Football fans all over the world have waited a long time for the major leagues to restart. This weekend, after three months hiatus, all Europe’s top leagues (minus France) will have resumed their campaigns, as we focus on reaching a conclusion to 2019/20 in the age of pandemic.
This weekend, it’s the Premier League and Serie A who make a full return to action, joining both La Liga and the Bundesliga in playing out the end of the campaign.
While Bayern Munich may have sewn up the German league title this week, there remains plenty to play for behind them. The same could be said in the Premier League, where an intriguing race for the Champions League places will resume.
And in both Italy and Spain, there is still a genuine title race that will need to be resolved. Barcelona and Real Madrid remain separated by just two points, while Juventus lead Lazio have just one between them as the Italian top-flight gets back underway.
Here’s a list of seven games that you have to watch this weekend…
The return of the Premier League continues as Man Utd travel down to north London to take on former boss José Mourinho and his Spurs team.
While fifth-placed United are three places ahead of Spurs, they are just four points ahead of their opponents, making this something of a Champions League places six-pointer.
Despite possibly only needing to finish fifth to qualify for Europe’s top competition (thank you, City) Tottenham know full well that a defeat will cause huge damage to their hopes of returning to the Champions League, while United need to keep up the pressure on Chelsea and Leicester above.
Harry Kane, Heung-min Son, Marcus Rashford and possibly even Paul Pogba should all be fit again to take to the field, having had the break to recover from injuries.
What better way to kick off the return of a full Premier League weekend than with this highly anticipated fixture on Friday night?
Having picked up two wins since La Liga returned to action, league-leading Barça face their biggest test of their remaining season, as they travel to third-placed Sevilla on Friday night.
Six goals scored with none conceded has shown that La Blaugrana have shaken off any fears of rust despite having not played for three months. Lionel Messi has continued his excellent form from before the break, and the return of Luis Suárez will only strengthen them further as they look to secure their 27th Spanish league crown.
But it won’t be an easy game against Sevilla, who impressed in their Gran Derbi win over Real Betis and will be determined to remain in the driving seat for Champions League qualification. And given that manager Julen Lopetegui was sacked at Real Madrid after losing 5-1 to the Catalans last year, you can expect that he’ll be determined to ensure his side will make it very difficult for the visitors.
While the Bundesliga is officially heading to Munich (again) at the end of this campaign, the race for second-place is very much on for both RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund.
Die Roten Bullen need a victory to draw themselves level with the away side in the table, and would make sure that the battle will go down to the final weekend of the season. And with star forward Timo Werner confirming his move to Chelsea this week, he would love to depart after scoring the goals that helped his team knock off their top-four rivals.
As for Die Schwarzgelben, they’ll want to ensure that they keep their runners-up spot in the league. Having watched on enviously as Die Roten celebrated another Bundesliga title, they’ll be keen to end the week on a major high. And with pressure building for Lucien Favre to make sure of their second-placed finish, only a victory will suffice against Germany’s brightest young manager Julian Nagelsmann.
With three of the last five encounters yielding five or more goals, this promises to be a high-scoring thriller.
Having watched David Luiz self-destruct in their 3-0 defeat at Man City on Wednesday, the Gunners will be determined to atone for their poor display with a vastly improved one against Brighton.
Mikel Arteta’s side will be determined to come away from the Amex Stadium with a win, as they look to claw back the points deficit to fifth-placed Man Utd, whom they are just five points behind.
And with many questioning the current squad, the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Özil will be fired up to prove the doubters wrong by scoring a few on Saturday afternoon… maybe.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Gunners have yet to beat Brighton in their last four encounters, and will find the Seagulls a tricky prospect once again. Graham Potter’s side will want to ensure their top-flight status for another season, and a great result over the north London club will go a long way to achieving their goal of survival.
Though they won’t be able to clinch the league title at Goodison Park, a win at Everton could still put Liverpool within touching distance of officially becoming Premier League champions.
Under Jürgen Klopp’s direction, the Reds will be solely focused on getting the win over their city rivals, and will not allow themselves to get distracted in their relentless pursuit. Having waited three months/30 years to lift the trophy, you can be sure that they’ll be hungry enough to make sure the league title will be headed to Anfield in July.
But standing in their way is their Merseyside rivals in Everton, who will do their best to spoil the celebrations for the visitors. And having not defeated the Reds since 2010, they’ll be keen to end their poor recent record against their opponents – including their disappointing FA Cup loss earlier this season to Liverpool’s second-stringers.
Oh, and have you read Richarlison’s latest comments on Virgil van Dijk? Come Sunday, you can bet those two will definitely clash on the field.
The return of Serie A this weekend features Antonio Conte’s Inter side hosting a lowly Sampdoria team, as the hosts look to keep up their challenge for the 2019/20 Scudetto.
Having lost out on a Coppa Italia final place by losing to Napoli in the recent semi-final, the Neruzzurri will be nicely warmed up and ready for the final 13 games of their league season. And with ex-Spurs star Christian Eriksen impressing in the defeat and now fully up-to-speed in Italy, they will look a more formidable team to play against, especially with the duo of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martínez up front.
And while you’d expect them to defeat La Samp, this may not be the easiest game for them, against a side who still boast Fabio Quagliarella, Manolo Gabbiadini and ex-Leeds midfielder Ronaldo Viera in their ranks.
Much like their title rivals Barça, Real Madrid also have a difficult game on the road, against a talented Real Sociedad outfit.
Los Blancos have played really well on their return, having scored three goals in each of their two games since the league restarted. With veterans Marcelo, Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema refreshed from the three-month break, they look to be back to their best, while also having the welcome return of Marco Asensio, who scored on his first game back on Thursday.
But the Txuri-urdinak aren’t an easy team to beat, showing it when they ousted their opponents from the Copa del Rey in a 4-3 thriller back in February. And with the star trio of Madrid’s on-loan midfielder Martin Ødegaard, as well as Alexander Isak and Mikel Oyarzabal, they will not be afraid of taking the game to the Spanish capital side.