Weekend Wanderings: Club football returns with huge clashes across Europe
With the international window coming to an end, Alasdair Hooper looks ahead to the weekend’s most intriguing matches across the world of men’s football.
The football fixtures are continuing to come thick and fast as the men’s international window comes to an end.
But with the players returning to their clubs from across the globe, they will be back in action before they know it.
Here are the big games you can look forward to this weekend.
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Saturday evening’s standout fixture sees adversaries José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola going head to head once again.
Thanks to the jumbled-up nature of the league right now, it’s a game that holds a real level of intrigue.
Much of that stems from Manchester City currently playing several levels below what we have come to expect from them – and there are also fitness question marks surrounding Raheem Sterling, Sergio Agüero and Fernandinho for the game.
But Tottenham also have their own selection issues after defender Matt Doherty tested positive for Covid-19 in the international break.
This could be another well-matched affair in the Premier League this season.
Atletico Madrid v Barcelona (Saturday, 8pm)
Speaking of jumbled-up leagues, the La Liga table has a very unfamiliar look about it right now.
Real Sociedad are currently top of the pile, with Villareal in second. Real Madrid are in fourth while Barcelona are sitting in eighth in what is proving to be a difficult period on and off the pitch.
So, this Saturday night we are treated to a really interesting game as Ronald Koeman takes his Barca team – along with all the question marks hanging over them – to third-placed Atletico Madrid.
Traditionally we have been used to seeing a resilient and defensively solid Atletico side under the leadership of Diego Simeone but this year there’s a different direction.
Much of that stems in attack with João Félix finally taking off as a forward, however Luis Suárez will miss the opportunity to play against his old club for the first time due to testing positive for Covid-19 while on international duty.
Could a win here make Atletico real contenders for the title?
Leeds United v Arsenal (Sunday, 4.30pm)
If you want to see goals, but only have time to watch one game, then choose the one with Leeds in it.
Since they returned to the Premier League, Marcelo Bielsa’s side have been involved in dramatic 4-3 games, impressive tactical displays and also the odd hammering – like their last outing against Crystal Palace.
So, who knows what kind of madness we are going to see here?
There’s also the small matter that Arsenal are in need of some points after they fell to Aston Villa 3-0 last time out.
Mikel Arteta will want to put that disappointment behind them as soon as possible but he’s also lost Mohamed Elneny and Sead Kolašinac to positive Covid-19 results.
Liverpool v Leicester City (Sunday, 7.15pm)
On Sunday night table-topping Leicester City take on reigning champions Liverpool in a clash that is littered with storylines.
While we’re on the topic of coronavirus, this is going to be a Liverpool team without Mohamed Salah – who tested positive this week – but it’s also a Liverpool side who could be missing their entire first-choice back four.
We all know about Virgil van Dijk’s injury but the Reds have now lost Joe Gomez to a long term injury and both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson sat out of international games because of fitness concerns.
Captain Jordan Henderson also withdrew from the England squad ahead of Wednesday’s Iceland game. The good news is Fabinho is set to return.
But let’s also not forget that Leicester have looked really good this season – and this is not the game Jurgen Klopp will have picked to play with an injury-depleted team.
You also can’t help but think that Brendan Rodgers would always like to get one over his former employees when given the chance.
Napoli v AC Milan (Sunday, 7.45pm)
In Italy we also get to see a top of the table clash as AC Milan travel to Naples, who are of course managed by former Milan midfield general Gennaro Gattuso.
After years in the relative wilderness AC Milan have had a massive revolution off the pitch, and that looks to be coming to fruition this year.
Under Stefano Pioli they currently sit top of Serie A with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimović and Hakan Çalhanoglu really performing well.
Napoli, however, are just three points behind Milan in third place and a home win will end their opponents unbeaten start.
This should be another really exciting match up to see this weekend.
You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992
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