Only one more week to El Clasico!!

As we all wake up from our Turkey food comas or our Black Friday shopping rest, we can turn our focus to some vital league matches.  Here is a quick look at some of the games around the league and a big one to watch in each league.

Premier League… The big game this weekend is Chelsea hosting Tottenham.  Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 6 league games.  They have not conceded a goal in that time.  Tottenham meanwhile are unbeaten this season but have only won 1 of their last 5 games.  Burnley vs. Manchester City starts the weekend off tomorrow.  City will look to move to the top of the table in that game with a win.  Liverpool will then get their shot to move to the top of the table as they face Sunderland who have won 2 straight games to move off the bottom of the table.  On Sunday, check out Arsenal vs. Bournemouth as Jack Wilshere will face his old team.  Manchester United will look to get back into the top four conversations with a win against struggling West Ham.  The final game of the weekend should be a good one as Ronald Koeman faces his old team Southampton in a midtable battle.

La Liga… Let’s be honest, everyone is just waiting for next weekend and El Clasico.  While the fans focus on next weekend, the teams need to focus on getting 3 points this weekend.  Real Madrid host Sporting Gijon this weekend.  Gijon sits in the bottom 3 of the table with just 9 points.  This should be a nice 3 points for Real Madrid.  Barcelona meanwhile travels to Real Sociedad.  This has been a tough spot for Barcelona as they have failed to win in their last trips to Anoeta.  Sociedad have won four straight to move into 5th place.   This has to be the game of the weekend.  Atletico Madrid travels to Osasuna as they look to bounce back from their defeat in the Madrid Derby.  Sevilla hosts Valencia in another big time matchup this weekend.  This looks to be a great weekend ahead of El Clasico.

Bundesliga… Leipzig are for real and still unbeaten as they started the weekend with a massive 4-1 win over Freiburg.  They are now 6 points clear at the top.  Bayern Munich will get their chance to move back within 3 points this weekend when they host Bayer Leverkusen.  Leverkusen has had a disappointing start to the season as they sit in 9th place.  They would love a win to get back into the tight race for the final two Champions League spots.  Dortmund, Koln, Hoffenheim, Hertha Berlin, and Eintracht Frankfurt all have 21 points going into the weekend.  This weekend, we see Dortmund travel to Frankfurt.  The winner is likely to be in the top 4 and the loser will be looking up at some teams.  Hoffenheim will look to keep their unbeaten run going as they travel to Monchengladbach.  Hertha Berlin hosts Mainz in the final game this weekend that sees 6th face 8th in what should be a great end to the weekend.

Ligue 1… The weekend started with Rennais defeating Toulouse 1-0.  This puts Rennais in 4th place ahead of the weekend.  Tomorrow, get your French day started with second place Monaco hosting Marseille.  This battle of Southern France should a great game to start the weekend.  However, the marquee game is on Sunday as Lyon hosts Paris Saint Germain.  Lyon was supposed to challenge PSG for the title.  This season has not worked out that way so far.  PSG is not on top of the table right now as they are 3 points behind Nice.  Lyon has lost 5 games this season and sits 10 points behind Nice and 7 behind PSG.  Nice and Monaco both play before this game as Nice hosts Bastia on Sunday as well.  PSG could be 6 points back at the start of their game.  This is a must win for both sides.

Serie A… This weekend in Italy is the top half of the table versus the bottom half of the table.  Juventus faces 12th place Genoa.  Second place Roma hosts 18th placed Pescara.  Empoli will hope they can win their 3rd game of the season as they host third place.  Lazio gets to face second from the bottom Palermo.  The best game of the weekend might be Inter Milan hosting Fiorentina.  Both teams are in the middle of the table and would like to be up and around the top 3.  This looks to be a weekend that the top half distances itself from the bottom half.

5 Takeaways from This Weekend

  1. Chelsea look like the favorites to win the title. They had another strong performance this weekend as they defeated Middlesbrough 1-0. This means that they are now top of the table. They have the second best defense having conceded just 9 goals in the first 12 games. They are tied for the second best offense in the league. They are led by Eden Hazard who has scored 7 goals and Diego Costa has added 10 goals this season, including the only goal this weekend. The title race looks to be down to 5 teams now. Liverpool and Manchester City are a point behind and Arsenal is just 3 points back. Tottenham is 4 points behind the leaders. After that, there is a 5-point gap between Tottenham and United in 6th. This should be an interesting race this season but Chelsea are looking like the favorites right now.
  2. Real Madrid look determined to win the league. And Cristiano is back!! CR7 was on fire this weekend as he scored 3 goals against cross-town rivals Atletico. He opened the scoring in the first half and then scored twice in the second half within 6 minutes of each other. Real Madrid is the highest scoring team and the second best defense in the league now after this weekend. They are four points clear of Barcelona and 9 points clear from Atletico Madrid. The title race is far from over but this was a statement from Los Blancos. El Clasico is coming up just 2 weeks away!!!
  3. Bayern Munich are beatable. Borussia Dortmund did it. There are only two undefeated teams left in the Bundesliga and Bayern Munich is not one of them. This weekend they traveled to Dortmund and suffered their first defeat under Carlo Ancelotti. Aubameyang scored the only goal of the game thanks to an assist from Mario Gotze. This opens up the title race in Germany as Bayern are no longer on top. RB Leipzig maintained their unbeaten start with a 3-2 win over Leverkusen. Leipzig twice came back from a goal down to win the game and needed a big penalty save from Peter Gulacsi. Either way, Leipzig is on top of the league with a 3-point lead on Munich and Dortmund is now just 3 points behind Munich.
  4. Same old story in Italy. Juventus wins and the rest of the league fights for second best. Juventus has the best defense and the second best offense to go with their 7 point lead at the top of the table. This defense has been their rock for the last 5 years and looks to be leading them to another title. This weekend they defeated Pescara 3-0. This victory coupled with Roma’s 2-1 loss at Atalanta means that the lead at the top grows. AC Milan drew 2-2 with their rivals Inter Milan. Suso gave AC the lead twice but Inter was able to peg their way back to earn a point. A win would have sent Milan into second place. The next 5 teams in the table all won but they are all far from challenging Juventus. Will it be another year in Italy with another title for Juventus?
  5. We are in for a title race in France. Three teams are all within 3 points and the team on top is not PSG. Nice stayed on top of the table thanks to their 1-0 win over Saint-Etienne. Valentin Eysseric scored the only goal of the game. 3 points behind Nice are Monaco and PSG. Monaco defeated Lorient this weekend 3-0. Falcao scored his 5th goal of the season. Angel di Maria and Jese Rodriguez scored for PSG and the Parisians defeated Nantes 2-0. Monaco has the best offense in the league scoring 13 more goals than PSG and 15 more than Nice. PSG has the second best defense with 7 goals conceded but Nice is not far behind with just 9 goals conceded. This is going to be an interesting one, which is great for all the neutrals out there.

