European Look Ahead: Milan derby looms, Ligue 1 back in action

Inter milan getty

By JOHN BOSCHINI

One of the most intense rivalries in the world of soccer is set to write another chapter.

AC Milan and Inter Milan face off on Sunday in a game with substantially more significance now that Inter are back in the title race. Inter are on a five-game winning streak in league play that dates back to Dec. 3 and are only eight points off the pace at the top of the table. A loss for AC Milan would likely see them concede top spot to Juventus. It will be interesting to see if the transfer drama surrounding Alexander Pato and Carlos Tevez will be an on-field distraction. Wesley Sneijder is also likely to make a return after a lengthy lay-off due to injury.

France is also back in action as Carlo Ancelotti and Paris St. Germain look to make good on their expensive squad and pull away from the pack.  PSG is three points clear of Montpellier and is looking to make a large splash in the upcoming transfer window.

The Premier League offers little in the way of compelling fixtures but the recent form of the top sides make victory anything but assured. This will also be the first games in which the departure of the top African players will be felt as the African Cup of Nations is set to kick off. It's much the same story in La Liga as the top sides look to take care of business.

German and Dutch teams are still on their winter break and will return next weekend.

Here is a look at all the fixtures in Europe's top leagues.

ENGLAND

For most of the fall it didn't look like anyone but the two Manchester clubs had a sniff of the Premier League title but cracks are beginning to show. Manchester United have lost their last two league games and have trouble holding on to a 3-0 lead against 10-men City in last weekend's FA Cup tie. City, on the other hand, have been all but dumped out of the two cup competitions, losing matches to United and Liverpool at home. Chelsea welcomes Sunderland in the most likely upset of the three London teams near the top of the table. Robbie Keane could also make his debut against Landon Donovan, Tim Howard and Everton on Saturday.

SATURDAY

Aston Villa vs. Everton, 10 a.m.
Blackburn Rovers vs. Fulham, 10 a.m.
Chelsea vs. Sunderland, 10 a.m.
Liverpool vs. Stoke City, 10 a.m.
Manchester United vs. Bolton Wanderers, 10 a.m.
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers, 10 a.m.
West Bromwich Albion vs. Norwich City 10 a.m.

SUNDAY

Newcastle United vs. Queens Park Rangers, 8:30 a.m.
Swansea City vs. Arsenal, 11 a.m.

MONDAY

Wigan Athletic vs. Manchester City, 3 p.m.

ITALY

All eyes will justifiably be on Sunday's Milan derby but there are a few other Serie A matches that could be entertaining. Udinese and Genoa will be trying desperately to hold off Inter and keep the third Champions League spot. Juventus welcome Cagliari in hopes of moving back into sole possession of top spot. The other teams in Serie A will be trying to break out of a mid-table that sees fourth and 14th separated by merely 10 points.

SATURDAY

Catania vs. AS Roma, 2:45 p.m.

SUNDAY

Lazio vs. Atalanta, 6:30 a.m.
Cesena vs. Novara, 9 a.m.
Chievo Verona vs. Palermo, 9 a.m.
Fiorentina vs. Leece, 9 a.m.
Genoa vs. Udinese, 9 a.m.
Juventus vs. Cagliari, 9 a.m.
Parma vs. Siena, 9 a.m.
AC Milan vs. Inter Milan, 2:45 p.m.

MONDAY

Napoli vs. Bologna, 2:45 p.m.

SPAIN

With a five-point cushion at the top of the table, Real Madrid continue to steam-roll the rest of Spain and it doesn't look to be stopping anytime soon. Jose Mourinho and company take on relegation-threatened Mallorca in what should be an easy victory. Barcelona will try and improve their form against teams they should be beating easily with a matchup against Real Betis.

SATURDAY

Granada vs. Rayo Vallecano, 12 p.m.
Real Zaragoza vs. Getafe, 12 p.m.
Sevilla FC vs. Espanyol, 12 p.m.
Mallorca vs. Real Madrid, 2 p.m.
Valencia vs. Real Sociedad, 4 p.m.

SUNDAY

Athletico Madrid vs. Villareal, 6 a.m.
Osasuna vs. Racing Santander, 10 a.m.
Athletic Bilbao vs. Levante, 12 p.m.
Sporting Gijon vs. Malaga, 1:45 p.m.
Barcelona vs. Real Betis, 3:30

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What do you think of this weekend's games? Who will win the Milan derby? Foresee any upsets in the Premier League? How about La Liga?

Share your thoughts below.

 

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7 Responses to European Look Ahead: Milan derby looms, Ligue 1 back in action

  1. CJ says:

    Which games are on TV?

  2. NE Matt says:

    Jermaine Jones added to the January roster by Klinsy. He might need this more than anyone on the roster. No game time for 2 months at the club level because of his suspension.

  3. Ken says:

    ESPN3 should show the AV-Everton game. I want to see Landon go up against Guzan.

  4. Tim F. says:

    TV schedule? Top 10 games to watch?

  5. Brett says:

    This photo completely summarizes Italian soccer for me.

  6. Philip says:

    Does that include the Playboy sponsorship?

  7. i like this pic and inter milan