Weekly Football Preview – Week 6
The end of the latest International break means a return to our standard schedule with matches from across Europe taking place starting on Friday evening.
During the International break there were not too many surprises with wins for the likes of Denmark, France, Netherlands, Spain and Portugal. Turkey were unable to overcome Armenia and England were held by Ukraine, as were Italy held by North Macedonia as most of the major nations took a step closer to confirming their place at next summer’s European Championship in Germany.
Wednesday and Thursday are very quiet this week as players travel back from their International camps before the action starts again on Friday. There is no PL on Friday evening this time around, so fans of English Football will need to be content with two matches from the Championship. Giants PSG and Bayern both play on Friday evening, making for an exciting start to the latest round of fixtures.
This weekend actually has many top matches from around Europe with Saturday in particular being a good day. Manchester United play against Brighton and City travel to West Ham in the afternoon in England, two very competitive fixtures. In Germany, Dortmund travel to Freiburg whilst in Italy there are two top matches on Saturday afternoon as Juventus host Lazio and Inter play rivals AC Milan. In La Liga Valencia host Atletico Madrid and Barcelona take on Betis. On Sunday, two London teams play away from home as Chelsea travel to Bournemouth and Arsenal head north to play Everton whilst elsewhere the likes of AS Roma, Atalanta, Real Madrid and Villareal are all in action.
Friday’s top action
German giants Bayern Munich get the ball rolling on Friday evening in the Bundesliga with a home match against Leverkusen. This is a clash of the top two in the league, although at this early stage in the season it is hard to judge the table. Both teams have maximum points and Leverkusen will use this match as a marker to see how far they have come and how likely they are to make a title challenge this time around. In France, Paris SG start the weekend’s action with a home match against Nice. After starting the season with two draws the Parisian team won their next two fixtures and have stormed up to second in the league. There is one match from Spain’s top flight between Rayo Vallecano and Alaves and elsewhere the likes of FC Porto are in action as well as two notable matches from the Championship in England were Hull host Coventry and Southampton play against Leicester, two teams that dropped down from the PL last season.
Saturday’s English football
Seven matches are lined up from the English PL on Saturday with the early kick off coming from Molineux in the Midlands. Struggling Wolves welcome Liverpool to their home stadium hoping for an improved performance as they only have one win on the board out of four matches so far. Liverpool have ten points from four matches and managed a comprehensive 3-0 win over another team from the midlands, Aston Villa, last time out.
Later in the day Fulham host Luton, who are yet to pick up a point this season, Aston Villa clash with Crystal Palace and Tottenham will be expecting three points from another promoted team, Sheffield United. The two Manchester clubs are in action in the 4 pm slot with Manchester United at home to Brighton and Manchester City away to West Ham. These are two tough matches to predict as both Brighton and West Ham have had very good starts to the season, with both teams managing three wins from their four matches.
City are the only team with a perfect record so far so they will be hoping to maintain that whereas United already have two defeats on the board and cannot afford another so early in the season. The late match sees Newcastle take on Brentford with the home team desperate for three points as their season hasn’t really got going yet.
Saturday Highlights from around Europe
Bundesliga action from Saturday includes Dortmund travelling to Freiburg and RB Leipzig at home to Augsburg with the late match seeing Bochum take on Eintracht Frankfurt. In France, Rennes host Lille and Lens welcome Metz to their stadium with Lille in particular in desperate need of some points on the board. There are two cracking matches scheduled from the Italian Serie A on Saturday starting with Juventus against Lazio at 3 pm.
Despite all the problems behind the scenes the Turin giants have made a good start with two wins and a draw so far whereas Lazio only have one win on the board. Later in the day Inter host AC Milan at San Siro in the first Milan derby of the season. These two occupy first and second in the table and both have maximum points so far, so something has to give. Later in the day, last season’s champions Napoli travel to Genoa. Two matches stand out in Spain on Saturday as Valencia host Atletico Madrid in the afternoon whilst Barcelona will clash with Betis in the late match.
Sunday’s English Football
There are two PL matches on Sunday which involve two London teams on their travels. Chelsea head to the South Coast to take on Bournemouth knowing that they really do need to start winning some matches. Their only win so far this season has come over newly promoted Luton and last time out they lost at home to Nottingham Forest. Four points from four matches is simply not good enough for their huge expenditure. Arsenal head in the opposite direction as they travel North to face Everton and will be expecting to return to London with three points. These are the sort of matches they need to win without too much fuss if they are to maintain a title challenge this season.
Best events from around Europe
Current Ligue 1 leaders Monaco start things off on Sunday when they play away at Lorient, the first of six matches from the French top flight. The later matches involve Marseille and Lyon with the latter in desperate need of some points following a very poor start to their campaign. Only two matches are to be played in the Bundesliga on Sunday and both involve promoted teams as Heidenheim welcome Weder Bremen and Darmstadt host Gladbach.
