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Across the Continent weekend preview: 15-17 March


There’s plenty of European football to look forward to this weekend, so here’s a selection of games not to be missed from La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1.

La Liga

After both booked their place in the Champions League quarter-finals this week, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid both need points to ensure they’re competing in UEFA’s top-tier competition again next season.

On Tuesday, Barça overcame Napoli thanks to a 3-1 victory at Montjuïc while, 24 hours later, Atlético Madrid dumped out run-away Serie A leaders Inter, following a dramatic penalty shootout in the Spanish capital.

In La Liga however, Diego Simeone’s side have been in horrendous form on the road, beaten 2-0 by Cádiz last weekend, meaning they’ve lost six of their last nine away games, their sole victory since 21 October coming at Granada.

This weekend of course, los Colchoneros are back at the Metropolitano, having now won 19 of their 21 home matches this season, their only defeat against Athletic Club in the Copa del Rey semi-finals.

Barcelona meanwhile are unbeaten in nine across all competitions since Xavi announced he will step-down at the end of the season, but we do forecast that Atleti will make home advantage count on Sunday night.

Elsewhere, league-leaders Real Madrid will go in search of another victory, this time facing Osasuna at El Sadar.

Second-placed Girona have lost three on the spin away from home, so can Míchel’s men end their away day blues against Getafe at the Coliseum, which will not be easy?

Athletic Club will leapfrog Atlético into fourth, for 24 hours at least, should they beat Alavés at San Mamés on Saturday night.

Sunday sees Villarreal and Valencia face off in the Derbi de la Comunitat, with both desperate for a victory to haul themselves back into European contention.

Lastly, Almería’s wait for a maiden victory of the season goes on, requiring a stoppage time equaliser from Marko Milovanović to snatch a draw against Sevilla on Monday night.

The following morning, Gaizka Garitano was sacked, with Pepe Mel set to become los Rojiblancos’ fourth head coach of the campaign, so can he guide them to that illusive victory when they take on Las Palmas?

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Atlético Madrid to win

Atlético Madrid vs Barcelona


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Real Madrid to win

Osasuna vs Real Madrid


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Real Sociedad to win

Real Sociedad vs Cádiz


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Athletic Club Bilbao to win

Athletic Club Bilbao vs Deportivo Alavés


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Under 2.5 goals

Las Palmas vs Almería


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At 15/1, a £10 bet would return £160.52

La Liga acca of the week

Serie A

There may be no Italian teams in the Champions League quarter-finals, only the sixth time this has been the case in 22 years, but there’s still plenty going on in the wonderful world of Calcio.

Run-away league-leaders Internazionale were Serie A’s last hope, but their dreams of reaching back-to-back Champions League Finals went up in flames, dumped out on penalties by Atlético Madrid on Wednesday.

Heartbreak for Simone Inzaghi and his players, who must now refocus, despite having only the league left to play for, currently a whopping 16 points clear at the top.

Prior to visiting Madrid, I Nerazzurri had won 13 matches on the spin in all competitions so, if they keep on winning, could rubber stamp a 20th Scudetto in the Derby della Madonnina as soon as 21 April.

This weekend, they welcome Napoli to San Siro, the other Italian side dumped out of the Champions League this week, beaten 3-1 at Montjuïc by Barcelona on Tuesday.

Despite yielding seven points from their last three league games, Francesco Calzona’s team are still only seventh, needing points to get into Europe, so Inter are firm favourites to prevail at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

Earlier on Sunday, AC Milan should be too strong for Hellas Verona, likewise Roma when they take on Sassuolo, while there’s also a key clash in the fight for European spots as Atalanta in sixth face Fiorentina in eighth.

Juventus have won just one of their last seven Serie A fixtures, sliding from first to third in this period, but surely Massimiliano Allegri’s team will have too much when Genoa visit Turin, right?

Lastly, a quick word on the Friday night fixture, given that it features fourth placed Bologna, seeking to get back to winning ways, following defeat at the hands of Inter a week ago.

I Rossoblù are favourites to beat Empoli, given that the home side kick off just one point and one place above the drop zone.

