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Dublin: 4°C Saturday 26 September 2020

Euro Vision: 4 continental games not to be missed this weekend

Barcelona hoping to hold onto top spot in Spain, Bastian Schweinsteiger returns for Bayern Munich and Roma face old foe Sinisa Mihajlovic.

Lionel Messi celebrates scoring in midweek.
Lionel Messi celebrates scoring in midweek.
Image: Alvaro Barrientos/AP/Press Association Images

La Liga: Barcelona v Rayo Vallecano

Saturday, 7pm

BARCELONA RECOVERED TOP spot in La Liga just one week after being knocked off their perch for the first time in 59 league games last weekend as they took advantage of Atletico Madrid’s shock defeat to Almeria.

Victories for Barca away to Sevilla and Real Madrid at home to Villarreal mean both sides are now level with Atletico in a three-way tie at the top on 57 points.

The Catalans lead thanks to a superior goal difference and will fancy themselves to rack up a few goals when relegation-threatened Rayo Vallecano visit the Camp Nou this evening.

Rayo’s visit comes in the midst of a big week for Barca as they sealed their place in the Copa del Rey final against Real Sociedad on Wednesday and will travel to face Manchester City in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Tuesday.

Gerardo Martino’s men’s performances against Sevilla and Sociedad also suggested they are finding their form at just the right time of the season

On TV? Sky Sports 1

Serie A: Roma v Sampdoria 

Sunday, 7.45pm

Sampdoria coach Sinisa Mihajlovic will put his close friendship with Roma captain Francesco Totti to one side in a bid to hand the Serie A title contenders their second shock of the week.

Roma took a 3-2 advantage over Napoli into their Italian Cup semi-final second leg on Wednesday but departed with their tails between their legs after a 3-0 rout by Rafael Benitez’s side, who will now meet Fiorentina in the Cup final.

Rudi Garcia’s Roma have so far done well to stay in touch with leaders Juventus — they are nine points behind with a game in hand — and keep Antonio Conte’s champions on their toes as they bid for a third successive scudetto.

But while Juventus are expected to claim an easy three points at home against a Chievo side who are just one point above the drop zone, Roma’s task against Sampdoria is not quite so straightforward.

Mihajlovic remains friends with Roma captain and icon Totti but the former Lazio midfielder expects his side to play to the open, attacking game that has helped him steer them out of the danger zone to just below mid-table since his appointment two months ago.

“I’ve told the lads to play our usual style, even in these big games because having this mentality then makes it easier to beat the team who have our level,” Mihajlovic told the Corriere dello Sport.

On TV? BT Sport 2

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich v Freiburg

Sunday, 8pm

Bayern Munich hope Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger will start against Freiburg in the Bundesliga as the holders warm-up for next week’s Champions League clash at Arsenal.

The 29-year-old made his comeback after three months out with an ankle injury, playing the last 25 minutes of Wednesday’s 5-0 romp at Hamburg in the German Cup quarter-finals.

Schweinsteiger is set to feature at Munich’s Allianz Arena as the European champions prepare to face the Gunners away in Wednesday’s last 16, first leg, of the Champions League.

Coach Pep Guardiola welcomed back his midfield general: “It’s super, super, super news, he has huge experience, but he still needs time.”

Such is Bayern’s strength in depth that they have continued to pick up wins even without the likes of Schweinsteiger and injured France winger Franck Ribery, who is out until March after an operation on his buttocks.

Bayern have won all of their last nine matches, are unbeaten in a record 45 league matches and are 13 points clear in the table.

On TV? Highlights on BT Sport 1 at 11pm

Ligue 1: St Etienne v Marseille

Sunday, 8pm

Saint-Etienne meet Marseille tomorrow evening. Les Verts have lost just once in eight league games and have won their last five home matches, all without conceding a goal.

Marseille, meanwhile, are enduring a season of ups and downs but head to Le Chaudron having taken seven points from a possible nine.

“We are on a good run at home and we are fourth in the table. That gives us reason to be ambitious,” midfielder Benjamin Corgnet told Saint-Etienne’s website.

Lyon have also revived their hopes of European qualification via the league in recent weeks, and Remi Garde’s side will expect to register three points when they host bottom side Ajaccio.

On TV? BT Sport 2

- © AFP, 2014

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