As the European football season rumbles on, SportsPundit looks forward to five of the biggest matches that will be played out over this weekend.
Bayern Munich vs. Raja Casablanca, FIFA Club World Cup final, Saturday 20.30CET
Raja Casablanca will be looking to make history when they take on Bayern Munich in the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup final on Saturday. No African team have ever won the tournament, but the Moroccan giants will be up against a tough task as in Bayern they will face probably the strongest club side in the world. However, playing in front of a partisan crowd in Marrakech could give Raja a boost and so would a fact that they beat Ronaldinho-led Atletico Mineiro 3-1 in the semi-finals. Bayern, though, will head into the encounter as the firm favourites.
Galatasaray have shown signs of improvement under manager Roberto Mancini in recent weeks, but the Istanbul giants are still way off the pace in the Turkish Super Lig. They will head into Sunday’s encounter against Trabzonspor placed third in the table but 11 points behind leaders and arch-rivals Fenerbahce, while their opponents are just three points behind them in seventh. A loss at home will all but force Mancini’s side to forget about the title this season.
The Derby della Madonnina takes place at the San Siro on Sunday evening and like in the past two seasons, the two clubs involved are fighting for a top-three finish in Serie A instead of challenging for the Scudetto. While ‘hosts’ Inter Milan are currently fifth in the league table with 28 points from 16 matches – 15 points behind leaders Juventus – Massimiliano Allegri’s side have picked up only 19 points. Milan cannot afford to lose if they want to finish in the top three and neither can Walter Mazzari’s Inter.
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lille, French Ligue 1, Sunday, 21.00CET
With Monaco losing to Valenciennes at home on Friday, Lille can leapfrog them into second place in the Ligue 1 table on Sunday. But to accomplish that, they will need to get the better of Paris Saint-Germain at Parc des Princes, and it will be no easy feat. Laurent Blanc’s side are currently two points clear at the top of the table with 43 points from 18 matches, four ahead of Lille, and have lost just once in the league all season. PSG have scored 42 goals in 18 matches in Ligue 1 in stark contrast to just 20 netted by their opponents, but Lille do have the best defensive record in the French top flight having conceded just six. Something has to give on Sunday evening.
Arsenal may still be at the top of the Premier League but there have been a sign or two that they may not be able to retain the pole position for too long. Last weekend’s 6-3 away defeat to fellow title challengers Manchester City dragged down their lead to two points and by the time the players go to bed on Monday evening, they could well find themselves fourth in the standings. Currently two points ahead of both Liverpool and Chelsea, the Gunners need to beat the Blues at the Emirates Stadium on Monday evening or else Jose Mourinho’s side will displace them at the top with a victory. Liverpool and Manchester City could also go top by the time Arsenal against Chelsea kicks off with wins in their respective fixtures. This is one weekend that could just about knock Arsenal off the top perch. For good.