As the European football season rumbles on, SportsPundit looks forward to five of the biggest matches that will be played out over this weekend.
One of the most passionate derbies in Spain return on Friday evening when Barcelona host Espanyol at Camp Nou. Gerardo Martino’s side will be the overwhelming favourites to maintain their unbeaten record in La Liga and pick up their 11th win in 12 matches. The defending Spanish champions are currently a point clear of Atletico Madrid at the top of the table, while Espanyol are eighth with 15 points.
Arsenal’s Premier League title credentials will be put to firm test on Saturday evening when Liverpool visit the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger’s side are currently in pole position in the table with 22 points from nine matches, while Brendan Rodgers’s Reds are just two points behind them in third.
The Gunners have not lost in the league since the opening weekend of the season but in Liverpool they will face a side who are in top form and are on the up. A defeat at home could have an adverse effect on Arsenal given that title challengers Chelsea and Manchester City both have begun to find their feet.
Two of the most successful clubs in Greek football will go head-to-head on Saturday evening when Panathinaikos host Olympiakos. Victory for the Shamrock at their own Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium in Athens will see them edge closer to a top-three finish, but it is Olympiakos who will head into the clash as the favourites.
Michel’s side, who won the league title last season, have picked up 25 points from nine matches and are currently three points clear of PAOK Salonika at the top of the table. They have scored 29 goals and conceded only three, so a victory for them is more likely than not.
Neither Cardiff City nor Swansea City are English clubs, but the Welsh duo’s presence in the Premier League will have a huge impact across Great Britain. The outfits will contest the fiercely contested and potentially troublesome South Wales derby on Sunday, with the Cardiff City Stadium being the venue of the bout.
While the Swans are in the top half of the table, Malky Mackay’s Bluebirds are just a point and two places above the relegation zone. However, the form book will fly out of the window for the derby which will be dominated by passion both on the pitch and at the stands.
Lille may not have spent as much as Ligue 1 title contenders Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco in the summer, but they are just two points behind the top two. On Sunday Les Dogues will host Claudio Ranieri’s side knowing that a victory at Stade Pierre-Mauroy will see them go at least second. However, Monaco are far from easy pushovers, especially with star striker Radamel Falco having returned to goalscoring form.