After midweek cup fixtures, league action resumes this weekend across the major European leagues. Expectedly, the Premier League is host to most of the drama, but the other leagues promise more title race excitement than what appears to be a foregone conclusion in the EPL. In a busy weekend of football here are the main highlights you should follow:

Sporting CP vs. Benfica


Primeira Liga defending champions Benfica travel to fourth-placed Sporting CP in the Lisbon derby, which is usually a tightly contested affair. Benfica is in first place four points ahead of Porto, and the two clubs have pulled away from the chasing pack with Benfica seeking a record 38th title.

Much of the attention will, however, focus on Sporting’s captain Bruno Fernandes who is once again the center of a protracted transfer saga between Manchester United and Sporting.

This time though, there has been substantial interest and bids from Manchester, and all signs indicate that this could be his last match for Sporting. Reports suggest he has already agreed to personal terms with Manchester United.

Liverpool vs. Manchester United

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Another derby, this time between Premier league giants as runaway leaders Liverpool host the only team to have taken away points from them this season.

The tables have turned against Manchester United in recent seasons as their arch-rivals enjoy the benefits that come with stability and vision in the boardroom United have severely lacked since the days of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill.

Still, United have always proved to have the ability to rise to the occasion, especially this season where they have taken points from all the big six teams.

The game will be held with the shadow of the looming Bruno Fernando transfer, and there is no doubt many United fans and Ole Gunner Solskjaer would have preferred him to have been available for the Sunday match. There is also the not so little matter of Rashford’s injury and how fit he would be, if he is to play on Sunday. Liverpool will also be missing the services of Fabinho, and in previous matches, Jurgen Klopp has shown caution when playing United and has only won one game against them.

Manchester United has form in ending unbeaten runs, and only a late Lallana goal denied them victory last time out. Win at Anfield and Solskjaer would spark talk of a resurgence, bolster United’s top four chances, and his coaching credentials in the process. He would have gotten the better of Mourinho, Guardiola, and Klopp in one league campaign. On the other hand, a Liverpool win would undoubtedly drive the invincible claims a notch higher as this is their trickiest of their next five matches. Will Manchester United stop the unbeaten run?

Tottenham Spurs vs. Watford

Nigel Pearson and Jose Mourinho were both appointed as new coaches amid doubt by supporters of their teams. They all had the singular job of righting their underperforming clubs, and their fates have not been the same. Nigel Pearson has managed four wins out of five games in charge and, in the process, has gotten his team from the relegation zone. On the other hand, Spurs have not won four of their last games and seem entangled in a start-stop loop. This weekend the two teams face each other with Spurs lacking their talisman and captain Harry Kane. Whatever Mourinho has to do, it has to work if he is to claim Spurs’ first league win since Boxing Day. It may not be easy if a rejuvenated Deulofeu, Sarr, Deeney, and Doucoure get their say.

The Unpredictable La Liga Title Race


It has been ages since La Liga was this interesting. Barcelona largely dominated even its traditional duopoly of Real Madrid and Barcelona, as they would win match after match without having to get to second gear. Not so this season. Both teams have been made to earn every point and their start to the season was shaky at best as managers tried to get the best from aging squads and new signings yet to settle. Only two goals separate these two giants after Atletico Madrid, and then Sevilla wasted their best chances of topping the led by sizeable margins at the start of the season. Atletico and Sevilla are also tied on 35 points this time with a four-goal margin separating them. They are both five points behind the league leaders.

Real Madrid welcome Sevilla home while Barca host Granada and Atletico travel to Eibar all tricky ties that could well redefine the league standings at the end of the weekend. Elsewhere in the league, the margins are even tighter. Real Sociedad is the fifth, four points behind Sevilla and also four points ahead of tenth-placed Granada. The race for Europe holds all the promise to go down to the wire. Barcelona’s Sunday match will also be the first fans get to see of Quique SetiĆ©n game plan as the new coach becomes the latest to hold a job that has quickly become a poisonous chalice for managers.

Will Juventus finally break clear?


In Serie A, Juventus face their biggest challenge in recent years in the form of a reinvigorated Inter Millan. Only two points separate the two teams to Juventus’ advantage. Antonio Conte, a three-time Serie A winner with Juventus, has assembled a talented cast to rival the squad at Juventus. The January acquisitions of Eriksen and Ashley Young will add much quality and depth to the team. In third is Lazio, who thanks to a ten-match winning streak, are only six points from the top. They are also the only team to have beaten Juventus this term.

Ciro Immobile’s form has been integral to this run, and with 20 goals already, he leads the race for the golden boot in Serie A. Both Lazio and Inter have a better goal difference than Juventus, and the three teams have pulled clear from the chasing pack. Lazio host 16th placed Sampdoria while Inter Milan travels to Lecce currently in position 17. Juventus faces the trickier test hosting 7th placed Parma on Sunday.

Who will finally get an advantage in Bundesliga?


If the title race in Spain and Italy seem unpredictable, the drama in Bundesliga is on a whole new level. Only seven points separate the first-placed team currently RB Leipzig from Schalke 04 in fifth place. Leipzig, Monchengladbach, Dortmund, and Bayern have all occupied first place in a race that has become a game of musical chairs. There is simply no margin for error, and the once-dominant Bayern finds itself in third place four points from the top after half of the league games have been played. The biggest match of the weekend it thus Schalke 04 hosting Monchengladbach while Dortmund also faces a tricky tie away to tenth-placed Augsburg.



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