Weekend Countdown - Preview by the Numbers

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Anytime the FA Cup is on it’s a good weekend for European soccer. Chelsea and Manchester United will hope to shrug off their exits in the Champions League as they face Leicester City and Brighton and Hove Albion respectively. Outside of the FA Cup, Bayern Munich has an away game at the electrifying Red Bull Arena against RB Leipzig on Sunday and Marseille is hosting Lyon on Sunday as well for a top-notch Ligue 1 game.

Here’s an insightful preview of this weekend’s European fixtures—don’t place any bets until you get down to 1:

10. Napoli recently blew their 10 league-game winning run with a loss to Roma and a tie with Inter Milan last week. Maurizio Sarri’s men face Genoa this weekend. Napoli have won their last 10 outings against Genoa. Dries Mertens will be Napoli’s player-to-watch in the encounter as he leads the team in scoring. As for Genoa, the speedy Diego Laxalt had a hand in each of Genoa’s last three goals. Laxalt has 10 league goals to his name in his career.

9. Atletico Mardid is traveling to Estadio de la Ceramica on Sunday to take on Villarreal. The number 9’s for both clubs are going into the game fresh off of great performances. Atletico’s number 9, Fernando Torres, netted a brace against Lokomotiv Moscow in the Europa League. Meanwhile, Villarreal’s number 9, Carlos Bacca, scored in his side’s last game against Las Palmas. Bacca leads Villarreal in scoring with 9 goals.

8. Ligue 1’s must-watch fixture is Marseille’s clash with Lyon at the Orange Velodrome on Sunday. Marseille hasn’t recorded a win against Lyon in 8 games. Lyon was knocked out of the Europa League by CSKA Moscow on Thursday and will be without their top scorer, number 18, Nabil Fekir, who’s nursing a knee injury.

Unlike OL, Marseille advanced to the EL quarters by downing Bilbao 5-2 on aggregate. The club’s star playmaker, Dimitri Payet, is entering the game against Lyon with 8 league-assists and 8 goals in all competitions.

7. Real Madrid will seek an avenging win over 7th placed La Liga team, Girona. Girona defeated Madrid 2-1 the first and only time the two clubs ever met in October. Girona number 7 Cristhian Stuani is having a sensational season, tallying 15 goals. Stuani netted the equalizer when his side faced Madrid last. CR7 scored in his last 7 games but has never hit the net against Girona.

6. After crashing out of the Champions League, Chelsea will hope to extend a 6 game unbeaten run against Leicester in the FA Cup on Sunday. Manchester United will fight to bounce back from a CL exit as well by adding another win to their 6 victories over Brighton. Brighton have only defeated United once, nearly 36 years ago on November 6, 1982.

5. Barcelona will welcome Athletic Bilbao at the Camp Nou on Sunday. Bilbao is winless in their last 5 matches away from home. The Basque Country based club was knocked out of the Europa League after losing to Marseille 5-2 on aggregate. Barcelona forward Lionel Messi will be looking to score in his 5th consecutive match. On a bad note for Barca, number 5 Sergio Busquets, is ineligible to play due to a broken toe. The Blaugrana second top scorer, Luis Suarez, won’t take part in the game either as he will be serving a yellow card accumulation suspension.

4. Serie A juggernaut Juventus is scheduled to play SPAL on Saturday. Juve have won 24 Serie A games while SPAL has claimed just 24 points. A win is crucial for both clubs as SPAL is fighting to climb out of the dropzone, while Juventus is battling Napoli for the Scudetto, sitting on top of the table with a 4-point gap.

3. Meanwhile in Germany, Bayern Munich will put a 3-month undefeated run on the line against RB Leipzig at the Red Bull arena. A loss would drop Leipzig to 3 straight winless games. Bayern star striker Robert Lewandowski leads the Budesliga in scoring with 23 goals. Lewandowski scored 3 goals in his last league game.

2. Back in Italy, Inter Milan’s next opponent in their race to reach the Champions League is against Sampdoria. Inter sits one spot below Lazio for the last CL spot. However, the club hasn’t defeated Sampdoria in 2 outings. Serie A second top scorer, Mauro Icardi, will battle La Samp’s defenders for his first goal in 2 months.

1. First placed Ligue 1 team PSG is set to play Nice this weekend. Nice have lost 11 league-games so far and the club’s top scorer Mario Balotelli is doubtful to play due to a thigh injury. Alassane Plea stepped up in Balotelli’s absence in Nice’s last match against Guingamp, scoring four goals on March 11th. Edinson Cavani had a brace the last time the clubs met in a 3-0 win.


Author: Onz Chery