Five games to watch this weekend

Ian KINGTON / AFP

With the top two teams separated by four points, the Serie A does head the top five Leagues in Europe as the most competitive. Three superpower fixtures including the Derby della Madonnina ensures the Serie A holds our gaze. There’s a top of the table clash in Spain which could pose a watershed moment while City host Chelsea in an almost sewn Premier League.  Here are the top five fixtures to watch this weekend:

Manchester City vs Chelsea

City look unstoppable in the Premier League with 16 points above the closest challenger. Chelsea on the other hand, have had topsy-turvy and are currently outside Champions League qualifying places. There could be a bit of strain on Guardiola’s men physically especially after their game on Thursday against Arsenal but this side look supremely excellent and have shown no signs of slowing down. Their ruthlessness, direct running and technical superiority will once again be on show as they take on Chelsea. Antonio Conte’s men did win last time they visited the Etihad but they are currently not on the same level they were last season. Chelsea have just on win in their last four games.

Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid

With five points between table-toppers Barcelona and their opponents, Atletico Madrid, the tie between the top two teams in Spain could have huge ramifications. An Atleti win could cut Barca’s lead to two points, filling Diego Simeone’s side with positivity and belief while a Barca win extends the point differential to eight, further cementing their place atop the table.

Though Atleti are with six wins in their last six games while Barcelona dropped points in their last match against Las Palmas, Barcelona are unbeaten in 33 games in the La Liga. Diego Simeone’s men are in form scoring nine goals in their last two Liga games, with Antoine Griezmann especially in form in front of goal with seven goals in the two games.

Atletico’s sturdy defence will certainly be tested by the firepower of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez but they have been nigh impregnable with five clean sheets in their last six games.

Prediction: Barcelona 2-2 Atletico Madrid

Lazio vs Juventus

Juventus, second behind Napoli are with a game in hand and have kept up the pressure on the league leaders. The race for the top between both sides has ensured a level of consistency with both teams not willing to crack. Juventus are currently on a nine-game winning streak in the Serie A but face one of the only two sides that have defeated them in the League this season: Lazio.

Simone Inzaghi’s side occupy the third spot on the table and have Italy’s most deadly marksman in their ranks, Ciro Immobile. Against Juventus in the first half of the season, the 28-year old scored a brace and could prove a handful for the Juve defence that has conceded just one goal in their last nine Serie A games.

After getting into the finals of the Coppa Italia on wednesday, the week could get even better as Juventus could further close in on their rivals, with Napoli scheduled for a tough Roma fixture this weekend.

Prediction: Lazio 1-3 Juventus

Napoli vs Roma

Napoli’s record 10-game winning run has placed kept them top of the table and surely they have their sights on number 11 knowing the margin for error is dangerously thin. A first Scudetto in 28 years remains the ultimate goal for Maurizio Sarri’s side as they host Roma.  Roma’s last visit to the San Paolo was a 3-1 victory that ended Napoli’s unbeaten run at home.

Sarri’s side are a far different beast compared to last season, the Partenopei have been outstanding with their football, thrilling and entertaining their fans.

Roma led by Eusebio Di Francesco  are currently out of the top four after their loss to AC Milan last weekend. They will hope to bounce back into the Champions League qualifying places with their rivals also involved in tricky ties.

Prediction: Napoli 3-0 Roma

AC Milan vs Inter Milan

Wrapping up the triptych of superpower games in the Serie A this weekend is the Derby della Madonnina. The fixture in recent years has lost its lustre as both sides have struggled outside the elite class. This year, there is some measure, however little, of the grand spectacle that once was. AC Milan manager, Genarro Gattuso who was part of the fiery and competitive days of the derby, has seen a rejuvenation of the Rosonerri with his team unbeaten in their last 13 games in all competitions. Inter have been limp after their early season brilliance. Mauro Icardi’s return should spark some improvements from the side as they hope to consolidate on a Champions League spot.

Prediction: AC Milan 2-1 Inter Milan

 

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