With many of the big teams in Serie A playing on Saturday, the highlight of the day is Fiorentina against Atalanta and AS Roma are playing in the late match at home to Empoli. Sevilla have repeated last year’s poor start to the season and have three losses out of three on the board currently. They are at home to fellow strugglers Las Palmas and will hope for a turnaround in their fortunes to avoid a repeat of last year’s turmoil in the first half of the season. League leaders Real Madrid host Real Sociedad in an interesting clash in the last match of the day.
Rest of the week
Many of Europe’s top competitions have fixtures on Monday evening including England, Spain and Italy. Monday Night Football from the PL is Nottingham against Burnley, a clash of two teams whose main aim this season will be survival. There are two Serie A matches scheduled for Monday evening, Salernitana versus Torino and Verona against Bologna. The solitary match from La Liga in Spain is Granada against Girona.
Next week heralds the start of European competition with the first round of the much loved CL, Europa League and Conference League. The draw brought about some excellent matchups and even the first round offers some top matches including AC Milan against Newcastle, Paris SG versus Dortmund and Bayern Munich against Manchester United amongst others. Thursday nights means the start of the Europa League and Conference League and some highlights from the opening round include Ajax against Marseille and Rangers hosting Betis
15/09 Paris SG vs Nice
After a difficult start to the season, new manager Luis Enrique seems to have settled in well at PSG and have won their last two matches. A third win in a row in this match against Nice would put them top of the table, at least until Sunday when current leaders Monaco are in action.
PSG have a very good record against these opponents and haven’t lost a home tie against them since 2009, although they were held to a goalless draw in 2021. Their form at the end of last season was worrying, as they stuttered towards their latest title win. There has been much change over the summer with a significant overall of the playing squad as well as of the coaching staff.
Nice are another team that are yet to taste defeat this season, although they have only won one of their four matches so far. Their young manager has completed his coaching badges now and the 34 year old will be hoping to inspire his team this weekend on what is probably their toughest away trip of the season.
PSG have won six of the last ten meetings with Nice only managing one win in this matchup. Last season PSG won both ties with a combined score of 4-1.
Bayern Munich vs Leverkusen
First take on second in this eagerly anticipated tie on Friday night as Bayern Munich welcome Bayer Leverkusen to the Allianz Arena. Leverkusen are expected to be serious title contenders this season and they have certainly made a positive start so far. Thomas Tuchel’s team have made up for losing the German Super Cup with an excellent start to the league season, winning three out of three matches so far. The last time they won their first four matches was in the 2018/19 season and the fact that they don’t have the best record against Leverkusen means this will be a good test of where they are at this early stage in the season.
Xabi Alonso has really settled in well at Leverkusen and the former Bayern player will be looking forward to this challenge. He had a good dose of success at Bayern in his playing days so will be well aware of the challenge himself and his team face in this match.
Leverkusen last won the opening three matches of a season back in 2013/14 and they will know they face a long battle if they want to still be in with a say at the end of the season. Realistically, a top four finish will be regarded as a successful season but a win in this match will really make a statement.
Leverkusen’s worst win rate against any Bundesliga team that they have played ten or more matches against is against Bayern, just 22%, so everyone associated with the club will be aware of the challenge here. Bayern Munich have won six of the last ten with Bayer Leverkusen winning three
16/09 Manchester United vs Brighton
Manchester United would have wanted to go into the international break on the back of a better result, but as it turned out they lost 3-1 at Arsenal on a disappointing day. There has been drama behind the scenes too with a war of words between manager Ten Haag and winger Jadon Sancho and as well as that, one of their star players Antony has been suspended pending a police investigation.
Fans would have been hoping for a smoother season this time around with the hope of building on last year’s relative success but it appears not to be the case. This next match is another tough one but at least they play at home, where they are undefeated since September 2022. Their last home defeat actually came against Brighton on the opening day of last season.
Brighton went into the international break on the back of a very positive result, a 3-1 win over Newcastle. They are also on a run of three consecutive wins over Manchester United and manager De Zerbi has described his team as fantastic. This week will also see Brighton play in Europe for the very first time as they play AEK Athens, so it’s a big week all round for the south coast team.
Brighton have won the last three league matches between these two but those were the only wins in the last ten meetings. Manchester United did get some revenge as they knocked them out of the FA Cup last season.
West Ham vs Manchester City
West Ham fans might have been worried going into this season due to the fact their star player and captain Declan Rice was sold on to Arsenal and there appeared to be very few incomings. When you add the fact that they have European Football to contend with again as well as the fact that some fans, for some unusual reason, are still not happy with manager David Moyes, there were some worried pundits and fans.
