European Weekend Preview: Manchester clubs face EPL foes in FA Cup, Barcelona looks to bounce back, and more

By JUSTIN FERGUSON

Without a true major matchup in the non-English leagues, the focus this weekend will largely be on the intriguing sixteen matches that will comprise the fourth round of the FA Cup.

The league-leading Manchester sides will both face familiar top-flight foes in the competition, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s United squad battling Fulham in Saturday’s spotlight match. The game will mark the first time that Fulham striker Dimitar Berbatov suits up against his old club, having been sold on deadline day in last summer’s transfer window. Fulham manager Martin Jol will hope that Berbatov has a few Old Trafford goals left in him as the Cottagers seek their first road win over United since 2003.

Manchester City, meanwhile, will face Stoke City at Britannia Stadium on Saturday. This clash between the two clubs is a rematch of the 2011 final that saw Manchester City win their first major trophy in over three decades, so it should be interesting to see if there is still any bad blood between the teams.

In Spain, La Liga leaders FC Barcelona will look to bounce back from last week’s shocking loss to Real Sociedad when they host relegation-threatened Osasuna. The defeat to Sociedad was the first time all season that the Catalan giants walked away from a match with zero points, so they will be trying to make amends for that by picking up a big win.

Here’s a closer look at all of this weekend’s major European action:

ENGLAND

Chelsea will look to rebound from their Capital One Cup exit earlier this week when they face a red-hot Brentford club. The defending FA Cup champions will hit the road to face a League One side that has only lost once in their last 11 matches. Chelsea’s London rival, Arsenal, will also hit the road to face a smaller club on a roll. The Gunners will look to avoid playing the role of the slain giant twice in one year when they square off against Championship club Brighton & Hove Albion, who has not lost in their last five matches.

Fans of the major underdogs will be sure to follow two key matches this weekend. Blue Square Premier club Macclesfield Town, the lowest-ranked club left in the FA Cup, hosts struggling Premier League club Wigan Athletic on Saturday. Elsewhere, Conference Premier side Luton Town faces a trip to Norwich, who has lost six of their last nine games.

Here is the full fixture list for this weekend’s FA Cup action:

Friday, January 25

Millwall vs. Aston Villa

Saturday, January 26

Reading vs. Sheffield United
Macclesfield Town vs. Wigan Athletic
Huddersfield Town vs. Leicester City
Middlesbrough vs. Aldershot Town
Norwich City vs. Luton Town
‎Derby County vs. Blackburn Rovers
Bolton Wanderers vs. Everton
Hull City vs. Barnsley
Queens Park Rangers vs. MK Dons
Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Arsenal
Manchester United vs. Fulham

Sunday, January 27

Brentford vs. Chelsea
Leeds United vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Oldham Athletic vs. Liverpool

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SPAIN

Real Madrid, who currently sit 15 points behind Barcelona, hosts 11th-place Getafe on Sunday. The club will look to close the gap between themselves and crosstown rivals Atletico, who visits 14th-placed Athletic Bilbao. But the best matchup of the weekend in La Liga might between Real Betis and Rayo Vallecano. Both clubs have surprisingly rocketed up to fourth and sixth place, respectively, in the league table and will try to strengthen their grips on European spots.

Here is the full fixture list in La Liga this weekend:

Saturday, January 26

Celta Vigo vs. Real Sociedad
Levante vs. Valladolid
Zaragoza vs. Espanyol
Deportivo La Coruna vs. Valencia

Sunday, January 27 

Real Madrid vs. Getafe
Rayo Vallecano vs. Betis
Barcelona vs. Osasuna
Athletic Bilbao vs. Atletico Madrid
Mallorca vs. Malaga

Monday, January 28

Sevilla vs. Granada

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GERMANY

League-leaders Bayern Munich, currently nine points ahead of second-place Bayer Leverkusen, travels to 10th-placed Stuttgart on Sunday. Leverkusen will have a tougher team on their hands when they travel to fifth-placed Freiburg. Third-placed Borussia Dortmund hosts 15th-placed Nurnberg in the Friday match.

Here are this weekend’s Bundesliga matches:

Friday, January 25

Borussia Dortmund vs. Nurnberg

Saturday, January 26

Augsburg vs. Schalke
Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Fortuna Dusseldorf
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Hoffenheim
Greuther Furth vs. Mainz
Hannover vs. Wolfsburg
Freiburg vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Monday, January 27 

Hamburg SV vs. Werder Bremen
VfB Stuttgart vs. Bayern Munich

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ITALY

First-place Juventus will want to widen the gap between themselves, Napoli and Lazio when they host relegation-zoned Genoa on Saturday. Lazio hosts sliding Chievo Verona on  Saturday while Napoli travels to face ninth-placed Parma, who have drawn their last two matches, on Sunday. AC Milan and Inter, both desperately needing as many points as possible to mount a second-half charge to the top three, face bottom-half clubs this weekend.

Here are this weekend’s Serie A matches:

Saturday, January 26

Lazio vs. Chievo Verona
Juventus vs. Genoa

Sunday, January 27

Bologna vs. AS Roma
Atalanta vs. AC Milan
Cagliari vs. Palermo
Catania vs. Fiorentina
Parma vs. Napoli
Sampdoria vs. Pescara
Udinese vs. Siena
Inter Milan vs. Torino

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FRANCE

PSG and Lyon are currently tied atop of the Ligue 1 table, and third-placed Marseille sits just one point behind them in what has been a great race in France. The Parisian giants host 10th-placed Lille on Sunday. Lyon, who dropped points in last week’s draw with Evian Thonon, will look to turn it around against 11th-placed Valenciennes. Marseille travels to Stade Rennais in the early Saturday match.

Friday, January 25

Valenciennes vs. Lyon

Saturday, January 26

Rennes vs. Marseille
Evian Thonon vs. AC Ajaccio
Montpellier vs. Sochaux
Nancy vs. Lorient
Reims vs. Toulouse
Troyes vs. Brest

Sunday, January 27

St Etienne vs. Bastia
Nice vs. Bordeaux
Paris SG vs. Lille

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2 Responses to European Weekend Preview: Manchester clubs face EPL foes in FA Cup, Barcelona looks to bounce back, and more

  1. Jamie Z. says:

    Jozy just scored his 15th of the campaign against VVV.

  2. Pico says:

    Does anyone know if Cablevision is going to carry bein sports at all? It sucks not to be able to follow La Liga and Serie A games.

    Cheers