Man United vs Liverpool and the Milan derby herald EPL’s return
The penultimate international break for the year has come and gone and we have seen a lot more teams book their tickets to Russia. Now our attention will shift to club football, which makes its return with a bang as there will be a host of exciting fixtures across Europe this weekend. I’m here to tell you what to expect across England, Spain and Italy.
Liverpool vs Manchester United
The Reds will welcome the Red Devils to Anfield this weekend with just one thing on their mind: deflate the arch-rivals momentum and bring them down to earth from their high-flying start to the season! Manchester United have been on a roll in the league this season, picking up 19 points from a possible 21, scoring 21 goals and conceding just two. By this, they have corrected the anomaly of last season where they failed to convert the numerous chances they created.
Jurgen Klopp’s boys have been inconsistent this season. They whooped Arsenal, got battered by Manchester City, and have dropped easy points against the likes of Burnley and Newcastle after being held to draws. They are seven points behind Manchester United and would like to cut into that lead with a victory. This game can be said to be Manchester United’s first real test of the season and a positive result for the Mancunians will boost their morale and make them affirm their belief that they can go all the way and win their first league title in the post-Fergusson era.
Liverpool suffered a huge loss during the international break as they lost one of their most influential forward players in the form of Saido Mane, while Dejan Lovren is still a doubt and Ragnar Klavan might have to step into partner Joel Matip. Manchester United also lost an influential player during the break as Marouane Fellaini picked up a knee injury while playing for Belgium and will be out for at least three weeks, while Paul Pogba is still out with a hamstring and Michael Carrick is a doubt, so it seems certain that Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera will start this game. An injury forced Phil Jones to withdraw from the England squad at the start of the international break and he remains a doubt for this game. Manchester United have failed to score on their last two visits to Anfield and will definitely want to end that statistic this weekend.
INTER MILAN vs. AC MILAN.
There are three marquee matchups in the Serie A this weekend; Juventus hosts Lazio, while Napoli will face Roma at the capital. These are ‘big’ games by all means, but they both pale in comparison to the Milan derby. The first Milan derby of the season takes place this weekend between Inter Milan and AC Milan. The Rossoneri spent over a hundred and sixty million Euros to get players and their fans would have been hopeful of a quick turnaround in fortunes from their last few Serie A campaigns, but with just seven games into the new season, it seems like Vincenzo Montella’s side won’t be challenging for the title, at least based on the form they’ve shown so far.
They have already lost against every competent team they have faced this season, losing at home to Roma and away to Sampdoria and Lazio, which has seen them nine points behind the leaders already. Inter Milan are in better form ahead of this clash as Luciano Spalletti has revived the fortunes of the Nerazzurri and they will be the favourites going into this tie. They are unbeaten in the league with six wins and one draw, their best start to a Serie A season in fifteen years.
Marcelo Brozovic is a casualty of the international break and will not be available for Inter after getting injured while playing for Croatia, while Hakan Calhanoglu is suspended for Milan and will not feature in this derby, which will make way for either Suso or Giacomo Bonaventura. This game promises to be very intense and one to watch out for.
AAtleico vs Barcelona
Barcelona will travel to the capital this weekend to take on Atletico Madrid at their new home ground Estadio Wanda Metropolitano for the first time ever. Off the pitch, the timing of this match couldn’t have been worse than this period with the current political situation in Spain right now, which is stemming from the Catalan referendum crisis; however I’ll only be focusing on what we should expect on the pitch and try to stay away from the politics off it.
The Blaugrana have a perfect record in the La Liga so far and that will be put to some serious test when they come up against Atleti. Diego Simeone’s team does have a perfect record of their own albeit at home as they have won all their home matches, however, they are also very difficult to break down or defeat as they are yet to lose a match in the league this season, having conceded just four goals in seven matches already played. Barcelona might have a perfect record, but if you look at the opponents they have come up against so far this season, you wouldn’t be wrong if you say that they haven’t really been tested, this game is expected to provide that test for them. Andres Iniesta has a knock but should start, while Nelson Semedo and Sergi Roberto will battle it out to feature at right-back for the away side for the Catalans.
Croatian defender Sime Vrsaljko picked up a knock on international duty and will be a doubt for Los Colchoneros. This game might be very dangerous for Atleti as they will be facing a red-hot Leo Messi, whose hat-trick sent Argentina to the World Cup during the week and we are all aware of how the Argentine can single-handedly devastate his opponents when he’s banging on form.
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