World Football: 5 Upsets to Watch for This Coming Weekend
Big clubs, unlikely league leaders and fashionable upstarts beware. Upsets might be coming.
European leagues resume this weekend, and all over the continent there will be chances for upsets.
AC Milan snapped out of their funk with a win in league play this week—or did they?
Barcelona seem untouchable in their league—but are they?
Napoli and Everton are riding high—but should they get used to it?
Read on for five possible upsets to watch for this weekend.
Parma vs. AC Milan
Details: Serie A, Saturday, noon ET (all times Eastern), Stadio Ennio Tardini, Parma, Italy
TV: RAI (all listings for American market)
Yes, it's too easy to pick on AC Milan at this point. The Rossoneri have lost three of their five league matches, including one we highlighted—shameless self-promotion alert—here last week, and they just haven't been the same since the departures of Zlatan Ibrahiomvic and Thiago Silva to Paris Saint-Germain.
But Massimiliano Allegri's struggling team grabbed a 2-0 home win over Cagliari. So that means everything is fine, right?
Well, up next this weekend is a trip to Parma, where Roberto Donadoni's team has beaten Chievo Verona and drawn with Fiorentina.
Parma have lost twice this season, but those defeats came against Juventus and Napoli, the top two teams in the table. Five players have scored already—none more than once—so AC Milan won't be able to sick the defense on a particular player.
Will it happen? With Milan struggling so mightily, it would be silly to rule it out.
Sampdoria vs. Napoli
Details: Serie A, Sunday, 9 a.m., Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Italy
Speaking of Napoli, Walter Mazzarri and company are joint-top of the Serie A table, level on points with defending champs Juventus. Up next is a trip the length of Italy's west coast to newly promoted Sampdoria.
The match will be harder than it sounds. Besides the long commute, Napoli will be facing a team that is, surprisingly, third in the table with 10 points.
Sampdoria shocked AC Milan in both teams' first match and have gone five games unbeaten in their first season since being promoted from Serie B.
The fast start has slowed somewhat with back-to-back draws, but Maxi Lopez (three goals) remains a threat whenever he plays. Problem is, he's suspended.
Will it happen? Without Lopez, Sampdoria will struggle to keep up with Napoli's potent offense, which features Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani. Last time out, Cavani hit a hat trick against Lazio.
Sevilla vs. Barcelona
Details: La Liga, Saturday, 4 p.m., Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Sevilla, Spain
TV: beIN Sport
Barcelona remain perfect in the league, having won all five matches so far while outscoring opponents 14-3. Argentine superstar Lionel Messi has been his customarily lethal self with six goals so far.
Meanwhile, bitter rivals and defending champs Real Madrid are struggling. A return of seven points through five matches has Jose Mourinho's team in seventh place, eight points Barcelona.
One of Real's two league losses came two weeks ago at Sevilla, Barcelona's opponent this weekend. Michel Gonzalez's Sevilla are fifth in the table, four points behind Barca, and in Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas and Ivan Rakitic, they feature a fearsome attack of their own.
Will it happen? Barca and Messi are in such good form, an outright upset seems unlikely. But a draw?
Fuham vs. Manchester City
Details: English Premier League, Saturday, 10 a.m., Craven Cottage, London
TV: Fox Soccer
Manchester City's title defense has started slowly. The defense, so solid throughout the title campaign, has yet to record a clean sheet, and Roberto Mancini has continued to tinker with his formation.
Fulham will present a stiff challenge this weekend. The Cottagers are strong at home—two wins out of two by a combined score of 8-0 so far—and Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov is looking like an inspired signing.
Will it happen? Let's put it this way. If City keep their first clean sheet of the season, Joleon Lescott might just go ahead and shave his head once and for all.
Everton vs. Southampton
Details: English Premier League, Saturday, 10 a.m., Goodison Park, Liverpool, England
TV: Fox Soccer Plus (delayed, 2 p.m.)
Everton are the new "It" team in the Premier League after storming to third place on a budget that would cause Arsene Wenger to chuckle. Marouane Fellaini and his disco-fabulous hair are the toast of, well, everyone, and the Toffees' left side is straight-up outstanding.
Southampton, meanwhile, finally picked up their first win—and first points—last weekend by thrashing Aston Villa 4-1 at home. Rickie Lambert keeps scoring (four goals, tied for second in the league), and so do the Saints as a team (nine goals, the same as Chelsea, Everton and Arsenal).
That said, they've also allowed 15.
Will it happen? We've been wrong about Southampton before, so probably not.