Lampard finds himself in a precarious position at Everton: John Brewin's standout matches

Following the international break, club football returns around Europe this weekend.

Brewin banner

EVERY FRIDAY, FOOTBALL writer John Brewin – who has clocked up countless air miles covering the European game over the past decade – looks ahead to five key fixtures from the Premier League and around the continent.

As well as explaining why you need to know about these matches, he’ll also pick out a tip for each one along with the latest William Hill prices.

This week, he writes about worrying times at Everton ahead of their trip to the London Stadium before casting an eye on La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1. 

West Ham v Everton, Premier League – 2pm Sunday 

liverpool-uk-17th-march-2022-frank-lampard-manager-of-everton-during-the-premier-league-match-at-goodison-park-liverpool-picture-credit-should-read-darren-staples-sportimage-credit-sportima Everton manager Frank Lampard. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

As the world reconnects with club football after a fortnight of World Cup qualifiers and the pizzazz of Friday’s finals draw in Doha, some cold hard realities need to be addressed. Not least at Everton, where the situation is parlous.

The Toffees are fourth-bottom but won their last Premier League match, that chaotic Thursday night when Newcastle were beaten by an Alex Iwobi goal in the ninth minute of injury time.

It ought to have been a turning point but then came a 4-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in the FA Cup quarter-finals, and doom descended once more following a game that saw the loss of Andros Townsend to a ruptured cruciate.

Frank Lampard is a manager under serious question mere weeks into his new job. And his criticism of his players at Selhurst Park brought back memories of his downfall at Chelsea, where the blame appears to be anyone’s but his own, and his laughing-then-frowning change of verbal gear has made him a figure of social media fun.

Not that relegation would be particularly amusing, as financial figures this week have revealed. The loss of £100m (€118m) for a third successive year is almost unprecedented in the era of financial fair play regulations.

Reliance on owner Farhad Moshiri is heavy, and the loss of the patronage of Alisher Usmanov after sanctions were imposed on the Russian oligarch suggests further cash concerns in the future.

seamus-coleman-23-of-everton-and-aaron-cresswell-3-of-west-ham-united-battles-for-the-ball Toffees captain Seamus Coleman and West Ham's Aaron Cresswell. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

In short: going down would be catastrophic for Everton. The good news is that they have three points and two games in hand on third-bottom Watford. The bad news is that West Ham are Sunday’s opponents, a team whose performances this season have been of the level that Moshiri and Usmanov have paid for and not received.

David Moyes, the last manager to be a sustained success at Goodison Park, lies in wait, and though the Hammers are distracted by the Europa League, they must be fancied to deepen Lampard’s gloom. The home fans at the London Stadium would certainly enjoy that.

John’s bet: West Ham to win and both teams to score @ 14/5

Barcelona v Sevilla, La Liga – 8pm Sunday

barcelona-spain-13th-mar-2022-barcelona-spain-march-13-2022-ousmane-dembele-of-fc-barcelona-during-the-la-liga-match-between-fc-barcelona-and-ca-osasuna-played-at-camp-nou-stadium-on-march-13 Ousmane Dembele of Barcelona. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

It has been a week when Barca’s all-conquering women’s team added to the feel-good factor that has returned to Camp Nou in smashing Real Madrid in the Champions League, in front of a world-record crowd on Wednesday.

The men’s team is, meanwhile, buzzing after taking Madrid apart in their own Bernabeu backyard, a 4-0 win that could have seen a heavier margin of victory.

If the title is headed to Madrid, Barcelona could soon be officially the second-best team in Spain by beating Sevilla on Sunday and leapfrogging them in the table. Julen Lopetegui’s team have wobbled of late as Xavi’s has surged and the gap from second-placed Sevilla to Barca is three points.

John’s bet: Barcelona to win to nil @ 5/4

Juventus v Inter Milan, Serie A – 7.45pm Sunday 

dusan-vlahovic-of-juventus-fc-in-action-during-the-serie-a-202122-match-between-juventus-fc-and-us-salernitana-at-allianz-stadium-on-march-20-2022-i Juventus hitman Dusan Vlahovic. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The Derby of Italy could see Juventus play their part in the race for the Scudetto. The Old Lady are seven points behind leaders Milan and on a 16-match unbeaten run ahead of their meeting with Inter. 

The Nerazzurri are a point ahead of Juve and have a game in hand on Milan, who do not play until Monday and are six points clear and look to be fading. Milan have won just two of their last nine matches, and they came against Venezia and Salernitana.

Max Allegri’s Juve look to be favourites to win and climb up to third, despite that punishing defeat to Villarreal in the Champions League.

John’s bet: Juventus to beat Inter @ 9/5

Borussia Dortmund v RB Leipzig, Bundesliga – 5.30pm Saturday 

firo-1st-bundesliga-20212022-football-fuvuball-06-11-2021-rbl-rb-leipzig-bvb-borussia-dortmund-2-1-rb-christopher-nkunku-trick-dribbles-off-dribbling-bvb-mats-hummels-duels-duel Christopher Nkunku in action against Borussia Dortmund. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Six points behind Bayern in second place and 12 clear of fifth place, Dortmund are in their natural state of being as Bundesliga bridesmaids. Inconsistency and injuries have done for their title challenge, as is the usual way. Meanwhile, the Erling Haaland transfer saga beats on relentlessly in the foreground.

Leipzig made it to fourth under the new management of Domenico Tedesco but have slumped a little of late. A couple of draws with Freiburg and then Frankfurt have stopped their surge.

A big Europa League match with Atalanta also looms. Neither team look in rare form ahead of a fixture where eyes are already turned to what may happen this summer and beyond.

John’s bet: Leipzig to win and both teams to score @ 7/2

PSG v Lorient, Ligue 1 – 7.45pm Sunday 

madrid-spain-march-09-2022-kylian-mbappe-of-psg-celebrates-the-0-1-with-his-teammate-lionel-messi-during-the-uefa-champions-league-match-between-real-madrid-and-paris-saint-germain-played-at-sant Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The international break saw Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe in goalscoring form for their countries, small comfort for that band of PSG fans who have taken to booing their club’s megastars.

Speculation is rife that Messi will depart Paris this summer while the uncertainy over Mbappe’s future rumbles on, with Madrid his likely destination.

PSG have lost three of their last four matches, including that catastrophic defeat to Real in the Champions League.

Sunday sees a first return to the Parc des Princes since the embarrassment of losing at Monaco, and the reception the stars receive may be the most interesting thing about this game. Lorient are 16th, fighting relegation, so getting a result relies on PSG’s lack of focus, which must be a heavy factor.

John’s bet: Both teams to score but no draw @ 7/5

William Hill odds above correct at the time of writing. New online customers get €30 in free bets when they bet €10 with William Hill. Just use the promo code H30. For all the latest prices, visit williamhill.com. 18+, always gamble responsibly. For more information, see gamblingtherapy.org  

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel