Club football is back after an enthralling international break.
An important round of games is taking place across Europe. This weekend provides the perfect opportunity for the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Barcelona and Juventus to consolidate their domestic leads.
As we approach the latter stages of the season, a number of closely-contested matches could significantly alter the final standings come May.
Read on to find out which teams can move closer to national glory and which are on upset alert this week.
Friday, February 8, 2013 at 2:30 p.m ET
PSG have a huge opportunity on Friday.
Carlo Ancelotti's side have the chance to go six points clear of Lyon at the top of Ligue 1. With their rivals hosting a tough Lille outfit on Sunday evening, now is the time for Zlatan and co. to assert themselves at the top of the French championship.
Bastia have endured a tough time lately. No win in three games places the club just six points beyond the relegation zone. Earlier in the season, PSG racked up a 4-0 thumping against the promoted outfit. Goals from Jeremy Menez, Blaise Matuidi and an Ibrahimovic brace saw the title favourites triumph in Corsica.
Thiago Silva remains sidelined due to a thigh injury picked up in early January (via Sky Sports). New signing David Beckham is still in London and isn't scheduled to make his PSG debut until the end of the month (via ESPN).
Prediction: PSG 4-0 SC Bastia
Result: PSG 3-1 SC Bastia
Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 7:30 a.m ET
Can a resurgent Newcastle upset another of the Premier League's top four? The French Revolution at St. James' Park has made an immediate impact on an otherwise dismal season for the Magpies.
Last week's 3-2 win over Chelsea sends Newcastle to White Hart Lane with renewed optimism. They are facing Spurs at a time of discomfort for Andre Villas-Boas' side. Jermain Defoe is missing for the next three weeks after sustaining ankle ligament damage in the recent win at West Brom (via BBC Sport).
Emmanuel Adebayor—whose Togo side were recently eliminated from the African Cup of Nations—will have to travel straight from the airport to the North East (via The Daily Mirror). AVB recently suggested Gareth Bale will keep his floating position across the forward line, providing much-needed firepower to a lonesome Clint Dempsey (via Sky Sports).
This match has huge implications at both ends of the table. Spurs can leapfrog Chelsea with a win, adding extra pressure to Rafa Benitez's job when the European Champions meet Wigan a few hours later. Newcastle can also put themselves nine points clear of the relegation zone with a victory.
Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Newcastle
Result: Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 Newcastle
Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 12:00 p.m ET
Serie A continues to tighten. Lazio, Roma, Catania and Inter suffered painful defeats last week, allowing Fiorentina another shot of breaking into the European places. Although unlikely, a win over Juventus would turn the division on its head.
Recent results will have the visitors smelling blood. Juventus have won two of five league matches after the winter break, signalling Antonio Conte's side aren't back to full speed just yet. A Champions League away trip follows this match as the Italians travel to Scotland for a tough encounter with Neil Lennon's Celtic.
This is a huge week for Juve, no doubt about it. Fiorentina held the famous black and whites to a draw back in September 2012 and would undoubtedly take that result again. The question is: how many Juve players are already looking ahead to Celtic Park?
Prediction: Juventus 2-0 Fiorentina
Result: Juventus 2-0 Fiorentina
Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 12:30 p.m ET
The two Manchester clubs rarely kick off at the same time. After topsy-turvy timings of the past two weeks, City get the chance to claw back some points on their United rivals.
Roberto Mancini's team were outplayed by Liverpool last week and must secure victory against a Southampton side that appears to be improving on a weekly basis.
Mauricio Pochettino's Saints vision is coming together. The Argentine has enforced a work ethic and tireless energy into his team. This style ran Manchester United close a couple of weeks back and was complimented by Sir Alex Ferguson, who suggested the Southerners were the most impressive team to visit Old Trafford this season (via The Daily Mail).
An interesting nugget for this one: the Premier League's two toughest tacklers will meet on the St. Mary's pitch. Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure should also start in a match that could project either club's season onto greatness (via Yahoo! Sports).
Prediction: Southampton 1-3 Manchester City
Result: Southampton 3-1 Manchester City
Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 12:30 p.m ET
The term "runaway" does Bayern Munich very little justice at the moment. Jupp Heynckes' league leaders have sprinted into a 12 point lead over Borussia Dortmund, suggesting the Bundesliga title is all but wrapped up.
Bayern fans will be pleased to face Schalke during a difficult spell. The recent last-minute loss to bottom side Greuther Furth was tragic—but not unique of Die Knappen's form. One win in six Bundesliga games isn't good enough for a side that also has a Champions League Round of 16 tie with Galatasaray to contend with.
