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Across the Continent weekend preview & midweek review: 2-7 January


It’s been a busy mid-week of European football, with action from La Liga, Coppa Italia and the Trophée des Champions.

This weekend, cup action takes centre stage in both Spain and France, with a full round of Serie A fixtures to keep you occupied too.

What’s that? The Bundesliga? When’s that coming back I hear you ask? Well not until next Friday, because they love an extra long winterpause over in Germany!

La Liga

La Liga returned with a full card of fixtures this mid-week, producing plenty of talking points.

In the headliner, Girona and Atlético Madrid played out a seven-goal thriller at Montilivi, with Blanquivermells leading 1-0 after 103 seconds and then 3-1 at one stage, only for Álvaro Morata to bag his first hat-trick for anyone since September 2017 against Stoke.

Nevertheless, just as a 3-3 draw appeared to be on the cards, in the first minute of injury time, Iván Martín’s unconventional toe-poke snatched yet another famous win for Girona.

So, quite improbably, at the mid-way point of this season, Míchel’s men have 48 points on the board, winning 15 of 19 fixtures, losing only one, leaving the Catalan side joint-top.

Outwith the big three, no La Liga club since Real Zaragoza in 1962 has scored 47 goals at this stage of a campaign; los Maños had netted 52 back then, but ultimately finished fourth.

On the flip side, Atlético Madrid have now lost four successive away games, leaving Diego Simeone’s side ten points adrift the two front-runners, now outside the guaranteed Champions League places.

Still top are Real Madrid, after los Blancos, just about, battled to a 1-0 victory over Mallorca.

Antonio Rüdiger the late match-winner, just his second La Liga goal, the other also came at the Bernabéu and also against Mallorca, this time snatching a second successive 1-0 win for Carlo Ancelotti’s team.

The following night, Barcelona moved up to third, but they did so in dramatic fashion, fighting back from a goal down to defeat Las Palmas 2-1 at Estadio Gran Canaria, courtesy of İlkay Gündoğan’s 93rd minute penalty.

Of the 41 points Barça have collected this season, 27 have been earned in the final 15 minutes of matches, with Xavi’s team scoring 14 outcome-altering goals in the 75th minute or later already, a remarkable tally.

Rounding-out the Champions League spots right now are Athletic Club, who are unbeaten in nine, winning three on the spin, following a 2-0 victory at Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán.

For Sevilla, they’ve now lost nine of 19 La Liga matches, with their total of three wins equaling an unwanted club record, set in 1957, 1967 and 1999, suffering relegation in the latter two of those campaigns.

Quique Sánchez Flores’ side sit just one point above the drop zone at present so, make no mistake about it, los Nervionenses are in a relegation battle.

Turning our attention to Tuesday, Valencia smashed Villarreal 3-1 in Derbi de la Comunitat, Pepelu converting a pair of penalties, a result that saw los Che move into the top half.

El Submarino Amarillo meanwhile have conceded 38 goals already, their highest-ever tally in the first half of a campaign, which is remarkable, given that they let in only 40 throughout the entirety of last seaso.

While Villarreal are not challenging for Europe, Real Sociedad certainly are, although they required a 96th minute equaliser from Martín Zubimendi to salvage a draw with Alavés at Anoeta.

La Real’s task was made a lot more difficult by the first half red card shown to goalkeeper Álex Remiro, while Zubimendi’s equaliser is the latest open-play goal los Txuri-Urdin have scored this century.

Last match to mention is Rayo Vallecano’s 2-0 win over rivals Getafe on Tuesday afternoon, noteworthy because José Bordalás’ side ended the game down to eight-men, seeing Juanmi Latasa, Damián Suárez and Mason Greenwood all sent off, the latter, allegedly, for telling the referee Jorge Vázquez to ‘f*** off’.

Copa del Rey

There’s no La Liga action this weekend, because the Copa del Rey third round is taking place, with Barça, Atleti, Osasuna and holders Real Madrid all entering at this stage.

Three La Liga clubs have already crashed out, Cádiz, Almería and Granada, while the remaining 17 will all face lower-division sides away from home, apart from Alavés and Betis who’ve drawn each-other.

Real Madrid travel to fourth-tier Arandina, while it’s also fourth division opposition for Barcelona, namely Barbastro.

