Back from an intense international break, Europe’s big leagues are back up and running. In England, league leaders Manchester City will look to bounce back with a win over Everton. In Germany, Hamburg will try to get things going under new manager Markus Gisdol. Some leagues are nearing the end of the season, and in Sweden, Malmo travels to Norrkoping for a showdown at the top of the table. Here are some of the games to keep an extra eye on this weekend.
Napoli – AS Roma (Serie A Matchday 8):
A big three points are at stake at the Stadio San Paolo on Saturday as both Napoli and Roma look to stay near leaders Juventus in the standings.
Napoli sits in second place with 14 points, four points behind Juventus, and one point ahead of Roma. The Little Donkeys suffered a 1-0 defeat to Atalanta before the international break after conceding a goal in the ninth minute. Arek Milik has gotten a good start with Napoli, as he was brought in to replace Gonzalo Higuain. The Polish international has scored four goals in the opening seven matches. The bad news is that he suffered a serious injury in Poland’s 3-2 win over Denmark over the break, and could face up to six months on the sidelines. In his place, Napoli will look for Manolo Gabbiadini to fill the void in the central striker position.
Roma grabbed a win over Inter Milan before the international break. Edin Dzeko and Kostas Manolas scored in the 2-1 victory. Dzeko leads the team in scoring with five goals in seven outings, while Manolas’ performances at centre back has drawn the attention of clubs like Arsenal and Barcelona.
Borussia Moenchengladbach – Hamburger SV (Bundesliga Matchday 7):
Bottom-of-the-table Hamburger SV will be hoping to see an effect of the managerial change and grab their first win of the season as they go up against Borussia Moenchengladbach at the Borussia Park on Saturday.
Hamburg has been struggling for several seasons, having had to rely on the relegation playoffs for two straight seasons to stay up in the Bundesliga. Last season, things started to look up, as they finished the season in 10th place. But after a horrid start to the 2016-17 campaign, they find themselves last in the league standings with just a single point after six matches. The club fired Bruno Labbadia after the 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich on Matchday 5 and replaced him with Markus Gisdol. The former Hoffenheim manager has had some time to work with the team, and they desperately need to get something out of the game against Moenchengladbach.
BMG sits in 9th place, but are only three points off Hertha BSC in 3rd and six points behind leaders Bayern Munich. The team suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat to Schalke 04 right before the break.
Manchester City – Everton (Premier League Matchday 8):
Premier League leaders Manchester City will look to get back on the winning track on Saturday as they host Everton at the Etihad Stadium.
City had two tough games right before the international break, as they were held to a 3-3 draw by Celtic in the Champions League, followed by their first defeat of the season as they fell 2-0 to Tottenham in the league. City will now have to prove they are able to beat other top teams in the league, something they struggled with last season. Sergio Aguero has been on fire, scoring 11 goals in six matches in all competitions.
Everton has had a fine start to the season under new manager Ronald Koeman. With only one loss so far and just five goals allowed, Everton sits in 5th place in the standings, four points behind City. Romelu Lukaku leads the team in goals with a tally of five goals in six appearances.
IFK Norrkoping – Malmo FF (Swedish Allsvenskan Matchday 26):
The Swedish top flight is coming to an end, and with just five games remaining, Norrkoping will look to close the gap to leaders Malmo FF as they come to Nya Parken on Sunday.
Malmo tops the table on 57 points, four points ahead of Norrkoping who won the title last season. Malmo has the biggest resources in Swedish football after making it to the Champions League group stage twice in the past couple of years, and have been able to invest heavily in the squad. Norrkoping was seen like Sweden’s equivalent of Leicester City as they won the league last season.
Sebastian Andersson leads Norrkoping in goals with 11 goals, which ties him for third most in the league. The team is coming off a heavy 6-0 defeat to AIK before the international break, whilst Malmo grabbed a 4-2 win over Hacken. The first meeting between the team this season ended in a 3-1 win for Malmo.
Villarreal – Celta Vigo (La Liga Matchday 8):
Villarreal looks to keep a hold of a European cup spot when they host Celta Vigo at El Madrigal on Sunday, while the visitors wants to earn a win and climb up the table.
Villarreal sits in 5th place in the La Liga standings with 13 points, two points behind leaders Atletico Madrid. Celta are down in 10th, but only trails the Yellow Submarines by three points. Villarreal were held to a scoreless draw against Espanyol before the break, whereas Celta took an impressive 4-3 win over reigning champions Barcelona after goals by Pione Sisto, Iago Aspas and Pablo Hernandez along with an own goal by Barca defender Jeremy Mathieu.
Last season, Celta took a 2-1 win in the meeting at El Madrigal after goals by Nolito and Fabio Orellana.