Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween hell - a torrent weekend of must see matches

WHAT. A. WEEKEND. AHEAD. Tricks and treats for everyone. After what was a rather boring weekend of football last week, the next two days are sure to be memorable in many respects: Two of the most famous and fiercely contested derbies in England. One of the most fiercely contested derby in Europe. Five - that's right - five top leagues will see #1 face #2. Pretenders will attempt to stake their claim as contenders.

Have I wet your appetite enough? Sit back and lick your chops as we preview the matches that will set this weekend alight.

Let's start with in the top leagues:

Rooney's back...on the injury list. In his stead, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez has filled the void quite nicely scoring three goals in his last two games (one of them a winner in the Carling Cup). Can Berbatov continue his fine run of form? Back in North London, Hawwy's boys sit two places and two points below United in fifth. Plain and simple, they need a spark. After an emotional triumph in Milan (albeit they lost the match) , they came home to a painfully dull draw against Everton. However, Tottenham defeated both Villa and Fulham before that. In any event, Van der Vaart will get to show the Manchester faithful what they missed out on. The way he's playing, you'd have to fancy Tottenham. Oh, and that Bale guy? He's pretty decent as well. Whoever plays at right back for United will get toasted quite easily. United has yet to lose at home, but I think that will change tomorrow. Prediction: 2-1 Tottenham

BARCELONA VS SEVILLA (Saturday, 4:00pm ESPN Deportes)
I love when these two clubs meet. The speed which Sevilla possess make for intriguing offensive forays against Barcelona's high defensive line. Coming off a riveting win over Bilbao 4-3, and a midweek thrashing of 4-0 in the league cup, Sevilla appear willing and able to go for it. I wish I could say the same for my Blaugrana. It's been edge of your seat watching them this season. Scoring, consistency, and fluidity have been terribly difficult to come by. However, and I've said it many times yet I always emerge justified, these are the matches Barcelona get up for - the matches to silence the critics and reclaim their place as the world's best. Sevilla will give it a fight, but Barcelona will probably overwhelm them (Sevilla has only won six times in 66 visits to the Camp Nou). Prediction: 3-1 Barcelona

AC MILAN VS JUVENTUS (Saturday, 2:30pm FSC)
It's always a roller coaster when the greats in Italy face off, and this will hopefully be one of them. Juventus is on a relatively good run of form recently, and look to climb the table where they currently sit in fifth. Meanwhile, Milan will be looking for three points to leapfrog league leaders Lazio. But is Milan truly for real? Are these orthopedic hips and surgically repaired knees running around the field going to hold up? At least Robinho looks fresh and Ibrahimovic can't stop scoring. Ronaldinho will be absent as will Milos Krasic, Amauri, and Vincenzo Iaquinta for Juventus. The Old Lady earned an extremely boring draw at the San Siro against Inter a few weeks back. They'll need to score this time to emerge with points. Prediction: 3-2 Milan

#1 MAINZ VS #2 BORUSSIA DORTMUND (Sunday, 10:30am ESPN3 - catch it on tape delay at 2:00 on ESPN Deportes)
If you have not watched a single Bundesliga match this year, you're an idiot. Not only do they boast the highest average attendance in Europe, but tickets are available for the top clubs for extremely affordable prices. Supporters are happy and the intensity on the pitch is unrivaled. Then there's Mainz - the darlings who tied the best start in the league's history with seven wins on the trot. And Dortmund, the team which has scored more goals than anyone else and has conceded the fewest. Oh, both teams sit 1 and 2, five points clear of third place. Do your best to watch this match. Both are coming off shocking midweek defeats in the league cup to second and third division clubs, so there should be a fire brewing on both sides. Prediction: 2-2

England's second city derby is always tasty. Ultimate pride is on the line at Villa Park as Birmingham seek their first win since 2005. They've lost the previous six encounters.

The 142nd Tyne-Wear. This northeast derby always packs an extra punch, in a region of the most ardent and start-raving mad football supporters in England.

#1 PSV EINDHOVEN VS #2 FC TWENTE (Saturday, 6:00pm ESPN Deportes)
Ibrahim Afellay is the main reason not to miss this match. The most sought after 24 year old in Europe at the moment, who has scored six goals in ten matches. He recently announced he'd like to leave at the end of the season and Barcelona is already nipping at his heels.

Now for the rest of the weekend's darlings:

#1 PANATHINAIKOS VS #2 OLYMPIAKOS - "Derby of the Eternal Enemies" "Mother of all Battles" Call it what you will but you can bet that riot gear and extra police will be necessities.

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