Lewis Ambrose·27 January 2023
Lewis Ambrose·27 January 2023
Looking beyond the FA Cup and veering further afield, European football is serving up some absolutely massive games that you simply have to watch this weekend.
The Bundesliga returned last Friday and Bayern Munich dropped points as they drew in Leipzig. No big deal, right? It was one game, a tough one at that, and Bayern didn’t lose.
It was a bigger deal when they required an injury-time screamer from Joshua Kimmich to avoid defeat at home against Köln on Wednesday.
If they could choose their next game, the champions probably would not opt for a match against the team with, bar Bayern, the best away record in the Bundesliga so far this season.
Frankfurt sit in fourth as the weekend begins, five points behind Bayern, and they left with all three points the last time they visited Munich. Randal Kolo Muani’s 10 assists so far this season is the most in the German top flight and he has six goals on top of that, making him a real threat. Jesper Lindstrøm and Daichi Kamada have seven apiece as well, with the array of threats making the team hard to shut down.
If Bayern aren’t careful, they’ll enter February with a few teams breathing down their neck.
So far this season, Napoli have won 16 of their 19 Serie A games. But boy, did they have to work hard to beat Roma. A late Victor Osimhen winner was the difference back in October but José Mourinho’s side have improved since then.
Roma’s six-game unbeaten run has helped them up to fifth in the league and only one team – Milan — actually sit closer to Napoli in terms of points.
With Napoli 13 points ahead of them, the idea of a late title charge is fanciful for the capital club. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t dream.
A Champions League spot is incredibly up for grabs and, with Tammy Abraham and Paulo Dybala currently looking like a top class front two, you would be foolish to write Roma off.
Either they will take a big step towards Champions League football this weekend, or Napoli will move one step closer to an historic title with another statement win. Either way, it’s a must watch game.
Looking up or looking down?
Real Madrid enter the weekend three points behind LaLiga leaders Barcelona … and just three points ahead of their opponents Real Sociedad.
It has been a rough start to the year for Carlo Ancelotti and co., with the club from the Spanish capital struggling with injuries, suffering defeat to Villarreal and failing to really convince. But a midweek win over local rivals Atlético could be just the tonic, even if Madrid did need extra-time to get the job done.
Issues in defence and midfield for the hosts will drive their visitors on, though. As will recent form: Real Sociedad have won five in a row in the league and gave a very impressive showing in the Copa del Rey in midweek, visiting Barcelona and only narrowly losing despite playing over half the game with 10 men.
A win at the Bernabéu would only be their second in the league since 2004 and would be one hell of a statement at the halfway stage of the campaign.
It’s cup final weekend in Portugal and two of the big three face off!
With Sporting CP and FC Porto currently 15 and eight points off of Benfica respectively, this may well be their best shots at silverware this season.
Sporting have won none of the last six meetings between the sides and there have been eight red cards in their last five against each other. Phew!
The final is also set to be Pedro Porro’s last game for Sporting before he completes a move to Tottenham. Will it be the perfect goodbye, with Sporting winning this trophy for the third year in a row and the fifth time in six years, or will Porto finally win the Taça da Liga for the first time since its 2007 inception?
Life as a football fan in the east of Berlin is fantastic. In the west? Not so much.
Flying as high in 2023 as they did for much of 2022, back-to-back wins have seen Union rise from fifth to second in the week the Bundesliga has returned.
All the way across town, Hertha have lost 3-1 to relegation rivals Bochum and 5-0 – at home — to Wolfsburg and sunk to 17th in the table.
Union have both won four consecutive derbies and gone unbeaten through their last four visits to the Olympiastadion for a derby day, winning three in the process.
As much as form is supposed to go out of the window for these encounters, it just hasn’t for a while. And Hertha will be absolutely desperate for that to change in front of 75,000 fans on Saturday.