Four matches to watch this weekend

September 27, 2017 in Turin - Allianz Stadium Soccer match Juventus F.C. vs OLYMPIAKOS S.F.P. In picture: PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xCronos/ClaudioxBenedettox cronosbndtt27092017108616
September 27, 2017 in Turin - Allianz Stadium Soccer match Juventus F.C. vs OLYMPIAKOS S.F.P. In picture: PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xCronos/ClaudioxBenedettox cronosbndtt27092017108616

Napoli v Juventus @Stadio San Paolo @8:45pm on Dec 1

Juventus are Serie A’s defending champions – winners of six consecutive league titles but they have only won once at the San Paolo in their last 13 visits. There is already a four-point gap between them which Maurizio Sarri and his men would be itching to increase to seven, even though the title cannot be determined in December – it would be putting potential champions at arm’s length.  The departure of Leonardo Bonucci seems to have taken something away from the mean defence but Napoli will also be without their injured but very influential Faouzi Ghoulam. Gonzalo Higuain is expected to lead the Juve team even though he has a broken hand while the Napoli front three would be led by Dries Mertens.

Current Form: Napoli [W-W-W-D-L]; Juventus [W-D-L-W-D]

Head to head

Wed   05/04/17     COI   Napoli                  3 – 2  Juventus

Sun    02/04/17     SEA   Napoli                  1 – 1   Juventus

Tue    28/02/17     COI   Juventus      3 – 1   Napoli

Sat    29/10/16      SEA   Juventus      2 – 1   Napoli

Sat    13/02/16      SEA   Juventus      1 – 0   Napoli

Prediction: Napoli 3-2 Juventus

Arsenal v Man. United @Emirates Stadium @6:30pm on Dec 2

Arsenal versus Manchester United will always be a classic but throw in Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho – then it becomes an epic. Mourinho’s men have no other option than to continue winning to stay on the coattails of Manchester City but Mourinho does not have a good record away at any top six sides in the last two seasons. So will he shake or twist? Meanwhile, Arsenal are already 12 points adrift of top spot, so beating United is the only option for Wenger and his men.

Indeed, the stakes are high and the result will be influenced by the absences of Alexander Lacazette for Arsenal and Nemanja Matic for United. While Olivier Giroud can be drafted in to cover for Lacazette, there seems no replacement for Matic even though Ander Herrera will be a capable replacement. If Mourinho will beat any top six side, you guess he will want that victory against Wenger’s team.

Current Form: Arsenal [W-W-L-W-L]; Man. Utd [W-W-L-W-L]

Head to head

Sun    07/05/17     PRL    Arsenal        2 – 0  Man. Utd

Sat    19/11/16       PRL    Man. Utd      1 – 1   Arsenal

Sun    28/02/16     PRL    Man. Utd      3 – 2  Arsenal

Sun    04/10/15      PRL    Arsenal        3 – 0  Man. Utd

Sun    17/05/15      PRL    Man. Utd      1 – 1   Arsenal

Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Man. United

Leverkusen v Dortmund @BayArena @3:30pm on Dec 2

This is the game to watch in the Bundesliga this weekend because it could become Peter Bosz’s last game as Dortmund boss! Bosz will be hoping his players can quickly put behind them the debacle of letting a 4-0 lead slip in the Revierderby as they confront the Bundesliga’s most in-form team at the BayArena, where they have not lost this season.

Dortmund must achieve a positive result without Mario Gotze, who is injured again and the suspended Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. This could mean former Leverkusen star, Andre Schurrle could be introduced to play as the lone striker. For Heiko Herrlich, he can trust Kevin Volland to put Dortmund to the sword and increase the pressure on Bosz.

Current Form: Leverkusen [W-D-D-D-W]; Dortmund [D-L-L-W-L]

Head to head

Sat    04/03/17     BUN  Dortmund     6 – 2  Leverkusen

Sat    01/10/16      BUN  Leverkusen   2 – 0  Dortmund

Sun    21/02/16      BUN  Leverkusen   0 – 1   Dortmund

Sun    20/09/15     BUN  Dortmund     3 – 0  Leverkusen

Sat    31/01/15      BUN  Leverkusen   0 – 0  Dortmund

Prediction: Leverkusen 3-1 Dortmund

Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid @San Mames @8:45pm on Dec 2

A potential banana skin for Zinedine Zidane and his team – a loss at San Mames could prove fatal for Zizou’s reign at the Bernabeu as the 2-2 draw with Fuenlabrada sent some Madrid hearts into hyperventilation even though Saturday’s opponents lost their Copa clash 1-0 to Formentera.

Zidane has been anything but cool, calm, and confident since he took over the reins from Rafa Benitez and a good omen for him is the absence of Aymeric Laporte for their hosts while his dependable trio of Sergio Ramos, Keylor Navas, and Gareth Bale are all back in contention.

Current Form: Bilbao [L-D-W-D-L]; Madrid [D-W-W-D-W]

Head to head

Sat    18/03/17      PRD    Bilbao          1 – 2   Madrid

Sun    23/10/16      PRD    Madrid         2 – 1   Bilbao

Sat    13/02/16      PRD    Madrid         4 – 2  Bilbao

Wed   23/09/15     PRD    Bilbao          1 – 2   Madrid

Sat    07/03/15     PRD    Bilbao          1 – 0   Madrid

Prediction: Bilbao 1-2 Real Madrid


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