Other ties to look out for include the Derbi Canario, as Tenerife host Las Palmas, a basque derby between Eibar and Athletic at Ipurúa and Málaga, now stuck in the Primera Federación, welcoming Real Sociedad to La Rosaleda.

bet365
bet365

Real Madrid to win and both teams to score NO

Arandina vs Real Madrid


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Atlético Madrid to win and over 2.5 goals

Lugo vs Atlético Madrid


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Barcelona to win and over 3.5 goals

Barbastro vs Barcelona


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Real Sociedad to win

Málaga vs Real Sociedad


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Under 2.5 goals

Tenerife vs Las Palmas


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Over 2.5 goals

Elche vs Girona


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At 30/1 a £10 bet would return £310.81

Copa del Rey acca of the week

Serie A

The Coppa Italia round of 16 came to a conclusion this mid-week and, after the shocks of seeing Napoli and Inter go out pre-Christmas, this week was rather less eventful, with all four giants getting through.

Juventus hammered Salernitana 6-1, scoring 6+ in a game for the first time in almost six years, while Roma came from behind to beat Cremonese, setting up a quarter-final Derby della Capitale against Lazio.

Serie A returns on Friday night, with Bologna seeking to beat Genoa at Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, with Thiago Motta’s team knowing a victory would propel them back into the top four, for 24 hours at least.

In the title race, leaders Inter are up first in Saturday’s early kick off, with Simone Inzaghi’s side overwhelming favourites to beat fourth-bottom Hellas Verona at San Siro.

Second-placed Juventus get the right of reply on Sunday evening, facing rock bottom Salernitana for the second time in four days, hoping for a similar outcome as they travel to Stadio Arechi.

Massimiliano Allegri’s men beat Roma 1-0 last weekend, their 12th Serie A victory by that exact scoreline of 2023, as la Vecchia Signora seek to grind their way to the title.

Speaking of José Mourinho’s men, having won only one of their last four, I Giallorossi are down in seventh place, hosting the side just one spot above, namely Atalanta, in Sunday night’s time-slot.

The only team Roma have beaten since 3 December is Napoli in Derby del Sole, while Walter Mazzarri’s team are not enjoying this season much at all.

The Scudetto holders are ninth, having won just one of their last five, with their current points tally, 28, their third-lowest at this stage since I Partenopei returned to Serie A in 2007.

Napoli travel to Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino and, given that Mazzarri’s former employers Torino would leapfrog them with victory, that certainly won’t be easy.

bet365
bet365

Under 2.5 goals

Roma vs Atalanta


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Juventus to win and both teams to score NO

Salernitana vs Juventus


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Inter Milan to win and both teams to score NO

Internazionale Milano vs Hellas Verona


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Bologna to win

Bologna vs Genoa


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Torino to win or draw

Torino vs Napoli


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Both teams to score

Sassuolo vs Fiorentina


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At 38/1 a £10 bet would return £388.54

Serie A acca of the week

Coupe de France

Coupe de France live streaming

French football returned after the Christmas break with Wednesday night’s Trophée des Champions, in which PSG swatted aside Toulouse 2-0 at Parc des Princes; Lee Kang-in and Kylian Mbappé scoring.

This is the tenth time in 11 seasons Paris Saint-Germain have lifted the French Super Cup, and les Rouges-et-Bleus’ bid for more silverware begins on Sunday, because the Coupe de France weekend.

8,506 different teams from nine countries across the world, all of which are former French territories, enter this competition, but we are thankfully down to the last 64, and there are some ties that leap off the page.

Just two oversees clubs remain, one of which are Golden Lion FC from Martinique, who will travel over 4,300 miles for their glamour tie against LOSC Lille at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Saturday.

The other are Guadeloupe champions CS Moulien, who have a much more realistic chance of victory, given that they’ll be facing Championnat National 2 (fourth-tier) side Romorantin.

On Sunday night, PSG’s bid for a record-extending 15th Coupe de France commences away to sixth-tier US Revel, with the fixture having been moved to the nearby rugby venue Stade Pierre-Fabre.

There’s an all-Ligue 1 tie as Lens welcome Monaco; that’s seventh vs third, so one potential winner will be out.

Lastly, both Lyon and Marseille are away to fifth-tier sides, with les Gones traveling to Pontarlier while OM face Thionville Lusitanos.

bet365
bet365

PSG to win, over 3.5 goals and both teams to score NO

US Revel vs Paris Saint-Germain


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Lille half time/full time and over 3.5 goals

LOSC Lille vs Golden Lion FC


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Over 2.5 goals

Lens vs Monaco


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Lyon to win and over 2.5 goals

Pontarlier vs Olympique Lyonnais


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At 7/1 a £10 bet would return £82.11

Coupe de France 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".