Predicting Every Major EPL, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, MLS Game This Weekend
If the drama of the Champions League and the anticipation of the Europa League didn't quench your thirst for world football this week then, luckily for you, there's an incredible lineup of domestic action awaiting your viewing this weekend.
From the German Bundesliga to Spain's La Liga, all the top teams and big names will be taking the field once more for their club—trying to continue whatever success they've had in the year so far.
Even if that has been less than what they'd expected at the start of the year.
Read on to see previews and predictions for all the major games around the world this weekend, and feel free to share your thoughts on the game in the comments below.
Everton vs. Manchester City
Saturday March 16, 2013, at 8:45 a.m. ET
After holding the Citizens to a draw in their first encounter during the season, Everton will be looking to inflict more pain on the defending champions when they meet at Goodison Park this year.
The Toffees have been particularly strong at home this season (and City typically inconsistent away), which should bode well for the Merseyside club as they seek to make it back-to-back wins in the Premier League.
You've got to wonder if the fact that City's only game in a little while came as a training exercise against Barnsley will come to haunt them here, given the explosive abilities that Everton's direct style of attack can often produce. Especially if they start to get buoyed on by their home fans here.
Both defenses should hold up for most of the game, with a late goal perhaps the only thing that will be the difference in this one. And despite the fact they're away from home and without as much to play for given the gap in the title race, City are still favorites for the victory here.
Prediction: Everton 0, Manchester City 1
Swansea City vs. Arsenal
Saturday March 16, 2013, at 11 a.m. ET
Arsenal will come into this away fixture buoyed by their mid-week heroics in the Champions League—defeating Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.
And whilst they didn't go on to keep their European dream alive in that fixture, the result will have undoubtedly given Arsene Wenger's men a huge boost in terms of their morale and perception about what they can and can't achieve this season—like beating a bogey team in Swansea City.
The Swans have caused havoc for the Gunners all year long in various competitions and appear to be a tough side to break down at the Liberty Stadium this week. However, Michael Laudrup's men aren't traveling as strong as they were in the middle of their Capital One Cup run, and they could very easily be beaten by the switched-on and determined North London outfit we're likely to see here.
Every game for the Gunners from here on in has huge top-four ramifications, so expect them to just have that extra little bit of fight and determination to win this one.
Prediction: Swansea City 1, Arsenal 2
Chelsea vs. West Ham
Sunday March 17, 2013, at 12 p.m. ET
A fascinating encounter this week in a London derby that sees the West (Chelsea) take on the East (West Ham) at Stamford Bridge—the reverse game of a stunning affair that saw Rafa Benitez become public enemy No. 1 for Blues fans right across the world.
Mohamed Diame stole the show in that one as he led the Hammers to a 3-1 victory over their London rivals. They'll no doubt be looking to do the same again here, and given the fact that Chelsea will be doubling up from a tough Europa League match during the week, West Ham could very well challenge in this one.
You'd have to think that at home, with a top-four spot potentially on the line, Chelsea would have simply too much to play for in this one. But never count out any team in a rivalry game—especially not a London affair—which could mean Chelsea don't get everything they desire out of this one.
A late Frank Lampard goal, however, will ensure that the Blues finish with the three points in hand and bragging rights restored over the mid-table Hammers.
Prediction: Chelsea 2, West Ham 1
Valencia vs. Real Betis
Saturday March 16, 2013, at 7 p.m. ET
We change track to La Liga now, where Valencia's all-important clash with Real Betis headlines a number of strong matches right across the competition.
Currently sitting in sixth and seventh respectively, and just one point apart, Betis and Valencia will definitely understand the seriousness of getting a win here to keep their top-four hopes alive. Watching Spanish clubs dominate in the Champions League during the week will only further increase that desire.
Valencia are winless through their last four and recently suffered a hard loss to Athletic Bilbao away from home. The Spanish powerhouse were poor in that game right across the pitch and know they will need to improve if they're going to triumph in this one.
Betis are on a three-game undefeated streak, but they haven't shown great form away from home this year and have struggled to keep out even the most timid of attacks. And that could well prove the difference in this one. Valencia, at home, will prove too much of a task for Betis to handle.
Huge win for Los Che, who could move into the top four this week.
Prediction: Valencia 2, Real Betis 0
Barcelona vs. Rayo Vallecano
Sunday March 17, 2013, at 6 p.m. ET
Barcelona will no doubt be still pumped after their incredible Champions League win during the week and represent a very difficult side for Rayo Vallecano to travel to and compete with this week.
Jordi Roura may opt to rest players following the big win, but it's hard to see too many players taking time off given the style and tenacity of La Blaugrana for continued success.
They'll be looking for another three points here to kick away again in the title race, and given their depth in attack and newfound pizzazz, they will do that in this matchup.
