Another weekend, another plethora of fantastic matches to choose from.
We've got top-of-the-table clashes coming to you from the English Premier League as well as a number of top-class draws between teams in the hunt for domestic glory this year right across Europe. Spain, Italy, France, Germany—all the major European leagues provide us with great matchups this weekend.
The biggest question is as to who will emerge triumphant from their respective games?
Read on for all the key details and predictions for the European weekend ahead.
Friday, November 1, 2013
7:30 p.m. GMT — Borussia Dortmund vs. VfB Stuttgart
Saturday, November 2, 2013
2:30 p.m. GMT — Hertha BSC vs. Schalke 04
5:30 p.m. GMT — Arsenal vs. Liverpool
7:00 p.m. GMT — Olympique Lyonnais vs. Guingamp
7:45 p.m. GMT — Milan vs. Fiorentina
Sunday, November 3, 2013
11:00 a.m. GMT — Getafe vs. Valencia
1:30 p.m. GMT — Everton vs. Tottenham Hotspur
4:00 p.m. GMT — Atletico Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao
8:00 p.m. GMT — Lille OSC vs. AS Monaco
Few would have predicted Arsenal and Liverpool would be first and third respectively heading into November.
Yet while many might not have predicted it, there's little doubting that both clubs deserve to be this high up in the domestic league and will be looking to prove that again this weekend.
Arsenal were beaten comprehensively by Chelsea during the week in the Capital One Cup, which won't have helped their morale, but it did give key players a rest.
The Reds haven't traveled that well away from home this year, despite actually going undefeated (with fortunate results against Newcastle United and Aston Villa) and they'll face their biggest road test of the year here.
North London will be rocking with the prospect of Arsenal leading the Premier League for another week, and with a fresh Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud, I think they'll do just that.
Even if Liverpool are being considered as title contenders this season.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Liverpool
Tottenham play terribly coming out of a Europa League fixture, but they don't necessarily play that badly heading in to them, which is worrying for Everton this weekend.
Pressure will be on Spurs to perform after narrowly avoiding defeat to Hull in the Capital One Cup, and again, with rested players, they'll certainly be much stronger against the Toffees than they were with the Tigers.
However, Goodison Park isn't an easy place to travel to, with the men from Merseyside conceding just three goals in front of their home fans so far this season.
Roberto Martinez has instilled a great possession system at Everton and against Tottenham's high-profile midfield, that shapes as one of the most intriguing battles to watch.
Ultimately, though, I think the two will largely cancel each other out, and not even the brilliance of players such as Romelu Lukaku will be able to get the desired result (or a goal) for either team in this one.
Prediction: Everton 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Milan picked up a big point against Lazio during the week, but they are by no means "back" as a world football powerhouse this year.
Parma showed them up on the weekend and while they'll benefit from being back at the San Siro, Fiorentina will represent a great test to see exactly how the Rossoneri are traveling and whether or not they are contenders in Italy this year.
Bleacher Report's Matteo Bonetti said after the Lazio result that it'll take a "miracle to get Milan into the top five" this year, and if that is going to happen, these are the games that the Rossoneri need to win.
Fiorentina were certainly not embarrassed at home to Napoli on Wednesday and could even have snuck a point with a little bit of luck, which will give them confidence.
Milan have scored just seven goals at home all year while Fiorentina have been solid at the back away from home—something that suggests another tight, low-scoring battle in this one.
Hard to see either team walking away from this fixture with more than a point in hand.
Prediction: Milan 1-1 Fiorentina
Changing course to Spain now where it's seemingly crunch time for Valencia.
Defeated 2-1 at home by last-placed Almeria during the week, they've now lost three games in a row and are winless in their last four domestic games.
Getafe might have narrowly lost 1-0 to Athletic Bilbao at home during the week, but it's hard to see them not getting back in the winners circle this week—such is the slump and general decline that's facing Valencia at the moment.
Prior to the Bilbao defeat, Getafe had won five league games in a row and had conceded just one goal (an own goal) in their past two home fixtures.
Look for that defensive pressure to win out again in this one against a frustrated Valencia attack and sew up all three points in the process.
Prediction: Getafe 1-0 Valencia
Not the easiest of turnarounds for Atletico Madrid this weekend given that they only just played against Granada on Thursday, but if any team can do it, it's them.
Atletico have been absolutely superb in La Liga this year with arguably the best defensive set-up in the league.
Their attack—led by the resurgent Diego Costa, David Villa and Koke—causes problems for even the strongest of opponents, and back in front of their home fans, it's hard to see them losing points, even against relatively strong opponents in Athletic Bilbao.
The Basque club are undefeated at home this year but have won just two of their five games on the road all season—winning just one of their past four away fixtures.
And if they can't beat the likes of Granada or Espanyol at home, they simply don't stand a chance at turning it around against Diego Simeone's side that are not only eyeing off Champions League football again but potentially even the title.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid 3-0 Athletic Bilbao
Dortmund will be favourites for this fixture (as they seemingly always are at home), but that doesn't mean that this fixture against Stuttgart will be all that easy for them.
European football will be in the back of their minds playing at the Westfalenstadion, and they may be tempted to change their squad around somewhat.
Their opponents haven't lost a Bundesliga match since late August (including results against the likes of Hertha BSC and Hoffenheim), and while they won't be as strong away from home, they should be good enough to challenge the German giants here.
I think Dortmund will get through—if only for their X-factor in manager Jurgen Klopp—but don't expect it to be the blowout result that many might assume.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Stuttgart
Lyon are a big club in desperate need of a good result at home.
Currently lagging in 14th position (11 points off third-placed Lille), Lyon have been one of the most disappointing teams in world football this year with their continued underperforming results.
They've won just two home games all year and are currently riding a nine-match streak that's seen them score just one win and net just eight goals as opposed to 14 against.
Can they get a result this weekend? It's certainly plausible.
Guingamp have been a surprise package in France this year, courtesy of some impressive home form, but they've won just once away from home (against Evian TG).
They'll be good enough to get goals at one end of the field, but they won't be as sound at the back as their form might suggest and I think that might just be enough for Lyon to snare an all-important win at home here.
Prediction: Olympique Lyonnais 2-1 Guingamp
Our final match of the weekend is a cracker from Ligue 1 which pits title challenger AS Monaco (who are yet to be beaten) against third-placed Lille OSC.
However, the all-important factor to note here is the fact that Lille are the ones at home and that could spell the end for Monaco's unbeaten start.
Beaten in the domestic competition during the week, Monaco will want to bounce back and restore some confidence here, but that won't be easy against a Lille side that's conceded just two goals against in five home games.
And both of those goals came in the same game against Nice.
This fixture is Lille's biggest test this season by a long way, but they're certainly up for it with a seven-game undefeated streak. Their defense is simply phenomenal (conceding goals in just two games all season), and while Monaco have plenty of attacking depth, it won't be enough to get them a win here.
It's bold, but I think Monaco's undefeated streak in Ligue 1 ends here.
Prediction: Lille OSC 1-0 AS Monaco
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