Domestic football resumes this weekend after a very interesting midweek of European football that saw teams like Manchester United and Arsenal lose away to lesser sides while Liverpool threw away a 3-goal lead and PSG ran riot at the Parc de Princes.
Two of England’s biggest clubs face each other while the top two teams in France and Spain Square up for points. The biggest rivalry in German football also enters a new chapter this weekend as the Copa Libertadores also reaches a climax.
Here are the seven biggest matches of this weekend:
Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke 04
Bayern Munich may have been the dominant force in German football down the years, but the biggest rivalry is between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04.
Just 20 miles separate Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen, meaning that this Ruhr derby carries all the intensity and associated bragging rights of a local rivalry.
Domenico Tedesco’s side are second in the Bundesliga table behind only Bayern Munich, and they make the short trip to the Westfalenstadion as the form team too, having gone seven games unbeaten across all competitions, including five wins.
Dortmund, by contrast, are without a win in their last five competitive fixtures and their only victory in any competition since September came against third-tier Magdeburg in the DFB-Pokal.
Schalke have not won any of the last five meetings between these two sides, though, and you have to go back to 2012 for their last triumph at Signal-Iduna Park.
Liverpool vs Chelsea
Liverpool will need to bounce back from their midweek collapse against Sevilla in which they squandered a commanding 3-0 lead at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, conceding a last-minute equaliser to only come away from the match with a share of the spoils. Chelsea had no such troubles as they recorded a second consecutive away 4-0 win over Qarabag.
The Reds are unbeaten in front of their own fans in nine matches this season, winning each of the last three by a three-goal margin and keeping four clean sheets on the bounce.
Chelsea will be out for revenge having lost on their own patch against Liverpool last season, but they have not beaten the Reds inside normal time in the last seven competitive meetings between the two sides – stretching back to November 2014.
Racing vs Independiente
This match is second only to the Superclassico between River Plate and Boca Juniors in terms of fierce Argentine rivalries and this episode is sure the get Buenos Aires football faithfuls on its feet once more.
The third and fourth most successful teams in Argentina’s history, both clubs have been through a relatively fallow period in recent years, with Racing’s 2014 title the first either had lifted since Independiente in 2002.
Racing have won just two of their last 11 outings in all competitions and find themselves 16th in the table with only 12 points from their opening nine games while Independiente are eight places and three points better off and have lost just one of their last eight games in all competitions, although that did come in their most recent outing and they have only won once at the home of their fiercest rivals since 2009.
Dinamo Tbilisi vs. Torpedo Kutaisi
Not the most glamorous fixture of the weekend, but perhaps the most important. The top two in Georgia face each on the final day of the season with both still in with a chance of winning the title. Tbilisi simply need to avoid defeat to lift the title, but victory for Kutaisi would be enough to hand them their first league crown since 2001-02.
Tbilisi are unbeaten in their last 7 games against their visitors in all competitions but the visitors also have only lost one game since the start of September.
Valencia vs Barcelona
La Liga’s top two go head to head on Sunday evening in a battle between two sides in fine form – including one surprise package in the Spanish top flight this season.
After back-to-back 12th-place finishes in the past two campaigns, Valencia have done their best to keep pace with the leaders so far and have dropped just six points all season to establish themselves as Barca’s closest challengers.
A remarkable run of nine consecutive wins across all competitions and 13 games unbeaten all season has helped to lift Marcelino’s side six points clear of both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, and eight above fifth-placed Sevilla.
Even so, Sunday’s hosts remain four points adrift of Barcelona, who themselves have dropped only two points from their opening 12 games, with those coming on their first ever visit to Atletico’s new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
The Blaugrana remain unbeaten since their back-to-back Super Cup defeats at the hands of Real Madrid, winning 15 of their 18 matches across all competitions in the meantime.
Barca have also only lost two of their last 23 matches against Valencia across all competitions, and you have to go back more than a decade to February 2007 for Valencia’s last home league win over Sunday’s opponents.
Monaco vs PSG
Last season’s top two and the Ligue 1 frontrunners this time around too, Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain have developed a rivalry in recent years simply because they have been the two best teams in French football.
PSG arrive at the Stade Louis II in stunning form having not lost since April, going 19 matches unbeaten this season alone and scoring 69 goals along the way – a staggering average of more than 3.6 goals per game.
The last three fixtures between the two sides have all ended in victory for PSG too, although Monaco are unbeaten in the last three league meetings.
Lanus vs Gremio
We will have to wait a little bit longer for this match, but it should be worth the wait as Lanus host Gremio in the biggest match in South American football.
Thursday morning sees the final of the Copa Libertadores come to its conclusion, and it is the Brazilian outfit Gremio who go into the second leg with a slight advantage over their Argentine rivals.
Cicero’s 83rd-minute goal off the bench gave Gremio a 1-0 win in the first leg earlier this week, and they must now look to defend that at the Estadio Ciudad de Lanus if they are to lift the title for the first time since 1995.
Doing so would put Gremio level with Sao Paulo and Santos as the most successful Brazilian clubs in the competition’s history with three titles apiece, whereas Lanus had never even made it to the final before this year.
Other Matches to watch
Barnsley vs. Leeds United
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Crystal Palace
Olimpik Donetsk vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Zeljeznicar Sarajevo vs. Sarajevo
Spartak Moscow vs. Zenit St Petersburg