Vallecano should find the back of the net courtesy of their good attack, but it's hard to see them stopping the Catalan club from marching on again in La Liga.
Prediction: Barcelona 3, Rayo Vallecano 1
Bologna vs. Juventus
Saturday March 16, 2013, at 3:45 p.m. ET
Off to Italy now, where league leaders Juventus will be aiming to extend their lead in the title race once more. However, playing away from home and against a tough opponent in Bologna won't be easy for the Old Lady, who have struggled for domestic consistency of late.
It took a Paul Pogba winner in the 90th minute to separate these two teams last time they played, and that was despite Juventus having the home-ground advantage.
Now, on Bologna's home ground, they'll be equally as tough to beat in this one—particularly given the fact they come into this one with a three-game winning streak. That's included big wins over Fiorentina (home) and Inter Milan (away), so there's little doubting that Bologna definitely have the form to trouble Juve here—if not put up a strong claim for all three points on the night.
Juventus are a tough side to beat completely, but what they've shown in the last few weeks domestically proves they are still somewhat vulnerable. And given their recent form and talent, Bologna should do enough to challenge the Italian giants for shared points in the end.
Prediction: Bologna 1, Juventus 1
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Bayern Munich
Saturday March 17, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. ET
After a somewhat bizarre performance in the Champions League that was perhaps the poorest display seen from a Bayern Munich side all season, Saturday's Bundesliga match on the road to Bayer Leverkusen could very well be a tough fixture again for the Bavarians.
Given their 20-point lead, Bayern may opt to rest some players to keep them fresh for the European competition ahead, which will bode well for Leverkusen here.
They're currently sitting in third spot domestically and will be gunning for a Champions League berth at the end of the year—something that seemed impossible at the start of the season. Thus, expect them to come out with all guns firing in this fixture and try to catch Bayern off guard at the start—like Arsenal did.
Bayern are a very strong defense team, and so are Leverkusen, so it will be interesting to see if either offense can muster enough traction in this one. But, going with the thinking that German giants Bayern will be resting players, I'd say shared points again in this one.
Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen 1, Bayern Munich 1
Nurnberg vs. Schalke 04
Saturday March 16, 2013, at 10:30 a.m. ET
It's been a somewhat strange week also for Schalke, who went from a big high in their defeat of Borussia Dortmund domestically, to the big low of being eliminated in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.
The German side somehow allowed Galatasaray back into that fixture when they really should have killed off that game, they and will now be forced to focus their full attention back on the German season this year—especially given their current quest for that elusive third-place finish.
Schalke currently sit six points behind Bayer Leverkusen, but given that they must play Bayern Munich this week, expect Schalke to be looking to pick up ground here.
Nurnberg have been a very tough side to break down this year—beaten just once since Christmas—but they don't have as much to play for as their opponents here. And given the talent in their attack, it's hard not to see Schalke finding the back of the net in this one to win the match.
Prediction: Nurnberg 0, Schalke 1
Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers
Saturday March 16, 2013, at 8 p.m. ET
Rivalry week this week in MLS, and there are few rivalries better than that of the Cascadia Cup. Portland, Seattle and Vancouver all love to beat each other and triumph over the other's fans, and it often makes for great and compelling viewing as a result.
Seattle will take on Portland this week, with both looking for their first win of the season having gone down in all their combined fixtures so far.
Portland's thrilling 3-3 draw against the New York Red Bulls will no doubt still be fresh in their minds given the attacking chances wasted there, and now having to play away from home, the Timbers could well come up short against a very solid Sounders team.
Seattle showed strength in matches against the Montreal Impact in their only game so far this year, and if they can show that again here, the Sounders should have enough to get past Portland. However, don't expect the away side to give up easily in this one, and that should make this one a thrilling match to watch.
Prediction: Seattle Sounders 2, Portland Timbers 1
FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo
Sunday March 17, 2013, at 1 p.m. ET
Our final match of the week sees FC Dallas take on the Houston Dynamo in a cross-city rivalry that has manifested itself throughout every major sporting code in the United States. Baseball, basketball, football—you name it, and there's bound to be some feeling between a Dallas and Houston match—and MLS is no different when it comes to El Capitan.
Throughout the years, the Dynamo have had the upper hand in this rivalry but have been challenged by Dallas in recent years and could find trouble again here.
It's hard to pick in these early days of the season, but you've got to give a slight edge here to the home team. FC Dallas were solid in their opening game (as were Houston, though) and look to just have a little bit more organization and cohesiveness to start the season than their opponents.
Their defense could well be the difference here in a tight rivalry game.
Prediction: FC Dallas 1, Houston Dynamo 0
What are your predictions for the major games in world football this week?
Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: Follow @dantalintyre