After a week off from club soccer due to international fixtures, the European soccer leagues have picked up where they left off with some action packed matches. Barcelona went up 2-0 against Sevilla in the beginning, but Sevilla managed to make the score 2-2 by injury time. When it was almost certain Sevilla was going to get away with the one point, Alexis Sanchez of Barcelona scored an extremely late winner (90+3’). Borussia Dortmund managed to retain their winning streak by overcoming Hamburg 6-2 in a match where Hamburg had come back from 2 down to equalize the score at 2-2. In England, Jose Mourinho suffered his first defeat in his second stint with Chelsea. Chelsea missed many chances to score and Everton managed to score on their first big chance at goal, so it was an unlucky day for the skillful Chelsea squad. In Italy, Napoli went up to three victories in three matches while Inter and Juventus tied 1-1 bringing both their points up to 7 in three weeks. As interesting as this past week’s matches were, this Sunday will bring even more soccer delight with several big matches to look forward to. Here is a brief list:
1. Manchester United @ Manchester City:
Sunday morning kicks off with an incredible derby match-up in which Manchester United faces off Manchester City to see who the better Manchester is for the time being. Neither team got off to a good start in the league with each team gaining 7 points out of a maximum of 12 points in the first four matches. Manchester suffered a loss away at Liverpool and tied at home with Chelsea. In both matches, United displayed good attacking soccer but failed to convert their chances into goals. This past week, David Moyes earned his first victory at Old Trafford against Crystal Palace. Manchester City won both matches they played at home, but on the road they suffered a 3-2 loss to Cardiff and tied Stoke City 0-0. In the matches they played at home, Manchester City was dominant against a ten-man Newcastle United side, but started off slow in a 2-0 victory against Hull City, only managing to pull through in the second half. Manchester City has scored 8 goals and conceded 3 while Manchester United scored 6 but conceded only 2 goals.
This battle of the Manchester giants will definitely delight soccer fans all around the world. Manchester City seems to come off strong on their home ground so they should pull through in the end, although it wouldn’t be surprising if the game ended in a draw.
2. Napoli @ Milan
Napoli is perhaps the flashiest team in Italy this year. After selling Edinson Cavani to Paris Saint-Germain, they added lethal players like Gonzalo Higuaín and José Callejón from Real Madrid. Their managerial change has also paid off. Under Rafael Benítez, Napoli has been on fire, going three for three and scoring 9 goals in the process while only conceding 2. Napoli currently sits on top of the Serie A as the one of the two teams winning its first three matches (the other team is AS Roma). Milan, on the other hand, has not been on its top form. They have only collected 4 points in 3 matches (LWD). The only home match they played, they won 3-1 so that could give them hope against Napoli. However, Napoli pulled off a 4-2 victory on their only away match, so they are quite lethal on the road as well. With Napoli on fire and Milan looking to return to winning form, this match of two of Italy’s greatest squads will definitely be filled with goals. In the end, Napoli seems like the better side with all the momentum they have built and they will pull off a win.
3. Bayern Munich @ Schalke 04
Bayern Munich has won four of their five matches and only tied against Freiburg, 1-1. They’ve only conceded two goals. Their biggest opponent for the Bundesliga title, Borussia Dortmund, has managed to go five for five. Therefore, Bayern Munich will not want to drop off points at Gelsenkirchen and give Dortmund the chance to open the gap. Their opponents for the match, Schalke 04 have just recently learned to maintain a winning form. In their first three matches, they only picked up one point and suffered a 4-1 defeat to Wolfsburg and a 2-1 defeat to Hannover (both matches were away matches). Schalke managed to string together two victories in the past two weeks against Bayer Leverkusen and Mainz 05. Thus, Schalke 04 has picked up some momentum, but it will not be enough to upset Bayern Munich. Nevertheless, this match of two giants of Germany will definitely produce a great match-up.
4. Monaco @ Paris Saint-Germain
Ligue 1 in France will allow us to watch one “expensive” soccer match. The two big money spenders, Monaco and Paris St. Germain (PSG) will face off in Paris. Both teams have excellent attacking power, but PSG has failed to fully utilize this and ended up tying Montpeiller and Ajaccio in the first two weeks. However, they are now on a roll with three wins in a row. Monaco only tied once and is two points ahead of PSG to sit on top of the league. This match will be important as it features the two biggest challengers of the Ligue 1 title. If PSG manages to pull off a win, they will pass Monaco in the league table. While Monaco will be looking to at least end in a draw, PSG will be on the attack with the support of the crowd behind them. Both sides will have to be cautious when defending because of the abundance of quality strikers on both teams. There will be goals on both sides, but eventually Paris St. Germain will be closer to the win.
5. Galatasaray @ Besiktas
This Sunday, Turkey will be fixed on Istanbul as two Istanbul and Turkish giants battle it out in a derby. Galatasaray, the reigning champions for the past two seasons, will face off against a revamped Besiktas. Galatasaray started off with a win, but then only managed to string together three draws. Their last draw was unlucky as they failed to make chances pay and two of their balls blasted back off the crossbar. They played extremely dominantly but could not get the win. Besiktas has undergone serious changes. They’ve changed structurally by appointing a “Soccer Director” in charge of all the transfers and how the team does. They also appointed the eccentric Croatian Slaven Bilic as their manager. The transfers have quickly made an impact as well. As a result, they have gone four for four and have picked up serious momentum. In the past, even when Besiktas was in the lead, the fans were nervous if the team could maintain the score. Now, even if the team falls back, the fans do not worry about coming back because this new squad radiates confidence. What’s more, it is speculated that Besiktas will have around 70,000-80,000 fans supporting them in their temporary home stadium (as their original stadium is being renovated). Their fans are known for their creativity and passion so fan power will definitely help out Besiktas. It will be a tightly contested match and Besiktas will have the comfort of being 3 points ahead and will not look to close the gap. If they can’t win, they will look to protect the draw. Therefore, a tie seems the most reasonable result, though it can go either way. Whatever the score, this will be a great match with great soccer played and the fans will also be a joy to watch. Make sure to watch this one.