The Big Seven Matches This Weekend

Clubs around the world will be looking to give their fans some Christmas cheer in the final round of fixtures before the holiday.

The upcoming weekend contains plenty of festive treats, including arguably the biggest match in club football when Real Madrid take on Barcelona in the El Grand Classico.

There are also derbies and top-of-the-table tussles in Italy, Australia and Albania, in addition to some mouth-watering fixtures closer to home.

Here, we round up this weekend’s biggest, best and most important matches from across the globe.

Esperance vs. CS Sfaxien
Saturday 4pm

Just 5 points separate second placed CS Sfaxien from Esperance Tunis atop the Tunisian Ligue 1 and two of Tunisia’s biggest teams will face up on Saturday evening with the away side hoping to at least get a result to keep them in the title race going into the second half of the season.

Esperance are unbeaten in the league all season and have won all six games at home, scoring 11 goals and conceding just 1 in the process. They will be hoping to return to winning ways though after slipping to a draw away to Stade Tunis last time out.

CS Sfaxien on the other hand have lost just once in the league and boast the joint second best defence in the league.

Esperance are unbeaten at home against CS Sfaxien in the last 5 meeting between both sides.

Melbourne City vs. Melbourne Victory
Saturday 10.50am

The second Melbourne derby of the A-League season takes place on Saturday, with hosts Melbourne City sitting third and visitors Victory six points further back in fifth.

Melbourne City lead the chasing pack behind the top two in Australia.

Melbourne Victory though have lost just once away from home this season and would fancy their chances in the Derby.

Victory have also not lost in their last three meetings to the AAMI Park.

Real Madrid vs. Barcelona
Saturday 1pm

The first El Clasico of the La Liga season takes place at midday on Saturday, and it is one which could prove to be make-or-break for Real Madrid’s title hopes.

The champions go into the match sitting fourth in the table and with 11 points separating them from leaders Barcelona, a gap which could stretch to a surely-unassailable 14 should they fall to a home defeat at the hands of their fiercest rivals.

Real Madrid do have a game in hand over Barca courtesy of their Club World Cup exploits, where they became the first team to win the trophy in back-to-back years, adding the world crown to their Spanish and European titles from earlier in the year.

Barcelona are well placed to take over at least one of those titles in 2018, though. Ernesto Valverde’s side are unbeaten in their last 24 matches across all competitions – including all 16 of their La Liga outings to help them into a six-point lead at the top of the table.

However, Madrid are the only team to have beaten Barcelona so far this season, doing so home and away in the Spanish Super Cup back in August.

Barcelona have won on their last two La Liga trips to the Bernabeu, though, including a memorable 3-2 triumph in April when Lionel Messi scored a stoppage-time winner with his 500th Barca goal.

Juventus vs. Roma
Saturday, 8.45pm

The Serie A title race is shaping up to be comfortably the most exciting in Europe’s top five leagues, with just four points separating the top four approaching the halfway point of the season.

Two of those top four teams will meet on Saturday when Juventus host Roma, with the defending champions knowing that victory could be enough to leave them in a familiar position at the top of the table at Christmas.

Napoli are currently in the driving seat after Inter Milan fell to their first defeat of the season last weekend, but Juventus are hitting top form at the right time with seven consecutive clean sheets heading into this weekend.

Roma are unbeaten in their last nine Serie A games, though, and have not lost an away game in the top flight since January – a run of 14 games unbeaten which includes 12 wins and two draws.

Roma also have a game in hand over the three teams above them in the table, meaning that victory this weekend could leave them in control of the title race.

However, Roma have never won at the Allianz Stadium, last picking up a league victory away to Juventus in January 2010.

Celta Vigo vs. Deportivo La Coruna
Saturday, 6.30pm

El Clasico is not the only derby taking place in La Liga this weekend, with Celta Vigo also hosting Deportivo La Coruna in the Galician derby.

Saturday evening’s match will not have implications at the top of the table like El Clasico, but rather at the bottom with both clubs looking to steer clear of the relegation zone.

Celta currently enjoy a six-point lead over the bottom three and could even move into the top half with victory, but for their Galician rivals the need for victory is even greater.

Deportivo are only three points clear of the relegation zone having won just one of their last six La Liga outings – including a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Barcelona last weekend.

Celta are not in much better form themselves, though, winning just one of their last five games, and another defeat this weekend would make it three losses on the bounce for the first time this season.

Deportivo have won just one of their last six meetings with Celta, though, including a 1-0 defeat in the corresponding fixture last season.

Crusaders vs. Cliftonville
Tuesday 5pm

Belfast’s ‘other’ derby will also enter its latest chapter on Boxing Day when second-place Crusaders host third-place Cliftonville with both sides in fine form.

Cliftonville are third on the log but are hot on the heels of 2nd placed Crusaders with 21 points from their last 7 premiership matches. A win for the away side will bring them 2 points closer to second place and a shot at the title.

Crusaders on the other hand will be aiming to cut the gap at the top to 3 points with a win at home to their City rivals. Crusaders have lost just once in all competitions since the beginning of September and also boast a healthy head to head record against their visitors with 8 wins in their last 9 meetings.

Glentoran vs. Linfield
Tuesday 5pm

The traditional Boxing Day clash between Northern Ireland’s two most successful clubs takes place on Tuesday when fierce Belfast rivals Glentoran host Linfield with both struggling in mid-table so far this season.

Glentoran have won just two games at home all season scoring a meagre 7 goals – their last win at home coming at the Start of September.

A win for Linfield puts them level on points – with a game in hand – with Cliftonville on third and with 22 goals scores away from home in 10 games and 5 wins in their last 6 league games since the Start of November, they would fancy their chances away to Glentoran

Linfield are unbeaten in this fixture in the last 8 meeting, winning 6 of those.