After a midweek of exhilarating Champions League and Europa League football, it is back to the domestic competitions for our European counterparts.
Here, we take a look at the key fixtures happening this weekend, across the major European leagues.
Madrid and Barcelona look to get back to winning ways
Our first visit on our European tour takes us to Spain. Real Madrid will be looking to put an end to their three-match winless run when they take on Deportivo Alavés on Saturday afternoon. Los Blancos have not only failed to win in three matches, they have also failed to score a single goal since their last victory: a 1-0 victory over Espanyol in mid-September. Julen Lopetegui will be hoping for a reaction from his side after their below-par display in Moscow in the week.
Similarly, leaders Barcelona will be looking to end a poor run of form of their own when they visit the Mestalla on Sunday night to take on Valencia. Despite beating Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 in the Champions League, last season’s double winners have gone three league games without a win. Although they remain top, pressure is mounting on Ernesto Valverde to start delivering better performances.
Elsewhere, Athletic Bilbao take on Real Sociedad in the Basque derby this evening. Both teams come into this game struggling for consistency. In the other key games, 5th placed Real Betis travel to 4th placed Atletico Madrid whilst Sevilla host Celta Vigo.
Dortmund challenging Bayern
Over in Germany, leaders Borussia Dortmund host Augsburg in what should be an entertaining affair at the Westfalenstadion. Dortmund come into the match having scored 19 goals in just six games (seven more than any other Bundesliga side). They have also only lost once to Manuel Baum’s side in their previous 14 Bundesliga meetings.
Their rivals Bayern Munich welcome Borussia Mönchengladbach to the Allianz Arena where Niko Kovač will try to get Die Roten’s season back on track. The Croatian had won his first six games in a row. Since then, however, he has seen his side fail to win in their last three. Die Fohlen pose a tricky test for Munich, who could be four points behind leaders Dortmund by the time their game kicks-off.
Meanwhile, surprising stragglers Schalke take a trip to newly promoted Fortuna Düsseldorf, as they look for only their second win in the league this season. On Sunday, RB Leipzig take on 1.FC Nürnburg, and 1899 Hoffenheim host Eintracht Frankfurt.
Can anyone stop Juventus?
In Italy, Juventus look to maintain their 100 per cent record as they go to the Dacia Arena to take on Udinese, whilst Napoli host Sassuolo and Inter go to SPAL.
Possibly the tastiest tie of the weekend will be in the capital, where 7th placed Lazio take on 3rd placed Fiorentina. Lazio come into the game wounded after a defeat in the Derby della Capitale against Roma last weekend. They also lost to Frankfurt in the Europa League, where they saw two players get sent off. It is poised to be an exciting game, particularly with La Viola’s thrilling youthful attacking trio of Giovanni Simeone, Federico Chiesa and Marko Pjaca on display.
In other games of note, Torino host winless Frosinone tonight and AC Milan host bottom side Chievo on Saturday.
Across the Channel, Paris Saint-Germain take on Lyon. This will be their toughest domestic test so far this season. PSG are yet to score fewer than three goals in a league game as we approach the ninth round of fixtures, but Lyon will not be daunted by this prospect as they managed to go to Manchester City, another club with seemingly unlimited wealth, and secure an unlikely 2-1 victory.
On Saturday afternoon, second placed Lille, who are already eight points off the pace, host 4th placed Saint-Étienne. Les Verts have not won a league game against Lille in their last 17 visits to the Stade Pierre-Mauroy. With both teams starting this season well, however, it could go either way.
Last year’s runners-up AS Monaco are currently languishing in 18th position with just a solitary win. They will look to claw back some credibility after their 3-0 humbling to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday night, as they take on 16th placed Stade Rennais. Elsewhere, 3rd placed Montpellier travel to Guingamp and Marseille host Caen.
Best of the rest across Europe
PSV Eindhoven will look to extend their 100 per cent record in the Eredivisie to eight games when they take on VVV-Venlo on Saturday. There will also be some fantastic clashes in Portugal, Greece and Russia, where Benfica take on FC Porto in the O Clássico on Sunday, AEK Athens entertain Olympiakos and CSKA Moscow host Lokomotiv Moscow.
Be sure to look out for the SportsGrape European Football Review on Monday where we will dissect the weekends action.