 

Tidbits from Around the Leagues 

Premier League… Yaya Toure returned with a bang as he scored two goals to help Manchester City defeat Crystal Palace. The Southampton backline stood strong and kept Liverpool at bay in a 0-0 draw. Arsenal needed a late goal to get a draw with Manchester United. Bournemouth moved into the top half of the table as they defeated Stoke 1-0. Everton and Swansea played to a 1-1 draw. Sunderland got their second win of the table and moved off the bottom with a 3-0 win over Hull. Watford jumped out to an early lead and held on to defeat Leicester.   Harry Kane scored twice in the final minutes to give Tottenham a huge 3-2 win. West Brom ended the weekend with a massive 4-0 win over Burnley to send them into the top half of the table…

La Liga … Barcelona was kept off the score sheet against Malaga in a 0-0 draw without Messi and Suarez. Sevilla came back from 2-0 down to defeat Deportivo La Coruna 3-2. Eibar defeated Celta 1-0, but the fun was after the game as Hugo Mallo was shown a red and Sergio Alvarez got a red on the bench. Athletic Bilbao defeated Villarreal 1-0 for their first win in four games. Real Betis scored two first half goals to defeat Las Palmas 2-0. Espanyol managed to win this weekend thanks to a late goal from Gerard Moreno after he missed a penalty kick just 2 minutes earlier. Valencia and Granada drew 1-1 for Granada’s fifth draw of the season. Leganes ended their four game losing run with a 2-0 win over Osasuna…

Bundesliga… Cologne got a massive late goal from Marcel Risse to defeat Gladbach 2-1. Mainz scored 4 this weekend to move into the top half of the table. Ingolstadt won their first game of the season as they defeated Darmstadt 1-0. Augsburg and Hertha drew 0-0. Schalke defeated Wolfsburg 1-0, which sees them move closer to the top half of the table. Hoffenheim remained unbeaten thanks to a second half equalizer from Nicolai Muller. Eintracht Frankfurt maintained their 5 game unbeaten run with a 2-1 win over Werder Bremen who has now lost 4 straight…

Serie A… Lazio defeated Genoa 3-1 this weekend in what was a much better weekend for the top half of the table than the bottom half. Of the top 10 teams in the table, everyone won except Inter, AC Milan and Roma. In the bottom half of the table, Bologna and Sampdoria were the only teams to win. Bologna defeated Palermo 3-1. Sampdoria defeated Sassuolo 3-2. Lazio defeated Genoa 3-1 to stay in 4th place. Napoli won for the first time in 3 games as they defeated Udinese 2-1. Fiorentia scored 4 as they defeated Empoli. Torino defeated Crotone 2-0 to win their second in a row…

Ligue 1… Lyon continued their winning run as they defeated Lille 1-0. Nancy defeated Dijon to help them move from 19th to 18th place. Bastia and Montpellier drew 1-1. Angers was able to come back and earn a point despite conceding in the first half and then going down to 10 men early in the second half. Metz defeated Toulouse 2-1, but Toulouse scored their goal in the 5th minute of added time. Guingamp and Bordeaux drew 1-1 thanks to late goal from Jimmy Briand. Marseille won their first game in 4 as they defeated Caen 1-0.

 

Team of the Weekend

Goalkeeper

Carlos Kameni (Malaga)

Defenders

Bruno (Real Betis), Nathan Ake (Bournemouth), Luca Rossettini (Torino) Inigo Martinez (Real Sociedad)

Midfielders

Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina), Federico Viviani (Bologna), Sami Khedira (Juventus)

Forwards

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Suso (Milan) Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

What a Weekend!!

If you are a fan of soccer, then this Saturday is must watch.  This weekend features plenty of amazing games on TV, so let me go through them and plan your weekend viewing party for you.  Your weekend should start with a nice early cup of coffee or English Breakfast tea as Manchester United hosts Arsenal at 7:30 am on the east coast (the rest of the times will also be EST).  This is a renewed managerial rivalry as Jose Mourinho faces off with Arsene Wenger.  This game will be on NBCSN for your viewing pleasure and features two teams that are in need of 3 points.  Arsene has struggled against Mourinho and has never won against Mourinho in the Premier League.  There will be a whole host of influential players out, but Alexi Sanchez is playing and he should be the difference maker.  If this early game does not get you out of bed, Deportivo hosts Sevilla at 7 am.

Around 9:30 am, you will need your last button as the Bundesliga and Premier League kick off across both England and Germany.  Fox Sports 1 will be showing Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Cologne.  Cologne saw their unbeaten season come to an end three weeks ago and now have lost 2 of their last 3.  Monchengladbach is winless in their last 5 games.  If you have Fox Sports 2, so like the 100 of you out there, check out Wolfsburg versus Schalke 04.  These are two teams who have perennially been in and around the top four but are struggling right now.  If you are a Premier League fan, the top of the table team takes the pitch at 10 am as Liverpool travels south to face Southampton.  This will be a tough one in my apartment as it is the Relationship Derby.  A win for Liverpool will keep them at the top of the table.  At 10:15 am, Barcelona and Malaga meet at the Camp Nou.  Barcelona can temporarily go top with a win ahead of the big Madrid Derby later in the day.   That game will be on beIN Sports.

As we move closer to the afternoon, there are two games at 12:30 that are worth watching and both are on broadcast TV.  The first is Der Klassiker between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.  The two German giants meet this weekend in Dortmund.  Dortmund sits 6 points behind Munich and could make a statement this weekend with a win.  This game will be on FOX this Saturday.  The second is a London derby as Tottenham Hotspur hosts West Ham United on NBC.  This London derby should go the way of Tottenham, but you never know what will happen in a London derby.

