Trinidad Express / What to watch in the leading soccer leagues in Europe this weekend:
It’s derby day in the Premier League, with two of English soccer’s most illustrious rivalries being played back to back on Sunday.
Unbeaten Manchester City can move into its biggest lead of the season — 11 points — with a win at second-place Manchester United. Before that, fourth-place Liverpool looks to keep up its prolific form when it hosts Everton, which heads to Anfield under recently hired manager Sam Allardyce.
Continuing the derby theme in the 16th round, third-place Chelsea visits London rival West Ham in Saturday’s early kickoff and would briefly move tied on points with United with a win.
Swansea’s Paul Clement is the latest Premier League manager under huge scrutiny, with his team having dropped to last place ahead of a home match against fourth-to-last West Bromwich Albion. Five managers have already been fired this season.
Barcelona will visit Villarreal on Sunday looking to end a run of back-to-back draws that has kept the team from increasing its lead in the Spanish league.
In his first season in charge, Ernesto Valverde has kept Barcelona undefeated in all competitions, including the first 14 rounds of La Liga. But the Catalan club was held at second-place Valencia to 1-1 before a surprisingly drawing with Celta Vigo 2-2 at Camp Nou last weekend. Fortunately for the pacesetters, their title rivals have largely failed to take advantage.
Valencia trails Barcelona by five points before hosting Celta on Saturday as it looks to bounce back from its first defeat of the season, a 1-0 loss at Getafe. Also that day, fourth-place Real Madrid takes on fifth-place Sevilla, with both teams eight points adrift of Barcelona.
Third-place Atletico Madrid will try to rebound from its elimination from the Champions League when it travels to Real Betis on Sunday. Atletico is unbeaten in the league and playing better on the road, where it has won five of eight games.
After rivals all dropped points last weekend, Bayern Munich can take the Bundesliga’s unofficial “autumn champion” title with a win at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday if Leipzig doesn’t beat Mainz at home at the same time.
Bayern, which is bidding for a record-extending sixth straight Bundesliga title, leads by six points after 14 rounds. It has the best defense in the league, while Eintracht’s defense is the second best. Bayern defender Jerome Boateng will face his brother, Kevin-Price Boateng. In three previous meetings between the siblings, there have been wins for each and a draw.
Third-place Schalke visits fourth-place Borussia Moenchengladbach, and Borussia Dortmund hopes a return home helps end its crisis as relegation-threatened Werder Bremen visits. Winless Cologne hosts Freiburg on Sunday for its first game since sacking Peter Stoeger as coach.
For the second straight week, six-time defending champion Juventus faces the Serie A leader. This time, the opponent is Inter Milan instead of Napoli.
Juve’s 1-0 win over Napoli last week left the top three clubs separated by only two points. Inter is one point ahead of Napoli and Juventus is one point further back.
Yet, while Juventus had to expend energy in the Champions League in midweek, beating Olympiakos to qualify for the knockout stages, Inter has had all week to train because it didn’t qualify for any European competition this season.
After the Juve-Inter match in Turin on Saturday, Napoli hosts a young Fiorentina side on Sunday. Also, AC Milan looks for its first win under Gennaro Gattuso in the new coach’s home debut against Bologna.
After losing to Bayern Munich midweek for a second straight loss in all competitions, Paris Saint-Germain faces a resurgent Lille in the French league.
PSG suffered its first loss of the season at promoted Strasbourg last weekend, and a poor display in losing at Bayern 3-1 in the Champions League was another reality check. The defeat in Munich prompted club chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi to call for a “wake up” and, according to French media, coach Unai Emery is in the firing line.
Lille, which suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa last month following poor results, has climbed out of the relegation zone with two straight wins.
Lagging nine points behind PSG, second-place Lyon travels to Amiens, while Marseille hosts Saint-Etienne in a match between the country’s two most decorated clubs. Marseille is in fourth place, level on points with Lyon and Monaco.