The weekend is here, and there are some colossal encounters going down — and we’ve got a handy guide to the biggest of them all, so you don’t miss a thing.
Borussia Dortmund v Schalke 04
Up until very recently, Borussia Dortmund were on Bayern Munich’s heels in second place in the Bundesliga, but after a string of four losses in five matches, they’ve slipped to nine points behind Bayern. Schalke, however, are currently second and have five wins in their last six matches, so they’re a team on the ascendancy. Dortmund have the difficult task of trying to claw their way back into good form, but against a competent opponent that’s experiencing a flux in their own performances. If they’re going to manage to continue challenging Bayern for the Bundesliga title, they can’t afford a twelve-point gap opening up between themselves and the incumbent champions Bayern Munich, so a victory and positive performance at home against Schalke is of paramount importance this weekend.
Predicted Result: Borussia Dortmund 2 – 1 Schalke 04.
Italy v Springboks
While the Springboks did manage a victory against the French in Paris, the one-point bore-fest felt more like a loss for South Africans than a tightly-clinched thriller. The Springboks have had a poor tour so far, and things could get worse against the Italians, regardless of the score. If South Africa is to redeem some respect from the public, they have to show some attacking intent and creativity, especially against a lesser opponent such as Italy (although, the Springboks have underestimated them before). They have some new blood in the 23 too, with the exciting Warren Gelant on the bench, so now is the last opportunity, because Wales won’t make it easy next week.
Predicted Result: Springboks by 7.
Scotland v Wallabies
Even though the All Blacks are playing Wales this weekend, the spirited performance from Scotland against the World Champions this past weekend has got us excited for what the Scottish can do. The Wallabies are hurting from a loss to England too, so they’ll be firing and back to their attacking best. This should be a fantastic encounter between two somewhat similar teams.
Predicted Result: Wallabies by 5.
Liverpool v Chelsea
With City taking a runaway lead in the Premier League this early into the season, the main attraction has become the tightly-contested battle for the remaining three Champions League places. Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, United, and Arsenal are all vying to grab one of those three places, so matches between the teams are crucial. Liverpool has managed to be a thorn in Chelsea’s side in recent years, and the two teams are only three points apart – Chelsea in third on 25 points and Liverpool on 22. Liverpool’s defence has been their achilles heel all season, so the onus will be on them not only to score at home, but also to keep the highly-talented Chelsea attack out which is going to be a massive challenge. That said, when Liverpool’s attack is on song, they’re absolutely deadly, so this should be a match of watchable, attacking football.
Predicted Result: Liverpool 3 – 2 Chelsea
Valencia v Barcelona
La Liga’s log has unfolded rather surprisingly this season, with both Madrid clubs going through difficulties in their form and finding themselves third and fourth place respectively. Valencia’s prolific form has also been a surprise factor, which has taken them to second on the log, only four points behind first place Barcelona. This away game is going to be the toughest match for Barcelona so far this season, and it will require them to step their quality up significantly. They haven’t been amazing this season, but they’ve ground out wins more often than not, but generally against poor opposition. They’re going to need to go toe to toe with Valencia and manage to break their defence down, if they fail to do that and suffer a loss the La Liga title race will get far more interesting.
Predicted Result: Valencia 2 – 2 Barcelona.
What are your predictions for this weekend? Which teams will come out on top in the respective encounters? Let us know by tweeting us @MenStuffZA!
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