The Big Seven Matches This Weekend

Having been treated to some midweek domestic fixtures, normal service will resume around the world of football this weekend as clubs gear up for their first match of December.

Here, we round up the biggest, best and most important contests from all corners of the globe.

Porto vs. Benfica
Friday 9:30pm

The biggest game in Portuguese football, O Classico, pits Porto against Benfica on Friday night with both clubs once again battling it out at the top of the Primeira Liga along with Sporting Lisbon.

Porto currently lead the way having dropped just four points from their opening 12 games, but Benfica are only three points behind and would relish the chance of being the first team to beat their fiercest rivals this season.

Both teams go into the match in decent form, with Porto yet to lose a league game this season and Benfica unbeaten in six, including four consecutive wins during which they have scored 13 goals and conceded just two.

Benfica have not won this fixture since 2014, though, losing two and drawing three of the last five meetings between these two great rivals.

Jubilo Iwata vs. Kashima Antlers
Kawasaki Frontale vs. Omiya Ardija
Both games On Saturday 7:00am

The Japanese J1 season comes to an end in the early hours of Saturday morning with the title still up for grabs. Kashima Antlers currently have a two-point lead over Kawasaki Frontale, meaning that they simply need to match or better Kawasaki’s result, but anything less than a win against fifth-placed Jubilo opens the door. Kawasaki have the better goal difference so would win the title if they beat relegated Omiya Ardija at home and Kashima fail to win.

Besiktas vs Galatasaray
Saturday 5:30pm

It may not be quite on the level of Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahce, but the Besiktas-Galatasaray rivalry is still a fierce one between two of Turkish football’s powerhouses.

The champions find themselves playing catch-up to their Istanbul neighbours so far this season, though, with Galatasaray currently sitting top of the table and six points clear of Besiktas.

Galatasaray have lost two of their last four league games and picked up only seven points from the last 15 on offer having collected 19 of the first 21 available, so their form is certainly on the slide.

Besiktas are unbeaten in their last four league meetings between the two sides and could inflict a third consecutive away league defeat on Galatasaray this weekend.

Arsenal vs. Manchester United
Saturday 6:30pm

The defining rivalry of the Premier League era will enter its latest chapter on Saturday evening when Arsenal host Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium, with both sides currently sitting in the top four.

The fixture is not quite at the levels of its Vieira vs. Keane heyday, but there is still plenty of animosity from both sides – not least between old managerial rivals Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho.

Arsenal currently sit two places and four points behind United, but Wednesday night’s 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town – a team United have already lost to this season – made it three Premier League victories in a row without conceding a goal.

All of United’s dropped points so far this season have come on the road, including three defeats in their last five away games across all competitions, whereas Arsenal have won their last 12 Premier League home games, including all seven so far this season.

The Gunners have won their last two home games against United without conceding a goal too, and in all competitions they have lost just one of their last six meetings with their old foes.

Saint-Etienne vs. Nantes
Sunday 3:00pm

These two sides dominated French football between 1963 and 1983, winning 15 of the 20 titles on offer during that time and building a rivalry based on each other’s success.

Sunday’s hosts are closer to battling relegation than they are to challenging for the title this season having picked up only two points from their last six Ligue 1 outings to leave themselves only four points clear of the bottom three.

Nantes are seven points better off and only three adrift of the Champions League spots, but they also go into the game in shaky form having lost four of their last six outings across all competitions.

Both matches last season ended as draws, but you have to go back to 2000 for Nantes’ last away win over Saint-Etienne.

Alianza Lima vs. Comerciantes Unidos
Sunday 10:00pm

As many as four teams could be in contention to finish top on the final day of the Clausura stage of the season in Peru on Sunday, but it is all in Alianza Lima’s hands and victory would be enough for them to clinch the title regardless of what happens elsewhere.

Alianza Lima have won all seven games at home this season, conceding only twice while Comerciantes have not won on any away ground.

Alianza have won only twice against the visitors in their last seven meetings though, including two draws in the last two.

Birmingham City vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Monday 8:45pm

It may not be the fiercest Midlands derby out there, but there is no love lost between Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers, and this Monday night showdown is sure to be a highly-charged affair.

The form book certainly points at a Wolves victory; they have won eight of their last nine Championship games including their last five in a row, and another triumph on Monday would make for their best run since November 2008.

Birmingham, by contrast, have only won one of their last seven outings – although at home they have lost only one of their last five games and have kept clean sheets in the remaining four.

Wolves have won on their last two visits to St Andrew’s, although the most recent contest between the two sides ended in victory for Birmingham at Molineux in February.