However, West Ham did buy some good players, such as James Ward Prowse and have started the season very well indeed, with three wins and a draw from their first four matches. They face a stern test this time as Champions Manchester City rock into town and they have an even better record of four wins from four.
Manchester City will be looking to continue on their impressive start to the season and pick up yet another three points before their CL campaign starts. They are unbeaten in eight visits to and have a dominant H2H record against the Hammers. Manchester City will be without Kevin de Bruyne for a while but have ample squad depth to make up for this and Pep Guardiola has never lost against West Ham in fourteen matches.
The visiting team have seven wins from the last ten with the other three matches being drawn, so anything other than an away win will be regarded as a success for the home team.
Juventus vs Lazio
Juventus have had a very positive start to the season, with two wins and a draw so far. This will be the toughest test they have faced so far though and a far bigger challenge than their straightforward 2-0 win over Empoli last time out. Drama off the pitch continues to cloud the club though and this week they have had to deal with the news that Paul Pogba failed a drugs test. The Frenchman has barely featured for the club since resigning for one reason or another and this, if the positive test is confirmed, could mean the end of his career in Turin. Juventus generally enjoy playing against Lazio and have won four of the last competitive meetings.
Lazio got their first win of the season, beating last season’s champions Napoli away from home. That result is just what they needed after an underwhelming start to the season and will give them confidence of another away win against a tough opponent. Lazio also beat Juventus last season, 2-1 in April.
Lazio have won three of the last ten meetings, including that last clash whereas Juventus have five wins. Seven of the last ten matches have seen three or more goals scored.
Inter vs AC Milan
One of the fixtures of the season takes place this weekend, the Milan derby and despite it being very early in the campaign, it will still take on huge importance. Both sides have 100% records going into this match, the first time both teams have done that since 1971/72.
Inter are top on goal difference and they have rewarded their manager Simone Inzaghi with a new contract as he looked to build on last season’s successes. He has a very good record against AC Milan as a coach, winning the last four meetings without conceding any goals. Last season they also knocked their rivals out of the CL at the semi final stage.
AC Milan will be looking for revenge and will be looking to change their poor recent record. Their reformed squad has looked good and they have made a very good start to the season with new signings such as Ruben Loftus Cheek and Christian Pulisic getting off to a flying start. If they avoid defeat here it will be only the first time since 1995/96 that they have managed that. AC Milan have been quick starters this season, scoring six of their eight goals in the first half of their matches.
Last season Inter beat their rivals four times, twice in the CL, once in the league and once in the Super Cup. Inter have six wins from the last ten meetings whereas AC Milan have only two.
Barcelona vs Betis
Four games into the season Barcelona find themselves two points behind arch rivals Real Madrid, with three wins and a draw out of their opening four games. They have scored eight goals in their last three matches, so goalscoring certainly looks as though it won’t be a problem this season.
With the Nou Camp currently being rebuilt, they are playing their home matches at the Estadio Olimpico and they will be hoping to get used to their new surroundings and make it feel as much like home as possible over the coming months. This match will be one they are confident of winning as they have won seventeen out of the last twenty between these two.
Real Betis had a good season last time around and have made a very solid start this year too, with seven points from their opening four matches. Their wins so far have been hard fought but their only defeat of the season to date did come away from home, at Athletic Bilbao. Their poor record against Barcelona will be a worry, as will their manager’s overall record against them. Manuel Pellegrini has lost more matches against Barcelona than any other team in his career.
Betis have won only once in the last ten meetings whereas Barcelona have won eight times. This is traditionally a high-scoring clash with nine of the last ten meetings containing three or more goals.
17/09 Real Madrid vs Real Sociedad
The late game on Sunday sees league leaders Real Madrid host the team that go into the weekend in eighth place, Real Sociedad. The home team is the only one in the division with maximum points from four games and will be hoping to extend that record against a team that had an excellent season last time around.
Real Madrid will be without one of their stars though, Vinicius Junior, who remains absent through injury but Jude Bellingham has already made himself a firm favourite with both players and fans, he got a late winner in the last match against Getafe. This will be Madrid’s seventh competitive game in the last twenty one days and they have struggled somewhat to keep clean sheets this season.
Real Sociedad are building a reputation as a team that is very hard to beat and that is something they will certainly need to be in this match. They have two wins from their last nine away league fixtures, not the most impressive record. This season they will also have to contend with playing in the CL, which will certainly put pressure on their squad. They have not won at Real Madrid since January 2019.
Last season Real Sociedad had the better of this match up as they managed a win at home and a draw at the Bernabeu. Over the last ten meetings, Real Madrid have four wins and Real Sociedad have three, so the outcome of this match is far from certain.