Another International football week comes to an end with participants at the next World Cup clearer to all, a much better International football week across the world. However, nothing beats the thrill of club football and we all cannot wait. As is our tradition on Halftimeng.com; we take a trip across Europe and take a look at all the big and mouthwatering fixtures to look forward to this weekend.
There’s no better way to start a weekend than to get things going from Friday Night; we take a trip to cold Russia for one of the big games of the season; Zenit Saint Petersburg welcome CSKA Moscow in top of the table clash; Zenit go into this fixture as clear favorites with five wins from the last five games as against CSKA’s poor showing of just one victory from their last five games; clearly the signs are clear that Zenit are on the verge of another title.
Italy is our next stop with two big games to savor; table topping and undefeated Roma welcome the Azzurri (Napoli) to the Stadio Olimpico in the Derby-del-Sole. Both teams are considered as teams that could push Juve all the way, however surprising that Roma are in this equation has to do with the great work Rudi Garcia is doing there and the great additions they have made despite the loss of Pablo Osvaldo and Marquinhos. Roma are a team playing with a lot of freedom to express themselves at the same time with defensive solidity from Benatia in defense and the presence of Kevin Strootman alongside De Rossi in front of the back four. Napoli under Rafa Benitez spent well during the summer and have applied themselves creditably asides the draw against Sassuolo which seemed more like a loss. The Luxury of been able to chop and change gives Rafa Benitez multiple game plans to execute, this promises to be a great game, but has the semblance of a draw written all over it. In Florence, the Old Lady pays a not so welcome visit to the Viola; who interestingly may be suffering from the breakup of the promising partnershipMario Gomez and Guiseppe Rossiwhich culminated to a loss of form for the Viola, with only a win in their last five games as against a Juve Team who seem to be growing with each game and are in good form of four wins in their last five. Fiorentina would go into this with a nothing to lose mentality and it would be good to see how Juventus cope without Arturo Vidal, who is a major doubt for the game.
In Germany, Dortmund are still smarting from their defeat to Monchenglabach last time out, in comes Hannover to probably face a back lash. Dortmund have a very good record against Hannover, taking 13 from 15points in their last 5 games against Hannover. Dortmund are the top scoring side in the Bundesliga, averaging more than two goals every game and are probably playing the best football in Europe currently; Hannover on the other hand have only kept a clean sheet once in the last 39 times they have faced the black and yellows; all the stats point to a Dortmund win.
In Spain, Real Madrid welcome former manager Bernd Schuster’s Malaga side, who seem to be the Jekyll and Hyde team of La Liga, score a bag full of goals one week, lose the following week. Real will look to welcome Gareth Bale back into the squad after an injury lay off, but then the Los Blancos have done reasonably well without him even though the loss to Athletico Madrid and the struggle against Levante may paint a different picture.
Finally in England, a couple of years ago this may have been consider a really big deal due to some interesting 4-3 results back to back; nowadays Liverpool and Newcastle seem to be having a game of Musical chairs as both teams seem to always change positions on the table. This season, Liverpool have looked like Title contenders, whilst Newcastle seem keen to outdo their performance from last season with another relegation battle, although there seems to be some improvements lately especially with the goal scoring exploits of Loic Remy. Liverpool will go in as favorites, but I would not be surprised if a draw is the eventual outcome.
Upset of the weekend
Malaga to take a point at the Bernabeu
Chelsea over Cardiff
Key Battle of the weekend
Kevin Strootman v Gorkhan Inler
Highlight of the weekend
An epic battle at the Olimpico