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Across the Continent weekend preview: 2-5 February


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, Ligue 1 and more.

La Liga

Undoubtedly, the biggest game coming your way from La Liga this weekend is the Madrid derby, as these two fierce rivals meet for the third time in 25 days.

Last month, Real Madrid prevailed 5-3 in the Supercopa de España semi-finals in Riyāḍh before, eight nights later, Atleti advanced 4-2 in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, both ties decided after extra time.

So now, meeting at a third different venue in a third different competition, who will prevail this time?

Both were victorious in mid-week, with Real Madrid’s 2-0 victory at Getafe on Thursday, Joselu the scorer of a brace at the Coliseum, making it six league wins in a row and taking Carlo Ancelotti’s team top of the table.

24 hours earlier, Diego Simeone made nine changes as his team, just about, battled to a 2-1 home win over Rayo Vallecano, with Memphis the stoppage time match-winner at the Metropolitano.

Los Colchoneros remain third, ten points worse off than their fierce rivals, in desperate need of a first victory at the Bernabéu since 2016 to haul themselves back into the title race.

In-between the two right now are Girona, who were finally knocked off top spot in mid-week.

However, Blanquivermells will move back into first place, for 24 hours at least, should they beat Real Sociedad on Saturday night, with la Real having won just one of their last six ahead of this trip to Montilivi.

Just before that on Saturday evening, inconsistent Barcelona travel to improving Alavés.

A week ago, Barça were smashed 5-3 at Montjuïc by Villarreal, after which Xavi confirmed he will step-down at the end of the season, before they bounced back against Osasuna on Wednesday; Vitor Roque the only scorer.

The home side meanwhile have won three on the spin, surging from 16th to 11th, so can Luis García Plaza’s side dent Barcelona’s top four hopes with a shock win at Mendizorrotza?

On Saturday lunchtime, Almería’s search for a first win of the season takes them to Mestalla.

The weekend will conclude at Vallecas on Monday night where Sevilla, currently just one point above the relegation zone, badly require victory as they face Rayo Vallecano.

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bet365

Real Madrid to win

Real Madrid vs Atlético Madrid


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Both teams to score

Deportivo Alavés vs Barcelona


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Girona to win

Girona vs Real Sociedad


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Valencia to win

Valencia vs Almería


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Athletic Club to win

Athletic Club Bilbao vs Mallorca


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Rayo Vallecano to win or draw

Rayo Vallecano vs Sevilla


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At 20/1, a £10 bet would return £206.48

La Liga acca of the week

Serie A

Sunday night also sees a must-not-miss fixture from Serie A this weekend; you’re going to have to dual-screen!

It may only be the start of February, but this weekend’s Derby d’Italia could go along way to determining the destination of the title, as the top two go head-to-head.

Most make Internazionale favourites to win the Scudetto this season, not least because they kick off top, despite having played one game fewer.

Simone Inzaghi’s side are unbeaten in 15 Serie A matches, winning 12 of them, most-recently defeating Fiorentina 1-0 a week ago, with Lautaro Martínez’s early goal the difference in Florence.

This saw I Nerazzurri claim top spot because, a day earlier, Juventus had slipped up, held to a 1-1 draw by Empoli, seeing Arkadiusz Milik sent off after just 15 minutes in Turin.

Massimiliano Allegri’s team are unbeaten in 17, held to a 1-1 draw when Inter visited Allianz Stadium in late-November with the two star strikers, Dušan Vlahović and Martínez, on target just six minutes apart that night.

This rematch at San Siro is even more vital, with Inter knowing, should they claim victory, they’d be in pole position to pick up an historic 20th Scudetto; for la Vecchia Signora, it’s surely must not lose.

Away from Sunday night’s blockbuster, there’s plenty else going on.

Atalanta, now fourth, will be confident of claiming a sixth successive home win when underwhelming Lazio come to Bergamo.

AC Milan too are confident of victory when they face Frosinone at Stadio Benito Stirpe.

Reigning champions Napoli have won just two of their last eight, so Walter Mazzarri’s side are under huge pressure to beat struggling Hellas Verona at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Daniele De Rossi has won two out of two as Roma interim boss, putting his 100% record to the test with another Monday night fixture, this time Cagliari are visiting Stadio Olimpico.

Lastly, a quick word on Empoli, who’ve hired Serie A’s relegation escape artist Davide Nicola, who’s previously pulled off miraculous survival campaigns in charge of Crotone and Salernitana.

Well, Nicola is at it again; since taking over Gli Azzurri, they’ve beaten Monza 3-0 and held Juve to a draw, leaving them just one point from safety, ahead of Genoa’s visit to Stadio Carlo Castellani.

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bet365

Inter to win

Internazionale Milano vs Juventus


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AC Milan to win

Frosinone vs AC Milan


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Napoli to win

Napoli vs Hellas Verona


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Atalanta to win

Atalanta vs Lazio


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Roma to win

Roma vs Cagliari


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Empoli to win or draw

Empoli vs Genoa


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At 17/1 a £10 bet would return £180.81!

Serie A acca of the week

Bundesliga

The Bundesliga title race continues on Saturday, with the top two in action simultaneously, 201 miles apart.

League-leaders Bayer Leverkusen are on the road this time round, needing to get back to winning ways, after being held to a goalless draw by Borussia Mönchengladbach a week ago.

