Predicting the Biggest European Football Matches This Weekend

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIOctober 24, 2013

Predicting the Biggest European Football Matches This Weekend

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    European football might have been the talk of the town during the week, but this weekend, club football will return to centre stage with some intriguing matchups.

    Title challengers will meet in the Premier League, old rivals in the Bundesliga and another installment of El Clasico—all just part of the slew of games slated for this weekend across Europe's major leagues. There's no avoiding the headlines this week because they're simply everywhere. 

    Which teams will emerge with a victory from this big weekend of club football? Read on for full game details and predictions from Europe's major leagues.

Headline Fixtures for Major Leagues

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    English Premier League

    Chelsea vs. Manchester City

    Sunday, October 27, at 4 p.m. BST

     

    German Bundesliga

    Bayern Munich vs. Hertha BSC

    Saturday, October 26, at 2:30 p.m. BST

     

    Schalke 04 vs. Borussia Dortmund

    Saturday, October 26, at 2:30 p.m. BST

     

    Spanish La Liga

    FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid

    Saturday, October 26, at 5 p.m. BST

     

    Villarreal vs. Valencia

    Sunday, October 27, at 4 p.m. BST

      

    Italian Serie A

    Internazionale vs. Hellas Verona

    Saturday, October 26, at 7:45 p.m. BST 

     

    French Ligue 1

    FC Nantes vs. Lille OSC

    Friday, October 25, at 7:30 p.m. BST

     

    AS Monaco vs. Olympique Lyonnais

    Sunday, October 27, at 4 p.m. BST

     

    Saint-Etienne vs. Paris Saint-Germain

    Sunday, October 27, at 8 p.m. BST

     

    ** Full fixtures for Europe's major leagues available via BBC Sport.

Chelsea vs. Manchester City

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    Both Chelsea and Manchester City come into this one off less-than-impressive Champions League performances, but with wins in hand. Either could be top of the Premier League with another victory.

    The key could well be the home form of Chelsea, who have won all four of their games at Stamford Bridge this year by a combined score of 10-2. The Citizens are notoriously bad travelers, and while they'll be helped from their successful trip to London last week, I'm not convinced it will happen again here. 

    Jose Mourinho's men lift at home, and I'd expect them to do that this week.

    The Special One will be back in the dugout after being handed only a fine by the FA during the week (per Sky Sports), and I'd expect them to lift well for this one.

    Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Manchester City

Bayern Munich vs. Hertha BSC

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    This week sees Hertha BSC travel to the Allianz Stadium to take on Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich—fresh off a thumping Champions League victory.

    Things haven't been so great on the domestic front for Bayern, though, with their past two home wins against Wolfsburg and FSV Mainz not coming without serious cause for concern and a draw against Leverkusen in that run as well. That will no doubt give Hertha BSC plenty of optimism about getting a result, but even still, it's very hard to see that happening.

    The likes of Mario Goetze and Thomas Muller will be better for the rest they received during the week and will no doubt back up to give the champions another win here.

    Bayern's home record is something that you just don't want to mess with.

    Prediction: Bayern Munich 3-1 Hertha BSC

Schalke 04 vs. Borussia Dortmund

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    Schalke were very fortunate last week to come from behind against the lowest-ranked team in the Bundesliga. They were comprehensively beaten during the week by Chelsea (though it must be noted that they did show some signs of life in that match). As a whole, they've underperformed a great deal this year, and it's hard to see that changing against Borussia Dortmund. 

    Schalke will be spurred on by the fact this is a rivalry game, but Dortmund are simply a class above at the moment and are carrying much better form as well. Look for Juergen Klopp's team to take the lead early in this one and then simply play Schalke out of the game like they always do.

    Prediction: Schalke 0-3 Borussia Dortmund

Villarreal vs. Valencia

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    Few would have predicted that Valencia would be as low as eighth at this point in this season, but they are, and with back-to-back defeats (plus a Europa League match during the week to negotiate), the Spanish club certainly come into this one against Villarreal under plenty of pressure.

    Villarreal were poor against Bilbao on the road last week but have been impressive at home this year, and I like them to continue that run in this difficult fixture.

