> The weekly ritual continues, with another weekend showcasing five brilliant football matches you must tune into.
Sports Pundit’s Game of the Weekend
Bordeaux ended Olympique Lyon’s 7-year dominance of France’s Ligue 1 when they claimed the title last season and Girondins can deal Les Gones another blow with victory in this clash. Bordeaux currently lead Ligue 1 on 31 points, with Lyon fourth on 26.
Lyon started the season brilliantly but haven’t won in their last four Ligue 1 clashes seeing them slip down the table while Bordeaux have been steady enough to stay top. Lyon are having defensive problems and Bordeaux’s Marouane Chamakh and Yoann Gourcuff could be ripe to swoop.
Laurent Blanc’s Bordeaux have dealt with the additional fixtures which European competition has brought this season and having just sealed their passage through in the Champions League, they face a big league task. Lyon’s Lisandro Lopez will be a danger man and could hold the key.
The Bundesliga welcomes a battle of two of this season’s real title contenders. Bremen sit 2nd on 28 points, goal difference ahead of Schalke, and as this is the penultimate round of fixtures before the German winter break, this game takes on extra importance.
Bremen haven’t been beaten in 23 games in all competitions and Schalke boss Felix Magath realises this will be a tough task but his side have improved under his guidance. Werder’s topscorer Claudio Pizarro is likely to miss while Schalke’s key defender Marcelo Bordon is out suspended.
Saturday sees second-placed Real Madrid journey to third-placed Valencia in Spain’s top flight for a huge clash. Both sides have been in good form of late, but a Real slip-up here could see them drop 8 points behind leaders Barcelona.
And Real have been dealt a double blow with star duo Kaka (injury) and Cristiano Ronaldo (suspended) unavailable although Real boss Manuel Pellegrini still claimed, “We will not settle for a draw. We are going to go there looking for the win from the first minute.’’ Valencia are robbed of David Silva’s services due to injury, while Raul Albiol returns to the Mestalla.
It is always quite the occasion when two of England’s genuine big guns clash in the Premier League and Sunday’s stand alone fixture is no different, even with Arsenal eight points behind the leaders in third and with Liverpool down in seventh.
Arsenal have had their injury problems of late, with Robin van Persie a recent blow, but Andriy Arshavin (who scored four goals in this fixture last term) could step up in his absence. Fernando Torres should be back after injury for the Reds, while Alberto Aquilani will finally be ready.
It has been a less than memorable campaign for two of Spain’s big clubs this term but recent results have suggested a turn for the better. But with Sunday pitting the pair against one another, someone may take another step backwards before they can go forward.
Atletico, who’ve won their last two in La Liga, are down in 13th while Villarreal have been patchy and sit down in 11th. But Villarreal’s woeful awful form under Ernesto Valverde offers Atletico favouritism here. And Sergio Aguero should be fit for Atletico suggesting this could be their day.