Predicting the Biggest EPL, La Liga, Serie A, Bundlesliga Matches This Weekend
Finally, the international break has come to a close.
Don't get me wrong, I love international football as much as the next guy, but the weeks simply aren't the same without domestic action.
And what a weekend of domestic action this one promises to be.
We've got a slew of top-drawer matches in the English Premier League, plus some big games across France, Spain and Italy. Oh and we've got a rematch of the 2013 UEFA Champions League final between two of the best teams in world football.
Just in case there wasn't enough to watch out for already.
Read on for all the need-to-know details for this weekend's games as well as predictions for which teams are going to walk away from this weekend triumphant.
Fixtures List This Weekend
Saturday, November 23
Everton vs. Liverpool: 12:45 p.m. GMT
Hertha BSC vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen: 2:30 p.m. GMT
Arsenal vs. Southampton: 3 p.m. GMT
Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich: 5:30 p.m. GMT
Milan vs. Genoa: 7:45 p.m. GMT
Atletico Madrid vs. Getafe: 9 p.m. GMT
Sunday, November 24
Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur: 1:30 p.m. GMT
Nantes vs. AS Monaco: 8 p.m. GMT
Everton vs. Liverpool
Saturday, November 23, 12:45 p.m. GMT at Goodison Park
(Current league position: 6th vs. 2nd)
Talk about starting the weekend off with a bang.
Merseyside derbies always provide plenty of talking points, and at Goodison Park, the Toffees will certainly fancy themselves to get a result against the Reds here.
Everton have been a much-improved side under Roberto Martinez this season—particularly in their passing and moving—and will certainly provide a great attacking threat.
Liverpool have been relatively sound at the back (conceding just 10 goals in 11 games), though, and given that their star duo of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have scored more goals than Everton this season, their defense might not be tested as much this weekend as it would seem.
Whether Rodgers continues to utilize the two-man attacking setup that has largely dominated the Premier League this season still remains to be seen. Bleacher Report's Karl Matchett asks whether, after the pair both played full games for their respective nations during the week, the Reds may be better off playing just one man forward and allowing the other to attack from wider areas.
It's certainly a question worth asking.
Everton's defense should be tight enough to withstand the threat of S.A.S., especially given that this is a derby match. They'll be desperate not to lose to their arch-rivals—whatever the cost—and regardless of which attacking lineup the Reds pick, I can't see them going down here.
There's simply too much at stake for either team not to get a point.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 Liverpool
Arsenal vs. Southampton
Saturday, November 23, 3 p.m. GMT at Emirates Stadium
(Current league position: 1st vs. 3rd)
Few would have predicted a clash between Arsenal and Southampton in late November would be first against third in the Premier League, but that's exactly what this is.
Arsenal have been on fire since the arrival of Mesut Ozil, while Southampton have used their incredible defense to rise up the league ladder. They come into this fixture with just five goals against in 11 matches.
Arsenal have won their last four home fixtures at the Emirates and will certainly fancy their chances at toppling the Saints here, but don't be surprised to see Mauricio Pochettino's men prove tougher than first thought.
Southampton provide great pressure from their central defenders and should eliminate much of the space in which Olivier Giroud thrives, forcing them to look out wider to the likes of Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott and Bacary Sagna to try and break down the defense.
In turn, that could leave them a touch exposed on the counter-attack (particularly if Aaron Ramsey is lined up in defensive midfield) with Southampton holding plenty of threats of their own in Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and 19-year-old sensation James Ward-Prowse.
Call me crazy, but I'm going for the upset here. Southampton's defense is the real deal, while Arsenal's has had question marks around it all season, even with only 10 goals against.
Of course, it'll take a bit of luck, but the Saints have had this this fixture circled on the calendar for a long time and will no doubt be up for it. If they can go undefeated away to Stoke City, Manchester United and Liverpool, there's nothing to suggest that they can't do the same against the league leaders this weekend.
Prediction: Arsenal 0-1 Southampton
Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Sunday, November 24, 1:30 p.m. GMT at Etihad Stadium
(Current league position: 8th vs. 7th)
There are three big games in the Premier League this weekend, with Tottenham's trip to the Etihad Stadium a pivotal one for both Andre Villas-Boas and Manuel Pellegrini.
City have started in dynamic fashion (scoring a league-high 28 goals), while Tottenham have scored just nine. And yet somehow—almost incredibly—the visitors are further up the league, thanks largely to their stellar defense that has allowed just six goals against.
The absence of Christian Eriksen is a big one here for the Londoners, who tend to play well out of international breaks.
They certainly have the attacking potency required to threaten City's suspect defense, but the question remains whether they can match City's high-octane attack, which will no doubt be firing once more through Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo.
And that's where it's hard to to take the visitors in this one.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Milan vs. Genoa
Saturday, November 23, 7:45 p.m. GMT at San Siro
(Current league position: 10th vs. 7th)
Milan are in all sorts of trouble at the moment.
