Written by Nic Dusabe
As the English leagues prepare for the busy festive period of none stop football throughout the holidays, the European clubs around the continent are aiming for a strong run before the envied winter break comes along.
For the upcoming match week I’ve compiled a preview of must watch games from four of the top five leagues across Europe.
OGC Nice (1st) vs Toulouse (8th) – Ligue 1
Surprise packages of the season, Nice, will go into the game at the Allianz Riviera as favourites looking to stay ahead of financial giants Paris Saint Germain & Monaco.
A consistent league campaign has distracted the Les Aiglons faithful from their abysmal Europa League campaign – which they’ve claimed only 3 points out of a possible 15 – the hopes of an easy game are dismissed when they come up against a Toulouse side who know a win can potentially take them into a top four position.
With Mario Balotelli out, Nice will continue to look at former league champion during his time at Montpellier, Younes Belhanda, to lead them to victory in a similar fashion as he did against Guingamp. Toulouse are still without attacking midfielder Oscar Trejo, but apart from the Argentine there are no new injuries.
Borussia Dortmund (7th) vs Borussia Monchengladbach (13th) – Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund’s stop and start season is going to have to come to an end if any hopes of an 8th league title are to materialise. The same stance applies for the visiting side too – you could say that both teams are in a false position regarding the ability of the two squads.
Both teams go into this game having failed to win their last Bundesliga game. After the loss against Frankfurt, Dortmund are happy to welcome back almost a fully fit squad to choose from – first choice goalkeeper Roman Burki is still not recovered from his hand fracture. Gladbach have had Ibrahima Traore recently side-lined, adding to an ever-growing list.
Lazio (4th) vs Roma (2nd) – Seria A
This season’s first edition of ‘Derby Della Capitale’ is among us, and it has all the potential makings to be a classic. If there’s one game that has all the ingredients to eclipse the ‘El Clasico’ & Manchester City vs Chelsea…it’s this one.
Both teams come flying into this fixture looking to chase down Juventus in the title race. Roma have won six out of their last nine, topping the league’s scoring charts in the process. Whilst Lazio, only 1 point behind them, have the exact same record over the last nine matches. This game is a must watch this weekend.
Injury wise Roma have had awful news: Kostas Manolas, Mohamed Salah, Stephan El Shaarawy, Leandro Paredes and Alessandro Florenzi all missing through injury. Tough luck, but talisman Edin Dzeko is in deadly form. Lazio are fully fit for the Rome derby.
Barcelona (2nd) vs Real Madrid (1st) – La Liga
Pique vs Ramos, Iniesta vs Modric, Messi vs Ronaldo, Nike vs Adidas, Catalonia vs mainland Spain…Barcelona vs Real Madrid – El Clasico!
Wherever your own personal allegiances ally you look forward to this game as if it’s your own club’s derby, this single fixture has it all: the players to excite, the European cup winning managers and the rich history.
Los Blancos roll into the Catalan capital as favourites after accumulating an unbeaten streak that stretches back to April, scoring an impressive 92 goals in the process. Barcelona have the chance to close the gap at the top down to three points; with an inform Messi on the pitch anything is possible.
The Blaugrana’s chances have took a major upturn with Andres Iniesta expected to be coming back into the line-up, with the only serious doubt for the game being backup defender, Jeremy Mathieu. In the other dressing room are bigger problems; ‘galacticos’ Toni Kroos & Gareth Bale are both ruled out of the Camp Nou showdown on Saturday.
What game are you looking forward to watching the most? What are your predictions? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by fredo