I hope you have not soccered yourself out yet because the biggest game of the weekend will not have taken place yet.  At 2:45, Atletico Madrid hosts Real Madrid in the Madrid Derbi.  This is one of the matches that every soccer fan should have circled on their calendar.  Atletico have stumbled lately having lost 2 of their last 3.  They are 6 points behind Real Madrid right now and must win this Saturday if they are to stay in the title race.  Real Madrid might need a win or a draw to go back to the top of the table.  After this great game, it will be time to rest or watch some College football if that is your cup of tea.

What an amazing Saturday we have coming up for us.  If you are still up for more soccer on Sunday, the Milan Derby is Sunday at 2:45 pm.  Before the season, people thought that Inter Milan would be in and around the top 3 but it turns out that AC Milan is in third right now.   They are just 5 points behind Juventus and were 1 of the 2 teams that defeated Juventus.   This looks to be the perfect ending to this great weekend of soccer.

Recap From This Weekend

  • Can Jose Mourinho get United back to winning ways? – Yes he can and in nice style as his two new boys scored en route to a 3-1 win over Swansea City. Paul Pogba scored the opener after 15 minutes with an absolutely wonderful goal that reminds all of us why he was worth so much this summer. Then just 6 minutes later Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the first of his two goals. Both goals were assisted by Wayne Rooney. Mike Van der Hoorn brought Swansea one back in the 69th minute but it was too little too late. The win sends United up to 6th They are 6 points behind Arsenal in 4th place and 8 points behind Liverpool, who is at the top of the table. This was a good win for United ahead of the international break and should help right the ship going forward.

 

  • How will Barcelona respond to their midweek defeat? – Sloppily in the first half is the answer, but in the end Messi came to the rescue. Sevilla were the better team for much of the game. They took a deserved lead in the 15th minute from Vitolo. Sevilla had a ton of chances in the first half but failed to score a second goal. Just before half time, Neymar found Leo Messi and he finished nicely past Sergio Rico to level the score. In the second half, Barcelona looked better as Messi found Suarez in the 61st minute and Barcelona took the lead. Barcelona held on and got all three points. This means they have kept pace with Real Madrid and sit two points behind them in second place. Sevilla drops to 5th place following the defeat but is still in the race for the top four this season.

 

  • Can Nice maintain their unbeaten run? –No they cannot and now we might have a race for the title in France. Ivan Santini scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the first half. Nice dominated possession but only managed 4 shots. Caen meanwhile had 12 shots during their 32% possession. This is Nice’s first loss of the season and now means that PSG and Monaco are within striking distance of Nice.   Nice has just a 3-point lead on the two big boys and this will give them hope. Caen meanwhile was in need of 3 points. They are now 3 points clear of the relegation playoff spot. This was just what the French league needed from a neutral point of view.

 

  • Will the three unbeaten teams in Germany stay unbeaten? – Yes they can since Munich and Hoffenheim shared the points this weekend in Bavaria. Hoffenheim took an early lead in the first half only to concede an own goal from Steven Zuber. The game ended 1-1 and meant that both teams shared a point apiece. RB Leipzig scored 3 first half goals that would be enough to give them all 3 points, as they defeated Mainz 3-1. This means that Leipzig and Bayern Munich are level on points at the top of the table. Hoffenheim is 4 points behind them in third and level on points with Hertha. This could be an interesting title race this season as Leipzig has taken the league by storm. They seem like they can push Munich the way that Dortmund were supposed to.

 

  • Can Roma, Milan, Lazio, or Napoli keep pace with Juventus? –Two of these teams were able to. Juventus won their third game in a row following their defeat by Milan. They defeated Chievo 2-1 thanks to a second half goal from Miralem Pjanic. Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring in the second half only to see his goal equalized by Sergio Pellissier from the penalty spot 13 minutes later. Pjanic would win the game for Juventus just 6 minutes after that. Milan also needed a late goal to earn all three points. Suso opened the scoring against Palermo in the first half. Then Ilija Nestorovski leveled the score with 20 minutes left to go. With just 11 minutes remaining Gianluca Lapadula came on for Bacca and scored 3 minutes later to give Milan all three points. Roma had the best game of the weekend as they eased to a 3-0 win over Bologna to send them to back to second place in the table. Mohamed Salah scored all three goals. Juventus is still 4 points above Roma and 5 above Milan. Lazio and Napoli drew 1-1 this weekend, which means that they both fell further down the table. Lazio is in 4th place and 8 points behind Juventus. For Napoli, this means that they are winless in their last two games and now 9 points behind Juve. Juventus is still the favorite to win the title, but they might get a challenge from Roma and Milan this season.

Some tidbits from other games around the leagues.,.

Premier League… Manchester City dropped points this weekend when they drew 1-1 thanks to an extra time goal from Marten De Roon. This meant that Liverpool is now top of the table after their 6-1 win over Watford. Chelsea also jumped over Manchester City thanks to a 5-0 thrashing of Everton. The North London derby ended 1-1 to maintain Spurs unbeaten season. Bundesliga… Hertha Berlin started the weekend with a massive 3-0 win over Monchengladbach. Salomon Kalou scored all three goals. Dortmund scored 5 past Hamburger to win 5-2. Wolfsburg got their second win of the season this weekend with a 3-0 win over Freiburg. La Liga… Real Sociedad defeated Atletico Madrid 2-0 this weekend. This meant that Sociedad climbed to 6th and Atleti dropped to 4th. Real Madrid got 2 goals from Gareth Bale and one from Alvaro Morata to give them a 3-0 win over Leganes. Villarreal defeated Real Betis 2-0 to jump into third place. Serie A… Empoli scored more goals this weekend than they had in the first 11 games of the season as they defeated Pescara 4-0. Inter Milan seem to be doing better since the departure of de Boer. They defeated Crotone 3-0 this weekend. Atalanta also won 3-0 this weekend to move into 5th place in the table. Ligue 1… Monaco scored 6 goals past Nancy this weekend. Lyon defeated 9-man Bastia 2-1. PSG defeated Stade Rennais 4-0 this weekend to put the pressure on Nice. Saint-Etienne was able to hold on for a point despite going down to 10 men against Metz. 