Xavi Alonso’s side remain unbeaten across all competitions this season, winning 24 of 28 matches, so are very likely to beat bottom of the table Darmstadt at Stadion am Böllenfalltor.

Meanwhile, after holding the leaders to draw last Saturday, can Gladbach repeat the feat against the champions?

Die Fohlen had an amazing recent record against Bayern Munich, winning nine of their last 20 encounters, losing only one of the last six, but most would still expect Thomas Tuchel’s team to prevail in Bavaria.

On Friday night, Borussia Dortmund will aim to continue their 100% start to 2024 when they take on Heidenheim, who are punching above their weight, currently tenth in, what is, their debut top-flight campaign.

Having lost all three matches this year, RB Leipzig have slipped out of the Champions League spots, with Marco Rose’s team under pressure to get back on track when they face Union Berlin.

It’s seventh vs third on Saturday, with Stuttgart seeking to continue their push for a top four finish, although hosts Freiburg are also in the European conversation.

Lastly, Köln are desperate to close the gap to safety, although die Geißböcke could be set for another defeat this weekend, with in-form Frankfurt visiting RheinEnergieStadion.

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bet365

Bayern Munich half time/full time and over 2.5 goals

Bayern Munich vs Borussia Mönchengladbach


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Bayer Leverkusen to win

Darmstadt vs Bayer Leverkusen


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Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals

Heidenheim vs Borussia Dortmund


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RB Leipzig to win

RB Leipzig vs Union Berlin


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Both teams to score

Köln vs Eintracht Frankfurt


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Over 2.5 goals

Freiburg vs Stuttgart


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At 15/1, a £10 bet would return £158.69

Bundesliga acca of the week

Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain are already six points clear at the top of Ligue 1, despite throwing away a 2-0 lead at home to Brest last Sunday, ultimately held to a draw.

Nevertheless, les Rouges-et-Bleus will pull further clear at the top should they beat Strasbourg at Stade de la Meinau on Friday night which seems likely, given that Patrick Vieira’s team are down in tenth.

This weekend’s box-office game in the Sunday night slot is the Choc des Olympiques and hopefully this one will go ahead as planned, after October’s meeting was cancelled last minute due to an attack on the Lyon bus.

On the field, neither team are where they want to be, especially Olympique Lyonnais, all the way down in the relegation play-off spot.

Pierre Sage’s side hauled themselves out of the bottom three by ending 2023 with three successive wins, but have lost both matches this year, most-recently defeated 3-2 by Rennes last Friday.

Olympique de Marseille are 13 points better off than their historic rivals but are still seventh, just below the guaranteed European positions, with Gennaro Gattuso’s team having drawn three on the spin.

Most would make les Phocéens favourites for victory here, having won 3-0 when they belatedly met at Stade Vélodrome in December, so les Gones will need to make home advantage count.

Elsewhere on Sunday, second faces third at Stade Francis-Le Blé with Brest, who’ve never finished higher than eighth, seeking to continue their Champions League push against Nice, who have just three points more.

Monaco, probably hoping for a draw in that one, round-out the top four right now, with Adi Hütter’s team firm favourites to beat Le Havre at Stade Louis II.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning the key relegation six-pointer as fourth-bottom Metz take on rock bottom Lorient at Stade Saint-Symphorien.

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bet365

Paris Saint-Germain to win and Kylian Mbappé to score anytime

Strasbourg vs Paris Saint-Germain


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Both teams to score

Olympique Lyonnais vs Olympique de Marseille


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Under 2.5 goals

Brest vs Nice


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Monaco to win

Monaco vs Le Havre


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Lille to win

LOSC Lille vs Clermont Foot


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Reims to win

Stade de Reims vs Toulouse


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Rennes to win

Stade Rennais vs Montpellier


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At 29/1 a £10 bet would return £299.30

Ligue 1 acca of the week

Anything else?

Eredivisie: Can Ajax end PSV’s unbeaten run?

It’s a big weekend in the Eredivisie with four of the top five all going head-to-head.

PSV Eindhoven are a whopping 12 points clear of the rest, having won 18 of their 19 league matches so far, dropping points for the very first time a fortnight ago, held to a 1-1 draw by Utrecht at Stadion Galgenwaard.

It’s pretty safe to assume that a 25th title is coming their way, with Peter Bosz’s team making the short trip to Amsterdam this weekend for a clash usually known as De Topper, although that’s not very apt right now.

This is because Ajax are well off the pace, finding themselves in the bottom three when they were hammered 5-2 at Philips Stadion as recently as October.

Since then, John van ‘t Schip’s team have accumulated 26 points from a possible 30, climbing up to fifth, while Jordan Henderson is set to make his debut, after his six-month spell ‘growing the game in Saudi Arabia’.

Ajax are eyeing up third place, which would secure them a place in the Champions League qualifiers, so can they become the first team to beat PSV in the Eredivisie this season in this huge clash at Johan Cruijff Arena?

The following day, in Sunday’s early kick off, fourth placed AZ welcome Feyenoord, currently second, to Alkmaar, both seeking to enhance their own Champions League aspirations.

Arne Slot’s team prevailed 1-0 when the pair met at De Kuip in November, so the away side are favourites to prevail at AFAS Stadion.

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bet365

PSV Eindhoven to win and both teams to score

Ajax vs PSV Eindhoven


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Feyenoord to win

AZ Alkmaar vs Feyenoord


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At 4/1, a £10 bet would return £52.50

Eredivisie double 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".