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Internazionale Milano to win

Internazionale Milano vs Napoli


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Roma to win

Roma vs Sassuolo


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Both teams to score

Atalanta vs Fiorentina


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Juventus to win

Juventus vs Genoa


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Bologna to win

Empoli vs Bologna


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AC Milan to win

Hellas Verona vs AC Milan


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At 20/1, a £10 bet would return £210.46

Serie A acca of the week

Bundesliga

Once again, the focus of another Bundesliga weekend is on the title race.

Bayer Leverkusen remain ten points clear, with now only nine matches still to play, following last Sunday night’s 2-0 victory over Wolfsburg at BayArena.

This time, Xabi Alonso’s side face another tricky Sunday assignment, taking on Freiburg at Mooswaldstadion, after both will have been in Europa League action on Thursday.

24 hours earlier, Bayern Munich will almost certainly have closed the gap at the top down to seven, given that they’re visiting bottom of the table Darmstadt at Stadion am Böllenfalltor.

On Friday night, RB Leipzig will get the chance to leapfrog Borussia Dortmund into fourth, assuming they defeat third-bottom Köln at RheinEnergieStadion.

As alluded to there, die Schwarzgelben face a real fight to get into next season’s Champions League, even though they’re through to the quarter-finals of this year’s edition.

Edin Terzić's team, who beat PSV 2-0 on Tuesday, welcome fellow top-four chasers Eintracht Frankfurt to Westfalenstadion on Sunday for a crucial fixture.

Surprise package Stuttgart, who still sit third, meet Hoffenheim at Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Saturday evening, in another head-to-head encounter between two European contenders.

Lastly, Mainz, following their 8-1 hammering in Munich, are under enormous pressure to beat Bochum at home, given that die Nullfünfer are nine points below die Unabsteigbaren and safety.

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Bayern Munich to win and over 3.5 goals

Darmstadt vs Bayern Munich


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Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals

Borussia Dortmund vs Eintracht Frankfurt


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RB Leipzig to win

Köln vs RB Leipzig


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Bayer Leverkusen to win

Freiburg vs Bayer Leverkusen


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Both teams to score

Hoffenheim vs Stuttgart


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Over 2.5 goals

Heidenheim vs Borussia Mönchengladbach


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At 19/1, a £10 bet would return £200.25!

Bundesliga acca of the week

Ligue 1

Last, but by no means never least, Ligue 1 too has some appetising fixture on the menu this weekend.

On Friday night, having won seven of their last ten, Olympique Lyonnais can keep their slim hopes of European qualification alive by beating Toulouse away from home.

Two more likely top seven candidates go head-to-head 24 hours later, with Lens favourites to beat Nice at Stade Bollaert-Delelis, given that les Aiglons are in terrible form, now without a win in six.

There are two other key head-to-head battles in the race for European places on Sunday, starting with Brest facing Lille in the lunchtime kick off; the pair are currently second and fourth, just four points apart.

Then, in the early-evening, Jean-Louis Gasset’s perfect start to life at Marseille manager will be on the line as OM visit Stade Rennais, with both sides currently just outside the guaranteed European positions.

Down at the bottom, Nantes have slipped into the relegation play-off spot in recent weeks, so are under big pressure to win on Saturday when fellow-strugglers Strasbourg visit Stade de la Beaujoire.

Lastly, we haven’t even mentioned Paris Saint-Germain yet.

Well, that’s because they’re ten points clear at the top, on course for a tenth title in 12 season (shrug), with PSG visiting Stade de la Mosson to take on a not very good Montpellier team on Sunday night.

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Over 2.5 goals

Montpellier vs Paris Saint-Germain


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Over 2.5 goals

Stade Rennais vs Olympique de Marseille


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Both teams to score

Brest vs LOSC Lille


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Lens to win

Lens vs Nice


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Monaco to win

Monaco vs Lorient


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Reims to win

Stade de Reims vs Metz


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At 23/1, a £10 bet would return £244.56

Ligue 1 acca of the week

Ben Gray

Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".