Score from the Weekend

Me – 86 (4)

Brad – 60 (7)

Team of the Weekend

Goalkeeper

F. Marchetti (Lazio)

Defenders

M. Dawson (Hull), R. Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), M. Caldara (Atalanta)

Midfielders

Fabinho (Monaco), P. Countinho (Liverpool), M. Salah (Roma), Salomon Kalou (Hertha)

Forwards

Pedro (Chelsea), Aubameyang (Dortmund), Leo Messi (Barcelona)

5 Things To Watch This Weekend

  1. Can Jose Mourinho get United back to winning ways? – United have gone 4 games in a row without a win. They are currently in 8th place in the league and 8 points behind their crosstown rivals. Mourinho is banned from the touchline and will need to get his message across ahead of time.  This weekend they travel to Wales to face Swansea City.  Swansea are currently in the bottom 3 of the table.  They have not won since the first day of the season and only have 5 points.  They are led by American manager Bob Bradley.  This looks like a great opportunity for either team to make a statement.  A win for either side should help right the ship.  How will Mourinho set up his team to get the best out of them?
  2. How will Barcelona respond to their midweek defeat? – Barcelona has had an up and down season. They have lost 2 games in the league this season and then lost this week in the Champions League against former boss Pep Guardiola. They are two points behind Real Madrid right now.  They have won 3 games in a row in the league, but injuries are mounting up for them.  Can they make a statement this weekend when they face Sevilla?  Sevilla has been adapting to their new manager Jorge Sampaoli and looks like a force.  Sevilla are currently level on points with Atletico Madrid and 3 points behind Real Madrid.  This is a heavyweight showdown in La Liga and should be a fascinating game.
  3. Can Nice maintain their unbeaten run? – The only unbeaten team in France left is the leaders, Nice. They have gone on an unbelievable run having won 6 in a row. They have one of the best defenses in the league.  Alassane Plea and Mario Balotelli have been great, scoring a combined 13 goals.  SM Caen is their opponent this week who have lost their last 3 games in a row.  They are in the relegation playoff spot right now.  This should be straightforward for Nice.  They are currently 6 points clear and another win this weekend puts them 9 points clear and gives them a great shot at the title this season.  They have now won the title since 1959 and will hope that they can find a way this season.
  4. Will the three unbeaten teams in Germany stay unbeaten? – Bayern Munich, RB Leipzig, and Hoffenheim all enter the weekend undefeated. Bayern lead the bunch with 7 wins and 2 draws. Leipzig have 6 wins and 3 draws and Hoffenheim have 5 wins and 4 draws.  This weekend we see two of these teams face each other as Bayern Munich hosts Hoffenheim.  This could be a massive game in the league.  Hoffenheim have won their last five games coming into this game.  They have skyrocketed up the table.  Munich meanwhile has the best defense and the best offense in the league and has rebounded nicely from their two straight draws with two straight wins.  Leipzig meanwhile hosts Mainz.  Leipzig has won 4 straight.  Mainz is in 9th position currently with some very shaky form.  Will all three remain unbeaten? Will Munich stay on top of the league?
  5. Can Roma, Milan, Lazio, or Napoli keep pace with Juventus? – Juventus looks stronger and stronger each week. They are top of the table right now and have a nice 4 point lead on the pack of teams chasing Juventus and fighting for the other Champions League places. None of these teams can really afford to drop any points as Juventus look to distance themselves from the pack.  Roma host Bologna this weekend.  Milan travel to Palermo.  Napoli hosts Lazio.  Roma and Milan should get three points this weekend.  Napoli and Lazio will need to win this weekend or else they will fall behind the pack and even further behind Juventus.  Juventus travel to Chievo Verona this weekend.  Chievo are in the bottom half of the table and will find it hard to earn three points this weekend.  This will put added pressure on the other teams. Will the pack keep pace?

5 Games To Watch This Weekend

Arsenal vs. Tottenham – The North London Derby should be a good game this weekend and could be a big statement game.  Can Arsene get another win against his North London rivals?

My Pick – Arsenal 2, Tottenham 1: Sanchez, Ozil, and Heung-Min

Brad’s Pick – Arsenal 2, Tottenham 1: Walcott, Ozil, and Alli

Sevilla vs. Barcelona – The biggest game this weekend sees two of the top four and two of the most successful teams in Europe as Sevilla hosts Barcelona.  One team will be right in the hunt for the title meanwhile the other might be out of it with a loss.

My Pick – Sevilla 2, Barcelona 2: Vietto, N’Zonzi, Suarez, and Neymar

Brad’s Pick – Sevilla 1, Barcelona 3: Nasri, Suarez (2), and Messi

Bayern Munich vs. Hoffenheim – Two unbeaten teams in the Bundesliga meet in Bavaria this weekend.  Can Munich start their pull away for the title?

My Pick – Munich 2, Hoffenheim 1: Costa, Lewandowski, and Wagner

Brad’s Pick – Munich 2, Hoffenheim 0: Muller and Ribery

Napoli vs. Lazio – Four and Five in Italy meet this weekend in Naples as 5th place Napoli hosts 4th place Lazio.  Napoli will look to rebound and Lazio will look to make it 7 unbeaten in a row.

My Pick – Napoli 2, Lazio 2: Gabbiadini, Callejon, Anderson, and Immobile

Brad’s Pick – Napoli 1, Lazio 1: Hamsik and Immobile

PSG vs. Rennes – PSG seem to be righting the ship but they are behind Nice right now.  Rennes could go level with PSG if they are able to get the win this weekend.

My Pick – PSG 2, Rennes 1: Jese, Cavani, and Gourcuff

Brad’s Pick – PSG 2, Rennes 2: Rabiot (2) Baal, and Andre

Where Do We Stand…

Ligue 1

This has to be the biggest shock so far. PSG were supposed to run away with another league title.  The first 11 games have not gone as smoothly as they would have hoped.  They have lost 2 games already this season, which is the same as all of last season.  They are now 6 points behind the leaders.  The leaders have come out of nowhere as Nice is now unbeaten after 11 games.  Monaco were also tipped to be in the title race.  They are currently in second place, level on points with PSG.  Guingamp and Rennes are three points behind PSG and Monaco, and they could be in for a Champions League place.  Is this going to be the first year since 2011/12 in which a different team wins the league?

