Predicting the Biggest EPL, Liga, Serie A Matches: Man City to Stay Top

Joshua Hayward@@JoshuaHayward99Contributor IJanuary 30, 2014

Predicting the Biggest EPL, Liga, Serie A Matches: Man City to Stay Top

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    Following a hectic last week in England that saw many sides feature twice in just a matter of days due to FA Cup and midweek league action, the Premier League returns with a real feast.

    Manchester City take on Chelsea with a place at the top of the Premier League at stake, whilst further north, a resurgent Newcastle United take on bitter foes Sunderland.

    In Spain, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are all in action. A win could take either of the three sides to the summit of La Liga, depending on how the others get on, of course.

    A short trip across the Mediterranean sees Serie A leaders Juventus look to extend their lead at the top of the table when they host a struggling Inter.

    Inter's great rivals Milan, which are also struggling in ninth place, are in action this weekend. Like Inter, Clarence Seedorf takes the Rossoneri to Turin and will face Torino in the hope of reviving their season.


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    Premier League

    Saturday, Feb. 1

    Newcastle vs. Sunderland

    Monday, Feb. 3

    Man City vs. Chelsea

    La Liga

    Saturday, Feb. 1

    Barcelona vs. Valencia

    Sunday, Feb. 2

    Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Madrid

    Atletico Madrid vs. Real Sociedad

    Serie A

    Saturday, Feb. 1

    Milan vs. Torino

    Sunday, Feb. 2

    Juventus vs. Internazionale

Newcastle vs. Sunderland

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    The Tyne-Wear derby is one of the most intense and fierce derbies in world football. But rivalries and bragging rights aside, the latest instalment of this clash is equally as important for both sides but for different reasons.

    Newcastle will be without captain and star midfielder Yohan Cabaye who joined Paris Saint-Germain earlier in the week, but they will look to strengthen their bid for European football with a win over the Black Cats.

    Gus Poyet's men, meanwhile, continue to fight for Premier League safety and will move further away from the bottom three if they're able to secure a second win over the Magpies this season, though results from other games must go their way as well.

    Sunderland haven't lost a league game since Jan. 1 and will be buoyed by their recent League Cup semi-final success against Manchester United, but I predict that they will come unstuck this time around against Alan Pardew's side.

    Prediction: Newcastle 2-1 Sunderland

Manchester City vs. Chelsea

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    Manchester City go into Monday night's clash with Chelsea knowing that a win will extend their lead at the top of the Premier League.

    Arsenal's stalemate with Southampton in midweek, coupled with a victory, meant that the Gunners lost ground in the title race at a vital point in the season.

    The Blues had the chance to leapfrog Arsenal in midweek, but a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to West Ham keeps them in third.

    The last time these two sides met was back in October, when a mix-up between Joe Hart and Matija Nastasic in the 90th minute allowed Fernando Torres to snatch all three points for Jose Mourinho's side.

    However, the Citizens will be confident of gaining revenge against the Blues, considering their phenomenal run of form. Manuel Pellegrini's men are unbeaten in 20 games in all competitions and have scored 69 goals in that period.

    Jose Mourinho's men will surely give them a run for their money at the Etihad in what should be City's sternest test of the season, but the home side will prevail.

    Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 Chelsea

Barcelona vs. Valencia

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    Barcelona were knocked off top spot in La Liga last weekend, even if it was only for 24 hours.

    It's quite refreshing to see the Spanish top flight a three-horse race, rather than the typical two. This year, Atletico have been a breath of fresh air and are well in there—in fact, they're second to Barcelona only on goal difference.

    This weekend sees the Blaugrana take on 10th-placed Valencia at the Nou Camp in what should be a pretty one-sided contest.

    Tata Martino will be gunning for the league title in what is his first season in charge and will hope that his side use the game against Valencia to send a message to the chasing pack.

    The visitors are mired in midtable, and whilst they are only six points above the relegation zone, they shouldn't have too many concerns about dropping out of the top flight.

    However, a hammering from Barca could well dent their confidence in the run up to the business end of the season.

    Prediction: Barcelona 4-1 Valencia

Real Madrid vs. Athletic Bilbao

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    Carlo Ancelotti's side leapfrogged great rivals Barcelona to top spot in La Liga last weekend due to playing 24 hours prior to the Catalan side. However, knowing that one slip from Barca or Atletico Madrid will give the Galacticos a chance to reclaim top spot is sure to give Ancelotti's men confidence as they enter the final stages of the season.

    This weekend, they face Athletic Bilbao, which sit just one place below them in the league table—though 11 points separate the two sides.

    Real have scored 11 goals without reply in January, but their opponents scored a whopping 15 in the same period whilst still losing one of their games.

    The matchup at the Santiago Bernabeu should be a cracker, but with Real chasing their 33rd title, expect Ancelotti's men to scrape past their opponents.

    Prediction: Real Madrid 3-2 Athletic Bilbao

Atletico Madrid vs. Real Sociedad

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    Atletico have been La Liga's surprise package this season and are level on points with league leaders Barcelona going into their fixture with sixth-placed Real Sociedad.

    Brazilian-turned-Spaniard Diego Costa has been in fine form for his club this campaign and is just three goals shy of the league's leading goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo on 19 goals.

    The thought of any other team winning La Liga is one that is hard to comprehend, but if either of their two opponents slip up, Atletico will be ready to pounce.

    Diego Simeone's side are playing with confidence and without any pressure, and it is clearly showing. Atleti will prove too good for Sociedad, despite the Basque outfit's current form.

    Prediction: Atletico Madrid 2-0 Real Sociedad

Juventus vs. Inter

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    In what used to be one of the most intense inter-city rivalries, Juventus and Inter would often come into the clash knowing that a win would give them the edge over the opposition. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.

    Juventus have been the standout team in Serie A this season, and despite Roma's attempts to keep up with the Turin-based side, it is hard to see anything other than The Old Lady being crowned league champions for a record 32nd time.

    Antonio Conte's team have lost just the once this season—a surprise 4-2 defeat at the hands of Fiorentina at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. But, apart from that minor blemish, Juve's season has been almost flawless, winning 18 of their 21 league games.

    Inter, on the other hand, have struggled all season and have picked up just eight wins. Walter Mazzarri's men are a whopping 23 points behind this weekend's opponents, and they will surely fall further behind when they visit Turin.

    Prediction: Juventus 2-1 Inter

Torino vs. Milan

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    With over half of the season gone, the odds on Torino being three places above Serie A giants Milan would have been pretty big. But that's the reality.

    The Rossoneri have had one of their poorest seasons to date and are mired in midtable. Having won seven, drew seven and lost seven of their 21 games, Milan currently sit ninth in Serie A—three places and four points behind Torino.

    A dismal campaign led to former boss Massimiliano Allegri being relieved of his post, with former Dutch international and Milan hero Clarence Seedorf taking over the reins.

    Seedorf won his first match in charge of his beloved Milan, a 1-0 win over Hellas Verona, with Mario Balotelli grabbing the game's only goal.

    However, the Dutchman is sure to face a sterner test this weekend as they travel to the Stadio Olimpico to face high-flying Torino.

    Prediction: Torino 1-1 Milan