Weekend Wanderings: Manchester City look to cast aside Chelsea and RB Leipzig renew rivalry against Borussia Dortmund

Alasdair Hooper takes a look at some of this weekend’s big talking points in football…

While most of the country has been collectively freezing, the football is continuing to heat up.

This weekend there are some crucial fixtures to play out domestically, in Europe and on the international stage.

In this edition of Weekend Wanderings, here are five things you should be keeping your eye on

1) Can Manchester City cast aside another top Premier League rival?

Other than their barmy defeat to Liverpool, and the shock loss to Wigan in the FA Cup, Manchester City have been imperious this year.

Last weekend, Pep Guardiola added his first trophy with Manchester City to his considerable honours list.

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On Sunday, the Premier League table-toppers will be presented with another opportunity to stake a claim for being one of the best sides we have seen in the division as they face Chelsea just three days after playing Arsenal.

While fatigue may come into play, you can bet City will be desperate to extend their lead over another rival and Chelsea have been far from convincing in recent weeks.

Antonio Conte’s Blues will be hoping to bounce back from their defeat at Old Trafford last week, and a victory would be a much-needed boost in their race for a top four spot.

2) Can Napoli and Juventus keep up their stunning form in Serie A’s super Saturday?

While a number of European league’s title races are pretty much over, Serie A’s is alive and kicking.

Napoli are currently top of the table on 69 points but, just four points behind, lie Juventus who also have a game in hand.

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This Saturday, however, both sides will be facing a fierce test of their title credentials as they both go up against teams in Champions League contention.

Juventus travel to Rome to play third-placed Lazio while Napoli face another team from the capital – fifth-placed Roma – in Naples.

If either of them slip up it could be a key weekend in the race for the Scudetto.

3) Can Phil Neville make a decisive statement at the SheBelieves Cup?

On Sunday, Phil Neville will face his next big test as the Lionesses play their second game of the SheBelieves Cup.

The first fixture was against France but, this weekend, it’s a vital game against Germany – ranked second in the world.

Neville is already under pressure to get things right following his controversial appointment and there are much easier ways to start your reign than a SheBelieves Cup campaign.

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However, if he and the Lionesses grab a win in this game it would go a long way to silencing a number of vocal critics.

4) Can Wigan close the gap on the League One leaders?

Wigan Athletic’s FA Cup heroics over Manchester City grabbed plenty of attention but, throughout their campaign in League One, Paul Cook’s side have largely impressed.

However, two losses in their last five games has seen them drop away slightly and they sit third in the division at present.

On Sunday at midday, the 2013 FA Cup winners have a chance to close in on the team in top spot, Blackburn, who six points ahead.

Tony Mowbray’s team though have also bounced back impressively after their acrimonious relegation last year.

This could be a crucial game at Ewood Park in the race for promotion to the Championship.

5) Is Leipzig and Dortmund now one of the fiercest rivalries in the Bundesliga?

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On the face of it RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund are very different entities – one is backed by a corporate giant and the other is considered a proper fan’s club.

Due to their differences whenever the two sides have met – since Leipzig earned promotion into the top tier – the games have been fiery and often hostile.

Away from the intense atmosphere, however, the teams are also two of the best in the Bundesliga and are both battling for Champions League football.

Dortmund are currently second on 41 points while Leipzig are in sixth but just three points behind.

With so much at stake, and so many quality players on show such as Michy Batshuayi and Timo Werner, it’s sure to be an engrossing game of football.

Follow Alasdair on Twitter at @adjhooper1992


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