This season in France, Ligue 1 is using the relegation playoff.  This means that the bottom 2 will be relegated and the 18th place team will play the third place team from Ligue 2.  Right now the race is very tight.  Lorient and Nancy are currently in the relegation places with Caen in the relegation playoff spot.  However, Lille, Montpellier, Nantes, and Bastia are all within 4 points of the bottom of the table.  This could be an interesting as both Metz and Dijon are not in the relegation zone.  These two teams were promoted last season.  Nancy seems to be the only newcomer to be struggling.  Will the other two drop back or will a seemingly established Ligue 1 side get relegated?

Primera Division

 This title race seems familiar but feels a little different.  Four different teams have sat on top of the table and 7 different teams have been in the top four.  Right now the top four are Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Sevilla.  The top 5 teams are all within 5 points of each other.  Real Madrid are on top of the league and are unbeaten so far 10 games in.  Two points back are Barcelona who have lost 2 games this season but have the highest scoring offense.  The best defense is a point behind Barca and 3 behind Real Madrid.  Sevilla are level on points with Atletico in 4th and Villarreal is 2 points back of Atleti and Sevilla.  Villarreal and Sevilla could have a great battle for the fourth and final spot.  Can Real Madrid end their 4 year title drought?

Granada seems to be in trouble this season.  They have failed to win a game so far and have just 3 points.  They are 6 points from safety right now.  The other two spots are going to be a tight race.  Right now it is Osasuna, 7 points, and Sporting Gijon (9 points).  However, there are teams all within 4 points of Osasuna.  Deportivo is level on points with Sporting.  Leganes, Alaves, and Valencia are a point above safety.  Espanyol and Betis are 2 points above safety.  Malaga should be safe but even they are just 3 points from safety in 11th place.  Can all three of the newly promoted teams (Osasuna, Leganes, and Alaves) survive?

Serie A

 This seems like a broken record but Juventus are on top of the Serie A table.  They have the best defense in the league and the second best attack.  They have lost twice this year but their 9 wins in the first 11 mean they are 4 points clear of Roma.  The gap between first and second is the same as the gap between second and sixth place.  Milan is a point behind Roma and look to be making a comeback.  They have a bright young team lead by 17 year old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.  Lazio is 2 points back of Roma.  Napoli is 3 points back and Atalanta is four points back.  This could make for a fantastic Champions League places race this season.  Can Milan make it back into Europe?

The relegation race seems to be down to four teams that are within 2 points of each other.  Crotone is at the bottom on 5 points.  Palermo is a point above them and then Empoli and Pescara are a point above Palermo.  One interesting piece of business from the bottom half of the table is that Frank de Boer is set to be sacked tomorrow after only 7 wins in 16 matches in charge according to the Gazzetta dello Sport.  Will this move help Inter get back to winning ways or will it hurt them?

Premier League

After a shock last season, the big boys of England seem to be back on.  Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool are all level on 23 points.  Chelsea is a point back.  All four of these teams have looked fantastic at times but also seem to have flaws.  Tottenham is the only unbeaten team left and is 2 points off the top of the table as they have won 5 games and drawn 5.  Everton look a much better team under Ronald Koeman and could push for the top 4.  Manchester United have been disappointing as they are 7 points behind Chelsea.  The big boys seem to be on top and are looking to put some distance between them and the rest of the league.  Which one of these teams can pull away this season?

The bottom of the table is starting to shake out into not as exciting as a race in the past.  Hull are in 18th place.  They are 3 points behind West Ham, West Brom, and Middlesbrough.  If they want to survive this season they are going to need to find ways to win games.  Swansea has a new manager in Bob Bradley but the American has his work cut out for him.  Swansea has 5 points from 10 games and has only won 1 game this season.  In last place is Sunderland and they are on a historically bad run.  They have failed to win in any of their first 10 games.  They have just 2 points so far and are on pace for 7.6 points this season.  That would mean that they are the worst team ever in the Premier League. The record is held by Derby County with 11 points.  Will Sunderland set the record for fewest points ever?

Bundesliga

Bayern Munich is on top. Surprise, Surprise.  They are unbeaten through 9 games and have the best offense and best defense in the league.  They are not the only unbeaten team however.  Leipzig and Hoffenheim are both unbeaten.  Leipzig are newly promoted and just 2 points behind Bayern Munich.  They have won 4 straight and have the joint second best defense.  Hoffenheim is in third place and is 4 points behind Munich.  The race for the other three Champions League spots should be interesting.  The undefeated teams will have to fight off Koln, currently in 4th place, Hertha Berlin, a point behind Koln, and a trio of teams 3 points behind Koln.  Borussia Dortmund is one of those teams and it has to be a disappointment for the club and their fans.  The other two teams are Eintracht Frankfurt and Freiburg.  Can anyone catch up to Bayern?

Bundesliga also has a relegation playoff.  The bottom 2 teams of the 18 teams in the league get relegated and the 16th team place faces the third place team in 2.Bundesliga.  Right now Hamburger and Ingolstadt look to be in some trouble.  They are both winless after 9 games.  They have 2 points so far this season.  Wolfsburg is currently in 16th place.  They are four points clear of Ingolstadt.  It looks like it could be a tight race for that spot as Bremen, 7 points, Darmstadt, 8 points, Augsburg, 8 points, and Schalke 04, 8 points, are all bunched together.  Will we see a big name team in the relegation playoffs?

