The action around Europe continues to come thick and fast with another busy week of action taking place this week. But, which teams will be able to pick up wins in some of the closest matches to be taking place this week?
FC Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid
FC Barcelona’s title chances appear to be hanging by a thread at present, after dropping points in two of their previous three games. Draws against Sevilla and Celta Vigo have helped Real Madrid establish a two-point lead at the summit, and Barcelona will be hoping that the gap doesn’t increase any further. If Barcelona drop points this week, then Real Madrid could inflict the decisive blow in the title race and open up a bigger gap, and their challenge will not be easy as they come up against an in-form Atletico Madrid team.
Atletico have won their last four in LaLiga, and that has helped them create a seven-point advantage in the race to finish in the top four. Over these previous four games, Atletico have beaten Osasuna, Real Valladolid, Levante and Alaves. The latter of those was their most recent fixture in La Liga, where Diego Simeone’s side conceded their first goal in four games, but were still able to claim the 2-1 success. Saul Niguez and Diego Costa scored the goals in the win.
Barcelona have won three of the previous five against Atletico Madrid, but Simeone’s side will take confidence after beating Barcelona 3-2 earlier in the year in the Super Cup. This will be another tricky test for Barcelona, and the preference would be for the draw.
Manchester City vs Liverpool
The title race may be over, but that will not take away the intensity in this fixture between the top two. Pep Guardiola has also revealed that this could be the best fixture to have ever been played behind closed doors, and it’s hard to argue against that considering what Manchester City and Liverpool have achieved over the past three seasons.
Manchester City’s grip on the Premier League title finally came to an end in their last fixture in the league as they were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea. The win for the Blues meant that Liverpool were crowned champions for the first time in 30 years, and they will get a traditional guard of honour from City as they enter the field of play for this fixture on Thursday. City responded to the disappointment of their defeat at Stamford Bridge by producing one of their most dominant performances of the season against Newcastle United. Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling scored the goals in the 2-0 win at St James’ Park, with City having 75% of the possession.
City lost for the first time in three games against Liverpool earlier in the season. But, much of that could have been down to the injuries that the Citizens were competing against at that point. There will be a lot of eyes on this fixture, and it could be one of the games of the season. The preference would be for City to claim the win, as they put a marker down for next season.
Juventus vs FC Torino
There were a lot of questions asked of Juventus as the action in Serie A resumed, with many believing that their grip on the title could be loosening. However, the Old Lady have been in excellent form since play resumed, as they have won both of their Serie A fixtures, and are yet to concede a goal.
They got their season back underway with a hard-fought 2-0 away success at Bologna, before winning 4-0 against Lecce in their most recent fixture. One defeat for Lazio during this period has helped Juventus set up a four-point advantage with ten games of the season remaining. However, Maurizio Sarri will be aware that his side can ill-afford any more slip-ups between now and the end of the season.
Torino may feel that they will need another couple of wins to fully ensure that they will be staying in Serie A this season, as they already have a healthy six-point advantage over the relegation places. They have returned to action in better form than before the break as they have drawn once, won once and lost once. Their most recent away outing was their 4-2 defeat against Cagliari.
The visitors haven’t beaten Juventus since 2015, and that is a run that looks set to continue this week. The preference would be for a strong Juventus win, with a -2 handicap.
Lazio vs AC Milan
Lazio came into the restart as a leading contender to challenge Juventus for their Serie A title, but defeat in their first game back against Atalanta has enabled Juventus to build up a healthy advantage. However, Lazio’s home form has been fantastic throughout the season as they are yet to lose at the Stadio Olimpico. Lazio have only drawn three games at home and have taken 36 points from a possible 45.
Their strong mentality in home fixtures was once again on display over the weekend as they fought back from a goal down against Fiorentina to take all three points. Ciro Immobile and Luis Alberto scored a goal each in the final 23 minutes to turn the tide in their favour. Meanwhile, AC Milan are still looking for the vital points to get themselves back in the top-six, as they are currently three points behind Napoli despite restarting the season with two wins from two.
Lazio have endured a difficult record against AC Milan over the past five years, as they have won just twice. However, their victory earlier in the season could highlight their troubles against Milan being over. The preference for the three points would be Lazio.