Weekend, football, and nailbiting clashes – the ultimate stressbuster in existence. After a gloomy, and practically never-ending week; we are finally here, hours away from kicking off this weekend’s scheduled, unadulterated action.
With a host of football fixtures to choose from, picking just the right one can often be a hectic task. So, we have taken it upon ourselves to help fellow fanatics out.
Here are the five football matches you can’t miss, this weekend:
Athletic Bilbao vs Barcelona (Monday 1:15 AM IST)
Having played out a nail-biting 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final on Wednesday night, Barcelona turn their attention back to La Liga.
Last week, Valencia gave Barcelona a real run for their money at Camp Nou, forcing Lionel Messi to come to his side’s rescue after they found themselves 2-0 down in the first half. Athletic – 12th in La Liga – are coming into the match on the back of a frustrating loss to rivals Real Sociedad in the Basque Derby at Anoeta. Both sides don’t look at their best, but Barcelona’s star-studded squad should definitely have the upper hand.
Prediction: Bilbao 1-2 Barcelona
Bayern Munich vs Schalke 04 (Saturday 11:00 PM IST)
Third-placed Bayern Munich will look to climb up the Bundesliga rankings when they welcome Schalke 04 to the Allianz Arena on Saturday night. At first, Borussia Dortmund’s advantage at the top of the Bundesliga table didn’t look that intimidating, as most people tipped Bayern to eventually catch up. But now, after 20 league matches, that seven-point advantage has started to look a lot more ominous. On paper, Bayern Munich have the best squad in the division. But sadly, their performances haven’t quite been able to justify the hype.
Schalke, too, have endured a frustrating campaign, so far, and have only been able to pick up 22 points from their first 20 games. They two teams have played out some great matches over the years, but we see only one winner at the Allianz on Sunday.
Prediction: Bayern 3-0 Schalke 04
Liverpool vs Bournemouth (Saturday 8:30 PM IST)
Jurgen Klopp’s leaders will aim to get back to winning ways when they welcome Bournemouth to Anfield in the Premier League on Saturday night. Following back-to-back draws at Leicester City and West Ham, Liverpool find themselves under a bit of pressure going into the match against Bournemouth. Manchester City’s win over Everton saw them replace the Reds at the summit, but a win against Bournemouth will once again restore the natural order.
Bournemouth don’t have such sky-high ambitions, but they, too, are desperate to maintain consistency in the Premier League. Eddie Howe’s side thumped Chelsea 4-0 a couple of weeks back, only to follow up with a 2-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Cardiff City. It’s difficult to call this one, but it most definitely will be an entertaining evening of football.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Bournemouth
Manchester City vs Chelsea (Sunday 9:30 PM IST)
Premier League holders, Manchester City, will look to extend their purple patch when they welcome Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday. Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea haven’t been the most consistent team this season. At times, they have looked outstanding, just full of confidence. While on the other, they have looked uncertain and toothless. Gonzalo Higuain’s addition should change things for the better, but it’s still too early to judge the Argentinian’s impact.
Following the 2-1 defeat at Newcastle United, Manchester City have bounced back with consecutive wins over Arsenal and Everton. Chelsea will probably be a tougher nut to crack, but the reigning champions are still the outright favourites.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 Chelsea
Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid (Saturday 8:45 PM IST)
Santiago Solari’s Real Madrid make the short trip to Atletico knowing a win at the Wanda Metropolitano would see them clinch the second spot in La Liga table. The hosts have only lost two matches in the Spanish top-flight this season, but their most recent slip-up happened away at Betis last weekend. Atletico have struggled to score this season, but with only 14 goals conceded they once again have the best defensive record in the division.
Real Madrid are in fine form at the moment and will fancy themselves to get all three points from the trip. However, after Wednesday’s demanding Clasico, fatigue could turn out to be a deciding factor on Saturday night.