Score from the Weekend

Me – 82 (10)
Brad – 53 (10)

Team of the Weekend

Goalkeeper
T. Heaton (Burnley)

Defenders
G. Chiellini (Juventus), M. Keane (Burnley), Naldo (Schalke)

Midfielders
S. Fofana (Udinese), I. Gundogan (Manchester City), M. Risse (Koln), W. Cyprien (Nice)

Forwards
A. Robben (Bayern Munich), S. Aguero (Manchester City), C. Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

Week 10

5 Games to Watch This Weekend

Tottenham vs. Leicester – Last season champions seem to be finding their form again as they have won all of their Champions League games and their last Premier League game.  They come into this game in 12th place.  They travel to London this weekend to face Tottenham.  Tottenham is the only unbeaten team left in the Premier League.  Tottenham enter the game having drawn their last two games however.  They are without Moussa Sissoko who was given a three match ban for his elbow on Harry Arter last weekend.  Harry Kane and Toby Alderweired are back in training.  Toby might play but it looks like it is too soon for Harry.  Leicester are without Mendy and Benalouane.  Matthew James and Andy King are doubts.  It looks like Vardy and Slimani could start but Okazaki is close to starting.  Is this Tottenham’s first loss? Will Leicester get back to their form from last season?

My Pick – Tottenham 1, Leicester 1: Alli and Slimani

Brad’s Pick – Tottenham 2, Leicester 0: Alli and Eriksen

Atletico Madrid vs. Malaga – This game is a must watch to see how Atletico Madrid respond to their first loss of the season.  They were defeated by Sevilla last time out.  This weekend they host Malaga who have won 3, drawn 3, and lost 3.  They are unbeaten in their last three games including wins over Bilbao and Leganes.  Atletico has dominated the last 5 winning 3 of the 6 with 2 draws.  Atletico Madrid is without injured Cerci, Augusto, and Moya.  Koke is out of the game due to his two yellow cards he saw against Sevilla.  Look for Gaitan to start on the right-hand side.  Gimenez is healthy but Savic looks set to hold his spot.  Malaga are without Diego Llorente, Weligton, Charles, Keko, and Miguel Torres due to injury.  Bakary Kone is doubtful but looks set to play due to a lack of options.  Juanpi is back from suspension and should play behind Sandro.  Can Atletico bounce back?  Can Malaga continue their current form?

My Pick – Atletico 2, Malaga 1: Griezmann, Carrasco, and Sandro

Brad’s Pick – Atletico 2, Malaga 1: Griezmann (2) and Juanpi

Hoffenheim vs. Hertha Berlin – Third and fourth meet in Germany this weekend as Hoffenheim host Hertha Berlin.  Hoffenheim is one of the three unbeaten teams left in the Bundesliga as they have won their last four straight games after drawing their first four games.  Hertha Berlin has only lost 1 game all season and that was against Bayern Munich.  Hertha is 1 point above Hoffenheim right now and 3 points behind Bayern Munich.  Hoffenheim is without Mark Uth.  Otherwise, they should play a very strong side.  Hertha Berlin have a much longer injury list.  They are without Duda, Darida, Koerber, Lustenberger, and Plattenhardt.  Valentin Stocker is suspended.  Good news, American John Brooks has been great for Hertha this season.  Can Hoffenheim stay unbeaten? Will Hertha keep pace with Bayern?

My Pick – Hoffenheim 2, Hertha 2: Wagner, Kramaric, Ibisevic, and Kalou

Brad’s Pick – Hoffenheim 1, Hertha 0: Demirbay

Juventus vs. Napoli – Probably one of the best games of the weekend as first place takes on third place in the Serie A when Juventus hosts Napoli.  Juventus lost just their second game of the season last weekend but rebounded well with a win this week over Sampdoria.  Napoli has won their last two after losing two games in a row. These two teams are separated by just four points this season and Napoli could really put some pressure on Juventus if they win.  Juventus are without Dybala and Pjaca.  This means that we will see Mandzukic and Higuain up front.  Claudio Marchisio has returned and should start in the midfield.  Evra is a doubt and likely not to feature.  Napoli seems to have found some balance after losing Arkadiusz Milik to a knee injury.  Manolo Gabbiadini was his replacement but he is out on suspension.  Raul Albiol has returned to training but is not likely to play.  Will Juventus stay on top of the league? Can Napoli tighten the gap?

My Pick – Juventus 3, Napoli 2: Higuain (2), Pjanic, Callejon, and Insigne

Brad’s Pick – Juventus 1, Napoli 1: Higuain and Callejon

Toulouse vs. Lyon – This weekend in France we have two teams that seem to be traveling in different directions.  Toulouse has won 4 of their last 6 and only lost twice all season.  They are currently in 4th place in the league.  They host Lyon this weekend who has only won 3 times in their last 11 games.  They started the season with two wins and won their first Champions League game, but since then have only managed to win twice in the league.  Jessy Pi and Clement Michelin may return this weekend but Toulouse is without Tongo Doumbia and Jean-Daniel Akpa-Akpro.  Dodi Lukebakio is ineligible.  Lyon are without Jallet and Valbuena.  Nabil Fekir is back and should partner with Lacazette up front.  Lyon are in desperate need of a victory.  Can they get back on track? Can Toulouse stay in the race for a European place?

