This weekend is the start of Serie A and La Liga, as well as the second weekend for the Premier League and Ligue 1. The Bundesliga returns next weekend. Here are 5 things to watch for this weekend, plus five games to watch.
- Can Leicester or Arsenal get a major three points this weekend? – Both teams come into this weekend following a disappointing start to the season. Leicester lost the opening game of the season to Hull City 2-1. Leicester seems to have their team settled now and will look to get their season started with a win over the one team that defeated them twice last season. Arsenal took a 1-0 lead on Liverpool last weekend before they conceded 4 straight goals. They did manage a slight comeback but ended up coming short as they lost 4-3. Arsenal still has a long list of players that are not fully fit. I think we will see Ozil, Koscielny, Giroud, and Wilshere potentially return as Arsenal need to get their season started. Cazorla and Xhaka could also come into the side. Leicester gets Robert Huth back in their defense and that should be the only change to the Leicester side. Both of these teams will desire three points this weekend.
- How will the big three in Spain start the season? – With the start of the Spanish league this weekend, the eyes will be on the big three in Spain. Barcelona hosts Real Betis on Saturday. Real Madrid plays at Real Sociedad and Atletico Madrid hosts Alaves on Sunday. All three of these teams will be favorites to win this weekend, but the bigger question will be on how they play. Barcelona and Real Madrid have long lists of players out this weekend. For Barcelona, Iniesta, Mathieu, Mascherano, and ter Stegen are out injured; Neymar and Rafinha are still playing in the Olympics and Andre Gomes is suspended. Real Madrid is without Navas, Pepe, Ronaldo, and Coentrao, to injury and Luka Modric due to suspension. Atletico Madrid is only without Griezmann to suspension and Moya and Cerci to injury. How the big three will manage without these major players will be interesting. I know the season is a marathon, but a good start is essential.
- How big of a loss is Pogba for Juventus? – The big favorites for the Serie A is Juventus. Their big two additions came from their nearest rivals and they have added great depth to their side. This weekend they start the campaign for their 6th straight Serie A title. Juventus will continue with their 3-5-2 despite the loss of one of their stars from last season. Paul Pogba was a big part of their double winning side and has risen to stardom at Juventus. He now has moved back to Manchester United. The question will be who will replace him. The three central midfielders will be between Asamoah, Khedira, Marchisio, and new signing Pjanic. Pjanic will have the pressure of replacing Pogba and should be on display this season. We will see how he performs this weekend.
- Can Lyon hold on to Alexandre Lacazette and maintain their great start? – Lyon plays tonight as they host Caen. Both of these teams came away with all three points, but Lyon put on a show as Lacazette scored all three goals in their 3-0 win against Nancy. Lacazette is now on the radar of many teams across Europe and the question will be can Lyon hold on to him for two more weeks. If they are able to hold on to him, then they could challenge PSG. They are currently on top of the Ligue 1 table. PSG also won their opening game but only won 1-0. Lyon plays today and PSG does not play until Sunday. Another big win for Lyon could really put some early pressure on PSG and Unai Emery.
- How will the Friday night games work out in England? – For the first time in the Premier League, there will be games on a Friday night. This season there will be 10 to 12 games on Friday night or for us in America, Friday afternoon. The first game will feature Jose Mourinho and his first home game as manager of Manchester United. His opponent will be Southampton. United got off to a winning start as they defeated Bournemouth 3-1 last weekend. Southampton earned a point thanks to Nathan Redmond as they drew 1-1. The second game will be four weeks later as Liverpool travels to Stamford Bridge. I think it will be interesting to see how the atmosphere is at these games and how the managers and players react to the different schedules. This one should be a great start to the Friday night schedule.
5 Games to Watch This Weekend
Leicester vs. Arsenal – This is a massive game this weekend. These teams finished first and second last season but they did not get off to the great start. Arsenal should have a very different lineup this weekend as many of their players were rested last weekend. Robert Huth is back for Leicester this weekend. Can Arsenal make it four wins in a row against Leicester?
My Pick – Leicester 1, Arsenal 1: Goals by Mahrez and Sanchez
Brad’s Pick – Leicester 2, Arsenal 2: Goals by Mahrez, Vardy, Sanchez, and Walcott
Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid – The defending European champions travel to the Basque country this weekend as Real Madrid plays Real Sociedad. Madrid has won 5 of the last 6 games against Real Sociedad. Ronaldo is out injured but should be back soon. Benzema is doubtful which means Morata should start up front.
My Pick – Sociedad 1, Madrid 3: Goals by Vela, Asensio, Morata, and Bale
Brad’s Pick – Sociedad 0, Madrid 3: Goals by Bale (2) and Benzema
Juventus vs. Fiorentina – The defending Serie A champs are back in action as they host Fiorentina. Juventus should hand debuts to Dani Alves on the right side of their midfield 5 and Pjanic in the middle as a replacement for Pogba. Gonzalo Higuain may sit out as he has been deemed unfit. Fiorentina have a very strong front three as Giuseppe Rossi, Nikola Kalinic and Borja Valero can cause threats. This game could be tight as the season starts.
My Pick – Juventus 2, Fiorentina 0: Goals by Dybala and Pjanic
Brad’s Pick – Juventus 2, Fiorentina 1: Goals by Mandzukic, Higuain, and Rossi
PSG vs. Metz – How much pressure will be in PSG when this game takes place? Will Lyon be three points ahead of them? Both Metz and PSG won their games last weekend. Jese is going to miss the game due to appendicitis. Thiago Silva and Marquinhos are both out, so Kimpembe should start again this week. For Metz, they will look to continue their great return to the Ligue 1.
My Pick – PSG 3, Metz 1: Goals by Arfa, Cavani (2), and Erdinc
Brad’s Pick – PSG 3, Metz 1: Goals by Cavani, Motta, Matuidi, Nguette
Milan vs. Torino – AC Milan will start the season with a very similar team to last season. The Torino squad however has over gone some changes this summer and how they settle will be interesting to watch. Both teams have really intriguing front threes. Torino has Ljajic, Belotti, and Falque. Milan should start Bonaventura, Bacca, and Niang.
My Pick – Milan 2, Torino 2: Goals by Niang, Bacca, Falque, and Ljajic
Brad’s Pick – Milan 2, Torino 1: Goals by Bacca (2), and Ljajic