The major leagues across Europe went on a two-week break due to the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Action returns starting from Friday and Dami Ugbane does a preview of the key games across England, Germany, Italy and France.
Liverpool and Manchester United set the stage for the Premier League weekend action on matchday 8. Jurgen Klopp has a better head-head record against Jose Mourinho and will aim to take advantage of that trend in spite of the injury enforced absence of Sadio Mane. Romelu Lukaku is in terrific form for Manchester United, netting for Belgium midweek, but international compatriot Marouane Fellaini misses out on this. Games between the pair over the past couple of seasons have defied the form guide, and considering the game is being played at Anfield, we expect Liverpool to get something from the tie, because they will never walk alone.
Crystal Palace hosts an injury ravaged Chelsea team who are missing key personnel through injury. N’Golo Kante suffered a hamstring injury over the weekend, which is set to see the French international side-lined over the next couple of weeks. Added to the absence of Alvaro Morata in attack, Chelsea do not appear to be at their very best, but should expectedly preserve their perfect away record against a team who are scoreless, winless and pointless.
Jupp Heynckes makes yet another return to Bayern Munich in interim capacity. The experienced German manager whose last season at the Bavarian giants ended in a treble triumph will look to kick-start the champions’ season against Freiburg. Javier Martinez could become one of the major beneficiaries of Heynckes short stint in-charge of Bayern, while James Rodriguez has been promised all the support he requires to succeed by the new gaffer. With Carlo Ancelotti shown the exit door, Freiburg shouldn’t be much of a problem for a team oozing class in every department.
League leaders Borussia Dortmund are home to last season’s surprise package RB Leipzig. The visitors are in fourth-place but have found life difficult in their second topflight season, failing to measure up to last terms standard. Dortmund have scored goals for fun in the Bundesliga this season and we shouldn’t expect anything asides a comprehensive home win, though the away side could chip in with a goal of theirs.
Champions Juventus are home to Lazio in a repeat of the Italian Super Cup which saw the Rome-based team emerge victorious two months ago. Juventus haven’t been as clinical and fearsome as in recent seasons, hence their second-place position. Paulo Dybala should be available for Juventus following his international involvement with Argentina and will obviously be decisive, likewise Ciro Immobile of Lazio who could attempt to spoil the fun for Massimiliano Allegri’s team.
Roma takes on Napoli at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night in a game which promises to produce lots of goals. League leaders Napoli have clearly been the best team in the division this season, aided by the goals and magical performances of Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne, they should provide a stiff challenge to a Roma side that have blown hot-and-cold this season.
The first Milan derby of the season takes place on Sunday between Inter Milan and AC Milan. Third-place Inter Milan appears to be in better form ahead of this clash with an inconsistent seventh-place AC Milan who have struggled for results despite their heavy summer recruitment. Luciano Spalletti has revived the fortunes of Inter Milan and they should be no stopping the Nerazzurri from bagging maximum points against the Rossoneri in this historically fierce derby.
Lyon and Monaco kickoff Ligue 1 action on Friday night at the Stade de Lyon. Both teams are separated by six points, with second-place Monaco having a better season in comparism to eight-place Lyon who at some point were league leaders but have dropped off the radar. Coach Leonardo Jardim must decide if he is to hand Radamel Falcao a start following the Colombians long travels from South America. Stefan Jovetic was injured on international duty with Montenegro, thus opening the door for the underutilised Keita Balde to make the lineup.
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