A poor start to the season was capped off by a 0-0 draw against last-placed Chievo Verona two weeks ago, and now the Rossoneri come back to the San Siro desperate to get a result. Perhaps it's even more than that: They simply cannot afford to lose fixtures such as this one.
Genoa have won four of their past five league matches and are fresh off a 2-0 defeat against a deceptively good Hellas Verona team last weekend. However, what doesn't stand in their favor is their away form (having won just two of their six road games), and with a 2-0 loss to Inter Milan to start the season, the trip to Milan now certainly won't be easy.
The visitors haven't beaten a team inside the top five this year, and while Milan certainly haven't been playing like a top-five team, they should be too good here.
An unconvincing win is still a win, after all.
Prediction: Milan 2-1 Genoa
Atletico Madrid vs. Getafe
Saturday, November 23, 9 p.m. GMT at Vicente Calderon Stadium
(Current league position: 2nd vs. 6th)
Atletico Madrid have been simply unstoppable in La Liga this year. Defense, midfield, attack—it's all been working to a wonderful tune for the home side. You'd have to think that it'll continue this week against Getafe.
Currently sitting in sixth, Getafe have won just one of their last four league matches and drew with Elche in their last match despite being at home. One can only wonder just how they'll fare this time around then.
Even with Champions League football on the radar for the home team, Atletico have enough depth to overcome whatever resistance the visitors throw at them and should continue their very impressive start to the Spanish domestic competition this season.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid 3-0 Getafe
Hertha BSC vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Saturday, November 23, 2:30 p.m. GMT at Olympic Stadium
(Current league position: 7th vs. 3rd)
A thrilling victory over Hoffenheim last fortnight proved that Hertha Berlin are a genuine team to watch out for this season. However, proving it against a Bayer 04 Leverkusen side that's again off to a very good start is a different entity all together.
Leverkusen have proven to be a potent goalscoring side this season—both at home and away from home—and should continue that this week.
Even with Champions League football scheduled for the week, it's hard to see them not finding the back of the net against a Hertha BSC side that's kept a clean sheet in just two of their 12 Bundesliga matches so far this season.
The question is whether Hertha BSC can match them in that regard.
Leverkusen's away form has been patchy this year, and it's worth noting that if you take out their 4-1 win over FC Mainz 05, they've actually conceded more goals on the road than they've scored.
That will give the capital club plenty of confidence here, and in the end, it might just give them enough to find the back of the net on a couple of occasions and earn another big result for the year.
Prediction: Hertha BSC 2-2 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Borussia Dortmund vs. Bayern Munich
(Current league position: 2nd vs. 1st)
Welcome to the rematch of the 2013 UEFA Champions League final and, in the opinion of many, a fixture between the two best clubs currently in world football.
Bayern Munich have again been unstoppable this year—much as they were in their treble-winning season last year—but it's always hard to predict just how Dortmund will play. Especially when you consider the incredible backing that they'll have from the Westfalenstadion.
The biggest difference here for the home team is the injuries that they've sustained and the key players who will be missing on the night.
Goal reports that defenders Mats Hummels and Marcel Schmelzer both sustained injuries over the international break, while the likes of Ilkay Gundogan and Neven Subotic were already out for the home team. This leaves Dortmund exposed at the back.
"I've picked up 80 per cent of my grey hairs this week," said coach Jurgen Klopp at a press conference (quoted via Yahoo! Sports). "The situation is not great, especially when one is in such a phase with eight games left until Christmas, but we already had a little time to get used to the idea.
Dortmund love to play quicker, up-tempo football against Bayern, but they might not be able to do that as effectively with the absence of key personnel. As such, it's hard to see them being able to stop their all-conquering opponents from making it another win in the Bundesliga.
Having said that, if Bayern are going to lose a fixture this year, it's now.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 0-1 Bayern Munich
Nantes vs. AS Monaco
Sunday, November 24, 8 p.m. GMT at Stade de la Beaujoire
(Current league position: 4th vs. 3rd)
We finish with the best that Ligue 1 has to offer us this weekend, and it's another difficult fixture for AS Monaco, who have started to drop off lately.
The big-spending club have won just two of their last six domestic games (despite playing some pretty poor opponents in that time) and could come unstuck again this weekend.
Nantes have been a deceptively tough team to break down this year, and given that Monaco have struggled away from home (with just two wins from six games), we could easily see another shock result.
Yet to win a game against a club inside the top eight, Nantes might not seem like the most difficult of opponents, but that's hardly an accurate reflection of how close they came to results against both Paris Saint-Germain, Lille and Reims.
If they can get their attack running once more (as it has done in recent weeks), they could well condemn their opponents to another tough result.
Monaco have enough attacking strength to ensure they find the back of the net and don't walk away with nothing, but I think they'll only have a single point in hand.
Prediction: Nantes 1-1 AS Monaco
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