5️⃣ spicy fixtures you must watch this weekend 🌶️ | OneFootball

5️⃣ spicy fixtures you must watch this weekend 🌶️ | OneFootball

Icon: OneFootball


Padraig Whelan·2 February 2024

5️⃣ spicy fixtures you must watch this weekend 🌶️

Article image:5️⃣ spicy fixtures you must watch this weekend 🌶️

The transfer window has now closed and we can return to matters on the field of play.

These are the fixtures from across the world you can't miss this weekend.

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Iran v Japan

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The standout tie of the Asian Cup quarter-finals comes as the continent's two highest ranked sides face off.

Between them, they account for seven victories in this competition, and it is the Blue Samurai who have the slight edge heading into this one.

They entered the competition riding a 10-game winning streak which they stretched to 11 in their opener but defeat to Iraq after that has exposed weaknesses in the side, which haven't been helped by subsequent injuries - notably to Reo Hatate last time out, although they have welcomed Kaoru Mitoma back.

But while Japan welcome one key player back into the fold, their opponents will be without their star man for this one after Inter-bound Mehdi Taremi's red card in the last round ruled him out of this one.

That win was all about penalties, his normal-time effort being cancelled out by Syrian before Iran went on to win 6-5 in a shootout, a concerning outing after cruising through the group stages with three wins from three.

Ultimately, it could be the availability of those key players which decides this one.

Spice rating: Mild 🌶️

Panathinaikos v Olympiacos

Article image:5️⃣ spicy fixtures you must watch this weekend 🌶️

Fixtures in Greece don't come much bigger than the powder keg of this 'derby of the eternal enemies'.

How many other games in world football are so fraught with furious emotions and tension that foreign referees are required to be brought in to take charge? That is again the case this Sunday when a German officiating team will attempt to oversee proceedings.

The teams met just two weeks ago in Greek Cup action, their first meeting in that competition since 2007/08, where Panathinaikos came out on top 7-6 on penalties after they couldn't be separated over two legs.

For this league meeting, they meet with the winners of that game in third and three points off PAOK atop the table but more crucially, three points in front of their hated rivals.

A victory over Olympiacos in this one would not only keep themselves well land truly in title contention but also eliminate the Piraeus outfit from the race. There's plenty at stake.

Spice rating: Medium 🌶️ 🌶️

Real Madrid v Atlético de Madrid

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It is a mark of what a stacked weekend of action we have that this clash comes in middle of the pile.

Undoubtedly one of world football's biggest derbies, it only misses out on a higher position due to the ramifications of the other two games.

Atleti are third in LaLiga and 10 points off their rivals and although a result would do little in terms of their own all-but-extinguished title aspirations, it could deal a big blow to Real's ambitions and give Girona a helping hand.

Recent meetings also ensure that there will be extra fire in the bellies of both, with the sides putting on two enthralling and surprisingly high-scoring affairs in cup clashes last month.

During their first meeting in the Supercopa de España semi-final in Saudi Arabia, Los Blancos triumphed 5-3 after extra-time and it again took an additional period to split them in the Copa del Rey, with Atleti coming out on top 4-2 on that occasion.

Who will take the decider at the Santiago Bernabéu?

Spice rating: Hot 🌶️ 🌶️ 🌶️

Arsenal v Liverpool

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While this doesn't have the derby fuel of a Real-Atleti, there is much more at stake here than bragging rights.

This is one of the fixtures which will directly impact the destination of the Premier League title over the course of the next four months.

Arsenal are third prior to kick-off, five points off Liverpool atop the table and are fully aware that a win will once more blow things wide open at the summit, while a defeat could potentially prove fatal.

Like Real and Atlético, these sides have also met twice in the last five weeks, with a controversial league fixture at Anfield ending 1-1 before the Reds dumped Arsenal out of the FA Cup with victory in north London.

That night, the Gunners' profligacy in front of goal proved costly but there has been a big improvement in that regard recently, although they will have their work cut out against a Liverpool side who are no slouches in that area themselves.

Since Jürgen Klopp's departure announcement, they've scored nine goals in two games but an injury doubt for the desperately unlucky Darwin Núñez could prove problematic given Mo Salah's absence. Which attack will hold their nerve?

Spice rating: Fire 🌶️ 🌶️ 🌶️ 🌶️

Inter v Juventus

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It was going to take something special to top the billing on such a stacked weekend.

But that is exactly what Sunday night's Derby d'Italia showdown between Inter and Juventus at San Siro will provide.

It is a meeting between two old rivals, for whom there is no love lost, who are by some distance their country's best this season, with just a single point separating them at the top of the table.

The Nerazzurri do hold the advantage, sitting a point in front with a game in hand, and will be favoured given that they have not only home advantage but have comfortably outscored and conceded less than any other side in the division this season.

And yet, Juventus are clinging on to their coat-tails through sheer grit and Massimiliano Allegri's steadfast philosophy of being airtight at the back which has put them in a position to move to the summit.

In their first meeting this season, they couldn't be separated as a nail-biter in terms of occasion if not action ended in a 1-1 draw. We can't promise more explosions this time but there will be tension and drama under the lights throughout in Italy's grandest footballing theatre.

Spice rating: Insane 🌶️ 🌶️ 🌶️ 🌶️ 🌶️