The Early Sub: Friday Previews (Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga)

This weekend will feature some excellent matchups from around Europe’s top leagues. The main event of the Premier League will culminate with a top 5 battle this weekend with Manchester City hosting Spurs at the Etihad. Athletic Bilbao will host 4th place Atletico Madrid in La Liga’s marquee matchup of the week. Italy will feature two top notch fixtures between top 5 rivals as Milan will host Napoli at the San Siro and Juventus will play Roman side Lazio in a 1 vs. 4 matchup. As for the Bundesliga, the German top flight has two excellent fixtures as well as Cinderella RB Leipzig host 4th place Frankfurt. Leverkusen take on Berlin in the BayArena in a crucial German tilt.

Manchester City v. Spurs- Etihad

Spurs are truly proving this year that their 3rd place finish last year was no fluke and despite finishing 3rd in a 2 horse race, Spurs look like a true threat to challenge Chelsea for the Premier League crown. Spurs even got a signature victory over Chelsea on the 4th. Although I do think Spurs is going to be in the title race all season, I think they finish 3rd behind Chelsea and (yes again) Arsenal. City on the other hand are a slumping side. 10 points behind Chelsea and in 5th place, Guardiola’s men have dropped two games recently to Everton and Liverpool. An enormous victory over Arsenal a week before Christmas keeps the Citizens in the title conversation, but anything less then 3 points here could put City in an impossible hole.  I think Tottenham clips City by a goal.

Athletic Bilbao v. Atletico Madrid- San Mames

Bilbao will in no way shape or form, compete for the La Liga title this season but Athletic are very good at being a sizeable obstacle for their world class foes. Atletico have the next challenge of getting through Bilbao on the road and it’s crucial for Atleti to keep their winning ways. Any slip of points could be detrimental for a chasing Atleti who sees Real Madrid lose about once every solar eclipse. Athletic will surely settle into their title spoiler role here against the Rojiblanco. I think Atletico come out determined and reel in a comfortable 2-nil victory away from home.

Milan v. Napoli- San Siro

One of the two enormous matches concerning the top 5 of Italian football. Historical giants AC Milan take on Napoli inside the hostile San Siro that has seen an improving Milan side hang around the title conversation. Juventus are a couple of slips away from having Milan clipping at their heels and big victory over Napoli could add to the pressure for the rest of the top of the table. Napoli come in strong, being unbeaten in their last 6 matches. Callejon, Mertens and Hamsik have been lethal and look to settle business away from home. I think Napoli grab the 3 points by a goal.

Juventus v. Lazio- Juventus Stadium

The best team in Italy look to distance themselves away from the rest of Italy as they continue their march towards yet another Scudetto. Lazio currently sit in 4th place and are a reasonable 5 points away from the league leading black and whites. Lazio have obtained signature victories over Atalanta and Fiorentina as of late but took a catastrophic beatdown in the hands of Inter. Lazio with a win could possibly dethrone Juventus from the perch of Serie A. I think Juventus take care of business in this one.

RB Leipzig v. Frankfurt

It’s sports’ most unpopular Cinderella story versus the overachieving Eintracht Frankfurt who get a chance to widen the margin at the top of the table with a win away from home. Leipzig have clearly shown their plethora of young talent but it may appear that the young, talented side are beginning to fade in the Bundesliga marathon as Ancelotti’s Bayern have opened up a 6 point lead on the trailing Red Bulls. Frankfurt sit in 4th and look to overtake Berlin for 3rd in the league. I think Leipzig will get a hard fought win by a goal.

Leverkusen v. Berlin- Bayarena

Leverkusen have surely had one of the most disappointing seasons in all of Europe but they still only sit 15 points behind 2nd place Leipzig and if the young surging side continues their descent away from the Bundesliga summit, then it could be a free for all in the top 4 of Germany and there could be little doubt that Dortmund and Leverkusen will throw their names into the fray. A win over Berlin would surely help begin that climb to the top and I think Leverkusen will get it by a couple of goals.


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