Here are five of the best matches in Europe that you should watch this weekend, including a Premier League matchup between the top two teams.
There might not be a better weekend of games across Europe than this one. All four of the big leagues in Europe feature games with top teams playing. In Germany, the Bundesliga features two games between teams that finished in the top six last season, and another between teams in the top four. In Serie A, Roma face Lazio in the Rome derby, while last year’s top two teams, Juventus and Napoli, also play. The Liga weekend is highlighted by the Madrid derby, and Barca play Athletic Bilbao, while Liverpool look to maintain their 100 percent Premier League record against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
5. Bayer Leverkusen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday, Sept. 29, 12:30 p.m. ET (FS2)
Bayer Leverkusen, Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim all finished with 55 points last season. After the tie breakers were figured out, Dortmund and Hoffenheim finished in the top four, qualifying for Champions League, while Leverkusen finished fifth, qualifying for Europa League.
Leverkusen and Dortmund were again expected to compete for a Champions League spot this season. However, that hasn’t happened in the early going this season. Leverkusen lost their first three games of the season, before finally picking up two straight wins. Dortmund crushed Nurnberg on Wednesday 7-0 and go into the weekend on a high. Leverkusen can get their season back on track with a win, while a win for Dortmund will help them remain within the striking zone of Bayern in the Bundesliga title race.
Honorable mention: Hertha Berlin vs. Bayern Munich – Friday, Sept. 28, 2:30 p.m. ET (FS1) and Hoffenheim vs. RB Leipzig – Saturday, Sept. 29, 9:30 a.m. ET (FS1)
After five games, Bayern are at the top of the Bundesliga table. On Friday, the reigning champions go to Berlin to play a surprising Hertha side that have gotten off to a great start. Hertha picked up 10 points in their first five games and enter the weekend fourth in the Bundesliga.
Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig have both qualified for Champions League over the past two seasons. This season, Hoffenheim has got off to a good start, sitting near the top four, while Leipzig has played poorly to start the year.
What makes Saturday’s game notable is Hoffenheim manager Julian Nagelsmann managing against his future team. Hoffenheim announced before the season that Nagelsmann would leave the club at the end of the season. A few days later, Leipzig announced that Nagelsmann would take over as manager after the season.
4. Roma vs. Lazio — Saturday, Sept. 29, 9 a.m. ET (ESPN+)
There might not be a more heated city rivalry than the one between Roma and Lazio. Last season, Roma finished five points ahead of Lazio and in recent years have got the better of their rivals. Since the beginning of the 2013-14 season, Roma have won six of 10 games, while Lazio have only won one.
Roma have gotten off to a poor start to the Serie A season, picking up only eight points in their first six games. The slow start has put added pressure on manager Eusebio Di Francesco, who could be the first manager fired in Italy if Roma lose. Lazio have had a great start to the season, picking up 12 points. The Eagles lost their first two games of the season to Napoli and Juventus but have been perfect ever since. Both clubs have Champions League aspirations this season and Saturday’s game will go along way in determining which side finishes higher in the table.
3. Juventus vs. Napoli — Saturday, Sept. 29, noon ET (ESPN+)
Juventus have won seven straight Scudettos but last season was the closest title race of them all. The Serie A was decided by four points last season. Entering the weekend, the two clubs in that race are again at the top of the Serie A table. Juventus have had a perfect start to the season, winning all six games. Napoli have won five of six, with their only loss coming against Sampdoria when they rested the majority of their starting XI.
Both teams spent the summer trying to upgrade their squads. Juventus went out and brought in Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Cancelo, Emre Can and brought back Leonardo Bonucci. Napoli brought Fabian Ruiz and Simone Verdi to bolster their midfield but the biggest change for Napoli was the addition of manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Saturday’s game will again play a large role in determining which team wins Serie A. If Juve win, they will move six points ahead of Napoli. However, a win for the Little Donkeys will put Napoli on equal footing. Either way, the Serie A title race should be one that will not be decided until the final weeks of the season.
2. Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid — Saturday, Sept. 29, 2:45 p.m. ET (BeIN Sports)
Since the beginning of the 2013-14 season, Atletico Madrid have got the better of Real Madrid in the Madrid derby. In the last 10 La Liga meetings, Atletico have won four games, settling for five draws and only losing once. Unfortunately for fans of Atleti, Real have eliminated their city rivals in their Champions League meetings. In the most recent game, the Super Cup back in August, Atleti won 4-2 thanks to two Diego Costa goals.
Real have got off to a better start in the Spanish season but Atletico have closed the gap after a slow start. Despite starting almost all of their regulars, Real lost midweek to Sevilla 3-0. Julen Lopetegui will not want to lose a second straight game, especially not against a title contending rival. Atletico defeated Huesca 3-0 on Tuesday to move within two points of Barcelona and Real. Antoine Griezmann scored against Huesca and will be the focal point of Atleti’s attack along with Costa, who has yet to score a Liga goal this season.
1. Chelsea vs. Liverpool — Saturday, Sept. 29, 12:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
After six games, Chelsea and Liverpool are atop the Premier League table. The Reds have had a perfect start to the season, winning all six of their games. Chelsea had their perfect start ended last weekend, when they drew with West Ham. On Saturday, the Blues will try to end Liverpool’s perfect start.
Eden Hazard has had an incredible start to the season, scoring five goals. The Belgian star along with Willian have given the Blues a great attack this season. The Chelsea attack will try to match Liverpool’s vaunted front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, who have combined for nine goals.
Saturday’s game will actually be the second time that Liverpool and Chelsea have played this weekend. The two teams played Wednesday at Anfield in the Carabao Cup, with both clubs resting many key starters. Hazard came in off of the bench to score a late winner for the Blues.