My Pick – Toulouse 1, Lyon 1: Braithwaite and Lacazette

Brad’s Pick – Toulouse 1, Lyon 2: Braithwaite, Gonalons, and Lacazette

Look Back on Week 9

  1. Le Classique – This was not the game to watch in France this weekend as PSG did not have the ability to break down a well disciplined and defensive Marseille.  It was a point that did not really help PSG, as Nice continued their spectacular form.  Nice was tied with Metz before they scored twice in the last 6 minutes of the game.  Nice are now 4 points clear of Monaco and 6 points clear of PSG.  This is starting to look better and better for Nice each week and might be the end of the PSG reign on Ligue 1.
  2. How will Manchester City respond? – I think this is more of a mixed response.  They came back and earned a point this weekend against Southampton that keeps them on top of the table, but makes it now a month since their last win.  They get the chance to get back to winning ways this week as they face off with Manchester United in the League Cup.  Arsenal also failed to win this weekend as they drew 0-0 with Middlesbrough.  Liverpool defeated West Brom 2-1 to move level on points with City and Arsenal.  Chelsea made the statement of the weekend as they defeated Manchester United 4-0.  They are now top 4, just a point behind the other 3.  Tottenham have fallen to 5th following their draw with Bournemouth.  The race is really tight and it is anybody’s call who will come out on top.
  3. Are Milan for real? – Potentially.  They have such a young exciting team right now and they came away with a massive win against Juventus this weekend.  Manuel Locatelli scored an absolute stunner for the match winner.  Then at the end of the game Gianluigi Donnarumma saved the game with a beautiful save.  This team is fantastic this weekend and did a great job earning all three points.  Juventus stay on top but the gap is only 2 points between them and Milan and Roma.  Napoli is 4 points behind Juventus.  This is starting to look like a potential title race in Italy.
  4. Is this the weekend that the Madrid clubs slip up? – Kinda? Real Madrid needed a late goal from Morata to earn all three points and maintain their unbeaten season.  Atletico Madrid suffered their first defeat of the season.  They lost 1-0 to Sevilla this weekend.  The top of the table is so tight that now Real Madrid is on top with 21 points.  Sevilla sits in second with 20 points.  Barcelona, who also needed a very late goal from the penalty spot to defeat Valencia, is now in third and 2 points behind Real Madrid.  Villarreal maintained their unbeaten season as they defeated Las Palmas 2-1.  Atletico has fallen to 5th place.
  5. How many unbeaten teams will we have in the Bundesliga after this weekend? – Three.   Bayern Munich remained unbeaten after their 2-0 win over Monchengladbach.  Leipzig remained unbeaten following a 3-1 win over Werder Bremen.  Hoffenheim managed to win their 4th game of the season and stay unbeaten as they defeated Leverkusen 3-0.  The only undefeated team to suffer defeat was Koln who lost their first game of the season 2-1 to Hertha Berlin. Munich are still on top of the table with a 2 point lead over Leipzig.  Hertha is a point behind Leipzig and Hoffenheim is now in the top 4.

Score from the Weekend

Me – 72 (4)
Brad – 43 (1)

Team of the Weekend

Goalkeeper
G. Donnarumma (Milan)

Defenders
R. Fanni (Marseille), Jemerson (Monaco), N. Maksimovic (Napoli), D. Alaba (Bayern Munich)

Midfielders
P. Coutinho (Liverpool), X. Shaqiri (Stoke), N. Keita (Leipzig)

Forwards
N. Kalinic (Fiorentina), S. Ramirez (Malaga), F. Orellana (Celta Vigo)

5 Things to Watch During Week 9

  1. Le Classique – This weekend is the Derby of France as PSG hosts Marseille. This is the biggest game in France each season, regardless of where the teams are in standings. These are the only two French teams to have won European trophies.  This season, both teams are not happy with how they have started.  PSG is currently in third place, but they have their sights on the top of the table as the club has won the title for the last four seasons.  Marseille has struggled recently as they have had some poor decisions made at the top.  They are currently in the bottom half of the table as they sit with 3 wins, 3 draws, and 3 losses.  Marseille have a new club owner in Frank McCourt and a new manager Rudi Garcia this season.  Both clubs will look to make a statement as the rest of France and the world watches.
  2. How will Manchester City respond? – City traveled to Catalunya this week and came away on the wrong end of a 4-0 defeat. City actually played well for the most part before Claudio Bravo made a horrible mistake and handled the ball and was sent off. City has now failed to win in their last four games in all competitions.  They are now level on points with Arsenal.  When they take the field this weekend, they could no longer be on top of the table.  How will Pep set up his team to respond? Will Aguero come into the team? How will he play?  The pressure is building on Pep.  How will City respond?
  3. Are Milan for real? – AC Milan looks like a team that might be back in the conversation. This weekend they face their perennial rivals for the title, Juventus. They might not have been in the conversation the last couple years but they are one of the most recognizable teams in the world.  They are currently level on points with Roma and just 5 points behind Juventus.  Roma will be massive Milan fans this weekend as they will need a victory from Milan to keep Juventus close.  Milan will be looking to make a statement this weekend.  This will be a massive game this weekend.
  4. Is this the weekend that the Madrid clubs slip up? As a Barcelona fan, I sure hope so. Atletico faces a tough trip to Sevilla and Real Madrid host Athletic Bilbao. Sevilla currently sits third in the table and is just 1 point behind the Madrid clubs.  They have been very strong.  The only team to beat them is Athletic Bilbao.  Bilbao has suffered 3 defeats but has 5 wins, which is the same as Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Sevilla, and Barcelona.  Bilbao is 3 points back so a win will put them in the mix.  If Sevilla and Bilbao both win this weekend, then the title race in Spain only gets more interesting as potentially 6 teams will all be within 4 points.
  5. How many unbeaten teams will we have in the Bundesliga after this weekend? – Right now there are four teams left that are unbeaten. Bayern Munich has won 5 games and drawn 2. Koln and Leipzig have each won 4 games and drawn 3.  Hoffenheim has won 3 games and drawn 4.  Munich faces a tough test this weekend when they host Monchengladbach.  Gladbach have given Munich trouble over the last couple years but with Ancelotti in charge, maybe the story will be different.  Koln might have the toughest game of the weekend as they travel to Berlin to face Hertha.  The surprise undefeated team in RB Leipzig.  The newly promoted side has been amazing and they will look to maintain their unbeaten run against Werder Bremen.  Lastly, Hoffenheim will look to maintain their unbeaten run when they travel to Bayer Leverkusen.  I think at least 1 of these teams will suffer defeat this weekend.

5 Games to Watch This Weekend

Chelsea vs. Manchester United – After a drab affair last Monday against Liverpool, Jose Mourinho now faces his old club this weekend.  This will be one of the most watched games this weekend.  Conte is without Kurt Zouma, but John Terry and Willian may be back.  Mourinho has his whole team available except Phil Jones.    Chelsea has looked good in their 3-4-3 formation.  After losing two straight to Liverpool and Arsenal, they have won the last two games.  United will be looking to get back to winning ways after back to back draws.  Mourinho will not want to lose this game.

My Pick – Chelsea 3, United 1: Hazard, Costa (2), and Pogba

Brad’s Pick – Chelsea 2, United 2: Costa, Hazard, Ibrahimovic, and Pogba

Sevilla vs. Atletico Madrid – Jorge Sampaoli seems to have Sevilla rolling.  He is without Tremoulinas and Krohn-Dehli.  Look for Vietto to start up front with Vitolo and Nasri.  Gameiro returns to face his old club as he lines up for Atletico.  Cerci, Augusto and Moya are out.  Gimenez is doubtful.  Sevilla have looked strong this season but they are facing a tough opponent.

