After a spectacular week of UEFA Champions League and Europa League football, domestic action returns to centre-stage around Europe this weekend. And what a weekend it promises to be!
Top-of-the-table Arsenal will take on defending champions Manchester United at Old Trafford. Second-placed Napoli take on defending champions Juventus in Turin.
We've got Paris Saint-Germain, both Madrid clubs, Borussia Dortmund in a tricky match and a whole lot more—plus a rivalry match that you might not have even known was on this weekend! That's what's in store this weekend, so read on for your need-to-know details and predictions.
Saturday, November 9
2:30 p.m. GMT — VfL Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Dortmund
3:00 p.m. GMT — Real Madrid vs. Real Sociedad
4:00 p.m. GMT — Paris Saint-Germain vs. Nice
Sunday, November 10
4:10 p.m. GMT — Manchester United vs. Arsenal
5:00 p.m. GMT — Fenerbahce vs. Galatasaray
6:00 p.m. GMT — Villarreal vs. Atletico Madrid
7:45 p.m. GMT — Juventus vs. Napoli
Both Manchester United and Arsenal come into this fixture having played tough matches away from home in the Champions League. Arsenal toppled Borussia Dortmund in Germany, while United held Real Sociedad in San Sebastian—missing a penalty and a few glorious chances—to finish with a 0-0 draw.
But neither will be thinking about Europe this weekend.
Arsenal have started brilliantly in the Premier League this year, with Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil guiding the Gunners to the top of the table. The difference could not be greater for United, who have struggled and been largely inconsistent in their results throughout the year.
However, as poor as the Red Devils have been this year, they are still yet to be beaten in any competition since late September and will thrive being at home here.
I'd expect Arsenal to make the running, but—as they have done a lot this year—for United to somehow walk away with points in hand. Even if it is just one.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Arsenal
Juventus are yet to drop a point at home this year, but that'll be tested here.
Napoli have been ultra-impressive under new manager Rafa Benitez, with talisman Gonzalo Higuain leading the way. They've suffered just one defeat all season (to top-of-the-table AS Roma away from home) and come into this one having scored 10 goals on the road in five games.
Turin won't be an easy place to travel, though. Juve—as mentioned—are a perfect five from five at home, including some strong wins against Lazio and AC Milan.
They've scored 15 goals in front of their home fans and conceded just four in that time; both of their past two home games have seen them keep clean sheets, in fact. And while Napoli will provide stiff competition this week, I actually think they'll keep another clean sheet here.
Napoli are coming off a tough game in the Champions League, and while the same can certainly be said for Juventus, they don't have to travel anywhere this weekend.
Look for Juve to announce that they're still a threat in Italy this week.
Prediction: Juventus 2-0 Napoli
Real Sociedad proved against Manchester United during the week that they're capable of mixing it with some of the best teams in world football. And in fact, being away from home this week might actually serve them well; La Real love to sit back and defend and then try and hit teams on the counterattack, which is essentially the type of game plan that they'll adopt away from home.
However, it's hard to see it working all that well at the Bernabeu.
If any team has the attacking potency required to finish off a swift counterattacking move, it's Real Madrid—as shown clearly in their 2-2 draw with Juventus.
Carlo Ancelotti's team have suffered just one loss at home all year (to crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid) and know that to keep pace in the title race this year, they can ill-afford to be dropping games like this one at home. Look for Los Blancos to come out and try and dictate this one from the opening whistle, and while they might take a little while to get going, I'd expect them to get there in the end.
Prediction: Real Madrid 3-0 Real Sociedad
Just try stopping Atletico Madrid right now.
After running riot throughout most of the La Liga season to date (except for an unfortunate own-goal loss to Espanyol), the Atleti again dominated during the week in the Champions League. They'll travel away from home to Villarreal this week in a fixture that might seem straightforward for Diego Simeone's side, but is really anything but given Villarreal's good start to the year.
Currently sitting in fourth, Villarreal have lost just once at home all season and have taken points off the likes of Real Madrid in front of their home fans in 2013.
Can that happen again this week? Perhaps, but it's unlikely.
Other than the match against Los Blancos (which they came from behind in), Villarreal haven't really played anyone all that strong at home this year.
Even then, they haven't looked all that convincing against mediocre teams, so against a strong outfit like Atletico Madrid, it's hard to see them getting over the line.
Look for Atletico's defense to step up again and get the job done once more.
Prediction: Villarreal 0-2 Atletico Madrid
Borussia Dortmund wouldn't have expected to go down at home during the week. As such, Jurgen Klopp's team will be even more determined to win this weekend.
That's the simple fact facing Wolfsburg this week as they welcome Dortmund in their Bundesliga clash, but the home side will hold no fear. They've suffered just one defeat at home all season and have done so against some very strong teams as well.
Wolfsburg have beaten Schalke 04, Hertha Berlin, Werder Bremen and Hoffenheim at home this year, and have done so conceding just one goal against. That certainly bodes well for them against a Dortmund outfit that's scored fewer than half the number of goals away from home as they have at the Westfalenstadion this year, and I think it might just be enough to get them a result here.
Hard to see Dortmund going two games in a row without scoring, but I like the home team to walk away with a sneaky point against Klopp's team this weekend.
Prediction: Wolfsburg 1-1 Borussia Dortmund
At home, Nice have been very impressive, with their loss to Bordeaux last week the first time they've been beaten at home all year. However, away from home, the form hasn't quite been there, which is troubling given the trip that awaits them in Ligue 1 this weekend.
Paris Saint-Germain will welcome them to the Parc des Princes and should really walk away with a win. PSG haven't been beaten all season and have conceded just two goals in front of their home fans all season—the same number that Nice have scored on the road.
Their Champions League result during the week won't have pleased Laurent Blanc all that much, and he'll be looking for a much-improved performance here.
Fortunately, I think he'll get one.
Prediction: Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 Nice
One final match you don't want to miss this weekend, and it comes from outside of Europe's five major leagues—this time from the Super Lig in Turkey.
Fenerbahce and Galatasaray: two of the best club rivals in world football.
Fenerbahce currently lead the domestic competition on the back of a nine-game undefeated streak, which also has seen them yet to be beaten at home this season.
They've conceded just three goals at home all year, but Galatasaray will fancy their chances at getting a result. Not only is this a rivalry game—which kind of supersedes whatever form might be existent heading into this one—but the Turkish giants have actually been pretty impressive on the road this year and have suffered just one defeat (down 2-1 to Akhisar) away from home.
Expect Gala to make this one competitive—as they always do—but I like the home team to sneak by here. They've just been that shade better and more consistent this season, and I think it'll show on the night.
Prediction: Fenerbahce 2-1 Galatasaray
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