Another weekend, another stacked lineup of soccer action. Can Barcelona beat River Plate and win the Club World Cup? Can Inter keep the other teams at bay in the Serie A? How will Chelsea do in the first game since firing Jose Mourinho? Here are a few of the games that you should keep an extra eye on this weekend.
Manchester United – Norwich City (Premier League Matchday 17):
Manchester United will be looking to get a win and snap a five-game winless streak as the Red Devils host newcomers Norwich City on Saturday. United manager Louis van Gaal has been under fire for better part of the season, and the criticism got even more vocal after United’s failure in the Champions League.
Van Gaal admitted himself that if the results doesn’t start going his way, he could be out of a job sooner rather than later. Norwich are in the relegation zone and a win would mean a lot for the Canaries and their hopes to stay alive. The team is coming off a 1-1 draw against Everton.
Chelsea – Sunderland (Premier League Matchday 17):
Chelsea’s first game since firing manager Jose Mourinho takes place on Saturday when the Blues welcome Sunderland to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea sits in 16th place and Sunderland in 19th with a mere three points separating the teams. Chelsea’s start to the season has been historically bad for a reigning champion and in the end it cost Mourinho his job.
Sunderland is desperately trying to avoid relegation, and under new manager Sam Allardyce the Black Cats has played a little better. It will be interesting to see if Sunderland just goes for it at Stamford Bridge, similar to what Bournemouth did a couple of weeks ago when they beat Chelsea 1-0.
River Plate – Barcelona (Club World Cup Final):
Barcelona takes on Argentine side River Plate in the Club World Cup Final in Japan early on Sunday. Barcelona reached the final by beating Guangzhou Evergrande 3-0 in the semifinals after a hat trick by Luis Suarez. Barcelona were without both Neymar and Lionel Messi and it left Suarez to do the heavy lifting and the Uruguayan international was up to the task.
River Plate beat Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 in their semifinal matchup to secure a spot in the final. Barcelona midfielder/defender Javier Mascherano has a past with River Plate having played for the club before he left for Europe. And for River Plate you have former Barcelona striker Javier Saviola.
Malaga – Atletico Madrid (La Liga Matchday 16):
With Barcelona playing in the Club World Cup, Atletico Madrid has the opportunity to go top of the La Liga table with a draw or a win on the road against Malaga on Sunday. Atletico sits in second place, level on points with Barcelona (35) and is coming off a 1-0 midweek win over CF Reus Deportiu in the Spanish Copa Del Rey. Atletico has also won five straight league games.
Malaga sits down in 16th place with 14 points, with goal difference the only thing keeping them out of the relegation zone. The team is coming off a 1-0 midweek loss to CD Mirandes in the cup, but has a win and two draws in the last three league games.
Inter – Lazio (Serie A Matchday 17):
Serie A leaders Inter are looking to keep their gap down to Napoli and Fiorentina intact with a win over Lazio on Sunday. The Nerazzurri tops the league with 36 points, four points ahead of Napoli and Fiorentina. Inter is coming off a 3-0 win over Cagliari in the Coppa Italia earlier in the week and heads into the Lazio game on a three-game winning streak. Mauro Icardi leads the team in goals with six league goals in 13 appearances. Last season, Icardi won the Serie A scoring title with 22 goals.
Lazio has struggled a bit in the league, but has gone through to the Round of 32 in the Europa League where they will take on Turkish side Galatasaray. Lazio is coming off a 2-1 win over Udinese in the cup, but the team hasn’t won a league game since late October.