    Valencia just aren't what they were in 2012, and it'll show this weekend.

    Prediction: Villarreal 1-0 Valencia

FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid

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    Ahhhh. El Clasico, welcome back.

    Having dropped points last weekend, Barcelona's lead on top of the table is down to just three points now, and it could close even further this weekend if Los Blancos can topple La Blaugrana.

    In recent times, Jose Mourinho did appear to have the measure of Barcelona's attack, but with The Special One no longer at the helm of the Spanish giants, this one could well go the other way.

    Real were poor against Juventus during the week and really should have done more. Part of them will have been focusing on this fixture, but even still, it wasn't the kind of performance they would have been after. The Old Lady made them look very slow and vulnerable at times (even with 10 men), and I'd expect Barcelona to do the same at the Nou Camp this weekend as well.

    Lionel Messi continues to get healthier every week, and unless Xabi Alonso's probable returns inspires something special in Madrid, I can't see the away team winning here.

    Whether this Clasico stands to fall in Bleacher Report's Top 100 El Clasico Moments still remains to be seen, but one thing's for certain—it's bound to be a thriller.

    Prediction: FC Barcelona 3-2 Real Madrid

Internazionale vs. Hellas Verona

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    Inter come into this one off a frustrating result last week against Torino, surrendering the lead in the final minutes for a 3-3 draw. The iconic club have struggled in Serie A in recent times and are winless in their last three games. Things wouldn't appear to be getting any easier for them up against a Verona side that's won its past three.

    That might be cause for some concern, but it shouldn't be.

    Hellas Verona haven't beaten any of the real strong teams in the league this year, with their two games against quality opponents ending in defeat. Moreover, the only team they've beaten on the road this year is last-placed Bologna, so going to the San Siro won't be a fun trip either.

    Look for Inter to bounce back with a solid win at home.

    Prediction: Internazionale 2-0 Hellas Verona

FC Nantes vs. Lille OSC

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    Both Nantes and Lille come into this one undefeated in their past four league matches, but Nantes have clearly been the better of the two teams in that time.

    They've won twice on the road and, incredibly, are yet to concede a goal at home this year. All four of their games (against some strong opposition too) have ended in clean sheets, and against a Lille team that's scored just one road goal in their past two games (and just four total for the season), it's very probable that they'll continue their impressive defensive record this weekend.

    Lille were good against Lyon three weeks back and showed good determination to fall over the line against Montpellier too, but I just can't see them winning here.

    Nantes are playing too tight at the back and are on a run that won't be stopped here.

    Prediction: Nantes 2-0 Lille OSC

AS Monaco vs. Olympique Lyonnais

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    AS Monaco were expected to be strong this year, but many expected that they would start to slip up eventually. It hasn't yet come, but the home team showed real signs of vulnerability last week against Sochaux and could well be primed for their first loss this weekend.

    Lyon haven't won in their past four Ligue 1 games but have shown against some good teams this year that they're capable of playing some good football. Results against Nice, Nantes and Lille (where they conceded just one goal combined) show that to be the case.

    The key here could be the home-ground factor for Monaco. 

    Lyon haven't played a team ranked inside the top 10 on the road this year, and even then they have only managed one win and are yet to record a single clean sheet.

    Monaco's undefeated run might be showing signs of relenting, but it won't happen this week. Not at home against a Lyon team that isn't quite what it once was.

    Prediction: AS Monaco 3-1 Olympique Lyonnais

Saint-Etienne vs. Paris Saint-Germain

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    Ibra-cadabra.

    That was the buzzword after Zlatan Ibrahimovic's stunning four-goal performance against Anderlecht in the Champions League this week, and after watching the manner in which Paris Saint-Germain simply dismantled their opponents it's hard not to think they'll do the same this weekend.

    Yet to lose in Ligue 1, PSG have shown that they aren't just home-ground dependent (with road wins over Marseille and Nantes), and while they're up against a good test in Saint-Etienne, there's just no way they'll go down this weekend. Not in the form they're in right now.

    Saint-Etienne aren't as good without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and are leaking goals at the back as well, which you'd expect PSG to take full advantage of.

    Prediction: Saint-Etienne 0-2 Paris Saint-Germain

     

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