Well, that was a thing that happened. In addition to eight more European teams booking their ticket to Russia, eight additional teams will be battling for four more spots, including Italy, Switzerland, and Sweden. The matchups will be drawn next Tuesday. Lots of great European action coming up this weekend so let’s dive in.
Lyon v AC Monaco – Lyon currently sit 8th in Ligue 1, but only three points off a top four spot. Monaco is trying to somewhat keep pace with PSG at the top of the table. These two teams split their matches last year with both teams winning away. This should be a tasty Friday afternoon matchup.
Liverpool v Manchester United – Right at the ass crack of dawn Liverpool welcomes the Red Devils to Anfield. Liverpool come out of the international break having lost Sadio Mane to a hamstring injury. United are tied atop the table with City on 19 points, five points clear of third place. Liverpool desperately need a win at home to stay in the title race or at least to have a shot at the top four. These two played some drab matches last year, but here I’d expect anything but, especially since Romelu Lukaku loves scoring goals against Liverpool.
Atletico Madrid v Barcelona – Atletico welcome Leo Messi and Barcelona to the Spanish capital just a couple of weeks after the Catalan issues. Messi saved Argentina’s butts on Tuesday and his Barcelona team is five points clear of second place Sevilla. Atletico is coming off a 0-0 draw away to Leganes and a 2-1 defeat at home to Chelsea in Champion’s League. Madrid needs a result to keep Barcelona in their sights.
Dortmund v RB Leipzig – Dortmund might be the early surprise of the season. They were going to be good, but I don’t think anyone predicted them to be five points clear of Munich and second place. They’ve only dropped two points in the league, though they are in a rough spot in Champion’s League. Leipzig is proving that last year wasn’t a complete fluke as they are currently 4th only one point behind Munich in second place. These teams split their matches last year with each team winning 1-0 at home.
AC Roma v Napoli – Napoli are currently in first place and have yet to lose a match in Serie A. Roma are in fifth but do have a game in hand playing to half-full stadiums in Rome. Both of these teams play tough defense but also like to score, especially Napoli. Half of Roma’s goals have been scored by Edin Dzeko: stop him and stop Roma. Napoli has a much more balanced approach, led by Dries Mertens, who is more than likely on his way out at the end of the year.
Inter v AC Milan – The 219th Derby della Madonnina takes place on Sunday. Inter holds a slight advantage 77-66-75. The goals are almost perfectly even as well. Inter has scored 296, AC Milan has scored 294. Inter hasn’t won the derby match in over two years and both of these teams played fairly boring 2-2 draws last year. AC Milan went out and spent a boatload of money and find themselves way down the table in seventh place, nine points off the top and seven points behind their crosstown rivals. AC Milan needs a result more than most teams this week!
That’s a nice slate of matches that could have ramifications on title chases and European spots as well. Enjoy the matches!