The top European football leagues kick up a gear in midweek with many blockbuster matches scheduled across England, Italy, and Spain.
These are four you cannot afford to miss!
Liverpool v Tottenham @Anfield @9pm on December 16
The two top teams in the English Premier League square up at Anfield – in what should be a boisterous atmosphere with 2,000 Reds’ supporters in attendance.
It is the pragmatist versus the idealist as Jose Mourinho brings his table-topping Spurs to Anfield, seeking to contain the attacking might of Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool team.
Whilst Klopp’s men have dropped 11 points away, they have won all six at Anfield while Spurs are unbeaten in their six away matches – winning four and drawing two. It is also the most potent attack – Liverpool, with 27 goals against the stingiest defence of Spurs. Mourinho’s men have conceded just 10 goals in their first 12 matches.
These matches are normally very tight, but Tottenham have been on the losing end in the last five meetings and the last Spurs victory was way back in October 2017.
Klopp has another injury issue in Joel Matip, which means another defensive reinvention. Will Mourinho burnish Spurs’ title credentials at Anfield, or will the status quo prevail?
Current Form: Liverpool [D-D-W-W-D]; Tottenham [D-W-W-D-D]
11/01/20 PRL Tottenham 0 – 1 Liverpool
27/10/19 PRL Liverpool 2 – 1 Tottenham
01/06/19 UCL Tottenham 0 – 2 Liverpool
31/03/19 PRL Liverpool 2 – 1 Tottenham
15/09/18 PRL Tottenham 1 – 2 Liverpool
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham
Inter Milan v Napoli @San Siro @8:45pm on Decrmber 16
Antonio Conte’s team are Serie A’s comeback kings as they welcome Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli team, who have suddenly clicked into gear.
One of Milan’s outstanding players over the past two weeks has been a youngster, Achraf Hakimi, but who may miss out because of an injury.
Victor Osimhen is unavailable for Napoli, which means Dries Mertens will continue as the nominal No.9, with Hirving Lozano and Lorenzo Insigne supporting from the flanks.
A point separates these two teams and they will need all three points on offer to get closer to table-toppers, AC Milan.
Current Form: Inter Milan [W-D-W-W-W]; Napoli [W-D-W-D-W]
28/07/20 SEA Inter Milan 2 – 0 Napoli
13/06/20 COI Napoli 1 – 1 Inter Milan
12/02/20 COI Inter Milan 0 – 1 Napoli
06/01/20 SEA Napoli 1 – 3 Inter Milan
19/05/19 SEA Napoli 4 – 1 Inter Milan
Prediction: Inter Milan 2-1 Napoli
Juventus v Atalanta @Allianz Stadium @6:30pm on December 16
Juventus under Andrea Pirlo have steadily improved, with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the charge up the table as the defending champions gather momentum.
Atalanta are awkward opponents and their energy in offensive phases could overwhelm Leonardo Bonucci and Matthijs de Ligt, who just returned from a long injury layoff if Adrien Rabiot and Rodrigo Bentancur don’t put in the shift in covering the central defensive pairing.
La Dea hit a wobble recently but their form has picked up with the return to fitness of Atalanta’s captain, Alejandro Gomez, who is fit and should make the matchday squad with Josip Ilicic, which will mean the No.9 position is occupied by Duvan Zapata.
Atalanta will create chances, but will they take them?
Current Form: Juventus [W-W-W-W-D]; Atalanta [W-W-D-L-W]
11/07/20 SEA Juventus 2 – 2 Atalanta
23/11/19 SEA Atalanta 1 – 3 Juventus
19/05/19 SEA Juventus 1 – 1 Atalanta
30/01/19 COI Atalanta 3 – 0 Juventus
26/12/18 SEA Atalanta 2 – 2 Juventus
Prediction: Juventus 2-1 Atalanta
Barcelona v Real Sociedad @Camp Nou @9pm on December16
Lately, this encounter has been a very close one. Barcelona have won four of the last five meetings but none of the four victories has been more than the odd goal. When Sociedad visit Camp Nou on Wednesday, they will file out as leaders of La Liga, though the likes of Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, and Barcelona have games in hand.
Ronald Koeman’s team is wobbling and many fans will see this as another test they would normally pass and the visitors waltz into Catalonia unbeaten in 10 but with six consecutive draws.
In defence, Clement Lenglet will be the senior central defender as he will be paired by 21-year-old Ronald Araujo.
Barcelona struggled to beat Levante 1-0 in their last match and will still look to their talisman to lead the charge on Wednesday. Will a 33-year-old Messi be up for this after just 72 hours of rest?
Current Form: Barcelona [W-L-L-W-W]; Real Sociedad [D-D-D-D-D]
07/03/20 LAL Barcelona 1 – 0 Real Sociedad
14/12/19 LAL Real Sociedad 2 – 2 Barcelona
20/04/19 LAL Barcelona 2 – 1 Real Sociedad
15/09/18 LAL Real Sociedad 1 – 2 Barcelona
20/05/18 LAL Barcelona 1 – 0 Real Sociedad
Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Real Sociedad
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