Week 6 … 5 Things to Watch For

  1. How will Barcelona respond to Messi’s injury? – The Argentinean superstar is out for 3 weeks with a groin injury and Barcelona cannot afford to lose ground on their rivals Real Madrid. He is going to miss this weekend’s game at Sporting Gijon, the Champions League game at Borussia Monchengladbach, and the trip to Celta Vigo before the next international break. This will be a vital period for Barcelona if they are going to retain the Primera Division title. It should also be interesting to see how Luis Enrique sets up his team without Messi. Will he go with Suarez, Alcacer, and Neymar, or will it be Turan, Suarez, and Neymar? Either way, Barcelona is going to have to find a way to win without their talisman.
  2. It has been two defeats in a row in the league for Jose, will he drop Rooney this weekend? – I think the Manchester United team sheet will be the most anticipated thing this weekend. Rooney did play during the midweek when Manchester United defeated Northampton Town 3-1. Now they will look to turn around their league form as they host Leicester City. Leicester City suffered a 4-2 defeat to Chelsea in the League Cup thanks to a red card given to Marcin Wasilewski and then two Cesc Fabregas goals in extra time. The defending champions have been climbing up the table after a slow start. However, all the eyes will be on United and how they play. Will Mourinho keep Fellaini and Pogba together as a midfield two behind Martial, Rooney, and Rashford? Will he change that up and drop Rooney and bring in Carrick to push Pogba further up field? Mourinho is a manager who does not like to tinker too much to his formation and with his squad, so it will be interesting to see how they lineup this weekend.
  3. How will the top three in Italy end up after this weekend? – This might become a regular thing to watch for as the top three continue to change this season in Italy. I know that it is very early, but Juventus, Napoli, and Roma are all within 2 points of each other and seem to be playing very well so far this season. Inter and AC Milan need to show us some more before we consider them in this fight, but they are also right there as they are 2 and 3 points behind Juventus respectively. Napoli has the biggest matchup as they face off with Chievo Verona who has started this season spectacularly. They are in 4th place, level on points with Roma and Inter and just 1 behind Napoli. This is going to be a tough one for Napoli. Juventus can start the weekend by adding to their points as they travel to Palermo in the early game on Saturday. A win would extend their lead to four points and put pressure on Napoli. Roma is the early match on Sunday as they travel to Turin to face Torino. Each week, one of these three seem to drop points. Who will it be this week?
  4. Is the Bundesliga over already? – First let me start by saying that I know it is far from over, but should we be asking the question right now? Bayern Munich looks as strong as they ever have and have only conceded 1 goal in their opening four. I do not see them losing more than 2 or 3 all season, so each team with 2 losses is probably already eliminated from the conversation. Dortmund look like the likeliest challengers to Munich, but they suffered their first defeat already and will need some help from the other teams in the division. I think that the race for the other top four spots could be one of the best in the world as you have Koln (still unbeaten), Frankfurt, Hertha, and Leipzig all starting fantastically. Plus you know that Monchengladbach, Leverkusen, and Wolfsburg have talented sides that will hopefully figure it out soon. While these are all quality sides, they are not Bayern Munich. Munich are the deepest and most talented side and will most likely run away from the rest of the Bundesliga despite a lot of strong sides in the league.
  5. Are Nice for real? – This one might be more related to their 4-0 thumping of Monaco this week, but Nice now sit on top of the Ligue 1 and are still unbeaten. They have won 4 of their opening 6 matches and are 1 point better than both Monaco and PSG. Mario Balotelli has now scored 4 goals in 2 games for Nice and he looks the player that we all thought could be a starter while he was a teenager at Inter. Nice have a solid defense, only conceding 4 goals so far and are scoring with the big boys as they are tied for the fourth in terms of goals scored. I am not sure they can keep it up, but wouldn’t it be a sight if they did? They have already beaten Monaco, Marseille, Angers, and Rennais. The question will come soon when they face Lyon in mid-October and then PSG in December.

The Score after the Midweek Games

Me – 44 (3)
Brad – 31 (2)

5 Games to Watch This Weekend

Arsenal vs. Chelsea – Who doesn’t want to watch a London derby? Arsenal and Chelsea are always in and around the top four in the Premier League. This year they are currently level on points having won 3, drawn 1, and lost 1. However, they have been trending in opposite directions. Arsenal has won their last 3 league games while Chelsea have only won 1 of their last 3. The big lineup question for Arsenal is which two play between Xhaka, Coquelin, and Cazorla. For Chelsea, the question is who lines up in the center of their defense between Cahill, Luiz, and Terry.

My Pick – Arsenal 2, Chelsea 1: Sanchez, Walcott, and Costa
Brad’s Pick – Arsenal 3, Chelsea 3: Sanchez (2), Walcott, Costa (2), and Hazard

Las Palmas vs. Real Madrid – Los Blancos have been fantastic this season as they were perfect before their draw with Villarreal this week. Real is currently 3 points above Barcelona and 4 above Atletico Madrid. Las Palmas have been one of the surprise stories as they were top of the league after 2 weeks. They have struggled lately, winning just once in their last two games. This could be an interesting one following Real Madrid’s flight to the Canary Islands.

My Pick – Palmas 2, Madrid 2: Tana, Zhar, Ronaldo, and Benzema
Brad’s Pick – Palmas 1, Madrid 3: Livaja, Kroos, Bale, and Morata

Koln vs. Leipzig – This is a showdown between two teams who have surprised the Bundesliga as they both sit unbeaten and in the top 6. Koln is currently second in the table after their great start to the season. They have only conceded one goal all season. Leipzig has also had a great start, as they are also a strong defensive team. This will be a tight affair.

My Pick – Koln 1, Leipzig 1: Modeste, and Selke
Brad’s Pick – Koln 2, Leipzig 1: Risse, Lehmann, and Werner

Napoli vs. Chievo Verona – This is a top 3 clash in Italy this weekend as Chievo have been one of the surprise teams in the league. They have won 3 of their first five, with their only loss coming at Fiorentina. Napoli meanwhile is still unbeaten and sits 1 point behind the leaders Juventus following their scoreless draw with Genoa. Can Napoli get back to winning ways?

My Pick – Napoli 3, Chievo 1: Callejon, Milik (2), and Castro
Brad’s Pick – Napoli 2, Chievo 1: Callejon, Hamsik, and Maggiorini

Nancy vs. Nice – How can we not watch Nice right now? They are flying and Balotelli is must watch right now with his 2 goals from 2 games. Nancy is sitting just above the relegation zone. They will be hoping to put an end to Nice’s unbeaten run and jump up the table closer to safety.

My Pick – Nancy 1, Nice 2: Puyo, Balotelli, and Plea
Brad’s Pick – Nancy 1, Nice 3: Pedretti, Seri, Plea, and Koziello

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