all three points. Lazio, who was in third position not too long ago, needs to regain form or be left out of European football.
Table-toppers Juventus, coming off their first loss in league play in a season and a half, plays lowly Pescara on Saturday. With Inter being only one point from the top spot, The Old Lady will need a win to keep their lead. Inter plays a Atalanta side they should crush, making three points all the more important for the defending champs.
Here are this weekend’s Serie A matches:
Cagliari v Catania
US Pescara v Juventus
Palermo v Sampdoria
AC Milan v Fiorentina
Chievo Verona v Udinese
Genoa v Napoli
Lazio v AS Roma
Parma v Siena
Torino v Bologna
Atalanta v Inter Milan
Atletico Madrid will take a shot at a tie atop the La Liga table against Getafe. Madrid is coming off their first loss of the season, but are only three points back of Barcelona. Getafe should be an easy win for the club and put extra pressure on Barca to win.
Real Madrid can gain ground on the top two with a win over Levante on Sunday. Madrid has fought their way back into the top three and have eyes on second place. Crisitano Ronaldo’s side as not lost in their last six matches and don’t appear to be in danger of losing this one.
Here are this weekend’s La Liga matches:
Real Betis v Granada
Rayo Vallecano v Celta Vigo
Espanyol v Osasuna
Real Zaragoza v Deportivo La Coruna
Malaga v Real Sociedad
Valladolid v Valencia
Athletic Bilbao v Sevilla FC
Mallorca v Barcelona
Atletico Madrid v Getafe
Levante v Real Madrid
No. 1 takes on No. 3 as table-toppers Bayern Munich plays Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. Both clubs have had success rebounding after a loss this season, with Munich losing only once and Frankfurt just twice. Frankfurt, however, has settled for a draw and lost against lowly opponents the last two rounds. This should be a good match.
Title holders Borussia Dortmund are in need to three points against FC Augsburg after only winning once in their last four league matches. Dortmund is coming off a big UCL draw with Real Madrid and are in respectable fifth place in the Bundesliga. However, if they want to second term in a row with UCL play, they need to step up.
Here’s this weekend’s Bundesliga matches:
Mainz v Nurnberg
Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt
FC Augsburg v Borussia Dortmund
Fortuna Dusseldorf v TSG Hoffenheim
SC Freiburg v Hamburg SV
Schalke 04 v Werder Bremen
VfL Wolfsburg v Bayer Leverkusen
SpVgg Greuther Furth v Borussia Monchengladbach
VfB Stuttgart v Hannover 96
Paris Saint-Germain takes on Montpellier this weekend. PSG is currently tied atop the Ligue 1 table with Marseille. Despite Montpellier’s horrible form this term after last years success, they will still put up a fight. With Marseille going against a average Nice side, PSG would do well to strive for all three points.
Toulouse has a shot of breaking the top three when they take on lowly AC Ajaccio on Saturday. It has been a surprise success story at Toulouse and they are intent on hanging around for the foreseeable future. A loss at the hands of Bordeaux last round hurt them a bit, but this is a perfect rebound match.
Here are this weekend’s Ligue 1 matches:
AS Nancy Lorraine v Stade Rennes
Lille v Brest
Bastia v Valenciennes
St. Etienne v Troyes
Stade de Reims v Evian Thonon Gaillard
Toulouse v AC Ajaccio
Marseille v Nice
Lorient v Bordeaux
Sochaux v Lyon
Montpellier v Paris St.-Germain