By NICK IUELE
Now that the latest round of UEFA World Cup qualifiers have come and gone, Europe’s top leagues are back in action, and all eyes will be on West London for the first meeting between John Terry and Anton Ferdinand since Terry stood trial this summer for allegedly racially abusing the QPR defender. Despite the disparity in table position, emotions will be running high.
In Spain, Real Madrid looks to keep pace with Barcalona in an important fixture with Sevilla. Madrid must table recent Cristiano Ronaldo drama and focus on a more than capable opponent. After a slow start, the defending champions will not want to fall too far behind Lionel Messi and Co., whom they already trail by five points.
Inter Milan has eyes set on regrouping in Italy against upstart Torino after a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Roma last week. Il Toro is still undefeated through two games in Serie A with a convincing 3-0 win against Pescara and a goalless draw to Siena.
Here is a closer look at the other big matchups in Europe this weekend:
On Monday, Everton will take Newcastle, and after a 3-0 loss at the hands of West Bromwich Albion, Tim Howard and the Toffees will be keen on regaining form. Newcastle is coming off a lackluster 1-1 draw to Aston Villa last weekend and will have to do without No. 1 goalkeeper Tim Krul this week due to an elbow injury.
Tottenham are still looking for their first win of the season and will have a good shake at snatching three points from Reading. This could also potentially mark the first appearance of American international Clint Dempsey after a drawn out transfer saga saw him land with Spurs.
Manchester United plays Wigan Athletic boosted by the injury news that both summmer acquisitions Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa are available to play after recent knocks.
Here are this weekend’s Premier League matches:
Norwich City v West Ham United
Arsenal v Southampton
Aston Villa v Swansea City
Fulham v West Bromwich Albion
Manchester United v Wigan Athletic
Queens Park Rangers v Chelsea
Stoke City v Manchester City
Sunderland v Liverpool
Reading v Tottenham Hotspur
Everton v Newcastle
After winning their first game of the Serie A campaign last round, AC Milan goes for similar success against Atalanta this weekend. The Rossoneri will turn to incoming transfers Bojan Krkic and Nigel de Jong to boost the side and continue toward regaining proper form.
Former Arsenal forward Nicklas Bendtner is expected to make his debut for Scudetto holders Juventus against Genoa. The favorites to win the title again, Juve won their first two league matches with relative ease, while Genoa is on the outside looking in for top five in the table.
Here are this weekend’s Serie A matches:
Palermo v Cagliari
AC Milan v Atalanta
Chievo Verona v Lazio
AS Roma v Bologna
Fiorentina v Catania
Genoa v Juventus
Napoli v Parma
Siena v Udinese
US Pescara v Sampdoria
Torino v Inter Milan
Atletico Madrid will host Rayo Vellacano in a battle of unbeaten sides. Atletico’s Falcao is on fire for both club and country and will look to continue his red hot start after bagging hat tricks in the Super Cup and in the club’s last league match against Atheltic Bilbao, while Rayo Vellacano attempt to keep hold of the fourth spot in the table.
Champions League group stage participants Valenica find themselves in the relegation zone and have a change to turn things around against Celta Vigo. After getting Real Madrid and Barcelona out of the way in two of the first three fixtures, Valencia now have an opportunity to move up with little in its way.
Barca, meanwhile face Getafe, a team that has already claimed victory over Real Madrid this season.
Here are this weekend’s La Liga matches:
Malaga v Levante
Valencia v Celta Vigo
Getafe v Barcelona
Sevilla v Real Madrid
Espanyol v Athletic Bilbao
Granada v Deportivo Coruna
Osasuna v Mallorca
Real Sociedad v Real Zaragoza
Atletico Madrid v Rayo Vallencano
Valladolid v Real Betis
Borussia Monchengladbach and Nurnberg square off, currently sitting in the seventh and eight position in the table respectively. Both have gotten off to decent starts, but Timmy Chandler's Nurnberg has sights set on a surge up the table.
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 play host to Werder Bermen on Saturday. Werder Bermen played on two ends of the spectrum the first two weeks of the season, falling to title holder Borussia Dortmund in the season opener and following that up by defeating lowly Hamburg. Hannover should provide a better measuring stick to determine Bremen's form.
Here are this weekend’s Bundesliga matches:
FC Augsburg v VfL Wolfsburg
Bayern Munich v Mainz
Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen
Borussia Monchengladbach v Nurnberg
Hannover 96 v Werder Bremen
VfB Stuttgart v Fortuna Dusseldorf
SpVgg Greuther Furth v Schalke 04
SC Freiburg v TSG Hoffenheim
Eintracht Frankfurt v Hamburg SV
Thiago Silva is set for his Paris St.-Germain debut after returning from injury when the high-spending club goes for its second straight win of the season against Toulouse on Friday. PSG stumbled out of the gates with three straight draws before topping Lille prior to the international break and finds themselves six points behind first-place Marseille, who are a perfect 4-0-0 on the season. They put that unblemished record on the line against struggling Nancy.
Here are this weekend's Ligue 1 matches:
PSG v Toulouse
Reims v Montpellier
Troyes v Lille
St. Etienne v Sochaux
Evian TG v Bastia
Nice v Brest
Valenciennes v Bordeaux
Rennes v Lorient
Lyon v Ajaccio
Nancy v Marseille
Which games in Europe do you have your eye on this weekend? Are you anticipating any drama between Terry and Ferdinand either pregame or during the match? Do you see Real Madrid getting back on track?
Share your thoughts below.