European Football: What to look forward to this weekend

The Madrid derby between Real and Atletico will headline this weekend's La Liga, while the battle to reach the pinnacle of various leagues across Europe continues.

Cristiano Ronaldo will return for Juventus this weekend, while Zinedine Zidane's Real side will be looking to beat Atletico in the Madrid derby.   -  Getty Images

Atletico Madrid hosts La Liga leader and city rival Real Madrid this weekend. Defending champion Barcelona, currently placed sixth, will be hoping that both the Madrid-based teams drop points in the derby.

READ| Eight talking points from the Premier League this gameweek

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo looks set to return for Juventus at home against SPAL having missed last weekend’s game against Brescia with a muscule problem, with the Turin giant hosting Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League next week.

Paris Saint-Germain remains top of the Ligue 1 table after seven matches but is only ahead of second-placed Angers on goal difference. Thomas Tuchel's men will be raring to bounce back after their poor performance in a 2-0 home defeat to Reims.

- Atletico hosts Real in the Madrid derby with first-place in sight -

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid have each averted a mini-crisis already this season and one of the rewards for the winner of the derby on Saturday would be to stall their rival's recovery.

At the Wanda Metropolitano this weekend, it will be La Liga's first against third, even if the ascendancy of Madrid's two premier clubs perhaps says as much about the chaos of the opening few weeks in Spain as it does about the strength of their revivals.

Real Madrid star Eden Hazard is expected to play the full 90 minutes against Atletico in the derby game.   -  Getty Images

 

Real Madrid is top and while Zinedine Zidane discounts the fact, its turnaround has been impressive. It began against Sevilla, which could have gone top itself, and at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, where Madrid had previously won just once in seven years.

When results dipped and performances failed to improve, the sense was it had been coming. Beating Sevilla and then promoted Osasuna on Wednesday has turned the tide, not least because there was a resilience and purpose so previously lacking.

On the other hand, Atleti needed its win away at Mallorca on Wednesday, even if Alvaro Morata's mindless sending off, eight minutes after coming on as a substitute, means the Spaniard will be suspended for the derby this weekend.

Morata's absence makes it all the more likely Diego Costa will keep his place up front alongside Joao Felix, particularly after it was their goals that sealed the Mallorca win.

Meanwhile, Barcelona's stuttering start has arguably been the most worrying of all but it too enjoyed a rejuvenating win over Villarreal in midweek, ahead of its visit to Getafe on Saturday.

Scepticism around coach Ernesto Valverde is never far from the surface at Camp Nou and it remains to be seen whether Barca can now leave behind their own sticky patch, and without Lionel Messi, who is nursing a thigh injury.

- Inter seeks Sampdoria Serie A boost before Barca blockbuster in CL -

Serie A leader Inter Milan heads to Sampdoria seeking a boost ahead of its UEFA Champions League blockbuster against Barcelona next week.

Maurizio Sarri (L) and his Juventus side will be hoping to topple Antonio Conte's Inter at the top of the Serie A standings this weekend.   -  Getty Images

 

Antonio Conte’s side is the only Italian team bagging the maximum of 15 points from five games with Maurizio Sarri’s champion-side Juventus two points behind at second, before it hosts the struggling SPAL.

“Five wins in a row is no fluke, we’re getting into the right frame of mind,” said Conte, whose side followed up on its dire 1-1 European stalemate to Slavia Prague with wins in the Milan derby and against Lazio midweek.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s Sampdoria has had a nightmare start to the season -- with the Genoa club sinking to four defeats in five games. On the other hand, Cristiano Ronaldo looks set to return for Juventus at home against SPAL having missed last weekend's game against Brescia.

- Bayern will be without Perisic and Goretzka this weekend -

Bayern Munich midfielders Ivan Perisic and Leon Goretzka have been ruled out of the Bundesliga clash at Paderborn on Saturday through illness and a thigh injury, respectively.

Bayern manager Niko Kovac (L) will not have the services of Ivan Perisic this weekend.   -  Getty Images

 

The 30-year-old Croatia international Perisic missed training on Friday because of the flu and will be unavailable, the club announced. Perisic has scored two goals in three Bundesliga appearances for Bayern since he joined on a season-long loan deal from Italian club Inter.

Bayern head coach Niko Kovac will again be without 24-year-old Goretzka but defender David Alaba, 27, could be involved after he returned to training following a hamstring problem.

Kovac said: "Leon still needs some time, I think he'll only be fully available after the next international break. David is looking good, but we see how it works out."

Meanwhile, table-topper, after five games, RB Leipzig will host Schalke on Saturday, while, three hours later, third-placed Borussia Dortmund will welcome Werder Bremen to the Signal Iduna Park with an eye on the top spot.

- Napoli, Atalanta and others hope to keep up with Inter and Juve -

In Naples, Serie A runner-up Napoli hosts Mario Balotelli's Brescia desperate for a win after its surprise midweek reversal to Cagliari but without defender Kalidou Koulibaly. Carlo Ancelotti's southerners slipped six points behind Inter following its shock defeat to the Sardinians with Koulibaly sent off late in the game.

“I'm not in the slightest bit worried, not at all,” insisted Ancelotti. “I don't judge games only on the result.”

Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly will miss his team's game against Brescia this weekend after being sent off against Cagliari.   -  Getty Images

 

Ancelotti's side travels to Genk next week in the Champions League looking to build on its impressive 2-0 win over European champion Liverpool.

Atalanta is third after its late 2-0 win over Roma and next travels to mid-table Sassuolo before its first ever Champions League home game against Shakhtar Donetsk.

The defeat to Atalanta ended Roma's unbeaten run on the day England international defender Chris Smalling made his debut for the club, with its next game at Lecce on Sunday.

AC Milan hosts Fiorentina with both teams struggling in the bottom half of the table. Marco Giampaolo's Milan has lost its last two games with Fiorentina getting its first win last weekend.

- Paris Saint-Germain yet to hit top gear in Ligue 1 after seven games -

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) is on top of the Ligue 1 standings only on goal difference after seven matches. The side managed by Thomas Tuchel hasn't played its best football so far.

The top 10 teams in the French top division are separated by just four points and the defending champion heads to fifth-placed Bordeaux, where, in a much-needed boost, Kylian Mbappe could return from a month out with a thigh injury.

Paris Saint-Germain head coach Thomas Tuchel would be hoping that his players step up after a shock loss to Reims.   -  Getty Images

 

PSG, depleted by a raft of injuries, slumped to a 2-0 loss against Reims on Wednesday, which ended an unbeaten 22-match run at the Parc des Princes.

Surprise package Angers is currently in second place, with Lille and Nantes completing the European spots. Lyon's bright start under first-time manager Sylvinho is a distant memory with the club winless in five matches since beginning the campaign with two resounding wins.

The latest setback came at Brest where the host twice recovered to earn a 2-2 draw, a result that dropped Lyon into the bottom half of the table.

AS Monaco picked up its first victory this term on Tuesday and will host Brest at the weekend, while Marseille -- held to a 0-0 draw at basement side Dijon -- is at home to Rennes on Sunday.

(With inputs from PTI and Omnisport.)

  Dugout videos