Football Article

Five Must-See Football Matches This Weekend

Five Must-See Football Matches This Weekend Photo: TT
Leverkusen's Kai Havertz

The title races around the big European leagues are heading towards the final bend for the home straight with some crucial match-ups in Italy, Spain and England determining final placings, along with the German DFB Pokal decider this weekend.

Juventus v Torino

Saturday 5:15pm European time - Italian Serie A

The Turin derby has been lopsided for a long time, so throw in the fact this one will be played behind closed doors and it’s hard to get too excited.

However, leaders Juventus are striving towards the Serie A title, sitting four points clear of second-placed Lazio, while 15th-placed Torino are desperately trying to avoid relegation, as they’re currently six points above the drop zone. Juve have won their past five league matches, while Torino have managed one win from their past nine. Despite the differences, these derbies have been tight recently, with a Juve 1-0 win earlier this season in the reverse fixture, while last term this fixture ended 1-1.

Wolverhampton v Arsenal

Saturday 6:30pm European time - English Premier League

Sixth-placed Wolverhampton entertain eighth-placed Arsenal with both sides in contention for European qualification, including hopes of reaching the UEFA Champions League, although the Gunners’ chances seem remote.

Wolves are currently level on points with Manchester United and only two behind fourth-placed Chelsea, so they’re right in the hunt. Arsenal are eight points behind Chelsea but have won two matches in a row in the league to keep their hopes alive. Arsenal’s midweek 4-0 dismantling of Norwich City was encouraging, meaning they’ve won three games in a row in all competitions, after the weekend’s impressive 2-1 win over Sheffield United in the FA Cup, offering hope they’ve turned the corner.

Bayer Leverkusen v Bayern Munich

Saturday 8pm European time - German DFB Pokal Final

After missing out on UEFA Champions League qualification, Bayer Leverkusen will be out for cup glory when they take on runaway Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich in the German DFB Pokal final in Berlin.

Bayern go in as the favourites but Leverkusen cannot be under-estimated, particularly given their recent form especially with Kai Havertz in the side. These two sides met in the league early last month, with Bayern winning 4-2 at Leverkusen. Bayern’s form since the restart was practically unstoppable. The final will be played behind closed doors, with only 700 people let in, which was labeled by Leverkusen sports director Rudi Voeller as “quite sad”.

Lazio v AC Milan

Saturday 9:45pm European time - Italian Serie A

After Juventus take on their local rivals on Saturday, second-placed Lazio will be out to keep the pressure on at the top of the Serie A table when they face fallen giants AC Milan.

Lazio haven’t convinced since the restart despite being the form team going into it. Milan have steadied into seventh spot and will be no easybeats. Milan boss Stefano Pioli has said his squad are tired, explaining their last-gasp win over lowly SPAL recently. Lazio are unbeaten at home in the league all season, recording 12 wins from 15 matches at the Olimpico. They may have blown a 2-0 lead to Atalanta a fortnight ago and only sneaked past Fiorentina and Torino since the restart, but they’ve actually won six of their past seven league games.

Villarreal v FC Barcelona

Sunday 10pm European time - Spanish La Liga

Barcelona’s title hopes are hanging by a thread after a recent run of three draws in four La Liga matches, allowing Real Madrid to move four points clear at the summit.

Barca’s average away record has been a problem, so a difficult assignment away to fifth-placed Villarreal is hardly what they need. The Yellow Submarine are also unbeaten in their past five league matches, including four wins. The Catalans will be without Ousmane Dembele and Frankie de Jong as well. They’ll know how critical the match is, with Real facing a tough trip to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday too. The title could be practically decided this weekend.

Ben somerford
Sports Pundit staff writer @bensomerford
Australian journalist who specialises on all sports, focusing on football, tennis, basketball and racing, having written for global publications including FourFourTwo, AAP, Inside Futbol and many more....

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