After a big week of Europa League and Champions League action, domestic football action returns across the globe with several big games to watch this week.
Whilst much of England will be focused on the FA Cup, Italy and Spain will both resume as per usual, with plenty of fascinating matchups to stay on top of. Barcelona, Real Madrid and the Milans—all will be in action this weekend looking for a strong result.
And then there's the lone Premier League game that sees Liverpool in a must-win game against Brendan Rodgers' former club Swansea—just to top it all off!
Who will emerge as the winners and losers from the major action around Europe this weekend? Read on and find out.
Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 2:45 p.m. ET
Juventus pulled off a commanding 3-0 victory away to Celtic in the Champions League during the week, and will once again stay on the road as they travel to Roma this weekend.
The current league leaders sit five points clear on top of the table and will be looking to keep that lead here when they take on AS Roma at home—a fixture that won't necessarily come easy for the Old Lady given the home side's attacking dominance this year.
Roma have netted the equal most goals in Serie A so far (tied with Juventus) and have had strong results against Inter Milan, AC Milan and Fiorentina at home this year. However, their most recent run of form has left a lot to be desired, and with just one win from their eight matches. Juve will undoubtedly head into this affair as favorites.
And despite their attacking numbers, against a Juventus team that has conceded just 16 goals in 24 matches, expect there to be only one winner in this one.
Prediction: Roma 1, Juventus 3
Sunday, 17th February, 2013 at 2:45 p.m. ET
One of the bigger matches in Serie A this weekend sees sixth placed Fiorentina take on fourth placed Inter Milan—a fixture that could have a profound impact on the European dreams of both teams in 2013.
Fiorentina have been particularly strong at home this season—dropping just one loss in 12 matches—and went undefeated at home to the top three teams in 2013. Juventus, AC Milan and Lazio all were unable to get through the Viola, and it seems Inter will also have a tough ask here.
Particularly given the loss of Diego Milito to injury, with the news coming during the week that the Argentinian will miss the remainder of the Serie A season.
Inter will fight, no doubt, and will certainly push the home side here. They showed away to Juventus and in their local derby against Inter Milan that they are more than capable of performing against the big teams, and already have a win over Fiorentina to their name this season.
Having said that however, the home side have been dominant in front of their fans this year, and will step up once again. I think they might just scrape home to chalk up a win in the complete reverse of the scoreline when they met earlier in the year.
Prediction: Fiorentina 2, Inter Milan 1
Sunday, 17th February, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. ET
Napoli dropped points last week in their title race against Juventus and will be looking for a stronger performance at home this week when they take on Sampadoria.
They away side are undefeated in their past three matches and have been playing some great attacking football. As a result, they could well challenge the home side.
Napoli have only lost the one match at home all season and concede an average of less than a goal per game, but Sampadoria are in some strong form at the moment and could well be primed for another shock result here against the Serie A giants.
I'd still expect Napoli to win, but perhaps just not in the dominant fashion that they might have otherwise been expected to here.
Prediction: Napoli 2, Sampadoria 1
Friday, 15th January, 2013 at 2:45 p.m. ET
Our final must watch Serie A match of the week sees AC Milan back at the San Siro to take on Parma—a fixture that the home side should win comfortably here.
Milan have only lost once in their past 12 domestic matches and haven't been beaten at home since November whilst Parma are winless through their past five. In fact, the away side have only won two matches away from all season—neither of which came against a top-10 league team.
Throw in the addition of former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli into the mix, who has been combining brilliantly with Stephan El Shaarawy since his arrival, and the Italian giants look to have all three points in the bag this week.
Prediction: AC Milan 4, Parma 0
Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. ET
We change leagues now and head to Spain where league leaders Barcelona will look to continue their winning ways when they take on Granada away from home.
The La Liga giants have dropped points on just three occasions this season and are poised for a huge victory in the title race, but don't expect them to simply take it easy here and sit back on their haunches. And, even if they did, they'd most likely still run out comfortable winners.
Granada has only lost twice since Christmas, but given their inability to find the back of the net this year, you think they'll be hard pressed to stop Barcelona here. Barca have scored over three times the goals that Granada have scored this year, with their last three games alone producing more goals for then Granada have netted in front of their home fans all season long.
Expect both of those to continue this week, with the bigger question being not whether Barcelona will win this week, but rather how much they will end up winning by.
Prediction: Granada 0, Barcelona 4
Sunday, January 17, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. ET
After a high-octane 1-1 draw against Manchester United in the Champions League during the week, Real Madrid will welcome a slightly less fearsome opponent to town when they take on Rayo Vallecano at the Bernabeu Stadium this weekend in La Liga.
Having said that, the visitors are certainly no side to be sneezed at here, with six wins from their last eight matches and have already beaten the likes of Sevilla and Valencia on the road this season.
Expect them to be another real challenge for Madrid here, who know that they have all but lost the domestic competition to Barcelona following their sluggish start.
How Jose Mourinho's men come out and play here following what was a disappointing result during the week will be interesting, with many big stars potentially even rested from the affair, though it is unlikely Madrid will alter their team too much.
Still, Vallecano are playing some great football right now and have carried their form with them on the road as well this year, which makes this a very tough match now for Madrid. Expect a close affair, but perhaps the class of the home side just to shade this one in the end.
Prediction: Real Madrid 3, Rayo Vallecano 2
Sunday, 17th January, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. ET
FA Cup action might be taking center stage in England this weekend, but Liverpool's match against Swansea City on Sunday still provides for a very fascinating matchup.
Brendan Rodgers will be coming up against his former club here, but with heartbreaking losses in the past week across various competitions, you'd have to think that the Reds will be incredibly desperate to find a result at home in this one.
The Merseyside men were embarrassed when West Bromwich Albion came to town—beaten despite having the majority of the attacking chances—and dropped all the way down to ninth in the Premier League ladder because of that result.
Swansea haven't been traveling great either, which makes this one a very fascinating affair with both sides likely to threaten with their attacking qualities. In the end, though, I'd say that they come out pretty much even with the Reds frustrating season seemingly continuing for at least another week.
Prediction: Liverpool 1, Swansea City 1
What are your predictions for the big games across Europe this weekend?
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