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The Milan derby & 6 more reasons to watch European football this weekend

Roberto Mancini and David Moyes take charge of their first games at Inter and Sociedad while Lionel Messi chases La Liga’s goalscoring record.

There's sure to be a hostile atmosphere at the San Siro.
There's sure to be a hostile atmosphere at the San Siro.

CLUB FOOTBALL RETURNS around the continent following the final international break of the year and there are several reasons why you should keep an eye on Europe’s top leagues this weekend. Here are just a couple…

Serie A

Admittedly, the Milan derby doesn’t quite represent the fixture it once was when Inter and AC Milan were among the European footballing powerhouses but for hostility alone, it remains one of the fiercest derbies around.

Former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was responsible for guiding Inter out of a similar slump during his first spell in charge as he won three league titles and an Italian Cup crown. He’ll face a stiff task to replicate those exploits this time around with Inter languishing in mid-table mediocrity for the past couple of seasons without European football.

Milan find themselves in a similar state of disarray. There will be plenty of familiar faces on show, however. Fernando Torres, Nigel de Jong and Michael Essien could all line out for the hosts (AC Milan) while Nemanja Vidic will be at the heart of the Inter defence.

Both sides are a far cry from the great teams of bygone years that were among the protagonists in the Champions League but the Derby della Madonnina is always a big deal with city bragging rights on the line. If anything, just tune in to see the San Siro full to capacity – what is rare is wonderful.

Where to watch: BT Sport, Sunday at 7.45pm.

Italy Soccer Champions League Fernando Lloriente has scored three goals this season Source: Massimo Pinca

Also keep an eye on:

Lazio host leaders Juventus on Saturday evening hoping to inflict just a second defeat of the season on Massimiliano Allegri’s side. Gigi Buffon made a costly error during Italy’s game against Croatia but after signing a new deal with Juve yesterday, he’ll be determined to prove it was just an uncharacteristic blip.

La Liga

At first glance, Deportivo La Coruna against Real Sociedad doesn’t stand out as a game of particular interest. However, all eyes will be on the Riazor as David Moyes steps back into the managerial limelight after his ill-fated tenure at Old Trafford.

Moyes has labelled this job as his biggest challenge in football and given Sociedad are currently languishing in the lower regions of the La Liga standings, he may have a point.

There’s also the small matter of Lionel Messi chasing La Liga’s all-time goalscoring record when Barcelona face Sevilla at the Nou Camp on Saturday. Messi requires just one more goal to equal Telmo Zarra’s record of 251 goals for Athletic Bilbao in the 1940s and ’50s.

Where to watch: Barcelona v Sevilla followed by Deportivo v Real Sociedad, Sky Sports 5, Saturday at 7pm.

Also keep an eye on:

By the time Barcelona kick-off on Saturday evening, they could be five points off the summit. Real Madrid are gunning for their 14th straight win in all competitions and it’s difficult to see anybody standing in their way. It may not be competitive but Real’s clash with Eibar is sure to have plenty of goals.

Bundesliga

Germany Soccer Bundesliga Jurgen Klopp was pretty pleased with his sides' win last time out Source: Frank Augstein

At the start of the season, few could have envisaged Borussia Dortmund floundering near the relegation zone at this juncture but that’s the position Jurgen Klopp’s side find themselves in.

The impassioned manager has come under increased scrutiny but having ended a seven-game winless run before the international break, Dortmund will be hoping to ignite more life into their stuttering season and climb up the table when they visit Paderborn on Saturday.

Bayern Munich are going through something of an injury crisis at present with Philip Lahm the most recent addition to the list of absentees after breaking his ankle during the week. Holger Badstuber, Thiago Alcantara, Javi Martinez and David Alaba are all sidelined so their meeting with Hoffenheim on Saturday may be of interest to Manchester City fans ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League clash.

Pep Guardiola still has a wealth of resources to choice from but it will be interesting to see how the Bavarians fair without several first-team regulars.

Where to watch: It’ll have to be an online stream (legal, of course) for this one.

Also keep an eye on:

It’s not one of the most well-known footballing derbies but the Nordderby, as it’s officially known, has an added edge this weekend. Both Hamburg and Werder Bremen are in the relegation zone and are in desperate search of points. Victory for either side could kick start their season but another defeat for either one and it would be another hammer blow.

Ligue 1

It may be early days yet but Marseille are giving PSG a run for their money (quite literally) as they’ve stormed to the top of Ligue 1. On Friday, the defending champions are in action against Metz and have the chance to put the pressure on Marseille, who don’t play until Sunday.

Last year, PSG walked away with the title so it’s refreshing to see the challengers keep tabs with Laurent Blanc’s side this time around and provide stern competition.

France Soccer League One Guess who's back... Source: AP/Press Association Images

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was left out of Sweden’s clash with France during the week but is fit enough to return to domestic action tonight.

Where to watch: FC Metz v PSG, BT Sport, Friday at 7.30pm.

Finally…

It’s not in Europe but Robbie Keane’s LA Galaxy are in MLS Play-off action against Seattle Sounders on Sunday night. The Irish striker has been in fine goalscoring form and could play a big part in the first leg of the Western Conference Final.

Former Fulham striker Clint Dempsey and Djimi Traore are both currently on the books of Seattle. The perfect way to end the weekend!

Where to watch: Sunday, BT Sport, 10pm.

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About the author:

Ryan Bailey

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