My Pick – Sevilla 1, Atleti 2: Vietto, Griezmann, and Niguez

Brad’s Pick – Sevilla 1, Atleti 1: Nasri, Koke, and Gameiro

Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Monchengladbach – Unbeaten Munich are without Ribery and Starke.  Their opponents have a much longer list of injuries.  Gladbach are without Drmic, Dominguez, Doncoure, Schulz, and Christensen.  Thorgan Hazard and Raffael are doubtful.  The injury list did not prevent Gladbach from getting a big win in Scotland.  Look for Bayern to dominate this game.

My Pick – Bayern 2, Gladbach 1: Costa, Lewandowski, and Stindl

Brad’s Pick – Bayern 4, Gladbach 1: Lewandowski(2), Muller,  Alonso, and Hahn

Milan vs. Juventus – Milan plays a very young team that features the future Italy goalkeeper in 17 year old Gianluigi Donnarumma.  He has been remarkable.  Suso and Niang have been great on either side of Bacca this season.  Juventus are without Rugani, Chiellini, Asamoah, and Mandzukic.  This means that Benatia, Bonucci, and Barzagli will start at the back.  This looks to be a tight game but I am not sure Milan are ready yet for Juventus.

My Pick – Milan 1, Juventus 2: Niang, Higuain, and Pjanic

Brad’s Pick – Milan 2, Juventus 3: Suso, Bonaventura, Dybala, and Higuain (2)

PSG vs. Marseille – PSG will be without Javier Pastore.  Veratti, Di Maria, and Motta are all doubtful.  Marseille are without Cabella, Abou Diaby, and Veinqueur.  Fanni and Alessandrini are doubtful.  This could be a turning point in the season for both teams.  Look for this game to be open but the squad strength of PSG might be the difference.

My Pick – PSG 2, Marseille 1: Moura, Cavani, and Gomis

Brad’s Pick – PSG 2, Marseille 0: Moura and Matuidi

 

A Look Back at Week 8

  1. Will we have a new team on top of the Premier League? – No but it is tight at the top.  Manchester City opened the door for another team to take the top spot this weekend when City drew 1-1 with Everton on Saturday.  Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring in the second half.  City missed two penalties but Nolito eventually leveled the score.  This means that Tottenham could go top of the table, but they also needed a comeback goal.  Nacer Chadli scored against his old club Tottenham to give West Brom a lead with 8 minutes to go in the game.  Dele Alli then scored the equalizer in the 89th minute of the game.  Arsenal closed the gap on City as they defeated Swansea City 3-2 despite going down to 10 men.  Then Liverpool played a scoreless draw today with Manchester United.  This means that City is still top, but level on points with Arsenal.  Tottenham is a point behind them and Liverpool is 2 points back.
  2. How will Barcelona respond? – The answer is good but it does not help that all of the top 6 in Spain won this weekend.  Barcelona took the lead thanks to Rafinha.  He would double the score just 15 minutes later.  Suarez would put the game out of reach just before halftime.  Then Leo Messi came on in the second half and with his third touch of the game, he scored the fourth and final goal.  This means that Barcelona got back to winning ways and is feeling good ahead of Pep’s return this week.  However, they are still 2 points back from the Madrid clubs.  Atletico Madrid put 7 past Granada and Real Madrid scored 6 against Betis.  Barcelona is in need of some help if they are to get back to the top of the table.\
  3. Can Ingolstadt or Hamburger get their first win of the season? – While neither team was able to get their first win of the season, Hamburger was able to get their second point of the season and move off the bottom of the table.  Hamburger went to Monchengladbach and drew 0-0.  This is their second draw of the season.  Ingolstadt gave up two first half goals to Koln and that pretty much sealed the defeat for them.  They were able to get a late consolation goal.   Both teams will turn their sights to next weekend.  Hamburger gets to host Eintracht Frankfurt.  Frankfurt is in 8th place on the table.  Ingolstadt hosts the high flying Borussia Dortmund.  This could be a tough weekend in the season for both of these teams.
  4. Will we ever see another close Serie A campaign? – Maybe next year.  Juventus got another victory this weekend and is now 5 points clear having just lost 1 game this season.  Napoli was second before the weekend and is now 5th thanks to their 3-1 defeat against Roma.  Roma jumped to 2nd thanks to the win but they are still a way off Juventus.  The race for the other Champions League places is going to be interesting.  The distance between 2nd and 8th is just 3 points.  This is what will be worth watching as the season goes on.  AC Milan seems to have righted the ship as they are in third place now.  Juventus looks set for another Scudetto this season but there is always hope.
  5. Can PSG respond to Nice and Toulouse winning already this weekend? – The answer is yes.  PSG got two first half goals from Moura and Cavani.  This put the game out of reach, however, Diarra would pull Nancy one back but it was not enough.  PSG would get the win and move into 2nd place.  They are 4 points behind Nice and level on points with Monaco.  This sets up an interesting weekend next weekend as Monaco host Montpellier first.  Then Nice travels to Metz and finally PSG hosts Marseille.  This could be the weekend that PSG reclaims the top spot in the league as they seem to be settling into good form.

Score Update

Me – 68 (8)

Brad –42 (4)

Games to Watch This Week

Tuesday – Lyon vs. Juventus – Lyon France will host the game to watch on Tuesday.  Juventus is on top of the group table with a win and a draw so far this campaign as they defeated Dinamo and drew with Sevilla.  Lyon meanwhile defeated Dinamo but lost against Sevilla.  A win for either team could be the difference between advancing and going home early.

Wednesday – Barcelona vs. Manchester City – Pep returns to the Camp Nou this week as he brings Manchester City to Barcelona.  His City side has failed to win in their last 3 games.  Now they face a Barcelona team that will be looking to make a statement.  Can Pep get 3 points in his old home or will Barcelona send a reminder to the rest of the world?

Thursday – Manchester United vs. Fenerbache – Manchester United will look to get their second win in the Europa League this week as they host Fenerbache.  The Turkish side is top of the table so far following their victory over Feyenoord and their draw with Zorya.  Manchester United defeated Zorya last time out after losing to Feyenoord in the opening round.  United will be in need of 3 points this week.