The SportsGrape European Football Preview: Henry still looking for win

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Thierry Henry’s reign at Monaco has been a cruel, relentless and unforgiving baptism into the world of football management.

Here, we take a look at the key fixtures happening this weekend, across the major European leagues. This includes Henry, the new manager at Monaco, at his continued struggles in his first major role in football management.

 

Can Henry turn Monaco around?

Inheriting a squad riddled with injuries, and in woeful form, it was always going to be a problematic challenge from the get-go, but even he must have hoped it would have gone slightly better than it has done as he still hunts for his first victory.

In his four league matches in charge so far, he has mustered up one uninspiring draw against Dijon, whilst they have succumbed to three insipid defeats. On the continent they haven’t fared any better, with a 1-1 draw and a 4-0 defeat to Club Brugge leaving them bottom of the group and staring a European exit in the face.

Ronaldo

Yet, the problems run deeper than the management. The club has been blighted by injury problems, stifled by a high-turnover transfer policy and now the owner has become embroiled in a corruption case: this is a far cry from the club that, in 2017, won the title and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.

This weekend, Henry takes his team to 17th placed Caen, a side winless since September, in a match which he will have earmarked as a must win. Injuries or no injuries, unfortunately for Henry, a defeat will crank up the pressure, even at this early point in his tenure. Prediction: Caen 1-1 Monaco.

Home victories for Nice and PSG?

Elsewhere, Henry’s former teammate Patrick Viera is looking for his fifth consecutive victory as Nice entertain second placed Lille on Sunday. Viera has managed to turn his sides form around following a slow start to the campaign, but they face a tough task against Lille who are in fantastic form after their season to forget last year. Prediction: Nice 2-1 Lille.

Paris Saint-Germain will be looking to extend their colossus winning streak to 14 matches when they host 15th placed Toulouse this weekend. PSG will most likely be without Kylian Mbappe and Neymar after the two picked up injuries on international duty, but the Parisians should have enough firepower to see them through. Prediction: PSG 2-0 Toulouse.

 

Atletico entertain Barcelona as Real Madrid look to close the gap

At least one of Atletico Madrid or Barcelona will drop points at the weekend as the leaders travel to the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday. In what has been a surprisingly unpredictable start to the season for the big sides in La Liga, it is a chance for one of Barcelona and Atletico to lay down a marker as they bid to take control of proceedings.

Barca come into the game licking their wounds following a shock 4-3 home defeat to Real Betis last time out, whilst Atletico got the edge over Athletic Bilbao in a tough fought 3-2 victory. Prediction: Atletico Madrid 1-2 Barcelona.

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Santiago Solari will look to make it five wins from five as Real Madrid travel to Eibar on Saturday. The man who has been entrusted with the role until the end of the season has brought a bit of verve back to Los Blancos who will be hoping to capitalise on any slip up by Atleti or Barca. Prediction: Eibar 0-2 Real Madrid.

 

Derby day in Italy as Genoa host Samp

Italy plays host to the Derby della Lanterna (Derby of the Lantern) this weekend, as Genoa entertain local rivals Sampdoria. The two teams are both lingering around the mid-table mark with Samp a point ahead of their counterparts in 12th. Genoa are looking to register their first win since September whilst Sampdoria haven’t won since the start of October. Prediction: Genoa 1-2 Sampdoria.

Elsewhere, Lazio entertain an AC Milan team which has been heavily depleted by injuries in recent weeks. Gennaro Gattuso’s men had been making a rise up the table, but this may be halted temporarily whilst they try and nurse players back to health. Prediction: Lazio 3-0 Milan.

Juventus will look to at least maintain their six-point lead at the top of the table when they host 15th placed SPAL. The Bianconeri have won 11 and drawn one of their opening 12 matches. Prediction: Juventus 4-0 SPAL.

 

Unbeaten Dortmund’s title hopes appear tangible after Bayern victory

Borussia Dortmund’s title credentials were solidified last week when they overcame their Bavarian rivals in an enthralling 3-2 victory, to put them seven points clear of Nico Kovac’s side. This weekend they travel to 9th placed Mainz hoping to continue their fantastic form. Prediction: Mainz 0-1 Dortmund.

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Bayern, on the other hand, look a shadow of their ruthless selves this season and Kovac needs to rectify this quickly otherwise he may be ousted before he’s even gotten his feet under the table. They host 17th placed Dusseldorf in what has to be a confident, comprehensive victory for the German giants. Prediction: Bayern 2-0 Dusseldorf.

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