Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Back. The Holiday period is over, as are many of the winter breaks. The English Premier League played a ton of the break but the rest of the leagues are slowly coming back. In Spain, we had the round of 16 first leg in the Copa del Rey this week and a round of the Primera Division this weekend. In Italy, the Serie A resumes this weekend. In France, the Coupe de France takes place this weekend. The Germans are still off until January 20th.
Premier League Holiday Recap
Chelsea saw their unbeaten run end as Tottenham beat Chelsea 2-0. Chelsea are still top of the table with a 5 point lead over Liverpool. Liverpool had a great holiday period as they defeated Manchester City at home, but dropped what could be two vital points against Sunderland. Tottenham have moved into 3rd place, 2 points behind Liverpool, following their 2-0 defeat of Chelsea. This is in big part due to three straight braces from Dele Alli. Manchester City had a rocky period but remains in the top four and are level on points with Tottenham. Arsenal are a point back and outside of the top 4. Manchester United have won 6 games in a row and are unbeaten in their last 11 games, but they still sit in 6th place, 3 points behind City and Tottenham. At the bottom of the table, Hull decided it was time for a new manager and hired Paul Clement but they sit at the bottom, 3 points from safety. Swansea hired Bob Bradley and then fired him after some poor results. They are now a point from safety. Sunderland have stuck with David Moyes as they sit in 18th place. Sunderland are a point from safety.
Copa del Rey Recap
Real Madrid got the year off to a great start as they defeated Sevilla 3-0 without Bale, Benzema, or Ronaldo. Barcelona struggled as they gave up 2 quick goals in the first half but did come back and get 1 back but lost 2-1 in Bilbao. Celta Vigo shocked Valencia winning 4-1 in Valencia. Real Sociedad defeated Villarreal 3-1. Alcorcon and Cordoba drew 0-0 in Alcorcon. Deportivo La Coruna was able to come back and earn a 2-2 draw after falling behind 2-0 against Deportivo Alaves. Eibar got a nice road win as they defeated Osasuna 3-0. Finally, Atletico Madrid got their year off to a good start with a 2-0 win on the Canary Islands.
La Liga Preview
Real Madrid will look to extend their lead at the top back to 7 as they host second from bottom Granada this Saturday. They currently have a 3 point lead over Barcelona and a game in hand. Real Madrid will look to make it 16 unbeaten in a row. Barcelona have a tough game this weekend as they travel to Villarreal. Villarreal are in the hunt for the top four right now but also suffered a defeat this week in the Copa del Rey. There is another top 5 battle as Real Sociedad hosts Sevilla. We will either see a tightening of the top of the table, or a real gap could start to open up.
Serie A Preview
Juventus looks to have Serie A wrapped up as they have a 4 point lead on Roma after they defeated them towards the end of 2016 and Juve has a game in hand. Napoli are in third, but they are 7 points back and have also played 1 more game than Juventus. This weekend Juventus hosts Bologna. Bologna is in the bottom half of the table and this should be an easy three points for Juve. Roma travels to Genoa this weekend and Napoli hosts Sampdoria. The race for the third Champions League spot could be a good one as Lazio, Milan, and Atalanta are all within 3 points of Napoli. If Napoli slips up in the next couple weeks, then that could be something to watch.
FA Cup Preview
The Third Round of the FA Cup is this weekend. This is when the Premier League teams join the competition and can make their mark. Chelsea takes on Petersborough from the third tier. Liverpool hosts Plymouth Argyle from the 4th tier of English football. This is the weekend where we can see some Giant Killers. Who will it be? We also have some top flight matchups like Manchester City traveling to West Ham, Sunderland hosting Burnley, and Everton hosting Leicester. The defending champions Manchester United host Reading. Will we see a big upset this weekend?
Coupe de France Preview
The Coupe de France is in the round of 32 this weekend. Some interesting matches to check on are: Lorient hosting Nice, Lyon hosting Montpellier, Toulouse hosting Marseille, and PSG hosting Bastia. Can someone else win a trophy in France this year?