Surely this match can only go one way? Perhaps Schalke should have kept Lewis Holtby until the end of the season after all.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 4-0 Schalke
Results: Bayern Munich 4-0 Schalke
Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 2:30 p.m ET
One of the weekend's most enticing fixtures sees Napoli travel to the Stadio Olimpico. Lazio currently trail their visitors by six points, meaning a win is an absolute must in Saturday's game.
Aside from the cup victory over Juventus, Lazio have endured an indifferent start to 2013. Dropped points against Palermo, Chievo and Genoa have seen Vladimir Petkovic's team fall behind in the quest for an automatic Champions League spot.
Louis Saha is likely to come into the side as emergency cover for Miroslav Klose. The influential German is sidelined for two months and will be a huge loss in the coming weeks (via ESPN).
If you're looking for match-winners, it's difficult to peer beyond current Serie A top scorer Edinson Cavani. Can the 18-goal marksman snatch victory for the team from Naples?
Prediction: Lazio 1-2 Napoli
Result: Lazio 1-1 Napoli
Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 2:45 p.m ET
PSV Eindhoven's recent inconsistency has made for interesting viewing. Dick Advocaat's league leaders entered 2013 with a 3-1 home loss to PEC Zwolle. They followed this with a 5-1 away win over Heracles and 7-0 demolition of ADO Den Haag at the Philips Stadion.
Which side of the beast will we see this week? Either way, the trip to Vitesse must be a fruitful one for the Eredivisie frontrunners.
Fred Rutten's team have been in terrible form recently, failing to win in five of their last six league games. At this stage in the season, Vittese's occupancy of sixth place looks to be rather ambitious.
Prediction: Vitesse 1-4 PSV Eindhoven
Result: Vitesse 2-2 PSV Eindhoven
Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 4:00 p.m ET
Cristiano Ronaldo is not a man who scores own goals regularly. More importantly, the Portuguese superstar rarely costs his team three points. As witnessed in the 1-0 loss to Granada, Jose Mourinho's team have suffered some bad luck recently.
Even so, Real Madrid must improve if they are to finish third. Sevilla are making strides under Unai Emery and have won two of the last three games. While a trip to the Bernabeu is a different proposition than beating Granada and Rayo Vallecano, this could be the perfect time for another upset.
Much of the pre-match build-up has centred on Real Madrid's upcoming date with Manchester United. Jose Mourinho may be tempted to rest key players, especially as the Spanish champions are 16 points behind Barcelona.
Prediction: Real Madrid 3-1 Sevilla
Result: Real Madrid 4-1 Sevilla
Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 6:00 a.m ET
It should be business as usual at the Camp Nou on Sunday. Tito Vilanova has the strength in depth to rest a number of important faces if he deems it necessary. Barcelona will be confident of dismantling Getafe's European hopes no matter which starting 11 is picked.
The draw against Valencia is unlikely to hinder a side that is destined for the La Liga championship. Getafe travel to Catalonia with one win in their last six games. A handful of injuries and suspensions to Rafa Lopez and Miguel Angel Moya could make this even more difficult.
Barcelona's only absentee alongside Eric Abidal's long-term illness is Xavi (via UEFA.com). The Spanish maestro is expected to return in time for the Champions League fixture against Milan, but is unlikely to feature domestically before February 23.
Prediction: Barcelona 3-0 Getafe
Result: Barcelona 6-1 Getafe
Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 11:00 a.m ET
Manchester United fans will be haunted by last year's corresponding fixture. Sir Alex Ferguson's men gifted Everton a 4-4 draw and went on to lose the Premier League crown on goal difference, indicating a sense of revenge could arise.
Everton have a strong record against the Old Trafford club in recent times. Marouane Fellaini powered the Blues to victory on the opening day of the season—a game that saw Robin van Persie make a late debut for his new side.
Things have changed since then. Both teams have been in excellent form across recent weeks and continue to eek out important results. David Moyes' side played poorly in the 3-3 draw with Aston Villa and will need a quick response to take anything from the Red Devils.
Expect this to be a hard-fought encounter. A win for United would be massive and could provide the perfect response to City's result against Southampton 24 hours prior. Everton will also fancy their chances and need to utilise the height of Fellaini once more.
United fans better hope David De Gea has his catching gloves on.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Everton
Result: Manchester United 2-0 Everton
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Be sure to stick around for all of the results!